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Amid decline, one Lutheran church strives to live up to its namesake’s spirit

In the Rev. Daniel Pugh's Bible study on Genesis 3 he explained that The Fall can be understood as a coming of age story. RNS photo by Yonat Shimron.

CARY, N.C. (RNS) — At a Bible study on a weekday evening, Lutheran minister Daniel Pugh paced before a group of 50 church members in cargo shorts and a plaid button-down shirt talking about Adam and Eve.

Clutching a hand-held remote he clicked through a PowerPoint presentation, telling members of Christ the King Lutheran Church that one way to interpret the story of Adam and Eve is as a coming-of-age allegory about a pair of carefree teens caught red-handed having sex.

Christ the King Lutheran Church in Cary, N.C. RNS photo by Yonat Shimron.

In this, alternative reading of The Fall, the “forbidden fruit” offered to Eve in Chapter 3 may be a metaphor for sex, he said, and the “serpent” may be a metaphor for a penis.

Lutherans have certainly come a long way since their namesake, Martin Luther, nailed his 95 theses to the Castle Church door in Wittenberg, Germany, 500 years ago this month, sparking the Protestant Reformation.

These days, the largest U.S. denomination to trace its heritage to the great reformer, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, is struggling to reverse a decline in membership among its 9,252 churches.

The traditional sanctuary at Christ the King Lutheran Church in Cary, N.C. RNS photo by Yonat Shimron

Its successful churches, such as Christ the King, located in a bedroom community of Raleigh, are pushing forward with a new vision, one that has less to do with upholding the purity of Luther’s theology and more with the spirit of Luther’s reform agenda.

That spirit of reform is evident in the casual clothes sans-collar Pugh wears for Bible study, in his embrace of technology and audio-visual enhancements — the Bible study is posted to the church’s YouTube channel — and in his theological exploration that brings recent academic scholarship into the pews and challenges members’ understanding of their faith.

“This is a look at the Adam and Eve story in a way I’m sure you’ve never heard a pastor talk about before,” Pugh, 34, told his listeners at the outset, cautioning them: “This Bible study is going to be more adult than you’re used to. This Bible study will talk about sex and morality.”

Christ the King Lutheran Church wants to move beyond the hidebound traditions of American Protestantism, take risks, attract younger people and make Christianity more relevant to the 21st century.

Julie Schmidt, right, leads a children’s sing-along before Sunday school at Christ the King Lutheran Church in Cary, N.C. RNS photo by Yonat Shimron

“A lot of times churches are trying to preserve the legacy of who founded the congregations founded long ago,” said Elizabeth Eaton, the presiding bishop of the ELCA. “When you try to hold on to something so tightly, you strangle it. Taking a risk while being faithful to the core message of grace is my advice.” 

Luther famously broke with the Roman Catholic Church over his conviction that faith alone leads to salvation in heaven and that the Bible is the sole source of legitimate authority for Christian believers. But those theological controversies have receded in significance.

More important to many Lutherans today, is Luther’s emphasis on freedom that comes from divine grace, on offering worship in the language and culture of the day and making it relevant to a new generation.

The share of Americans who identify with mainline Protestantism has been shrinking significantly. A recent Pew Center study found that just shy of 15 percent of Americans affiliate with the mainline. (Among millennials born since 1981, only 11 percent identify as mainline Protestants).

The ELCA saw its membership decline to 3.5 million members in 2016, down from 5.2 million in 1988 when the denomination was formed as a merger of three other smaller Lutheran groups. Today, 40 percent of its churches have between 50 and 100 worshippers each Sunday.

Christ the King, with 1,420 members, is determined to change that trajectory.

Evangelism in a parking lot

Like many older mainline churches across the country, Christ the King went through a period of stagnation.

Morale flagged. Conflict escalated. Clergy burned out. Members left.

The church was started in 1964 when Cary was still a sleepy suburb with fewer than 5,000 residents. But the church benefitted from the town’s explosive growth — now about 162,000 residents — as more people flocked to the South in search of better jobs and safe, family-friendly neighborhoods.

At its peak, Christ the King had 2,000 members. But when the church hired the Rev. Wolfgang Herz-Lane — who, like Luther, was born in what is now Germany — as senior pastor a year ago, only about 400 were attending Sunday services.

“It became really clear that what was happening here is what happens in so many of our churches: People were faithfully managing their decline,” said Herz-Lane.

Senior Pastor Wolfgang Herz-Lane gives a Martin Luther toy to a child during a church service. RNS photo by Yonat Shimron

As the membership and offerings declined, church leaders cut staff and programs — accommodating the decline and managing it rather than trying to reverse it.

Herz-Lane, who served previously as bishop of the Delaware-Maryland Synod of the ELCA, had ideas about what could be done.

Herz-Lane first came to the U.S. to work in a poor, inner-city church in Camden, N.J., as part of an overseas service program. He quickly learned about dislocation, malaise and social injustice.

RNS graphic by Chris Mathews

Though Christ the King’s problems were of a different order — its members are mostly affluent and white — he saw a challenge. When he was defeated for his second term as bishop, he took the job of senior pastor in Cary hoping to turn the church around.

At its core, his plan consisted of extending an invitation and building relationships.

“Lutheran churches are terrible about evangelism,” he said. “They think religion is a private matter. But Jesus is clear: Go and make disciples.”

MaryJane Selgrade, a longtime member who chairs the church’s outreach board, points to the church’s next-door neighbor, Cary High School, as an example of Herz-Lane’s new emphasis on building relationships.

For years, parents have been driving through the church’s parking lot each morning to drop off and pick up students. This was one of the first things Herz-Lane noticed.

“He said, ‘God is bringing 150 people to our parking lot every morning and what are we doing about it?’” Selgrade said.

As the school year started, church members began offering pencils and doughnuts to drivers and passengers. On Ash Wednesday, they offered “ashes to go” as they pulled through the parking lot, smudging foreheads with ashes — the sign of Christian repentance.

These and other welcoming initiatives have begun to make a difference. In June, Herz-Lane reported that attendance at Sunday services was averaging 529 people — up 27 percent — on Sunday. To beef up the worship experience, he hired Pugh as associate pastor  and a 20-something director of contemporary music.

Now he is launching a capital campaign to upgrade the church’s traditional and contemporary worship spaces with state-of-the-art audio-visual technology to accommodate the needs of a younger generation.

“People are pretty enthusiastic,” Selgrade said. “Change is always tough. And there have been some bumps in the road, but things are going pretty well.”

‘It’s not just about feeding hungry people’

While outreach and invitation may help the church grow, other parts of Herz-Lane’s vision may be more difficult to implement.

In September, Herz-Lane notified the church council that he planned to officiate at a same-sex marriage in Charlotte. Pugh, an associate pastor, performed one such marriage before coming on board.

Herz-Lane now wants the church to declare itself a “reconciling” congregation, meaning that it is welcoming and accepting of LGBTQ people.

Some 762 ELCA churches, seminaries and campus ministries  — about 8 percent of its institutions — have formally adopted a welcome statement, and another 434 are in the process, according to Reconciling Works, a Lutheran advocacy group.

Herz-Lane said he expects such a measure to pass since the denomination already allows LGBTQ people to serve as clergy, and in 2015 ruled that congregations may decide for themselves whether to marry gay and lesbian couples.

Nathan Sliwa, the newly appointed minister for contemporary music, and a gay man, is banking on it.

“Before I took the job, I went to the pastors who were hiring me and asked them, ‘Are you ready for whatever potential backlash may happen from me being hired?’” he said. “They reassured me they would go to bat for me if anything happened.”

Perhaps more controversial, church leaders want the congregation to take on more of an advocacy role. For years it has had an active social ministry, providing food, clothing, housing, and other forms of assistance to those in need, in Cary and across the world.

Now they want to start a local chapter of a national community-organizing network, the Industrial Areas Foundation, which could advocate for such things as health care, green energy, criminal justice or immigrant rights.

“It’s not just about feeding hungry people and collecting food for the food pantry, as important as that is,” said Herz-Lane. “It’s also important to look at systemic injustice so people aren’t hungry in the first place.”

But so far, the church has tended to shy away from taking stands that could be construed as political. After President Trump issued a travel ban in his first days in office, Herz-Lane, posted a statement to Facebook saying, “What happened to this country I fell in love with 40 years ago?” Some people bristled and told him he was being political.

But the biggest challenge may be attracting diverse and multicultural young adults without alienating older ones.

Like many mainline churches, membership at Christ the King skews older. Most church members are 50 and up, and the percentage of millennials is tiny.

“We’ve neglected young adults and anybody from the age range of 18 to 32, especially if you’re not married and don’t have kids,” said Sliwa, who at 24 is one of just 20 younger members. 

Zachary Shultz, 10, lights the candle on the altar at the beginning of church services at Christ the King Lutheran Church in Cary, N.C. RNS photo by Yonat Shimron

Earlier this month, church leaders were invited to attend a workshop at Fuller Theological Seminary’s Youth Institute in Pasadena, Calif., on strategies for better engaging teens and emerging adults. After trying some new approaches, they will return to Fuller in March to talk about what worked.

Meanwhile, the church is concluding a yearlong series of events tied to the anniversary of the Reformation. It includes watching a documentary, reading a book and participating in a joint worship with the bishop of the local Catholic diocese.

Herz-Lane hopes members gain a deeper appreciation for Luther’s willingness to break the mold and try new things.

“We’re here for the sake of the world, not to preserve some silly tradition,” he said. “A lot of churches don’t get that.”

About the author

Yonat Shimron

Yonat Shimron is an RNS National Reporter and Senior Editor.

111 Comments

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  • 2 Timothy 4:3For the time will come when men will not tolerate sound doctrine, but with itching ears they will gather around themselves teachers to suit their own desires. 4So they will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths.…”
    Homosexuality is a sin

  • Absolutely, but God will not grant grace very long for someone choosing to wilfully defy Him. He is protective of us and wishes none would perish.

  • “….Herz-Lane now wants the church to declare itself a “reconciling” congregation, meaning that it is welcoming and accepting of LGBTQ people….”

    That’s all we need to know about this Lutheran (ELCA) so-called “church.” It is just another liberal gay social club for those people who love all things gay and seek to somehow change God. Such evil, taking a child to a gay “church” is tantamount to spiritual child abuse if not worse.

  • Therefore For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the faith God has distributed to each of you.

    Paul

  • So I guess the church is more like a business after all. All about # of customers, profit, and so forth. Whatever sales. Whatever people want. (My chaplain friend is sitting across from me right now and he really hates this. 🙂 Of course he reminds me that he is Catholic not “Lutheran” but he also just tole me the author doesn’t have a real clue about what the lutheran reformation was about. Now I’m curious and want to do some more reading on the subject.

    But in the end I think I’m right. With most churches its just about $$$.

  • I am a current member of the church, Christ the King, profiled in this article.

    I had to laugh at Pastor Wolfgang’s description of how CTK was managing our own decline: we were actively causing it! I still don’t know what exactly the issues were, except several years ago there was an active concerted campaign to vote down an excellent qualified pastoral candidate. Then in the ensuing division the NC Synod came in to “listen” and to “heal”. And like all great bureaucracies, they did the opposite and stoked the flames. Their final report essentially blamed the then Senior Pastor and the previous (retired) Senior Pastor. In my opinion that report was not done in good faith; I lost all respect for the NC Synod after that. I remember telling my wife that the Senior Pastor can’t stay after that report and sure enough – he was gone within 3 months. He deserved so much better than what he got.

    But I hung in there through all the interim pastors… waiting to see how things ended up.

    And there is now a sense of stability forming …. and Pastor Wolfgang is a great guy and is very welcoming…but I am very concerned about what is he welcoming people to?

    A run of the mill Social Justice Warrior organinzation? Yawn – they’re a dime a dozen.

    A local chapter of IAF, as some of the “Church Leaders” are envisioning? Well, that is something I cannot participate in. I encourage people to read the IAF’s reading list: http://industrialareasfoundation.org/organizingtools, especially Saul Alinsky’s Rules for Radicals – if that floats your boat then cool – go with it. But I expect to be stop attending CTK and resigning soon.

  • The author correctly identified two of perhaps scores of things the Lutheran Reformation “was about.” She was not giving a dissertation. I can only hope your chaplain friend is more sanguine about these things on deployments than in the office.
    *edited to make last sentence make sense*

  • This is yet another example of a Christian Church that is preaching things that have very little to do with the actual teachings of Christ Himself. Liberal theology is what is destroying main line churches like this. If the Scripture has no moral authority then why would anyone attend these churches. You can get the same thing at any other civics group. I love what CTK Member said about the church. “And there is now a sense of stability forming …. and Pastor Wolfgang is a great guy and is very welcoming…but I am very concerned about what is he welcoming people to? A run of the mill Social Justice Warrior organization? Yawn – they’re a dime a dozen.” If you remove people’s faith in God, the Bible and the supernatural, then all you have left is social justice causes. If this is the alternative to a dying church, then PLEASE, LET IT DIE!!

  • There is no such thing as salvation apart from repentance. Nowhere in Scripture are people admonished to remain in their sin while professing to serve Christ. The apostle John was emphatic about this. “If someone claims, “I know God,” but doesn’t obey God’s commandments, that person is a liar and is not living in the truth.” 1 John 2:4

  • More than I deserve Ben…I’ve received much more than I’ve deserved. He gives you an enormous amount too, eh?

  • He was emphatic when he said,

    He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world.

    One sentence before. I’m emphatic when I say John would not contradict what Jesus taught about love of the Father and love of neighbor.

  • Actually had a Lutheran guy work for me a few years back as one of my unit chaplains. I gave him a call and asked his opinion. He said the article truly misses the boat on identifying what Luther was about. He gave me three things:
    1. the central role of conforming to the bible
    2. the central role of faith as the connection with God
    3. the central role of sin and grace – we sin and God forgives.

    He said this whole thing of making the church look more like the world was exactly the opposite of what he understood Luther to be about.

    Think I’m going to have to spend some time reading about Luther. No I’m curious.

  • Dear CTK Member, thank you for sharing your perspectives on our
    congregation’s past conflicts. I appreciate your honesty in describing what went wrong. I’d love to talk with you to learn more about your objections to the IAF community organizing efforts; that would be helpful. Please contact me on line ([email protected]) or phone (856-278-3055). Thanks.

  • Dialog was important to Martin Luther — questioning — debate — Scripture is the source, one of the means of grace — our pastors and professors taught us to question what they said, not just agree with it because they said it. That was Luther’s approach to Scripture — a primary question in the Catechism is “What does this mean?” Unfortunately fundamentalism slipped into the minds of some Lutherans and they stopped questioning — if the preacher says it it must be right or if the preacher says the Bible says it it must be right — fundamentalism has an ax to grind. Does the Scripture actually talk about LGBT? All I’ve found is talk about what amounts to rape and pagan ritual that involved sex — that Scripture tells us is abhorant to God. Ephesians 2:8-10

  • I appreciate the “Liberal vs Conservative” discussions but isn’t the issue whether the church is increasing its Sunday worship service attendance? Clearly, its liberal social activist bent of the new pastor has barely, if yet, gotten off the ground and would not be the reason for the claimed increase in attendance. What successful key can be replicated by my own declining congregation? We do not have 150 cars driving thru our parking lot that would happen to be next to a school. Are those taking part in the drive thru Ash Wednesday service counted as attendees? In short, this church that has shown consistent declines in membership and attendance over the past 10 years thru 2016 now claims a non-verifiable increase in attendance but it is for NO reason that can be replicated. Might as well brag about a congregation that has a large subdivision being built across the street.

  • If you read 1 John you will notice that John was very emphatic about the conditions of salvation. He nor Jesus ever suggested that we can just live an openly sinful lifestyle and be saved. While Christ died for the sins of the whole world, righteousness is only obtained upon repentance and submission to the Lordship of Christ. The world is not automatically saved as a result of the atonement of Christ. If it were then the great commission would be a mute point. Perhaps I misunderstood your comment, but I hope you are not suggesting universalism.

  • I’m not sure if you are suggesting that I have never read 1 John. You do seem to be suggesting that if I read 1 John with your mindset I will agree with your justification of your opinion.
    Here’s the thing, when John said “28 And now, dear children, continue in him, so that when he appears we may be confident and unashamed before him at his coming.” that will never look the same for two individuals. If you are confident and unashamed why do you feel the need to have my approval of your views. I think this pastor has the confidence that John is speaking of and knowing that many will not approve he and his church are unashamed as John instructs. So in the end it is not my approval or your approval that should be sought but it is the approval of the one we will stand before. If this is what they seek I will stand before him with them. If you want to stand isolated from them, you have my approval, which is probably what you were after in the first place.

  • That was a gracious and sensitive response. Indeed, it’s both pastoral and positive, and I always have to give credit on stuff like that. That’s how good shepherds do it.

    But on the other hand, the opening paragraphs of this RNS article are the spiritual equivalent of a federal disaster area. Astonishing.

    The clarity and power of multiple New Testament claims, from salvation to sexuality, are badly undercut by stuff like that.

    (The IAF controversy is pretty much a predictable afterthought, after reading those opening paragraphs.)

    It’s clear that the people of CTK have been through a lot, and they seek a renewed health and growth. Can’t fault them for that.

    But somehow, church folks really gotta get back to the Bible. No more astonishingly messed-up denials of the Scriptures, or things ultimately **ain’t** gonna pan out.

  • I believe Jesus is the Christ. I believe He is not always described well nor lived out well by those who claim Him, to do so is anti Christlike. For someone outside of the faith to reject a anti Christlike model is grace. Those of us inside the faith are called to reject that model as well. Anti Christlike is hard to define but when we think we start to see it Paul’s words apply.

    Therefore For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the faith God has distributed to each of you.

    Paul

  • “If this is the alternative to a dying church, then PLEASE, LET IT DIE!!”

    Are you making the statement, I want the church to die? You do not seem to be in favor of the alternative yet you seem to be against the church also. Can you clarify your desired outcome?

  • Atheist Peter Drucker who was Rick Warren’s mentor wanted to diffuse the Church by turning it into a community center. Community organize the church. They are creating a god in their own image because they don’t like the rules of the real God. James, the brother of Jesus said, Let not many of you become teachers, my brethren, knowing that as such we will incur a stricter judgment.
    The emergent/new age church loves the things of the world.
    Luke 18: 6 Then the Lord said, “Hear what the unjust judge said. 7 And shall God not avenge His own elect who cry out day and night to Him, though He bears long with them? 8 I tell you that He will avenge them speedily. Nevertheless, when the Son of Man comes, will He really find faith on the earth?”

  • Jesus Christ was a radical liberal who pushed the church until the church asked the Romans to crucify him. In the Gospels, he never commented on ANY sin except that of self-righteousness. And, his followers were poster-children of the type of people the church advised avoiding. Fast forward a few millennia, and we have self-righteous church leaders advising avoiding types of people — personally, I don’t wonder what Christ would have to say about that. God loves ALL of the people on the earth and if I hate ONE of them, I am doing so against God’s will. As a 30-year, very active member of Christ the King Lutheran Church, I am elated with the direction our congregation has been heading for the last year.

  • The mainline Pro denominations have been watering down their doctrines for years in hopes of keeping butts (and donors) in the pews. Nothing new here. I remember my youth in the 70’s when the LCA and the Missouri Synod locked horns over the dumbest stuff. I left both 40 years ago. But nothing is worse than all the Anglicans and their branches.

  • If a church that proclaims to be a “Christian Church,” is not preaching the gospel of Jesus Christ and the truth of the word of God, then it would be better that it passed away than propagate a false gospel.

  • It’s really quite simple. If we are Christians then we proclaim what Christ and His apostles proclaimed. When a professing Christian, such as this church, turns away from the preaching of the gospel and begins to compromise the truth, then it becomes an instrument of deception rather than truth.

  • The gospel of Jesus Christ and the truth of the word of God is, God, damn your church?

    Passive aggressive God, damn your church sermons and comments produce a God, damn America gospel. God, damn your church is not the gospel of Jesus or his disciples. God, damn your church is the gospel of people claiming to preach the gospel of Jesus, his disciples, and the truth of the word of God.

    Pastor Tim you will reap what you sow, I have no doubt. For those who follow your teaching I’m sure they are damning God’s church.

    Going back to my original comment to Sandi, grace is a gift. As a praying person my prayer is this:

    God, damn these two messages within your people, God, damn America and God, damn your church. Replace it with the reality of Your grace, Your mercy, Your forgiveness.

  • The Catechism does not ask “what does this mean?” translating the rather simple German correctly, the Catechism asks “what is this?” — the Truth is objective, and definite. It is not an invitation to engage in subjective argumentation.

  • Hi Brethren,

    Moses lifted up the serpent and I ask people were they Vipers, grass snakes, etc. that wriggle on earth or not? Hardly anyone knows what type of Snakes Moses lifted and what type of Snakes Jesus lifted?

    Here is the answer:-

    From national tribal fatherhood in Moses, Eros, to International Fatherhood of our Supernatural Father God, Agape, in Christ Jesus.

    URL:- http://www.gnosticgospel.co.uk/MosesJesus.htm

    Here is a Youtube video:-

    https://youtu.be/MN8Gr7vnGfM

  • Your post is nearly as confusing as the messages that this CTK church is putting forth, and that’s some real bad confusion there.

    I believe in biblical grace (we need it), but I believe in biblical truth as well (we need it), because Jesus is “full of grace and truth.” (John 1:14). So what exactly are you trying to say or pray, and why?

  • David, I think if you teach Christ, and Him crucified, that is what God expects of us. I don’t think getting into trying to attract the world, by worldly fads is what the Lord wants – especially as what is being taught at the church referenced is anti-Christ to begin with.
    My church that I attend is small – roughly 65-75 people. Our preacher, a godly man, teaches scripture verse, by verse. We have a loving, caring congregation that looks after each other. That has to be more important than a large church where they don’t know if you have missed a month. Just keep teaching Christ, and Him crucified, and the Lord will deal with the rest, if I may be so bold as to instruct.

  • I like how you seem to conflate religion with politics with ease. I’m sure you believe that Jesus is a radical liberal, but why were not any of the 12 disciples that Jesus chose not women or gay? Why didn’t Jesus preach about this ‘injustice’ then? Do you think Jesus now has a different opinion, and if so why has He not told us so?

    I’ve recently attended two ELCA services and I was dismayed by the amount of politics incorporated into the service, and for one service in particular it was just re-wrapped old time paganism. Sad.

  • Matthew 15:19 For from the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, all sexual immorality, theft, lying, and slander.20 These are what defile you.

  • Floyd I believe what you say about grace and truth just as you do. I believe Jesus was full of grace and truth (John 1:14). When I read John 1:16-17 I feel Jesus is full of grace and truth concerning the law. The rest of the book of John and the accounts of the rest of the gospels concerning jesus’s exchanges with the Pharisees of the day, and his parable teachings support my view in my opinion. That said, while I am not a member of this church or a church that would meet a similar description of this church, I desire to see it successful.

    I believe “liberal” theology and “conservative” theology should lead to one God. Today, I would say that the leading liberal theologies and conservative theologies in this country are leading a nation away from one God. Only I don’t believe it is as much theology as it is the men behind theologies.

    I can post comments on here that bash liberal theology and nobody is confused, I would probably get more likes if I did. I can post comments bashing conservative theology and nobody is confused, I would definitely get more likes on this site by doing that. What I want to do is draw attention to what is the reality of the state of people being reconciled to each other and to God.I put words into pastor Tim’s mouth to show one side of the dynamic, if those words are unfair I apologize, but let this church die in all caps shouts God, damn this church to many people. If that is the message you are hearing being spoken to you your reaction may well lead you to reply, God, damn America.

    My prayer is for reconciliation in this country, and in God’s church. I probably should have better anticipated how confusing that could become.

  • Martin Luther was not about ‘breaking the mold’ and trying new things to see if they stick. The reformation was about Luther going back to the Bible and telling the church bureaucracy that they strayed from the Bible.

    The ELCA bureaucracy is doing everything possible to run away from the Bible, which they view as flawed and archaic. But Luther found truth in the Bible as it is written, not some slide show presentation on sex.

  • The problem with having a very good religion reporter who happens to be Jewish writing an article about a Christian church is that some of the details don’t translate well.

    As a 31-year member of this 53-year-old congregation, who has been attending Pr. Daniel Pugh’s Bible study, my thoughts on what is happening here are:
    1) we have talked more about Luther and read more of Luther’s writings since we called Pastor Wolfgang;
    2) none of the LGBTQ stuff was Pr. Wolfgang’s initiative, the lay leadership asked him to lead the congregation down this path;
    3) both Pr. Wolfgang and Pr. Daniel make references to the Greek version of the Gospel more often than any other preacher I have ever heard. And they try to help us understand the full, original, meaning of the text — very Luther-like;
    4) a large portion of each of Pr. Daniel’s Genesis Bible studies is dedicated to dating the actual writing down of the story, identifying the authors and what other literature might have been familiar to the writers and discussion is invited — it is very academic and I am confident that Luther would approve — it’s unfortunate that this writer chose that particular week to visit and missed the main points because sex is something that always gets more hits on internet publications;
    5) both pastors and most of the core leadership of our congregation are much more concerned about reaching the unchurched than they are about pushing a social agenda or putting butts in seats or taking in cash — the changes we have been making are all wrapped around reaching more people;
    6) Luther was an advocate for social justice — he never would have posted his 95 theses if he had not been attempting to stop the sale of indulgences to those he thought were at risk of falling away from the faith – speaking out about social injustice that you can refute from scripture is very, very Luther-like (not to mention that speaking out about any human being’s oppression is very Christ-like)

  • “none of the LGBTQ stuff was Pr. Wolfgang’s initiative, the lay leadership asked him to lead the congregation down this path; ” If that is so, why are you allowing them to destroy your assembly?
    To reach the “unchurched” you don’t have to endorse their sin.

  • “Pastor”Tim, which is God’s commandment: “don’t be homosexual”; or “love your neighbor as yourself”. You, sir, by your own Bible quote are a liar and are not living in the truth.

  • Jesus wasn’t focused on any particular social injustices (though he did have females involved in actual roles, in sharp juxtaposition of the reigning social rules), because his focus was on showing the world that the way of the self-righteous pharisees was flawed and that ALL of the people that God created have value as people that God created and deserve to be treated as people that God created.

    All of the Gospels have atheme running through them that not a single person, except Jesus, has ever been capable of saving themselves through their own actions, but that all of us (including the Gentiles and the poor, and the widows, and the orphans, and the slaves and those imprisoned) have hope in Christ.

  • “Herz-Lane said he expects such a measure to pass since the denomination already allows LGBTQ people to serve as clergy, and in 2015 ruled that congregations may decide for themselves whether to marry gay and lesbian couples.”
    So they left the teaching of Christ to scratch itchy ears. Sad.

  • Everybody has sin. Everybody is a slave to sin. I am not better than you because my sin is hidden or more socially acceptable and you are not better than I because your sin is hidden or more socially acceptable, All have fallen short. None of us can be righteous by our own works. We MUST find Christ and His redemption and then respond by turning away from sin in gratitude, but none of us is capable of turning away from all sin.

    I know what sin I can’t turn away from, but that doesn’t prevent me from moving closer to what God wants me to be. You know what sin you are not capable of turning away from (if you don’t, pray about it and God will help you learn). Everybody has one, but each can move closer to what God intends.

    I choose to believe that God doesn’t want me to be self-righteous like the Pharisees, but rather to be accepting of all of the prostitutes and tax collectors, like Christ was..

  • It is one thing to accept them into your assembly. I’m not certain it can any longer be referred to as a “church”, if one is endorsing what Christ clearly, clearly taught is immorality, one is no longer following Christ.
    We want them in the churches so they can repent, turn to Jesus and be saved.
    If I am understanding correctly, your assembly intends to endorse the sin. This will not help them to become Christians if they are yet unrepentantly practicing their sin and should be advised that their sin is keeping them separate from Jesus and will, until they decide Christ is more important than their pet sin – any sin – not only homosexuality.
    Christ has to be more important.
    I see your assembly has children attending. How is your support of endorsing homosexuality glorifying God?
    Mark 9:24 – English Standard Version
    “Whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him if a great millstone were hung around his neck and he were thrown into the sea.”
    How are you protecting children?
    Galatians 1: 6I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting the one who called you to live in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel— 7which is really no gospel at all. Evidently some people are throwing you into confusion and are trying to pervert the gospel of Christ. 8But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach a gospel other than the one we preached to you, let them be under God’s curse! 9As we have already said, so now I say again: If anybody is preaching to you a gospel other than what you accepted, let them be under God’s curse!
    10Am I now trying to win the approval of human beings, or of God? Or am I trying to please people? If I were still trying to please people, I would not be a servant of Christ.”
    That would be applicable to you. How are you protecting yourself?

    Just because we all sin, does not mean we don’t teach against it.

  • Fact is that the ELCA church is dying because they are mealy mouthed about real issues that effect so many people. The ELCA bureaucracy would rather virtue signal about ‘social justice’ and doing good in the community. The social justice cause is like a new form of indulgence within the ELCA church along with climate change, abortion rights and so on.

    The fact is that people want to understand why they are here today and what will happen to them when they die. If the message is something other than we were created by God in His image and that heaven is for those of faith, then why even bother?

    The ELCA church was largely formed from the Seminary in Exile (Seminex)
    schism at Concordia Seminary where professors were teaching ‘higher
    criticism’, the interpretation of scripture based on historical vs
    current worldviews, or how to make the scripture fit with the new
    religion of ‘science’. This schism is not unique to just Lutherans and
    the early adherents of ‘higher criticism’ were from 19th century
    Germany and influenced by Marx and theories of evolution. (My opinion)

  • I see absolutely no reference to homosexuality in anything Christ said. I do, however, see unrepentant sin in having a savings account when even one of God’s children is starving, and Christ, often, had something to say about that.

    If I pick something that I would never do and wag my finger at one who does that to make myself feel more righteous, then I should read what Christ says about the self-righteous pharisees.

  • You do know that Christ is God and that Christ is the Word; don’t you?

    Leviticus 18:22 – 22 You shall not lie with a male as with a woman. It is an abomination.
    Leviticus 20:13 – If a man lies with a male as he lies with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination. They shall surely be put to death. Their blood shall be upon them.
    There is a start right there.
    Secondly, you are breaking bread with people who are wilfully rebelling against
    Christ?
    How are you protecting the children in your assembly?

  • You do know that I can find dozens of verses of the Torah that damn you, don’t you? The Bible is a crowbar for me to use to help myself and not a hammer that I should use to smash others.

    I break bread every Sunday with people who have a 401k to insure they will never starve while people are starving in the world — that is a sin that Christ, Himself, mentioned multiple times — if I can break break with sinners such as those, I’m not going to single any lesser sinners out. .

  • Then you should also accept and feed a neo-nazi in like manner for he is your brother too? Or, should you accept a child predator for they sin too but are no less a brother to you? Or once you’ve given all your money to the poor, and your children cry in hunger what shall you say to them?
    I can’t accept that God wants you to kill yourself, and I don’t see that in the Bible.

  • So you choose to break bread with people who you know Christ has condemned as immoral and are teaching the children of your assembly to do the same?
    This is what Christ taught about scripture:

    2 Timothy 4 – English Standard Version
    1 I charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by his appearing and his kingdom: 2preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching. 3For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, 4and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths.
    2 Timothy 3:16-17English Standard Version (ESV)
    16 All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, 17 that the man of God[a] may be complete, equipped for every good work.

    You may not be singling sinners out, but you seem to have done that with Christ, my friend. How can Christ bless this mess, when it seems there is no decision to honour Him? How have you protected your congregation?

  • The “actual teachings of Christ Himself” are:
    Love every single human being unconditionally
    Speak out against the self-righteous leaders of “religion”
    Love every single human being unconditionally

    Please explain, “pastor”tim, what your church is doing toward that goal.

  • Okay, your prayer is clear enough (and very necessary in these tough times); sincere thanks. Good note on wanting CTK to succeed.

    But meanwhile, the desperate Methodists are trying hard to do reconciliation & avoid breakup. Praying so very hard.

    But NOW, they can’t even agree on what kind of Jesus they’re supposed to be praying & trusting, nor what Bible they’re supposed to be teaching & obeying, nor even what salvation Gospel to be preaching. That fatal outcome is now a daily UMC reality. They’re just like the Titanic movie, only now it’s for real.

    THIS, is what happens when Christian churches allow (or are even neutral towards) gay marriage & practicing gay clergy.

  • 37 Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind.

    38 This is the first and great commandment.

    39 And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.

    40 On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.

  • Hi Brethren,

    Christians are of the Dead Book, the Bible which you cannot understand without holy spirit, common sense. The best test is to ask what YeShua stands for. Yeshua or YeShiva stands for two components; Ye = Yahweh, the creator of Nature, also called the Potter and Shua or Shiva stands for Adam. So, Jesus was the first born of Yahweh, the second Adam who came as Floating with no place to rest his head. Here is my newly written Book and my lectures are Free. I love challenges for mutual advancement of spirituality.

    Here is the Gist of my Book:-

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ix4kYV-wE30

  • A child of God (known by scientists as Homo Sapiens) is a child of God. I should treat any child of God as if they were a child of God. I choose to let God decide which will be redeemed and I intend to do my best to insure that I let as many of them as I can know that God loves them. If, in my lifetime, any I have touched finds the path and is redeemed, I will find satisfaction.

  • Mark 12:29 Jesus answered, “The most important is, ‘Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God is one Lord, 30 and you must love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.’ 31 The second is this: ‘You must love your neighbor as yourself.’ No other commandment is greater than these.”

    John 14:15 – “If ye love me, keep my commandments.”

    1 John 5:2 This is how we know that we love the children of God: by loving God and carrying out his commands. 3 In fact, this is love for God: to keep his commands.

    Christ commanded “‘Do not have sexual relations with a man as one does with a woman; that is detestable.” Leviticus 18:22

  • James 5:20 – New International Version

    remember this: Whoever turns a sinner from the error of their way will save them from death and cover over a multitude of sins.

    James 4:4New International Version (NIV)

    4 You adulterous people, don’t you know that friendship with the world means enmity against God? Therefore, anyone who chooses to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God.

  • I started to disagree with your last statement, then I thought about it some more. Your right this issue is creating a lot of grief for a lot of people within Christian churches, I just don’t see myself as one of those upset people within a Christian church.

    I see no affirmation in the Bible concerning same sex marriage therefore if a church is not LGBT affirming LGBT Christians should show some grace towards those churches. While I attend a church that is not LGBT affirming I consider myself affirming of LGBT affirming churches. If I thought LGBT affirmation kept people from the love of God I would have a different opinion, I’m not convinced of the arguements made to support that belief. On the other I’m not convinced God is on board when it comes to same sex marriage, but if not his grace is sufficient and I trust the honesty of the convictions when it comes to those who are LGBT affirming. When it comes to keeping the peace within the church at large I hold myself and others who would consider themselves LGBT church affirming to a higher degree of understanding when dealing with people who disagree within the local church.

  • I wonder if you have exactly the same feeling about Leviticus 18:22 that you have about Leviticus 18:19 or if you are forming an opinion and then looking for a Bible verse to back it up. Cherry-picking verses that you can use to make your F- on the righteousness scale look better than someone else’s F- (because all of us have an F- “For all have sinned and fall short….”) is the kind of self-righteousness that Jesus spoke often with the pharisees about.

  • I have close friends whom I watched transition from trying to find a church that would accept them to posting public FB comments blaming “religion” for most of our country’s problems. The true Christian church is declining because it sat quietly by and let the fake Christian church (led by people like pastortim) define USA Christianity.

  • It’s always so good to get that passage from Leviticus on the comments. Saying it more often, louder if it were possible, will guarantee changing the minds of people who disagree with the interpretation. Hey, why not post the other 6 / 7 anti gay verses just to seal it. It’s all about the victory of proving others wrong somehow.

    Hey! Just for good measure let’s claim it is homosexuality and that they were words of Christ himself.

    Likewise of course, those of us who disagree with you, and we’d obviously like ti win over the hearts and minds of you by argument about it. But there is no ‘new stuff’ to say on the topic… it’s not like it hasn’t already been done to death after all is it?!

    Roll back the stone Jesus, your children do not get it 🙁

  • I would agree with you. I think that there are men and women who possess God, then there are men and women who are possessed by God. I don’t think their opinions necessarily define them but how they differ from the opinion of others certainly can. My guess is that within any church you find a mixture of these two types of people, they are both drawn in, just for different reasons.

  • Jesus belonged to our Supernatural Father Elohim, Allah, Parbrahm, etc. whereas the moral issues were the regime of John, the Baptist – Luke 16v16; Law and Prophets were till John, the Baptist. No law, no transgression and no sin but in Jesus our heart is concerned which is the seat of holy spirit or conscience.

    So, this homosexual, lesbian, etc. have nothing to do with Jesus but their hearts. If they can Preach Gospel, then they could be Apostles.

    Most people do not understand the Saying of St.Paul, “A woman cannot teach the moral laws but she can Preach Gospel of our Father”.

    Do you know why?

    Here is a Youtube video I have just produced on this topic:-

    https://youtu.be/okU76Fl2Uw4

  • They aren’t anti-homosexual verses, Paul. They are to warn the homosexuals, and others that these people are transgressing against the Lord and need to be saved so they also, can have a relationship with Him and spend eternity with Him.
    They are the words of Christ. We don’t need to pretend

  • I don’t need to cherry pick. Christ laid it all out, all over the Bible. Not only have you jeopardized the salvation of children and the lost in your assembly, you have slapped Christ in the face saying that you know better than He does.
    He evicted the man in Corinth for immorality until he repented. You invited them into your assembly, while they are continuing to unrepentantly sin for all to “celebrate”.
    Do you have any inclination as to why Christ died?
    Actually, I would say that you are the Pharisee. You are the one fighting against the Lord. He taught that homosexuality is a sin and it leads to death. How do you justify celebrating that? How do you take communion – break bread – while you are defying what Christ did? I suggest you read Galatians 1:8-11, my friend.
    1 Corinthians 11 27Whoever, therefore, eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty concerning the body and blood of the Lord.

    Even for you Coleman, Christ is just and faithful to forgive our sin, should we repent, turn to Him, and follow Him. That, my friend, is what your priority should be. (edited)

  • GJ, If a church is proclaiming something that is not the gospel of Jesus Christ then they have no business declaring themselves to be a Christian church. The apostle Paul used the strongest words possible in Galatians concerning those who preach something other than the true gospel. So yes I stand by my words. We have far too many churches proclaiming a form of Christianity that has little to do with the actual teachings of Scripture. “But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach a gospel other than the one we preached to you, let them be under God’s curse! As we have already said, so now I say again: If anybody is preaching to you a gospel other than what you accepted, let them be under God’s curse!” Galatians 1:8-9

  • “Cheap grace means grace sold on the market like cheapjacks’
    wares. The sacraments, the forgiveness of sin, and the consolations of religion
    are thrown away at cut prices. Grace is represented as the Church’s
    inexhaustible treasury, from which she showers blessings with generous hands,
    without asking questions or fixing limits. Grace without price; grace without
    cost! The essence of grace, we suppose, is that the account has been paid in
    advance; and, because it has been paid, everything can be had for nothing.
    Since the cost was infinite, the possibilities of using and spending it are
    infinite. What would grace be if it were not cheap?…

    Cheap grace is the preaching of forgiveness without requiring repentance,
    baptism without church discipline, Communion without confession, absolution
    without personal confession. Cheap grace is grace without discipleship, grace
    without the cross, grace without Jesus Christ, living and incarnate.

    Costly grace is the treasure hidden in the field; for the sake of it a man will
    go and sell all that he has. It is the pearl of great price to buy which the
    merchant will sell all his goods. It is the kingly rule of Christ, for whose
    sake a man will pluck out the eye which causes him to stumble; it is the call
    of Jesus Christ at which the disciple leaves his nets and follows him.

    Costly grace is the gospel which must be sought again and again, the gift which
    must be asked for, the door at which a man must knock.

    Such grace is costly because it calls us to follow, and it is grace because it
    calls us to follow Jesus Christ. It is costly because it costs a man his life,
    and it is grace because it gives a man the only true life. It is costly because
    it condemns sin, and grace because it justifies the sinner. Above all, it is
    costly because it cost God the life of his Son: “ye were bought at a
    price,” and what has cost God much cannot be cheap for us. Above all, it
    is grace because God did not reckon his Son too dear a price to pay for our
    life, but delivered him up for us. Costly grace is the Incarnation of God.”

    ― Dietrich
    Bonhoeffer, The
    Cost of Discipleship

  • Actually they are both God’s commandments and one does not cancel the other. The good news only becomes good news when we recognize our lost condition. Preaching a gospel without repentance is like trying to offer someone a cure for a disease that they do not believe that they have.

  • Grace is the gospel of Jesus Christ pastor Tim. It’s right there in Galatians 1:6-7 if you need the reference. I didn’t notice anything in this article that claimed this church was teaching something outside of the gospel of grace.

  • 1 John 3:9 – English Standard Version

    No one born of God makes a practice of sinning, for God’s seed abides in him; and he cannot keep on sinning, because he has been born of God.

  • Since you did not reference the book of Jonah I’ll assume you are teaching me this life lesson from a learned experience.

  • Here is the version of Ideal Church:-

    IDEAL CHURCH OF GOD;
    ONE SHEPHERD ONE FOLD.

    If Jesus were to return to-day, He would be very much surprised and upset to find so many of the denominations. In fact, these denominations are like the blind men describing an elephant. For example, John, the Baptist was not the light but a witness to the Light, i.e. an Angel, Prophet Elijah (my god is Yahweh) but not a Saint, so in the Baptist Churches that belong to John, the Baptist, an ideal Priest of Moses or best described as Prophet Elijah, what sense does it make to sing the songs of Jesus? Therefore, let us first appreciate the reasons for the coming of Jesus before we can speak about the Church that He came to establish.

    Jesus is known to everybody as the Light of this Dark Age but what created the Darkness so that this Light, the Christ of God, had to appear!!!

    Watch my over 6000 Youtube Videos that will get rid of these Anti-Christ Hireling Dog-Collared Priests in the Churches of Mammon; channel nijjhar1.

    For full article:-
    http://www.gnosticgospel.co.uk/church.htm

  • Christ wasn’t a King that take taxes from the public like the Rabbis used to take tithe but our anointed Elder Brother Christ Jesus was a Royal King, who give Free Gospel Treasures and not Mammon.

  • Since you quoted Paul’s words to his protege, Timothy, I must assume that you apply equal weight to 1 Timothy 2:11-12 “11 Let a woman learn quietly with all submissiveness. 12 I do not permit a woman to teach or to exercise authority over a man; rather, she is to remain quiet.”

    Personally, I find those verses offensive, but you, apparently, attribute them to Jesus and then chose to ignore them.

  • I believe that there are two main groups of Christians in the US: those who attempt to emulate Christ and would never speak out about anything other than self-righteousness (and, are very self conscious about stretching that far); and the self-righteous, who would choose to damn 99% of God’s children to make themselves feel more righteous, and do so loudly and often. This causes the media, who, mostly, stopped putting thought into their work in the 1960’s, to take the easy path and publish what the loud people say as the voice of the US Christians. I’ve noticed this problem for decades, but it became personal when they attacked my congregation. Those of us who choose to look for the best in the people we encounter need to learn how to actively point out self-righteousness. Peace and love to you as well.

  • This is the first thing you have posted here, “pastor”Tim, that I fully and totally agree with.

    God made a great sacrifice to redeem the sins of all of the Homo Sapiens that existed in the past or the present or the future. Each of us owes a tremendous debt for the burden that was lifted from us and each of us should feel compelled to write a thank-you note daily (or, maybe just pray our thanksgiving) and to attempt to adjust our behavior to be more today like the example that the incarnate Jesus left for us than we behaved yesterday (knowing that He set a benchmark that none of us is capable of reaching) and to study the scripture fervently to find other ways we, ourselves, can behave more like the incarnate Christ. It’s a personal response.

    The scripture is not a hammer I can use to play “whack-a-mole” with, but it is a mirror that I can use to look at myself with.

  • If I’m looking for a hammer, Leviticus is a gold mine — you can damn all but one of the people who ever walked the world with one of the verses from there. And, if you preface it with “Jesus said in Leviticus”, then who can argue with you? Brilliant!

  • So, on James 4:4, If I am married to someone else, I should leave my current spouse and children to re-unite with the first person I ever had sex with, so that I can become “non-adulterous” (BTW, not an actual question for me, since I am married for 36 years to the first person I ever had sex with)? Is that what you are saying?

  • 1 Timothy 2:11-12 “11 Let a woman learn quietly with all submissiveness. 12 I do not permit a woman to teach or to exercise authority over a man; rather, she is to remain quiet.”.

    While, I, personally find this opinion of Paul deplorable, you obviously credit it to Jesus and then decide to ignore it because it speaks ill about you. I ask you, only, to consider that others might make the same choice you have made about this verse and apply that to the verses you choose to throw at them.

    All of us are sinners and fall short of the Glory of God. All of us need His grace. None of us deserves it more than another because none of us deserve it.

  • Galatians 1:8-11 makes me want to search for the Gospel according to Paul, which I am not familiar with. If you could forward a copy to enlighten me, that would be helpful.. Thanks in advance.

  • Galatians 1:8-11 – Galatians 1:8-11King James Version (KJV)

    8 But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed.

    9 As we said before, so say I now again, if any man preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed.

    10 For do I now persuade men, or God? or do I seek to please men? for if I yet pleased men, I should not be the servant of Christ.

    11 But I certify you, brethren, that the gospel which was preached of me is not after man.

    You do realize that Christ taught Paul for three years via revelation. So, as you are ignoring Paul, you are actually ignoring what Christ told him to tell the churches.

  • If this were a church, you would be correct.
    You may not agree with Christ, but that is not an excuse to defy Him and make a mockery of what He taught.
    Yes, sinners fall short of the glory of God, but Christian sinners repent of their sin.
    Am I correct in understanding that you haven’t yet come to the understanding that the Bible is the Word of God? What do your pastors teach? Have you ever read a Bible? Which one?
    How do you think this glorifies God?

  • What I am telling you is that you are not following Christ by endorsing that people commit a sin that the Lord has taught in several places will keep them out of the Kingdom of Heaven.
    You break bread with people, who’s actions, the Lord abhors and places them in Hell because of
    You are putting yourself into the ballpark for Galatians 1:8-11, my friend. You are, again, hurting and misleading the next generation. (edit)
    If you equate James 4:4 with your comment, perhaps you should check in a Bible what it says. If you don’t have one:
    http://www.biblehub.com has several
    How do you see your actions as glorifying God?

  • I have no difficulty with Timothy. This is not a church, and if you knew that scripture, you would know that. Perhaps you need to read a little further.
    Whether you find those verses inconsequential or not, makes no difference. Christ does and you are leading homosexuals and children to their death.
    But, you’ve changed the subject rather than answer my questions:
    How can Christ bless this mess, when it seems there is no decision to honour Him? How have you protected your congregation?

  • Hi Brethren,

    GOSPEL IS CALLED “LOGO”
    AND LOGO IS THE EXTRACT/NECTAR OF “LOGICAL REASONING”.

    ONCE-BORN PEOPLE OF DEAD OF SCRIPTURES, THE JEWISH LEAVEN, ARE INCAPABLE OF LOGICAL REASONING AND, THEREFORE, LOGO IS FOR THE TWICE-BORN PEOPLE OF DISCERNING INTELLECT CALLED THE “HOLY SPIRIT”, SURTTI OR “COMMON SENSE”.

    SO, IF YOU WANT GOSPEL, THEN YOU MUST THINK LOGICALLY OVER YOUR OWN HEART. THUS, LISTEN TO EVERYONE AND PONDER OVER IT IN YOUR OWN HEART. THEN, GOSPEL WOULD BE WRITTEN OVER THE LIVING TABLETS OF HEART – 2CORN 3.

    SCRIPTURES, THE DEAD LETTERS ARE “DEADLY POISON” TO GOSPEL.
    SCRIPTURES, THE “DEAD LETTERS” THAT THE ONCE-BORN PEOPLE ARE TAUGHT IN THE UNIVERSITIES AND COLLEGES. THEY ARE “OLD WINES” OR “MILK FOR THE BABIES”. THIS IS THE JEWISH LEAVEN FORBIDDEN BY CHRIST JESUS.

    TWICE-BORN PEOPLE OF “DISCERNING INTELLECT” LIKE THE “BIRDS OF THE AIR” ARE CAPABLE OF “LOGICAL REASONING” TO BREW THE “NEW WINE” WITHIN THEIR OWN HEART. FOR THIS YOU NEED TO BE “IMPARTIAL” LIKE THE LITTLE CHILDREN.

    THUS, YOU DO NOT NEED TO GO TO A UNIVERSITY TO KNOW GOSPEL BUT A HEART BURNING FOR “GOSPEL TREASURES”.

    UNIVERSITY DEGREES IN “DEAD LETTERS” WILL TURN YOU INTO A SUPER DONKEY CARRYING “HOLY BOOKS”.

    So, these Bible Thumpers are no where near the Gospel Truth but the dead letters. This Dark Age is of Christ within your heart and not of the dead in letters Christians of the Bible in which the dead bury their dead through useless debates. Thus, Law and Prophets were till John, the Baptist and after that Christ Jesus has opened to Narrow Gate that leads to the Royal Vineyard of our Father Elohim, Allah, Parbrahm, etc. where Our Father has Planted the True Vine Christ Jesus, our Bridegroom. Unless you Graft yourself to this True Vine, you have no part in Christ Jesus.

    Now, I notice most of the people still talk about sin when there is none after John, the Baptist but transgression against the Holy Spirit, which Blasphemy, unlike the forgivable sins, it is unforgivable.

  • Perhaps you need to be a Christian who glorifies God and respect His Word, Coleman. You are teaching against Him, and hurt little children and the congregation in your assembly. How is that honouring God?
    How is it honouring to God to endorse something He says will send a person to Hell? How does that honour God?

  • I believe that this discussion IS a church because 2 or 3 are gathered in Christ’s name. Perhaps it is you who should read for understanding, rather than confirmation. You ask how Christ can bless this mess and I find not a single record of the incarnate Christ turning away anyone for any reason — just look at John 4 to see what the incarnate Christ thought about the rules that the conservative religious leaders insisted must be followed. I must conclude that this mess is EXACTLY what Christ would bless.

  • I read Paul often. And I read him with an open mind that want’s to learn something from the text. I always try to also understand the context around why Paul decided to write something. In Paul’s letter to the Christians in Galatia, his intent was to weigh in on whether or not Christianity was a branch of the Jewish faith — could only Jews be Christians or could anybody be Christian? IMHO, he came down hard on the side of anybody can be a Christian and the verses you quoted can be summarized by “don’t let people add stupid rules from the Old Testament — Christ died for everybody”.

  • I think you need to read Galatians again.
    My point with Galatians, which I have suggested you read is thus:6 I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting him who called you in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel— 7 not that there is another one, but there are some who trouble you and want to distort the gospel of Christ. 8 But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you, let him be accursed. 9 As we have said before, so now I say again: If anyone is preaching to you a gospel contrary to the one you received, let him be accursed.

    10 For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man? If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ.

    Not only is this travesty hurting your church, this travesty is hurting you also. Repent Coleman.

  • You can use any excuse you want. This is not a church.
    These, my friend are the “rules” that He laid down.
    Secondly, if you read the Great Commission, Matthew 28 – you will see that Christ has asked His followers to teach all that He commanded
    Again, how have you protected your church, when you don’t have enough respect for Christ to follow Him?

  • Sandi, I am, at this point, convinced that you have decided that you never want to think about what the Bible says; your only goal is to use what the Bible says as a weapon to whack people who don’t agree with you over some minor issue.

    Certainly, you must have figured out by now that I am completely unwilling of damning anybody — IMHO, that’s God’s job and that He does so, solely, at His decision. Perhaps we should stop banging our heads against those walls.

    To answer your protection question, we have a 30-year-old policy that minors are never in the presence of only 1 adult in any situation (last year, we elected a HS student to represent our congregation at a meeting of the larger church and her mother wanted that minor to share a hotel room with a friend of the minor’s grandmother and the church said “no, you (the mother), need to make the trip and stay with your daughter — we will pay for it”). All volunteers and all staff who come into contact with people under 18 submit to annual background checks that the church pays for and reads and keeps on file. All of our (minor and adult) Sunday Sunday School classes have at least 3 teachers who take turns leading, so that no single person can corrupt the thoughts of the class.

    If your church has a more effective policy, then feel free to whack me with your Bible one more time, but don’t expect me to reply.

  • So, you’ll get yourself damned by not following Christ – and you call that Christian? Galatians 1:8-11
    You are not protecting children and have no concept of what I am talking about, I see…….I’ll keep praying for you.
    My church does have a more effective policy. We don’t endorse immorality in our church. Children will not grow up to think that immorality is appropriate and good and should be committed. We love our children.

  • I know I asked you to not expect a response, but I find a need to let you know that I and praying for you as well.

  • Christ does not hear your prayers, my friend. Look at the shape your assembly is in. You are actively promoting hurting children and homosexuals with no respect for either. That is not following Christ.
    John 9:31 – English Standard Version

    We know that God does not listen to sinners, but if anyone is a worshiper of God and does his will, God listens to him.

  • Maybe do better than that, become a Christian (John 3:3)
    Christians do not lead people to perdition (edited)

  • John 5: 37 And the Father who sent me has himself borne witness about me. His voice you have never heard, his form you have never seen, 38 and you do not have his word abiding in you, for you do not believe the one whom he has sent. 39 You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is they that bear witness about me, 40 yet you refuse to come to me that you may have life. 41 I do not receive glory from people. 42 But I know that you do not have the love of God within you. 43 I have come in my Father’s name, and you do not receive me. If another comes in his own name, you will receive him. 44 How can you believe, when you receive glory from one another and do not seek the glory that comes from the only God? 45 Do not think that I will accuse you to the Father. There is one who accuses you: Moses, on whom you have set your hope. 46 For if you believed Moses, you would believe me; for he wrote of me. 47 But if you do not believe his writings, how will you believe my words?”

    Leviticus 18:22 – 22 You shall not lie with a male as with a woman. It is an abomination.

    Leviticus 20:13 – If a man lies with a male as he lies with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination. They shall surely be put to death. Their blood shall be upon them.

  • Only Blind follow others whilst in Jesus I am solitary Virgin Bride and not a prostitute as Pope has so many.

    In Jesus, we have One Father and we are Brethren exercising Agape Love. Jesus had no Disciples but Labouring Brethren.
    I am a Labourer working in the Vineyard of our Father with Narrow Gate for the solitary and the True Wine Christ Jesus there that the blind Disciples can’t find or enter.
    Sandi is spiritually blind and he doesn’t know in whose name John baptised the Jewish men water and why no woman, Gentile or a Samaritan were baptised.

  • Where is God then? Where was the God of Jesus? Do you think it was in heaven?
    No. Then, where is he and how do you worship Him?

    What do you think of the Five Husbands of the Samaritan Woman at well? I know their names.

  • “…he never commented on ANY sin except that of self-righteousness…”

    That was a very provocative statement, one that got me thinking, and I’m afraid it’s a bit of hyperbole.

    Take this very popular Bible verse where the Pharisees brought a woman caught in adultery before Jesus at the temple courts, and He said: “Let any one of you who is without sin be the first to throw a sone at her.” John 8:7 NRSV. And that verse, loved by many, cited by many, is consistent with your statement – He was shaming the Pharisees’s self righteousness and He also saw through their plot to try to trip Him up.

    But let us not forget what happened after that, John 8:11 NRSV: “Neither do I condemn you. Go your way, and from now on do not sin again.” Given that He was saying this directly to the woman, and the sin in question is adultery, I’m thinking that Jesus was saying adultery is a sin and He was telling her very lovingly to “knock it off!”.

    When I read the New Testament, I find plenty of places where Jesus is talking about sins – plural – in a general sense. And in context I’m pretty certain the “sins” that Jesus was talking about included (but not limited to) the classic ones listed in the Ten Commandments. I think he was commenting on many different sins besides self-righteousness.

    Now I do agree that self-righteousness is a sin, and I think the “Holier than thou” crowd misses the point: God does not want us to sin because He loves us, and helping and supporting others to NOT sin is an act of Love – sin is definitely not something that should be lorded over another.

    But I also think self-righteousness is a subset of the more encompassing sin: the lack of humility – I personally think that sin, which in many ways is the root of many other sins, and is currently destroying our culture and our country and is found in EVERY “community”: rich or poor, Black or White, left or right, “religious” or non-“religious” – you name the “community” and it’s there. And be wary of it – it comes in many subtle forms.

    Anyway I am glad you are elated with your Church home now.

    Peace Be With You

  • Peace be with you, also.

    You are, of course, correct. The point I was trying to make was that the example that Jesus provided is rarely followed.

  • Hi Brethren,

    Luke 16v16 settles all disputes about sins. Sins are transgression against the moral laws and that were till John the Baptist and not after him. After him is Christ Jesus of our Supernatural Father (Reality) above our natural tribal people (Mythology). So, it doesn’t matter whether you are born of a prostitute, adultery, etc., but in Jesus quality of heart counts and not these petty moral issues pertaining to our relatively false tribal fathers; you may not be the son of real father or could be of adultery. But in the Fatherhood of our Real Supernatural Father, there is no doubt at all and that is why He is Real.

    Don’t worry. Just after that Jesus went near the heart of Temple where those naughty accuser were sitting and told them that their forefathers are super bastard fanatic devils. Anybody know who they are in Matt. 13v24-30, the Parable of the Wheat and Tares. Who are the wheat plants and the Tares? None of you have any clue because you have spent life drinking the old wine of the dead letters never desiring the New Wine or the Oral Torah knowledge, which is His Word.

    Then, how could you grasp my videos and articles? No way?

    Letters are Milk and you need to churn the scriptures with the churner of holy spirit to extract the Nectar Butter, His Word.

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