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ALPB => Your Turn => Topic started by: pr dtp on November 19, 2010, 11:50:31 PM

Title: Unity and the Means of Grace
Post by: pr dtp on November 19, 2010, 11:50:31 PM
In many discussions herein, I have made the comment that I do not see the possibility of a discussion of the differences between Christian brothers in the LCMS occuring without it being centered around the means of grace.

I will stipulate, as I have many times, that this is never forced - nor is it simply a sign of unity.  That's the baptist game - and I would have no part of it. 

Yet our catholic background has said that as we pray so we believe, and that correct worship must precede correct teaching.  My take on it is simple - as simple as my nom de plume - we have to come to the discussion realizing that we deserve death for our sins, yet through word and sacrament, God declares us justified and gives us the gift of the Holy Spirit.

It is from that place - from the brokenness of dieing with Christ in our baptism, of facing the fact that all of our sin resulted in His crucifixion (which should be on our mind during the Feast) that we can humbly deal with each other - knowing that Christ died for the person we are talking with, for their errors and for ours.

It also stops us from parading around with that 4 by 6 in our own eye - while trying to rout out the dust speck.

I would also indicate that denying that our unity starts in receiving God's grace in word and sacrament is akin to the Nazarene concept that sanctification must precede justification.  Should the concern be so grave that the fellowship of our baptism and communion be broken, then why hasn't Matthew 18 been followed prior to breakng the communion?

Some don't agree with me, I realize that - and that I can't get 40 years of war and that this is the third generation of leaders since seminex.   Yeah - the pain is intense - the doubt of each other to strong.  But our faith cannot be in each other - it must be in Christ Jesus.

But if Christ's body and blood, broken for us cannot unite us, what can?
Title: Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
Post by: RDPreus on November 20, 2010, 09:12:47 AM
I wholeheartedly agree that our unity begins in receiving God’s grace in word and sacrament.  Considering church fellowship apart from our justification before God will inevitably render it a legalistic caricature of what it truly is.

On the other hand, I cannot agree that correct worship must precede correct teaching.  Perhaps this is a chicken and egg kind of discussion, but consider that Luther found the righteousness that availed before God in the Holy Scriptures (Romans 1:17) and from learning the true teaching of the gospel proceeded to rid the liturgy of the Sacrifice of the Mass.  In this case was it not the correct teaching that led to the correct worship?

Thank you for your post.



Title: Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
Post by: Brian Stoffregen on November 20, 2010, 10:59:09 AM
It strikes me as ironic that "This is …" in the Verba makes it happen: the bread is the body of Christ; the cup is the blood of Christ. (Note that the biblical text never use the word "wine"!) But there seems to be a denial of the power of God's Word when scriptures proclaim: "Because there is one bread, we who are many are one body, for we all partake of the one bread" (1 Cor 10:17). Why shouldn't these words be understand as God doing what the words declare: namely, makes us one body through the eating from the one loaf?

The idea that communion becomes a sign or symbol of our unity seems to be more of a Zwinglian understanding of the verb "to be". If God is making the bread, the body; and the cup, the blood of the new covenant; why shouldn't we believe that God is uniting the communicants into one body?
Title: Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
Post by: Harvey_Mozolak on November 20, 2010, 11:10:16 AM

But had not Luther received from the Mass and its Law and Gospel readings all his life until the reformation began to bubble forth... or do you subscribe to a theology that Luther did not have the Eucharist until he first celebrated it as a Lutheran or first stripped away its "excesses?"?  (sorry a bit tongue in cheek but the thought does have some bite to it)  What do you think?  Harvey Mozolak

On the other hand, I cannot agree that correct worship must precede correct teaching.  Perhaps this is a chicken and egg kind of discussion, but consider that Luther found the righteousness that availed before God in the Holy Scriptures (Romans 1:17) and from learning the true teaching of the gospel proceeded to rid the liturgy of the Sacrifice of the Mass.  In this case was it not the correct teaching that led to the correct worship?





Title: Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
Post by: pr dtp on November 20, 2010, 12:57:37 PM
I wholeheartedly agree that our unity begins in receiving God’s grace in word and sacrament.  Considering church fellowship apart from our justification before God will inevitably render it a legalistic caricature of what it truly is.

On the other hand, I cannot agree that correct worship must precede correct teaching.  Perhaps this is a chicken and egg kind of discussion, but consider that Luther found the righteousness that availed before God in the Holy Scriptures (Romans 1:17) and from learning the true teaching of the gospel proceeded to rid the liturgy of the Sacrifice of the Mass.  In this case was it not the correct teaching that led to the correct worship?

Thank you for your post.



Rev. Preus - thanks for your post.

I think the arguement in a nutshell is found in the word Orthodoxy - which means right praise - rather than a description of correct doctrine - as is a more common assumption.

My point about worship is this - when we are quickened in faith - our first reaction is worship - for we realize what God has done - truly done and we praise Him.  Similarly - if one's worship is askew - we are praising Him for something other than His work in creation, justification, and sanctification - our doctrine will follow that line of being skewed.  I am talking about worship in its simplest form- Isaiah's vision in Chapter 6, or those who Jesus healed and delivered.  I am not talking about worship as in the mass - though I believe that would follow as well.  It is why the worship wars are fought - at least in theory - it is because doctrine gets skewed even in the best settings - but it gets really skewed when the worship service is out of balance. 

Think of it this way - how many of us have 70 percent or more of our people in Sunday School or constant catachesis? 

Precht's Lutheran Worship : Theory and Practice discusses this on page 25 in Dr. Just's article.  Orthodoxy forms orthodidaskalia.


@Harvey - at what point did the Eucharist become a comfort to Luther?   It's efficacy was not in doubt - but was it efficacious to drive him further into guilt, shame and despair, rather than to comfort, hope and trust?

When such a transformation occurs - or to use my favored word - quickened - worship comes forth.  The rest of his life began a journey of correcting what he believed to match that which the One he trusted in revealed.
Title: Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
Post by: RDPreus on November 20, 2010, 01:46:31 PM
Yes, Luther had received the Law and Gospel readings and the Lord’s Supper in the Mass all his life.  But it was by subjecting the Mass to the normative authority of the Holy Scriptures (from which he had discovered the pure gospel that reveals the righteousness of faith) that he was able to rid it of its objectionable features.

There is an intimate connection between right teaching and right worship.  We cannot disconnect the one from the other.  When considering which precedes which, perhaps it would be helpful to distinguish between experience and norm.  Experientially, the right worship establishes for our faith the right doctrine.  But the norm for right worship must be the Holy Scriptures.  I think we all agree that as we pray, so we believe.  My question is: What norms our prayers?  Or are the prayers the norm?

To apply this to today’s worship wars, I’d like to offer a suggestion for thought.  Is it possible that the reason Lutherans adopt revivalistic forms of worship is because they have already embraced the theological tenets of revivalism?  Folks choose the worship they choose on account of what they believe. 

Well, it moves both ways, doesn't it?  Consider the great Lutheran chorales.  They teach the faith and they pray the faith and do both beautifully.
Title: Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
Post by: Harvey_Mozolak on November 20, 2010, 02:16:47 PM
not sure what this means:

@Harvey - at what point did the Eucharist become a comfort to Luther?   It's efficacy was not in doubt - but was it efficacious to drive him further into guilt, shame and despair, rather than to comfort, hope and trust?

Is not comfort efficacy also?  Would we call the Eucharist, especially the Table aspect more Law or Gospel, I think I might Waltherize on the Gospel side.

Did the strength and comfort of the Meal give the strength to do other reforming things?

Did Luther ever say that the Mass was, per se, of no comfort to him prior to whatever you take to be the pivotal time in his life?

Baptism seems always to have been an OK or better thing for him, not so?

I wonder if the turmoil came from outside the Mass and intruded into his worship or rather than vice versa.  Even things like his great nervousness at his early celebrations may have been things to which he later applied theology rather than sufffering from some theological causation.  Many are nervous with certain public acts and when they are done in the face of God, all the more so.  Harvey Mozolak



Title: Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
Post by: pr dtp on November 20, 2010, 02:23:05 PM
Yes, Luther had received the Law and Gospel readings and the Lord’s Supper in the Mass all his life.  But it was by subjecting the Mass to the normative authority of the Holy Scriptures (from which he had discovered the pure gospel that reveals the righteousness of faith) that he was able to rid it of its objectionable features.

There is an intimate connection between right teaching and right worship.  We cannot disconnect the one from the other.  When considering which precedes which, perhaps it would be helpful to distinguish between experience and norm.  Experientially, the right worship establishes for our faith the right doctrine.  But the norm for right worship must be the Holy Scriptures.  I think we all agree that as we pray, so we believe.  My question is: What norms our prayers?  Or are the prayers the norm?

To apply this to today’s worship wars, I’d like to offer a suggestion for thought.  Is it possible that the reason Lutherans adopt revivalistic forms of worship is because they have already embraced the theological tenets of revivalism?  Folks choose the worship they choose on account of what they believe. 

Well, it moves both ways, doesn't it?  Consider the great Lutheran chorales.  They teach the faith and they pray the faith and do both beautifully.

I agree - correct payer/correct belief and orthodoxy/orthodidaskalia are inseperable.  Yet - it wasn't until Luther realized grace that he realized the need to let scripture norm the mass, and doctrine.  The 95 thesis are a great example - they don't match the grace given and so must

Again - I am talking about worship not just as the service - but as the reaction to the grace of being quickened.  It is the awe of Isaiah at God's majesty and the fact he wasn't dead.  Wisdom does begin with the fear of the Lord.. It is Moses standing before the bush - it is that which occurs in the upper room, and at Pentecost.  As God gathers us together as His people and continues to pour out His grace upon us - and the worship serves as part of the conduit as it is focused through word and sacrament.

The result is a need and desire to conform our knowledge to that quickening. The combination of orthodoxy and orthodidaskalia strengthens our trust in God and His work.

Realizing this brings about my concern.  Simply put, the discussion of the unity we need to have growing in orthodidaskalia/right doctrine-teaching cannot occur if we divorce it from orthodoxy/right praise.





Title: Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
Post by: Michael Slusser on November 20, 2010, 02:29:19 PM

Realizing this brings about my concern.  Simply put, the discussion of the unity we need to have growing in orthodidaskalia/right doctrine-teaching cannot occur if we divorce it from orthodoxy/right praise.

That connects perfectly with what you wrote earlier, and with which I also agreed. The notion I think I've heard here sometimes, that refusal of communion fellowship may take place between peers within the same church, makes me shiver with  the sense that a schismatic spirit has taken possession. It must be fought, with the grace of God.

Peace,
Michael
Title: Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
Post by: Charles_Austin on November 20, 2010, 03:16:52 PM
I don't know if the phrase is still around, but a long time ago, the Roman Catholic guidelines on the eucharist said that the sacrament "should not be used indiscriminately to create unity" or words to that effect.
Some of us eager Lutheran and Roman Catholic ecumenists then tried to argue: "O.K., then let us use the sacrament discriminately, that is, with discrimination, to create unity." For me, that meant that Lutherans and Roman Catholics could find, carefully parsing their eucharistic theology, reasons to commune together.
If our views even reached the highest echelons of our ecclesiastical bodies, they were not embraced and turned into policy.  ;)
Title: Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
Post by: pr dtp on November 20, 2010, 03:25:49 PM
I don't know if the phrase is still around, but a long time ago, the Roman Catholic guidelines on the eucharist said that the sacrament "should not be used indiscriminately to create unity" or words to that effect.
Some of us eager Lutheran and Roman Catholic ecumenists then tried to argue: "O.K., then let us use the sacrament discriminately, that is, with discrimination, to create unity." For me, that meant that Lutherans and Roman Catholics could find, carefully parsing their eucharistic theology, reasons to commune together.
If our views even reached the highest echelons of our ecclesiastical bodies, they were not embraced and turned into policy.  ;)

"let us use... to create unity"

'nough said.

Title: Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
Post by: Michael Slusser on November 20, 2010, 03:30:42 PM
I don't know if the phrase is still around, but a long time ago, the Roman Catholic guidelines on the eucharist said that the sacrament "should not be used indiscriminately to create unity" or words to that effect.
Some of us eager Lutheran and Roman Catholic ecumenists then tried to argue: "O.K., then let us use the sacrament discriminately, that is, with discrimination, to create unity." For me, that meant that Lutherans and Roman Catholics could find, carefully parsing their eucharistic theology, reasons to commune together.
If our views even reached the highest echelons of our ecclesiastical bodies, they were not embraced and turned into policy.  ;)

"let us use... to create unity"

'nough said.

Although I responded rather briskly to Pr. Weedon a while back about the Sacrament as a tool to foster unity, I would swing his way (I think) by urging that it is a tool the God uses to foster unity, not a tool in our own toolbox.

Peace,
Michael.
Title: Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
Post by: pr dtp on November 20, 2010, 03:33:55 PM
I don't know if the phrase is still around, but a long time ago, the Roman Catholic guidelines on the eucharist said that the sacrament "should not be used indiscriminately to create unity" or words to that effect.
Some of us eager Lutheran and Roman Catholic ecumenists then tried to argue: "O.K., then let us use the sacrament discriminately, that is, with discrimination, to create unity." For me, that meant that Lutherans and Roman Catholics could find, carefully parsing their eucharistic theology, reasons to commune together.
If our views even reached the highest echelons of our ecclesiastical bodies, they were not embraced and turned into policy.  ;)

"let us use... to create unity"

'nough said.

Although I responded rather briskly to Pr. Weedon a while back about the Sacrament as a tool to foster unity, I would swing his way (I think) by urging that it is a tool the God uses to foster unity, not a tool in our own toolbox.

Peace,
Michael.

That is my point as well. 

But it can be used by man to create disunity or the illusion of it - which is equally problematic.
Title: Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
Post by: Harvey_Mozolak on November 20, 2010, 03:47:50 PM
And then of course there is always Judas there whom we should have stopped at the door except he did bring the purse.   Harvey Mozolak
Title: Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
Post by: Matt on November 20, 2010, 04:07:15 PM
The first Lord's Supper should certainly be the model for our communion practice.

At that supper, Jesus was clearly in charge. He was preaching and teaching; the disciples spoke only in response to Jesus. Jesus, by his own authority, chose those who communed with him. Clearly, he had followers and disciples who were not invited to the last supper (including his own mother!) When Jesus fed his listeners with loaves and fishes, he fed all comers. The apostles at the Last Supper were specifically called by Christ. Jesus was following the liturgy of Passover at the last supper but departing from it in important ways.

All those who communed at the last supper did so in obedience to Christ's command, and under the authority of His teaching. Jesus, fully aware of Judas' treachery, chose to commune him. In fact, Jesus specifically pronounces a curse on His betrayer without identifying him to the others, and then communes him. It seems clear to me that Judas is taking communion to his own condemnation.

We would be reading too much into this if we decided that communion was only for males, or only for the apostles or only for the ordained. From the earliest church, the sacrament was served to all baptized and catechized believers by a celebrant who was in some sense ordained.

I think it would also be false to say that Judas' communion serves as an example that we should admit the unrepentant or unbaptized or uncatechized to the table.
Title: Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
Post by: Harvey_Mozolak on November 20, 2010, 04:12:47 PM
We are sure that Mary and others were not the based on what painting...  And reception is not just for males but the action of a celebrant is based on what?   I just tossed in Judas because Jesus loved him not because he filled out a registration card. .  Harvey Mozolak
Title: Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
Post by: pr dtp on November 20, 2010, 04:15:26 PM
I would ask that we not go off on a tangent of whose there and practices of the Lord's Table between denominations.  If you want that - please start another thread. 

So far this one has been fairly on track and even enjoyable.
Title: Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
Post by: Matt on November 20, 2010, 04:32:34 PM
In many discussions herein, I have made the comment that I do not see the possibility of a discussion of the differences between Christian brothers in the LCMS occuring without it being centered around the means of grace.

I believe the possibility exists. Here in the ALPB Forum, we have had an edifying discussion of the differences between Christian brothers, not all of whom are in altar or pulpit fellowship with one another. Obviously, there is no way that we could commune together without in some sense being physically together, and it would be a mistake to try. The ground rules of the ALPB Forum is that anyone can register and post regardless of what they believe, and no one has to reveal his or her real name, though many choose to do so. No one preaches or teaches authoritatively here.

I'm going to go out on a limb here and say that the proper scope of the means of grace is the local congregation. Typically, we preach, absolve, baptize and commune as a local congregation, and every congregation identifies one or more pastors who are called to administer the means of grace with Christ's authority in that context. Note here that the Epistles are all addressed to local congregations who have different issues, and Christ speaks to congregations in the first chapters of Revelation. Our Synod is not a congregation but an association of pastors and congregations walking together. The ALPB (or BJS, or Jesus First, or ACELC) is also not a congregation.
Title: Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
Post by: Weedon on November 20, 2010, 05:03:02 PM
I'd add the caveat that the congregatio of AC VII is singular.  The Church isn't congregations.  She IS congregation.  More on that here if anyone is interested:  http://bookofconcord.blogspot.com/2006/12/repost.html
Title: Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
Post by: Matt on November 20, 2010, 05:21:47 PM
So how can we limit altar and pulpit fellowship to a visible church body on any level?
Title: Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
Post by: Michael Slusser on November 20, 2010, 05:34:12 PM
So how can we limit altar and pulpit fellowship to a visible church body on any level?

Conversely, how can we refuse altar and pulpit fellowship within a visible church body on any level?

Peace,
Michael
Title: Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
Post by: Matt on November 20, 2010, 05:40:48 PM
My question exactly! Pr. Weedon's essay that he linked to is excellent as is the comments from Dr. Sonntag after it. On that blog, Pr. Poedel asks the same question that Fr. Slusser and I posit here.

To summarize, Rome defines the church as the bishops in communion with the Pope and all those under their authority. The LCMS restricts fellowship to members of the LCMS and church bodies that it is in full fellowship with, but acknowledges that the true, invisible church is both broader and narrower than the "visible" LCMS and its sister bodies. The ELCA apparently believes that communion is not to be denied to baptized Christians who present themselves for it, and it is possible to have altar and pulpit fellowship with non-Lutheran church bodies.
Title: Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
Post by: Weedon on November 20, 2010, 05:46:23 PM
It's always helpful if we realize that the AC was a document penned in service of KEEPING communion fellowship intact between Rome and the Lutherans.  It urged that regarding Lutherans as heretics because of their correction of certain abuses when they manifestly held to the old faith was hasty and something the bishops would have to answer to Christ for.  Obviously by the time of the SA and the FC the situation had deteriorated significantly.  The point of AC VII though was essentially that the parishes and territories in which the reform had been introduced are of a piece with the one Church and that it is not necessary for Roman ceremonial to be observed in them for them to share in that unity.  

Father, altar fellowship may be refused to any within one's fellowship who persists in sin after being warned, thus refusing the grace of repentance.  So the AC quotes Chrysostom saying that he stands daily at the altar, admitting some, refusing others.  
Title: Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
Post by: Weedon on November 20, 2010, 05:55:04 PM
An addendum:  when it became clear that the Lutheran understanding of the old catholic faith was not shared by Rome; in fact, in part being anathematized by Rome, then the situation of the divided table between these two became a fact of life.  The way back to the united table is found through a renewed understanding of what exactly IS the old catholic faith that both camps claim as their own.  God grant the day to come!  But until that day comes, to share the table together would be a confession of conflicting versions of what is the old catholic faith.  Take even the question of who is competent to celebrate the Sacrament.  We do not agree on this, for Rome insists that our pastors are not fully priests (though, it is always good to note that in the first rounds of the Lutheran/Catholic dialog in this country, the Roman participants actually recommended recognizing the validity of Lutheran orders). 
Title: Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
Post by: Michael Slusser on November 20, 2010, 05:57:35 PM

Father, altar fellowship may be refused to any within one's fellowship who persists in sin after being warned, thus refusing the grace of repentance.  So the AC quotes Chrysostom saying that he stands daily at the altar, admitting some, refusing others.  

Of course a pastor may be forced to such a step (have you ever found yourself in that position in your own congregation, or had personal knowledge of a colleague who had to take such a step?).

But my impression (which may have been erroneous) is that this thread concerned pastors within the same visible church who felt they could not be in altar fellowship with their fellow pastors until after they had settled certain doctrinal differences, therefore that doctrinal discussions within the church would need to commence without Eucharist and continue until these pastors were satisfied that it was safe for them to commune with each other. That is a very different situation from the one envisaged by AC or Chrysostom, is it not? And it is one that makes me shiver.

If I misunderstood this thread's concern, I apologize to all.

Peace,
Michael
Title: Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
Post by: Weedon on November 20, 2010, 06:10:23 PM
Father,

Briefly, yes.  I have had the sad occasion to do so more than once.  It is always with tears and heart-ache (and heart-burn!). 

And yes, to your second paragraph.  There are some in the Synod who hold that we live in a state of impaired communion within the Synod.  They are not many, but this is often manifested by their decision to avoid communion outside their own parishes.  They do recognize, though, the inconsistency inherent in that:  for by communing in any one parish of the synod, one has communed with them all. 
Title: Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
Post by: Matt on November 20, 2010, 06:11:56 PM
Of course a pastor may be forced to such a step (have you ever found yourself in that position in your own congregation, or had personal knowledge of a colleague who had to take such a step?).

This is not uncommon in the congregations of the LCMS where closed communion is observed. In a congregation where I was an elder, I observed communion being denied for both unrepentant sinful behavior and for a person from a different church body. In the case of the sinful behavior, the pastor placed the person under the "minor ban" and asked him not to take communion until the situation was resolved. Obviously, this is a very sensitive situation that calls for a high level of tact, sensitivity and love from the pastor. Sometimes this results in repentance and reconciliation, and sometimes it results in someone leaving the church in anger.

As for visitors from different church bodies, the bulletin would contain a statement of our understand of communion fellowship and ask visitors to speak with the pastor before communing. When someone the pastor did not know appeared at the rail, he would quietly ask them what church they were a member of. If it was not an LCMS church, he would not commune them but would pronounce a blessing. Believe it or not, this, too can be done in a discreet and sensitive way.
Title: Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
Post by: Donald_Kirchner on November 20, 2010, 06:17:48 PM
What's a "minor" ban?
Title: Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
Post by: Michael Slusser on November 20, 2010, 06:22:54 PM
Of course a pastor may be forced to such a step (have you ever found yourself in that position in your own congregation, or had personal knowledge of a colleague who had to take such a step?).

This is not uncommon in the congregations of the LCMS where closed communion is observed. In a congregation where I was an elder, I observed communion being denied for both unrepentant sinful behavior and for a person from a different church body. In the case of the sinful behavior, the pastor placed the person under the "minor ban" and asked him not to take communion until the situation was resolved. Obviously, this is a very sensitive situation that calls for a high level of tact, sensitivity and love from the pastor. Sometimes this results in repentance and reconciliation, and sometimes it results in someone leaving the church in anger.

As for visitors from different church bodies, the bulletin would contain a statement of our understand of communion fellowship and ask visitors to speak with the pastor before communing. When someone the pastor did not know appeared at the rail, he would quietly ask them what church they were a member of. If it was not an LCMS church, he would not commune them but would pronounce a blessing. Believe it or not, this, too can be done in a discreet and sensitive way.

Pr. Weedon clearly was not speaking of persons from other church bodies:

Father, altar fellowship may be refused to any within one's fellowship who persists in sin after being warned, thus refusing the grace of repentance.  So the AC quotes Chrysostom saying that he stands daily at the altar, admitting some, refusing others. 

Peace,
Michael
Title: Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
Post by: pr dtp on November 20, 2010, 06:31:17 PM
What's a "minor" ban?

I think it is what a sports bar has, so as to not get cited for serving Lutheran beverages to people under 21. 

Apparently in the realm populated by fans of NFC Central teams - there is often a need for unity as  they drink away sorrow.    ;) ;) ;) ;) ;) ;)

Now more serious....

@Pr. Weedon
In regard to pastors who avoid communing because of a perceived impairment.  How long should such a hold-out continue, without effort to mend the impairment?  Do they, because they institute the ban on themselves have an obligation to work at repairing the breach?  Or can it just continue indefinitely?

Title: Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
Post by: Matt on November 20, 2010, 06:35:56 PM
As I understand it, the minor ban is when the pastor refuses to commune someone as a matter of discipline until the person has repented of the behavior in question. The major ban is excommunication.

Didn't they go over this in seminary?
Title: Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
Post by: LCMS87 on November 20, 2010, 06:40:05 PM
Father Slusser,

With Pr. Weedon I believe you have understood the context of this thread correctly.

In a prior thread a suggestion was made that in a process of discussion of doctrinal differences within the LCMS the Divine Service should be celebrated.  The assertion seemed to be that if one wished to participate in the conversation one must be willing to commune with the other participants first.  I found that about as inviting a suggestion as using the documents of the ACELC as the basis for discussion.  In either case it seems from the outset to draw a line in the sand some members of the synod would not be willing to cross.  Some, I believe, would be going against their conscience were they to do so.

With you I find it very sad that some pastors of the LCMS to refuse to commune with others.  It should not be so.  This is a matter of grave importance to discuss in the Kononia Project.  It would be a mistake, though, to make participating at the Lord's Table together prior to the beginning of the discussions a requirement to be a participant.

I might note that I have not refrained from communing in extra-congregational settings within the LCMS.  It is important, though, to recognize that a person may do so for other reasons that an unwillingness to commune with the celebrant or some other individual present in that worship service.  In Christian love it would be best not to assume a person who does not commune in a given instance thereby intends to be making a statement concerning altar fellowship.  If there is a question, discussion of the matter is far better than making an assumption. 
Title: Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
Post by: pr dtp on November 20, 2010, 06:40:53 PM
As I understand it, the minor ban is when the pastor refuses to commune someone as a matter of discipline until the person has repented of the behavior in question. The major ban is excommunication.

Didn't they go over this in seminary?

Actually the difference between a major and minor ban is a fairly recent construct.   Resorting to a democratic vote in regards to excommunication is a modern novelty.

Now can we get back to the topic and not have you baiting Pr. Kirchner here.
Title: Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
Post by: Weedon on November 20, 2010, 06:48:04 PM
On the ban, see SA Part III, Article IX
Title: Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
Post by: pr dtp on November 20, 2010, 06:49:18 PM
Father Slusser,

With Pr. Weedon I believe you have understood the context of this thread correctly.

In a prior thread a suggestion was made that in a process of discussion of doctrinal differences within the LCMS the Divine Service should be celebrated.  The assertion seemed to be that if one wished to participate in the conversation one must be willing to commune with the other participants first.  I found that about as inviting a suggestion as using the documents of the ACELC as the basis for discussion.  In either case it seems from the outset to draw a line in the sand some members of the synod would not be willing to cross.  Some, I believe, would be going against their conscience were they to do so.

With you I find it very sad that some pastors of the LCMS to refuse to commune with others.  It should not be so.  This is a matter of grave importance to discuss in the Kononia Project.  It would be a mistake, though, to make participating at the Lord's Table together prior to the beginning of the discussions a requirement to be a participant.

I might note that I have not refrained from communing in extra-congregational settings within the LCMS.  It is important, though, to recognize that a person may do so for other reasons that an unwillingness to commune with the celebrant or some other individual present in that worship service.  In Christian love it would be best not to assume a person who does not commune in a given instance thereby intends to be making a statement concerning altar fellowship.  If there is a question, discussion of the matter is far better than making an assumption. 

Again, you are hearing the celebration of the Eucharist - the very work that unifies us - as some Law based concept, akin to an "admonition".  That is not my intent and I have stated that numerous times.

I do not see a possibility of a discussion between brothers in the faith possible - unless it is the trust in Christ's work in the sacraments and in His unifying us to Himself as the starting point of that discussion.  If indeed someone sees that so impaired that they cannot begin the discussion - how could it be said that they are brothers?  

Why not just walk away - and deal with the issue as one would with talking to the Presbyterians or Roman Catholics, where we clearly acknowledge a core difference in our beliefs?    


Title: Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
Post by: Matt on November 20, 2010, 06:54:27 PM
With you I find it very sad that some pastors of the LCMS to refuse to commune with others.  It should not be so.  This is a matter of grave importance to discuss in the Kononia Project.  It would be a mistake, though, to make participating at the Lord's Table together prior to the beginning of the discussions a requirement to be a participant.

I wholeheartedly agree with this. I think the correct sequence of events, both in Matthew 5:23-24 and in 1 Corithians 11:17-34 is that we first resolve our differences and then commune together.

This situation where some LCMS Lutherans can not commune with others is intolerable. It gives urgency to our efforts to find unity such as the Koinonia project.
Title: Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
Post by: Matt on November 20, 2010, 06:58:09 PM
On the ban, see SA Part III, Article IX

Part III, Article IX. Of Excommunication.

The greater excommunication, as the Pope calls it, we regard only as a civil penalty, and it does not concern us ministers of the Church. But the lesser, that is, the true Christian excommunication, consists in this, that manifest and obstinate sinners are not admitted to the Sacrament and other communion of the Church until they amend their lives and avoid sin. And ministers ought not to mingle secular punishments with this ecclesiastical punishment, or excommunication.

So does this mean we do not speak of "the greater excommunication" in the Lutheran Church?
Title: Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
Post by: Karl Hess on November 20, 2010, 07:29:11 PM
Father Slusser,

With Pr. Weedon I believe you have understood the context of this thread correctly.

In a prior thread a suggestion was made that in a process of discussion of doctrinal differences within the LCMS the Divine Service should be celebrated.  The assertion seemed to be that if one wished to participate in the conversation one must be willing to commune with the other participants first.  I found that about as inviting a suggestion as using the documents of the ACELC as the basis for discussion.  In either case it seems from the outset to draw a line in the sand some members of the synod would not be willing to cross.  Some, I believe, would be going against their conscience were they to do so.

With you I find it very sad that some pastors of the LCMS to refuse to commune with others.  It should not be so.  This is a matter of grave importance to discuss in the Kononia Project.  It would be a mistake, though, to make participating at the Lord's Table together prior to the beginning of the discussions a requirement to be a participant.

I might note that I have not refrained from communing in extra-congregational settings within the LCMS.  It is important, though, to recognize that a person may do so for other reasons that an unwillingness to commune with the celebrant or some other individual present in that worship service.  In Christian love it would be best not to assume a person who does not commune in a given instance thereby intends to be making a statement concerning altar fellowship.  If there is a question, discussion of the matter is far better than making an assumption. 

Again, you are hearing the celebration of the Eucharist - the very work that unifies us - as some Law based concept, akin to an "admonition".  That is not my intent and I have stated that numerous times.

I do not see a possibility of a discussion between brothers in the faith possible - unless it is the trust in Christ's work in the sacraments and in His unifying us to Himself as the starting point of that discussion.  If indeed someone sees that so impaired that they cannot begin the discussion - how could it be said that they are brothers?  

Why not just walk away - and deal with the issue as one would with talking to the Presbyterians or Roman Catholics, where we clearly acknowledge a core difference in our beliefs?    




I don't understand how you can argue this way.  There are those in the ELCA who I recognize as Christian and who I have hopes will embrace orthodox teaching on the points where they are in error.  But I don't commune with them, and then begin theological discussion. I strive for unity first, and then, when it is clear that we have it, I commune with them.    How is that  different than wishing to resolve  theological problems before communing with folks in the LCMS?  It seems like if you're going to argue this way, you ought to commune with any Christian with whom you want to  find doctrinal agreement.
Title: Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
Post by: LCMS87 on November 20, 2010, 07:34:19 PM

So does this mean we do not speak of "the greater excommunication" in the Lutheran Church?

Mr. Jamison,

According to the Confessions, that would be correct.  The minor ban is excommunication.  

That is not, however, the universal understanding in our midst.  Some pastors among us seem to redefine so that the "minor ban" is when they might decline to commune a member of the congregation for a particular reason and the "major ban" when they bring the matter to the congregation for excommunication.  

It is probably necessary to define the terms clearly when you enter into discussion on this matter to avoid misunderstanding.
Title: Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
Post by: Donald_Kirchner on November 20, 2010, 07:48:51 PM
IOW, how can there be any greater ban than being denied the Supper? The denial of communion, ex- communion is, by definition, excommunication.

As others have advised, Mr. Jamison, there is no major or minor ban. There is the ban.

Yes, we studied the SA as well as Luther's Sermon on the Ban at seminary. And I learned a lot from my field supervisor, Dr. Maxwell, his buddy, Pastor William Weedon,  and a grad student who presided at my field church in the last months before graduation, Rev Naomichi Masaki.
Title: Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
Post by: LCMS87 on November 20, 2010, 07:52:29 PM
Again, you are hearing the celebration of the Eucharist - the very work that unifies us - as some Law based concept, akin to an "admonition".  That is not my intent and I have stated that numerous times.

I do not see a possibility of a discussion between brothers in the faith possible - unless it is the trust in Christ's work in the sacraments and in His unifying us to Himself as the starting point of that discussion.  If indeed someone sees that so impaired that they cannot begin the discussion - how could it be said that they are brothers?  

Why not just walk away - and deal with the issue as one would with talking to the Presbyterians or Roman Catholics, where we clearly acknowledge a core difference in our beliefs?    

J & S,

What I am hearing is a suggestion that the celebration of the Eucharist be used a gate through which participants must pass in order to participate in the Koinonia Project.  You seem to indicate I am mistaken in your first paragraph.  That cheers me. As I read your further comments, though, it seems that perhaps I was not mistaken.  

If one of the points in controversy in the mind of some of our "confessional" brothers is that there is a state of impaired communion in our Synod, asking them to commune prior to entering into conversation is telling them that what they believe to be a serious concern is really no concern at all.  You might as well simply tell them they're not welcome to participate in the conversation.  That's as much a non-starter for them as to ask Presidents Kieschnick or Benke to accept the agenda of ACELC before they're welcome at the table.  

If I've misunderstood you, please let me know. 
Title: Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
Post by: Michael Slusser on November 20, 2010, 07:54:03 PM
I don't understand how you can argue this way.  There are those in the ELCA who I recognize as Christian and who I have hopes will embrace orthodox teaching on the points where they are in error.  But I don't commune with them, and then begin theological discussion. I strive for unity first, and then, when it is clear that we have it, I commune with them.    How is that  different than wishing to resolve  theological problems before communing with folks in the LCMS?  It seems like if you're going to argue this way, you ought to commune with any Christian with whom you want to  find doctrinal agreement.

The RCC's practice is to try to resolve theological problems with Christians of other churches before communion is acceptable.

My shivering comes when that inter-church caution gets imported unilaterally into the common life within a church. That, to me, is schism, and those who will not, as a rule, communicate with their brothers in the church are declaring that they are not in fact members of that church any longer.

Then the process of inter-church dialogue is appropriate with them, not the internal Koinonia process.

Peace,
Michael
Title: Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
Post by: Donald_Kirchner on November 20, 2010, 08:06:40 PM
That was my precise concern as expressed on the other thread, Rev. Slusser, as well as purported refusal to commune one/some who are in good standing within Synod.
Title: Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
Post by: Matt on November 20, 2010, 08:06:56 PM
Fr. Slusser,

According to the RCC, any church body not in communion with Rome is schismatic by definition, right?

I know that I cannot in good conscience take communion at any altar where false doctrine is being taught, whether the sign out front says "LCMS" or not. In this case, the schism would come from the false doctrine, not the refusal to take communion.

At the same time, it is not hard for me to imagine that some refuse to take communion for trivial reasons, in order to make a statement about things or people they don't like that don't rise to the level of false doctrine. In this case, I think the refusal to take communion is sinful.

In my experience, I have never refused to take communion at an LCMS church; even in ones where I was not at all comfortable with some of their practices. But other Lutherans draw the line in different places and things that don't offend me may offend them. So I'm not going to automatically condemn one as schismatic who choses to sit out communion. Besides, the reason a person does not go to communion may be due to issues with their own conscience that have nothing to do with making a comment about the congregation or celebrant or other Christians. Regardless, the right thing to do is to get together pronto and hash out our differences so that we can return to joyful unity.
Title: Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
Post by: Weedon on November 20, 2010, 08:14:00 PM
I think LCMS87 is bang on the money here.  We cannot make joint partaking at the table be a condition for entering the conversation precisely because it declares to those brothers who are convinced the Synod has fallen into grave error at points that they are in fact wrong in their concern, even before the conversation begins.  For good or for ill, in the Lutheran Church the accent is upon the Supper as an individual seal of God's forgiveness and mercy.  I ought not be in the business of judging why Pastor X didn't commune at a given gathering, even as I don't presume to judge members of my parish who decide not to receive on a given Sunday.  We ought not use partaking together at the Supper as a sine qua non of participation in the Koinonia project. 

Father, yes, it is right next door to schism.  But the fact that they have not officially broken fellowship, but recognize the fellowship as impaired, gives a window of opportunity.  May the Holy Spirit use that opportunity to grant us the healing that can come from His grace alone!
Title: Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
Post by: iowakatie1981 on November 20, 2010, 08:26:56 PM
Help me out here, if I'm not thinking about this correctly.

But if the Sacraments are primarily about God's action in and through the Word and elements, then is determining whether to receive them based on "what we know" about "somebody" ultimately making the Sacraments more about them (and us) than about God?

If one holds that Sacraments can be validly celebrated by persons in (even grave, besetting) sin, and that the Sacrament is still "valid" despite one's personal misgivings about the theology/praxis of the celebrant, then how is absenting oneself from the grace given in the Sacrament a faithful response to the offer of that grace?
Title: Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
Post by: Weedon on November 20, 2010, 08:37:51 PM
Katie,

No one questions that such sacraments are true sacraments; they question whether we hold the same faith to the degree that we can celebrate them together with integrity.  Does that make sense?
Title: Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
Post by: Michael Slusser on November 20, 2010, 08:38:54 PM
Fr. Slusser,

According to the RCC, any church body not in communion with Rome is schismatic by definition, right?

I know that I cannot in good conscience take communion at any altar where false doctrine is being taught, whether the sign out front says "LCMS" or not. In this case, the schism would come from the false doctrine, not the refusal to take communion.

At the same time, it is not hard for me to imagine that some refuse to take communion for trivial reasons, in order to make a statement about things or people they don't like that don't rise to the level of false doctrine. In this case, I think the refusal to take communion is sinful.

In my experience, I have never refused to take communion at an LCMS church; even in ones where I was not at all comfortable with some of their practices. But other Lutherans draw the line in different places and things that don't offend me may offend them. So I'm not going to automatically condemn one as schismatic who chooses to sit out communion. Besides, the reason a person does not go to communion may be due to issues with their own conscience that have nothing to do with making a comment about the congregation or celebrant or other Christians. Regardless, the right thing to do is to get together pronto and hash out our differences so that we can return to joyful unity.

From an RC point of view,  churches not in communion with us are in schism with us. That is what schism means. That does not make it a matter of indifference when those churches are threatened with schism within their own body.

Legitimate reasons exist for refusing to take communion on a particular occasion, and are not schismatic acts. For example, something that has happened or been said may have made me so angry for the moment that I feel I am in no fit condition to welcome my Lord. Or I may find myself convinced of sin that I must confess (the way we do it) before receiving communion. Or (and this is a bit iffy, but not unorthodox) it may be an act of penance on my part for receiving carelessly and casually, a prayer that my desire and appreciation for the sacrament may be restored. As you see, I agree with your last paragraph.

But in my earlier post I spoke of those who will not, as a rule, communicate with their brothers in the church, and the words "as a rule" are key. The legitimate abstinence I described above reflects the fact that I am the problem; refusing to communicate with the brothers as a rule is a declaration that they are the problem. Oh, yes, if a liturgy is being carried out in an outrageous fashion, I would not participate.

I'm working on 17th century England at the moment, where the Test Acts--which required taking communion in the service of the Church of England was demanded as a condition for all kinds of ordinary civil liberties--were being used to uncover both Romanists and Dissenters, so that their property could be subjected to extra taxation and they could be prevented from serving on any public body. I'm currently sensitive to requiring communion. I still, as a fellow Christian (even if one wallowing in false doctrine), beg my brothers and sisters in other churches not to do things that threaten the communion within their churches.

Peace,
Michael
Title: Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
Post by: Michael Slusser on November 20, 2010, 08:40:48 PM
Help me out here, if I'm not thinking about this correctly.

But if the Sacraments are primarily about God's action in and through the Word and elements, then is determining whether to receive them based on "what we know" about "somebody" ultimately making the Sacraments more about them (and us) than about God?


I think you've put your finger on a very important aspect of the question.

Peace,
Michael
Title: Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
Post by: J.L. Precup on November 20, 2010, 08:59:29 PM
Katie,

No one questions that such sacraments are true sacraments; they question whether we hold the same faith to the degree that we can celebrate them together with integrity.  Does that make sense?

"Does that make sense?"  Not so much.  It seems to put undue influence on outward preparation.  When you travel, and commune at another congregation, for instance, do you question that all there hold the same faith to the degree you do to celebrate it with integrity?  Who is the determiner of holding "the same faith to the degree that we can celebrate them together with integrity?"  Does not that make the emphasis on what we do instead of looking to the Lord of the Feast who determines who is invited to His meal?  

I do not intend to sound negative to your post, but your statement may make sense to me if you elaborated further.
Title: Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
Post by: cssml on November 20, 2010, 09:03:20 PM
Yes, Luther had received the Law and Gospel readings and the Lord’s Supper in the Mass all his life.  But it was by subjecting the Mass to the normative authority of the Holy Scriptures (from which he had discovered the pure gospel that reveals the righteousness of faith) that he was able to rid it of its objectionable features.

Luther was an ordained Catholic priest, therefore when he offered that sacrifice of the Mass, it was valid, and in some sense, I suppose it remained valid until his death.  He was not however given the authority (nor is any priest) to simply cast aside what the Church always understood to be true.  You can read countless quotes from Church Fathers on this:

   http://www.catholic.com/library/Sacrifice_of_the_Mass.asp

So this gets back to an earlier, thread, and that is "by what authority" did he 'discover' this 'new understanding', and by what authority did he reject the normative understanding of his time, of the Fathers and the constant teaching of the Church through all time, up to today?

Quote


There is an intimate connection between right teaching and right worship.  We cannot disconnect the one from the other.  When considering which precedes which, perhaps it would be helpful to distinguish between experience and norm.  Experientially, the right worship establishes for our faith the right doctrine.  But the norm for right worship must be the Holy Scriptures.  I think we all agree that as we pray, so we believe.  My question is: What norms our prayers?  Or are the prayers the norm?

To apply this to today’s worship wars, I’d like to offer a suggestion for thought.  Is it possible that the reason Lutherans adopt revivalistic forms of worship is because they have already embraced the theological tenets of revivalism?  Folks choose the worship they choose on account of what they believe. 

Well, it moves both ways, doesn't it?  Consider the great Lutheran chorales.  They teach the faith and they pray the faith and do both beautifully.

Title: Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
Post by: iowakatie1981 on November 20, 2010, 09:11:57 PM
Well...sort of, but not really...and bear with me here, because I suffer from poor catechesis and a very non-rigorous seminary education, so some of this is me "thinking out loud," but for me anyway, we would have to be talking about matters of extreme difference in faith.  Ex: I can't imagine myself communing at herchurch (Heck, I can't imagine myself showing up there at all!), or the Seusscharist (start messing with the Words of Institution and I start getting nervous).  But there are a lot of things I disagree with the ELCA about at this moment, and regardless, I can't see myself refusing to commune at say, a synod assembly.  

Otherwise, our only option (it seems to me) is making people sign off on a ridiculously detailed statement of faith as they walk in the door every Sunday, so we know that everyone communing is personally and at that exact moment in 100% doctrinal agreement.  But what about people who say, "I'm willing to submit to the teaching on Doctrine X, even though I'm not entirely sure about it" - are they in or out?  What about people who would agree with 99% of the statement?  Or 98%?  It seems like once we start drawing lines about "who we won't commune with, because they're 2% wrong", we're treading on awful thin ice.  

Katie,

No one questions that such sacraments are true sacraments; they question whether we hold the same faith to the degree that we can celebrate them together with integrity.  Does that make sense?
Title: Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
Post by: Weedon on November 20, 2010, 09:13:49 PM
Pr. Precup,

Those who have come to the conclusion that there are grave errors in the Synod are not abstaining from the celebration of the Sacrament when they go on vacation per se; it is with those pastors whom they know from Winkel and such that they perceive error.  It is absolutely false to assert (as some seem to imply) that they have not gone to the brothers, spoken with them, sought correction and reconciliation.  In my own District I know of such a case.  It was after the conversation took place that they determined they could not commune together because there was apparently a different understanding of the faith once delivered to the saints in operation.  To insist on those who raise such objections first communing together before being allowed a seat at the table simply communicates to them that they are unwelcome in the discussion.  That is the exact opposite of what the Koinonia Project seeks to provide.
Title: Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
Post by: Weedon on November 20, 2010, 09:18:45 PM
Katie,

I'll give the specifics of the disagreement in my own District.  It involves whether or not a pastor sins against our Synodical covenant and God's Word in inviting a pastor who does not share our confession of the faith (a Roman priest, a UCC pastor) to participate in leading a worship service (a wedding).  The differing answers to that question threatens the very fabric of our District and our Synod.  We in the LCMS need to be able to discuss such matters openly, honestly, and without compulsion to share the Sacrament together when a brother feels quite certainly that our faith is being compromised.
Title: Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
Post by: iowakatie1981 on November 20, 2010, 09:39:54 PM
Pr. Weedon,

Interesting, wow.  I still haven't wrapped my mind around what I think about "ecumenical worship". 

I'm sincerely trying to be respectful here, so know that, but correct me where you think I'm wrong.  I can kinda see both sides, here (I think...).  On the one hand, I think it would be wrong to force a pastor to commune with another as some sort of "proof of...something" before a conversation can be held.  On the other hand, if your district leadership is overseeing the whole thing (including the communion service) and making good faith efforts to keep everybody grounded in orthodoxy, it's not clear to me how "refusing to commune with that person" is particularly helpful. 

I'll be praying for your District, though. 

Katie
Title: Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
Post by: Weedon on November 20, 2010, 09:41:27 PM
One more thing:  we recognize that there will not in this fallen and confused world be 100% doctrinal agreement; we believe that there needs to be substantial theological agreement.  A messy term, I realize.  But there's not a way to make it unmessy.  The way I like to express it is that there needs to be agreement in the dogma of the Church without insisting that there be uniformity in explaining the doctrinal schemata by which we seek to make sense of that doctrine.  The classic instance is the difference between St. Augustine and the Cappadocians in explicating the Trinity.  Even though they offer different doctrinal schemata, they confessed together the dogma that the One true God eternally exists in three divine persons.  And so they were joined together in the one Church, even though they offered different explanations of the mystery of One in Three and Three in One.  The mother of schism is elevating one's theological opinion (theogumenon) to dogma.
Title: Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
Post by: Weedon on November 20, 2010, 09:44:34 PM
Katie,

Your prayers are much appreciated.  It's a sticky wicket with lots of emotion beclouding the issue on all sides.  Our District hasn't come down on one side or the other, but continues to encourage those struggling with the issue to talk together and listen to each other under God's Word.  It's been a long, long time, though, and some feel that the encouragement to continue to talk is simply a refusal to take a stand pro or con.  May the Lord in His mercy guide us!
Title: Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
Post by: Brian Stoffregen on November 20, 2010, 11:46:54 PM
No one questions that such sacraments are true sacraments; they question whether we hold the same faith to the degree that we can celebrate them together with integrity.  Does that make sense?

No. It is not our faith (whether in full agreement or not) that makes a true sacrament, but God's Word. It is God's Word that makes us one body -- not our thinking about God.
Title: Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
Post by: pr dtp on November 20, 2010, 11:48:54 PM
I think LCMS87 is bang on the money here.  We cannot make joint partaking at the table be a condition for entering the conversation precisely because it declares to those brothers who are convinced the Synod has fallen into grave error at points that they are in fact wrong in their concern, even before the conversation begins.  For good or for ill, in the Lutheran Church the accent is upon the Supper as an individual seal of God's forgiveness and mercy.  I ought not be in the business of judging why Pastor X didn't commune at a given gathering, even as I don't presume to judge members of my parish who decide not to receive on a given Sunday.  We ought not use partaking together at the Supper as a sine qua non of participation in the Koinonia project. 

Father, yes, it is right next door to schism.  But the fact that they have not officially broken fellowship, but recognize the fellowship as impaired, gives a window of opportunity.  May the Holy Spirit use that opportunity to grant us the healing that can come from His grace alone!


Here we go again - with avoidance of what I have said - replaced with what you want to hear.   Heck I've only said and written it how many times?

The discussion is based on that fact that we are in fellowship/communion/koinonia - based in what our confessions say the church is united in - word and sacrament.  Those that self-excommunicate themselves from the rest of the synod are the ones using the Lord's Supper as a gate - condemning either themselves or those they claimed with whom they walked.

Its funny - a Roman Catholic priest - whose church has had many divisions (the arguments between the Franciscan and Jesuit brothers I was taught by were much more volatile) gets this, yet those who grasp AV IV don't?
Title: Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
Post by: pr dtp on November 20, 2010, 11:52:02 PM
One more thing:  we recognize that there will not in this fallen and confused world be 100% doctrinal agreement; we believe that there needs to be substantial theological agreement.  A messy term, I realize.  But there's not a way to make it unmessy.  The way I like to express it is that there needs to be agreement in the dogma of the Church without insisting that there be uniformity in explaining the doctrinal schemata by which we seek to make sense of that doctrine.  The classic instance is the difference between St. Augustine and the Cappadocians in explicating the Trinity.  Even though they offer different doctrinal schemata, they confessed together the dogma that the One true God eternally exists in three divine persons.  And so they were joined together in the one Church, even though they offered different explanations of the mystery of One in Three and Three in One.  The mother of schism is elevating one's theological opinion (theogumenon) to dogma.

Again I appeal to the standard we have acknowledged in our ordination - which clearly spells out where our unity is found.
Title: Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
Post by: J.L. Precup on November 21, 2010, 01:27:08 AM
Pr. Precup,

Those who have come to the conclusion that there are grave errors in the Synod are not abstaining from the celebration of the Sacrament when they go on vacation per se; it is with those pastors whom they know from Winkel and such that they perceive error.  It is absolutely false to assert (as some seem to imply) that they have not gone to the brothers, spoken with them, sought correction and reconciliation.  In my own District I know of such a case.  It was after the conversation took place that they determined they could not commune together because there was apparently a different understanding of the faith once delivered to the saints in operation.  To insist on those who raise such objections first communing together before being allowed a seat at the table simply communicates to them that they are unwelcome in the discussion.  That is the exact opposite of what the Koinonia Project seeks to provide.

OK, thanks, your thinking is much clearer now.  Depending on what the perceived error is (the one creating the "error" or the one perceiving it), I would never order anyone to partake, but it is a shame some abstain.  I don't understand what witness that gives to anyone.
Title: Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
Post by: Harvey_Mozolak on November 21, 2010, 06:20:05 AM
using what Katie said and adding a bit, might one say:

that while the sacraement itself is pure and life giving, the hands that give it might be badly sullied and we accept that as we receive the distribution mostly and in theory and yet there might come a time when the distribution hands are perceived to have just come from handling garbage and we might not want to receive there and then... some in fear of being contaminated oursleves not from the sacrament but from the hands that pass it and some because we do not want to say to others that doing garbage sorting is the sort of thing that those who pass the sacrament ought to be doing...   bad illustration or helpful?  there are also times when how one worships becomes distracting and thus one cannot commune well... to keep my offensive illustration going:  if the distributor begins by dealing cards and chips and then switches to the sacrament, one might say, I can't keep my mind on holy things with the poker distraction included at the table....    I have purposely removed actual doctrinal errors and woship practices from the above to keep them neutral to the discussion...    Harvey Mozolak
Title: Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
Post by: Charles_Austin on November 21, 2010, 06:29:01 AM
Pastor Weedon writes (emphasis added):
We cannot make joint partaking at the table be a condition for entering the conversation precisely because it declares to those brothers who are convinced the Synod has fallen into grave error at points that they are in fact wrong in their concern, even before the conversation begins.

I ask:
Again, nor horse in this race, but a question. But does not this point acknowledge that the Synod is wrong, even before the conversation begins?
Doesn't it say: "Yes, we cannot be in fellowship," thereby "convicting" the synod - or a part of it - of error? Should you not assume that there is no error until it is definitely and through proper processes adjudicated? Then, if the error is proven, a broken fellowship makes sense.
Otherwise, it seems to me the premise - there is error and fellowship must be broken - is only personal opinion.
Title: Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
Post by: Dave Benke on November 21, 2010, 07:31:44 AM
Among the levels of distrust and self-excommunication there are those who would say there is a "different understanding of the faith once delivered to the saints" between two pastors or among the pastors in a given area, and then there are those who would say that the Missouri Synod itself has in its resolutions a "different understanding of the faith once delivered to the saints."  The latter is the position of the signatories on the ACELC document, which admonishes pastors and parishes against practicing the faith according to the guidance received by the Synod's conventions in areas such as worship expression (appropriate diversity clause), close(d) communion (pastoral discretion clause) and women's service (voting and office holding clauses), to name several of the areas of admonition. 

To your point, Charles, the entire ACELC endeavor is to front-load any and all dialog with the understanding that the Synod is wrong before conversation begins.  This aids and abets those who refrain from attending the Lord's Meal due to bound consciences (to borrow a current ELCA phrase).  In the three areas mentioned, the Scriptural bases for the clauses referenced are, in my opinion, in order and need to be and prayerfully will be affirmed through the Koinonia Project's ten year cycle.   There will be inside the Ordo (when the Divine Service is being celebrated) and inside the obligation of pastoral service and inside the obligation of inclusion of all laity in lay functions allowances for appropriate diversity without mandates on either side (no discernment/y'all come in; no worship structure/rigidly enforced hymnal cops; OHM with such high boundaries only the pastor can pray with the sick/everyone a minister).  My concern is that once the starting point is determined to be self-exclusion at the Table based on standards other than those already on the books in Synodical resolutions, the result after ten years of dialog is skewed toward continued self-exclusion, which is the opposite of the goal. 

Dave Benke
Title: Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
Post by: Scott6 on November 21, 2010, 07:45:29 AM
Pr. Precup,

Those who have come to the conclusion that there are grave errors in the Synod are not abstaining from the celebration of the Sacrament when they go on vacation per se; it is with those pastors whom they know from Winkel and such that they perceive error.  It is absolutely false to assert (as some seem to imply) that they have not gone to the brothers, spoken with them, sought correction and reconciliation.  In my own District I know of such a case.  It was after the conversation took place that they determined they could not commune together because there was apparently a different understanding of the faith once delivered to the saints in operation.  To insist on those who raise such objections first communing together before being allowed a seat at the table simply communicates to them that they are unwelcome in the discussion.  That is the exact opposite of what the Koinonia Project seeks to provide.

Will, it sounds like this is a type of re-arrangement of a thesis from the Statement of the 44:

SIX
 We affirm the historic Lutheran position concerning the central importance of the una sancta and the local
congregation. We believe that there should be a re-emphasis of the privileges and responsibilities of the
local congregation also in the matter of determining questions of fellowship. We therefore deplore the new
and improper emphasis on the synodicaI organization as basic in our consideration of the problems of the
Church. We believe that no organizational loyalty can take the place of loyalty to Christ and His Church.

The adjustment is from that of a congregational decision re: fellowship to that of a decision the pastor makes on his own.

What do you think?
Title: Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
Post by: Weedon on November 21, 2010, 08:08:11 AM
Scott,

I think it's sort of selective fellowship in reverse (then it was used to extend without; here to withhold within).  That's why "impaired fellowship" seems to be the best term to describe what is happening. 





Title: Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
Post by: Scott6 on November 21, 2010, 08:11:01 AM
Scott,

I think it's sort of selective fellowship in reverse (then it was used to extend without; here to withhold within).  That's why "impaired fellowship" seems to be the best term to describe what is happening.  

Ok, but the locus of decision is quite similar.  For the 44 and those who see "impaired fellowship," both agree that synodical affiliation (and therefore the public confession associated with that affiliation) is not to be the deciding factor in fellowship question.  The difference is that for the 44, it was the congregation's decision; for those who see "impaired fellowship," it is the pastor's decision.
Title: Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
Post by: Charles_Austin on November 21, 2010, 08:12:03 AM
Thank you, Bishop/BP Benke. I can understand a break in fellowship based on a determination that there is sufficient doctrinal error, or I can understand a "personal preference" not to commune, but I do not understand the sweeping "errors are among us, so we must not commune together" dynamic.
Title: Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
Post by: Weedon on November 21, 2010, 08:16:52 AM
Yes, but I think for both groups, Scott, we should note that denominational affiliation was not the sole deciding factor; certainly a factor, but not a sine qua non.  Another difference that comes to mind is that the one group tended toward a minimal agreement; this current toward a maximal agreement. 
Title: Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
Post by: Scott6 on November 21, 2010, 08:25:27 AM
Yes, but I think for both groups, Scott, we should note that denominational affiliation was not the sole deciding factor; certainly a factor, but not a sine qua non.  Another difference that comes to mind is that the one group tended toward a minimal agreement; this current toward a maximal agreement. 

Yup, I'm not saying that those who see "impaired fellowship" would agree with all the 44's theses, just this one (even as you note another area of agreement where denominational affiliation is not the "sole deciding factor" for both groups).

In fact, by making it principally a pastor decision, the "impaired fellowship"-ers go further than the Statement which held that it is the body of Christ gathered together in that place to whom the decision is granted -- people and pastor together.  That would make the 44 more Waltherian on this matter, methinks.
Title: Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
Post by: pr dtp on November 21, 2010, 10:27:44 AM
Again - it comes back to the Confessions - and what they say about unity.

It is in Christ, in word and sacrament - the marks of the church - and the means of grace that we find unity.  Do you really think it simply coincidental that the word for fellowship is the word for communion?

If the way we pray begets the way we believe.  If the our right worship (right as in Who and for what) forms our teaching(doctrine), then to omit worship and fellowship in this process sets it up to fail beforehand - if the discussion is between brothers, which it has been noted to be[/i

You want to declare impaired communion - then do it - but every winkle and many meetings in between should be given to the process of reconciliation.  Waiting 10 -15 years doesn't cut it, when the conversations and criticism were aimed across the country - while in one's own circuit the same issues exist. Using communion as a weapon works as much from those who would abstain for cause, perhaps more so.   

The problem is they only shoot themselves.
Title: Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
Post by: Weedon on November 21, 2010, 01:15:19 PM
Pastor DTP,

Help me understand:  would you be willing to sit down and discuss with fellow LCMS pastors who chose not to commune with you and/or others?  Oh, and let me be clear:  I would certainly be so willing.  I'd want to hear their concerns out.  And I hope they'd be open to also hearing my own.  And together we'd seek for and pray for agreement under the Word of God. 
Title: Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
Post by: FrPeters on November 21, 2010, 01:40:55 PM
I guess this is one point where I long for the identity of Roman Catholics... who believe and see themselves as members of the Church in its fullness (all rightfully ordered congregations -- you fill out what is rightfully ordered) and yet see each congregation as the local representation of that fullness...

Lutherans, especially Missouri, tend to see congregation as local representation and the only manifestation of "church" with the rest being consigned to the invisible church (Synod, District), etc...

While I know the limits of this line of thinking with respect to fellowship, part of me finds it hard to say that any one Pastor can say that he is not in Eucharistic fellowship with those of the rest of the congregations with which he is in formal organic unity... I can see if someone determined that there was something defective or deficient with the local form the liturgy that would render communion impossible (lack of Verba for example) but it is very hard for me to see how it belongs to the "right" or "office" of an individual Pastor to make determination of who he is in fellowship with -- within his own church body.  I am not saying that I do not understand this intellectually but that in my heart it cries out as not right and not the purview of this Pastor's responsibility to determine (thinking here that the bishop (DP) role is supervision and oversight of the roster of parishes and Pastors)...

Title: Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
Post by: Matt on November 21, 2010, 02:05:33 PM
I think a big contributing factor to our disunity is the consumer-oriented culture we live in where congregational membership becomes a matter of taste, style and preference.

Therefore, in any decent-sized midwestern town, you are likely to find a contemporary LCMS congregation, a traditional alternative, and several somewhere in-between. If someone complains about her pastor or church's practice, instead of seeking unity, she will be urged to leave for something that suits her taste. Contemporary congregations draw members bored with traditional worship and traditional churches warmly welcome those uncomfortable with the contemporary. There is a culture of seekers who drift from one megachurch to the next without ever having a real sense of membership anywhere.

The net result is that birds of a feather flock together in their preferred style so there is not much division within a congregation, but plenty of tension between pastors within a city or circuit who are competing for parishioners. That is why the divisions become manifest when the local pastors are together in the circuit. When the pastors gather with their own clique at, say, a PLI gathering, you don't see these divisions.

Contributing to this is a pride and vanity about one's own congregation that stubbornly refuses correction from outside the congregation. "Nobody can tell US what to do!" Also contributing to the problem is our congregational call process that insures that the parishioners will get a pastor that satisfies their tastes and is unlikely to try to change or correct anything.
Title: Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
Post by: Weedon on November 21, 2010, 04:31:47 PM
Mr. Jamison,

I think that is exactly accurate in describing the situation.

Fr. Peters,

Your heart correctly registers the oddity of the situation:  for by communing in their own parish, they are in fact communing with all that that parish is in Eucharistic fellowship with.  I think those who have withdrawn from fellowship outside the local parish are keenly aware of the inherent unacceptability of the situation.  In fact, I know that many of them are for I've heard them say so themselves.  What they are not sure of is how to address the matter further when previous attempts to discuss and to have others facilitate discussion has not borne the desired fruit of unity.  So here we are.  We either grant those with grave concerns a seat at discussion table or we tell them to get off the pot and just leave.  I think that the latter course would be most tragic.  It may come to that, but I refuse to grant that is HAS to come to that.  Let's get everyone to the table for this conversation and pray that we all (and I mean all) have the humility to consider that it may be we ourselves who are in the wrong.
Title: Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
Post by: RDPreus on November 21, 2010, 04:41:17 PM
So this gets back to an earlier, thread, and that is "by what authority" did he 'discover' this 'new understanding', and by what authority did he reject the normative understanding of his time, of the Fathers and the constant teaching of the Church through all time, up to today?

Luther did not reject the “constant teaching of the Church through all time, up to today.”  In affirming the alien righteousness that is ours through faith alone he was upholding the teaching of the Church of all ages.  The teaching of the apostles is the teaching of the Church.  The fathers affirm this as well.

Title: Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
Post by: Karl Hess on November 21, 2010, 05:29:39 PM
Mr. Jamison,

I think that is exactly accurate in describing the situation.

Fr. Peters,

Your heart correctly registers the oddity of the situation:  for by communing in their own parish, they are in fact communing with all that that parish is in Eucharistic fellowship with.  I think those who have withdrawn from fellowship outside the local parish are keenly aware of the inherent unacceptability of the situation.  In fact, I know that many of them are for I've heard them say so themselves.  What they are not sure of is how to address the matter further when previous attempts to discuss and to have others facilitate discussion has not borne the desired fruit of unity.  So here we are.  We either grant those with grave concerns a seat at discussion table or we tell them to get off the pot and just leave.  I think that the latter course would be most tragic.  It may come to that, but I refuse to grant that is HAS to come to that.  Let's get everyone to the table for this conversation and pray that we all (and I mean all) have the humility to consider that it may be we ourselves who are in the wrong.

The synod did not discipline the pastors and congregations that chipped away at the synod's orthodox position for decades.  Those pastors and congregations did not leave.  Demanding that those who reject the takeover of the synod by those who subverted the synod now commune or leave is heartless and hypocritical.

Let's say, for instance, that a pastor in a circuit allows women to preach.  Am I to commune with him until synod renders a formal decision on him?  Particularly when synod has been lax about disciplining pastors whose practice contradicts the confession of the church?  That is papism.  We must refuse to commune that pastor unless he repents, and to resist the synod if it supports his sin.  We must obey God rather than men.  And these are teh exact sorts of issues that people are upset about.
Title: Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
Post by: Karl Hess on November 21, 2010, 05:31:35 PM
Again - it comes back to the Confessions - and what they say about unity.

It is in Christ, in word and sacrament - the marks of the church - and the means of grace that we find unity.  Do you really think it simply coincidental that the word for fellowship is the word for communion?


Our confession says that our unity consists in "right preaching of the word of God and right administration of the sacraments."  They do not say we should commune together with people who do not preach God's Word rightly.
Title: Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
Post by: Dave Benke on November 21, 2010, 06:13:28 PM
RDPreus is correct - Luther's appeals to the authority of Scripture in re-focusing on the Gospel were buttressed by detailed appeals to the fathers, to the Chuirch through the ages.  He was not stating his case as one in authority, but as one under authority.

Dave Benke
Title: Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
Post by: grabau14 on November 21, 2010, 06:46:36 PM
Not to mention when one reads Gerhard or Chemnitz, you find all sorts of quotes from the church fathers.  The Lutherans always believed that we sitting in the Scriptures and the Fathers while the Roman Church was outside.
Title: Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
Post by: Weedon on November 21, 2010, 06:53:39 PM
The synod did not discipline the pastors and congregations that chipped away at the synod's orthodox position for decades.  Those pastors and congregations did not leave.  Demanding that those who reject the takeover of the synod by those who subverted the synod now commune or leave is heartless and hypocritical.


Pr. Hess,

I quite agree. Reminds me of the litmus test in Sweden:  no ordination for a man who will not receive the sacrament from the hand of a woman.  

Pr. DTP,

I hope you get a chance to get back in the discussion cause I'd like to hear your answer to the question I posed so I know if I am hearing you incorrectly.
Title: Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
Post by: pr dtp on November 21, 2010, 07:46:56 PM
The synod did not discipline the pastors and congregations that chipped away at the synod's orthodox position for decades.  Those pastors and congregations did not leave.  Demanding that those who reject the takeover of the synod by those who subverted the synod now commune or leave is heartless and hypocritical.


Pr. Hess,

I quite agree. Reminds me of the litmus test in Sweden:  no ordination for a man who will not receive the sacrament from the hand of a woman.  

Pr. DTP,

I hope you get a chance to get back in the discussion cause I'd like to hear your answer to the question I posed so I know if I am hearing you incorrectly.


Regarding Synod not disciplining these pastors - I would contend that we are synod - not just those we elect - but the pastors and churches.  So if in the past - a pastor in your circuit was teaching or practicing in a manner heretical or heterodox, the pastors in the circuit bear responsibility, as do the churches.  So this idea of a takeover is a farce and is sectarian.

Again, this is why the idea of fellowship/communion/koinonia is such a critical issue, either we are, or we are not.   And this not because of our reason or logic - it is Christ who called us together into this body - and that was acknowledged in our becoming members of the synod. 

Rev. Weedon - in response to your question, I would ask:

1.  What have I done, that requires you to not to commune with me?

2.  If not me - let's go to the brothers in the circuit and deal with each issue individually that you claim impairs your communion with the rest of the brothers in the circuit.  ( I have done this and was told it would never change - and there was no reason to try to work on it)

3.  I would also ask why they entered a synod that they were not in fellowship with, if they had been ordained after the start of what they considered the impairment.

I do not think dealing with this as a national entity gains anything, unless it has been dealt with individually and at the circuit level first.  Proof of that comes when after the synod has spoken nationally - people are still saying that it wasn't dealt with, and that they don't care what the synod in convention has said, the individual knows better.  ( Let's say in regard to the non-ordained continuing to serve as lectors - as they have since the founding of the synod.) 


Title: Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
Post by: Timotheus Verinus on November 21, 2010, 07:58:35 PM
The synod did not discipline the pastors and congregations that chipped away at the synod's orthodox position for decades.  Those pastors and congregations did not leave.  Demanding that those who reject the takeover of the synod by those who subverted the synod now commune or leave is heartless and hypocritical.


Pr. Hess,

I quite agree. Reminds me of the litmus test in Sweden:  no ordination for a man who will not receive the sacrament from the hand of a woman. 

Unfortunately, that type of clear decsion is usually (always in my experience) not what is happening. It is a straw man, and posturing. There is a pastor in a circuit that refused to commune/with a rostered LCMS pastor in good standing because -

1. Wine - He did not practice open communion, but did exercise a more relaxed stewardship, in a town that was the "only" Lutheran Church (including WELS, and ELCA, etc. ) for at least 20 miles (the one 20 miles was an LCMS church.  over 30 for others)
2. Women - he had no women elders, does not support WO, but used women in the ministry of the congregation including occasional reading of the OT, an Epistle Lessons.
3. Song - He didn't really support CW, in fact resisted it for years, but implemented a blended service under his careful supervision as the circumstances evolved to find it useful in the local ministry.

The ACELC supporting pastor refused altar fellowship with this and other pastors in the circuit.

 This is not Sweden, nor "women preaching." There is a discussion that is needed in this circuit, but the objecting pastor refuses to go to the Winkels, and when approached will not carry on discussions one on one. They only see him once every three years, when he tries to nominate himself as a synod convention delegate.

That example is closer to what I have seen, and see in the conflict.

Quote
Pr. DTP,

I hope you get a chance to get back in the discussion cause I'd like to hear your answer to the question I posed so I know if I am hearing you incorrectly.

ie. "would you be willing to sit down and discuss with fellow LCMS pastors who chose not to commune with you and/or others?" 

I know He does this, there is no willing to about it, and tries constantly to do so ... but see the above... :( Now when the Winkel is at his church, the Lord's Supper is offered.... are you saying he needs to stop Communion at the Winkels?

TV
Title: Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
Post by: Weedon on November 21, 2010, 07:59:43 PM
I'm still not clear, DTP.  Are you saying that you WOULD agree to sit at table and discuss matters with those who feel they cannot in good conscience commune in your parish (your parish there is purely hypothetical)?  

As to the matter of discipline, neither I nor you are called to exercise oversight of a neighboring pastor for how he may teach or practice.  His parish, of course, bears some of that responsibility (the sheep judge the shepherds), but not only they. A District President (and a Synodical President), however, is specifically charged with such oversight.  Which, as I've said repeatedly, they cannot actually exercise if they do not VISIT the parishes and pastors under their charge.
Title: Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
Post by: Weedon on November 21, 2010, 08:05:04 PM
Dear Clyde,

No, I don't think it's posturing.  Such a pastor needs a place at the table, an assurance that his concerns will be heard and seriously considered, even if in the end not agreed upon.  Not dismissed cavalierly as though his concerns were merely wine, women, and song.  Do you even realize how condescendingly that comes across?  If he received such dismissal, it may account for his absence too.  Better to stay home than to have his serious concerns reviled as trivial.  You will NOT get folks to the table unless you are willing to RESPECT their heart-felt concerns as matters of huge significance and import to them.
Title: Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
Post by: pr dtp on November 21, 2010, 08:08:53 PM
I'm still not clear, DTP.  Are you saying that you WOULD agree to sit at table and discuss matters with those who feel they cannot in good conscience commune in your parish (your parish there is purely hypothetical)?  

As to the matter of discipline, neither I nor you are called to exercise oversight of a neighboring pastor for how he may teach or practice.  His parish, of course, bears some of that responsibility (the sheep judge the shepherds), but not only they. A District President (and a Synodical President), however, is specifically charged with such oversight.  Which, as I've said repeatedly, they cannot actually exercise if they do not VISIT the parishes and pastors under their charge.

Rev. Weedon,

Just curious - are you saying there is no responsibility of a pastor to help his neighbor?   Except of course to report him to the authorities, when the situation is finally out of hand?

How do you square that with the explanations of the small catechism?
Title: Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
Post by: Weedon on November 21, 2010, 08:14:04 PM
Still my question is not answered, DTP.

No, I'm not saying the pastor has no responsibility to help his neighbor.  I regularly attend Winkel, receive the Sacrament with my brothers, and offer and receive counsel.  But if my brothers and I had a disagreement that we couldn't resolve, it would not be my brothers' responsibility to correct my teaching beyond their loving counsel.  But it WOULD be my District President's responsibility to correct it.  He is charged with this.  It's not a matter of "reporting him to the authorities."  There would be nothing to report if the District Presidents were themselves visiting and listening in to the teaching.  It's a matter of very fallible humans helping one another to be faithful to the saving Word.
Title: Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
Post by: Timotheus Verinus on November 21, 2010, 08:50:37 PM
Dear Clyde,

No, I don't think it's posturing.  Such a pastor needs a place at the table, an assurance that his concerns will be heard and seriously considered, even if in the end not agreed upon.  Not dismissed cavalierly as though his concerns were merely wine, women, and song.  Do you even realize how condescendingly that comes across?  If he received such dismissal, it may account for his absence too.  Better to stay home than to have his serious concerns reviled as trivial.  You will NOT get folks to the table unless you are willing to RESPECT their heart-felt concerns as matters of huge significance and import to them.

I absolutely agree he needs a seat at the table, and with respect and charity. I only used WWS as a template of the practice of who it was that was shunned. He was not a wild left wing liberal. It was not meant to dismiss the disagreement. It was not meant to trivialize, but to characterize.

This example is a middle of the road circuit, with a conservative CC, and in a reasonably conservative district/DP, where 99% of the pastors always show up and serious doctrinal study takes place, each month. The convention delegates from this circuit voted for Harrison. I don't think any one considers his objections trivial, but to date, there has been little indication that the objecting pastor wants to go there. He just writes EMails to the DP. Now we can certainly pray that Harrisons outreach will change the landscape, but the point is this is not about Sweden. The RESPECT for concerns of huge import to each participant, will need to be two way.

TV
Title: Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
Post by: Weedon on November 21, 2010, 08:56:50 PM
Now we can certainly pray that Harrisons outreach will change the landscape, but the point is this is not about Sweden. The RESPECT for concerns of huge import to each participant, will need to be two way.

Now on that we are in complete agreement.
Title: Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
Post by: cssml on November 22, 2010, 12:16:25 AM
RDPreus is correct - Luther's appeals to the authority of Scripture in re-focusing on the Gospel were buttressed by detailed appeals to the fathers, to the Chuirch through the ages.  He was not stating his case as one in authority, but as one under authority.

Dave Benke

Yes, but by what authority was scripture written, collated, and the set of books discerned to be inspired (in the canon) or not?  Or by what authority do we hold the Creeds to be objectively true?  No authority is 'above scripture', but to deny that Christ gave real and tangible authority (along with grave responsibility) to the Apostles to properly teach, interpret, deliver and protect scripture would seem to me to be a rejection of on objective truth held by the Church of all ages.

Would you disagree with Fr. Karl Adam's description of the point at which Luther broke with the faith that was handed on to him?

"...From 1520 onwards he openly attacked the Pope as Antichrist.  His address, "To the Christian Nobility of the German Nation," which appeared in the same year, was, as Karl Muller expresses it, "a trumpet-call to seize all the possessions of the Papacy". And in his later polemical writing, "De Captivitate Babylonica," of the Church's seven sacraments he admitted only Baptism, the Lord's Supper, and, partially, Penance, branding the other sacraments, together with the Church's teaching on transubstantiation and the Sacrifice of the Mass, as captivitas babylonica, a miserable imprisonment of the faithful. In the work which was the third main statement of the Reformation, "Of the Freedom of a Christian Man," he portrayed the ideal of Christian life in the light of his new doctrine and sent it to the Pope. In this same year, 1520, as the public expression of his complete abandonment of the Church, he burned the volumes of the Canon Law and the Papal Bull threatening him with excommunication before the Elster Gate of Wittenberg...."

http://www.ewtn.com/library/chistory/rtref.txt

I realize the conventional wisdom is that Luther "discovered the pure gospel" that had one time been preached but he believed had been lost/obscured.  But it was alive, even if it was dimmed by the darkness of some of the abuses of the 16th century.  It was alive and it continued to grow and undergo true internal reforms.

So my question was, by what authority did Luther decide the bold part above?
Title: Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
Post by: Team Hesse on November 22, 2010, 01:42:11 AM
RDPreus is correct - Luther's appeals to the authority of Scripture in re-focusing on the Gospel were buttressed by detailed appeals to the fathers, to the Chuirch through the ages.  He was not stating his case as one in authority, but as one under authority.

Dave Benke

Yes, but by what authority was scripture written, collated, and the set of books discerned to be inspired (in the canon) or not?  Or by what authority do we hold the Creeds to be objectively true?  No authority is 'above scripture', but to deny that Christ gave real and tangible authority (along with grave responsibility) to the Apostles to properly teach, interpret, deliver and protect scripture would seem to me to be a rejection of on objective truth held by the Church of all ages.

Would you disagree with Fr. Karl Adam's description of the point at which Luther broke with the faith that was handed on to him?

"...From 1520 onwards he openly attacked the Pope as Antichrist.  His address, "To the Christian Nobility of the German Nation," which appeared in the same year, was, as Karl Muller expresses it, "a trumpet-call to seize all the possessions of the Papacy". And in his later polemical writing, "De Captivitate Babylonica," of the Church's seven sacraments he admitted only Baptism, the Lord's Supper, and, partially, Penance, branding the other sacraments, together with the Church's teaching on transubstantiation and the Sacrifice of the Mass, as captivitas babylonica, a miserable imprisonment of the faithful. In the work which was the third main statement of the Reformation, "Of the Freedom of a Christian Man," he portrayed the ideal of Christian life in the light of his new doctrine and sent it to the Pope. In this same year, 1520, as the public expression of his complete abandonment of the Church, he burned the volumes of the Canon Law and the Papal Bull threatening him with excommunication before the Elster Gate of Wittenberg...."

http://www.ewtn.com/library/chistory/rtref.txt

I realize the conventional wisdom is that Luther "discovered the pure gospel" that had one time been preached but he believed had been lost/obscured.  But it was alive, even if it was dimmed by the darkness of some of the abuses of the 16th century.  It was alive and it continued to grow and undergo true internal reforms.

So my question was, by what authority did Luther decide the bold part above?

By the authority of scripture. The fact that Patristic voices were in agreement with what he confessed was helpful but not determinative. Scripture interpreted Luther as it does with all true Christians in all times and ages.
Whether one believes the Gospel was still alive in the Roman church or was called back to life in response to Luther's confession will probably be debated until Jesus returns.The Roman church was changed by Luther whether they are willing to admit it or not.

Lou

Title: Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
Post by: cssml on November 22, 2010, 02:07:43 AM
RDPreus is correct - Luther's appeals to the authority of Scripture in re-focusing on the Gospel were buttressed by detailed appeals to the fathers, to the Chuirch through the ages.  He was not stating his case as one in authority, but as one under authority.

Dave Benke

Yes, but by what authority was scripture written, collated, and the set of books discerned to be inspired (in the canon) or not?  Or by what authority do we hold the Creeds to be objectively true?  No authority is 'above scripture', but to deny that Christ gave real and tangible authority (along with grave responsibility) to the Apostles to properly teach, interpret, deliver and protect scripture would seem to me to be a rejection of on objective truth held by the Church of all ages.

Would you disagree with Fr. Karl Adam's description of the point at which Luther broke with the faith that was handed on to him?

"...From 1520 onwards he openly attacked the Pope as Antichrist.  His address, "To the Christian Nobility of the German Nation," which appeared in the same year, was, as Karl Muller expresses it, "a trumpet-call to seize all the possessions of the Papacy". And in his later polemical writing, "De Captivitate Babylonica," of the Church's seven sacraments he admitted only Baptism, the Lord's Supper, and, partially, Penance, branding the other sacraments, together with the Church's teaching on transubstantiation and the Sacrifice of the Mass, as captivitas babylonica, a miserable imprisonment of the faithful. In the work which was the third main statement of the Reformation, "Of the Freedom of a Christian Man," he portrayed the ideal of Christian life in the light of his new doctrine and sent it to the Pope. In this same year, 1520, as the public expression of his complete abandonment of the Church, he burned the volumes of the Canon Law and the Papal Bull threatening him with excommunication before the Elster Gate of Wittenberg...."

http://www.ewtn.com/library/chistory/rtref.txt

I realize the conventional wisdom is that Luther "discovered the pure gospel" that had one time been preached but he believed had been lost/obscured.  But it was alive, even if it was dimmed by the darkness of some of the abuses of the 16th century.  It was alive and it continued to grow and undergo true internal reforms.

So my question was, by what authority did Luther decide the bold part above?

By the authority of scripture. The fact that Patristic voices were in agreement with what he confessed was helpful but not determinative. Scripture interpreted Luther as it does with all true Christians in all times and ages.
Whether one believes the Gospel was still alive in the Roman church or was called back to life in response to Luther's confession will probably be debated until Jesus returns.The Roman church was changed by Luther whether they are willing to admit it or not.

Lou



Yes, the Roman church was changed in response to Luther and other reformers, both protestant and internal reformers (Ignatius of Loyola, Teresa of Avila, John of the Cross, Francis de Sales, Philip Neri...).  We will never know to what degree she was changed by what was lost in the gifts of those who no longer found it possible to work for reform from within.  I hope you would agree that the faiths of the spiritual descendants of the reformation were also changed by no longer being in communion once the break was complete.
Title: Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
Post by: Team Hesse on November 22, 2010, 07:15:11 AM


Yes, the Roman church was changed in response to Luther and other reformers, both protestant and internal reformers (Ignatius of Loyola, Teresa of Avila, John of the Cross, Francis de Sales, Philip Neri...).  We will never know to what degree she was changed by what was lost in the gifts of those who no longer found it possible to work for reform from within.  I hope you would agree that the faiths of the spiritual descendants of the reformation were also changed by no longer being in communion once the break was complete.


As long as we do not forget who was responsible for the break....Luther never left the Church. He was declared anathema. That declaration has never been withdrawn. Some of us respect the Roman church enough to say the break they initiated and have never repudiated still has meaning in this time and place. It is the modern desire to deny the truth of the past that some of us find dishonest and disrespectful to both sides in this quarrel between members of what should be one family.

Lou
Title: Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
Post by: Donald_Kirchner on November 22, 2010, 09:45:00 AM
I find this conversation both fastinating and confusing. Perhaps some confusion lies with a false assumption about DP's initial parameters, to wit:

"In many discussions herein, I have made the comment that I do not see the possibility of a discussion of the differences between Christian brothers in the LCMS occuring without it being centered around the means of grace.

I will stipulate, as I have many times, that this is never forced - nor is it simply a sign of unity.  That's the baptist game - and I would have no part of it."

This seems to have been forgotten in the questioning of how we can force participants in the Koinonia project to commune with other participants and even anaolgies to "the litmus test in Sweden:  no ordination for a man who will not receive the sacrament from the hand of a woman."  I don't think DP ever suggested that anyone had to commune before one was allowed to sit down and join in teh discussion at the Koinonia table.

DP also states the question in his initial post:

"Should the concern be so grave that the fellowship of our baptism and communion be broken..."

The direction of the thread since then has caused questions in my mind. for example, there is insistence that, when we commune in our congregation on a Sunday, we commune with all others in LC-MS congregations, with all in teh Church, and with angels and archangels and all the company of heaven. Okay.

Then, how about one member of the LC-MS who decides that another member's position is so wrong that he cannot commune with him. If they both communed in their congregations yesterday, did they not in fact commune together? Is the one who thinks that a brother is so wrong that he breaks fellowship simply kidding himself?

Yesterday, I assume that I communed with President Benke. Yet there are some in Synod who state that if he, a member in good standing in the LC-MS, approached the altar over which they preside that they would refuse him. Are they not simply kidding themselves?

IOW, it seems that the only way that one can not commune with his brothers and sisters in Christ, whether one agrees or disagrees with them, is by exclusion, i.e., one does not commune- self excommunication- or the brother and/or sister in Christ is excluded/excommunicated from the Church.

And isn't that the way it should be rather than one member unilaterally determining who's in and who's out, unilaterally determining that he communed with so-and-so yesterday and did not commune with so-and-so yesterday, thereby usurping the determination of the Head of the Church and Who's Supper it is? And isn't that the reality that St. Paul understood when he never suggested that the members of what some have called the most separated and dysfunctional church in history, the church in Corinth, discontinue celebrating the Lord's Supper until they resolved their divisions?

Isn't it that reality that DP is suggesting is being ignored and how we can expect to sit down and discuss unity if we ignore a present unity?

Finally, I do understand the reality that denominations within the Church enter into altar and pulpit fellwoship. I am left wondering, however, how future Koinonia discussions will differ from two denominations sitting down and discussiing whether they will enter into altar and pulpit fellowship together. Has the disunity become that great?

Thanks for any direction, clarification, or teaching others can give to bring me back on track. And DP, if i've misstated your position and purpose for the thread, I apologize.
Title: Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
Post by: Dave Benke on November 22, 2010, 10:22:42 AM
That's nicely stated, Don.  It is as though we're having conversations between two or more denominations about altar and pulpit fellowship. 

Dave Benke
Title: Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
Post by: Donald_Kirchner on November 22, 2010, 11:40:08 AM
Exactly, President Benke. And some are starting out suggesting that attack documents, citing alleged grave errors that others have made, should be a basis for having a conversation about entering into altar and pulpit fellowship with them! What's wrong with that picture?!   :o

But I digress.
Title: Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
Post by: Weedon on November 22, 2010, 01:32:21 PM
Pr. Kirchner,

If I have misunderstood Pr. DTP on this, I hope he makes himself clear.  Because it is still not clear to me whether he does or does not hold that participation in the Koinonia project is predicated upon willingness to receive the Sacrament together. Yes, of course, there is an inherent contradiction in not communing with X congregation of Synod, but communing in congregation Y of Synod.  As you point out rightly:  we all share together in the one Table.  The folks who object to doing so are keenly aware of this and experience it as a painful reality.  They are perfectly aware they are saying "yes" and "no" at the same time.  They're just not sure what else to do at the moment.  I think the appropriate thing to do is to welcome them to the discussion, to hear out their concerns (and if they wish to present their concerns in the form of the ACELC documents, what's the harm there?), and to listen to them and hopefully they to others.  I'm not sure it is fair or accurate to characterize the ACELC's documents as "attack documents" unless you mean documents that folks have been attacking, and I suspect that's not what you meant.  I have zero problem with laying out those documents and concerns as PART of the koinonia project - they need to be resolved.  I do have major problems with those documents being the WHOLE of the koinonia project, for we've got some other matters that are also crying for attention among us that they do not adequately address. 
Title: Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
Post by: Donald_Kirchner on November 22, 2010, 03:17:05 PM
I think the appropriate thing to do is to welcome them to the discussion, to hear out their concerns (and if they wish to present their concerns in the form of the ACELC documents, what's the harm there?), and to listen to them and hopefully they to others.  I'm not sure it is fair or accurate to characterize the ACELC's documents as "attack documents" unless you mean documents that folks have been attacking, and I suspect that's not what you meant.  I have zero problem with laying out those documents and concerns as PART of the koinonia project - they need to be resolved.  

I too think it appropriate to welcome them to the discussion.

I think that some of the ACELC documents are indeed "attack" documents at best and perhaps even defamatory documents. E.g.:
 
http://acelc.net/userFiles/2001/acelc_evidence_of_errors_-_pure_doctrine.pdf

As stated elsewhere, the examples of error are statements that Pr. Speckhard and I would agree with in context, and I hope you would too. President Harrison has made a similar statement as shown. Yet the statements are characterized as great error.

The ACELC guys invited us to comment and even to "fire away," claiming that they are interested in discussing and willing to be corrected. Yet they are silent other than they can't understand how anyone with an ounce of understanding would possibly disagree with them.

Perhaps we're not big enough dogs with which to hold a discussion? So be it.

Again, I've digresseed. Sorry DTP. As to:

"The folks who object to doing so are keenly aware of this and experience it as a painful reality.  They are perfectly aware they are saying "yes" and "no" at the same time."

Perhaps some. So, they understand that they commune at one Table with those that they refuse to commune with? So, is it, "Sorry, Lord. I don't think you quite have it right, so I'm going to pretend that I'm not really communing with that guy at Your Table."

Pr. Weedon, this reminds me so much of the well-known, well-respected guy in self-designated confessional circles who, a couple of years ago, acknowledged that although he vehemently disagreed with President Kieschnick on many issues that, "I know that President Kieschnick will be in heaven with me." The deeply sad thing? He made that comment with no joy whatsoever but, rather, with resentment and even a touch of disapproval.
Title: Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
Post by: Donald_Kirchner on November 22, 2010, 03:52:23 PM
I'm not understanding this argument especially with concern regarding the vertical dimension of the Sacrament.

I'm not even understanding what that means.
Title: Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
Post by: Dave Benke on November 22, 2010, 03:52:36 PM
When God wipes away every tear from every eye, dtkirch, on that great day, siome of the weeping will have to do with the opportunities wasted for actual work together, walking together and speaking and doing the Gospel together by people who spent their energy banging away on the Hard-Shell Baptists because they were Soft-Shell.  Because then we will understand in full the wideness of God's mercy.  

As the Koinonia Project takes shape and is embraced by the wider groupings of the leaders of the Church, what will by necessity transpire is that the documents of the ACELC and I would think any grouping vying for top billing or maximum attention will fade away.  For this reason the ongoing recruitment efforts of the ACELC are both interesting based on their statements of what's working for them (they will not incorporate although they will continue to organize, for instance, from inside the denomination - which I find divisive), and in my opinion harmful to the aims of Koinonia.  

Dave Benke
Title: Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
Post by: Harvey_Mozolak on November 22, 2010, 06:12:32 PM
ouch!  good thinking or at least thinking with an edge...  I have always wondered why we attempt to take such control over something that is purely Christ's gift...  can someone have bad theology, a life littered with sin and still recieve the body and blood of Christ?   Harvey Mozolak

I'm wondering.

We make this point about communing not just with angels and archangels and all the company of heaven in the Lord's Supper but also with that brother or sister or even pastor within the LCMS who approves of women's ordination, church-growth ideas that it is up to us and not God to grow the church, etc.

How is it then though, since it is His Supper, that we are not also being joined in His Supper with those in the ELCA and Roman Catholicism?

Perhaps the Baptists and Reformed can be left out of this question since by changing the meaning of the words, we confess that we can no longer confidently say they celebrate the Supper.

But what reason do we have then for not admitting someone from the ELCA to the Lord's Supper at an LCMS altar if they are said to join us in it when they receive it at an ELCA altar?

I'm not understanding this argument especially with concern regarding the horizontal dimension of the Sacrament.

Mike
Title: Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
Post by: Weedon on November 22, 2010, 06:38:43 PM
Pr. Mozolak,

I think it is a bit of a misunderstanding of the issue to imply that some are pure and others are not when it comes to eucharistic fellowship.  Rather, we know we are every one of us, unworthy sinners, all of whom stand condemned by the just requirements of God's law of love.  The question of the horizontal dimension of fellowship, though, has always reckoned with one's confession of the faith.  Even as far back as St. Justin Martyr we have a very clear statement that only those eat of the Eucharist together who share the same faith.  When horizontal implications are brought up that is where we must look:  are those at the table united in their confession of the faith once delivered to the saints.  As I mentioned up above, obviously when the AC was first penned, their fervent prayer was that fellowship would not be severed, but once it became clear that their confession of the faith once delivered to the saints different from Rome's, fellowship was regarded as impossible between the two jurisdictions, though no one would claim a Roman Christian was "too impure" to receive at a Lutheran altar or vice versa.  It wasn't a matter of holiness, but of confession.  Do you confess the faith as it is professed at this altar?  My own parish's bulletin each week tries to run the matter along those lines: 

"Today we celebrate Holy Communion.  At St. Paul's this Sacrament is given to those baptized Christians who have been examined and absolved and publicly confessed the faith professed at this altar.  If you have not previously communed here, please speak to the pastor before approaching the Sacrament."
Title: Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
Post by: LCMS87 on November 22, 2010, 07:08:25 PM
I find this conversation both fascinating and confusing. Perhaps some confusion lies with a false assumption about DP's initial parameters, to wit:

"In many discussions herein, I have made the comment that I do not see the possibility of a discussion of the differences between Christian brothers in the LCMS occurring without it being centered around the means of grace.

I will stipulate, as I have many times, that this is never forced - nor is it simply a sign of unity.  That's the baptist game - and I would have no part of it."


Pastor Kirchner,

My responses to J&S involve not just what he said in the initial post of this thread, but also what he said two days earlier in the now closed thread titled:  ACELC/COP MAKE RECOMMENDATION.

(See original post of quote below here (http://www.alpb.org/forum/index.php?topic=3452.msg189316#msg189316))
Quote from: justified and sinner on November 17, 2010, 04:14:30 PM

I actually disagree with this idea of studies prepared by someone else to be used to discuss things.  I would rather see us simply use that which has been handed down to us for this very purpose - the scripture and the confessions.

May sound too simple to you - but that is the point.  If we don't start with a common norm and reference, it isn't worth it.  I would also take it further - that these discussions - between brothers - need to begin with word and sacrament - the very things that bind us together.   Otherwise this will ALWAYS be about those who think they are pure and orthodox separating themselves from those they believe are not.

Someone will undoubtedly indicate the division is too deep for us to gather together before the altar.  If it is - not amount of discussion will change that - especially when couched as admonition.

I'm not clear how to reconcile, "these discussions . . . need to begin with word and sacrament . . . gather[ing] before the altar" and "being centered around the means of grace"--based on his prior posting I assume this means not just the Word but also the Lord's Supper--but that this centering around the means of grace is "never forced".  To say not just that discussions "may" our "could" begin with word and sacrament, but that they need to seems to imply an absolute condition.  

J&S has not been as active in the last few days, so perhaps he hasn't seen the requests for clarification or hasn't had time yet to respond, but so far I remain uncertain how he wants "need" and "never forced" to be taken.  I think some of the confusion you find evident in this discussion is related to these to seemingly contradictory statements.  I'm looking forward to J&S clarifying what he is proposing.
Title: Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
Post by: pr dtp on November 22, 2010, 11:33:39 PM
Pr. Kirchner,

If I have misunderstood Pr. DTP on this, I hope he makes himself clear.  Because it is still not clear to me whether he does or does not hold that participation in the Koinonia project is predicated upon willingness to receive the Sacrament together. Yes, of course, there is an inherent contradiction in not communing with X congregation of Synod, but communing in congregation Y of Synod.  As you point out rightly:  we all share together in the one Table.  The folks who object to doing so are keenly aware of this and experience it as a painful reality.  They are perfectly aware they are saying "yes" and "no" at the same time.  They're just not sure what else to do at the moment.  I think the appropriate thing to do is to welcome them to the discussion, to hear out their concerns (and if they wish to present their concerns in the form of the ACELC documents, what's the harm there?), and to listen to them and hopefully they to others.  I'm not sure it is fair or accurate to characterize the ACELC's documents as "attack documents" unless you mean documents that folks have been attacking, and I suspect that's not what you meant.  I have zero problem with laying out those documents and concerns as PART of the koinonia project - they need to be resolved.  I do have major problems with those documents being the WHOLE of the koinonia project, for we've got some other matters that are also crying for attention among us that they do not adequately address.  

Rev. Weedon,

I made myself clear - at least clear enough that Rev; Preus, Rev. Kirchner and Fr. Slusser understand my position and reflected it clearly.
Title: Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
Post by: Charles_Austin on November 23, 2010, 04:29:59 AM
I ask once more, reflecting on what Pastor Weedon wrote: Even as far back as St. Justin Martyr we have a very clear statement that only those eat of the Eucharist together who share the same faith,  just what is the context and content of that faith and who codifies it?
1. We stand together and say with passion the words of the Apostles Creed. Does that do it?
2. We confess the Lutheran symbols. Is that enough?
3. We do #1 and #2 above but disagree on open or closed communion. Does that break the fellowship?
4. We do #1 and #2 above, endorse a "close" communion, but think we ought to discuss ordination for women. Still welcome to commune with others who disagree?

What is the "check-list" by which this "same faith" is codified? And who are the lawmakers?
I have said: If the church body to which I am responsible says Pastor Whoozis is on the roster, then I am bound to him in fellowship, even if I think he is a little loopy on certain matters of doctrine and practice. And if I believe his doctrine and practice is so screwed up that the Gospel itself is compromised, then I have an obligation to see that something is done about it; but... before that is done, we are still in fellowship, for such a decision is not mine alone.

Title: Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
Post by: Weedon on November 23, 2010, 08:08:03 AM
Pr. J&S,

Can you not condescend to my ignorance and clarify the matter for me?  I am utterly serious.  I do not know whether or not you would agree to sit at table with those who believe that there is an impaired communion fellowship.  Can't you just say to me:  "of course I would" or "no, I wouldn't"?  I'd really appreciate it.  I'm not trying to be a pain in the patukus, but I am confused by what you have written on the matter (as LCMS87 points out, considering your words in the previous thread).

Pr. Austin,

You have asked that before and I, for my part, have given you my preferred answer (hint:  think Galesburg), but please understand that that question is one of the hottest questions that will have to be answered among us in the Koinonia project.  We currently have in our Synod widely varying answers from "every baptized person who repents of their sin and confesses the real presence" to "card carrying LCMS members - with very minimal exceptions."  I'd invite you to join in prayer for us that our Synod may arrive at a godly and faithful resolution to the question.
Title: Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
Post by: Donald_Kirchner on November 23, 2010, 08:25:48 AM
Pr. Weedon,

How about the second part of Pr. Austin's comment? How do you come down on that? I.e.,

"If the church body to which I am responsible says Pastor Whoozis is on the roster, then I am bound to him in fellowship, even if I think he is a little loopy on certain matters of doctrine and practice. And if I believe his doctrine and practice is so screwed up that the Gospel itself is compromised, then I have an obligation to see that something is done about it; but... before that is done, we are still in fellowship, for such a decision is not mine alone."

This is not a "Yeah! How about that!" sort of thing. I really am interested in your insights, for what he says makes a lot of sense to me. That's what I thought fellowship was all about, rather than (I believed you called it) a reverse selective fellowship that we see going on. To not commune is to self-exclude/excommunicate., and one can no longer claim to be in fellowship with any member of that particular church body, right? Carrying it to its conclusion for the sake of examination, by such self-exclusion would he not be practicing a form of open communion by communing within that church body?

Or is there something between?

Thanks.

Mr. Gehlhausen,

Please! You seem to be crying for attention, but the peurile ridicule of a gadfly is unnecessary.
Title: Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
Post by: Weedon on November 23, 2010, 08:44:48 AM
Pr. Kirchner,

Yes, I agree with Pr. Austin on that point. 
Title: Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
Post by: FrPeters on November 23, 2010, 08:50:26 AM
While the early church offers us a picture of close(d) communion, it is, after all, a distinctly different circumstance.  There was not then nor was there ever envisioned a denominational patchwork of different church bodies with competing and conflicting confessions.  There is no way to directly connect the situation before the divided church (East) with what we face now.  Prior to the schism between East and West, those who were denied the Sacrament were heretics pure and simple.  We do not speak in this way to those with whom we disagree (though maybe we should???) In addition, the mobility of our present age has created a circumstance of regular and even seasonal visitors that is more common and more prevalent than was the norm for the first millennium of church history (at least). That does not mean the practice of the early church is irrelevant or not a guide in what we face today.  

The point is not a minimal unity of faith and confession that suffices but the expectation and goal of a very high degree of unanimity.  Certainly this includes for us Western Christians the three ecumenical creeds but it is not limited to this.  I am troubled because I do not know what we think we are doing or why we do it when we presume that such matters of disagreement are in non-essential areas and therefore do not impact table fellowship.  For example, when it comes to those who reject pedobaptism, do we simply disagree in interpretation or are we too nice to say but privately think those against it to be heretics?  Is it that we have a vague understanding of the real presence of Christ so that it is merely a matter of emphasis or interpretation or are those who hold that Christ is not really, corporeally, present (the same body/blood incarnate, crucified and risen) heretics?  I wonder if the early church would simply say what we feel we either cannot or should not say today and this might frame the whole fellowship debate in radically different terms...  I would be interested in what others think...

The early church knew a closed table -- no open invitation but a table for the baptized family.  Not so much what we might call close(d) communion as much as the communion of the local congregation, at least in ordinary practice.  Few of us live in such a place where Sunday morning includes only regular members of the parish so we struggle to extend welcome and yet retain a consistency with historic practice in a balance of open fellowship and strict faithfulness that is always in tension and sometimes unfairly tilts to one side or the other...
Title: Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
Post by: Weedon on November 23, 2010, 08:56:56 AM
I have been intrigued, Fr. Peters, by the manner that I've seen it handled in Orthodox parishes.  There quite often the priest will make an announcement that the Sacrament is only given to Orthodox Christians, but everyone is invited to receive the antidoran, the blessed bread - not the consecrated host.  They make no bones about this.  They regard themselves as THE Church and it is unthinkable to them that one outside of their jurisdictions could commune with them.  Yet they do not seem to have the difficulties we have in coming across as arrogant in this matter, perhaps the giving of something tangible as a sign of friendship and love mitigates the hard message?
Title: Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
Post by: Scott6 on November 23, 2010, 09:01:32 AM
Pr. Kirchner,

Yes, I agree with Pr. Austin on that point. 

It would seem that if you agree with Charles on this point, then you would be against those who see "impaired fellowship" and refuse to commune with brother pastors in the LCMS (who, unlike laymen, must be examined and certified by the Synod as legitimate teachers in the LCMS).

Or how would you hold the two together?
Title: Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
Post by: Donald_Kirchner on November 23, 2010, 09:07:23 AM
Some observations from the CTCR document: "The Nature and Implications of the Concept of Fellowship, Part III":

"From the very beginning of the Reformation Luther and his followers sought external unity in the church on the basis of agreement in the confession of the apostolic faith. Expressing the hope that they might be "united in one, true religion" with their opponents "even as we are all under one Christ," the Lutherans in 1530 in Augsburg presented "a confession of our pastors' and preachers' teaching and of our own faith, setting forth how and in what manner, on the basis of the Holy Scriptures, these things are preached, taught, communicated, and embraced in our lands" (Preface to the Augsburg Confession, 8-10). They also participated in a variety of doctrinal discussions with leaders of the Reformed Church, e.g., in Marburg in 1529. Their concern was not "that ceremonies, instituted by men, should be observed uniformly," but that "the Gospel be preached in conformity with a pure understanding of it and that the sacraments be administered in accordance with the divine Word" (AC, VII, 2-3). Altar and pulpit fellowship apart from agreement in doctrine was unthinkable for them."

And the footnote to that:

"Cf. FC SD, VII, 33: 'Dr. Luther, who understood the true intention of the Augsburg Confession better than any one else, remained by it steadfastly and defended it constantly until he died. Shortly before his death, in his last confession, he repeated his faith in this article with great fervor and wrote as follows: 'I reckon them all as belonging together (that is, as Sacramentarians and enthusiasts), for that is what they are who will not believe that the Lord's bread in the supper is his true, natural body, which the godless or Judas receive orally as well as St. Peter and all the saints. Whoever, I say, will not believe this, will please let me alone and expect no fellowship from me. This is final.''"

"...19th-century Lutherans in America generally followed the model of ecclesiastical declarations of altar and pulpit fellowship on the basis of agreement in doctrine at the church-body level. "

The footnote:

"In 1872 President C.P. Krauth set forth the General Council's understanding of pulpit and altar fellowship: "I. The Rule is: Lutheran pulpits are for Lutheran ministers only. Lutheran altars are for Lutheran communicants only. II. The Exceptions belong to the sphere of privilege, not of right. III. The determination of the exceptions is to be made in consonance with these principles, by the conscientious judgment of pastors, as the cases arise." This statement was amended by the addition after the word "Rule" of "which accords with the Word of God and with the Confessions of our Church" at an 1875 conference held in Galesburg, Ill.--hence the name "Galesburg Rule" (The Encyclopedia of the Lutheran Church, 1965 ed., s.v. "Galesburg Rule")."

Contrast the above with the reverse selective fellowship, as coined by Pr. Weedon. From the same CTCR document, a footnote to the discussion on selective fellowship:

"Hermann Sasse, "Selective Fellowship," The Australasian Theological Review (September 1957), p. 55. As Sasse points out, selective fellowship with its excessive congregationalism betrays a deficient understanding of the doctrine of the church. Sasse writes: "From these biblical facts it must be understood that the Church in all ages up to the 17th century always has seen fellowship between Christians as fellowship between the churches to which the individuals belong..."

So, as Pr. Austin points out, and to which Pr. Weedon and I agree, generally:

"If the church body to which I am responsible says Pastor Whoozis is on the roster, then I am bound to him in fellowship, even if I think he is a little loopy on certain matters of doctrine and practice. And if I believe his doctrine and practice is so screwed up that the Gospel itself is compromised, then I have an obligation to see that something is done about it; but... before that is done, we are still in fellowship, for such a decision is not mine alone."

Nicht wahr?

Rev. Scott Yakimow,

Is "impaired fellowship" akin to kind-of-pregnant? That is only partially in jest, for if one has agreed to walk together with others in a synod, then how does one become selective with whom one is going to walk- that one but not that one- and still say one is walking together? Is practicing impaired fellowship less of a problem than a perception that another within the fellowship has an impaired understanding of the Augustana?

Lots of questions... :-\


Title: Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
Post by: Dave Benke on November 23, 2010, 09:10:55 AM
Fr. Peters' point is an interesting one indeed, but it Fr. Austin's point and the rejoinders lead us to ask - if major articles of the faith - and the Creeds, the Presence of Christ in the Meal, paedo-baptism and go on with the list - are agreed to be every pastor in our denomination, and if in fact they are all pastors inside the denomination, then if some declare themselves to be "out of fellowship" with those IN the denomination, what should be done with them?  The Koinonia project allows for a long time of dialog.  That's fine.  And there does not need to be Eucharistic celebration at those dialogs.  However, there are other Eucharistic celebrations in circuits and at gatherings in regions and Missouri districts that will continue to be held.  I believe the invitation and exhortation should be for all to participate in those celebrations of the Holy Meal during the time of dialog, and to seriously remonstrate with those who continue to avoid one another even while sharing the same denomiantional roster status.  To use an example from history, even when the Missouri Synod was in a protested state of fellowship with the ALC in the 70s, the fellowship of the Meal continued until the fellowship was officially broken.  The absenting of brother pastors (and that's what 90% or more of this involved - pastors) from shared Meals is offensive and should be stopped per se and especially in the time of dialog.

I'm going to speak to this issue among the brother Presidents and fellow organizers of the Koinonia project. 



Dave Benke
Title: Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
Post by: Karl Hess on November 23, 2010, 09:17:15 AM
A person who refuses to commune at synodical gatherings, or who refuses communion to an errant pastor coming to his altar, is not just an idiot.  He is doing something like what a pastor does when he temporarily suspends an unrepentant sinner from the altar.  That suspension is not excommunication, but is an emergency measure intended to prevent further harm while awaiting repentance, or for the congregation to act and pronounce excommunication.  

It may be, as you say, that by remaining in altar and pulpit fellowship with erring pastors and congregations, we are communing with them anyway.  But the machinery of church discipline works more slowly than conscience must.  Where the synod has not disciplined an errorist; where the congregation has not separated from synod (because it is still in the process of deciding), does not make it the case that I must commune a man at my altar, nor participate at their altar.  In that case, what is happening in other places in the synod--where error is not being corrected--does not mean that I should be silent and acquiesce to it until there is a synodical declaration.
Title: Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
Post by: Donald_Kirchner on November 23, 2010, 09:21:28 AM
A person who refuses to commune at synodical gatherings, or who refuses communion to an errant pastor coming to his altar, is not just an idiot.  He is doing something like what a pastor does when he temporarily suspends an unrepentant sinner from the altar.  That suspension is not excommunication...

I disagree. Of course it is excommunication, by definition. Moreover, separating oneself from coummuning with those with whom one is in altar fellowship is self exclusion/excommunication.
Title: Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
Post by: Donald_Kirchner on November 23, 2010, 09:30:08 AM
Where the synod has not disciplined an errorist; where the congregation has not separated from synod (because it is still in the process of deciding), does not make it the case that I must commune a man at my altar, nor participate at their altar.  In that case, what is happening in other places in the synod--where error is not being corrected--does not mean that I should be silent and acquiesce to it until there is a synodical declaration.

And after there is a synodical declaration, what then? In President Benke's situation, there has been such a thing. It is finished. Yet there are those who would refuse him communion at the altar to which they're called and/or would refuse to commune at a Eucharistic celebration at which he communes, because they are not happy with the synodical declaration. How far do we take this individualistic selective fellowship?
Title: Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
Post by: Weedon on November 23, 2010, 09:30:39 AM
Pr. Yakimow,

Yes, I disagree with the impaired fellowship approach, principally because (as I've said before) the truth is one is communing with every congregation of Synod when one communes in any congregation of Synod.  But I still maintain we need to welcome to the table for discussion also those who hold to an impaired fellowship approach that we might attempt to overcome and work through by God's grace the areas of discord that led to this impasse.

Mr. Gehlhausen,

Very briefly, for I've got to run and won't be able to check back in for most of the day.  Let met get at it sideways:  I remember once hearing Gabe Huck say at the Valpo Liturgical Institute that one of the important lessons he learned in life was to love the Church as she is and not as he would have her be.  As she is, she is rather divided and sometimes those who manifestly share the same faith are separated from each other at the table.  Such ought not be, we cry, and yet such is.  More later, God willing.  
Title: Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
Post by: Scott6 on November 23, 2010, 09:31:41 AM
I don't have time right now to go back and research this, but perhaps somebody might already know the answer...

During the time leading up to the Formula of Concord, there was severe division in the Lutheran churches -- which I would submit are at least as severe (really, I would say much more severe) than that which we are seeing in today's LCMS.  At that time, such crucial teachings as Original Sin, Free Will, the Righteousness of Faith, the role of Good Works, etc (each article in the FC, outside of predestination, was dedicated to a real conflict that arose among the Lutherans of the day) all had direct teachings that conflicted with each other -- not just that as might be evinced by a particular practice, but rather explicit statements and theses that were defended publicly.

During that time, was there still intercommunion among Lutherans, even in the midst of these grave doctrinal disputes?

Perhaps this historical situation might give some guidance to these discussions.
Title: Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
Post by: FrPeters on November 23, 2010, 09:32:00 AM
Bp Benke, I did not intend to say that agreement on pedobaptism should be part of the fellowship decision nor did I intend to say it should not.  My point was that in the early church those who disagreed with such foundational teachings were regarded as heretics plain and simple.  Yet today we would not think of publicly saying such a thing.  It may be because we lack the courage or it might be because we want to be nice, but either way, we give the impression that there are fundamentals in which we can disagree because of interpretation and that these may not preclude unity at the table of the Lord.  Would such a position have been thinkable in the first 1500 years of Christianity?  Is this not the poisoned fruit of the Reformation of which Luther himself opined even to his death?  All I am saying is this, there has got to be a better way than carrying and presenting a membership card (membership has its privileges), refusing all visitors and guests, an inquisition, or communing everyone who wants to... We must face the fractured state of Christianity in such a way that we figure out how both to welcome the visitor and to be faithful about the Lord's Table.  Missouri historically left this to Pastoral Discretion until that was abused in such way that many (and rightfully I believe) wondered if our own fellowship were broken by the excesses of such discretionary practice.
Title: Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
Post by: Scott6 on November 23, 2010, 09:32:29 AM
Pr. Yakimow,

Yes, I disagree with the impaired fellowship approach, principally because (as I've said before) the truth is one is communing with every congregation of Synod when one communes in any congregation of Synod.  But I still maintain we need to welcome to the table for discussion also those who hold to an impaired fellowship approach that we might attempt to overcome and work through by God's grace the areas of discord that led to this impasse.

Thanks, Will, for the clarification.  I haven't been reading threads as closely as I probably need to of late.
Title: Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
Post by: Karl Hess on November 23, 2010, 09:33:29 AM
Well, you're in disagreement with Walther then.  He says that those who are suspended from communion are not excommunicated and being treated as non-Christians, just like Christians who are refused communion because they belong to a different confession are not being excommunicated and treated as non-Christians.  Temporary suspension implies that you are a Christian but need to repent.  Excommunication is God's judgment declaring you to be damned.
A person who refuses to commune at synodical gatherings, or who refuses communion to an errant pastor coming to his altar, is not just an idiot.  He is doing something like what a pastor does when he temporarily suspends an unrepentant sinner from the altar.  That suspension is not excommunication...

I disagree. Of course it is excommunication, by definition. Moreover, separating oneself from coummuning with those with whom one is in altar fellowship is self exclusion/excommunication.
Title: Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
Post by: Scott6 on November 23, 2010, 10:30:26 AM
Perhaps there is some utterly clear historical statement on this account, but I doubt it.

I would be quite wary of any such "utterly clear historical statement on this account."  History is usually much more messy.  But an account of the intricacies of what occurred would provide considerable guidance re: how to handle quite serious doctrinal disputes.
Title: Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
Post by: Matt on November 23, 2010, 11:30:57 AM
I think that love, charity and the best construction should govern these discussions on all sides. I would admonish those pastors absenting themselves from the supper to carefully examine themselves and their grievances, to be absolutely sure that they are not acting out of spite or factionalism or pride. If in doubt, commune with your brothers.

And those on the other side of the table: I would admonish you to take your brothers' objections very, very seriously. Listen to them in love and respect even when you think their objections may be motivated by ill intentions. Even when you've heard the same thing 10 times before, even when it is you and your close friends and brothers that they are complaining about.

To you pastors who are in positions of authority: do the right thing. Have courage to use to use the disciplinary tools available to you, even when you like the man you are disciplining and dislike the person making the complaint. Bishops, I would urge you to delay communion in a gathering of pastors until after grievances have been seriously dealt with. But we shouldn't delay it forever. You should also discipline pastors for intransigence and stubbornness when it comes to that. Deep discernment, judgment and courage is called for. It is for this that you have been elected to a high office in the church.

Fellow laypeople: we should all pray unceasingly for all involved!
Title: Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
Post by: Donald_Kirchner on November 23, 2010, 11:52:33 AM
Excommunication is God's judgment declaring you to be damned.

Wow. I have never heard or read that definition of excommunication before. In fact, it is excommunication that is intended to be temporary. I.e., the purpose for excommunication is to bring one to repentance.

Your position appears to be a confusion between the krima and the katakrima. Again, to withhold the Supper from one is, by defintion, excommunication.

See Pr. Weedon's comment on SA III, ix:

http://bookofconcord.blogspot.com/2009/03/round-table-42-excommunication-sa-iiiix.html
Title: Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
Post by: Matt on November 23, 2010, 12:07:09 PM
Pr. Kirch's latest sent me to the Greek lexicon. I think we have several terms expressing the same relationship.

krima:katakrima
temporary excommunication:permanent excommunication
lesser excommunication:greater excommunication
minor ban:major ban
in communion with our Lord all saints at the Lord's Supper:out of communion with Christ and His church
unity:schism
saved:lost

We have some serious differences about how to apply these terms to practical situations in the life of the church. These are serious matters worthy of discussion.

Ultimately, whatever we do, it is Christ alone who determines who is inside the church and outside it; who is in the true communion and who is excommunicated, which breaks are temporary and which are eternally permanent.
Title: Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
Post by: pr dtp on November 23, 2010, 01:18:10 PM
One of the words upstream was "temporary" in regards to self-excommunication.

In answering Rev. Weedon's question above, I stated several questions I would ask the pastor.  In cases I have had to interact in, there was no evidence of the protest being temporary.

Temporary would mean the active participation in confronting the specific reason for not communing.  In view of not communing at a winkel or district gathering, that means the issues laid on the table.  If the issue is something with someone on the other side of the country - then self ex-communing from a winkel makes no sense.   Nor does pointing to a sin across the country - when the one self-excommunicating knows it is a local issue as well, but doesn't want to deal with it locally - but voices complaint about it nationally.

Temporary would mean temporary - not 10 or 20 or 40 years, living in the past.   And it is in the process of working towards reconciliation - not just a protest without full definition.

And temporary means that when the particular issue is worked out - one would then decide whether the excommunication was temporary or permanent. 




Title: Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
Post by: RDPreus on November 23, 2010, 02:23:50 PM
Must a pastor commune at Winkels and Pastoral Conferences?  What if he believes that the Supper is best celebrated at the congregational level and that he personally prefers to receive it there? 
Title: Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
Post by: Matt on November 23, 2010, 02:54:00 PM
Pr. Kirchner brought up Pr. Benke and Yankee Stadium.  He is right that the LCMS has closed the book on that.  I would argue that anyone who thinks that the LCMS acted wrongly in that situation especially to the point of refusing to commune Pr. Benke or those who think the LCMS acted rightly should seriously consider leaving the LCMS to go independent or join another church body.

This is quite right. When a contentious issue has been resolved, those who disagree with the resolution have a decision to make. Either they accept the decision, in which case they should stop protesting, or they should formally sever their ties with the LCMS. This doesn't mean that we should never discuss the situation again (as a matter of history) or seek better ways to handle a contentious issue in the future.
Title: Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
Post by: Dave Benke on November 23, 2010, 04:26:55 PM
RDPreus,
a) it is not inherently wrong to have the Lord's Meal at a Winkel or a Pastoral Conference.  So
b) if it is offered, the concept of "best" would have to be fleshed out by you, in my opinion. 

If the Lord's Supper is offered, why refuse it?  Personal preference?  Why would a pastor prefer NOT to receive the Body and Blood of Christ, the medicine of immortality, for pardon and strength?  At a Winkel or Conference, the pastor may for one of the few times be a non-celebrant, that is, be lodged in the nave and not at the altar to hear and receive and not to speak and officiate.

That being said, the pastor's primary vocation is to preach and administer at the congregation to which he is called.

Dave Benke
Title: Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
Post by: John_Hannah on November 23, 2010, 05:08:14 PM
I don't have time right now to go back and research this, but perhaps somebody might already know the answer...

During the time leading up to the Formula of Concord, there was severe division in the Lutheran churches -- which I would submit are at least as severe (really, I would say much more severe) than that which we are seeing in today's LCMS.  At that time, such crucial teachings as Original Sin, Free Will, the Righteousness of Faith, the role of Good Works, etc (each article in the FC, outside of predestination, was dedicated to a real conflict that arose among the Lutherans of the day) all had direct teachings that conflicted with each other -- not just that as might be evinced by a particular practice, but rather explicit statements and theses that were defended publicly.

During that time, was there still intercommunion among Lutherans, even in the midst of these grave doctrinal disputes?

Perhaps this historical situation might give some guidance to these discussions.

SCOTT

Good question, indeed.  I don't know the answer and am not expert in 16th century Lutheran history. It may be difficult to put a finger on that history. But I suspect that the opponents did intercommune with each other. Had they not we would probably know about it. We do know that Walther communed with Grabau when they were disputing one another.

Peace, JOHN
Title: Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
Post by: RDPreus on November 23, 2010, 06:16:20 PM
When I began the seminary (in Springfield), it was the only school (college or seminary) in the LCMS that did not yet have the Lord's Supper at any chapel services.  That changed when we moved to Ft. Wayne (my second year).  I distinctly recall several professors who attended chapel on Wednesdays but did not commune.  They all belonged to congregations where they could receive the Lord's Supper and they saw no need to have it at the seminary.  These men were all strongly committed to the view that the local Christian congregation was the only divinely established form of the church and that one should receive the Sacrament in the congregation.  I guess today one might call them "bronze" Missourians, though that designation was unknown at the time.  We called them conservatives.

Most of these brothers have died and gone to heaven. 

May one hold to their opinion in the LCMS today?  Is it acceptable to refrain from the Sacrament except at one's own congregation?  Or must one feel obliged to attend the Lord's Supper at events beyond the local Christian congregation for fear of being judged for not attending?


Title: Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
Post by: Matt on November 23, 2010, 06:31:13 PM
I think it is appropriate to refrain from communion for a number of reasons. I think it is inappropriate to label or judge someone because they sit out the sacrament in a given setting.

When I attend a non-demonational church with my relatives, I refrain from communion. I think they find this odd because they have an expectation that all who attend will commune. If asked, I would explain that I believe that communing with them would confess a unity which does not exist. But they don't ask, I think they would consider it rude to push the point and I would be rude to put down their practice.
Title: Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
Post by: John, an Unlikely Pastor on November 23, 2010, 07:43:49 PM
David,
thanks for these words and your others in this thread about weeping over missed opportunity.
 
As an ELCA Lutheran Pastor serving in predominantly Missouri Territory in Southern Minnesota it's amazing to see people wrestle with the question of coming or not coming to communion.  Our table is open.  Christ offers His body and blood for the forgiveness of sins for all who believe He is present in the supper for the forgiveness of sins.  In conversations with other Lutherans who come to worship I sometimes hear these faithful people seeking to understand should they come at Christ's invitation or should they not...

You said it better than I could ever hope to articulate
 
If the Lord's Supper is offered, why refuse it?  Personal preference? 

May Christ's love always call us together.

Pax, John
Title: Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
Post by: Weedon on November 23, 2010, 07:46:42 PM
Pr. Preus,

I would say that whenever the Sacrament moves from a get to to a have to, the Law has taken over and is in danger of spoiling the most Gospelly gift of all:  the Body and Blood of the Savior for the forgiveness of our sins.  
Title: Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
Post by: FrPeters on November 23, 2010, 08:03:27 PM
Communing is not obligation but opportunity... that said, I think Luther would suggest that the only real reasons for not communing might be not being prepared to receive it or knowing a personal reason (dispute with a brother) that would cause you to not receive...  Lord knows we need it all the time whether or not we acknowledge that need or feel it acutely enough to seek Holy Communion as often as we might or should...  This, however, is a far different circumstance than determining you are not in fellowship with others within the official fellowship... Could Luther even conceive of something like this?
Title: Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
Post by: Scott6 on November 23, 2010, 08:41:28 PM
I don't have time right now to go back and research this, but perhaps somebody might already know the answer...

During the time leading up to the Formula of Concord, there was severe division in the Lutheran churches -- which I would submit are at least as severe (really, I would say much more severe) than that which we are seeing in today's LCMS.  At that time, such crucial teachings as Original Sin, Free Will, the Righteousness of Faith, the role of Good Works, etc (each article in the FC, outside of predestination, was dedicated to a real conflict that arose among the Lutherans of the day) all had direct teachings that conflicted with each other -- not just that as might be evinced by a particular practice, but rather explicit statements and theses that were defended publicly.

During that time, was there still intercommunion among Lutherans, even in the midst of these grave doctrinal disputes?

Perhaps this historical situation might give some guidance to these discussions.

SCOTT

Good question, indeed.  I don't know the answer and am not expert in 16th century Lutheran history. It may be difficult to put a finger on that history. But I suspect that the opponents did intercommune with each other. Had they not we would probably know about it. We do know that Walther communed with Grabau when they were disputing one another.

Peace, JOHN

The lack of a response indicate that we're not the only people w/o an answer on hand.  When I finish this never-ending paper on scriptural pragmatism I'm writing, I'll see what I can do to chase down some answers.
Title: Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
Post by: Matt on November 23, 2010, 09:06:04 PM
May Christ's love always call us together.

Sometimes Christ's love separates people.

For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart. And no creature is hidden from his sight, but all are naked and exposed to the eyes of him to whom we must give account. Since then we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.

He replied to him, “Who is my mother, and who are my brothers?” Pointing to his disciples, he said, “Here are my mother and my brothers. For whoever does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother and sister and mother.”

In the first place, I hear that when you come together as a church, there are divisions among you, and to some extent I believe it. No doubt there have to be differences among you to show which of you have God’s approval.
Title: Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
Post by: Dave Benke on November 23, 2010, 09:41:27 PM
RDPreus, the line of inquiry you open leads to asking whether you yourself hold to the position you outline as belonging to the old professors.  If so, and it sounds as though it is so, then your last comment about feeling that you or indefinite others are "being judged" is in fact the opposite.  Your answer to my first statement a post back is then that it IS wrong to have the Sacrament of the Altar at Conferences and Winkels, etc.  You're not being judged, you are judging the celebration of the Sacrament at those gatherings to be in error on theological grounds, that the local Christian congregation is the only divinely established form of the Church. 

Fr. Peters seems to me to be on solid, Lutheran ground when it comes to Holy Communion as opportunity.

Pr. W., you are decidedly not yourself in this entire discussion.  Who's saying the Sacrament is moving from "get to" to "have to?"  Why wouldn't you come down as any evangelical catholic Christian on the side of the Eucharist as opportunity for forgiveness and strength in these words, "Given and shed for you?"   We DON'T want Holy Communion at gatherings within our denomination?  I don't know who's inhabiting the Will Weedon I know from this board, but all of your lines of argumentation seem truncated and abridged versions of you.  What's up with that? 

Dave Benke
Title: Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
Post by: John, an Unlikely Pastor on November 24, 2010, 01:05:43 AM
Matthew
I think you are right about separation through the sword of the Word; but just as powerful is the Words power to bind up and pull back together (Isaiah 61 comes to mind).  That may be the issue here: one hears Christ's word as an invitation to come for healing and another hears the word and steps away afraid he will receive in an unworthy manner or with others who might misunderstand that they are truly receiving Christ's body and blood.
Pax
John
May Christ's love always call us together.

Sometimes Christ's love separates people.

Title: Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
Post by: Weedon on November 24, 2010, 07:46:33 AM
Dear Bishop,

I'm not sure I see the contradiction myself.  My concern is simply not to cut out anyone from the discussion based on their decision about communion.  I personally know fellow pastors who question whether they should commune with me because I commune at the District gatherings.  I don't want them made to feel unwelcome at the discussion table for Koinonia.  Simple as that really.  I want them included and their voices heard.  I honestly think that IS the evangelical catholic response to the problem we have, and I'm puzzled that any evangelical catholic would think otherwise, for the Sacrament ought never be anything other than Gospel gift for the forgiveness of sins.
Title: Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
Post by: Weedon on November 24, 2010, 07:50:40 AM
Scott et al.,

I did not know the answer to the historical question, but I've asked Dr. Gregg Roeber (former Lutheran, now Orthodox) if he might know.  He's offered me his opinion, but is checking into a few sources.  I will post his answer when he gives it.  

It also made me wonder:  did the Lutheran commune at Mass in Augsburg?  I know that they refused to kneel at the Corpus Christi procession.  But did any of them commune?  
Title: Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
Post by: Dave Benke on November 24, 2010, 08:37:20 AM
No, Will, your comments on this thread on the Eucharist are, as I read them, not you.  Would you encourage your own flock not to attend the Eucharist because it's a "got to" thing, or would you encourage them toward a "want to" as the gifts of forgiveness and strength are offered, and assist them in that appreciation with all your might?  Your response to RDPreus wasn't that at all, but a bow toward staying away.  Do you truncateyour offerings of the Eucharist locally or expand them? 

My question is what is driving this change in you?  Why would the issue of non-participation in the Holy Meal by pastors - the group listed by the Task Force on Harmony as by far the most problematic in terms of DISHarmony in our denominations - not be a prime matter for dialog in the Koinonia Project, and an indicative source of some of the true underlying tension that should be addressed?  And why would it not be listed as troublesome right out of the gate?  There is/are denomination(s) within our denomination, as Don K indicates,  that are avoiding one another with the Eucharist as the activity of avoidance, when we're all on the same clergy roster. That's not good.   

Dave Benke
Title: Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
Post by: Weedon on November 24, 2010, 08:53:22 AM
Dear Bishop,

No change, that I can see.  Of course it is not good.  It is the sign of something that we HAVE to address.  In my parish I do everything I can to encourage my members toward a reception of the gifts, but decidedly not in a "have to" mode.  It's a "get to" - a privilege, joy, and blessing that is being reached them, but reached them precisely as gift, and for a gift to be a gift it is always rejectable.

If Pr. Preus chooses not to commune at a District gathering because he believes that the proper place for communion is the local parish, while I disagree with his apparent limiting of Church to the local congregation, I would not in any way want to suggest his perspective and views are not welcome to the Koinonia project; if there are folks thinking along those lines, they should be heard and the matter discussed.  And certainly the issue of communion practice (which is far broader than certain pastors not communing) needs to be PRIME issue in the Koinonia dicussions.  What on earth have I said that leads you to conclude I think otherwise?  To allow viewspoints you do not personally agree with at the table is the only hope for resolving the numerous tensions we have!  So let's not write anybody off or out.  That's my plea.  I do not understand how that is difficult to grasp.
Title: Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
Post by: Donald_Kirchner on November 24, 2010, 09:06:48 AM
My concern is simply not to cut out anyone from the discussion based on their decision about communion.  I personally know fellow pastors who question whether they should commune with me because I commune at the District gatherings.  I don't want them made to feel unwelcome at the discussion table for Koinonia.  Simple as that really.  I want them included and their voices heard.  I honestly think that IS the evangelical catholic response to the problem we have, and I'm puzzled that any evangelical catholic would think otherwise, for the Sacrament ought never be anything other than Gospel gift for the forgiveness of sins.

Pr. Weedon,

I agree with President Benke's observation. Your responses are ambiguities. And the continuing straw man.

I have read from no one on this thread that anyone should be cut out of the Koinonia discussion based upon their decision about communion. I don't know of any evangelical catholic who would not want them included and their voices heard.

I have heard it suggested that a Koinonia discussion should begin with the Eucharist. Some think not. Okay. As stated in the opening post, no one is to be forced to commune. As Rolf's anecdote stated, they had the Sacrament at Fort Wayne, and some profs did not commune. Okay. Whether their reason was that the "better" way was to take communion in the local congregation only, or whether their reason was that taking communion too often denied the efficacy of the Supper- it was supposed to last, or some other personal reason, okay. The point was that it was offered for those who wished to eat the Lord's body and drink His blood for the forgiveness of sins.

The concern, at least my concern, is that some members of Synod have refused to commune because they refuse to commune with brothers and sisters in Christ with whom they are in fellowship by virtue of being members of Synod, yet personally declare that they are not in fellowship with those with whom they refuse to commune. A selective fellowship, to the point that a Koinonia discussion will become like a discussion between denominations to determine whether they should enter into altar fellowship with others in their own Synod! The assumption within that statement is that those who are refusing to commune with others WILL be included in the discussion.

Various examples of how extreme this refusal to commune with others has become have been given, but your example takes the cake.

"I personally know fellow pastors who question whether they should commune with me because I commune at the District gatherings."

Lord have mercy!

Bottom line- Boy, do we all need repentance and forgiveness! We truly need the Gospel, and we need the Koinonia discussion gathered around The Word. And there is enough sin and error going around that I don't see any benefit in studying and bringing to the table ACELC documents that allege error based upon, for example, true statements by a former SP, echoed by the current SP, taken out of context.

There's enough finger pointing going around. We all need to repent and look to The Word- to Jesus alone.
Title: Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
Post by: Dave Benke on November 24, 2010, 10:01:04 AM
Great observations and concluding sentence, Don!

Dave Benke
Title: Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
Post by: Matt on November 24, 2010, 10:15:22 AM
What I'm reading is exactly the Fr. Weedon I know and love from this forum! A deep love for the church catholic, a deep love of pure doctrine and a gift for putting the best construction on everything. I have seen no hint that Fr. Weedon has ever urged his flock to stay away from the eucharist for any reason, to frame a question like that is tendentious and a bit aggressive, in my opinion.

What he is pleading for is some respect and love to be shown to those who are troubled by practices in the church to the point that they avoid the eucharist. I think that we are all also troubled by those who sit out the eucharist as a form of protest. I do not think it is okay to skip communion in protest, but I don't see that it is anyone on these boards who is doing this or even necessarily condoning it. We just want to discuss and understand.

And I agree with the latest from Pr. Kirch. We all need to lighten up on each other. For some reason, pastors especially can be very hard on one another. I have good things to say, I have much love and respect even for the pastors (Kirch!) with whom I've had the harshest arguments. I count Dr. Benke a friend and my family and congregation have been blessed to have him as a DP.

As for Pr. Preus' question about the "old professors," I think it is an interesting one. Apparently these guys sat out communion because they thought the proper forum for the Lord's Supper is the local congregation. I think they might have a point. Even though communion is now served in the seminary chapels, we still acknowledge that the seminary is not a congregation, strictly speaking.

I think the most fitting setting for communion is the regular divine service of the local congregation. But I would not rule it out in other settings. Communion in other settings (weddings and funerals come to mind) can be problematic and can call for some special pastoral discernment. I would put synodical gatherings in the same category.
Title: Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
Post by: Matt on November 24, 2010, 10:16:19 AM
Great observations and concluding sentence, Don!

I'll second that motion!
Title: Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
Post by: Donald_Kirchner on November 24, 2010, 10:28:22 AM
Mr. Jamison,

Agreed except for the last sentence of the first paragraph in your reply #158. As long as we're all putting the best construction on things, let us do the same for President Benke's reply #154. I took his questions to Pr. Weedon as rhetorical ones, the assumed answers being, "Of course you do/would not!" as appropriate.

Hence,  I see as a straw man in the following:

"I have seen no hint that Fr. Weedon has ever urged his flock to stay away from the eucharist for any reason, to frame a question like that is tendentious and a bit aggressive, in my opinion."

I.e., nor have I nor has President Benke, nor has... The questions to him do not suggest otherwise. They're rhetorical ones to make a point.

Title: Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
Post by: swbohler on November 24, 2010, 10:38:49 AM
Rev. Kirchner,

I think you are putting words into the mouths of either Rev. Preus, or the professors he mentioned.  Having had some of those same men as my professors, I think their position would be two-fold: 1) the Sacrament belongs in the congregation (where the Keys are publicly exercised) and the seminary is not a congregation; 2) having received the Sacrament in their congregations (where it properly belongs according to this view), there is no justification for it being given at the seminary chapel (it is not an emergency, such as a battlefield or hospital, that would allow the extraordinary practice).  I do not think any of these professors would have said anything like what you have attributed to them ("communion too often denied the efficacy of the Supper").
Title: Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
Post by: RDPreus on November 24, 2010, 10:54:47 AM
The Lord’s Supper is gospel.  It is not law. 

The ministry of preaching the gospel and administering the sacraments was instituted that we may obtain the faith through which we are justified by God.  This ministry and the church go together.  To regard the proper form of this church as the local, identifiable, Christian congregation and to regard all other gatherings such as Winkels, Pastoral Conferences, seminaries, colleges, conventions, youth groups, ladies aides, etc., as auxiliary to the church is an opinion with which any Missourian over the age of fifty must be familiar inasmuch as it was widely held for quite some time.

It is not to denigrate these auxiliary organizations to respect the opinion of those CTS professors who wanted the Supper to be identified with the local Christian congregation and to receive it there.

Such an opinion might be considered rather quaint these days.  But I would suggest that if we were to refocus on the primacy and necessity of the local Christian congregation where the gospel is purely preached and the sacraments are rightly administered by pastors called and ordained to do these duties and to view other groups as existing for the purpose of assisting the congregation we just might find ourselves more centered in the gospel and less preoccupied by synodical politics.

Title: Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
Post by: Matt on November 24, 2010, 10:57:03 AM
I don't know who's inhabiting the Will Weedon I know from this board, but all of your lines of argumentation seem truncated and abridged versions of you.  What's up with that?  

Your response to RDPreus wasn't that at all, but a bow toward staying away.

Pr. Kirchner,

My opinion is that quotes like the above are a bit hostile and personal given the polite and fraternal tone that usually characterizes these discussions. Perhaps your opinion differs. I don't see the logical error.

I suppose we all have the right to ask hypothetical questions in order to get the other side to clarify its position. If I misunderstand Dr. Benke's arguments, I apologize. I think you sometimes play the "straw man" card and don't engage the substance of what someone else is saying. I thought the way Dr. Benke posed his hypothetical was a bit rough. But whatever, were all big boys here and both Prs. Weedon and Benke can defend themselves just fine without our help!

Back to the point, I pose a couple of questions that I do not intend as leading questions. I'm honestly seeking information. I think we all agree that refraining from communion can be sinful in at least some situations.

Under what circumstances is it okay for a layperson to sit out communion in their own congregation?

Under what circumstances is it okay for a pastor to sit out communion in a gathering of pastors?

Is it ever a good idea for the presiding pastor at a gathering of pastors to NOT have communion so that tensions are not exacerbated?

Finally, if we are saying that not taking communion is a sinful form of self excommunication, does it then follow that the supper is mandatory for those [LCMS members or pastors] in attendance?

I'll be happy to answer whatever questions you want to put to me to clarify my position. Thank you!
Title: Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
Post by: Matt on November 24, 2010, 11:10:05 AM
Pr. Preus,

Would these old professors have advocated weekly communion in their home parishes?

My understanding is that early in the 20th century, quarterly communion was the norm in the LCMS. The synod gradually came to value more frequent communion to the point that the norm is now weekly or bi-weekly (with exceptions to be found in both eras, I'm sure).

I know some older Lutherans who object to weekly communion. Might your old professors have held an opinion that communion could be TOO frequent?

I'm guessing from your name that you have a pretty good grounding in LCMS history!  :D
Title: Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
Post by: Scott6 on November 24, 2010, 11:17:08 AM
The Lord’s Supper is gospel.  It is not law. 

The ministry of preaching the gospel and administering the sacraments was instituted that we may obtain the faith through which we are justified by God.  This ministry and the church go together.  To regard the proper form of this church as the local, identifiable, Christian congregation and to regard all other gatherings such as Winkels, Pastoral Conferences, seminaries, colleges, conventions, youth groups, ladies aides, etc., as auxiliary to the church is an opinion with which any Missourian over the age of fifty must be familiar inasmuch as it was widely held for quite some time.

It is not to denigrate these auxiliary organizations to respect the opinion of those CTS professors who wanted the Supper to be identified with the local Christian congregation and to receive it there.

Such an opinion might be considered rather quaint these days.  But I would suggest that if we were to refocus on the primacy and necessity of the local Christian congregation where the gospel is purely preached and the sacraments are rightly administered by pastors called and ordained to do these duties and to view other groups as existing for the purpose of assisting the congregation we just might find ourselves more centered in the gospel and less preoccupied by synodical politics.

Yes, the Lord's Supper is about the Gospel.  So why would one not want to receive the Gospel whenever it is offered?

Possible reasons not to partake, from what you said, seem to me to include: a) what is offered at what you call "auxiliary organizations" is not the Lord's Supper, so it would be improper to take it; b) one decides not to partake in order to make a statement regarding a particular polity; c) one decides not to partake because a pastor partakes or presides whom one deems to be engaged in sinful behavior by his confession of false doctrine (OK, you didn't say this one, but it has appeared upstream); or d) something else.

Thoughts?
Title: Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
Post by: Dave Benke on November 24, 2010, 11:21:55 AM
Of course, RDPreus; agreed completely.  The Main Course, so to speak, is at the Axis Mundi, the local altar where the Heavenly Banquet is celebrated and connects us through time and space with those here on earth and the angels, archangels and all the company of heaven.  The Lord's Supper is the Gospel.  

And for that reason, SW's comment that "there is no justification" for the celebration of the Meal in places other than local congregations seems to me illustrative of the problem.  The Gospel IS justification (a little pun there), and since it is authorized among us at gatherings other than those in the parish setting, why not receive it?  As they say in New York, "It couldn't hoit."  

Dave Benke
Title: Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
Post by: Matt Staneck on November 24, 2010, 11:26:17 AM
To me this is a catholicity issue.  I'm Missouri because I'm Evangelical because I'm catholic.  If someone has beef with a brother, then it probably is appropriate to refrain from eating and drinking at the table because of that standing beef.  To me that seems like a well and good idea.  Though I would hope that particular beef was being expressed and shared in a Christian manner.

What I find less convincing is the idea of Church only on the local level.  I understand this is Missourian, this is Waltherian.  But to me it is a little too much denominationalism, and a little too less universal church.  I think there is conversation to be had on this point.  I respect and understand the Waltherian model, and even those who hold to it (fully expecting to be called to task on this).  But I would definitely like to see a part of this Koinonia a conversation on the Eucharist, and Eucharistic practices beyond the open/close(d) communion debate.  That is certainly an appropriate debate to have.  But I think we would do better to see ourselves as not just Missouri, not just in America, but the global, universal church.  Being a Christian comes with a history, a real history, and we have had those gone before us in the Church Catholic who understand things differently.  Not that we do not do that already, we surely do.  But anytime stuff like this comes up I read into it a lot of Missouri territorial stuff.  Being territorial isn't necessarily all that bad.  But I don't want to give less credit/understanding/looks at the historic Christian Church's practice of Holy Communion because we're Missouri, and we're Waltherian.  

I say all this as on the local level, at my home congregation, I encourage a fuller understanding of church as global/universal/historical to our college students and young career types.  "You need to be in worship.  That is where God's gifts are for you! And that celebration connects us to a rich global and historical level."  Is that law?  Maybe initially, but the Gospel spoken in absolution, in the sermon, and at the Sacrament of the Altar take care of my law giving.  Thanks be to God.

M. Staneck
Title: Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
Post by: Karl Hess on November 24, 2010, 11:33:41 AM
Excommunication is God's judgment declaring you to be damned.

Wow. I have never heard or read that definition of excommunication before. In fact, it is excommunication that is intended to be temporary. I.e., the purpose for excommunication is to bring one to repentance.

Your position appears to be a confusion between the krima and the katakrima. Again, to withhold the Supper from one is, by defintion, excommunication.

See Pr. Weedon's comment on SA III, ix:

http://bookofconcord.blogspot.com/2009/03/round-table-42-excommunication-sa-iiiix.html

Yes, of course that is the point of excommunication.  You argue uncharitably and quibble about words.  When God through the pastor says, "Your sins are not forgiven," do you deny that God is pronouncing you damned unless you repent?  That's what I'm saying.

Suspension from the altar is not excommunication.  Have you ever read Walther's Essay on Closed Communion?  He argues there that we are not excommunicating those who are not allowed to the altar because they hold a different confession.  Which is really important, because if we're excommunicating the whole rest of the church by denying them communion, that is not good at all.  Excommunication is the binding key of the law, proclaiming to an unrepentant sinner that they will not inherit the kingdom of God.  Suspension from the Lord's table is an attempt to prevent an erring Christian from injuring him or herself while giving them time to repent.
Title: Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
Post by: Karl Hess on November 24, 2010, 11:36:51 AM

Pr. Kirchner brought up Pr. Benke and Yankee Stadium.  He is right that the LCMS has closed the book on that.  I would argue that anyone who thinks that the LCMS acted wrongly in that situation especially to the point of refusing to commune Pr. Benke or those who think the LCMS acted rightly should seriously consider leaving the LCMS to go independent or join another church body.

Mike

The problem with that is, you'd be suggesting that all the founders of the Missouri Synod leave. 
Title: Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
Post by: swbohler on November 24, 2010, 11:51:22 AM
It is BOTH sides in that dispute that continue to bring up Yankee Stadium.  How often has Dr. Benke done so here?  I admit that I have done so at times too.  That hints to me that neither side is convinced that the end result was proper and God-pleasing: that either the charges of sin in violating the Second Commandment needed to be shown false, or there needed to be repentance for that sin (or, I suppose, removal from the clergy roster if repentance was not possible).  The actual outcome (that Dr. Benke had permission from President Kieschnick) seems to have satisfied no one.
Title: Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
Post by: Donald_Kirchner on November 24, 2010, 11:56:36 AM
Rev. Kirchner,

...  I do not think any of these professors would have said anything like what you have attributed to them ("communion too often denied the efficacy of the Supper").

Perhaps not. I don't know. That's why I never attributed it to them.
Title: Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
Post by: Karl Hess on November 24, 2010, 11:59:32 AM
It is BOTH sides in that dispute that continue to bring up Yankee Stadium.  How often has Dr. Benke done so here?  I admit that I have done so at times too.  That hints to me that neither side is convinced that the end result was proper and God-pleasing: that either the charges of sin in violating the Second Commandment needed to be shown false, or there needed to be repentance for that sin (or, I suppose, removal from the clergy roster if repentance was not possible).  The actual outcome (that Dr. Benke had permission from President Kieschnick) seems to have satisfied no one.

For obvious reasons.  We are Lutherans.  We are not bound by human regulations, nor justified by them.  I remember Prof. Kurt Marquart making this point frequently in class the year before he died.  But even in this discussion, we continually make reference to what the Synod has decided, what we have agreed to, etc.  Frankly, I don't care what the Missouri Synod decides anymore than I care what the ELCA decides, and probably even less than what the Pope decides. 

I don't even care what the church catholic decides, unless we are talking about the little flock of Christ, which is always a remnant within the institutional church, rather than coextensive with it. 
Title: Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
Post by: Matt on November 24, 2010, 12:09:15 PM
It looks like everybody in this thread is LCMS, more or less. So I acknowledge that we are all catholic, all evangelical and all congregational in the Waltherian sense of the word.

We all confess the Real Presence, we all believe in frequent communion, we all believe in the vertical and horizontal relationships created and confessed in the Sacrament. Some of us have some slightly different values but there is no point in arguing over common ground.

So I would state the following as statements of what I believe, for comment and debate:

1) All Lutherans should commune with other Lutherans frequently. By its nature, communion is a communal sacrament.

2) The definition of "frequently" is left to the individual. Therefore a Christian has the right to "sit out" communion any time it is given, for any reason.

3) Christians should put the best construction on the actions of others. One should not assume that he knows why a brother is not communing when he sees this.

4) It is acceptable to sit out communion in order to avoid communing with someone with whom you have a serious unresolved conflict but only if an urgent and sincere effort is made to heal the rift. This is not acceptable as a permanent state of affairs.

5) It is acceptable to sit out communion because of a belief that communion is best received only in one's home congregation

6) Communion is permitted, but not required, at synodical events involving many pastors. It may be loving and prudent for the presiding pastor to not celebrate communion at an event because he knows of serious unresolved conflict in the room. He should make every effort to resolve the conflict.

7) It is not acceptable to break communion fellowship with groups, factions, individuals or cliques in the Synod unless one is acting under proper Synodical authority.

8) Groups who cannot in good conscience commune with other individuals or groups in the Synod must seek urgent reconciliation. If such is not possible, they should withdraw from the church body and formally break fellowship. They should not be condemned as sectarian for doing so, unless they are teaching false doctrine.

9) It is not acceptable for an individual to withdraw from communion fellowship as a protest, display or example.

10) It is not acceptable to perform the eucharist when the presiding pastor is aware that there is serious division among the communicants, and is thus using communion to identify or mark cliques or factions; or to pressure people to the supper against their consciences.
Title: Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
Post by: RDPreus on November 24, 2010, 12:11:32 PM
Matthew:

“Would these old professors have advocated weekly communion in their home parishes?”

I doubt it, but maybe.

“I know some older Lutherans who object to weekly communion. Might your old professors have held an opinion that communion could be TOO frequent?”

I don’t know.  It never came up.  I suspect they would have been open to the arguments that have led to weekly Communion.


Scott:

“Possible reasons not to partake, from what you said, seem to me to include: a) what is offered at what you call "auxiliary organizations" is not the Lord's Supper, so it would be improper to take it;”

I know of no one who would say that it is not the Lord’s Supper.

“b) one decides not to partake in order to make a statement regarding a particular polity;”

I don’t think that’s it.  One isn’t making any statement at all.

“c) one decides not to partake because a pastor partakes or presides whom one deems to be engaged in sinful behavior by his confession of false doctrine (OK, you didn't say this one, but it has appeared upstream);”

It’s obvious that that’s the reason some in the LCMS have not communed at conventions and conferences.  What I’m saying is that other reasons exist.

Say, could somebody tell me how to put that neat blue box around another guy’s words?  Thanks!

Title: Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
Post by: ptmccain on November 24, 2010, 12:15:22 PM
Just curious....RD...which one of the extended Preus family are you?

Title: Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
Post by: RDPreus on November 24, 2010, 12:18:44 PM
I'm Rolf David Preus, son of Robert David Preus.
Title: Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
Post by: pr dtp on November 24, 2010, 12:23:50 PM
Excommunication is God's judgment declaring you to be damned.

Wow. I have never heard or read that definition of excommunication before. In fact, it is excommunication that is intended to be temporary. I.e., the purpose for excommunication is to bring one to repentance.

Your position appears to be a confusion between the krima and the katakrima. Again, to withhold the Supper from one is, by defintion, excommunication.

See Pr. Weedon's comment on SA III, ix:

http://bookofconcord.blogspot.com/2009/03/round-table-42-excommunication-sa-iiiix.html

Yes, of course that is the point of excommunication.  You argue uncharitably and quibble about words.  When God through the pastor says, "Your sins are not forgiven," do you deny that God is pronouncing you damned unless you repent?  That's what I'm saying.

Suspension from the altar is not excommunication.  Have you ever read Walther's Essay on Closed Communion?  He argues there that we are not excommunicating those who are not allowed to the altar because they hold a different confession.  Which is really important, because if we're excommunicating the whole rest of the church by denying them communion, that is not good at all.  Excommunication is the binding key of the law, proclaiming to an unrepentant sinner that they will not inherit the kingdom of God.  Suspension from the Lord's table is an attempt to prevent an erring Christian from injuring him or herself while giving them time to repent.

Suspension from the altar , in view of a doctrinal issue wherein you calim that the issue breaks communion IS excommunication.

Remember - the thread is about those who exclude themselves from communication and the fellowship of their brothers in Chirst because of doctrine and practice issues.

NOT ANY OTHER REASON!

And that is the concern - when the supper is used politically, and as a weapon to divide. That is not a proper use of the Law.

It concerns me that some continue to such a use of the  Law applied here, when they are backing those who don't just use Koinonia of Christ as Law, but as a weapon, to continue to injure the body. Self-excommunication is only an application of the Law - and after 10 or 20 years can't be said to be simply "temporary" , especially when the one applying it says there is no hope of reconciliation.  

So the basic question - when one excludes themselves from Koinonia - does that mean that they don't have a voice in koinonia?  

I would respectfully suggest that it is a matter of whether I respect their decision or not.  If I do not take their self-excommunication seriously, I embrace them as a brother with open arms, negating their decision to treat my brothers as publicans and sinners.



Title: Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
Post by: Matt on November 24, 2010, 12:23:53 PM
Say, could somebody tell me how to put that neat blue box around another guy’s words?  Thanks!

Press the quote button above the post you want to quote. You will see a html tag in brackets at the beginning and end of the entire quoted post. Delete everything you don't want to quote, but make sure you don't delete the bracketed html tags. Type your own comments below the /quote tag.

Welcome to the conversation, RD!
Title: Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
Post by: swbohler on November 24, 2010, 12:25:55 PM
Sorry for misreading you, Rev. Kirchner.  I took your statement ("As stated in the opening post, no one is to be forced to commune. As Rolf's anecdote stated, they had the Sacrament at Fort Wayne, and some profs did not commune. Okay. Whether their reason was that the 'better' way was to take communion in the local congregation only, or whether their reason was that taking communion too often denied the efficacy of the Supper- it was supposed to last, or some other personal reason, okay. The point was that it was offered for those who wished to eat the Lord's body and drink His blood for the forgiveness of sins.") to mean that you understood the reason(s) these men did not take communion in chapel to be the things you listed, not just hypothetical reasons that were not connected to the professors mentioned by Rev. Preus.  My mistake.

Title: Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
Post by: Donald_Kirchner on November 24, 2010, 12:29:40 PM
Yes, Pr. Bohler, they were only hypothetical possibilities. There could have been various personal reasons why they did not commune and, in the end, it makes no difference.

No harm done.  :)
Title: Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
Post by: swbohler on November 24, 2010, 12:30:31 PM
J & S,

If a pastor declines communion at gatherings like conferences because he feels that such practice is improper (that the Sacrament is being divorced from the congregational setting he believes is proper) would you see that as excommunication (or self-excommunication or whatever other term is being used here)?
Title: Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
Post by: Donald_Kirchner on November 24, 2010, 12:37:35 PM
The actual outcome (that Dr. Benke had permission from President Kieschnick) seems to have satisfied no one.

Sometimes that's the way the cookie crumbles.  In fact, in the legal world, a judge often will tell the parties that, if they cannot resolve the case between themselves, the judge will make the decision, and chances are that neither side will be satisfied.

The Synodical determination has been made, we put it behind us, and we move on. IOW, President Benke is a member of the LC-MS in good standing, and he should not be denied the Lord's Supper at a congregation in which he is in fellowship due to any issue which has been determined by Synod.
Title: Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
Post by: Dave Benke on November 24, 2010, 12:39:03 PM
Is this then the Rolf David Preus who served at one time at St. John's Lutheran Church in Racine, WI?  That's the church of my heritage; my mom was born in the parsonage and when she died this past summer a painting of the parsonage on Main Street that she possessed was taken by (I believe) my brother Bob.  If you're the Rolf Preus who shepherded there, then you filled the parsonage in the way my mom, one of twelve children, filled it in an earlier time.

Dave Benke
Title: Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
Post by: Donald_Kirchner on November 24, 2010, 12:43:28 PM
You argue uncharitably and quibble about words.  When God through the pastor says, "Your sins are not forgiven," do you deny that God is pronouncing you damned unless you repent?  That's what I'm saying.

Oh, please. It's always a good idea to write or say what you mean.

So, excommunication is a conditional situation. That's much better than the unconditional "Excommunication is God's judgment declaring you to be damned." That would be the krima- katakrima distinction. A krima can lead to a katakrima, but a krima is not a katakrima, thanks be to God. And that's why the KJV incorrect translation of 1 Cor 11:29 (corrected in the NKJV) has misled so many.

But, you continue to state: "Suspension from the altar is not excommunication."

Yes, it is, by definition.
Title: Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
Post by: LCMS87 on November 24, 2010, 12:47:34 PM
Of course, RDPreus; agreed completely.  The Main Course, so to speak, is at the Axis Mundi, the local altar where the Heavenly Banquet is celebrated and connects us through time and space with those here on earth and the angels, archangels and all the company of heaven.  The Lord's Supper is the Gospel.  

And for that reason, SW's comment that "there is no justification" for the celebration of the Meal in places other than local congregations seems to me illustrative of the problem.  The Gospel IS justification (a little pun there), and since it is authorized among us at gatherings other than those in the parish setting, why not receive it?  As they say in New York, "It couldn't hoit."  

Dave Benke

Reverend President,

RDPreus' post concerning the response of some professors to the initiation of the celebration of Holy Communion at Ft. Wayne is a concern with which I was familiar in other circumstances.  

As far as I can remember, the Divine Service was never celebrated at the Lutheran High School I attended.  I don't know that I ever asked why.  

At the Concordia College I attended, the Lord's Supper was not celebrated regularly, and when it was--perhaps quarterly--the point was made that it was being sponsored by a local congregation, whose pastor was ordinarily the celebrant.  The question why there was not a regular celebration of the Lord's Supper on campus was asked, the answer was given that the college was not a congregation and therefore it was not given to be done.  The very clear teaching was that auxiliary concept RDPreus identified above.  This was the official position of the college, supported publicly by all the ordained members of the faculty I ever heard from.  (Being a college campus, they  weren't the most conservative pastors around.  Indeed, various of them came in for scolding in Christian News on various occasions.  Perhaps some professors had reservations about this teaching, but they didn't raise them publicly)

When I attended the seminary, there was a weekly celebration of the eucharist, but always with a local "sponsoring congregation" whose pastor was celebrant at the first chapel with the Divine Service each year.  Once again, the explicit reason was that the seminary was not a congregation and therefore it wasn't given to them to celebrate the Supper apart from sponsorship by a local congregation.

Within the last decade, when my circuit was leading the Divine Service at a District Pastors' Conference, one of the brothers approached me to explain that he would not be communing at the service.  He wanted me to understand that his refraining from participating was a matter of conscience for him because he felt that it is given to the congregation to celebrate the Supper.  He explicitly did not want us to misunderstand his refraining as having to do with our doctrine or practice as if he was unwilling to join us at the Lord's Table.  (I might note that he grew up in the ALC.)  When he hosts a circuit winkel, he celebrates the Supper, but the service is listed as a special service of the congregation which all members of the congregation are invited to attend.

All this as background to ask what you mean when you say, "[the Supper] is authorized among us at gatherings other than those in the parish setting."  When was it authorized?  By whom?  I'm not that old, and I clearly remember being taught by those the synod authorized to teach in her colleges and seminaries that it was not authorized among us except with (the sometimes seeming fig-leaf of) a sponsoring congregation.

Again, for the record, I regularly commune at district gatherings and am troubled by the "selective fellowship" some brothers--I still consider them brothers--practice.  I think, however, that they should be welcomed at the Koinonia meetings, which I don't believe need to begin with celebration of the Lord's Supper.  (I don't think any member of the LCMS in good standing should be excluded from the Koinonia discussions because for some reason they choose not to participate in an opening communion service.  If that's a straw man, so be it.  If there's a problem, then deal with the problem--including putting them under discipline if that's necessary--but if they're not under discipline they should be welcome to participate in the doctrinal discussions.)  Unfortunately, I fear some of these brothers will, as the Koinonia process goes on, determine that they cannot remain in fellowship with the LCMS.  It may be that's unavoidable, but I don't want to push that issue before the discussions are well underway.
Title: Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
Post by: Donald_Kirchner on November 24, 2010, 12:55:34 PM
Again, for the record, I regularly commune at district gatherings and am troubled by the "selective fellowship" some brothers--I still consider them brothers--practice.  I think, however, that they should be welcomed at the Koinonia meetings, which I don't believe need to begin with celebration of the Lord's Supper.  (I don't think any member of the LCMS in good standing should be excluded from the Koinonia discussions because for some reason they choose not to participate in an opening communion service.  If that's a straw man, so be it.  If there's a problem, then deal with the problem--including putting them under discipline if that's necessary--but if they're not under discipline they should be welcome to participate in the doctrinal discussions.)  Unfortunately, I fear some of these brothers will, as the Koinonia process goes on, determine that they cannot remain in fellowship with the LCMS.  It may be that's unavoidable, but I don't want to push that issue before the discussions are well underway.

Well stated.
Title: Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
Post by: Dave Benke on November 24, 2010, 01:06:13 PM
Good and thorough comment, '87, referencing the policy that is in place.  Certainly as long as I've been in these parts the Eucharist has been celebrated at Winkels and Pastoral Conferences.  The Winkel is already at a parish (under most circumstances).  One of the best host congregations was Fr. Peters' Resurrection, Cairo, at Pastoral Conferences back in the day.   I believe that connection to a congregation is still pretty much the norm.  I know it is here and at the Concordia that's near here, which is directly across the street from an LCMS parish.  

The offshoot is therefore what I find troubling.  If a congregation IS sponsoring the pastoral conference Eucharist, and the brother still doesn't come, which I'm taking it is what happened in the instance you mention, then in my opinion the brother has gone a step too far.  Holy Communion can be administered and received in trans-parish settings.  If and as the policy is to allow sponsoring congregations the right to sponsor the celebration of the Eucharist at the seminary or at a college or in other locations, what's the problem with that?  

The upshot, of course, is that the next conversation is about the validity of the Divine Calls of those who are ordained but don't serve or don't have a parish.  Which I find most unfortunate.  When RDPreus speaks of the old guys, I'm thinking of my Latin profs, my English profs, my Philosophy profs, the guys who assisted me in learning how to think, none of whom (in the ones I'm recollecting) had a parish call, all of whom had a Divine Call to serve at their institutions, and all of whom were passionate certainly about the ministry of the Gospel, but were all extraordinarily passionate about Latin, and Russian history, and Hemingway vs. Shakespeare, and Aristotle v. Plato, and all the things that allowed at least one young brain in formation to bounce ideas around in his head without coming to a foregone advanced conclusion.  This was taught to my by pastors of the Church without parishes.  Were their Calls invalid because they didn't have a parish, or because they didn't teach religion?  They didn't seem to think so then, back in the 50s, 60s and 70s.  I think the difference was the Doctrine of Church and Ministry was more expansive.

Dave Benke
Title: Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
Post by: RDPreus on November 24, 2010, 01:11:00 PM
Is this then the Rolf David Preus who served at one time at St. John's Lutheran Church in Racine, WI?  That's the church of my heritage; my mom was born in the parsonage and when she died this past summer a painting of the parsonage on Main Street that she possessed was taken by (I believe) my brother Bob.  If you're the Rolf Preus who shepherded there, then you filled the parsonage in the way my mom, one of twelve children, filled it in an earlier time.

Dave Benke

I remember meeting you briefly at your Uncle Jack Boerger's funeral.  Perhaps you didn't know who I was since I was wearing a clerical collar!  :)

Your grandpa, Pr. Boerger, who served at St. John's during most of the first half of the twentieth century, was a very much loved man.  I will never forget the heart-warming stories my shut-ins told me about him.  He gave away his winter coat to a homeless man who needed a coat.  He gave money to the wife of an alcoholic because he knew her husband was drinking away the money she needed for groceries for the family.  He showed a true pastor's heart.  All pastors hear stories of affection toward pastors who have gone before, but your grandfather stands out.  I wish I could have met him.
Title: Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
Post by: Matt on November 24, 2010, 01:17:29 PM
In the example that '87 gives, I take it that this pastor refrained from the supper as a matter of principle. It appears he went out of his way to explain ahead of time that he was not making a protest statement or expressing a beef with the host pastor or anyone else.

How is this going a step too far? If he doesn't want to commune, he doesn't commune. We respect this freedom in our congregations. This pastor goes out of his way to ensure that his action is not misinterpreted and does not give offense. That is certainly the right thing to do.
Title: Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
Post by: Karl Hess on November 24, 2010, 01:33:20 PM
You argue uncharitably and quibble about words.  When God through the pastor says, "Your sins are not forgiven," do you deny that God is pronouncing you damned unless you repent?  That's what I'm saying.

Oh, please. It's always a good idea to write or say what you mean.

So, excommunication is a conditional situation. That's much better than the unconditional "Excommunication is God's judgment declaring you to be damned." That would be the krima- katakrima distinction. A krima can lead to a katakrima, but a krima is not a katakrima, thanks be to God. And that's why the KJV incorrect translation of 1 Cor 11:29 (corrected in the NKJV) has misled so many.

But, you continue to state: "Suspension from the altar is not excommunication."

Yes, it is, by definition.

No, when you excommunicate someone you are telling them they are damned.  It's kind of like when you absolve someone you're telling them they are saved.  That is why it is the binding key of the law. 

What does your constitution say about excommunication?  How is it carried out?  You should know what I'm talking about, because this is the practice of the Missouri Synod.  You're quibbling about words because, I guess, you realize that there is a distinction between using the key of excommunication and temporarily suspending someone from the Sacrament.  Just as in the same way there is a difference between temporarily suspending a pastor from your altar or refusing to commune at synodical gatherings and excommunicating yourself or the rest of the synod.

No, suspension from the altar is not excommunication, in the sense that someone is being bound in their sins and declared not a Christian.
Title: Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
Post by: Weedon on November 24, 2010, 01:40:45 PM
Wow.  Gone for a morning and the conversation goes viral.  A couple things:

Pr. Kirchner - please state where responses have been ambiguous so I can clarify anything that wasn't clear.

Mr. Jamison - thanks so much for understanding what I was trying to do.

J&S - a weapon?  Please explain how that is explaining your neighbor's actions in the kindest way.  Among the folks I know who have trouble communing at the District gatherings, they are by no means using it as a weapon.  They do not make a display or point.  They simply and quietly avoid the Communion service and do so out of qualms of conscience.  It is not at all that they are trying to hurt anyone by their action; they're simply not sure what else they ought to do.
Title: Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
Post by: Dave Benke on November 24, 2010, 01:44:14 PM
There it is - that was you!  Jack's son Danny is the one who had the drawing/painting of the parsonage on Main Street done.  We're having (we think) a major reunion next fall.  You may then know that one of my cousins, Vivian (nee Pfotenhauer), and her husband and family are members of, if I'm right here, your brother-in-law Steve Briel's parish in Maple Grove, MN.  Blessed Thanksgiving to you and your extended and extensive family!

Matt, I'm saying that if the matter of principle extends to no offering of Holy Communion anywhere than a local altar, even under parish sponsorship, then I'm not clear on what the principle is.  To me it's a step too far.  There can be no principle that dis-allows a parish from offering the Eucharist outside the structure of that parish's building and/or regularly published schedule of services.  That's too restrictive. How does that square with Scripture and Confessions?

Dave Benke
Title: Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
Post by: LCMS87 on November 24, 2010, 01:46:26 PM
In the example that '87 gives, I take it that this pastor refrained from the supper as a matter of principle. It appears he went out of his way to explain ahead of time that he was not making a protest statement or expressing a beef with the host pastor or anyone else.

How is this going a step too far? If he doesn't want to commune, he doesn't commune. We respect this freedom in our congregations. This pastor goes out of his way to ensure that his action is not misinterpreted and does not give offense. That is certainly the right thing to do.

Mr. Jamison,

I have a busy afternoon, so can't provide an appropriate reply at this point.  Suffice it for now to say that I understand what Pr. Benke means and that the devil is in the details--which I didn't include in my post.  I'll get back to it eventually, perhaps tomorrow.

Blessings on your celebration of Thanksgiving.
Title: Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
Post by: Charles_Austin on November 24, 2010, 03:12:20 PM
Restricting the sacrament to "sponsorship" of a congregation alone seems to be one of the most draconian steps ever taken by those who wish to exert ultra-conservative control over what belongs to the Church as "C"hurch.
    But of course, what can you expect from a denomination that has made a long long career or ripping people up over such things, bringing its leading theologians (the "44", Concordia-St. Louis Professors) to the guillotine, and letting each individual pastor decide for himself who he deigns to be worthy to kneel beside him at the altar rail.
    Such actions are a profound embarrassment to all decent Lutheran.....
    Oh! Wait! Stop! I let my guard down and a spirit of ptmccain took over my keyboard. I think I have now killed that intrusive spirit deader than Dobbie the House Elf at the close of the most recent Harry Potter movie.
    My apologies to all.  ;) Not.
Title: Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
Post by: Donald_Kirchner on November 24, 2010, 03:38:00 PM
Pr. Kirchner - please state where responses have been ambiguous so I can clarify anything that wasn't clear.

Oh, I don't know, it's hard to say.   ;)

Things like your response to Rev. Slusser's sense that the selective fellowship practiced by some within the Synod and then enter into dialog in order to again be in fellowship is akin to two denominations discussing fellowship, and his conclusion that the selective fellowship behavior is schismatic:

"Father, yes, it is right next door to schism. But the fact that they have not officially broken fellowship..."

What does that mean?  Again, is it like being kinda pregnant? Such behavior certainly creates division within the fellowship, i.e., schism. The LC-MS certainly acknowledges the danger of schismatic behavior within the Synod without having officially broken fellowship. See Art. 3, 1 of the Constitution and the objectives:

...provide a united defense against schism, sectarianism (Rom. 16:17), and heresy..."

Things like that. It's no big deal. Just my observation.
Title: Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
Post by: Weedon on November 24, 2010, 03:45:46 PM
Okay, but that was not my ambiguity; it's theirs.  And they are well aware of it.  The contradictory nature of it, I mean.  That's why "impaired fellowship" seems the best word to describe it.  Inverse selective fellowship might also work.  In any case, as long as we are all agreed that they are welcome to sit down and share their concerns with us, I'm cool. 
Title: Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
Post by: Timotheus Verinus on November 24, 2010, 03:54:04 PM
Restricting the sacrament to "sponsorship" of a congregation alone seems to be one of the most draconian steps ever taken by those who wish to exert ultra-conservative control over what belongs to the Church as "C"hurch.
    But of course, what can you expect from a denomination that has made a long long career or ripping people up over such things, bringing its leading theologians (the "44", Concordia-St. Louis Professors) to the guillotine, and letting each individual pastor decide for himself who he deigns to be worthy to kneel beside him at the altar rail.
    Such actions are a profound embarrassment to all decent Lutheran.....
    Oh! Wait! Stop! I let my guard down and a spirit of ptmccain took over my keyboard. I think I have now killed that intrusive spirit deader than Dobbie the House Elf at the close of the most recent Harry Potter movie.
    My apologies to all.  ;) Not.

Charles,

I am going to bet you miss the subtleties here, such as those Pr. W and J&S are trying to work out.

Let's leave this as a defense of how the serious discussions hit the street.

Even not being in LCMS any more, I in another body am welcome by Pr. Benke, J&S, and mainstream Missouri. I am certain Pr. Weedon and I could join at the table. I'll go a step further, even being from more restrictive environments than the conservative LCMS quarters, I would certainly be willing to sit with Rolf for a few hours, which I imagine we would do anyway if we found ourselves together, and imagine it is not impossible that on such talks, I might even commune at his church... Seeing as his son and I were taught in some degree by the same  school, and teachers. Rolf can speak to that, he knows me from the net. ELCA tables  become seriously problematic, and more reflective of draconian ripping. At least Rolf, Richard et al and I speak the same vocabulary, and understand the problems we're talking about.

Now! ... Keep in mind I probably engage ELCA pastors and people as much as any confessional/traditional pastor here. No, your cries from the left fence calling for unity is more than a stretch. What you have torn is quite severe. The ground you stand on is not even close to Unity. Draconian actions are everywhere evident.

No, I think you are constructing a straw man to attack. Here's a match, burn that scare crow! The conversation is ultimately a serious one about serious matters .... something I haven't seen too much in formal ELCA gatherings, ... to my dismay as many ELCA friends and pastors here lament.

I will say this, trying to keep any joint ministries focused, is more than challenging, as one outside, watching the debates. But there is a difference between the ELCA meanderings, and the most energetic Missouri discussions. Really. Your high ground is below sea level my friend.

TV
Title: Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
Post by: Donald_Kirchner on November 24, 2010, 03:56:40 PM
Pr. Weedon,

Is this "inverse" selective fellowship schismatic behavior or is it not? It creates division. So, what is "right next door to schism"?

I agree. It's cool, for I am not aware that anyone has suggested that they are not welcome to sit down and share their concerns, no matter how many times you voice a concern about it.

Rest easy, Pastor. Some of those folks are my brothers and friends too. Except for the one who has "disdain" for members of our flocks who refuse to get involved in the issues voiced in the ACELC agenda or the ACELC signed supporter who calls brothers and sisters in Christ with whom he disagrees on worship "cockroaches." They're not my friends. But they are still welcome at the discussion table.
Title: Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
Post by: Dave Benke on November 24, 2010, 03:57:47 PM
The Waltherian mode is indeed to have a sponsoring congregation for any eucharistic celebration, Charles.  This goes back to the Transference Theory of the Office of the Ministry/Call.  Which is why I reference the conversation leading toward whether pastors not in parishes have legitimate Divine Calls.  The basic Waltherian viewpoint has in large part indeed been affirmed by the Synod in Convention, most recently in the early 2000s when George Wollenburg was involved in a resolution out of Floor Committee Seven on Structure.  We re-affirmed Walther's Kirche und Amt in that conclave.  New President Harrison is undertaking a new translation of the work, so we'll see how "Kirche" gets translated this time.  In former days, it was normally "congregation," as in "local assembly of believers."  

Pr. W., what is the responsibility of the ecclesiastical supervisors toward those in "impaired fellowship," in your opinion?  Should these men have been placed on "restricted" roster status for their failure to walk together with fellow pastors?   I say "should have been" because I'm thinking now the mode will be to try to get and keep them at the dialogical table alongside another group of pastors with in many cases a lot more parishioners who are practicing contemporary worship and have little interest in table-talk either.  Anyway, should these men who really had gone beyond the bounds of dissent prescribed in the handbook have been dealt with more fervently in the past in your opinion?

Dave Benke
Title: Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
Post by: Weedon on November 24, 2010, 04:13:21 PM
Pr. Kirchner,

Next door to schism is the furthest I'm willing to go because to THEM it is doctrinal matters that are dividing - nothing less.  We may not agree with them that a woman reading a Scripture reading in the Divine Service is a "doctrinal" matter.  But to them it clearly is.  And as Pr. Hess has pointed out, they're in most cases (not all) actually just holding to what WAS the position of the LCMS (at least culturally, if not dogmatically defined) on many of these questions.  

Bishop,

I'm glad that it is for you all to figure that one out.  I am not an ecclesiastical supervisor.  Of course, you know what I'd start with:  if the District President has not visited that pastor's parish, listened to his preaching and teaching, and personally had contact with him, he's not in a very good position to superintend.  Yes, dead horse beating, I'm sure.  But it's huge to me.  I suspect a significant contributor to the current state is District Presidents not actually visiting.
Title: Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
Post by: Donald_Kirchner on November 24, 2010, 04:21:03 PM
So, what is the doctrinal matter that is dividing by which they question whether they should commune with you because you commune at District gatherings?

Anyway, thanks for your followup, Pastor. I guess it must be my confusion as to why your position is not clear to me.

An aside to how some of those who practice such selective fellowship view the magnitude of what they're doing... Do you know a common justification that they give for their actions? "Well, Luther refused to shake hands with Zwingli."  :o
Title: Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
Post by: Dan Fienen on November 24, 2010, 04:39:23 PM
Bishop,

I'm glad that it is for you all to figure that one out.  I am not an ecclesiastical supervisor.  Of course, you know what I'd start with:  if the District President has not visited that pastor's parish, listened to his preaching and teaching, and personally had contact with him, he's not in a very good position to superintend.  Yes, dead horse beating, I'm sure.  But it's huge to me.  I suspect a significant contributor to the current state is District Presidents not actually visiting.
If this is a side track, sorry.  I agree that for District President to be an ecclesiastical supervisor, parish visits are important and observing what actually happens in the parish, preached from the pulpit, etc.  However what I have a hard time understanding is the push also to have District Presidents be pastors actually serving in a parish.  In the average size district, if the DP is to be in every parish each year, or even every other year, how much time would that leave for him to be in his own pulpit, carring for the people he was called to serve?  I just have not figured out how that is supposed to work.

Dan
Title: Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
Post by: swbohler on November 24, 2010, 04:53:41 PM
Now I am confused, Dr. Benke.  Are you suggesting that if a pastor does not commune with other pastors of the synod then he should be suspended?  Isn't that doing what everyone here is saying should never happen -- making the Sacrament a "have to" and a "weapon"?
Title: Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
Post by: ChrisG on November 24, 2010, 05:03:46 PM
A couple things from a layman's perspective:
First, there are times when I travel and visit an LCMS congregation that I might refrain from taking communion.  The first situation would be if the consecration of the elements was carried out by someone who was not regularly called and ordained - such as a vicar or lay minister.  The second situation would be if the communion was open to the point that I knew with certainty that there were non-LCMS members receiving communion (such as my ELCA sister and Episcopal brother-in-law).  I would refrain from receiving communion in these instances not so much out of protest, but more as a matter of conscience (I usually try to research congregations prior to travelling to keep from having to make the choice in the first place). 

Secondly, I have observed that it is possible to have doctrinal divisions within a congregation and yet still have all the members be in good standing with the LCMS.  The church that I am a member at is divided over the issue of women's suffrage in the church.  One-third of the congregation is opposed to it, and two-thirds support it.  We have tried to work through the differences, but it has been to no avail.  My understanding of the synod's bylaws (handbook?) is that members can dissent with the resolution that approved women's suffrage and still remain members in good standing.  So, in a way, our congregation approaches the Lord's table every Sunday with a certain amount of doctrinal division.  It would be better if that were not the case, but that is the reality.

As a side note, it is the policy of our congegation to commune all members of the LCMS that are in good standing, but to deny those in any other denomination that the LCMS is not in fellowship with (be it ELCA, WELS, or ELS).  We are a smaller church, so the elders are able to ask each guest if they are members in good standing with the LCMS.
Title: Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
Post by: Charles_Austin on November 24, 2010, 05:07:43 PM
I can understand (sort of) that ordination for women is a "doctrinal" issue. But is being "divided" on the issue of whether women can vote at congregational meetings a "doctrinal" issue? Really?
Title: Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
Post by: Dave Benke on November 24, 2010, 05:13:55 PM
Your church seems pretty normal to me, Chris - usually the division is over the color of the rugs, but the "dissent" from the vote (in this case, the Synod allows women's suffrage but doesn't mandate it, so in a sense it's like the rug color) is not divisive of the Altar.  

As to DPs visiting and not being parish pastors, visitation can be done if you are both a parish pastor and a DP, but there's delegation on both the parish and district side in terms of duties and activities.  And the district can't possibly be a huge one, either in number or geography.  Northwest, for pete's sake - how huge is that?

As to ecclesiastical supervision, I didn't indicate what should be done, but asked whether indeed something should be done when a pastor is out of fellowship with fellow brothers in the denomination.  What do you think, SW?  Apparently your answer would be "do nothing."  Look at that - that's what I've done to date!  In a sense, someone other than you could say that's derogation of duty.

Time for some serious Thanksgiving Eve stuff now at the old Hacienda in Brooklyn.  Paul McCain, I've posted pictures of the Reservoir where the birds hang out on my Facebook page - you'll see a couple of sparrows with switchblades if you look real close.

Dave Benke
Title: Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
Post by: Weedon on November 24, 2010, 05:21:51 PM
Pastor Fienen,

It would, of course, be impossible for many of the current district configurations.  One of the options on the table that went the way of all flesh was increasing the districts and making them smaller.  That would have allowed for more District Presidents to serve parishes. 
Title: Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
Post by: Richard Johnson on November 24, 2010, 05:46:42 PM
Restricting the sacrament to "sponsorship" of a congregation alone seems to be one of the most draconian steps ever taken by those who wish to exert ultra-conservative control over what belongs to the Church as "C"hurch.
    But of course, what can you expect from a denomination that has made a long long career or ripping people up over such things, bringing its leading theologians (the "44", Concordia-St. Louis Professors) to the guillotine, and letting each individual pastor decide for himself who he deigns to be worthy to kneel beside him at the altar rail.
    Such actions are a profound embarrassment to all decent Lutheran.....
    Oh! Wait! Stop! I let my guard down and a spirit of ptmccain took over my keyboard. I think I have now killed that intrusive spirit deader than Dobbie the House Elf at the close of the most recent Harry Potter movie.
    My apologies to all.  ;) Not.

Utterly inappropriate, Charles. A genuine apology for what one complainer called "jackassery" would be in order.
Title: Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
Post by: pr dtp on November 24, 2010, 05:47:53 PM
J&S,

Your shouting is rude. Your attribution of ugly motives to your opponents is offensive. These boards are being used by Christian adults for serious discussion, please behave accordingly.

And the discussion rightfully centers about which scriptural and confessional principles we should abide by regarding attendance at the Lord's Supper together and how we properly deal with those who chose not to commune. Frankly, I couldn't care less about who you respect and disrespect.

MR. Jamison and Rev. Bohler,

It is rude to hi-jack a discussion by distorting it with continual tangents.  It is more rude when after repeated attempts to call it back on track, people continue to ignore the answers given to their tangent, and disregard them and use the same tangent to again distract from the discussion.

If you look at this conversation- it was started with the intent of discussion those who self-excommunicate with a very specific reason - that they judge their brother so in error that they forgo communing with them.  PERIOD.  This is not just about winkels and district synod gatherings.  It is about anytime that grace is offered and refused, despite a pledge to walk together.

So a simple question - if some of these men, who have bound themselves to their brothers in synod were on vacation, and walked into a LCMS church - do they have the right to forgo the sacrament of the altar based solely on their condemnation of their fellow brothers theology or practice, and that alone.   Or should that brother show up in their church, do they have the right to counter their own confession that we walk together by refusing the table?







Title: Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
Post by: Charles_Austin on November 24, 2010, 05:51:47 PM
Richard writes (re my mockery of a certain "style"):
Utterly inappropriate, Charles. A genuine apology for what one complainer called "jackassery" would be in order.

I respond:
I agree. Completely. (With regard to a certain style of posting, that is.)
Title: Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
Post by: swbohler on November 24, 2010, 05:56:18 PM
J & S,

You wrote: "Remember - the thread is about those who exclude themselves from communication and the fellowship of their brothers in Chirst because of doctrine and practice issues.

NOT ANY OTHER REASON!"

My question about pastors who decline to commune at conferences and the like because of their belief that the Sacrament belongs in the congregation IS a doctrine and practice issue, isn't it?  If not, what you you call it?
Title: Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
Post by: Timotheus Verinus on November 24, 2010, 06:03:21 PM
Pastor Fienen,

It would, of course, be impossible for many of the current district configurations.  One of the options on the table that went the way of all flesh was increasing the districts and making them smaller.  That would have allowed for more District Presidents to serve parishes. 

Now in a district sized body that is nationwide with very large regions, and very familiar with the RM District, these conversations seem wise, but I wonder if it is possible to really understand the challenges.

RM has two congregations 30 miles apart, Buena Vista and Leadville.  For half the year, there are days, and today might one of those, when no one can drive that 30 miles. The alternate route is at best, 100 miles, at 30-45 mph, over 11,000 foot passes, and often 200 miles. There are days when Scott G, 90 miles away can get to Leadville easier, mostly on Interstate. All of this assumes of course a 4W drive vehicle, with chains in the trunk. That's ignoring the church all alone in Utah.The vast majority of RM congregations are in Denver or Colorado Springs. The mountains are 14,000 feet high and it snows there,  ;D Denver is not Salida. Utah is not St Louis.

I'll let PSW speak to Alaska, but you can watch Sarah Palin's show on TLC. There are congregations further apart than NYC and LA. There are not cookie cutter answers to this. But there is God going and serving His people, while the organizational structure tries to understand, what it may never quite grasp. You have to trust God working in the Pastor you sent to that place, and help him as best you can from afar, since you may not even be able to breathe, if you went there! The guy in Leadville (over 10,000 feet altitude) is alone ... a lot !

We (TAALC) use technology, conferencing etc., (recently picked up by LCMS groups) and creative gatherings. It is often cheapest to fly to Vegas from anywhere, if you have to meet in person.  ;D You do what you must.

I am more and more convinced that folks in Lutheran belt districts, simply do not understand the impacts of their "doctrinal" positions. I wonder if they ever can. Come and see, is like a trip to outer space trip that would need to be planned years in advance, and yet LCMS pastors deal with it every day, in blizzards and sunshine. I'm sure Scott would love to see visitors, and would take them to Aspen any time.

Sometimes fellowship of the brethren in physical terms, needs some to recognize the doctrinal realities of "opinions." If you aren't there, you don't have the Call. Try a novel approach and just call and ask, "what can I do to help, since I don't know what you are facing?" You will run out of money and teachers, before pastors run out of responses to that.

TV
Title: Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
Post by: pr dtp on November 24, 2010, 06:15:39 PM
J & S,

You wrote: "Remember - the thread is about those who exclude themselves from communication and the fellowship of their brothers in Chirst because of doctrine and practice issues.

NOT ANY OTHER REASON!"

My question about pastors who decline to commune at conferences and the like because of their belief that the Sacrament belongs in the congregation IS a doctrine and practice issue, isn't it?  If not, what you you call it?

No it is not.  For one, it is an issue that ignores the church catholic position.  For another, it reduces the concept of a congregation to a left hand kingdom organization.

Now that you tangent is dealt with - can you deal with the issue.  Or will you still try to come up with excuses for those who would separate themselves from Koinonia?   The tangents that keep coming up distract from the position - my question to you is - why won't you and others deal with the question honestly, rather than trying to justify behavior by ignoring it?
Title: Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
Post by: swbohler on November 24, 2010, 06:22:38 PM
So, if it is not a question of doctrine and practice, what is it again?  You say it is an "issue which ignores the church catholic position".  That sounds like doctrine AND practice to me.
Title: Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
Post by: Brian Stoffregen on November 24, 2010, 06:22:52 PM
J & S,

You wrote: "Remember - the thread is about those who exclude themselves from communication and the fellowship of their brothers in Chirst because of doctrine and practice issues.

NOT ANY OTHER REASON!"

My question about pastors who decline to commune at conferences and the like because of their belief that the Sacrament belongs in the congregation IS a doctrine and practice issue, isn't it?  If not, what you you call it?

It seems to me that such thinking is backwards. Where the Word is preached and the sacrament is administered, there is the church. The means of grace create the church. The church/congregation does not create the means of grace.

Literally, "congregation," (like the Greek ἐκκλησία) refers to a group of people who gather together. Thus the gathering of folks at a conference, a convention, a retreat, etc., are "congregations". If there is Word and Sacrament, they are also church.
Title: Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
Post by: RDPreus on November 24, 2010, 06:23:45 PM
J & S, how does saying that the Sacrament belongs in the congregation make the congregation a left hand kingdom organization?  I would think that the exact opposite would be the case.
Title: Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
Post by: Dave Benke on November 24, 2010, 06:24:07 PM
Senor Pabo beckons (that's Mr. Turkey to you).  Yes, the conversation about whether it is possible to have the Eucharist even when sponsored by a congregation at a location outside the parish is a dialog about doctrine and practice.  However, this issue has been settled long ago in favor of the option for congregation-sponsored Holy Communion at locations other than that of the sponsoring local parish.  If it's on the Koinonia Project list, it can't be anywhere near the top (one man's opinion).  And my exhortation, as opposed I continue to think to Pr. W., is to encourage and exhort those who have the problem attending to attend in this time of dialog, for comfort, strength, forgiveness and the common union we already share.

Dave Benke
Title: Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
Post by: Weedon on November 24, 2010, 06:27:54 PM
Wow, J&S.  I don't get the anger (at least it is coming across that way).  The Church Catholic position is that the sacrament is given to the baptized who living in repentance confess the faith once delivered to the saints.  The divisions manifesting themselves inside of unsere geliebte Synode  are precisely disputes about what that faith is; some draw the circle bigger, some smaller.  Those who draw it smaller believe that there are no doctrinal divisions to speak of; those who draw it bigger argue that it is indeed differences in doctrine that have caused divisions.  How would one put the best construction on those who confess a larger circle, if you will?  Begin there.  
Title: Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
Post by: FrPeters on November 25, 2010, 11:15:44 AM
Funny how having a woman read a lesson is a doctrinal matter requiring division while congregations and pastors ignoring the Confessional description of weekly Eucharist are not doctrinal matters requiring division... The Confessions never once speak explicitly to the matter of who reads a lesson in a worship service yet explicitly and defensively insist that we keep the Mass with greater frequency of communion and catholic devotion than our opponents... selective fellowship in another form?
Title: Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
Post by: John_Hannah on November 25, 2010, 11:23:53 AM
Funny how having a woman read a lesson is a doctrinal matter requiring division while congregations and pastors ignoring the Confessional description of weekly Eucharist are not doctrinal matters requiring division... The Confessions never once speak explicitly to the matter of who reads a lesson in a worship service yet explicitly and defensively insist that we keep the Mass with greater frequency of communion and catholic devotion than our opponents... selective fellowship in another form?


"Selective confessionalism?" We may need to initiate new jargon?

Peace, JOHN
Title: Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
Post by: Weedon on November 25, 2010, 11:52:12 AM
Amen, Fr. Peters.  Fr. Hannah, I very much like "selective confessionalism" - quite apt.
Title: Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
Post by: Michael Slusser on November 25, 2010, 12:07:32 PM
Amen, Fr. Peters.  Fr. Hannah, I very much like "selective confessionalism" - quite apt.
Is there an emoticon with that?

Meanwhile happy Thanksgiving Day to you all.

Peace,
Michael
Title: Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
Post by: RDPreus on November 25, 2010, 12:10:46 PM
The reason women serving as lectors in the Divine Service is a doctrinal matter is because the Word of God forbids it.  The Word of God does not forbid having a church service on a Sunday without offering the Lord's Supper.
Title: Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
Post by: Charles_Austin on November 25, 2010, 12:20:43 PM
Please remind me of the scriptural passage that says a woman may not read the lessons in a church service.
Title: Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
Post by: RDPreus on November 25, 2010, 12:56:16 PM
God teaches this in these words recorded in 1 Corinthians 14 and in 1 Timothy 2.

As in all the churches of the saints, let your women keep silent in the churches, for they are not permitted to speak; but they are to be submissive, as the law also says.  And if they want to learn something, let them ask their own husbands at home; for it is shameful for women to speak in church.  Or did the word of God come originally from you? Or was it you only that it reached?  If anyone thinks himself to be a prophet or spiritual, let him acknowledge that the things which I write to you are the commandments of the Lord.


Let a woman learn in silence with all submission.  And I do not permit a woman to teach or to have authority over a man, but to be in silence.  For Adam was formed first, then Eve.  And Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived, fell into transgression.    Nevertheless she will be saved in childbearing if they continue in faith, love, and holiness, with self-control.
Title: Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
Post by: Dave Benke on November 25, 2010, 01:19:10 PM
Blessed Thanksgiving to all - this is Community Meal afternoon at our spot on the map, just offering the hospitality of the parish to those from within and without who would either be alone and/or without a meal to eat.  So I've just blessed the food.

Which is Fr. Peters' point - we don't want to be the Church without a Meal to eat.  And it indeed a matter of doctrinal importance.  Rolf, I will diverge from the path of agreement with you when it comes to the service of women in non-ordained positions.  Certainly it is an area of discussion and even dispute among us in Missouri.  And yet the decisions made have consistently referenced that we're not ordaining women to the Office of the Holy Ministry, but allowing for the service of the liaty in lay function.  A recent article by none other than Church Relations head Al Collver in Logia highlights the simple fact that the term laity was used to distinguish between those who were ordained and those who were not.  At the same time, there were in the Church catholic early on all kinds of ordered non-pastoral positions, from acolyte to deacon to lector - add another bunch as you are moved - who could approach the altar and not interfere with the teaching/preaching office or the administration/consecration of the Lord's Meal, which is what is confessionally placed with the pastoral office.  But let the conversation continue.

Dave Benke

Title: Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
Post by: Charles_Austin on November 25, 2010, 01:25:34 PM
And yet, the LCMS does allow women to "speak" in church, to teach Sunday School, vote, read lessons, give announcements. So in your opinion, is this cause for breaking communion fellowship with congregations and pastors and lay people who allow this to happen? Is this the "doctrinal disunity" that reaches that level? Must these practices be stopped before the LCMS has doctrinal unity?
Title: Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
Post by: J.L. Precup on November 25, 2010, 02:34:39 PM
Senor Pabo beckons (that's Mr. Turkey to you).  Yes, the conversation about whether it is possible to have the Eucharist even when sponsored by a congregation at a location outside the parish is a dialog about doctrine and practice.  However, this issue has been settled long ago in favor of the option for congregation-sponsored Holy Communion at locations other than that of the sponsoring local parish.  If it's on the Koinonia Project list, it can't be anywhere near the top (one man's opinion).  And my exhortation, as opposed I continue to think to Pr. W., is to encourage and exhort those who have the problem attending to attend in this time of dialog, for comfort, strength, forgiveness and the common union we already share.

Dave Benke

Oh, wow, Dave.  You even do platt Deutsch in Spanish.  :D  The "b" and "v" in Spanish sound so much alike, but it's really Senor Pavo.  Better, you can use the original Mexica (what the misnamed Aztecs call themselves) word in Nahuatl, thus:  Senor Guajolote.  Now go and enjoy your dia de accion de gracias with a cena muy rica y sabrosa.   ;)  El Senor te bendiga!
Title: Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
Post by: kls on November 25, 2010, 02:50:14 PM
And yet, the LCMS does allow women to "speak" in church, to teach Sunday School, vote, read lessons, give announcements. So in your opinion, is this cause for breaking communion fellowship with congregations and pastors and lay people who allow this to happen? Is this the "doctrinal disunity" that reaches that level? Must these practices be stopped before the LCMS has doctrinal unity?

Yes, the influence of feminism has hit the LCMS, too.  I personally believe this is one area that needs to be addressed before the LCMS has doctrinal unity.  Our church body is as prone to liberal influences and Satan's attacks as yours.  There are more women than many might suspect who willingly subscribe to the verses put forth above and accept that women are not to speak within the church service for reasons that God has determined.  We do qualify "speaking" as doing so within the worship service rather than the more general notion of within the church at all.  It's really not the bad gig for women that some would try to make it seem.   ;)
Title: Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
Post by: swbohler on November 25, 2010, 03:05:17 PM
I know where the Confessions speak of "our churches" having the Sacrament each Lord's Day, but I am not aware that this is to be considered necessary.  The Confessions also say that we use vestments and candles -- are these also now required too?
Title: Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
Post by: ptmccain on November 25, 2010, 03:09:06 PM
Steve, the Lutheran Confessions simply assume that the Lord's Supper is offered every Lord's day and on feasts and festivals. Those who choose not to follow this practice are simply acting outside the assumption of our fathers in the faith. It is a sub-Lutheran practice.

Title: Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
Post by: swbohler on November 25, 2010, 03:27:30 PM
Rev. McCain,

The Confessions also assume that Lutherans use candles and vestments -- is it sub-Lutheran if they are not used? 
Title: Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
Post by: Dave Benke on November 25, 2010, 03:28:51 PM
True, true, Lee - what it really is is the "jibaro" (originally "jivaro," I suppose) version of Puerto Rican/Dominican Spanish off the streets where the "v's" become "b's".  Vox populi vox Dei est.    "Que vaina!"  Here's the latino take on that little phrase, which you have to say kind of in a low and throaty way:  

The word ‘vaina’ is a fundamental part of the Dominican vernacular…a necessity in everyday social communication and arguably the most versatile word in the Spanish language. I’d even go as far as to say that more than a few Dominicans uttered the word ‘vaina’ not long after (if not before) ‘mama’ and ‘dada’.

The Urban Dictionary defines vaina as follows:very useful latin american (especially Dominican) slang for stuff, crap, thingy, thingamabob etc. However, the power of this word does not stop at simply ‘thingamabob’. ‘Vaina’ can be used for any number of situations including hitting on the opposite sex, referring to illicit substances in the presence of children and/or foreigners, referring to a woman’s monthly visitor, in place of misc. or unknown and communicating general unpleasantness/lack of significance in any number of undesirable
situations.  

You would want to see "In the Heights," if you haven't already.  I went to it without any foreknowledge of what it was all about, and the play begins and I kind of shout out to the crowd like a dummy, "He, there's a Piragua guy in this play!"  And of course that character is called "The Piragua guy."  Those are the dudes or dudettes rolling the little carts down the street and carving ice into cones and then injecting it with flavors for a buck - piraguas.  Fixtures in any 'hood.

Dave Benke

 
Title: Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
Post by: grabau14 on November 25, 2010, 03:47:26 PM
I know where the Confessions speak of "our churches" having the Sacrament each Lord's Day, but I am not aware that this is to be considered necessary.  The Confessions also say that we use vestments and candles -- are these also now required too?

Much like many other issues that have been called into question, the Confessions simply assume that these things were the the norm.  Weekly communion, private confession, vestments, etc... were and should be the norm in all Lutheran congregations.  Unfortunately, Pietism and its axe are to blame for what has become the "norm" in many a Lutheran church.
Title: Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
Post by: FrPeters on November 25, 2010, 04:34:56 PM
Because the Confessions don't say "you must have" the weekly sacrament, it is optional according to some but since the Confessions do not even speak to those who read the lessons, it is a requirement that it be limited to the Pastor? ???

Before we go down this road again, folks are missing my point.  This was about Lutherans who are arguing who is Lutheran or who is not... The Confessions (which define what is Lutheran) presume, expect, anticipate, cannot think of otherwise but the Lord's Supper on the Lord's Day and yet this is not doctrinal enough to warrant a shrugged shoulders yet other points, not explicitly addressed in the Confessions, are raised as being that which breaks fellowship among Lutherans otherwise in formal fellowship within the same church body...
Title: Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
Post by: ptmccain on November 25, 2010, 06:30:30 PM
Rev. McCain,

The Confessions also assume that Lutherans use candles and vestments -- is it sub-Lutheran if they are not used? 

Steve.

You really want to compare offering the Lord's Supper to using candles?

PTM
Title: Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
Post by: Weedon on November 25, 2010, 06:34:16 PM
On the question of the passages adduced by Pr. Preus, it should be noted that many take them to indicate that a woman is not to deliver the message, to teach authoritatively, "from the Bema" as John Chrysostom put it (Homily 31 on Romans), occupy the pulpit as we would say it.  If such is their meaning, then that would not be an absolute prohibition on female lectors.  
Title: Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
Post by: swbohler on November 25, 2010, 08:19:38 PM
Rev. McCain,

No, I am not equating candles with communion.  I am equating the mention of "our churches" having the sacrament weekly with the mention that "our churches" have/use candles and vestments: if the mere mention of weekly communion is taken to mean that such MUST be our practice in order to be Lutheran, then so must the mention of our use of candles and vestments. 

Clearly, there is a difference between candles and communion.  But if Jesus did not specify such a requirement on the frequency of communion, how can we? 
Title: Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
Post by: Weedon on November 25, 2010, 08:58:37 PM
Pr. Bohler,

May we do so by human right, and not divine right?  May we actually BE the Church that speaks in the Lutheran Symbols?  "Yes, among us the Mass is celebrated more reverently than among our opponents...."?
Title: Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
Post by: pr dtp on November 26, 2010, 12:39:11 AM
Wow, J&S.  I don't get the anger (at least it is coming across that way).  The Church Catholic position is that the sacrament is given to the baptized who living in repentance confess the faith once delivered to the saints.  The divisions manifesting themselves inside of unsere geliebte Synode  are precisely disputes about what that faith is; some draw the circle bigger, some smaller.  Those who draw it smaller believe that there are no doctrinal divisions to speak of; those who draw it bigger argue that it is indeed differences in doctrine that have caused divisions.  How would one put the best construction on those who confess a larger circle, if you will?  Begin there.  

I don't see how you read anger - then again I am thinking I understand less of you than I thought.

Your diversions (along with others) giving alternative reasons for pastors forgoing a DS when the brothers come together for mutual edification is bothersome.  It is a gathering of believers, a congregation,  though it may not be formed as one in the Kingdom of the Left.  One, because you frequent the forums where this is trumpeted loudly as a badge of honor, and where the existence of such division was proclaimed as a reason to defeat Dr. Kieschnick.  So I ask - why such avoidance on your part?  Why do you deny it, and seek to divert attention from the existence of such?  That isn't like you, at least the guy I met this summer - after being on the same forums for nearly a decade now.

Further, if a congregation member you knew of used the reasons to avoid communing, or a church didn't have weekly communion for those reasons - you would question it.  Yet you accept it in this circumstance - even avoiding the brotherly work of encouraging the brothers to reconcile, to bear that cross.  So again I have to ask, why?

Simply put, there is an attitude that exists when a brother says he isn't a brother - when he goes to the extent of publicly treating other pastors like publicans and sinners. That attitude is not conducive to koinonia - in fact it denies it.

Title: Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
Post by: RDPreus on November 26, 2010, 07:23:26 AM
J & S, a couple of days ago you spoke of reducing “the concept of a congregation to a left hand kingdom organization.”  Now you speak of a congregation that “may not be formed as one in the Kingdom of the Left.”  Perhaps you’ve gone over this before on this forum, but would you be so kind as to explain it to me?  I think I know the difference between a Christian congregation and an ad hoc gathering of Christians for worship, but I don’t get the connection to the kingdom of God’s left hand.

Title: Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
Post by: Dave Benke on November 26, 2010, 08:31:36 AM
I believe one of the great outcomes of the Koinonia Project as the next generation of the Task Force on Harmony, with its dual anticipations of a long shelf life and the denial of change through political/convention-al means over that long shelf life is that there COULD be a greater final appreciation for the slightly nuanced but sound ways in which the positions we now hold have been crafted, even as mutual respect for those offering different practice options is observed.  Lots of it has to do with pastors - and the Task Force on Harmony rightly, in my opinion, lays the disharmony primarily at the feet of the clergy. 

Take these three - a) we hold to close(d) communion, with pastoral discretion, as per various resolutions.  As the dialog continues, those who are both the willy-nilly admitters and the zero discretioners will realize the authenticity of the pastoral role and practice it. 
b) the role of women as laity.  As the dialog continues and examination includes the various resolutions, it will be seen that there are no mandates to practice in certain ways, but what cannot be forbidden from Scripture is not forbidden, and a level of difference in practice will not be seen as divisive of fellowship, but allowable differences.
c) diversity in worship.  Many of the exhortations and outline of principles in documents and resolutions received through the years will be read through and with growing trust, there will be a growing appreciation for the Ordo in the Divine Service and at the same time a willingness to live with diversity of styles especially in non-Eucharistic worship. 

In these ways as pastors who had foresworn their common participation in the Meal return to the Table together, the faithful will be shown an example that leads them to breathe easier, move between and among parishes inside the denomination, and invite friends and folks off the street to their parish which is one of 5500 nationwide (10 years from now I think 500 of the tiniest will no longer be with us).  Their will be more pride in God's grace in the ways we walk together.  I believe that's what COULD eventuate.

Dave Benke
Title: Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
Post by: Dave_Poedel on November 26, 2010, 09:33:50 AM
I believe one of the great outcomes of the Koinonia Project as the next generation of the Task Force on Harmony, with its dual anticipations of a long shelf life and the denial of change through political/convention-al means over that long shelf life is that there COULD be a greater final appreciation for the slightly nuanced but sound ways in which the positions we now hold have been crafted, even as mutual respect for those offering different practice options is observed.  Lots of it has to do with pastors - and the Task Force on Harmony rightly, in my opinion, lays the disharmony primarily at the feet of the clergy. 

Take these three - a) we hold to close(d) communion, with pastoral discretion, as per various resolutions.  As the dialog continues, those who are both the willy-nilly admitters and the zero discretioners will realize the authenticity of the pastoral role and practice it. 
b) the role of women as laity.  As the dialog continues and examination includes the various resolutions, it will be seen that there are no mandates to practice in certain ways, but what cannot be forbidden from Scripture is not forbidden, and a level of difference in practice will not be seen as divisive of fellowship, but allowable differences.
c) diversity in worship.  Many of the exhortations and outline of principles in documents and resolutions received through the years will be read through and with growing trust, there will be a growing appreciation for the Ordo in the Divine Service and at the same time a willingness to live with diversity of styles especially in non-Eucharistic worship. 

In these ways as pastors who had foresworn their common participation in the Meal return to the Table together, the faithful will be shown an example that leads them to breathe easier, move between and among parishes inside the denomination, and invite friends and folks off the street to their parish which is one of 5500 nationwide (10 years from now I think 500 of the tiniest will no longer be with us).  Their will be more pride in God's grace in the ways we walk together.  I believe that's what COULD eventuate.

Dave Benke
That is a beautiful vision of what should be in our Synod.  The refusal of brothers to commune with each others is emblematic of the true division that exists in our Synod.  Let's stop pretending that a group of us LCMS Pastors sees the rest of us, to put it kindly, as less than Lutheran.  It will take a lot of patience and a direct working of the Holy Spirit to bring these brothers into acceptance of the majority of LCMS Pastors.

My sinful nature says there is no way it's going to happen, my renewed nature in Christ tells me it is not only possible but absolutely necessary
Title: Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
Post by: FrPeters on November 26, 2010, 09:38:57 AM
I have hope for the koinonia project but it will require that we bring to the table something more than our defensiveness or that table will be Missouri's last stand... That means being willing to have an honest discussion shaped less by what the teachers of Missouri have said and more by what the Confessions say and what the catholic and apostolic tradition commends (which is presumed and expected in those Confessions).

You could be surprised, Bp Benke, since those small congregations tend to be far more resilient than many would like... or they would have gone away a long time ago...

The one thing in all of this that has not been mentioned in this is that Missouri's most conservative and liberal voices both delight in a radical congregationalism which makes it impossible to discipline or draw limits on the excesses you have mentioned.  Pastoral discretion is used by some to do whatever they want and they hide behind Missouri's congregational locus for church so that they continue to do what they want and even flaunt their abuse of close(d) communion (making even the Galesburg rule seem too limiting).  On the other hand, some sit in their congregations as if they were battleships constantly lobbing words that are weapons designed to wound instead of bring healing and find demons in every discretion decision.  I am not identifying people on this forum but speaking of the Synod as a whole.  None of the good fruit of koinonia discussions will endure as long as this congregationalism is used to isolate both ends of the theological spectrum as bunkers against which reason, dialog, and study are repelled.

I don't know if Missouri was ever (at least in the last hundred years) a cake in which you could cut and it was the same throughout... but today it is a fruitcake, complete with cake and fruit and nuts and what you get depends on where you cut into it...
Title: Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
Post by: Weedon on November 26, 2010, 09:44:34 AM
J&S,

For whatever reason, we are just not able to discuss this in this forum.  I literally don't understand what you wrote.  But one of the advantages of Koinonia will hopefully be face to face conversations where miscommunication is certainly minimized.  You and I will have to wait for that conversation over a couple beers and we can revisit this and say:  "Now, what on earth were you saying?" and either of us can start with the question!
Title: Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
Post by: Charles_Austin on November 26, 2010, 09:50:49 AM
When LCMS Lutherans gather, does it have to be an officially organized congregation before there can be a celebration of the sacrament? This is what I am hearing from some.
Title: Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
Post by: Scott6 on November 26, 2010, 09:58:54 AM
...more by what the Confessions say and what the catholic and apostolic tradition commends (which is presumed and expected in those Confessions).

The problem is, of course, that presuming and expecting do not equal mandating or prescribing.  While I sincerely wish and hope that folks will cease to use worship formats that focus on the response of the individual worshipper rather than the gifts God brings to His people, we cannot say that folks who don't use the liturgy are violating the doctrinal content of the Confessions with our historic understanding of what a quia subscription entails.
Title: Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
Post by: Dave Benke on November 26, 2010, 10:23:49 AM
Fruitcake - nice, Fr. Peters!  As long as it's a rum fruitcake. 

Charles, the group isn't the congregation - a congregation, normally one near the gathering, is the sponsor.  It was so at the national convention last summer, it is normally so at colleges (unless there's a parish in/at the college) and it's normally so at pastoral conferences.  Thus is Walther honored.

I do have hopes for the outcome written, actually.  I've found even on this forum that there are unexpected convergences through the months that bode well.

Dave Benke
Title: Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
Post by: FrPeters on November 26, 2010, 10:26:31 AM
Why is it that the article on the Mass is always a shrug and other articles in which adiaphora are mentioned merits attention?  If the presumption of the Mass is not mandatory then neither can those who violate the presumption and intent of this article claim the adiaphora privilege as mandatory... that's my two cents worth.  It is only centuries after the Confessions that any Lutheran ever conceived of much less practiced a non-Communion Sunday service as the regular Sunday offering...
Title: Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
Post by: Weedon on November 26, 2010, 10:31:41 AM
Actually, Fr. Peters, that is sadly not true.  There were already Lutheran territories in Germany where by the end of the 16th century, the Sacrament was not a weekly gift.  But you were no doubt thinking of the Saxon tradition, and there, as we see in Stiller's work (and others), the Sacrament did indeed retain its central place for a very long time after the Reformation.  The stickler for Lutherans was always:  "when there are communicants."  Obviously (for us) if no one presents themselves for the Sacrament, the Sacrament is not celebrated.  So in a small village, say, where no one wanted the Sacrament on a given Lord's day, it was not celebrated, and instead the priest was instructed to encourage the people toward more frequent communion.  Those situations grew in numbers.  
Title: Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
Post by: ptmccain on November 26, 2010, 10:32:35 AM
Fr. Peters writes: "It is only centuries after the Confessions that any Lutheran ever conceived of much less practiced a non-Communion Sunday service as the regular Sunday offering..."

This point seems to make absolutely no difference, to those who choose to be indifferent, about the issue. I find it utterly baffling.

In recent generations "The Lutheran Hymnal" is largely responsible for people thinking it is perfectly normal to have a Service of Holy Communion without Communion. TLH gave us p. 5. We have been suffering every since with the legacy of that fateful decision.

Fr. Weedon rightly notes the growing problem in German Lutheranism, as Pietism gained the ascendancy.

We never force anyone to receive the Sacrament, but on the other hand, why are some pastors willing to deny it to those who desire it? Makes no sense, at all. None.

There are no good reasons for not offering the Sacrament every Sunday, only poor excuses and bad reasons not to do it.

Title: Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
Post by: Brian Stoffregen on November 26, 2010, 10:37:34 AM
I have hope for the koinonia project but it will require that we bring to the table something more than our defensiveness or that table will be Missouri's last stand... That means being willing to have an honest discussion shaped less by what the teachers of Missouri have said and more by what the Confessions say and what the catholic and apostolic tradition commends (which is presumed and expected in those Confessions).

What about Scriptures? What happened to sola scriptura if Church Fathers and Lutheran Confessions become the source of discussion? Why shouldn't the primary source be primary?
Title: Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
Post by: Brian Stoffregen on November 26, 2010, 10:41:52 AM
There are no good reasons for not offering the Sacrament every Sunday, only poor excuses and bad reasons not to do it.

I agree with you, Paul!!! A related issue that comes up in congregations is who should make the decision to have weekly communion? Some argue that it is the pastors' prerogative. Other bring it to a congregational vote. Some may have the council or worship committee make the decision. In some places, it might the altar guild who determines the practice based on practical matters, e.g., who will wash the dishes, who will pay for the extra bread and wine (and disposable glasses if they are used)?
Title: Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
Post by: ChrisG on November 26, 2010, 10:49:00 AM
We never force anyone to receive the Sacrament, but on the other hand, why are some pastors willing to deny it to those who desire it? Makes no sense, at all. None.

There are no good reasons for not offering the Sacrament every Sunday, only poor excuses and bad reasons not to do it.


I completely understand why Baptists might celebrate commmunion once per month or once per quarter.  If they see communion as a mere symbol, then communing less frequently might make the symbol feel more meaningful.  However, if you believe that Christ's body and blood are truly present in communion, and that communion brings forgiveness, life, and salvation, why would you not celebrate it every Sunday? 
Title: Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
Post by: FrPeters on November 26, 2010, 10:55:42 AM
As a Lutheran we presume that a Confessional discussion is a Scriptural discussion, that what the Scriptures teach is nothing different than what the Confessions confess... no?
Title: Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
Post by: Michael Slusser on November 26, 2010, 11:02:54 AM
Simply put, there is an attitude that exists when a brother says he isn't a brother - when he goes to the extent of publicly treating other pastors like publicans and sinners. That attitude is not conducive to koinonia - in fact it denies it.

Reminds me of Augustine, discourse on Psalm 32, which is read in the RC Liturgy of the Hours for Tuesday, 14th week of ordinary time:

     The prophet refers to some men saying, When they say to you: You are not our brothers, you are to tell them: You are our brothers. Consider whom he intended by these words. Were they the pagans? Hardly; for nowhere either in Scripture or in our traditional manner of speaking do we find them called our brothers. Nor could it refer to the Jews, who did not believe in Christ. Read Saint Paul and you will see that when he speaks of "brothers" without any qualification, he refers always to Christians. For example, he says, Why do you judge your brother or why do you despise your brother? And again, You perform iniquity and commit fraud, and this against your brothers.
     Those then who tell us: You are not our brothers, are saying that we are pagans. That is why they want to baptize us again, claiming that we do not have what they can give. . . .
     And so dear brothers, we entreat you on their behalf, in the name of the very source of our love, by whose milk we are nourished, and whose bread is our strength, in the name of Christ our Lord and his gentle love. For it is time now for us to show them great love and abundant compassion by praying to God for them. May he one day give them a clear mind to repent and to realize that they have nothing whatever to say against the truth; they have nothing now but the sickness of their hatred, and the stronger they think they are, the weaker they become. We entreat you now to pray for them, for they are weak, given to the wisdom of the flesh, to fleshly and carnal things, but yet they are our brothers. They celebrate the same sacraments as we, not indeed with us, but still the same. They respond with the same Amen, not with us, but still the same. And so pour out your hearts for them in prayer to God.  

Clearly Augustine is speaking of the Donatists, but what he says may have some application also where the causes of division are not so deep.

Peace,
Michael
Title: Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
Post by: Scott6 on November 26, 2010, 11:08:39 AM
Why is it that the article on the Mass is always a shrug and other articles in which adiaphora are mentioned merits attention?  If the presumption of the Mass is not mandatory then neither can those who violate the presumption and intent of this article claim the adiaphora privilege as mandatory... that's my two cents worth.  It is only centuries after the Confessions that any Lutheran ever conceived of much less practiced a non-Communion Sunday service as the regular Sunday offering...

FWIW, I think Communion should be offered every Sunday, and I won't attend a church that doesn't use the liturgy if I can help it (and if the liturgical setting changes from Sunday to Sunday -- e.g., DS I to DS III then DS II).  I think the reasons for not using the liturgy are paltry, and those churches that don't use it will foster folks more comfortable with Baptist theology than Lutheran.  So I don't consider it a "shrug," and as far as adiaphora goes, it's a particularly important one.

That said, the mention about retaining the mass in the Confessions is simply a description of a practice; it is not a mandate (if you can find where it is so mandated, please share it).  There is no "we believe, teach and confess that churches are to perform the mass weekly," for example.  So while I think that we should all agree and covenant together to have weekly communion and to perform the liturgy from the book every Sunday, a person cannot be considered to be in violation of their quia subscription if they don't -- more's the pity.  The way that language is operative in the LCMS is to bind us to particular doctrinal propositional statements in the Confessions, and to change that midstream such that it becomes an offense against the way the LCMS has articulated her understanding of doctrine isn't proper.
Title: Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
Post by: Brian Stoffregen on November 26, 2010, 11:09:33 AM
As a Lutheran we presume that a Confessional discussion is a Scriptural discussion, that what the Scriptures teach is nothing different than what the Confessions confess... no?

While we confess that our Confessions are correct interpretations of scriptures, they are also not the only way scripture is interpreted. (Neither do all Lutherans interpret the Confessions the same way.)

I remember a wise lady in a congregation I served who asked, "Why do we so often study some book or curriculum that uses the Bible as a resource? Why don't we study the Bible, and if need be, use these other books as resources?" The writings of the Church Fathers and our Lutheran Confessors should be resources (as needed) for our study of Scriptures. If we are truly going to practice sola scripture, then we should be studying scripture alone. If indeed the Confessions proclaim the truth of Scriptures, we will find it in scriptures without relying on the Confessions.
Title: Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
Post by: Matt Staneck on November 26, 2010, 12:07:34 PM
Why is it that the article on the Mass is always a shrug and other articles in which adiaphora are mentioned merits attention?  If the presumption of the Mass is not mandatory then neither can those who violate the presumption and intent of this article claim the adiaphora privilege as mandatory... that's my two cents worth.  It is only centuries after the Confessions that any Lutheran ever conceived of much less practiced a non-Communion Sunday service as the regular Sunday offering...

FWIW, I think Communion should be offered every Sunday, and I won't attend a church that doesn't use the liturgy if I can help it (and if the liturgical setting changes from Sunday to Sunday -- e.g., DS I to DS III then DS II).  I think the reasons for not using the liturgy are paltry, and those churches that don't use it will foster folks more comfortable with Baptist theology than Lutheran.  So I don't consider it a "shrug," and as far as adiaphora goes, it's a particularly important one.

That said, the mention about retaining the mass in the Confessions is simply a description of a practice; it is not a mandate (if you can find where it is so mandated, please share it).  There is no "we believe, teach and confess that churches are to perform the mass weekly," for example.  So while I think that we should all agree and covenant together to have weekly communion and to perform the liturgy from the book every Sunday, a person cannot be considered to be in violation of their quia subscription if they don't -- more's the pity.  The way that language is operative in the LCMS is to bind us to particular doctrinal propositional statements in the Confessions, and to change that midstream such that it becomes an offense against the way the LCMS has articulated her understanding of doctrine isn't proper.

Right.  But Fr. Peters' point is that the retention of the Mass is mentioned and strongly encouraged by name.  Whereas, things like who reads the lessons are not.  So wouldn't we deal with things the Confessions actually take time to discuss first before moving onto other things?

M. Staneck
Title: Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
Post by: LCMS87 on November 26, 2010, 03:20:17 PM
In the example that '87 gives (http://www.alpb.org/forum/index.php?topic=3474.msg190618#msg190618), I take it that this pastor refrained from the supper as a matter of principle. It appears he went out of his way to explain ahead of time that he was not making a protest statement or expressing a beef with the host pastor or anyone else.

How is this going a step too far? If he doesn't want to commune, he doesn't commune. We respect this freedom in our congregations. This pastor goes out of his way to ensure that his action is not misinterpreted and does not give offense. That is certainly the right thing to do.

Mr. Jamison,

Please forgive me for the delay in my promised response.  

I don't believe the Reverend President was arguing (here) (http://www.alpb.org/forum/index.php?topic=3474.msg190621#msg190621) that the pastor ought not to have spoken to the hosting pastor.  Such communication is certainly good practice and avoids many unfortunate assumptions among us sinners who too often fail to put the best construction on the words and actions of our neighbors.

President Benke's point of concern is relates very much the one I raised in my initial post.  He wrote:  "[The Supper] is authorized among us at gatherings other than those in the parish setting."  I noted that I had been taught this was only authorized when a sponsoring congregation was involved.  President Benke indicated that's what he had in mind in saying such celebrations of the sacrament are authorized among us.  Thus he writes, "Holy Communion can be administered and received in trans-parish settings.  If and as the policy is to allow sponsoring congregations the right to sponsor the celebration of the Eucharist at the seminary or at a college or in other locations, what's the problem with that?"

The step too far President Benke is afraid the pastor may have taken is that in declining to commune at the pastors' conference he seemed to be rejecting the policy our synod has used.

Now come the details.  As I noted in the second-last paragraph of my initial post, I was taught that the Supper is not authorized among us at gatherings other than those in the parish setting "except with (the sometimes seeming fig-leaf of) a sponsoring congregation."  So who sponsored the Supper in question?  What does "sponsoring" mean and how is it done?  

Perhaps I'm just not as observant as I ought to be, but it's not clear to me that a congregation always sponsors the Supper at our district pastoral conferences.  The duty and privilege of planning and leading such Divine Services rotates among circuits of the district.  A congregation from the chosen circuit could sponsor the celebration of the Eucharist, but if they do I don't recall that an announcement regarding that always appears in the worship folder or is made verbally.  So perhaps the pastor in question may have been following our policy more precisely than those who led the service.

As I understand the issue of sponsoring, it is very much tied up with our understanding of the Church, the Ministry, and the Means of Grace.  (As you know, we've been discussing the nature of Church and Ministry from the founding of our synod, and many would say that discussion is not fully complete.  What follows will necessarily be brief and will probably raise lots of red flags from the brothers--many in the form of clarification or expansion.  I welcome correction should I go astray.)  

AC VII:  "The Church is the congregation of saints, in which the Gospel is rightly taught and the Sacraments are rightly administered."  The Synod is not, properly speaking, a church, nor is an individual pastor.  The Gospel and Sacraments don't belong to either to do with as they please.  Our Lord instituted the holy ministry to teach the Gospel and administer the Sacraments so that believers might be created and sustained in the faith.  But ministers of the Gospel are not free to exercise the ministry when and where they will.  "Our churches teach that no one should publicly teach in the Church, or administer the Sacraments, without a rightly ordered call" (AC XIV).  Add to this the concern our churches have with "private masses" and you see the foundation on which a policy of sponsoring is built.

The Reverend President has noted a number of times that sponsoring is often by a nearby congregation.  In this way it's more or less an extension of its ministry.  A congregation across the street from Concordia, Bronxville, if I understood correctly, has committed to sponsor the celebrations of the Lord's Supper at the university.  This seems fitting.  A congregation in a circuit sponsors a Divine Service when the circuit winkel meets, even inviting members of the congregation to join in this special (i.e. not regularly scheduled) celebration.  This, too, seems fitting.  

What if a congregation in a circuit at one extreme of a district sponsors a Divine Service at a pastors' conference at the far extreme,  a service no one from the local congregation can attend?  Some would wonder whether this sponsorship a bit of a "fig-leaf" sponsorship.  What if the pastor neglects to ask his congregation to sponsor that Eucharist, and yet is the celebrant?  These are the sort of details which trouble some of our brothers.  What does it mean to sponsor a Eucharist?  How is it rightly done?  Does our practice match up with what we teach and confess?  

As to the Reverend President's final questions, there have been numerous discussions at this site regarding the office.  Does it make any difference if shepherds have sheep under their care or if they have no sheep?  In some respects the topic (http://www.alpb.org/forum/index.php?topic=3478.0), "How important would you say it is for a retired pastor to celebrate a weekly HC?" involves this same question.  I would only note that the pastor involved in the scenario I described does not say that a seminary professor, for instance, is outside the office of the holy ministry.
Title: Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
Post by: Scott6 on November 26, 2010, 03:22:47 PM
Why is it that the article on the Mass is always a shrug and other articles in which adiaphora are mentioned merits attention?  If the presumption of the Mass is not mandatory then neither can those who violate the presumption and intent of this article claim the adiaphora privilege as mandatory... that's my two cents worth.  It is only centuries after the Confessions that any Lutheran ever conceived of much less practiced a non-Communion Sunday service as the regular Sunday offering...

FWIW, I think Communion should be offered every Sunday, and I won't attend a church that doesn't use the liturgy if I can help it (and if the liturgical setting changes from Sunday to Sunday -- e.g., DS I to DS III then DS II).  I think the reasons for not using the liturgy are paltry, and those churches that don't use it will foster folks more comfortable with Baptist theology than Lutheran.  So I don't consider it a "shrug," and as far as adiaphora goes, it's a particularly important one.

That said, the mention about retaining the mass in the Confessions is simply a description of a practice; it is not a mandate (if you can find where it is so mandated, please share it).  There is no "we believe, teach and confess that churches are to perform the mass weekly," for example.  So while I think that we should all agree and covenant together to have weekly communion and to perform the liturgy from the book every Sunday, a person cannot be considered to be in violation of their quia subscription if they don't -- more's the pity.  The way that language is operative in the LCMS is to bind us to particular doctrinal propositional statements in the Confessions, and to change that midstream such that it becomes an offense against the way the LCMS has articulated her understanding of doctrine isn't proper.

Right.  But Fr. Peters' point is that the retention of the Mass is mentioned and strongly encouraged by name.  Whereas, things like who reads the lessons are not.  So wouldn't we deal with things the Confessions actually take time to discuss first before moving onto other things?

M. Staneck

Oh sure, I didn't have any ordering of discussion in mind.  But I do think that worship style is the major controversial issue in synod, and it needs to be addressed.  As is obvious, it wasn't an issue in the 16th century which is why the Confessions don't have much reflection on it as to whether or not it's a doctrinal issue.  They simply don't address it as such one way or another, even in the farsighted way that the Formula decided to deal with the doctrine of predestination even though there wasn't any public controversy over it at the time.

FWIW, I do think that it's a doctrinal issue -- just not one that's addressed by the Confessions nor one that is easily articulated in our normal, Pieperian discourse.
Title: Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
Post by: Dave Benke on November 26, 2010, 04:33:02 PM
Nice encapsulization, 87.  Scenarios I've been involved with through the decades:
1) the best - the local parish sponsors and the Divine Service is held away from the site of the conference at that parish.  That would be Fr. Peters in Cairo back in the day.
2) the local parish sponsors and leads the worship - Village Bronxville pastors lead the Pastoral Conference Divine Service at the Pastoral Conference at Concordia Bronxville across the street.
(we've done both by the way at our district conventions, and have often had our closing Eucharist at the church after the gavel sounded, and recessed/processed to the congregation)
3) the conference is off in the boonies (read Poconos) so the conference chair's parish sponsors. 
4) the conference is off in the boonies and the conference chair selects a parish to sponsor.
In those cases great care was taken NOT to get involved with the kitsch of the conference site, and substantial amounts of the local altar from back home were imported to the conference site, demonstrating the care needed in these efforts.
5) An inter-district conference committee plans the worship and coordinates with a local pastor/parish sponsor.  That's a distance away from #1 above, as you can see.

Dave Benke
Title: Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
Post by: pr dtp on November 26, 2010, 04:45:38 PM
Why is it that the article on the Mass is always a shrug and other articles in which adiaphora are mentioned merits attention?  If the presumption of the Mass is not mandatory then neither can those who violate the presumption and intent of this article claim the adiaphora privilege as mandatory... that's my two cents worth.  It is only centuries after the Confessions that any Lutheran ever conceived of much less practiced a non-Communion Sunday service as the regular Sunday offering...

FWIW, I think Communion should be offered every Sunday, and I won't attend a church that doesn't use the liturgy if I can help it (and if the liturgical setting changes from Sunday to Sunday -- e.g., DS I to DS III then DS II).  I think the reasons for not using the liturgy are paltry, and those churches that don't use it will foster folks more comfortable with Baptist theology than Lutheran.  So I don't consider it a "shrug," and as far as adiaphora goes, it's a particularly important one.

That said, the mention about retaining the mass in the Confessions is simply a description of a practice; it is not a mandate (if you can find where it is so mandated, please share it).  There is no "we believe, teach and confess that churches are to perform the mass weekly," for example.  So while I think that we should all agree and covenant together to have weekly communion and to perform the liturgy from the book every Sunday, a person cannot be considered to be in violation of their quia subscription if they don't -- more's the pity.  The way that language is operative in the LCMS is to bind us to particular doctrinal propositional statements in the Confessions, and to change that midstream such that it becomes an offense against the way the LCMS has articulated her understanding of doctrine isn't proper.

While there is not a mandate - there is a purpose - a chief purpose that extends out of the mass to our lives - that is to teach people what they need to know about Christ.

Again, the idea of Koinonia comes into play - for Koinonia is the same term for fellowship and communion/community is it not?

Can we really find such, apart from Word and Sacrament?  Apart from realizing that it is Christ's sacrifice that unites us because we are sinners counted righteous? 

Rev. Weedon, you can stipulate that you doesn't get this - yet your defense of the mass indicates that at some level you do.   What you don't get is how this relates to the gathering of the Brethren, and the establishment of unity in Koinonia/Fellowship/Communion.  That without the humiliation of realizing our need, and our dependence on God's grace, we cannot achieve any real semblance of unity. 

Let me put it another way.  You seem to desire corporate sanctification before celebrating corporate justification.  But unless we see that we are all justified sinners, how can we find the reality wherein we can deal with each others sin, and our own?
Title: Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
Post by: Weedon on November 26, 2010, 04:50:12 PM
Like I said, J&S, I'm not getting how anything I said could be construed the way you have construed it.  I suggest you and I hold off trying to discuss this in this forum.  We're just spinning wheels at this point. 
Title: Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
Post by: FrPeters on November 26, 2010, 06:01:40 PM
Brian... is it that the Confessions' interpretation of Scripture are correct but other interpretations are also correct?  Do you intend to say that there is no real interpretation which is authoritative and Lutheranism offers only one version of a truth which has many versions or interpretations?  If that is indeed what you are saying, then there is a great gulf between the ELCA and Missouri
Title: Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
Post by: ChrisG on November 26, 2010, 07:43:34 PM
2) the local parish sponsors and leads the worship - Village Bronxville pastors lead the Pastoral Conference Divine Service at the Pastoral Conference at Concordia Bronxville across the street.
Our congregation was asked to sponsor the divine service at the Higher Things Youth Gathering this past summer at Vanderbilt.  We were asked several months ahead of time, so our pastor approached the church council for approval and then announed it at the next quarterly voters' meeting.  All members of the church were invited to attend.  As there is no LCMS church in Nashville with a sanctuary large enough to hold that many people, the service was held at the auditorium at Vanderbilt.  We did provide the altar though, and our pastor presided over the sacrament.  He did not preach the sermon (if memory serves me correctly, he was approached but deferred to Pastor Cwirla).
Title: Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
Post by: Brian Stoffregen on November 26, 2010, 10:02:47 PM
Brian... is it that the Confessions' interpretation of Scripture are correct but other interpretations are also correct?  Do you intend to say that there is no real interpretation which is authoritative and Lutheranism offers only one version of a truth which has many versions or interpretations?  If that is indeed what you are saying, then there is a great gulf between the ELCA and Missouri

There is a great gulf between LCMS and ELCA. Part of that is the different way we approach the Confessions.

Even within the ELCA, I think that there are differences in regards to the Third Use of the Law. With eight different seminaries, there are different nuances of theological and confessional training.
Title: Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
Post by: Charles_Austin on November 26, 2010, 10:42:12 PM
There is a great gulf between today's LCMS and the ELCA.
There are people in the LCMS who want to make that gulf wider; and there are people in the LCMS who - in their day to day parish ministries - find ways to bridge the gulf. Unfortunately, the former seem to be prevailing.
Title: Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
Post by: MaddogLutheran on November 26, 2010, 11:07:50 PM
There is a great gulf between today's LCMS and the ELCA.
There are people in the LCMS who want to make that gulf wider; and there are people in the LCMS who - in their day to day parish ministries - find ways to bridge the gulf. Unfortunately, the former seem to be prevailing.
And in saying this you fail to acknowledge that it is the ELCA by its recent actions (and not just the social statement, full communion with denominations that fail to unambiguously acknowledge the Real Presence in the Sacrament as our Confessions describe) receding further away from the LCMS, and not Missouri with its foot on the accelerator.  And it's not like Missouri hasn't brought this to our attention, for several years at least.

Sterling Spatz
Title: Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
Post by: grabau14 on November 26, 2010, 11:32:48 PM
Brian... is it that the Confessions' interpretation of Scripture are correct but other interpretations are also correct?  Do you intend to say that there is no real interpretation which is authoritative and Lutheranism offers only one version of a truth which has many versions or interpretations?  If that is indeed what you are saying, then there is a great gulf between the ELCA and Missouri
]

That is an interesting question as I have met Lutheran pastors within the ELCA that take the confessions as seriously as we do (believe that all of the so-called agreements are a farce) and I have met corportate men/women who think the ELCA is the greatest.
Title: Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
Post by: pr dtp on November 27, 2010, 01:55:03 AM
Like I said, J&S, I'm not getting how anything I said could be construed the way you have construed it.  I suggest you and I hold off trying to discuss this in this forum.  We're just spinning wheels at this point. 

Interesting.

How about some simple questions then.

1.  Do you know or know of pastors who refrain from communing with other members of the synod because of doctrinal disagreement?

2.  Do you know of those in question one who have publicly taken this position?  or who applauded those who did, or who pointed to those that did and claimed it was evidence of poor leadership of a district or synod?

3.  Do you think that such temporary self-excommunication can/should exceed a time point of one year, or for that matter, be taken without following Matthew 18 or some other process which works towards reconciliation?

Let's start there.  A simple yes/no should be possible. :-\

Title: Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
Post by: Charles_Austin on November 27, 2010, 05:24:11 AM
Sterling Spatz writes:
And in saying this you fail to acknowledge that it is the ELCA by its recent actions (and not just the social statement, full communion with denominations that fail to unambiguously acknowledge the Real Presence in the Sacrament as our Confessions describe) receding further away from the LCMS, and not Missouri with its foot on the accelerator.
I comment:
I am really really tired of attempting to correct this misstatement. The ELCA does indeed "unambiguously acknowledge the real presence of Christ in the sacraments." Period. Stop. End of story.
The complaint that some - very few, apparently - people have is that we are in communion fellowship with churches that - in the minds of those very few people - do not acknowledge the real presence of Christ in the sacrament in precisely the same was that the the ELCA does.
So: to put it as briefly as possible regarding acknowledging the real presence of Christ in the eucharist.
We do.
We think they do.
You say they don't.
We disagree.

Sterling Spatz writes:
And it's not like Missouri hasn't brought this to our attention, for several years at least.
I comment:
Yes, they have. And for "several years at least" their complaints have not caused any significant movement in the ELCA to set aside our fellowship agreements, or stop ordaining women, or adopt a "creationist" interpretation of Genesis.

As for who is trying to widen the gulf: Show me someone in the ELCA who believes that we should end cooperation with the LCMS in Lutheran World Relief, disaster relief and Lutheran social service agencies. Voices in the LCMS, including some in this discussion, think that should happen.
Title: Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
Post by: Weedon on November 27, 2010, 08:41:28 AM
J&S,

Since you insist, I'll do my best:


How about some simple questions then.

1.  Do you know or know of pastors who refrain from communing with other members of the synod because of doctrinal disagreement?


Yes.

2.  Do you know of those in question one who have publicly taken this position?  or who applauded those who did, or who pointed to those that did and claimed it was evidence of poor leadership of a district or synod?

No.  The folks I know who have done this in my District do not make an issue out of it publicly.  They have spoken repeatedly with neighboring brothers and have not been able to resolve their differences.  

3.  Do you think that such temporary self-excommunication can/should exceed a time point of one year, or for that matter, be taken without following Matthew 18 or some other process which works towards reconciliation?

I don't think it should exist at all.  But nor do I think that any time frame can be forced upon resolving the situation.  It will take as long as it takes for the parties to either reconcile or to finally and formally break fellowship.  One brother and his parish did so several years back after trying to use the process of doctrinal dissent and being, well, ignored.  They did everything Synod in our covenant asked them to do.  After three years of attempting this, they finally voted to leave.  Others have not reached the same conclusions or come to the same point, though they share the same concerns.  Our God is very patient with us; we need to learn to be patient with one another.
Title: Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
Post by: MaddogLutheran on November 27, 2010, 08:46:26 AM
Sterling Spatz writes:
And in saying this you fail to acknowledge that it is the ELCA by its recent actions (and not just the social statement, full communion with denominations that fail to unambiguously acknowledge the Real Presence in the Sacrament as our Confessions describe) receding further away from the LCMS, and not Missouri with its foot on the accelerator.
I comment:
I am really really tired of attempting to correct this misstatement. The ELCA does indeed "unambiguously acknowledge the real presence of Christ in the sacraments." Period. Stop. End of story.
Maybe you wouldn't be so tired, if when you criticized engaged me in dialog, you had not misrepresented what I'd written.  I do not know why you needed to reply that the ELCA does indeed acknowledge the Real Presence.  I completely agree that it does.  Period. Stop. End of story.  I have not argued otherwise.  My point was that there is ambiguity in how other full communion church bodies describe it, and the material difference of that ambiguity is the ongoing subject of debate, and that for such an important doctrine, ambiguity is not a good thing. YMMV.
Title: Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
Post by: Charles_Austin on November 27, 2010, 09:17:02 AM
No, there is no "ambiguity in how other full communion church bodies describe" the presence of Christ in the sacrament. They describe it quit fully and in a straightforward manner. A few people just don't like how they do that.
I have probably said this a hundred times in this forum:
We agree that they do not describe the real presence of Christ in the sacrament in the exact same way as Lutherans (at least some Lutherans) have done so.
But we agree that they believe Christ is really present in the sacrament, in the elements and in the assembly.
And we agree that while we may differ on some aspects of how that is described, the differences are not great enough to keep us from communing together and presiding at each other's altars.
That is what our ecumenical agreements say. They do not alter what we teach and believe about the sacrament, except insofar as our teaching and practice has - in some places - kept us from sharing the Lord's Supper with certain other Christians.
 
Title: Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
Post by: Dave Benke on November 27, 2010, 09:18:26 AM
I find those reasonable answers to J/S questions, Pr. W.  Your last comment deserves a bit more fleshing out.  Some of the brother pastors have been avoiding others at the altar for some time, and there will now be a ten year dialogical process on top of that, during which time the encouragement will be NOT to break fellowship, but to reconcile.  Without pushing forced apologies and other unhappy eventualities, I do think a fair question early on can and maybe should be in the regions where this eucharistic rupture is taking place - what would it take for you to return to the altar with your brothers in Missouri Synod pastoral ministry?  

That question actually opens the dialog about what's truly important to that person (usually a pastor), and allows for clarity on both how deep the divisions are but also how critical or trivial the bases for division are at this time from the perspective of those who are refraining from the Lord's Table.  This particular group should be listened to, not necessarily because they're right, but because their consciences are impinged.  For example, and I'll take one that I'm NOT really that fond of since to me it's a non-issue:  The brother pastor out there somewhere says he will not commune at the same altar with me because we have women/girls serving as lectors.  I respond that this is not forbidden in our denomination nor can it be proven from Scripture, Confessions and the practice of the Church catholic.  He says, I think it can be and I'm not going to communion with you.  I now have to respect his non-attendance, but I/we have a responsibility to remove that burden from his conscience so he can attend the Lord's Meal.  That may take some time, but if it can't be, and as the practice continues not to be forbidden in the Missouri Synod, eventually the brother would either have to come to the Meal or leave the denomination.   That's the patient process as I hear you outlining it.

Dave Benke
Title: Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
Post by: Weedon on November 27, 2010, 09:23:23 AM
Indeed, Bishop.  And that question is an excellent one to start out with.  In our particular area the female acolyte objection is one I've heard raised before (we have them here too), but I've not heard anyone suggest breaking fellowship over that.  By the bye, note how Piepkorn's observed bifurcation of authority is floating around in the background of these discussions:  those who draw the circle larger, if you will, lean a tad more on the authority of the dogmatic tradition; those who draw the circle more narrowly lean a tad more on the authority of the Symbols and what the Symbols do not address is regarded as not doctrinally divisive. 
Title: Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
Post by: Dave Benke on November 27, 2010, 10:00:13 AM
Girls as acolytes as a forbidden zone. That's pretty much a new one on me.  I can see that being treated dismissively.  I think I myself would tend to treat that dismissively.  The process as well as care for the undue burden being carried by the other person encourages me in the other direction. 

Which leads me to posit that the more the dialog turns to what is to be and what cannot be forbidden, there will be a call for an exploration of how pastors in our church-body are arriving at the point of taking mortal offense at these items; mortal offense meaning that they refrain from the medicine of immortality because they can't approach that particular altar cleanly.  Who teaches these things, how are they shared and caught, how and why are they held as beingi at that level of importance?  I think this is some of what J/S is trying to get at not in trems of result but cause.  Under what rules of caution do these kinds of teachings take on that level of importance and centrality, and how can it be addressed?

Dave Benke
Title: Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
Post by: Dan Fienen on November 27, 2010, 10:11:41 AM
As for who is trying to widen the gulf: Show me someone in the ELCA who believes that we should end cooperation with the LCMS in Lutheran World Relief, disaster relief and Lutheran social service agencies. Voices in the LCMS, including some in this discussion, think that should happen.
How about ending cooperation with the LCMS in the malaria initiative?  Seems to me that came from the ELCA side.  Has the LCMS actually ended cooperation with the LWF, disaster relief or LSS?

Dan
Title: Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
Post by: Dan Fienen on November 27, 2010, 10:18:00 AM
The church that I was confirmed in later established the rule of no girl acolytes - so they had the girls be the crucifer insead!   ???  Go figure.

Actually I think this particular discussion here started more with the question of female lectors than acolytes - a hotter topic.

Dan
Title: Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
Post by: Matt on November 27, 2010, 10:27:09 AM
The controversy over women lectors is a good place to get specific.

Currently, we have some congregations who prohibit female lectors and others who use them frequently. Therefore, the witness that we give as a Synod is contradictory and confused. Either this practice is contrary to Scripture or it is not, and we have people who believe, teach and confess opposite positions. I believe that this situation impairs our unity and leads to misunderstandings and hostility such as brothers and sisters who refuse to commune in certain situations.

We should be able to come together (in a process like Koinonia) and with prayer, deep study of the scriptures and frank conversation, work out a consensus. Most importantly, we must urge everyone in the Synod to conform to the consensus position, or leave the Synod. The most important step is the most difficult.

My congregation uses lay readers (including myself) who are exclusively male. Yet we do not teach that female readers are contrary to scripture, we just don't use them.

If consensus is reached that female lectors are acceptable, and if other congregations regularly use female lectors, than we should start using them as well as an expression of unity within our churches. This might be difficult or controversial in our congregation, but we should do this in the name of unity and clarity of confession. Those that cannot tolerate the consensus and find it antiscriptural should leave at this point.

The principle: various LCMS congregations should submit in love and conform themselves to the consensus position in all areas of belief and practice, so that we can truly walk together in unimpaired fellowship and joyfully celebrate the Sacrament of the Altar together. Those who find the consensus position unacceptable should leave the church body.

BUT. This consensus must be arrived at by including all opinions (in the beginning) and always submit itself to the authority of Scripture and confession. We have tried to arrive at this kind of unity through the democratic, parlimentary procedures of the Synod in Convention and have failed. I think Koinonia could be a better process.

Title: Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
Post by: kls on November 27, 2010, 10:40:20 AM
If consensus is reached that female lectors are acceptable, and if other congregations regularly use female lectors, than we should start using them as well as an expression of unity within our churches. This might be difficult or controversial in our congregation, but we should do this in the name of unity and clarity of confession. Those that cannot tolerate the consensus and find it antiscriptural should leave at this point.

So consensus of men trumps Scripture?  I should leave the LCMS if I don't like the consensus of men?  Just making sure I understand you.  I prefer to worship in a church that doesn't have female lectors, but it's not my place to condemn those who do since the LCMS approves of this.  I take Scripture literally that women should not speak in church.  Others don't.  So I need to leave if more people feel differently than me?  Hmmmm . . .
Title: Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
Post by: kls on November 27, 2010, 10:41:49 AM
As for who is trying to widen the gulf: Show me someone in the ELCA who believes that we should end cooperation with the LCMS in Lutheran World Relief, disaster relief and Lutheran social service agencies. Voices in the LCMS, including some in this discussion, think that should happen.
How about ending cooperation with the LCMS in the malaria initiative?  Seems to me that came from the ELCA side.  Has the LCMS actually ended cooperation with the LWF, disaster relief or LSS?

Dan

I think it was a financial decision to pull out of the LMI more than it was a decision not to cooperate with the LCMS.  But I'm not in the know to say for sure.  It seemed like a little bit of spin surrounded the issue.
Title: Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
Post by: Weedon on November 27, 2010, 10:44:49 AM
I think there are several possible answers on lay readers:

1.  The laity ought not ordinarily read the Scriptures in the Divine Service as this is specifically given by St. Paul to the pastor in 1 Tim. 4:13 (I find this argument untenable myself - St. John Chrysosotom, a native Greek speaker did not take the "read" in the sense of "public reading" but of studying!)
2.  Because in the laity there is "no distinction between male and female" anything which a lay man can do in service to the Church, a lay woman may do also.  (I believe Dr. Lee Maxwell set this forth many years ago in Journal of English District Pastors; though if one grants #1, this point is moot; if one doesn't grant #1, then whether male or female lay readers is an adiaphoron)
3.  Because of the "orders of creation" it is inappropriate for a lay woman to read the Scriptures (citing the passages Pr. Preus cited earlier), but the ministry may delegate this responsibility to certain laymen (the oft-cited passage in Walther by J&S).
4.  A variation of 2 is that although one side may conclude that there is nothing in Scripture forbidding lay women from serving as lectors in the Divine Service, yet so as not to cause offense to those who hold that this practice would be contrary to the Scripture, Synod ought to step aside from the question by forbidding female lay readers for the sake of good order.
5.  A variation of 2 is because there are those who assert that this adiaphoron is a sin, we are obligated to use lay women readers to demonstrate that it is not sinful.  

Are there other options I'm not seeing?
Title: Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
Post by: Team Hesse on November 27, 2010, 10:46:17 AM
The controversy over women lectors is a good place to get specific.

Currently, we have some congregations who prohibit female lectors and others who use them frequently. Therefore, the witness that we give as a Synod is contradictory and confused. Either this practice is contrary to Scripture or it is not, and we have people who believe, teach and confess opposite positions. I believe that this situation impairs our unity and leads to misunderstandings and hostility such as brothers and sisters who refuse to commune in certain situations.

We should be able to come together (in a process like Koinonia) and with prayer, deep study of the scriptures and frank conversation, work out a consensus. Most importantly, we must urge everyone in the Synod to conform to the consensus position, or leave the Synod. The most important step is the most difficult.

My congregation uses lay readers (including myself) who are exclusively male. Yet we do not teach that female readers are contrary to scripture, we just don't use them.

"If consensus is reached that female lectors are acceptable, and if other congregations regularly use female lectors, than we should start using them as well as an expression of unity within our churches. This might be difficult or controversial in our congregation, but we should do this in the name of unity and clarity of confession. Those that cannot tolerate the consensus and find it antiscriptural should leave at this point.

The principle: various LCMS congregations should submit in love and conform themselves to the consensus position in all areas of belief and practice, so that we can truly walk together in unimpaired fellowship and joyfully celebrate the Sacrament of the Altar together. Those who find the consensus position unacceptable should leave the church body.

BUT. This consensus must be arrived at by including all opinions (in the beginning) and always submit itself to the authority of Scripture and confession. We have tried to arrive at this kind of unity through the democratic, parlimentary procedures of the Synod in Convention and have failed. I think Koinonia could be a better process.



In some ways, I don't have a dog in this discussion. But I am curious, does the notion of Christian freedom enter in here? If one congregation "uses" female lectors must it be a point of contention such that all congregations must use female lectors as a sign of unity or all congregations must not use female lectors as a sign of unity? This feels more like a straight-jacket than freedom. I know one LCMS pastor who deliberately makes the sign of the cross at a different point in the Words of Institution than he was "taught" at Fort Wayne because, as he puts it, "this should be a matter of Christian freedom not a matter of Law." Must there be a consensus on every jot and tittle, and who defines the jots and tittles?

Just asking

Lou
Title: Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
Post by: kls on November 27, 2010, 10:50:52 AM
Which is why I prefer that just the pastor read to avoid the trouble and confusion altogether.  Our elders do the readings and also assist with communion distribution, which I find completely acceptable.  We make so much out of being inclusive of everyone in worship that I wonder if it's really worth the trouble.  There is so much to be done outside of worship with respect to serving our neighbor and saving souls, I really wish we'd put the focus there.  But alas, I sound like a broken record from previous threads on this topic.
Title: Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
Post by: Weedon on November 27, 2010, 10:56:39 AM
Pr. Hesse,

Of course there may be freedom on anything which is not itself a doctrinal matter.  Most in our Synod do not consider the issue of lectors a doctrinal matter; some do.  Thus we need to have a discussion about this practice which arose in our churches without ever BEING discussed.
Title: Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
Post by: Team Hesse on November 27, 2010, 11:09:37 AM
Pr. Hesse,

Of course there may be freedom on anything which is not itself a doctrinal matter.  Most in our Synod do not consider the issue of lectors a doctrinal matter; some do.  Thus we need to have a discussion about this practice which arose in our churches without ever BEING discussed.

Very well, then. Thanks for the clear posts, particularly the one detailing the scriptural and patristic basis for the various options. Best wishes in the process. Would that others were so careful.

Lou
Title: Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
Post by: Charles_Austin on November 27, 2010, 11:14:37 AM
And if the consensus, or however you reach decision, is - no women lectors, no women acolytes, no women crucifers - good luck on getting the congregations that permit such to stop doing it. I'll be watching to see how that happens.
Title: Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
Post by: Weedon on November 27, 2010, 11:17:41 AM
I think that's where President Harrison's initial promise that he would not force anyone but would seek to lead only by the clear and compelling Word of God comes in.  Either the Word of God does the job, or it doesn't get done.
Title: Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
Post by: Matt on November 27, 2010, 11:18:19 AM
So consensus of men trumps Scripture?  I should leave the LCMS if I don't like the consensus of men?  Just making sure I understand you.  

This is not at all what I am saying!

Let us say, hypothetically, that Bishop Dave and Layman Matt disagree on whether using women as lay readers is appropriate. Both of them are Lutheran and holding to Sola Scriptura agree to subordinate their own opinions to the authority of Scripture. Also both come to the table with a humble and teachable attitude that allows them to repent of a given opinion if the other demonstrates that it is contrary to scripture. Also, the Bishop refuses to use his official authority to impose his view on the layman, the two come together as equals in the Priesthood of All Believers, able to use reason to understand the clear meaning of scripture and apply it to current issues.

Then the two pray together for understanding, and examine the scriptures in question. They also examine the Lutheran confessions that may illuminate the topic since both consider these documents authoritative. Beyond that, each appeals to church fathers, tradition, and the writings of theologians in order to make their case, though these voices are not authoritative.

After all this is done, Bishop Dave persuades Layman Matt that the use of female lay readers is good, right and salutary. A consensus is reached. Matt should then return to his congregation and urge them to start using female lay readers because he now truly believes that it is the best practice, and he wants to bring his congregation into greater harmony with Bishop Dave's congregation. That is what I am saying.

And I don't want to change the subject to debate the issue of female lectors at this time, so I won't put my opinion out there. I bring this up merely as an example of how something like Koinonia can lead to greater unity in the LCMS. My key point is that greater unity is not possible without greater uniformity in practice at the level of Sunday morning worship. If no congregation accepts change of any kind, there can be no greater unity. The idea of a "big tent" LCMS that accepts huge diversity in worship is untenable.
Title: Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
Post by: Charles_Austin on November 27, 2010, 11:20:12 AM
Matthew Jamison writes:
The idea of a "big tent" LCMS that accepts huge diversity in worship is untenable.
I ask:
And using women lectors or not using women lectors constitutes "huge diversity"?
Title: Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
Post by: kls on November 27, 2010, 11:24:21 AM
This is not at all what I am saying!

OK, just wanted clarification.  I'm too cynical to think we can come together in agreement on some topics (I guess I look back even to Luther's experiences as an example), but God is certainly bigger than men (and women, to be inclusive).  :)
Title: Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
Post by: Matt on November 27, 2010, 11:34:24 AM
I'm too cynical to think we can come together in agreement on some topics

Realistically, I don't think we can reach 100% agreement on all topics, and neither does Pr. Harrison. So staying with my example, lets say I believe that women lectors are wrong, but the Koinonia consensus decides otherwise. I have a decision to make. If my sanctified conscience tells me that the consensus has taken a position contrary to scripture, then I must break fellowship with the consensus and leave the church body, no matter how difficult, expensive or painful this would be. Scripture must always, always, always have the final word.

Alternatively, I may come to the conclusion that my understanding of scripture is incorrect in this area and accept the consensus.

Either alternative would leave the church body more unified in doctrine and practice.
Title: Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
Post by: Matt on November 27, 2010, 11:45:39 AM
And using women lectors or not using women lectors constitutes "huge diversity"?

"Huge diversity" refers to a number of controversial issues in today's LCMS, women lectors is just one of these that I am using as an example.

Of course the ELCA tolerates even greater diversity in doctrine and practice, and has also tried to hold the church body together as a "big tent" where people with consciences bound to contradictory positions are urged to remain in communion with one another. The end result is strife, disunity, financial collapse and a disintegrating church body. There simply is no unity in the church except where pure doctrine is insisted upon and enforced. The idea that we can have a unified church body that includes wildly different theologies is a fantasy.
Title: Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
Post by: mariemeyer on November 27, 2010, 11:47:42 AM
I think there are several possible answers on lay readers:

1.  The laity ought not ordinarily read the Scriptures in the Divine Service as this is specifically given by St. Paul to the pastor in 1 Tim. 4:13 (I find this argument untenable myself - St. John Chrysosotom, a native Greek speaker did not take the "read" in the sense of "public reading" but of studying!)
2.  Because in the laity there is "no distinction between male and female" anything which a lay man can do in service to the Church, a lay woman may do also.  (I believe Dr. Lee Maxwell set this forth many years ago in Journal of English District Pastors; though if one grants #1, this point is mute; if one doesn't grant #1, then whether male or female lay readers is an adiaphoron)
3.  Because of the "orders of creation" it is inappropriate for a lay woman to read the Scriptures (citing the passages Pr. Preus cited earlier), but the ministry may delegate this responsibility to certain laymen (the oft-cited passage in Walther by J&S).
4.  A variation of 2 is that although one side may conclude that there is nothing in Scripture forbidding lay women from serving as lectors in the Divine Service, yet so as not to cause offense to those who hold that this practice would be contrary to the Scripture, Synod ought to step aside from the question by forbidding female lay readers for the sake of good order.
5.  A variation of 2 is because there are those who assert that this adiaphoron is a sin, we are obligated to use lay women readers to demonstrate that it is not sinful.  

Are there other options I'm not seeing?

Yes:

Regarding #4:

1) Luther's understanding of the orders of creation are applicable to the world where God works through men and women without regard for their sexuality to maintain order in a fallen world.

2) The concept of a single stuctured order where men and women have assigned immutable positions to which God is bound cannot be not found in  Scripture or the Confessions.

Thus the option of taking a second look at the concept of men and women having assigned positions in relation to each other.

Marie
Title: Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
Post by: Team Hesse on November 27, 2010, 11:52:57 AM
. The idea of a "big tent" LCMS that accepts huge diversity in worship is untenable.

A "church" of one is also untenable. Fallen human beings seeing through the glass darkly probably can't come to a clear consensus-- I would hazard a guess that's one of the reasons we need a Redeemer.

Lou
Title: Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
Post by: janielou13 on November 27, 2010, 11:54:31 AM
"The idea that we can have a unified church body that includes wildly different theologies is a fantasy."

Best to check out how Rome does it,,,, it works quite nicely for them.  Catholic is the original 'big tent', afterall.
Title: Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
Post by: Brian Stoffregen on November 27, 2010, 11:55:16 AM
The controversy over women lectors is a good place to get specific.

Currently, we have some congregations who prohibit female lectors and others who use them frequently. Therefore, the witness that we give as a Synod is contradictory and confused. Either this practice is contrary to Scripture or it is not, and we have people who believe, teach and confess opposite positions. I believe that this situation impairs our unity and leads to misunderstandings and hostility such as brothers and sisters who refuse to commune in certain situations.

We should be able to come together (in a process like Koinonia) and with prayer, deep study of the scriptures and frank conversation, work out a consensus. Most importantly, we must urge everyone in the Synod to conform to the consensus position, or leave the Synod. The most important step is the most difficult.

My congregation uses lay readers (including myself) who are exclusively male. Yet we do not teach that female readers are contrary to scripture, we just don't use them.

If consensus is reached that female lectors are acceptable, and if other congregations regularly use female lectors, than we should start using them as well as an expression of unity within our churches. This might be difficult or controversial in our congregation, but we should do this in the name of unity and clarity of confession. Those that cannot tolerate the consensus and find it antiscriptural should leave at this point.

The principle: various LCMS congregations should submit in love and conform themselves to the consensus position in all areas of belief and practice, so that we can truly walk together in unimpaired fellowship and joyfully celebrate the Sacrament of the Altar together. Those who find the consensus position unacceptable should leave the church body.

BUT. This consensus must be arrived at by including all opinions (in the beginning) and always submit itself to the authority of Scripture and confession. We have tried to arrive at this kind of unity through the democratic, parlimentary procedures of the Synod in Convention and have failed. I think Koinonia could be a better process.

It seems to me that you are making a mountain out of an adiaphoron.
Title: Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
Post by: Brian Stoffregen on November 27, 2010, 11:57:25 AM
If consensus is reached that female lectors are acceptable, and if other congregations regularly use female lectors, than we should start using them as well as an expression of unity within our churches. This might be difficult or controversial in our congregation, but we should do this in the name of unity and clarity of confession. Those that cannot tolerate the consensus and find it antiscriptural should leave at this point.

So consensus of men trumps Scripture?  I should leave the LCMS if I don't like the consensus of men?  Just making sure I understand you.  I prefer to worship in a church that doesn't have female lectors, but it's not my place to condemn those who do since the LCMS approves of this.  I take Scripture literally that women should not speak in church.  Others don't.  So I need to leave if more people feel differently than me?  Hmmmm . . .

You don't sing the hymns? You don't speak an "Amen" at the end of prayers?
Title: Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
Post by: Steven Tibbetts on November 27, 2010, 12:22:24 PM
No, there is no "ambiguity in how other full communion church bodies describe" the presence of Christ in the sacrament.


Not only is that not true, the official report and defense of the Formula of Agreement between the ELCA and the Reformed directly acknowledges it.
Title: Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
Post by: Richard Johnson on November 27, 2010, 12:25:36 PM
And if the consensus, or however you reach decision, is - no women lectors, no women acolytes, no women crucifers - good luck on getting the congregations that permit such to stop doing it. I'll be watching to see how that happens.

Gratuitous, snarky, and unnecessary. Charles, please keep comments like this to yourself.
Title: Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
Post by: Matt on November 27, 2010, 12:32:47 PM
A "church" of one is also untenable. Fallen human beings seeing through the glass darkly probably can't come to a clear consensus-- I would hazard a guess that's one of the reasons we need a Redeemer.

I have no doubt that disunity in the church is a result of the fall. God has given us perfect scriptures that express perfect doctrine around which we can build the perfect church. But in our sinful state, we are incapable of coming to agreement. Yet Christ demands and prays for a unified church. Christians who disagree on many things yearn together for unity.

The practical question is, at what level do we work for unity? Doctrinal agreement in the local congregation is relatively easy, especially since there are no barriers to a person leaving a church she disagrees with for one that is a better fit with her beliefs. Many of us are members of churches wherein the members are in agreement and at peace with one another.

At the highest level, I don't think that agreement will ever be reached among all of the the Roman, Eastern, Lutheran and various Protestant Christians until Christ returns and personally leads His true church. I think it is a waste of time to work for unity at this level and is much more likely to lead to arrangements that sacrifice true and clear doctrine for a superficial unity (JDDJ).

At an intermediate level, I am hopeful that agreement is possible at the level of the LCMS and church bodies that are in full fellowship with her. The LCMS has known this kind of unity before (during her period of greatest growth) but it does not exist now. I think it is worth it to work for unity at the level of the LCMS.

Key to this is the idea that communion together should confess complete agreement in doctrine. This understanding provides much of the motivation for our efforts to hammer out agreement around the true scriptural understanding on any topic. I think this is a great strength of the LCMS and something that distinguishes us from the ELCA, among others.

Title: Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
Post by: Brian Stoffregen on November 27, 2010, 12:33:07 PM
I think that's where President Harrison's initial promise that he would not force anyone but would seek to lead only by the clear and compelling Word of God comes in.  Either the Word of God does the job, or it doesn't get done.

Or there are different, but equally valid interpretations of the Word of God. As the NASB indicates with 1 tim 4:13: "Until I come, give attention to the public reading of Scripture, to exhortation and teaching." The italics indicate that those words are not in the Greek text.

In the biblical world, they did not do silent reading. All reading was out loud. So Philip hears the Ethiopian reading in his chariot (Acts 8:30). Presumably, this was for his own understanding, but it was still out loud.

There are also verses where it is clear that ἀναγινώσκω/ἀνάγνωσις refer to the public reading of scriptures in worship. There is no certainty that 1 Tim 4:13 refers to private reading for understanding (to inform his exhortations and teaching), or for the public reading in worship that is followed by exhortation and teaching.
Title: Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
Post by: Dave Benke on November 27, 2010, 12:33:44 PM
I would say at the end of Matt J's longer post that as the Word speaks and does not forbid the practice of lay lectors including women, Matt would return to his parish and if the laity are not reading indicate that when that's found in a sister congregation it's a matter that does not divide us in either direction; ie it is neither commanded nor forbidden.  Whatever the local parish then determined with its pastor would be what they determined.  

In other words, Urzeit gleich Endzeit - The beginning is like the end.  Right now no one is commanding that laity be lectors, and no one is forbidding it.  It is viewed as an area of Christian freedom.  And in my opinion that's the way it's going to end up.  But in the meantime, we'll be talking it through, which is what has, in the opinion certainly of the Koinonia Project, been lacking and which has caused confusion in the minds of some on both sides of the equation.

Marie's underlying point is well taken, also on both sides - there are underlying theological issues that will focus the practical presenting issue and they will be unpacked and dealt with in a manner that does not include a majority vote or even a consensus vote unless and until there's harmony (or until the Lord returns, whichever comes first).

Dave Benke
Title: Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
Post by: Dan Fienen on November 27, 2010, 12:35:31 PM
In working the Koinonia process to consensus, we must be careful that we do not end up speaking a difinitive Word of God where God has not definitively spoken or binding consciences to certain practices that God has not mandated.  IMHO "whatever is not forbidden is commanded" is not a principle of Lutheran theology.  There needs to be room for local custom and preference.  In striving for consensus on issues there needs to be room not only for "Yes" or "No" but also for "Undetermined."  One example in doctrine could be the perpetual virginity of Mary.  Some take it as a theological truth, some disagree.  Should this be church dividing?  Or shouldn't this fall under the "Undetermined" category where God has not spoken in clarity in Scripture.

In the area of women lectors - it seems to me that one outcome of our discussions is that it is permitted but not mandated.  In other words, if we decide that Scripture does not forbid it (yes, I know not everyone agrees with that - discussion is needed), but also that Scripture does not command it, what would be wrong to leaving it to local option?

We need to promote harmony in our church body, not monody.  In music, harmony is made up of several voices (or instruments) singing different notes that fit together to make an harmonious whole.  Monody is a single unison line and if more that one voice is singing, all sing the same notes.  While there may be elements of dissonance in a harmony, those are usually in the end resolved, we should strive to do so.  Harmony is not the same a chaos or total dissonance.  Some notes would be simply wrong, errors to be corrected.

In seeking consensus within our fellowship, do we need to seek absolute lock step conformity where everyone does the same thing, thinks the same way?  For freedom Christ as set us free, let us not trade our freedom for slavery to rules and policies, while being careful not to abuse that freedom to permit what God does not allow or avoid what He commands.

 Dan
Title: Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
Post by: Brian Stoffregen on November 27, 2010, 12:38:05 PM
I'm too cynical to think we can come together in agreement on some topics

Realistically, I don't think we can reach 100% agreement on all topics, and neither does Pr. Harrison. So staying with my example, lets say I believe that women lectors are wrong, but the Koinonia consensus decides otherwise. I have a decision to make. If my sanctified conscience tells me that the consensus has taken a position contrary to scripture, then I must break fellowship with the consensus and leave the church body, no matter how difficult, expensive or painful this would be. Scripture must always, always, always have the final word.

Alternatively, I may come to the conclusion that my understanding of scripture is incorrect in this area and accept the consensus.

Either alternative would leave the church body more unified in doctrine and practice.

There can't be a position that women lectors (as an example) is neither commanded nor forbidden in scriptures -- or, phrased differently, biblical scholars recognize that there are different ways of interpreting the pertinent texts, so it is adiaphora and each congregation is free to adopt a practice that best fits their circumstances. Cannot there be unity over "We agree to disagree on this issue. It is not congregation/church dividing"?
Title: Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
Post by: Steven Tibbetts on November 27, 2010, 12:42:15 PM
There is a great gulf between today's LCMS and the ELCA.
There are people in the LCMS who want to make that gulf wider; and there are people in the LCMS who - in their day to day parish ministries - find ways to bridge the gulf. Unfortunately, the former seem to be prevailing.


There is a great gulf between today's LCMS and the ELCA.
There are people in the ELCA who want to make that gulf wider; and there are people in the ELCA who - in their day to day parish ministries - find ways to bridge the gulf. Unfortunately, the former seem to be prevailing.

Pax, Steven+
Who first observed this in 1988.

Title: Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
Post by: kls on November 27, 2010, 12:48:44 PM
You don't sing the hymns? You don't speak an "Amen" at the end of prayers?

I'm sure there's a thread for that.  This isn't it.
Title: Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
Post by: Brian Stoffregen on November 27, 2010, 12:50:48 PM
There is a great gulf between today's LCMS and the ELCA.
There are people in the LCMS who want to make that gulf wider; and there are people in the LCMS who - in their day to day parish ministries - find ways to bridge the gulf. Unfortunately, the former seem to be prevailing.


There is a great gulf between today's LCMS and the ELCA.
There are people in the ELCA who want to make that gulf wider; and there are people in the ELCA who - in their day to day parish ministries - find ways to bridge the gulf. Unfortunately, the former seem to be prevailing.

Pax, Steven+
Who first observed this in 1988.

I saw it way back in the early 70's when the LCMS officially reinstated the gap that fellowship with the ALC had decreased. The gap has been widening ever since.
Title: Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
Post by: Matt on November 27, 2010, 01:14:18 PM
I would say at the end of Matt J's longer post that as the Word speaks and does not forbid the practice of lay lectors including women, Matt would return to his parish and if the laity are not reading indicate that when that's found in a sister congregation it's a matter that does not divide us in either direction; ie it is neither commanded nor forbidden.  Whatever the local parish then determined with its pastor would be what they determined.  

In other words, Urzeit gleich Endzeit - The beginning is like the end.  Right now no one is commanding that laity be lectors, and no one is forbidding it.  It is viewed as an area of Christian freedom.  And in my opinion that's the way it's going to end up.  But in the meantime, we'll be talking it through, which is what has, in the opinion certainly of the Koinonia Project, been lacking and which has caused confusion in the minds of some on both sides of the equation.

There are those among us who do not agree with Dr. Benke's first phrase above: they sincerely believe that scripture forbids the practice, and should for all Christians. Declaring it a matter of Christian freedom speaks for only one side of the debate.

Our practice reflects our belief, it cannot be otherwise. If my congregation never uses female lectors, then it confesses its agreement with those who think such practice is antiscriptural. If the practice is not antiscriptural, then we are contributing to the general dissension over what should be a matter of freedom. I do not think that personal preference should play a role here; my personal preference is far less important than Biblical truth and harmony in the church.

In our contemporary society, diversity and freedom are positive values. Our society defines these in a way that every individual and his tastes and preferences are supreme. This is not the way of the church. Diversity is not a good thing when it comes to worship practice and doctrine (which I see as inseparable). Diversity is a good thing when it is evidence that the Gospel is reaching people regardless of race, gender and age. Unity requires that all of us be willing to sacrifice our individual or congregational preferences for closer obedience to scripture and unity in the church. But these sacrifices should be voluntary as the result of persuasion rather than compulsory as the result of political power and enforcement.
Title: Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
Post by: Weedon on November 27, 2010, 01:26:27 PM
Mr. Jamison,

I would disagree with the notion that if your congregation does not use female readers it thereby confesses that it is contrary to God's Word to use them.  My own parish does not use them; but I'm not personally convinced that it is sinful to use them, and I suspect my parish would be rather divided on the question were it put to them.  But the parish simply prefers to have the reading done by pastors (or seminarians), so it never comes up.
Title: Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
Post by: Team Hesse on November 27, 2010, 01:48:14 PM
A "church" of one is also untenable. Fallen human beings seeing through the glass darkly probably can't come to a clear consensus-- I would hazard a guess that's one of the reasons we need a Redeemer.

I have no doubt that disunity in the church is a result of the fall. God has given us perfect scriptures that express perfect doctrine around which we can build the perfect church. But in our sinful state, we are incapable of coming to agreement. Yet Christ demands and prays for a unified church. Christians who disagree on many things yearn together for unity.

The practical question is, at what level do we work for unity? Doctrinal agreement in the local congregation is relatively easy, especially since there are no barriers to a person leaving a church she disagrees with for one that is a better fit with her beliefs. Many of us are members of churches wherein the members are in agreement and at peace with one another.

At the highest level, I don't think that agreement will ever be reached among all of the the Roman, Eastern, Lutheran and various Protestant Christians until Christ returns and personally leads His true church. I think it is a waste of time to work for unity at this level and is much more likely to lead to arrangements that sacrifice true and clear doctrine for a superficial unity (JDDJ).

At an intermediate level, I am hopeful that agreement is possible at the level of the LCMS and church bodies that are in full fellowship with her. The LCMS has known this kind of unity before (during her period of greatest growth) but it does not exist now. I think it is worth it to work for unity at the level of the LCMS.

Key to this is the idea that communion together should confess complete agreement in doctrine. This understanding provides much of the motivation for our efforts to hammer out agreement around the true scriptural understanding on any topic. I think this is a great strength of the LCMS and something that distinguishes us from the ELCA, among others.



I hope you don't really confess what I have highlighted-- it is my understanding of the Lutheran Confessional position that building the Church is the work of the Holy Spirit. But I could be wrong.....

Lou
Title: Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
Post by: pr dtp on November 27, 2010, 01:49:04 PM
Mr. Jamison,

I would disagree with the notion that if your congregation does not use female readers it thereby confesses that it is contrary to God's Word to use them.  My own parish does not use them; but I'm not personally convinced that it is sinful to use them, and I suspect my parish would be rather divided on the question were it put to them.  But the parish simply prefers to have the reading done by pastors (or seminarians), so it never comes up.

So then what do you do with those who insist you cannot use them, and admonish and condemn you if you do, or if you don't agree to condemn those of us who do?
Title: Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
Post by: Weedon on November 27, 2010, 01:56:44 PM
We sit down together under the Word of God and seek to persuade each other.  What other option do we have?
Title: Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
Post by: pr dtp on November 27, 2010, 02:05:56 PM
We sit down together under the Word of God and seek to persuade each other.  What other option do we have?

At what point do you break off fellowship?
Title: Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
Post by: Weedon on November 27, 2010, 02:13:03 PM
I've never read anyone address that any better than Henry Eyster Jacobs:

"So in the 16th century, when the organization of the Church was diverted from its proper sphere of teaching the saving doctrines of the Gospel, and the diocesan bishops refused to ordain men for the ministry in the congregations that protested against the corrupt teaching, there was no other alternative than for congregations to claim the power that belonged to them inherently and to repudiate the authority that repudiated God's Word.  But otherwise a break with the organization which had gradually grown through the centuries would have been wrong.  A schism occurs wherever there is a disruption of the Church's organization for any other reason that than of notorious impurity in the teaching that has prevailed and that has not been remedied after repeated and patient efforts to have it corrected."  Elements of Religion, p. 214

For both sides in these debates, the question that must be weighed is when has "notorious impurity in the teaching prevailed" and when have the limits been reached for "repeated and patient efforts" to correct it?  Individuals will most certainly disagree on when either has actually occurred and so some will draw a line quicker than others.  

Also, we ought always bear in mind Krauth's "pathway of error" in the Church - that it begins asking for toleration only, moves on to demand equality, and finally triumphs by demanding the extirpation of truth itself.  So error is always a serious matter in the Church and hopefully Christians always remember that.  One final point from Krauth also worth remembering:  the Church is responsible for no opinions which she has not expressed in her Symbols; the person who elevates the private writings and opinions of even the foremost theologians to the level of dogma has robbed the Church of her freedom.
Title: Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
Post by: pr dtp on November 27, 2010, 02:20:36 PM
I've never read anyone address that any better than Henry Eyster Jacobs:

"So in the 16th century, when the organization of the Church was diverted from its proper sphere of teaching the saving doctrines of the Gospel, and the diocesan bishops refused to ordain men for the ministry in the congregations that protested against the corrupt teaching, there was no other alternative than for congregations to claim the power that belonged to them inherently and to repudiate the authority that repudiated God's Word.  But otherwise a break with the organization which had gradually grown through the centuries would have been wrong.  A schism occurs wherever there is a disruption of the Church's organization for any other reason that than of notorious impurity in the teaching that has prevailed and that has not been remedied after repeated and patient efforts to have it corrected."  Elements of Religion, p. 214

For both sides in these debates, the question that must be weighed is when has "notorious impurity in the teaching prevailed" and when have the limits been reached for "repeated and patient efforts" to correct it?  Individuals will most certainly disagree on when either has actually occurred and so some will draw a line quicker than others.  

Also, we ought always bear in mind Krauth's "pathway of error" in the Church - that it begins asking for toleration only, moves on to demand equality, and finally triumphs by demanding the extirpation of truth itself.  So error is always a serious matter in the Church and hopefully Christians always remember that.  One final point from Krauth also worth remembering:  the Church is responsible for no opinions which she has not expressed in her Symbols; the person who elevates the private writings and opinions of even the foremost theologians to the level of dogma has robbed the Church of her freedom.

So if someone draws the line - and you are on the other side of it - what then?  Do you honor their view, or do you ignore it and discount it?

And do you see the ACELC in view of your citation of the private writing of Krauth?
Title: Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
Post by: pr dtp on November 27, 2010, 02:23:56 PM
Just came across an interesting quote....

The unity of the Lutheran Church can come only if our churches return to the diligent use of the means of grace, to a serious study of the Word of God and the confessions of the Reformation.  Hermann Sasse (LW II, 265)
Title: Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
Post by: Weedon on November 27, 2010, 02:25:56 PM
DTP,

We DISCUSS it; in humility and with love.  God may well grant us a way forward through the convicting power of His Word.  

I think the AECLC's documents are fine to discuss.  I do not agree with them in their entirety.  But they clearly touch things that trouble some in our fellowship, so let's discuss them.  

If I were part of a group where we examined the question of lectors, for instance, I would be coming to the table thinking that this is something I do not think the Lutheran Church ought have any binding doctrine on for I do not see how such can be derived from Scripture nor is it addressed anywhere in the Lutheran Symbols.  I therefore put it under the category of those things about which the Church may freely arrange as she sees fit, provided it is done in a way that avoids all frivolity, and that neither those who have nor those who have not lay readers ought condemn one another for lack of uniformity in what is admittedly a humanly instituted ceremony.  I certainly know that others think differently.  I am willing to sit with them at table to talk it over.  You are too, right?

Title: Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
Post by: Weedon on November 27, 2010, 02:27:33 PM
The use of the Sasse quote is ironic given his own refusal to commune in his own Australian Lutheran Church at one time...
Title: Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
Post by: Sandra on November 27, 2010, 03:03:17 PM
The use of the Sasse quote is ironic given his own refusal to commune in his own Australian Lutheran Church at one time...

Maybe diligent use of the means of grace means actually applying them to ourselves - examining ourselves and repenting of sin, and receiving absolution...rather than using the Lord's Supper as a magical tool to make everyone suddenly play nicely together.
Title: Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
Post by: Weedon on November 27, 2010, 03:18:35 PM
Bingo, Deaconess.  Bingo!
Title: Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
Post by: Dave Benke on November 27, 2010, 03:19:01 PM
Didn't Krauth get that from Alexander Pope, Pr. W?  "first pitied/then endured/and then embraced?"  A guy way, way later wrote about that couplet in a short story on the topic of homosexuality.  Ernest Hemingway.  There's Krauth, stuck in the middle again.

I think J/S's point is more serious than that, Sandra, in that he's indicating the fellowship in which the pastors already exist, the Missouri Synod, is a location locally and in its wider Eucharistic celebrations, where the means of grace are already available in all their humble glory in with and under Word, water, bread and wine for the same reasons you mention.  "Everyone suddenly playing nicely together" is in the real world never possible, which is why we, God's people, return for forgiveness and strength to the Altar behind our common confession of faith.  If the common confession of faith is uncommon, or non-existent, it needs to be demonstrated, and as Pr. W indicates contain a highly serious set of doctrinal circumstances before the Altar is foresworn.  Does the Sacrament accomplish that which Jesus indicates it does - "for the forgiveness of sins?"  Why would each penitent not be there for that same reason?

Dave Benke
Title: Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
Post by: Weedon on November 27, 2010, 03:32:56 PM
Bishop,

I think Sister Ostapowich's point, though, is that rather than busying myself glancing over at my brother to make sure he's being properly repentant and receiving the forgiveness of sins, I, the sinner, first look at myself.  Then after I have seen clearly my own desperate need, I might be of some use to the Lord in helping out a brother.  So refraining from being judgmental about those who choose not to commune outside of their parishes has a place among us - and we should perhaps refrain from presuming we know WHY a given brother is or is not at the Table on a given occasion, no?
Title: Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
Post by: Sandra on November 27, 2010, 04:07:01 PM
Didn't Krauth get that from Alexander Pope, Pr. W?  "first pitied/then endured/and then embraced?"  A guy way, way later wrote about that couplet in a short story on the topic of homosexuality.  Ernest Hemingway.  There's Krauth, stuck in the middle again.

I think J/S's point is more serious than that, Sandra, in that he's indicating the fellowship in which the pastors already exist, the Missouri Synod, is a location locally and in its wider Eucharistic celebrations, where the means of grace are already available in all their humble glory in with and under Word, water, bread and wine for the same reasons you mention.  "Everyone suddenly playing nicely together" is in the real world never possible, which is why we, God's people, return for forgiveness and strength to the Altar behind our common confession of faith.  

Pastor,

I understand that his point is more serious than that and am somewhat familiar with the situation he describes. That there is such a situation is disappointing, and clearly there needs to be more deep soul-searching than prideful chest-thumping to come together even to discuss the differences. Does that need to be publicly displayed in an extra-congregational communion of the Lord's Supper? Truthfully, I don't know. Can the Lord's Supper unite people? Of course. But like many other things with our faith - is unity an effect of what happens when the faithful are receiving forgiveness for their sins...or is it something that we can create, or at least "help" along, simply by doing the thing that creates unity?

The Missouri Synod is, in and of itself, something of an anomaly that doesn't fit in to the normal denominational "church" category. It is an association of independent congregations who have unity in specific areas. So while there is a certain amount of fellowship and unity by being a member of the LCMS, it is not quite the same kind of fellowship and unity one would expect (or demand) in a single, local congregation. There is a little more "wiggle room" for differences. The question at hand is how much wiggle room there is. That's a law question, which requires a law answer - and so we spend entirely too much time splitting hairs over unnecessary things and getting our vestments in a bunch gossiping about who's doing what wrong around the Synod while our own flocks continue to be cluelessly batted around by the latest church fads and doctrines. And that can (and does) go on ad infinitum.

Quote
If the common confession of faith is uncommon, or non-existent, it needs to be demonstrated, and as Pr. W indicates contain a highly serious set of doctrinal circumstances before the Altar is foresworn.  Does the Sacrament accomplish that which Jesus indicates it does - "for the forgiveness of sins?"
 
Does the Sacrament accomplish that which Jesus indicates it does? Absolutely. Does that mean we should use it to accomplish a certain end? Not so sure.

Quote
Why would each penitent not be there for that same reason?
Now pastor, you know the answer to that question. :)
Title: Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
Post by: Dave Benke on November 27, 2010, 04:18:46 PM
I see where you're coming from, Pr. W., I think.  In a local congregation occasionally there is someone who will not receive the Sacrament, and will speak to me about it afterward.  It's not the concern of others, although as the pastor it is a concern of mine.

The Sacrament does not "create unity."  What it does accomplish is the forgiveness of sins and strength in the reception of the Body and Blood of Christ by all who receive trusting in these words, "Given and shed for you."  To me those are very powerful reasons to be at the altar when the Sacrament is celebrated in a setting in whose fellowship I reside, whatever differentiation is made between local and other-than-local altar/sponsorship.

More to the point, if someone absents herself from our gathering on Sunday for a period of time, God's people contact the person and say something simple like, "We miss you - how are you?"  That's not busybodying, that's concern for a fellow member of our local body.  And if it's something at a certain level, I get involved for pastoral contact/care.  Likewise the person/pastor who IS attending the Eucharist is not busybodying per se if he reaches out to the one not attending and says, "We miss you - how are you?"  In some cases, the bishop might then be involved. 

Dave Benke 
Title: Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
Post by: Steven Tibbetts on November 27, 2010, 05:42:54 PM

Again I appeal to the standard we have acknowledged in our ordination - which clearly spells out where our unity is found.

Does this apply to Lutherans not in the LCMS?

Pax, Steven+
Who has been living in impaired communion within the ELCA for several years.
Title: Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
Post by: Brian Stoffregen on November 27, 2010, 06:20:06 PM
The Sacrament does not "create unity." 

Then how do you understand Paul's words: "Because there is one bread, we who are many are one body, for we all partake of the one bread." (1 Cor 10:17)

The Didache uses the image that just as the wheat was gathered into one loaf, so also may we be gathered together as one.

I see in these early Christian writings a greater emphasis on the unity created by the sacrament than the forgiveness of sins. Neither Paul, nor The Didache talk about sins being forgiven in the sacrament. I'm not saying that Luther was wrong to emphasize forgiveness in the Small Catechism, but that I see additional benefits given in scriptures and the early church. The unity of believers being one of those benefits.
Title: Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
Post by: FrPeters on November 27, 2010, 06:35:27 PM
There are many circumstances in which Pastors find themselves inheriting practices in their congregations which are not of their own choosing.  There are always choices about which areas urgently need to be addressed, which can wait, and which are battles postponed to a day well beyond the present moment...

Example, both parishes I have served did not have a weekly Eucharist (but monthly).  In both parishes I indicated early on where we would be headed, that I would not arbitrarily make this decision when to begin a weekly Eucharist (though I was well within my authority as the Minister of Word and Sacrament to do so) but would spend time teaching why... within six months the people began asking me more and more when will we have the Sacrament weekly and then we made the move...

Example, neither parish I served used the chalice -- only individual cups.  In both parishes I told them that I respected their previous practice but just as I would not tell them they could not commune under individual cups, neither could they refuse me the use of the chalice.  From day one I communed myself under the chalice and offered the chalice at the same time as the individual cups so that the distribution would not be confused and families split up...

Example, both parishes I have served had women reading the lessons before I came.  One had the female lectors vest in albs and the other did not.  I spent my time working to remove those who were poor readers and improving the reading skills and lector skill of thsoe remaining... I am not particularly enamored with  lay lectors but the practice does not bother me to the point of ending it... so I have allowed it continue without expanding the practice but actually increasing the number of male lectors and working to make sure that those who read, read well...

Finally an aside... I have spent my whole life in Missouri and have yet to understand what in the sam hill elders are... They are not presbyteroi as Scripture teaches, they are elected by the congregation and I do not have a clue where that comes from.. They are constitutionally give the role of assisting the Pastor but the actual responsibilities are vague and some vague enough to impinge upon those assigned to me as the Pastor...  I use them as they have been used in the past but I think this ia Missouri lex in search of a ratio and I would welcome a whole new discussion on this point alone... So I find it strange that the Deaconness would find other lay (maybe particularly female) lectors objectionable but elders are fine reading and assisting in the Lord's Supper... The worst situation is when elders think and act like the supreme court of the congregation... so where (other than anecdotal history) did the elders idea come from and what really are they supposed to be?
Title: Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
Post by: Weedon on November 27, 2010, 08:55:20 PM
I love my elders.  I couldn't imagine what it would be like to be a pastor without their brotherly counsel and guidance.  They are the voice of the congregation to me and they are my voice in the congregation.  When I come up with a REALLY STUPID IDEA that I'm all excited about, they are the ones who are perfect at throwing some cold water in my face to make me see how it would be received in the congregation.  When I need counsel about how to handle a difficult situation, I freely turn to them and ask their thoughts.  I don't always do what they think is best (and they're VERY gracious about not saying:  "I told you so") nor do they expect me to.  We don't operate with them as the boss or them as the pastor's lackeys.  We operate with them as first and foremost men who can give the pastor counsel and who assist in him whatever way he asks.  I think old Schmemann was right that such a development is inevitable given the conciliar nature of the Church herself.  What was originally the Episcopus and his Presbyters, becomes, when the Presbyter is standing in the place of the Episcopus in a local parish, the council of Elders that surround, uphold and support his ministry.  

By the bye, the German was Vorsteher, and so less danger of confusion with Aelteste.  
Title: Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
Post by: Dave Benke on November 27, 2010, 09:05:13 PM
Could be one of those "both-ands," not so, Brian?  Forgiveness received unites?  Common Union?  Union with Christ who forgives, inhabits, strengthens? 

A question to those who absent themselves is whether they believe someone has sinned and needs to confess that sin and repent of it before they're going to that altar.  If that's the case, then the responsibility for saying that belongs to the person offended, the one who's not coming to the Meal for that reason.  So the other person can in the estimation of the one not attending be made whole again. 

It just kind of goes back and forth like that, but really, I don't know that there's a change in the wind among the pastors in Missouri who are not coming.

Dave Benke
Title: Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
Post by: Weedon on November 27, 2010, 09:05:58 PM
Fr. Tibbetts,

A most interesting question.  Historically our vows were pretty much the same.  I think that's slightly changed, but I suspect that you and I were ordained under rites that were kissing cousins.  In what sense does Lutheranism recognize a ministerium that transcends Synodical/denominational boundaries due to a common "ordering" under the Lutheran Symbols?
Title: Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
Post by: Charles_Austin on November 27, 2010, 09:31:09 PM
One of my interim parishes was former LCMS and had "elders" in the LCMS mode. They were immensely helpful in a dozen ways. The now quite common practice of having a "mutual ministry committee" is sort of parallel; but I think you need to have the "elder" thing in the congregation's DNA to make it really work. I was glad to have them.
Title: Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
Post by: Dan Fienen on November 27, 2010, 09:44:28 PM
In one congregation I had dealings with the Board of Elders had an elder in charge of each area of ministry, one was the trustee, another was in charge of stewardship, another evangelism, etc.  In effect they were the church council and there was no Board of Elders.

Dan
Title: Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
Post by: Karl Hess on November 27, 2010, 09:48:25 PM

We should be able to come together (in a process like Koinonia) and with prayer, deep study of the scriptures and frank conversation, work out a consensus. Most importantly, we must urge everyone in the Synod to conform to the consensus position, or leave the Synod. The most important step is the most difficult.

My congregation uses lay readers (including myself) who are exclusively male. Yet we do not teach that female readers are contrary to scripture, we just don't use them.

If consensus is reached that female lectors are acceptable, and if other congregations regularly use female lectors, than we should start using them as well as an expression of unity within our churches. This might be difficult or controversial in our congregation, but we should do this in the name of unity and clarity of confession. Those that cannot tolerate the consensus and find it antiscriptural should leave at this point.

The principle: various LCMS congregations should submit in love and conform themselves to the consensus position in all areas of belief and practice, so that we can truly walk together in unimpaired fellowship and joyfully celebrate the Sacrament of the Altar together. Those who find the consensus position unacceptable should leave the church body.

BUT. This consensus must be arrived at by including all opinions (in the beginning) and always submit itself to the authority of Scripture and confession. We have tried to arrive at this kind of unity through the democratic, parlimentary procedures of the Synod in Convention and have failed. I think Koinonia could be a better process.



I agree that this is what needs to happen.  We have to strive for unity in everything that is taught by God's Word, and not allow each pastor to do his own thing.
Title: Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
Post by: Karl Hess on November 27, 2010, 09:49:54 PM
And if the consensus, or however you reach decision, is - no women lectors, no women acolytes, no women crucifers - good luck on getting the congregations that permit such to stop doing it. I'll be watching to see how that happens.

No doubt praying fervently for us.
Title: Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
Post by: FrPeters on November 28, 2010, 06:34:49 AM
I see I have not explained my point... I am not disputing the value or benefit of a council of people to work in a variety of ways that assist the Pastor, my question relates to one of theological source and justification for the term "elder" (which has but name in common with the presbyteroi of the NT) and how we in Missouri use this term to relate to a special spiritual tribunal of counselors to assist the Pastor...  It is this part of it that I have always found confusing.  How did we come by them?  What spiritual authority do they possess and by what right?  Why do we grant them privilege or right for some things because they are elders as opposed to the Church Council?  For example, assisting in the distribution?
Title: Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
Post by: John_Hannah on November 28, 2010, 06:43:36 AM
I see I have not explained my point... I am not disputing the value or benefit of a council of people to work in a variety of ways that assist the Pastor, my question relates to one of theological source and justification for the term "elder" (which has but name in common with the presbyteroi of the NT) and how we in Missouri use this term to relate to a special spiritual tribunal of counselors to assist the Pastor...  It is this part of it that I have always found confusing.  How did we come by them?  What spiritual authority do they possess and by what right?  Why do we grant them privilege or right for some things because they are elders as opposed to the Church Council?  For example, assisting in the distribution?

I suspect that it is a borrowing from the Presbyterians. No it is not strictly Presbyterian, but it is close.
Title: Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
Post by: Harvey_Mozolak on November 28, 2010, 06:45:27 AM
valid points...  we too retain such an office, Elders...  sometimes I have thought them to be those who would be pastors to the parish if all the pastors in the world were wiped out by some kind of clerical-plague (now there's a thought)... but should there not be more than a simple election to that post, say some requirement for experience in the parish, not a novice in the Faith, some training beyond how to hold the chalice, some expectation for participation in Bible Study, some commitment to confidentiality in the spiritual matters and other things of the parish... and those are difficult things to constitutionalize much less do...  they also perform something of liaison with the pastor when people feel they cannot deal directly with the pastor but can with another lay person (perhaps a sad instance but nevertheless sometimes a reality)…  a responsibility for the pastor and his/her family is another of the areas of their purview in our parish….   Harvey Mozolak
Title: Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
Post by: Dave Benke on November 28, 2010, 07:48:54 AM
In terms of titles, I prefer "deacon" to "elder," with all the biblical and historical warrants.  My parish has both, constitutionally and in life.  Out here the "Vorsteher" was the head usher in the old Teutonic original parishes - Herr Pastor took care of the front of the church, and the Vorsteher took care of the back.  My examination of parish constitutions finds elders a later add-on, conected to some signal from on high or widely used program - the Don Abdon governance comes to mind.   

In several parishes of my knowledge through the years, maybe because of pastoral vacancies, and sometimes at the instigation of a pastor who wanted to do away with more typical governance, the elders became an office carrying out the pastoral office and the congregation's governance.   Not advising the pastor, but either doing the work of the pastor or telling the pastor what to do.  Not elders with terms of office, but with lifetime tenure.  Not eldes with the concurrence of the pastor, but elders of whom the pastor was one - not necessarily the head elder either.  Elders who were the church council; in order to be a building trustee or a Sunday School superintendent one must be an elder.  Constitutionally conveyed, these were/are called by those leaders "the biblical constitution."  In these cases, the elders absconded with the pastoral office as well as the parish governance.   With lifetime tenure, the secular parallel is a "self-perpetuating board," or as we know them, an old-boys board.  Fr. Peters may have a couple of these in his distant memory.  I have them as current events. 

Take selection of hymns - the pastor in those cases cannot select a hymn the elders don't want.  Take selection of hymnals - the pastor cannot utilize LSB (in a Missouri parish) because the elders believe it to be doctrinally deficient.  Of course those are the less serious instances.    The use of biblical terminology, and terminology that was designated for the pastoral office rather than the diaconal office, is what is attractive and can be deadly.

Dave Benke
Title: Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
Post by: John_Hannah on November 28, 2010, 07:59:22 AM
In terms of titles, I prefer "deacon" to "elder," with all the biblical and historical warrants.  My parish has both, constitutionally and in life.  Out here the "Vorsteher" was the head usher in the old Teutonic original parishes - Herr Pastor took care of the front of the church, and the Vorsteher took care of the back.  My examination of parish constitutions finds elders a later add-on, conected to some signal from on high or widely used program - the Don Abdon governance comes to mind.   

In several parishes of my knowledge through the years, maybe because of pastoral vacancies, and sometimes at the instigation of a pastor who wanted to do away with more typical governance, the elders became an office carrying out the pastoral office and the congregation's governance.   Not advising the pastor, but either doing the work of the pastor or telling the pastor what to do.  Not elders with terms of office, but with lifetime tenure.  Not eldes with the concurrence of the pastor, but elders of whom the pastor was one - not necessarily the head elder either.  Elders who were the church council; in order to be a building trustee or a Sunday School superintendent one must be an elder.  Constitutionally conveyed, these were/are called by those leaders "the biblical constitution."  In these cases, the elders absconded with the pastoral office as well as the parish governance.   With lifetime tenure, the secular parallel is a "self-perpetuating board," or as we know them, an old-boys board.  Fr. Peters may have a couple of these in his distant memory.  I have them as current events. 

Take selection of hymns - the pastor in those cases cannot select a hymn the elders don't want.  Take selection of hymnals - the pastor cannot utilize LSB (in a Missouri parish) because the elders believe it to be doctrinally deficient.  Of course those are the less serious instances.    The use of biblical terminology, and terminology that was designated for the pastoral office rather than the diaconal office, is what is attractive and can be deadly.

Dave Benke

BISHOP

Change the name form "elder" to "deacon?" How would we distinguish them from the District consecrated deacons?

Peace, JOHN
Title: Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
Post by: pr dtp on November 28, 2010, 09:03:13 AM
In terms of titles, I prefer "deacon" to "elder," with all the biblical and historical warrants.  My parish has both, constitutionally and in life.  Out here the "Vorsteher" was the head usher in the old Teutonic original parishes - Herr Pastor took care of the front of the church, and the Vorsteher took care of the back.  My examination of parish constitutions finds elders a later add-on, conected to some signal from on high or widely used program - the Don Abdon governance comes to mind.   

In several parishes of my knowledge through the years, maybe because of pastoral vacancies, and sometimes at the instigation of a pastor who wanted to do away with more typical governance, the elders became an office carrying out the pastoral office and the congregation's governance.   Not advising the pastor, but either doing the work of the pastor or telling the pastor what to do.  Not elders with terms of office, but with lifetime tenure.  Not eldes with the concurrence of the pastor, but elders of whom the pastor was one - not necessarily the head elder either.  Elders who were the church council; in order to be a building trustee or a Sunday School superintendent one must be an elder.  Constitutionally conveyed, these were/are called by those leaders "the biblical constitution."  In these cases, the elders absconded with the pastoral office as well as the parish governance.   With lifetime tenure, the secular parallel is a "self-perpetuating board," or as we know them, an old-boys board.  Fr. Peters may have a couple of these in his distant memory.  I have them as current events. 

Take selection of hymns - the pastor in those cases cannot select a hymn the elders don't want.  Take selection of hymnals - the pastor cannot utilize LSB (in a Missouri parish) because the elders believe it to be doctrinally deficient.  Of course those are the less serious instances.    The use of biblical terminology, and terminology that was designated for the pastoral office rather than the diaconal office, is what is attractive and can be deadly.

Dave Benke

BISHOP

Change the name form "elder" to "deacon?" How would we distinguish them from the District consecrated deacons?

Peace, JOHN

John,

In a perfect world, you wouldn't need to...

A number of congregations in my area are beginning to insist (and pay for) their "elders" to at least take New Testament, Old Testament and Doctrine - and a few are recommending the entire course.   This is coming from the elders more than anyone else- they want to be prepared to assist their pastors, and yes, to know the basics of theology.

This changes the role of the elder from elected office holder to trained servant.  I have found it also gives them a much better understanding of the preparation and work of the Holy Ministry. and prepares them to serve as auxilary in and to the office. 
Title: Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
Post by: pr dtp on November 28, 2010, 09:57:48 AM

We should be able to come together (in a process like Koinonia) and with prayer, deep study of the scriptures and frank conversation, work out a consensus. Most importantly, we must urge everyone in the Synod to conform to the consensus position, or leave the Synod. The most important step is the most difficult.

My congregation uses lay readers (including myself) who are exclusively male. Yet we do not teach that female readers are contrary to scripture, we just don't use them.

If consensus is reached that female lectors are acceptable, and if other congregations regularly use female lectors, than we should start using them as well as an expression of unity within our churches. This might be difficult or controversial in our congregation, but we should do this in the name of unity and clarity of confession. Those that cannot tolerate the consensus and find it antiscriptural should leave at this point.

The principle: various LCMS congregations should submit in love and conform themselves to the consensus position in all areas of belief and practice, so that we can truly walk together in unimpaired fellowship and joyfully celebrate the Sacrament of the Altar together. Those who find the consensus position unacceptable should leave the church body.

BUT. This consensus must be arrived at by including all opinions (in the beginning) and always submit itself to the authority of Scripture and confession. We have tried to arrive at this kind of unity through the democratic, parlimentary procedures of the Synod in Convention and have failed. I think Koinonia could be a better process.



I agree that this is what needs to happen.  We have to strive for unity in everything that is taught by God's Word, and not allow each pastor to do his own thing.


"And to the true unity of the Church it is enough to agree concerning the doctrine of the Gospel and the administration of the Sacraments. Nor is it necessary that human traditions, that is, rites or ceremonies, instituted by men, should be everywhere alike. As Paul says: One faith, one Baptism, one God and Father of all, etc. Ephesians 4:5-6."     — The Augsberg Confession, Article VII ( Cited from Wordsearch 9's library - I believe taken from the Triglotta)

Title: Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
Post by: Dave Benke on November 28, 2010, 11:59:03 AM
John,

An Atlantic District Deacon serves under the authority of the congregation and pastor, not independent of or in place of those authorities.  The deacon is not (in most cases) to serve in church governance, but to serve under the pastor in a variety of auxiliary ministries.  The deacon may not serve in the parish if not approved by the pastor, and is under the same wider church discipline as a pastor (candidate status, restricted status, suspended for cause, etc.) in terms of removal or restriction.  Parish elders are internal to the congregation and often not supervised or consider themselves to be above supervision.

Dave Benke
Title: Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
Post by: Matt on November 28, 2010, 01:03:41 PM
I served as an elder in a situation much like Pr. Weedon describes above.

I do not understand Fr. Peters' objection to the role of the board of elders as it exists in most LCMS parishes. Obviously, there has been some fluidity in how we use and apply the titles of New Testament offices in the church to refer to our own. "Elder" is not the only title we have that is not used in the same way it was in the NT.

Never did I consider myself "above supervision" in the office of Elder. In this role, I submitted to the rightful authority of the pastor and to the counsel of my brother elders. We saw ourselves as the pastor's spiritual cabinet, a sounding board and an early-warning system when people were unhappy with the pastor for whatever reason. Our conversations were strictly confidential, and we helped the pastor manage sensitive situations such as those concerning church discipline.

We always acknowledged that the pastor had sole authority to make changes regarding worship, but the pastor sometimes voluntarily delegated decisions to the elders or the voter's assembly. This is a wise way to ensure that all voices are heard and all alternatives considered. The pastor also led an elder's Bible study with some advanced content. As elders we were expected to be well-catechized lay theologians.

I would not want to have a pastor who does not have a positive attitude toward his board of elders. I would not want to belong to a congregation who has abolished the function. As I see it, this is not necessarily an office established by scripture but is a matter of polity, i.e.: adiophora. But it is a good adiophoran that should be retained.
Title: Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
Post by: FrPeters on November 28, 2010, 01:46:43 PM
I have not so much had objection but a question as to origin, uniformity of understanding and roles, and the quasi-official status of an office which does not appear to have much standing or stature in Lutheranism as a whole... how did we get there and why do we call them elders and what is their jjavascript:void(0);ob (same from place to place or different???
Title: Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
Post by: Birkholz on November 28, 2010, 02:55:17 PM
I have not so much had objection but a question as to origin, uniformity of understanding and roles, and the quasi-official status of an office which does not appear to have much standing or stature in Lutheranism as a whole... how did we get there and why do we call them elders and what is their jjavascript:void(0);ob (same from place to place or different???

A good place to start would be this article from Al Collver:

http://www.messiahlacrescent.org/wp-content/uploads/2010/10/CJ-Jan-2006-Elders.pdf (http://www.messiahlacrescent.org/wp-content/uploads/2010/10/CJ-Jan-2006-Elders.pdf)
Title: Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
Post by: Dave Benke on November 28, 2010, 03:14:15 PM
Helpful article, Birkholz.  The old Deutsch constitutions I've seen out East had the Vorstehers as ushers, with the Chief Vorsteher the head usher.  Now maybe that's a mission congregation constitution, where the governance was small.  Either way, the diaconate seems to me a good solution as a workable term. 

Matt J, my remaining question is whether a pastor, particularly as Al Collver describes at the start of his article, a young or new pastor, is going to buck heads with elders who are elected by the church and are there for the pastor to bounce things off of, or to be bounced from.  I would suggest from experience that in many cases the elders believe they have greater horse sense and local experience than the pastor, no matter his office or technical/theological education.  And of course they may be right!  But at the same time, that "buffer" zone can impede a pastor from making a choice he would lmake 99 out of 100 times, as in my illustration ordering up the new hymnal.   And the pastor's growth as a spiritual leader, even through the thickets of thorny decisions, is thereby impeded.

Dave Benke
Title: Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
Post by: Dave Benke on November 30, 2010, 09:08:34 AM
Somebody just forwarded this to me, on the topic of female lectors (note however it is a Baptist church, fundamental-ly liberal):  http://vimeo.com/16404771   

Dave Benke
Title: Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
Post by: Charles_Austin on November 30, 2010, 09:22:48 AM
Someone explain to me how God could be offended with such a lector?
Title: Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
Post by: Revbert on November 30, 2010, 09:39:50 AM
Someone explain to me how God could be offended with such a lector?

Until I come, devote yourself to the public reading of Scripture, to exhortation, to teaching. 1 Timothy 4:13 (ESV)

11Let a woman learn quietly with all submissiveness. 12 I do not permit a woman to teach or to exercise authority over a man; rather, she is to remain quiet. 13 For Adam was formed first, then Eve; 14and Adam was not deceived, but the woman was deceived and became a transgressor. 15Yet she will be saved through childbearing—if they continue in faith and love and holiness, with self-control. 1 Timothy 2:11=15 (ESV)

 33b As in all the churches of the saints, 34 the women should keep silent in the churches. For they are not permitted to speak, but should be in submission, as the Law also says. 35If there is anything they desire to learn, let them ask their husbands at home. For it is shameful for a woman to speak in church. 1 Corinthians 14:33b-35 (ESV)

Mike

For a discussion of 1 Timothy 2, as well as 1 Corinthians, Galatians, and the Gospels and Acts, I refer folks to this interesting paper by Bishop Tom Wright (NT Wright), bishop of Durham (UK) http://www.ntwrightpage.com/Wright_Women_Service_Church.htm

When I read this, I found it sound and thought-provoking.

Title: Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
Post by: Matt on November 30, 2010, 09:41:12 AM
I have observed a couple of opposite problems in congregational polity:

The Board of Elders can, in practice, oppress the pastor. Sometimes these guys are long-time members with strong opinions that are not necessarily informed by scripture or confession and they see the pastor as a hired hand, particularly if he is young or new to the parish. I have also seen domineering councils or presidents, it is not only Elders who make this error.

The opposite error is a domineering pastor who essentially hand-picks the elders and council and dictates his agenda to them. I have seen this when the pastor's "vision" becomes supreme and the choice is to get with the program or leave the church. Business leadership ideas in the church often encourage the pastor to think of himself as a CEO. From what I've read about Transforming Churches Network, it also encourages a move away from our polity, holding the pastor accountable to his own goals and allowing him to select his own leadership team.

I have also seen several situations where the elders and pastor formed a wonderful team of brothers, forming a relationship based in trust, confidentiality and mutual submission. I have seen experienced elders help form a young pastor and prevent him from making mistakes. Again, I don't think the office of Elder is scripturally mandated, but arises naturally in a congregation. There are inevitably a few senior members, deeply involved and theologically astute, that the congregation looks up to as leaders. If the pastor does not have confidence and trust with these leaders, trouble will result. So whatever name you give it, I believe the role of a Board of Elders is crucial in a congregation. I also think it is wise to distinguish their role from that of the council, trustees and voter's assembly.
Title: Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
Post by: Dan Fienen on November 30, 2010, 09:43:45 AM
I once had an elder run for the Board of Elders with the express purpose of reigning in the pastor's and DCE's salary.  He felt that they were paid too much and the elders set the salary.

Dan
Title: Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
Post by: Dan Fienen on November 30, 2010, 09:51:44 AM
How does a lector exercise authority over others?

In an embassy, the communications clerk decodes cable traffic from the State Department, prints up the messages and delivers them to the Ambassador.  Does that put the communications clerk in authority over the Ambassador since he is delivering messages that the Ambassador is to obey?

The lector simply reads what God says to us in the Bible - a link in a communications chain.  It is not the job of the lector to interpret or explain the messages he or she reads but to be a courier.

Dan
Title: Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
Post by: Michael Slusser on November 30, 2010, 10:12:43 AM
Somebody just forwarded this to me, on the topic of female lectors (note however it is a Baptist church, fundamental-ly liberal):  http://vimeo.com/16404771   

Dave Benke

That was a real day-brightener. I wonder who wrote the modified version--didn't see any credits. It's almost enough to restore my good will towards children's pageants.

Peace,
Michael
Title: Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
Post by: swbohler on November 30, 2010, 10:13:28 AM
Rev. Fienen,

If the lector is nothing more than a "tape recorder" type thing, what is its point?  Why have them?  Can't the pastor read?  I have three services each Sunday morning, with no associate pastor or vicar for the past 5 years.  I can manage to lead the liturgy, read the lessons, and preach the sermon.  So why have a lector if I do not need a break?

Or, if just "reading" is not having authority, would you be OK with having a woman read (word-for-word) a sermon you wrote?
Title: Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
Post by: Weedon on November 30, 2010, 10:30:58 AM
Pr. Hebbeler,

A most interesting piece by Wright.  I'm not sure he persuaded me, but it is the best attempt to avoid the implications we in the LCMS read in that passage that I've ever encountered.  Wright always gives one furiously to think.  Thanks!
Title: Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
Post by: Revbert on November 30, 2010, 10:44:48 AM
Pr. Hebbeler,

A most interesting piece by Wright.  I'm not sure he persuaded me, but it is the best attempt to avoid the implications we in the LCMS read in that passage that I've ever encountered.  Wright always gives one furiously to think.  Thanks!

You're welcome, dear brother.  As one who is also part of a denomination without female pastors (we do ordain women to the diaconate, however), I find this piece helpful in at least having a calm discussion of the issue.
Title: Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
Post by: Mike Bennett on November 30, 2010, 11:13:23 AM
How does a lector exercise authority over others?

The lector simply reads what God says to us in the Bible - a link in a communications chain.  It is not the job of the lector to interpret or explain the messages he or she reads but to be a courier.


If the reader does not teach, then we should not call him a lector.

If the Scripture readings are not lessons, then we should not call them that.


This is an interesting question.  I've always been of the "lector simply reads what God says to us in the Bible" school

But based on

+ Involvement in competitive high school speech and in business presentations,

+ Preparing to read the lessons when I'm assigned, and

+ Listening painfully to the reading of people who have no clue how to read aloud what's on the printed page,

I don't think I really believe that any more.  The reader can read welll or poorly.  Reading well requires the reader to understand what (s)he thinks is being conveyed by the written word to apply appropriate cadence, emphasis, vocal tone, etc., and that in itself requires at least some rudimentary degree of interpretation of what's on the page.

Mike Bennett
Title: Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
Post by: pr dtp on November 30, 2010, 11:52:40 AM
Here we go again, forgetting the giants upon whose shoulders we stand....

Specifically:

"Hence the highest office is that of the ministry of the Word, with which all other offices are also conferred at the same time. Every other public office in the church is part of the ministry of the Word or an auxiliary office that supports the ministry, whether it be the elders who do not labor in the Word and doctrine (1 Tim. 5:17) or the rulers (Rom. 12:8) or the deacons (the office of service in a narrow sense) or whatever other offices the church may entrust to particular persons for special administration. Therefore, the offices of Christian day school teachers, almoners, sextons, precentors at public worship, and others are all to be regarded as ecclesiastical and sacred, for they take over a part of the one ministry of the Word and support the pastoral office." 

"Again: “To whom ever the office of preaching is committed, to him the highest office in Christendom is committed: he may then also baptize, celebrate Mass [the Lord’s Supper], and perform all the cure of souls [Seelsorge]; or, if he prefers not to, he may tend only to the preaching and leave the baptizing and other auxiliary functions to others, as Christ did, and Paul, and all Apostles, Acts 6”

Funny looking guy, kinda sickly wrote these words.... C Ferdinand WW. Y'all might have heard of him?

Seems to think the pastor doesn't have to be the Chief Operating Officer.... (which is what the pastor is, if he HAS to do all these things, because the laity are not to...)



As to the hyperbole that lectors are teachers, the case has been made that hymns teach as well.  If lectors cannot be women, and the "must remain silent" is because lectors teach, then it should be applied in Pr. Bohler's congregations as well to those women who would teach by singing.  Consistency in application of your theory is always appreciated.   ;D ;D ;D ;D ;D







Title: Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
Post by: pr dtp on November 30, 2010, 12:20:58 PM


Pr. J & S,

Do you think that Dr. Walther would say that you are arguing his points properly?
- Don't know- can't ask him - but it is clear he didn't think the pastor had to read the Old Testament and Epistle Readings, or do everything in the church - including baptism.  By the way - since one of the quotes above is from C&M, it isn't just "his point", but rather I do believe we have agreed as a synod that it is our view.

Do you think that Dr. Walther permitted women to publicly read the Scripture lessons during the public service?
- I haven't read he forbade it either, do you have such a citation? 

Do you think that Dr. Walther restricted women from singing hymns or singing in a choir during the public service?
- He would be foolish to do so.  But the issue is not women singing, it is about the argument that being a lector is equivelant to teaching and therefore forbidden in correlation to the assertion the hymns are teaching, in correlation to women cannot teach but must remain silent. 

Do you think there may be a distinction between being publicly set aside as an individual to take over a part of the one ministry of the Word and support the pastoral office as Walther writes and acting as a member of the congregation?
-  Depends on what you mean as being "publicly set aside".  If that is "Called and ordained" I have no problem with people being "called and ordained" to offices other than the pastoral office, whether de facto or de jure.  I have long maintained that we should ordain deaons and deaconesses and lutheran educators to those offices, and I would contend that but for semantics we do. We call them, set them aside, pray over them, and install them.  So what is the difference between "commissiioned" and "Ordained", in view of the historic practices toward these offices?

Serious questions, all, for which I am interested in your answers.
- you have them!
Title: Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
Post by: kls on November 30, 2010, 12:25:59 PM
The little girl reading was adorable . . . doubtful it was during worship based on the surroundings in the video.  What a sweetheart.

Aside from Scriptural reasons, I still have a hard time hearing the Word of God (specifically those passages where God and Jesus speak directly) not coming from a man.  Perhaps it's the work of James Earl Jones as the voice of God (http://www.discountbible.com/JEJmat4.wma) that did it for me.  :D  I think women are very gifted readers and believe they can do so in venues other than worship.  I place a high value on any representation of Jesus or God remaining true to the male characteristics that the Bible very clearly lays out for us.  So it should go in worship, in my humble (and certainly not agreed with by all) opinion.
Title: Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
Post by: kls on November 30, 2010, 12:31:20 PM
I guess considering that point then and the season, then we should consider whether women should read the Magnificat reading.

Or instead when it is sung from the back of the church in the choir loft in a woman's voice . . . love it!  I'm sure the issue of women singing in worship is going to be brought up now.  Maybe someone with more energy than I have today can be ready to counter it (or suggest a new thread).   ::)
Title: Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
Post by: pr dtp on November 30, 2010, 12:34:07 PM
I guess considering that point then and the season, then we should consider whether women should read the Magnificat reading.

Or instead when it is sung from the back of the church in the choir loft in a woman's voice . . . love it!  I'm sure the issue of women singing in worship is going to be brought up now.  Maybe someone with more energy than I have today can be ready to counter it (or suggest a new thread).   ::)

It was - 7 minutes earlier than your post.

I would be curious about your opinion regarding walther's delegation of what you prefer to be the pastor's role, in the citations above...
Title: Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
Post by: kls on November 30, 2010, 12:46:47 PM
For me, it is as simple as this statement by the LCMS relating to Female Communion Assistants (http://www.lcms.org/pages/internal.asp?NavID=4664):

"The commission strongly recommends that to avoid confusion regarding the office of the public ministry and to avoid giving offense to the church, such assistance be limited to men" [1985 report on Women in the Church, 47]. While stopping short of saying on the basis of clear scriptural directions in this area "Thus saith the Lord," the Commission argues that the principal concern must be to preserve the uniqueness of the pastoral office as it relates to the role of women in the church."

Am I going to leave a worship service or not commune at a service where women are reading?  No.
Title: Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
Post by: kls on November 30, 2010, 01:05:00 PM
So, what of the woman who publicly sings the Magnificat from the back of the congregation?  I'd need to know more of the history, but I'd say we are playing rather loosely with being silent in such a circumstance.

If our hymnody is firmly rooted in Scripture as we claim, and women sing along, well then . . . ?  I'm not aware of any doctrinal or liturgical issues with respect to female soloists during worship, but I have no problem being informed if there are.  The President's installation service included a female singing a Psalm (somewhat solo and somewhat with a group, I suppose).  I hesitate to delve into the realm of church music, as I am completely deficient on the subject.  Just my two cents for what it's worth, though.
Title: Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
Post by: Sandra on November 30, 2010, 01:07:59 PM
As a woman, it is my place of honor to receive the service of those men the Lord has placed in the congregation to serve me (and the rest of the laity for that matter) through the preaching and teaching of the Word and the administration of the Sacraments. I definitely have the better portion in this arrangement, why would I (or any other woman) give it up?
Title: Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
Post by: Karl Hess on November 30, 2010, 01:22:19 PM
J and S--
Yes, Walther would have forbidden women reading the Scripture.  He forbade women from speaking in the congregational assembly.  You can find that in his Pastorale.
Title: Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
Post by: ptmccain on November 30, 2010, 01:23:25 PM
Walther was opposed to laity performing functions he believed were those of the pastoral office. That would have excluded laity, period, men or women, from reading the Scriptures in the public Divine Service.
Title: Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
Post by: Karl Hess on November 30, 2010, 01:27:36 PM
Walther was opposed to laity performing functions he believed were those of the pastoral office. That would have excluded laity, period, men or women, from reading the Scriptures in the public Divine Service.
Perhaps Walther would have been opposed to laity distributing communion to help the pastor, or reading the lessons.  (In fact, probably).  But that is not the only reason he would have been opposed to women reading the Scripture.

He opposed women speaking in the voter's assembly.  He based this on the same readings that we usually interpret to mean only that women should not exercise the functions of the pastoral office, namely 1 Corinthians 14 and 1 Timothy 2.  There is no doubt that the LCMS' present position on this, knowingly or unknowingly, says that Walther taught wrongly on this point. 

It's in the Pastorale.
Title: Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
Post by: Karl Hess on November 30, 2010, 01:30:50 PM
By the way, Paul, do you believe that the synod is in error when it allows laymen to read lessons and distribute communion?  If so, can you give me your arguments from Scripture and the Confessions on this?  I would like to hear this argument from someone who doesn't seem to have Romeward leanings on the office of the ministry.  My congregation had both lay lectors and elders assisting with communion when I arrived, and I figured I was doing my duty if I didn't give in to the push to have women read (which had not yet been allowed.)
Title: Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
Post by: ptmccain on November 30, 2010, 01:39:49 PM
Walther's views on the office of the ministry are such that not even the most "high church" or "rabid Waltherians" among us would agree with anymore.

Which is interesting, in itself, given all the silly comments about Walther not having a high view of the office of the holy ministry.

I have mixed feelings on these issues, frankly.

I have yet to understand what the value, use or need is for there to be lay people reading the Scriptures in the Divine Service. It seems to me to derive more from a false understanding of what it means for the laity to be "involved" in the Divine Service as opposed to fulfilling their true calling of being the royal priesthood at prayer in the Divine Service.

As for distributing the Sacrament, I believe the Synod wisely counsels against women distributing. I would prefer that distribution of the Sacrament be performed by ordained clergymen, but then, I'm just one of those "old school Lutherans" like Walther was, I guess. I think AC XIV is rather clear on these matters, in spite of The LCMS' best efforts to make it unclear via ammendation at Wichita, Kansas a while back.

 :)
Title: Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
Post by: pr dtp on November 30, 2010, 01:54:07 PM
Walther's views on the office of the ministry are such that not even the most "high church" or "rabid Waltherians" among us would agree with anymore.

Which is interesting, in itself, given all the silly comments about Walther not having a high view of the office of the holy ministry.

I have mixed feelings on these issues, frankly.

I have yet to understand what the value, use or need is for there to be lay people reading the Scriptures in the Divine Service. It seems to me to derive more from a false understanding of what it means for the laity to be "involved" in the Divine Service as opposed to fulfilling their true calling of being the royal priesthood at prayer in the Divine Service.

As for distributing the Sacrament, I believe the Synod wisely counsels against women distributing. I would prefer that distribution of the Sacrament be performed by ordained clergymen, but then, I'm just one of those "old school Lutherans" like Walther was, I guess. I think AC XIV is rather clear on these matters, in spite of The LCMS' best efforts to make it unclear via ammendation at Wichita, Kansas a while back.

 :)

It is interesting that the two citations I placed above - both from Walther, show Walther's understanding of the OHM to include others than the pastor.  Here is part o that post again....

"One more time:

Here we go again, forgetting the giants upon whose shoulders we stand....

Specifically:

"Hence the highest office is that of the ministry of the Word, with which all other offices are also conferred at the same time. Every other public office in the church is part of the ministry of the Word or an auxiliary office that supports the ministry, whether it be the elders who do not labor in the Word and doctrine (1 Tim. 5:17) or the rulers (Rom. 12: or the deacons (the office of service in a narrow sense) or whatever other offices the church may entrust to particular persons for special administration. Therefore, the offices of Christian day school teachers, almoners, sextons, precentors at public worship, and others are all to be regarded as ecclesiastical and sacred, for they take over a part of the one ministry of the Word and support the pastoral office." 

"Again: “To whom ever the office of preaching is committed, to him the highest office in Christendom is committed: he may then also baptize, celebrate Mass [the Lord’s Supper], and perform all the cure of souls [Seelsorge]; or, if he prefers not to, he may tend only to the preaching and leave the baptizing and other auxiliary functions to others, as Christ did, and Paul, and all Apostles, Acts 6”

Funny looking guy, kinda sickly wrote these words.... C Ferdinand WW. Y'all might have heard of him? "
Title: Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
Post by: Dan Fienen on November 30, 2010, 02:05:53 PM
1 Corinthians 11:4-5 (ESV)
Every man who prays or prophesies with his head covered dishonors his head, but every wife who prays or prophesies with her head uncovered dishonors her head, since it is the same as if her head were shaven.

Prophesying - OK, reading lessions - no?

Dan
Title: Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
Post by: grabau14 on November 30, 2010, 02:11:12 PM
And here is another quote from that C.F.W. Walther fellow:

"all adult, male members of the congregation have the right to participate actively in the discussions, votes, and decisions of the congregation since that is a right of the whole congregation.  See Matt 18:17-18; Acts 1:15,23-26;15:2,12-13,22-23; I Cor 5:2;6:2;10:15;15:7;II Cor 2:6-8; II Thess 3:15.  Excluded from the exercise of this right are the youth (I Pet 5:5) and the female members of the congregation (I Cor 14:34-35) { see also I tim 2:8-15}."
Pastoral Theology, p. 257

So I would find it odd that Walther who did not allow women to vote would turn around and allow them to read the OT and Epistle lessons.
 
Title: Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
Post by: ptmccain on November 30, 2010, 02:16:47 PM
Here we go again, forgetting the giants upon whose shoulders we stand....

Walther is not referring to functions within the Divine Service of Word and Sacrament. He nowhere indicates even any support for a layman reading a prayer in a church meeting, as long as there was a pastor present, a point he made clear during the Norwegian Lay Preacher controversy where his representative communicated his position to the Norwegians.

Like I said, even those who claim to be the most supportive of Walther, probably would not even agree with him.

I notice you avoided responding to the point of my comments.

What, precisely, is the great value in involving laity in the liturgical functions in the chancel? I think it sends a wrong message that unless one is chancel prancing one is not really "involved" in worship or that somehow the laity's "rights" are not being acknowledged.

All these arguments for "rights" and "functions" and "positions" are really out of whack, whether we are talking about laity performing liturgical functions or advocating for women to be pastors, etc. etc. Same tune.

Title: Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
Post by: Dan Fienen on November 30, 2010, 02:27:42 PM
On the topic of lay/female lectors there are two types of arguments.  One is for each pastor/congregation to decide whether they would allow/foster the practice.  The other is whether anyone should foster the practice.  Some have expressed why they do not see the necessity of lay lectors, or their personal dislike for the practice.  Those can be good reasons not to allow it where they are.  But they are not arguments as to why nobody should allow it anywhere.  Other arguments have been advanced supporting or denying lay lectors everywhere.  Those two types of arguments must be distinguished.

Another way to distinguish arguments is between arguments that deal with the permissibility of something, and arguments that deal with the wisdom of the practice.  A practice, whether it is lay lectors or lay assistance in distributing the elements in Holy Communion, may legitimately be wisely done in one place but could be unwise in a different place, different circumstances.

Affirming that you find lay lectors to be unwise or unliked or unnecessary may be good reason for you not to allow it in the church you are associated with, but it does not mean that it should not be done anywhere.

Dan
Title: Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
Post by: swbohler on November 30, 2010, 02:40:53 PM
Rev. Fienen,

I am still waiting for you (or someone else) to give me a reason for having lay lectors.  What exactly IS its purpose?  I am not just talking about women reading the lessons, but any of the laity.  Nor am I talking about when there is no pastor present and an elder fills in, but when the pastor is standing/sitting right there.  Is it just because we can?  Even if one grants the interpretation of 1 Timothy 4:13 as speaking about private reading (as opposed to the public reading in the worship service), is Christian freedom justification enough to offend those who do not accept that understanding?  What about 1 Corinthians 8 -- shouldn't the weaker consciences be taken into account and the freedom to have lay lectors be given up out of Christian love?

I am also still waiting for you (or someone else) to answer if "just reading" in the worhsip service is not exercising authority, then is it permissible for a woman to "just read" a sermon written by a man?  How about if the pastor is standing/sitting right there (just like he is for the reading of the Scripture lessons)?
Title: Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
Post by: ptmccain on November 30, 2010, 02:41:52 PM
On the topic of lay/female lectors there are two types of arguments.  One is for each pastor/congregation to decide whether they would allow/foster the practice.  The other is whether anyone should foster the practice.  Some have expressed why they do not see the necessity of lay lectors, or their personal dislike for the practice.  Those can be good reasons not to allow it where they are.  But they are not arguments as to why nobody should allow it anywhere.  Other arguments have been advanced supporting or denying lay lectors everywhere.  Those two types of arguments must be distinguished.

Another way to distinguish arguments is between arguments that deal with the permissibility of something, and arguments that deal with the wisdom of the practice.  A practice, whether it is lay lectors or lay assistance in distributing the elements in Holy Communion, may legitimately be wisely done in one place but could be unwise in a different place, different circumstances.

Affirming that you find lay lectors to be unwise or unliked or unnecessary may be good reason for you not to allow it in the church you are associated with, but it does not mean that it should not be done anywhere.

Dan


Dan,

What do you think is the value, and the theological grounds, for lay lectors in our circles?
Title: Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
Post by: swbohler on November 30, 2010, 02:45:12 PM
J & S,

At the risk of repeating what others have already said, let me point out to you that Walther was speaking of churchly offices.  He even gives some examples.  But he doesn't list lector (I wonder why?). 

So that brings the following questions to my mind: are those reading the lessons in churches holding an office?  How have they been put into that office?  Who has placed them there?  If the lector is fulfilling part of the pastor's office, can a woman be selected to do that?  If reading the Scriptures belongs to the laity, has the congregation chosen the readers?
Title: Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
Post by: revjagow on November 30, 2010, 02:49:25 PM

I have mixed feelings on these issues, frankly.

I have yet to understand what the value, use or need is for there to be lay people reading the Scriptures in the Divine Service. It seems to me to derive more from a false understanding of what it means for the laity to be "involved" in the Divine Service as opposed to fulfilling their true calling of being the royal priesthood at prayer in the Divine Service.


In our case at BLC, it is because we have very talented readers.  Far be it from me to neglect the talents and abilities God gives for service in His church. "The gifts of God for the people of God...".

"As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God's varied grace..." 1 Peter 4:10
Title: Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
Post by: swbohler on November 30, 2010, 02:53:49 PM
So, revjagow, if our congregation has a very talented woman who can write and deliver wonderful sermons she may do so?  That is, are you really saying that the justification for having lay readers is because they have the talent?  Is talent alone enough?  Isn't there something necessary from outside the individual? 
Title: Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
Post by: Dan Fienen on November 30, 2010, 03:08:20 PM
A couple of the reasons for lay lectors that has been given, it is another way for lay people to actively participate in the worship service rather than being simply passive spectators.  In a way it affirms that God's Word was given not just to pastors but to the whole church.

A counter question, if you will, if you are not convinced that lay lectors are necessary - does that mean that it should be forbidden everywhere?  Is it a rule of Lutheran practice that what is not commanded should be forbidden?

Dan
Title: Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
Post by: FrPeters on November 30, 2010, 03:08:31 PM
Quote
"The commission strongly recommends that to avoid confusion regarding the office of the public ministry

Who is confused?  With me in Eucharistic vestments as the final one entering in procession, sitting in the middle chair with acolyte in cassock and cotta and assisting minister in alb only, absolving the congregation, reading the Gospel and preaching from the pulpit, presiding at the Table... I don't think there is much danger in this setting that anyone thinks that anyone assisting me in any way is exercising the prerogatives of the office...

It is much more likely when Pastor is in polo and khakis like everyone else on the dais and the table is absent, the absolution is not pronounced, and the Gospel read by one of the praise band folks...
Title: Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
Post by: peter_speckhard on November 30, 2010, 03:12:27 PM
The catechism ask "What does this mean?" and responds by saying what we should and should not do or by saying what God does and does not do. In other words, the meaning is in the action, not just the abstraction. They can't be separated. That's what sacramental theology does-- insist ont he connection between abstract meaning and concrete thing. Action and meaning are wrongly separated when people who have spiritual unity in Christ refuse to commune together or when people who do not have said unity commune together as though to achieve or work toward that unity. Both errors amount to declaring that the meaning of the action is something other than or separable from the action itself.
Title: Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
Post by: FrPeters on November 30, 2010, 03:14:24 PM
If someone told me that it was their right to read a lesson, I would dismiss it right away.  Any roles delegated or assigned by the Pastor to others is strictly a matter of privilege and not of right.  I also have mixed feelings about this but I am not so constrained by the arguments against to insist that it cannot or may not be done.  Again, I do not get the confusion argument against lay readers.  Nobody ever gets confused in the parish I serve.  Now, again, if someone were trying to stir something up, I would discontinue the practice straightway.  I inherited it and had other more important fish to fry before I got down to this item on the list...
Title: Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
Post by: Dan Fienen on November 30, 2010, 03:28:55 PM
From Justin Martyr: "On the day which is dedicated to the sun, all those who live in the cities or who dwell in the countryside gather in a common meeting, and for as long as there is time the Memoirs of the Apostles or the writings of the prophets are read.  Then, when the reader has finished, the president verbally gives a warning and appeal for the imitation of these good examples. (I, 67)"

Here there seems to be a distinction between the one reading from the "Memoirs of the Apostles" or the written prophets and the president of the assembly who preaches.

If one goes back to synagog practice, and much of the early Christian worship was similar to synagog, there was a long tradition of lay readers, even to the point of laymen going up for the reading who were illiterate so that someone else had to do the actual reading. (Encyclopaedia Judaica, (Jerusalem: Keter Publishing House Ltd., 1971), v. 15, p. 1247. It is of interest to note that the custom of having laymen read was maintained even after it was no longer practical for them to do the actual reading. See also Abraham Cronbach, "Worship in NT Times, Jewish," The Interpreter's Dictionary of the Bible, George Arthur Buttrick, ed., (Nashville: Abingdon Press, 1962) vol. 4, p. 902.)

There is also another interpretation possible of the 1 Timothy 4 passage encouraging Timothy to pay attention to the reading of Scripture.  Does Paul anywhere state that Timothy is in Ephesus as a parish pastor?  Another way to understand Timothy's position and the letter is that Timothy is there as Paul's representative to supervise the house churches of Ephesus and to correct error - much like a District President today.  In which case Timothy should pay particular attention to what was being read and taught in the churches - not that he speciafically needs to do it himself.  (See for example R. C. H. Lenski, The Interpretation of St. Paul's Epistles to the Colossians, to the Thessalonians, to Timo-thy, to Titus and to Philemon (Minneapolis: Augsburg, 1937, 1961), pp. 473-484, 642-650.)  1 Timothy would then be similar in function to the Articles of Visitation drawn up by Luther, Melanchthon, and others.

Dan
Title: Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
Post by: Karl Hess on November 30, 2010, 05:24:21 PM
And here is another quote from that C.F.W. Walther fellow:

"all adult, male members of the congregation have the right to participate actively in the discussions, votes, and decisions of the congregation since that is a right of the whole congregation.  See Matt 18:17-18; Acts 1:15,23-26;15:2,12-13,22-23; I Cor 5:2;6:2;10:15;15:7;II Cor 2:6-8; II Thess 3:15.  Excluded from the exercise of this right are the youth (I Pet 5:5) and the female members of the congregation (I Cor 14:34-35) { see also I tim 2:8-15}."
Pastoral Theology, p. 257

So I would find it odd that Walther who did not allow women to vote would turn around and allow them to read the OT and Epistle lessons.
 

Right, this is the quote I was referring to.  The LCMS suffers from blindness with regard to Walther's view in this area.  This is the Synodical Conference's teaching on orders of creation.  By and large, the LCMS today acts as if Walther never said these things, or as if this reading of 1 Cor 14 and 1 Tim. 2 never existed.
Title: Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
Post by: grabau14 on November 30, 2010, 05:35:07 PM
Speaking of that Walther fellow, I am really looking forward to the CTS Symposium on Walther in January.  Just reserved my room at La Quinta. 
Title: Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
Post by: Weedon on November 30, 2010, 05:35:18 PM
Has anyone given thought to Wright's proposed analysis mentioned up above?  I'd like to hear that hashed out particularly by our Greek expert.  Scott???
Title: Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
Post by: ptmccain on November 30, 2010, 05:35:55 PM
I'll ask it once more, in the hope maybe I might get a response.

But what is so important about having lay lectors? What does it serve to accomplish? What message does it communicate?

I'm not looking for defenses for having them, I'm looking for reasons why to have them to begin with.

Title: Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
Post by: Sandra on November 30, 2010, 05:44:48 PM
A couple of the reasons for lay lectors that has been given, it is another way for lay people to actively participate in the worship service rather than being simply passive spectators.

I think passive reception (not spectators) in the Divine Service is a beautiful confession of our faith. We are there to be served by God. Faith is receiving gifts from God. Why would any layman want to stop receiving if it's not absolutely necessary?

That someone is not participating actively with their mind/spirit apart from participating in the "leadership" of the service sounds like a personal problem.
Title: Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
Post by: Weedon on November 30, 2010, 05:45:39 PM
I think you were given one reason:  some laity read exceedingly well, sometimes better than the pastors, and having them serve as readers allows them to edify the congregation by their gift.  I don't buy that this is the same as asking a woman who may deliver a better sermon to write and deliver one, for we do have Scripture that forbids the public "speaking" (authoritative teaching) of women.  Their place on the Bema, as Chrysostom said.  

Certainly the current practice arose in our circles under influence from the Roman reforms which sought to bring about "full, active, conscious" participation in the liturgy on the part of the laity.  Liturgy as work of the people (yes, I know that is quite the misunderstanding of liturgy).  Yet, as I've pointed out before, Lutherans frequently used lay readers (young boys) at Matins and Vespers, the pastor sitting and listening to the reading and then proceeding to deliver a homily.  The Church Orders bear abundant witness to this.  However, nowhere do the Church Orders envision other than an ordained pastor reading the Scripture lessons at the Divine Service.  That is not to say that they forbid this; simply that it is not on the table for them.  

Other reasons for the laity doing so?  Perhaps a practical one:  it is many times easier to pay attention if one is listening to more than one voice.

My own preference would be to see the Office of Reader restored if we are going to have others than the pastor read, and that those who are set into this office are trained, recognized as in an auxiliary office, and suitably vested.  Whether or not this includes women is something that the Synod will no doubt come to terms with as the Koinonia Project is undertaken.
Title: Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
Post by: Dan Fienen on November 30, 2010, 06:05:32 PM
Pr. McCain, why do it?  Some of our people want to participate in the worship service in this way.  It provides another opportunity for people to be involved in the regular activity of the church in a visible, responsible way.  It encourages people to see worship not just as a spectator thing (something that I think may be a weakness of Contemporary Worship - you have the "praise band" and the "worship team" up front putting on the worship show with the audience congregation occasionally clapping or singing along ŕ la the old Mitch Miller shows) but as something that they are involved with, even coming up from the congregation to do their part.  It provides another entry point for people to become more personally involved in the work of the church.

A counter question.  If you do not agree that any of these are valid reasons to initiate the practice, does that mean that nobody should?

Pr. Weedon, in considering the Church Orders, what do you make of Justin Martyr apparently mentioning someone other than the presider reading lessons?

Dan
Title: Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
Post by: John_Hannah on November 30, 2010, 06:15:41 PM

For a discussion of 1 Timothy 2, as well as 1 Corinthians, Galatians, and the Gospels and Acts, I refer folks to this interesting paper by Bishop Tom Wright (NT Wright), bishop of Durham (UK) http://www.ntwrightpage.com/Wright_Women_Service_Church.htm

When I read this, I found it sound and thought-provoking.




Bishop N.T. Wright is always thoughtful, studied, careful, orthodox, and compelling. This article is typical of his prodigious work.

It is interesting for us that he does not consider those churches (like the LCMS) heretical for declining to ordain women as presbyters or bishops even though he finds no New Testament evidence prohibiting ordination.

With such an outstanding orthodox Christian leader believing that there is no prohibition, I am inclined to assert that the ordination of women is not in itself heretical.

We in the LCMS might "cool it" a bit, don't you think? (That does not mean that I am advocating that we must. Only that those churches which do are not evil.)


Peace, JOHN

Title: Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
Post by: Weedon on November 30, 2010, 06:21:49 PM
Pr. Fienen,

I wish we had more information from those days!  Justin is fascinating and yet leaves some important questions unanswered.  Clearly the reader is not the president - the episcopus.  But is the reader a presbyter? a deacon? Or is it a continuation of the Jewish tradition of laity reading?  I'm not sure that we can arrive at an answer based on the documents we have.  My guess is that the reader is at bare minimum literally a reader - a person set into that office, and most likely entrusted with safe-guarding the precious copies of the Scriptures.  When the government attacked the Church they liked to demand the handing over of the books for burning, I believe.  I am not inclined to believe it was a continuation of the Jewish practice, though I may be quite wrong.
Title: Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
Post by: Dan Fienen on November 30, 2010, 06:29:25 PM
At the very least it makes it hard to dogmatically maintain the lay lectors was unthinkable before the 20th century.

Dan
Title: Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
Post by: Weedon on November 30, 2010, 06:31:47 PM
Well, yes.  And we know for certain that Lutherans regularly employed lay readers for the prayer offices in the 16-18th centuries.
Title: Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
Post by: ptmccain on November 30, 2010, 06:33:31 PM
John,

Unless you are willing to treat doctrine and practice as atomistic things which can be separated, the ordination of women befits a heretical understanding of the doctrines of Christ, Church and Ministry. Why are we so afraid to say that which is simply true?

It's a true "deal breaker" on any question of unity in the visible Body of Christ. Rome understands this, wonder why it is so difficult for some Lutherans to understand this?

PTM
Title: Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
Post by: Dave Benke on November 30, 2010, 07:08:09 PM
Well, I thought the little Baptist girl knocked it out of the park.

Dave Benke
Title: Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
Post by: pr dtp on November 30, 2010, 07:09:17 PM

For a discussion of 1 Timothy 2, as well as 1 Corinthians, Galatians, and the Gospels and Acts, I refer folks to this interesting paper by Bishop Tom Wright (NT Wright), bishop of Durham (UK) http://www.ntwrightpage.com/Wright_Women_Service_Church.htm

When I read this, I found it sound and thought-provoking.



Bishop N.T. Wright is always thoughtful, studied, careful, orthodox, and compelling. This article is typical of his prodigious work.

It is interesting for us that he does not consider those churches (like the LCMS) heretical for declining to ordain women as presbyters or bishops even though he finds no New Testament evidence prohibiting ordination.

With such an outstanding orthodox Christian leader believing that there is no prohibition, I am inclined to assert that the ordination of women is not in itself heretical.

We in the LCMS might "cool it" a bit, don't you think? (That does not mean that I am advocating that we must. Only that those churches which do are not evil.)


Peace, JOHN



John, I would suggest that this is equivelant to the good kings who allowed worship of YHWH in the hills, but stopped short of worshipping Ba'al or Asherah.

It is not "kosher" and it leads to confusion, definitely heterodox, and closes on the border of crossing over into heresy.  The question begs then - what do we do with those whose practices are heterodox?

Title: Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
Post by: kls on November 30, 2010, 07:19:52 PM
Well, I thought the little Baptist girl knocked it out of the park.

She was definitely a gifted little girl.  However, I have to say having spent three years in the deep South where the Baptists reign, it was all we could do to get Baptists who visited our Lutheran church to accept that children actually stay in worship.  They are advocates of children's church and separating the children from the adults, so I think this fact, coupled with the empty seats in the video and the overall feel of it, leads me to believe there was no way this little girl was serving as the lector in worship.   :D

She was great, and I would love to see more little Lutherans knock it out of the park in that way during Sunday School, don't get me wrong.  It was definitely a light-hearted break from the serious discussion, though some might fear the slippery slope leads next to children in the lectern.   ::)
Title: Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
Post by: Dave Benke on November 30, 2010, 07:37:32 PM
Children in the lectern - heaven forfend.  Our children read from the ambo.

I'm sure you're all watching the lighting of The Tree at Rockefeller Center right now.  And in case you missed it, a ten year old girl (don't have name) just absolutely lit up the whole neighborhood there in midtown across the street from St. Patrick's with "O Holy Night." 

And Monique Nunes, who sang Total Praise at President Harrison's installation, is on the cover of the LWML Quarterly sitting right next to me. 

It's a great night for singing!  We're going to be working on a new Gospel song made famous by none other than Mariah Carey, called "Jesus, Jesus - Oh, what a wonderful child!" this Christmastide in Brooklyn.

Dave Benke
Title: Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
Post by: mariemeyer on November 30, 2010, 07:45:08 PM
Unless you are willing to treat doctrine and practice as atomistic things which can be separated, the ordination of women befits a heretical understanding of the doctrines of Christ, Church and Ministry. Why are we so afraid to say that which is simply true?

Just curious... how many on this list has just been deemed heretical by Paul McCain?

Marie Meyer
Title: Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
Post by: kls on November 30, 2010, 07:52:16 PM
Unless you are willing to treat doctrine and practice as atomistic things which can be separated, the ordination of women befits a heretical understanding of the doctrines of Christ, Church and Ministry. Why are we so afraid to say that which is simply true?

Just curious... how many on this list has just been deemed heretical by Paul McCain?

Marie Meyer

I suppose it shouldn't offend anyone in the LCMS since our church body does not condone the practice of ordaining women.
Title: Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
Post by: Michael Slusser on November 30, 2010, 07:56:03 PM
Quote from: mariemeyer link=topic[i
=3474.ms[/i]g191705#msg191705 date=1291164308]
Unless you are willing to treat doctrine and practice as atomistic things which can be separated, the ordination of women befits a heretical understanding of the doctrines of Christ, Church and Ministry. Why are we so afraid to say that which is simply true?

Just curious... how many on this list has just been deemed heretical by Paul McCain?

Marie Meyer

Just because we feel as if we've been deemed heretical doesn't mean he's done it. Actually, Marie, that isn't a very positive question. Paul is entitled to his opinions, even if I sometimes wonder if they are sound. And I'm sure he views you and me in the same secular but charitable fashion.  :)

Peace,
Michael
Title: Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
Post by: iowakatie1981 on November 30, 2010, 08:18:03 PM
I'm watching it on TV right now - must be delayed a bit, because it started at 7 here. 

Children in the lectern - heaven forfend.  Our children read from the ambo.

I'm sure you're all watching the lighting of The Tree at Rockefeller Center right now.  And in case you missed it, a ten year old girl (don't have name) just absolutely lit up the whole neighborhood there in midtown across the street from St. Patrick's with "O Holy Night." 

And Monique Nunes, who sang Total Praise at President Harrison's installation, is on the cover of the LWML Quarterly sitting right next to me. 

It's a great night for singing!  We're going to be working on a new Gospel song made famous by none other than Mariah Carey, called "Jesus, Jesus - Oh, what a wonderful child!" this Christmastide in Brooklyn.

Dave Benke
Title: Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
Post by: Jeremy Loesch on November 30, 2010, 08:23:48 PM
I was not deemed heretical by Paul's comment.

Jeremy
Title: Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
Post by: Dave Benke on November 30, 2010, 08:39:04 PM
The little girl's name is Jackie Evancho.  Incredible voice, and singing some of the many Christmas carols there at Rockefeller Center.  With David Rockefeller the bedrock member of Brick Church in mid-town, the Living Nativity at the Rockefeller Christmas Show is the full unapologetic nine yards with camels, etc., as is the Christmas Tree lighting show.

Dave Benke
Title: Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
Post by: kls on November 30, 2010, 08:46:57 PM
The little girl's name is Jackie Evancho.  Incredible voice, and singing some of the many Christmas carols there at Rockefeller Center.  With David Rockefeller the bedrock member of Brick Church in mid-town, the Living Nativity at the Rockefeller Christmas Show is the full unapologetic nine yards with camels, etc., as is the Christmas Tree lighting show.

Dave Benke

Sounds wonderful . . .
Title: Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
Post by: iowakatie1981 on November 30, 2010, 09:35:26 PM
The little girl's name is Jackie Evancho.  Incredible voice, and singing some of the many Christmas carols there at Rockefeller Center.  With David Rockefeller the bedrock member of Brick Church in mid-town, the Living Nativity at the Rockefeller Christmas Show is the full unapologetic nine yards with camels, etc., as is the Christmas Tree lighting show.

Dave Benke

Gorgeous little girl, with an incredible voice.  When she did the Silent Night duet with...I forget who...her voice sounded so "adult" that I literally wondered aloud why she wasn't singing, only that other woman...
Title: Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
Post by: grabau14 on December 01, 2010, 12:48:26 AM
I was not deemed heretical by Paul's comment.

Jeremy

Nor I.
Title: Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
Post by: Dave Benke on December 01, 2010, 09:54:17 AM
Why does silence not include singing?  Isn't singing something done out loud?  What's your rationale for not including singing as forbidden for women? Are we not imperiling women by allowing them to sing alongside men?

Which (alongside) leads to seating.  Should women be differently seated from men in church?  That was the old practice.  Would that encourage more silent, submissive learning by women as a group along with the children?

Dave Benke
Title: Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
Post by: kls on December 01, 2010, 10:14:57 AM
Which (alongside) leads to seating.  Should women be differently seated from men in church?  That was the old practice.  Would that encourage more silent, submissive learning by women as a group along with the children?

I was just at a service in Kenya a few weeks ago where this is still done.  Our mixed-gender group sat on the men's side because we got there early and didn't notice this was the norm, so I felt a little awkward the whole time.  There was noticeably more distraction on the side of the women and children, but part of that was attributed to the stickers the kids were placing all over their clothing and faces (which, incidentally, was totally my fault!).  I'm sure the white American woman broke more than one norm that day, especially considering the mess the kids left behind with their sticker papers.

For me, the altar and font are reserved for the pastor and his male elders (or male deacons and lay ministers).  That is my personal preference based on what I've been taught and how it has traditionally been done in the LCMS and within the early church.  Not everyone agrees with this, certainly, and I can accept that.  However, I find this to be as close to the way in which Jesus would have worshipped in the synagogue and true to what Scripture presents us with as an example.  I'd rather err on the side of caution and allow the pastor to do the work he was called to do without creating any confusion with respect to his office.
Title: Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
Post by: Charles_Austin on December 01, 2010, 10:31:25 AM
Pastor Peters said it upstream or elsewhere: A lot of us do not see how having a lay person read the lessons in any way causes confusion about who a pastor is or what a pastor does.
Title: Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
Post by: kls on December 01, 2010, 10:35:51 AM
Pastor Peters said it upstream or elsewhere: A lot of us do not see how having a lay person read the lessons in any way causes confusion about who a pastor is or what a pastor does.

A lot of us do, though . . . hard as that may be for some to accept.
Title: Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
Post by: Dan Fienen on December 01, 2010, 11:26:38 AM
If we want to discuss women keeping silence in the church a word study of  'hsucia   (1 Tim 2:11-12) and sigaw (1 Cor. 14:34) is also useful.  'Hsucia can mean quiet as well as silence. It and cognates also occurred in Acts 11:18, 21:14, and 22:24 where total silence was not implied but rather a quieting down so as to be able to listen, or a ceasing to speak in one way so as to be able to say something else (e.g. stop objecting and start praising). In 1 Timothy in particular, Paul was concerned that women be taught rather than teach.

Sigaw tended to be a stronger vocable for silence. However, it could also be used in situations where people became quiet in order to listen, Acts 12:17 and 15:12. Paul also used the same word to tell prophets to stop talking so that another prophet may speak. The CTCR “Women in the Church” report noted that, "Paul uses the Greek word laleo for 'speak' in 1 Cor 14:34, which frequently means to 'preach' in the New Testament (See Mark 2:2; Luke 9:11; Acts 4:1; 8:25; 1 Cor. 2:7; 2 Cor 12:19; Phil. 1:4; et al.), and not lego, which is the more general term." (p. 33) Once again, the concern seems to have been not that women be absolutely silent but that women not teach or preach.

Dan
Title: Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
Post by: Brian Stoffregen on December 01, 2010, 11:31:54 AM
As others have said, it is not a question of talent or intelligence.  It is a question about what God has said in His Word and what vocations He gives to whom.

A lot of faithful people read the same Word of God and come to different conclusions. It is not a question about what God has said, but how we interpret the words God has given us.
Title: Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
Post by: Dan Fienen on December 01, 2010, 11:34:13 AM
As others have said, it is not a question of talent or intelligence.  It is a question about what God has said in His Word and what vocations He gives to whom.

A lot of faithful people read the same Word of God and come to different conclusions. It is not a question about what God has said, but how we interpret the words God has given us.
What is the proper process for determining the proper interpretation of the words God has given us?

Dan
Title: Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
Post by: Brian Stoffregen on December 01, 2010, 11:36:30 AM
As others have said, it is not a question of talent or intelligence.  It is a question about what God has said in His Word and what vocations He gives to whom.

A lot of faithful people read the same Word of God and come to different conclusions. It is not a question about what God has said, but how we interpret the words God has given us.
What is the proper process for determining the proper interpretation of the words God has given us?

Each denomination seems to have a different process. There are no more Ecumenical councils of bishops throughout the Church to decide for the Christian world. The ELCA has our churchwide assemblies. The LCMS as their CTCR.
Title: Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
Post by: Brian Stoffregen on December 01, 2010, 11:38:15 AM
My point with those who rightly point that hymns teach is that those who are singing hymns may (and should) also listen, and that they are teaching in concert and not alone.

Yes, the lay reader may also listen to herself as she publicly reads the Old Testament and Epistle lessons.  But unlike a hymn where you can drop out for a moment and just listen or falter without a problem, more concentration on enunciation and cadence is needed to publicly read Scripture readings.  It's more difficult to read and listen in such a circumstance.

Furthermore, you are teaching individually and not together with the rest of the congregation.

I think these differences matter and deserve reflection.

But then "silent" no longer means "silent" as we usually use the word.
Title: Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
Post by: Dan Fienen on December 01, 2010, 12:11:06 PM
My point with those who rightly point that hymns teach is that those who are singing hymns may (and should) also listen, and that they are teaching in concert and not alone.

Yes, the lay reader may also listen to herself as she publicly reads the Old Testament and Epistle lessons.  But unlike a hymn where you can drop out for a moment and just listen or falter without a problem, more concentration on enunciation and cadence is needed to publicly read Scripture readings.  It's more difficult to read and listen in such a circumstance.

Furthermore, you are teaching individually and not together with the rest of the congregation.

I think these differences matter and deserve reflection.

But then "silent" no longer means "silent" as we usually use the word.
'Hsucia does not simply mean "silent".  'Hsucia means 'Hsucia which is used in the Koine Greek language to represent a meaning range.  That meaning range overlaps to a great extent the meaning range that in English may be represented by "silent"  which is why we often translate 'Hsucia as "silent."  If we need to pin down more exactly what part of that meaning range we need to rely on context and how the vocable has been used in other instances that we can draw parallels to.

What is a meaning range?  I'm not sure that is actually a technical term but it should be or something similar.  When we use a word to convey information, unless we are playing some sort of game with language, we use a word that in conventional use has represented the informational bit to be conveyed.  But words are often used to convey a range of (usually) related meanings.  That range may vary from speaker to speaker - hence the posibilities of misunderstandings, and the range of meanings of a vocable in one language rarely if ever exactly matches the range of a vocable in another language.  Hence the old joke of the early computer translations program that when challenged to translate "The spirit is willing but the flesh is weak," from English to Russian and then back to English ended up with "The vodka is ready but the meat is rotten."

The word "chair" in English usually means some sort of raised platform upon which one could place one's butt with also a verticle side against which one could rest one's back.  So we usually distinguish between chairs and stools.  But chairs may be constructed out of many different materials, in many different styles and sizes.  A chair can still be a chair and not be big enough for a human use - i.e. a doll's chair.  Chair may also refer to an academic position that has little if anything to do with furniture.  To translate chair into another language one must determine what part of chair's meaning range is being referenced in the particular case, and what word(s) in the other language refer to the same sort of meaning.  Two different uses of the word "chair" may be translated using different words in the other language.

Even within the same language a word may be used in different ways and great humor (or low humor if you don't like puns) can result in mixing the uses.  (Who's on First?)  

So, yes, not all silences are created equal, even when dealing just in English, much less when translating.  Context, other uses, all help us determine just what is meant.  We should not simply pick whatever precise meaning suits us without careful study of how it is actually being used.

Dan
Title: Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
Post by: iowakatie1981 on December 01, 2010, 12:29:10 PM
I'm going to push a little bit here, but it's really a sincere question, because I'm wondering just how far this goes.  Please note that despite my uh...current vocation...I am not the first person you should look to for a strident defense of women's ordination.  So, I'm totally open to what you have to say, but I also have to wonder...

Being as women are not allowed to teach, or really even speak, in worship, may they participate in the choir?  May they serve as the choir director?  The organist?  And if they are the organist, if some sort of hymn or tune or liturgical piece gets a little messed up, do they have the authority to stop playing, chuckle a little, and say loudly, "Ok, let's start that one over!"

If announcements are done at the beginning of the service (not arguing whether they should or shouldn't, just if they are) is the leader of the Ladies' Aid allowed to stand up say, "Our meeting on Tuesday has been moved from Sue's house to Nancy's house." ?

I can totally respect the idea that God calls men and women to different sorts of vocations, and I'm definitely okay with the fact that some churches feel that ordination and even some other types of "up-front" leadership ought to be reserved for men.  I (mostly) get the Scriptural argument, or at least see how it's possible to get there.  It's not quite where I'm at, but I'm not hostile to those who are.  Nonetheless, it seems that when we start having (what appears to be) a serious conversation about "whether women should be allowed to sing hymns, because you know, that's teaching" that we have moved from appropriate discussion of gender roles into full-on legalism or (I really hesitate to say it, but) nigh-unto-oppression of women.

I know that Jesus called only male disciples, and that may welll be a good argument in favor of ordaining only men.  But throughout the rest of the gospels, and really indeed the whole of the New (and Old) Testament, I see different roles for women, but not this sort of "putting them in the penalty box" kind of thinking.  Was it not Miriam who led the singing on the banks of the Red Sea?  Was it not Mary who first brought Our Lord to John the Baptist?  Were there no men present in the temple when Anna spoke "about the child to all who were looking forward to the redemption of Jerusalem."?

I don't know...I'm the last person to ever claim the title "feminist", but I have to admit, I'm having a hard time with some of this...
Title: Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
Post by: Sandra on December 01, 2010, 02:06:17 PM
I'm going to push a little bit here, but it's really a sincere question, because I'm wondering just how far this goes.  Please note that despite my uh...current vocation...I am not the first person you should look to for a strident defense of women's ordination.  So, I'm totally open to what you have to say, but I also have to wonder...

Being as women are not allowed to teach, or really even speak, in worship, may they participate in the choir?  May they serve as the choir director?  The organist?  And if they are the organist, if some sort of hymn or tune or liturgical piece gets a little messed up, do they have the authority to stop playing, chuckle a little, and say loudly, "Ok, let's start that one over!"

If announcements are done at the beginning of the service (not arguing whether they should or shouldn't, just if they are) is the leader of the Ladies' Aid allowed to stand up say, "Our meeting on Tuesday has been moved from Sue's house to Nancy's house." ?

I can totally respect the idea that God calls men and women to different sorts of vocations, and I'm definitely okay with the fact that some churches feel that ordination and even some other types of "up-front" leadership ought to be reserved for men.  I (mostly) get the Scriptural argument, or at least see how it's possible to get there.  It's not quite where I'm at, but I'm not hostile to those who are.  Nonetheless, it seems that when we start having (what appears to be) a serious conversation about "whether women should be allowed to sing hymns, because you know, that's teaching" that we have moved from appropriate discussion of gender roles into full-on legalism or (I really hesitate to say it, but) nigh-unto-oppression of women.

I know that Jesus called only male disciples, and that may welll be a good argument in favor of ordaining only men.  But throughout the rest of the gospels, and really indeed the whole of the New (and Old) Testament, I see different roles for women, but not this sort of "putting them in the penalty box" kind of thinking.  Was it not Miriam who led the singing on the banks of the Red Sea?  Was it not Mary who first brought Our Lord to John the Baptist?  Were there no men present in the temple when Anna spoke "about the child to all who were looking forward to the redemption of Jerusalem."?

I don't know...I'm the last person to ever claim the title "feminist", but I have to admit, I'm having a hard time with some of this...

Katie,

Great questions. And this is a great demonstration of what happens when you ask a law question - you get a bunch of law answers. The law is never satisfied, you can never keep it well enough, there's always room for improvement and stricter following of it. That's how you go from a discussion about women's ordination or women lectors to questioning whether women should even utter a peep at all in church.

Personally, I think it has more to do with what honors women most. There's a lot more contained in that than we can get into in this kind of forum, but as the Bride of Christ, we are there to receive gifts from God. As women, we get to be additionally served by the men who also make up the Bride of Christ because they also, in their other vocations as fathers, husbands, etc. are our heads as Christ is the Head of the Church.

So many people get riled up about women as lectors or communion assistants or what-have-you, as though their feminine presence demeans the Office. I actually find it more insulting to the woman, that she is not being served and honored as she should be.

But I'm kinda weird that way.
Title: Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
Post by: Matt on December 01, 2010, 02:50:11 PM
This is a good discussion. Like Katie, I have no desire to make a list of dos and don'ts for women in the divine service. I do draw a line at the Office of Holy Ministry that Katie apparently does not, but I think we do enjoy Christian freedom in the service of ushers, lectors, greeters and the like.

That said, I am in total agreement with Sandra that the focus in the Divine Service is on the congregation freely receiving God's gifts in Word and Sacrament and responding appropriately. The emphasis should never be about getting people up front to participate or to be recognized. Likewise, the church should never make an attempt to divide roles equally among men and women in order to make a point about gender equality. The norms that guide corporations and government and social life in the contemporary culture should not override the norms and values of scripture that have governed the church for centuries.

I serve as a lector and communion assistant in my church. I enjoy both duties but that is beside the point. My only focus is on assisting the pastor and serving the congregation; these roles are not a sign of status or leadership or standing in the congregation. If I ever become proud or feel myself special, then I should hand these duties off to others at once. Frankly, I would prefer it if the pastor read all the lessons himself and distributed the whole supper himself and I was free to always enjoy worship and communion alongside my family and friends.

In a congregation where people are well-catechized to understand the different roles that men and women play  in the church (as Sandra is), gender issues just never come up. I know one woman in particular who serves the church in many ways, but makes a point of remaining silent in worship and Bible study. She would refuse instantly if anyone were to ask her to do something in church outside her very conservative idea of the proper role of women. Yet, perhaps because of her silence, she has absorbed more Biblical knowledge than anyone I know. When she does speak, the things she says are remarkable for their wisdom. She carries herself in a way that exudes dignity, intelligence, peace, wisdom and spiritual maturity. I would very much like to be like her except that I talk too much and think too much about the politics of the congregation rather than focusing on the priceless treasures that we constantly receive in Christian worship.  
Title: Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
Post by: Karl Hess on December 01, 2010, 02:55:16 PM
]
If we want to discuss women keeping silence in the church a word study of  'hsucia   (1 Tim 2:11-12) and sigaw (1 Cor. 14:34) is also useful.  'Hsucia can mean quiet as well as silence. It and cognates also occurred in Acts 11:18, 21:14, and 22:24 where total silence was not implied but rather a quieting down so as to be able to listen, or a ceasing to speak in one way so as to be able to say something else (e.g. stop objecting and start praising). In 1 Timothy in particular, Paul was concerned that women be taught rather than teach.

Sigaw tended to be a stronger vocable for silence. However, it could also be used in situations where people became quiet in order to listen, Acts 12:17 and 15:12. Paul also used the same word to tell prophets to stop talking so that another prophet may speak. The CTCR “Women in the Church” report noted that, "Paul uses the Greek word laleo for 'speak' in 1 Cor 14:34, which frequently means to 'preach' in the New Testament (See Mark 2:2; Luke 9:11; Acts 4:1; 8:25; 1 Cor. 2:7; 2 Cor 12:19; Phil. 1:4; et al.), and not lego, which is the more general term." (p. 33) Once again, the concern seems to have been not that women be absolutely silent but that women not teach or preach.

Dan

Even if it's just that women shoud be quiet in order to listen, as you said, woudn't that imply that they should not be up in the front of the Church, leading the whole congregation by reading the Scripture to them?
Title: Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
Post by: Karl Hess on December 01, 2010, 02:57:11 PM
My point with those who rightly point that hymns teach is that those who are singing hymns may (and should) also listen, and that they are teaching in concert and not alone.

Yes, the lay reader may also listen to herself as she publicly reads the Old Testament and Epistle lessons.  But unlike a hymn where you can drop out for a moment and just listen or falter without a problem, more concentration on enunciation and cadence is needed to publicly read Scripture readings.  It's more difficult to read and listen in such a circumstance.

Furthermore, you are teaching individually and not together with the rest of the congregation.

I think these differences matter and deserve reflection.

But then "silent" no longer means "silent" as we usually use the word.

Therefore, "women must be silent" really means "they can speak in all the same ways that men can."


Title: Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
Post by: Michael Slusser on December 01, 2010, 02:59:22 PM
Back on the thread subject for a moment, I've just heard of a conference at the University of Dayton on the theme of "Ecclesiology and Exclusion" to be held May 18-22, 2011. The theme, which can be read here http://exclusionconference.ecclesiological.net/theme.htm (http://exclusionconference.ecclesiological.net/theme.htm), sound as if it could interest readers of this thread.

Excerpt from the theme:
Some ecclesiologists are taken aback by what appear to be efforts to secure traditional identities to the neglect of engagement with others. Other ecclesiologists are troubled by what appear to them to be tendencies toward relativism and toward a watering down of core beliefs and standards.

At what point do concerns for unity of faith and practice become exclusionary? At what point do radical attempts at inclusion become relativistic?

Peace,
Michael
Title: Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
Post by: kls on December 01, 2010, 03:08:39 PM

Sounds interesting.

How far is Dayton from Columbus?  I know that football season should be long over by then, but I'm still wary of OSU fanatics.

Michael!  Dayton is actually just about 45 minutes north of Cincinnati.  You could swing by the Creation Museum on your way!  Some crazy OSU fanatics would even be willing to host you as you pass through!
Title: Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
Post by: Steverem on December 01, 2010, 03:11:35 PM
Back on the thread subject for a moment, I've just heard of a conference at the University of Dayton on the theme of "Eccl;esiology and Exclusion" to be held May 18-22, 2011. The theme, which can be read here http://exclusionconference.ecclesiological.net/theme.htm (http://exclusionconference.ecclesiological.net/theme.htm), sound as if it could interest readers of this thread.

Excerpt from the theme:
Some ecclesiologists are taken aback by what appear to be efforts to secure traditional identities to the neglect of engagement with others. Other ecclesiologists are troubled by what appear to them to be tendencies toward relativism and toward a watering down of core beliefs and standards.

At what point do concerns for unity of faith and practice become exclusionary? At what point do radical attempts at inclusion become relativistic?

Peace,
Michael

Sounds interesting.

How far is Dayton from Columbus?  I know that football season should be long over by then, but I'm still wary of OSU fanatics.

Mike

Dayton's about an hour or so due west of Columbus.  Safe to say the city is crawling with Buckeye fanatics.  Take your shots ahead of time, and you should be fine.   ;)
Title: Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
Post by: Karl Hess on December 01, 2010, 03:12:35 PM
I'm going to push a little bit here, but it's really a sincere question, because I'm wondering just how far this goes.  Please note that despite my uh...current vocation...I am not the first person you should look to for a strident defense of women's ordination.  So, I'm totally open to what you have to say, but I also have to wonder...

Being as women are not allowed to teach, or really even speak, in worship, may they participate in the choir?  May they serve as the choir director?  The organist?  And if they are the organist, if some sort of hymn or tune or liturgical piece gets a little messed up, do they have the authority to stop playing, chuckle a little, and say loudly, "Ok, let's start that one over!"

If announcements are done at the beginning of the service (not arguing whether they should or shouldn't, just if they are) is the leader of the Ladies' Aid allowed to stand up say, "Our meeting on Tuesday has been moved from Sue's house to Nancy's house." ?

I can totally respect the idea that God calls men and women to different sorts of vocations, and I'm definitely okay with the fact that some churches feel that ordination and even some other types of "up-front" leadership ought to be reserved for men.  I (mostly) get the Scriptural argument, or at least see how it's possible to get there.  It's not quite where I'm at, but I'm not hostile to those who are.  Nonetheless, it seems that when we start having (what appears to be) a serious conversation about "whether women should be allowed to sing hymns, because you know, that's teaching" that we have moved from appropriate discussion of gender roles into full-on legalism or (I really hesitate to say it, but) nigh-unto-oppression of women.

I know that Jesus called only male disciples, and that may welll be a good argument in favor of ordaining only men.  But throughout the rest of the gospels, and really indeed the whole of the New (and Old) Testament, I see different roles for women, but not this sort of "putting them in the penalty box" kind of thinking.  Was it not Miriam who led the singing on the banks of the Red Sea?  Was it not Mary who first brought Our Lord to John the Baptist?  Were there no men present in the temple when Anna spoke "about the child to all who were looking forward to the redemption of Jerusalem."?

I don't know...I'm the last person to ever claim the title "feminist", but I have to admit, I'm having a hard time with some of this...

I agree with you.  It gets lame when we start making a checklist of what women can do and what they can't do.  

I think it's totally absurd to talk about whether or not women can sing hymns.  As members of the hoy church, women have the keys and are called to proclaim the Gospel.  The issue in 1 Cor 14 and ! tim 2 has to do with vocation.  There I think the issue is that women, who were created as a helpmeet, nto the head, are not to exercise authority over men, but are to be in submission.  That means not exercising public leadership, whether as lector, pastor, or liturgist.  

But that has nothing to do with their full equality in regard to possessing the keys, and thus their right and privilege to proclaim the Gospelwithin their vocations as mother, duaghter, sister, wife, etc.  Being under authority does not mean that you don't have the right to proclaim the Gospe.

Whenever you look at the virtues the NT praises in women, it lists quietness and submissiveness.  These sound like dirty words to us, but that is because wedon't realize what a beautiful thing it is to be quiet and submissive--at least in God's sight.  Jesus was quiet and submissive to those in authority over Him and He is the fairest among the sons of men.  I think that's what Paul's getting at when He says women  shouldn't speak--i.e. they shouldn't lead, not that they shouldn't join in the praises of God.
Title: Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
Post by: Karl Hess on December 01, 2010, 03:14:31 PM
I'm going to push a little bit here, but it's really a sincere question, because I'm wondering just how far this goes.  Please note that despite my uh...current vocation...I am not the first person you should look to for a strident defense of women's ordination.  So, I'm totally open to what you have to say, but I also have to wonder...

Being as women are not allowed to teach, or really even speak, in worship, may they participate in the choir?  May they serve as the choir director?  The organist?  And if they are the organist, if some sort of hymn or tune or liturgical piece gets a little messed up, do they have the authority to stop playing, chuckle a little, and say loudly, "Ok, let's start that one over!"

If announcements are done at the beginning of the service (not arguing whether they should or shouldn't, just if they are) is the leader of the Ladies' Aid allowed to stand up say, "Our meeting on Tuesday has been moved from Sue's house to Nancy's house." ?

I can totally respect the idea that God calls men and women to different sorts of vocations, and I'm definitely okay with the fact that some churches feel that ordination and even some other types of "up-front" leadership ought to be reserved for men.  I (mostly) get the Scriptural argument, or at least see how it's possible to get there.  It's not quite where I'm at, but I'm not hostile to those who are.  Nonetheless, it seems that when we start having (what appears to be) a serious conversation about "whether women should be allowed to sing hymns, because you know, that's teaching" that we have moved from appropriate discussion of gender roles into full-on legalism or (I really hesitate to say it, but) nigh-unto-oppression of women.

I know that Jesus called only male disciples, and that may welll be a good argument in favor of ordaining only men.  But throughout the rest of the gospels, and really indeed the whole of the New (and Old) Testament, I see different roles for women, but not this sort of "putting them in the penalty box" kind of thinking.  Was it not Miriam who led the singing on the banks of the Red Sea?  Was it not Mary who first brought Our Lord to John the Baptist?  Were there no men present in the temple when Anna spoke "about the child to all who were looking forward to the redemption of Jerusalem."?

I don't know...I'm the last person to ever claim the title "feminist", but I have to admit, I'm having a hard time with some of this...

Katie,

Great questions. And this is a great demonstration of what happens when you ask a law question - you get a bunch of law answers. The law is never satisfied, you can never keep it well enough, there's always room for improvement and stricter following of it. That's how you go from a discussion about women's ordination or women lectors to questioning whether women should even utter a peep at all in church.

Personally, I think it has more to do with what honors women most. There's a lot more contained in that than we can get into in this kind of forum, but as the Bride of Christ, we are there to receive gifts from God. As women, we get to be additionally served by the men who also make up the Bride of Christ because they also, in their other vocations as fathers, husbands, etc. are our heads as Christ is the Head of the Church.

So many people get riled up about women as lectors or communion assistants or what-have-you, as though their feminine presence demeans the Office. I actually find it more insulting to the woman, that she is not being served and honored as she should be.

But I'm kinda weird that way.

Wow,  thanks for explaining it so succinctly and well, Sandra!
Title: Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
Post by: kls on December 01, 2010, 03:36:02 PM
Wow,  thanks for explaining it so succinctly and well, Sandra!

Ditto, here, Sandra.  That is a nice way to look at it . . . I don't believe I've considered it in that way before.
Title: Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
Post by: mariemeyer on December 01, 2010, 03:40:18 PM
 As women, we get to be additionally served by the men who also make up the Bride of Christ because they also, in their other vocations as fathers, husbands, etc. are our heads as Christ is the Head of the Church.

Sandra, who is the "they" that are "our heads as Christ is the Head of the Church?"

Marie Meyer

Title: Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
Post by: Sandra on December 01, 2010, 03:46:27 PM
As women, we get to be additionally served by the men who also make up the Bride of Christ because they also, in their other vocations as fathers, husbands, etc. are our heads as Christ is the Head of the Church.

Sandra, who is the "they" that are "our heads as Christ is the Head of the Church?"

The various men the Lord has placed in our lives to serve us in their vocations. Being the head as Christ is the head of the church would most specifically apply to husbands (Eph. 5), but by extension it sensibly applies also to fathers (head of the household), brothers (head of the household in the father's absence), pastors (viva vox Christi), elders (auxilliary to the OHM), etc. in the unique ways that those vocations represent Christ's serving authority to His body.
Title: Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
Post by: Matt on December 01, 2010, 04:33:37 PM
The various men the Lord has placed in our lives to serve us in their vocations. Being the head as Christ is the head of the church would most specifically apply to husbands (Eph. 5), but by extension it sensibly applies also to fathers (head of the household), brothers (head of the household in the father's absence), pastors (viva vox Christi), elders (auxilliary to the OHM), etc. in the unique ways that those vocations represent Christ's serving authority to His body.

Yes! For those of you who don't know, Sandra has thought, written and spoken about these issues in depth and has made serious personal sacrifices for these scriptural principles. I don't want to tell tales out of school, but search for her name at Issues, Etc. to hear her in action. Sandra is an influential leader in the church not despite her gender but, in part, because of it. I'm always eager to hear what she has to say, and her opinions often surprise and challenge me.

Furthermore, I believe that women, including wives and mothers, often serve God and neighbor through vocations in the work world outside the home. I think the political and economic equality that women enjoy in our society is generally a good thing, especially for women who are not married for whatever reason. But I believe the church can and should operate by its own values, distinct from the culture and that churches that respect scriptural gender roles and the historic tradition of the church tend to be more peaceful, orderly and conducive to reverent and substantive worship.
Title: Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
Post by: John_Hannah on December 01, 2010, 05:19:19 PM

Furthermore, I believe that women, including wives and mothers, often serve God and neighbor through vocations in the work world outside the home. I think the political and economic equality that women enjoy in our society is generally a good thing, especially for women who are not married for whatever reason. But I believe the church can and should operate by its own values, distinct from the culture and that churches that respect scriptural gender roles and the historic tradition of the church tend to be more peaceful, orderly and conducive to reverent and substantive worship.


Exactly! That's what I have often said here. The old "orders of creation doctrine" has "shrunk." It no longer applies to all creation (for example, political and economic spheres). It only applies to church vocations.

Consider the possibility that the "orders of creation doctrine" might shrink even more in the future.   :)

Peace, JOHN
Title: Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
Post by: mariemeyer on December 01, 2010, 05:44:37 PM
The various men the Lord has placed in our lives to serve us in their vocations. Being the head as Christ is the head of the church would most specifically apply to husbands (Eph. 5), but by extension it sensibly applies also to fathers (head of the household), brothers (head of the household in the father's absence), pastors (viva vox Christi), elders (auxilliary to the OHM), etc. in the unique ways that those vocations represent Christ's serving authority to His body.

When I was growing up, we had a plaque in the dining room that read, "Christ is the Head of this house."   I'm not certain they make these plaques anymore.

In any event, I do not recall anything in Scripture that refers to fathers as head of the household, or that brothers are head of the household in the father's absence.  Certainly neither Scripture nor the Confessions refer to pastors as head of the congregation.

Several questions come to mind, particularly how we are to understand the term "head."  Just what is the "serving authority" of Christ?

Marie
Title: Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
Post by: peter_speckhard on December 01, 2010, 08:50:33 PM
I am the head of my household. It is overrated.
Title: Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
Post by: peter_speckhard on December 01, 2010, 08:51:27 PM
I am the head of my household. It is overrated.
"It" referring to the the role, not the household, in case any of my relatives are lurking.
Title: Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
Post by: Sandra on December 01, 2010, 09:31:33 PM
The various men the Lord has placed in our lives to serve us in their vocations. Being the head as Christ is the head of the church would most specifically apply to husbands (Eph. 5), but by extension it sensibly applies also to fathers (head of the household), brothers (head of the household in the father's absence), pastors (viva vox Christi), elders (auxilliary to the OHM), etc. in the unique ways that those vocations represent Christ's serving authority to His body.

In any event, I do not recall anything in Scripture that refers to fathers as head of the household, or that brothers are head of the household in the father's absence.  Certainly neither Scripture nor the Confessions refer to pastors as head of the congregation.

Several questions come to mind, particularly how we are to understand the term "head."  Just what is the "serving authority" of Christ?

Well let's see.  If you have an intact nuclear family, the husband would also be the father. Children are to submit to both of their parents. But even their mother submits to their father, so ultimately the father is the head of the household. A brother wouldn't normally be the head of the household, but if there is no husband or father for a woman or child, she is still not necessarily without men to care for her.

Pastors are not heads of the church in the same way that husbands are heads of a household. However, they are the ones called and ordained to be the voice and hands of our Bridegroom and stand in His stead and by His behalf for us. If a woman does not have a man to be her head in the church, I think that responsibility falls to the elder(s) and pastor.

Let's see if I can explain what I mean by the "serving authority" of Christ... "For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many." (Matt 20:28 and Mark 10:45). While all authority on heaven and earth had been given to Christ, He came to serve us. Christ does not use His authority to boss around His Bride or to abuse her or demean her or to ask her to do anything dangerous or even suspect.

Maybe it's just me, but it seems to me that whenever God grants someone authority it is to serve someone else in some way. Husbands have authority, not to lord it over their wives and treat them poorly as we in this sinful world tend to fear, but to serve them, sacrifice their very lives for them, see them as pure and sinless and spotless as Christ Himself sees His Bride. Parents have authority over their children, not to frustrate them and berate them and make them cheap laborers but to love them and care for them and bring them up in the way they should go. Our vocations are never given in a vacuum, and any authority they carry comes with the responsibility to put someone else before ourselves.
Title: Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
Post by: DeHall on December 01, 2010, 09:53:22 PM
Maybe it's just me, but it seems to me that whenever God grants someone authority it is to serve someone else in some way. Husbands have authority, not to lord it over their wives and treat them poorly as we in this sinful world tend to fear, but to serve them, sacrifice their very lives for them, see them as pure and sinless and spotless as Christ Himself sees His Bride. Parents have authority over their children, not to frustrate them and berate them and make them cheap laborers but to love them and care for them and bring them up in the way they should go. Our vocations are never given in a vacuum, and any authority they carry comes with the responsibility to put someone else before ourselves.

Now, that is plaque-worthy.  Thanks, Sandra
Title: Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
Post by: ptmccain on December 01, 2010, 09:59:45 PM
Well said, Sandra. It is sad to read such confusion on these issues.
Title: Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
Post by: Weedon on December 01, 2010, 10:01:41 PM
Ditto, Sandra.  Very well stated.
Title: Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
Post by: kls on December 01, 2010, 10:06:49 PM
Diito again, Sandra!  Thank you so much for your witness on this issue.
Title: Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
Post by: LCMS87 on December 01, 2010, 11:00:37 PM
Our vocations are never given in a vacuum, and any authority they carry comes with the responsibility to put someone else before ourselves.

A wonderful summary, Sandra, which is as true in civil society as it is in the family and in the church.  If only we would all believe it and live it.
Title: Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
Post by: Steven Tibbetts on December 01, 2010, 11:03:23 PM
It's neither Scripture nor Confessions, but Pope St. Gregory the Great's description of the pastor in Pastoral Care is coming into mind.  Particularly his use of the word "rule" -- as a verb.

Pax, Steven+
Title: Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
Post by: Karl Hess on December 01, 2010, 11:20:13 PM
Yeah, well said, Sandra.  You echo Dr. Kleinig who emphasizes how authority is a gift to the one under authority, rather than the one in authority.
Title: Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
Post by: Scott6 on December 01, 2010, 11:28:33 PM
Parents have authority over their children, not to... make them cheap laborers...

What the...?!?!  I thought they were slaves free labor that God gave me once they no longer required such looking after...
Title: Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
Post by: ptmccain on December 02, 2010, 07:00:40 AM
Scott, no, alas, in my experience, just about the time they are old enough, strong enough and smart enough to provide real return on your investment, they end up going off to places called "universities" or "colleges" and then you pay a lot more for them, and you have to hire a lawn service to cut the grass.

 :)
Title: Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
Post by: FrPeters on December 02, 2010, 08:25:21 AM
I must admit that I am in conflict over generational change... when I left home it was with the goal of becoming fully independent... my children have left and are leaving but they are much more dependent upon home than I was... perhaps cell phones and texting and financial changes in the economy have made such complete independence less possible or more difficult... I must admit sometimes I like being in constant touch and sometimes I wonder why they just don't get on with it... a conflicted parent I am -- for sure.
Title: Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
Post by: mariemeyer on December 02, 2010, 01:34:05 PM
Well let's see.  If you have an intact nuclear family, the husband would also be the father. Children are to submit to both of their parents. But even their mother submits to their father, so ultimately the father is the head of the household. A brother wouldn't normally be the head of the household, but if there is no husband or father for a woman or child, she is still not necessarily without men to care for her.

Sandra: Thanks for responding.  I'm going to comment on each paragraph.  The above still does not clarify the meaning of "head.'
Also, I assume you are not equating the submission and obedience of children to their parents with that of a wife's relationship to her husband. 

The English dictionary has at least twenty meanings for head, including the idea of director and leader, although this is not a primary meaning. One thinks of a head librarian, a school headmaster, the director of an academic department, some one in charge of a division or an entire company. The government recognizes widows as “heads” of their house hold. The president is considered “Head of State.” None of these are gender specific nor is the designation “head” something to which one is born. Each implies leadership and the authority to carry out what is beneficial to those they have the responsibility to lead.   

The question the church has to address is how Paul applied the term "kephale" to the relationship of Christ to the Church and that of a husband to his wife. Paul refers to this as a mystery; IOW it is not something we would consider natural or even comprehensible.
None of the extended examples of “head” in our dictionaries include the idea of a relationship that is something of a mystery.

Can we agree the Paul’s use of kephale is not our contempory understanding of a position of authority over subordinates? 

Title: Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
Post by: Brian Stoffregen on December 02, 2010, 01:43:53 PM
Can we agree the Paul’s use of kephale is not our contempory understanding of a position of authority over subordinates? 

Although Louw and Nida in their Greek-English Lexicon give this as the second definition

κεφαλή: (a figurative extension) one who is of supreme or pre-eminent status, in view of authority to order or command – one who is the head of, one who is superior to, one who is supreme over 87.51

The first, literal, definition, is that roundish-shaped thing that sets on our shoulders.
Title: Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
Post by: Scott6 on December 02, 2010, 01:46:04 PM
The question the church has to address is how Paul applied the term "kephale" to the relationship of Christ to the Church and that of a husband to his wife. Paul refers to this as a mystery; IOW it is not something we would consider natural or even comprehensible.
None of the extended examples of “head” in our dictionaries include the idea of a relationship that is something of a mystery.

No.  What Paul refers to as a mystery is the one flesh union referred to in the previous verse and connected by the Greek word "this" (τοῦτο), not the concept of "head" which he explicates quite nicely earlier.
Title: Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
Post by: Sandra on December 02, 2010, 02:14:43 PM
Sandra: Thanks for responding.  I'm going to comment on each paragraph.  The above still does not clarify the meaning of "head.'
Also, I assume you are not equating the submission and obedience of children to their parents with that of a wife's relationship to her husband. 
I'm not sure the meaning of the word "head" is as significant as you may believe that it needs much more clarification there.

And while the specific ways that a child submits to his parents are different from the specific ways that a wife submits to her husband, submission is also submission.

Quote
The English dictionary has at least twenty meanings for head, including the idea of director and leader, although this is not a primary meaning. One thinks of a head librarian, a school headmaster, the director of an academic department, some one in charge of a division or an entire company. The government recognizes widows as “heads” of their house hold. The president is considered “Head of State.” None of these are gender specific nor is the designation “head” something to which one is born. Each implies leadership and the authority to carry out what is beneficial to those they have the responsibility to lead.   
This is all interesting, I'm not sure what the point is, however. None of these that you listed are particularly gender-specific "headship" positions or "heads" by birthright, but they're also all secular positions, too. So I'm a little confused on this point.

Quote
The question the church has to address is how Paul applied the term "kephale" to the relationship of Christ to the Church and that of a husband to his wife. Paul refers to this as a mystery; IOW it is not something we would consider natural or even comprehensible.
None of the extended examples of “head” in our dictionaries include the idea of a relationship that is something of a mystery.

Can we agree the Paul’s use of kephale is not our contempory understanding of a position of authority over subordinates?
I tend to hesitate a lot in trying to define theological terms according to definitions provided by English dictionaries. You note that none of the extended examples of "head" in our dictionaries include the idea of a relationship that is something of a mystery, but I don't understand why anyone would expect it to do so in the first place. So this is a bit of an argument from silence.

No, I don't think I agree with your statement that Paul's use of kephele is not our contemporary understanding of a position of authority over subordinates.  Here's why:

It's not just "Paul's" use. It's the Holy Spirit's use through Paul. And I don't believe the usage of that particular word is not bound by Paul's own understanding of it, its common use in his time, etc. As Scott pointed out, the mystery is explained later on in the passage. Nor is it a mystery because the word "kephele" has such a different meaning to first-century Greco-Roman culture, but because of sin. Pure and simple.

So to a degree, I'm willing to grant that our common understanding of "head" is not what is being referenced. Not because it is somehow culturally-bound or because Paul was a misogynist, but because we are sinners and as such we cannot, in our sinful and weak minds, conceive of someone being in a position of authority over us without the fearful "What if..." looming overhead as well. I believe that the mysterious and intended understanding of "kephele" is free of sin and the fear that accompanies it (1 Pet. 3:5-6). It is ONLY by faith in Christ that we can really begin to consider this kind of headship and authority, and there is the mysteriousness that those without the eyes of faith cannot see.
Title: Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
Post by: mariemeyer on December 02, 2010, 02:27:27 PM
Scott:

You know the Greek, I don't, so help me out. Verse  32 reads...This is a profound mystery - but I am talking about Christ and the Church.

It seems to me that Paul, beginning in vs 21, follows through on a theme of the entire book; the reality that Christians, men and women are now "in Christ." The world cannot understand Christ's oneness with the Church because they cannot comprehend that the God and Lord of all creation desires to be intimately in communion with His creation, Man, male and female. It's a mystery the world cannot begin to understand.  The church at Ephesus was ahving trouble "getting it."  I understand Paul to offer two examples of complete unity so that his readers understand that they are the One Body of Christ as inseparabley connected to each other.  The one is that of head and body, the other that of husband and wife.

What am I missing?

marie  

Title: Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
Post by: Scott6 on December 02, 2010, 02:33:50 PM
Scott:

You know the Greek, I don't, so help me out. Verse  32 reads...This is a profound mystery - but I am talking about Christ and the Church.

It seems to me that Paul, beginning in vs 21, follows through on a theme of the entire book; the reality that Christians, men and women are now "in Christ." The world cannot understand Christ's oneness with the Church because they cannot comprehend that the God and Lord of all creation desires to be intimately in communion with His creation, Man, male and female. It's a mystery the world cannot begin to understand.  The church at Ephesus was ahving trouble "getting it."  I understand Paul to offer two examples of complete unity so that his readers understand that they are the One Body of Christ as inseparabley connected to each other.  The one is that of head and body, the other that of husband and wife.

What am I missing?

marie  

I don't think it has that level of generality.  I think the "this" is most easily interpreted to refer to the preceding verse where Paul brings up the idea of a "one flesh" union -- that's the mystery for how can two people become one flesh?  Paul then reads it figurally as speaking of Christ and his Church.

In any case, lexically it doesn't refer to the particular question of the meaning of "head."
Title: Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
Post by: kls on December 02, 2010, 03:00:43 PM
Thanks, Pastor Yakimow (post #464 excluded) . . . I am so thankful for the solid education and training our LCMS pastors receive and that you are so aptly demonstrating.  I think we could all try to parse words until the cows come home, but Sandra nailed it (as she so often does) with this line:

It is ONLY by faith in Christ that we can really begin to consider this kind of headship and authority, and there is the mysteriousness that those without the eyes of faith cannot see.

We simply cannot explain through human reason or linguistics the gift God provides us within this loving arrangement of headship.  It's the most beautiful relationship I've been blessed to be a part of . . . knowing my husband is my head and protector.  I found myself having a hard time in Africa just a few short weeks ago being away from that arrangement; it sort of grows on a girl.
Title: Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
Post by: amos on December 03, 2010, 07:21:08 PM
"It is ONLY by faith in Christ that we can really begin to consider this kind of headship and authority, and there is the mysteriousness that those without the eyes of faith cannot see."

In my humble opinion, Sandra nailed it.   Modern society seems to forget that along with authority also comes responsibility.  And with responsibility also comes accountability!   Accountability to who ---  to the ultimate authority.    Jesus said "All authority on heaven and earth has been given to me."   All too often in our modern society and sometimes even in the church we tend to forget where authority comes from.   Much to modern society and sinful man's ideas,  It is not, never has been, and never will be about personal authority.   

It seem to me that those of us called and ordained to the office of Ministry,  have some God given authority (the office of the keys for example) but I also believe we will be held accountable for both the use of and/or the abuse of that authority.   This truly is a mystery that only through the eyes of faith can be understood.  Even a little understanding of that is a pretty humbling thing to any pastor. 

Just an old man's opinion.
Title: Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
Post by: Weedon on December 08, 2010, 05:21:55 PM
I am thinking it was in this thread that the question was raised whether in the great doctrinal controversies that rocked Lutheranism after the death of the Blessed Reformer that the folks on either side would continue to commune together.  I put the question to Dr. Gregg Roeber, and he consulted Mickey Maddox (both were Lutheran, Roeber is now Orthodox and Maddox Roman) and both are experts on the Reformation.   Their opinion is:

Mickey and I chatted briefly today and he concurs with my judgment on this and says he has not seen anything beyond what I cited--but at least I think you can say with some assurance that there's a consensus that given a choice, the two camps would certainly not have communed given the depth of their theological disagreement--unless ordered to do so--in which case they had to decide how much they wanted to retain their pastorates/professorships!
Title: Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
Post by: Karl Hess on December 09, 2010, 02:41:44 PM
I am thinking it was in this thread that the question was raised whether in the great doctrinal controversies that rocked Lutheranism after the death of the Blessed Reformer that the folks on either side would continue to commune together.  I put the question to Dr. Gregg Roeber, and he consulted Mickey Maddox (both were Lutheran, Roeber is now Orthodox and Maddox Roman) and both are experts on the Reformation.   Their opinion is:

Mickey and I chatted briefly today and he concurs with my judgment on this and says he has not seen anything beyond what I cited--but at least I think you can say with some assurance that there's a consensus that given a choice, the two camps would certainly not have communed given the depth of their theological disagreement--unless ordered to do so--in which case they had to decide how much they wanted to retain their pastorates/professorships!

Can you imagine a guy like Heshusius communing with a crypto-Calvinist?  As my son used to say when he was 9 months old, "Neh-neh."  So apparently the recalcitrant Lutheran spirit of days gone by is still alive in Missouri. I'm not sure that imitation of the polemical spirit is always a good thing, but sometimes it is necessary to say "no."  Or "neh."
Title: Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
Post by: pr dtp on December 09, 2010, 04:06:48 PM
I am thinking it was in this thread that the question was raised whether in the great doctrinal controversies that rocked Lutheranism after the death of the Blessed Reformer that the folks on either side would continue to commune together.  I put the question to Dr. Gregg Roeber, and he consulted Mickey Maddox (both were Lutheran, Roeber is now Orthodox and Maddox Roman) and both are experts on the Reformation.   Their opinion is:

Mickey and I chatted briefly today and he concurs with my judgment on this and says he has not seen anything beyond what I cited--but at least I think you can say with some assurance that there's a consensus that given a choice, the two camps would certainly not have communed given the depth of their theological disagreement--unless ordered to do so--in which case they had to decide how much they wanted to retain their pastorates/professorships!

Thanks for looking into this even though it is supposition.  Perhaps Pr. Yakimow (or someone else) will be interested enough in the subject to research source materials from that time for a future project.

The thing is that the Lord's Supper is given to us as a manifestation of unity in faith.

When we realize that we are deeply divided on matters of practice and even understanding of Scriptural teaching in some cases, it seems wrong to me for us to appeal to the Sacrament to make some statement that we are still united fundamentally despite those disagreements.

Yes, we will always disagree on this facet of teaching or that interpretation until the Parousia.   There will be differences in matters of adiaphora.  Differences in fasting should not divide the Church.

But I am concerned that because we do make regular use of the Sacrament in the LCMS -- and are indeed encouraging its offering on every Lord's Day and festival day -- we deny that there are deep doctrinal and practical issues that divide us and cry out to be engaged and resolved.

Mike

How many times do I have to counter this idea that the Sacrament makes a statment about the unity as being a red herring.

It is - simply put not the idea that started this thread.  Yet over and over again, it is represented that way, as if we were anabaptists and the Eucharist is simply and only our confession.  I highly suggest that Article XIII be read again, and it be remember that the sacraments signs and witness of God's will toward us, to awaken and confirm the trust in God's promises.  Not that we awaken it, but that God does.

That is the starting point of unity. God forgiving us.   If you make it something else - agreement in that instituted by men, you create a false burden.
Title: Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
Post by: Karl Hess on December 10, 2010, 10:55:43 AM
I've tried again and again to understand what you are trying to say in this thread, J and S.  But I can't see how your argument wouldn't justify communing with every baptized Christian as a "starting point of unity." 
Title: Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
Post by: Dave Benke on December 10, 2010, 11:36:34 AM
I've always felt, Karl, that J/S is on a denominational track, and is trying to say that the sufficient cause for holy communion admission and attendance for a denomination that states that it inter-communes with people from only one other 75 parish denomination in the US than itself is denominational membership, and further that there is no reason for people denominationally affiliated sufficient for them not to commune together.  I've taken his concern as a denominational one.  So the differences in practice among us Missourians are not sufficient grounds for non-participation in Eucharistic celebration.  Agreement on basic doctrinal issues is not only assumed but exists in reality and is part of the denomination's strength.   Finally, then, for him, it's offensive when others absent themselves from the altar inside our denomination or fraternity of clergy at Eucharists.  I could be wrong, but I think that's his point. 

Dave Benke
Title: Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
Post by: pr dtp on December 10, 2010, 12:47:01 PM
I've always felt, Karl, that J/S is on a denominational track, and is trying to say that the sufficient cause for holy communion admission and attendance for a denomination that states that it inter-communes with people from only one other 75 parish denomination in the US than itself is denominational membership, and further that there is no reason for people denominationally affiliated sufficient for them not to commune together.  I've taken his concern as a denominational one.  So the differences in practice among us Missourians are not sufficient grounds for non-participation in Eucharistic celebration.  Agreement on basic doctrinal issues is not only assumed but exists in reality and is part of the denomination's strength.   Finally, then, for him, it's offensive when others absent themselves from the altar inside our denomination or fraternity of clergy at Eucharists.  I could be wrong, but I think that's his point. 

Dave Benke

Dr. Benke,

Yes, this is it.  We pledge to walk together, then rather than actually go by what the confessions and scripture says our unity should be in, we find a myriad of adiaphora to divide us.  And the decision to excommunicate is not based in a discussion of the issues, but an unilateral decision.  (and often, a direct refusal to deal with the brothers in one's own area.)

@Mike,
1 Corinthians 10 is about a fractured communion without reason but narcissism.  I actually think it proves my point - except being an issue of time, we make it an issue of worship style, or create am issue based on semantics. (i.e. other than a pastor reading the lessons)

@Karl,
Curious - what besides what is stated in the confessions as our source of unity is worth dividing over? We don't commune with baptists and evangelicals because they specifically do not see the sacrament as a source of grace and forgiveness.  We don't commune with the RCC because they have decided we are anathema.   But for us, inside one denomination, pledged to th same norm of scripture, and with the confessions as an accurate explanation of that - and within that explanation an understanding that God is the mover in conferring grace, why are we not availing ourselves of that grace, through word and sacrament.

Instead we rely on our own reason and strength to determine what unity is, and how to achieve it.
Title: Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
Post by: Karl Hess on December 11, 2010, 09:53:08 AM
I understand our confessions to say that right preaching of the Word and right administration of the sacraments are necessary for unity.  Since I think that right preaching of the Gospel does not always happen in the Missouri Synod and is not addressed, I think there is good reason to refrain from communing at synodical events.  Doing that is not excommunication, any more than not communing at your home congregation because there is division is excommunication.

There may be hard heartedness and hatred on the part of those who don't commune at synodical events.  But there is also, at least for some, a desire to see us walk in unity of confession.  Perhaps there is a difference among us as to what unity in confession means?  I understand it to be unity in all the articles of the faith taught by Scripture--not unity in chanting or fasting, not unity in the interpretation of every passage of scripture, or things like that.
Title: Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
Post by: Weedon on December 11, 2010, 10:47:43 AM
And as I said before one of the things Koinonia will have to address is the question of exactly WHAT are those articles of faith, taught in the Scriptures.  Over on Gottesdienst Online, Dr. Becker has come out quite straightforwardly to state that women's ordination is not a doctrine and is one of those items that the Synod may and should change course on.  IS this a disagreement in doctrine or not?  Dr. Becker, no doubt, feels it is not.  Pr. Hess and myself and, I assume, the majority of Synod thinks otherwise.  This is, I would posit, an actual and real disagreement among us that deals with fundamental presuppositions:  is X part of the divinely revealed deposit of Sacred Scripture or not?  In Koinonia we must come to terms with such fundamental, basic questions.  The conversation on Gottesdienst is instructive of how far we have to go: 

http://gottesdienstonline.blogspot.com/2010/12/selk-reports-of-our-demise-have-been.html?showComment=1292019048539_AIe9_BFG3FNfj3s359iJRjvVBcBuMMYjItEEybDnM4NxfaFSlH1yEaS1js9AukknVq_mnfm82IEKudYeozQ6Lqigh19kwttGHojbqRnNhWzg_JTZuvK13zpalCHEVFXp8SAXpZHWOuY2gPNO7Sj-hr9gpCeEDqPDxeCVvmMC_osDehLWFEp06taWjliMgY77-7ZcOlEnQVDiOIJm3bBTzKVVixGVvJApNiN9mMZBIi0AVmMlfy1o9Fgbk8NDrm2PEVEwar9jmrwXMZwi0zN5ynT0zOAxRMQ4-4N0otWGjzScAVMCmYhXuqvWGGjW169-ODhCDhrSMrEpt8siX_gD0cTXu2tdiBBKvLrj60KaeGvo7f5knTr3PC5lyOZqGRnxC4Xx4Pdo6Pj8OVhFpXpH6-nL37JlxtOWcaOCEtCLgERdl-r05XM2JMemmK3PNvWE_74TO34QYL0ZJshnga-2qy46eEPnrYEi12K2Obvd6ng04MN2KvrhenjMU_X3p7t2CSA2uRf2grPlHBChORE4eNAJwko-J0nZlvKFLVVUYjUS-bVlrfOP3sdNBFku0Z-tBhX8IpDSSp3Ws-LcDoRh5Pvw2QijUcWnM2z7vHt3Uj6rPgVqbUh1g7oJguvO5nQGowFjxqWcCMMV_G_cBHPEEUgHzQqR-TCvEs93P_ydCm_lj7kSCnMUobZ7ah2BvM7ZWAvuzrtZRdoSivjMbfkMuX7CLggv-83EzBZ49YtNT4mFX1Y1vFQQMGWrMz5_OYQYg_7jZC5yka0LTBKQMAZxbZjmfytV_tIJg2Q8i15irdBO48H9amNjApH_8eHnweIx_UxyT2vo_5FUW1nE8Xo1U8cIfXU8M3Hw0J1ZfA9ZUZocmSFUDYUtICHkFbrjldJx3MF7IykPuwLBGpGKGAGRsPEHBrvIGW2P1jchK9_sNTOSymARhAhoqhlE25XC6TqeZlCfD5OwLhzEzaQuIS2qZADZrbDpsgarjRRkGxDx9tnWmO0Z8g8v4rY#c5858766328848369404
Title: Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
Post by: ptmccain on December 11, 2010, 11:05:59 AM
I'd like to nominate the link above for:

Longest web site link ever posted on ALPB.

 :)
Title: Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
Post by: Weedon on December 11, 2010, 11:29:38 AM
Yeah, I know.  I was just concerned that clicking it would work, and it does, though it brings you to the middle of the thread and not the top, and I don't know how to fix that.
Title: Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
Post by: ptmccain on December 11, 2010, 11:30:56 AM
I think it is way cool, Will.

Title: Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
Post by: Michael Slusser on December 11, 2010, 12:04:09 PM
If I ever need to pass a long link on, I take it to tinyurl:

TinyURL.com - shorten that long URL into a tiny URL
Free URL redirection service. Turns a long URL into a much shorter one.
tinyurl.com/ (http://tinyurl.com/) - Cached - Similar

It works!

Peace,
Michael
Title: Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
Post by: pr dtp on December 11, 2010, 12:34:05 PM
I understand our confessions to say that right preaching of the Word and right administration of the sacraments are necessary for unity.  Since I think that right preaching of the Gospel does not always happen in the Missouri Synod and is not addressed, I think there is good reason to refrain from communing at synodical events.  Doing that is not excommunication, any more than not communing at your home congregation because there is division is excommunication.

There may be hard heartedness and hatred on the part of those who don't commune at synodical events.  But there is also, at least for some, a desire to see us walk in unity of confession.  Perhaps there is a difference among us as to what unity in confession means?  I understand it to be unity in all the articles of the faith taught by Scripture--not unity in chanting or fasting, not unity in the interpretation of every passage of scripture, or things like that.

First - thank you for being honest with the statement about you seeing there being issues with preaching and the administration of the sacraments, and not developing some other reason for not communing.   Now we can talk about that issue.

So my question, which was asked above, what are the specific issues in your circuit - that would restrict your communing with the circuit?  What have you specifically communicated with those you have these problems with, or have you?  A further issue is - why would you forsake the communing with pastors you are in complete agreement with (on what the confessions say we must be unified from), because of a small number of those you think you are not. 

Similarly the question with district - are there pastors you would not commune with there, that you have not entered into discussion with?

If you haven't - and you are using these issues as your reason NOT to commune - then yes - de jure that is excommunication - a breaking of the community.    If you did, then perhaps it is de facto, as opposed to de jure.

To use an Old Testament example - you have declared either yourself or the one's you ave decided to not commune with, as being outside of the camp, and not part of the Community.   To use Matthew's gospel, you have gone to the altar while having a problem with them.  And spiritually speaking - there is one altar - not yours at your church, another at each of the churches in the circuit, and one at the district conference or convention. By commuing at your altar, and not at the district/winkel - (given the reason of different preaching/admin of sacraments) you are further noting the breaking of the communion.

It still amazes me, that given our understanding of Law and Gospel, and of the efficacy of the sacraments, we do not deal with this more proactively, but we hide it, or just tolerate the breaking of the communion.
Title: Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
Post by: Dave Benke on December 11, 2010, 12:38:32 PM
I think J/S has a point, Karl. 

However, my comment is basically to indicate that Gottesdienst Online, a forum of whose existence I was unaware, has the confluence of the particular people on the same forum, rather than people on one forum talking about people who have never been on that forum.  That I like.  And that, in the decadal pattern of Missouri dialog, is what we want.

Dave Benke
Title: Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
Post by: Matt on December 11, 2010, 01:12:07 PM
Agreement on basic doctrinal issues is not only assumed but exists in reality and is part of the denomination's strength.   

This is simply not true. I read the entire Gottesdienst Online thread with great interest. I'm glad that Dr. Becker has the courage to enter a discussion in such a hostile forum, but I'm even more glad that several others in the discussion have the courage to call out Dr. Becker's satanic false doctrine for what it is.

This is clearly an issue of the very deepest possible division. This is the spirit of this age versus the spirit that would conform all things to the mind of Christ. Dr. Becker's arguments are part of a satanic lie that does its best to wrap itself in confessional and scriptural language in order to cloak the fact that it is a deadly cancer in the church. I suppose the best possible construction is to allow for the possibility that Dr. Becker is so deceived that he is not aware that he is a deceiver, and servant of The Deceiver.

Furthermore, Dr. Becker is teaching these lies to undergraduates at a Lutheran university. He claims that his students find his case persuasive and this claim is not hard to believe. The fact that this false teacher is a pastor in good standing on the roster of the LCMS is utterly unacceptable in a church that claims confessional orthodoxy. I support Dr. Becker's right to free speech, but only so his heresies can be so clearly exposed and refuted as they were at Gottesdienst Online.

To answer J/S' question directly, I would not commune at the same altar as Dr. Becker.  I'm not a pastor, and I've never absented myself from communion at a Lutheran altar for any reason, but this would be sufficient reason to abstain so as not to sin against the body and blood of Christ and offend my own conscience.

And let me be perfectly clear: any schism, any excommunication, any sin in this matter is completely the responsibility of the false teacher, not the Christian who refuses to commune with him.
Title: Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
Post by: pr dtp on December 11, 2010, 01:37:02 PM
Agreement on basic doctrinal issues is not only assumed but exists in reality and is part of the denomination's strength.   

This is simply not true. I read the entire Gottesdienst Online thread with great interest. I'm glad that Dr. Becker has the courage to enter a discussion in such a hostile forum, but I'm even more glad that several others in the discussion have the courage to call out Dr. Becker's satanic false doctrine for what it is.

This is clearly an issue of the very deepest possible division. This is the spirit of this age versus the spirit that would conform all things to the mind of Christ. Dr. Becker's arguments are part of a satanic lie that does its best to wrap itself in confessional and scriptural language in order to cloak the fact that it is a deadly cancer in the church. I suppose the best possible construction is to allow for the possibility that Dr. Becker is so deceived that he is not aware that he is a deceiver, and servant of The Deceiver.

Furthermore, Dr. Becker is teaching these lies to undergraduates at a Lutheran university. He claims that his students find his case persuasive and this claim is not hard to believe. The fact that this false teacher is a pastor in good standing on the roster of the LCMS is utterly unacceptable in a church that claims confessional orthodoxy. I support Dr. Becker's right to free speech, but only so his heresies can be so clearly exposed and refuted as they were at Gottesdienst Online.

To answer J/S' question directly, I would not commune at the same altar as Dr. Becker.  I'm not a pastor, and I've never absented myself from communion at a Lutheran altar for any reason, but this would be sufficient reason to abstain so as not to sin against the body and blood of Christ and offend my own conscience.

And let me be perfectly clear: any schism, any excommunication, any sin in this matter is completely the responsibility of the false teacher, not the Christian who refuses to commune with him.


Wrong , there is sin in not trying to see to your brother's redemption.  This is not the Synod as Beauracracy's job alone - it is the job of all those who claim to walk with him as brothers in Christ.

1  Have you approached him directly prior to going to any altar yourself?

2.  How many others, who you do agree with, are you willing to forsake communing with, to make your point?

3.  Are you really forgoing communing with him, just because your LCMS churches are in different locations?
Title: Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
Post by: Matt on December 11, 2010, 01:43:10 PM
And lets consider for a moment the possibility that Dr. Becker's argument is correct.

If it is, then the LCMS has taken a non-scriptural, non-confessional doctrine (ordination for males only) and put it on the same level as scripture itself. This would be a grievous error, particularly in a culture that has proven itself far more enlightened than the LCMS in its view of gender relations. Even the largest church bodies of Lutherans in the world more or less accept Dr. Becker's argument. So why would he commune with such notorious false teachers as he finds in the great majority of LCMS?

Perhaps he has a different understanding of what Holy Communion is and does.

Or perhaps he vainly sees himself as a reformer on a mission to change the retrograde LCMS. Either way, there is certainly no doctrinal unity here.
Title: Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
Post by: mariemeyer on December 11, 2010, 01:51:28 PM
I'm even more glad that several others in the discussion have the courage to call out Dr. Becker's satanic false doctrine for what it is.  

What is the false doctrine that Matt Becker is promoting?  How does one determine that it is of Satan?

Marie Meyer
Title: Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
Post by: Matt on December 11, 2010, 02:14:07 PM
Wrong , there is sin in not trying to see to your brother's redemption.  This is not the Synod as Beauracracy's job alone - it is the job of all those who claim to walk with him as brothers in Christ.

If you agree with me that Dr. Becker is a false teacher, and accuse me of sinning by not trying to correct Dr. Becker, and you do not yourself try to rebuke and correct him, then you are a hypocrite. See? I can play this game too.

But I don't think that you think that Dr. Becker is a false teacher. Or if you do, you would not admit it here. Most likely, you think that Dr. Becker is a little bit wrong but I am very, very wrong by calling him out in such a harsh way. If I'm misreading you, please let me know.

1  Have you approached him directly prior to going to any altar yourself?

I have not. I don't know Dr. Becker, I know a little bit about him by reputation. I'm accusing him of being a false teacher by virtue of what he wrote on his blog and at Gottesdienst Online. Do you know him personally? It would not surprise me to learn that he is a peach of a guy, a beloved teacher, husband and father; a pillar of the community. He is probably an obedient Christian in many ways that I am not. It doesn't matter: anyone who teaches false doctrine in public, on the Internet, should be rebuked in public, on the Internet. And the contributors at Gottesdienst Online did a much better job of this than I did.

If you notice, I did not attack Dr. Becker, I attacked his teaching. Though I don't know him, I pray for his repentance for the benefit of his own soul and the church as a whole. But I know about him that he has been teaching this for a long time, and he has been corrected in person and face-to-face many times and has not repented. I could give him a phone call, but it would be a waste of everyone's time.

Are you saying that we have to correct every false teacher in our church body before communing at any altar? If so, you are advocating a much more extreme position than I am. In fact, I am sure I have communed with heretics many times unawares, perhaps every time given the universal idea of the Lord's Supper that we both accept. But to do so intentionally would violate my conscience. Also, according to your standard, you had better personally contact Pr. Richard Bolland of the ACELC (whom I guess you don't know personally) and come to agreement before either of you commune again. Sound like an unreasonable standard? It is.

2.  How many others, who you do agree with, are you willing to forsake communing with, to make your point?

None of them. The broken communion is the fault of the false teacher, that is my point. No heretic should have the right to prevent the church from communing. To commune with someone is to indicate "horizontal" doctrinal unity with them according to the Lutheran understanding. To give someone the benefit of the doubt is one thing, to signal unity with one who teaches falsely in pubic is entirely something else.

3.  Are you really forgoing communing with him, just because your LCMS churches are in different locations?

Well yes, obviously. We commune at local altars while confessing one communion of all saints, right? Are you really saying that we should never commune if there is the possibility that there might be a false teacher somewhere in the church? That is most definitely not my argument, it is absurd. In something like a Synod convention, I would most likely take communion instead of scouring the hall for heretics. But when an LCMS pastor teaches falsely on the Internet, we must clearly confute him or risk signaling our agreement by remaining in full fellowship.
Title: Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
Post by: Steven Tibbetts on December 11, 2010, 02:31:35 PM
Yeah, I know.  I was just concerned that clicking it would work, and it does, though it brings you to the middle of the thread and not the top, and I don't know how to fix that.

Do this (http://gottesdienstonline.blogspot.com/2010/12/selk-reports-of-our-demise-have-been.html).

Pax, Steven+
Title: Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
Post by: Matt on December 11, 2010, 02:39:05 PM
What is the false doctrine that Matt Becker is promoting?  How does one determine that it is of Satan?

Oh c'mon, Mrs. Meyer, no one is more familiar with the arguments on both sides of the issue than you are. It would make no sense to go through the whole tiresome exercise again, we have better things to discuss and do. If you wonder what I'm responding to specifically, go back and read the Gottesdienst thread that Fr. Weedon linked to.

As far as I can tell, Dr. Becker is making precisely the same argument that Mrs. Meyer has made many times in this forum. Namely, that women's ordination is the correct scriptural and confessional practice, and that the LCMS is seriously sinning by not ordaining women. Furthermore, most members of the LCMS are seriously sinning by considering this a closed issue and not giving advocates of WO a platform to make their case.

Now Mrs. Meyer is going to come back and say that she has never advocated WO, her only problem is with the Order of Creation theology which conflicts with the authentic scriptural confessional understanding that she espouses, but that the LCMS refuses to consider because of its deep-set sexism or whatever. We've been through this drill several times.

Look: this whole line of reasoning is evidence of another gospel, another spirit then the Spirit of Christ that animates His true Church. What is satanic about it is that it is so fundamentally dishonest as to claim to be confessional and to twist confession and scripture in its service. As for Dr. Becker and Mrs. Meyer, I do not know either of them personally and I base this judgment on reading what they have written and said in debate. I assume that they are moral, fine, upstanding people. But false doctrine needs to be clearly identified, and if those who teach it refuse to repent, they should be put outside the church. Scripture and Confessions could not be more clear on this point.

Am I in error? Have I written anything in hate? Anything that is not true? If so, point it out and I will gladly repent.
Title: Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
Post by: mariemeyer on December 11, 2010, 04:07:21 PM
Matthew:  For the record, I have read the Gottesdienst thread to which Pr. Weedon referred.

An LCMS pastor once told the circuit where we lived in retirement that I was doctrinally unfit to be a convention delegate. The pastor of the congregation in which I was a member informed me what had been said. When I made an appointment to meet with the pastor in question, he acknowledged that he had not read anything I had written. He had only heard about what I had written and said.

You have read my posts on this Forum.  Where, here or elsewhere, have I said anything about "deep set sexism?"  Where have I said that "women's ordination is the correct scriptural and confessional practice?"  When did I say that most members of the LCMS are sinning because they regard WO a closed issue?  What is the other Gospel I espouse?

I fear that the relationship of man and woman has become such an emotionally charged issue within the LCMS that accusations and misrepresentations have taken the place of a reasoned Sciptural discussion. 

Marie Meyer



Title: Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
Post by: SCPO on December 11, 2010, 04:22:28 PM
As far as I can tell, Dr. Becker is making precisely the same argument that Mrs. Meyer has made many times in this forum. Namely, that women's ordination is the correct scriptural and confessional practice, and that the LCMS is seriously sinning by not ordaining women. Furthermore, most members of the LCMS are seriously sinning by considering this a closed issue and not giving advocates of WO a platform to make their case. Am I in error? Have I written anything in hate? Anything that is not true? If so, point it out and I will gladly repent.

Mr. Jamison,

     I do not recall Mrs. Meyer ever making the argument in this forum that women's ordination is the correct scriptural and confessional practice.  However, if she has made this argument in this forum "many times" as you have written, you should have no problem backing up your statement.  Please show me where I am wrong.

Kyrie eleison,
Title: Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
Post by: Matt on December 11, 2010, 04:39:45 PM
Why don't you just plainly state what you believe and what you reject? I give Dr. Becker credit for this, at least. I don't have to go back and pull up direct quotes in order to accurately summarize your arguments.

You have never advocated women's ordination on these boards. Instead, you repeat every theological argument that leads to that conclusion but leave your own position conveniently unstated. If anyone tries to pin down your real position, you accuse him of false testimony. I think this is slippery and dishonest. Pr. McCain calls you on this stunt, and then you play the victim and you and others accuse him of meanness. I've seen this happen more than once.

You believe that the "order of creation" argument is theologically unsound and that the opponents of WO in the LCMS base their position on this fallacious reasoning. Yes or no?

Anyone interested in this who has not read it all before can go back and read the archives and reach their own conclusion. The last line of your last post insinuates that your opponents are incapable of reasoning correctly about scripture because they are so emotionally invested in their opinions about gender. This is an accusation of sexism, made in an indirect, sneaky and dishonest way. A satanic way. I won't play this game with you, Marie. If you want to debate and reason from scripture, respectfully, as Christian brother and sister; I am willing to do so. But this is not and has never been your modus operandi

If this post gets me banned for meanness, so be it. Let the reader reach his or her own conclusions.
Title: Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
Post by: John_Hannah on December 11, 2010, 04:55:59 PM
I have known countless Orthodox Lutherans who have little or no objection to the ordination of women. (I would begin with Arthur Carl Piepkorn but there are many others.) There are countless conservative, evangelical, and catholic Christians who have little or no objection to the ordination of women. (The lastest I learned about was N.T. Wright, the highly regarded NT scholar and Bishop of Durham.)

It is not the question on which the church stands or falls. RIGHT?



Title: Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
Post by: ptmccain on December 11, 2010, 04:58:37 PM
If they have no objection to the ordination of women, they are not orthodox Lutherans, John.

Title: Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
Post by: Michael Slusser on December 11, 2010, 05:00:24 PM
Why don't you just plainly state what you believe and what you reject? I give Dr. Becker credit for this, at least. I don't have to go back and pull up direct quotes in order to accurately summarize your arguments.

You have never advocated women's ordination on these boards. Instead, you repeat every theological argument that leads to that conclusion but leave your own position conveniently unstated. If anyone tries to pin down your real position, you accuse him of false testimony. I think this is slippery and dishonest. Pr. McCain calls you on this stunt, and then you play the victim and you and others accuse him of meanness. I've seen this happen more than once.

You believe that the "order of creation" argument is theologically unsound and that the opponents of WO in the LCMS base their position on this fallacious reasoning. Yes or no?

Anyone interested in this who has not read it all before can go back and read the archives and reach their own conclusion. The last line of your last post insinuates that your opponents are incapable of reasoning correctly about scripture because they are so emotionally invested in their opinions about gender. This is an accusation of sexism, made in an indirect, sneaky and dishonest way. A satanic way. I won't play this game with you, Marie. If you want to debate and reason from scripture, respectfully, as Christian brother and sister; I am willing to do so. But this is not and has never been your modus operandi

If this post gets me banned for meanness, so be it. Let the reader reach his or her own conclusions.

(1) OK, you like to be mean and call people outrageous names; others do too, so stay, but improve. (2) One conclusion I can reach is that you're too hot-headed on this subject to have a considered opinion.

Peace,
Michael
Title: Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
Post by: Team Hesse on December 11, 2010, 05:02:07 PM
If they have no objection to the ordination of women, they are not orthodox Lutherans, John.



Good night!

Lou
Title: Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
Post by: Timotheus Verinus on December 11, 2010, 05:09:52 PM
....
Am I in error? Have I written anything in hate? Anything that is not true? If so, point it out and I will gladly repent.

Hmmm.. not sure. What is your definition of "heretic?" It seems different from the one I read in the dictionary. And I can't see into hearts, so you'll have to answer the second part. Although that language and imputation of motivation sources seems to come from some passion.  (PS I usually find I can sin, without too much help from satanic sources,) and Its hard to triangulate uncertain use of words, with clear answers. That's probably why Marie simply asked you a question.

Use of "satanic" is normally characterized as "demonizing." Whether consciously or unconsciously, demonizing is usually an rhetorical fallacy technique to bring hate into the picture. Hate may not be bad. That's sort of depends on what we are speaking of, but demonizing is usually used to appeal to acceptable?? hate, in an argument.

Quote
debate and reason from scripture, respectfully, as Christian brother and sister; I am willing to do so. But this is not and has never been your modus operandi.

I've followed this conversation for a very long time, and I am pretty sure you will find that Marie does "debate and reason from scripture, respectfully, as [a] Christian ... sister; ... [as her] modus operandi." Almost unwaveringly. Your frustration is not evidence of her constant practice, it is ... your frustration.

Quote
You believe that the "order of creation" argument is theologically unsound and that the opponents of WO in the LCMS base their position on this fallacious reasoning. Yes or no?

I have always had no problem with this question but will let Marie answer as she likes.
I have always held, taught and practiced we ordain men only as pastors, based on scriptural teaching.
I do believe from the numerous defenses that the "order of creation" argument as used and presented has serious problems with it. The CTCR said that much. So with them I answer that yes.
LCMS seems unable to put together a paper, resolution, study or comment without directly placing this argument as a cornerstone. So the answer to that question is, Yes they base their position, at least in part, and seemingly a large part, on that reasoning, fallacious or not.

I don't see the discussion, however, as one of sexism, nor do I really read that in Marie's thoughts. There is a danger to those who frame the question this way, and that is a serious danger - to them.  I don't know that it effects women as a class all that much in practical terms. My wife does exactly the same things in The AALC as she did under a conservative DP in LCMS. The difference is she is embraced as a full partner in the Gospel, where before those  in LCMS seemed to agonize, obsess with checking by-laws, and praying over whether this or that would be ok. I simply can't believe that was good for their souls, and pray over the impact it has on their faith walk. Nothing changed in practical terms for her. In spiritual terms, a partnership and encouraging spirit changed like night and day, and that  is rooted in the Calvinist (see Zerbst) "order of creation," debate.

TV
Title: Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
Post by: Weedon on December 11, 2010, 05:15:45 PM
Pr. Hannah,

Neither is the genus maiestaticum the doctrine on which the Church stands or falls; yet it is not permitted to deny it and still be called a Lutheran, no?  Numerous instances could be multiplied.  And the key is always to seek to understand where Satan is directing his attacks currently, for it does little good to be Orthodox on all points except the most hotly contested part in the present time.  This does indeed impinge directly upon the Gospel itself, for the Office of the Ministry was constituted by the Savior to be the delivery system of the means of grace, and at any point where we inject uncertainty (by coming up with our own better ideas - grape juice? lay celebrations?) we do a disservice to the Gospel.  There are those who flat out hold that a Eucharist celebrated by a woman who cannot be the in office of the ministry (via St. Paul's words about teaching) is simply bread and wine, for there is no mandate that such a person deliver them.  It would be like me writing a ticket to you for speeding, even if I dressed up in a cop's outfit and looked all official.  The ticket would only be a piece of paper because I am not authorized to write it.  Luther's great "aha" over the "third thing" - not just Word and element but MANDATE.  May God work through an uncovenanted act of grace to give the Sacrament even through the hand of a woman who pretends to hold the office?  Indeed, we may not circumscribe the limits of divine grace; but neither may we presume certainty about such a thing.  Thus the very Gospel - where certainty is a matter of prime importance - itself IS at stake in this matter.  And I apologize ahead of time for the offense that I know my words give to some of my ELCA brothers and sisters.  I don't know how to express it without being offensive.  
Title: Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
Post by: Matt on December 11, 2010, 05:33:55 PM
I have known countless Orthodox Lutherans who have little or no objection to the ordination of women. (I would begin with Arthur Carl Piepkorn but there are many others.) There are countless conservative, evangelical, and catholic Christians who have little or no objection to the ordination of women. (The lastest I learned about was N.T. Wright, the highly regarded NT scholar and Bishop of Durham.)

This is an appeal to authority that I find completely unconvincing. Some Lutherans are ignorant about the biblical, confessional and historical arguments against the very recent practice of ordaining women. Sadly, lots of us are ignorant about lots of things. This proves nothing.  

An orthodox Lutheran is a Christian who believes, teaches and confesses pure Lutheran doctrine. To the extent that a Christian teaches heresy, he or she is a heretic. Like any other sin, Christ died for this on the cross and upon his or her repentance, the heretic is to be welcomed back into the fellowship and we should rejoice like the prodigal's father. But nowhere are we commanded to tolerate false teachers, we are strictly forbidden to do so by Christ Himself.

As for Piepkorn, I haven't seen anything to indicate that he was in favor of women's ordination. My understanding is that he allowed for the possibility that WO might not be contrary to the confessions. If ACP taught women's ordination, then he taught a heresy. I'm not convinced that he did so, but some of you knew the man, and I did not. Luther himself wrote some unfortunate stuff, but it doesn't nullify Luther's value as a church father.

It is not the question on which the church stands or falls. RIGHT?

I'm not so sure that it isn't. Sola Fide, properly understood, is indivisible from Sola Scriptura, Sola Gratia, and Solus Christus. If you deny the apostolic faith at one point, you make it possible at every point. Scripture, Law and Gospel and the Christian Faith are an indivisible unity. Look at what has happened to European Protestantism, the Church of England, the Episcopal Church and the ELCA subsequent to women's ordination. The ALPB is full of faithful Christians who are horrified at the state of the ELCA. Now I don't think that WO was the first step in ELCA's tragic fall but there is no denying the sequence of events afterwards. We end up in a state where an ELCA church in San Francisco has a service where the First Commandment is broken in a straightforward way. And the ELCA has made it impossible to do anything about this abomination short of breaking communion with the ELCA, which many people are currently doing.

No, I think the first step on the long slide to apostasy is when the church stops anathemizing false doctrine in its ranks and instead anathemizes those who try to protect the church from false doctrine. Instead of fighting the infection, the body starts attacking itself leading to death in short order.  This is how our Adversary uses false doctrine in the church body to bring division and, ultimately, death to the church body. May God forbid it.

Title: Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
Post by: Richard Johnson on December 11, 2010, 05:50:10 PM
As far as I can tell, Dr. Becker is making precisely the same argument that Mrs. Meyer has made many times in this forum. Namely, that women's ordination is the correct scriptural and confessional practice, and that the LCMS is seriously sinning by not ordaining women. . . . Am I in error? Have I written anything in hate? Anything that is not true? If so, point it out and I will gladly repent.

Yes, you are in error. I don't recall Deaconess Meyer ever making the argument that you describe. My guess is that you suspect her of holding particular opinions.
Title: Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
Post by: Richard Johnson on December 11, 2010, 05:52:00 PM
Why don't you just plainly state what you believe and what you reject? I give Dr. Becker credit for this, at least. I don't have to go back and pull up direct quotes in order to accurately summarize your arguments.

You have never advocated women's ordination on these boards. Instead, you repeat every theological argument that leads to that conclusion but leave your own position conveniently unstated. If anyone tries to pin down your real position, you accuse him of false testimony. I think this is slippery and dishonest. Pr. McCain calls you on this stunt, and then you play the victim and you and others accuse him of meanness. I've seen this happen more than once.

You believe that the "order of creation" argument is theologically unsound and that the opponents of WO in the LCMS base their position on this fallacious reasoning. Yes or no?

Anyone interested in this who has not read it all before can go back and read the archives and reach their own conclusion. The last line of your last post insinuates that your opponents are incapable of reasoning correctly about scripture because they are so emotionally invested in their opinions about gender. This is an accusation of sexism, made in an indirect, sneaky and dishonest way. A satanic way. I won't play this game with you, Marie. If you want to debate and reason from scripture, respectfully, as Christian brother and sister; I am willing to do so. But this is not and has never been your modus operandi

If this post gets me banned for meanness, so be it. Let the reader reach his or her own conclusions.

(1) OK, you like to be mean and call people outrageous names; others do too, so stay, but improve. (2) One conclusion I can reach is that you're too hot-headed on this subject to have a considered opinion.

Peace,
Michael

I think you have hit the nail on the head, Michael.
Title: Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
Post by: Matt on December 11, 2010, 05:52:58 PM
If they have no objection to the ordination of women, they are not orthodox Lutherans, John.

Precisely. And far less long-winded than my response.  :D
Title: Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
Post by: Richard Johnson on December 11, 2010, 05:54:00 PM
If they have no objection to the ordination of women, they are not orthodox Lutherans, John.

Precisely. And far less long-winded than my response.  :D

And quite a bit less offensive.

Which is not to say correct.  ;)
Title: Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
Post by: Matt on December 11, 2010, 06:13:38 PM
Use of "satanic" is normally characterized as "demonizing." Whether consciously or unconsciously, demonizing is usually an rhetorical fallacy technique to bring hate into the picture. Hate may not be bad. That's sort of depends on what we are speaking of, but demonizing is usually used to appeal to acceptable?? hate, in an argument.

I apologize, TV, I don't get what you are saying here. Please elaborate if you want to.

Look, I know that "satanic" is a very strong term to use in a discussion among Christians. I am aware of the offense and strong reactions that it causes, but I can't think of anything less strong to express what I'm trying to say. All sin is from the Evil One. All false doctrine is from the Evil One. This is no less true when I sin and when I speak false doctrine, as I have done, many times. I think Dr. Becker's argument is false and demonic, particularly since he occupies a position of authority and influence in the church.
Title: Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
Post by: Matt on December 11, 2010, 06:36:45 PM
As far as I can tell, Dr. Becker is making precisely the same argument that Mrs. Meyer has made many times in this forum. Namely, that women's ordination is the correct scriptural and confessional practice, and that the LCMS is seriously sinning by not ordaining women. . . . Am I in error? Have I written anything in hate? Anything that is not true? If so, point it out and I will gladly repent.

Yes, you are in error. I don't recall Deaconess Meyer ever making the argument that you describe. My guess is that you suspect her of holding particular opinions.

Then I have erred in concluding that Deaconess Meyer and Dr. Becker hold very similar opinions. I am truly sorry about this, because I think Dr. Becker is clearly expressing a most serious error. I must be confused about the points that Dcs. Meyer has made repeatedly, and with some passion, on these boards. The truth is that I have no idea what any of you believe outside what you have said or written here or elsewhere.

I think you that have read more than a few of my 300+ posts on ALPB have a very clear idea of what I believe, teach and confess. And I stand by what I wrote tonight. I usually realize when I write something in haste or anger, and I try to apologize and repent when appropriate. I realize that I have been using very strong language and I understand that some of you will feel deep hurt in reaction to it. I regret this. You all know that I strive to be courteous and respectful whenever possible and apologize when I'm wrong.

I sincerely believe that everyone in this forum is passionately and sincerely committed to Christ and the future of His Church. Otherwise, why would we spend so much time here? I think it is possible to be very sincere and very wrong at the same time, and that a stiff rebuke may be exactly what is called for, in Christian love, to lead someone to repentance or at least a clearer understanding. This stuff is real, and it matters. It is from this that our passion comes.

If you look back, you will see that I took this line of argument in response to Dr. Benke's claim that there is no serious doctrinal division in the LCMS. I think this thread and the Gottesdienst thread that preceeded it are ample evidence that there is serious doctrinal disagreement among us, and it is fierce. And I heartily agree with Dr. Benke that civil discussion of these things is in the best interest of the Church. Having stated my case, I'll quit now. I know several of you feel that I have at least stretched the boundaries of civility at ALPB and I thank you for your forbearance in allowing me to continue in the discussion.
Title: Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
Post by: Michael Slusser on December 11, 2010, 06:41:52 PM
Use of "satanic" is normally characterized as "demonizing." Whether consciously or unconsciously, demonizing is usually an rhetorical fallacy technique to bring hate into the picture. Hate may not be bad. That's sort of depends on what we are speaking of, but demonizing is usually used to appeal to acceptable?? hate, in an argument.

I apologize, TV, I don't get what you are saying here. Please elaborate if you want to.

Look, I know that "satanic" is a very strong term to use in a discussion among Christians. I am aware of the offense and strong reactions that it causes, but I can't think of anything less strong to express what I'm trying to say. All sin is from the Evil One. All false doctrine is from the Evil One. This is no less true when I sin and when I speak false doctrine, as I have done, many times. I think Dr. Becker's argument is false and demonic, particularly since he occupies a position of authority and influence in the church.

On that basis, your own posts could be termed "satanic"--but neither I nor anyone I respect on this Forum would do so.  Why on earth would anyone--you included--use such language? You really need to widen your vocabulary, if not your sympathy. Satan is not welcome here.

Peace,
Michael
Title: Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
Post by: Matt on December 11, 2010, 07:02:30 PM
On that basis, your own posts could be termed "satanic"--but neither I nor anyone I respect on this Forum would do so.  Why on earth would anyone--you included--use such language? You really need to widen your vocabulary, if not your sympathy. Satan is not welcome here.

Indeed he is not, Father Slusser. And I use the term in utter seriousness and awareness of all that it implies. As did Martin Luther, and as did Our Savior. I believe in a literal and very clever Satan that tempts sincere Christians to believe and teach false doctrine. And I am not immune from being tempted or from sinning in this same way. If I am the one who deserves the stiff rebuke, I'll thank you to deliver it. But honestly, I think I am guilty of nothing worse than uncivil bluntness in arguing for the truth, and I'm not sorry for this.
Title: Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
Post by: Michael Slusser on December 11, 2010, 07:07:04 PM
On that basis, your own posts could be termed "satanic"--but neither I nor anyone I respect on this Forum would do so.  Why on earth would anyone--you included--use such language? You really need to widen your vocabulary, if not your sympathy. Satan is not welcome here.

Indeed he is not, Father Slusser. And I use the term in utter seriousness and awareness of all that it implies. As did Martin Luther, and as did Our Savior. I believe in a literal and very clever Satan that tempts sincere Christians to believe and teach false doctrine. And I am not immune from being tempted or from sinning in this same way. If I am the one who deserves the stiff rebuke, I'll thank you to deliver it. But honestly, I think I am guilty of nothing worse than uncivil bluntness in arguing for the truth, and I'm not sorry for this.
OK, consider yourself rebuked. I too believe in a literal Adversary, and I distrust people who pretend to too much familiarity. Drop it.

Michael
Title: Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
Post by: Karl Hess on December 11, 2010, 08:29:39 PM
Use of "satanic" is normally characterized as "demonizing." Whether consciously or unconsciously, demonizing is usually an rhetorical fallacy technique to bring hate into the picture. Hate may not be bad. That's sort of depends on what we are speaking of, but demonizing is usually used to appeal to acceptable?? hate, in an argument.

I apologize, TV, I don't get what you are saying here. Please elaborate if you want to.

Look, I know that "satanic" is a very strong term to use in a discussion among Christians. I am aware of the offense and strong reactions that it causes, but I can't think of anything less strong to express what I'm trying to say. All sin is from the Evil One. All false doctrine is from the Evil One. This is no less true when I sin and when I speak false doctrine, as I have done, many times. I think Dr. Becker's argument is false and demonic, particularly since he occupies a position of authority and influence in the church.

On that basis, your own posts could be termed "satanic"--but neither I nor anyone I respect on this Forum would do so.  Why on earth would anyone--you included--use such language? You really need to widen your vocabulary, if not your sympathy. Satan is not welcome here.

Peace,
Michael

Peter became a mouthpiece for Satan a moment after confessing Christ.  We shouldn't be too surprised if Satan voices some opinions on this forum as well. 
Title: Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
Post by: pr dtp on December 11, 2010, 11:43:51 PM
Use of "satanic" is normally characterized as "demonizing." Whether consciously or unconsciously, demonizing is usually an rhetorical fallacy technique to bring hate into the picture. Hate may not be bad. That's sort of depends on what we are speaking of, but demonizing is usually used to appeal to acceptable?? hate, in an argument.

I apologize, TV, I don't get what you are saying here. Please elaborate if you want to.

Look, I know that "satanic" is a very strong term to use in a discussion among Christians. I am aware of the offense and strong reactions that it causes, but I can't think of anything less strong to express what I'm trying to say. All sin is from the Evil One. All false doctrine is from the Evil One. This is no less true when I sin and when I speak false doctrine, as I have done, many times. I think Dr. Becker's argument is false and demonic, particularly since he occupies a position of authority and influence in the church.

Really?  All sin is from the evil one?  Have you read Genesis? Seems to me that excuse didn't fly there.

It's simple - the view is heterodox.
Title: Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
Post by: John_Hannah on December 13, 2010, 06:03:45 AM
Pr. Hannah,

Neither is the genus maiestaticum the doctrine on which the Church stands or falls; yet it is not permitted to deny it and still be called a Lutheran, no?  Numerous instances could be multiplied.  And the key is always to seek to understand where Satan is directing his attacks currently, for it does little good to be Orthodox on all points except the most hotly contested part in the present time.  This does indeed impinge directly upon the Gospel itself, for the Office of the Ministry was constituted by the Savior to be the delivery system of the means of grace, and at any point where we inject uncertainty (by coming up with our own better ideas - grape juice? lay celebrations?) we do a disservice to the Gospel.  There are those who flat out hold that a Eucharist celebrated by a woman who cannot be the in office of the ministry (via St. Paul's words about teaching) is simply bread and wine, for there is no mandate that such a person deliver them.  It would be like me writing a ticket to you for speeding, even if I dressed up in a cop's outfit and looked all official.  The ticket would only be a piece of paper because I am not authorized to write it.  Luther's great "aha" over the "third thing" - not just Word and element but MANDATE.  May God work through an uncovenanted act of grace to give the Sacrament even through the hand of a woman who pretends to hold the office?  Indeed, we may not circumscribe the limits of divine grace; but neither may we presume certainty about such a thing.  Thus the very Gospel - where certainty is a matter of prime importance - itself IS at stake in this matter.  And I apologize ahead of time for the offense that I know my words give to some of my ELCA brothers and sisters.  I don't know how to express it without being offensive.  

Does your (and Paul McCain's) stance represent Bishop Harrison's road to koinonia and harmony? Mandated agreement and silence?!?! I would hope not. That will be destructive to the Synod. I believe Missouri has every right to proscribe the ordination of women. I also believe that whose churches who do are not thereby heretical. It is a practice not a doctrine.

In any event, you probably don't want to embrace the view of those "who flat out hold that a Eucharist celebrated by a woman who cannot be the in office of the ministry (via St. Paul's words about teaching) is simply bread and wine." The Church has always been more responsible and not pronounced the sacraments of those whom it does not approve to be invalid. Sasse (in This Is My Body) comments that the orthodox Lutheran theologians never speculated about what is on the altars of the Reformed, even though they urged Lutheran people not to receive. Likewise, Rome considers your celebration of sacraments to be valid, but illicit.

Peace, JOHN
Title: Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
Post by: Weedon on December 13, 2010, 08:14:46 AM
Dear Pr. Hannah,

There are questions that arise in the applications of Scripture and our Symbols where discussion is needed, but surely this is not such an area?  To say that it is a practice and not a doctrine is to sever what our Lord joins together, for His apostle has written:  "If anyone thinks he is a prophet or spiritual, he should acknowledge that the things I am writing to you are a command of the Lord" immediately after enjoining that women may not "speak" - as in who's the speaker today? - in the assembly.  

To divide out doctrine and practice here would be to say that Churches that substitute elements besides bread and wine for the Eucharist or liquid other than water for Baptism are simply varying in practice.  Or that defining marriage as the union of a man and woman instead of a man and man or man and dog, is simply a practice.  Again we see that when we intrude our own ideas, what we do is introduce gross uncertainty, and the concern of the Gospel is to impart God's gifts certainly.  How well the Pope has stated that the Church simply lacks authority to ordain women to the presbyterate/episcopate!  That is precisely the case.  

Now, the fact that we have anyone in our churches who does not know what it is that results at the hand of woman presiding at the Supper is sufficient reason in our churches to abstain from even considering such a thing.  Rome, by the bye, officially does NOT regard the Eucharist celebrated at my hand as illicit; she regards it as invalid because in her view I do not possess the indelible character that is a necessary part of confecting the Holy Sacrament and is imparted only through the apostolic succession.  True, some Roman priests may personally hold that view that Piepkorn espoused, but certainly that is not the position of the Church of Rome herself - unless I am much, much mistaken in my reading of the documents.  

Let us be done with these things that do nothing but engender doubts; let us cling to what the Lord has given, as He gave it, and as the Church throughout the ages has received and confessed it, and so rejoice in Him with joy exceeding and full of wonder at the love He manifests to us in the most Holy Eucharist!
Title: Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
Post by: Charles_Austin on December 13, 2010, 08:45:45 AM
Pastor Weedon writes:
How well the Pope has stated that the Church simply lacks authority to ordain women to the presbyterate/episcopate! 

I muse:
So even he who sits in the office of the Antichrist can be right once in a while? How does that work?
Title: Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
Post by: James Gustafson on December 13, 2010, 08:48:07 AM
Really?  All sin is from the evil one?  Have you read Genesis? Seems to me that excuse didn't fly there.

It's simple - the view is heterodox.

I'm not trying to enter directly into the fray of the conversation above that brought this response from you, but with your response here about Satan, Genesis and excuses, etc., that is what interests me.  If you meant that Adam and Eve were not forgiven their sin simply because they were tempted, then I agree, they do not get an out simply because they were tempted by outside influences.  They succumbed to the temptation on their own.  But if you mean to say that they were not tempted by Satan, when you imply that we need to read Genesis I think your post can be read that way, then who put the words into the mouth of the serpent if not the evil one?  How can it be heterodox to say that all sin is from the evil one since temptation itself must comes from him? "And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one", comes to mind.  

Could Adam and Eve have evil desires of their own before the fall?  If James 1 is interpreted to mean that we have only our own evil desires to blame for our temptations, then where do those evil desires and thoughts originate from if not from the evil one?  

I do not think that Adam and Eve were capable of having evil desires before the fall, I believe that evil desires come after the fall and that they are the result of sin and temptation, but temptation must be originated somewhere.   Being tempted is not an excuse for choosing to sin or succumbing to that sin though, and if that's all you meant then I agree, but from your response, saying it's heterodox to blame all sin on the evil one, that seems a bit much to me.

James 1:13-15
Let no one say when he is tempted, "I am being tempted by God," for God cannot be tempted with evil, and he himself tempts no one.  But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire. Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death.

Taken on its own we can imagine that the evil one is not necessary in the description above for us to be lured and enticed, but I'm thinking that the passage above presupposes our fallen state, a preexisting condition brought about by the evil one's temptations and man's fall from grace, that makes us a part of the evil ones influence on and in creation.  Since God can not be tempted and does not tempt us, temptation requires its origin to come from the evil one.  

We cannot justify our sin by blaming others for making us do it, but the temptation to sin must originate with the evil one, I don't see how it can come from anywhere else.
Title: Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
Post by: Weedon on December 13, 2010, 09:15:24 AM
Pr. Austin,

A review of the Smalcald Articles seems to be needed.  Note how the Lutheran Church in the very document that is harshest on the papacy, clearly distinguishes between the man himself and the insidious claims he makes in virtue of being bishop of Rome. We confess:  "The pope is only the bishop and pastor of the Church at Rome and of those who have attached themselves to him voluntarily or through some human agency (such as a political ruler).  Christians are not under him as lord.  They are with him as brethren and companions, as the ancient councils and the age of St. Cyprian show." So, the attempt to make the LCMS look foolish for agreeing with the pope on this, that, or the other thing but not on everything is quite beside the point when we claim, as we still do, that it is specifically in the claims he makes about his particular office that he partakes of the spirit of antichrist.

By the bye, your own heritage in Krauth speaks quite similarly:  "Even in considering the Pope *as in his claims and assumptions* an Antichrist, she [the Lutheran Church] does not exclude him *as a person* from the possibility of salvation; but she dares not let go her faithful testimony against Romish errors." (CR, p. 194)  And similarly, "The mightiest weapon which the Reformation employed against Rome was, not Rome's errors, but Rome's truths." (CR, p. 203).
Title: Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
Post by: John_Hannah on December 13, 2010, 09:24:40 AM
Dear Pr. Hannah,

There are questions that arise in the applications of Scripture and our Symbols where discussion is needed, but surely this is not such an area?  


And what are the other areas?

Title: Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
Post by: Weedon on December 13, 2010, 09:37:54 AM
The chief we have identified in our discussions on this board and others:  the challenges of a faithful and responsible practice of Holy Communion that errs neither in a denominational rigidity to the disregard of pastoral care nor a lax abandonment of the stewardship of the mysteries that pretends that there is no confession made by communing at a given altar; the contours of an evangelical appropriation of the catholic heritage of our liturgy (i.e., the worship wars); the disregard of AC XIV on an official level in the Synod and the challenges posed to providing the means of grace to congregations in difficult situations; and running behind many of these:  the extent to which the Symbols themselves may serve a corrective function over current practices.
Title: Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
Post by: Dave Benke on December 13, 2010, 09:38:49 AM
Charles' simple query seems to me to carry more weight in "mainline" ultra-conservative Missouri than your response, Pr. W.  I am sitting very near a photo of me greeting Benedict XVI.   As nice as that was, from my perspective, I did receive communications that wondered at or excoriated me for "shaking hands with the Anti-Christ."  Now this was in the Time of Kieschnick, so as you've opined on another issue, those communications probably weren't really about me at all, but about Jerry.  Who can say - that's all behind us now.

It's always OK to bang away on Charles, that's a given, but the point you are making really needs to be driven home to a far greater extent in the heartland among our own Missourians, the Page Five Generation.

Dave Benke
Title: Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
Post by: Weedon on December 13, 2010, 09:48:12 AM
Trust me, bishop, I've taken heat for citing that particular portion of our Symbols on a forum where it was NOT appreciated.  Nonetheless, there it is.  And so we need to be faithful in how we speak in accord with our Church's stated Symbols.  The thing that astounds me is that folks cannot seem to draw the necessary corollary from the simul justus et peccator!
Title: Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
Post by: Dan Fienen on December 13, 2010, 10:01:27 AM
I wonder, would it be an appropriate conclusion to arrive at to conclude that certain contemporary church leaders who have nothing to do with the Roman church are also manifestations of the spirit of the anti-Christ?  I am thinking of some of the mega-church pastors like Joel Osteen who replaces the Gospel of Jesus the atoner with a Gospel of prosperity.  Or certain theologians/church officials who dispute the divinity of Jesus or teach that after His crucifixtion Jesus' body at best was dumped into a shallow grave where it was scavenged by animals and rotted away - stories of resurrection were invented later.  (I am not suggesting any Lutheran theologians in particular by the way.)  Surely that could be considered manifestations of the anti-Christ.

Dan
Title: Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
Post by: Charles_Austin on December 13, 2010, 10:06:29 AM
We all agree that there is much in the world and too often in the church that is "anti-Christ." But The Antichrist is a specific reference and has - one must admit - in some Lutheran circles been applied to the bishop of Rome... then... and now.
Title: Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
Post by: Brian Stoffregen on December 13, 2010, 11:37:10 AM
We all agree that there is much in the world and too often in the church that is "anti-Christ." But The Antichrist is a specific reference and has - one must admit - in some Lutheran circles been applied to the bishop of Rome... then... and now.

The actual biblical references to "antichrist(s)" have little to do with much of the contemporary talk.

1 John 2:18 Children, it is the last hour! As you have heard that antichrist is coming, so now many antichrists have come. From this we know that it is the last hour.

1 John 2:22 Who is the liar but the one who denies that Jesus is the Christ? This is the antichrist, the one who denies the Father and the Son.

1 John 4:3 and every spirit that does not confess Jesus is not from God. And this is the spirit of the antichrist, of which you have heard that it is coming; and now it is already in the world.

2 John 1:7 Many deceivers have gone out into the world, those who do not confess that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh; any such person is the deceiver and the antichrist!

Sometimes "antichrist" is in the plural -- indicating that it is not about just one person. Sometimes it is stated that the "antichrist" was already present in the world. The key characteristics of the antichrist was denying that Jesus had come in the flesh.
Title: Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
Post by: Steven Tibbetts on December 13, 2010, 11:53:33 AM
Pastor Weedon writes:
How well the Pope has stated that the Church simply lacks authority to ordain women to the presbyterate/episcopate! 

I muse:
So even he who sits in the office of the Antichrist can be right once in a while? How does that work?

You keep writing that, Charles.  But we know that heretics and Satan himself (see Jesus' temptation in the wilderness) are correct about some things.  So, for Christians who know their Bibles, it works just like it has since before the beginning of the Church.

Care to make a substantive contribution to the conversation, or are snappy one-liners going to be it for this thread?

As for a possible substantive contribution on my part -- as an ELCAer in a predominantly LCMS discussion -- let me ask again, in all seriousness:


Again I appeal to the standard we have acknowledged in our ordination - which clearly spells out where our unity is found.

Does this apply to Lutherans not in the LCMS?

Pax, Steven+

Who has been living in impaired communion within the ELCA for several years.

Title: Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
Post by: ptmccain on December 13, 2010, 11:56:29 AM
Steven, you do ask a very important question.

Let me answer it with another question: What answer to that question would you find most compelling, and why?
Title: Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
Post by: Weedon on December 13, 2010, 04:38:33 PM
Pr. Fienen,

I agree, and Sasse did make the argument that we perhaps need most to be aware of what form antichrist will take among us, or what form he may take in the final terrors of the last times. 
Title: Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
Post by: Charles_Austin on December 13, 2010, 04:53:43 PM
Mr. Gehlhausen writes (re the bishop of Rome):
we had best not take our eye off of the office which the Book of Concord we subscribe to judges to be the very Antichrist.

I comment:
Got that, everyone? It's clear to me.
Rats. I thought a guy who plays the piano and likes cats had to have some good in him.  ;) ;)
Title: Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
Post by: Michael Slusser on December 13, 2010, 05:19:15 PM

Perhaps until the Papacy unexpectedly relents from anathematizing the very heart of the Gospel of Christ, that is, the doctrine of the forgiveness of sins by grace alone, for Christ's sake alone, through faith alone, without any merit or worthiness in man, we had best not take our eye off of the office which the Book of Concord we subscribe to judges to be the very Antichrist.

Mike
Please remind me where that has most recently occurred. It's not in my copy of the Joint Declaration on the Doctrine of Justification, where the contrary sentiments are expressed. .  :) So it must be since 1999?

Peace,
Michael
Title: Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
Post by: Michael Slusser on December 13, 2010, 06:48:46 PM

Perhaps until the Papacy unexpectedly relents from anathematizing the very heart of the Gospel of Christ, that is, the doctrine of the forgiveness of sins by grace alone, for Christ's sake alone, through faith alone, without any merit or worthiness in man, we had best not take our eye off of the office which the Book of Concord we subscribe to judges to be the very Antichrist.

Mike
Please remind me where that has most recently occurred. It's not in my copy of the Joint Declaration on the Doctrine of Justification, where the contrary sentiments are expressed. .  :) So it must be since 1999?

Peace,
Michael


It's not?

Quote
20.When Catholics say that persons "cooperate" in preparing for and accepting justification by consenting to God's justifying action, they see such personal consent as itself an effect of grace, not as an action arising from innate human abilities.
I would respect your quotes more if they weren't removed from their contexts. E.g.

4.1 Human Powerlessness and Sin in Relation to Justification
19. We confess together that all persons depend completely on the saving grace of God for their salvation. The freedom they possess in relation to persons and the things of this world is no freedom in relation to salvation, for as sinners they stand under God's judgment and are incapable of turning by themselves to God to seek deliverance, of meriting their justification before God, or of attaining salvation by their own abilities. Justification takes place solely by God's grace. Because Catholics and Lutherans confess this together, it is true to say:
20. When Catholics say that persons "cooperate" in preparing for and accepting justification by consenting to God's justifying action, they see such personal consent as itself an effect of grace, not as an action arising from innate human abilities.
21. According to Lutheran teaching, human beings are incapable of cooperating in their salvation, because as sinners they actively oppose God and his saving action. Lutherans do not deny that a person can reject the working of grace. When they emphasize that a person can only receive (mere passive) justification, they mean thereby to exclude any possibility of contributing to one's own justification, but do not deny that believers are fully involved personally in their faith, which is effected by God's Word. [cf. Sources for 4.1].


And that "anathematize(s) the very heart of the Gospel of Christ, that is, the doctrine of the forgiveness of sins by grace alone, for Christ's sake alone, through faith alone, without any merit or worthiness in man" exactly how?

Peace,
Michael
Title: Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
Post by: James Gustafson on December 13, 2010, 07:05:49 PM
Fr. Slusser, in your opinion, what separates the Concorde confessing Lutheran from the RC Eucharist meal? 
Title: Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
Post by: Michael Slusser on December 13, 2010, 07:36:13 PM
Fr. Slusser, in your opinion, what separates the Concord confessing Lutheran from the RC Eucharist meal? 

I don't think the issue is primarily doctrinal.

Admission to communion is essentially a personal pastoral decision, as so many pastors on this Forum have testified. Ideally, a mutual pastoral decision to be in communion with each other could be of the same type even at the corporate church level.

At the moment, that is impeded by the shakiness and divided character of the Lutheran corporate church bodies. I fear--but am not sure--that the ultimate roots of that lie in the domination in Lutheran church polity of the voting authority of each congregation over any decision-making power of the entire church body.

Peace,
Michael
Title: Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
Post by: Charles_Austin on December 13, 2010, 10:22:34 PM
Meanwhile, ecumenical dialogue, conducted on the high levels of theologians, bishops and church bodies, has indeed sifted down to our lay people who are making their own decisions about where they will commune and why. Lutherans tend to seek assurance that the eucharist stresses the real presence of Christ in the elements of bread and wine. Roman Catholics tend to assume this and feel comfortable in a rite that parallels the Roman form of the mass, as do many Lutheran celebrations.
Lutheran pastors in the ELCA practice a form of "open communion" of all the baptized that is not "legal" in the LCMS. Some Roman priests virtually warn non-Roman Catholics to stay away; others offer words that virtually invite us.
So the "decision" is not only pastoral, it is personal.
And that may take precedence over any official declaration of fellowship.
Title: Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
Post by: Team Hesse on December 14, 2010, 12:29:15 AM

Perhaps until the Papacy unexpectedly relents from anathematizing the very heart of the Gospel of Christ, that is, the doctrine of the forgiveness of sins by grace alone, for Christ's sake alone, through faith alone, without any merit or worthiness in man, we had best not take our eye off of the office which the Book of Concord we subscribe to judges to be the very Antichrist.

Mike
Please remind me where that has most recently occurred. It's not in my copy of the Joint Declaration on the Doctrine of Justification, where the contrary sentiments are expressed. .  :) So it must be since 1999?

Peace,
Michael


Was that thing (JDDJ) actually ever signed by anybody? Lots of conflicting stories out there. It rather obviously means different things to different people. Some trumpet it as a major step toward "unity", others declare another indulgence anytime it is remotely hinted at. I don't see the point.

Lou
Title: Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
Post by: Charles_Austin on December 14, 2010, 03:49:36 AM
The document has the support of the Vatican's office on Christian Unity, and the head of that office, Cardinal Walter Kasper, praised it when he spoke to the Lutheran World Federation Assembly in Stuttgart this past July, calling it a "milestone" in ecumenical relations. On the 10th anniversary of the document, a major worship service involving Lutherans and Roman Catholics was held in Augsburg, Germany, celebrating the agreement.
The ELCA held worship services in several places to observe the signing and both the LWF and ELCA have produced materials supporting it. Sermons and other commentaries are on the ELCA website.
 
Title: Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
Post by: Team Hesse on December 14, 2010, 07:05:27 AM
The document has the support of the Vatican's office on Christian Unity, and the head of that office, Cardinal Walter Kasper, praised it when he spoke to the Lutheran World Federation Assembly in Stuttgart this past July, calling it a "milestone" in ecumenical relations. On the 10th anniversary of the document, a major worship service involving Lutherans and Roman Catholics was held in Augsburg, Germany, celebrating the agreement.
The ELCA held worship services in several places to observe the signing and both the LWF and ELCA have produced materials supporting it. Sermons and other commentaries are on the ELCA website.
 

Which still doesn't answer the question- was it ever really publicly signed and committed to by anybody? Or is it another example of smoke and mirror? Another artifact to be cited when it is considered helpful but other than that "we'll go our own autonomous, self-infatuated way; thank you very much!"

Lou
Title: Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
Post by: ptmccain on December 14, 2010, 07:40:04 AM
Rome made it very clear that JDDJ changed nothing in its assertions about the doctrine of justification by grace, through faith alone. Cardinal Cassidy made this point clear.

“Asked whether there was anything in the official common statement contrary to the Council of Trent, Cardinal Cassidy said: ‘Absolutely not, otherwise how could we do it? We cannot do something contrary to an ecumenical council. There’s nothing there that the Council of Trent condemns” (Ecumenical News International, 11/1/99).

Here is a collection of resources (http://cyberbrethren.com/2010/04/21/a-betrayal-of-the-gospel-the-joint-declaration-on-the-doctrine-of-justification/) that refutes the claims that the JDD represents some sort of "breakthrough" on the historic impasse between Rome and Wittenberg.


Title: Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
Post by: Michael Slusser on December 14, 2010, 07:46:18 AM
Please remind me where that has most recently occurred. It's not in my copy of the Joint Declaration on the Doctrine of Justification, where the contrary sentiments are expressed. .  :) So it must be since 1999?

Peace,
Michael


Was that thing (JDDJ) actually ever signed by anybody? Lots of conflicting stories out there. It rather obviously means different things to different people. Some trumpet it as a major step toward "unity", others declare another indulgence anytime it is remotely hinted at. I don't see the point.

Lou
It was signed by Cardinal Cassidy in the name of the Pope and by Dr. Noka in the name of the Lutheran World Federation.

So far as I know, it's the first time the Pope has signed anything with Protestants since the Reformation, which makes it a big deal for people who thought that "come home to Rome" was the only song in the RC hymnal.

In the Lutheran-Catholic dialogue, it changed the atmosphere considerably, because the doctrine of justification is without a doubt the central issue there.

Peace,
Michael
Title: Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
Post by: Weedon on December 14, 2010, 08:07:19 AM
Father,

What do you make of Avery Dulles' critiques of the JDDJ on the Roman side?  I personally think that he's right and that the document is quite difficult to harmonize with Trent.
Title: Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
Post by: Michael Slusser on December 14, 2010, 09:04:03 AM
Father,

What do you make of Avery Dulles' critiques of the JDDJ on the Roman side?  I personally think that he's right and that the document is quite difficult to harmonize with Trent.
I've never seen them, Pastor Weedon.

Michael
Title: Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
Post by: Weedon on December 14, 2010, 09:06:09 AM
http://www.leaderu.com/ftissues/ft9912/articles/dulles.html
Title: Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
Post by: Michael Slusser on December 14, 2010, 09:19:05 AM
http://www.leaderu.com/ftissues/ft9912/articles/dulles.html

Thanks, Will. Still on the positive side of the article, I read lines that would serve in the recent phase of this thread:

"Together we confess: By grace alone, in faith in Christ’s saving work and not because of any merit on our part, we are accepted by God and receive the Holy Spirit, who renews our hearts while equipping and calling us to good works." This consensus does not go beyond the clear conclusions of the dialogues. While it is in perfect accord both with the Augsburg Confession and with the Decree on Justification of the Council of Trent, it dispels some false stereotypes inherited from the past. Lutherans have often accused Catholics of holding that justification is a human achievement rather than a divine gift received in faith, while Catholics have accused Lutherans of holding that justification by faith does not involve inner renewal or good works.

More later.
Title: Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
Post by: ptmccain on December 14, 2010, 09:38:37 AM
Michael, that statement is a waxen nose.

Rome has *not* changed its position on what "grace" and "faith" means. This was made painfully clear by the Vatican.

All the "hoopla" over the JDDJ was misplaced.

And, to make matters worse, the JDDJ was specifically *not* adopted and accepted by many Lutheran church bodies, world-wide, and was specifically criticized by many of the leading protestant theologians in Germany.

Check out the link I posted for the documentation and more details.
Title: Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
Post by: RDPreus on December 14, 2010, 09:53:18 AM
This might be helpful in considering whether or not the JDDJ has overcome the historic differences between Rome and Lutheranism on justification.

http://www.christforus.org/JDDJTenYearsLater.htm
Title: Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
Post by: Michael Slusser on December 14, 2010, 09:59:13 AM
Father,

What do you make of Avery Dulles' critiques of the JDDJ on the Roman side?  I personally think that he's right and that the document is quite difficult to harmonize with Trent.

Thanks for the article by Dulles in First Things. I agree with most of what he says.

The last eight paragraphs are very important supplements and clarifications to the critiques in the middle of the article.

When one looks at the whole problem of church division, for example, including the fundamental schism between Rome and the Eastern Orthodox, one doesn't see the doctrine of justification at issue much at all. So Dulles asks, "Does the doctrine of justification hold a privileged position as the criterion by which all other Christian doctrines are to be judged, or is it to be viewed as one doctrine among many?" And he answers himself, "In addition, it contests the Lutheran view that the doctrine of justification is the supreme touchstone of right doctrine. It asserts, on the contrary, that the doctrine of justification must be integrated into the 'rule of faith,' which is centered on the triune God, the Incarnation, the Church, and the sacraments."

In my opinion, the way in which these doctrines developed in the West and achieved their formulation owes a lot to Latin tendencies in thought as well as to a theology constructed on the basis of images and presuppositions drawn from the feudal system that dominated the West. It is a real and, in my thinking, open question whether those tendencies in thought and the theology built upon them are the divine standard for understanding and presenting the faith. The JDDJ does not question that framework presupposed by the disputes of the Lutheran Reformation. That helps to account for the problems that Dulles sees as remaining.

One useful way to see whether the JDDJ has been helpful is to look at the new Round XI "The Hope of Eternal Life" from the US Lutheran-Catholic Dialogue (see "Recommended Resources"). I'm going to post paragraph 72--Melanchthon on merit and heavenly reward--there. Take a look and see what you think.

Peace,
Michael
Title: Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
Post by: Team Hesse on December 14, 2010, 11:00:45 AM
Please remind me where that has most recently occurred. It's not in my copy of the Joint Declaration on the Doctrine of Justification, where the contrary sentiments are expressed. .  :) So it must be since 1999?

Peace,
Michael


Was that thing (JDDJ) actually ever signed by anybody? Lots of conflicting stories out there. It rather obviously means different things to different people. Some trumpet it as a major step toward "unity", others declare another indulgence anytime it is remotely hinted at. I don't see the point.

Lou
It was signed by Cardinal Cassidy in the name of the Pope and by Dr. Noka in the name of the Lutheran World Federation.


Peace,
Michael

I don't mean to be difficult (but we know I am) BUT the it that was signed was not JDDJ but some formula of agreement about the JDDJ (so I have been told). That is a big difference, in my opinion. Think about the difference between faith in Jesus and faith about Jesus.

Lou
Title: Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
Post by: ptmccain on December 14, 2010, 11:03:30 AM
The JDDJ was, in my opinion, more about smoke and mirrors and PR puffery from liberal Lutheranism via press releases from Geneva and Chicago than a matter of any genuine breakthrough and change in Rome's historic position on justification.
Title: Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
Post by: MRoot on December 14, 2010, 11:14:06 AM
Please remind me where that has most recently occurred. It's not in my copy of the Joint Declaration on the Doctrine of Justification, where the contrary sentiments are expressed. .  :) So it must be since 1999?

Peace,
Michael


Was that thing (JDDJ) actually ever signed by anybody? Lots of conflicting stories out there. It rather obviously means different things to different people. Some trumpet it as a major step toward "unity", others declare another indulgence anytime it is remotely hinted at. I don't see the point.

Lou
It was signed by Cardinal Cassidy in the name of the Pope and by Dr. Noka in the name of the Lutheran World Federation.


Peace,
Michael

I don't mean to be difficult (but we know I am) BUT the it that was signed was not JDDJ but some formula of agreement about the JDDJ (so I have been told). That is a big difference, in my opinion. Think about the difference between faith in Jesus and faith about Jesus.

Lou
This last point is a red herring.  The Official Common Statement, the piece of paper actually signed, concludes: "By this act of signing the Catholic Church and the Lutheran World Federation confirm the Joint Declaration on the Doctrine of Justification in its entirety."  I don't see how one could be much clearer.
Title: Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
Post by: Weedon on December 14, 2010, 11:17:08 AM
Father,

Thanks for linking to that earlier.  I've not yet had the chance to read through it yet, but I intend to.  In this morning's office, Psalm 24 was prayed.  As I read it, I thought about how differently Roman Catholics and Lutherans might hear verse 5:  "he will receive blessing from the Lord and righteousness from the God of his salvation."  Righteousness as gift - that we agree on.  But is it His righteousness or ours or a combination that is the gift?  I mean,  no Lutheran denies the inchoate righteousness that God is working within us by His Holy Spirit, but as the document states, Lutherans believe that this will never be perfected in us in this life.  For our standing before God, we clearly need a righteousness that is whole, entire, complete.  That is a righteousness which I can only receive, and which I cannot manufacture, even with the assistance and grace of the Holy Spirit. 
Title: Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
Post by: Michael Slusser on December 14, 2010, 11:27:45 AM
 I mean,  no Lutheran denies the inchoate righteousness that God is working within us by His Holy Spirit, but as the document states, Lutherans believe that this will never be perfected in us in this life. 

Catholics would agree: everything in this life is short of the vision of God to come, when faith and hope will be no more and love alone will remain.

Peace,
Michael
Title: Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
Post by: Weedon on December 14, 2010, 11:50:58 AM
Yes, but would or could a Roman Christian agree that because the inchoate righteousness is imperfect, it cannot be the basis of our righteousness before God?  That this must be the perfect righteousness of Another which we receive as a gift?
Title: Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
Post by: Michael Slusser on December 14, 2010, 11:58:51 AM
Yes, but would or could a Roman Christian agree that because the inchoate righteousness is imperfect, it cannot be the basis of our righteousness before God?  That this must be the perfect righteousness of Another which we receive as a gift?

You're losing me, Pr. Weedon; I thought you were talking about
Quote
the inchoate righteousness that God is working within us by His Holy Spirit,
. How can that not be the basis of its own fulfillment?

Peace,
Michael
Title: Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
Post by: Team Hesse on December 14, 2010, 12:01:41 PM
Please remind me where that has most recently occurred. It's not in my copy of the Joint Declaration on the Doctrine of Justification, where the contrary sentiments are expressed. .  :) So it must be since 1999?

Peace,
Michael


Was that thing (JDDJ) actually ever signed by anybody? Lots of conflicting stories out there. It rather obviously means different things to different people. Some trumpet it as a major step toward "unity", others declare another indulgence anytime it is remotely hinted at. I don't see the point.

Lou
It was signed by Cardinal Cassidy in the name of the Pope and by Dr. Noka in the name of the Lutheran World Federation.


Peace,
Michael

I don't mean to be difficult (but we know I am) BUT the it that was signed was not JDDJ but some formula of agreement about the JDDJ (so I have been told). That is a big difference, in my opinion. Think about the difference between faith in Jesus and faith about Jesus.

Lou
This last point is a red herring.  The Official Common Statement, the piece of paper actually signed, concludes: "By this act of signing the Catholic Church and the Lutheran World Federation confirm the Joint Declaration on the Doctrine of Justification in its entirety."  I don't see how one could be much clearer.

Thanks for disabusing me of my false understanding. Now we actually need to see what the folks actually agreed to. How does the Roman side view the "Happy Exchange?" Or the "simul"?

Lou
Title: Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
Post by: MRoot on December 14, 2010, 12:55:09 PM
The simul is discussed in paras. 28-30 of the JDDJ, which is online at: http://www.vatican.va/roman_curia/pontifical_councils/chrstuni/documents/rc_pc_chrstuni_doc_31101999_cath-luth-joint-declaration_en.html
My memory is that the difficulty in this section was not an argument between Catholics and Lutherans, but arguments among the Lutherans on how to state the Lutheran view.  The Lutheran paragraph (29) is the longest single paragraph in the text.
The Vatican, in its initial response to the JDDJ, was critical of the simul, but their objections were cleared up in the Annex that was developed prior to the signing (section 2, A & B - online at: http://www.vatican.va/roman_curia/pontifical_councils/chrstuni/documents/rc_pc_chrstuni_doc_31101999_cath-luth-annex_en.html
Note that here the Catholic Church itself affirms a limited sense of the simul.
Title: Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
Post by: Karl Hess on December 14, 2010, 01:13:08 PM
Yes, but would or could a Roman Christian agree that because the inchoate righteousness is imperfect, it cannot be the basis of our righteousness before God?  That this must be the perfect righteousness of Another which we receive as a gift?

You're losing me, Pr. Weedon; I thought you were talking about
Quote
the inchoate righteousness that God is working within us by His Holy Spirit,
. How can that not be the basis of its own fulfillment?

Peace,
Michael

Because the Father does not judge us righteous on account of our own righteousness, even a righteousness that is formed within us, but on account of the righteousness of the Son of God, which is credited to us by faith!
Title: Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
Post by: ptmccain on December 14, 2010, 01:16:56 PM
But Rome wrongly defines "faith" and "grace" and very clearly reaffirmed the Canons of the Council of Trent, specifically those that anathematized the Lutheran doctrine on justification by grace, through faith alone.

Title: Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
Post by: Michael Slusser on December 14, 2010, 01:19:43 PM
Yes, but would or could a Roman Christian agree that because the inchoate righteousness is imperfect, it cannot be the basis of our righteousness before God?  That this must be the perfect righteousness of Another which we receive as a gift?

You're losing me, Pr. Weedon; I thought you were talking about
Quote
the inchoate righteousness that God is working within us by His Holy Spirit,
. How can that not be the basis of its own fulfillment?

Peace,
Michael

Because the Father does not judge us righteous on account of our own righteousness, even a righteousness that is formed within us, but on account of the righteousness of the Son of God, which is credited to us by faith!

What other righteousness do you believe God is working within us by His Holy Spirit?

Peace,
Michael
Title: Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
Post by: Michael Slusser on December 14, 2010, 01:50:14 PM


It's not?

Quote
20.When Catholics say that persons "cooperate" in preparing for and accepting justification by consenting to God's justifying action, they see such personal consent as itself an effect of grace, not as an action arising from innate human abilities.
I would respect your quotes more if they weren't removed from their contexts. E.g.

4.1 Human Powerlessness and Sin in Relation to Justification
19. We confess together that all persons depend completely on the saving grace of God for their salvation. The freedom they possess in relation to persons and the things of this world is no freedom in relation to salvation, for as sinners they stand under God's judgment and are incapable of turning by themselves to God to seek deliverance, of meriting their justification before God, or of attaining salvation by their own abilities. Justification takes place solely by God's grace. Because Catholics and Lutherans confess this together, it is true to say:
20. When Catholics say that persons "cooperate" in preparing for and accepting justification by consenting to God's justifying action, they see such personal consent as itself an effect of grace, not as an action arising from innate human abilities.
21. According to Lutheran teaching, human beings are incapable of cooperating in their salvation, because as sinners they actively oppose God and his saving action. Lutherans do not deny that a person can reject the working of grace. When they emphasize that a person can only receive (mere passive) justification, they mean thereby to exclude any possibility of contributing to one's own justification, but do not deny that believers are fully involved personally in their faith, which is effected by God's Word. [cf. Sources for 4.1].


And that "anathematize(s) the very heart of the Gospel of Christ, that is, the doctrine of the forgiveness of sins by grace alone, for Christ's sake alone, through faith alone, without any merit or worthiness in man" exactly how?

Mr. Gehlhausen, you were going to say how the JDDJ section on "Human Powerlessness and Sin in Relation to Justification" shows that the RCC "anathematizes the very heart of the Gospel of Christ, that is, the doctrine of the forgiveness of sins by grace alone, for Christ's sake alone, through faith alone, without any merit or worthiness in man."  At least, it was the first of your examples.

Peace,
Michael
Title: Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
Post by: Karl Hess on December 14, 2010, 02:17:00 PM
Yes, but would or could a Roman Christian agree that because the inchoate righteousness is imperfect, it cannot be the basis of our righteousness before God?  That this must be the perfect righteousness of Another which we receive as a gift?

You're losing me, Pr. Weedon; I thought you were talking about
Quote
the inchoate righteousness that God is working within us by His Holy Spirit,
. How can that not be the basis of its own fulfillment?

Peace,
Michael

Because the Father does not judge us righteous on account of our own righteousness, even a righteousness that is formed within us, but on account of the righteousness of the Son of God, which is credited to us by faith!

What other righteousness do you believe God is working within us by His Holy Spirit?

Peace,
Michael

The Holy Spirit works the righteousness of faith in us, where we look only to the righteousness that Christ accomplished for us in His birth, passion, resurrection, etc.  Jesus' work outside of us is our righteousness before God, on account of which we are judged worthy of eternal life.  On the other hand, the righteousness that God works in us by the Holy Spirit is a result of being liberated from the law and its condemnation rather than the cause of our liberation.

Why do you believe that God will not receive us as righteous for Christ's sake alone, apart from our deeds?
Title: Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
Post by: Michael Slusser on December 14, 2010, 02:43:52 PM
Because the Father does not judge us righteous on account of our own righteousness, even a righteousness that is formed within us, but on account of the righteousness of the Son of God, which is credited to us by faith!

What other righteousness do you believe God is working within us by His Holy Spirit?

Peace,
Michael

The Holy Spirit works the righteousness of faith in us, where we look only to the righteousness that Christ accomplished for us in His birth, passion, resurrection, etc.  Jesus' work outside of us is our righteousness before God, on account of which we are judged worthy of eternal life.  On the other hand, the righteousness that God works in us by the Holy Spirit is a result of being liberated from the law and its condemnation rather than the cause of our liberation.

Why do you believe that God will not receive us as righteous for Christ's sake alone, apart from our deeds?

Do I believe that? You said that, not I.

But I would ask you if you think that God works two different kinds of righteousness, one by the Holy Spirit and another by Christ? This is totally new ground for me! I would never play Christ off against the Holy Spirit, which is what it sounds like you are doing.

Peace,
Michael
Title: Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
Post by: Weedon on December 14, 2010, 02:53:54 PM
Jumping back in (been out all morning), no playing off of our Lord and His Spirit, rather His Spirit's task in our life is always two-fold:  to borrow Paul's terms and Luther's insights, GRACE and the GIFT IN GRACE.  Grace, the gratuitous remission of all sins for the sake of Christ and the impartation to us of His own spotless and unblemished "yes" to the will of the Father that triumphed from Mary's womb to resurrection glory and shone brightest upon Golgotha's tree.  HE is our righteousness in both natures in His most perfect obedience.  And with the impartation of this grace, this divine favor, the Holy Spirit brings about the beginning of our conformity to this same will, this same perfect obedience.  But our conformity is weak and faltering as long as we live this side of our Lord's Appearing.  So our confidence remains in the finished obedience and sacrifice of our Lord as our perfect righteousness before the Father, even as we rejoice that the Holy Spirit has begun to work conformity to our Lord's own obedience within us and grieve over how much the battle against the flesh still weighs us down. 
Title: Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
Post by: Weedon on December 14, 2010, 03:10:55 PM
You know, I wonder if Starck can help us get at it and say it better in prayer than in dogmatic statements.  Here is his wonderful prayer for Confession:


Holy, Triune God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, I, a poor sinner, have come before Your most holy countenance and pray You heartily and humbly to forgive all my sins.  O my God, I observe, sadly, that in many ways I have provoked You to anger by many evil thoughts, words, and deeds.  Lord, I am grieved over this and truly sorry for it.  Through Holy Baptism You have made me a sheep of Your pasture and a member of Your body; so I ought to hear Your voice and be obedient to You alone.  Yes, being Your own, I ought to present my members as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to You.  But what can I say?  I have more often listened to the voice of the world and my own flesh than to Your voice, and have done what is displeasing to You in many ways.  Oh, the blindness of my heart!  Oh, the folly of my youthful years!  If now You enter into judgment with me and deal with me according to Your justice, I am lost forever.  My conscience bears witness against me and my sins are more than the sands on the seashore.
   Take pity on me according to Your great mercy.  O my Father, do not charge against me what evil I have done during the time of my life, but credit me with what Jesus Christ, my Savior, has done for me.  I lay hold in true faith on the blood He shed for me.  I make His merit my own.  I say:  For Jesus’ sake be merciful to me, a poor sinner.  From now on I shall begin to lead a new and godly life, and will no longer sin wantonly and willfully against You, O Triune God.
Title: Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
Post by: Steven Tibbetts on December 14, 2010, 03:14:31 PM

Was that thing (JDDJ) actually ever signed by anybody? Lots of conflicting stories out there.


This link should settle that "conflict." (http://www.lutheranworld.org/Special_Events/LWF-Special_Events-Justification.html)

Pax, Steven+
Title: Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
Post by: Michael Slusser on December 14, 2010, 03:14:48 PM
I appreciate both those posts, Pr. Weedon, and I think any Catholic would.

Peace,
Michael
Title: Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
Post by: Weedon on December 14, 2010, 03:59:23 PM
Father,

That brings great joy to my heart. 
Title: Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
Post by: Steven Tibbetts on December 14, 2010, 04:00:25 PM
Steven, you do ask a very important question.

Let me answer it with another question: What answer to that question would you find most compelling, and why?

Paul, I'm asking because a simple, plain reading of J&S' statement suggests "yes" -- a "yes" that is reaffirmed by my reading of our (SBH/LBW and LSB) ordination vows -- at least in principle.

OTOH, the reality of the ELCA-LCMS relationship appears to be "no."

So either there is something unsaid in J&S' argument that I'm not able to see, or there's something missing in his argument which may help us to see our various impasses (especially the one that started this topic) from a different enough perspective that perhaps some sort of bridge can be built.

Of course, what may be unsaid in my "simple, plain reading" is something expressed well in the Galesburg Rule's "Lutheran pulpits for Lutheran clergy, Lutheran altars for Lutheran communicants," where "Lutheran" is not defined by synodical affiliation but by confession of faith.

The impaired communion among some in the LCMS is rightly a stumbling block.  The impaired communion among some in the ELCA is too.  And so is the impaired (or, for many/most, the lack of) communion between Lutherans.

Pax, Steven+
Title: Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
Post by: George Erdner on December 14, 2010, 04:05:09 PM
Of course, what may be unsaid in my "simple, plain reading" is something expressed well in the Galesburg Rule's "Lutheran pulpits for Lutheran clergy, Lutheran altars for Lutheran communicants," where "Lutheran" is not defined by synodical affiliation but by confession of faith.

Are you referring to an individual's personal confession of faith that is revealed through his statements and actions, or an institutional statment of faith that might not be strictly followed?
Title: Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
Post by: Weedon on December 14, 2010, 04:14:37 PM
If it were the good old days, I'd say that Fr. Tibbetts were likely referring to the statement of faith which a Lutheran Christian makes before the altar at his or her confirmation - which one assumes to be both one's personal confession AND the confession of the Lutheran Church.  But I may be off base.  And George, it is good to see you back, but I miss the beard.  That was one very righteous beard.
Title: Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
Post by: George Erdner on December 14, 2010, 04:25:21 PM
That was one very righteous beard.

It did cover a multitude of chins.
Title: Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
Post by: Michael Slusser on December 14, 2010, 04:26:21 PM
That was one very righteous beard.

Whose righteousness?  ;D ;D

Peace,
Michael
Title: Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
Post by: Steverem on December 14, 2010, 04:29:11 PM
That was one very righteous beard.

It did cover a multitude of chins.

Well played, Mr. Erdner!
Title: Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
Post by: Karl Hess on December 14, 2010, 06:22:51 PM
That was one very righteous beard.

It did cover a multitude of chins.

I miss it too.  I'm growing one to make up for your shaving.
Title: Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
Post by: ChrisG on December 15, 2010, 06:30:13 PM


It's not?

Quote
20.When Catholics say that persons "cooperate" in preparing for and accepting justification by consenting to God's justifying action, they see such personal consent as itself an effect of grace, not as an action arising from innate human abilities.
I would respect your quotes more if they weren't removed from their contexts. E.g.

4.1 Human Powerlessness and Sin in Relation to Justification
19. We confess together that all persons depend completely on the saving grace of God for their salvation. The freedom they possess in relation to persons and the things of this world is no freedom in relation to salvation, for as sinners they stand under God's judgment and are incapable of turning by themselves to God to seek deliverance, of meriting their justification before God, or of attaining salvation by their own abilities. Justification takes place solely by God's grace. Because Catholics and Lutherans confess this together, it is true to say:
20. When Catholics say that persons "cooperate" in preparing for and accepting justification by consenting to God's justifying action, they see such personal consent as itself an effect of grace, not as an action arising from innate human abilities.
21. According to Lutheran teaching, human beings are incapable of cooperating in their salvation, because as sinners they actively oppose God and his saving action. Lutherans do not deny that a person can reject the working of grace. When they emphasize that a person can only receive (mere passive) justification, they mean thereby to exclude any possibility of contributing to one's own justification, but do not deny that believers are fully involved personally in their faith, which is effected by God's Word. [cf. Sources for 4.1].


And that "anathematize(s) the very heart of the Gospel of Christ, that is, the doctrine of the forgiveness of sins by grace alone, for Christ's sake alone, through faith alone, without any merit or worthiness in man" exactly how?

Mr. Gehlhausen, you were going to say how the JDDJ section on "Human Powerlessness and Sin in Relation to Justification" shows that the RCC "anathematizes the very heart of the Gospel of Christ, that is, the doctrine of the forgiveness of sins by grace alone, for Christ's sake alone, through faith alone, without any merit or worthiness in man."  At least, it was the first of your examples.

Peace,
Michael
Fr. Slusser-
My wife (being of Filipino descent) grew up in the Roman Catholic Church.  She became Lutheran prior to our marriage, but her family is still Catholic.  We attended the mass at her parents' Catholic Church last Christmas, and during the sermon, the priest declared that "The incarnate Christ came to die on the cross not to do it for you, but to show you how it's done."  In your opinion, is this view consistent without the Catholic view of justification?  What does the Catholic Church teach about what Jesus was doing on the cross?
Thanks.
Title: Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
Post by: Steven Tibbetts on December 15, 2010, 08:25:42 PM

Are you referring to an individual's personal confession of faith that is revealed through his statements and actions, or an institutional statment of faith that might not be strictly followed?

The latter, George, makes no sense at all.  Granted, it also seems to describe the state of the ELCA for at least the last decade (after all, my objection to the vote on Called to Common Mission, which gave us in the ELCA full communion with the Episcopal Church, was that neither church actually believed -- okay, taught -- CCM's foundational statement of faith, which was completely ignored in our debates and discussions).  But that it is our state doesn't make it sensible.

As for the former, I would expect that confession to be the confession of the church he is part of.

A Lutheran Church believes the Concordia (which includes the Creeds and makes specific reference to the Holy Scriptures).  Its pastors are taught it specifically; its communicants are usually taught focussing on the Catechism, but worship and study are all reflective of the Concordia.  Pastors are ordained into the Ministry of the One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church, vowing to serve in that Ministry in ways consistent with the Concordia

In accordance with the 8th Commandment, I was taught to put the best construction on those who call themselves "Lutheran."  When a Lutheran church testifies that a pastor or communicant is okay, I'm going to trust that testimony unless I have good reason to judge otherwise -- and I'm willing to admit them (or not) to "my" pulpit/Altar accordingly.

Pax, Steven+

P.S. Welcome back.
Title: Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
Post by: Michael Slusser on December 15, 2010, 09:57:32 PM
Fr. Slusser-
My wife (being of Filipino descent) grew up in the Roman Catholic Church.  She became Lutheran prior to our marriage, but her family is still Catholic.  We attended the mass at her parents' Catholic Church last Christmas, and during the sermon, the priest declared that "The incarnate Christ came to die on the cross not to do it for you, but to show you how it's done."  In your opinion, is this view consistent without the Catholic view of justification?  What does the Catholic Church teach about what Jesus was doing on the cross?
Thanks.

That sermon line seems to me quite out of order. Maybe if he said "not only to do it for you but also to show you what you must do," he could have a valid point. As to your final question, the answer is so rich and varied that I would not try to reduce it to a sound bite, but it was for us and our salvation.
HTH

Peace,
Michael
Title: Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
Post by: ChrisG on December 15, 2010, 11:31:58 PM
Fr. Slusser-
My wife (being of Filipino descent) grew up in the Roman Catholic Church.  She became Lutheran prior to our marriage, but her family is still Catholic.  We attended the mass at her parents' Catholic Church last Christmas, and during the sermon, the priest declared that "The incarnate Christ came to die on the cross not to do it for you, but to show you how it's done."  In your opinion, is this view consistent without the Catholic view of justification?  What does the Catholic Church teach about what Jesus was doing on the cross?
Thanks.

That sermon line seems to me quite out of order. Maybe if he said "not only to do it for you but also to show you what you must do," he could have a valid point. As to your final question, the answer is so rich and varied that I would not try to reduce it to a sound bite, but it was for us and our salvation.
HTH

Peace,
Michael
Thank you for the response.  I am glad to hear that the sermon line is not considered to be the norm for Catholic theology in your opinion.  If I may press a bit further, you said that Chirst died on the cross to do it for you and to show you what you must do.  The word "must" troubles me.  Would "ought" be an acceptable substitute?
Thanks.
Title: Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
Post by: Charles_Austin on December 16, 2010, 05:13:27 AM
Father Slusser writes (re a question about a sermon quote):
That sermon line seems to me quite out of order.

I comment:
I'm shocked!!  :o OMG!
Can it be that every sermon preached is not doctrinally pure or orthodox in every single sentence every single time? Call out the inquisitors!!!  ;D :)
And FWIW, I have heard the doctrine of justification by grace through faith eloquently preached from Roman Catholic pulpits.
Title: Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
Post by: Michael Slusser on December 16, 2010, 09:46:18 AM
  If I may press a bit further, you said that Chirst died on the cross to do it for you and to show you what you must do.  The word "must" troubles me.  Would "ought" be an acceptable substitute?
Thanks.

I had in mind a Gospel passage like John 12.26: "If anyone serves me, he must follow me; and where I am, there will my servant be also." While "must" isn't in Mark 8.34 and its parallels in Matthew and Luke, options don't seem to be offered.

Practically, in life, following Jesus sometimes seems kind of open and ought-ish; but at other times, for example, as we reach our end and commend our spirit to him as Stephen did, the situation is out of our hands and we know it. That is sometimes true earlier, too, if only we could see it.

What precise difference would you be defending in calling for "ought" instead of "must"?

Peace,
Michael
Title: Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
Post by: Karl Hess on December 16, 2010, 09:49:37 AM
Father Slusser,

My understanding was that JDDJ did not change the Tridentine teaching on justification, and that the anathemas pronounced by Trent were only revoked for those who understand the Lutheran teaching on justification along the lines of JDDJ.  Has Rome's teaching changed?  Otherwise, on my reading of Trent, it would be heretical to say that justification before God consists only in the gracious remission of sins for Jesus' sake.
Title: Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
Post by: Michael Slusser on December 16, 2010, 10:10:42 AM
Father Slusser,

My understanding was that JDDJ did not change the Tridentine teaching on justification, and that the anathemas pronounced by Trent were only revoked for those who understand the Lutheran teaching on justification along the lines of JDDJ. 

Pastor Hess, my understanding is that RCC authority says the central affirmations of the JDDJ are consistent with the Catholic understanding of justification going all the way back, including Trent.

41. Thus the doctrinal condemnations of the 16th century, in so far as they relate to the doctrine of justification, appear in a new light: The teaching of the Lutheran churches presented in this Declaration does not fall under the condemnations from the Council of Trent. The condemnations in the Lutheran Confessions do not apply to the teaching of the Roman Catholic Church presented in this Declaration.
42. Nothing is thereby taken away from the seriousness of the condemnations related to the doctrine of justification. Some were not simply pointless. They remain for us "salutary warnings" to which we must attend in our teaching and practice.
43. Our consensus in basic truths of the doctrine of justification must come to influence the life and teachings of our churches. Here it must prove itself. In this respect, there are still questions of varying importance which need further clarification. These include, among other topics, the relationship between the Word of God and church doctrine, as well as ecclesiology, ecclesial authority, church unity, ministry, the sacraments, and the relation between justification and social ethics. We are convinced that the consensus we have reached offers a solid basis for this clarification. The Lutheran churches and the Roman Catholic Church will continue to strive together to deepen this common understanding of justification and to make it bear fruit in the life and teaching of the churches.


As I read that, someone who could not accept the central common affirmations made by Lutherans and the RCC in the JDDJ might be teaching a doctrine to which the anathemas pronounced by Trent apply, or might not. It would be case-by-case. Your words, "only revoked for," imply that those who arrived at the JDDJ were picking and choosing among Lutherans, but they weren't: they were speaking for all who were there, and expressed no opinion or judgment concerning the Lutherans who weren't there. That's my very unofficial opinion.

Peace,
Michael
Title: Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
Post by: Charles_Austin on December 16, 2010, 10:42:53 AM
The late Doctor/Bishop William Lazareth said something like this about an ecumenical agreement:
"It means that if we (or they) did actually teach as they (or we) thought we (or they) did, they were right to condemn us for it (or we were right to condemn them). But it is now understood that we (or they) did not teach that way, or if we (or they) did, we (or they) don't teach that way now."
I tried to shorten it to: "That was then. This is now." But theology is complex and messy.
Title: Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
Post by: Michael Slusser on December 16, 2010, 10:49:37 AM
The late Doctor/Bishop William Lazareth said something like this about an ecumenical agreement:
"It means that if we (or they) did actually teach as they (or we) thought we (or they) did, they were right to condemn us for it (or we were right to condemn them). But it is now understood that we (or they) did not teach that way, or if we (or they) did, we (or they) don't teach that way now."
I tried to shorten it to: "That was then. This is now." But theology is complex and messy.
And a lot of Dr. Lazareth's homey wisdom was lost in the shortening!  ;) :D

Peace,
Michael
Title: Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
Post by: Karl Hess on December 16, 2010, 01:00:06 PM
I'm not super concerned about the anathemas.  I think anathemas are in order when the Gospel is compromised.  But above, when Pastor Weedon articulated the confessional teaching on justification and "the new obedience"--which is what Missouri still teaches and finds the council of Trent to condemn, together with Chemnitz and the old dogmaticians--you said that that articulation was consistent with Rome's teaching.  I find that hard to believe.  I mean, it would be wonderful if it were true.  But I'm skeptical.

When I read Chemnitz' Examination of the council of Trent, I don't get the impression that Rome and the Lutherans were talking past each other at all.  I see the Lutherans continually emphasizing that justification is God's imputation of the merits of Christ to the one who believe that he is received into favor for Christ's sake.  I see Trent calling justification God's work of imparting justice to the person who is converted.  (And please understand that I don't mean to mischaracterize the Roman teaching; any mischaracterizations are weaknesses in my understanding.)
Title: Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
Post by: ChrisG on December 16, 2010, 07:08:13 PM
  If I may press a bit further, you said that Chirst died on the cross to do it for you and to show you what you must do.  The word "must" troubles me.  Would "ought" be an acceptable substitute?
Thanks.

I had in mind a Gospel passage like John 12.26: "If anyone serves me, he must follow me; and where I am, there will my servant be also." While "must" isn't in Mark 8.34 and its parallels in Matthew and Luke, options don't seem to be offered.

Practically, in life, following Jesus sometimes seems kind of open and ought-ish; but at other times, for example, as we reach our end and commend our spirit to him as Stephen did, the situation is out of our hands and we know it. That is sometimes true earlier, too, if only we could see it.

What precise difference would you be defending in calling for "ought" instead of "must"?

Peace,
Michael
What I was getting at is related to my question of what Jesus was doing on the cross.  Calvanists would say that he was dying for the sins of the elect.  Lutherans say that he was dying for the sins of the whole world.  It appears that the Catholic answer is more nuanced?  Attaching a command that we "must" be like Christ on the cross to the actual physical act of penal subsitutionary atonement seems like a mixture of law and Gospel.  The reason I suggested "ought" instead of "must" is that Christ demonstrated the ultimate example of love when he died on the cross (thinking third use of the law).  The cross is our comfort, and attaching imperatives to it makes me uncomfortable.  That's all.
Title: Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
Post by: Michael Slusser on December 16, 2010, 08:38:20 PM
Attaching a command that we "must" be like Christ on the cross to the actual physical act of penal subsitutionary atonement seems like a mixture of law and Gospel. 

Who said that? Christ accepted his death on the Cross for us in obedience to his Father. Those who follow him are to accept what comes to them in obedience as well. I don't get your "mixtures" language. It's simpler than that: discipleship, following the pioneer of our salvation.

Peace,
Michael
Title: Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
Post by: ChrisG on December 16, 2010, 09:01:23 PM
Attaching a command that we "must" be like Christ on the cross to the actual physical act of penal subsitutionary atonement seems like a mixture of law and Gospel. 

Who said that? Christ accepted his death on the Cross for us in obedience to his Father. Those who follow him are to accept what comes to them in obedience as well. I don't get your "mixtures" language. It's simpler than that: discipleship, following the pioneer of our salvation.

Peace,
Michael
Sorry, I'm not trying to be argumentative - just trying to understand your reply. 
In your original reply, you said
"Maybe if he said 'not only to do it for you but also to show you what you must do,' he could have a valid point."
I've always viewed Christ's death on the cross strictly in terms of justification.  Are you saying that Christ's sacrificial death on the cross should also be an example for our sanctification (discipleship & following)?  Similarly, would you say that the priest I mentioned was out of order for saying that Christ's sacrificial death was an example for our justification?
Title: Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
Post by: Weedon on December 16, 2010, 09:06:38 PM
ChrisG, consider the weight also of 1 Peter 2:21....
Title: Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
Post by: Michael Slusser on December 16, 2010, 10:05:14 PM
ChrisG, consider the weight also of 1 Peter 2:21....

Very much to the point, Pastor Weedon.

Peace,
Michael
Title: Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
Post by: ChrisG on December 16, 2010, 11:43:43 PM
ChrisG, consider the weight also of 1 Peter 2:21....
That passage fits in perfectly with what I was trying to get at with the difference between "must" and "ought."  I don't know a lick of Greek, so I can't read 1 Peter 2:21 in its original language.  However, I checked various English translations and they said that we "should" follow in his steps or "may" follow in his steps.  Pastor Weedon, when you preach the Gospel to an unbeliever - that Christ died on the cross for his sins - the Holy Spirit works faith in him, and he is baptized, I imagine that you get the question "What next?"  If you answer with "Since Christ died on the cross for your sins, now you must follow in his steps" have you not robbed him of his certainty?  Would you not instead say that he should follow in his steps?
John 12:26 that was mentioned upstream seems to be a pretty heavy dose of the first use of the law.  I sin daily and sin much.  By doing so I do not follow Jesus as I must, and I am reminded in my need for a saviour.  So, I repent daily and find comfort in the Christ's death on the cross for my sins.  If I look to the cross and see what I must do along with what Christ did for me, that doesn't sit quite right. 
It is a pretty rare occasion that I darken the door of a Catholic church, so I am not terribly familiar with the church's present doctrine of justification - I'm trying to use this opportunity to learn more about it.  (and I may be somewhat obtuse  :))
Title: Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
Post by: Richard Johnson on December 16, 2010, 11:50:51 PM
  I don't know a lick of Greek,

Greek doesn't come in  licks . . .
Title: Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
Post by: Team Hesse on December 17, 2010, 12:04:10 AM
Attaching a command that we "must" be like Christ on the cross to the actual physical act of penal subsitutionary atonement seems like a mixture of law and Gospel. 

Who said that? Christ accepted his death on the Cross for us in obedience to his Father. Those who follow him are to accept what comes to them in obedience as well. I don't get your "mixtures" language. It's simpler than that: discipleship, following the pioneer of our salvation.

Peace,
Michael

So did Jesus die to appease his Father or to defeat Satan?

Lou
Title: Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
Post by: Rev. Kevin Scheuller on December 17, 2010, 12:24:36 AM
  I don't know a lick of Greek,

Greek doesn't come in  licks . . .
Oh yeah?  What about γλῶσσα?

;) ;D
Title: Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
Post by: Charles_Austin on December 17, 2010, 06:38:38 AM
Lou writes:
So did Jesus die to appease his Father or to defeat Satan?


I muse:
Ah, the old questions never go away. See Anselm Cur deus homo, a nice tract from the 11th Century of the Christian era.
Title: Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
Post by: Team Hesse on December 17, 2010, 08:14:01 AM
Lou writes:
So did Jesus die to appease his Father or to defeat Satan?


I muse:
Ah, the old questions never go away. See Anselm Cur deus homo, a nice tract from the 11th Century of the Christian era.

Read some Anselm, his atonement ideas are helpful but rather incomplete. My question drives more to the conversation upstream which still makes too much of human obedience over against divine gift, if one were to ask me. Obedience and "work" are more in the category of response than the categories of free decision or free cooperation as I seem to hear some implying. We baptize a lot of people who may never have a  detectable or recognizable response (infants and some of the developmentally challenged). I wonder about sanctification language in those instances and how we proclaim comfort to the friends and relatives of those people if our language ties obedience too closely to atonement.

Thoughts on a cold dark morning. Just asking, you know.....

Lou
Title: Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
Post by: John_Hannah on December 17, 2010, 08:31:09 AM
Lou writes:
So did Jesus die to appease his Father or to defeat Satan?


I muse:
Ah, the old questions never go away. See Anselm Cur deus homo, a nice tract from the 11th Century of the Christian era.

Read some Anselm, his atonement ideas are helpful but rather incomplete. My question drives more to the conversation upstream which still makes too much of human obedience over against divine gift, if one were to ask me. Obedience and "work" are more in the category of response than the categories of free decision or free cooperation as I seem to hear some implying. We baptize a lot of people who may never have a  detectable or recognizable response (infants and some of the developmentally challenged). I wonder about sanctification language in those instances and how we proclaim comfort to the friends and relatives of those people if our language ties obedience too closely to atonement.

Thoughts on a cold dark morning. Just asking, you know.....

Lou

LOU

I recommend you read Kent Knutson's His only Son, Our Lord. It's probably out of print but the best treatment of your question that I know. Knutson was an ALC theologian who became President of the ALC and then died a premature death. Very Sad. We would look different today had he lived, I think.

Peace. JOHN
Title: Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
Post by: Team Hesse on December 17, 2010, 08:41:23 AM
Lou writes:
So did Jesus die to appease his Father or to defeat Satan?


I muse:
Ah, the old questions never go away. See Anselm Cur deus homo, a nice tract from the 11th Century of the Christian era.

Read some Anselm, his atonement ideas are helpful but rather incomplete. My question drives more to the conversation upstream which still makes too much of human obedience over against divine gift, if one were to ask me. Obedience and "work" are more in the category of response than the categories of free decision or free cooperation as I seem to hear some implying. We baptize a lot of people who may never have a  detectable or recognizable response (infants and some of the developmentally challenged). I wonder about sanctification language in those instances and how we proclaim comfort to the friends and relatives of those people if our language ties obedience too closely to atonement.

Thoughts on a cold dark morning. Just asking, you know.....

Lou

LOU

I recommend you read Kent Knutson's His only Son, Our Lord. It's probably out of print but the best treatment of your question that I know. Knutson was an ALC theologian who became President of the ALC and then died a premature death. Very Sad. We would look different today had he lived, I think.

Peace. JOHN

Thanks, John, I have heard others speak highly of Knutson and our loss.

And also with you,
Lou
Title: Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
Post by: Karl Hess on December 17, 2010, 10:26:45 AM
Luther probably uses the  "defeat Satan" motif as much or more as the "appeasement of the Father" one. 

But it seems like to me the real question is whether justification means participation in Christ's defeat of Satan by daily obedience--or participation in Christ's appeasement of the Father by obedience, self-offering etc.--or whether justification is a gift, finished by Christ, received by faith alone.
Title: Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
Post by: Team Hesse on December 17, 2010, 10:43:34 AM
Attaching a command that we "must" be like Christ on the cross to the actual physical act of penal subsitutionary atonement seems like a mixture of law and Gospel. 

Who said that? Christ accepted his death on the Cross for us in obedience to his Father. Those who follow him are to accept what comes to them in obedience as well. I don't get your "mixtures" language. It's simpler than that: discipleship, following the pioneer of our salvation.

Peace,
Michael

So did Jesus die to appease his Father or to defeat Satan?

Lou

Why can't it be both?

Indeed, how does one not do the other?  Is there any way at all that Satan could be victorious which would not mean that God is not in control?

Is not even Satan under God's control and used to satisfy His purposes?

Mike

What kind of father needs to be appeased? Not one who wants to be known as merciful.

Lou
Title: Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
Post by: Team Hesse on December 17, 2010, 10:46:10 AM
Luther probably uses the  "defeat Satan" motif as much or more as the "appeasement of the Father" one. 

But it seems like to me the real question is whether justification means participation in Christ's defeat of Satan by daily obedience--or participation in Christ's appeasement of the Father by obedience, self-offering etc.--or whether justification is a gift, finished by Christ, received by faith alone.

Yes, Karl, it seems the Hessians are on the same page this morning. ;D

Lou
Title: Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
Post by: Karl Hess on December 17, 2010, 10:49:15 AM
That is assuming that He was your father before He was appeased.

Yet as the Law must be fulfilled
or we must die despairing
Christ came and has God's anger stilled
our human nature sharing.
He has for us the Law obeyed,
and t hus the Father's vengeance stayed,
which over us impended.
Title: Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
Post by: Karl Hess on December 17, 2010, 10:51:23 AM
Luther probably uses the  "defeat Satan" motif as much or more as the "appeasement of the Father" one. 

But it seems like to me the real question is whether justification means participation in Christ's defeat of Satan by daily obedience--or participation in Christ's appeasement of the Father by obedience, self-offering etc.--or whether justification is a gift, finished by Christ, received by faith alone.

Yes, Karl, it seems the Hessians are on the same page this morning. ;D

Lou
Unfortunately, wasn't Hesse a Calvinist province?
Title: Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
Post by: Karl Hess on December 17, 2010, 10:57:05 AM
No, apart from Christ God is not our Father. 

"If God were your Father, you would love me...You are of your father the devil."  John 8:42, 44
Title: Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
Post by: Team Hesse on December 17, 2010, 11:11:25 AM
Luther probably uses the  "defeat Satan" motif as much or more as the "appeasement of the Father" one. 

But it seems like to me the real question is whether justification means participation in Christ's defeat of Satan by daily obedience--or participation in Christ's appeasement of the Father by obedience, self-offering etc.--or whether justification is a gift, finished by Christ, received by faith alone.

Yes, Karl, it seems the Hessians are on the same page this morning. ;D

Lou
Unfortunately, wasn't Hesse a Calvinist province?

Time to bone up on your reformation history, my friend. Philip of Hesse was the first head of a principality to declare publicly for Luther. He was a bit of a character, his desire for his mistress caused Luther an embarassment, but his coat-of-arms is on the rail above the altar slightly to the left as one stands and faces the altar in the Castle Church in Wittenberg. Been there, seen that. Unfortunately his descendants went Calvinist. That being said, they were always found fighting on the side of non-catholic armies in the many wars imposed on what became modern day Germany. A particularly interesting piece of lore was that Hesse was lead by a very strong woman who preserved her domain for her son during the Thirty Year's War. The house was prominently married into most of the non-Roman Catholic houses of Europe including the Romanovs of Russia. Alexandra's bringing hemophilia to the Czar's family caused a great deal of misery for that poor family.

I could say a great deal more but....

Lou
Title: Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
Post by: Karl Hess on December 17, 2010, 11:17:41 AM
No, apart from Christ God is not our Father. 

"If God were your Father, you would love me...You are of your father the devil."  John 8:42, 44

Fine. He is not our Father. But He still loves us.

I do get what you are saying. God adopts us as sons and places His Name on us in Holy Baptism.

But your pulling that verse out of context -- just as I admittedly pulled mine out of context -- implies that God is only our Father when we love Him, and that is dire news indeed.

For there are many times I don't love Him and I never fear, love, and trust Him in all things as I should.

Mike

No, I'm saying that aprt from Christ's atonement (or appeasement of the Father), God is not our Father.    He is merciful, because He gives His son to death to adopt His enemies as sons.  That is why to say "a merciful Father would not demand appeasement" is to be asking the wrong question.  But of course, God is not our Father because of our perfect love for Him.  He is our Father because He has given His Son to be the propitiation for our sins.
Title: Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
Post by: Team Hesse on December 17, 2010, 11:26:26 AM
Attaching a command that we "must" be like Christ on the cross to the actual physical act of penal subsitutionary atonement seems like a mixture of law and Gospel. 

Who said that? Christ accepted his death on the Cross for us in obedience to his Father. Those who follow him are to accept what comes to them in obedience as well. I don't get your "mixtures" language. It's simpler than that: discipleship, following the pioneer of our salvation.

Peace,
Michael

So did Jesus die to appease his Father or to defeat Satan?

Lou

Why can't it be both?

Indeed, how does one not do the other?  Is there any way at all that Satan could be victorious which would not mean that God is not in control?

Is not even Satan under God's control and used to satisfy His purposes?

Mike

What kind of father needs to be appeased? Not one who wants to be known as merciful.

Lou

A just Father.

He gave up His own Son for us.  His Son's sacrifice paid our debt of sin in our place and saved us from eternal damnation.

You have taught me well at times on the Theology of the Cross.  The question you ask seems to me to be a Theology of Glory question.

No loving God could ...

In this case, need to be appeased because of His righteous wrath regarding our sin.

Mike

Forgive me Mike, But I just don't see this in the picture. I'm thinking the return of the prodigal son, where the father "remembers the sin no more". I am of a mind that this is all about the end of the rule of sin, death, and the Devil. Satan does his worst (or best) and Jesus overcomes. End of story. Freedom is ours in the "happy exchange". tetelestein!

Praise be to God alone!

Lou
Title: Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
Post by: Weedon on December 17, 2010, 11:33:27 AM
We must never lose sight of the fact that the divine wrath under which we are born by nature is not the wrath of the Father alone, but also the wrath of the Son and of the Holy Spirit - it is God's implacable opposition to and destruction of everything that is not the Love that He is and sinful men apart from regeneration experience that as the "consuming fire and everlasting burnings" (today's reading from Isaiah).  That is not God's problem, it is ours.  Only communion with that Fire is eternal life; and yet that Fire will destroy the unregenerate.  And all three Persons of the Divine Trinity have manifested and opened up in the incarnation, suffering, death and resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ a way for that Divine Fire to cleanse without destroying us; to save without damning us.  It is perfectly true that the Father's love is manifested first, foremost, always in the gift of the Son into our flesh, into the Virgin's arms, and onto the arms of the Cross.  It is looking at the Son incarnate that the poet can then sing:

Love caused your incarnation
Love brought you down to me
Your thirst for my salvation
Procured my liberty.
O Love, beyond all telling,
That led you to embrace
In love, all loves excelling,
Our lost and fallen race.
Title: Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
Post by: Scott6 on December 17, 2010, 11:44:22 AM
Forgive me Mike, But I just don't see this in the picture. I'm thinking the return of the prodigal son, where the father "remembers the sin no more". I am of a mind that this is all about the end of the rule of sin, death, and the Devil. Satan does his worst (or best) and Jesus overcomes. End of story. Freedom is ours in the "happy exchange". tetelestein!

Praise be to God alone!

Lou

Don't forget about the wrath of God.  In Num. 25:11, Phinehas is said to turn aside God's wrath, and in Psalm 106:23, Moses is said to do so.  The idea of agents "standing in the gap," as it were, to turn away God's wrath is nothing new to a biblical worldview.  It is in this context that Christ's being made sin (2 Cor. 5:21) makes sense -- the Father poured out His just wrath on sin in the person of the Son.  It must of been a terrible experience, almost making you want to cry out: "Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?"
Title: Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
Post by: Karl Hess on December 17, 2010, 11:45:36 AM
We shouldn't misunderstand and think of a division in the Trinity bas though the Father is angry and the Son isn't.  The Father sent the son.  It was His love that moved Him to do so.  But I don't see how we can ignore the Biblical Woprd that says that there was a ransom paid to redeem sinners, and there was a sacrifice to take away God's wrath--and both of these were directed to the Trinity, no tto the devil.  It was God's love that moved Him to bear the just punishment of wrath against sin in His own flesh.
Title: Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
Post by: Team Hesse on December 17, 2010, 12:04:07 PM
We shouldn't misunderstand and think of a division in the Trinity bas though the Father is angry and the Son isn't.  The Father sent the son.  It was His love that moved Him to do so.  But I don't see how we can ignore the Biblical Woprd that says that there was a ransom paid to redeem sinners, and there was a sacrifice to take away God's wrath--and both of these were directed to the Trinity, no tto the devil.  It was God's love that moved Him to bear the just punishment of wrath against sin in His own flesh.

Probably beyond my comprehension--Gerhard Forde used the metaphor of Jesus running into the street to push a child out of the way of an oncoming truck recognizing the truck is being driven by His Father. I am grateful I don't have to experience God only in His wrath.

Lou