Thursday, January 9, 2014

By any Other Name

"What's in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet." This often quoted phrase from the William Shakespeare play, Romeo and Juliet, is typically used to explain that is doesn’t matter what something is called, it matters more what it really is. The word Lutheran describes a Christian denomination, founded by Martin Luther almost 500 years ago. Since its’ inception this church has evolved, mostly due to schisms or disagreements over doctrine, into several sub-denominations, ranging from the very traditional WELS to the progressive ELCA. No matter what doctrinal issues we disagree with, even the uber liberal ELCA is still part of the body of Christ, aren’t they? Well, what makes a Lutheran a Lutheran? Spiritually, grace by faith alone and doctrinally, Sola Scriptura or Scripture alone defines the Lutheran faith. Nothing we can say or do can earn us salvation, it is by God's grace we can enter His kingdom when we believe in His one and only Son. Whenever any “new thing” arrives, we must look to the Bible to ascertain whether it is of the Spirit or of man. In the ELCA, many new things, some challenging the very Truths of Christianity, have arrived. Doctrine, meant to lift up worldly things, has become central to the teaching of the ELCA.

1 John 4:1-3, “Dear friends, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world. This is how you can recognize the Spirit of God: Every spirit that acknowledges that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God, but every spirit that does not acknowledge Jesus is not from God. This is the spirit of the antichrist, which you have heard is coming and even now is already in the world.” It seems as though every new theological opinion is incorporated into the ELCA’s “big tent” of diversification. Most recently, the validity of the Virgin Birth has been the target of ELCA theologians. Disputing that Mary, through the power of the Holy Spirit, carried the Son of God seems to me to fit what the Apostle John writes about above. But, of course, this is not the official teaching of the ELCA, even though seminarians, who are the ELCA pastors of the future, are indoctrinated with these new ideas. Yet, the leaders of the ELCA continue to tout that diversity is making their denomination all the stronger. Let’s see, over 1 million congregants and over a thousand churches have fled the “Apostasy Gone Wild” ELCA over the last 3 years and somehow, this makes them stronger? Water down your faith and question the very truths they have sworn to uphold and somehow this adds strength to your organization? I guess if you drink the proper Kool-Aid it will make more sense. Any organization that disregards its’ governing documents or adheres to false doctrine, gains no advantage, and only weakens their position. And when the chairman of the board is the Lord of Hosts, creator of the universe, leading the faithful astray is frowned upon.

As the ELCA tramples upon the solid foundation of Lutheranism and replaces it with what is more pleasing to the world, it drifts further away from God and into the deep end of the pool of heresy. The bishop of the ELCA Greater Milwaukee Synod, meeting with our church council after our first vote to leave passed, said that “sometimes it is appropriate to dive into the deep end of the pool of heresy.” Apparently he believes that there is nothing wrong when he, who is charged to maintain order and make certain that proper doctrine is followed in his synod, advocates for his flock to go astray. I guess we all need to sow our wild oats from time to time, and why not give your flock the permission of the church to do so. Jesus said in Matthew 18:6-7, “If anyone causes one of these little ones—those who believe in me—to stumble, it would be better for them to have a large millstone hung around their neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea. Woe to the world because of the things that cause people to stumble! Such things must come, but woe to the person through whom they come!” Our Lord and Savior plainly makes it known what will happen to those who encourage His children to dive into the deep end of the pool of heresy.

So, does the “This is not the official teaching of the” ELCA pass the smell test to still be considered a Lutheran church? While there remains islands of faith within the sea of apostasy that is the ELCA, they are becoming more and more marginalized. Those new and enlightened pastors that preach a gospel other than the Gospel our Lord taught, are lifted up as the face of the ELCA. The broader ELCA is not only no longer Lutheran, much of what is taught in their seminaries and spouted by their so called theologians is not even Christian. The idea that there are many valid paths to salvation is gaining steam in the ELCA as evidenced by their inter-religious relations with the Islamic faith. Embracing that Islam offers another valid path to salvation and by neglecting the call of Jesus to make disciples of all nations, shows that the ELCA willfully chooses to ignore our Lord and Savior’s call to bring the lost to Him. Just as they allow their members to be affirmed within their sin without repentance, they allow those who do not know Jesus to go happily on their way.

No, the ELCA is no longer Lutheran. Their goal is to placate the world, not to please the Lord, and the world is the realm of the evil one. Will the leadership of the ELCA ever wake up and truly serve the Lord? We can only continue to pray, because if they continue on this path, more of our brothers and sisters in Christ will have been lost. 2 Peter 2:17-21, “For they mouth empty, boastful words and, by appealing to the lustful desires of the flesh, they entice people who are just escaping from those who live in error. They promise them freedom, while they themselves are slaves of depravity—for “people are slaves to whatever has mastered them.” If they have escaped the corruption of the world by knowing our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ and are again entangled in it and are overcome, they are worse off at the end than they were at the beginning. It would have been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than to have known it and then to turn their backs on the sacred command that was passed on to them.” This is why is so important to continue to proclaim the Truth, so that those who are found, do not become lost again.

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