Canaanite Lutheranism

Tweet Share

A former student sent along a link to Ebenezer Lutheran Church, an ELCA congregation in San Francisco, which bills itself as “Her Church.” The church’s website announces it as “welcoming and affirming,” and advertises works by feminist theologians from Carol Crist to (former) Southern Baptist Jann Aldredge-Clanton.

The events of the month include an invitation for women to participate in spiritual exercises like this, from a church member’s testimony:

Pastor Stacy reminded us of some of the discounted feminine images of God in the Old Testament–probably none of which were the products of female imaginations–and invited us to form our own images in clay of Asherah, the mother goddess of the Canaanites familiar to early Jewish inhabitants of Canaan. I am no artist. Warming and working the clay with my hands, I wondered whether my goddess would look anything like the photograph of an Asherah figure Stacy provided as a possible starting point. Almost immediately I forget all about the picture. I began to form, as well as I could, my own breasts and hips, my own hair and face and arms and belly, my 52-year-old self, an Asherah with a sacred body just like mine. I can’t tell you how healing that was.

It is no surprise that in forming an idol this poor woman found herself forming herself. This is precisely the root and basis of idolatry (Rom 1). What is tragic is that she is being led to form an Asherah, “familiar to the early Jewish inhabitants of Canaan” (!), rather than being pointed away from herself to Jesus in, of all places, a Lutheran church.

Activities such as this confirm my suspicions that “renewal” groups in some of the mainline communions have now waited too patiently for too long. There’s a time to fight for a restoration of one’s church to fidelity and orthodoxy, and then there’s a time when one no longer has a communion of churches, but a sub-Christian organization. Sometimes it is hard to tell when that transition has been made. When you get to Asherah worship, I think the ship has sailed.

Nonetheless, let’s pray for Lutheran brothers and sisters who will have the courage in this era to “familiarize” themselves with Baal, Asherah, and all such principalities and powers…in the same way the prophets of old did. Let’s pray for Lutheran churches that preach Christ and him crucified.

And that whirring sound you hear is probably a boisterous German table-talker, spinning in his grave.

Only when we see how lost we are, we can find our way again. Only when we bury what’s dead can we experience life again. Only when we lose our religion can we be amazed by grace again.


About Russell Moore

Russell Moore is Editor in Chief of Christianity Today and is the author of the forthcoming book Losing Our Religion: An Altar Call for Evangelical America (Penguin Random House).