Dear Friends –
The apostle Paul wrote to the church in Corinth, “I handed on to you as of first importance what I in turn had received, that Christ died for our sins, was buried, and was raised on the third day in accordance with the scriptures.” (1 Corinthians 15: 3-4)
He also wrote to his young friend Timothy, “And what you have heard from me through many witnesses entrust to faithful people who will be able to teach others as well.” (2 Timothy 2: 2)
The writer of the Gospel of John penned these words. “These are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that through believing you may have life in His name.” (John 20: 31)
The witness of Scripture is clear and strong. It does matter whether the message of the Bible is preserved, shared, heard, and believed.
The most sacred and precious time of the year for those who love Jesus is Holy Week. It is then that we hear and read once again of His triumphal entry, last supper, agony in the garden, betrayal, arrest, crucifixion, and resurrection. The accounts of this one week form the major part of each of the four Gospels, and we are fortunate to have four Gospel accounts. We know more about what Jesus did for our salvation because we have all four.
And yet what do we see going on now? A movement to “cancel” the passion narrative in the Gospel of John and remove it from the lectionary readings for Holy Week. The reason given is that the two chapters of John 18 and 19 are being accused of fostering antisemitism.
There is no doubt but that antisemitism is wrong, just as there is no doubt but that any form of racism is wrong. Historically, according to the Gospels, it was the Jews who cried for Jesus to be crucified. It was the Romans who carried out the crucifixion. But it was my sins that nailed Jesus to the cross, just as much as anyone else’s.
This movement to “cancel” John is “gaining steam” within the U. S. Episcopal Church. I am alarmed when I read comments also from ELCA pastors who would like to see the Gospel of John removed from the list of Scripture readings for Holy Week.
In my April letter from the director, which will be published in mid-April, I will tell more about this movement and how it is gaining ground within the ELCA. Here we see just one more way in which the authority of the Scriptures first is questioned and then is rejected. Anything difficult in the Bible is thrown out, rather than wrestled with and learned from. Any time when the voice of the Bible is in conflict with the voice of our culture, the voice of our culture prevails.
If the passion readings in the Gospel of John are thrown out, what will it be next? That is a question we continually ask regarding the ELCA. What will it be next? We already know of ELCA pastors who believe that the message of the cross is not that Jesus died for our sins. Instead it is a challenge to join God in the work of dismantling oppressive, political power structures. There are others who say that the main message and mission of the church is to support environmental causes and concerns. What will it be next? As everyone who has observed trends and events in the last decade knows only too well, it will not stop here. The departure from and rejection of traditional, Biblical beliefs and values will only accelerate.
What is at stake is the very heart of our faith – the message of the cross, the hope of the resurrection, the privilege and joy of knowing God as Father, Christ’s command to His church to fulfill the Great Commission, and God’s call to His people to holy living.
We of Lutheran CORE have been working hard to show you how the orthodox Christian faith and Biblical moral values are first being compromised and then rejected by such things as the embrace of critical race theory by many Christian leaders, the choice of keynote speakers for national youth gatherings, the ELCA’s full embrace of the LGBTQ+ agenda and values, and the way in which many in the ELCA twist the message of the Bible in order to support that agenda. Through our being one of the sponsors of the NEXUS Institute at Grand View University, our support system for orthodox seminarians, and our support group for younger persons, many of whom are planning on attending seminary, we are also working hard so that there will be Biblically faithful and Great Commission-minded pastors in the future. Thank you for your interest in and support of these efforts and your generous gifts to our Pastoral Formation Fund.
It is your ongoing prayers and gifts to Lutheran CORE that enable us to continue our work of being a Voice for Biblical Truth and a Network for Confessing Lutherans. Thank you for your prayers for us. Click here for a form that you can use to let us know how we can be praying for you.
Giving thanks for the cross and the empty tomb,
Dennis D. Nelson
Executive Director of Lutheran CORE
Visit our website www.lutherancore.org
Follow us on Twitter https://twitter.com/LutheranCORE
Like us on Facebook www.facebook.com/LutheranCORE
Join us on MeWe https://mewe.com/p-front/lutherancore
Watch us on YouTube https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCtoknmLRxWxGeLkpBeRjRVA
Follow us on Instagram https://www.instagram.com/lutherancore/