Is there a hell?
“There may be, but I think it’s empty.”
“Jesus was clear” in the Bible that after he was “raised up he will draw all people to himself.”
Okay, give up? Was it a Lutheran? Was it a significant Lutheran voice? Was it the leader of a Lutheran denomination? Was it a female leader of a Lutheran denomination? Still stumped? You need to get out a bit, read some denominational magazines, or peruse some web sites. It should have been easy. The person who said it was Presiding Bishop of the ELCA, Elizabeth Eaton. She is significant simply by virtue of her role as "top Lutheran bishop."
The problem? First of all, it is bad exegesis. Second, it betrays Luther and Lutherans after him. Luther would have never answered in this way and neither would any Lutheran of any prominence until modern times, at least. Finally, it speculates where Scripture is neither silent nor unclear. It brings us all back to the same uncertain ground of what somebody thinks instead of what the Word of the Lord says.
Frankly, I though Bp Eaton was wiser than this -- too smart by half to fall into this ridiculous trap. But she wasn't and that may be why the ELCA is shedding members like a long-haired dog in Spring. I did not learn much from the bishop but I did learn this -- those in the ELCA have not felt constrained by what Scripture did or did not say for some time. This only confirms the obvious. The ELCA is not your grandfather's church. FWIW, according to the Sun Tiimes, the ELCA has bled off another 100K members in its journey to squander its Lutheran identity and replace the efficacious Word of God with the words neither efficacious nor objective but subjective and not even factual. Why, it is a wonder the ELCA has not bled off more in the pursuit of everything but that which is true and powerful enough to deliver its own promise.
I thought Richard John Neuhaus first said there is no hell, or that it's empty. I might be mistaken.
Neuhaus: The hope that all will be saved is precisely that, a hope. It is not a doctrine, never mind a dogma. But some respond that we cannot even hold the hope, since it clearly contradicts the revealed truth that many, if not most, will be eternally damned. A different and much more troubling objection is that it makes no sense to be a Christian if, in fact, one can be saved without being a Christian. In this view, the damnation of others, maybe of most others, is essentially related to the reason for being a Christian. The joy of our salvation is contingent upon the misery of their damnation. If it is possible that all will be saved, it is asked, why not eat, drink, and be merry? Neuhaus believed there was a hell; he hoped it was empty but not because of some shrug of God's shoulders that all is good but that they repented and believed. He also said that he doubted that those who had no place for God in this life were interested in God in the life that is eternal.
In the full interview with Eaton, she says very clearly, "we do not take the Bible literally anymore" and points to when Jesus says to pluck out your eyes, cut off your hands, and states how "I don't see anyone with that." Again heretical exegesis. And apparently Eaton hasn't read through Matthew 25. How do they explain those words of Jesus away?! But of course Matthew didn't write it as Jesus meant.
How sad and ironic, she and others are actually preaching people TO hell with a call there is no need to repent over what the Bible calls sin.
"Who said that?"
I live in a city where there is an ELCA seminary. A few days ago, I was at a Subway, getting a sandwich for lunch, and there were three women in the next booth. I could only partially hear their conversation. I heard something about "critical thinking," and a few other buzz words, so when I finished my sandwich, I stepped over to speak to them. I asked if they were teachers, and they replied that they were seminarians, two second year students and one third year. As the conversation continued, I got the feeling that they saw themselves more as social workers than as religious leaders. It was a sad conversation.
There needs to be a hell so smug LCMS folks can imagine the ELCA folks there. Sitting right near serial killers and climate change believers.
Jesus WILL call all to Himself...TO BE JUDGED before His throne. Since Scripture isn't taught at ELCA seminaries any more or even in their churches, it's easy to see why she could make such a horrible error.
I know of very few who take any joy or feel any smugness about the ELCA and its slow drift away from solid Lutheran faith and practice. In fact I know so many in Missouri who would welcome the ELCA voice and witness when standing in the face of life devalued by everything from abortion to assisted suicide. I know many in Missouri who would welcome the ELCA recovering its lost voice of Schmid and Krauth in standing for a renewed and reinvigorated Lutheranism sure of Scripture and confident of our Confessions. I know many in Missouri who would welcome the ELCA to sit down at the table without the approval of same sex marriage, the full GLBTQ agenda, and women's ordination being the sacred truths that must come first even before Scripture, creed, and confession. I know many in Missouri who would love to walk arm in arm with an ELCA that wanted to be Lutheran in the fullness of its identity. Those who think that Missourians and other Lutherans delight in the equivocation of Lutheranism from any quarter are simply wrong. It grieves us that the ELCA believes it has more in common with Methodists than other Lutherans or that its ecumenical agenda is a higher value than fidelity to the Lutheran Confessions or that its march with cultural change should trump the clear word of Scripture. I take no joy in it and very few people in Missouri do (and those who do need to be called to repentance).
Rev. Peters: "In fact I know so many in Missouri who would welcome the ELCA voice and witness when standing in the face of life devalued by everything from abortion to assisted suicide."
First, the XXXA was NEVER Lutheran—in the true meaning of the word.
Second, such a voice being welcomed—in the true meaning of the word—should only occur if that voice has abandoned XXXA doctrines, and not—like the NALC or EECMY—simply rejected a few of its demonic teachings while being devoted to the rest.
Third, if there are actually "so many in Missouri" who reject the first fact, as did 343 disgraceful synod delegates in 2001, or ignore the second fact, as in the reporting of current ecumenical-spin-the-bottle games, then Missouri has indeed demonstrated its adoption of the unionistic "levels of fellowship."
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