Year End 2022
Dear Friends –
I have been enjoying doing a weekly Bible study based upon the lectionary readings for the following Sunday. A couple churches post them on their websites and Facebook pages as part of their adult education ministry, and I know of several people who use them either for their personal devotions or as resources for a small group Bible study that they lead.
This past week I was preparing a study on the Scriptures for Reformation Sunday. In the third chapter of his letter to the Romans the apostle Paul makes a brilliant argument showing that God is both righteous and the one who justifies the person who has faith in Jesus (verse 26). Paul says that we are “now justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God put forward as a sacrifice of atonement by his blood effective through faith” (verses 24-25). I read that verse and I thought of the movement that calls itself Progressive Christianity, which rejects the teaching that Christ died for our sins.
According to this movement, Jesus did not die for our sins. Instead he died because he opposed the oppressive political power structures of his day. But God raised him from the dead, showing that love wins, and now we need to join in his struggle against all the oppressive political and social power structures of our day.
I know of a congregation where the new pastor, shortly after coming, took all the Sunday School material and with a black marker crossed off any reference to Jesus’ dying for our sins. Then he returned the material to the teachers and told them that they were to use the amended curriculum and make no mention of Jesus’ dying for our sins. All the teachers quit. Good for them.
According to so-called Progressive Christianity (which I would say is not Christianity), sin, death, and the power of the devil are not three forces that hold us in bondage and we need someone to deliver us from. And the main mission of the church is not to tell people of the Savior who loves them and who has broken the power of the forces that enslave them. Rather, according to this view, the main message and mission of the church is to challenge people and rally people to work against all oppressive political and social power structures.
According to this view, Jesus is not a Savior. Rather he is just an example and someone who wants to rally us to his cause.
I read the Second Reading for Reformation Sunday, and I contrast it with the main message of so-called Progressive Christianity, and I realize how much is at stake. With what is going on in the Christian church today, everything is at stake.
I am very grateful for all the people who have told me of how they have read and deeply appreciate my analysis of the recent ELCA Churchwide Assembly. People have shared that they also are in grief and horror over the way in which –
- The ELCA’s own description of the Highlights and its account of the Summary of Actions from the assembly make no mention of God and Jesus. There is discussion of greenhouse gases, D. C. statehood, non-disclosure agreements, LGBTQ+ rights, and talk of dismantling racism and white supremacy, but no mention of God and Jesus.
- The Assembly took action to approve a resolution that called for a review of the 2009 human sexuality social statement and reconsideration of the four positions of bound conscience. What could very likely occur at the next churchwide assembly in 2025 would be a massive breach of trust, as the ELCA breaks its promise to provide a place of respect for traditional views and those who hold them, all while harshly criticizing the U. S. government for breaking its promises to indigenous persons.
- The Assembly also took action to call for a commission for a renewed Lutheran church. I shudder to think of what this reconstituted Lutheran church will have as a statement of faith and a statement of the mission of the church and the role of rostered leaders.
Yes, everything is at stake. I am certain that the majority of the members sitting in the pews in most ELCA churches would be horrified if they knew what actually is going on.
The apostle Paul told his young friend Timothy, “Proclaim the message; be persistent whether the time is favorable or unfavorable” (2 Timothy 4: 2). It is your prayers, words of encouragement, friendship, and faithful financial support that enable us to do that. Thank you for joining with us in doing what the apostle Paul also wrote to Timothy – fighting the good fight, finishing the race, and keeping the faith (2 Timothy 4: 7).
Please find enclosed a form which you can use to designate a year-end gift towards our regular operating expenses as we work to be a Voice for Biblical Truth and a Network for Confessing Lutherans. Please also let us know how we can be praying for you. Thank you for your partnership in the Gospel, especially at this critical time when everything is at stake.
Dennis D. Nelson
Executive Director of Lutheran CORE
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