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LCMS Eastern District Cites Rachel Held Evans As Some Kind of Authority!?!

The New Testament is overflowing with warnings to us about being on guard against false doctrine and the false teachers that will peddle half-truths and lies as "Biblical truth" to the people.

Furthermore, our entire existence as a Denomination and Synod, as well as our Confessions of faith, are a a testament to that reality.

So, while it shouldn't be surprising to encounter them, why is it that I'm always blown away whenever I come across blatant false teachings within Christ's Church?

I still have trouble understanding how any orthodox Christian body (let alone an individual believer) can ignore this reality let alone how they can approve of, endorse, and promote the teachings of apostates and heretics like one Rachel Held Evans.

You can imagine my surprise when I noticed this article on the LCMS Eastern District's website (the District my church belongs to). It' not like it was buried deep in some archive either (as if that would make it "ok"), but it was front-and-center and one of only 6 links featured on the "What's New" tab under the "Articles, Reports, Documents" section.

Yes, the topic is an important one ("Why Millennials Are Leaving The Church") and I'm not about to dispute any of that here today. But I can assure you that her assertions and conclusions have NOTHING to do with the real reasons behind their mass exodus. Nothing!

If anything, her writings are authentically un-Biblical. If anything, people like her (a.k.a. "Liberal/Progressive Christians" or "Post-Modern Politically Correct Christians") are the problem, not the solution, and the LCMS should not be listening to anything that comes from her mouth let alone her keyboard and pen.

My dear friends, if you think that's hyperbole, or if you think I'm overreacting here, then please allow me to paint a picture for you. Who is Rachel Held Evans and why should an LCMS District distance itself from her? Let me count the ways...




*- She believes that her complete salvation comes from faith and works: "I don’t think that salvation is simply a matter of getting into heaven and out of hell. For me, following the teachings of Jesus Christ saves me from my sin in the here and now. It can save me on a daily basis from selfishness, materialism, passing judgment, hatred, vindictiveness, and fear" (http://rachelheldevans.com/blog/article-1228332279) AND "If it’s starting to sound like I believe in works-based salvation, it’s because I do. While I don’t for a second think that we can earn God’s grace by checking off a to-do list, I do believe that there is liberation in obedience" (http://rachelheldevans.com/blog/works-based-salvation).

*- Doing vs. believing. Orthopraxy (The Correct Activity) vs. Orthodoxy (The Correct Belief). In fact, this is one of the reasons why she said she has joined the so-called "emerging conversation," because she likes the idea of Orthopraxy over Orthodoxy. (http://rachelheldevans.com/blog/article-1207544015)

*- As a young adult, she says that she stopped believing in the "Bible’s exclusive authority, inerrancy, perspicuity, and internal consistency." She came to the conclusion that "the Bible wasn’t what I’d once believed it to be." (http://rachelheldevans.com/blog/bible-series)

*- Evans denies the inerrancy of Scripture and says that "as a woman I have been nursing a secret grudge against the apostle Paul for about eight years" (http://rachelheldevans.com/blog/lousy-evangelical)

*- Evans has also pressed the case for inclusivism (http://rachelheldevans.com/blog/bible-inclusive-salvation-heaven-hell) -- the view that says people do not need to have a conscious faith in Jesus Christ in order to be saved -- and she rejects the exclusivity of Jesus Christ as clearly stated in John 14:6 and other places (http://rachelheldevans.com/blog/evangelical-means-to-me).

*- In another blog post (http://rachelheldevans.com/blog/evangelical-means-to-me), she defines the Gospel without reference to the death and resurrection of Jesus and adopts the reductionism of some interpreters who say that the "good news" is just that "Jesus is Lord and Caesar is not."

*- The book she is best known for (A Year of Biblical Womanhood) does nothing but mock the Holy Bible. The Bible is not a book to be trifled with. Much less should it be used as fodder to promote false teaching before a watching world. This book presents the Bible as hopelessly irrelevant to the modern people. It presents its Old Testament prescriptions as silliness and folly, and it transfers that scorn by way of analogy to New Testament texts as well. The tragedy of this spectacle is that the person driving this impression is supposed to be a Christian. Those who form their impressions of the Bible from her book (and any of the countless interviews she did to promote it) will not conclude that the Old Testament Law is "holy and righteous and good" (Romans 7:12). On the contrary, her book and her interviews to promote it will give scoffers grounds to continue in their scoffing.

*- She questions and ridicules the divine judgment and sovereignty of God... (http://rachelheldevans.com/blog/scandal-evangelical-heart)

*- She supports gay marriage, and she has served communion to unrepentant practicing homosexuals...
(http://rachelheldevans.com/blog/huck-finn-hell)

*- As mentioned, she questions whether or not homosexuality is, in fact, a sin like the Lord clearly says it is because she has written: "Now, let me be clear. I’m not taking a stand on one side of the homosexuality issue or the other. I’m honestly undecided." What!?! Playing both sides of the issue makes her "double minded" (James 1:8) and her desire to doubt, doubt, doubt and question, question, question all the time is in direct violation of what Scripture teaches us.

*- She has publicly endorsed the ELCA's Nadia Bolz-Weber... (http://rachelheldevans.com/blog/nadia)

*- Although part of the Reformed crowd, there's a thorough analysis and critique of Rachel Held Evans' beliefs that can be found by reading "Rachel HeldEvans And The New Liberals" by C. Jay Engel


Clearly, Rachel Held Evans is someone who clearly resists the sovereignty of the Lord and who clearly attacks the authority of the Scriptures every chance she gets.

This isn't merely a matter of personal preference like what music to play during worship, or what color carpet to have in church, but it has to do with doctrine, the fundamentals, and the proper respect for the Lord and His holy Word.
Is it ever ok to "ask questions" and "raise doubts" just for the sake of doing so and about things that God has already provided us with the clear answers to? Show me where it says that in the Bible. Better yet, please explain to me how we reconcile that with James 1:5-8 or with Titus 3:9-10.

It's not ok for someone like Rachel Held Evans to doubt and question EVERYTHING she doesn't like, or EVERYTHING that's not "politically correct" in her eyes. That's playing god. That's idolatry. That's a sin.

It's not about what WE THINK, but about WHAT GOD THINKS AND ACTUALLY SAYS that should matter most to us Christians.

With all of that in mind, how in the world can the LCMS Eastern District cite Rachel Held Evans as some kind of authority? Why would they want to?

It's easy for me to get all worked up over this right now, but I'm going to give them the benefit of the doubt and just assume that the article was posted without them knowing the full scope of what a popular author/blogger like her actually believes.

The real question? Will they even care in light of this hard evidence of what she truly believes that is in DIRECT CONTRADICTION to what we believe? Man, I sure hope so.

Well, we'll certainly find out soon enough since I just sent the Eastern District office this email...


Rev. Chris Wicher,

I hope this message finds you and your family well and that you all had a blessed Advent and Christmas celebration.

I'm almost certain that you are most likely not the person who is responsible for this let alone the person who manages the LCMS Eastern District website on a day-to-day basis, but I decided to contact you about this anyway since I'm sure you would still want to know about this as the presiding President of our District.

I was browsing the Eastern District website the other day to get caught up on things when I made a disturbing discovery under the "What's New" tab under the "Reports, Articles, Documents" section.

There is an article by popular author/blogger Rachel Held Evans ("Why Millennials Are Leaving The Church") that is featured and I was wondering why a Lutheran body would tacitly approve, endorse, and/or promote anything written by her in light of her publicly professed beliefs that stand in direct conflict with orthodox Christianity and what we believe.

For instance,


*- She believes that her complete salvation comes from faith and works: "I don’t think that salvation is simply a matter of getting into heaven and out of hell. For me, following the teachings of Jesus Christ saves me from my sin in the here and now. It can save me on a daily basis from selfishness, materialism, passing judgment, hatred, vindictiveness, and fear" (http://rachelheldevans.com/blog/article-1228332279) AND "If it’s starting to sound like I believe in works-based salvation, it’s because I do. While I don’t for a second think that we can earn God’s grace by checking off a to-do list, I do believe that there is liberation in obedience" (http://rachelheldevans.com/blog/works-based-salvation).

*- Doing vs. believing. Orthopraxy (The Correct Activity) vs. Orthodoxy (The Correct Belief). In fact, this is one of the reasons why she said she has joined the so-called "emerging conversation," because she likes the idea of Orthopraxy over Orthodoxy. (http://rachelheldevans.com/blog/article-1207544015)

*- As a young adult, she says that she stopped believing in the "Bible’s exclusive authority, inerrancy, perspicuity, and internal consistency." She came to the conclusion that "the Bible wasn’t what I’d once believed it to be." (http://rachelheldevans.com/blog/bible-series)

*- Evans denies the inerrancy of Scripture and says that "as a woman I have been nursing a secret grudge against the apostle Paul for about eight years" (http://rachelheldevans.com/blog/lousy-evangelical)

*- Evans has also pressed the case for inclusivism (http://rachelheldevans.com/blog/bible-inclusive-salvation-heaven-hell) -- the view that says people do not need to have a conscious faith in Jesus Christ in order to be saved -- and she rejects the exclusivity of Jesus Christ as clearly stated in John 14:6 and other places (http://rachelheldevans.com/blog/evangelical-means-to-me).

*- In another blog post (http://rachelheldevans.com/blog/evangelical-means-to-me), she defines the Gospel without reference to the death and resurrection of Jesus and adopts the reductionism of some interpreters who say that the "good news" is just that "Jesus is Lord and Caesar is not."

*- The book she is best known for (A Year of Biblical Womanhood) does nothing but mock the Holy Bible. The Bible is not a book to be trifled with. Much less should it be used as fodder to promote false teaching before a watching world. This book presents the Bible as hopelessly irrelevant to the modern people. It presents its Old Testament prescriptions as silliness and folly, and it transfers that scorn by way of analogy to New Testament texts as well. The tragedy of this spectacle is that the person driving this impression is supposed to be a Christian. Those who form their impressions of the Bible from her book (and any of the countless interviews she did to promote it) will not conclude that the Old Testament Law is "holy and righteous and good" (Romans 7:12). On the contrary, her book and her interviews to promote it will give scoffers grounds to continue in their scoffing.

*- She questions and ridicules the divine judgment and sovereignty of God... (http://rachelheldevans.com/blog/scandal-evangelical-heart)

*- She supports gay marriage, and she has served communion to unrepentant practicing homosexuals...
(http://rachelheldevans.com/blog/huck-finn-hell)

*- As mentioned, she questions whether or not homosexuality is, in fact, a sin like the Lord clearly says it is because she has written: "Now, let me be clear. I’m not taking a stand on one side of the homosexuality issue or the other. I’m honestly undecided." What!?! Playing both sides of the issue makes her "double minded" (James 1:8) and her desire to doubt, doubt, doubt and question, question, question all the time is in direct violation of what Scripture teaches us.

*- She has publicly endorsed the ELCA's Nadia Bolz-Weber... (http://rachelheldevans.com/blog/nadia)

*- Although part of the Reformed crowd, there's a thorough analysis and critique of Rachel Held Evans' beliefs that can be found by reading "Rachel HeldEvans And The New Liberals" by C. Jay Engel


For emphasis, Rachel Held Evans' strong, vocal, and unwavering support of homosexuality and so-called "gay marriage" (as evidenced by her published writings that are publicly available on her website and referenced above) stands in stark contrast to the very first link you have featured on the very same page titled "Information On Marriage Policies For Member Congregations" that contains this paragraph...


This, in brief, is the Bible’s teaching on marriage—and so it is also the doctrine of The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod (LCMS). Every congregation and called worker of the LCMS accepts the Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments as the written Word of God and the only rule and norm of faith and of practice. Congregations and church workers also gladly declare their unswerving conviction that the confessions of the Lutheran church, as found in The Book of Concord (1580), are in full agreement with the Scriptures. LCMS congregations, pastors, and other called servants thus agree to abide by the doctrine of the Synod. To believe that marriage is a sacred union of one man and one woman is not a political opinion or a cultural bias, it is the clear teaching of Holy Scripture, something that the members of the Synod believe, teach, and confess as the very truth of God.


Her un-Biblical views on homosexuality alone should be a red flag for us to stay away, because when you question and raise doubts about what the Lord has clearly told us is a sin, then you're redefining sin and playing god yourself, or committing idolatry by creating a god that doesn't really exist.

Of course, again, I want to give the benefit of the doubt here, and would like to think that this is something that just slipped through the cracks on your end and that her article was posted without knowing the full scope of what she actually believes and writes. After all, I know how busy you and your staff can be at times. Besides, accidents happen.

However, I also know the reality of the times we're living in, and believe what the Bible tells me about expecting false prophets and false teachers like her to come along and to gain widespread popularity like she has despite her un-Biblical views and I just want to do my small part to make you, my brother in Christ, aware of it.

In addition, I know that the subject she wrote about in that piece is an important one that all of us within the LCMS should be discussing and prayerfully considering these days.

Even so, I'm confident that in light of these revelations about what Rachel Held Evans truly believes, you will do the right thing and have her article removed from the LCMS Eastern District website as soon as possible so as to not lead any of His little ones astray by unintentionally leading other brothers and sisters in Christ to visit her website and read her work when it is clearly doctrinally dangerous and spiritually poisonous.

The good news? Since I agree with the Eastern District that the issue of "Why Millennials Are Leaving The Church" is an important one, perhaps you could replace her article with one of many from LCMS Pastor Matt Richard who has written quite extensively about this subject, which can be found rather easily online.

Better yet, a piece by LCMS Pastor Joseph Abrahamson who, just this past November, wrote an excellent Biblical response to Shane Raynor's similar article titled "Millennial Myths and the Real Reasons People Leave the Church" here...


Looking In All The Wrong Places: Why Do Christians Leave Church?


I know that we are fond of saying "Every Member A Minister" these days, but I prefer to think of it as "Every Christian A Berean (Acts 17:11)" instead.

I hope that I was able to help in some small way today.

Thank you for taking the time to read my email and hear my heartfelt concerns.

Your Brother In Christ Alone,

Jeffrey K. Radt
Just A Lutheran Layman


I could care less about a response, but I do hope they take my email to heart and at least remove the link to that article. I'll certainly keep you posted.

In John 7:24 Jesus said, "Judge not according to the appearance, but judge righteous judgment." In other words, judge, but do it for the right reasons. In Revelation 2:2, Jesus Himself again commends this as He commends the Church of Ephesus for judging false teachers, which is certainly appropriate to this entire situation.

While Jesus forbade harsh judgment that self-righteous legalism promotes, He demanded that we exercise moral and theological discernment/judgment for the purity of His church and so that there could be unity not just in love, but unity in the faith amongst His sheep (Ephesians 4:13-15; Jude 1:3; Galatians 2:5). This is also consistent with all the other passages of Scripture where the Lord instructs us believers to judge one another.

Now that we are all on the same page and have this knowledge, it's up to you to decide what you will do with it (Isaiah 5:20; Acts 24:16).

While it's certainly ok for believers to have legitimate questions about our cherished faith, embracing and encouraging doubts and questions all the time that are fueled by rebellion against Him and His Word just because you don't like something or understand it yourself (as if that's the kind of faith that the Lord expects us to have) is grossly irresponsible (and dare I say sinful?) for anyone who calls themselves a Christian. Please show me where that sort of thing is encouraged in the Bible.

It's nothing but Post-Modern Liberal Theology at its worst.

In a Lutheran Layman's terms, "I found it necessary to write appealing to you to contend for the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints" (Jude 1:3) because "to them we did not yield in submission even for a moment, so that the truth of the gospel might be preserved for you" (Galatians 2:5).

[NOTE: As you know, I am a newly converted Confessional Lutheran who recently escaped American Evangelicalism. That being said, please contact me ASAP if you believe that any of my "old beliefs" seem to have crept their way into any of the material you see published here, and especially if any of the content is not consistent with Lutheran doctrine -- in other words, if it's not consistent with God's Word -- so that I can correct those errors immediately and not lead any of His little ones astray. Thank you in advance for your time and help. Grace and peace to you and yours!]

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About JKR

Christian. Husband. Father. Friend.

1 comment

  1. Great news! Here's the response I received from LCMS Eastern District President, Rev. Chris Wicher, and my reply to him...

    http://www.lutheranlayman.com/2014/01/lcms-eastern-district-response-to-my.html

    Grace And Peace,
    Jeff

    ReplyDelete

Thank you for visiting A Lutheran Layman! Please feel free to leave a comment or a question since we do not exercise censorship. We've seen a similar policy with other blogs and it's worth repeating: Please act as if you're a guest in my home, and we'll get along just fine. I think anyone would agree that the kind of back-and-forth that is characteristic of blogs/chat forums and social media is becoming tiresome for all of us. Still, we should confess, edify, and love (and contend and defend when needed). Bottom line? Search the Scriptures! Apply Acts 17:11 to anything and everything you find here and, if you do happen to disagree with something you find here (which is certainly ok), or think I'm "irresponsible" and "wrong" for writing it, then please refute my position by supporting yours with Scripture and/or the Confessions. I don't think that's an unreasonable request, especially for those who identify themselves as "Christians" here, right? Besides, Proverbs 27:17 tells us "Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another" and 2 Timothy 3:16 says, "all Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness." If you have an opinion that's great, I welcome it, but try to support it using God's Word. I mean, if the goal here is to help us all arrive at the truth of God's Word (myself included), then it should be easy to follow through on this one simple request (I'm talking to all you "Anonymous" visitors out there). Grace and peace to you and yours!

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