It has become sport to attack the ELCA these days. The ELCA is a flawed institution like every institution. It is contaminated with sin just as every other human endeavor. Martin Luther claimed that even our worship of God is tainted. What characterizes many of these attacks is “painting with a huge brush” objections some have. One example of this is a website that claims to “Expose” the ELCA. Here are some of the author’s key points about why persons should leave the ELCA, and my comments. I offer this as “pondering material”. My statements are indented and in bold.
The ELCA is promoting a brand of “universal salvation.” The Lutheran Study Bible says, “Jesus includes in salvation people who do not believe in him or even know about him.” That is not Biblical. Is this the denomination we want to have ties to?
In the first printing of “The Lutheran Study Bible” the website’s author is correct. The systematic theologian writing the study notes for Matthew 28 did include that phrase. It is my understanding that in subsequent printings, it has been changed/removed. It would be interesting to debate this more inclusive view of salvation. What can we say about God’s grace as applied to those who do not know about Christ? If indeed baptism is necessary and life begins at conception, what about stillborn persons? Is there room for God’s grace beyond those “who believe and are baptized”? Let’s at least raise the question and discuss it!
This denomination teaches that Jesus did not say what the Bible says He said. Is this the denomination we want to have ties to?
As a pastor in this denomination, I’m not aware that I do this, nor am I aware that anyone else teaches this. The charge is very short on details.
They date the writings of scripture by seeing when “prophecies are fulfilled” and decide there is no way the writers could know what would happen before hand, so they decide scripture must have been written after the fulfillment. i.e. – God not involved. Is this the denomination we want to have ties to?
I think this is an attack against modern Biblical scholarship. If so, then I’d simply reply that when prophets and others write, with God involved, it is entirely possible that the authors believe themselves to be writing about one thing, and God uses it for something in addition. For example, in Isaiah, when the author writes that a young woman will conceive and bear a child, the immediate application was a promise that before that child was weaned certain events would occur. It is a poetic way of describing time. Later, others used the phrase and applied it to Jesus. Please don’t tear away contextual meaning from scripture, because when you do that, you violate scripture.
The ELCA does not believe there is prophecy in the Bible! There are hundreds of places where the Bible says there is! Jesus says many times that it does. Some people say over 25% of the Bible is prophetic. Is this the denomination we want to have ties to?
It depends on what you mean by prophesy. I understand that often prophecy is interpreting current events in light of God’s action in the world. If prophecy only means “prediction of future events” then many Biblical scholars across the church will take issue with the definition.
This denomination has denied God’s authorship of the Holy Bible, as evidenced from the listing above. And the Bible even refers to itself as Holy (2 Timothy 3:15). Is this the denomination we want to have ties to?
More inflammatory rhetoric here. Look, in a legitimate debate, using 2 Timothy 3:15 as proof will completely fail. It relies on circular logic. If by “God’s authorship of the Holy Bible” means that every word is literally true and factually accurate and there are no metaphors, parables (other than that which is called a parable) or the like then I’m guilty as charged! This Bible is a library. It contains a wide variety of literature that is God-breathed, and that the people of God have found to speak God through. Come on, even the genealogies of Jesus don’t agree. I’d suggest a reading of Karen Armstrong’s books for some interesting perspectives for debate. (That reference will get me labeled a “flaming liberal”!)
The ELCA has taken a stand against Israel. They threaten to stop all financial relations with Israel. They want Jerusalem and parts of Israel given to the Arabs. God gave Israel that land. It states it clearly in the Bible. God confirmed it with Isaac and Jacob that the land was for them. This is against God’s will, and it is an action that the Bible warns about. “In those days and at that time, when I restore the fortunes of Judah and Jerusalem, I will gather all nations and bring them down to the Valley of Jehoshaphat. There I will enter into judgment against them concerning my inheritance, my people Israel, for they scattered my people among the nations and divided up my land.” Joel 3:1-2. Is this the denomination we want to have ties to?
The Bible also commands hospitality to the sojourner and that the laws apply equally to the people of God and to the resident alien. Is the modern state of Israel the same as the Israel of the Bible? Not necessarily so! God has delivered Israel into the hands of its enemies many times in scripture when it was disobedient. Is this a like time? The Evangelical Christian tendency to support the nation of Israel at all costs is often disingenuous. Many see it as a way of inviting the second coming of Jesus more quickly. Just maybe the ELCA is serving God as a prophet to the modern nation state of Israel. Read the prophets once again! What does the Lord require but to do justice, love kindness, and walk humbly with your God.
The ELCA supports abortions in their medical coverage. They also actively promote and lobby for the use of public funds for abortions. Is this the denomination we want to have ties to?
I hear this pretty consistently and I don’t have any factual information to say about this. Abortion is tragic and undesirable … but I know that if it is to occur, I’d rather it be done by medical personnel.
The ELCA and others supporting homosexuality try every kind of theological gymnastic move to make the the Bible mean something other than what it says. They even try this when God so clearly says homosexuality is a sin. They also try to say Revelation is not about prophecy, even when the biblical author writes “The revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave him to show his servants what must soon take place. He made it known by sending his angel to his servant John, who testifies to everything he saw–that is, the word of God and the testimony of Jesus Christ.” (Rev. 1:1-2) In reality, what the ELCA is doing is calling the Biblical authors and God, LIERS! Is this the denomination we want to have ties to?
Homosexuality is the issue that seems to be “the straw that broke the camel’s back”. The Bible says a lot of things that are difficult and require interpretation. Sometimes we’ve gotten that right. Sometimes we’ve gotten that wrong. Each generation must wrestle with the text in a way to be faithful to it. Many serious and faithful scholars disagree about what the texts that seem to be about homosexuality say and don’t say. I say, let’s engage in the conversation without resorting to “slander” (which is also listed in scripture as something we should not do … within a few verses of one of the most commonly quoted passages about homosexuality). Likewise, serious scholars have discovered contemporary meaning to the time it was written in the apocalyptic writings of The Revelation. In the text itself it says, “what must soon take place”. Is 2000 years your idea of soon? (And don’t give me the thousand years is but a day to God quote.)
That is enough. At least I’ve got that off my chest.