Letter From The Director – August 2022



The ELCA held its Churchwide Assembly August 8-12 in Columbus, Ohio.  The gathering sent a strong message to confessional Lutherans with traditional views – You are not welcome.  In this article I will list several ways in which the decisions that were made and the events that took place communicate that message loud and clear.    

First, the resolution concerning human sexuality that came from the Memorials Committee early on in the gathering was bad enough.  The assembly voted overwhelmingly, without discussion, and with no concerns expressed “to authorize a social statement reconsideration to revise Human Sexuality: Gift and Trust (2009) so that its wording reflects current church understanding, church policy, civil law, and public acceptance of marriage of same-gender and gender non-confirming couples.”  It was obvious where this was headed, and it took only two days to get there.  Towards the end of the week a resolution came through the Reference and Counsel Committee “to authorize a possible revision of the social statement on Human Sexuality: Gift and Trust” which “reconsiders the church’s current concept of the four positions of bound conscience.”  At least there were a few people who spoke against this resolution, and 12% voted against it, but still the days of the ELCA’s claiming to honor bound conscience and to provide a place for those who hold traditional views are over. 

I am certain that the ELCA never intended to honor traditional views.  The language regarding bound conscience and the four positions was placed within the 2009 social statement only to obtain enough votes to get the social statement approved.  One needs to look no further than the ELCA’s total embrace of ReconcilingWorks and its choice of keynote speakers for the 2018 youth gathering to realize that confessional Lutherans with traditional views are not welcome. 

David Charlton, vice president of our board, has done a powerful analysis of the possible (even probable) implications of this action. 

  • Candidacy committees and seminaries will no longer need to pretend to work with traditional candidates.  They can reject them outright.
  • Seminaries will be able to openly purge any traditional professors who remain, in the name of ELCA policy.
  • Synods will no longer need to work with congregations who do not want to call LGBTQIA+ pastors.  These congregations can be told, “Either call an LGBTQIA+ person or you will get no pastor at all.”
  • It will be difficult for a pastor who holds traditional views to move to a new synod or a new call.  A bishop will be able to refuse to recommend a pastor for a new call if that pastor is unwilling to do same sex weddings.
  • It will be easier to sue congregations for not doing same sex weddings.

Second, during the days leading up to the assembly there was much conversation about calling for a restructure of the governance of the ELCA.  I read comments from many people who believed that the Memorials Committee’s original recommendation to refer the memorials from synods to the Church Council was an act of deliberately stonewalling their efforts.  Some even talked about a showdown at the assembly.  By the time of the assembly the Memorials Committee had changed its recommendation – to one which directed “the Church Council to establish a Commission for a Renewed Lutheran Church” which would be “particularly attentive to our shared commitment to dismantle racism” and would “present its findings and recommendations to the 2025 Churchwide Assembly in preparation for a possible reconstituting convention.” 

One could hope, when this new church is reconstituted, that congregations will be given an opportunity for an “easy exit” because the new church will not be what they had signed up for in 1988.   There is even talk about removing the word Evangelical from the name of this new church.  The claim is that the word evangelical is associated in the minds of many people with right-wing, racist, white-supremacy fundamentalists.   

Prior to the assembly I read much criticism of Presiding Bishop Elizabeth Eaton – some of it even very severe.  Some were calling for her resignation or a vote of no confidence because of the way she initially handled the situation with Meghan Rohrer and Iglesia Luterana Santa Maria Peregrina.  Bishop Eaton survived the assembly (though she did test positive for COVID on the morning of the final day – we pray for her quick and full recovery) and she demonstrated throughout the week her great giftedness for presiding over a large and complex gathering.  But I definitely got the impression that she was not setting the course.  The relentless revisionists were, and they have completely taken over.

Third, the whole assembly was a powerful example of the amount of damage that can be done to and the depth of embarrassment that can be created for a large organization by the foolish and self-centered actions of just one person.  It felt like the specter of former bishop Meghan Rohrer and their termination of Nelson Rabell on the Feast Day of our Lady of Guadalupe hung over the entire week.

Fourth, Bishop Eaton’s apology to Iglesia Luterana Santa Maria Peregrina was deep and thorough, and the response of the representatives of the congregation was incredibly gracious, but it should be noted that Bishop Eaton apologized only on behalf of the ELCA.  She did not apologize for herself.  It is a whole lot easier – and a whole lot less painful – to apologize on behalf of a large group of people rather than on behalf of yourself.

During the apology she said, “Part of the body was disconnected; the body was not whole.”  She also promised to be “committed to listen to voices that have traditionally been marginalized.”  But what about another part of the body that is disconnected?  What about other voices that are being marginalized – the voices of those who hold traditional views?  During and after the 2009 Churchwide Assembly Presiding Bishop Mark Hanson reached out to those who were feeling alienated by the actions that were taken (even if it was only for the self-serving reason to preserve the organization).  I have not heard of any effort – nor do I expect to hear of any effort – to reach out to those who feel disconnected and marginalized, even more so now because of the vote on the human sexuality resolution.  We are just too few in number and we are seen as insignificant.  Unlike Pastor Rabell and Iglesia Luterana Santa Maria Peregrina, pastors and congregations who hold traditional views do not have well-positioned, powerful, and credible people to advocate for them – and to do so relentlessly – until finally something is done.

Fifth, the overwhelmingly positive vote on the Land Back Memorial is another example of ELCA inconsistency and hypocrisy.  The assembly fully supported a resolution which, among other things, called upon the ELCA to “support creative programs of restorative justice in partnership with Indigenous people, including, but not limited to, whenever considering a transfer or sale of real property, including returning land (and any structures built on it) after satisfying any financial obligations, to the appropriate Native nations, and when direct return is not feasible or not desired by the Indigenous people, to return the proceeds from the sale of the land to the ELCA Native American Ministry Fund or other local Indigenous led ministries or organizations.” 

Several months ago I wrote a letter to the bishop of the synod in which I was rostered before I retired.  In that letter I said that if that synod truly believes that the land now occupied by the synod offices and all of the congregations of that synod is stolen land, then they are morally obligated – whenever they close a congregation and sell the property – to return at least the value of the land to indigenous persons, and if they do not do so, then they would be complicit in the stealing of land.  The problem is that the number of congregations in that synod and the size and vitality of the remaining congregations are so diminished.  Therefore, that synod needs considerable funds from the sale of buildings and land of closed congregations to balance the budget. 

Will the ELCA truly want to return land and structures to Native nations if the ELCA is struggling financially, or is virtue signaling something the ELCA does only when it does not cost too much?  Also, will the ELCA be willing to return the land and structures of congregations that had to pay a very high price to leave the ELCA?  And if those congregations no longer exist, will the ELCA be willing to give the land and structures (or the value of that land and those structures) to other church bodies which better reflect the beliefs and values of those congregations that paid a very high price to leave and/or were decimated by the persons whom the synod sent in?

Sixth, those who hold a pro-life position should be deeply disturbed by the action that was taken to archive a number of social policy resolutions. In the ELCA social statements cover broad frameworks and are intended to help God’s people think about their faith in the context of social life.  Social policy resolutions are a much narrower and more focused category of social teaching.   

The idea behind archiving a social policy resolution or social statement is to say that that document is no longer relevant to the ELCA’s mission, does not have continued significance for society, and is no longer congruent with ELCA social teaching.  The ELCA’s abortion social policy resolution states essentially the same thing as the ELCA’s 1991 abortion social statement, and it has now been archived.  It has been ruled as not relevant, not still significant, and not still congruent with ELCA social teaching.  It is only a matter of time – perhaps at the 2025 churchwide assembly – until the ELCA’s abortion social statement also will be ruled as not relevant, not still significant, and not still congruent.  After all, as one person said recently, “The ELCA’s abortion social statement was written in the 1900’s.”  I do not remember any explanation of the meaning and significance of archiving prior to the vote to archive.  If anyone who holds a pro-life position happened to be present, there is a good chance that that person would not have understood what just happened. 

Seventh, there was a lot of strange spirituality and even the worship of other gods during the assembly.  The opening focused more on the original inhabitants of the land than on Jesus, and the welcome from the bishop of the host synod focused more on the rivers that flow through that synod than on Jesus.  And the prayer from a member of the prayer team during the vote on the human sexuality resolution was particularly strange.  First, Bishop Eaton needed to be reminded of the importance of having a prayer even though voting had already begun.  And the wording of the prayer was completely irrelevant. A member of the assembly prayer team read from her i-phone an invocation to Mother Earth and Father Sky, concern for all the creatures of the earth, and repentance for our not recycling enough.  The only possibly relevant phrase was, “Help us to dance together,” but even considering that phrase relevant is a stretch.  The thinking seems to be that if we pray prior to a vote, then the outcome of the vote must be within the will of God. 

Eighth, one might wonder how so much groveling, repenting, and apologizing by the assembly could possibly be uplifting for the voting members.  The reason is that they were groveling over, repenting of, and apologizing for what other people have done and not for anything that they have done or ever would do.  A definite characteristic of the whole Woke Movement is an arrogant self-righteousness.

Ninth, in an article entitled “Major Disaster on Its Way,” published prior to the assembly, I wrote of my concern regarding two constitutional amendments that would be considered.  A link to that article can be found here.  The first amendment, which removed proclaiming God’s love for the world from the role of rostered leaders and essentially made them social justice advocates, was originally voted on in 2019.  This amendment was part of a block of amendments that were ratified overwhelmingly.  A motion to ratify previously approved amendments is not open to debate.  ELCA parishioners should not be surprised if their pastors do not preach about Jesus, but instead are only social justice warriors.   

I was glad to hear considerable concern expressed regarding the role of the ELCA’s colleges and universities as described in the other amendment.  Many felt that the deletion of a certain paragraph from the constitution weakened the church’s connection with those institutions and diminished their Christian witness.  A slight majority voted to approve, but it did not receive the required 2/3rds, so the amendment failed.

Tenth, it was good to see certain issues addressed – such as the evils of racism and abuse of power, the need for fair and adequate compensation for all rostered leaders, and the issue of seminarian debt.  And there were four times when the proceedings made me chuckle.

  • When Bishop Matthew Riegel of the West Virginia-Western Maryland Synod responded in the words of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs to a motion to eliminate the breaks in order to give more time to the consideration of the memorials.  He said, “If we do not satisfy the lower level needs, we will never be able to self-actualize.”
  • When a voting member who made a motion to table the Land Back Resolution was told that a better way to go would be a motion to postpone debate until a fixed time or when certain conditions have been met.  His response was, “I have no idea how these rules of whatever work.”
  • When Bishop Eaton said to Bishop Riegel, “I have learned not to doubt you.”
  • When a voting member spoke to a certain resolution, using all the right woke phrases but not making any sense.  Bishop Eaton had a very pained and confused look on her face as the voting member was speaking and then said, “Thank you.”

The “Embody the Word” Bible studies prior to the assembly culminated on the second day with a theological presentation by Anthony Bateza, associate professor of religion at St. Olaf College.  He talked about the importance of trust, the lack of trust today, and the question of how do and can we become people who can be trusted.  He told of his having to undergo surgery and physical therapy after tearing his ACL in a skiing accident.  He said that he needed to learn to trust his own body again.

Even more so than ever before – with the motion “to authorize a possible revision of the social statement on Human Sexuality: Gift and Trust” and reconsider “the church’s current concept of the four positions of bound conscience” – the ELCA has totally obliterated any reason why anyone with traditional views would ever trust the ELCA.  The damage to the body is irreparable.  Far more than an ACL has been torn. 

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Lutheran CORE is always looking for ways to take our ministry to the next level and expand our work of being a Voice for Biblical Truth and a Network for Confessing Lutherans.  Our most recent new effort is to expand our video ministry.

For about two years we have been posting on our You Tube channel a new video book review on the first day of every month.  Many thanks to the Lutheran pastors and theologians who have been recording these reviews of books of interest and importance. 

We are calling our new video ministry CORE Convictions.   This new video series is being planned particularly for those who are looking to strengthen and renew their Christian faith. We believe that these videos will be a valuable resource for those who wish to grow in their knowledge of Biblical teaching and Christian living as well as for those who want to know more about how Lutherans understand the Bible. We also want to provide this resource for those who do not have the opportunity or the option of attending a church where the preaching and teaching is Biblical, orthodox, and confessional.

Here is a link to our You Tube channel.  In the top row you will find recordings from both sets of videos – in the order in which they were posted, beginning with the most recent.  In the second row you will find links to the Playlists for both sets of videos – Book Reviews and CORE Convictions.  Here is some more information about two of the most recent videos. 

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Many thanks to Dr. Paul Hinlicky, professor emeritus at Roanoke College in Roanoke, Virginia, for giving us a review of Simeon Zahl’s book, The Holy Spirit and Christian Experience.  Here is a link to his review. 

Prior to the rationalism of the Enlightenment, during the early years of Reformation theology, part of the work of the Holy Spirit in the life of the believer was seen to be the giving of a new heart, new emotions, a change in one’s desires.  This book helps regain that emphasis.  Faith is not just a matter of intellectual conviction.  It is also something that strikes home for us personally.  It changes us and what we love. 

Grace can be an abstraction – simply the idea that God is merciful and loving.  Instead grace needs to be and can be a concrete experience of the merciful Jesus Christ, who finds His way into our hearts through the extraordinary work of the Holy Spirit.  


We now have four videos posted in our CORE Convictions series –

  • “Defending Christian faith and morality without being a nasty jerk or a defensive Bible thumper” by NALC pastor Cathy Ammlung
  • “Jesus is the only way to salvation” by Russell Lackey, campus pastor at Grand View University (ELCA)
  • “Teaching the faith to children of all ages” by NALC pastor Jim Lehmann
  • “What does it mean to be Confessional?” by NALC pastor Jeffray Greene

More videos will be posted as they become available.  Here is a summary of Cathy’s video.



Many thanks to NALC pastor Cathy Ammlung for this video on how to share the Christian faith and moral values in a hostile environment.  Here is a link to her video.

In this video she discusses what Christians can do to prepare for and engage in conversations on difficult topics like abortion.  Cathy does not give answers or talking points.  Instead she counsels the viewer on leading with the love of Jesus and doing the hard work that provides solid information, insight, and confidence.  Finally, she walks the viewer through some of the tactics for argumentation and activism that were formulated by Saul Alinsky and that are being used by many people today who oppose Christian faith and moral values.  It’s less threatening when you know what’s going on!

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Thank you for letting me share regarding these issues.  May the Lord continue to bless you.

Dennis D. Nelson

Executive Director of Lutheran CORE




In Luke’s account of Easter Sunday morning the Gospel writer records four responses to the empty tomb.  First, being perplexed.  The women found the stone rolled away, and when they went in, they did not find the body.  (Luke 24:1-4)

Second, being terrified.  Suddenly two men in dazzling cloths stood beside them.  (24: 4-5)

Third, disbelief.  The women told the eleven disciples what they had seen, but the men did not believe them.  It seemed to them like “an idle tale.”  (24: 5-11)

Fourth, being amazed.  Peter gets up and runs to the tomb.  He looks inside and then goes home.  He does not stick around long enough to see the risen Lord.  At this point he is just “amazed at what had happened.”  (24: 12)

Fortunately, the Gospel writer John tells of a fifth response – belief.  Peter and John go running to the tomb.  John gets there first, but does not go in.  After Peter arrives and runs right in, John also enters, sees the grave clothes, and believes.  (John 20: 8)

I am certain that there are people who attended Easter services this year who had each of these five different responses.  Some are perplexed as to what it is all about.  Many are terrified, and there is much in our world to be afraid of.  Some do not believe.  The whole story of a God who loves them so much as to die for their sins, and the whole account of someone’s returning from the dead, seem too good to be true.  Some are amazed.  They sense from the power of the music and the power of the proclamation that there might be something to all of this, but at this point they are not sure what to make of it all.  And some will hear and believe. 

My hope and prayer for you is that you were strengthened and encouraged in your faith during this Holy Week season, and that many people were strengthened in their faith and some also came to faith through your ministry and the ministry of your congregation. 

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Speaking of the Gospel of John, there is a movement afoot to “cancel” the passion narrative in John 18-19 and remove it from the readings for Holy Week.  The claim is that these chapters foster anti-Semitism.  Dr. Amy-Jill Levine, a Jewish New Testament scholar, is a leader in this movement.  Here is a link to a presentation she gave recently to the Standing Commission on Liturgy and Music of the U. S. Episcopal Church. 

I am concerned as I read and hear of her growing influence within the ELCA. 

Even worse is the movement not just to “cancel” the passion narrative in John, but to “cancel” the passion.  There are many within the ELCA who reject the teaching that Christ died for our sins.  Instead they make Good Friday into the supreme example of Jesus’ bold political protest against the Roman empire, even unto death.  And now we need to join in the work of dismantling our empires.  According to this approach there is no way that I am in need of a Savior who will forgive my sins and defeat the great enemy death.  Rather I need to join in the effort to oppose all oppressive power structures. 

But let’s take a look at Dr. Levine’s “more moderate” approach of not “cancelling” the passion, but instead merely “cancelling” the passion narrative in John.  There are many problems with what she is saying.

First, John 18-19 are not “anti-Semitic” in the way in which Dr. Levine is accusing them of being.  These chapters were written by a Jew, who had no intention of spawning the anti-Semitism which Dr. Levine is blaming on his writing.  This anti-Semitism came after him and would have harmed and even killed him and his family had he lived in a different place and time.  The responsibility for any anti-Semitism rests on those who have misused these texts, not on the texts – or on the author – themselves.

Second, the scripture texts which Dr. Levine wants to have cancelled are not insignificant texts.  Rather they are part of the Holy Week narrative.  Their stories and teachings are central to the Christian faith and the Gospel message of the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus.  If there are any texts which should not be cancelled, it is these texts.  And it is not acceptable to say that we can “cancel” John because we will still have the passion narrative in three other Gospels.  Each of the Gospels makes its own unique contribution to our understanding of what took place and the meaning of what took place.  We are missing something vitally important if we do not have all four.

Third, Dr. Levine freely acknowledges the existence of difficult texts in the Torah, but she does not make the same demand of the Jewish faith community that she makes of the Christians.  Jewish people follow the custom of reading the entirety of the Torah, beginning to end, within the context of worship.  It would be unthinkable for them to “cancel” any part of the Torah.  So why is Dr. Levine asking Christians to do what she would never ask her own people to do?  The reason that Dr. Levine gives in her testimony as to why no part of the Torah is to be cancelled is because the Torah came down “directly from Mount Sinai.”  Her statement is nothing less than a direct devaluing and demeaning of the Gospels and their significance in the Christian faith.  Christians believe that these texts, also, were given to us by God.  The Gospels are no less sacred to Christians than the Torah is sacred to Jews.  The Gospels hold in the Christian lectionary the same place that the Torah holds in the Jewish lectionary. 

What Dr. Levine is asking of us is not merely the causal swapping of one insignificant text for another.  Rather she is asking of us both the cancellation of sacred texts which are of prime importance to our faith – something she would never ask of her own people – as well as a major change in how Christians view the Scriptures.

As we said earlier, we are very concerned about the influence that Dr. Levine is having in the ELCA and will continue to monitor the situation. 

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Last September the ELCA celebrated the election and installation of its first transgender bishop,

Meghan Rohrer of the Sierra Pacific Synod.  ELCA Presiding Bishop Elizabeth Eaton served as the lead consecrator and preacher at the service.  Bishop Eaton had a very interesting and typically ELCA way of twisting the Bible and distorting theology in order to justify what her presence and actions were legitimizing.   In her sermon message, Bishop Eaton noted that Jesus Christ’s identity as both fully human and fully divine were not an “either/or” but a “both/and”.  It is absolutely astounding to me to think that a church leader would believe that the two natures of Christ – His being both fully divine and fully human – are somehow support for transgender and non-binary ideology.     

It gets even worse.  Bishop Eaton went on to challenge those attending – both in person and remotely – to continue watching in the months ahead.  “You’re going to see a grace-filled, Gospel preaching, Jesus-loving servant of the Word serving everyone, all people. You’re going to see someone and a synod being transformed in order to invite people into the complete, the infinite, and the intimate love of God.  We’ll continue to work for those on the margins.  We do it surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses and we do it by a God who was not either/or but both divine and human.”

But all that changed, and it changed dramatically and rapidly within three months.  On December 12, 2021 – the Feast Day of Our Lady of Guadalupe, a very special day within the Latino community – the synod council of the Sierra Pacific Synod took action to remove Pastor Nelson Rabell-Gonzalez from his position as mission developer of Mision Latina Luterana in Stockton, California.

Lutheran CORE very intentionally and deliberately takes no position on these actions.  It is not our place, nor would we make any claim to know all the facts.  Rather what we want to do is to point out the significance of this entire event.  For those who would like to know more, here is a link to an article written by a friend of Pastor Rabell.  At the end of the article you will find links to more articles.  It is obviously written by a person who strongly favors one side in the struggle. 

For the first several weeks it appeared that Bishop Eaton was hoping that the whole thing would just blow over and go away.  As presiding bishop she claimed that she has no authority to interfere in the actions of a synod council.  But as the turmoil continued to spread and as the crisis continued to escalate, she eventually took action to appoint a three-person listening team, which would help her in determining what to do.  In the first link she tells about forming the team.  In the second link she gives an update. 

What was supposed to be so wonderful very quickly became not wonderful.  What was supposed to be continuing to work for those on the margins became accusations of severe discrimination against those on the margins. 

What is the significance of what is going on here?   The ELCA is experiencing the consequences of what it has been enabling, encouraging, and empowering.  Or, to put it another way – in terms of Galatians 6: 7 – the ELCA is reaping what it has been sowing. 

What else would you expect to result from the ELCA’s full embrace of critical theory?  What else would you anticipate when everything is viewed in terms of power/abuse of power, oppressor/oppressed, victim/victimizer, and privileged/marginalized.  It is only a matter of time until something blows and/or a single spark sets the whole forest aflame.  Please see below the review by Dr. Robert Benne of the book by Carl Trueman, The Rise and Triumph of the Modern Self.  This seems like a most appropriate time to have a review of a book like that.     

One of the things that is interesting here is that ELCA congregations in the Sierra Pacific Synod are taking action against the synodical bishop and synod council.  I am aware of congregation councils that are passing resolutions to have no dealings with the synod until and unless the synodical bishop and synod council all resign or are terminated.  And if they do not resign or are not terminated, these congregations will initiate the process to leave the ELCA.  One such resolution can be found on the website of Our Savior’s Lutheran Church in Fresno.  

There are a couple very interesting things going on here.  First, it is not – as in the past – orthodox, confessing congregations that are leaving the ELCA.  Instead it is among the most actively, aggressively, and outspokenly progressive congregations that are threatening to leave the ELCA.

Second, the recently approved version of the ELCA’s document, “Definitions and Guidelines for Discipline,” provides for the discipline of rostered ministers who “actively and affirmatively incite, initiate, or encourage a congregation to leave the ELCA” (page 11).  Since the ELCA is saying that it could discipline an orthodox, confessing pastor for encouraging a congregation to leave the ELCA, should not the same standard apply to a progressive pastor?  And if it does not, then is the ELCA not guilty of discrimination and “discipline inequity”?  (Which is one of the things that the ELCA is being accused of because of the Sierra Pacific synod council’s removal of a Latino mission developer.) 

If progressive congregations in the Sierra Pacific Synod are “able to get away with” no longer functioning as part of the synod, then should not the same standard apply to confessing congregations that no longer function as part of their synod?  (Which is the approach that some confessing congregations are taking because they are not able to “get enough votes” to leave the ELCA.) 

And if the Sierra Pacific synod council disciplines a pastor for inciting a congregation to leave the ELCA because the bishop and synod council have neither resigned nor been removed from their positions, how will all that play out?

I also am aware of confessing congregations that were forced to repay their synods large sums of money in order to receive permission to leave (which is required of ELCA mission starts and was demanded of some former LCA congregations before they received the required permission to leave).  Will the Sierra Pacific Synod congregations that leave the ELCA if the bishop and synod council neither resign nor are terminated be treated in the same way?  And if they are not, would that not be another example of discrimination and “ELCA inequity”?  Oh, what a mess!

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Speaking of “oh, what a mess,” here is the latest from Luther Seminary in Saint Paul, Minnesota.  Awhile back the board of Luther voted to continue to not be RIC.  RIC stands for Reconciled in Christ, which means that a synod, congregation, seminary, or other organization fully embraces the beliefs, values, agenda, and priorities of ReconcilingWorks.

According to its website, ReconcilingWorks advocates “for the full welcome, inclusion, and equity of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, intersex and asexual/aromantic (LGBTQIA+) Lutherans in all aspects of the life of their Church, congregations, and community.”

They define their mission in this way.  “ReconcilingWorks advocates for the acceptance, full participation, and liberation of all sexual orientations, gender identities, and gender expressions within the Lutheran Church.”

At this time Luther is the only ELCA seminary that is not RIC.  The board feels that their current welcome statement is sufficient. 

Immediately there was an uproar.  Students threatened to boycott the school.  There was conversation that the president should be removed from her position.  Please remember that it was not that long ago that the students at another ELCA seminary, United Seminary in Philadelphia and Gettysburg, were able to force the firing of the president because someone discovered that twenty years before she had been director of an organization that held and advocated for traditional views on human sexuality.  She was fired even though she is totally LGBTQ+ affirming now.

Members of the non-faculty staff wrote and signed a letter in support of the student movement to cause the seminary to become RIC.  Now a letter has been written and signed by most of the faculty members, again supporting the movement.  Here is a link to the letter.

Talk about groveling. Talk about one more example of the ELCA’s encouraging, enabling, and empowering extreme progressive elements.  Do the seminary faculty really think that good will come from their talking, acting, and handling a situation in that way?  Do they really think that it will stop there – with the seminary’s becoming RIC – and the students – thus emboldened – will not go on and demand something far more? 

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Lutheran CORE continues to provide monthly video reviews of books of interest and importance.  Many thanks to Robert Benne for his review of The Rise and Triumph of the Modern Self: Cultural Amnesia, Expressive Individualism, and the Road to Sexual Revolution by Carl Trueman.  Dr. Benne has retired from his position as professor at Roanoke College in Salem, Virginia, and currently teaches Christian ethics at the Institute of Lutheran Theology.  One of the founders of Lutheran CORE, he has been a friend of Lutheran CORE from the beginning.

In this book Carl Trueman, whom Benne identifies as one of America’s most important rising Christian public intellectuals, starts with the assessment of the modern self by two major theorists, who see expressive individualism as the essence of the modern self.  The modern self is no longer guided by the sacred order of great religions, obligations to others in the given stations of life, or virtues that solid traditions have formed in their adherents.  Rather the modern self aims at authenticity.  Highest value is placed upon the untrampled expression of whatever inner definitions or inclinations the modern self wants to express.  Such expressive individualism is not only to be tolerated, it is to be affirmed and embraced.  Any resistance or criticism amounts to hate speech.

Knowing that ideas have consequences, Trueman asks what are the ideas that have brought us to our current state.  Benne feels that Trueman has made a compelling case for understanding our current situation in light of thinkers in the past.  In this book the author reflects on what the future might be like for a society that has been so de-established by rampant individualism, and also what this means for the church.

The final section of the book, entitled “The Triumph of the Erotic,” deals with all the incongruities and contradictions of the powerful LGBTQ+ movement.  Trueman shows how all the various sorts of expressive individualism do not necessarily fit together easily.

According to Dr. Benne this is a formidable work which will lead the reader to greater understanding of our current chaos and polarization.  Dr. Benne has notes on every chapter and offers to share those notes with anyone who wants to teach this book in Sunday School.  

This review, as well as eighteen others, have been posted on our YouTube channel.  A link to the channel can be found here.


If you would like to watch Lutheran CORE’s playlist of all of our video book reviews, click here, then scroll down and start the video by selecting the play button or click on the three vertical lines near the top right of the first video to select a new video from the list that will pop up. 

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One of the goals and purposes of Lutheran CORE is to provide resources for confessing Lutherans.  On our website we have daily devotionals as well as suggestions for hymns, Scriptures, and prayers related to the themes for each Sunday.  Here are links to these resources.

Daily devotionals

Scriptures and hymns suggestions  

Prayers of the church

A new resource that is now available is a Bible study that I am doing each week based upon the lectionary readings for the following Sunday.  The resource includes a twenty-five-to-thirty-minute video and a two-page study guide.  A new one is available each Tuesday and is dated on Wednesday, because that is when the church where they are recorded posts them.

Many thanks to Living Water, an ELCA congregation in Scottsdale, Arizona, where my wife and I are members and where the studies are recorded.  Many thanks also to Shepherd of the Hills, an LCMC congregation in Fountain Hills, Arizona, for permission to provide a link to their website where the videos and study guides are posted.

It is a great joy and privilege for me to be able to provide these studies, and I am very happy whenever anyone finds them helpful.

Wishing you the joy, power, love, and hope of Easter,

Dennis D. Nelson

Executive Director of Lutheran CORE