Thrivent Promoting Witchcraft and Idolatry

The Second Commandment.

Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord, thy God, in vain.

What does this mean?–Answer.

We should fear and love God that we may not curse, swear, use witchcraft, lie, or deceive by His name, but call upon it in every trouble, pray, praise, and give thanks.

summer13-bearing-comfortLast Thursday, when I was visiting my parents, my mother plopped a magazine in front of me and asked me what I thought of the article she had opened to. The article was this one:

“Bearing Comfort: Pat Bewley is spreading God’s love one teddy bear at a time.” By Sarah Asp Olson,
in Thrivent Magazine Summer 2013, page 5.

“This is witchcraft and idolatry!” My voice was louder than it should have been. As I read through it each sentence of the article was more and more ludicrous.

Here’s the basic idea:

  • Take teddy bears to a church service, take them to the communion rail,
  • then take them out to the sick and infirm.
  • The bears are labeled with special words describing their powers.
  • The teddy bears will then have the special powers to convey comfort, love, and especially God’s love.

From the article:

Thanks to member Pat (Menges) Bewley’s vision for spreading God’s love and comfort through stuffed bears, more than 65 furry friends take part in Calvary’s Sunday morning services each week – some even sit with the choir or go up with congregants for communion. At the end of services, members are invited to take the bears into the community and give them to friends, family members or strangers who may need a reminder of God’s love.

“None of our bears go out without first going through a church service,” says Bewley. “On their little tag it says they’ve been loved by our congregation, and now they’re coming to you with that love and the love of God.”

Calvary Evangelical Lutheran Church (ELCA) of Apollo Beach, Florida is the church.

Really, though, one should not be surprised that superstition over a charm or modern relic has gained such a strong foothold in a supposedly Lutheran congregation.

But we are required by God to warn His Church against these false teachings, regardless of how sincere and nicely intended the false teacher is.

Clearly there is no Word of Scripture that says or even implies that we should take things, whether teddy bears or any other thing, and claim that it has some special blessing or benefit from God. This is just an invention of men, and as Christ quoted His prophet, Isaiah:

‘These people draw near to Me with their mouth, and honor Me with their lips, But their heart is far from Me. And in vain they worship Me, Teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.’ ” (Matthew 15:8-9)

This kind of idolatry has a long history in the church, described in detail from the time of Elijah. This veneration of charms and works of the hands was the reason the Bronze Serpent was destroyed in the days of Hezekiah (2 Kings 18:4).

It is certainly superstition, and it falls within the definitions of both the 1st and 2nd commandments as idolatry and witchcraft.

Regarding this kind of idolatry, Luther wrote in the Large Catechism on the First Commandment:

17] you can easily see and judge how the world practices only false worship and idolatry. For no people has ever been so reprobate as not to institute and observe some divine worship; every one has set up as his special god whatever he looked to for blessings, help, and comfort.

18] Thus, for example, the heathen who put their trust in power and dominion elevated Jupiter as the supreme god; the others, who were bent upon riches, happiness, or pleasure, and a life of ease, Hercules, Mercury, Venus, or others; women with child, Diana or Lucina, and so on; thus every one made that his god to which his heart was inclined, so that even in the mind of the heathen to have a god means to trust and believe. 19] But their error is this, that their trust is false and wrong; for it is not placed in the only God, besides whom there is truly no God in heaven or upon earth. 20] Therefore the heathen really make their self-invented notions and dreams of God an idol, and put their trust in that which is altogether nothing. 21] Thus it is with all idolatry; for it consists not merely in erecting an image and worshiping it, but rather in the heart, which stands gaping at something else, and seeks help and consolation from creatures, saints, or devils, and neither cares for God, nor looks to Him for so much good as to believe that He is willing to help, neither believes that whatever good it experiences comes from God. (LC 1st Commandment)

But someone might object, “Hey, Pastor Abrahamson, they didn’t say they were worshipping the teddy bears, they just said that they were reminders of God’s love.”

That is actually only part of what they said. And it is the partial truth that makes the lie even more appealing to those who promote and receive such magic charms or relics given in God’s name.

We do not have the authority to claim God is doing something where God has not explicitly told us He is doing something. That is why we can proclaim His grace and forgiveness in Baptism, the Absolution, and the Lord’s Supper. But we cannot proclaim His grace through the recitation of the rosary, the veneration of Gabriel’s wing feather, or passing on a teddy bear, medicine bag, or a rabbit’s foot.

The fact that they claim this is God pleasing is a violation of the 2nd Commandment. And it is of a kind that Lutherans confess is the worst kind of violation of the Second Commandment:

54] But, the greatest abuse occurs in spiritual matters, which pertain to the conscience, when false preachers rise up and offer their lying vanities as God’s Word.

55] Behold, all this is decking one’s self out with God’s name, or making a pretty show, or claiming to be right, whether it occur in gross, worldly business or in sublime, subtle matters of faith and doctrine. And among liars belong also blasphemers, not alone the very gross, well known to every one, who disgrace God’s name without fear (these are not for us, but for the hangman to discipline); but also those who publicly defame the truth and God’s Word and consign it to the devil. Of this there is no need now to speak further. (LC 2nd Commandment)

This abuse of charms, relics, and other kinds of talismans in the Church has been thoroughly condemned and exposed as idolatry that dares to speak in God’s name. In the Smalcald Articles we confess:

The relics, in which there are found so many falsehoods and tomfooleries concerning the bones of dogs and horses, that even the devil has laughed at such swindle. Relics ought to have been condemned long ago, even if there were some good in them; and all the much the more because they are without God’s Word. They are neither commanded nor counseled. Relics are an entirely unnecessary and useless. 23] Worst of all is that these relics have been imagined to work indulgence and the forgiveness of sins. And people have revered them as a good work and service of God, like the Mass, and other such practices.(SA II:II.22)

By now there are probably readers who are convinced all I am doing is a hatefilled attack against a well meaning effort of loving Christians.  Such “well meaning” christians, if they can be called by that name, should take into account both the words of those on the left-hand in Matthew 24:41-44, as well as Matthew 7:21-23:

21 “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. 22 Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’ 23 And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!’

 The Thrivent article has the required heart rending testimonial about how well these little charms work in the life of a cancer survivor.

Testimonials like this are a threat to those who would criticize. The threat is that if you speak against the practice you must be a hater. “How could you write or speak such hateful words against a woman who has benefited so greatly from these tokens of love?”

Why? Because these tokens of love are a substitute gospel which is no gospel at all. They replace the love of Christ with a soft, fuzzy, non-specific inanimate charm that does not preach Christ crucified. Rather, the charm is an intentional way to avoid the real preaching of God’s Word while pretending to proclaim God’s love.

The trust is directed to the charm, the relic, the magic teddy bear:

“As I was recovering at a girlfriend’s house, her neighbor brought me a teddy bear. I was in tears when I got that little bear from a gal that was practically a stranger. It was like God was there with me.”

The name of Christ appears nowhere in the article. His death and resurrection, the forgiveness of sins, sin, and the Word of God are not mentioned in the article anywhere. The The Lord’s Supper is mentioned, but only as a magical place to which the teddy bears are taken as if it confers upon the teddy bears some divine power to comfort the ill or distressed.

Faith is directed toward the teddy bears and the good intentions of those who formed this so-called ministry.

So, we should all feel warm and fuzzy. Isn’t this nice. They’re doing something to make people feel better. They’re taking teddy bears to church, and the teddy bears are taking God’s love to the sick and infirm.

I can just predict some of the comments.

Biggest comment complaint would probably be: “Why do you have so much hate?”

To those who think that I respond: Seriously? Is this what you think? You think that anyone and everyone who differs from you must therefore be a hater? You really need to rethink your life. You and your opinions are not the center of what defines love. God’s Word, particularly the 10 Commandments and Christ’s fulfillment of the Law are what define love. And it is particularly out of love for lost sinners that I wrote this criticism of the Thrivent article.

It is not love to allow people to be directed to idols no matter how supposedly well intentioned this effort might be. Love considers the real consequences. Love listens to what God’s Word actually says.

Pointing people toward some kind of Christianized magic charm is nothing other than witchcraft in a sanctified disguise. There’s something about wolves in sheep’s clothing in book we’re supposed to read.

Thrivent, this is why I do not direct people to you as a “Christian” fraternal organization. You might have Christians as members of your financial group, but concern for them doesn’t seem to keep your organization from caring about preventing such damning false doctrine as this article.

Second biggest complaint in the comments might probably be that I’m daring to write against Thrivent, as if that should be a concern.

But the fact is that I’m writing against the promotion of false doctrine by a group that claims to be Christian. And writing and speaking against this promotion of false doctrine is what I am required to do as a pastor.

It won’t matter what investments and insurance you have if you are directed by that organization to trust in magic charms rather than in Christ. There’s something in that book we’re supposed to read about bigger barns, and then taking life easy.

If you really want to comment in a way that is significant, then direct your writing to Thrivent about their promotion of false doctrine in an effort to correct them.

About Pastor Joseph Abrahamson

Pastor Joseph Abrahamson serves Faith Ev. Lutheran Church, Clara City, Minnesota (E.L.S.). He and his wife, Mary, have 10 children. Pastor Abrahamson is a graduate of Bethany Lutheran Theological Seminary, and of the University of Wisconsin-Madison's Department of Hebrew and Semitic Studies. He has served on the Faculty/Staff at Bethany Lutheran College teaching Religion, Linguistics, Archaeology, and Self-Defense; and was on Staff at the University of Wisconsin as an Information Processing Consultant (Computer Geek) while doing graduate work in Semitics. Pastor Abrahamson served Clearwater Lutheran Parish (ELS) from 2001 to April 2015.


Thrivent Promoting Witchcraft and Idolatry — 88 Comments

  1. @Charles Austin #46

    Those of us who read your prolific posting at ALPB will naturally dismiss you out of hand. You have a tendency to cut and berate, getting personal, always putting the worst construction on things. e_ca can do no wrong and LC-MS can do no right. You have proven to lack any understanding on confessional quia subscription, and it is 110% predictable that you would think this “holy teddy bear” thing is a great idea.

    revaggie totally nailed it , because I could see the holy relic angle. One of the many abuses Dr. Martin Luther railed against during the reformation. This is nothing more than the enthusiasm, Gnosticism, magic, etc. that Satan always tries to infiltrate into the Church. this is just the latest feel-good attempt. And I think Thrivent is sliding towards heterodoxy ever since their merger. Kinda like it is following the trajectory of e_ca.

  2. This is certainly not the first case in which violations of the First Table of the Law have been promoted in Thrivent magazine. A couple years ago, there was an article which applauded a congregation for displaying banners with symbols of various world religions on them, thus teaching universalism.
    A brother pastor had it right when he called Thrivent “BAAL,” though he may have been using it as an abbreviation for Brotherhood of Aid of Association for Lutherans.

  3. Charles Austin :
    Love it when my predictions come true. My remarks are dismissed first of all because I am in the ELCA, and am therefore suspected of all heresy, all manner of mischief, and being someone who has crackers and cheese (melted, of course) with Satan.

    Well, sir, your denomination has this particular problem with things like treating sinful lifestyles as normal (homosexuality) and denying the infallibility of Scripture, among other things that run contrary to the Word of God and the historic Lutheran confessions.

    There’s a designation for direct rebellion to that which is clearly spoken of in Scripture: heresy. It’s kinda like saying you’re married all the while disregarding everything said in your wedding vows.

    Perhaps you should pick up your Bible again and consider believing all of it, rather than just the parts your denomination finds comfortable while denouncing the rest of it.

  4. @poor miserable sinner #37

    My whole point is that, if you look hard enough, some well-meaning layperson or pastor is going to come up with something goofy, not quite right, in order to “help” another person, who is suffering.

    Happens all the time. Think “angels.” Laypeople are spreading “angel” talk and goofyness all the time. It would be ill-advised, in my opinion, not to transform such occasions into “teaching moments,” to teach about what the Bible has to say about the Means of Grace, prayer, angels, etc. You can’t do that when you’ve burned the hearer already at the stake.

    I’m surprised that this piece from an ELS brother is so legalistic. In fact, the practice doesn’t sound like witchcraft, it sounds more like the aberrant practice of our Orthodox Christian friends in how they treat icons.

  5. @Charles Austin #46

    The real problem, Charles, is that if a teddy bear has spent any sizable amount of time in an ELCA church, he’s going to be sorely in need of deprogramming when he’s dispatched on his mission of mercy.

    We don’t know exactly what you preach in your church, but a teddy who’s been part of the congregational life in a typical ELCA church for any length of time might well:

    ** have heard a report of the ELCA’s Presiding Bishop Mark Hanson’s open letter claiming that Jews, Muslims, and Christians all worship one God: [ ] “The one God whom we worship is a God not only of judgment, but of mercy and peace.”

    ** have attended a homosexual “marriage” ceremony, possibly one presided over by a practicing homosexual pastor whose sin has been denominationally blessed by a Bible-bowdlerizing vote of the ELCA national convention in 2009 [ ]

    ** have heard in a staff meeting that the ELCA’s self-funded health care plan subsidizes abortions for any reason, sex selection included, up to 20 weeks [ ]

    By the time poor teddy is freed from the ELCA’s Bible-abrogating clutches, he’ll be in great need of exposure to a Martin Luther sermon.

    Like, perhaps, this one:

    “. . . Here then we have these two, the faith and the Gospel, that these and nothing else are to be preached throughout Christendom. Let us now see who are to be the preachers and who the learners. The preachers are to be angels, that is, God’s messengers, who are to lead a heavenly life, are to be constantly engaged with God’s Word that they under no circumstances preach the doctrines of men. It is a most incongruous thing thing to be God’s messenger and not to further God’s message. Angelus means a messenger, and Luke calls him God’s messenger (Angelus Domini). The message also is of more importance than the messenger’s life. If he leads a wicked life, he only injures himself, but if he brings a false message in the place of God’s message, he leads astray and injures every one that hears him, and causes idolatry among the people in that they accept lies for the truth, honor men instead of God, and pray to the devil instead of God.

    “There is no more terrible plague, misfortune or cause for distress upon earth than a preacher who does not preach God’s Word; of whom, alas, the world today is full, and yet they think they are pious and do good when indeed their whole work is nothing but murdering souls, blaspheming God and setting up idolatry, so that it would be much better for them if they were robbers, murderers, and the worst scoundrels, for then they would know that they are doing wickedly. But now they go along under spiritual names and show . . . and are at the same time ravening wolves in sheeps’ clothing, and it would be well if no one ever heard their preaching.”

    –Christmas Day Sermon [Sermons of Martin Luther, Volume 1: Sermons on Gospel Texts for Advent, Christmas, and Epiphany; Baker Books (1983); pp. 153-4]

  6. Can a religious organization “embodying apostasy,” whether or not it claims a called and ordained teddy bear, really be referred to as “evangelical,” “Lutheran,” or a “church”?

  7. first – yeah, the teddy bear thing is something that fits with the catholic relic idea.

    reminds me that the road to hell is paved with good intentions.

    second – @Carl, reading the LCMS cyclopedia, I don’t know if embodying apostasy is the best arrangement of words. if anything, afflicted by the causes that result in apostasy (to various degrees). the words “total lapsing” don’t seem to fit as i’m understanding the definition.

    that doesn’t make the heretical teachings permissible, by any means.

  8. Regarding the XXXA “embodying apostasy,” that is the CTCR’s phrase in their April 2012 document, “Response to Human Sexuality: Gift and Trust: A Report of the Commission on Theology and Church Relations.”

    Also after the 2009 XXXA Assembly approve ordaining active homosexuals, on Friday, August 21, 2009, then LCMS World Relief and Human Care Executive Director Matthew Harrison answered a question (at 9m16s) from Rev. Todd Wilken on Issues, Etc.:

    Wilken: “Is apostasy too strong a word to describe what we’ve watched over the last — better part — of the decade that culminates this afternoon in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America?”

    Harrison: “No, it is apostasy. There’s no way around it. It gives me great pain to say that, but there’s no other word for it.”

  9. In 1955 the ELS suspended its fellowship with the LCMS over doctrinal disagreements…we must all remember, the pastor that wrote this article is not in fellowship with us, and from some of his rather argumentative (and as someone said, “overly” legalistic) language is trying to stir the pot, get us to arguing, not working together.

    Yes, the idea of teddy bears conveying any possible “relic” type things is silly, but the premise behind, the love of Christ that is being sent along by the parishioner is a good thing. It shows they care.

    And of course, there are better ways, more in line with a true teaching.

  10. @Carl Vehse #7


    2001 Synodical Convention, Res. 3-21 A: First Resolve: “That the 2001 synodical convention affirm the late President Alvin L. Barry’s judgement that ‘we cannot consider them [the ELCA] to be an orthodox Lutheran church body…”

    You could look it up.

  11. @Charles Austin #20
    “P.S. I generally find this site unpleasant and avoid it and never thought I would comment here. But opposition to teddy bears!! Really?”

    “Really?” You find this site unpleasant? Oh, really?!!!

    Several years ago, I posted somewhat regularly on ALPB, until one of my comments was soundly and unpleasantly ridiculed by one of the moderators (it may have been you, but I can’t remember). I found ALBP very unpleasant and uncharitable, so I no longer visit there. It slices both ways.

    I, for one, am up to here with gimmicks. Why do we need them to promote the Gospel? If nothing else, such inanities serve to obscure and denigrate the Gospel. It’s still about preaching the Word and administering the sacraments. It’s not about gimmicks, but faithfulness.

  12. Joe Strieter :
    @Charles Austin #20
    “P.S. I generally find this site unpleasant and avoid it and never thought I would comment here. But opposition to teddy bears!! Really?”
    “Really?” You find this site unpleasant? Oh, really?!!!
    Several years ago, I posted somewhat regularly on ALPB, until one of my comments was soundly and unpleasantly ridiculed by one of the moderators (it may have been you, but I can’t remember). I found ALBP very unpleasant and uncharitable, so I no longer visit there. It slices both ways.
    I, for one, am up to here with gimmicks. Why do we need them to promote the Gospel? If nothing else, such inanities serve to obscure and denigrate the Gospel. It’s still about preaching the Word and administering the sacraments. It’s not about gimmicks, but faithfulness.

    Austin is *not* a moderator at ALPB forum. He has in fact, been on several bans for his bad behavior…

  13. “If a church is judged by its teachings, its creeds (statements of what it believes), and its confessions to no longer be Trinitarian, then it has always been judged to be no longer Christian. Even before we examine what the historic critics of the ELCA formally say about the concept of the Trinity, it should be evident that with the denial of the deity of Christ, there is no Trinity left to deny.”

    -“What’s Going on Among the Lutherans? A Comparison of Beliefs” Patsy Leppien and J. Kincaid Smith, Northwestern Publishing House, 1992.
    pg. 100

  14. @John Rixe #13
    OK, that was tongue in cheek (as was mine in retrospect); but what I mean, what I see “of late” is a greater deal of foul language, arguments, bull-headedness (that a word?), etc.

    Perhaps time for a cigar (what I would do), a sit-back and chill (in whatever form that takes), and don’t like good ideas get lost in the nasty debate.

  15. John Rixe :
    @Joe Strieter #14
    BJS is not only pleasant but also always full of surprises.

    Well, BJS isn’t ALWAYS pleasant–it can get dicey here. But we have no corner on unpleasantness. And we aren’t into gimmicks.

  16. @CDJ #17
    “Austin is *not* a moderator at ALPB forum. He has in fact, been on several bans for his bad behavior…”

    Well, I can’t speak to that–no matter–it WAS one of the moderators. I think I’m over it.

  17. @rev. david l. prentice jr. #19

    I recommend a comfort dog. similar lowering of blood pressure and non-habit forming. 🙂

    (being silly – but comfort/therapy dogs are great when applied properly. – i would no sooner dismiss them than i would dismiss a band-aid for not bringing the gospel.)

  18. Someone writes:
    Austin is *not* a moderator at ALPB forum. He has in fact, been on several bans for his bad behavior…

    I comment:
    True, I am not a moderator. Wrong, I have not been “on several bans for” any kind of behavior.
    I just might have to get over my distaste for this site. Seems that some of you folk are in need of correction on various things. 🙂

  19. @Charles Austin #23

    of all the things you reply to. this is to what you reply. you have a great opportunity to gently instruct (according to your belief), debate, discuss, share, answer, talk, quote, anything.

    and you appear long enough to share that you weren’t banned, weren’t a moderator, and that BJS needs correction.

    if you feel the need to minister to the bloggers, i’m curious about your practices. i would hope this isn’t your manner ministering to a congregation.

  20. Let us talk about Thrivent again.

    Remember it was a merger between AAL and Lutheran Brotherhood.

    Being a member of Thrivent was causing me “issues” because they would support ELCA schools, seminaries etc… that promote false teaching. But I could say tongue in cheek, “well at least on paper they do not deny Justification by Faith Art, IV of Augsburg Confession.” Though we could have a big debate on that issue.

    Well after the common bond vote I wrote in an e-mail the following question to Thrivent.

    Questions/Comments: With the vote to extend the common bond. Does this now mean that Thrivent will now be active in supporting Seminaries and Schools of other non-Lutheran denominations such as Baptist, etc…

    The answer: (Note I left in non-relevant stuff so you can see it came from Thrivent. Also note the paragraph starting, So yes, .. I did not know how to make it bold or underline it for emphasis)

    Thank you for your email, Christopher.

    Now that we know the results, we will move forward and build plans for the future. Any changes will be gradual, and will be based on the needs of our membership. Extending our common bond to include other Christians doesn’t change our purpose. In the near term, we expect the primary change will be that Christian friends and family of Thrivent members who may not be Lutheran may feel more welcome to join.

    So yes, we will now be active in supporting Seminaries and Schools of other non-Lutheran denominations such as Baptist, etc.

    If you have any additional questions or information to share, please choose ‘reply with history’ or ‘forward’ this email back to us to assure the previous correspondence stays together.

    The Member Connection Center can be reached at 800-847-4836 and say “Fraternal” when prompted. Our service hours are Monday through Thursday 7am to 9 pm, Central time and Friday 7am to 6pm. Any Member Interaction Representative would be able to assist you.

    Member Connection Center

    4321 N. Ballard Road, Appleton, WI 54919-0001

    Toll -free: 800-847-4836
    Fax: 920-628-6144
    E-mail: [email protected]

    Well, now profit from my policy etc.. will be used to support those who actively deny Justification by Faith and call themselves Christian.

    So what should be our response?

    1. Still take the Choice Dollars. After all church Members bought AAL/Lutheran Brotherhood products to help “Lutheran Churches causes etc..”

    2. Do not with draw your funds from Thrivent just because of this change. Withdraw based on good financial principals etc…

    3. Find a different Company to invest your new money with. Yes they will give to things we will find objectionable . But they make no pretense on being “Christian or Lutheran etc….

  21. Concerning Rev. Austin: being a lurker on ALPB, he is of a closed mind, xxxA ueber alles, a scholar of his own views. Of course, were this to be posted on the other blog, it would disappear in seconds.

  22. @Charles Austin #23

    Charles, you did comment on the teddy bear column, giving your own opinion. We’re fine with debating you and each other over that ELCA church’s practice.

    You also made a comment to the effect that, “I’m an ELCA pastor, and my denomination is just peachy, thank you.”

    Since you made that blithe assurance, some of us, myself included, have challenged you on a few of the ELCA’s more egregious abandonments of Scripture. For example, my post earlier on this page:

    ** . . . a report of the ELCA’s Presiding Bishop Mark Hanson’s open letter claiming that Jews, Muslims, and Christians all worship one God: [ ] “The one God whom we worship is a God not only of judgment, but of mercy and peace.”
    ** . . . a[n ELCA] homosexual “marriage” ceremony, possibly one presided over by a practicing homosexual pastor whose sin has been denominationally blessed by a Bible-bowdlerizing vote of the ELCA national convention in 2009 [ ]
    ** . . . the ELCA’s self-funded health care plan subsidizes abortions for any reason, sex selection included, up to 20 weeks [ ]

    We were hoping you’d man the ELCA ramparts and mount a vigorous defense of Mark Hanson’s universalism, the ELCA’s unilaterally subjective recategorization of sexual sin, and the allocation of ELCA parishioners’ offering dollars to subsidize the shedding of innocent blood in the ELCA health care plan.

    Your response . . . only generalities and more of the Monty Python “I’m a lumberjack and I’m OK” non-defense “defense.”

    If you’re interested in doing more than flitting about as an occasional platitude-spouting gadfly on this forum, how about manning up and speaking specifically to some of the documented criticisms of the denomination whose putative scriptural orthodoxy you’ve touted?

  23. @’Teacher’ — I was just about to make an insignificant post when I saw your’s above. Excellent!
    It brought to mind my encounter with a friend from quite a few years ago. We had attended church together as young people. I learned in conversation that she had become ELCA. I politely asked her why she had done so. Her response was concise, “I like not having to put up with so many rules.” She was referring to things such as, “Thou shall not …” Hanson’s ideas, along with his cohorts, is to look religious and have a good time holding hands and hugging.

    But, back to Abrahamson’s great article. I first saw it yesterday, the 30th. Coincidentally, my wife found this in a local newspaper today — upcoming “Back Pack Blessing” for back to school. While one might consider it an adiaphoron (a religious ceremonial or ritual observance that is held to be an affair of the individual conscience because it is neither forbidden nor enjoined by the scriptures — NOTE, the Teddy Bear issue is not an adiaphoron but a Second Commandment issue as pointed out so well by Abrahamson), it can lead to problems. In any event, it is being done at a church of a denomination that has pretty loose dogma (if one can call it that) in the first place. One has to wonder if such an event is seen as possibly helping ensure good grades without worrying about academic effort by at least some. It seems a ritual of little practical value when prayers for guidance, etc. in the school year might be more appropriate. Just a thought.

  24. @Nicholas #27
    Periodically I am led to look at the “herchurch” web site. I’m not sure why. I think it’s like not being able to look away from an accident. But it ALWAYS makes me happy that I am a member of the LCMS. On the web site today, they are promoting a “hymn” called Midwife Divine Now Calls Us. What a train wreck.

  25. @Tim Klinkenberg #43
    Not nearly as much as they used to. And they support a number of non-Lutheran events as well. And will be supporting even more with the policy change.

    When was the last time your youth group or some other church organization tried to get matching funds? No way.

  26. @Charles Austin #32

    Charles, try mustering a little honesty, please. You can’t explain the ELCA’s heresies, so you disdainfully decline to defend your indefensible denomination. And the sole topic you mention, the LCMS’s position on ordaining women, is supposedly in the same moral universe with the ELCA’s documented universalism, blessing of homosexual sin, and participation in abortion? Unbelievable.

    And spare us the evasive bluster about Lutheran-this and hyperconfessional-that. Make your case for the ELCA from the Bible. Or is it so flawed and unreliable a text that ELCA pastors and bishops use it only for a doorstop these days?

    So as Charles retreats from the field, are there any ELCA pastors viewing this forum who, after having assured us of the ELCA’s orthodox purity, actually have the courage and theological wherewithal to defend the ELCA’s doctrines and practices?

  27. I am concerned that the Lutheran Witness has a full-page Thrivent ad inside the front cover every month. A year ago I brought that up to the LW and they saw no problem with it. It essentially sends a message to readers, both Lutheran an non-Lutheran, that the Missouri Synod supports an organization with heretical underpinnings. At least they should place the ad in the back and put the LCMS ads in the front rather than the back where they are now located. I suspect it may be a money issue. It is likely Thrivent is paying a large amount to the LW for the placement of the ad. Money seems to trump doctrine in this case.

  28. I’m not on any “field” from which to retreat.
    I generally (not always, but generally) refuse to respond to messages or online postings by people who do not give their real names, thereby suggesting that they don’t have the guts to really stand up for what they say. Too many of those folk here.
    I have voluntarily assumed some responsibilities on the ALPB forum, which requires me to put up with a certain amount of hoo-doo from folks there. Ain’t gonna do that here.
    I have a pretty nifty life – supply preaching, days on the beach, some writing projects, good books to read, Broadway and Off-Broadway shows to enjoy, travels (Spain and Portugal recently, maybe England this fall), songs to sing with the Orpheus Club Men’s Chorus, and I’m learning to play the harmonica. Why darken it with useless “dialogue”?
    I really don’t care – most of the time – that you folks have found your way to be Lutheran. It seems to float your boats. It just isn’t the Lutheranism or Christianity that I’ve known.
    And I no longer care what certain types of non-ELCA folks think of my church body.
    No “field,” no “retreat,” just a blessed life – married 50 years, ordained 46 years, a few years living abroad, some accomplishments in the secular world and in church circles – which God lets me go on living with joy and excitement.

  29. @Charles Austin #39

    “Recent events in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America confirm its earlier departure from the Confessions by entry into fellowship with the Reformed, Episcopalians, Moravians, and Methodists. The Lutheran Substance has evaporated, and now even the outer shell is shattering.”
    – The Reverend Doctor David P. Scaer in the January/April 2011 edition of the Concordia Theological Quarterly (footnote 39 on p. 56)

  30. @Charles Austin #39

    Still emulating Brave Sir Robin, are you? Does it make any difference if the documented criticisms of actual ELCA apostasies like its presiding bishop preaching universalism, its hierarchy putting a denominational imprimatur on homosexual sin and the shedding of innocent blood of the unborn come from Didaskalos or John Smith? Only to one who needs a smokescreen because he can’t and won’t, after asserting on this forum how nifty the ELCA is, answer specific questions about his denomination’s headlong retreat from biblical Christianity.

    What is the “Lutheranism and Christianity [you’ve] known”? Oh, that’s right, you sedulously avoid those specifics, don’t you? Especially the specifics about the Bible-spurning “Lutheranism” of today’s ELCA. Any defense that might require citing the Bible is off limits to this ELCA shepherd.

    And the “certain types of non-ELCA folks” you don’t deign to engage in dialogue now include more than half a million who’ve fled the moribund ELCA since 2009.

  31. The ELCA has formulated its own new law and new gospel. It is a new version of works righteousness. Just ask Charles Austin, he will tell how righteous he is, and how wonderful abortion and a bunch of other sins are. It is just the same old deception and ultimately from the same old deceiver, here represented by the fallen ELCA calling evil good and good evil.

    My teen aged son read the teddy bear story and laughed. He asked, what are they, 3 years old? That tag on the teddy bear sounds like something a preschooler would say about a teddy bear. Well, at least a 3 year old knows he is pretending.

  32. @Mrs. Hume #42

    Nah, let him stay. He’s too valuable as an object lesson. He’s the poster child for today’s ELCA clerics.

    I’m curious, though. If Charles unexpectedly were to act out of character and actually defend the denomination he’s praised on this forum (he brought the ELCA up; we didn’t), I’d ask him to explain a glaring injustice that’s recently come to my attention: the ELCA’s capricious disenfranchisement of fornicators and adulterers.

    The ELCA has been practicing invidious sex discrimination, picking and choosing denominational favorites in its “how can we get the world to like us better” repudiation of Bible injunctions like those in 1 Corinthians 6:9-10: “Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived; neither fornicators, . . . nor adulterers, . . . nor homosexuals, . . . will inherit the kingdom of God.”

    Since extending its post-August 2009 welcome to Pastors Bjorn and Cindi, who solemnly attest they are in ELCA-approved “publicly accountable, life-long, monogamous” same-sex relationships with their respective partners, how can the ELCA deny the same effusive approval to Youth Pastor Joey, who vows that his fornication with live-in girlfriend Tammy will be life-long and monogamous? Marriage is so yesterday, say these thoroughly modern sophisticates and their circle of friends.

    Similarly, how can the ELCA turn a cold denominational shoulder to Pastor Ted if he swears that his adulterous relationship with church organist Marjorie will be life-long and monogamous? After all, it’s not Ted’s and Marjorie’s fault that their balky spouses have refused to grant them a no-financial-strings-attached divorce, and those offerings and membership numbers at Ted’s church have declined rather precipitously since the August 2009 ELCA convention.

    If the ELCA really wants the world’s unstinting approval it’s been earnestly coveting for decades (who needs the praise of God, anyway?), it should wholly expunge 1 Corinthians 6 from its Bibles and pledge fealty to the world’s “there’s no sin in any kind of consensual sex” creed. It’s clearly time for another sin-whitewashing, Bible-revising ELCA convention vote. Look for a convention resolution any day now from the long-neglected fornicators and adulterers lobby.

  33. Brave Sir Robin? Nah, his arguments (not being seated on Scripture) are more like he has 2 halves of coconuts and he’s banging them together.

    Every time someone uses the term “Lutheranism”, it costs him 10,000 Table Talk radio points. Poor fellow is seriously in arrears with Bryan and Evan.

  34. I am shutting down comments because they have veered so far from the original article. I will be going back and removing a lot of them also.

    I would encourage all of you to interact around the articles at BJS instead of the rabbit trails that develop, and also that individual personalities not become a matter of comment if they are also not to do with the original piece.