ELCA

Liberal Lutherans Doubling Down

on July 29, 2018

Over the last reporting decade the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) has lost more than 1 million members or 25% of membership, now down to 3.5 million, from 4.7 million ten years ago. At this rate of decline the denomination won’t exist in 30 years or so.

Newly elected ELCA bishops might be expected to address this existential crisis with fresh eyes and energy. But a recent Religion Service News interview, capably conducted by Emily McFarlan Miller, with six new women bishops shows no such interest. Instead, they seem determined to double down on the heterodox theology and political activism that have been so destructive for the ELCA and other Mainline Protestant denominations.

There’s almost no reference to the ELCA’s decline in the bishops’ interview. Perhaps the closest came from Bishop Patricia Davenport of Southeastern Pennsylvania Synod who asked without really answering the question: “How do we move from the mentality of “the church is declining, the church is declining,” to building up the kingdom of God?”

Bishop Laurie Skow-Anderson of the Northwest Synod of Wisconsin noted that many churches are effectively museums, theaters or “political action committees,” which are not the church’s purpose. “The real problem is that they think they are a social club, and they get together to be with their friends on Sunday morning and to drink coffee. They don’t know how to be the church in the world on Monday.” But she didn’t really explain here what being real church entails.

Several bishops cited immigration as an advocacy issue. And Bishop Deborah Hutterer of the Grand Canyon Synod asked: “How do we reach out to our Mexican brothers and sisters and those from Guatemala? The Hispanic population will add a richness to the church that we haven’t quite tapped yet.”

Very true, but the ELCA like all Mainline denominations is more than 90% white. Liberal Protestantism, unlike Pentecostalism, doesn’t work with Hispanics or other immigrant groups. So how can the ELCA reach them? Won’t the ELCA have to change its message? None of the bishops indicated so.

Instead, Bishop Susan Briner of Southwestern Texas Synod declared: “Because I’m telling you what, the Spirit is up to something …”

And the other bishops responded: “Amen. Yes, she is.”

And Briner said: “… if we would just let her out.”

The bishops then responded: “Let her out. Get out of her way.”

Then Briner said: “Open the doors and let her out.”

And her fellow bishops concluded: “She’s out! She is loose!”

Presumably the bishops were referring to the Holy Spirit, whom Scripture and the universal church call “He.” Alternative pronouns are usually confined to some quarters of Western liberal Protestantism and associated with 1990s-era feminist theology, not classical orthodoxy. So are these new bishops rejecting or minimizing orthodoxy in favor of more liberal Protestantism?

Comments about the ELCA’s political activism confirm the latter. Religion News Service asked the bishops about “the rise of the religious left,” of which the ELCA would be considered part, and whether members felt “energized.”

Bishop Davenport responded: “I’m not going to say it’s a resurgence for me. I’m going to say it’s a continuation.”

Bishop Viviane Thomas-Breitfeld of Southwestern Wisconsin Synod added: “That has been where the Lutheran Church has been, particularly this branch of Lutheranism and its predecessor bodies. So it’s not new for us. We’re continuing that legacy that says we’re in the world and that Christ was in the world and that we take that as a model.”

Then Davenport said: “I love that. This is a path that we’ve always been on. I would say there are more people who are now living into this …”

Bishop Briner fully agreed: “We’re becoming bolder with our public witness, and I really appreciate that. And it’s not without a cost. If you look at our synods, we have a variety of political persuasions that sit in our pews, and so we recognize every time something like this happens, there’s going to be conversation about it, and it may not always be pleasant conversation.”

No doubt. Lutheran laity are traditionally more conservative politically, unlike their denominational elites. But no matter. Evidently the ELCA should, per the bishops, firmly identify as Religious Left.

Bishop Thomas-Breitfeld said: “And we’re reminded that Jesus was political. He wasn’t partisan. God is not a Republican or Democrat or independent. God is God. Jesus called out issues of how the poor, how the widow were being treated. That wasn’t a partisan issue. That was a gospel issue.”

But for the ELCA and other liberal Mainline denominational officials, “Gospel” issues always turn out to be on the political left, without exception.

So these bishops don’t indicate any awareness of ELCA’s misdirection or any need for course correction. Undoubtedly ELCA will lose another million members over the coming decade, in sync with other U.S. Mainline denominations.

But here is my personal prophecy: In about 15-20 years, when these bishops and other current Mainline elites are retired, and their denominations have further shrunk to a fraction of their current size, a new generation of leadership will recognize the disaster and embrace orthodoxy as the only hope for rejuvenation. They will seek to resurrect great ecclesial traditions by which time evangelical nondenominationalism may have run its course.

I hope and pray so.

  1. Comment by William on July 29, 2018 at 8:38 pm

    I recently told my UMC pastor that I believe that when the next Great Awakening or Christian Renaissance comes, people will be falling over themselves embracing Wesleyan theology and studying it with a fervent not seen since Martin Luther. What the UMC has on paper is astounding. Moving away from it has been an obvious tragedy.

    As for these Lutherans, the photo speaks volumes as they stand there wearing their robes and tassels in all their pretentiousness.

  2. Comment by Nick Stuart on July 30, 2018 at 7:30 pm

    The photo looks like it could have come out of a Chick tract.

  3. Comment by Padre Dave Poedel on July 31, 2018 at 1:21 pm

    I don’t see any tassels, but those chase lies and copes are pretty darn ugly….this from a conservative, chasuble vesting, LCMS Lutheran Pastor….just saying….

  4. Comment by erich on March 15, 2019 at 9:05 pm

    Hello, long time Lutheran here. I was a long time member of the LCMS. The church closed down because they forgot the great commission part in the Bible. Where it says go and make disciples and baptize them. There is a famine in the land for true Christian teaching and faith. People ask me all the time about my pocket Bible and I talk to people about Jesus. A big missed opportunity in wining souls to the kingdom is Lutheran social services. I heard they aren’t allowed to witness to people. I have used the food bank at LSS and was very shocked no one was even handing out Bible tracts and the place was run by non Lutherans. Yes help people but bring them the gospel. The true gospel (not the gospel according to Marx). In my experience people want the real gospel of Jesus Christ and not the worldly gospel.

  5. Comment by Neely Owen on August 2, 2018 at 2:26 pm

    Don’t call them Lutheran. They left Lutheranism long ago and don’t deserve the name. They are so far from the confessional foundation of orthodox Lutheran believe, teach and confess that they wouldn’t know a Lutheran if they fell over one.

  6. Comment by Huss on December 2, 2019 at 7:59 pm

    Indeed. We are witnessing the decline and fall of a once-great church body that surrendered hook, line & sinker to the political Left. Which shall the ELCA remnants say when they realize no one misses them?

  7. Comment by Daniel F Ring on November 18, 2018 at 12:24 pm

    No they will embrace Eastern Orthodoxy

  8. Comment by Michael Murphy on July 30, 2018 at 12:07 am

    Interestingly, the only thing that seems to be missing from all this is Jesus. Is HE or is HE not the reason for any church? Is not the purpose of the church for believers in Christ’s life, death, and resurrection, to provide a place where they can worship Him together without fear of reprisal by the powers that be?

    If Jesus is not alive, then none of this matters. If He is alive, then your article just shows how far we have fallen from our original purpose, and still have need for the forgiveness and sanctification of a loving Savior.

    Thanks for sharing all of this, Mark. We need to be kept updated on when we, as Christians, continually miss the mark.

  9. Comment by Martin Roules on July 31, 2018 at 4:11 pm

    Their heretical corruption of NT is abhorrent. Jesus announces the Holy Spirit in John 14 and every reference is Masculine in the Greek. Sola Scriptura

  10. Comment by Dave N. on August 2, 2018 at 4:01 pm

    “Spirit” (pneuma) is neuter in Greek. Back to Greek class.

  11. Comment by A.R. on December 9, 2018 at 4:02 pm

    And feminine in Hebrew. Of all the persons of the Trinity, the strongest case can be made for referring to the Spirit in the feminine. Some of the early church fathers did just that, and it persisted for many years in the Syriac tradition. What rankles me is how they reach so quickly for a feminine pronoun for the Spirit but refer to refer to God the Father as a he. Instead, you get things like “God revealed Godself.” It’s a double standard. God has no gender, yet if Jesus referred to God as Father, you’d think that would we good enough for the leaders of the church.

  12. Comment by H. A. on June 22, 2019 at 8:43 am

    Why do people continue to argue that masculine nouns describe male figures, feminine nouns describe feminine figures, etc.? It simply isn’t true.

    Consider the Latin word “agricola.” Here, we have a “feminine” noun that is translated: “farmer.” Are all farmers women?

    Stop arguing that the form of the noun describes the form of the being that it describes. It isn’t always true.

  13. Comment by Loren Golden on July 30, 2018 at 12:13 am

    One can always hope and pray that the ELCA, the PC(USA), the Episcopal Church, et al, will come to their senses and, like the Prodigal Son, seek to return home to Christian Orthodoxy.

    But I am not at all sanguine about the prospects.

    The denominational elites in the PC(USA) were all hyped about doing some “new thing” in this year’s General Assembly, but all I’ve seen are “kin-dom building” rhetoric (which in essence is nothing more than Liberation Theology all over again), shameless one-sided criticism of Israel, and resolution affirmations opposing religious freedom and freedom of conscience for those who believe that life begins at conception and that sexual expression outside of monogamous, lifelong, heterosexual marriage is a sin in the sight of God.

    Moreover, the denominational elites of all these Mainline Protestant denominations (except UMC with Asbury, it seems) have all their seminaries under total control, to ensure that the next generation of pastors, executive presbyters/bishops, etc., will be at least as out-of-touch with the Gospel of Jesus Christ as they are.

  14. Comment by theanswerisintheBook on July 30, 2018 at 8:29 am

    Don’t for get United in Ohio, a UM Seminary that has kept (or reclaimed) its biblical bearings.

    The Answer is in the Book

  15. Comment by Robert on August 2, 2018 at 12:00 pm

    Asbury is technically independent.

  16. Comment by Phil on July 30, 2018 at 1:24 am

    I disagree with Mark. They’re not learning anything now, why would they figure it out in the future. Their successors will quadruple down on rejecting Christianity. More likely, those denominations will cease to exist because they’ll likely end up merging with the Unitarians.
    And has it ever occurred to them that many Hispanics may hold views that are not in line with the Mainline denominations? Why would any Hispanic Christian or any Christian would want to join an apostate organization?
    Honestly, if any ethnic minority Christian sent an anonymous letter to Mainline clergy that detailed their adherence to orthodox doctrines and teachings, they’d declare them backwards ‘hate’-filled white Evangelicals.

  17. Comment by Kathleene Card on July 30, 2018 at 7:42 am

    Humility and compassion are what Jesus teaches me. I pray for us all. The Rev Dr. Mary Johnson wrote a wonderful book called LOVE IN ACTION and I recommend it highly.

  18. Comment by Donald on July 30, 2018 at 7:56 am

    Clearly the ELCA is absolutely no threat to the other Legacy Denominations who are racing to see who can get below 1M members first. Even the Episcopal Church has slowed and if the Methodists are able to toss out Glide Memorial in San Francisco, they may also start to gain members again.

    It looks like the Presbyterian Church (USA) has taken a strong lead in this race to the bottom, with only 400K or so members to drive away – an easy task for them since they’ve lost over 2M in the last twenty years.

  19. Comment by Keith Wilson on July 30, 2018 at 12:14 pm

    The Episcopal Church just recently got into the fast lane of irrelevance, and will likely pass all the other mainliners on the way over the cliff. They now mandate no diocese may refuse to “marry” two people of the same-sex, only individual ministers may refuse with a deferral to another willing minister. Guess how long that will last?

  20. Comment by William on August 3, 2018 at 10:45 am

    United Methodist Church — ALERT‼️

    Exactly where it is heading with this so called “one church plan”

  21. Comment by Jeffrey P Allen on July 30, 2018 at 8:36 am

    My childhood has been left out. The Disciples of Christ have been under a million for a long time. They have less than 500,000 active members. They will need to merge with the UCC to possibly survive.

  22. Comment by Jeffrey P Allen on July 30, 2018 at 8:37 am

    Oops My childhood denomination

  23. Comment by Keith Wilson on July 30, 2018 at 12:15 pm

    Interesting. What will their affiliated universities (such as TCU) do if they go down the tubes?

  24. Comment by Bruce on July 30, 2018 at 12:29 pm

    I can’t think of any congregations that have expanded membership under a woman pastor. Has anyone done a study of the effect having women pastors have on church membership or broken down membership declines based on sex?

  25. Comment by senecagriggs on July 30, 2018 at 7:34 pm

    I’ve wondered about that too. If you “google” you come up with nothing.
    I am highly suspicious that under women pastors, they do not thrive, do not grow. Possibly, any studies that would suggest less than stellar results under female pastors is supressed by the google/yahoo algorithm

  26. Comment by Scott on August 6, 2018 at 5:48 pm

    The only type of congregations that sometimes grow with woman pastors are Pentecostal. Aimee Semple McPherson started a church in Los Angeles. She did not come in like a bull in a china closet to take over an already established congregation. The church that she planted grew to about 5,000 under her ministry. But she believed in the inspiration and authority of the Bible, though interpreted some Scriptures different than the complementarian view.

  27. Comment by Patrick98 on July 31, 2018 at 1:44 pm

    Westminster Presbyterian Church (PCUSA) in
    Sioux Falls South Dakota grew from 125 members to over 400 under the leadership of Rev. Dr. Valerie Putnam. This was from about the late 1990s to the mid-20teens when she retired.

  28. Comment by April user on August 2, 2018 at 9:09 pm

    My thoughts, exactly. I am a woman, owned my own business, and a spouse of a UMC clergyman. I’ve always thought women could lead but, as of late, I’ve begun to reconsider the notion of women in spiritual leadership. Women tend to, but not always, nurture. That can also be reflected in their leadership style which is not leadership.
    My thinking has evolved to such that I am now most confident that women can and should have active roles in a church but not as the most senior pastor. I have not seen effective women as lead pastors in the 45 years of ministry involvement (not that there are that many effective male pastors either!). I would be open to being proved wrong. Blessings.

  29. Comment by Donna on August 3, 2018 at 8:44 am

    All you will gather here is anecdotal evidence. “Pastors” like Nadia Bolz-Weber of the ELCA have grown ministries, but the theology would be considered suspect (at best). To offer another anecdote, as a pastor for 35 years, I have had churches thrive and grow when I was the pastor. But note that, up till now, many female pastors are called to less-viable ministries which have little chance of growth because they are small and rural, or inner city fading congregations. It would take a much more comprehensive study to fairly address this conjecture.

  30. Comment by Stephen P Gutridge on July 30, 2018 at 1:35 pm

    Why is it that so many church folks look to the culture for their message. The Bible has the only message for the church to proclaim, “Jesus saves.”

  31. Comment by Sarah Flynn on July 30, 2018 at 4:56 pm

    This analysis ignores that the Southern Baptists have now begun to lose members and they are not in the least bit liberal.

    It is quite likely that the shrillness of Conservative churches and their unholy alliance with Trump and his UN Christian behavior and political agenda accounts for many dropouts by those who have decided they prefer ‘None of the above’. They see how Christians love one another and want none of it!

  32. Comment by Rebecca on August 4, 2018 at 9:26 pm

    Oh, but the Baptists are now experiencing the same things as the mainline Protestants. You can read all about it on the Christian news sites. They are becoming liberal.

  33. Comment by Tony Heine on July 31, 2018 at 12:36 am

    Mark,
    Concerning your prophesy:
    I pray for a Great Awakening in this country. If it comes, it will come from the Holy Spirit, and not from a group of blind teachers who achieve an epiphany when their balance sheet goes red.
    God is no respecter of persons, or of their earthly institutions. His Church exists in huddled platoons all around the world, and His measure of them is their obedience, not their affiliation. Judging from the history of the Church, He has no problem abandoning dis-obedient groups to their own corruption.
    I’ve detected some amount of side-eye from you towards those of us who attend churches of the evangelical bent.
    There are certainly many groups of evangelicals, both the denominational and non-denominational kind, that will eventually take their places on the ash-heap of Church history. Some started out in dis-obedience, others were obedient once, but have slid into dis-obedience.
    If you could go back in time and snatch a stolid Anglican from the era of Wesley, and show him a modern, liberal UMC church, you would be hard pressed to explain to him that you were holding out hope that this church would return to orthodoxy. He would likely tell you that this Methodist thing had “run its course.”
    As always, Mark, I enjoy reading your essays and articles. Keep up the good work and may God bless it and you.
    -Tony Heine

  34. Comment by John Petty on July 31, 2018 at 11:03 am

    The LCMS has been in decline at the same times and at roughly the same rate as the ELCA. I don’t think so-called “liberal theology” has anything to do with it.

  35. Comment by Padre Dave Poedel on July 31, 2018 at 1:14 pm

    While usually not particularly proud of my little tribe of Lutheranism where I serve as a Pastor, the LCMS is thankfully devoid of the sort of thing you note in your article.

    We have our issues, but they are not the ones you describe. We are declining too, maybe not as rapidly, but declining nonetheless.

    While I found the comments of these bishops very discouraging, they seemed as cliche as the statements my group makes about being “confessional” or “missional” in our “outreach”.

    May our Lord have mercy on His Church!

  36. Comment by Walter Pryor on July 31, 2018 at 5:06 pm

    Why are we surprised? The Bible says there will be a great falling away of many. This looks a lot like that.
    I feel very sorry for them. They have left their first love.
    Congregations and denominations have been seduced away from following God.
    This is no different than what Jesus saw with the Sadducees and Pharisees.
    What they have done is place love before obeying and repentance.

  37. Comment by William on August 2, 2018 at 8:07 pm

    Walter,
    Progressives have taken the beautiful love message of Scripture and twisted it, contorted it, and perverted it —- using it as a Mac truck to run down and kill off sin while redesigning Jesus as just another good guy who accepts anything and everything in the name of their new version of love and inclusiveness.

  38. Comment by Leslie on August 2, 2018 at 8:19 pm

    Well said, William.

  39. Comment by Joe Duffus on August 1, 2018 at 11:44 am

    One of Robert Conquest’s three rules of politics was “Any organization not explicitly right-wing sooner or later becomes left-wing.”

    This always strikes me when I look at the decline of mainline denominations. They drift into self-centered navel-gazing, looking for the new way, not to remain custodians of a trust.

    Are denominations a 19th century concept that is no longer needed? If their purpose back then was to be a “brand” promising continuity of practice in new territories, does that need vanish with modern communications and mobility?

    If the purpose of denominations is instead about accountability and “quality control” in different churches, that never seems to be their focus. We hear of the rare defrockings only because they are rare. Institutionally, denominations today are afraid to challenge those on the Left who preach bad doctrine, but perfectly willing to smile and wave goodbye to the conservatives who leave because of it.

    Mark wonders if the mainline will return to ensuring right teaching in the distant future, when all the white-haired hippies have exhausted themselves and are gone.

    I ask if anyone will miss what they ruined.

  40. Comment by Pem Schaeffer on August 1, 2018 at 2:45 pm

    The statements by the various officials in this “post” are insufferable examples of the social justice warrior pop psycho-babble of our age.

    The “theology” that used to matter has been replaced with a postmodern BYO version.

  41. Comment by Dave N. on August 2, 2018 at 3:55 pm

    Same old irrational IRD saw. The Lutheran Church Missouri Synod (about as fundamentalist and conservative as one could imagine) is declining even faster than the ECLA. (Their ASA went down 15% in a single year!-2014.)

    The North American Lutheran Church, also more conservative than the ELCA, is losing members so fast they’ve stopped releasing membership statistics.

  42. Comment by James Beadle on August 2, 2018 at 7:54 pm

    Why is this organization being discussed as a church? They are so only in the common sense of ecclesia (gathering of people). They are not a Kircke in the proper sense, they have abandoned the scriptures and practice maleficent heterodoxy. There is nothing to reclaim here, they have destroyed themselves.

    I’m just a seminarian in Fort Wayne, however it seems to me that to even credit them with the concept of being a church in the sense of Kirche is giving them credit for something that is lost and dead. Lord have mercy.

  43. Comment by David on August 2, 2018 at 10:16 pm

    The ELCA is not, and has not been Lutheran for nearly 30 years.

  44. Comment by Huss on December 2, 2019 at 8:05 pm

    Indeed. The ELCA joined the political Left in the late 1960s and never looked back — or perhaps I should say looked up — from where they had fallen!

  45. Comment by MikeS on August 4, 2018 at 9:37 am

    Liberal church leaders have long since ceased to be interested in being attractive to prospective new members. They are primarily interested in being (what they regard as) enlightened and noble (per their own eccentric definitions of these words), even if it’s a huge turnoff to normal people. So as they get weirder = “nobler”, they convince themselves that the Spirit is moving, even as their groups shrink. It’s a great scam, until the money runs out.

  46. Comment by Huss on December 2, 2019 at 8:09 pm

    Good point, Mike! Of course, the ELCA may follow the route trailblazed by the Episcopal Church: Use bequests and endowments as ecclesial embalming fluid to give the illusion of a fresh corpse. (As the donors spin in their graves.)

  47. Comment by Eric Paul on August 20, 2018 at 4:02 pm

    Ex-ELCA member preaches against the denomination, calls for exodus

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3fBG6GGN7AM&t=

  48. Comment by Fr. J on January 22, 2019 at 10:51 pm

    I agree with these lady “bishops”–yes, indeed, the Spirit IS up to something. However, it’s not what these “bishops” think. The Spirit is leading people away from the heterodox ELCA and the other mainline churches toward traditional, orthodox churches. Sadly, the liberal elites who have run the once great mainline Protestant churches into the ground are doing what Einstein defined as insanity: doing the same thing over and over again, but each time expecting a different result.

  49. Comment by William Hill on March 25, 2019 at 8:24 am

    Just a simple Lay person here with a lot of interets in theology. So i’m new to the Washington D.C. area and have been visiting various churches to find a new home. Visited an ELCA associated church this past Sunday and was truly amazed at how liberal the theology pronounced from the alter had become from my early years.

    Compared to the Episcopal and Catholic churches i’ve visited the political and cultural assimilation was evident from the beginning of the service. I profess to being more conservative and thinking to myself during the service that is not what was intended in the Bible.

    Just my .02 cents.

  50. Comment by Dan Wells on April 11, 2019 at 10:10 am

    I think the elites at ELCA et al are playing a long game that they actually think they can win. If you look at recent attacks by a gay Episcopalian presidential candidate upon vp Pence and overall media support for those attacks you see it. Pence is called a bigot because he holds beliefs that were virtually universally accepted among Christians 15 years ago. A few years ago Phil Robertson was kicked off Duck Dynasty for hate speech when he quoted the Bible. The long game is to have the Bible, or at least large sections of it, declared hate speech. That will make traditional denominations hate groups that must be eliminated. The ELCA and TEC can then fill the void as the only legal Christian denominations.

  51. Comment by Nate on June 8, 2019 at 10:34 pm

    Denominations and closed communion are Satan’s greatest triumphs on Earth. Jesus could give a hoot about human rules for His church. The reason churches are losing numbers is because, as you mention, they have become nothing more than resume builders for up and coming bureaucrats.

  52. Comment by Sasha Kwapinski on July 20, 2019 at 4:31 pm

    Perhaps the ELCA should consider merging with the Unitarian church. They’ll probably feel at home. (This from a former Unitarian)

  53. Comment by Todd on November 12, 2019 at 10:22 pm

    What no talk in the article that ELCA is allowing gay and lesbian Pastors ?

  54. Comment by Pastor Les LCMC on January 9, 2020 at 11:13 am

    Today, thanks in large part to feminists, women are everywhere in the workplace. They are in politics, corporations, doctors, scientist, astronauts and combat marines. The church is another institution where women have made great strides. Today, in the ELCA, the presiding bishop is a woman, as well as many regional bishops. Woman pastors are more visible today than ever before. As women entered the church and took on more leadership roles, many brought with them attitudes and creeds of feminism. Some feminist in the church demonstrated hostility against a patriarchal system that historically relegated women as secondary citizens. With this animus against a male dominated church, they began to change the culture and language of the church as they rose in leadership roles.
    Changing the culture and language of the church is called “ Vertical Inclusive Language.” It is a language that equally reflects both male and female aspects of God. It is now an active part of several large protestant denominations. In the Lutheran Church it is very visible. Citing just one of many churches, a congregational newsletter was mailed to its members. It was written by the church’s female senior pastor. The title of the letter is “Our Mother, Who Art in Heaven.” “Perhaps you’ve noticed the change in some of the prayer language in worship. Some have pointed out “typos” in the liturgy where the Lord’s Prayer now says “Our God” instead of “Our Father,” and the name ‘Father’ just kind of vanished from the Apostle’s Creed. Did you notice?” Elsewhere in the letter, she informs the members that they now have new hymnals that have, where possible, removed all references to masculinity and replaced it by gender neutral pronounces. This is a trend in churches today. The motivation behind this change is to make the church more female-friendly. After years of being marginalized by a patriarchal system, feminist now have the clout and power to change things so that the church is more inclusive.
    Is the move to be more inclusive for women a good move or is it a change with unintended consequences? Does this change in language really help women? Some say it does more harm to women than it does good. Once such person is Dennis Prager, a Jew that has written commentaries on the Pentateuch. In his 560-page work on the Book of Genesis, he writes that feminization of the church is actually harmful to women.
    On page 10 of his commentary, he writes that this:
    1) The Hebrew Bible’s primary concern is a good world.
    2) A good world can be achieved only by making good people.
    3) The primary perpetrators of evil (of a violent nature) are males.
    Prager asserts that the bible’s primary concern of a good world can be interpreted as God’s desire to have all believe and obey his commands. If all people (primarily males) become faithful and good people, then violent crime will diminish.
    Prager continues his commentary by saying, “When males are young, they need to feel accountable to a male authority figure. Without a father or some other male rule-giver, young men are likely to do great harm. If there is no male authority figure to give a growing boy rules, it becomes very difficult to control his wilder impulses.” For example, 99% of all mass school shooting were committed by males. Almost all rapes of women are by men. Most domestic violence is committed by men. Most murders are committed by men. Robberies are largely committed by men. All wars are started by men. Women bear the brunt of male aggression and violence. Here is a major reason why:
    In 2008, then U.S. Senator Barack Obama told an audience, ‘Children who grow up without a father are five times more likely to live in poverty and commit crime; nine times more likely to drop out of schools, and twenty times more likely to end up in prison.’
    A few days later, a psychiatrist from Harvard Medical School confirmed Obama’s statics. He said a male figure in the home makes a huge difference in the behavior of children, especially males. Sadly, many families are without a father-figure in the house, especially in black families. Don Lemon, a black anchor for CNN aired a shocking report stating that 77% of all African Americans are born out of wedlock. That means 77% of African Americans grow up without a father to role-model behavior. That means 77% of African Americans will not have a father figure to discipline them. That means they will not have someone to tell them how a man is to act. That means that they will not have someone to demonstrate how women are to be treated. While the rate of children born out of wedlock is high for African Americans, other races are well represented with children born out of wedlock.
    Prager writes that when a father is absent in the home, a father can be found in one other place. He states “a moral authoritative Father in Heaven can serve as an effective substitute.” His concluding sentence reads, “Any discomfort one feels with a masculine depiction of God is not comparable to the pain one will feel if boys are not civilized into good men.” This heavenly father can only be found in one place and that is the church. For that reason, changing the language of the church and erasing all masculine words will have the opposite effect of what feminist are seeking. Men, especially those seeking guidance from a father figure, will be lost to the world. Men seeking a masculine figure, but finding a feminine figure in church, will not find what they need. God instituted paternalism for a reason. If the church keeps its masculine identity and it saves one school child from being shot, it is worth the discomfort. If the church keeps its identification with the Father and it prevents one wife from being beaten, it is worth the discomfort. If the church keeps its maleness in the liturgy, and it prevents one woman from being raped, it is worth the discomfort.
    It is my hope and desire that the church can come together and appreciate both women and men and their gifts they have to offer, as well as the gifts of our Father in Heaven. Women have a unique set of gifts as well as men. The church should respect and elevated women as it has been doing for years while at the same time realize that the church needs to guide and teach fatherless men to be good followers of Christ in a manner that touches their soul. My hope and prayer are for young boys without a father to find a loving father in church, one that teaches them how to be good citizens and followers of Christ, and one that teaches them how to respect and honor women. My hope is that the church will teach young boys that violence is not the answer. My hope is, as Dennis Prager wrote, “that the church makes all people good so the world becomes good.”
    Amen.

  55. Comment by Kathymcp on January 19, 2020 at 10:04 pm

    I left the ELCA after being a church member 42 years, pillar for 33 years. Here’s a question each one needs to ask: Are you a Lutheran supporting the apostate ELCA leadership? Or are you a Christian obeying the Word of God. Jesus is the Word and He said there is no middle ground, and that you are either with Him or against Him.

  56. Comment by Lee Roschen on May 15, 2020 at 10:50 pm

    I permanently left the Lutheran Church in 1984, and thereafter went to a REAL spirit-filled church where they actually preached sound biblical doctrine. As a Christian, it was the best spiritual move I ever made. The liberal ELCA left the rails decades ago, and by the looks of things, they will never get the train back on the track unless they begin to preach a message of repentance and salvation.

  57. Comment by Shellie on June 27, 2020 at 10:58 pm

    The sooner the ELCA disappears, the better. They are a stain on the name “Lutheran” and makes people assume that all Lutherans are corny apostate Marxist and feminist puppets. When all the Lutheran denominations in America are fully confessional and preach the full Gospel only, THEN Lutheran doctrine and theology will stop being a laughing stock and a “non option” to non-Lutherans.

  58. Comment by Suzanne on May 13, 2021 at 7:22 pm

    1 Timothy 1-16.

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