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Can mainline denominations be reconquered from theological liberalism?  A group named Operation Reconquista has emerged to attempt such a thing, and they are offering tactics on just how to proceed.

I had never heard of the group until asked to write about them and offer some thoughts.  To get the full scope of what they believe and what they are attempting to do, please click here to visit their website.  In a nutshell, their methodology is this: 1. Identify a moderate to conservative mainline congregation.  2. Attend there and become involved in leadership.  3. Work to strengthen that congregation in the orthodox Christian faith.  4. Resist any attempt to inject secular liberalism/progressivism.  5. Let the more liberal/progressive congregations die–as they will invariably do. 

They believe this reconquest is necessary given the historical contributions mainline denominations have made to the American society; their cultural power; the beauty of their traditions and liturgy; and their historic buildings.  “…Restoring them to the Gospel will revive the culture and reverse the persistent decline of religion in the West,” according to their website.1

The group has targeted seven mainline denominations including the ELCA, and on Reformation day, they “posted” 95 Theses to each of these denominations calling on them to reform.  They reportedly sent these theses to every congregation in these denominations; however, I must also report that my congregation did not receive a copy, email or otherwise.  Perhaps my reputation as a CORE contributor preceded me.

For the remainder of this article, I would like to affirm the goals of this group and share my positive reactions.  I also found numerous things to critique, and I will share those in the next CORE Voice newsletter.

I truly admire the chutzpah of this group and their goals.  I too share with them the thought that most mainline denominations have departed from the orthodox faith and are in major need of reform. 

Like them, I agree that the liberal/progressives played the long game in their takeover of the mainline.  In a way, this group is seeking to give them a taste of their own medicine.

Like them, I agree that schism is not the optimal response, and neither is leaving except in extreme circumstances.  An extended quote from the Lutheran subgroup is appropriate here:

Stay in the ELCA. By leaving your church you let it dissolve into Liberalism, and eventually die out. The percentage of churches without pastors is noticeable, and because of this, entire churches, congregations, and even denominations simply melt away to Atheism or other denominations such as becoming an Evangelical.

If your church is truly very heretical and you are not being fed, go to your nearest Lutheran church, especially if its [sic] in the ELCA, rinse and repeat until you find a church you are comfortable retaking. If this means you must go to a WELS or LCMS church, then that’s fine, but if possible, go attend an ELCA church.2

No small amount of digital ink has been spilled by those who have advocated for orthodox Christians to leave more liberal/progressive denominations and congregations, and I get it.  I know that some have faced pressure from bishops and pastors to leave, and others have been kicked out.  If that were happening to me, I would get out as well.  However, I am also of a mind that the greatest weapon we wield is the Word of God and its preaching.  That Word can and does change hearts and minds even within more secular progressive/liberal denominations, and this group shares that conviction.

There is a real sense of conviction, daring, steadfastness and a willingness to go to battle, that Operation Reconquista seems to embrace.  This, in my estimation, is particularly appealing to men, both young and old, who have been dismissed, vilified, and objectified by a great majority of leaders in mainline churches.  In fact, young men currently are the majority of members in Operation Reconquista, and given the lack of young men’s involvement in the mainline, this isn’t necessarily a bad thing.

It shall be interesting to see if this group has the stamina to have long-term success in their endeavors.  If it is indeed powered by the Holy Spirit and is a movement of reform, they will eventually become a force to be reckoned with–and so I leave with a partial quote of the great rabbi Gamaliel in Acts 5, “Let them go! For if their purpose or activity is of human origin, it will fail. But if it is from God, you will not be able to stop these men; you will only find yourselves fighting against God.”


2.  SOLA is the Society of Orthodox Lutheran Advocates.

Join the discussion 4 Comments

  • Pastor L.J.Wylie says:

    Copy that ! It’s the WORD—-THE word !

  • Kristine Michelle Griffith says:

    I just left my church this past Sunday. I let my Pastor know ahead of time since I had been asked to serve on the church council. It was a very difficult decision, but it was due to reconciling works requiring more language and also saying we have to allow them to use our church for gay weddings. I have a 12 year daughter who didn’t appreciate having to look at a pride flag hanging up in the youth room 24/7. Our ELCA church is voting on this next week, 1/28/24 and I’m sure it will pass, but I couldn’t just accept what was coming so we decided to leave and have identified several other churches we will try out. It’s sad to leave a church a behind especially when you know everyone. I grew up Lutheran and I went through confirmation, but this was before the ELCA was formed. Below is what reconciling works is requiring in order to retain the RIC certification.

    • Expand our welcome statement to include “gender expression” as well as a commitment to racial equity or anti-racism.
    • An openness to calling LGBTQIA+ and BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, People of Color) rostered leaders (pastors and deacons).
    • Allow for space to be used for LBTQIA+ marriage/blessing services

    Sometimes, you do have to leave when you no longer hear the Word of God.

    • Kevin Haug says:

      I pray that you find a church where you are fed and nurtured by God’s Word and that the pain of leaving will find healing.

  • I am sure this has been a very painful experience and process for you. May the Lord bring you restoration and healing and may He guide you to a new church home. Thank you for standing for Biblical truth.

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