According to the May 2002 issue of ELCA's "Lutheran" it is not
necessary to believe in the Trinity to be a Christian and a member of the
ELCA. A question and answer on this subject is found on page 31.
The article is titled: "Wrestling with the Trinity: Must I believe
doctrine to be a member?"
Question: "Should I renounce my membership? I'm a committed follower
of God, and Christ, and the Spirit, but I don't believe in the Trinity theory.
I've been told, 'If you don't believe in the Trinity doctrine you can't be a
Christian.' How does one prove this doctrine?"
Answering this question for the ELCA is former Rocky Mountain Synod Bishop
Rev. Wayne Weissenbuehler. He responds:
"You need not renounce your membership in the Christian church. Even
Paul didn't ascribe to the doctrine of the Trinity since it wasn't defined
until hundreds of years later. But I believe he would confess the truth of
revelation of God to which this doctrine bears witness.
The Trinity isn't meant to explain God. In fact, saying God is One but
three persons proves that God can't be explained-only witnessed to.
The Trinity isn't some litmus test of intellectual ascent to a doctrine.
Rather, it calls us to trust and commit to the God revealed as Father, Son and
Spirit, which is precisely how you spoke of your faith. We can't prove the
Trinity. But based on Scripture, church tradition and experience, the doctrine
of the Trinity expresses the faith that we hold to be true and life-giving. We
don't need to prove God. We only need to worship and obey God. This we can
Commentary by Reclaim
The Athanasian Creed begins as follows:
"Whosoever will be saved, before all things it is necessary that he
hold the catholic [i.e., universal, Christian] faith. Which faith except
everyone do keep whole and undefiled, without doubt he shall perish
everlastingly. And the catholic faith is this, that we worship one God in
Trinity and Trinity in Unity, . . ."
But what does the ELCA say? "Even Paul didn't ascribe to the doctrine
of the Trinity. . ." We ask, "Why should people have to believe in
the Trinity if the Apostles didn't believe it?"
Clearly, the ELCA is not concerned about the correct witness to the
Even if people don't believe the "Trinity theory" (which means
God is not a fact in the Bible) Weissenbuehler says they are still fine
Christians if they just agree to be followers of God, Christ and the Spirit.
How we understand these words is of no consequence. In fact, he claims the
Trinity can't be explained or understood from the Bible, not to mention the
While the person who asked the question is eternally damned according to
the Athanasian Creed, at least the ELCA enjoys his financial support and
statistical presence while he is on earth. This is what really matters.
It's not possible to throw stones at the ELCA's distortion of the Trinity
without saying that many LCMS clergy and those in leadership positions are
also promoting their own distortions about the Trinity.
More than 600 LCMS clergy who promote "Jesus First" have
officially endorsed Dr. Waldo Werning's heresies about the Trinity. Werning's
own District President and officials of the South Wisconsin District defend
Werning's heresy and attack in print those who disagree with Werning. They
make the Eighth Commandment more important than the First Commandment.
None other than the former Chairman of the LCMS Council of District
Presidents, Dr. John Heins, was the witness in support of Werning during
Dispute Resolution hearings. At that time Werning refused to say that Jesus
was God on the Cross. Werning won't say that Jesus is God because he believes
God is three parts and Jesus is only a part of the Trinity.
Werning doesn't agree that every Person of the Trinity is all of God, apart
from whom there is no other God, and yet there is only one God. In opposition
to the Athanasian Creed, Werning divides the substance of God and confuses the
Persons of the Trinity.
"Jesus First" would rather let souls be damned than lose
political capital by admitting that Werning teaches heresy.
We read in the Lutheran Confessions, Formula of Concord, Article VIII, Par
44, Concordia Triglotta pages 1029-1030:
"Dr. Luther says also in his book Of the Councils and the Church: We
Christians must know that if God is not also in the balance, and gives the
weight, we sink to the bottom with our scale. By this I mean: If it were not
to be said [if these things were not true], God has died for us, but only a
man, we would be lost. But if 'God's death' and 'God died' lie in the scale of
the balance, then He sinks down, and we rise up as a light, empty scale. But
indeed He can also rise again or leap out of the scale; yet He could not sit
in the scale unless He became a man like us, so that it could be said: 'God
died'" 'God's passion,' 'God's blood,' 'God's death.' For in His nature
God cannot die; but now that God and man are united in one person, it is
correctly called God's death, when the man dies who is one thing or one person
with God. Thus far Luther."
Jesus is not a part of God. Every Person of the Trinity is all of God, yet
there is only one God.