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ALPB => Your Turn => Topic started by: ptmccain on October 28, 2010, 11:09:16 AM

Title: An Open Letter from Dr. Carl Braaten
Post by: ptmccain on October 28, 2010, 11:09:16 AM
A friend shared this with me, and I found it interesting:

An Open Letter to the Editor of The Lutheran, the magazine of the ELCA
from Dr. Carl Braaten

An Open Letter to Mr. Daniel J. Lehmann
Editor, The Lutheran, Magazine of the ELCA
8765 W. Higgins Rd.
Chicago, IL 60631

Dear Sir:.

I am writing in response to your editorial in the October 2010 issue of The Lutheran, the magazine of the ELCA.  In that editorial you write about the formation of a new Lutheran church body, the North American Lutheran Church.  You make a number of statements that are either petty or untrue, creating a false impression.

1)  You observe that “the NALC becomes, in the eyes of this magazine, one more Lutheran denomination” and you assert that “The Lutheran won’t give it any special coverage just because of its heritage.”  Why not?  The Lutheran should serve the people of the ELCA and not only the bureaucracy at Higgins Road.  The NALC is composed entirely of congregations and pastors who left behind many close friends and relatives in the ELCA.  The NALC is therefore not just another Lutheran church body, no matter what you say.  It will always have a special relationship to the ELCA as “a chip off the old block.”  Don’t you think the people of the ELCA deserve to be kept informed about what their friends and relatives are experiencing in the NALC?  Your response is pitifully petty, a mere defensive reaction born of resentment. 

2)  You observe that “the magazine turned down an advertisement sought by organizers of the NALC gathering.  It promoted a theological symposium that served as a run-up to the constituting convention.”  These statements are half-truths.  As a journalist you should pay attention to the pesky little things called “facts.”  I was the initiator and coordinator of the theological conference, “Seeking New Directions for Lutheranism.”  I know what happened, down to every detail.  The fact is that Lutheranism in North American has been and is theologically in disarray, in a state of confusion.  My idea was to ask CORE to sponsor a free theological conference for all Lutherans, to discuss the identity and future of Lutheranism with integrity in an ecumenical age.  When this conference was planned and announced, there was not a hint about the formation of a new church body.  The theological conference was announced at the CORE assembly in September, 2009, Fishers, Indiana, at which time there was no proposal for a new church body on the table.  Our theological conference was organized as a function of CORE, pure and simple.  What possible objection could you as a journalist or editor have to that, unless you had already taken the side of the bureaucrats in the church struggle that led to the 2009 ELCA assembly in Minneapolis?  The fact that the organization of the NALC took place chronologically soon after the theological conference was an after-thought.  The advertisement that you turned down was sought by the officers of CORE and not by the organizers of the NALC, as you suggest.  The ad was for a conference sponsored by CORE.  Not a single word suggested anything about creating a new church body.  When we planned the conference, selected the speakers, and produced the brochure, we knew nothing about the NALC, nor was it on anyone’s radar screen.

3.  You observe that “many if not all of those involved were still on the ELCA roster, but their actions were schismatic.”  Now, as a self-professed schismatic yourself, you should know from experience that neither the conference itself nor any of the speakers were guilty of actions that were schismatic.  Who are you to judge that their actions were schismatic?  All of the speakers are ordained ministers of the ELCA and have served for decades as professors of theology at its colleges or seminaries, in some cases more than 50 years.  Neither the theme nor the aim of the conference was to call for or to promote the creation of a new church body.  We are all church theologians and not church politicians.  We covered the loci of Lutheran dogmatics -- the authority and interpretation of Scripture, the doctrine of the Trinity, the centrality of Christ, the nature and purpose of the Church, Christian ethics, and so forth.  The Lutheran theology embedded in these lectures stands on its own feet, and does not ride piggy-back on the church-political actions to start a new church.  You should know that theologians who promise to serve the whole church of Jesus Christ are not beholden to the officials of any Protestant denomination.  Over the years all of us speak across the ecumenical spectrum, at Catholic, Orthodox, Baptist, and Evangelical institutions.  Is there something un-Lutheran or un-churchly about that?  Now that the NALC is organized, as theologians we are free to speak at its events, just as we are free to speak at any non-ELCA Lutheran church bodies.  That may be too difficult to grasp by those who think and act as though church theologians should be the functionaries of church bureaucrats who manipulate the levers of power.  If Martin Luther were here, he might say with Yogi Berra, “It’s déjà vu all over again.” 

4.  You ask “why would the magazine assist with highlighting an event aimed at distracting, if not undermining, the ELCA?”  What do you know about the aim of the theological conference?  The brochure states the aim this way: “This theological conference will reaffirm the original aim of Lutheranism to be a reforming movement within the whole church that is both evangelical in preaching and orthodox in doctrine.  Each of the presenters will focus on a particular article of faith at risk in Lutheranism today and spell out what we confess on the basis of Holy Scripture, the ancient Creeds, and the Lutheran Confessions.  We invite all Lutherans in North America to come together to reclaim the great tradition that witnesses faithfully to Jesus Christ, builds his Church on earth, and proclaims the Gospel of salvation to the nations.”  Those are scary words, but only to heterodox revisionists moved by a different spirit and loyal to different principles and standards.
More than eight hundred persons attended the theological conference.  You were invited too.  Editors from non-Lutheran magazines chose to attend, for example, Christianity Today, Touchstone, inter alia.  You chose not to attend, even though it was a major theological event within the orbit of the ELCA.  There is a reason for this, and we know what it is.  Lutheranism began in history as a movement of critical theology, biblical and dogmatic.  The lackeys of the church bureaucracy at that time were opposed to Luther and his reforming and renewing efforts.  They could not tolerate criticism.  All the theologians who spoke at the theological conference in Columbus, 2010, are responding to the theological crisis in American Lutheranism.  They have been critics of various aspects of the ELCA from its earliest beginnings, for example, the quota system, radical theological feminism, antinomianism, etc.  The two “Call to Faithfulness Conferences” at St. Olaf College in 1990 and 1992 put the spotlight on a number of critical theological issues.  Those who have ears to hear heard, and the rest plugged their ears.

Is there something un-Lutheran about raising voices in protest and criticism of false teachings and practices going on in the church?  That’s what theologians do.  Lutheran theologians have been doing that from the get-go.  Understandably, then and now the church politicians don’t like to hear it.  What is the mission of The Lutheran?  Is the ELCA beyond criticism, so that critical theological voices should be ignored, muted, and regarded as schismatic? That is what the bureaucrats charged against Luther when they tried to muzzle him.  Does The Lutheran have a greater obligation to heed the wishes of the bureaucrats of the ELCA than to hear the voices of its theologians?  Do the bureaucrats who have served the ELCA for a few years have a greater right to address the ELCA than its theologians who have served its various educational institutions for many years? 
A schism has occurred now.  You seem to exhibit no understanding of what caused it.  It’s not the case that a few pastors and congregations woke up one morning and said, “Hey, let’s start a new church?  Wouldn’t that be fun?”  Every historical event has a cause.  We know what caused the schism.  There would have been no schism except for the ELCA assembly decisions in Minneapolis, August, 2009.  The game is now hard-ball and you have joined in, using the kind of tactics applied against you in that other schism to which you refer.

You end your editorial with a quotation from Luther: “The most dangerous sin of all is the presumption of righteousness.”  Your editorial reeks with the kind of self-righteousness Luther had in mind.

My question to you is:  As a journalist, why can’t you be fair to all parties involved in the debates and discussions going on within the ELCA?  Why do you need to be a partisan beholden to its bureaucracy?  If that is the mission of The Lutheran, maybe that explains why it has fewer and fewer subscribers and readers, as you yourself have acknowledged.

I am sending this as an “Open Letter,” because I do not expect to see it in The Lutheran magazine.  Nor do I want it edited so as to make it say things I did not write.  I have had that experience before. 

Sincerely, 
Carl E. Braaten
Title: Re: An Open Letter from Dr. Carl Braaten
Post by: JMerrell on October 28, 2010, 11:16:35 AM
Its refreshing to hear someone who is not afraid to speak their mind.   Wish more people did it.
Title: Re: An Open Letter from Dr. Carl Braaten
Post by: jpetty on October 28, 2010, 11:24:09 AM
Another Braaten rant?  Yawn.
Title: Re: An Open Letter from Dr. Carl Braaten
Post by: GalRev83 on October 28, 2010, 11:24:53 AM
Thanks for sharing this. I admire Dr. Braaten far more at this moment than I did even in my seminary days, when I studied with him (OK, only one course.... ;)). The editorial in the Lutheran seemed reprehensible to me, but his response is well stated and comprehensive. Wish more people could see it!!!

Donna
Title: Re: An Open Letter from Dr. Carl Braaten
Post by: Richard Johnson on October 28, 2010, 11:25:12 AM
The substance of Dr. Braaten's letter is right on, though there is at least one error of fact--unfortunate, given that he's accusing Mr. Lehman of playing fast and loose with the facts. Braaten says "All of the speakers are ordained ministers of the ELCA." That is not true of at least one, layman Robert Benne.
Title: Re: An Open Letter from Dr. Carl Braaten
Post by: Pilgrim on October 28, 2010, 11:29:04 AM
Another Braaten rant?  Yawn.

Tim notes: Spoken like one truly committed to respecting bound consciences per the party line of the ELCA.   :P
Title: Re: An Open Letter from Dr. Carl Braaten
Post by: revjagow on October 28, 2010, 11:37:47 AM
IMNSHO, the editor deserved every word he got from Dr. Braaten.  Every word.

In the hands of this theologian, the words he chooses are very careful.  To dismiss this as a rant is to be very lazy in your thinking.  Braaten is a master surgeon, carving away the callous tissue to expose the most vulnerable areas of "The Lutheran" editor's dismissal.  The open bias of that editorial is laid bare for everyone to see.  What Braaten writes (something I hope we all agree with) is that there is a profound difference between disagreeing and dismissing.  Shame on The Lutheran for choosing the later as a response to the theological conference and the formation of the NALC.  I see it as a real dishonest approach to the issues that are going to affect a major church body in the United States, and the people of the ELCA (among them, many family and friends that subscribe to "The Lutheran"), deserve better.
Title: Re: An Open Letter from Dr. Carl Braaten
Post by: MaddogLutheran on October 28, 2010, 11:48:33 AM
Another Braaten rant?  Yawn.
That's the best you can do, snark?  I guess you can't be bothered to address anything actually written by Dr. Braaten, if you think there are any inaccuracies in it.  Or perhaps you think he's correct, but it doesn't bother you enough that he's been wronged by The Lutheran's editorial to actually say so.

It's ironic that The Lutheran chose to use the blanket epithet of "schismatic" without even mentioning Pr. Wolf's sermon at the gathering on that very topic.  Of course, considering her even-handed assignment of blame on the issue, perhaps that's not surprising.

Sterling Spatz
Title: Re: An Open Letter from Dr. Carl Braaten
Post by: JEdwards on October 28, 2010, 11:49:31 AM
Its refreshing to hear someone who is not afraid to speak their mind.   Wish more people did it.
C'mon, be subversive!   Use a masculine pronoun!   ;D

Jon
Title: Re: An Open Letter from Dr. Carl Braaten
Post by: jpetty on October 28, 2010, 11:54:22 AM
Another Braaten rant?  Yawn.
That's the best you can do, snark?  I guess you can't be bothered to address anything actually written by Dr. Braaten, if you think there are any inaccuracies in it.  Or perhaps you think he's correct, but it doesn't bother you enough that he's been wronged by The Lutheran's editorial to actually say so.

It's ironic that The Lutheran chose to use the blanket epithet of "schismatic" without even mentioning Pr. Wolf's sermon at the gathering on that very topic.  Of course, considering her even-handed assignment of blame on the issue, perhaps that's not surprising.

Sterling Spatz

I don't see why the Lutheran is obligated to report on the doings of another denomination. 
Title: Re: An Open Letter from Dr. Carl Braaten
Post by: TravisW on October 28, 2010, 12:06:15 PM
Another Braaten rant?  Yawn.
That's the best you can do, snark?  I guess you can't be bothered to address anything actually written by Dr. Braaten, if you think there are any inaccuracies in it.  Or perhaps you think he's correct, but it doesn't bother you enough that he's been wronged by The Lutheran's editorial to actually say so.

It's ironic that The Lutheran chose to use the blanket epithet of "schismatic" without even mentioning Pr. Wolf's sermon at the gathering on that very topic.  Of course, considering her even-handed assignment of blame on the issue, perhaps that's not surprising.

Sterling Spatz

I don't see why the Lutheran is obligated to report on the doings of another denomination. 

CORE is not NALC. 

yawn
Title: Re: An Open Letter from Dr. Carl Braaten
Post by: MaddogLutheran on October 28, 2010, 12:26:18 PM
Another Braaten rant?  Yawn.
That's the best you can do, snark?  I guess you can't be bothered to address anything actually written by Dr. Braaten, if you think there are any inaccuracies in it.  Or perhaps you think he's correct, but it doesn't bother you enough that he's been wronged by The Lutheran's editorial to actually say so.

It's ironic that The Lutheran chose to use the blanket epithet of "schismatic" without even mentioning Pr. Wolf's sermon at the gathering on that very topic.  Of course, considering her even-handed assignment of blame on the issue, perhaps that's not surprising.

Sterling Spatz

I don't see why the Lutheran is obligated to report on the doings of another denomination.  
Oh, I don't know, but maybe it's because the new denomination is a direct result of a schism of the denomination the magazine represents?  Maybe that's not really newsworthy, since we wouldn't want people to know there was any dissent to the CWA's actions.  But your comment is at odds with what actually occurred.  If what you say were true, then The Lutheran should not have editorialized on it AT ALL.  I guess I'm just old fashioned, but I think it would be within The Lutheran's mandate to report on congregations leaving, and for what reason.  And on those persons opposed to the CWA's actions who are staying, which include CORE people such as Prs. Wolf and Tibbetts.

All this is not really surprising, considering proponents of the change (and their institutional supporters) have a track record of consistently misrepresented the traditionalist position and motives.

Sterling Spatz
Title: Re: An Open Letter from Dr. Carl Braaten
Post by: JMerrell on October 28, 2010, 12:28:33 PM
Its refreshing to hear someone who is not afraid to speak their mind.   Wish more people did it.
C'mon, be subversive!   Use a masculine pronoun!   ;D

Jon

Sorry Jon,  wasn't an english major, majored in Southern instead.  To correct:  It's refreshing to hear HIM speak HIS mind.  
Title: Re: An Open Letter from Dr. Carl Braaten
Post by: revjagow on October 28, 2010, 12:32:28 PM
Another Braaten rant?  Yawn.
That's the best you can do, snark?  I guess you can't be bothered to address anything actually written by Dr. Braaten, if you think there are any inaccuracies in it.  Or perhaps you think he's correct, but it doesn't bother you enough that he's been wronged by The Lutheran's editorial to actually say so.

It's ironic that The Lutheran chose to use the blanket epithet of "schismatic" without even mentioning Pr. Wolf's sermon at the gathering on that very topic.  Of course, considering her even-handed assignment of blame on the issue, perhaps that's not surprising.

Sterling Spatz

I don't see why the Lutheran is obligated to report on the doings of another denomination. 

Reasons not to be dismissive (for those too lazy to engage Dr. Braaten's letter):

-Many folks who formed the NALC still have many connections to the ELCA.  
-There is a lot of flux within Lutheranism in North America at this point in time.
-This conference garnered the attention of some rather large non-Lutheran news agencies.
-The topics at this conference were theological issues that many consider vital to future ministry of any church.  To quote Braaten: "the authority and interpretation of Scripture, the doctrine of the Trinity, the centrality of Christ, the nature and purpose of the Church, Christian ethics, and so forth."
-(I would add) the mass exodus has already caused institutional strife and many strains in the ELCA's ecumenical partnerships around the world.  Good reason, perhaps, to pay some attention to the groups that are leaving.

If I had a church with an independent-sounding name, perhaps I could dismiss this and any and all major things that happen among Lutherans.  But, it so happens that my church has the name "Lutheran," so I am very concerned about the common witness that name gives to people outside of my little corner of Beacon Hill Road.  I would find it unwise to be dismissive of events of far less importance than what went on in Columbus this past summer.  So, for The Lutheran to use the word "schismatic" and to so carelessly disregard those events strikes this Lutheran as beyond irresponsible.  
Title: Re: An Open Letter from Dr. Carl Braaten
Post by: olarmy02 on October 28, 2010, 12:53:26 PM
Another Braaten rant?  Yawn.
That's the best you can do, snark?  I guess you can't be bothered to address anything actually written by Dr. Braaten, if you think there are any inaccuracies in it.  Or perhaps you think he's correct, but it doesn't bother you enough that he's been wronged by The Lutheran's editorial to actually say so.

It's ironic that The Lutheran chose to use the blanket epithet of "schismatic" without even mentioning Pr. Wolf's sermon at the gathering on that very topic.  Of course, considering her even-handed assignment of blame on the issue, perhaps that's not surprising.

Sterling Spatz

I don't see why the Lutheran is obligated to report on the doings of another denomination.  

Somebody too sleepy to actually read the article where that statement is directly discussed?
Title: Re: An Open Letter from Dr. Carl Braaten
Post by: James_Gale on October 28, 2010, 12:54:04 PM
Another Braaten rant?  Yawn.
That's the best you can do, snark?  I guess you can't be bothered to address anything actually written by Dr. Braaten, if you think there are any inaccuracies in it.  Or perhaps you think he's correct, but it doesn't bother you enough that he's been wronged by The Lutheran's editorial to actually say so.

It's ironic that The Lutheran chose to use the blanket epithet of "schismatic" without even mentioning Pr. Wolf's sermon at the gathering on that very topic.  Of course, considering her even-handed assignment of blame on the issue, perhaps that's not surprising.

Sterling Spatz

I don't see why the Lutheran is obligated to report on the doings of another denomination.  

Reasons not to be dismissive (for those too lazy to engage Dr. Braaten's letter):

-Many folks who formed the NALC still have many connections to the ELCA.  
-There is a lot of flux within Lutheranism in North America at this point in time.
-This conference garnered the attention of some rather large non-Lutheran news agencies.
-The topics at this conference were theological issues that many consider vital to future ministry of any church.  To quote Braaten: "the authority and interpretation of Scripture, the doctrine of the Trinity, the centrality of Christ, the nature and purpose of the Church, Christian ethics, and so forth."
-(I would add) the mass exodus has already caused institutional strife and many strains in the ELCA's ecumenical partnerships around the world.  Good reason, perhaps, to pay some attention to the groups that are leaving.

If I had a church with an independent-sounding name, perhaps I could dismiss this and any and all major things that happen among Lutherans.  But, it so happens that my church has the name "Lutheran," so I am very concerned about the common witness that name gives to people outside of my little corner of Beacon Hill Road.  I would find it unwise to be dismissive of events of far less importance than what went on in Columbus this past summer.  So, for The Lutheran to use the word "schismatic" and to so carelessly disregard those events strikes this Lutheran as beyond irresponsible.  

In addition, Lutheran CORE sponsored the theological conference, not the NALC.  Lutheran CORE is not a new denomination.  It is not a denomination at all.  It is an organization that includes many who have left the ELCA and, importantly, many who intend to stay in the ELCA.

In short, this was not a story only about another "denomination"  It was also an important story about a continuing struggle within the ELCA.  And why would The Lutheran choose not to cover important stories about continuing struggles within the ELCA?  The editors do not answer that question.  Perhaps it simply does not fit a preferred narrative.  
Title: Re: An Open Letter from Dr. Carl Braaten
Post by: jrubyaz on October 28, 2010, 12:56:30 PM
But do any of us, regardless of whether we are in the ELCA, on the way out, or not a part of it at all, really believe that a magazine that is a magazine of that denomination would promote a group or church formed out of disagreement?

Mind you, I know Carl and he has spoken here at LCdC-A great letter, and I did find the editor very dismissive and snarky.

But do you really believe they would promote this? The realpolitik of the situation seems  to argue otherwise.

I am not surprised.

Jeff Ruby
Title: Re: An Open Letter from Dr. Carl Braaten
Post by: MaddogLutheran on October 28, 2010, 01:11:46 PM
But do any of us, regardless of whether we are in the ELCA, on the way out, or not a part of it at all, really believe that a magazine that is a magazine of that denomination would promote a group or church formed out of disagreement?

Mind you, I know Carl and he has spoken here at LCdC-A great letter, and I did find the editor very dismissive and snarky.

But do you really believe they would promote this? The realpolitik of the situation seems argue otherwise.

I am not surprised.

Jeff Ruby

You raise an interesting point, which I almost addressed in my previous:  what is The Lutheran, exactly?  Is it a journalistic enterprise, or marketing/public relations vehicle, or dare I say, instrument of propaganda?  I'd agree that it has no obligation to extensively report on the daily goings-on of another denomination, which the NALC certainly is, regardless of its heritage.  But does the magazine not also have an 8th commandment and journalist obligation to the truth? Not to mention the CWA's bound conscience declaration, which would seem to preclude the magazine from taking sides on the theological disagreement, since we are not of one mind as a church, supposedly--especially important to those who have not left.   It's been a while since I've read it regularly, but I assume it reported on the recent election of the new LCMS president.  I couldn't say whether it reported the convention's response to the CWA09 actions, but I think it should have if it did not.  Certainly NALC merits similar kinds of coverage on an annual basis.

Sterling Spatz
Title: Re: An Open Letter from Dr. Carl Braaten
Post by: Marshall_Hahn on October 28, 2010, 02:18:38 PM
But do any of us, regardless of whether we are in the ELCA, on the way out, or not a part of it at all, really believe that a magazine that is a magazine of that denomination would promote a group or church formed out of disagreement?

Mind you, I know Carl and he has spoken here at LCdC-A great letter, and I did find the editor very dismissive and snarky.

But do you really believe they would promote this? The realpolitik of the situation seems argue otherwise.

I am not surprised.

Jeff Ruby

You raise an interesting point, which I almost addressed in my previous:  what is The Lutheran, exactly?  Is it a journalistic enterprise, or marketing/public relations vehicle, or dare I say, instrument of propaganda?  I'd agree that it has no obligation to extensively report on the daily goings-on of another denomination, which the NALC certainly is, regardless of its heritage.  But does the magazine not also have an 8th commandment and journalist obligation to the truth? Not to mention the CWA's bound conscience declaration, which would seem to preclude the magazine from taking sides on the theological disagreement, since we are not of one mind as a church, supposedly--especially important to those who have not left.   It's been a while since I've read it regularly, but I assume it reported on the recent election of the new LCMS president.  I couldn't say whether it reported the convention's response to the CWA09 actions, but I think it should have if it did not.  Certainly NALC merits similar kinds of coverage on an annual basis.

Sterling Spatz

The two congregations I serve dropped the pretense of the "Every Member Plan" a couple years ago.  (We had reduced it down to the very bare minimum one could order and still be in the plan.)  We have been ordering 20 copies of the magazine for each congregation since then and put them out for people to read and/or pick up at church.  I leave them out for three months - there are usually 10 - 15 left by then.  In large part due to Editor Lehmans's editorial in October, I will be recommending at this month's council meeting that we drop our subscription entirely and let people know how they can subscribe individually if they wish to do so.  I will order a copy for myself.

Marshall Hahn
Title: Re: An Open Letter from Dr. Carl Braaten
Post by: George Erdner on October 28, 2010, 02:28:52 PM
You raise an interesting point, which I almost addressed in my previous:  what is The Lutheran, exactly?  Is it a journalistic enterprise, or marketing/public relations vehicle, or dare I say, instrument of propaganda?  I'd agree that it has no obligation to extensively report on the daily goings-on of another denomination, which the NALC certainly is, regardless of its heritage.  But does the magazine not also have an 8th commandment and journalist obligation to the truth? Not to mention the CWA's bound conscience declaration, which would seem to preclude the magazine from taking sides on the theological disagreement, since we are not of one mind as a church, supposedly--especially important to those who have not left.   It's been a while since I've read it regularly, but I assume it reported on the recent election of the new LCMS president.  I couldn't say whether it reported the convention's response to the CWA09 actions, but I think it should have if it did not.  Certainly NALC merits similar kinds of coverage on an annual basis.

Sterling Spatz

From the magazine's website (http://www.thelutheran.org/about/mission.cfm) (which, since it's an ELCA publication, isn't official and anything in it that's uncomfortable can be denied):

Mission
The Lutheran magazine belongs to the people of the ELCA in all our diversity. The magazine:
• Nurtures awareness of Christ's presence in our lives and the world.
• Shares stories of God's people living their faith.
• Connects us with the global Christian community.
• Provides an open forum for discussion.
• Challenges us to bring God's grace and care to all.


More detail from the wbsite (http://www.thelutheran.org/template/page.cfm?id=4).

Editorial Guidelines

The following is the Statement of Editorial Guidelines for The Lutheran, adopted by the Advisory Committee in October 1988 and by the Church Council of the ELCA in November 1988:

The Lutheran is the periodical of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. As such it belongs to the whole constituency of this church. In accordance with this church's Constitution, Bylaws, and Continuing Resolutions, this statement of Editorial Guidelines was adopted by the Advisory Committee for the church periodical.

As the magazine of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, The Lutheran shall interpret and uphold the Lutheran confessions, the church's constitution, and the policies and practices adopted by the Churchwide Assembly and the Church Council of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. This magazine also shall address the total constituency of the church in its diversity by:

1. proclaiming the Christian faith and relating it to the life of the people;

2 . nurturing understanding of the mission and ministry of the church, its various units, its affiliates, and its related agencies;

3. reporting information of significance to the church and its people;

4. offering a forum for the responsible discussion of issues important to the life of the church and its people;

5 . providing informed editorial content about relevant problems, needs, and concerns in the church's common life;

6 . acquainting members of the church with church personalities and institutions; and

7 . publishing official notices as required by the Constitution, Bylaws, and Continuing Resolutions of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.

The Lutheran belongs to the people of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, not to the editorial staff or to individual structures of the church. The freedom of the magazine, therefore, is best understood as the right of the people of the church to be informed about the life and work of the church.

Coupled with this freedom must be a sense of responsibility and accountability on the part of the editorial staff to the church and its members. In this context, The Lutheran staff represent readers in gathering information, in raising questions, and in reflecting varied viewpoints. The credibility of The Lutheran depends in part on its ability to openly discuss issues within the church. The staff can expect cooperation, support, and openness from leaders whose concerns and actions it is to present. In turn, the staff is expected to report accurately the decisions and activities of the church, including its assemblies, officers, Church Council, boards, standing committees, synods, congregations, and other entities.

The editor is authorized to present, in the pages of the magazine, articles and statements of opinions reflecting responsible concern for relevant issues. These articles and opinion columns are not to be regarded as official statements of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. The columns of this periodical also shall be open to those who hold cogent and responsible opposing opinions but the editor shall exercise final judgment on which expressions shall be given space in the magazine.

In all matters, the concept of ‘speaking the truth in love’ must prevail.

Advertising guidelines

The Lutheran accepts advertisements according to the guidelines adopted by its advisory committee and the Church Council of Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.  Read the guidelines ...  (http://www.thelutheran.org/template/page.cfm?id=169)
Title: Re: An Open Letter from Dr. Carl Braaten
Post by: jpetty on October 28, 2010, 03:30:00 PM
Braaten continues to beat the drum that "bureaucrats" manipulated CWA to do their bidding.  I'll put the "best possible construction" on this by saying that I'm assuming he really believes it.  If that's the case, however, then his judgment is so clouded that I'm not willing to trust him on any of his other assertions.
Title: Re: An Open Letter from Dr. Carl Braaten
Post by: Steven Tibbetts on October 28, 2010, 04:00:38 PM

I don't see why the Lutheran is obligated to report on the doings of another denomination. 

Of course, The Lutheran did report on the formation of another denomination.  The issue is from whom The Lutheran is willing to accept paid advertising.  Some of us, for instance, see this defense in the light of previous defenses for accepting advertising from goodsoil/Lutherans Concerned.

Pax, Steven+
Title: Re: An Open Letter from Dr. Carl Braaten
Post by: jrubyaz on October 28, 2010, 06:20:11 PM


Jpetty,

Some of us who were there would agree with him!

Jeff Ruby

Braaten continues to beat the drum that "bureaucrats" manipulated CWA to do their bidding.  I'll put the "best possible construction" on this by saying that I'm assuming he really believes it.  If that's the case, however, then his judgment is so clouded that I'm not willing to trust him on any of his other assertions.
Title: Re: An Open Letter from Dr. Carl Braaten
Post by: Marshall_Hahn on October 28, 2010, 07:37:59 PM
Braaten continues to beat the drum that "bureaucrats" manipulated CWA to do their bidding.  I'll put the "best possible construction" on this by saying that I'm assuming he really believes it.  If that's the case, however, then his judgment is so clouded that I'm not willing to trust him on any of his other assertions.
I believe he is trying his best to be kind.  I have heard him use other descriptions.  I have also heard him rant.  This is not a rant.

Marshall Hahn
Title: Re: An Open Letter from Dr. Carl Braaten
Post by: Matt on October 28, 2010, 08:04:17 PM
Please help me understand this:

An organization (ACELC) is formed among LCMS congregations to protest the current direction of the LCMS. The LCMS leadership condemns this as schismatic in the harshest possible terms.

An organization (NALC) is formed among ELCA congregations to protest the current direction of ELCA. The ELCA leadership condemns this as schismatic in the harsshest possible terms.

How are these things different?

Title: Re: An Open Letter from Dr. Carl Braaten
Post by: Charles_Austin on October 28, 2010, 08:40:50 PM
I have a high regard for Dr. Braatan as a professor of systematics. He taught me much about Tillich, Pannenberg and other systematic theologians and brought me to a greater understanding of that phase of theological enterprise.
I am less impressed with his recent missives on ecclesiology and the role of ELCA publications.
Title: Re: An Open Letter from Dr. Carl Braaten
Post by: pr dtp on October 28, 2010, 08:46:20 PM
Please help me understand this:

An organization (ACELC) is formed among LCMS congregations to protest the current direction of the LCMS. The LCMS leadership condemns this as schismatic in the harshest possible terms.

An organization (NALC) is formed among ELCA congregations to protest the current direction of ELCA. The ELCA leadership condemns this as schismatic in the harsshest possible terms.

How are these things different?



SImple - one group is trying to be a resource and haven for those feeling like their denomination has abandoned the faith delivered to them.

The other group is trying to mold 6000 churches to their version of the Lutheran faith, which is not historic.  Personally, I would have far more respect for Bolland and the rest of ACELC if they left and formed their own synod that mirrored their values, rather than sent out letters admonishing people they have never talked to.  Heck maybe Ulma or Eldona would like a few more churches.
Title: Re: An Open Letter from Dr. Carl Braaten
Post by: Matt on October 28, 2010, 09:03:38 PM

SImple - one group is trying to be a resource and haven for those feeling like their denomination has abandoned the faith delivered to them.


Sounds like a good description of the intentions of both groups.

Prs. McCain and Benke, among others, condemned the ACELC in the harshest possible terms for the sin of schismatic behavior. Schism, in this case, was defined as soliciting LCMS congregations to join the new organization which was perceived as a prelude to a split even though Pr. Bolland repeatedly denied that this was the intention of the ACELC. According to Benke and McCain, the sin of schism is so severe that it utterly discredits anyone associated with the ACELC and their arguments. Apparently, the only non-schismatic way to criticize the LCMS is through the official dispute resolution process.

The NALC took actions that actually led to a split. According to Benke/McCain definition, this behavior is clearly schismatic. So why do we defend the NALC as heroic? There must be a principle here that is higher than organizational loyalty.
Title: Re: An Open Letter from Dr. Carl Braaten
Post by: George Erdner on October 28, 2010, 09:22:49 PM

SImple - one group is trying to be a resource and haven for those feeling like their denomination has abandoned the faith delivered to them.


Sounds like a good description of the intentions of both groups.

Prs. McCain and Benke, among others, condemned the ACELC in the harshest possible terms for the sin of schismatic behavior. Schism, in this case, was defined as soliciting LCMS congregations to join the new organization which was perceived as a prelude to a split even though Pr. Bolland repeatedly denied that this was the intention of the ACELC. According to Benke and McCain, the sin of schism is so severe that it utterly discredits anyone associated with the ACELC and their arguments. Apparently, the only non-schismatic way to criticize the LCMS is through the official dispute resolution process.

The NALC took actions that actually led to a split. According to Benke/McCain definition, this behavior is clearly schismatic. So why do we defend the NALC as heroic? There must be a principle here that is higher than organizational loyalty.

No, the NALC took no actions prior to coming into existence, which happened a few short months ago. CORE was the organization that attempted to reform the ELCA from within. It originally considered creating a free-standing, non-geographic synod that congregations of "dissident traditionalists" could transfer to in order to remain in the ELCA, but under the authority of a different bishop. When it became apparent that wasn't a viable option, then some of the people within CORE changed the free-standing synod idea to a new denomination. From what I've heard from people from CORE, this was a last resort choice entered take with some reluctance.

As for being "schismatic", it's not like splitting a man-made denomination is the same as a true schism, like when the East split with Rome in the early Middle Ages, or when the Protestant Reformation split the Roman Catholic Church. I fear too many people get too emotionally invested in their denomination, and mistake it for the actual Church itself. Yes, the word for splitting a denomination is "schism". But there's schism and there's SCHISM. What has happened in the ELCA and what might or might not happen in the LC-MS is schism, but it isn't SCHISM.
Title: Re: An Open Letter from Dr. Carl Braaten
Post by: MaddogLutheran on October 28, 2010, 09:32:13 PM
Prs. McCain and Benke, among others, condemned the ACELC in the harshest possible terms for the sin of schismatic behavior. Schism, in this case, was defined as soliciting LCMS congregations to join the new organization which was perceived as a prelude to a split even though Pr. Bolland repeatedly denied that this was the intention of the ACELC. According to Benke and McCain, the sin of schism is so severe that it utterly discredits anyone associated with the ACELC and their arguments. Apparently, the only non-schismatic way to criticize the LCMS is through the official dispute resolution process.

The NALC took actions that actually led to a split. According to Benke/McCain definition, this behavior is clearly schismatic. So why do we defend the NALC as heroic? There must be a principle here that is higher than organizational loyalty.
In response to your second paragraph, you are wrong.  It was the ELCA CWA that took the specific, recent action that led to a split, not the NALC.  The formation of the NALC was a direct response to that--after considerable efforts by CORE to avoid it being necessary (as George describes).  For your analogy to hold, you'd have to point to what the LCMS has done specifically and recently to make the course of action by the ACELC necessary.  Quite the contrary, since you recently elected a president more sympathetic to your concerns.  To my outsider observation, I see no new actions by central authority that corresponds to the ELCA promulgating its teaching on same sex relationships.  Much of ACELC complaints have been longstanding, and to me, somewhat nebulous, quite frankly.

Sterling Spatz
Title: Re: An Open Letter from Dr. Carl Braaten
Post by: Dan Fienen on October 28, 2010, 09:35:50 PM

SImple - one group is trying to be a resource and haven for those feeling like their denomination has abandoned the faith delivered to them.


Sounds like a good description of the intentions of both groups.

Prs. McCain and Benke, among others, condemned the ACELC in the harshest possible terms for the sin of schismatic behavior. Schism, in this case, was defined as soliciting LCMS congregations to join the new organization which was perceived as a prelude to a split even though Pr. Bolland repeatedly denied that this was the intention of the ACELC. According to Benke and McCain, the sin of schism is so severe that it utterly discredits anyone associated with the ACELC and their arguments. Apparently, the only non-schismatic way to criticize the LCMS is through the official dispute resolution process.

The NALC took actions that actually led to a split. According to Benke/McCain definition, this behavior is clearly schismatic. So why do we defend the NALC as heroic? There must be a principle here that is higher than organizational loyalty.
It has long been said, one man's freedom fighter is another man's terrorist.  One man's reformer is anogther man's schismatic.  One big difference is whether you agree with the group or not.

Dan
Title: Re: An Open Letter from Dr. Carl Braaten
Post by: jpetty on October 28, 2010, 09:44:44 PM
I have a high regard for Dr. Braatan as a professor of systematics. He taught me much about Tillich, Pannenberg and other systematic theologians and brought me to a greater understanding of that phase of theological enterprise.
I am less impressed with his recent missives on ecclesiology and the role of ELCA publications.


I find it kind of surprising that Braaten still considers himself a "Tillichian." 
Title: Re: An Open Letter from Dr. Carl Braaten
Post by: FatherWilliam57 on October 28, 2010, 10:01:23 PM
I find it kind of surprising that Braaten still considers himself a "Tillichian." 

Care to expand upon that statement?
Title: Re: An Open Letter from Dr. Carl Braaten
Post by: Erma S. Wolf on October 28, 2010, 10:07:36 PM
I have a high regard for Dr. Braatan as a professor of systematics. He taught me much about Tillich, Pannenberg and other systematic theologians and brought me to a greater understanding of that phase of theological enterprise.
I am less impressed with his recent missives on ecclesiology and the role of ELCA publications.


I find it kind of surprising that Braaten still considers himself a "Tillichian." 

If you had heard Dr. Braaten talk about his time as a student of Paul Tillich while at Harvard, as he did at the General Retreat of the Society of the Holy Trinity last week, then I think you would understand it much better.  And the way in which Dr. Braaten considers himself a "Tillichian" might be something of interest to you, rather than one in a series of dismissive one liners.
Title: Re: An Open Letter from Dr. Carl Braaten
Post by: Matt on October 28, 2010, 10:11:00 PM
I fear too many people get too emotionally invested in their denomination, and mistake it for the actual Church itself.

I think this gets right to the heart of the matter.
Title: Re: An Open Letter from Dr. Carl Braaten
Post by: ddrebes on October 28, 2010, 10:21:53 PM
If you had heard Dr. Braaten talk about his time as a student of Paul Tillich while at Harvard, as he did at the General Retreat of the Society of the Holy Trinity last week, then I think you would understand it much better.  And the way in which Dr. Braaten considers himself a "Tillichian" might be something of interest to you, rather than one in a series of dismissive one liners.

Erma, I'd love to hear more. Both Tillich and Braatan intrigue me.
Title: Re: An Open Letter from Dr. Carl Braaten
Post by: MaddogLutheran on October 28, 2010, 10:25:54 PM
If you had heard Dr. Braaten talk about his time as a student of Paul Tillich while at Harvard, as he did at the General Retreat of the Society of the Holy Trinity last week, then I think you would understand it much better.  And the way in which Dr. Braaten considers himself a "Tillichian" might be something of interest to you, rather than one in a series of dismissive one liners.

Erma, I'd love to hear more. Both Tillich and Braatan intrigue me.
Me too.  My senior pastor is fond of Tillich (sermon shout-outs), and I've also heard his name poo-pooed by Missouri participants here.  So I'm curious about Dr. Braaten's take.  I guess I'll have to expand my reading list...

Sterling Spatz
Title: Re: An Open Letter from Dr. Carl Braaten
Post by: Erma S. Wolf on October 28, 2010, 10:34:29 PM
CORE was the organization that attempted to reform the ELCA from within. It originally considered creating a free-standing, non-geographic synod that congregations of "dissident traditionalists" could transfer to in order to remain in the ELCA, but under the authority of a different bishop. When it became apparent that wasn't a viable option, then some of the people within CORE changed the free-standing synod idea to a new denomination.  

Actually, no, this is not what happened in Lutheran CORE following the 2009 CWA of the ELCA.  

Lutheran CORE never considered creating a non-geographic synod that congregations could transfer to in order to remain in the ELCA.  That idea was floated by a number of people who were supporters of Lutheran CORE, and the question of creating a "non-geographic" synod was asked of us on the steering committee on a pretty constant basis in the months following August 2009.  But those of us on the steering committee always thought that was a non-starter, and we never seriously considered trying it.  At Fishers we did describe Lutheran CORE as "a free-standing synod", which unfortunately created a huge amount of confusion.  And while some of us (myself included) tried to retain the language of "free synod" or "free-standing synod,"  by early this last summer even I recognized that the level of confusion and misunderstanding created by the term "synod" was not worth the time spent trying to reclaim this language.  

And the "free standing synod" language was always used in describing Lutheran CORE, not the NALC.  Lutheran CORE and the NALC are seperate organizations.  The idea of a new Lutheran denomination was from the beginning intended to be a denomination, and we never used "free-standing synod" language to describe what soon was given the name of North American Lutheran Church.  

As for whether Lutheran CORE is schismatic in its work to create the NALC, and is, as Editor Lehmann asserts, indistinguishable from the denomination that it created and that was voted into existence at the Lutheran CORE convocation (NOT the theological conference), well, I think Editor Lehmann has the prior personal experience to know whereof he speaks.  It takes a schismatic to know a schismatic.
Title: Re: An Open Letter from Dr. Carl Braaten
Post by: George Erdner on October 28, 2010, 11:11:54 PM
CORE was the organization that attempted to reform the ELCA from within. It originally considered creating a free-standing, non-geographic synod that congregations of "dissident traditionalists" could transfer to in order to remain in the ELCA, but under the authority of a different bishop. When it became apparent that wasn't a viable option, then some of the people within CORE changed the free-standing synod idea to a new denomination.  

Actually, no, this is not what happened in Lutheran CORE following the 2009 CWA of the ELCA.  

Lutheran CORE never considered creating a non-geographic synod that congregations could transfer to in order to remain in the ELCA.  That idea was floated by a number of people who were supporters of Lutheran CORE, and the question of creating a "non-geographic" synod was asked of us on the steering committee on a pretty constant basis in the months following August 2009.  

My apologies. I was working from my notes from the presentation Pastor Heber gave at Christ Our Shepherd Lutheran Church in Peachtree City, Georgia last February. She said that CORE had thought about a free standing synod within the ELCA, but decided it wouldn't work.

I heard something similar from a CORE spokesman giving a presentation at a different ELCA church south of Atlanta a few months earlier, where I didn't take notes and there wasn't a handout to save that had everyone's name on it. At that meeting, he said that a free-standing synod in the ELCA was something being discussed.

I'm also confused. How is having an idea "floated by a number of people who were supporters of Lutheran CORE, and the question of creating a 'non-geographic' synod was asked of us on the steering committee on a pretty constant basis in the months following August 2009." not an example of "considering" that idea? You heard the idea, you rejected the idea. Was there not some "consideration", even if very brief, in between hearing the idea and rejecting it?
Title: Re: An Open Letter from Dr. Carl Braaten
Post by: Steven Tibbetts on October 28, 2010, 11:20:51 PM
...that congregations of "dissident traditionalists" could transfer to in order to remain in the ELCA, but under the authority of a different bishop.

The correct verb would be "join," not "transfer to," and no one was talking about changing any bishops' authority.  You are once again confusing a "free synod" with some sort of ELCA Synod, the latter of which no one in Lutheran CORE proposed.

spt+
Title: Re: An Open Letter from Dr. Carl Braaten
Post by: revjagow on October 28, 2010, 11:32:43 PM
Please help me understand this:

An organization (ACELC) is formed among LCMS congregations to protest the current direction of the LCMS. The LCMS leadership condemns this as schismatic in the harshest possible terms.

An organization (NALC) is formed among ELCA congregations to protest the current direction of ELCA. The ELCA leadership condemns this as schismatic in the harsshest possible terms.

How are these things different?

To me, it's apples and oranges.  I did think about the ACELC briefly before posting on this thread and decided quickly that these are two completely different entities that evolved for very different purposes. 

Going back to the list I drew up as to why one should not dismiss the NALC:

-There is a lot of flux within Lutheranism in North America at this point in time. (I don't think the ACELC factors into that flux at all.  It's a matter of scale.  I don't think this group is going to ultimately convince the rest of the LCMS that esoteric matters like women lectors are of vital enough importance that there needs to be full agreement across the board.  They are my brothers and sisters and I care about them, but I sincerely doubt they will have a large impact on North American Lutheranism like the NALC will). 
-This conference garnered the attention of some rather large non-Lutheran news agencies. (Again, I think folk in the LCMS are the only ones who paid attention to the ACELC matter).
-The topics at this conference were theological issues that many consider vital to future ministry of any church.  To quote Braaten: "the authority and interpretation of Scripture, the doctrine of the Trinity, the centrality of Christ, the nature and purpose of the Church, Christian ethics, and so forth." (Here, I initially did not take the formation of the ACELC as an attempt to discuss doctrine as much as an attempt to dictate to me, and others, what our doctrine should be.  I am highly encouraged that they abandoned the need to fully organize themselves into a separate entity and that representatives met in St. Louis w/ members of the presidium.  I pray no one feels that they are just being dismissed.  I also pray they are willing to go along with the rest of the church once we do engage in doctrinal discussion should the majority of us not go along with their definition of "error.").
-(I would add) the mass exodus has already caused institutional strife and many strains in the ELCA's ecumenical partnerships around the world.  Good reason, perhaps, to pay some attention to the groups that are leaving.  (Again, a matter of scale here.  There would not be the upheaval in the LCMS on quite the same scale as what has already happened in the ELCA.  Still, size should not mean that we get to dismiss our brothers and sisters.  That is the one touchpoint with Braaten's article that I can see - dismissing is not the same thing as engaging and disagreeing.)
Title: Re: An Open Letter from Dr. Carl Braaten
Post by: Erma S. Wolf on October 28, 2010, 11:46:05 PM

My apologies. I was working from my notes from the presentation Pastor Heber gave at Christ Our Shepherd Lutheran Church in Peachtree City, Georgia last February. She said that CORE had thought about a free standing synod within the ELCA, but decided it wouldn't work.

I heard something similar from a CORE spokesman giving a presentation at a different ELCA church south of Atlanta a few months earlier, where I didn't take notes and there wasn't a handout to save that had everyone's name on it. At that meeting, he said that a free-standing synod in the ELCA was something being discussed. 

Your notes are correct, and Pastor Heber is/was correct, along with the CORE spokesman.  And I am correct.

Because the "free-standing synod" was never a "non-geographic"synod.  Never.  But the use of the word "synod" created confusion of just this sort from the get-go.  That is why in the revisions to the constitution of Lutheran CORE that were adopted at the convocation this past August the word "synod" was removed and replaced with another word (association, I think.  I am working off of memory right now.). 

The free-standing synod (now association) was for those individuals and congregations remaining in the ELCA, as well as for those outside of the ELCA.  But we never considered creating a non-geographic synod.  (And I am using the word "considered" in the sense that one weighs the pros and cons of doing something.  We did not do that.  It was never an idea that the steering committee pursued.)

So I and Pastor Heber are in agreement. 
Title: Re: An Open Letter from Dr. Carl Braaten
Post by: Terry W Culler on October 29, 2010, 07:19:39 AM
The use of the word schism in this discussion is, I think, wrong.  Schism does not occur when a group leaves a denomination over doctrinal issues.  Schism occurs only when people leave over issues that have nothing to do with fundamental truths.  Those who have left to join the NALC, LCMC, AFLC, LCMS or any other letter grouping are not schismatics.  They are people concerned with fundamental church doctrine.
Title: Re: An Open Letter from Dr. Carl Braaten
Post by: Maryland Brian on October 29, 2010, 07:34:47 AM
The use of the word schism in this discussion is, I think, wrong.  Schism does not occur when a group leaves a denomination over doctrinal issues.  Schism occurs only when people leave over issues that have nothing to do with fundamental truths.  Those who have left to join the NALC, LCMC, AFLC, LCMS or any other letter grouping are not schismatics.  They are people concerned with fundamental church doctrine.

IMHO the ELCA is not experiencing schism so much as a shattering with shards scattering in all directions.   
Title: Re: An Open Letter from Dr. Carl Braaten
Post by: George Erdner on October 29, 2010, 11:43:38 AM
...that congregations of "dissident traditionalists" could transfer to in order to remain in the ELCA, but under the authority of a different bishop.

The correct verb would be "join," not "transfer to," and no one was talking about changing any bishops' authority.  You are once again confusing a "free synod" with some sort of ELCA Synod, the latter of which no one in Lutheran CORE proposed.

spt+

At a presentation at an ELCA congregation in a congregation located south of Atlanta that took place last fall, a spokesman for CORE made reference to a free-standing (ie. non-geographical) synod similar to the Slovak-Zion Synod. He specifically mentioned the Slovak-Zion synod as an example of an ELCA synod not defined by geographic boundaries. As I told Erma, I don't recall his name as I didn't take notes.

Does it really matter if one "joins" or "transfers to" such a non-geographic synod? As Erma acknowledged, such a synod within the ELCA was suggested by members of the CORE rank and file, even if it was rejected by the leadership.

Title: Re: An Open Letter from Dr. Carl Braaten
Post by: jpetty on October 29, 2010, 01:28:52 PM
I have a high regard for Dr. Braatan as a professor of systematics. He taught me much about Tillich, Pannenberg and other systematic theologians and brought me to a greater understanding of that phase of theological enterprise.
I am less impressed with his recent missives on ecclesiology and the role of ELCA publications.


I find it kind of surprising that Braaten still considers himself a "Tillichian." 

If you had heard Dr. Braaten talk about his time as a student of Paul Tillich while at Harvard, as he did at the General Retreat of the Society of the Holy Trinity last week, then I think you would understand it much better.  And the way in which Dr. Braaten considers himself a "Tillichian" might be something of interest to you, rather than one in a series of dismissive one liners.

The rant and yawn comment was a dismissive one-liner, but the Tillich thing wasn't.  I also know of Braaten's Tillich connections and his apparent loyalty to them.  These days, it seems an unusual juxtaposition.
Title: Re: An Open Letter from Dr. Carl Braaten
Post by: Mike Bennett on October 30, 2010, 11:23:22 AM

An Open Letter to the Editor of The Lutheran, the magazine of the ELCA
from Dr. Carl Braaten


Bravo.

Mike Bennett
Title: Re: An Open Letter from Dr. Carl Braaten
Post by: Mike Bennett on October 30, 2010, 11:29:45 AM
I have a high regard for Dr. Braatan as a professor of systematics. He taught me much about Tillich, Pannenberg and other systematic theologians and brought me to a greater understanding of that phase of theological enterprise.
I am less impressed with his recent missives on ecclesiology and the role of ELCA publications.


I find it kind of surprising that Braaten still considers himself a "Tillichian." 

He explicitly states that he is not and never was a "Tillichian."

Mike Bennett
Title: Re: An Open Letter from Dr. Carl Braaten
Post by: jpetty on October 31, 2010, 11:35:19 AM
I have a high regard for Dr. Braatan as a professor of systematics. He taught me much about Tillich, Pannenberg and other systematic theologians and brought me to a greater understanding of that phase of theological enterprise.
I am less impressed with his recent missives on ecclesiology and the role of ELCA publications.


I find it kind of surprising that Braaten still considers himself a "Tillichian." 

He explicitly states that he is not and never was a "Tillichian."

Mike Bennett

Maybe he isn't now, but he was when we last drank beer together, which was in 1986.
Title: Re: An Open Letter from Dr. Carl Braaten
Post by: Jim_Krauser on October 31, 2010, 05:53:19 PM
The use of the word schism in this discussion is, I think, wrong.  Schism does not occur when a group leaves a denomination over doctrinal issues.  Schism occurs only when people leave over issues that have nothing to do with fundamental truths.  Those who have left to join the NALC, LCMC, AFLC, LCMS or any other letter grouping are not schismatics.  They are people concerned with fundamental church doctrine.

So the common description of what happend in 1054 as "the great schism" is a misnomer?  I realize that the issues between the churches of the east and the west are muddier than simply attributable to the filioque, but surely those on both sides beleived that fundamental church doctrine was at stake.  I think it fair to use schism to indicate what is meant by the term, a seemingely irreconcilable split between two or more parties who were previous united (at least formally).
Title: Re: An Open Letter from Dr. Carl Braaten
Post by: Jim_Krauser on October 31, 2010, 06:28:03 PM
I'm not on the editorial board of The Lutheran nor do I fully comprehend its policies on what advertising it accepts or rejects.  But in the end, how they make those decisions is not really of any interest or concern to me.  No person or group has any claim of entitlement to purchase ad space in The Lutheran's pages.  So it should not be taken as an affront if advertising is refused.  On the other hand, many might make the argument that acceptance of advertising is a tacit approval of the material by the publication.  I think that is a logical stretch, but we know that it is a leap commonly made.  In the best of all possible worlds the kind of publication that The Lutheran is (or aspires to be) would have no advertising of any kind, but the financial realities make that prospect less than dim.

Braaten's complaint against the editor of the Lutheran seems to be grounded in his sense that there was a 'wall of separation' (to borrow a phrase)  between the conference he organized under the CORE umbrealla and NALC.  To be sure the chronology bears him out mechanically, but he strains credibility when he suggests that the formation of something like NALC was not already underway.  It was not underway as far as Braaten or CORE was concerned, but it is just plain naive to think that the conference would not have appealed to those angered or disgruntled with the actions of the 2009 churchwide assembly and who were already thinking about alternatives and what that church should look like.  It is true that the organizers of the conference bear no direct responsibility for the subsequent actions of others who went on to organize an alternative Lutheran shop in North America.  But like it or not, it is probable that those who will write the history of NALC (should its existence be long or short) will, like the editor of The Lutheran, discern that the conference figured in the history of its origin.  Was the magazine's judgment prescient, or was it simply making reasonable assumptions about what would be the next step for many of those who would attend that event?

Title: Re: An Open Letter from Dr. Carl Braaten
Post by: Mike Bennett on October 31, 2010, 07:43:40 PM
I have a high regard for Dr. Braatan as a professor of systematics. He taught me much about Tillich, Pannenberg and other systematic theologians and brought me to a greater understanding of that phase of theological enterprise.
I am less impressed with his recent missives on ecclesiology and the role of ELCA publications.


I find it kind of surprising that Braaten still considers himself a "Tillichian." 

He explicitly states that he is not and never was a "Tillichian."

Mike Bennett

Maybe he isn't now, but he was when we last drank beer together, which was in 1986.

Wednesday evening last week he explicitly said that he was not a "Tillichian" during the time he was Tillich's teaching assistant and learning from Tillich, nor at any other period of his life.  I wasn't drinking beer, so I think I heard correctly.

Mike Bennett
Title: Re: An Open Letter from Dr. Carl Braaten
Post by: Mike Bennett on October 31, 2010, 07:54:21 PM
I'm not on the editorial board of The Lutheran nor do I fully comprehend its policies on what advertising it accepts or rejects.  But in the end, how they make those decisions is not really of any interest or concern to me.  No person or group has any claim of entitlement to purchase ad space in The Lutheran's pages.  So it should not be taken as an affront if advertising is refused.  On the other hand, many might make the argument that acceptance of advertising is a tacit approval of the material by the publication.  I think that is a logical stretch, but we know that it is a leap commonly made.  In the best of all possible worlds the kind of publication that The Lutheran is (or aspires to be) would have no advertising of any kind, but the financial realities make that prospect less than dim.

Braaten's complaint against the editor of the Lutheran seems to be grounded in his sense that there was a 'wall of separation' (to borrow a phrase)  between the conference he organized under the CORE umbrealla and NALC.  To be sure the chronology bears him out mechanically, but he strains credibility when he suggests that the formation of something like NALC was not already underway.  It was not underway as far as Braaten or CORE was concerned, but it is just plain naive to think that the conference would not have appealed to those angered or disgruntled with the actions of the 2009 churchwide assembly and who were already thinking about alternatives and what that church should look like.  It is true that the organizers of the conference bear no direct responsibility for the subsequent actions of others who went on to organize an alternative Lutheran shop in North America.  But like it or not, it is probable that those who will write the history of NALC (should its existence be long or short) will, like the editor of The Lutheran, discern that the conference figured in the history of its origin.  Was the magazine's judgment prescient, or was it simply making reasonable assumptions about what would be the next step for many of those who would attend that event?


Jim, "many" others, who enthusiastically attended the theological conference, had and have no interest in forming another denominational body.  In fact, one activity of Lutheran CORE is to encourage and facilitate mutual respect, support, and understanding between orthodox Lutherans who are "leaving" and those who are "staying," to use the well-understood shorthand of the recent year's conversations. It's a challenging undertaking, and those who pretend that anybody who hasn't drunk the CWA2009 kool aid is either "leaving" or is a fellow traveller with those who are "leaving" are not helpful (but why should they want to be?)

Miike Bennett
Title: Re: An Open Letter from Dr. Carl Braaten
Post by: jpetty on October 31, 2010, 08:05:30 PM
I have a high regard for Dr. Braatan as a professor of systematics. He taught me much about Tillich, Pannenberg and other systematic theologians and brought me to a greater understanding of that phase of theological enterprise.
I am less impressed with his recent missives on ecclesiology and the role of ELCA publications.


I find it kind of surprising that Braaten still considers himself a "Tillichian." 

He explicitly states that he is not and never was a "Tillichian."

Mike Bennett

Maybe he isn't now, but he was when we last drank beer together, which was in 1986.

Wednesday evening last week he explicitly said that he was not a "Tillichian" during the time he was Tillich's teaching assistant and learning from Tillich, nor at any other period of his life.  I wasn't drinking beer, so I think I heard correctly.

Mike Bennett

In that case, I'll defer to your sober experience.  The local hockey team was celebrating at the next two tables over and I only heard about every other word anyway.  In fact, maybe it was "Teilhard" that he said, not "Tillich."  Better?  Or worse?
Title: Re: An Open Letter from Dr. Carl Braaten
Post by: G.Edward on October 31, 2010, 08:07:42 PM
Another Braaten rant?  Yawn.
That's the best you can do, snark?  I guess you can't be bothered to address anything actually written by Dr. Braaten, if you think there are any inaccuracies in it.  Or perhaps you think he's correct, but it doesn't bother you enough that he's been wronged by The Lutheran's editorial to actually say so.

It's ironic that The Lutheran chose to use the blanket epithet of "schismatic" without even mentioning Pr. Wolf's sermon at the gathering on that very topic.  Of course, considering her even-handed assignment of blame on the issue, perhaps that's not surprising.

Sterling Spatz

I don't see why the Lutheran is obligated to report on the doings of another denomination. 

Then the "Lutheran" might be a real magazine useful to "Lutheran" and other readers.  Maybe it's time to change the name to "The ELCA" since it seems to represent things ELCA more fervantly than things Lutheran.
Title: Re: An Open Letter from Dr. Carl Braaten
Post by: G.Edward on October 31, 2010, 08:23:21 PM
Another Braaten rant?  Yawn.
That's the best you can do, snark?  I guess you can't be bothered to address anything actually written by Dr. Braaten, if you think there are any inaccuracies in it.  Or perhaps you think he's correct, but it doesn't bother you enough that he's been wronged by The Lutheran's editorial to actually say so.

It's ironic that The Lutheran chose to use the blanket epithet of "schismatic" without even mentioning Pr. Wolf's sermon at the gathering on that very topic.  Of course, considering her even-handed assignment of blame on the issue, perhaps that's not surprising.

Sterling Spatz

I don't see why the Lutheran is obligated to report on the doings of another denomination. 

Then the "Lutheran" might be a real magazine useful to "Lutheran" and other readers.  Maybe it's time to change the name to "The ELCA" since it seems to represent things ELCA more fervantly than things Lutheran.

Or how about "The Diversity" since that's so dear to them...except when it's the "wrong" kind of diversity.  :o
Title: Re: An Open Letter from Dr. Carl Braaten
Post by: Richard Johnson on October 31, 2010, 08:27:58 PM

So the common description of what happend in 1054 as "the great schism" is a misnomer?

Actually, it probably is. East and West had been in the process of division for centuries. The 1054 event was not really in itself very significant, but it has been "latched onto" as a convenient date to "finalized" the split.

Title: Re: An Open Letter from Dr. Carl Braaten
Post by: Mike Bennett on November 01, 2010, 09:58:04 AM
I have a high regard for Dr. Braatan as a professor of systematics. He taught me much about Tillich, Pannenberg and other systematic theologians and brought me to a greater understanding of that phase of theological enterprise.
I am less impressed with his recent missives on ecclesiology and the role of ELCA publications.


I find it kind of surprising that Braaten still considers himself a "Tillichian."  

He explicitly states that he is not and never was a "Tillichian."

Mike Bennett

Maybe he isn't now, but he was when we last drank beer together, which was in 1986.

Wednesday evening last week he explicitly said that he was not a "Tillichian" during the time he was Tillich's teaching assistant and learning from Tillich, nor at any other period of his life.  I wasn't drinking beer, so I think I heard correctly.

Mike Bennett

In that case, I'll defer to your sober experience.  The local hockey team was celebrating at the next two tables over and I only heard about every other word anyway.  In fact, maybe it was "Teilhard" that he said, not "Tillich."  Better?  Or worse?

So that this isn’t a memory contest, the following from his recent memoir, Because of Christ.  I can’t give page numbers because I have it on Kindle, so I’ll show chapters and Kindle Location numbers.

Preface (location 79):  “Paul Tillich was my most important mentor on my way to becoming a theologian.  Yet, I knew I could never become a Tilichian.”

Chapter Six (location 585):  “Although I had been a student of Tillich, I was in no way a Tillichian, and furthermore I never regarded Tillich’s theology as American.  It was thoroughly Germanic.”

Mike Bennett
Title: Re: An Open Letter from Dr. Carl Braaten
Post by: Mike Bennett on November 01, 2010, 10:15:06 AM
I have a high regard for Dr. Braatan as a professor of systematics. He taught me much about Tillich, Pannenberg and other systematic theologians and brought me to a greater understanding of that phase of theological enterprise.
I am less impressed with his recent missives on ecclesiology and the role of ELCA publications.


I find it kind of surprising that Braaten still considers himself a "Tillichian."  

He explicitly states that he is not and never was a "Tillichian."

Mike Bennett

Maybe he isn't now, but he was when we last drank beer together, which was in 1986.

Wednesday evening last week he explicitly said that he was not a "Tillichian" during the time he was Tillich's teaching assistant and learning from Tillich, nor at any other period of his life.  I wasn't drinking beer, so I think I heard correctly.

Mike Bennett

In that case, I'll defer to your sober experience.  The local hockey team was celebrating at the next two tables over and I only heard about every other word anyway.  In fact, maybe it was "Teilhard" that he said, not "Tillich."  Better?  Or worse?

Probably didn’t say “Teilhardian” either.  Also from Because of Christ:

Chapter 10 (location 2579-80):  “I was invited to participate in a Conference on Hope and the Future of Man, held at the Riverside Church in New York City, October 8-10, 1971.

“The conference was uniquely designed to bring together for the first time three theological currents – eschatological theology from Germany, American process theology, and the evolutionary thought of Teilhard de Chardin.  Theologians representing the three schools of thought were chosen to address the conference, all dealing with the question, ‘What do you mean by the future?’  . . . . .

“The conference began with three position papers on the meaning of the future.  John Cobb represented the process point of view; Philip Hefner spoke from a Teilhardian perspective; I spoke for the theology of hope from the point of view of eschatology . . . . . The main result of the conference was to clarify the many ways in which process thought, biblical eschatology, and Teilhardian perspectives are radically incompatible.  Even when they may use the same words, they are loaded with different manings.”

How many bullets are you down to?

Mike Bennett
Title: Re: An Open Letter from Dr. Carl Braaten
Post by: jpetty on November 01, 2010, 12:25:06 PM
I have a high regard for Dr. Braatan as a professor of systematics. He taught me much about Tillich, Pannenberg and other systematic theologians and brought me to a greater understanding of that phase of theological enterprise.
I am less impressed with his recent missives on ecclesiology and the role of ELCA publications.


I find it kind of surprising that Braaten still considers himself a "Tillichian."  

He explicitly states that he is not and never was a "Tillichian."

Mike Bennett

Maybe he isn't now, but he was when we last drank beer together, which was in 1986.

Wednesday evening last week he explicitly said that he was not a "Tillichian" during the time he was Tillich's teaching assistant and learning from Tillich, nor at any other period of his life.  I wasn't drinking beer, so I think I heard correctly.

Mike Bennett

In that case, I'll defer to your sober experience.  The local hockey team was celebrating at the next two tables over and I only heard about every other word anyway.  In fact, maybe it was "Teilhard" that he said, not "Tillich."  Better?  Or worse?

So that this isn’t a memory contest, the following from his recent memoir, Because of Christ.  I can’t give page numbers because I have it on Kindle, so I’ll show chapters and Kindle Location numbers.

Preface (location 79):  “Paul Tillich was my most important mentor on my way to becoming a theologian.  Yet, I knew I could never become a Tilichian.”

Chapter Six (location 585):  “Although I had been a student of Tillich, I was in no way a Tillichian, and furthermore I never regarded Tillich’s theology as American.  It was thoroughly Germanic.”

Mike Bennett


I wonder how he distinguishes "American" from "Germanic".  Or, to put it a different way, what's "Germanic" about Tillich?

Any thoughts?
Title: Re: An Open Letter from Dr. Carl Braaten
Post by: Mike Bennett on November 01, 2010, 12:37:03 PM
I have a high regard for Dr. Braatan as a professor of systematics. He taught me much about Tillich, Pannenberg and other systematic theologians and brought me to a greater understanding of that phase of theological enterprise.
I am less impressed with his recent missives on ecclesiology and the role of ELCA publications.


I find it kind of surprising that Braaten still considers himself a "Tillichian."  

He explicitly states that he is not and never was a "Tillichian."

Mike Bennett

Maybe he isn't now, but he was when we last drank beer together, which was in 1986.

Wednesday evening last week he explicitly said that he was not a "Tillichian" during the time he was Tillich's teaching assistant and learning from Tillich, nor at any other period of his life.  I wasn't drinking beer, so I think I heard correctly.

Mike Bennett

In that case, I'll defer to your sober experience.  The local hockey team was celebrating at the next two tables over and I only heard about every other word anyway.  In fact, maybe it was "Teilhard" that he said, not "Tillich."  Better?  Or worse?

So that this isn’t a memory contest, the following from his recent memoir, Because of Christ.  I can’t give page numbers because I have it on Kindle, so I’ll show chapters and Kindle Location numbers.

Preface (location 79):  “Paul Tillich was my most important mentor on my way to becoming a theologian.  Yet, I knew I could never become a Tilichian.”

Chapter Six (location 585):  “Although I had been a student of Tillich, I was in no way a Tillichian, and furthermore I never regarded Tillich’s theology as American.  It was thoroughly Germanic.”

Mike Bennett


I wonder how he distinguishes "American" from "Germanic".  Or, to put it a different way, what's "Germanic" about Tillich?

Any thoughts?

Any thoughts I have worth sharing would come straight from the book, which I've already quoted enough I think.  $12.24 at Amazon.com, or $9.99 on Kindle and you can have it in less than 60 seconds.  He does talk about what you've asked.

Mike Bennett