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ALPB => Your Turn => Topic started by: DCharlton on January 01, 2013, 09:22:19 PM

Title: The ELCA Requires Nothing
Post by: DCharlton on January 01, 2013, 09:22:19 PM
"The ELCA requires nothing of congregations."  So says retired ELCA  pastor and former assistant to the bishop of the Metro DC Synod, Ronald F. Christian, in the January 2013 issue of The Lutheran.  I assume that since it appears in the My View column we should not attribute his views to The Lutheran.

It is not surprising that someone would suggest that those pastors and churches who departed the ELCA "had no real cause."  The refusal to attend to the actual reasons that the departed have given is commonplace.  Neither is it surprising that someone would suggest that those who have departed did so because of "the ego needs of the leader", "closed theology", "false theology", or "the all consuming 'I'".  Nor is it surprising that Pastor Christian [sic] places opposition to HSGT into the same category as opposition to civil rights, as well as Islamophobia and Homophobia.  Such slurs are often very effective in silencing one's opponents.

No, what is surprising is that Pastor Christian states that the "ELCA requires nothing of congregations."  Perhaps the ELCA cannot force a congregation to give, but as Pastor Austin has argued convincingly, congregations have a moral obligation to support the larger ministry of "this church."  Those who know they cannot make a good faith effort to support the ministries of the ELCA, cooperate with its synodical and churchwide expressions, support its educational institutions, and share in common mission ought to have the integrity to depart.  And yet, a former assistant to the bishop suggests that passive aggressive isolation is the only honorable option.

What gives?
Title: Re: The ELCA Requires Nothing
Post by: Charles_Austin on January 01, 2013, 10:49:42 PM
Several years ago I wrote an article for The Lutheran on the growing disconnect between congregation, synod and the ELCA.
This trend matches what is happening in nearly all social organizations in our land. It is not limited to churches, and one cannot blame it on easy "conservative-liberal" labels.
I know that in the LCA we were clearly taught about our responsibilities beyond the local congregation. In seminary and beyond our obligations to the synod and the LCA were clearly laid out and understood. The ALC was more "congregational" in its culture.
My experiences with the ELCA in the last 10 years suggest that congregations and pastors are more likely to be lone wolves than pack members. For the church, this is not good. But as noted above, it is not only happening with the church. We are increasingly fragmented as a society and loyalties to social institutions are fragile and easily broken.
My first bishop was on the phone to me when, in my second year in the parish, he thought I had not increased benevolence (what we now call "mission support") to the synod adequately. I always had the understanding that as a pastor I had a clear obligation to support the Synod and the ELCA, even though I did not agree with everything it was doing or felt it was not doing enough in some areas.
 
Title: Re: The ELCA Requires Nothing
Post by: FrPeters on January 02, 2013, 08:07:24 AM
Quote
My experiences with the ELCA in the last 10 years suggest that congregations and pastors are more likely to be lone wolves than pack members. For the church, this is not good. But as noted above, it is not only happening with the church. We are increasingly fragmented as a society and loyalties to social institutions are fragile and easily broken.

Congregations and their clergy act like lone wolfs but they use the resources of the church like people with an emergency 911 call.  In Missouri the loners are often connected in small but loosely organized packs -- perhaps more so than in the ELCA.  But I do agree with you.  It is not good for the church.  I would go one further, it is not good for the congregation and the pastor either.
Title: Re: The ELCA Requires Nothing
Post by: Johan Bergfest on January 02, 2013, 08:29:01 AM
Quote
My experiences with the ELCA in the last 10 years suggest that congregations and pastors are more likely to be lone wolves than pack members. For the church, this is not good. But as noted above, it is not only happening with the church. We are increasingly fragmented as a society and loyalties to social institutions are fragile and easily broken.

Congregations and their clergy act like lone wolfs but they use the resources of the church like people with an emergency 911 call.  In Missouri the loners are often connected in small but loosely organized packs -- perhaps more so than in the ELCA.  But I do agree with you.  It is not good for the church.  I would go one further, it is not good for the congregation and the pastor either.

With deference to Gary's admonition and assuming that DCharlton accurately summarized the article, I understand the problem with lone wolves but I can't think of any appropriate fixes.

Growing up in LCMS, I always assumed that church happened at the congregation level and that congregations chose to join the Synod, not vice versa.  The Synod had structure but it really wasn't a hierarchy.  The DP was the "pastor of the pastors", not the supervisor of pastors.  Individuals join congregations because we need each other.  In the same way, congregations affiliate with the Synod to accomplish various aspects of ministry that is larger than the congregation.  The Synod may work with other church bodies to do ministry that is larger than the Synod.

Lone wolf congregations may be one down side of that model.  We would have to break the model to eliminate that possibility and I don't think the cure would be worth it.

A congregation's decision to affiliate carries with it a commitment to support the ministry that is larger than the congregation.  That is similar to the commitment an individual makes when joining a congregation.  It's really a matter of faithful stewardship.  The Lutheran understanding of stewardship could be reduced to the idea that "if we have your heart, we will also have your wallet".  However, there is always the temptation to say that, "even if we do not have your heart, we will still take your wallet."  What we really have to do is work on the heart.  In the case of lone wolf congregations, I think the best solution is for the District President/Synod Bishop to step into the "pastor to the pastor" role and work on the congregation's heart.
Title: Re: The ELCA Requires Nothing
Post by: George Erdner on January 02, 2013, 08:44:37 AM
Quote
My experiences with the ELCA in the last 10 years suggest that congregations and pastors are more likely to be lone wolves than pack members. For the church, this is not good. But as noted above, it is not only happening with the church. We are increasingly fragmented as a society and loyalties to social institutions are fragile and easily broken.

Congregations and their clergy act like lone wolfs but they use the resources of the church like people with an emergency 911 call.  In Missouri the loners are often connected in small but loosely organized packs -- perhaps more so than in the ELCA.  But I do agree with you.  It is not good for the church.  I would go one further, it is not good for the congregation and the pastor either.


In all my years in ELCA congregations, including working with many of them, the only ones I've seen that use the resources of the national church are those who purchase pre-printed bulletins and Celebrate inserts, or buy hymnals at close to $20 a pop, or pay the subscription fee to Sundays and Seasons, or buy the materials for Sunday School or Vacation Bible School, or pay the tuition to go to seminary or the various special educational programs offered. I'm not suggesting that it's wrong for church bodies to exercise good stewardship by requiring a price for resource materials. I'm only observing that there aren't that many freebie resources that ELCA congregations can get from their synods or from the national HQ that the congregations can get greedy over.
Title: Re: The ELCA Requires Nothing
Post by: Richard Johnson on January 02, 2013, 10:27:20 AM
I've removed the off-topic slams, which also required me to remove those who called the slammers on it. Stay on topic, people.
Title: Re: The ELCA Requires Nothing
Post by: Dadoo on January 02, 2013, 10:35:02 AM
"The ELCA requires nothing of congregations."  So says retired ELCA  pastor and former assistant to the bishop of the Metro DC Synod, Ronald F. Christian, in the January 2013 issue of The Lutheran.  I assume that since it appears in the My View column we should not attribute his views to The Lutheran.

It is not surprising that someone would suggest that those pastors and churches who departed the ELCA "had no real cause."  The refusal to attend to the actual reasons that the departed have given is commonplace.  Neither is it surprising that someone would suggest that those who have departed did so because of "the ego needs of the leader", "closed theology", "false theology", or "the all consuming 'I'".  Nor is it surprising that Pastor Christian [sic] places opposition to HSGT into the same category as opposition to civil rights, as well as Islamophobia and Homophobia.  Such slurs are often very effective in silencing one's opponents.

No, what is surprising is that Pastor Christian states that the "ELCA requires nothing of congregations."  Perhaps the ELCA cannot force a congregation to give, but as Pastor Austin has argued convincingly, congregations have a moral obligation to support the larger ministry of "this church."  Those who know they cannot make a good faith effort to support the ministries of the ELCA, cooperate with its synodical and churchwide expressions, support its educational institutions, and share in common mission ought to have the integrity to depart.  And yet, a former assistant to the bishop suggests that passive aggressive isolation is the only honorable option.

What gives?

"The ELCA requires nothing from Congregations?" Just that sentence ought to give us something to ponder.
Title: Re: The ELCA Requires Nothing
Post by: Gary Hatcher on January 02, 2013, 10:38:27 AM
Here is the text of the article:


Why do they leave?
Church defections a puzzle
When The Lutheran arrives in the mail, invariably I read the obits first (I am a retired pastor).
Recently, however, another page has been of great interest—the list of congregations that voted to leave the ELCA. Many of the congregations are well known to me.
Many of the pastors who lead these congregations are well known also. So I've been asking "Why?" Why do they leave? There is no real cause for departure—just a desire, it seems, to "take a stand."
The ELCA requires nothing of congregations. A congregation will not be removed from the roster for lack of giving, lack of diversity in membership, lack of a youth ministry, lack of mission activity, lack of social work in its community, lack of Bible studies, wrong vestments or secular music on Sundays.
It is possible to be removed if a congregation votes to disavow the constitution of the ELCA and the congregation's own documents of affiliation with the ELCA. But then it has removed itself from the family.
So, again, why?
Congregations voted to leave over civil rights issues in the 1950s and '60s; it was the "word alone in the 60s, the Vietnam in the War in the '60s; '60s and '70s; merger  and pension disinvestment in the '80s; sexuality in the '90s and beyond: phobias (Islamic and homosexual) in the '00s. Now it's marriage and ordination.
But no church was required to join a civil rights cause, agree with the six-day creation story, support the U.S. involvement in Vietnam, agree to divest its pension funds, study sexuality and learn about others (Muslims and your gay neighbor). Now no church is required to marry some-one it wishes not to marry. And no congregation is mandated to accept a pastor not of its choosing.
So with total freedom, why do congregations and pastors depart from the broad and global Lutheran family?
Might it be related to the ego needs of the leader(s)? Could it be the all-consuming "I" showing up? Is it the need to be somebody more than to do something? Or is it a closed theology (Jesus, you and me)? Is it false teaching ("truth is found only with me/us")?
Paul's caution applies: do "not think of yourself more highly than you ought ..." (Romans 12:3).
As a pastor in the Washington, D.C.. area says when he closes his daily one-minute radio broadcast, "Not a sermon, just a thought.

Christian, a retired ELCA pastor, is a member of Lord of Life Lutheran Church, Fairfax, Va. He was formerly an assistant to the bishop of the Metropolitan Washington, DC, Synod and former director of Lutheran Housing
Title: Re: The ELCA Requires Nothing
Post by: Dan Fienen on January 02, 2013, 11:21:31 AM
Reading the entire piece puts a bit of a different slant on things.  Am I understanding Pr. Christian properly that the only reason he sees for congregations to leave is to satisfy the ego needs of the leaders to promote their self image of "taking a stand?"  He seems to be basing this on the fact that a pastor or a congregation does not need to go along with the direction that the ELCA as a whole is going, can still be a part of the ELCA while not agreeing with what the ELCA does or says?  Am I wrong?
 
This leads me to ask just what the ELCA is?  Again, I am discussing the piece by Pr. Christian and recognizing that he is not speaking for the ELCA at any level in any official way.  It is his opinion.  Is it an accurate opinion?  As I understand him, he seems to be saying that the ELCA has no teaching function that members of the ELCA are expected to recognize.  Opinions may be stated, even on an official level, but if you don't like them, just ignore them, it's all OK.
 
As a church body, this seems to me to envision the ELCA as an ecclesiastical smorgasbord.  Over here are pension and health insurance plans (now I guess semi-independent),  over there is a church supply and publishing service (also semi-independent),  on another counter is a church consultation service that you can use if you wish (helps congregations find pastors, settle issues within the congregation, and the like, usually handled on a regional synod level),  there is also a bunch of resources available for use if desired.  There is a basic confessional base (Augsburg Confession) but how much is that enforced.  There are also opinions of current concerns that are expressed by some (a majority) of the denomination but if you don't agree, its all good.
 
Am I understanding this?  I'm not judging whether this is good or bad, or at least I'm trying not to.  But there seems to be no room here for the ELCA to say that this is what we as a body believes about an issue unless it is in an historic document listed in the Constitution.  Opinions are offered, many opinions from whether PALMSGR are acceptable to God to less formally how we should regard the Palestinians and Israelis, but those are simply opinions of individuals or groups within the ELCA, not this is what we as this church have concluded from our study of God's Word and the issues.
 
Dan
Title: Re: The ELCA Requires Nothing
Post by: Satis Est on January 02, 2013, 12:25:15 PM
Quote: "But then it has removed itself from the family."  (Speaking of congregations that have voted to leave the ELCA.)

Family???

My own "Not a sermon, just a thought":
   The ELCA is many things; many of them good, some mediocre, and some (in my opinion) awful.  But one thing we are not is a "family."  And leaving the ELCA does not equal leaving Lutheranism, or the "family of God."
    It just means one has left the ELCA, a mainline American denomination.
Title: Re: The ELCA Requires Nothing
Post by: Dan Fienen on January 02, 2013, 12:50:41 PM

<snip>
 
So with total freedom, why do congregations and pastors depart from the broad and global Lutheran family?

<snip>


I noticed that also.  Are we to understand from this that in Pr. Christian's opinion, at least in the United States the "broad and global Lutheran family" is coterminous with the ELCA.  And people accuse the LCMS of being arrogant.  It just sounded like Pr. Christian wrote all Lutherans in the United States that are not part of the ELCA are not Lutheran.  Hmmm.  Surely he was just being a bit sloppy.
 
Dan
Title: Re: The ELCA Requires Nothing
Post by: DCharlton on January 02, 2013, 01:26:28 PM

As a church body, this seems to me to envision the ELCA as an ecclesiastical smorgasbord.  Over here are pension and health insurance plans (now I guess semi-independent),  over there is a church supply and publishing service (also semi-independent),  on another counter is a church consultation service that you can use if you wish (helps congregations find pastors, settle issues within the congregation, and the like, usually handled on a regional synod level),  there is also a bunch of resources available for use if desired.  There is a basic confessional base (Augsburg Confession) but how much is that enforced.  There are also opinions of current concerns that are expressed by some (a majority) of the denomination but if you don't agree, its all good.
 

That's not the picture of the ELCA that my Bishop or PB Hanson have been promoting over the last 3 years.  PB Hanson in addressing those disappointed over CWA 2009 sought to remind us that we were an important part of the ELCA.  In so many words he said that we needed each other and that what individual congregations chose to do effected the whole.  It was not a congregational picture that he painted.

As much as I enjoy arguing with Charles, I think that what he has expressed here many times is both correct and represents the majority view in the ELCA.  The ELCA expects its pastors and congregations to actively support the larger church body.  It also expects pastor and congregations to abide by "our common agreements" as Charles has put it. 

Most who disagree with the direction of the ELCA, including many who left, think it doesn't expect enough of pastors and congregations, or that it expects the wrong things.  For instance, they criticize the ELCA for not expecting enough in the way of adherence to the Creeds and Confessions.  Ironically, most who share Pr. Christians extreme congregationalism were the first to depart.
Title: Re: The ELCA Requires Nothing
Post by: readselerttoo on January 02, 2013, 01:31:28 PM

<snip>
 
So with total freedom, why do congregations and pastors depart from the broad and global Lutheran family?

<snip>


I noticed that also.  Are we to understand from this that in Pr. Christian's opinion, at least in the United States the "broad and global Lutheran family" is coterminous with the ELCA.  And people accuse the LCMS of being arrogant.  It just sounded like Pr. Christian wrote all Lutherans in the United States that are not part of the ELCA are not Lutheran.  Hmmm.  Surely he was just being a bit sloppy.
 
Dan



This is my sentiment also.  ELCA seems too important in the mind of the writer. 
And if this is simply grandiosity coming to the fore from the writer I can dismiss it as lacking balance.  However, there is a sense that the institutionality of the ELCA in what it is, means and does takes the place of the sense of what communion as fellowship with other Lutheran expressions are throughout the world.  In my mind ELCA is one branch among others.
Title: Re: The ELCA Requires Nothing
Post by: Dan Fienen on January 02, 2013, 01:40:52 PM
Perhaps it needs to be again noted that Pr. Christian is not speaking for the ELCA on any official basis. 

Dan
Title: Re: The ELCA Requires Nothing
Post by: readselerttoo on January 02, 2013, 01:50:08 PM
Perhaps it needs to be again noted that Pr. Christian is not speaking for the ELCA on any official basis. 

Dan

Correct...it is an op-ed piece.  But it doesn't dismiss the fact that an ELCA pastor has expressed this and publicly so.  The face of pride in one's institutional structure can really take the place of what preaching the Gospel is all about.  What was expressed by this pastor could almost pass for any bureaucratic banter of any corporate business in America.  The party line has spoken. 
Title: Re: The ELCA Requires Nothing
Post by: Dadoo on January 02, 2013, 02:47:55 PM
Maybe we read too much into this. By his own confession, this is a bunch of thoughts. Yes, the writer once worked in a bishop's office in an East Coast synod. Still, they are but a bunch of thoughts. Are they fair to those whom we have seen leave and have talked to personally and seriously about their motives? No. Again, these are just his thoughts.

Yet, he is a pastor who once was in a bishop's office. As such he really ought to have not written that the ELCA requires nothing of the congregation. I would remind him of this:

9.03.c. Every pastor shall:
1) strive to extend the Kingdom of God in the community, in the
nation, and abroad;
2) seek out and encourage qualified persons to prepare for the
ministry of the Gospel;
3) impart knowledge of this church and its wider ministry through
distribution of its periodicals and other publications; and
4) endeavor to increase the support given by the congregation to the work of the churchwide organization of the Evangelical Lutheran
Church in America (ELCA) and of the (insert name of synod)
Synod of the ELCA.

or this

12.04. The duties of the Congregation Council shall include the following:

h. To emphasize partnership with the synod and churchwide
organization of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America as well as cooperation with other congregations, both Lutheran and non-Lutheran, subject to established policies of the synod and the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.
I. To recommend and encourage the use of program resources produced or approved by the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.

His theses seems to be that one can disconnect from ELCA if one chooses to not like what goes on beyond the congregation. I would counter that that is not true. Our constitutions do require that council and pastor advocate as the voice of the ELCA to the congregation even if what they are to transmit might seem to them unpleasant or even if it is seen by them as false teaching. How does one do that? How did that work out in the past? Have we not seen 20 years when the opposite happened? Was that too "Closed theology" or "truth is found only with us?"

But, these were just some thoughts. If he had reasoned them out harder, I would think he would have made a much more coherent and rational argument. As it is, I think, he is letting us in on his discontent with how his church has been hurt and how it has shrunk (the theme of the January Lutheran) as a result giving yet another sign that the great confluence of Lutherans (I think that is behind his too ELCA centered comment on Lutheran presence in America) would just not happen. I mourn with him. But blaming those who departed is letting ourselves off much, much too easily. By neglect or carless design, we all did that together.
Title: Re: The ELCA Requires Nothing
Post by: Dan Fienen on January 02, 2013, 03:12:14 PM
Good points Pr. Kruse. What is especially unfortunate is that they were  expressed not in a bull session over beers or even in an internet forum such ALPB but as a letter in an official publication.  I doubt that it will do much to improve discussion or to make those dissatisfied with CWA '09 feel that their continued membership in the ELCA IS truly welcomed or valued.  Conservatives have said some unfortunate things along the way, but this illustrates that they are not alone in this.

Some like Pr. Christian have been saddened by how some have reacted to what many saw as a good and necessary step by the ELCA.  I do feel for them and recognize their pain.  But what they seem  not to recognize is how others have acted according to their bound conscience and left.  Perhaps part of whatever we have here is a failure of imagination, an inability to comprehend how  someone else could in good faith come to such an opposite conclusion and action.  It has been said of conservatives that if they just got to know a gay person they would feel and think differently about the whole gay issue.  Perhaps the same could be said of Pr. Christian and others who are similarly dismissive of those who left that if he had really gotten to know a few conservatives as more than opponents or obstuctions, he might be less ready to dismiss them as simply acting out of selfish ego motives.  Some were perhaps itching to leave for reasons Pr. Christian has described.  Many have discussed here their struggle over leaving.

Dan
Title: Re: The ELCA Requires Nothing
Post by: Tim Schenks on January 02, 2013, 03:28:31 PM
Quote
My experiences with the ELCA in the last 10 years suggest that congregations and pastors are more likely to be lone wolves than pack members. For the church, this is not good. But as noted above, it is not only happening with the church. We are increasingly fragmented as a society and loyalties to social institutions are fragile and easily broken.

Congregations and their clergy act like lone wolfs but they use the resources of the church like people with an emergency 911 call.  In Missouri the loners are often connected in small but loosely organized packs -- perhaps more so than in the ELCA.  But I do agree with you.  It is not good for the church.  I would go one further, it is not good for the congregation and the pastor either.

I'm sure the members of the actual congregations would like to see more activies with sister congregations if the pastors don't.  Too bad there's no winkels for laymen.
Title: Re: The ELCA Requires Nothing
Post by: Dadoo on January 02, 2013, 04:13:32 PM
Good points Pr. Kruse. What is especially unfortunate is that they were  expressed not in a bull session over beers or even in an internet forum such ALPB but as a letter in an official publication.  I doubt that it will do much to improve discussion or to make those dissatisfied with CWA '09 feel that their continued membership in the ELCA IS truly welcomed or valued.  Conservatives have said some unfortunate things along the way, but this illustrates that they are not alone in this.

Some like Pr. Christian have been saddened by how some have reacted to what many saw as a good and necessary step by the ELCA.  I do feel for them and recognize their pain.  But what they seem  not to recognize is how others have acted according to their bound conscience and left.  Perhaps part of whatever we have here is a failure of imagination, an inability to comprehend how  someone else could in good faith come to such an opposite conclusion and action.  It has been said of conservatives that if they just got to know a gay person they would feel and think differently about the whole gay issue.  Perhaps the same could be said of Pr. Christian and others who are similarly dismissive of those who left that if he had really gotten to know a few conservatives as more than opponents or obstuctions, he might be less ready to dismiss them as simply acting out of selfish ego motives.  Some were perhaps itching to leave for reasons Pr. Christian has described.  Many have discussed here their struggle over leaving.

Dan

Pr. Fienen,

Yes, I would consider the publication of this article an editorial error. It is said that it is not wise to take the dog along when you hunt the wolf. Many conservatives have remained in the ELCA, many remaining connected in graceful disagreement. This is not making them feel at home or "part of the family."

So, My ELCA friends: What are we going to do about this column? It is in The Lutheran. What are you going to do?
Title: Re: The ELCA Requires Nothing
Post by: Charles_Austin on January 02, 2013, 04:49:09 PM
Pastor Kruse writes:
So, My ELCA friends: What are we going to do about this column? It is in The Lutheran. What are you going to do?

I answer:
I will read it.
I will recommend that others read it.
I will say that I believe the "ELCA requires nothing" phrase is wrong and unfortunate.
I will remember that this is one man's opinion.
I will ponder that some of what he says squares with what others have said to me and with my own observation.
I will continue to be glad that The Lutheran is free to print articles that might cause controversy and is willing to publish opinions that do not always put us in the rosy glow of success and sentimentalism. Anyone read the "shrinking church" article yet?
It is not the job of the magazine to be simply a public relations rag for the denomination. Dan Lehman spent years and years as an award-winning secular journalist and he knows the difference between flackery and real articles.
He wants to serve the church by delivering a variety of articles and opinions. Good for him.
Full disclosure statement: He has been a friend of mine from my days in secular and church journalism. I occasionally write for The Lutheran. They pay me when I do.
 
Title: Re: The ELCA Requires Nothing
Post by: Marshall_Hahn on January 02, 2013, 05:32:24 PM
Here is the text of the article:


Why do they leave?
Church defections a puzzle
When The Lutheran arrives in the mail, invariably I read the obits first (I am a retired pastor).
Recently, however, another page has been of great interest—the list of congregations that voted to leave the ELCA. Many of the congregations are well known to me.
Many of the pastors who lead these congregations are well known also. So I've been asking "Why?" Why do they leave? There is no real cause for departure—just a desire, it seems, to "take a stand."

Pastor Christian frets that he does not understand the actions of these congregations and pastors who are well-known to him.  There is a readily available remedy to his puzzlement - ask them.  I submit that such a course of action would be preferable to publicizing his imaginative speculations in The Lutheran.

Marshall Hahn
Title: Re: The ELCA Requires Nothing
Post by: George Erdner on January 02, 2013, 05:40:19 PM
"The ELCA requires nothing from Congregations?" Just that sentence ought to give us something to ponder.


The main thing to ponder is what is the difference between an expectation and a requirement. For something to be a requirement, then there must be some consequence or penalty if the condition is not met. If there is no consequence or penalty, then a defined condition is merely an expectation or recommendation. Church bodies like the ELCA can list as many official conditions and expectations as they can think of, but if there is no consequence or penalty for non-compliance, those conditions and expectations are merely that. They are not requirements.


As for the writer's suggestion that congregations changing affiliation with the ELCA is about the leader's (ie. the Pastor's) ego, that is such contemptible poppycock that it doesn't really deserve being addressed. As has been pointed out often, congregations only "leave" from the perspective of the ELCA. From the perspective of the church bodies that they switch there affiliation to, they aren't leaving, they are joining. The act of severing ties with the ELCA is not a departure, it is a change in affiliation. It's a transfer within the Lutheran faith tradition.


I'd also note, the ELCA wasn't formed from the bottom up. It was created from the top down. As I've often said before, most of us went to bed one night members of the LCA, ALC, or AELC, and woke up the next morning in the ELCA. Very few of us rank and file folks were even asked about whether or not we wanted to be in the ELCA. The leadership decided for us. Perhaps if there had been more real input from the pewsitters, such as requiring a ratification of the agreement that created the ELCA by a supermajority of congregations, this mess wouldn't exist now.
Title: Re: The ELCA Requires Nothing
Post by: Charles_Austin on January 02, 2013, 10:05:23 PM
Mr. Erdner writes:
I'd also note, the ELCA wasn't formed from the bottom up. It was created from the top down. As I've often said before, most of us went to bed one night members of the LCA, ALC, or AELC, and woke up the next morning in the ELCA. Very few of us rank and file folks were even asked about whether or not we wanted to be in the ELCA. The leadership decided for us. Perhaps if there had been more real input from the pewsitters, such as requiring a ratification of the agreement that created the ELCA by a supermajority of congregations, this mess wouldn't exist now.

I comment:
Once again, it is necessary that I point out that nearly every word of that statement is wrong. Plans for the merger took shape over a 10-year period. Synods were involved. Congregations and their pastors were involved. Thousands of pages of documents were provided across the ALC, LCA and AELC. The merger had to be approved by at least two national conventions of the merging church bodies; and the final plans approved at a constituting convention.
To say that "the leadership decided for us" is absurd, no matter how many times. Mr. Erdner tries to say it.
Again... criticize the ELCA if you wish; object to how it does things; but for the sake of Aunt Gertie's goats, stop saying that no one knew what was going on and that it was suddenly foisted upon unsuspecting members. That it utter, total nonsense.
But perhaps I speak too harshly. Sensible people here know that.
Title: Re: The ELCA Requires Nothing
Post by: vicarbob on January 02, 2013, 10:34:45 PM
I wasn't Lutheran at the time and yet even I knew about ongoing talks between the varied Lutheran entities. So to suggest as Mr George does that most pew sitters didn't......I guess that would depend how engaged they were outside and beyond their own congregations.......
However, I have first hand knowledge about how peoples from a denomination may be completely ignorant of what is going on in the wider church body in which they belong....a "leader" in the local Episcopal congregation in which we were in discernment for CCM, said publicly that CCM is not a fact and was being made up.....this was 10+ years after its signing.
It happens.............
pax
Bob+
Title: Re: The ELCA Requires Nothing
Post by: DCharlton on January 02, 2013, 11:11:34 PM
Again... criticize the ELCA if you wish; object to how it does things; but for the sake of Aunt Gertie's goats, stop saying that no one knew what was going on and that it was suddenly foisted upon unsuspecting members. That it utter, total nonsense.
But perhaps I speak too harshly. Sensible people here know that.

Aha!  You're right.  That would be like saying no one knew why congregations departed the ELCA; that they had no reasons, theological or otherwise, for doing what they did; that they simply left in the middle of the night on impulse; that having leaders with clinical personality disorders or laity with a host of prejudices and phobias was the only thing that could account for it.  Utter, total nonsense.

Maybe George and others can agree that the Merger and HSGT were not foisted on an unsuspecting laity from above, and you can agree that the claim that those who departed the ELCA had no real cause or legitimate reason is equally nonsensical.  Such such falsehoods are worthy neither of ALPB Forum nor The Lutheran.
Title: Re: The ELCA Requires Nothing
Post by: Dave Likeness on January 02, 2013, 11:18:24 PM
We have our first journalist jewel of 2013

"for the sake of Aunt Gertie's goats"

Thank You, Pastor Austin
Title: Re: The ELCA Requires Nothing
Post by: George Erdner on January 03, 2013, 12:06:58 AM
Again... criticize the ELCA if you wish; object to how it does things; but for the sake of Aunt Gertie's goats, stop saying that no one knew what was going on and that it was suddenly foisted upon unsuspecting members. That it utter, total nonsense.
But perhaps I speak too harshly. Sensible people here know that.

Aha!  You're right.  That would be like saying no one knew why congregations departed the ELCA; that they had no reasons, theological or otherwise, for doing what they did; that they simply left in the middle of the night on impulse; that having leaders with clinical personality disorders or laity with a host of prejudices and phobias was the only thing that could account for it.  Utter, total nonsense.

Maybe George and others can agree that the Merger and HSGT were not foisted on an unsuspecting laity from above, and you can agree that the claim that those who departed the ELCA had no real cause or legitimate reason is equally false.


My recollections from that period of time, and that of most of the people I have talked with about the merger era, were that SOME people were involved. There were 10 years of high-level discussions involving the leadership of the three predecessor bodies. There were SOME select, blue-ribbon committees of carefully chosen lay people involved. But there was little to no attempt to solicit input from the great masses of pewsitters. And there was not the one specific thing I mentioned that would have created a sense of participation and ownership in the hearts and minds of the majority of pewsitters. There was not a plebiscite of all of the congregations. The average pewsitter could, if he was diligent in digging for information in those pre-internet days, gain some glimpse into what the leadership was planning. But as for input into the process, the majority of pewsitters were not involved. And that's one of the main reasons why the majority of pewsitters today have little or no sense of belonging or loyalty to the ELCA. To their congregations, yes. But to the national church body, no.


The lack of involvement of the laity in the process of creating the ELCA is one factor. Another is the central theme of the article this thread is based on. There are no requirements in the ELCA. Forget the excuses of hiding behind regional synod prerogatives. As long as congregations like "herchurch" can get away with doing what they do without consequence or penalty, none of the expectations of the ELCA can be seen as being requirements.

Title: Re: The ELCA Requires Nothing
Post by: Charles_Austin on January 03, 2013, 04:30:11 AM
Pastor Charlton writes:
Maybe George and others can agree that the Merger and HSGT were not foisted on an unsuspecting laity from above, and you can agree that the claim that those who departed the ELCA had no real cause or legitimate reason is equally nonsensical.

I comment:
I do believe that those who departed the ELCA acted because they believed they had "real cause" and "legitimate reason." I do believe that. I do believe that. I do believe that. (How many times to I have to say that before people believe it?)
I happen to disagree with their reasons.

Mr. Erdner persists:
My recollections from that period of time, and that of most of the people I have talked with about the merger era, were that SOME people were involved. There were 10 years of high-level discussions involving the leadership of the three predecessor bodies.
I comment:
The "big lie" continues. The merger discussions involved tens of thousands of people far far below the "high level" of leadership. If it didn't happen where Mr. Erdner was living (and I'll bet it did), he wasn't paying attention.

Mr. Erdner:
There were SOME select, blue-ribbon committees of carefully chosen lay people involved. But there was little to no attempt to solicit input from the great masses of pewsitters.
Me:
The "big lie" continues. I was directly involved in creating some of the surveys sent to all congregations in the ALC, LCA, and AELC soliciting information and providing information.

Mr. Erdner:
And there was not the one specific thing I mentioned that would have created a sense of participation and ownership in the hearts and minds of the majority of pewsitters. There was not a plebiscite of all of the congregations.
Me:
Nope. There wasn't. None of the church bodies in the merger had any procedure for doing that. It was even discussed in the merger negotiations. To whine and moan about that now is like complaining that no one asked every person in the new-born United States of America how many senators each state should have.

Mr. Erdner:
The average pewsitter could, if he was diligent in digging for information in those pre-internet days, gain some glimpse into what the leadership was planning. But as for input into the process, the majority of pewsitters were not involved.
Me:
The "big lie" continues. Will someone please send Mr. Erdner a copy of Anatomy of a Merger by Edgar Trexler? I was at LCA synod and ALC district conventions, AELC conventions, local meetings, and every national convention for about five years, all attended by thousands of "pewsitters" involved in the merger discussions.
I fielded hundreds of questions by telephone and letter from people with questions about the merger. The negotiations were front page stories in dozens of newspapers throughout the country, and especially in the midwest and states like Pennsylvania where Lutherans are dense.

Mr. Erdner:
And that's one of the main reasons why the majority of pewsitters today have little or no sense of belonging or loyalty to the ELCA. To their congregations, yes. But to the national church body, no.
Me:
No. That is not the reason. As noted frequently in every discussion in every organization, whether religious or secular, over the past 30 years, the "sense of belonging" to ANYTHING in our society has deteriorated in recent decades. It applies to bowling leagues, the Rotary Club, Lions, The League of Women Voters, Masonic lodges, Boy Scouts and other groups. The reasons are complex and have little to do with the structure of the organizations.

I comment:
The lack of involvement of the laity in the process of creating the ELCA is one factor.
Me:
The "big lie" continues.

Mr. Erdner:
Another is the central theme of the article this thread is based on. There are no requirements in the ELCA. Forget the excuses of hiding behind regional synod prerogatives. As long as congregations like "herchurch" can get away with doing what they do without consequence or penalty, none of the expectations of the ELCA can be seen as being requirements.
Me:
Well, let us consider that. Congregations were dismissed for calling pastors not properly ordained. (Those congregations were "liberal" BTW.) No one can be ordained with proper approval or continued on the roster without proper approval, which reaches all the way up to the Conference on Bishops.
   The ELCA as the ELCA has no direct means of disciplining congregations. (That would be the "top down" thing that Mr. Erdner finds so objectionable.)
   Synods (more local lay leadership) do work out their own ways of dealing with recalcitrant congregations. The problems that arise when congregations wanted to leave improperly prove that.
   On some matters, considerable (too much?) grace or leniency might indeed be in existence. If Mr. Erdner cannot be removed from his congregation for the uncharitable things he says here or his refusal to accept the facts about his denomination, then maybe he will understand why a pastor or congregation cannot easily be disciplined for not sending in a proper share of mission support or endorsing ELCA activities.

Title: Re: The ELCA Requires Nothing
Post by: Dadoo on January 03, 2013, 09:21:37 AM
Again... criticize the ELCA if you wish; object to how it does things; but for the sake of Aunt Gertie's goats, stop saying that no one knew what was going on and that it was suddenly foisted upon unsuspecting members. That it utter, total nonsense.
But perhaps I speak too harshly. Sensible people here know that.

Aha!  You're right.  That would be like saying no one knew why congregations departed the ELCA; that they had no reasons, theological or otherwise, for doing what they did; that they simply left in the middle of the night on impulse; that having leaders with clinical personality disorders or laity with a host of prejudices and phobias was the only thing that could account for it.  Utter, total nonsense.

Maybe George and others can agree that the Merger and HSGT were not foisted on an unsuspecting laity from above, and you can agree that the claim that those who departed the ELCA had no real cause or legitimate reason is equally false.


My recollections from that period of time, and that of most of the people I have talked with about the merger era, were that SOME people were involved. There were 10 years of high-level discussions involving the leadership of the three predecessor bodies. There were SOME select, blue-ribbon committees of carefully chosen lay people involved. But there was little to no attempt to solicit input from the great masses of pewsitters. And there was not the one specific thing I mentioned that would have created a sense of participation and ownership in the hearts and minds of the majority of pewsitters. There was not a plebiscite of all of the congregations. The average pewsitter could, if he was diligent in digging for information in those pre-internet days, gain some glimpse into what the leadership was planning. But as for input into the process, the majority of pewsitters were not involved. And that's one of the main reasons why the majority of pewsitters today have little or no sense of belonging or loyalty to the ELCA. To their congregations, yes. But to the national church body, no.


The lack of involvement of the laity in the process of creating the ELCA is one factor. Another is the central theme of the article this thread is based on. There are no requirements in the ELCA. Forget the excuses of hiding behind regional synod prerogatives. As long as congregations like "herchurch" can get away with doing what they do without consequence or penalty, none of the expectations of the ELCA can be seen as being requirements.


George,

Yes and no on most of what you wrote. THe ELCA was the result of a dream of a united Lutheran presence in America. That vision was had by the leaders of various church bodies. It was made plausible by the history of merging many smaller denominations into sizable ones in the two generations that preceded the 60's. It seemed possible. It seemed to be the logical trajectory to travel on. It seemed desirable somehow as a sign that the church is one.

Those dreams were probably not prevalent at pew level but they were also not absent. Face it, congregations are not as likely as leaders to think that a reshaped denominational structure would somehow be a benefit.

Mergers are funny things. If the top levels cannot envision them, they will not happen. If the pew level has no taste for it, it will not happen either. But, at pew level the various Lutherans around town knew each other and could see no reason not to be church together. All the scare literature that "bishops" (can we change that to "big giant heads" now please) would come and close all redundant congregations were simply false. Those specters were raised precisely to worry those who wondered: "Well we got two Lutheran churches right across the street - and we all believe the same thing . . . " after that a merger is either a good idea because commonality is recognized or it is painted in the dark pictures of forced local consolidation that can only be averted if the congregations are claimed by different stables. What seemed like common sense prevailed in the end.

I am the reluctant veteran of a congregational merger. Can somebody rail at Pastor Kruse for "closing our church and making us change our name," or worse: "go to that other place?" I would suspect so. When time came for somebody to rise and make the process happen the lot fell on me. Did I sit in a place apart and say to a bunch of friends: "I think I will make them merge, yes, that's the ticket?" No. There was in both congregations the idea and glimpse (it was not yet a vision) that it might be a good idea and that it might just work. If that had not been there I would not have risen to say: "Now that you think that, what are you prepared to do about it?" That was the necessary leadership at the time. Nobody else rose to say: "I know just what to do." I reluctantly did so because the glimpse and the idea voiced had to be acted on. Pass or fail, leadership required that we acted and not let it lie there as a distraction any longer.

Did we have our ducks all nicely in a row? No. Absolutely not. We are still working out many an expected turn in the road that we managed to not expect.  ::) That is to say: Christmas comes. Two have become one. How do you celebrate? Whose traditions will reign? One day in November we realized in horror that we had to create Christmas ex nihilo. A scramble ensued.

THere is no "We always did it this way," at my congregation any longer. There is where I see the danger in mergers. Only so many things can be foreseen and planned for. Only so many things can be written into constitution and bylaw. We made no plans for our first Christmas together. Had we tried to plan out every future "new" moment the consolidation  would have fallen dead because boredom and tedium would have driven everyone crazy. There will be uncrossed "i's" and undotted "t's." What we had in common would guide us ahead in meeting our first Christmas and it did.

When ELCA was formed, all the ducks were not in a row. But, everyone knew we could not work out every little detail and still have anyone left awake to vote for it. So, things were left to be carried into tomorrow by assuming good will in each other and trusting that we believed and did things about the same way anyway so things would work themselves out. That is why, I believe, there are not heavy consequences tied to every foreseen infraction and that is why not every future infraction was anticipated. Bishops (seminary presidents and respected district leaders) and commonly held values were going to win the day. The sudden explosion of post modern sloppy diversity, especially theological diversity, was still over the horizon. The generation of 60's destructive activists were still in seminary or were in their first decade of ministry and had not gained any clout, influence, or prominence. The instantaneous conversions, which imported many new ecclesiologies in America into Lutheranism,  from one denomination to another as one moved was not yet as prevalent as it is now. Our bishops, or the hierarchy, or even the lowarchy, were not given "power" or "coercive tools" of punishment because no one thought it was necessary. "Surely they will listen to the bishop!" "Surely the Bishop will know what is right and everyone will respect their word." "Surely our seminaries will defend and perpetuate solid orthodox Lutheran theology and morals." "Surely our teachers will keep new and crazy ideas out of our pulpits."

Well, . . . tomorrow is always surprisingly new. Whether the church should adopt that as a motto is questionable even in America which is driven by the new thing. Maybe we are loosing members because we are no longer a stable pylon in the swirling waters. The more my consolidation progresses the more I am aware that I am pulled toward the needs of the organization and the more I am fighting to work with the people and their need to be reassured of eternity and the values thereof. Maybe that is were WLCA needs to do more work. Not on the margins, not "at the intersection of church and <your favorite cliche's here>," not by trying to bring the margins to the center, but by forcefully restating the center. The activists will hate it as much as he traditionalists will hate it because the margins are not "empowered" or castigated. But our business is at the center. And all the organization deserves is just enough attention to make that holding up the center happen.

There you are. My thoughts. Maybe too many of them . . . .
Title: Re: The ELCA Requires Nothing
Post by: Dadoo on January 03, 2013, 09:37:17 AM
THe article needs to be discussed if for no other reason then for need of how to respond or even just for reason of realizing what kind of church we have become. For that matter, for us conservatives, it must remind us what folks think of us. It requires a graceful response on our behalf. It needs that response. . . . or . . . . or . . . . we could just jointly decide that he is just afraid that we conservatives are actually right about what we teach and preach. Yes . . . that's the ticket . . . he is just succumbing to his phobias.  ;)

On second thought . . . . let's not do that. But I think that all of us need to write to Lehman about this column. Maybe one of us ought to write a rational and passionate rebuttal that has nothing to do with Christian or any other hominem we would like to ad right now  but deals with the situation at hand instead.

Title: Re: The ELCA Requires Nothing
Post by: Coach-Rev on January 03, 2013, 09:42:45 AM
Once again, it is necessary that I point out that nearly every word of that statement is wrong. Plans for the merger took shape over a 10-year period. Synods were involved. Congregations and their pastors were involved. Thousands of pages of documents were provided across the ALC, LCA and AELC. The merger had to be approved by at least two national conventions of the merging church bodies; and the final plans approved at a constituting convention.
To say that "the leadership decided for us" is absurd, no matter how many times. Mr. Erdner tries to say it.
Again... criticize the ELCA if you wish; object to how it does things; but for the sake of Aunt Gertie's goats, stop saying that no one knew what was going on and that it was suddenly foisted upon unsuspecting members. That it utter, total nonsense.
But perhaps I speak too harshly. Sensible people here know that.

Once again, I  must point out that just because Charles utters it does not necessarily make it so.  I was a very active member of the LCA back in the 80's, was at the LSM national gathering in 1987, and learned of the merger 4 days before it actually took place.  It was NOT discussed either in my home congregation nor on the college campus ministry where I was attending and whom I was representing at the gathering.

My discussions with others demonstrate that George's assessment is far more accurate than Mr. Austin's dispute.  Perhaps Charles needs to identify that he is reacting more out of his distaste of George rather than on fact and reality.
Title: Re: The ELCA Requires Nothing
Post by: Charles_Austin on January 03, 2013, 09:54:50 AM
Pastor Crandall writes:
I was rising to your challenge:  "I challenge anyone who thinks our seminary professors have denied the essential tenets of Christianity to have the guts to step forward and bring charges."

I comment:
Takes no guts to do it from your outsider perspective, Pastor Crandall. I am asking those in the ELCA who think things are wrong to act on what they say they believe.

Pastor Cottingham writes:
I was a very active member of the LCA back in the 80's, was at the LSM national gathering in 1987, and learned of the merger 4 days before it actually took place.  It was NOT discussed either in my home congregation nor on the college campus ministry where I was attending and whom I was representing at the gathering.

I comment:
Then your pastors were derelict in their duties and should be ashamed of themselves. And do you mean to tell me you were a "very active member of the LCA" but never read the magazine, attended a synod event or read the local newspapers? Really?

Pastor Cottingham:
My discussions with others demonstrate that George's assessment is far more accurate than Mr. Austin's dispute.

Me:
If that were true, the merger would not have happened. Although we did learn after the merger that there were some pastors and congregations, predominantly former ALC, who never ever, even before the merger, gave a churchmouse whisker for anything outside their congregation. Such folk are, I believe, a bigger drain on the mission of the church than any rampaging liberals.

As for my reactions, I shall try to refrain; but when willful ignorance and just plain stupidity malign great church leaders who had nothing but concern for the church and its mission at heart, it is hard to remain silent.
Title: Re: The ELCA Requires Nothing
Post by: Johan Bergfest on January 03, 2013, 10:00:55 AM
Once again, it is necessary that I point out that nearly every word of that statement is wrong. Plans for the merger took shape over a 10-year period. Synods were involved.

Once again, I  must point out that just because Charles utters it does not necessarily make it so....  It was NOT discussed either in my home congregation nor on the college campus ministry where I was attending and whom I was representing at the gathering.

I suspect that George's, Charles' and Coach-Rev's memory is correct, as each experienced the merger.  I also find it curious that George and Coach-Rev experienced it so differently than did Charles.  If my memory is correct, those of us sitting in LCMS pews - at least those of us who cared about Lutheran issues beyond the Synod - were well aware that the merger was in progress.
Title: Re: The ELCA Requires Nothing
Post by: James S. Rustad on January 03, 2013, 10:01:46 AM
Once again, it is necessary that I point out that nearly every word of that statement is wrong. Plans for the merger took shape over a 10-year period. Synods were involved. Congregations and their pastors were involved. Thousands of pages of documents were provided across the ALC, LCA and AELC. The merger had to be approved by at least two national conventions of the merging church bodies; and the final plans approved at a constituting convention.
To say that "the leadership decided for us" is absurd, no matter how many times. Mr. Erdner tries to say it.

I was an member of a congregation of a predecessor body.  I attended church fairly regularly during that period.  I heard nothing about the impending merger until after the fact.

But perhaps I speak too harshly. Sensible people here know that.

A sensible person would not speak so harshly then.
Title: Re: The ELCA Requires Nothing
Post by: Dadoo on January 03, 2013, 10:18:53 AM
For some of us the column was not very civil. Yet, Lehman reminded us of the need to be civil in the previous issue in his editor's comment http://www.thelutheran.org/article/article.cfm?article_id=11103 One wonders if that is not something that ought written to him about.

Also from The Lutheran's website

Quote
My View guidelines
 
"My View" is an edgy opinion column written by our readers that appears on the "Letters to the editor" page of each issue of the magazine. We welcome "My View" column submissions on controversial and major issues facing the church and/or society.

Material for "My View" should be no longer than 400 words and should focus on a single topic. The "My View" column is not the place to respond to articles or letters. Use the "Letters to the Editor" page for that.

These reader viewpoints do not necessarily reflect the views of The Lutheran or the positions of the ELCA. However, the magazine wishes to represent the continuum of views that exist in the ELCA.

When does "edgy" step over the line? Is this My view one of those places? WHat is "edgy" anyway?
Title: Re: The ELCA Requires Nothing
Post by: James S. Rustad on January 03, 2013, 10:19:15 AM
The negotiations were front page stories in dozens of newspapers throughout the country, and especially in the midwest and states like Pennsylvania where Lutherans are dense.

I live in the midwest (Wisconsin).  I read at least one newspaper every day.  I have done so since years before the merger.  The first article I saw about the merger was a front page story in one of the Milwaukee papers announcing that Milwaukee had lost the headquarters of the new ELCA to Chicago.  Several additional stories appeared after this with local and state politicians blaming the ELCA for this move.

I guess I can be generous and allow that I did see "front page stories...especially in the midwest" -- but only after the fact.
Title: Re: The ELCA Requires Nothing
Post by: DCharlton on January 03, 2013, 10:30:22 AM
I remember the merger.  I was in my earlier 20's at he time.  Here in Florida, where Lutherans are few and far between, the idea of a merger made sense.  In many towns, whether you were ALC, LCA or LCMS depended on who was willing to sponsor a new church.  You didn't get to pick which kind of Lutheran you were, since there was usually only one church in town.  For instance, my mother came from a ULCA background, but was glad when the ALC sponsored a mission in Kissimmee.  She no longer had to drive 20 miles to attend a Lutheran church in Orlando.  So being having a closer relationship with the LCA church in the next town made sense. 

I was concerned about the proposed structure of the new national church.  Too bureaucratic and hierarchical for my ALC tastes.  But still, I was hopeful about it. 
Title: Re: The ELCA Requires Nothing
Post by: Dan Fienen on January 03, 2013, 11:10:24 AM
Apparently different people, congregations, and perhaps regions experienced the merger in different ways.  Coverage of the merger process was full in some congregations apparently ignored in others.  There is absolutely no way that news can be spread to everyone at a level they would  desire or to include everyone in the decision making that will satisfy everyone.  Things just don't work out  that perfectly.  Were mistakes made?  Undoubtedly, on national, regional and local levels. Nothing done by humans is perfect.  I really doubt that there was  a vast conspiracy to sneak a merger through without people noticing.  That is just not credible.  Putting such a merger together requires too much work by too many people to pull it off in secret.  Also, news did get out, even if not everyone got as much news  as they would have liked.

Mistakes no doubt were made along the road to merger.  But could the talk of sneaking it by the people in the pew be toned down to something reasonable.  If a pastor did not care to inform his people for some reason, that is not the denomination's fault.

Dan
Title: Re: The ELCA Requires Nothing
Post by: Coach-Rev on January 03, 2013, 11:41:07 AM
It also does not merit the accusation of "willful ignorance" and "plain stupidity" against those whose experience was such that the merger did not get presented until just prior or just after the ink dried on the merger documents. 

But alas, I've come to expect such things from certain quarters here... 
Title: Re: The ELCA Requires Nothing
Post by: Richard Johnson on January 03, 2013, 04:11:39 PM
ALC congregations had to vote on the merger, and in my experience, far from the heartland of Lutheranism, it was widely discussed in the run-up to the vote.
Title: Re: The ELCA Requires Nothing
Post by: Charles_Austin on January 03, 2013, 05:26:11 PM
Richard writes:
ALC congregations had to vote on the merger, and in my experience, far from the heartland of Lutheranism, it was widely discussed in the run-up to the vote.

I comment:
I was trying to drop that shoe, but was away from home for 8 days. Now I've found that reshuffling of the basement library due to water damage means I can't find my copies of the merger history books to verify information.
But I believe historian Richard is correct. ALC congregations did have individual votes on whether to agree to the merger.
Someone please inform Mr. Erdner.
Title: Re: The ELCA Requires Nothing
Post by: Dadoo on January 03, 2013, 05:31:47 PM
ALC congregations had to vote on the merger, and in my experience, far from the heartland of Lutheranism, it was widely discussed in the run-up to the vote.

Did not congregation also have to vote to join the new church?
Title: Re: The ELCA Requires Nothing
Post by: Charles_Austin on January 03, 2013, 05:39:56 PM
Pastor Kruse writes:
Did not congregation also have to vote to join the new church?

I comment:
Not sure about that. I do have the memoirs of David Preus and Herbert Chilstrom at hand and both speak of the ways congregations were given a say in the merger process.
Title: Re: The ELCA Requires Nothing
Post by: George Erdner on January 03, 2013, 05:57:56 PM
When ELCA was formed, all the ducks were not in a row. But, everyone knew we could not work out every little detail and still have anyone left awake to vote for it. So, things were left to be carried into tomorrow by assuming good will in each other and trusting that we believed and did things about the same way anyway so things would work themselves out. That is why, I believe, there are not heavy consequences tied to every foreseen infraction and that is why not every future infraction was anticipated. Bishops (seminary presidents and respected district leaders) and commonly held values were going to win the day.


My concern is not so much that the groundwork for the merger was flawed, and resulted in an excessively flawed system. It was, as you said, based on setting a deadline and when the deadline came, whatever was done was done. My issue was with the perception we pewsitters in the LCA had that it was going to happen, come hell or high water, and nothing we did or didn't do made the slightest bit of difference. I think I mentioned before the term "buy in". There was virtually nothing done to get the LCA pewsitters to "buy in" on the merger, to make us feel like it wasn't something that was imposed on us whether we wanted it or not.


As for the reason why none of the expectations of the ELCA are requirements, I don't disagree with you about why it is what it is. My main concern is that it is what it is, and what it is should have been changed early in the life of the ELCA. After all, one of the biggest slams against the ELCA isn't that there aren't consequences and penalties written into the operational documents. It is that what is written isn't enforced. The laxness of enforcing policies cannot be blamed on the haste with which the merger happened. That can only be blamed on the leaders who ignored the rules.
Title: Re: The ELCA Requires Nothing
Post by: Team Hesse on January 03, 2013, 06:49:19 PM
Richard writes:
ALC congregations had to vote on the merger, and in my experience, far from the heartland of Lutheranism, it was widely discussed in the run-up to the vote.

I comment:
I was trying to drop that shoe, but was away from home for 8 days. Now I've found that reshuffling of the basement library due to water damage means I can't find my copies of the merger history books to verify information.
But I believe historian Richard is correct. ALC congregations did have individual votes on whether to agree to the merger.



This is consistent with what I was told about the congregation in Moses Lake before we joined. We were told that it was an old ALC congregation which had voted against the merger but when the merger was approved had voted to "go along" with the will of the denomination. I was under the impression there had been full discussion of the ramifications of the decisions prior to both votes. I was LCMS at the time and living three hundred miles away. I have no reason to doubt the witness of those who informed me of those events.


At the time we made the jump from LCMS to this old ALC congregation in Moses Lake (1990) there was not a great deal of difference between what we had been used to and what we changed to. That is no longer true.


Lou
Title: Re: The ELCA Requires Nothing
Post by: Brian Stoffregen on January 03, 2013, 11:13:29 PM
Richard writes:
ALC congregations had to vote on the merger, and in my experience, far from the heartland of Lutheranism, it was widely discussed in the run-up to the vote.

I comment:
I was trying to drop that shoe, but was away from home for 8 days. Now I've found that reshuffling of the basement library due to water damage means I can't find my copies of the merger history books to verify information.
But I believe historian Richard is correct. ALC congregations did have individual votes on whether to agree to the merger.
Someone please inform Mr. Erdner.


Yes, every ALC congregation cast a vote. I was at a congregation that had a few members who wanted to leave the ALC before I came. I kept them informed of the new church process. A neighboring pastor was on the Commission for a New Lutheran Church, so we heard first-hand what was going on at their meetings. When the time came, the congregation voted for the new church. The powers that be also made it clear that if a congregation voted "no" on the new church, and it was approved, they were part of the new church. If they did not want to go into the ELCA, they had to follow a different process to leave the ALC.


Note also that the president of the ALC, Rev. David Preus, was not originally in favor of the new church. If it were a "top-down" thing, the ALC would not have participated.
Title: Re: The ELCA Requires Nothing
Post by: peter_speckhard on January 04, 2013, 11:58:31 AM
The reality that something can be done fully above board involving input from everyone and still be a top-down, foregone conclusions foisted on people by the leadership is best illustrated, in my experience at least, by the opening chapters of "That Hideous Strength" when Busby demonstrates how "the progressive element" of the institution operates. Everything was voted on fair and square, yet everything was also tightly orchestrated to ensure the vote went a certain way. Both can be and usually are true descriptions of events.
Title: Re: The ELCA Requires Nothing
Post by: Johan Bergfest on January 04, 2013, 12:06:27 PM
The reality that something can be done fully above board involving input from everyone and still be a top-down, foregone conclusions foisted on people by the leadership is best illustrated, in my experience at least, by the opening chapters of "That Hideous Strength" when Busby demonstrates how "the progressive element" of the institution operates. Everything was voted on fair and square, yet everything was also tightly orchestrated to ensure the vote went a certain way. Both can be and usually are true descriptions of events.

I suspect this critique applies to most formal church body decisions.  For some reason, the years 1969 and 1973 come to mind.
Title: Re: The ELCA Requires Nothing
Post by: Charles_Austin on January 04, 2013, 12:11:18 PM
It is a foregone conclusion, Peter, that our governing documents, some of which grew "Top Down" should and will prevail. And yes, I would make no apologies for the fact that the documents are designed to prevent a faction from hijacking a congregation. In the ULCA/LCA arenas and in portions of the ELCA, it is simply not possible to "vote and leave."
Again, the decision in those cases is up to the Synod Council. That is the process which came into effect as we wrote and approved our constitutions. Surely you do not approve of a congregation or group within a congregation being able to act contrary to our agreements? I thought you guys were really down with "walking together" as we have agreed.
Title: Re: The ELCA Requires Nothing
Post by: Pastor Ken Kimball on January 04, 2013, 01:10:34 PM
It is a foregone conclusion, Peter, that our governing documents, some of which grew "Top Down" should and will prevail. And yes, I would make no apologies for the fact that the documents are designed to prevent a faction from hijacking a congregation. In the ULCA/LCA arenas and in portions of the ELCA, it is simply not possible to "vote and leave."
Again, the decision in those cases is up to the Synod Council. That is the process which came into effect as we wrote and approved our constitutions. Surely you do not approve of a congregation or group within a congregation being able to act contrary to our agreements? I thought you guys were really down with "walking together" as we have agreed.

Which is more apt a description of "hijacking"?  (A) A majority or supermajority vote of a congregation to end affiliation with a church body or (B) a minority which holds hostage the rest of the congregation, aided and abetted by a judicatory body?   When it comes to "hijacking" what about the actions of an activist group which gains control of the levers of power within a church body, even to the point of gaining a majority vote of voting members who then make costly and damaging decisions to the rest of the body.   You've told us Pr. Austin that we on the traditional side cannot have it both ways.  The same applies to you and the "progressives" in the ELCA.   

Pastor Ken Kimball
Title: Re: The ELCA Requires Nothing
Post by: Matt Hummel on January 04, 2013, 01:21:58 PM
The reality that something can be done fully above board involving input from everyone and still be a top-down, foregone conclusions foisted on people by the leadership is best illustrated, in my experience at least, by the opening chapters of "That Hideous Strength" when Busby demonstrates how "the progressive element" of the institution operates. Everything was voted on fair and square, yet everything was also tightly orchestrated to ensure the vote went a certain way. Both can be and usually are true descriptions of events.

Peter- Thanks for mentioning one of my all time favorite books.

And it triggered a memory of this blog post from Stand Firm In Faith- http://www.standfirminfaith.com/?/sf/page/14113
Title: Re: The ELCA Requires Nothing
Post by: Johan Bergfest on January 04, 2013, 01:30:38 PM
Which is more apt a description of "hijacking"?  (A) A majority or supermajority vote of a congregation to end affiliation with a church body or (B) a minority which holds hostage the rest of the congregation, aided and abetted by a judicatory body?   

Pr. Kimball - you have not provided enough information to answer the question that you posed.

Congregations are legally incorporated entities, recognized as such by the state in which each occurs.  As Pr. Austin indicated, the disposition of the congregation's property upon disaffiliation is governed by language in its legal documents.  If that language favors the majority, then the correct answer to your question is B.  If, however, that language favors the minority, is A.  In any such dispute, there is an appropriate role for the denomination's bureaucracy - likely also specified by language in the legal documents.  And, worst case scenario, there is an appropriate role for the courts.

In either case, were you or I to offer judgement in either of the examples cited, chances are that we would be basing our decision on a very incomplete case record.
Title: Re: The ELCA Requires Nothing
Post by: Dan Fienen on January 04, 2013, 01:32:14 PM
The fact that political manipulation to give the appearance of choice while orchestrating events to reach a desired goal can be done does not mean that it was done in any particular case.  Part of the function of leadership is to be visionary - that is to see what are good goals and good directions for the group to strive for, and another function of leadership is to be instrumental - to help the group be unified behind those goals and directions and to strive to achieve them.
 
Leadership can be good or bad.  There are various ways to define good or bad.  Leadership can be effective or ineffective.  If the leader cannot effectively help the group achieve the agreed upon goals, that is not good leadership.  But leadership can also be effective but bad.  If the goals and direction the leader influences his group to choose are bad, his effectiveness just increases the damage he can do.  One of the most effective leaders of the 20th century was Adolf Hitler.  He led Germany form physical and economic ruin into being a super power.  That the goals and directions in which he led Germany were evil and ultimately again brought ruin upon Germany (not to mention the damage to the rest of the world) shows how bad a visionary he was.
 
The elected leadership of the ELCA have led this church in certain directions.  Many within and outside this church have welcomed and applauded those directions and achievements.  Many within and outside this church have deplored and condemned them.  Were those goals and direction foisted upon an unsuspecting membership by a conniving manipulative leadership?  Or were they simply facilitating the membership going where the majority wanted them to go?  A case could be made for either.  Realistically it was probably some of both.  One function of leadership is to convince the membership to want what the leaders are urging, i.e. to build unity around shared goals.  Being sinners, like everyone else, the leadership of the leaders is tainted by sin and likely some things were stage managed to bring the reluctant along and to manipulate thinking and feeling.  But how much of that was illegitimate propagandizing and how much of that was legitimate leadership is matter for which there can and will be much debate.  As usual, I and mine are informing, educating and enlightening; you and yours are spreading propaganda and manipulation.
 
Parallels have been drawn between the accusations of manipulation leading up to CWA '09 and the decisions in the LCMS of '69 and '73.  Manipulation of public opinion and power politics were used on both sides in the LCMS conflict.  Those comparisons may well be apt in some ways.  Depending on which side your sympathies lie, one could see either series of events as evidence of power politics and manipulation at its worst or visionary leadership at its best.  Some of both took place no doubt since sinners were involved in both. 
 
Meanwhile, to argue over whether the results were the result of good leadership helping the grass roots to achieve what they wanted, or the result of conniving and manipulative leaders hoodwinking innocent grass roots into going astray, is likely less than helpful and enlightening.  It certainly does little to discuss what the issues were that were decided.  No doubt enough sinful actions were committed in both cases that could be used to argue for manipulation, and enough idealistic pursuit of goals perceived as noble to argue for praise.  The tools of leadership are just that tools.  Some of them are certainly honest and honorable, some of them less so.  What is most important are the goals pursued with those tools.  Are dishonorable goals pursued with honorable tools good?  What about honorable goals pursued with dishonorable tools?  I'm afraid that all too often we tend to let the ends that we approve justify the means, and the ends the we disapprove disqualify the means.
 
 
It is too soon for us to definitively analyze what all happened in American Lutheranism in the latter half of the 20th and first part of the 21st centuries.  To level charges of dishonorable leadership back and forth across our ideological barricades  is like less than helpful for discussion, if understandable.  But are we here in a position to demonstrate with solid and comprehensive evidence pervasive dishonorable tactics?  Anecdotes of wrong doing, questionable actions and infelicitous speaking can be found for every side and every principle actor in these events.  But in the end, while striving to do things properly is always in order, isn't a discussion of the goals achieved or attempted more important and more suited to a forum like this?
 
Dan
 
 
Title: Re: The ELCA Requires Nothing
Post by: Dan Fienen on January 04, 2013, 01:38:48 PM
Which is more apt a description of "hijacking"?  (A) A majority or supermajority vote of a congregation to end affiliation with a church body or (B) a minority which holds hostage the rest of the congregation, aided and abetted by a judicatory body?   

Pr. Kimball - you have not provided enough information to answer the question that you posed.

Congregations are legally incorporated entities, recognized as such by the state in which each occurs.  As Pr. Austin indicated, the disposition of the congregation's property upon disaffiliation is governed by language in its legal documents.  If that language favors the majority, then the correct answer to your question is B.  If, however, that language favors the minority, is A.  In any such dispute, there is an appropriate role for the denomination's bureaucracy - likely also specified by language in the legal documents.  And, worst case scenario, there is an appropriate role for the courts.

In either case, were you or I to offer judgement in either of the examples cited, chances are that we would be basing our decision on a very incomplete case record.
I lived in Holdrege in the '90s and one of my best friends was on the staff of Bethel.  This was before there was any thought of splitting off from the ELCA, but I became acquainted with the congregation and some of the people.  From what I know and have learned subsequently about the situation there, I would not want to offer an opinion over who is correct in the current situation of squabbling over the assets of the congregation.  There are moral and legal issues involved that are complicated and looking in from the outside, and especially with simply a brief summary of the situation to go on, it is hard to render a good judgment.  Certainly there is much opportunity for bad motives to flourish, but are any of us in a position to honestly make that judgment?
 
Dan
Title: Re: The ELCA Requires Nothing
Post by: Johan Bergfest on January 04, 2013, 01:41:35 PM
Pr. Fienen - as you correctly noted, in any such dispute there is guilt on both sides.  The victim of power politics in the church is not the person on the losing side, but the parishioner sitting in the pew, regardless of which side wins.  And, many/most of the participants in such games of power politics are wearing collars.  Given the consequences that such game playing has on the sheep, I'd suggest that the folks who play that way have taken liberties with their commitment to be good shepherds.  It is time to say enough!
Title: Re: The ELCA Requires Nothing
Post by: Dan Fienen on January 04, 2013, 02:00:06 PM
Pr. Fienen - as you correctly noted, in any such dispute there is guilt on both sides.  The victim of power politics in the church is not the person on the losing side, but the parishioner sitting in the pew, regardless of which side wins.  And, many/most of the participants in such games of power politics are wearing collars.  Given the consequences that such game playing has on the sheep, I'd suggest that the folks who play that way have taken liberties with their commitment to be good shepherds.  It is time to say enough!

Two points.
 
Shepherds are called upon to be leaders.  Leadership itself should not be condemned (not that you are explicitly condemning all exercise of leadership but your comments could be taken to tend in that direction).
 
Leaders need to carefully consider the Goals they help the group purse - are they good and proper goals; but also and importantly the means by this they purse those goals.
 
One problem with leadership is that there is often opposition.  As some leaders are honorable and other less so (and even individual leaders who have their good and honorable days and their less honorable days) so opponents can be in opposition for good and honorable reasons or less so.  A leader cannot simply ignore opposition or cede them leadership and allow them to control the group.  How opposition is met and fought can be in honorable or dishonorable ways, and there is a fine line between them.
 
Dan
Title: Re: The ELCA Requires Nothing
Post by: Johan Bergfest on January 04, 2013, 02:34:40 PM
Shepherds are called upon to be leaders.  Leadership itself should not be condemned (not that you are explicitly condemning all exercise of leadership but your comments could be taken to tend in that direction).

Pr. Fienen - I think we are close to being on the same page.  But, I'm not sure that either of us are talking about "leadership".  I was talking about bad behavior by people who are called to positions in which that behavior is not appropriate.  And, as a side note, not everyone who occupies a position of leadership is, in fact, a leader.  And, the flip side, not all leaders occupy positions that would be so designated.

One problem with leadership is that there is often opposition.

Good leaders respond appropriately to opposition.  However, especially within the church body, I think it is a serious error to think we are "right" (it's also a mistake in politics, but state actors are not accountable the way we are).  More often than not, in any two-sided dispute, both sides are wrong.  The correct answer is the third side.  There is actually a book with that title and, although secular, it is a good read for thinking about life in the Body of Christ.  It is not possible to constructively engage the dialogue to find that third side, if we insist on framing the dispute is "one side is wrong and, therefore, the other side must be right".  Power politics is a consequent of that incorrect thinking and there should be no place for it in the Church.
Title: Re: The ELCA Requires Nothing
Post by: Dadoo on January 04, 2013, 02:39:38 PM
It is a foregone conclusion, Peter, that our governing documents, some of which grew "Top Down" should and will prevail. And yes, I would make no apologies for the fact that the documents are designed to prevent a faction from hijacking a congregation. In the ULCA/LCA arenas and in portions of the ELCA, it is simply not possible to "vote and leave."
Again, the decision in those cases is up to the Synod Council. That is the process which came into effect as we wrote and approved our constitutions. Surely you do not approve of a congregation or group within a congregation being able to act contrary to our agreements? I thought you guys were really down with "walking together" as we have agreed.

Which is more apt a description of "hijacking"?  (A) A majority or supermajority vote of a congregation to end affiliation with a church body or (B) a minority which holds hostage the rest of the congregation, aided and abetted by a judicatory body?   When it comes to "hijacking" what about the actions of an activist group which gains control of the levers of power within a church body, even to the point of gaining a majority vote of voting members who then make costly and damaging decisions to the rest of the body.   You've told us Pr. Austin that we on the traditional side cannot have it both ways.  The same applies to you and the "progressives" in the ELCA.   

Pastor Ken Kimball

Welcome back Pr. Kimball,

I would like to second your sentiments here. If Pr. Christian was right that nothing is required of ELCA congregations then he cannot complain that they leave. Think about it: They did more than "nothing" they went beyond the call of duty and had a supermajority vote, twice, to leave. Can we say second mile giving?

And yes, you have a really good point. HSGT and implementing resolutions passed with the required majority. Departure votes took far greater votes since they had to vote twice.

ANd if it was about ego for the pastors who left, were other vote taken in ELCA and PCB also "ego" driven? Was our founding merely a matter of ego of the founding Bishops and Presidents? Were CCM or FA or HSGT occasions to stroke egos?

The more I think about this article, the more it is just so poorly argued.
Title: Re: The ELCA Requires Nothing
Post by: George Erdner on January 04, 2013, 03:53:40 PM
Everyone knows that these days "anything goes" is the order of the day in the ELCA, come on, nobody is being fooled here. Want pagan goddess worship? No problem! Denial of even the most fundamental articles of the Apostles Creed? Sure! Abortion? Of course. Homosexuality? No worries.

But as for "requiring nothing" I don't think that is true.

The ELCA Central Headquarters requires funding and payments into the pension plans. That has to count for something, right?

 ;)
Sending funds to Higgins Road is also an expectation, not a requirement. There is no consequence or penalty for failure to do so. And, I believe that the pension plan is also optional, though I'm not certain.
Title: Re: The ELCA Requires Nothing
Post by: Charles_Austin on January 04, 2013, 04:10:10 PM
Pastor Kimball writes:
Which is more apt a description of "hijacking"?  (A) A majority or supermajority vote of a congregation to end affiliation with a church body or (B) a minority which holds hostage the rest of the congregation, aided and abetted by a judicatory body?
I comment:
You remember, Pastor Kimball, that in the culture of some of us in the ELCA, the "congregation" is not the property of the members. Its mission, purpose, existence and - yes - assets are part of the larger mission and purpose of the synod and the ELCA.
    Therefore, that larger mission prevails, whether a majority of people in that congregation fully endorse it or not.
     If 10 people in a 200-member congregation say "We want to be in the ELCA," then - the way many of our congregations are constituted - their rights must be protected and the assets of the congregation preserved for them.
    But you knew that.

Pastor Kimball writes:
When it comes to "hijacking" what about the actions of an activist group which gains control of the levers of power within a church body, even to the point of gaining a majority vote of voting members who then make costly and damaging decisions to the rest of the body.
I comment:
If they do so according to the agreed-upon rules and proper procedures, then it is not "hijacking," it is functioning in accord with those rules and procedures.
     And when congregations became a part of the ELCA, however they came to be a part of the ELCA, they agreed to those rules and procedures.
     You cannot say now: "Oh! We only wanted to be a member of a church body that did not ordain partnered gays and lesbians!" Or, "Oh!, we did not want to be a part of a church body that had fellowship with Episcopalians!"
     If the ELCA were, through its procedures, to take an action that I considered so wrong, either theologically, morally or ethically, that I could not abide to be in the ELCA, I would write my letter of resignation and sorrowfully walk away.
     I respect the people formerly in the ELCA who did that. I am not happy with the people who want personal exceptions to our agreed-upon processes.
     And you will remember, Pastor Kimball, that we have dragged our sleds through these rutted roads before.
Title: Re: The ELCA Requires Nothing
Post by: Coach-Rev on January 04, 2013, 04:17:00 PM
Which is more apt a description of "hijacking"?  (A) A majority or supermajority vote of a congregation to end affiliation with a church body or (B) a minority which holds hostage the rest of the congregation, aided and abetted by a judicatory body?   

Pr. Kimball - you have not provided enough information to answer the question that you posed.

Congregations are legally incorporated entities, recognized as such by the state in which each occurs.  As Pr. Austin indicated, the disposition of the congregation's property upon disaffiliation is governed by language in its legal documents.  If that language favors the majority, then the correct answer to your question is B.  If, however, that language favors the minority, is A.  In any such dispute, there is an appropriate role for the denomination's bureaucracy - likely also specified by language in the legal documents.  And, worst case scenario, there is an appropriate role for the courts.

In either case, were you or I to offer judgement in either of the examples cited, chances are that we would be basing our decision on a very incomplete case record.
I lived in Holdrege in the '90s and one of my best friends was on the staff of Bethel.  This was before there was any thought of splitting off from the ELCA, but I became acquainted with the congregation and some of the people.  From what I know and have learned subsequently about the situation there, I would not want to offer an opinion over who is correct in the current situation of squabbling over the assets of the congregation.  There are moral and legal issues involved that are complicated and looking in from the outside, and especially with simply a brief summary of the situation to go on, it is hard to render a good judgment.  Certainly there is much opportunity for bad motives to flourish, but are any of us in a position to honestly make that judgment?
 
Dan

Since I am an hour away and gather with the pastors of the area, I think I know something of what is happening there. 

and certainly, considering that the congregation was well within its legal right to call an ordained pastor according to its own defined call process, it is completely out of line for the ELCA-backed lawsuit that seeks, among other things, to have the pastor removed and to have an ELCA-approved pastor installed there.

"And there are lawsuits among you" comes to mind...
Title: Re: The ELCA Requires Nothing
Post by: Charles_Austin on January 04, 2013, 04:21:14 PM
Pastor Cottingham writes:
considering that the congregation was well within its legal right to call an ordained pastor according to its own defined call process,

I comment:
Well, if the congregation has its "own" call process, that process might not be in line with what the synod and ELCA requires. But you know that.
Title: Re: The ELCA Requires Nothing
Post by: Johan Bergfest on January 04, 2013, 05:38:19 PM
Mr or Pr Bergfest:

We in the ELCA have experienced breaches of the 8th aplenty in the past decade.  I believe that The Lutheran printed a opinion piece that did just that.  Do you think Pr Christian views pass the test?

David

David - it's mister, and my friends usually call me John.

The church is made up of sinners and we are all guilty.

I guess I read the article that is subject of this thread from a different angle.  I focused more on the question of whether individual congregations ought to have that much freedom and, as I noted early in this thread, I think it is better than all the alternatives. 

The question of bearing false witness/putting less than the best construction did not hit me when I first read it.  After another read, with your question in mind, I can see how you might reach that conclusion.  I might have helped had his list of questions included a more positive option or two.  But, I would temper that thought by noting 1) he did not single out any one individual/congregation and 2) his concluding remark makes the piece read like an invitation to retrospection, not an accusation.

My biggest criticism of the piece (after reading it a second time) is to ask why now?  Much of the fallout from 2009 is history.
Title: Re: The ELCA Requires Nothing
Post by: Johan Bergfest on January 04, 2013, 05:39:43 PM
Careful.  Christ uttered the love your neighbor and eighth commandment to those who only had ears only for the law, ie. the Pharisees and nomikoi (lawyers) and some crowds since Jesus is repeating the law formerly promulgated for Israel.  Christ's mission is more than pushing the agenda of God's law.  In fact Christ's mission trumped life lived exclusively under the law.

Rev. Rahn - isn't the Third Use of the Law all about how we guide our own behavior, our response of gratitude for salvation that is ours in Christ. 

The two I cited may have been directed at the Pharisees.  However, the new commandment, to love one another as Christ has first loved us, was spoken directly to the disciples and, I believe, also to us.

The ELCA recognizes no Third Use.

I do.  But, in practical application, I think it could also be termed the "Second Use of the Gospel".
Title: Re: The ELCA Requires Nothing
Post by: readselerttoo on January 04, 2013, 06:05:14 PM
Careful.  Christ uttered the love your neighbor and eighth commandment to those who only had ears only for the law, ie. the Pharisees and nomikoi (lawyers) and some crowds since Jesus is repeating the law formerly promulgated for Israel.  Christ's mission is more than pushing the agenda of God's law.  In fact Christ's mission trumped life lived exclusively under the law.

Rev. Rahn - isn't the Third Use of the Law all about how we guide our own behavior, our response of gratitude for salvation that is ours in Christ. 

The two I cited may have been directed at the Pharisees.  However, the new commandment, to love one another as Christ has first loved us, was spoken directly to the disciples and, I believe, also to us.


The love one another commandment is not a repeat of the Mosaic law nor is it "pressurized" upon us.  Where the Gospel is there is the love one another because there is where Jesus is. 

The Mosaic law is all about accusation:  being accused of not doing enough to fulfill the law or accusing others for not living up to the law's standards (or in our Kantian world, the standards that we have created based on biblical precepts but failing to measure up in God's judgment, ie.  all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.  The 3rd use in the Formula is for the regenerate and there are no thoroughly regenerated people in history as far as I know.
Title: Re: The ELCA Requires Nothing
Post by: DCharlton on January 04, 2013, 06:07:17 PM
Mr or Pr Bergfest:

We in the ELCA have experienced breaches of the 8th aplenty in the past decade.  I believe that The Lutheran printed a opinion piece that did just that.  Do you think Pr Christian views pass the test?

David

David - it's mister, and my friends usually call me John.

The church is made up of sinners and we are all guilty.

I guess I read the article that is subject of this thread from a different angle.  I focused more on the question of whether individual congregations ought to have that much freedom and, as I noted early in this thread, I think it is better than all the alternatives. 

The question of bearing false witness/putting less than the best construction did not hit me when I first read it.  After another read, with your question in mind, I can see how you might reach that conclusion.  I might have helped had his list of questions included a more positive option or two.  But, I would temper that thought by noting 1) he did not single out any one individual/congregation and 2) his concluding remark makes the piece read like an invitation to retrospection, not an accusation.

My biggest criticism of the piece (after reading it a second time) is to ask why now?  Much of the fallout from 2009 is history.

The question that began this thread was not whether congregations should have such freedom.  The fact is that they don't.

"Why now" is a good question.  Why repeat false and worn slurs against those who favor a traditional view of marriage?  Why follow that with a false assertion about what is required of congregations? 
Title: Re: The ELCA Requires Nothing
Post by: DCharlton on January 04, 2013, 06:16:02 PM
Careful.  Christ uttered the love your neighbor and eighth commandment to those who only had ears only for the law, ie. the Pharisees and nomikoi (lawyers) and some crowds since Jesus is repeating the law formerly promulgated for Israel.  Christ's mission is more than pushing the agenda of God's law.  In fact Christ's mission trumped life lived exclusively under the law.

Rev. Rahn - isn't the Third Use of the Law all about how we guide our own behavior, our response of gratitude for salvation that is ours in Christ. 

The two I cited may have been directed at the Pharisees.  However, the new commandment, to love one another as Christ has first loved us, was spoken directly to the disciples and, I believe, also to us.

The ELCA recognizes no Third Use.

I do.  But, in practical application, I think it could also be termed the "Second Use of the Gospel".

One reason that some left the ELCA was because they sought to hold to a Third Use of the Law.  Pr Christian ought to know that.  Is he truly unaware of this?  Or does he consider such concerns to be a false cover for a narcissism and prejudice? 
Title: Re: The ELCA Requires Nothing
Post by: Coach-Rev on January 04, 2013, 06:55:06 PM
Pastor Cottingham writes:
considering that the congregation was well within its legal right to call an ordained pastor according to its own defined call process,

I comment:
Well, if the congregation has its "own" call process, that process might not be in line with what the synod and ELCA requires. But you know that.

And yet legally it is the church's constitution that is the authority in the matter, despite what the ELCA claims.  Of course, one more example of the ELCA's top-down heavy-handedness is that they try to foist automatic updates to church constitutions even without the church's knowledge or permission.  That a congregation could be sued is in direct violation of Scripture.   But you know that too.  You choose to ignore it is all.
Title: Re: The ELCA Requires Nothing
Post by: readselerttoo on January 04, 2013, 07:11:07 PM
Pastor Cottingham writes:
considering that the congregation was well within its legal right to call an ordained pastor according to its own defined call process,

I comment:
Well, if the congregation has its "own" call process, that process might not be in line with what the synod and ELCA requires. But you know that.

And yet legally it is the church's constitution that is the authority in the matter, despite what the ELCA claims.  Of course, one more example of the ELCA's top-down heavy-handedness is that they try to foist automatic updates to church constitutions even without the church's knowledge or permission.  That a congregation could be sued is in direct violation of Scripture.   But you know that too.  You choose to ignore it is all.


My wife can tell you that in the PCUSA all decisions at the national caucus/assembly or whatever they call it, must go back through each presbytery for a vote of ratification.  Something that the ELCA is lacking.
Title: Re: The ELCA Requires Nothing
Post by: Pastor Ken Kimball on January 04, 2013, 07:32:05 PM
Pastor Kimball writes:
Which is more apt a description of "hijacking"?  (A) A majority or supermajority vote of a congregation to end affiliation with a church body or (B) a minority which holds hostage the rest of the congregation, aided and abetted by a judicatory body?
I comment:
You remember, Pastor Kimball, that in the culture of some of us in the ELCA, the "congregation" is not the property of the members. Its mission, purpose, existence and - yes - assets are part of the larger mission and purpose of the synod and the ELCA.
    Therefore, that larger mission prevails, whether a majority of people in that congregation fully endorse it or not.
     If 10 people in a 200-member congregation say "We want to be in the ELCA," then - the way many of our congregations are constituted - their rights must be protected and the assets of the congregation preserved for them.
    But you knew that.

Pastor Kimball writes:
When it comes to "hijacking" what about the actions of an activist group which gains control of the levers of power within a church body, even to the point of gaining a majority vote of voting members who then make costly and damaging decisions to the rest of the body.
I comment:
If they do so according to the agreed-upon rules and proper procedures, then it is not "hijacking," it is functioning in accord with those rules and procedures.
     And when congregations became a part of the ELCA, however they came to be a part of the ELCA, they agreed to those rules and procedures.
     You cannot say now: "Oh! We only wanted to be a member of a church body that did not ordain partnered gays and lesbians!" Or, "Oh!, we did not want to be a part of a church body that had fellowship with Episcopalians!"
     If the ELCA were, through its procedures, to take an action that I considered so wrong, either theologically, morally or ethically, that I could not abide to be in the ELCA, I would write my letter of resignation and sorrowfully walk away.
     I respect the people formerly in the ELCA who did that. I am not happy with the people who want personal exceptions to our agreed-upon processes.
     And you will remember, Pastor Kimball, that we have dragged our sleds through these rutted roads before.
Yes we have but the sad irony and hypocrisy remains that many (not you) now insisting on strict adherence to rules and procedures and constitituions willfully violated the agreed upon processes and rules, notably (but not only) former MNYS Bp. Boumann and others before the rules were changed by the CWA 2009 and thereafter. 
Also I might add that Bishop Dave Brown of the ALC's Iowa District (and later of the NE Iowa Synod ELCA) made blanket promises to congregations that the ELCA would never ordain actively gay or lesbian pastors.  He wasn't the only bishop to do so.
Again, I know I'm plowing the same ruts but you keep making the same sweeping assertions about the sanctity and inviolate nature of agreed upon processes, conveniently overlooking the violations of the ELCA's common life before the new regime consolidated its power in 2009ff. 
And your assertions of course contradict Pr. Christian's assertions that the ELCA can't make congregations do anything or doesn't require anything.  I appreciate that you at least have acknowledged the inaccuracies of Pr. Christian's ruminations.
Title: Re: The ELCA Requires Nothing
Post by: Johan Bergfest on January 04, 2013, 07:49:37 PM
Careful.  Christ uttered the love your neighbor and eighth commandment to those who only had ears only for the law, ie. the Pharisees and nomikoi (lawyers) and some crowds since Jesus is repeating the law formerly promulgated for Israel.  Christ's mission is more than pushing the agenda of God's law.  In fact Christ's mission trumped life lived exclusively under the law.

Rev. Rahn - isn't the Third Use of the Law all about how we guide our own behavior, our response of gratitude for salvation that is ours in Christ. 

The two I cited may have been directed at the Pharisees.  However, the new commandment, to love one another as Christ has first loved us, was spoken directly to the disciples and, I believe, also to us.


The love one another commandment is not a repeat of the Mosaic law nor is it "pressurized" upon us.  Where the Gospel is there is the love one another because there is where Jesus is. 

The Mosaic law is all about accusation:  being accused of not doing enough to fulfill the law or accusing others for not living up to the law's standards (or in our Kantian world, the standards that we have created based on biblical precepts but failing to measure up in God's judgment, ie.  all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.  The 3rd use in the Formula is for the regenerate and there are no thoroughly regenerated people in history as far as I know.

Pr. Rahn - thank you for the clarification.
Title: Re: The ELCA Requires Nothing
Post by: Charles_Austin on January 04, 2013, 08:13:11 PM
Pastor Kimball writes (re my comments on our governing documents):
Yes we have but the sad irony and hypocrisy remains that many (not you) now insisting on strict adherence to rules and procedures and constitituions willfully violated the agreed upon processes and rules, notably (but not only) former MNYS Bp. Boumann and others before the rules were changed by the CWA 2009 and thereafter. 

I comment:
You know that I did not approve of those illicit ordinations. What bishops may have one before is beyond my purview. And I assume that you do not say that because someone "back there" ignored proper legalities, others should be allowed to do so. Let it go.

Pastor Kimball:
Also I might add that Bishop Dave Brown of the ALC's Iowa District (and later of the NE Iowa Synod ELCA) made blanket promises to congregations that the ELCA would never ordain actively gay or lesbian pastors.  He wasn't the only bishop to do so.
I comment:
And you believed him? You thought he was infallible on something like that? I would just think he was stupid for making "blanket promises" if that is what he and other bishops did. I'm surprised that Bishop Brown said that; he seemed smarter than that to me.

Pastor Kimball:
Again, I know I'm plowing the same ruts but you keep making the same sweeping assertions about the sanctity and inviolate nature of agreed upon processes, conveniently overlooking the violations of the ELCA's common life before the new regime consolidated its power in 2009ff. 
Me:
See above. I do not approve. But those days are gone and neither you nor I can do anything about them. Let it go.

Pastor Kimball:
And your assertions of course contradict Pr. Christian's assertions that the ELCA can't make congregations do anything or doesn't require anything.  I appreciate that you at least have acknowledged the inaccuracies of Pr. Christian's ruminations.
Me:
For heaven's sake, Pastor Christian offers one man's opinion!  Nothing more. I don't care for his choice of words; but they are his words and he has a right to say them. Part of what he says is right. The ELCA probably can't force congregations to send in mission support, at least not without costly disciplinary processes. The ELCA cannot force a congregation to use a certain curriculum or hymnal. The ELCA cannot force a congregation to agree with ELCA social statements.
And if the ELCA insists that congregations follow constitutional and other policy matters written into our governing documents, that is not "forcing" anything. We are not independent congregations, nor are we freelance pastors.
Title: Re: The ELCA Requires Nothing
Post by: Charles_Austin on January 04, 2013, 08:20:10 PM
Pastor Cottingham writes (to me, unfortunately):
And yet legally it is the church's constitution that is the authority in the matter, despite what the ELCA claims.  Of course, one more example of the ELCA's top-down heavy-handedness is that they try to foist automatic updates to church constitutions even without the church's knowledge or permission.
I comment:
Yep. That's how it works. When you join the ELCA, you agree to have a congregational constitution containing certain things. If you don't want that, don't join the ELCA. (Don't want to pay U.S. income taxes? Emigrate or don't earn any money.) 
As for "foisting" and "without the church's knowledge," we should not excuse the ignorance or stupidity of congregational leaders who do not pay attention to their jobs. We say in the secular world "ignorance of the law is no excuse." Do you contend that a congregation should be totally free from any requirement from a synod or church body? Then have a good time being a congregationalist or a Baptist; you'll have a tough time being a Lutheran.

Pastor Cottingham:
That a congregation could be sued is in direct violation of Scripture.   But you know that too.  You choose to ignore it is all.
I comment:
Not ignoring it at all. Just not close enough to any of the suits to comment sensibly. As for "direct violation of scripture," well, that's another discussion.
Title: Re: The ELCA Requires Nothing
Post by: DCharlton on January 04, 2013, 11:02:04 PM
Charles assures us that "those days are gone."  This referring to the days when Bishops openly flouted ELCA policy.  I don't know how he knows this, since some of the same players remain in office, but I'm grateful to be reassured.

Apparently, however, the departures still need to be rehashed.  I guess the days Pr Kimball complains about ended 3.5 years ago.  Whereas, most departures happened 3.5 to2.5 years ago.  Our leaders stopped ignoring our policies 3.5 whole years ago, but Pr Kimballs departure is still an open wound. 

Besides our leaders surely had real cause for ignoring our rules, but as Pr Christian told us, Pr Kimball had no real cause to depart.  What's more, he is motivated by his ego and various and sundry phobias and prejudices.  I can safely blame him for the problems we have in the ELCA.  Right?

In other words, I wish Charles would criticize Pr Christian and Editor Lehman as strongly as he criticizes Pr Kimball for rehashing the past.
Title: Re: The ELCA Requires Nothing
Post by: Brian Stoffregen on January 05, 2013, 01:05:24 AM

In other words, I wish Charles would criticize Pr Christian and Editor Lehman as strongly as he criticizes Pr Kimball for rehashing the past.


I believe that Pr Christian's point is that a pastor like Ken Kimbell and his congregations could have stayed in the ELCA, with exactly the same beliefs and practices that they have in the NALC. Perhaps Pr. Kimbell can tell us what they are doing differently in the NALC that they weren't doing in the ELCA. We don't require him nor congregational members to agree with the ordination of PALMS. In fact, our Social Statement notes that our members have four different acceptable beliefs about this issue. I'm sure that Pr. Kimbell falls under one of them.
Title: Re: The ELCA Requires Nothing
Post by: Brian Stoffregen on January 05, 2013, 01:13:27 AM
Charles assures us that "those days are gone."  This referring to the days when Bishops openly flouted ELCA policy.

And you keep stating that "Bishops openly flouted ELCA policy" and I maintain that they followed ELCA policy. They made use of the many "may" rubrics that are in our policy. A bishop does not have to remove a congregation who has called a non-rostered pastor. I quote the Constitution:

9.23. In accord with constitutional provision 9.21.d. and bylaw 9.21.01. and without invoking the provisions of Chapter 20, a congregation that maintains as its pastor an ordained minister who has resigned or been removed from this church’s roster of ordained ministers or that calls as its pastor one who has not been approved for the roster of ordained ministers may be removed from the roster of congregations of this church by the Synod Council upon recommendation of the synodical bishop.

Chapter 20 that deals specifically with discipline uses a lot of "may" language, too. Bishops have the discretion of seeking to discipline a misconducting congregation or clergy or not. Just because some did not enact discipline as you believe they should does not mean that they were "flouting ELCA policy," but rather following the may rubrics of our policy. Had you been elected bishop in some of the synods, you probably would have acted differently than the elected bishops did -- but that doesn't mean they ignored our policies.
Title: Re: The ELCA Requires Nothing
Post by: Charles_Austin on January 05, 2013, 05:22:16 AM
Pastor Charlton writes:
In other words, I wish Charles would criticize Pr Christian and Editor Lehman as strongly as he criticizes Pr Kimball for rehashing the past.

I comment:
1. I do not believe my comments regarding Pastor Kimball are particularly "strong" or harsh. I have known him only in these precincts and have found him to be a decent person who acted responsibly on his concerns and beliefs. My recent remark was only because of the "Well, back there, they (the bishops he disagrees with) did this!" comment. I just don't find that very helpful for today.
2. I do not care for the way Pastor Christian made his comments, and as noted above, they are - listen carefully - only his opinions, one man's opinions and he has a right to hold them. And all of us have heard opinions like his voiced elsewhere. Dan Lehmann has the right to publish them and I do not disagree with his decision to do so. That feature of the magazine is intended to be like an "Op Ed" article, an outside voice that may be controversial.
Finally, I say again (how many times now?) that I wish Pastor Kimball and the others in NALC and LCMC the best as they try to find an affiliation which is comfortable for their ministries. I believe that in all the essential matters, those ministries will be almost exactly like the ministries exercised by those of us in the ELCA.
I do not understand what those who have left get from obsessing on how they believe they were treated or on what happens in the ELCA now.
Title: Re: The ELCA Requires Nothing
Post by: DCharlton on January 05, 2013, 09:00:22 AM
Of course Pr Christian and Mr Lehman have the right to do what they do.  I don't see we're I say they don't have the right.  Likewise, Pr Kimball has the right to post his opinion here.  You have the right to criticize him for doing so.  I have the right to criticize Pr Christian and Mr Lehman.

You criticize Pr Kimball for obsessing about the ELCA, but act as if I ought not criticize the other two gentlemen for obsessing about Pr Kimball's departure.  Why one person's obsessing and rehashing is wrong and another's is beyond criticism I don't understand.

The fact is that The Lutheran is doing the very thing you tell us ought not to be done.  If it shouldn't be done on ALPB Forum, why should it be done in The Lutheran?
Title: Re: The ELCA Requires Nothing
Post by: Team Hesse on January 05, 2013, 09:31:23 AM

I do not understand what those who have left get from obsessing on how they believe they were treated or on what happens in the ELCA now.


Why do you suppose Pr Christian was obsessed with the departures enough to put pen to paper? Why do you suppose an editor would print such stuff from an obviously obsessed person?


Most roads run two ways....


Lou
Title: Re: The ELCA Requires Nothing
Post by: Dadoo on January 05, 2013, 09:42:08 AM

In other words, I wish Charles would criticize Pr Christian and Editor Lehman as strongly as he criticizes Pr Kimball for rehashing the past.


I believe that Pr Christian's point is that a pastor like Ken Kimbell and his congregations could have stayed in the ELCA, with exactly the same beliefs and practices that they have in the NALC. Perhaps Pr. Kimbell can tell us what they are doing differently in the NALC that they weren't doing in the ELCA. We don't require him nor congregational members to agree with the ordination of PALMS. In fact, our Social Statement notes that our members have four different acceptable beliefs about this issue. I'm sure that Pr. Kimbell falls under one of them.

Brian.

Pr. Christian's point, that Pr. Kimball and his congregations could have stayed with exactly the same beliefs, is wrong. Their contention is that a denomination should have a single position on sex and marriage, the ELCA says there can be multiple ones. So, Christian is wrong here.

It also shows that the ELCA does require things from its people: You are required to believe in diversity in theology and hermeneutics. If one was to believe that it is important to belong to a denomination that has a more unified hermeneutic or theology, then ELCA is maybe no longer the place to be. We shall see. At an institutional level, diversity can only be sustained in the presence of a clear peace agreement between the diverse views. Otherwise there will be continuous institutional struggle for dominance of one's own ideology and the vanquishment of the "other."

But Pr. Christian goes a step further. He turns this column into an ad hominem attack on Pr. Kimball and others who have left us, as well as the many of us who have stayed but think in line with Pr. Kimball. Granted, 400 words left him no room to interact with arguments he might have heard but rejected, but even if that was why he disagreed with our departed bretheren, there is and was no reason to theorize as to their mental health (phobia) or their social health (egotist).

But, that is how debate in ELCA now goes isn't it? You don't agree with CORE . . . well . . .I think you are just afraid that the conservative are right. Don't agree with LCNA? Well you are just afraid of homosexuals. Taking the congregation for a ride: Well, you are doing prophetic ministry . . . .no . . .no, you're an egotist . . . Oh, take your pick . . .  One man's fear is another man's courage and one man's egotist is another man's prophet.

How is our denomination served by publishing such an argument? I agree with the presence of opinion pieces. But opinions need to actually be informed. They can be wrong, no problem, but this one did not even seem informed or at least was edited to such an extent that it was merely an offense to good men and women that until 2009 we willingly and gladly worked side by side with.

Consult also this: http://dilbert.com/strips/comic/2012-10-07/
Title: Re: The ELCA Requires Nothing
Post by: Charles_Austin on January 05, 2013, 10:23:06 AM
Pastor Kruse writes:
How is our denomination served by publishing such an argument? I agree with the presence of opinion pieces. But opinions need to actually be informed. They can be wrong, no problem, but this one did not even seem informed or at least was edited to such an extent that it was merely an offense to good men and women that until 2009 we willingly and gladly worked side by side with.

I muse:
One man's "informed" opinion is another woman's dumb rumped drivel.
But I am (I think) glad to hear that those "good men and women" who have left the ELCA are still reading The Lutheran. But I don't think the editors will program their decisions towards them.
Title: Re: The ELCA Requires Nothing
Post by: Dan Fienen on January 05, 2013, 11:00:51 AM

I do not understand what those who have left get from obsessing on how they believe they were treated or on what happens in the ELCA now.


Why do you suppose Pr Christian was obsessed with the departures enough to put pen to paper? Why do you suppose an editor would print such stuff from an obviously obsessed person?


Most roads run two ways....


Lou
Why the mutual obsession, those who left and those who were left?  Perhaps because each needs reassurance that they are OK that they are not bad people for having left or for having others leave because they can no longer endure being a part of something I am not only comfortable with but proud of,

The theological debate is  one thing, but this goes beyond that into personal feelings and even identity.  Some are affected more than others, naturally.  For some it can be almost a matter of just these things happen and you just go on.  For others apparently disparaging has been much more difficult  it has been very much like a nonamicable divorce.  Each party still has a need to prove themselves right.

For some who left, leaving was quite traumatic.  It meant breaking commitments made in great earnestness, changesIn jobs, relationships, reevaluating beliefs. It also carried with it a feeling of betrayal, that the church that theyhthey'd dedicated themselves to serving had not kept faith with them by remaining a place where they could in good conscience serve .  Their church had changed and they would not, could not change with it.  Hence the refrain, "I didn't leave the ELCA the ELCA left me."  Was going through this trauma worth it?  There is a need to prove that was the only alternative.   Hence the rehearsals even obsession with how they were treated how wrong the ELCA had become, and the sensitivity to criticism that they had left.

For  many who were left, those who are comfortable, even proud of the ELCA, being left was also traumatic.  Here were colleagues, friends, brothers and sisters, comrades committed to the same church saying that their association had become unendureable.  They thought that they had accomplished something noble, righted long standing wrongs and now their compatriots were saying that they could no longer stand to be in the same church either them.  It calls into question not only their actions but all that they believe, all that they are.  It seems to logically entail that either I am all wrong or they are.  Either I am bad for what we did, or they are bad for rejecting it.  Otherwise the cognitive dissonance becomes unendureable.

Hence the mutual obsession of some on both sides to prove that the others were not only wrong in the stand they took, but bad in the way they acted and even bad for taking that stand at all.  Pr. Christian ascribes the leaving to ego and prejudice, they were bad to leave, we were not bad and so forced them to leave.  Some who left continually pick at the scabs of leaving to prove that they were not bad for leaving, they left a bad church. 

In any such situation, there is a tendency to be overly sensitive to the pain one feels and pain of others on ones side, and under estimate and minimize the pain of the others.  In effect, "Yeah, I know that they are hurting and some of us may have said and done things we shouldn't of; but look at what they did and what we have endured!"  There is also attendency to overestimate the reasonableness of ones own side sngd to paint the other side as unreasonable as possible.

It is not just the need of some to always have the last word or to prove themselves right.  These are people who have invested much of themselves, their emotion capital, their identity, yes and their ego in the stand they took.  To be forced to reevaluate it is unsettling at best.  To be forced to reverse could be devastating.

Both sides had and have a lot at stake  here.  It is common in conflict to overestimate what the other side in conflict can reasonably concede and compromise, and to under estimate what side can.

Why can't they just move on?  They still have much healing to do.  This divorce is not yet over, any more than a marital  divorce is always over even the final papers are signed.  This disagreement cannot be adequately understood only theologically, or logically, or even factually.  It must also be understood emotionally and with  empathy for both sides.

Dan

Dan
Title: Re: The ELCA Requires Nothing
Post by: DCharlton on January 05, 2013, 11:18:26 AM
Back the notion that the ELCA requires nothing.  That seems to me to be an assertion that the ELCA is functionally antinomian.  Now I have been reassured that this not the case.  The ELCA is not an anything goes church. 

Perhaps that what makes me think I was reading about some alternative reality, a Bizarro ELCA if you will.  "There is no reason to leave the ELCA because we are antinomians.  You can do whatever you want!"
Title: Re: The ELCA Requires Nothing
Post by: Charles_Austin on January 05, 2013, 11:25:26 AM
Pastor Charlton writes:
Perhaps that what makes think I was reading about some alternative reality, a Bizarro ELCA if you will.  "There is no reason to leave the ELCA because we are antinomians.  You can do whatever you want!"

I comment:
Why do we always end up with a statement like this one?
It just doesn't track. On the one hand, some of the "traditionalists" howl because they believe the ELCA is requiring them to accept gay and lesbian pastors or some other policy they find offensive. On the other hand, the ELCA is denounced as "you can do whatever you want."
The truth is, the ELCA has flexibility on some things but requires compliance on some other things. What on earth is wrong with that?
Title: Re: The ELCA Requires Nothing
Post by: DCharlton on January 05, 2013, 11:47:26 AM
Pastor Charlton writes:
Perhaps that what makes think I was reading about some alternative reality, a Bizarro ELCA if you will.  "There is no reason to leave the ELCA because we are antinomians.  You can do whatever you want!"

I comment:
Why do we always end up with a statement like this one?
It just doesn't track. On the one hand, some of the "traditionalists" howl because they believe the ELCA is requiring them to accept gay and lesbian pastors or some other policy they find offensive. On the other hand, the ELCA is denounced as "you can do whatever you want."
The truth is, the ELCA has flexibility on some things but requires compliance on some other things. What on earth is wrong with that?

Try reading my words again.  Saying the ELCA requires nothing is tantamount to saying it is Antinomian.  You and I agree that the charge of Antinomianism is false.  So it's hard to understand why someone would seek to defend the ELCA by claiming that it is Antinomian.  It's a bizarre way to defends one's church.
Title: Re: The ELCA Requires Nothing
Post by: Charles_Austin on January 05, 2013, 12:15:10 PM
It just depends, Pastor Charlton, on how much "nomia" one sees and which "nomens" one considers essential.
Title: Re: The ELCA Requires Nothing
Post by: DCharlton on January 05, 2013, 12:37:10 PM
It just depends, Pastor Charlton, on how much "nomia" one sees and which "nomens" one considers essential.

Gee.  I thought you and I could agree for once.  If, the ELCA is not Antinomian, as I think we agree, then saying it "requires nothing" sends the wrong message.
Title: Re: The ELCA Requires Nothing
Post by: Dadoo on January 05, 2013, 12:50:22 PM
Pastor Kruse writes:
How is our denomination served by publishing such an argument? I agree with the presence of opinion pieces. But opinions need to actually be informed. They can be wrong, no problem, but this one did not even seem informed or at least was edited to such an extent that it was merely an offense to good men and women that until 2009 we willingly and gladly worked side by side with.

I muse:
One man's "informed" opinion is another woman's dumb rumped drivel.
But I am (I think) glad to hear that those "good men and women" who have left the ELCA are still reading The Lutheran. But I don't think the editors will program their decisions towards them.

I note that the quotation marks around:  good men and women, is your addition here. And, yes, we did work side by side, often gladly, with these men and women. Pr. Hahn, who posts here sparingly, was an elected synod council member of an Iowa ELCA synod, as a matter of fact he was the synod secretary. Pr. Bubba was serving a call to the ELCA headquarters. Pr. Spring was a bishop. Pr. Eugene Grimm was a respected Evangelism resource person sent many places by the ELCA. We can go on here if you like. These folks are friends to many of us who are ELCA today. We trusted whole synods to their care. Once . . . before we had a civil war.

Charles, Not everyone who though just like those who left, has left the ELCA. When Pr. Christian questions people's sanity he is questioning the sanity of many more who have remained ELCA.

And it goes further: Even if everyone who though the HSGT was a disaster had left, it would still be petty and, frankly, an insult to God's holy commandment to have written what Pr. Christian wrote. The 8th commandment is not tied to whether the one he insulted heard the insult. It is tied to him speaking and maybe thinking that way in the first place.

David is right, BTW: Pr. Christian did pose that nothing is required of an ELCA congregation. He was wrong to say that. BUT, by definition, Pr. Christian is posing that the ELCA is anti-nomian. It matters not which or how much rules you think there are or should be. Pr. Christian's argument is that there are non. The editorial question might ought to be: Should an ELCA magazine publish such a claim?
Title: Re: The ELCA Requires Nothing
Post by: Brian Stoffregen on January 05, 2013, 12:56:10 PM

I do not understand what those who have left get from obsessing on how they believe they were treated or on what happens in the ELCA now.


Why do you suppose Pr Christian was obsessed with the departures enough to put pen to paper? Why do you suppose an editor would print such stuff from an obviously obsessed person?

Because it is the belief of many in the ELCA that there is room in our big tent for all those who departed without requiring them to change their convictions. (We are still learning about how to show respect for all the different convictions and have failed in some instances.) Thus many are asking, as the title of the article does, "Why do they leave?" They don't have to officiate at same-gender marriages. Congregations don't have to call homosexual pastors. Individuals, including pastors, are free to have their own interpretations of scriptures that differ from those behind ELCA policies.


What is required is that every member show respect for those who different convictions about same-gender relationships. This respect is not required towards those who deny the articles in our confession of faith.
Title: Re: The ELCA Requires Nothing
Post by: Brian Stoffregen on January 05, 2013, 01:22:32 PM
Pr. Christian's point, that Pr. Kimball and his congregations could have stayed with exactly the same beliefs, is wrong. Their contention is that a denomination should have a single position on sex and marriage, the ELCA says there can be multiple ones. So, Christian is wrong here.


We have a single position on marriage. This is what is in Vision and Expectations:

 This church is committed to the sanctity of marriage.* In public ministry as well as in private life, the ordained minister is expected to uphold an understanding of marriage that is biblically informed and consistent with the teachings of this church. In so doing, the ordained minister will respect and support those who are married, recognizing this church’s strong continuing support for this holy estate. As the social statement Human Sexuality: Gift and Trust declares: “Marriage is a covenant of mutual promises, commitment, and hope authorized legally by the state and blessed by God. The historic Christian tradition and the Lutheran Confessions have recognized marriage as a covenant between a man and a woman, reflecting Mark 10:6-9….”3 The public promises of marriage are to be honored and trust is to be nurtured for the good of all.

* This “Vision and Expectations” document uses the terms “marriage,” “marry,” and “married” to refer to marriage between a man and a woman.


We also have a statement about same-gender relationships. If one seeks to be a pastor in the ELCA that relationship needs to be publicly accountable, life-long and monogamous. In states that allow same-gender "marriages" that is what's expected -- even if we don't call those "marriages" in our documents.


Quote
It also shows that the ELCA does require things from its people: You are required to believe in diversity in theology and hermeneutics. If one was to believe that it is important to belong to a denomination that has a more unified hermeneutic or theology, then ELCA is maybe no longer the place to be. We shall see. At an institutional level, diversity can only be sustained in the presence of a clear peace agreement between the diverse views. Otherwise there will be continuous institutional struggle for dominance of one's own ideology and the vanquishment of the "other."

It is both more complicated and simpler than what you state. I don't believe that the issue is so much diversity vs. uniformity. There has always been diversity in congregations. We will not remove it. The issue is over how much diversity; or more specifically, what is required or essential for salvation (diaphora) and what is not required or essential for salvation (adiaphora). Specifically, is one particular conviction about same-gender relationships required for salvation? The ELCA has said, "No."

Quote
But, that is how debate in ELCA now goes isn't it? You don't agree with CORE . . . well . . .I think you are just afraid that the conservative are right. Don't agree with LCNA? Well you are just afraid of homosexuals. Taking the congregation for a ride: Well, you are doing prophetic ministry . . . .no . . .no, you're an egotist . . . Oh, take your pick . . .  One man's fear is another man's courage and one man's egotist is another man's prophet.

I don't agree with CORE because I don't think that they have fairly represented the ELCA in their critiques against it. In some cases, the arguments come from the bad experiences of some individuals -- the same kind of arguments used by homosexuals and their supporters that was strongly criticized by those opposing their position.

Quote
How is our denomination served by publishing such an argument? I agree with the presence of opinion pieces. But opinions need to actually be informed. They can be wrong, no problem, but this one did not even seem informed or at least was edited to such an extent that it was merely an offense to good men and women that until 2009 we willingly and gladly worked side by side with.


It is one man's attempt at answering questions many have and continue to ask about those who have left, "Why?" The benefit is that it has spurred discussions like this where we can dialogue about better answers than the ones he offered.
Title: Re: The ELCA Requires Nothing
Post by: DCharlton on January 05, 2013, 01:24:17 PM
This respect is not required towards those who deny the articles in our confession of faith.

This is a puzzling assertion.
Title: Re: The ELCA Requires Nothing
Post by: Dadoo on January 05, 2013, 01:27:02 PM

I do not understand what those who have left get from obsessing on how they believe they were treated or on what happens in the ELCA now.


Why do you suppose Pr Christian was obsessed with the departures enough to put pen to paper? Why do you suppose an editor would print such stuff from an obviously obsessed person?

Because it is the belief of many in the ELCA that there is room in our big tent for all those who departed without requiring them to change their convictions. (We are still learning about how to show respect for all the different convictions and have failed in some instances.) Thus many are asking, as the title of the article does, "Why do they leave?" They don't have to officiate at same-gender marriages. Congregations don't have to call homosexual pastors. Individuals, including pastors, are free to have their own interpretations of scriptures that differ from those behind ELCA policies.


What is required is that every member show respect for those who different convictions about same-gender relationships. This respect is not required towards those who deny the articles in our confession of faith.

Brian,

" Individuals, including pastors, are free to have their own interpretations of scriptures that differ from those behind ELCA policies." yes, that is what ELCA is kind of saying right (actually that is a false statement but that is a diversion) now with the 2009 decisions. The fact that we think we can have " Individuals, including pastors, are free to have their own interpretations of scriptures that differ from those behind ELCA policies," is the very reason NALC and LCMC people thought that there was no point being in this denomination any longer. THis is not a big tent problem. Pr. Christian and the sentence I quote says "there is no tent." To have a "tent" requires a statement where and what the tent is. Without that, why get angry when folks walk off? THere is no tent after all. Remember? Nothing is required.

Further, Pr. Christian's column basically says: "Don't let the invisible flap of the invisible tent hit you in the *^%,"  to those who believe that the big tent is a disaster including those who chose to stay. It shows those who left that their theory that staying meant they would have to suffer years of derision and  insults was correct. It also is terribly uncivil to the folks in the ELCA tent, but then, according to Pr. Christian there really is no big tent. Maybe the tent is so big that it attempts to include tent-no-tent type of Zen and dissipates at light speed due to infinite centrifugal forces in which case Pr. Christian ought to marvel at the great constellation of ecclesial possibilities that is arising from the 2009 ELCA Big Bang. He certainly has no theory of gravity that would hold equilibrium other than: "I say so."

There was in 2009 no attempt made to change our articles confession of faith. Those who left ELCA left, using provisions of our constitution, for church bodies that specifically shared our article of faith in ELCA constitution chapter 2. So who is this who denies our articles of faith? The "Big Tent" theory and the "small tent" theory are not in the constitution or confessions, or are they some mystical article of faith engraved on a holy Graham cracker somewhere.

And we owe them no respect? As Christians we owe no respect? Really? So we are free to throw insults and that models good Christian living? ANd we now have to "live into respect?" Is this another case of "we had no moral fabric so now we have to produce one ex nihilo?"
No. Even ELCA is better than this.
Title: Re: The ELCA Requires Nothing
Post by: Brian Stoffregen on January 05, 2013, 01:31:15 PM
Back the notion that the ELCA requires nothing.  That seems to me to be an assertion that the ELCA is functionally antinomian.  Now I have been reassured that this not the case.  The ELCA is not an anything goes church. 

Perhaps that what makes me think I was reading about some alternative reality, a Bizarro ELCA if you will.  "There is no reason to leave the ELCA because we are antinomians.  You can do whatever you want!"


In some matters, yes, you can do whatever you want. There are pastors who wear full vestments and others in shorts and hawaiian shirts. They do what they want.


In other matters, no, there are limits. Every congregation is required to attest to our Confession of Faith. How that is played out may differ from congregation to congregation. The whole should not be judged by what one or two may be doing.


There is also discretion given to bishops with how they exercise their oversight of congregations and clergy. Thus there are both similarities and differences from synod to synod -- just like there are between congregations.


As I remember one of the early pictures and slogans in the Bethel Bible Series: we have freedom within limits.
Title: Re: The ELCA Requires Nothing
Post by: Dadoo on January 05, 2013, 01:54:01 PM
Pr. Christian's point, that Pr. Kimball and his congregations could have stayed with exactly the same beliefs, is wrong. Their contention is that a denomination should have a single position on sex and marriage, the ELCA says there can be multiple ones. So, Christian is wrong here.


We have a single position on marriage. This is what is in Vision and Expectations:

 This church is committed to the sanctity of marriage.* In public ministry as well as in private life, the ordained minister is expected to uphold an understanding of marriage that is biblically informed and consistent with the teachings of this church. In so doing, the ordained minister will respect and support those who are married, recognizing this church’s strong continuing support for this holy estate. As the social statement Human Sexuality: Gift and Trust declares: “Marriage is a covenant of mutual promises, commitment, and hope authorized legally by the state and blessed by God. The historic Christian tradition and the Lutheran Confessions have recognized marriage as a covenant between a man and a woman, reflecting Mark 10:6-9….”3 The public promises of marriage are to be honored and trust is to be nurtured for the good of all.

* This “Vision and Expectations” document uses the terms “marriage,” “marry,” and “married” to refer to marriage between a man and a woman.


We also have a statement about same-gender relationships. If one seeks to be a pastor in the ELCA that relationship needs to be publicly accountable, life-long and monogamous. In states that allow same-gender "marriages" that is what's expected -- even if we don't call those "marriages" in our documents.

For the record, and in diversion, our documents also acknowledge that some in our church DO call same sex relationships "marriage," and that sentence further proclaims that we are departing from 2000 years of CHristian teaching in that respect. . . . Oh you know all this, we rehearsed it a hundred times here . . . .

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It also shows that the ELCA does require things from its people: You are required to believe in diversity in theology and hermeneutics. If one was to believe that it is important to belong to a denomination that has a more unified hermeneutic or theology, then ELCA is maybe no longer the place to be. We shall see. At an institutional level, diversity can only be sustained in the presence of a clear peace agreement between the diverse views. Otherwise there will be continuous institutional struggle for dominance of one's own ideology and the vanquishment of the "other."

It is both more complicated and simpler than what you state. I don't believe that the issue is so much diversity vs. uniformity. There has always been diversity in congregations. We will not remove it. The issue is over how much diversity; or more specifically, what is required or essential for salvation (diaphora) and what is not required or essential for salvation (adiaphora). Specifically, is one particular conviction about same-gender relationships required for salvation? The ELCA has said, "No."



We also have had too many debates on morals, ethics, and third use of the law than is good for us.

If the conservatives are right, then perhaps salvation actually IS at stake. (BTW, would it be disrespectful to claim that the proponents of HSGT were merely afraid that the conservatives were right?)

And, even for more moderate conservatives the reasoning that led us here, the redefinition of the functioning of our norming sources, and the importation of new norms to norm our traditional norming sources with is troubling and maybe even a violation of our confessional heritage.

But in the end, if there is no such thing as a third use of the law (and if there is not then why would we have worried about the use of the law? If one is free already why reinterpret the tradition and scripture - it would have meant nothing), if there is no such thing as Christian morals then we had a non debate debate. THose who object have objected here many times in that respect and remain unconvinced by what has been countered.

BTW, in the absence of a unified Christian or merely ELCA morality, on what basis are you presuming that we will be living ourselves into respect somehow? Respect is merely some "moral code."

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But, that is how debate in ELCA now goes isn't it? You don't agree with CORE . . . well . . .I think you are just afraid that the conservative are right. Don't agree with LCNA? Well you are just afraid of homosexuals. Taking the congregation for a ride: Well, you are doing prophetic ministry . . . .no . . .no, you're an egotist . . . Oh, take your pick . . .  One man's fear is another man's courage and one man's egotist is another man's prophet.

I don't agree with CORE because I don't think that they have fairly represented the ELCA in their critiques against it. In some cases, the arguments come from the bad experiences of some individuals -- the same kind of arguments used by homosexuals and their supporters that was strongly criticized by those opposing their position.


CORE can speak for itself. The point is that phobias and egotism cuts both ways. Maybe one needs to realize that the use of these categories is totally unhelpful.

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How is our denomination served by publishing such an argument? I agree with the presence of opinion pieces. But opinions need to actually be informed. They can be wrong, no problem, but this one did not even seem informed or at least was edited to such an extent that it was merely an offense to good men and women that until 2009 we willingly and gladly worked side by side with.


It is one man's attempt at answering questions many have and continue to ask about those who have left, "Why?" The benefit is that it has spurred discussions like this where we can dialogue about better answers than the ones he offered.

No. it is more that one man's attempt as soon as it was published in the denomination's magazine. That magazine can claim all day that his views are not theirs but his personal opinion. They have no contract that requires them to publish what he writes. He is not a hired or syndicated regular contributor. They made a conscious choice to publish his column. In the process, they have added more bile to the discussion. If we are to live ourselves into respect in diversity then they have done us a great disservice. If they do not see that what he wrote was uncivil then I am wondering why they call for civility in public debate as Lehmann did in December. Why call for civility if you cannot recognize incivility or refuse to acknowledge incivility in your own pages?
Title: Re: The ELCA Requires Nothing
Post by: DCharlton on January 05, 2013, 01:57:33 PM
Back the notion that the ELCA requires nothing.  That seems to me to be an assertion that the ELCA is functionally antinomian.  Now I have been reassured that this not the case.  The ELCA is not an anything goes church. 

Perhaps that what makes me think I was reading about some alternative reality, a Bizarro ELCA if you will.  "There is no reason to leave the ELCA because we are antinomians.  You can do whatever you want!"


In some matters, yes, you can do whatever you want. There are pastors who wear full vestments and others in shorts and hawaiian shirts. They do what they want.


In other matters, no, there are limits. Every congregation is required to attest to our Confession of Faith. How that is played out may differ from congregation to congregation. The whole should not be judged by what one or two may be doing.


There is also discretion given to bishops with how they exercise their oversight of congregations and clergy. Thus there are both similarities and differences from synod to synod -- just like there are between congregations.


As I remember one of the early pictures and slogans in the Bethel Bible Series: we have freedom within limits.

Your argument is with Pr Christian on this point, not with me.  Your "within limits" contradicts his "no requirements".
Title: Re: The ELCA Requires Nothing
Post by: Brian Stoffregen on January 05, 2013, 02:49:53 PM
This respect is not required towards those who deny the articles in our confession of faith.

This is a puzzling assertion.


It means that we do not have to consider those who deny articles of the Christian faith to be Christian.


I'm dealing with that with a man (not a member) who attends a Bible study who states that he does not believe in the Trinity. The Episcopalian and Methodists and Presbyterian clergy who sometimes also attend also agree that his beliefs are not Christian.
Title: Re: The ELCA Requires Nothing
Post by: Charles_Austin on January 05, 2013, 02:50:15 PM
Pastor Kruse writes:
No. it is more that one man's attempt as soon as it was published in the denomination's magazine. That magazine can claim all day that his views are not theirs but his personal opinion. They have no contract that requires them to publish what he writes. He is not a hired or syndicated regular contributor. They made a conscious choice to publish his column. In the process, they have added more bile to the discussion.
I comment:
So opposing viewpoints, even those perceive as "adding bile" should never be heard? That is not healthy. We have heard, at great length and with considerable bile, what those leaving think of us, even after they leave. We don't like it; but we can take it.
And if one man says a few things that those who have already left don't like, the foundations of the earth are shaken and rotten fruit falls from the trees? That doesn't make any sense.

Pastor Kruse writes:
If we are to live ourselves into respect in diversity then they have done us a great disservice. If they do not see that what he wrote was uncivil then I am wondering why they call for civility in public debate as Lehmann did in December. Why call for civility if you cannot recognize incivility or refuse to acknowledge incivility in your own pages?
I comment:
Again, it is your definition of "civility." Dan Lehmann and I, coming from secular newspapers and the political and social and editorial wars that take place there might be a bit more tolerant of arguments and disagreements. If you ever sat in on editorial meetings deciding what to publish or who to publish and heard what editors and writers say to each other and about the pieces they propose or oppose, your ears would crisp up and your toes curl. Now, I do not advocate that kind of slam down for the church, but I do not believe that a little strong hostility is armageddon.
Title: Re: The ELCA Requires Nothing
Post by: Brian Stoffregen on January 05, 2013, 03:05:27 PM
Pr. Christian's point, that Pr. Kimball and his congregations could have stayed with exactly the same beliefs, is wrong. Their contention is that a denomination should have a single position on sex and marriage, the ELCA says there can be multiple ones. So, Christian is wrong here.


We have a single position on marriage. This is what is in Vision and Expectations:

 This church is committed to the sanctity of marriage.* In public ministry as well as in private life, the ordained minister is expected to uphold an understanding of marriage that is biblically informed and consistent with the teachings of this church. In so doing, the ordained minister will respect and support those who are married, recognizing this church’s strong continuing support for this holy estate. As the social statement Human Sexuality: Gift and Trust declares: “Marriage is a covenant of mutual promises, commitment, and hope authorized legally by the state and blessed by God. The historic Christian tradition and the Lutheran Confessions have recognized marriage as a covenant between a man and a woman, reflecting Mark 10:6-9….”3 The public promises of marriage are to be honored and trust is to be nurtured for the good of all.

* This “Vision and Expectations” document uses the terms “marriage,” “marry,” and “married” to refer to marriage between a man and a woman.


We also have a statement about same-gender relationships. If one seeks to be a pastor in the ELCA that relationship needs to be publicly accountable, life-long and monogamous. In states that allow same-gender "marriages" that is what's expected -- even if we don't call those "marriages" in our documents.

For the record, and in diversion, our documents also acknowledge that some in our church DO call same sex relationships "marriage," and that sentence further proclaims that we are departing from 2000 years of CHristian teaching in that respect. . . . Oh you know all this, we rehearsed it a hundred times here . . . .


Could you quote those documents that do call them "marriage"?

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We also have had too many debates on morals, ethics, and third use of the law than is good for us.


We were having those when I was in seminary 40 years ago - and we still haven't resolved it.

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If the conservatives are right, then perhaps salvation actually IS at stake. (BTW, would it be disrespectful to claim that the proponents of HSGT were merely afraid that the conservatives were right?)

And, even for more moderate conservatives the reasoning that led us here, the redefinition of the functioning of our norming sources, and the importation of new norms to norm our traditional norming sources with is troubling and maybe even a violation of our confessional heritage.

But in the end, if there is no such thing as a third use of the law (and if there is not then why would we have worried about the use of the law? If one is free already why reinterpret the tradition and scripture - it would have meant nothing), if there is no such thing as Christian morals then we had a non debate debate. THose who object have objected here many times in that respect and remain unconvinced by what has been countered.

There certainly is something about Christians seeking to live moral lives - that God's Word offers a guide to good behaviors. Whether one wants to call that "third use" or place it under "first use" makes little difference in how it is lived out.


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CORE can speak for itself. The point is that phobias and egotism cuts both ways. Maybe one needs to realize that the use of these categories is totally unhelpful.


I was steeped in Lutheran conservatism. I attended Lutheran Bible Institute in Seattle. I travelled with Lutheran Evangelistic Movement out of Minneapolis. I graduated from Concordia Jr. College (LCMS) in Portland, OR. In my growth in faith, I found that this old faith was lacking. It denied the free grace that we proclaim as the center of our Christian faith. I don't fear it, because I don't believe that it will stand up to deep scrutiny by either scriptures, our theology, nor real life. The "black and white" world that some would like to live in just doesn't exist.




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No. it is more that one man's attempt as soon as it was published in the denomination's magazine. That magazine can claim all day that his views are not theirs but his personal opinion. They have no contract that requires them to publish what he writes. He is not a hired or syndicated regular contributor. They made a conscious choice to publish his column. In the process, they have added more bile to the discussion. If we are to live ourselves into respect in diversity then they have done us a great disservice. If they do not see that what he wrote was uncivil then I am wondering why they call for civility in public debate as Lehmann did in December. Why call for civility if you cannot recognize incivility or refuse to acknowledge incivility in your own pages?


I believe that many of the "My View" articles have had strong objections to that individual's point of view. Write your objections and send it to The Lutheran. Often "Letters to the Editor" criticize the "My View" columns.
Title: Re: The ELCA Requires Nothing
Post by: Dadoo on January 05, 2013, 03:07:50 PM
Pastor Charlton writes:
No. it is more that one man's attempt as soon as it was published in the denomination's magazine. That magazine can claim all day that his views are not theirs but his personal opinion. They have no contract that requires them to publish what he writes. He is not a hired or syndicated regular contributor. They made a conscious choice to publish his column. In the process, they have added more bile to the discussion.
I comment:
So opposing viewpoints, even those perceive as "adding bile" should never be heard? That is not healthy. We have heard, at great length and with considerable bile, what those leaving think of us, even after they leave. We don't like it; but we can take it.
And if one man says a few things that those who have already left don't like, the foundations of the earth are shaken and rotten fruit falls from the trees? That doesn't make any sense.

Pastor Charlton writes:
If we are to live ourselves into respect in diversity then they have done us a great disservice. If they do not see that what he wrote was uncivil then I am wondering why they call for civility in public debate as Lehmann did in December. Why call for civility if you cannot recognize incivility or refuse to acknowledge incivility in your own pages?
I comment:
Again, it is your definition of "civility." Dan Lehmann and I, coming from secular newspapers and the political and social and editorial wars that take place there might be a bit more tolerant of arguments and disagreements. If you ever sat in on editorial meetings deciding what to publish or who to publish and heard what editors and writers say to each other and about the pieces they propose or oppose, your ears would crisp up and your toes curl. Now, I do not advocate that kind of slam down for the church, but I do not believe that a little strong hostility is armageddon.

Charles,

I am with David here, Sorry. The article is not just an offense to those who left. It also offends those who stayed intentionally.

If you read offensive things from the other side in the Lutheran, I would be interested what issue they are in.

Mr. Lehmann is the one who wrote an article on civility in the December issue so it must mean something to him. ANd it is not the "disagreement" that is offensive. It is the continued use of derision, "phobia" and "egotism" that offends. These are not arguments or disagreements. They are ad hominem attacks. Maybe that is bread and butter in secular newspapers but Lehmann no longer works in the secular new biz. Maybe that secular biz with its editorial meetings full of harsh lingo is not a good culture to import into the church.

Use the quote function sometime btw. It keeps it straight who wrote what. It is just good reporting, no . . . ?
 ::)
Title: Re: The ELCA Requires Nothing
Post by: Charles_Austin on January 05, 2013, 04:25:44 PM
Then the thing to do is this. Every one who thinks the article was offensive needs to write the magazine and say why.
Or engage in the dialogue on the magazine's web site. You do go there, right?
Howling out here far away doesn't seem to mean much.
Title: Re: The ELCA Requires Nothing
Post by: Charles_Austin on January 05, 2013, 04:29:39 PM
P.S. As for harsh dialogue. It's always been in the Church.
Think of the rhetoric of the Reformation and the aftermath.
I almost relish the day when Jack Preus came to New York and the annual meeting of the Lutheran Council in the U.S.A. and spent a good part of the afternoon trying to get me and my boss, the late great Erik Modean fired. He failed and that night he was buying us drinks at the bar of the Gramercy Park Hotel while he and Erik laughed about "the old days." LCMS Treasurer Milton Carpenter glowered at us from the other end of the bar.
You see, it wasn't "personal".
Coming from a family with a background in politics, Dr. Preus knew what that kind of dispute was about. You win some, you lose some. It doesn't have to be "personal."
Title: Re: The ELCA Requires Nothing
Post by: DCharlton on January 05, 2013, 05:34:56 PM
Pastor Charlton writes:
No. it is more that one man's attempt as soon as it was published in the denomination's magazine. That magazine can claim all day that his views are not theirs but his personal opinion. They have no contract that requires them to publish what he writes. He is not a hired or syndicated regular contributor. They made a conscious choice to publish his column. In the process, they have added more bile to the discussion.
I comment:
So opposing viewpoints, even those perceive as "adding bile" should never be heard? That is not healthy. We have heard, at great length and with considerable bile, what those leaving think of us, even after they leave. We don't like it; but we can take it.
And if one man says a few things that those who have already left don't like, the foundations of the earth are shaken and rotten fruit falls from the trees? That doesn't make any sense.

Pastor Charlton writes:
If we are to live ourselves into respect in diversity then they have done us a great disservice. If they do not see that what he wrote was uncivil then I am wondering why they call for civility in public debate as Lehmann did in December. Why call for civility if you cannot recognize incivility or refuse to acknowledge incivility in your own pages?
I comment:
Again, it is your definition of "civility." Dan Lehmann and I, coming from secular newspapers and the political and social and editorial wars that take place there might be a bit more tolerant of arguments and disagreements. If you ever sat in on editorial meetings deciding what to publish or who to publish and heard what editors and writers say to each other and about the pieces they propose or oppose, your ears would crisp up and your toes curl. Now, I do not advocate that kind of slam down for the church, but I do not believe that a little strong hostility is armageddon.

I thought journalists tried to quote others accurately.  You've falsely attributed the above quotes to me you twit.
Title: Re: The ELCA Requires Nothing
Post by: Charles_Austin on January 05, 2013, 05:47:09 PM
My apologies. Sincere and deep. I do not like the "quote" button and those cascading purple screens it creates. So I cut and paste and - can you possibly imagine it?! - once in a while I make a twit-style mistake.
I shall make every effort to edit the atrocity and deny myself a cookie after supper tonight as penance.
(BTW it was two screens of those cascading purple quotes that led me to think someone else wrote what I was quoting. But I'll deny myself the cookie anyway.)

Title: Re: The ELCA Requires Nothing
Post by: George Erdner on January 05, 2013, 06:20:58 PM
It also shows that the ELCA does require things from its people: You are required to believe in diversity in theology and hermeneutics. If one was to believe that it is important to belong to a denomination that has a more unified hermeneutic or theology, then ELCA is maybe no longer the place to be. We shall see. At an institutional level, diversity can only be sustained in the presence of a clear peace agreement between the diverse views. Otherwise there will be continuous institutional struggle for dominance of one's own ideology and the vanquishment of the "other."



Again, what you describe above is an expectation, not a requirement. There is no consequence or penalty for not believing in a diversity in theology and hermeneutics. The ELCA leadership expects everyone to drink that Kool-Aid, but not everyone does.
Title: Re: The ELCA Requires Nothing
Post by: Dan Fienen on January 05, 2013, 06:24:39 PM
P.S. As for harsh dialogue. It's always been in the Church.
Think of the rhetoric of the Reformation and the aftermath.
I almost relish the day when Jack Preus came to New York and the annual meeting of the Lutheran Council in the U.S.A. and spent a good part of the afternoon trying to get me and my boss, the late great Erik Modean fired. He failed and that night he was buying us drinks at the bar of the Gramercy Park Hotel while he and Erik laughed about "the old days." LCMS Treasurer Milton Carpenter glowered at us from the other end of the bar.
You see, it wasn't "personal".
Coming from a family with a background in politics, Dr. Preus knew what that kind of dispute was about. You win some, you lose some. It doesn't have to be "personal."

I'm sorry but Pr. Christian issues a blanket condemnation of those who left as doing so solely for bad reasons phobias and egotism impugning their veracity and implicitly accusing them of using their fait as a cover for base motives and it's not personal?  He made it personal.  Would you accept similar comments from those who left as just part of the game, nothing personal?

Dan
Title: Re: The ELCA Requires Nothing
Post by: Charles_Austin on January 05, 2013, 07:45:53 PM
Not to make it too "political" or crass, Pastor Fienen, but here is one way to see it. It might not be my way, but it is a way.
Or maybe it was my way, back in the late 60s when we decided to ordain women.

1. Some people want the church to do something.
2. I don't want it to happen.
3. They are successful in making it happen.
That means:
1. They won. We decided to ordain women.
2. I lost. (I later found out that this was a good thing; but that's another matter.)

I have two choices.
1. Live with the decision.
2. Go somewhere else.

I do not understand all this weeping and teeth-gnashing about the "feelings" of those who - in essence - "lost." Losing hurts, I know that. But for heaven's sake, get over it. The losers said some nasty things about the winners and the winners threw some dirty words towards the losers. It's life, even life in the church. And if there is to be any kind of reconciliation, we have to stop jumping on every opportunity to say "Oh! Oh! That hurts my feelings!"
And guess what? Even we "revisionist liberals" have feelings, and the harpoons flung toward our flukes are also hurtful.
Signed,
A non-Biblical, non-Lutheran, tradition-denying, revisionist, with universalist theology who doesn't care that a cadre of clever political operatives took over his church and led it into apostasy, trampling the broken bodies of pious, faith-affirming traditionalists along the way and driving them out with more fervor than our Lord used to cleanse the temple.
                     For isn't that what you have said I am?

Title: Re: The ELCA Requires Nothing
Post by: Dan Fienen on January 05, 2013, 08:51:33 PM
Not to make it too "political" or crass, Pastor Fienen, but here is one way to see it. It might not be my way, but it is a way.
Or maybe it was my way, back in the late 60s when we decided to ordain women.

1. Some people want the church to do something.
2. I don't want it to happen.
3. They are successful in making it happen.
That means:
1. They won. We decided to ordain women.
2. I lost. (I later found out that this was a good thing; but that's another matter.)

I have two choices.
1. Live with the decision.
2. Go somewhere else.

I do not understand all this weeping and teeth-gnashing about the "feelings" of those who - in essence - "lost." Losing hurts, I know that. But for heaven's sake, get over it. The losers said some nasty things about the winners and the winners threw some dirty words towards the losers. It's life, even life in the church. And if there is to be any kind of reconciliation, we have to stop jumping on every opportunity to say "Oh! Oh! That hurts my feelings!"
And guess what? Even we "revisionist liberals" have feelings, and the harpoons flung toward our flukes are also hurtful.
Signed,
A non-Biblical, non-Lutheran, tradition-denying, revisionist, with universalist theology who doesn't care that a cadre of clever political operatives took over his church and led it into apostasy, trampling the broken bodies of pious, faith-affirming traditionalists along the way and driving them out with more fervor than our Lord used to cleanse the temple.
                For isn't that what you have said I am?

Have I, personally said that that is what you are, or are you speaking in general?  I would imagine that this has been traumatic for those on both sides.  (I have no dog in this particular hunt but went through the Seminex thing as a Sr. College and Seminary student.)  Part of what is likely to help reconciliation is an acknowledgment from both sides that hurtful things have happened to both sides and have been done by both sides.  It does little to minimize the hurt on the other side (These things happen, get over it already!) while maximizing the hurt done by the other side to my side.
 
Do you show great empathy by saying in effect, we won, you lost, get over it already?  ("I do not understand all this weeping and teeth-gnashing about the "feelings" of those who - in essence - "lost." Losing hurts, I know that. But for heaven's sake, get over it.")  Did that help you in the '60s when you were on the loosing side?  For what it's worth, I do empathize, your side won and found that not everybody was willing to line up and shake your hands in congratulations and settled down to take their losses like a man.  They should have celebrated your win and cheerfully lived under the conditions of their defeat.  How could they feel more than a momentary hurt, quickly gotten over?
 
I would like to say more, but I actually have already said it. 

   
 
Follow the link back if you are interested.  I choose not to make this post that long or start more nested boxes.
 
May you find the same kind of sympathy for your hurts ("Even we "revisionist liberals" have feelings, and the harpoons flung toward our flukes are also hurtful.") from those defeated by those whom you support, as you offer to them ("I do not understand all this weeping and teeth-gnashing about the "feelings" of those who - in essence - "lost." Losing hurts, I know that. But for heaven's sake, get over it.").
 
Dan
Title: Re: The ELCA Requires Nothing
Post by: Charles_Austin on January 05, 2013, 09:45:14 PM
Pastor Fienen writes:
Have I, personally said that that is what you are, or are you speaking in general?
I comment:
No. As you say below, you got no mutt in this melee, so I'm not affected by anything you say.

Pastor Fienen:
I would imagine that this has been traumatic for those on both sides. 
Me:
Actually, there are more than two sides.

Pastor Fienen:
It does little to minimize the hurt on the other side (These things happen, get over it already!) while maximizing the hurt done by the other side to my side.
Me:
What I'm saying is: Quit enhancing the hurt.

Pastor Fienen:
Do you show great empathy by saying in effect, we won, you lost, get over it already?
Me:
"Already"? We are now two years past the decisions that many of us knew were coming for the last six or seven years. There has not been one serious move to rescind the decisions of 2009. Those who have left, left. The rest of us should be getting on with working together for the future, not living in the smoke of 2009.

Pastor Fienen:
For what it's worth, I do empathize, your side won and found that not everybody was willing to line up and shake your hands in congratulations and settled down to take their losses like a man.
Me:
Actually, Pastor Fienen, women are pretty good at taking losses, too. But that's not the point.

Pastor Fienen:
They should have celebrated your win and cheerfully lived under the conditions of their defeat.
Me:
Despite my scenario above, we do not cast this in terms of "win" or "defeat." At least, I don't. The ELCA, after proper deliberation and procedure made a difficult decision and we knew it would cause trouble. But I do think that those of us who are still in the ELCA need to get on with things. Actually, except for certain places - such as this forum - we are. There was virtually no controversy related to this at the 2011 Assembly. I don't expect it will be much of an issue when we meet this year either.
And so....
Title: Re: The ELCA Requires Nothing
Post by: Dan Fienen on January 05, 2013, 10:15:55 PM
By the by, it has been thirty years and more since the walkout in St. Louis.  Have those who walked out or left to form the AELC and eventually the ELCA gotten over that as you expect the exiles from the ELCA to get over it in two years?  Why don't you tell them to just get over it.  Some difficult decisions needed to be made for the direction of the LCMS and the decisions made were not the way they wanted them.
 
Dan
Title: Re: The ELCA Requires Nothing
Post by: Brian Stoffregen on January 05, 2013, 10:22:21 PM
It just depends, Pastor Charlton, on how much "nomia" one sees and which "nomens" one considers essential.

Gee.  I thought you and I could agree for once.  If, the ELCA is not Antinomian, as I think we agree, then saying it "requires nothing" sends the wrong message.


Yes, "requires nothing" sends the wrong message.
Title: Re: The ELCA Requires Nothing
Post by: Charles_Austin on January 05, 2013, 11:23:19 PM
Well, Pastor Fienen, I know quite a number of former LCMS pastors and other former LCMS pastors have served the ELCA as bishops and in other ways. I have never heard them even mention Seminex, except in an academic way. They do not show their bruises, rail at those who were on "the other side" or act as if it were 1975. (BTW many of these men are now nearing retirement and not likely to leap to the front-line barricades of any fight.) In the ELCA today, one never hears of the LCMS schism of the 1970s.
Let me tell you who is not "over" the schism that produced Seminex. Listen to some of the comments from your people on this discussion board and elsewhere.
"Seminex" is the boogie-man of terror used to frighten small children and stir up the blood of the heresy hunters, encouraging them to be ready to light the torches and seek out the ones endangering the purity of the Synod. Ironic that the people who "won" are those keeping the "battle" alive.

Title: Re: The ELCA Requires Nothing
Post by: Team Hesse on January 06, 2013, 12:49:54 AM
Well, Pastor Fienen, I know quite a number of former LCMS pastors and other former LCMS pastors have served the ELCA as bishops and in other ways. I have never heard them even mention Seminex, except in an academic way. They do not show their bruises, rail at those who were on "the other side" or act as if it were 1975. (BTW many of these men are now nearing retirement and not likely to leap to the front-line barricades of any fight.) In the ELCA today, one never hears of the LCMS schism of the 1970s.



My mileage varied, Charles. While engaged in the storied halls on Higgins Road I had a number of conversations with former "Seminexers" and they definitely had views about how formative that was in their experiences. It wasn't stated publicly for all to hear but over dinner in the small chat of the evening I was regaled with tales of how it was for those who endured the purge. It is definitely there; bruises, warts, wounds, and all. Bishops, profs, pastors and even one Seminary President. For those who are willing to listen....But, hey, maybe I'm just too sensitive......


Lou
Title: Re: The ELCA Requires Nothing
Post by: Satis Est on January 06, 2013, 02:15:37 AM

Me:
"Already"? We are now two years past the decisions that many of us knew were coming for the last six or seven years. There has not been one serious move to rescind the decisions of 2009. Those who have left, left. The rest of us should be getting on with working together for the future, not living in the smoke of 2009.
<snip>

Pastor Fienen:
They should have celebrated your win and cheerfully lived under the conditions of their defeat.
Me:
Despite my scenario above, we do not cast this in terms of "win" or "defeat." At least, I don't. The ELCA, after proper deliberation and procedure made a difficult decision and we knew it would cause trouble. But I do think that those of us who are still in the ELCA need to get on with things. Actually, except for certain places - such as this forum - we are. There was virtually no controversy related to this at the 2011 Assembly. I don't expect it will be much of an issue when we meet this year either.
And so....

I am trying "to get on with things."  But writers like Pr. Christian keep bringing the old anger and insults back up, every time I think it has started to die down. 
Title: Re: The ELCA Requires Nothing
Post by: Charles_Austin on January 06, 2013, 05:30:24 AM
We are all shaped by our experiences, Lou (even though the theological import of that is pooh-poohed by some here.) Watch for my brief "My Turn" commentary on the memoirs of David Preus and Herbert Chilstrom.
And such things are shared with others. (The "war stories" of veterans, maybe.) But that does not or should not make one set of experiences the whole of one's life. I am remembering "The Best Years of Our Lives," the 1946 movie about men returning from World War II. Those who could "move on" found new life or recovered their lives, and took the "growth" that came from their experiences. Fred Derry, played by Dana Andrews, seemed to have the war as his only experience in life and that created serious problems.
That's all I am saying.
Title: Re: The ELCA Requires Nothing
Post by: Team Hesse on January 06, 2013, 09:30:34 AM
We are all shaped by our experiences, Lou (even though the theological import of that is pooh-poohed by some here.) Watch for my brief "My Turn" commentary on the memoirs of David Preus and Herbert Chilstrom.
And such things are shared with others. (The "war stories" of veterans, maybe.) But that does not or should not make one set of experiences the whole of one's life. I am remembering "The Best Years of Our Lives," the 1946 movie about men returning from World War II. Those who could "move on" found new life or recovered their lives, and took the "growth" that came from their experiences. Fred Derry, played by Dana Andrews, seemed to have the war as his only experience in life and that created serious problems.
That's all I am saying.



And all that i am saying is that it is a two way street....The boogie men exist for both sides.


Lou
Title: Re: The ELCA Requires Nothing
Post by: DCharlton on January 06, 2013, 12:33:43 PM
Not to make it too "political" or crass, Pastor Fienen, but here is one way to see it. It might not be my way, but it is a way.
Or maybe it was my way, back in the late 60s when we decided to ordain women.

1. Some people want the church to do something.
2. I don't want it to happen.
3. They are successful in making it happen.
That means:
1. They won. We decided to ordain women.
2. I lost. (I later found out that this was a good thing; but that's another matter.)

I have two choices.
1. Live with the decision.
2. Go somewhere else.

I do not understand all this weeping and teeth-gnashing about the "feelings" of those who - in essence - "lost." Losing hurts, I know that. But for heaven's sake, get over it. The losers said some nasty things about the winners and the winners threw some dirty words towards the losers. It's life, even life in the church. And if there is to be any kind of reconciliation, we have to stop jumping on every opportunity to say "Oh! Oh! That hurts my feelings!"
And guess what? Even we "revisionist liberals" have feelings, and the harpoons flung toward our flukes are also hurtful.
Signed,
A non-Biblical, non-Lutheran, tradition-denying, revisionist, with universalist theology who doesn't care that a cadre of clever political operatives took over his church and led it into apostasy, trampling the broken bodies of pious, faith-affirming traditionalists along the way and driving them out with more fervor than our Lord used to cleanse the temple.
                     For isn't that what you have said I am?

Just to remind you, the article in question was not "weeping and gnashing of teeth about the feelings of those who lost."  It was the weeping and gnashing of teeth by those who "won."  Pastor Christian's side won, but winning apparently isn't enough.  He, you and Dan Lehman feel it is important to continue to condemn the losers for accepting their defeat and retreating from the field of battle.  You also seem to feel that it is important, having won, to continue to deride those who lost as egomaniacs, phobics and bigots. 

I repeat, the article in the Lutheran was not an attempt by me, Pastor Kruse, or some other loser, to rehash the events of 2009.  No, it was not a loser weeping and gnashing his teeth.  It was one of the winning party weeping and gnashing his teeth because not everyone agreed with him that the ELCA was the place to be. 

PS - Is this the same Charles Austin who has spent the last three years weeping and gnashing his teeth because some dare to criticize the ELCA?  The one who tells those who have left that they have no right to continue to criticize the ELCA.  That having departed the should shut up.  That demands of those in the ELCA that they close ranks and cease any criticism of the church?
Title: Re: The ELCA Requires Nothing
Post by: DCharlton on January 06, 2013, 01:24:39 PM
I also remember Dan Lehman getting his knickers in a twist because Karl Donfried used the term "alien hermeneutic" to describe the prevailing hermeneutic in the ELCA.  Oh, my, Mr Lehman was upset that we should talk about each other using such terms.  But apparently not upset about the use the derision poured out by Pr. Christian. 
Title: Re: The ELCA Requires Nothing
Post by: Charles_Austin on January 06, 2013, 01:31:24 PM
Pastor Charlton writes:
I repeat, the article in the Lutheran was not an attempt by me, Pastor Kruse, or some other loser, to rehash the events of 2009.  No, it was not a loser weeping and gnashing his teeth.  It was one of the winning party weeping and gnashing because not everyone agreed with him that the ELCA was the place to be. 
I comment:
And do you not have the tolerance or grace to let him do that, if that is what he wishes to do? Are you so thin of skin and weak of heart that one man's - repeat one man's - opinion sends you in paroxysms of anguish? I said far upstream that I did not care for his wording. What more do you want? If dozens or hundreds of people are to write in non-ELCA publications about how they felt; why cannot one man do it in the ELCA magazine?

Pastor Charlton writes:
PS - Is this the same Charles Austin who has spent the last three years weeping a gnashing his teeth because some dare to criticize the ELCA?  The one who tells those who have left that they have no right to continue to criticize the ELCA.  That having departed the should shut up.  That demands of those in the ELCA that they close ranks and cease any criticism of the church?
I comment:
Having a bad winter day? Snow gnomes snapping at your heels? Reindeer antler stuck in your ear? What prompts such furor? Were I thin of skin, I might take offense. For you get me wrong.
I have absolutely no problem with criticism of the ELCA. I do it myself. But criticism must be informed; it must be based on reality, not on someone's warped misconception, or fifth-hand gossip. It must be fair.
As for those who have departed; yes, I think they have given up their right to continually criticize and try to correct the ELCA. If I were to emigrate to Switzerland and take up citizenship there, I lose my right to vote in U.S. elections. Furthermore, there is no reason any U.S. politician should care a rabbit's butt for what I think.
Those in the ELCA, continuing with us on our mission, should indeed recognize that the decisions of 2009 have been made and they are not likely to be changed.
So ... what's next? What do we have to do together to be the church?
What do you think is accomplished by all this re-hashing of the real and perceived errors of how the decisions of 2009 - which were valid decisions, right? - came about?
Title: Re: The ELCA Requires Nothing
Post by: DCharlton on January 06, 2013, 01:48:46 PM
Pastor Charlton writes:
I repeat, the article in the Lutheran was not an attempt by me, Pastor Kruse, or some other loser, to rehash the events of 2009.  No, it was not a loser weeping and gnashing his teeth.  It was one of the winning party weeping and gnashing because not everyone agreed with him that the ELCA was the place to be. 
I comment:
And do you not have the tolerance or grace to let him do that, if that is what he wishes to do? Are you so thin of skin and weak of heart that one man's - repeat one man's - opinion sends you in paroxysms of anguish? I said far upstream that I did not care for his wording. What more do you want? If dozens or hundreds of people are to write in non-ELCA publications about how they felt; why cannot one man do it in the ELCA magazine?

No more than the paroxysms of anguish you exhibit every day on this forum.  Ranting and raving when someone who left the ELCA criticizes the ELCA.  Seeking to expose ELCA pastors who do not meet your standards of loyalty.  Not letting any post pass without your own commentary? 

Why don't you have the tolerance or grace to let to let those who post here do what they wish to do? 

Quote
Pastor Charlton writes:
PS - Is this the same Charles Austin who has spent the last three years weeping a gnashing his teeth because some dare to criticize the ELCA?  The one who tells those who have left that they have no right to continue to criticize the ELCA.  That having departed the should shut up.  That demands of those in the ELCA that they close ranks and cease any criticism of the church?
I comment:
Having a bad winter day? Snow gnomes snapping at your heels? Reindeer antler stuck in your ear? What prompts such furor? Were I thin of skin, I might take offense. For you get me wrong.
I have absolutely no problem with criticism of the ELCA. I do it myself. But criticism must be informed; it must be based on reality, not on someone's warped misconception, or fifth-hand gossip. It must be fair.
As for those who have departed; yes, I think they have given up their right to continually criticize and try to correct the ELCA. If I were to emigrate to Switzerland and take up citizenship there, I lose my right to vote in U.S. elections. Furthermore, there is no reason any U.S. politician should care a rabbit's butt for what I think.
Those in the ELCA, continuing with us on our mission, should indeed recognize that the decisions of 2009 have been made and they are not likely to be changed.
So ... what's next? What do we have to do together to be the church?
What do you think is accomplished by all this re-hashing of the real and perceived errors of how the decisions of 2009 - which were valid decisions, right? - came about?

Charles,

Your hypocrisy knows no bounds.  You demand that "criticism must be informed; it must be based on reality, not on someone's warped misconception, or fifth-hand gossip. It must be fair."  And you excuse Pr. Chrstian for failing to do what you demand of me.  Furthermore, you excuse Dan Lehman for printing Pr. Christians warped misconceptions.

What do I think is accomplished by all this rehashing of real and perceived errors of how the decisions of 2009 cam about.  Nothing.  Which is why I wonder why you defend Pr. Christian and your friend Mr. Lehman for rehashing those very same things.

I'm not rehashing the events of 2009.  I'm criticizing an article in the current edition of the Lutheran that does what you accuse me of doing. 

I call on Pr. Christian and Mr. Lehman to stop rehashing the events of 2009.  Why not join me in that?  I call on the Lutheran to print only which is informed, based on reality, not someone's warped misconception, or fifth-hand gossip.  Criticism which is fair.  Why not join me in that?

Or will you refuse to demand of your friends that which you demand of me?

David Charlton
Title: Re: The ELCA Requires Nothing
Post by: Charles_Austin on January 06, 2013, 02:37:54 PM
Pastor Charlton, I am not going to try to tell you what to do or what not to do. That seems, based on your recent postings, a total waste of time.
You write:
Why don't you have the tolerance or grace to let to let those who post here do what they wish to do? 

I comment:
I cannot stop anyone from posting anything here. I can, however, comment when I think that they are wrong or when I think dumb things are being posted. I decline to accept your suggestion that I not do this. Have a nice day. Hope you escape the snow gnomes and reindeer antlers that seem to have troubled you.  ::)
Your ever genial "hypocrite",
CMA
Title: Re: The ELCA Requires Nothing
Post by: DCharlton on January 06, 2013, 05:28:34 PM
Things are fine here in Florida.  No snow at all.  No gnomes either.  However, on ALPB Forum there is one old Troll slinging mud.
Title: Re: The ELCA Requires Nothing
Post by: Charles_Austin on January 06, 2013, 05:48:38 PM
Done here. Happy New Year, all.
Title: Re: The ELCA Requires Nothing
Post by: Brian Stoffregen on January 06, 2013, 05:53:34 PM
Just to remind you, the article in question was not "weeping and gnashing of teeth about the feelings of those who lost."  It was the weeping and gnashing of teeth by those who "won."  Pastor Christian's side won, but winning apparently isn't enough.  He, you and Dan Lehman feel it is important to continue to condemn the losers for accepting their defeat and retreating from the field of battle.  You also seem to feel that it is important, having won, to continue to deride those who lost as egomaniacs, phobics and bigots.


On New Year's Day my son and I beat my mother and my wife eight straight games in pinochle. They didn't win a single one. If my wife, after losing, declared she was divorcing me and moving out -- I would be more than a bit upset. Leaving because we won the card games! Why? That's the question the article asks.
Title: Re: The ELCA Requires Nothing
Post by: readselerttoo on January 06, 2013, 06:57:35 PM
Just to remind you, the article in question was not "weeping and gnashing of teeth about the feelings of those who lost."  It was the weeping and gnashing of teeth by those who "won."  Pastor Christian's side won, but winning apparently isn't enough.  He, you and Dan Lehman feel it is important to continue to condemn the losers for accepting their defeat and retreating from the field of battle.  You also seem to feel that it is important, having won, to continue to deride those who lost as egomaniacs, phobics and bigots.


On New Year's Day my son and I beat my mother and my wife eight straight games in pinochle. They didn't win a single one. If my wife, after losing, declared she was divorcing me and moving out -- I would be more than a bit upset. Leaving because we won the card games! Why? That's the question the article asks.



...and yet, divorce is an option in your story as analogy.
Title: Re: The ELCA Requires Nothing
Post by: A Catholic Lutheran on January 06, 2013, 07:38:41 PM
Just to remind you, the article in question was not "weeping and gnashing of teeth about the feelings of those who lost."  It was the weeping and gnashing of teeth by those who "won."  Pastor Christian's side won, but winning apparently isn't enough.  He, you and Dan Lehman feel it is important to continue to condemn the losers for accepting their defeat and retreating from the field of battle.  You also seem to feel that it is important, having won, to continue to deride those who lost as egomaniacs, phobics and bigots.


On New Year's Day my son and I beat my mother and my wife eight straight games in pinochle. They didn't win a single one. If my wife, after losing, declared she was divorcing me and moving out -- I would be more than a bit upset. Leaving because we won the card games! Why? That's the question the article asks.



...and yet, divorce is an option in your story as analogy.

Yea, verily...  And in another post, I distinctly remember Pr. Stoffregen exhorting at least one divorced couple who remained cordial as an example of "unity" without requiring "union."

On a serious note, given the ELCA's own stance on marriage (ie. something no longer "required" in regards to sexual relationships...  See HSGT's own discussion of "trust" and especially older adults who may cohabitate without marriage to avoid financial penalties) and given the fact that the divorce rates among the general populace is more than 50%, shouldn't we begin to see divorce as a "normative" experience?  So those congregations who have departed the ELCA family...or to borrow from Pr. Stoffregen's own example, sued for divorce after losing eight card games... are merely fully inahbiting the world they live in and applying the cultural ethic of "modern humanity."

In other words, "staying" is anachranistic.

Pax Christi;
Pr. Jerry Kliner, STS
(ELCA Pastor, FWIW)
Title: Re: The ELCA Requires Nothing
Post by: Team Hesse on January 06, 2013, 08:36:40 PM
Just to remind you, the article in question was not "weeping and gnashing of teeth about the feelings of those who lost."  It was the weeping and gnashing of teeth by those who "won."  Pastor Christian's side won, but winning apparently isn't enough.  He, you and Dan Lehman feel it is important to continue to condemn the losers for accepting their defeat and retreating from the field of battle.  You also seem to feel that it is important, having won, to continue to deride those who lost as egomaniacs, phobics and bigots.


On New Year's Day my son and I beat my mother and my wife eight straight games in pinochle. They didn't win a single one. If my wife, after losing, declared she was divorcing me and moving out -- I would be more than a bit upset. Leaving because we won the card games! Why? That's the question the article asks.


Odd thinking, Brian, that your church's public teaching is no more important than a set of afternoon pinochle games. Odd...really very odd.


Lou
Title: Re: The ELCA Requires Nothing
Post by: Brian Stoffregen on January 07, 2013, 02:24:01 AM
Just to remind you, the article in question was not "weeping and gnashing of teeth about the feelings of those who lost."  It was the weeping and gnashing of teeth by those who "won."  Pastor Christian's side won, but winning apparently isn't enough.  He, you and Dan Lehman feel it is important to continue to condemn the losers for accepting their defeat and retreating from the field of battle.  You also seem to feel that it is important, having won, to continue to deride those who lost as egomaniacs, phobics and bigots.


On New Year's Day my son and I beat my mother and my wife eight straight games in pinochle. They didn't win a single one. If my wife, after losing, declared she was divorcing me and moving out -- I would be more than a bit upset. Leaving because we won the card games! Why? That's the question the article asks.


Odd thinking, Brian, that your church's public teaching is no more important than a set of afternoon pinochle games. Odd...really very odd.


I thought it at seminary and still think that theology is a mental game. We are trying to comprehend the incomprehensible God with our puny brains and limited vocabulary. One might even consider it a joke to believe that we could capture God with a theology.
Title: Re: The ELCA Requires Nothing
Post by: Johan Bergfest on January 07, 2013, 07:06:40 AM
I thought it at seminary and still think that theology is a mental game. We are trying to comprehend the incomprehensible God with our puny brains and limited vocabulary. One might even consider it a joke to believe that we could capture God with a theology.

Yet, some folks apparently think that they have comprehended and that they have a  special calling to hold others accountable to their understanding of doctrinal purity.
Title: Re: The ELCA Requires Nothing
Post by: Dadoo on January 07, 2013, 08:37:28 AM
I thought it at seminary and still think that theology is a mental game. We are trying to comprehend the incomprehensible God with our puny brains and limited vocabulary. One might even consider it a joke to believe that we could capture God with a theology.

Yet, some folks apparently think that they have comprehended and that they have a  special calling to hold others accountable to their understanding of doctrinal purity.

But that should be obvious. To have a theology of insufficiency or a theology of doubt one has to first of all have a theology - only it is a non-theology-theology, a deconstruction theology. It has nothing constructive to say and sees its own value in pointing out to those who have a theology that their theology is insufficient and should be rejected in favor of doubt. It is a non incarnational theology. Not very interesting. (it is kind of bad apple Calvinism or really poorly understood Bath - God might love you , but then again , what do I know, just do what you think God will do what God will do and we should not think about it too much - I think Crandall wrote about it in the LCMS NALC stream - read at your leisure)

To the thread: Let's just theorize that the writer of the offending column thinks this as well. Maybe he thinks there is lots and lots of grey and virtually no black or white. How does one then call for unity? By adherence to the institution and use of "proper channels," by making argument not on right or wrong but on "who do I know that is important" who did or said what I think YOU should do or believe. To live in that system requires that the pastor always strive to "network" with important people but otherwise is free to be congregationalist. It helps to be a self promoter as well, so it is good to have a competent journalist n the congregation who will write to Seeds or Lutheran on all the great things we do and who makes sure no public relations opportunity is ever missed.

In that system one can of course also retreat into isolation. But one retreats into obscurity and irrelevance as to the decisions that the organization (no longer church in a recognizable way) will make in the future. If he means that, and I certainly hope that Pr. Christian actually gets theology and values it, then his column really said: "You could have stayed and saved yourself (and us) the trouble of voting and leaving, you could have lived your days out here just fine. After all it doesn't matter what you believe, theology is just words and being divided over it is irrelevant. But numbers matter because size of denomination is status and you just hurt us and being small as you are you are not going to be listened to by the important people in Washington that I know."

Again, I am using the idea that theology is nothing and means nothing to read into Pr. Christian who probably does not agree with the idea that theology is merely a mental game.

But other do think so and if they do and are organizational functionalists then the column pretty much has the meaning that I theorize it might have.
Title: Re: The ELCA Requires Nothing
Post by: Johan Bergfest on January 07, 2013, 08:54:05 AM
To have a theology of insufficiency or a theology of doubt one has to first of all have a theology - only it is a non-theology-theology, a deconstruction theology.

I do not think that description is consistent with Hebrews 11.


To the thread: Let's just theorize that the writer of the offending column thinks this as well. Maybe he thinks there is lots and lots of grey and virtually no black or white. How does one then call for unity?

By appealing to the belief that Scripture is God's Inspired Word and that the Lutheran understanding of the doctrines of Justification and Baptism are correct understanding of Scripture.  And, based on the Lutheran understanding of Justification and Baptism, we know that unity is God's work, calling each of us by name into God's family.  In spite of our disagreement about matters less important, we are one.  Our insistence on defining one another on the basis of our differences bears false witness to our understanding of Justification, by grace, through faith in Jesus Christ.
Title: Re: The ELCA Requires Nothing
Post by: Team Hesse on January 07, 2013, 09:02:16 AM
Just to remind you, the article in question was not "weeping and gnashing of teeth about the feelings of those who lost."  It was the weeping and gnashing of teeth by those who "won."  Pastor Christian's side won, but winning apparently isn't enough.  He, you and Dan Lehman feel it is important to continue to condemn the losers for accepting their defeat and retreating from the field of battle.  You also seem to feel that it is important, having won, to continue to deride those who lost as egomaniacs, phobics and bigots.


On New Year's Day my son and I beat my mother and my wife eight straight games in pinochle. They didn't win a single one. If my wife, after losing, declared she was divorcing me and moving out -- I would be more than a bit upset. Leaving because we won the card games! Why? That's the question the article asks.


Odd thinking, Brian, that your church's public teaching is no more important than a set of afternoon pinochle games. Odd...really very odd.


I thought it at seminary and still think that theology is a mental game. We are trying to comprehend the incomprehensible God with our puny brains and limited vocabulary. One might even consider it a joke to believe that we could capture God with a theology.


So in your world theology is actually an exercise in anthropology. We cannot be sure there is anything real behind these human derived words on a page. One man's view is as good as another. And I think as Peter was pointing out, the only thing that really matters is being persuasive enough that loci of power may pay attention to the agreements which we build by our gamesmanship.


I consider this odd and in all honesty simply a waste of time, talent, and resources. The world is better off if one simply goes to work to build a better farm than invest energy in such an endeavor. At least with a better farm we might reduce hunger and anxiety.


Lou
Title: Re: The ELCA Requires Nothing
Post by: Dan Fienen on January 07, 2013, 09:10:31 AM
Once again we have black and white, either/or thinking at work.  Either we can completely understand God or all our thinking about God (for that is what theology is) is simply a mental game of no more significance or mport than an afternoon of pinochle.

Our understanding is at best incomplete, yet God has reveled some of Himself, His actions, and His will for us in waystwayside we can comprehend.  It is not the totality of God, that is beyond our comprehension, but it is what He wants US to know.  Consider a six year old child.  That child knows some things about her father, especially how her father regards her and wants from her.  But much about her father's life is incomprehensible to her, especially if he happens to be the President of the USA.  So is all that she does know simply a mental game of no importance?

What seems to be going on here is a basic incompatibility.  Some in the ELCA consider all that we think about God to be a kind of game of no particular importance.  I don't know what in the activity of the church they consider important.  Others consider that we can know some things about God, His nature, actions , and will for us because they have been revealed.  We are stewards of this revelation and what we've learned from it.  It's not just that the two sides disagree, they disagree about the significance of their disagreements.  To the one side it's like winning or loosing at pinochle, to the other it is like giving awAyers a precious nugget of God's truth entrusted to their keeping.  And what is being said to the conservatives is this, "disagree with us if you must, that's OK, but you must not take it so seriously, you must regard the significance of our disagreement as we do or you are simply being phobic, or egotistical, like some who would sue for divorce because their spouse won eight straight games of pinochle."  How could anyone possibly take theology that seriously?  There is  the fundamental disagreement and incompatibility.

Dan
Title: Re: The ELCA Requires Nothing
Post by: Charles_Austin on January 07, 2013, 09:12:44 AM
Lou writes:
So in your world theology is actually an exercise in anthropology. We cannot be sure there is anything real behind these human derived words on a page. One man's view is as good as another. And I think as Peter was pointing out, the only thing that really matters is being persuasive enough that loci of power may pay attention to the agreements which we build by our gamesmanship.

I comment:
Lou, this continues to be an unfair caricature and/or stereotype and biased description of the "revisionists" that is as upgescrewed as you and others claim the article in question is about the people who have left the ELCA. I wish you people would stop doing this, saying that for those who disagree with you "nothing matters."
No one says "we cannot be sure there is anything real behind these human derived words." We have said a thousand times that we can be sure of God's love for us, shown in the life, death and resurrection of Jesus.
No one says "one man's view is as good as another." We have said that those who deny the faith proclaimed in the Creed are not Christian.
No one says the only thing that matters is persuasion. We say what matters is proclamation. The "persuasion" is often up to the Holy Spirit.
Why do you persist in these declarations that for us "revisionists" nothing matters and nothing is sure?
Title: Re: The ELCA Requires Nothing
Post by: Team Hesse on January 07, 2013, 09:15:09 AM
To have a theology of insufficiency or a theology of doubt one has to first of all have a theology - only it is a non-theology-theology, a deconstruction theology.

I do not think that description is consistent with Hebrews 11.


To the thread: Let's just theorize that the writer of the offending column thinks this as well. Maybe he thinks there is lots and lots of grey and virtually no black or white. How does one then call for unity?

By appealing to the belief that Scripture is God's Inspired Word and that the Lutheran understanding of the doctrines of Justification and Baptism are correct understanding of Scripture.  And, based on the Lutheran understanding of Justification and Baptism, we know that unity is God's work, calling each of us by name into God's family.  In spite of our disagreement about matters less important, we are one.  Our insistence on defining one another on the basis of our differences bears false witness to our understanding of Justification, by grace, through faith in Jesus Christ.


Does two kingdom theology have any place in the teaching you insist on?


There still are things which even the most insistent believers in Justification by grace through faith will insist must divide us. In my experience, monogamy was a non-negotiable in the ELCA as well as some notion that there is an age dimension to sexual relationships. And that is just one area. The ELCA does divide people by their social statements in ways having nothing to do with Justification. By teaching the way they do is false witness being borne?


Lou
Title: Re: The ELCA Requires Nothing
Post by: Pastor Ken Kimball on January 07, 2013, 09:21:34 AM
Lou writes:
So in your world theology is actually an exercise in anthropology. We cannot be sure there is anything real behind these human derived words on a page. One man's view is as good as another. And I think as Peter was pointing out, the only thing that really matters is being persuasive enough that loci of power may pay attention to the agreements which we build by our gamesmanship.

I comment:
Lou, this continues to be an unfair caricature and/or stereotype and biased description of the "revisionists" that is as upgescrewed as you and others claim the article in question is about the people who have left the ELCA. I wish you people would stop doing this, saying that for those who disagree with you "nothing matters."
No one says "we cannot be sure there is anything real behind these human derived words." We have said a thousand times that we can be sure of God's love for us, shown in the life, death and resurrection of Jesus.
No one says "one man's view is as good as another." We have said that those who deny the faith proclaimed in the Creed are not Christian.
No one says the only thing that matters is persuasion. We say what matters is proclamation. The "persuasion" is often up to the Holy Spirit.
Why do you persist in these declarations that for us "revisionists" nothing matters and nothing is sure?
Because Pr. Stoffregen said it was all merely a mental game?  You did note, did you not, that Lou was responding to what Pr. Stoffregen wrote?  Pr. Stoffregen supplied the caricature.  Actually he supplied himself as the caricature.
Title: Re: The ELCA Requires Nothing
Post by: Team Hesse on January 07, 2013, 09:26:30 AM
Lou writes:
So in your world theology is actually an exercise in anthropology. We cannot be sure there is anything real behind these human derived words on a page. One man's view is as good as another. And I think as Peter was pointing out, the only thing that really matters is being persuasive enough that loci of power may pay attention to the agreements which we build by our gamesmanship.

I comment:
Lou, this continues to be an unfair caricature and/or stereotype and biased description of the "revisionists" that is as upgescrewed as you and others claim the article in question is about the people who have left the ELCA. I wish you people would stop doing this, saying that for those who disagree with you "nothing matters."
No one says "we cannot be sure there is anything real behind these human derived words." We have said a thousand times that we can be sure of God's love for us, shown in the life, death and resurrection of Jesus.
No one says "one man's view is as good as another." We have said that those who deny the faith proclaimed in the Creed are not Christian.
No one says the only thing that matters is persuasion. We say what matters is proclamation. The "persuasion" is often up to the Holy Spirit.
Why do you persist in these declarations that for us "revisionists" nothing matters and nothing is sure?


Because Brian persists, Charles. Go and actually read his posts. Your bolded statements are false witness. Brian said it. He said theology is a game-- nothing more than pinochle. Why do you insist on false witness?


You would be a lot happier if people like me simply went away and maybe I should because I simply do not live in your thought world but here I am and I am/was not persuaded by this gamesmanship. And for some reason that I will probably never fully understand I simply must declare " the emperor is buck naked."


Lou
Title: Re: The ELCA Requires Nothing
Post by: Charles_Austin on January 07, 2013, 09:29:02 AM
Pastor Fienen writes:
Some in the ELCA consider all that we think about God to be a kind of game of no particular importance.  I don't know what in the activity of the church they consider important. 
I comment:
And just who in the ELCA thinks this way, Pastor Fienen? With not much respect, I contend that your frequent "descriptions" of what you think the ELCA is and what its people think miss the target so drastically that your arrows have punctured innocent farm animals rather than hit a bull's eye.
Have you not heard this humble correspondent (one of the few ELCAers left in this forum) speak about scripture, confessions, sacraments, preaching, teaching, and fellowship in the Body of Christ?
Do you have any - I ask, any - interaction with working ELCA pastors around you? Where do you get these "images" that you project here of us?

Pastor Fienen writes:
Others consider that we can know some things about God, His nature, actions , and will for us because they have been revealed.  We are stewards of this revelation and what we've learned from it.  It's not just that the two sides disagree, they disagree about the significance of their disagreements. 
I comment:
Again, again, and again; there are more than two sides. And, Pastor Fienen, I do not think you have anywhere near a firm grasp on our ELCA differences.

Pastor Fienen:
To the one side it's like winning or loosing at pinochle, to the other it is like giving awAyers a precious nugget of God's truth entrusted to their keeping.
Me:
Let us not take a casual, rhetorical image of a card game and turn it in to an Ecumenical Council declaration of faith. Pastor Stoffregen used a small "secular" example to illustrate what might happen on a larger scale; but of course since he said it, you want to turn it into his personal doctrine. Can you and Pastor Kimball not tell the difference between discussion, rhethoric and proclamation?
But let us be realistic.
Some did leave the ELCA because they felt they will not get proper treatment from their synods and bishops. (I have known of a couple of those people.)
Some did, I believe, leave the ELCA because the views they feel they so eloquently presented didn't cause everyone else to kneel in awe-struck respect at their elegance and intellect. (I believe I have seen such people at ELCA Assemblies.)
Not everyone who left fits those two categories.
But, Pastor Fienen, I don't know anyone in the ELCA who fits the categories you are always setting up for us.

Lou writes:
Because Brian persists, Charles. Go and actually read his posts. Your bolded statements are false witness. Brian said it. He said theology is a game-- nothing more than pinochle. Why do you insist on false witness?
I comment:
See above. Do you not know the difference between rhetoric, argumentation, discussion and proclamation? Pastor Stoffregen has made it clear numerous times that he proclaims the Gospel. And - like any intelligent person - sometimes he leaves the field of proclamation to enter the field of discussion and argumentation outside the "orthodoxy" of one's proclamation.

Lou writes;
You would be a lot happier if people like me simply went away and maybe I should because I simply do not live in your thought world but here I am and I am/was not persuaded by this gamesmanship. And for some reason that I will probably never fully understand I simply must declare " the emperor is buck naked."
I comment;
But you did go away, Lou. You did. I am not likely to encounter you in our legislative or theological forums, am I?
And yes, I believe that your "thought world" and that of a couple of others here is nothing like the world where I learned Lutheranism, as a teenager in Luther League in Iowa, at a church college, at national youth events in the 1950s and 1960s, at seminary, in graduate school, in 45+ years of ordained ministry and in national and international Lutheran employment.
Title: Re: The ELCA Requires Nothing
Post by: Team Hesse on January 07, 2013, 09:34:10 AM
Pastor Fienen writes:
Some in the ELCA consider all that we think about God to be a kind of game of no particular importance.  I don't know what in the activity of the church they consider important. 
I comment:
And just who in the ELCA thinks this way, Pastor Fienen? With not much respect, I contend that your frequent "descriptions" of what you think the ELCA is and what its people think miss the target so drastically that your arrows have punctured innocent farm animals rather than hit a bull's eye.
Have you not heard this humble correspondent (one of the few ELCAers left in this forum) speak about scripture, confessions, sacraments, preaching, teaching, and fellowship in the Body of Christ?
Do you have any - I ask, any - interaction with working ELCA pastors around you? Where do you get these "images" that you project here of us?

Pastor Fienen writes:
Others consider that we can know some things about God, His nature, actions , and will for us because they have been revealed.  We are stewards of this revelation and what we've learned from it.  It's not just that the two sides disagree, they disagree about the significance of their disagreements. 
I comment:
Again, again, and again; there are more than two sides. And, Pastor Fienen, I do not think you have anywhere near a firm grasp on our ELCA differences.

Pastor Fienen:
To the one side it's like winning or loosing at pinochle, to the other it is like giving awAyers a precious nugget of God's truth entrusted to their keeping.
Me:
Let us not take a casual, rhetorical image of a card game and turn it in to an Ecumenical Council declaration of faith. Pastor Stoffregen used a small "secular" example to illustrate what might happen on a larger scale; but of course since he said it, you want to turn it into his personal doctrine. Can you and Pastor Kimball not tell the difference between discussion, rhethoric and proclamation?
But let us be realistic.
Some did leave the ELCA because they felt they will not get proper treatment from their synods and bishops. (I have known of a couple of those people.)
Some did, I believe, leave the ELCA because the views they feel they so eloquently presented didn't cause everyone else to kneel in awe-struck respect at their elegance and intellect. (I believe I have seen such people at ELCA Assemblies.)
Not everyone who left fits those two categories.
But, Pastor Fienen, I don't know anyone in the ELCA who fits the categories you are always setting up for us.


Again, Charles, I simply do not live in the thought world you have dreamed up here. We are incompatible. No getting around that fact. Why do you have such a hard time grasping this basic fact which is so abundantly clear?


Who is being obsessive here?


Lou
Title: Re: The ELCA Requires Nothing
Post by: Team Hesse on January 07, 2013, 09:54:43 AM
And - like any intelligent person - sometimes he leaves the field of proclamation to enter the field of discussion and argumentation outside the "orthodoxy" of one's proclamation.




Well, there it is. The condescending, dismissive judgement of the few people who actually try to converse with your vast "wisdom." Your judgemental hypocrisy stands on its own. So be it. I would pronounce an absolution here, but the last time I absolved you you were offended, so I guess your sins truly are retained.


Lou
Title: Re: The ELCA Requires Nothing
Post by: Charles_Austin on January 07, 2013, 10:03:30 AM
And, Lou, where I am being "dismissive" or even "judgmental" of those who disagree? You are a Lutheran, ministering in a Lutheran church, presumably in "Lutheran" ways. So I am. We are not likely to be ministering in the same place and in the same ways and together.
I will not try to describe the "world" of your Lutheran church; but you and Pastor Fienen keep describing (and condemning) mine; and in ways that I do not recognize.
Pastor Fienen does not, I believe, have a parish assignment, so maybe his interaction with ELCA pastors around him is even more limited than that of some other LCMS clergy.
Your experiences in the church have led you to a different type of Lutheran ministry than is predominant in the ELCA. OK. Fine. Go with it. You have my permission; and my promise not to try and re-shape you or interfere in your denomination.

Title: Re: The ELCA Requires Nothing
Post by: Dadoo on January 07, 2013, 10:18:57 AM
To have a theology of insufficiency or a theology of doubt one has to first of all have a theology - only it is a non-theology-theology, a deconstruction theology.

I do not think that description is consistent with Hebrews 11.


To the thread: Let's just theorize that the writer of the offending column thinks this as well. Maybe he thinks there is lots and lots of grey and virtually no black or white. How does one then call for unity?

By appealing to the belief that Scripture is God's Inspired Word and that the Lutheran understanding of the doctrines of Justification and Baptism are correct understanding of Scripture.  And, based on the Lutheran understanding of Justification and Baptism, we know that unity is God's work, calling each of us by name into God's family.  In spite of our disagreement about matters less important, we are one.  Our insistence on defining one another on the basis of our differences bears false witness to our understanding of Justification, by grace, through faith in Jesus Christ.

To write any of what you wrote, you needed to do something that Brian theorized was merely a mental game: you did theology. To pose that God call us to "unity" you did theology. To insist that defining yourself by our differences is false witness to our understanding of Justification is also theology and a lot of it because the path from one to the other is not at all clear. Did you do theology or were you playing mind games? If the latter, why post it? You cared, that is why you posted, I would assume. THerefore you give me a hint that theology matters to you. Theology matters to the writer of Hebrews (if you are of the HCE mind) who uses every important event of old testament and then some history to put current difficulties into perspective for his intended reader. He was doing theology.

My response to Brian was an exercise in taking his opinion that theology is a mind game and take it to its logic conclusion in the case of the article in question. A theology-of-no-theology leaves us with mere instantaneous anthropology as Lou has already pointed out. In that place, leaving the organization is a matter of exercise of power and diminishment of power for both the departures and remainder. In that system, if one was to think that way, which I do not accuse the writer of and said I don't - I am using Brian's opinion here, the theses that one has nothing to gain by leaving and that one's disagreement on matter theological makes sense. If one does not think that way . . . well that is what we have been describing in our critiques up to now.
Title: Re: The ELCA Requires Nothing
Post by: Johan Bergfest on January 07, 2013, 10:23:34 AM
Why do we all insist on behaving as those the differences among Lutherans are so much more important than the that which we believe in common?

That which we believe in common is God's work.  That which divides us is our work - the consequence of sin.
Title: Re: The ELCA Requires Nothing
Post by: Team Hesse on January 07, 2013, 10:26:17 AM
And, Lou, where I am being "dismissive" or even "judgmental" of those who disagree?


Direct quote from the highlighted quote in the previous post:


       "like any intelligent person"


Now try and understand the implication of what you wrote.


Lou
Title: Re: The ELCA Requires Nothing
Post by: Johan Bergfest on January 07, 2013, 10:36:09 AM
To write any of what you wrote, you needed to do something that Brian theorized was merely a mental game: you did theology.

Peter - I guess that I read Pr. Stoffregen's post a little differently than did you.  And, although I suspect that you and he might be using "theology" a little differently in this conversation.

I understood him to be talking about theology as an exercise in trying to reduce God to that which we can hold within the limits of understanding.  I make to claim to understand my belief that Scripture is God's Inspired Word or to understand how God has related with me through Justification and Baptism.  I hold those things by faith, in spite of the fact that my own reason would suggest that I have put great confidence in ideas that, by human reason, I should reject.
Title: Re: The ELCA Requires Nothing
Post by: Dadoo on January 07, 2013, 10:53:43 AM
Why do we all insist on behaving as those the differences among Lutherans are so much more important than the that which we believe in common?

That which we believe in common is God's work.  That which divides us is our work - the consequence of sin.

I guess because we ought to believe it matters, at least I think it matters. If universal salvation, Christocentric or not, is true then it does indeed not matter. Maybe Christocentric universalism is true. To argue that  is to do theology - it matters.

To say that that what we hold in common is God's work is also a theological statement. To say that what divides us is sin is a theological statement. To make the case that God divides us on purpose (Genesis - tower of Babel) is also a theological statement directly deducted from scripture that cannot be scripture unless a theology of sorts has recognized how "scripture" functions in contrast to  just another book.

To add to that: The theology that we must all be united around what we believe in common is as exclusive as the theology that says we must be of one mind and heart (which is a biblical phrase BTW). Both are fiercely held and defended. You are beginning to defend it here - other defend a more restrictive view.

Again, my point is that we all have a theology that we fiercely defend. Perhaps we act on that theology. We ought to. Actually, we do, it just might not be the explicit theology we talk about but the unspoken theology we actually believe. And even at that, it is not the theology but the implications of it that we live by.

In the organization known as ELCA or LCMS not everything is reducible to theology. Some things are merely procedure and constitution, on often just plain "how people act." People gather into organizations in complicated ways and remain there for complicated reasons. Change in how the organization thinks and does things, however, are guaranteed to bring thought about what one is willing to deal with to a head. Change is accompanied by loss. It really does us ELCA folks no favor to continue to lament loss, neither does it unite us or move us forward. Maybe parts of ELCA are just now getting around to the grieving process after their celebrations of 2009 have died down.

On a personal level, Johan, what would you do if the ELCA (I am assuming you to be ELCA here, sorry if that is not true) decided to get stricter on theology and clearly denounces the "what we hold in common" as sufficient?
Title: Re: The ELCA Requires Nothing
Post by: DCharlton on January 07, 2013, 10:55:04 AM
To write any of what you wrote, you needed to do something that Brian theorized was merely a mental game: you did theology.

Peter - I guess that I read Pr. Stoffregen's post a little differently than did you.  And, although I suspect that you and he might be using "theology" a little differently in this conversation.

I understood him to be talking about theology as an exercise in trying to reduce God to that which we can hold within the limits of understanding.  I make to claim to understand my belief that Scripture is God's Inspired Word or to understand how God has related with me through Justification and Baptism.  I hold those things by faith, in spite of the fact that my own reason would suggest that I have put great confidence in ideas that, by human reason, I should reject.

John,

I think you are accurate in your characterization of Brian's intent.  I also think Peter understood that already.  Brian reduces theology to nothing more than the attempt to reduce God to our understanding.  Although that may be a fair characterization of some in the era of Lutheran Orthodoxy, it seems to me that that tendency has been more prevalent in the post-Enlightenment era.  A book titled "Religion Within the Limits of Reason Alone" comes to mind. 

On the other hand, good ole confessional Lutherans understand the distinction between the Deus Absconditus and the Deus Revelatus.  As Pr Feinen discussed above, we recognize our human inability to know the hidden things of God, yet we confess and believe that God has revealed what is necessary for our salvation through the Word Made Flesh.  Confessional Lutherans do not attempt to record an encyclopedic knowledge of God, but to assure that the Word is preached rightly and the Sacraments administered according to the standard of Scripture.

Now here's the problem with Brian's analogy.    Differences in theology are not arguments about the hidden things of God.  They are not disputes over esoteric human speculations about the Godhead.  They are differences concerning the preaching of the Word, and the administration of the Sacraments.  Some consider differences on those matters to be potentially church dividing. 

David
Title: Re: The ELCA Requires Nothing
Post by: Dadoo on January 07, 2013, 11:00:26 AM
To write any of what you wrote, you needed to do something that Brian theorized was merely a mental game: you did theology.

Peter - I guess that I read Pr. Stoffregen's post a little differently than did you.  And, although I suspect that you and he might be using "theology" a little differently in this conversation.

I understood him to be talking about theology as an exercise in trying to reduce God to that which we can hold within the limits of understanding.  I make to claim to understand my belief that Scripture is God's Inspired Word or to understand how God has related with me through Justification and Baptism.  I hold those things by faith, in spite of the fact that my own reason would suggest that I have put great confidence in ideas that, by human reason, I should reject.

I hope he does not think that that is what theology is.

More personally, it is not a purely a matter of understanding why you believe (though there is a theological answer) but what you believe. In your case you seem to know that, since you bring up Justification and Baptism. Our divisions as Christians and Lutherans are about the what of belief.

Title: Re: The ELCA Requires Nothing
Post by: Brian Stoffregen on January 07, 2013, 11:37:36 AM
I thought it at seminary and still think that theology is a mental game. We are trying to comprehend the incomprehensible God with our puny brains and limited vocabulary. One might even consider it a joke to believe that we could capture God with a theology.

Yet, some folks apparently think that they have comprehended and that they have a  special calling to hold others accountable to their understanding of doctrinal purity.

But that should be obvious. To have a theology of insufficiency or a theology of doubt one has to first of all have a theology - only it is a non-theology-theology, a deconstruction theology. It has nothing constructive to say and sees its own value in pointing out to those who have a theology that their theology is insufficient and should be rejected in favor of doubt. It is a non incarnational theology. Not very interesting. (it is kind of bad apple Calvinism or really poorly understood Bath - God might love you , but then again , what do I know, just do what you think God will do what God will do and we should not think about it too much - I think Crandall wrote about it in the LCMS NALC stream - read at your leisure)


What a "theology of doubt" you are expressing here! You doubt that one can or should have such a theology; but it's what scriptures tells us about our understanding of God -- it will always be inadequate in this life.


"We know in part and we prophecy in part; but when the perfect comes, what is partial will be brought to an end.… Now we see a reflection in a mirror, then we will see face to face. Now I know partially, but then I will know completely in the same way that I have been completely known." (1 Cor 13:9-10, 12)


"My plans aren't your plans, nor are your ways my ways, says the LORD.
Just as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my plans than your plans." (Isaiah 55:8-9)


Eugene Peterson in his description of the magos in Acts 13 (which I also take to apply to the magi in Matthew 2) as "Mr. Know-It-All". Part of the transformation of the magi was coming to see that we don't know it all. They needed God's help and the guidance from scriptures and scholars to find the new king.

Perhaps not "doubt" so much as "partial" or "incomplete" or "temporary for now".

Quote
To the thread: Let's just theorize that the writer of the offending column thinks this as well. Maybe he thinks there is lots and lots of grey and virtually no black or white. How does one then call for unity? By adherence to the institution and use of "proper channels," by making argument not on right or wrong but on "who do I know that is important" who did or said what I think YOU should do or believe. To live in that system requires that the pastor always strive to "network" with important people but otherwise is free to be congregationalist. It helps to be a self promoter as well, so it is good to have a competent journalist n the congregation who will write to Seeds or Lutheran on all the great things we do and who makes sure no public relations opportunity is ever missed.


You keep basing unity on something we have or know or do. Our unity comes from God. Our unity comes from us all believing and praying, "Our Father in heaven." We write and promote what God is doing among us.

Quote
In that system one can of course also retreat into isolation. But one retreats into obscurity and irrelevance as to the decisions that the organization (no longer church in a recognizable way) will make in the future. If he means that, and I certainly hope that Pr. Christian actually gets theology and values it, then his column really said: "You could have stayed and saved yourself (and us) the trouble of voting and leaving, you could have lived your days out here just fine. After all it doesn't matter what you believe, theology is just words and being divided over it is irrelevant. But numbers matter because size of denomination is status and you just hurt us and being small as you are you are not going to be listened to by the important people in Washington that I know."


In recent months I've been dealing with people with estranged family relationships. They loss of the "family" unity is painful, especially if one (like Pr. Christian and many others in the ELCA, believe it was unnecessary.)

Quote
Again, I am using the idea that theology is nothing and means nothing to read into Pr. Christian who probably does not agree with the idea that theology is merely a mental game.


I will state what I've stated before: We are not saved by theology. We are saved by God. (And before Scott Y. chimes in, yes, I know that's a theological statement.)
Title: Re: The ELCA Requires Nothing
Post by: Brian Stoffregen on January 07, 2013, 11:42:07 AM
Just to remind you, the article in question was not "weeping and gnashing of teeth about the feelings of those who lost."  It was the weeping and gnashing of teeth by those who "won."  Pastor Christian's side won, but winning apparently isn't enough.  He, you and Dan Lehman feel it is important to continue to condemn the losers for accepting their defeat and retreating from the field of battle.  You also seem to feel that it is important, having won, to continue to deride those who lost as egomaniacs, phobics and bigots.


On New Year's Day my son and I beat my mother and my wife eight straight games in pinochle. They didn't win a single one. If my wife, after losing, declared she was divorcing me and moving out -- I would be more than a bit upset. Leaving because we won the card games! Why? That's the question the article asks.


Odd thinking, Brian, that your church's public teaching is no more important than a set of afternoon pinochle games. Odd...really very odd.


I thought it at seminary and still think that theology is a mental game. We are trying to comprehend the incomprehensible God with our puny brains and limited vocabulary. One might even consider it a joke to believe that we could capture God with a theology.


So in your world theology is actually an exercise in anthropology.


It's an exercise in μετανοία -- changes in thinking.
Title: Re: The ELCA Requires Nothing
Post by: Brian Stoffregen on January 07, 2013, 11:53:35 AM
Our understanding is at best incomplete, yet God has reveled some of Himself, His actions, and His will for us in waystwayside we can comprehend.  It is not the totality of God, that is beyond our comprehension, but it is what He wants US to know.  Consider a six year old child.  That child knows some things about her father, especially how her father regards her and wants from her.  But much about her father's life is incomprehensible to her, especially if he happens to be the President of the USA.  So is all that she does know simply a mental game of no importance?


What the child should know at a very early age is that her father loves and cares for her. Mentally comprehending other details about her father may become more important as she matures - but the basic knowledge of being loved and cared for is enough.

Quote
What seems to be going on here is a basic incompatibility.  Some in the ELCA consider all that we think about God to be a kind of game of no particular importance.


I have never said that theology is not important. The use of "game" is to remind us not to take it too seriously. Theology is a human work; and our theology also declares that we are not saved by works.


Quote
Others consider that we can know some things about God, His nature, actions , and will for us because they have been revealed.  We are stewards of this revelation and what we've learned from it.


Exactly, and, as a revelation, God can, and I believe, is continuing to reveal more to us as our world continues to change. Revelation tells us about God, "I am making all things new" -- using a present tense verb. We don't believe in a God who gave a revelation and then sits back and does nothing more.


Quote
It's not just that the two sides disagree, they disagree about the significance of their disagreements.  To the one side it's like winning or loosing at pinochle, to the other it is like giving awAyers a precious nugget of God's truth entrusted to their keeping.  And what is being said to the conservatives is this, "disagree with us if you must, that's OK, but you must not take it so seriously, you must regard the significance of our disagreement as we do or you are simply being phobic, or egotistical, like some who would sue for divorce because their spouse won eight straight games of pinochle."  How could anyone possibly take theology that seriously?  There is  the fundamental disagreement and incompatibility.


To use your analogy, I believe that one of the most important nuggets of God's truth is being sacrificed -- that we are saved solely by God's grace through faith in Christ. To even hint that salvation might depend on one's conviction about same-gender relationships (or more generally that any of us are able to stop "living in sin") destroys the whole treasure God has given us.
Title: Re: The ELCA Requires Nothing
Post by: Brian Stoffregen on January 07, 2013, 11:57:12 AM
Lou writes:
So in your world theology is actually an exercise in anthropology. We cannot be sure there is anything real behind these human derived words on a page. One man's view is as good as another. And I think as Peter was pointing out, the only thing that really matters is being persuasive enough that loci of power may pay attention to the agreements which we build by our gamesmanship.

I comment:
Lou, this continues to be an unfair caricature and/or stereotype and biased description of the "revisionists" that is as upgescrewed as you and others claim the article in question is about the people who have left the ELCA. I wish you people would stop doing this, saying that for those who disagree with you "nothing matters."
No one says "we cannot be sure there is anything real behind these human derived words." We have said a thousand times that we can be sure of God's love for us, shown in the life, death and resurrection of Jesus.
No one says "one man's view is as good as another." We have said that those who deny the faith proclaimed in the Creed are not Christian.
No one says the only thing that matters is persuasion. We say what matters is proclamation. The "persuasion" is often up to the Holy Spirit.
Why do you persist in these declarations that for us "revisionists" nothing matters and nothing is sure?
Because Pr. Stoffregen said it was all merely a mental game?  You did note, did you not, that Lou was responding to what Pr. Stoffregen wrote?  Pr. Stoffregen supplied the caricature.  Actually he supplied himself as the caricature.


I said theology is a mental game. It, like all the other -ologies, e.g., biology, anthropology, etc. are our human attempts at understanding (or putting words) to something.


Being loved and cared for by God is not a game. It's an essential element of life.
Title: Re: The ELCA Requires Nothing
Post by: Brian Stoffregen on January 07, 2013, 12:03:43 PM
Lou writes:
So in your world theology is actually an exercise in anthropology. We cannot be sure there is anything real behind these human derived words on a page. One man's view is as good as another. And I think as Peter was pointing out, the only thing that really matters is being persuasive enough that loci of power may pay attention to the agreements which we build by our gamesmanship.

I comment:
Lou, this continues to be an unfair caricature and/or stereotype and biased description of the "revisionists" that is as upgescrewed as you and others claim the article in question is about the people who have left the ELCA. I wish you people would stop doing this, saying that for those who disagree with you "nothing matters."
No one says "we cannot be sure there is anything real behind these human derived words." We have said a thousand times that we can be sure of God's love for us, shown in the life, death and resurrection of Jesus.
No one says "one man's view is as good as another." We have said that those who deny the faith proclaimed in the Creed are not Christian.
No one says the only thing that matters is persuasion. We say what matters is proclamation. The "persuasion" is often up to the Holy Spirit.
Why do you persist in these declarations that for us "revisionists" nothing matters and nothing is sure?


Because Brian persists, Charles. Go and actually read his posts. Your bolded statements are false witness. Brian said it. He said theology is a game-- nothing more than pinochle. Why do you insist on false witness?


You would be a lot happier if people like me simply went away and maybe I should because I simply do not live in your thought world but here I am and I am/was not persuaded by this gamesmanship. And for some reason that I will probably never fully understand I simply must declare " the emperor is buck naked."

Have you never competed in a debate? There is a set topic; and competitors have to be prepared to argue for or against the topic. To the best of their abilities, they try to persuade the judges that their position is the right one. (In the next competition they might have to persuade the judges that the opposition position is the right one.) That's what I see theologians doing.


Even when they begin with the premise that our theology comes from a revelation from God; we still discuss, debate, argue, defend what we believe that revelation is and what it means. The plethora of different denominations all claiming to be led by what God has revealed indicates a bit of the vagueness of many parts of God's revelation.
Title: Re: The ELCA Requires Nothing
Post by: Brian Stoffregen on January 07, 2013, 12:07:28 PM
And - like any intelligent person - sometimes he leaves the field of proclamation to enter the field of discussion and argumentation outside the "orthodoxy" of one's proclamation.




Well, there it is. The condescending, dismissive judgement of the few people who actually try to converse with your vast "wisdom." Your judgemental hypocrisy stands on its own. So be it. I would pronounce an absolution here, but the last time I absolved you you were offended, so I guess your sins truly are retained.


What description would you put on your attitude behind this post?
Title: Re: The ELCA Requires Nothing
Post by: Johan Bergfest on January 07, 2013, 12:09:45 PM
More personally, it is not a purely a matter of understanding why you believe (though there is a theological answer) but what you believe. In your case you seem to know that, since you bring up Justification and Baptism. Our divisions as Christians and Lutherans are about the what of belief.

Among Christians, and, especially, among Lutherans, I have not heard much division regarding the what of belief. 

I do hear frequent arguments in which one person re-interprets within his own paradigm the words that another person uses that reinterpretation to draw baseless conclusions - well if you say this, then you must believe that and, therefore, you don't really believe the doctrine of justification.  Imho, that approach employs flawed logic and violates basic groundrules for constructive conversation.

Title: Re: The ELCA Requires Nothing
Post by: DCharlton on January 07, 2013, 12:10:34 PM

What a "theology of doubt" you are expressing here! You doubt that one can or should have such a theology; but it's what scriptures tells us about our understanding of God -- it will always be inadequate in this life.


It is inadequate in many ways.  However, it is adequate when it pertains to salvation.  The knowledge of God given in Jesus Christ, the knowledge imparted by the Holy Spirit by means of Word and Sacrament is adequate for our salvation. 
Title: Re: The ELCA Requires Nothing
Post by: Johan Bergfest on January 07, 2013, 12:14:04 PM
Even when they begin with the premise that our theology comes from a revelation from God; we still discuss, debate, argue, defend what we believe that revelation is and what it means. The plethora of different denominations all claiming to be led by what God has revealed indicates a bit of the vagueness of many parts of God's revelation.

If the purpose of such debate is to work together to discover deeper truth, it is healthy.  Unfortunately, too much of the debate is focused on trying to influence the judges.  I am not convinced that debate for the latter purpose is healthy for the Church, for the average person sitting in the pew or for the person who is still stuck in darkness.
Title: Re: The ELCA Requires Nothing
Post by: Brian Stoffregen on January 07, 2013, 12:15:05 PM
To have a theology of insufficiency or a theology of doubt one has to first of all have a theology - only it is a non-theology-theology, a deconstruction theology.

I do not think that description is consistent with Hebrews 11.


To the thread: Let's just theorize that the writer of the offending column thinks this as well. Maybe he thinks there is lots and lots of grey and virtually no black or white. How does one then call for unity?

By appealing to the belief that Scripture is God's Inspired Word and that the Lutheran understanding of the doctrines of Justification and Baptism are correct understanding of Scripture.  And, based on the Lutheran understanding of Justification and Baptism, we know that unity is God's work, calling each of us by name into God's family.  In spite of our disagreement about matters less important, we are one.  Our insistence on defining one another on the basis of our differences bears false witness to our understanding of Justification, by grace, through faith in Jesus Christ.

To write any of what you wrote, you needed to do something that Brian theorized was merely a mental game: you did theology. To pose that God call us to "unity" you did theology. To insist that defining yourself by our differences is false witness to our understanding of Justification is also theology and a lot of it because the path from one to the other is not at all clear. Did you do theology or were you playing mind games? If the latter, why post it? You cared, that is why you posted, I would assume. THerefore you give me a hint that theology matters to you. Theology matters to the writer of Hebrews (if you are of the HCE mind) who uses every important event of old testament and then some history to put current difficulties into perspective for his intended reader. He was doing theology.

My response to Brian was an exercise in taking his opinion that theology is a mind game and take it to its logic conclusion in the case of the article in question. A theology-of-no-theology leaves us with mere instantaneous anthropology as Lou has already pointed out. In that place, leaving the organization is a matter of exercise of power and diminishment of power for both the departures and remainder. In that system, if one was to think that way, which I do not accuse the writer of and said I don't - I am using Brian's opinion here, the theses that one has nothing to gain by leaving and that one's disagreement on matter theological makes sense. If one does not think that way . . . well that is what we have been describing in our critiques up to now.


Where have I even hinted at a theology-of-no-theology? We express our theologies because we think we have a better one than the next person and we want to persuade him to our (right or rite) way of thinking and speaking about God. Or, in the language of gamesmanship (like in competitive debate), we want to win, but sometimes we lose or face a stalemate where neither side is willing to concede defeat -- that there might be something deficient in their theology.


Title: Re: The ELCA Requires Nothing
Post by: Brian Stoffregen on January 07, 2013, 12:21:23 PM

What a "theology of doubt" you are expressing here! You doubt that one can or should have such a theology; but it's what scriptures tells us about our understanding of God -- it will always be inadequate in this life.


It is inadequate in many ways.  However, it is adequate when it pertains to salvation.  The knowledge of God given in Jesus Christ, the knowledge imparted by the Holy Spirit by means of Word and Sacrament is adequate for our salvation.


Yes, adequate for salvation -- e.g., we are loved and cared for and saved by God's grace through faith in Jesus. But consider Word and Sacrament -- we haven't agreed about whether the sacrament is essential with the Word for the normal Christian worship service. There were and maybe continues to be differences about baptism -- is an unbaptized infant saved or damned? I dealt with a lady who was told by a Lutheran pastor that her infant was in hell because he hadn't been baptized. I certainly do agree with that "theology," and I don't think many Lutherans would say that today; but then does that lead to the conclusion that baptism isn't necessary?
Title: Re: The ELCA Requires Nothing
Post by: DCharlton on January 07, 2013, 12:30:49 PM
More personally, it is not a purely a matter of understanding why you believe (though there is a theological answer) but what you believe. In your case you seem to know that, since you bring up Justification and Baptism. Our divisions as Christians and Lutherans are about the what of belief.

Among Christians, and, especially, among Lutherans, I have not heard much division regarding the what of belief. 

I do hear frequent arguments in which one person re-interprets within his own paradigm the words that another person uses that reinterpretation to draw baseless conclusions - well if you say this, then you must believe that and, therefore, you don't really believe the doctrine of justification.  Imho, that approach employs flawed logic and violates basic groundrules for constructive conversation.

John,

I think there is plenty of the latter, but also plenty of the former.   Not all disagreements are a matter of drawing false conclusions.  Some disagreements are over substantive matters.    The disagreement that many of us have with Brian's notion of theology is long standing.  We have been in dialogue with him for years and there is a definite difference between us. 

For example, Lutherans disagree with Catholics, Baptists, Methodists, and Reformed Churches on many things.  In the past, when our disagreements devolved into polemics, we were often guilty of what you describe in your second paragraph.  That, however, does not mean that all or our disagreements were a mere matter of misinterpretation. 

Brian often implies that our differences are mere illusion based on misinterpretation (as well as pride and prejudice).  The old blind men and the elephant analogy comes into play here.  We are left then with the bizarre exchange: "We don't really disagree."  "Yes, we do."  "No, we don't."  We refuse to agree about whether we disagree or not.

In some ways, that's what the divide in the ELCA comes down to.  The ELCA says, "How can you leave, since we don't even disagree."  The departers say, "But we do disagree."  The ELCA counters, "We don't really.  You're just seeing things too narrowly."  The Departers say, "No, we are identifying a real difference."  "Well then," says the ELCA, "what we disagree about is not really that important."  The Departers respond, "Yes it is important."  The ELCA retorts, "If you think this minor disagreement is important, you are guilty of narrow minded fundamentalism."  "No," counters the Departers, "you are guilty of a fuzzy headed liberalism."

On and on it goes.  No progress is possible because we can't even agree about whether we are in disagreement or not.

David (Or maybe not David.  Who's to say?)
Title: Re: The ELCA Requires Nothing
Post by: DCharlton on January 07, 2013, 12:40:41 PM

What a "theology of doubt" you are expressing here! You doubt that one can or should have such a theology; but it's what scriptures tells us about our understanding of God -- it will always be inadequate in this life.


It is inadequate in many ways.  However, it is adequate when it pertains to salvation.  The knowledge of God given in Jesus Christ, the knowledge imparted by the Holy Spirit by means of Word and Sacrament is adequate for our salvation.


Yes, adequate for salvation -- e.g., we are loved and cared for and saved by God's grace through faith in Jesus. But consider Word and Sacrament -- we haven't agreed about whether the sacrament is essential with the Word for the normal Christian worship service. There were and maybe continues to be differences about baptism -- is an unbaptized infant saved or damned? I dealt with a lady who was told by a Lutheran pastor that her infant was in hell because he hadn't been baptized. I certainly do agree with that "theology," and I don't think many Lutherans would say that today; but then does that lead to the conclusion that baptism isn't necessary?

But see, you're falling into the old trap.  You're attempting to peer into the hidden things of God.  We have the simple confidence, that what is revealed in Christ through the Spirit is adequate for salvation.   A casuistic breakdown of who's in and who's out, is not necessary for salvation.  That's the very kind of encyclopedic knowledge that is not required to do confessional theology. 
Title: Re: The ELCA Requires Nothing
Post by: Johan Bergfest on January 07, 2013, 12:44:23 PM
I think there is plenty of the latter, but also plenty of the former.   Not all disagreements are a matter of drawing false conclusions.  Some disagreements are over substantive matters.    The disagreement that many of us have with Brian's notion of theology is long standing.  We have been in dialogue with him for years and there is a definite difference between us. 

I agree that there are plenty of substantive disagreements.  However, I have not hear any substantive disagreements among Lutherans regarding justification.
Title: Re: The ELCA Requires Nothing
Post by: readselerttoo on January 07, 2013, 12:49:21 PM
Just to remind you, the article in question was not "weeping and gnashing of teeth about the feelings of those who lost."  It was the weeping and gnashing of teeth by those who "won."  Pastor Christian's side won, but winning apparently isn't enough.  He, you and Dan Lehman feel it is important to continue to condemn the losers for accepting their defeat and retreating from the field of battle.  You also seem to feel that it is important, having won, to continue to deride those who lost as egomaniacs, phobics and bigots.


On New Year's Day my son and I beat my mother and my wife eight straight games in pinochle. They didn't win a single one. If my wife, after losing, declared she was divorcing me and moving out -- I would be more than a bit upset. Leaving because we won the card games! Why? That's the question the article asks.


Odd thinking, Brian, that your church's public teaching is no more important than a set of afternoon pinochle games. Odd...really very odd.


I thought it at seminary and still think that theology is a mental game. We are trying to comprehend the incomprehensible God with our puny brains and limited vocabulary. One might even consider it a joke to believe that we could capture God with a theology.

On the one hand I understand what you are saying in terms of theology as a set of principles and dogmas.  But in terms of a living, breathing relationship with Jesus (and the Holy Trinity through Jesus, btw) theology is like a wonderful and joyful conversation with this saving Person and to share this with others like many of us do on this forum is not a mental game but a conversation with others who share in this living relationship.  It really makes me realize how deeply connected believers are to one another in the Body of Christ.  I truly believe that the Gospel in the Scriptures and the Lutheran Confessions help convey this love for one another in a very specific way.
Title: Re: The ELCA Requires Nothing
Post by: DCharlton on January 07, 2013, 12:51:59 PM
I think there is plenty of the latter, but also plenty of the former.   Not all disagreements are a matter of drawing false conclusions.  Some disagreements are over substantive matters.    The disagreement that many of us have with Brian's notion of theology is long standing.  We have been in dialogue with him for years and there is a definite difference between us. 

I agree that there are plenty of substantive disagreements.  However, I have not hear any substantive disagreements among Lutherans regarding justification.

There were plently substantive disagreements in the era between the Augsburg Interim and the adoption of the Formula of Concord.  But perhaps not today.  Unless the interpretations of justification ruled out by the Formula of Concord keep creeping back into the Church.

Nevertheless, certainly have a strong disagreement over the role the Law.  One of the more bizarre forms this disagreement takes is about whether agreement on the Law is necessary.  Some say agreement on the Law is necessary for church unity.  Other's say it is not.  However,  many who claim that agreement on the Law is not necessary will insist that full adherence to ELCA policies and constitutions is.  To which the reply is, "But aren't policies and constitutions a form of Law?"  Again, we can't agree about whether we disagree.

David 
Title: Re: The ELCA Requires Nothing
Post by: readselerttoo on January 07, 2013, 12:56:27 PM
To have a theology of insufficiency or a theology of doubt one has to first of all have a theology - only it is a non-theology-theology, a deconstruction theology.

I do not think that description is consistent with Hebrews 11.


To the thread: Let's just theorize that the writer of the offending column thinks this as well. Maybe he thinks there is lots and lots of grey and virtually no black or white. How does one then call for unity?

By appealing to the belief that Scripture is God's Inspired Word and that the Lutheran understanding of the doctrines of Justification and Baptism are correct understanding of Scripture.  And, based on the Lutheran understanding of Justification and Baptism, we know that unity is God's work, calling each of us by name into God's family.  In spite of our disagreement about matters less important, we are one.  Our insistence on defining one another on the basis of our differences bears false witness to our understanding of Justification, by grace, through faith in Jesus Christ.


Does two kingdom theology have any place in the teaching you insist on?


There still are things which even the most insistent believers in Justification by grace through faith will insist must divide us. In my experience, monogamy was a non-negotiable in the ELCA as well as some notion that there is an age dimension to sexual relationships. And that is just one area. The ELCA does divide people by their social statements in ways having nothing to do with Justification. By teaching the way they do is false witness being borne?


Lou


I think the two kingdom issue is one that divides some ELCA Lutherans in that world-views are at test here.  The American world-view (and much of that world-view that has been accepted into the thinking of some Lutherans in America) pictures God as somewhere else.  Jesus is dead and gone a figure of history who passes away like all others in history.  If there will be any sort of unity in American Lutheranism the 2 kingdom issue will have to be wrestled on a very fundamental plane.
Title: Re: The ELCA Requires Nothing
Post by: Team Hesse on January 07, 2013, 01:04:37 PM
And - like any intelligent person - sometimes he leaves the field of proclamation to enter the field of discussion and argumentation outside the "orthodoxy" of one's proclamation.




Well, there it is. The condescending, dismissive judgement of the few people who actually try to converse with your vast "wisdom." Your judgemental hypocrisy stands on its own. So be it. I would pronounce an absolution here, but the last time I absolved you you were offended, so I guess your sins truly are retained.


What description would you put on your attitude behind this post?


What is it to you? More of the game you play?


Lou
Title: Re: The ELCA Requires Nothing
Post by: DCharlton on January 07, 2013, 01:22:40 PM
Thinking about what I wrote to John Bergfest a moment ago, I present a half-playful/half-serious interpretation of our recent conflicts in the ELCA:

1.  Is agreement on matters of the Law necessary for church unity?

     Some say NO.  Some say YES. 

2.  Is agreement on policies and constitutions necessary for church unity?

     Some say NO.  Some say YES.

3.  Is uniform adherence to policies and constitutions necessary for church unity?

     Some say NO.  Some say YES.

4.  If one believes ELCA policies or constitutions defy the will of God, may one ignore said policies and constitutions?

     Some say NO.  Some say YES.

5.  If one ignores an ELCA policy/constitutional provision because of the conviction that policy or provision defies the will of God, should one be disciplined?

     Some say NO.  Some say YES.

The result is dozens of different positions pertaining to the Law in the broad sense of rules and regulations.   I submit that the desire to focus on Gospel rather than Law has lead us to ignore these issues, and thus exacerbated our divisions.
Title: Re: The ELCA Requires Nothing
Post by: Dadoo on January 07, 2013, 03:40:07 PM
I thought it at seminary and still think that theology is a mental game. We are trying to comprehend the incomprehensible God with our puny brains and limited vocabulary. One might even consider it a joke to believe that we could capture God with a theology.

Yet, some folks apparently think that they have comprehended and that they have a  special calling to hold others accountable to their understanding of doctrinal purity.

But that should be obvious. To have a theology of insufficiency or a theology of doubt one has to first of all have a theology - only it is a non-theology-theology, a deconstruction theology. It has nothing constructive to say and sees its own value in pointing out to those who have a theology that their theology is insufficient and should be rejected in favor of doubt. It is a non incarnational theology. Not very interesting. (it is kind of bad apple Calvinism or really poorly understood Bath - God might love you , but then again , what do I know, just do what you think God will do what God will do and we should not think about it too much - I think Crandall wrote about it in the LCMS NALC stream - read at your leisure)


What a "theology of doubt" you are expressing here! You doubt that one can or should have such a theology; but it's what scriptures tells us about our understanding of God -- it will always be inadequate in this life.


"We know in part and we prophecy in part; but when the perfect comes, what is partial will be brought to an end.… Now we see a reflection in a mirror, then we will see face to face. Now I know partially, but then I will know completely in the same way that I have been completely known." (1 Cor 13:9-10, 12)


"My plans aren't your plans, nor are your ways my ways, says the LORD.
Just as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my plans than your plans." (Isaiah 55:8-9)


Eugene Peterson in his description of the magos in Acts 13 (which I also take to apply to the magi in Matthew 2) as "Mr. Know-It-All". Part of the transformation of the magi was coming to see that we don't know it all. They needed God's help and the guidance from scriptures and scholars to find the new king.

Perhaps not "doubt" so much as "partial" or "incomplete" or "temporary for now".

Quote
To the thread: Let's just theorize that the writer of the offending column thinks this as well. Maybe he thinks there is lots and lots of grey and virtually no black or white. How does one then call for unity? By adherence to the institution and use of "proper channels," by making argument not on right or wrong but on "who do I know that is important" who did or said what I think YOU should do or believe. To live in that system requires that the pastor always strive to "network" with important people but otherwise is free to be congregationalist. It helps to be a self promoter as well, so it is good to have a competent journalist n the congregation who will write to Seeds or Lutheran on all the great things we do and who makes sure no public relations opportunity is ever missed.


You keep basing unity on something we have or know or do. Our unity comes from God. Our unity comes from us all believing and praying, "Our Father in heaven." We write and promote what God is doing among us.

Quote
In that system one can of course also retreat into isolation. But one retreats into obscurity and irrelevance as to the decisions that the organization (no longer church in a recognizable way) will make in the future. If he means that, and I certainly hope that Pr. Christian actually gets theology and values it, then his column really said: "You could have stayed and saved yourself (and us) the trouble of voting and leaving, you could have lived your days out here just fine. After all it doesn't matter what you believe, theology is just words and being divided over it is irrelevant. But numbers matter because size of denomination is status and you just hurt us and being small as you are you are not going to be listened to by the important people in Washington that I know."


In recent months I've been dealing with people with estranged family relationships. They loss of the "family" unity is painful, especially if one (like Pr. Christian and many others in the ELCA, believe it was unnecessary.)

Quote
Again, I am using the idea that theology is nothing and means nothing to read into Pr. Christian who probably does not agree with the idea that theology is merely a mental game.


I will state what I've stated before: We are not saved by theology. We are saved by God. (And before Scott Y. chimes in, yes, I know that's a theological statement.)

Brian,

We are responding to your claim that theology is  a mind game and a way to restrict God. No one has claimed that one is saved by theology . . . .  so far. In my case, I took that sentence and some knowledge how you do theology - and yes, you do it- and drove it off the cliff that it was headed for anyway.

As far a grief is concerned. Pr. Christian and you were not unaware that the departures of 2010 and 2011 were looming should the ELCA vote it ended up doing in 2009. The church voted and now everyone gets to grieve. That's life.
Title: Re: The ELCA Requires Nothing
Post by: Dadoo on January 07, 2013, 03:43:29 PM
More personally, it is not a purely a matter of understanding why you believe (though there is a theological answer) but what you believe. In your case you seem to know that, since you bring up Justification and Baptism. Our divisions as Christians and Lutherans are about the what of belief.

Among Christians, and, especially, among Lutherans, I have not heard much division regarding the what of belief. 

I do hear frequent arguments in which one person re-interprets within his own paradigm the words that another person uses that reinterpretation to draw baseless conclusions - well if you say this, then you must believe that and, therefore, you don't really believe the doctrine of justification.  Imho, that approach employs flawed logic and violates basic groundrules for constructive conversation.

John,

I think there is plenty of the latter, but also plenty of the former.   Not all disagreements are a matter of drawing false conclusions.  Some disagreements are over substantive matters.    The disagreement that many of us have with Brian's notion of theology is long standing.  We have been in dialogue with him for years and there is a definite difference between us. 

For example, Lutherans disagree with Catholics, Baptists, Methodists, and Reformed Churches on many things.  In the past, when our disagreements devolved into polemics, we were often guilty of what you describe in your second paragraph.  That, however, does not mean that all or our disagreements were a mere matter of misinterpretation. 

Brian often implies that our differences are mere illusion based on misinterpretation (as well as pride and prejudice).  The old blind men and the elephant analogy comes into play here.  We are left then with the bizarre exchange: "We don't really disagree."  "Yes, we do."  "No, we don't."  We refuse to agree about whether we disagree or not.

In some ways, that's what the divide in the ELCA comes down to.  The ELCA says, "How can you leave, since we don't even disagree."  The departers say, "But we do disagree."  The ELCA counters, "We don't really.  You're just seeing things too narrowly."  The Departers say, "No, we are identifying a real difference."  "Well then," says the ELCA, "what we disagree about is not really that important."  The Departers respond, "Yes it is important."  The ELCA retorts, "If you think this minor disagreement is important, you are guilty of narrow minded fundamentalism."  "No," counters the Departers, "you are guilty of a fuzzy headed liberalism."

On and on it goes.  No progress is possible because we can't even agree about whether we are in disagreement or not.

David (Or maybe not David.  Who's to say?)

I like that fictional dialog. It seems to ring true.
Title: Re: The ELCA Requires Nothing
Post by: Dadoo on January 07, 2013, 03:47:28 PM
Thinking about what I wrote to John Bergfest a moment ago, I present a half-playful/half-serious interpretation of our recent conflicts in the ELCA:

1.  Is agreement on matters of the Law necessary for church unity?

     Some say NO.  Some say YES. 

2.  Is agreement on policies and constitutions necessary for church unity?

     Some say NO.  Some say YES.

3.  Is uniform adherence to policies and constitutions necessary for church unity?

     Some say NO.  Some say YES.

4.  If one believes ELCA policies or constitutions defy the will of God, may one ignore said policies and constitutions?

     Some say NO.  Some say YES.

5.  If one ignores an ELCA policy/constitutional provision because of the conviction that policy or provision defies the will of God, should one be disciplined?

     Some say NO.  Some say YES.

The result is dozens of different positions pertaining to the Law in the broad sense of rules and regulations.   I submit that the desire to focus on Gospel rather than Law has lead us to ignore these issues, and thus exacerbated our divisions.

There are 64 answers (I think) to this question and answer matrix. What it overlooks, however, is that law and Gospel are both God's word, both are good. Both are important. the problem seem to be that we separate them instead of keeping them in close proximity and distinguishing them. The Gospel answers the accusation of the Law.
Title: Re: The ELCA Requires Nothing
Post by: Johan Bergfest on January 07, 2013, 04:12:23 PM
We are responding to your claim that theology is  a mind game and a way to restrict God. No one has claimed that one is saved by theology . . . .  so far.

Really?  The authors of ACELC's admonition seem to behave as though they have a lock of pure doctrine and you'd better believe it their way, or else.
Title: Re: The ELCA Requires Nothing
Post by: Dadoo on January 07, 2013, 04:17:30 PM
We are responding to your claim that theology is  a mind game and a way to restrict God. No one has claimed that one is saved by theology . . . .  so far.

Really?  The authors of ACELC's admonition seem to behave as though they have a lock of pure doctrine and you'd better believe it their way, or else.

Are they ELCA and are they participating in this discussion? I may have missed them, but I do not remember a believe my dogma or God will run you over with all four tires claims.

Or are they the ones who wnat our teachers to be armed? :)
Title: Re: The ELCA Requires Nothing
Post by: Charles_Austin on January 07, 2013, 04:25:56 PM
And once the word, "matrix," floats into the conversation we enter the astral realm of speculation and connectivities that are so complex and manipulated, not even the manipulators know where their number-jinkeying will end up.
Try this. No "matrix," just reality.
The ELCA made some decisions in 2009.
A lot of people didn't like them.
A good number of those people left the ELCA.
Some who stayed are still not happy with the decisions.
The decisions of 2009 are being implemented.
Sixty-five synods have held two synodical assemblies since then and no serious move has been made to change the decisions of 2009.
The ELCA had a church-wide Assembly in 2011 and the topic of "2009" was hardly a misty-puff on the agenda.
Since 2009, the ELCA has continued its mission, started ministries in various places in the U.S. and around the world, educated and ordained pastors, educated and put lay professionals on our roster, baptized, taught, confirmed, married, counseled and buried hundreds of thousands of people.
A good many of those ministries and much of that work has almost nothing to do with the controversial decisions of 2009. Some of it happened because of the decisions of 2009.
Just where, I keep asking, is all this "disagreement" and toe-curling angst over policies and procedures? Is it a vast stream of icky fluid running through the ELCA and each Synod?
There are difficulties, to be sure, when local disputes reach certain levels. But who is mounting the barricades, gathering the volunteers, and developing the battle plans to take over the ELCA or change its direction?
Who?
You want that kind of stuff, turn your eyes to that other large Lutheran denomination in our land.
Title: Re: The ELCA Requires Nothing
Post by: Steven Tibbetts on January 07, 2013, 04:38:14 PM

The ELCA requires nothing of congregations. ...

So with total freedom, why do congregations and pastors depart from the broad and global Lutheran family?


I was unaware that the ELCA is "the broad and global Lutheran family."

So why be part of a group that has no requirements? Perhaps because "no requirements" is not the same as "no expectations."

What does it say when a former synodical official compares on one hand the meager trickle of departures over civil rights, the War in Vietnam, mergers, and politicized pension investing to, on the other hand, the flow of departures over the last decade attributed to "phobias" of Islam (huh?) and the (apparently) unimportant matters of marriage, family, and sexuality.

The "disconnect" Pastor Austin wrote about does not seem one-sided.

Kyrie eleison, Steven+
ELCA Pastor (not that there's anything wrong with that)
Title: Re: The ELCA Requires Nothing
Post by: Brian Stoffregen on January 07, 2013, 05:26:28 PM
We are responding to your claim that theology is  a mind game and a way to restrict God.


We cannot restrict God. Do to our limited knowledge, understanding, and abilities, we can not fully comprehend the entirety of God. It is the hubris that seems to think, "I've got God all figured out" that I object to.



Quote
No one has claimed that one is saved by theology . . . .  so far. In my case, I took that sentence and some knowledge how you do theology - and yes, you do it- and drove it off the cliff that it was headed for anyway.


Yup, and once off the cliff, we have nothing but trust in God to save us, because we're no longer on the solid ground of our theology.

Quote
As far a grief is concerned. Pr. Christian and you were not unaware that the departures of 2010 and 2011 were looming should the ELCA vote it ended up doing in 2009. The church voted and now everyone gets to grieve. That's life.


And the church bent over backwards to try to create spaces for those who disagreed with the vote. So it feels like a slap in the face for all our efforts to respect and continue to welcome the "traditionalists" in our church when the can no longer stand to be with us. (Granted, there were perhaps more than a few who were not so respectful and welcoming.)
Title: Re: The ELCA Requires Nothing
Post by: Brian Stoffregen on January 07, 2013, 05:33:07 PM
I think the two kingdom issue is one that divides some ELCA Lutherans in that world-views are at test here.  The American world-view (and much of that world-view that has been accepted into the thinking of some Lutherans in America) pictures God as somewhere else.  Jesus is dead and gone a figure of history who passes away like all others in history.  If there will be any sort of unity in American Lutheranism the 2 kingdom issue will have to be wrestled on a very fundamental plane.


You might be partially right. There are those who keep arguing about what God did back in history: exactly how God created the world, what precisely happened the first Easter morning; rather than believe and trust in a present-day, living, active God who guides and directs our thoughts and actions today. There are many theological statements that sound more like a history lesson than a declaration of the living God.


I'm often tempted to tell someone who says something like, "I believe God created the world in six-24 hour days," or "God physically raised Jesus from the dead on the third day," with "So what! How is that affecting your life today? What are you doing differently today because you believe that about God?"
Title: Re: The ELCA Requires Nothing
Post by: A Catholic Lutheran on January 07, 2013, 05:38:02 PM
We are responding to your claim that theology is  a mind game and a way to restrict God.


We cannot restrict God. Do [sic] to our limited knowledge, understanding, and abilities, we can not fully comprehend the entirety of God. It is the hubris that seems to think, "I've got God all figured out" that I object to.



Quote
No one has claimed that one is saved by theology . . . .  so far. In my case, I took that sentence and some knowledge how you do theology - and yes, you do it- and drove it off the cliff that it was headed for anyway.


Yup, and once off the cliff, we have nothing but trust in God to save us, because we're no longer on the solid ground of our theology.

Quote
As far a grief is concerned. Pr. Christian and you were not unaware that the departures of 2010 and 2011 were looming should the ELCA vote it ended up doing in 2009. The church voted and now everyone gets to grieve. That's life.


And the church bent over backwards to try to create spaces for those who disagreed with the vote. So it feels like a slap in the face for all our efforts to respect and continue to welcome the "traditionalists" in our church when the can no longer stand to be with us. (Granted, there were perhaps more than a few who were not so respectful and welcoming.)

This whole exchange reminds me of nothing so much as a snipet from C.S. Lewis' master-work The Great Divorce:


“Do you not even believe that He exists?”

“Exists? What does Existence mean? You will keep on implying some sort of static, ready-made reality which is, so to speak, ‘there,’ and to which our minds have simply to conform. These great mysteries cannot be approached in that way. If there were such a thing (there is no need to interrupt, my dear boy) quite frankly, I should not be interested in it. It would be of no religious significance. God, for me, is something purely spiritual.”
 


Or...
“What you now call the free play of inquiry has neither more nor less to do with the ends for which intelligence was given you than masturbation has to do with marriage.”

Seriously, Brian, I wonder if you ever realize or dare to wonder just how FAR you wander from the reality of the Faith?

Pax Christi;
Pr. Jerry Kliner, STS
Title: Re: The ELCA Requires Nothing
Post by: Steven Tibbetts on January 07, 2013, 05:46:42 PM
Well, Pastor Fienen, I know quite a number of former LCMS pastors and other former LCMS pastors have served the ELCA as bishops and in other ways. I have never heard them even mention Seminex, except in an academic way.


Seminex and/or the events of the LCMS schism come up once or twice each month in the weekly pericope study that I host for our conference's ELCA pastors. 

Regular attendees include a pastor who says he was the first to be excommunicated from the LCMS after Pres. Preus' election (and who, upon reaching retirement age, was promptly notified by the LCMS pension plan of his benefits!), a couple who were transitioning from pre-sem within the System to seminary as Seminex was emerging, veteran LCA pastors for whom it is but stories about others, and young ELCA pastors for whom this is all ancient history. 

Me?  My Seminex profs at PLTS were either classmates or college/sem teachers of my LCMS-rooted ELCA colleagues.  I guess it makes me the perfect host!

Pax, Steven+
Title: Re: The ELCA Requires Nothing
Post by: Brian Stoffregen on January 07, 2013, 05:47:15 PM
Seriously, Brian, I wonder if you ever realize or dare to wonder just how FAR you wander from the reality of the Faith?

Nope, not at all. Jesus loves me, this I know, for the Bible tells me so. That's the reality of the Faith.


I don't buy into all the extras some people seek to add to the Faith.


It's like adults telling me about the Small Catechism they got in confirmation -- a 160 page book! I point out to them that Luther's Small Catechism can be printed in 16 pages. Most of those 160 pages were additions of some person's comments about the Small Catechism. "Oh, I didn't realize that," is a common response.
Title: Re: The ELCA Requires Nothing
Post by: Steven Tibbetts on January 07, 2013, 05:49:11 PM

I am trying "to get on with things."  But writers like Pr. Christian keep bringing the old anger and insults back up, every time I think it has started to die down.

Makes one no longer wonder, my friend, if there is such a thing as "a sore winner."  How many of these "My Turn" screeds must we endure?

 :(
Title: Re: The ELCA Requires Nothing
Post by: A Catholic Lutheran on January 07, 2013, 05:55:02 PM
Seriously, Brian, I wonder if you ever realize or dare to wonder just how FAR you wander from the reality of the Faith?

Nope, not at all. Jesus loves this I know, for the Bible tells me so. That's the reality of the Faith.


And that, my friend, is the truest manifestation of what you were decrying up-thread: hubris.

Oh, and by the way, the lyric is "Jesus love me, this I know..."  not "this."  There are many things our Lord does not love, though he most certainly loves the person.  And yet...

But we've been down this road before I know far too well not to engage in your petulence.  You answered my question candidly and I appreciate it.  I will continue to pray for you.  Maybe one day you and I can sit and shudder at both of our posts on this forum.

Pax Christi;
Pr. Jerry Kliner, STS
Title: Re: The ELCA Requires Nothing
Post by: Dadoo on January 07, 2013, 06:25:21 PM
Just a question: If someone is adverse to having his/her denomination be of one mind and heart theologically is that person then Concordiphobic?  ::)
Title: Re: The ELCA Requires Nothing
Post by: DCharlton on January 07, 2013, 07:11:51 PM
And the church bent over backwards to try to create spaces for those who disagreed with the vote. So it feels like a slap in the face for all our efforts to respect and continue to welcome the "traditionalists" in our church when the can no longer stand to be with us. (Granted, there were perhaps more than a few who were not so respectful and welcoming.)

It's hard to welcome the traditionalists IN the ELCA because you are angry with those who left? The reward for remaining in the ELCA is being blamed for what the departed did?
Title: Re: The ELCA Requires Nothing
Post by: Charles_Austin on January 07, 2013, 07:12:31 PM
Among the many things I do not understand is the heated reaction which Pastor Stoffregen seems to evoke from some ALPB participants. He is persistent and, in my opinion, admirably patient in presenting his views. But he never says everyone has to agree with him and often says he is engaging in the kind of theological speculation which scholars and thinkers have been doing for centuries. Not every sentence is proclaimed doctrine.
Still, the heat from some rises when he posts; and he is advised to repent, reform and reject his musings.
And if he says something "orthodox," folks run from it because he is the one who says it.
I just do not get the fixation with his comments. Sometimes (often) I agree with him; sometimes not; but I don't understand this passion to "turn" him into something else or the warnings that Someone Is Watching and You're Gonna Be Sorry.
Title: Re: The ELCA Requires Nothing
Post by: Charles_Austin on January 07, 2013, 07:15:46 PM
Pastor Charlton writes:
It's hard to welcome the traditionalists IN the ELCA because of what those who departed?  So the reward for remaining in the ELCA is being blamed for what the departed did?

I comment:
Maybe. That's bearing one another's burdens; like the "revisionists" who are trying to be understanding and tolerant have to take the heat for those who aren't.
Title: Re: The ELCA Requires Nothing
Post by: DCharlton on January 07, 2013, 07:21:10 PM
Pastor Charlton writes:
It's hard to welcome the traditionalists IN the ELCA because of what those who departed?  So the reward for remaining in the ELCA is being blamed for what the departed did?

I comment:
Maybe. That's bearing one another's burdens; like the "revisionists" who are trying to be understanding and tolerant have to take the heat for those who aren't.

Fair enough.  However, I'm not sure that's what Brian meant.  That's why there's a question mark at the end of each sentence.
Title: Re: The ELCA Requires Nothing
Post by: Dan Fienen on January 07, 2013, 07:41:44 PM
As far a grief is concerned. Pr. Christian and you were not unaware that the departures of 2010 and 2011 were looming should the ELCA vote it ended up doing in 2009. The church voted and now everyone gets to grieve. That's life.


And the church bent over backwards to try to create spaces for those who disagreed with the vote. So it feels like a slap in the face for all our efforts to respect and continue to welcome the "traditionalists" in our church when the can no longer stand to be with us. (Granted, there were perhaps more than a few who were not so respectful and welcoming.)

What did the bending over backwards to try to create spaces for those who disagreed with the vote entail?  What kind of spaces were created, what kind of effort was involved?  How much effort was expended to assist with dealing with those who were not so respectful and welcoming?  Giving them space to vent in The Lutheran?  (Giving whom room, those who disagreed or those who were bending over backwards to create spaces for them but were not so respectful and welcoming?)
 
But I find this sentence most interesting.  "So it feels like a slap in the face for all our efforts to respect and continue to welcome the "traditionalists" in our church when the[y] [sic?] can no longer stand to be with us." 
 
Earlier in the civil rights movements some whites made much of their willingness to tolerate Blacks in places where they had previous not been welcome.  But was/is toleration really enough?  Toleration can be taken to imply that those being tolerate have no intrinsic right to that place but are being given a gift beyond  what they have any right to expect.  That they were there at the sufferance of those with power.  It also was taken to imply that the place given Blacks was at the discretion of the Whites, a discretion that could be withdrawn at any time because it was not a right but a generous gift of Whites who were not obliged to give it.
 
Is Pr. Stoffregen implying here that "traditionalists" are to be tolerated in the ELCA where they have no right in themselves to expect a place, to remain at the sufferance of the winning side?  "So it feels like a slap in the face for all our efforts to respect and continue to welcome the "traditionalists"," are "traditionalists" not grateful enough for all the efforts to make a place for them in a church that was also their church to begin with?  Officially, as I understand it, the position of the "traditionalists" is an official position of the ELCA, one of the four positions accepted in the HSGT.  Should not their place be a matter of course, not an extra effort of those who won?
 
"in our church when the[y] [sic?] can no longer stand to be with us."  I find the our and us, vs. they language interesting.  It is almost as though it should be considered a great concession (and imposition) that they should be granted a place in the church that they helped create and build.  It is also interesting that a special effort needs to be made for them.  And what kind of place is it?  Their position is an official position but how much effect does it have on the policy and teaching and resources of the ELCA?
 
Am I reading too much into this post?  Perhaps.  But if there is actually to be an effort to assure that "traditionalists" feel themselves welcomed and have a place by right rather than just there at the sufferance to those who won the vote of CWA '09 and admittedly have not always been that welcoming or respectful, perhaps what is said should be more carefully considered.
 
Dan
Title: Re: The ELCA Requires Nothing
Post by: DCharlton on January 07, 2013, 08:16:02 PM
No Dan.  You hit the nail on the head.  The language of HSGT was about making room for 4 different points of view.  The "revisionist" view was not adopted as the official position.  Sometimes people speak and act as if that was the case.  In addition, traditionalists were told that their voices were needed, which is quite a bit stronger than "tolerated".  But that just proves Neuhaus's Law.  Doesn't it?
Title: Re: The ELCA Requires Nothing
Post by: Satis Est on January 08, 2013, 01:05:44 AM
Well, Pastor Fienen, I know quite a number of former LCMS pastors and other former LCMS pastors have served the ELCA as bishops and in other ways. I have never heard them even mention Seminex, except in an academic way. They do not show their bruises, rail at those who were on "the other side" or act as if it were 1975. (BTW many of these men are now nearing retirement and not likely to leap to the front-line barricades of any fight.) In the ELCA today, one never hears of the LCMS schism of the 1970s.

I can tell you've never spent much time around the Lutheran School of Theology in Chicago. 

Oh, and by the way:  it wasn't just the men who have wounds from the Missouri Synod war in the 1970's.  It wasn't just the LCMS pastors who were bruised.  And you just might be surprised at what men -- and women -- nearing retirement might do, about something they care about with all their heart, mind and soul.  Those who have ears to hear:  Listen.
Title: Re: The ELCA Requires Nothing
Post by: George Erdner on January 08, 2013, 08:08:44 AM
No Dan.  You hit the nail on the head.  The language of HSGT was about making room for 4 different points of view.  The "revisionist" view was not adopted as the official position.  Sometimes people speak and act as if that was the case.  In addition, traditionalists were told that their voices were needed, which is quite a bit stronger than "tolerated".  But that just proves Neuhaus's Law.  Doesn't it?


Based on the reactions of many ELCA communication channels, the only need for traditionalist voices were as set-ups for the church leadership to knock down. The ELCA needs traditionalist voices the way Costello needed Abbott, or the way a snake oil salesman needs a shill.


(Ooops! I originally typed "revisionist" when I meant traditionalist. I assume everyone recognized my error as the error it was.)

Title: Re: The ELCA Requires Nothing
Post by: Charles_Austin on January 08, 2013, 09:13:39 AM
Textual criticism (allowed here, right?) suggests that Mr. Erdner here intends to refer to "traditionalist" voices rather than "revisionist" voices, since he is responding to a comment about the need for "traditionalist" voices. And presumably, in his schema, the "church leadership" does not want to "knock down" the "revisionist" voices.

But Mr. Erdner writes:
the only need for revisionist (read traditionalist) voices were as set-ups for the church leadership to knock down. The ELCA needs revisionist (read traditionalist) voices the way Costello needed Abbott, or the way a snake oil salesman needs a shill.

I muse:
Since Abbott and Costello always ended up caring for each other and as best buddies, that image flops.
And a shill is a plant in the audience to testify (falsely, usually) to the value of the product. Just how would having "traditionalist" voices as "shills" work? It wouldn't.
So I'm not clear what is really going on here, other than normal confusion among many about just what the ELCA is, what it has done and how it works.
Title: Re: The ELCA Requires Nothing
Post by: DCharlton on January 08, 2013, 10:50:41 AM
I think the Traditionalists in the ELCA are busy ducking for cover as volleys of fire pass back and forth between the ranks of ELCA loyalists and the former ELCA departers.  By attempting to "continue the conversation" with fellow ELCA members, one can be mistaken for the enemy.  "Oh, you're one of them, are you.  Take that!"  It's life in no man's land.    I think Charles is right that the difficulty for ELCA traditionalists has multiple causes and is the result of being caught in the midst of a verbal war, and that the more moderate revisionists may find themselves in a similar situation.

He said:

like the "revisionists" who are trying to be understanding and tolerant have to take the heat for those who aren't.

I've also found, surprisingly, that some of the most intolerant are not the revisionists, but those who took no part in the debates leading up to 2009.  They tend to go along to get along and blame traditionalist for "stirring up trouble." 
Title: Re: The ELCA Requires Nothing
Post by: Brian Stoffregen on January 08, 2013, 11:26:47 AM
I think the Traditionalists in the ELCA are busy ducking for cover as volleys of fire pass back and forth between the ranks of ELCA loyalists and the former ELCA departers.  By attempting to "continue the conversation" with fellow ELCA members, one can be mistaken for the enemy.  "Oh, you're one of them, are you.  Take that!"  It's life in no man's land.    I think Charles is right that the difficulty for ELCA traditionalists has multiple causes and is the result of being caught in the midst of a verbal war, and that the more moderate revisionists may find themselves in a similar situation.


Russ Saltzman, known to some on this forum, made a significant distinction in a newspaper interview between "opponents" and "enemies". People on opposite sides of an issue are opponents. That's what often happened (at least in the past) with politicians debating an issue and with lawyers in court or members of sports teams competing against each other in a game. None of that has to make them enemies. (That is part of the reason why I characterize doing theology as a "game".) These "opponents" can be best friends. They can share drinks and meals and even vacations together.


"Enemies" cease to be friends. That's what happens in a war when each side is trying to literally kill each other. Each demonizes the other.


Opponents on the issue of same-gender relationships have become enemies. Prior to that, in the ELCA, opponents of CCM became enemies. Prior to that opponents on the issues related to seminex became enemies. However, in all of these "battles" there were also opponents who remain friends. They could agree to disagree. They continue to respect each other. They can center on the many other areas of agreement and not just the issue(s) of disagreement.
Title: Re: The ELCA Requires Nothing
Post by: DCharlton on January 08, 2013, 12:39:42 PM
I think the Traditionalists in the ELCA are busy ducking for cover as volleys of fire pass back and forth between the ranks of ELCA loyalists and the former ELCA departers.  By attempting to "continue the conversation" with fellow ELCA members, one can be mistaken for the enemy.  "Oh, you're one of them, are you.  Take that!"  It's life in no man's land.    I think Charles is right that the difficulty for ELCA traditionalists has multiple causes and is the result of being caught in the midst of a verbal war, and that the more moderate revisionists may find themselves in a similar situation.


Russ Saltzman, known to some on this forum, made a significant distinction in a newspaper interview between "opponents" and "enemies". People on opposite sides of an issue are opponents. That's what often happened (at least in the past) with politicians debating an issue and with lawyers in court or members of sports teams competing against each other in a game. None of that has to make them enemies. (That is part of the reason why I characterize doing theology as a "game".) These "opponents" can be best friends. They can share drinks and meals and even vacations together.


"Enemies" cease to be friends. That's what happens in a war when each side is trying to literally kill each other. Each demonizes the other.


Opponents on the issue of same-gender relationships have become enemies. Prior to that, in the ELCA, opponents of CCM became enemies. Prior to that opponents on the issues related to seminex became enemies. However, in all of these "battles" there were also opponents who remain friends. They could agree to disagree. They continue to respect each other. They can center on the many other areas of agreement and not just the issue(s) of disagreement.

Ironically, it sometimes happens that I can have civil discussion with strong advocates of same-gender relationships, but not with those who claim not to care one way or the other. 
Title: Re: The ELCA Requires Nothing
Post by: Coach-Rev on January 08, 2013, 05:25:38 PM
And once the word, "matrix," floats into the conversation we enter the astral realm of speculation and connectivities that are so complex and manipulated, not even the manipulators know where their number-jinkeying will end up.
Try this. No "matrix," just reality.
The ELCA made some decisions in 2009.
A lot of people didn't like them.
A good number of those people left the ELCA.
Some who stayed are still not happy with the decisions.
The decisions of 2009 are being implemented.
Sixty-five synods have held two synodical assemblies since then and no serious move has been made to change the decisions of 2009.
The ELCA had a church-wide Assembly in 2011 and the topic of "2009" was hardly a misty-puff on the agenda.
Since 2009, the ELCA has continued its mission, started ministries in various places in the U.S. and around the world, educated and ordained pastors, educated and put lay professionals on our roster, baptized, taught, confirmed, married, counseled and buried hundreds of thousands of people.
A good many of those ministries and much of that work has almost nothing to do with the controversial decisions of 2009. Some of it happened because of the decisions of 2009.
Just where, I keep asking, is all this "disagreement" and toe-curling angst over policies and procedures? Is it a vast stream of icky fluid running through the ELCA and each Synod?
There are difficulties, to be sure, when local disputes reach certain levels. But who is mounting the barricades, gathering the volunteers, and developing the battle plans to take over the ELCA or change its direction?
Who?
You want that kind of stuff, turn your eyes to that other large Lutheran denomination in our land.

A lie by any other name...  That is (the part that I bolded) YOUR interpretation of things.  From my chair, where we made numerous serious attempts and were ruled out of order because, as we were told,  the CWA had already spoken.  In other words:  There would be no challenge allowed.  No discussion to take place.  No vote to rescind/reconsider or whatever.   BTW, this edict came from Higgins Road.   There was not even a recognition that there were some who believed a serious error had been made.  When the assembly was called on to acknowledge that by resolution, it was voted down by a 2-1 margin. 

But we've been down this road before.  Once again, you choose to ignore it.  And that, my dear Charles, is precisely why the 6 congregations in my area then chose to leave.
Title: Re: The ELCA Requires Nothing
Post by: Charles_Austin on January 08, 2013, 07:25:37 PM
You know as well as I do, Pastor Cottingham, that it was the form of your "protest," not the protest itself that was ruled out of order. But there is no point in trying to unwrap that here.
And you also know that even if something went awry in your synod, there are 64 others, not to mention the Church-wide Assembly itself.
I do not call one apparently inept action at one synod any "serious effort" to overturn the decisions. Good grief, if this were the LCMS, there would have been mailings, groups organized, petitions, newsletters, a website and direct lobbying aimed at voting members at the Assembly.
Virtually none of that happened among your people in the ELCA.
Title: Re: The ELCA Requires Nothing
Post by: Dave Likeness on January 08, 2013, 07:32:02 PM
Pastor Austin has diagnosed the malady of the LCMS:

We have more covert  and overt political activity
than any other denomination in America.
Title: Re: The ELCA Requires Nothing
Post by: Charles_Austin on January 08, 2013, 07:34:39 PM
Actually, Dave, back in the 70s and 80s, the Southern Baptists had you beat when it comes to political organizing and manipulating the structures of "power" in the church. But you guys are pretty good, everyone's gotta admit that.
Title: Re: The ELCA Requires Nothing
Post by: Dan Fienen on January 08, 2013, 07:44:50 PM
So, unless the loyal opposition learns how to do church politics from someone like the LCMS they are not going to be considered as serious about their dissent?  Well, perhaps we can be a useful, good influence in the ELCA, helping a group whose voice is valued be heard.   8)

Dan
Title: Re: The ELCA Requires Nothing
Post by: Charles_Austin on January 08, 2013, 10:31:45 PM
Pastor Fienen writes:
So, unless the loyal opposition learns how to do church politics from someone like the LCMS they are not going to be considered as serious about their dissent?  Well, perhaps we can be a useful, good influence in the ELCA, helping a group whose voice is valued be heard.

I comment:
Do not misunderstand me. I have absolutely no desire for groups to form in the ELCA like the polarized, political, power-seeking and power-unseating factions in the LCMS.
My modest point upstream is this: If you want to responsibly oppose something, learn how to do it correctly and responsibly. Work with reference and council committees to craft memorials that will not be declared improper. Learn how to propose resolutions that are winsome rather than divisive; that will make it possible to discuss what you want rather than jam it down someone's throat.
Avoid language such as that in use by the ACE-LC which says "we know what is wrong and here how you have to fix it." Avoid blanket condemnations and it's probably not a good idea to make the politics personal, that is, "we have to get this guy out of there."
You guys in the LCMS are good at "politics," but you're not always so good at churchmanship.
Title: Re: The ELCA Requires Nothing
Post by: Team Hesse on January 09, 2013, 08:16:30 AM
Pastor Fienen writes:
So, unless the loyal opposition learns how to do church politics from someone like the LCMS they are not going to be considered as serious about their dissent?  Well, perhaps we can be a useful, good influence in the ELCA, helping a group whose voice is valued be heard.

I comment:
Do not misunderstand me. I have absolutely no desire for groups to form in the ELCA like the polarized, political, power-seeking and power-unseating factions in the LCMS.
My modest point upstream is this: If you want to responsibly oppose something, learn how to do it correctly and responsibly. Work with reference and council committees to craft memorials that will not be declared improper. Learn how to propose resolutions that are winsome rather than divisive; that will make it possible to discuss what you want rather than jam it down someone's throat.
Avoid language such as that in use by the ACE-LC which says "we know what is wrong and here how you have to fix it." Avoid blanket condemnations and it's probably not a good idea to make the politics personal, that is, "we have to get this guy out of there."
You guys in the LCMS are good at "politics," but you're not always so good at churchmanship.


Your ELCA is not as good as you think it is......by the standards you are alluding to in your post.


Lou
Title: Re: The ELCA Requires Nothing
Post by: Charles_Austin on January 09, 2013, 09:35:22 AM
It is a maxim of real life, Lou, that nothing is as good as we think. But one holds up the best and continues to have hope.
Title: Re: The ELCA Requires Nothing
Post by: Team Hesse on January 09, 2013, 09:38:04 AM
It is a maxim of real life, Lou, that nothing is as good as we think. But one holds up the best and continues to have hope.


Also true in the LCMS, Charles.


Lou
Title: Re: The ELCA Requires Nothing
Post by: DCharlton on January 09, 2013, 12:46:38 PM
Pastor Fienen writes:
So, unless the loyal opposition learns how to do church politics from someone like the LCMS they are not going to be considered as serious about their dissent?  Well, perhaps we can be a useful, good influence in the ELCA, helping a group whose voice is valued be heard.

I comment:
Do not misunderstand me. I have absolutely no desire for groups to form in the ELCA like the polarized, political, power-seeking and power-unseating factions in the LCMS.
My modest point upstream is this: If you want to responsibly oppose something, learn how to do it correctly and responsibly. Work with reference and council committees to craft memorials that will not be declared improper. Learn how to propose resolutions that are winsome rather than divisive; that will make it possible to discuss what you want rather than jam it down someone's throat.
Avoid language such as that in use by the ACE-LC which says "we know what is wrong and here how you have to fix it." Avoid blanket condemnations and it's probably not a good idea to make the politics personal, that is, "we have to get this guy out of there."
You guys in the LCMS are good at "politics," but you're not always so good at churchmanship.

However, there is a third option that is too often overlooked.  There is effective politics and ineffective politics.  There is aggressive politics (LCMS) and passive-aggressive politics (ELCA).  Aggressive politics is when we act as if we hate each other more than we actually do.  Passive-aggressive politics is when we act as if we love each other more than we actually do. 

The third option is theological discussion and debate.  That's what some of us attempt to do by publishing journals, sponsoring conferences, and even participating on online forums.  I submit that in recent years, politics has virtually replaced theology in the ELCA.  Whether that is or was true in the LCMS, I cannot say.

So I'm wary (and weary) of the suggestion that dissenters "use the proper channels" if that implies that theological discussion and debate is not a legitimate form of dissent.  Some of us in the ELCA, for instance, wish to "continue the discussion".  However, we have no desire to perpetuate the political maneuvering that preceded and followed CWA 2009.  We believe that part of the problem surrounding CWA 2009 was that the political process drowned out any reasoned theological discussion.  A political solution was found at CWA 2009.  Those who didn't like that political solution came up with political solutions of their own in the form of LCMC and NALC. 

That those who remain in the ELCA have largely avoided the political process does not render their attempts to continue a theological conversation illegitimate. 
Title: Re: The ELCA Requires Nothing
Post by: dkeener on January 09, 2013, 03:08:36 PM
Pastor Fienen writes:
So, unless the loyal opposition learns how to do church politics from someone like the LCMS they are not going to be considered as serious about their dissent?  Well, perhaps we can be a useful, good influence in the ELCA, helping a group whose voice is valued be heard.

I comment:
Do not misunderstand me. I have absolutely no desire for groups to form in the ELCA like the polarized, political, power-seeking and power-unseating factions in the LCMS.
My modest point upstream is this: If you want to responsibly oppose something, learn how to do it correctly and responsibly. Work with reference and council committees to craft memorials that will not be declared improper. Learn how to propose resolutions that are winsome rather than divisive; that will make it possible to discuss what you want rather than jam it down someone's throat.
Avoid language such as that in use by the ACE-LC which says "we know what is wrong and here how you have to fix it." Avoid blanket condemnations and it's probably not a good idea to make the politics personal, that is, "we have to get this guy out of there."
You guys in the LCMS are good at "politics," but you're not always so good at churchmanship.

However, there is a third option that is too often overlooked.  There is effective politics and ineffective politics.  There is aggressive politics (LCMS) and passive-aggressive politics (ELCA).  Aggressive politics is when we act as if we hate each other more than we actually do.  Passive-aggressive politics is when we act as if we love each other more than we actually do. 

The third option is theological discussion and debate.  That's what some of us attempt to do by publishing journals, sponsoring conferences, and even participating on online forums.  I submit that in recent years, politics has virtually replaced theology in the ELCA.  Whether that is or was true in the LCMS, I cannot say.

So I'm wary (and weary) of the suggestion that dissenters "use the proper channels" if that implies that theological discussion and debate is not a legitimate form of dissent.  Some of us in the ELCA, for instance, wish to "continue the discussion".  However, we have no desire to perpetuate the political maneuvering that preceded and followed CWA 2009.  We believe that part of the problem surrounding CWA 2009 was that the political process drowned out any reasoned theological discussion.  A political solution was found at CWA 2009.  Those who didn't like that political solution came up with political solutions of their own in the form of LCMC and NALC. 

That those who remain in the ELCA have largely avoided the political process does not render their attempts to continue a theological conversation illegitimate.

Well said. One of the practices of the NALC that I have greatly appreciated is having the CORE theological conference preceding the annual convocation. It really does set the proper tone.
Title: Re: The ELCA Requires Nothing
Post by: mariemeyer on January 09, 2013, 03:55:18 PM
Might anyone on this thread have William Lazareth's book Christian Society, Luther, the Bible and Social Ethics?

If so please contact.  Thanks!

Marie Meyer
Title: Re: The ELCA Requires Nothing
Post by: Charles_Austin on January 09, 2013, 05:00:23 PM
Who says we do not have channels of theological discussion? We have our seminaries; we have workshops in every synod on various things; we have publications; we have pastors' gatherings and we have the theological discussion that takes place in ecumenical settings.
Good. Good. Very good.
But when the time comes that people want these theological discussions to result in changes in ELCA polity or practice, then one is going to have to deal with parliamentary procedure, reference and council committees, constitutions and the over-riding policies of synod and ELCA. Some take their concerns this way, some do not.
I remember interviewing a pastor at the ELCA Assembly when we declared fellowship with Episcopalians. He was outraged, mostly because of the "historical episcopacy" matter and some general uneasiness with Anglicans.
"But we have been discussing these things with Episcopalians for 25 years," I said.
His response was classic.
"I know," he said, "but I never thought we would ever actually do something about it."
Title: Re: The ELCA Requires Nothing
Post by: DCharlton on January 09, 2013, 05:32:53 PM
There is a frequent poster on this forum who continually tells us, "Either take political action through proper channels,or shut up."  I disagree.  I think theological dialogue is not only legitimate but preferable. 
Title: Re: The ELCA Requires Nothing
Post by: Brian Stoffregen on January 09, 2013, 07:52:22 PM
There is a frequent poster on this forum who continually tells us, "Either take political action through proper channels,or shut up."  I disagree.  I think theological dialogue is not only legitimate but preferable.


Yes, and it is nothing more than spinning wheels with each other until political action is taken. I spent two years introducing early communion in a congregation through newsletter articles, adult Sunday school classes, and then a early communion class for youth and their parents; and no one complained - until a couple weeks before we were actually going to celebrate first communion for these non-confirmed youth; then the petition hit the fan calling for a vote of the congregation to stop this action.


I like to debate as much or more than the next person; but as they say, "Talk is cheap."


Oh, I called a special council meeting and gave my reasons why this properly signed and presented petition should be ruled "out of order" because it was in conflict with our constitution and bylaws that allowed for open communion for the baptized. We voted by ballot. All but one agreed with me.


Constitution and bylaws can be very important documents.
Title: Re: The ELCA Requires Nothing
Post by: DCharlton on January 09, 2013, 08:13:47 PM
There is a frequent poster on this forum who continually tells us, "Either take political action through proper channels,or shut up."  I disagree.  I think theological dialogue is not only legitimate but preferable.


Yes, and it is nothing more than spinning wheels with each other until political action is taken.

Really?  Nothing happens until political action is taken?  I disagree.  Before, after and while political action is being taken, the Spirit grants faith through Word and Sacrament and faith becomes active in love in earthly vocations.  Where do we get the idea that "political action" is were things really happen?

Quote
I like to debate as much or more than the next person; but as they say, "Talk is cheap." 
  God's Word is cheap?  Proclamation is cheap?  Confessing the faith is cheap?

Quote
Constitution and bylaws can be very important documents.

But not as important as the Scriptures, the Creeds, and the Confessions, I would think.  This notion the the "real work of the church" is what takes place at assemblies, council meetings, and the like is, in my opinion, a large part of the problem.

PS - That those who remain in the ELCA have largely avoided the political process does not render their attempts to continue a theological conversation illegitimate.
Title: Re: The ELCA Requires Nothing
Post by: Charles_Austin on January 09, 2013, 10:30:05 PM
Pastor Charlton, you are being unnecessarily dense.
If one wants to have theological discussion, go for it. There are many venues and you can create even more. Do it.
All that discussion will probably be helpful and inspiring and instructive.
But all I am saying is:
If you want to influence ELCA policies and procedures or change ELCA policies and procedures, then you have to do more than have "theological discussion."
We can wax eloquent about the power of words and get all giddy about our "theological discussion." That's fine. But those who want the ELCA to have fellowship with Episcopalians or Reformed or Methodists; or those who want to oppose those actions; those who want the ELCA to ordain partnered gays or lesbians; or those who want to change our decisions to do so have to - wait for it - do more than talk.
Again, the theological discussion is valuable for its own sake; but its wind doesn't get to the organ pipes until we take steps to change our policies and procedures.
Title: Re: The ELCA Requires Nothing
Post by: DCharlton on January 09, 2013, 10:54:40 PM
Some years ago, a certain PB of the ELCA urged folks like me to stay in the ELCA and "continue the conversation" because our "voices were needed".  Did that gentleman mean that our voices were needed only at synod assemblies and churchwide assemblies?  By "continue the conversation" did he mean incessant attempts to bring about political change in the ELCA.  Or did he have something else in mind?  Perhaps he meant the conversation that goes on in between synod and churchwide assemblies. 

Again, the notion that people should either organize and take political action at an assembly or shut up is false.  Furthermore, the notion that what happens at synod and churchwide assemblies is the only thing that matters is false. 

 
Title: Re: The ELCA Requires Nothing
Post by: George Erdner on January 09, 2013, 11:26:56 PM
Some years ago, a certain PB of the ELCA urged folks like me to stay in the ELCA and "continue the conversation" because our "voices were needed".  Did that gentleman mean that our voices were needed only at synod assemblies and churchwide assemblies?  By "continue the conversation" did he mean incessant attempts to bring about political change in the ELCA.  Or did he have something else in mind?  Perhaps he meant the conversation that goes on in between synod and churchwide assemblies. 

Again, the notion that people should either organize and take political action at an assembly or shut up is false.  Furthermore, the notion that what happens at synod and churchwide assemblies is the only thing that matters is false. 

 


I would venture to say that Hanson's intended meaning is only known by Hanson. Clearly, he seldom uses any state of disagreement or dissent for anything but a set-up opportunity for him to "correct" whoever still supports the traditionalist point of view, or to change the subject to something he's more comfortable with.

Title: Re: The ELCA Requires Nothing
Post by: DCharlton on January 09, 2013, 11:35:40 PM
Some years ago, a certain PB of the ELCA urged folks like me to stay in the ELCA and "continue the conversation" because our "voices were needed".  Did that gentleman mean that our voices were needed only at synod assemblies and churchwide assemblies?  By "continue the conversation" did he mean incessant attempts to bring about political change in the ELCA.  Or did he have something else in mind?  Perhaps he meant the conversation that goes on in between synod and churchwide assemblies. 

Again, the notion that people should either organize and take political action at an assembly or shut up is false.  Furthermore, the notion that what happens at synod and churchwide assemblies is the only thing that matters is false. 


I would venture to say that Hanson's intended meaning is only known by Hanson. Clearly, he seldom uses any state of disagreement or dissent for anything but a set-up opportunity for him to "correct" whoever still supports the traditionalist point of view, or to change the subject to something he's more comfortable with.

Well, I don't need his permission to continue the conversation.  I just pointed out that according to the PB, conversation is to be encouraged.   Which means that those who say, "Do something at the next synod assembly, or shut up," are contradicting their own PB.   :o

Seriously, I think one of the problems in the ELCA, and I'm sure in other Lutheran bodies, is that politics of the left and the right drown out serious theological reflection.  That's why the decision of some dissenters in the ELCA to forgo further political struggle may actually make sense.  Politics as the solution to politics only makes sense if you believe in homeopathic medicine. 
Title: Re: The ELCA Requires Nothing
Post by: Brian Stoffregen on January 10, 2013, 12:16:50 AM
There is a frequent poster on this forum who continually tells us, "Either take political action through proper channels,or shut up."  I disagree.  I think theological dialogue is not only legitimate but preferable.


Yes, and it is nothing more than spinning wheels with each other until political action is taken.

Really?  Nothing happens until political action is taken?  I disagree.  Before, after and while political action is being taken, the Spirit grants faith through Word and Sacrament and faith becomes active in love in earthly vocations.  Where do we get the idea that "political action" is were things really happen?


I am speaking in the context of congregations and church bodies making decisions. The process of coming to a decision is a political action. Most often by following parliamentary procedure; but also by consensus or some other agreed on way of arriving at a decision. I've sat in council meetings month after month where the same discussion takes place over and over again because they are unwilling to make a decision and live with it.

According to one resource I've used: there are five decisions open to a deliberative group:

A. Disapproval
B. Permission withheld
C. Active neutrality
D. Permission given
E. Approval

With B. someone can vote against something while really liking the proposal. It may be that it costs too much, or is outside of the priorities for this year.

With D. someone can vote for something while disliking the proposal. No one liked the proposal of turning our full-time secretary to a part-time position, but it was approved because that seemed to be the best option for balancing our budget.

Quote
Quote
I like to debate as much or more than the next person; but as they say, "Talk is cheap." 
  God's Word is cheap?  Proclamation is cheap?  Confessing the faith is cheap?


Faith without works is dead. A confession of faith without actions would appear to be dead. Or, to repeat something I've often quoted from Verna Dozier: "The real question to ask is not, 'What do you believe?', but 'What difference does it make in your life that you believe?'" Another common saying: "Actions speak louder than words." Our actions confess our faith louder than our words.

Quote
Quote
Constitution and bylaws can be very important documents.

But not as important as the Scriptures, the Creeds, and the Confessions, I would think.  This notion the the "real work of the church" is what takes place at assemblies, council meetings, and the like is, in my opinion, a large part of the problem.


Who has said that the "real work of the church" takes place at assemblies, council meetings, and the like"? Those are arenas where decisions are made by and for the church. Decisions are what give structure to the work that congregations and individuals are to do on behalf of the congregation and larger expressions.
Title: Re: The ELCA Requires Nothing
Post by: Brian Stoffregen on January 10, 2013, 12:28:50 AM
Some years ago, a certain PB of the ELCA urged folks like me to stay in the ELCA and "continue the conversation" because our "voices were needed".  Did that gentleman mean that our voices were needed only at synod assemblies and churchwide assemblies?  By "continue the conversation" did he mean incessant attempts to bring about political change in the ELCA.  Or did he have something else in mind?  Perhaps he meant the conversation that goes on in between synod and churchwide assemblies. 

Again, the notion that people should either organize and take political action at an assembly or shut up is false.  Furthermore, the notion that what happens at synod and churchwide assemblies is the only thing that matters is false. 


What I mean when I say that we need the voices of traditionalists is that they help make better decisions when all kinds of different voices have input to the discerning process. It doesn't mean that "traditionalists" will get their way; but it does mean that "revisionists" will be challenged about their assumptions and they are not likely to have everything go how they want it to go. I maintain that it is from the people who disagree with us that we learn the most.


The notion that someone can continually whine about a problem and be unwilling to personally do anything about it is quite annoying - and in most cases,  they should do something about their concern or shut up. To quote a proverb: "If you're not part of the solution, you're part of the problem."
Title: Re: The ELCA Requires Nothing
Post by: Dadoo on January 10, 2013, 06:49:22 AM
Voltaire might one day have said: "To find out who rules over you, find out who you are not allowed to criticize." I am beginning to wonder.

One can point out all and any "insufficiencies" or "contradictions" in scripture and our source documents. One can embrace the study of religion and pose Christ as one among but not the way to salvation or the manifestation of God. One can have conversation about all kind of thing even the most sacred, one can have arguments about anything including the existence of God - yes, in church one can have debates whether atheism is  a proper expression of CHristianity.

But after a CWA has made a decision, the matter is closed somehow because the process has been used, the "church" has spoken, you need to fall in line now, the authority has made a determination . . . you are leaving!! WHAT??!!! How dare you!! Don't you know who is boss?

Conversations cease the moment that one side realizes that it is so much easier to build a posse and get the matter resolved by legislative fiat.

So" in your world, what and who cannot be criticized?
Title: Re: The ELCA Requires Nothing
Post by: DCharlton on January 10, 2013, 07:45:17 AM

I am speaking in the context of congregations and church bodies making decisions. The process of coming to a decision is a political action.

But I am not.  I'm talking about what takes place in journals, at conferences, and even on internet forums. 

Quote
Faith without works is dead. A confession of faith without actions would appear to be dead. Or, to repeat something I've often quoted from Verna Dozier: "The real question to ask is not, 'What do you believe?', but 'What difference does it make in your life that you believe?'" Another common saying: "Actions speak louder than words." Our actions confess our faith louder than our words.

Please note that I spoke about faith active in love.  Many good works are done in the church.  The notion that only political action counts as good works is new to me. 

Again, the notion that the proper work of the Church happens primarily through politics is a large part of our problem.  To "do something" we must take political action?

Quote
Who has said that the "real work of the church" takes place at assemblies, council meetings, and the like"? Those are arenas where decisions are made by and for the church. Decisions are what give structure to the work that congregations and individuals are to do on behalf of the congregation and larger expressions.

I disagree.  I don't believe that the political process sets the agenda for congregations or individuals in the ELCA.  Nor is it the job of congregations and individuals to implement the agenda of denominational political bodies.   The agenda is set by Scripture and the Confessions.    One shouldn't ignore the decisions of such political bodies and one should seek to abide by the policies of one's church, but the agenda of any Lutheran church, regardless of which denominational body it belongs to, has already been set. 

The notion that the real work of the church takes place through the decisions of assemblies as implemented by obedient congregations and individuals is false.  Assemblies should make decisions that support the proper work of congregations and individuals as determined by Scripture and the Confessions. 
Title: Re: The ELCA Requires Nothing
Post by: DCharlton on January 10, 2013, 07:55:51 AM

What I mean when I say that we need the voices of traditionalists is that they help make better decisions when all kinds of different voices have input to the discerning process. It doesn't mean that "traditionalists" will get their way; but it does mean that "revisionists" will be challenged about their assumptions and they are not likely to have everything go how they want it to go. I maintain that it is from the people who disagree with us that we learn the most.

No thanks.  If you think the revisionists need to be challenged, you go for it.  You can play the role of egomaniac, phobic, and bigot for a change.  I see no good coming from it.
And
Quote
The notion that someone can continually whine about a problem and be unwilling to personally do anything about it is quite annoying - and in most cases,  they should do something about their concern or shut up. To quote a proverb: "If you're not part of the solution, you're part of the problem."

You present a false alternative.  In addition to political gamesmanship and "shutting up" there is a third alternative.  It is serious theological conversation.  That the political process in the ELCA has assumed the place of theological deliberation is a major part of the problem.  And yet, even HSGT foresees continued theological dialogue after the political settlement is achieved. 
Title: Re: The ELCA Requires Nothing
Post by: Johan Bergfest on January 10, 2013, 08:42:56 AM
You present a false alternative.  In addition to political gamesmanship and "shutting up" there is a third alternative.  It is serious theological conversation.  That the political process in the ELCA has assumed the place of theological deliberation is a major part of the problem.  And yet, even HSGT foresees continued theological dialogue after the political settlement is achieved.

I have probably said it elsewhere on this board, but I will way it again.  I think that original sin is so pervasive that we frequently encounter life as a multiple choice test in which all of the answers are wrong.  Yet, we persist in insisting that we are right and those with whom we disagree are wrong.  Our insistence that complex and difficult issues reduce to a zero-sum makes it virtually impossible to craft better solutions around that third (or fourth or fifth) alternative.

ELCA and human sexuality is a case study of what I just said.  I give a measure of credit to the folks who prepared the study guide and social statement because I think they made an honest effort to frame the issue as something other than yes/no.  I give low marks to the advocates on both extremes because I think they refused to engage the dialogue except from their own selfish perspectives.
Title: Re: The ELCA Requires Nothing
Post by: Dadoo on January 10, 2013, 08:44:34 AM
Some years ago, a certain PB of the ELCA urged folks like me to stay in the ELCA and "continue the conversation" because our "voices were needed".  Did that gentleman mean that our voices were needed only at synod assemblies and churchwide assemblies?  By "continue the conversation" did he mean incessant attempts to bring about political change in the ELCA.  Or did he have something else in mind?  Perhaps he meant the conversation that goes on in between synod and churchwide assemblies. 

Again, the notion that people should either organize and take political action at an assembly or shut up is false.  Furthermore, the notion that what happens at synod and churchwide assemblies is the only thing that matters is false. 


What I mean when I say that we need the voices of traditionalists is that they help make better decisions when all kinds of different voices have input to the discerning process. It doesn't mean that "traditionalists" will get their way; but it does mean that "revisionists" will be challenged about their assumptions and they are not likely to have everything go how they want it to go. I maintain that it is from the people who disagree with us that we learn the most.


The notion that someone can continually whine about a problem and be unwilling to personally do anything about it is quite annoying - and in most cases,  they should do something about their concern or shut up. To quote a proverb: "If you're not part of the solution, you're part of the problem."

In political terms your modern day proverb translates as: You are either marching and voting with me or you are my enemy.

The terms for the sides in the battles over the soul of the mainline churches are well picked: Progressives and Conservatives. On is dedicated to the maintenance and assertion of the ideological content and character of the organization as transmitted, the other is dedicated to change of those. In the arena of political action one side assumes that character and truth handed down a a priori correct and that it is the change agents' responsibility to actually make a convincing intellectual case. The other side believes that it is not the change that must defend its agenda but that the status quo must defend its actions. Since the status quo has a history, all manner of perceived wrongs that are supposedly logical outcome of the status quo will be rolled out. The change has no history. It has no such data to be hurled against it. It therefor is always advantaged as it can always claim to be the champion of the victims of the status quo.

In the political fight the change agents are not going to play on the turf of the debate of ideas but on the turf of emotion and so called justice issues. There, you are either one who helps their cause or you must be "dealt with" as an agent of some sort of evil and therefore in need of vanquishment or the unwitting zombie afflicted with some sort of some fear and therefore in need of re-education.

For one side truth is power. For the other power is truth.  When evenly matched numerically, one side will usually win the intellectual debate. The other will usually win the political battle. In the presence of true revolutionaries, the kind that just wants to stick it to the man, the progressives win but then are destroyed by their own allies and the irony is, that they suddenly are the conservatives who want to defend their change but have no intellectual argument to do so with since they never had to hone it and since: "The church decided the matter is closed" means nothing to a "change it or burn it down" revolutionary. 

The irony is that the forces of innovation and the forces conformity need each other. Sparta is what happens when the conformity crowd wins. Athens is what happens when the innovation crowd wins. One imploded the other dissipated. Lutherans of varied stripes, chose your demise.
Title: Re: The ELCA Requires Nothing
Post by: Pr. Terry Culler on January 10, 2013, 08:48:45 AM
Johan B.: When the issue is the credibility of the Word of God, only one side is possible--there can be no serious discussion with those who deny the validity of God's Word to His people because there is no underlying common ground.
Title: Re: The ELCA Requires Nothing
Post by: Johan Bergfest on January 10, 2013, 08:56:05 AM
Johan B.: When the issue is the credibility of the Word of God, only one side is possible--there can be no serious discussion with those who deny the validity of God's Word to His people because there is no underlying common ground.

I agree, Pr. Culler.  However, when the issue is my interpretation of God's Word v. your interpretation of God's Word, a third side is a necessity.  And, in all honesty, I have heard a lot of Lutherans who deny the validity of others' interpretations, I have not heard many who actually deny the authority of Scripture. 

Among Lutherans, we have a lot of common ground - especially our shared understanding of Justification and Baptism.  Yet, we refuse to begin our difficult conversations from that point.  Shame on all of us because our disagreements bear false witness to our Confession.


Footnote:  one of the unfortunate consequences of Lutherans adopting a Calvinist approach to reading Scripture is that we forget that we don't "Battle for the Bible".  Rather, the Bible goes to battle for us.
Title: Re: The ELCA Requires Nothing
Post by: Charles_Austin on January 10, 2013, 09:02:32 AM
Pastor Kruse writes:
One can point out all and any "insufficiencies" or "contradictions" in scripture and our source documents. One can embrace the study of religion and pose Christ as one among but not the way to salvation or the manifestation of God. One can have conversation about all kind of thing even the most sacred, one can have arguments about anything including the existence of God - yes, in church one can have debates whether atheism is  a proper expression of CHristianity.
I comment:
A bit of an overstatement, and phony set-up, I think. Except that we can indeed have discussion about anything sacred, even the existence of God. Do you not have such conversations with parishioners quite frequently? But so far as I know none of us has ever decided that atheism is a "proper expression of Christianity."

Pastor Kruse writes:
But after a CWA has made a decision, the matter is closed somehow because the process has been used, the "church" has spoken, you need to fall in line now, the authority has made a determination . . . you are leaving!! WHAT??!!! How dare you!! Don't you know who is boss?
I comment:
Another unfair overstatement. The church has "spoken" that weekly celebration of the eucharist is our teaching and our policy. Yet congregations are free not to do that. The church has "spoken" on some things and congregations are free to go their own way. But for the sake of good order and our Christian fellowship, the church has "spoken" on some other things and if you are going to be a part of the ELCA, you agree to comply. Want to call unordained Joe Pontiac as your pastor, because he's a good guy and can preach? Nope. You cannot do that and be a part of the ELCA.

Pastor Kruse:
Conversations cease the moment that one side realizes that it is so much easier to build a posse and get the matter resolved by legislative fiat.
Me:
But in the ELCA, there is no such thing as "legislative fiat." There is years of discussion and study. Your characterization of those who sought changes as a "posse" is the kind of language I thought we are not supposed to use in charitable discussion. (On the other hand, I thought a "posse" was a band of legally deputized volunteers gathered to seek out miscreants and bring them to justice.)
For heaven's sake! It is those of us "revisionists" who are accused of not wanting any authority! And here I am defending the authority of the church against those who think that it means nothing when the church "speaks."
Title: Re: The ELCA Requires Nothing
Post by: DCharlton on January 10, 2013, 09:08:56 AM
Now I understand what Mr. Bergfest is saying, but I haven't arrived at the point that he has yet.  He suggests that we must find an alternative to "I'm right, you're wrong."  I'm suggesting that too often church politics bypasses theological conversation and argument altogether.  Notice that the ELCA never resolved the theological disagreement surrounding same-sex relationships.  Instead, it arrived at a political solution that sought to make theological agreement unnecessary. 

I convinced that there were many who believed that with a political settlement in place, theological dialogue would continue, freed from political wrangling.  However, some, including several on this forum, have taken the political settlement as an indication that theological dialogue must cease.  "We have decided," it is said, "and barring a political reversal, further theological argument is inappropriate."  That's very effective political rhetoric, but it flies in the face of the intent of HSGT, as well as the assurances of our PB that our "voices are needed".   
Title: Re: The ELCA Requires Nothing
Post by: Charles_Austin on January 10, 2013, 09:13:58 AM
An "agreement to disagree" is a theological decision. Except on some things.
The family who comes to me seeking baptism as "fire insurance" for their wee bairn, with no intent of following up with Christian nurture has a different view of baptism that we do. I do not "agree to disagree" with them on that point and do the baptism anyway.
As for the guy who says "I know the ELCA approves of same-sex unions; but I don't," we can agree to disagree on that point and worship together each Sunday and he can serve on the Congregation Council.
Title: Re: The ELCA Requires Nothing
Post by: DCharlton on January 10, 2013, 09:17:59 AM
In answer to another poster who said:

And here I am defending the authority of the church against those who think that it means nothing when the church "speaks."

When assemblies speak on matters of policy they should be heeded.  However, synodical and churchwide assemblies are not competent to establish articles of faith.  So one should take cognizance of and abide by the policies of one's governing body, but one is not required to subscribe to the such proclamations. 

In addition, a pastor is called to teach and preach in accordance with Scripture and the Lutheran Confessions.  Scripture and Confessions set the parameters of legitimate theological conversation, not the policy decisions of one's governing body.  The suggestion that since the assembly has spoken, theological conversation and argument must cease is false.

Render unto Caesar (read ELCA) the things that are Caesar's, and to God the things that are God's. 
Title: Re: The ELCA Requires Nothing
Post by: Johan Bergfest on January 10, 2013, 09:21:31 AM
He suggests that we must find an alternative to "I'm right, you're wrong."  I'm suggesting that too often church politics bypasses theological conversation and argument altogether. 

Pr. Charlton - I agree that church politics get in the way.  As saints, we know better.  As sinners, we don't and we are still sinners.

I have been an advocate for third side solutions ever since I read "Getting to Yes".  Even though it is a secular book, there is a lot of good theology in it - especially if you read it with a Lutheran bias ;)  I ought to be required reading in every seminary.

The problem with third side solutions is that they only work when all participants voluntarily agree to play that way.  They require mutual trust and, in spite of our common confession, we don't trust one another.  What's wrong with that picture?
Title: Re: The ELCA Requires Nothing
Post by: Charles_Austin on January 10, 2013, 09:25:25 AM
Pastor Charlton writes:
The suggestion that since the assembly has spoken, theological conversation and argument must cease is false.

I comment:
Again, for the fifth or sixth time, no one says that theological conversation and argument must cease. But the policies and practices are in force.
Example: I find the practice of "licensing" or somehow authorizing people who are not ordained to preach and/or preside at the sacrament to be abhorrent, un-Lutheran, un-confessional and an all-around lousy idea. But the ELCA does it. I voice my opposition every chance I get, but it seems not very many people are as grumped up by this as I am. And the policy continues.
So the discussion either goes on or it does not. And if it were to take off, I would hope that at some time it would lead to legislative actions causing the ELCA to change its policy on this matter.
Title: Re: The ELCA Requires Nothing
Post by: Johan Bergfest on January 10, 2013, 09:29:25 AM
When assemblies speak on matters of policy they should be heeded.  However, synodical and churchwide assemblies are not competent to establish articles of faith. So one should take cognizance of and abide by the policies of one's governing body, but one is not required to subscribe to the such proclamations.

I agree and would state it even more strongly - truth is not determined by majority vote.  I think, of the two major Lutheran bodies in this country, ELCA has a better handle on that.  I also appreciate that ELCA has a more egalitarian approach to polity.  However, the downside is that it can be chaotic.
Title: Re: The ELCA Requires Nothing
Post by: Steverem on January 10, 2013, 09:30:41 AM
An "agreement to disagree" is a theological decision. Except on some things.
The family who comes to me seeking baptism as "fire insurance" for their wee bairn, with no intent of following up with Christian nurture has a different view of baptism that we do. I do not "agree to disagree" with them on that point and do the baptism anyway.
As for the guy who says "I know the ELCA approves of same-sex unions; but I don't," we can agree to disagree on that point and worship together each Sunday and he can serve on the Congregation Council.

Well, sure, he can serve on the church council--until the church is approached by a same-sex couple hoping to perform a wedding ceremony in the sanctuary, and the council is called upon to determine if such a ceremony should be allowed.  At that point, it ceases to be a theological decision, and "agreeing to disagree" is no longer an option.
Title: Re: The ELCA Requires Nothing
Post by: DCharlton on January 10, 2013, 09:34:00 AM
He suggests that we must find an alternative to "I'm right, you're wrong."  I'm suggesting that too often church politics bypasses theological conversation and argument altogether. 

Pr. Charlton - I agree that church politics get in the way.  As saints, we know better.  As sinners, we don't and we are still sinners.

I have been an advocate for third side solutions ever since I read "Getting to Yes".  Even though it is a secular book, there is a lot of good theology in it - especially if you read it with a Lutheran bias ;)  I ought to be required reading in every seminary.

The problem with third side solutions is that they only work when all participants voluntarily agree to play that way.  They require mutual trust and, in spite of our common confession, we don't trust one another.  What's wrong with that picture?

I don't think we disagree. 

Although a common commitment to seek the truth is only possible when both parties agree that an objective truth that transcends the subjectivity of the participants exists.  In the ELCA is is not unheard of for someone to argue that objective truth does not exist.  The same goes for our common confession.  Both sides have to accept the authority of our common confession for Lutheran theological dialogue to take place. 
Title: Re: The ELCA Requires Nothing
Post by: DCharlton on January 10, 2013, 09:38:32 AM
When assemblies speak on matters of policy they should be heeded.  However, synodical and churchwide assemblies are not competent to establish articles of faith. So one should take cognizance of and abide by the policies of one's governing body, but one is not required to subscribe to the such proclamations.

I agree and would state it even more strongly - truth is not determined by majority vote.  I think, of the two major Lutheran bodies in this country, ELCA has a better handle on that.  I also appreciate that ELCA has a more egalitarian approach to polity.  However, the downside is that it can be chaotic.

Sadly, I do not agree.  I think there is a great deal of confusion on this matter in the ELCA.  Many seem to think that decisions made by majority vote are the real work of the church and set the agenda for congregations and individuals.

Furthermore, as I stated above, there is no less hostility in the ELCA than there is in the LCMS.  We just tend to be passive-aggressive in our politics, while the LCMS is more aggressive.
Title: Re: The ELCA Requires Nothing
Post by: Johan Bergfest on January 10, 2013, 09:49:31 AM
The same goes for our common confession.  Both sides have to accept the authority of our common confession for Lutheran theological dialogue to take place.

To be constructive, I think the conversation should always start there.  If we do not share a common confession, then we really should rethink our affiliation.

But, what does it mean to share a common confession?  E.g. I am of the opinion that LCMS and ELCA share a common confession.  Yet, I suspect that many in the LCMS, especially those who align with the confessional movement, would strongly disagree with me on that point.  So what is it?  Are we arguing about the Confessions or are we disagreeing about whose interpretation of the Confession is correct?  I suspect that, in many cases, it is the latter.



Furthermore, as I stated above, there is no less hostility in the ELCA than there is in the LCMS.  We just tend to be passive-aggressive in our politics, while the LCMS is more aggressive.

I can agree on that point.  Perhaps passive-aggressive v. aggressive might be a better way to think about the differences that I have observed.
Title: Re: The ELCA Requires Nothing
Post by: DCharlton on January 10, 2013, 10:08:58 AM
The same goes for our common confession.  Both sides have to accept the authority of our common confession for Lutheran theological dialogue to take place.

To be constructive, I think the conversation should always start there.  If we do not share a common confession, then we really should rethink our affiliation.

But, what does it mean to share a common confession?  E.g. I am of the opinion that LCMS and ELCA share a common confession.  Yet, I suspect that many in the LCMS, especially those who align with the confessional movement, would strongly disagree with me on that point.  So what is it?  Are we arguing about the Confessions or are we disagreeing about whose interpretation of the Confession is correct?  I suspect that, in many cases, it is the latter.


Sometimes the difference is merely one of how we interpret our common confession.  At other times, the difference is about what authority our common confession(s) have.  A quatenus subscription to the Lutheran Confessions, for instance, is very common in the ELCA.  In the LCMS, a quia subscription is the norm.  (At least that's the impression I get of the LCMS.)
Title: Re: The ELCA Requires Nothing
Post by: Charles_Austin on January 10, 2013, 10:20:14 AM
Steverem writes (re the church council members who does not agree with same-sex unions):
Well, sure, he can serve on the church council--until the church is approached by a same-sex couple hoping to perform a wedding ceremony in the sanctuary, and the council is called upon to determine if such a ceremony should be allowed.  At that point, it ceases to be a theological decision, and "agreeing to disagree" is no longer an option.

I comment:
In the ELCA, a council decision is not needed in such a case; and in almost every case, no matter what a council decision might be, it is the pastor's decision in the end. The council member who does not agree to same sex unions need not approve of every ceremony that takes place in the church and need not attend. I don't see the problem.
Title: Re: The ELCA Requires Nothing
Post by: Johan Bergfest on January 10, 2013, 10:32:47 AM
Sometimes the difference is merely one of how we interpret our common confession.  At other times, the difference is about what authority our common confession(s) have.  A quatenus subscription to the Lutheran Confessions, for instance, is very common in the ELCA.  In the LCMS, a quia subscription is the norm.  (At least that's the impression I get of the LCMS.)

It has been too long since I took Latin to appreciate the subtleties of those two words as they relate to the Lutheran confessions.  To the extent that I have seen them used, the context typically suggests that we arguments about interpretations and not arguments about the Confessions, themselves.  I perceive them to be another example of right/wrong disagreements with those in the right (the quia subscribers) using labels to distinguish themselves from those who are wrong.  I also perceive them to be an example of the idea that "for every complex problem, there is a simple solution - simple and wrong".
Title: Re: The ELCA Requires Nothing
Post by: Satis Est on January 10, 2013, 10:51:27 AM
Steverem writes (re the church council members who does not agree with same-sex unions):
Well, sure, he can serve on the church council--until the church is approached by a same-sex couple hoping to perform a wedding ceremony in the sanctuary, and the council is called upon to determine if such a ceremony should be allowed.  At that point, it ceases to be a theological decision, and "agreeing to disagree" is no longer an option.

I comment:
In the ELCA, a council decision is not needed in such a case; and in almost every case, no matter what a council decision might be, it is the pastor's decision in the end. The council member who does not agree to same sex unions need not approve of every ceremony that takes place in the church and need not attend. I don't see the problem.

It may not be needed, in a strict constructionist reading of the various constitutions that govern ELCA congregations.  However, having served in several ELCA synods and heard bishops give general counsel on this type of situation, they tend to argue that it is a very good idea to get the congregation council to approve of such ceremonies. (One bishop said that his first question to a pastor would be, "Is your council on board with this?") And the type of "Herr Pastor" move that basically says that the pastor's bound conscience trumps the bound consciences of the laity, especially those elected to represent the congregation on its council, just doesn't fly in much of the ELCA.  (And if one must use it, better make sure that it is truly a hill one is ready to die on, and have the bags packed and the car warmed up.)
Title: Re: The ELCA Requires Nothing
Post by: Steverem on January 10, 2013, 10:54:49 AM
Steverem writes (re the church council members who does not agree with same-sex unions):
Well, sure, he can serve on the church council--until the church is approached by a same-sex couple hoping to perform a wedding ceremony in the sanctuary, and the council is called upon to determine if such a ceremony should be allowed.  At that point, it ceases to be a theological decision, and "agreeing to disagree" is no longer an option.

I comment:
In the ELCA, a council decision is not needed in such a case; and in almost every case, no matter what a council decision might be, it is the pastor's decision in the end. The council member who does not agree to same sex unions need not approve of every ceremony that takes place in the church and need not attend. I don't see the problem.

The point, pastor, is that there is likely to come a time when such a disagreement goes from an abstract, philosophical disagreement to one that has real-life implications in the purposes and functions of a congregation.  At that point, "agreeing to disagree" becomes untenable. It would be one thing if you as my pastor disagree with me on the legitimacy of such unions.  But as soon as you as my pastor start performing these unions, it takes it out of the realm of the philosophical and makes it "real."  At that point, I have to decide to continue to be a part of a congregation that is actively engaging in what I believe to be unbiblical practices.
Title: Re: The ELCA Requires Nothing
Post by: Dadoo on January 10, 2013, 10:55:07 AM
Sometimes the difference is merely one of how we interpret our common confession.  At other times, the difference is about what authority our common confession(s) have.  A quatenus subscription to the Lutheran Confessions, for instance, is very common in the ELCA.  In the LCMS, a quia subscription is the norm.  (At least that's the impression I get of the LCMS.)

It has been too long since I took Latin to appreciate the subtleties of those two words as they relate to the Lutheran confessions.  To the extent that I have seen them used, the context typically suggests that we arguments about interpretations and not arguments about the Confessions, themselves.  I perceive them to be another example of right/wrong disagreements with those in the right (the quia subscribers) using labels to distinguish themselves from those who are wrong.  I also perceive them to be an example of the idea that "for every complex problem, there is a simple solution - simple and wrong".

John,

the two designation merely say that some accept the confessions as far as they interpret scripture and faith correctly and others accept them because they interpret scripture and faith correctly. Both sides often are proud of the designations they explicitly or implicitly subscribe to in this matter.

As far as right and wrong is concerned. I am glad that Charlie who drives the semi truck laden with 80,000 pounds of Woebler's Mustard is an adherent to simple solution and truth. The light turned red and he stopped - no notions of "grey area" thinking. He stopped the truck. I waved at him as I crossed in front of him on the cross street under the green light in my direction in safety because he was a strict red green type thinker.

I question the notion that "we don't really know" "we are sinners so we really cannot know" "we all interpret the bible and we are fallible so we never really have"truth.""  We can do that if nothing is at stake in the matter we are discussing. If however the church through the ages is right and eternity does hang in the balance then a definitive resolution to theological questions is demanded, if only for caution's sake.
Title: Re: The ELCA Requires Nothing
Post by: DCharlton on January 10, 2013, 10:55:14 AM
John, 

That would not be correct.  It is about what of authority the Confessions have for the one subscribing to them.

David
Title: Re: The ELCA Requires Nothing
Post by: Dadoo on January 10, 2013, 11:02:33 AM
Steverem writes (re the church council members who does not agree with same-sex unions):
Well, sure, he can serve on the church council--until the church is approached by a same-sex couple hoping to perform a wedding ceremony in the sanctuary, and the council is called upon to determine if such a ceremony should be allowed.  At that point, it ceases to be a theological decision, and "agreeing to disagree" is no longer an option.

I comment:
In the ELCA, a council decision is not needed in such a case; and in almost every case, no matter what a council decision might be, it is the pastor's decision in the end. The council member who does not agree to same sex unions need not approve of every ceremony that takes place in the church and need not attend. I don't see the problem.

It may not be needed, in a strict constructionist reading of the various constitutions that govern ELCA congregations.  However, having served in several ELCA synods and heard bishops give general counsel on this type of situation, they tend to argue that it is a very good idea to get the congregation council to approve of such ceremonies. (One bishop said that his first question to a pastor would be, "Is your council on board with this?") And the type of "Herr Pastor" move that basically says that the pastor's bound conscience trumps the bound consciences of the laity, especially those elected to represent the congregation on its council, just doesn't fly in much of the ELCA.  (And if one must use it, better make sure that it is truly a hill one is ready to die on, and have the bags packed and the car warmed up.)

Satis,

Charles is wrong here. THe council is responsible for the worship life of the congregation. A wedding service is a worship service. As soon as it is entered into the records of the congregation (even if it is not performed in the sanctuary) it is/ was a worship service of the congregation. The pastor's mandate to perform weddings is specifically noted to be "within the congregation." Whether pastors like it or else, who gets to be married in the congregation's ministry is a council decision. If the pastor can convince the council that it is merely his authority, so be it. But it is bluster and not constitutional argument that make the council surrender its authority there.
Title: Re: The ELCA Requires Nothing
Post by: Charles_Austin on January 10, 2013, 11:05:33 AM
satis est writes:
And the type of "Herr Pastor" move that basically says that the pastor's bound conscience trumps the bound consciences of the laity, especially those elected to represent the congregation on its council, just doesn't fly in much of the ELCA.  (And if one must use it, better make sure that it is truly a hill one is ready to die on, and have the bags packed and the car warmed up.)
I comment:
Well, it does fly in much of the ELCA, if not everywhere. (I suspect it may not get off the ground in those congregations of a certain background that consider the pastor the hired help.) I have always made it clear to every congregation I served that there are certain decisions that are mine alone, based not just on my opinion or conscience, but partly on those things and on the policies of our ELCA. If that doesn't "fly" with the congregational leaders, they they either do not call me or I do not take the call. We pastors are not "hired hands" under the thrall of congregation councils; unless we let that happen to us.

Steverem writes:
The point, pastor, is that there is likely to come a time when such a disagreement goes from an abstract, philosophical disagreement to one that has real-life implications in the purposes and functions of a congregation.  At that point, "agreeing to disagree" becomes untenable. It would be one thing if you as my pastor disagree with me on the legitimacy of such unions.  But as soon as you as my pastor start performing these unions, it takes it out of the realm of the philosophical and makes it "real."  At that point, I have to decide to continue to be a part of a congregation that is actively engaging in what I believe to be unbiblical practices.
I comment:
But that, then, becomes your call; out of my control. If you would decide to leave in a situation like that, then you would be the one not respecting the conscience, practice and policies of others in your congregation and church body. I would not contend that you have to agree if I preside at a same-sex union. But if you want to say you will not allow me to do that, even though it is within the realm of our policies; who has the problem here? 

Title: Re: The ELCA Requires Nothing
Post by: Charles_Austin on January 10, 2013, 11:09:11 AM
Pastor Kruse writes:
Charles is wrong here. THe council is responsible for the worship life of the congregation. A wedding service is a worship service. As soon as it is entered into the records of the congregation (even if it is not performed in the sanctuary) it is/ was a worship service of the congregation. The pastor's mandate to perform weddings is specifically noted to be "within the congregation." Whether pastors like it or else, who gets to be married in the congregation's ministry is a council decision. If the pastor can convince the council that it is merely his authority, so be it. But it is bluster and not constitutional argument that make the council surrender its authority there.
I ask:
Please show me where it says that weddings must have the approval of the congregation council? Never, in hundreds of weddings in six or seven parishes, have in seen this done. I might inform the council if I am doing a wedding for people who are not members (which I almost never do), but I have never sought council approval for each wedding. Where do you get this from our documents? I don't ask the council when, whether or what I should preach at any individual service either. Do you?
Title: Re: The ELCA Requires Nothing
Post by: DCharlton on January 10, 2013, 11:19:16 AM
My synod encouraged my congregation to adopt a policy regarding expectations for rostered leaders and what kinds of weddings we would perform.  Subsequently they deemed the policy we adopted to be constitutional. 

They gave no indication that the pastor was free to ignore those policies.
Title: Re: The ELCA Requires Nothing
Post by: Coach-Rev on January 10, 2013, 11:21:37 AM
So, unless the loyal opposition learns how to do church politics from someone like the LCMS they are not going to be considered as serious about their dissent?  Well, perhaps we can be a useful, good influence in the ELCA, helping a group whose voice is valued be heard.   8)

Dan

Actually, seems we need to learn how to do politics like the "opposition" in the ELCA.  That is, after all, what they are best at. 8)
Title: Re: The ELCA Requires Nothing
Post by: John_Hannah on January 10, 2013, 11:25:00 AM
Sometimes the difference is merely one of how we interpret our common confession.  At other times, the difference is about what authority our common confession(s) have.  A quatenus subscription to the Lutheran Confessions, for instance, is very common in the ELCA.  In the LCMS, a quia subscription is the norm.  (At least that's the impression I get of the LCMS.)

It has been too long since I took Latin to appreciate the subtleties of those two words as they relate to the Lutheran confessions.  To the extent that I have seen them used, the context typically suggests that we arguments about interpretations and not arguments about the Confessions, themselves.  I perceive them to be another example of right/wrong disagreements with those in the right (the quia subscribers) using labels to distinguish themselves from those who are wrong.  I also perceive them to be an example of the idea that "for every complex problem, there is a simple solution - simple and wrong".

Piepkorn said that the "quia/quatenus" descriptions were obsolete or anachronistic. I forget exactly how he worded it but it seems true. Typically as some Missourians describe themselves, it seems that the "quia" that is self attributed actually refers to subscription to issues that the confessions do not even address.
Title: Re: The ELCA Requires Nothing
Post by: FrPeters on January 10, 2013, 11:33:55 AM
Quote
it seems that the "quia" that is self attributed actually refers to subscription to issues that the confessions do not even address

But if they are presumed in the Confessions, part of the common confession about which there is no dispute, then they also become part of those Confessions.
Title: Re: The ELCA Requires Nothing
Post by: Johan Bergfest on January 10, 2013, 11:41:15 AM
I question the notion that "we don't really know" "we are sinners so we really cannot know" "we all interpret the bible and we are fallible so we never really have"truth.""  We can do that if nothing is at stake in the matter we are discussing. If however the church through the ages is right and eternity does hang in the balance then a definitive resolution to theological questions is demanded, if only for caution's sake.

Well, eternity does hang in the balance and we do know (and I think all Lutherans agree) that our claim on eternity is the doctrine of Justification, by grace, through faith in Jesus Christ.  I do not hear us arguing that, with the exception that some folks might say, "well if you believe such and such, then you don't believe this and, if you don't believe that, therefore you are denying Justification".  In my opinion, that kind of argument is specious.
Title: Re: The ELCA Requires Nothing
Post by: Dadoo on January 10, 2013, 11:42:13 AM
My synod encouraged my congregation to adopt a policy regarding expectations for rostered leaders and what kinds of weddings we would perform.  Subsequently they deemed the policy we adopted to be constitutional. 

They gave no indication that the pastor was free to ignore those policies.

Those policies really ought to be written before it becomes acute and arguments make resolution impossible.

But, yes, pastors are not free floating agents in this respect.
Title: Re: The ELCA Requires Nothing
Post by: pearson on January 10, 2013, 11:52:22 AM

However, when the issue is my interpretation of God's Word v. your interpretation of God's Word, a third side is a necessity.  And, in all honesty, I have heard a lot of Lutherans who deny the validity of others' interpretations, I have not heard many who actually deny the authority of Scripture. 


If I were King, I would make the use of the word "interpretation" a criminal offense.  The term appears to have no fixed meaning or reference.  Is an "interpretation" a traditional way of reading of a text, or an informed public opinion, or a socially accepted prejudice, or a personal preference, or a subjective feeling about "what's right"?  When my students seek to "interpret" a text or a congested problem, if they do not provide a logically compelling argument that directly grounds and supports what they offer, then their "interpretation" is worthless (and their grade reflects that).

So I'm not at all sure what it means to gauge "the validity of others' interpretations," unless it means to recognize that there is a rigorous and objective argument that informs the "interpretation," and makes it convincing to others.   Is that what you mean?  If not -- what?

Tom Pearson
Title: Re: The ELCA Requires Nothing
Post by: Dadoo on January 10, 2013, 11:54:27 AM
I question the notion that "we don't really know" "we are sinners so we really cannot know" "we all interpret the bible and we are fallible so we never really have"truth.""  We can do that if nothing is at stake in the matter we are discussing. If however the church through the ages is right and eternity does hang in the balance then a definitive resolution to theological questions is demanded, if only for caution's sake.

Well, eternity does hang in the balance and we do know (and I think all Lutherans agree) that our claim on eternity is the doctrine of Justification, by grace, through faith in Jesus Christ.  I do not hear us arguing that, with the exception that some folks might say, "well if you believe such and such, then you don't believe this and, if you don't believe that, therefore you are denying Justification".  In my opinion, that kind of argument is specious.

If our claim is Justification by grace, etc then we are making a truth claim on which we are betting our lives and eternal fates. We are making that truth claim based on an authority or the interpretation of an authority, take your pick. Those who counter and  "might say . . . " also make truth claims based on those same authorities. If i dismiss their claims as  merely giving simple solutions then I dismiss my own claims to the truth of Justification as well. If fallible sinners claim to interpret Justification from the story of the Gospel then who is to say that they are not just claiming a convenient "out" from obligation?

We will have to become comfortable with the concept that things are true - or false for that matter - and have a defense. Not just a dismissal that we cannot know further.
Title: Re: The ELCA Requires Nothing
Post by: Johan Bergfest on January 10, 2013, 12:13:51 PM
If I were King, I would make the use of the word "interpretation" a criminal offense.  The term appears to have no fixed meaning or reference.

If I were King, I would make use of the phrase "inerrant and infallible" a criminal offense and for the same reason.
Title: Re: The ELCA Requires Nothing
Post by: A Catholic Lutheran on January 10, 2013, 12:17:20 PM
I question the notion that "we don't really know" "we are sinners so we really cannot know" "we all interpret the bible and we are fallible so we never really have"truth.""  We can do that if nothing is at stake in the matter we are discussing. If however the church through the ages is right and eternity does hang in the balance then a definitive resolution to theological questions is demanded, if only for caution's sake.

Well, eternity does hang in the balance and we do know (and I think all Lutherans agree) that our claim on eternity is the doctrine of Justification, by grace, through faith in Jesus Christ.  I do not hear us arguing that, with the exception that some folks might say, "well if you believe such and such, then you don't believe this and, if you don't believe that, therefore you are denying Justification".  In my opinion, that kind of argument is specious.

If our claim is Justification by grace, etc then we are making a truth claim on which we are betting our lives and eternal fates. We are making that truth claim based on an authority or the interpretation of an authority, take your pick. Those who counter and  "might say . . . " also make truth claims based on those same authorities. If i dismiss their claims as  merely giving simple solutions then I dismiss my own claims to the truth of Justification as well. If fallible sinners claim to interpret Justification from the story of the Gospel then who is to say that they are not just claiming a convenient "out" from obligation?

We will have to become comfortable with the concept that things are true - or false for that matter - and have a defense. Not just a dismissal that we cannot know further.

WELL SAID!

The idea that we (as Lutherans and Christians), by virtue of being human, are agnostic is deadly wrong.  We can, absolutely, KNOW God and God's will even if we cannot COMPREHEND God's reason and wisdom.  Why?  Because God has revealed himself to us.  God has self-disclosed himself TO US because he wants us to know and be in relationship with him.  This is not merely a Christian world-view, but resonates throughout the Hebrew Bible (the Old Testament) where God consistantly reveals himself and his will to humanity, pursuing them through the Law and the Prophets.  In the New Testament, this forms the core of the story of the Incarnation, where our Lord takes on human flesh so that he might know us and we might know him.  And in the (Lutheran) Confessions we are over and over again confronted with the reality that God is imminently KNOWABLE... NOT through "mind games" (which is a perversion of theology, hence my reference to Lewis)... but through God's Word and the Sacraments.

St. Paul got it right.  If we cannot KNOW that Christ is indeed risen from the tomb, we are most to be pitied of all people.  If it is all about playing "mind games" and mentally "playing with ourselves" to demonstrate our theological prowess--arguing one position one day and another position another day--then we are wasting ourselves and perverting wisdom.

That's why, Pr. Austin, Pr. Stoffregen's posts evoke such a reaction from me.  It's not because he "simply and eloquently presents his points with patience..." but because he is so very far from the Faith.  It's precisely because he "muses" on issues of critical importance and his "musing" is so very, very unChristian and unLutheran that I am tempted to tresort to breaking my silence.

But I am done arguing with both you and him, because in the end you are not really interested in real argument, discourse, or even inquiry.  These pages are, for you, not really about fellowship, learning, or edification; you use these pages as your own personal universe that revolves around you, to prove that (like "cognito ergo sum") that you exist and somehow are important.  This forum seems to exist as your own personal echo chambers, everyone else be damned.

(Peter and/or Richard, please feel free to strike that last portion if it is unduly personal or lapses into ad hominem...)

Anyway, we most certainly can KNOW God, even if we cannot COMPREHEND God.

Pax Christi;
Pr. Jerry Kliner, STS

Quote
Quote from Charles Austin earlier on this thread:
Among the many things I do not understand is the heated reaction which Pastor Stoffregen seems to evoke from some ALPB participants. He is persistent and, in my opinion, admirably patient in presenting his views. But he never says everyone has to agree with him and often says he is engaging in the kind of theological speculation which scholars and thinkers have been doing for centuries. Not every sentence is proclaimed doctrine.
Still, the heat from some rises when he posts; and he is advised to repent, reform and reject his musings.
And if he says something "orthodox," folks run from it because he is the one who says it.
I just do not get the fixation with his comments. Sometimes (often) I agree with him; sometimes not; but I don't understand this passion to "turn" him into something else or the warnings that Someone Is Watching and You're Gonna Be Sorry.
Title: Re: The ELCA Requires Nothing
Post by: DCharlton on January 10, 2013, 12:21:23 PM
Sometimes the difference is merely one of how we interpret our common confession.  At other times, the difference is about what authority our common confession(s) have.  A quatenus subscription to the Lutheran Confessions, for instance, is very common in the ELCA.  In the LCMS, a quia subscription is the norm.  (At least that's the impression I get of the LCMS.)

It has been too long since I took Latin to appreciate the subtleties of those two words as they relate to the Lutheran confessions.  To the extent that I have seen them used, the context typically suggests that we arguments about interpretations and not arguments about the Confessions, themselves.  I perceive them to be another example of right/wrong disagreements with those in the right (the quia subscribers) using labels to distinguish themselves from those who are wrong.  I also perceive them to be an example of the idea that "for every complex problem, there is a simple solution - simple and wrong".

Piepkorn said that the "quia/quatenus" descriptions were obsolete or anachronistic. I forget exactly how he worded it but it seems true. Typically as some Missourians describe themselves, it seems that the "quia" that is self attributed actually refers to subscription to issues that the confessions do not even address.

It seems true that the "quia/quatenus" distinction has been abused.  A demand was made that people subscribe to the Book of Concord's assertions about science, history and the interpretation of specific biblical texts.  On the other hand, I think it can still be useful.  In the ELCA, the "insofar" has been taken so far that subscription seems to be reduced to Article IV, so long as Article IV include "Gospel imperatives" or a "Second Use of the Gospel" which authorizes the preaching of social justice as Gospel. 

Likewise, the Third Use of the Law has been abused, but "Gospel imperatives" and "Second Use of the Gospel" lead to the same legalism that rejection of the Third Use sought to remedy.  In fact, they make things worse because they make the Gospel itself into a set of demands.
Title: Re: The ELCA Requires Nothing
Post by: Evangel on January 10, 2013, 01:05:27 PM
Since we saw this stuff coming back in 2005 ... before I left the ELCA I had drafted a bylaw for our congregational constitution that forbid same sex blessings or marriages from being performed in or on our church property.  It also forbid the participation in such a ceremony/service by any person employed or called by the congregation at any other location.  Any disobedience of this bylaw would be interpreted by the council as being equivalent to an immediate unconditional notice of resignation.
Title: Re: The ELCA Requires Nothing
Post by: George Erdner on January 10, 2013, 01:25:31 PM
Steverem writes (re the church council members who does not agree with same-sex unions):
Well, sure, he can serve on the church council--until the church is approached by a same-sex couple hoping to perform a wedding ceremony in the sanctuary, and the council is called upon to determine if such a ceremony should be allowed.  At that point, it ceases to be a theological decision, and "agreeing to disagree" is no longer an option.

I comment:
In the ELCA, a council decision is not needed in such a case; and in almost every case, no matter what a council decision might be, it is the pastor's decision in the end. The council member who does not agree to same sex unions need not approve of every ceremony that takes place in the church and need not attend. I don't see the problem.

It may not be needed, in a strict constructionist reading of the various constitutions that govern ELCA congregations.  However, having served in several ELCA synods and heard bishops give general counsel on this type of situation, they tend to argue that it is a very good idea to get the congregation council to approve of such ceremonies. (One bishop said that his first question to a pastor would be, "Is your council on board with this?") And the type of "Herr Pastor" move that basically says that the pastor's bound conscience trumps the bound consciences of the laity, especially those elected to represent the congregation on its council, just doesn't fly in much of the ELCA.  (And if one must use it, better make sure that it is truly a hill one is ready to die on, and have the bags packed and the car warmed up.)

Satis,

Charles is wrong here. THe council is responsible for the worship life of the congregation. A wedding service is a worship service. As soon as it is entered into the records of the congregation (even if it is not performed in the sanctuary) it is/ was a worship service of the congregation. The pastor's mandate to perform weddings is specifically noted to be "within the congregation." Whether pastors like it or else, who gets to be married in the congregation's ministry is a council decision. If the pastor can convince the council that it is merely his authority, so be it. But it is bluster and not constitutional argument that make the council surrender its authority there.


You and Satis Est both have it right. Regardless of whether or not there is some formal requirement that all weddings be approved by council before they take place, any pastor who does something controversial like performing a pseudo-marriage ceremony for two homosexuals is begging to have his call rescinded. Isn't there some sort of implied understanding that a good pastor exercises good care and judgement in what he does? Isn't that an expectation? I wouldn't be surprised that it isn't a requirement, as the ELCA doesn't seem to have many of those. But isn't it an expectation? And shouldn't a pastor who defies his council expect consequences, regardless of what may or may not be written in some dusty and/or confusing rule book?


I'm pretty confident that for most ELCA pastors, conducting a pseudo-marriage ceremony for a pair of homosexuals without council approval will mean either the pastor will lose his call, or he'll lose quite a few pewsitters.


I wonder, how could any pastor be so incompetent and unsuited to the ministry that he'd only worry about whether or not something was supported by the written rules, to the exclusion of all other considerations? Such a person really shouldn't be wearing a collar.
Title: Re: The ELCA Requires Nothing
Post by: Charles_Austin on January 10, 2013, 01:49:55 PM
Pastor Schimmel writes:
Before I left the ELCA I had drafted a bylaw for our congregational constitution that forbid same sex blessings or marriages from being performed in or on our church property.  It also forbid the participation in such a ceremony/service by any person employed or called by the congregation at any other location.  Any disobedience of this bylaw would be interpreted by the council as being equivalent to an immediate unconditional notice of resignation.

I comment:
Fine. But I contend that any pastor who consents to such a thing does irreparable harm to the Holy Office of the ministry, his or her call, and the synod and ELCA to which he and the congregation belongs. What's next? Voting on how many sermons there can be or what can or cannot be included in the content? Fie!
Title: Re: The ELCA Requires Nothing
Post by: Charles_Austin on January 10, 2013, 01:54:37 PM
Mr. Erdner writes:
You and Satis Est both have it right. Regardless of whether or not there is some formal requirement that all weddings be approved by council before they take place, any pastor who does something controversial like performing a pseudo-marriage ceremony for two homosexuals is begging to have his call rescinded.
I comment:
A call issued under normal ELCA procedures cannot be rescinded.

Mr. Erdner writes:
Isn't there some sort of implied understanding that a good pastor exercises good care and judgement in what he does? Isn't that an expectation? I wouldn't be surprised that it isn't a requirement, as the ELCA doesn't seem to have many of those. But isn't it an expectation? And shouldn't a pastor who defies his council expect consequences, regardless of what may or may not be written in some dusty and/or confusing rule book?
I comment:
Who says the pastor is defying his or her council. He or she might have to act contrary to the wishes of one or two council members. Happens all the time.

Mr. Erdner writes:
I'm pretty confident that for most ELCA pastors, conducting a pseudo-marriage ceremony for a pair of homosexuals without council approval will mean either the pastor will lose his call, or he'll lose quite a few pewsitters.
I comment:
Mr. Erdner can be confident. But he can also be wrong.
Union ceremonies for such people have been going on in ELCA churches for some time.

Mr. Erdner comments:
I wonder, how could any pastor be so incompetent and unsuited to the ministry that he'd only worry about whether or not something was supported by the written rules, to the exclusion of all other considerations? Such a person really shouldn't be wearing a collar
I comment:
Another leap to the ridiculous, designed only to kvetch and moan. Every pastor takes into consideration the mood of the congregation. And sometimes it may be necessary to act contrary to the wishes of a few. As noted above, it happens all the time.

 
Title: Re: The ELCA Requires Nothing
Post by: Charles_Austin on January 10, 2013, 02:04:11 PM
Pastor Kliner writes:
That's why, Pr. Austin, Pr. Stoffregen's posts evoke such a reaction from me.  It's not because he "simply and eloquently presents his points with patience..." but because he is so very far from the Faith.  It's precisely because he "muses" on issues of critical importance and his "musing" is so very, very unChristian and unLutheran that I am tempted to tresort to breaking my silence.
I comment:
It is too bad that your faith would appear to be so weak or your temperament so fragile that you cannot contend with difficult discussion and speculation. But based on previous years of postings, I suppose I am not surprised.

Pastor Kliner writes:
But I am done arguing with both you and him, because in the end you are not really interested in real argument, discourse, or even inquiry.  These pages are, for you, not really about fellowship, learning, or edification; you use these pages as your own personal universe that revolves around you, to prove that (like "cognito ergo sum") that you exist and somehow are important.  This forum seems to exist as your own personal echo chambers, everyone else be damned.
I comment:
That is a pretty arrogant assumption. I get hammered if I suggest these pages exist just so some can whine and complain and air their dissatisfaction with how they can't get calls or how their bishop doesn't love them any more.
And your sense of the discussion dynamic is perverse and also arrogant. If I didn't care for anyone else's opinion, why would I take the time to try and correct them when they are wrong or praise them when they are right? I don't even insist that you agree with me.
And get off your overly-psychological high horse and inquisitional throne. Pastor Stoffregen and I are not the ones here who are issuing edicts of damnation.
"personal echo chambers"? Hoo-hah! Who echoes anything I say here? Nobody. You're just miffed because both Pastor Stoffregen and I refuse to go away and leave this field to .... well, pick your own category of people.
Title: Re: The ELCA Requires Nothing
Post by: Johan Bergfest on January 10, 2013, 02:25:31 PM
If our claim is Justification by grace, etc then we are making a truth claim on which we are betting our lives and eternal fates.

By faith, I believe that Scripture is one means by which God reveals Himself to us.  By faith, I believe that the doctrine of Justification is core to that revelation.  By faith, I believe that Scripture is authoritative in these matters.  By faith, I believe that, because I am justified, God also sanctifies me.  By my understanding, that is the heart of the Lutheran confession and my assumption is that all who profess to be Lutheran would agree on at least this much, irrespective of the other things about which we might disagree.

And, as a side note, I get real uncomfortable when people of faith rely too heavily on the rules of formal logic to discern matters of faith.  My faith is not dependent on my ability to reason these things out for myself.
Title: Re: The ELCA Requires Nothing
Post by: Johan Bergfest on January 10, 2013, 02:32:54 PM
Anyway, we most certainly can KNOW God, even if we cannot COMPREHEND God.

Pr. Kliner - I presume that by knowing, you really mean knowing by faith, as a gift from the Holy Spirit, and not knowing because we have the ability to figure out that much for ourselves.
Title: Re: The ELCA Requires Nothing
Post by: DCharlton on January 10, 2013, 02:39:49 PM
If our claim is Justification by grace, etc then we are making a truth claim on which we are betting our lives and eternal fates.

By faith, I believe that Scripture is one means by which God reveals Himself to us.  By faith, I believe that the doctrine of Justification is core to that revelation.  By faith, I believe that Scripture is authoritative in these matters.  By faith, I believe that, because I am justified, God also sanctifies me.

John,

Saying, "By faith, I believe" seems tantamount to saying, "By belief, I believe," or "By faith, I have faith."  What, if any, relationship is there between faith and truth, faith and knowledge? 

Quote
By my understanding, that is the heart of the Lutheran confession and my assumption is that all who profess to be Lutheran would agree on at least this much, irrespective of the other things about which we might disagree.

Did you use reason and logic to reach this conclusion.  Or did you arrive at it by faith?

Quote
And, as a side note, I get real uncomfortable when people of faith rely too heavily on the rules of formal logic to discern matters of faith.  My faith is not dependent on my ability to reason these things out for myself.

I'm afraid you'll have to toss out the Lutheran Confessions then.  When they set out what we "believe, teach and confess" they utilized reason and logic to make their arguments, define terms, distinguish between truth and error.  The devil's whore was not completely absent.
Title: Re: The ELCA Requires Nothing
Post by: DCharlton on January 10, 2013, 02:41:41 PM
Pastor Schimmel writes:
Before I left the ELCA I had drafted a bylaw for our congregational constitution that forbid same sex blessings or marriages from being performed in or on our church property.  It also forbid the participation in such a ceremony/service by any person employed or called by the congregation at any other location.  Any disobedience of this bylaw would be interpreted by the council as being equivalent to an immediate unconditional notice of resignation.

I comment:
Fine. But I contend that any pastor who consents to such a thing does irreparable harm to the Holy Office of the ministry, his or her call, and the synod and ELCA to which he and the congregation belongs. What's next? Voting on how many sermons there can be or what can or cannot be included in the content? Fie!

Why would my synod recommend that congregations adopt such policies?  Why would they allow them to pass synodical review before they are incorporated into the continuing resolutions of the congregation?
Title: Re: The ELCA Requires Nothing
Post by: Johan Bergfest on January 10, 2013, 02:42:39 PM
David - what part of, "I believe that I cannot by my own reason or strength believe on the Lord Jesus Christ or come to Him, but the Holy Ghost has called me by the Gospel..." do you disagree with?
Title: Re: The ELCA Requires Nothing
Post by: Coach-Rev on January 10, 2013, 02:55:42 PM
Pastor Schimmel writes:
Before I left the ELCA I had drafted a bylaw for our congregational constitution that forbid same sex blessings or marriages from being performed in or on our church property.  It also forbid the participation in such a ceremony/service by any person employed or called by the congregation at any other location.  Any disobedience of this bylaw would be interpreted by the council as being equivalent to an immediate unconditional notice of resignation.

I comment:
Fine. But I contend that any pastor who consents to such a thing does irreparable harm to the Holy Office of the ministry, his or her call, and the synod and ELCA to which he and the congregation belongs. What's next? Voting on how many sermons there can be or what can or cannot be included in the content? Fie!

And again we see the emptiness of the sham known as "respecting the bound conscience."   I would argue, dear Charles, that it was the ELCA actions precipitating such a response that has done irreparable harm to the Holy office of the ministry, anyone's call, and the synod and ELCA to which he and the congregation belongs.  But apparently you don't get that, and never will.
Title: Re: The ELCA Requires Nothing
Post by: Dadoo on January 10, 2013, 03:17:37 PM
David - what part of, "I believe that I cannot by my own reason or strength believe on the Lord Jesus Christ or come to Him, but the Holy Ghost has called me by the Gospel..." do you disagree with?

I think that would be the part where the Holy Spirit works through "means" to awaken and strengthen faith. It's 5th article kind of stuff. See also St John: These things are written that you believe . . .

Anyone who tends the teaching of the story does what St. John and the other evangelists modeled: we make a rational case for the story, its veracity (John and Luke are sure to tell you they actually had eye witnesses to attest to what they were saying), its reliability and its purpose. It is my job, I am sorry. I am a word and sacrament minister.

That takes nothing from Faith. Faith comes from hearing (St. Paul) and that hearing can only happen when someone dares to speak (Also St. Paul) and that one has to have a reliable message and not just what comes to their mind right then even if it is gibberish (also St. Paul). We set apart ministers to cherish and perpetuate the preaching of the word so there might be faith. I apologize that we are set apart with the charge that we be "right" about the Gospel and its preaching, which in Lutheran circles means also knowing and preaching the law so the Gospel be heard.
Title: Re: The ELCA Requires Nothing
Post by: DCharlton on January 10, 2013, 03:22:53 PM
David - what part of, "I believe that I cannot by my own reason or strength believe on the Lord Jesus Christ or come to Him, but the Holy Ghost has called me by the Gospel..." do you disagree with?

There is no part that I disagree with.  I stated three things:

1.  The statement, "By faith, I believe" is a tautology.  It's akin to saying, "By faith, I have faith," or "By belief, I believe."  Did you intend to convey what the Small Catechism does by saying, "By the power of the Spirit, I have faith that....," or , "By the power of the Spirit, I believe that..."  If so, I understand that.

2.  I asked if what you "understand" about what we Lutherans believe in common about Justification was arrived at through reason or faith. 

3.  I stated that a rejection of the use of formal logic in talking about what we "believe, teach and confess" would require you to reject the Lutheran Confessions. 

Nothing of what I wrote was a rejection of the teaching of the Small Catechism, which by the way is very logical in its structure.
Title: Re: The ELCA Requires Nothing
Post by: Dadoo on January 10, 2013, 03:27:51 PM
Pastor Schimmel writes:
Before I left the ELCA I had drafted a bylaw for our congregational constitution that forbid same sex blessings or marriages from being performed in or on our church property.  It also forbid the participation in such a ceremony/service by any person employed or called by the congregation at any other location.  Any disobedience of this bylaw would be interpreted by the council as being equivalent to an immediate unconditional notice of resignation.

I comment:
Fine. But I contend that any pastor who consents to such a thing does irreparable harm to the Holy Office of the ministry, his or her call, and the synod and ELCA to which he and the congregation belongs. What's next? Voting on how many sermons there can be or what can or cannot be included in the content? Fie!

Why would my synod recommend that congregations adopt such policies?  Why would they allow them to pass synodical review before they are incorporated into the continuing resolutions of the congregation?

I would think that the synod approved such bylaws because someone at synod had read the governing documents of the ELCA and had determined that such restrictions are the right and duty of the congregation's officers. I happen to agree with them. They also BTW say that the pastor shall preach the word of God at worship.
Title: Re: The ELCA Requires Nothing
Post by: DCharlton on January 10, 2013, 03:28:17 PM
Concerning Arthur Carl Piepkorn.  He had this to say about "Subscription to the Lutheran Symbols":

These facts in no way alter the basic consideration, that Lutherans subscribe to the doctrinal content of the Lutheran Symbols because it correctly reproduces the teaching of the Sacred Scriptures.  The alternative is not really to subscribe to the Lutheran Symbols at all.  As theologians have long pointed out, one can just as well subscribe to the Qur'an, the Bhagavad-Gita, or the collected works of Thomas Paine as far as these reproduce the Sacred Scriptures.  Such a commitment really says nothing.  (Secker, p. 204)
Title: Re: The ELCA Requires Nothing
Post by: DCharlton on January 10, 2013, 03:29:09 PM
Pastor Schimmel writes:
Before I left the ELCA I had drafted a bylaw for our congregational constitution that forbid same sex blessings or marriages from being performed in or on our church property.  It also forbid the participation in such a ceremony/service by any person employed or called by the congregation at any other location.  Any disobedience of this bylaw would be interpreted by the council as being equivalent to an immediate unconditional notice of resignation.

I comment:
Fine. But I contend that any pastor who consents to such a thing does irreparable harm to the Holy Office of the ministry, his or her call, and the synod and ELCA to which he and the congregation belongs. What's next? Voting on how many sermons there can be or what can or cannot be included in the content? Fie!

Why would my synod recommend that congregations adopt such policies?  Why would they allow them to pass synodical review before they are incorporated into the continuing resolutions of the congregation?

I would think that the synod approved such bylaws because someone at synod had read the governing documents of the ELCA and had determined that such restrictions are the right and duty of the congregation's officers. I happen to agree with them. They also BTW say that the pastor shall preach the word of God at worship.

Technically, they are continuing resolutions, not bylaws.  But yes.
Title: Re: The ELCA Requires Nothing
Post by: Dadoo on January 10, 2013, 03:36:54 PM
Pastor Schimmel writes:
Before I left the ELCA I had drafted a bylaw for our congregational constitution that forbid same sex blessings or marriages from being performed in or on our church property.  It also forbid the participation in such a ceremony/service by any person employed or called by the congregation at any other location.  Any disobedience of this bylaw would be interpreted by the council as being equivalent to an immediate unconditional notice of resignation.

I comment:
Fine. But I contend that any pastor who consents to such a thing does irreparable harm to the Holy Office of the ministry, his or her call, and the synod and ELCA to which he and the congregation belongs. What's next? Voting on how many sermons there can be or what can or cannot be included in the content? Fie!

Why would my synod recommend that congregations adopt such policies?  Why would they allow them to pass synodical review before they are incorporated into the continuing resolutions of the congregation?

I would think that the synod approved such bylaws because someone at synod had read the governing documents of the ELCA and had determined that such restrictions are the right and duty of the congregation's officers. I happen to agree with them. They also BTW say that the pastor shall preach the word of God at worship.

Technically, they are continuing resolutions, not bylaws.  But yes.

OOOps! My bad . .  .
Title: Re: The ELCA Requires Nothing
Post by: DCharlton on January 10, 2013, 03:38:47 PM
No, I didn't want to convey false information.  My synod will allow you to put such a statement in the continuing resolutions, but not the bylaws.
Title: Re: The ELCA Requires Nothing
Post by: David M. Frye, OblSB on January 10, 2013, 03:46:56 PM
The congregation where I served as an interim pastor in 2009 passed a similar continuing resolution, upon the advice of one of the assistants to the bishop. Its content focused upon holding to the pre-2009 Vision and Expectations for Clergy. When the congregation's secretary reported that CR to the office of the bishop, the synod's legal counsel wanted to review the whole constitution, asserting that the synod council must approve of the incorporation of the CR. the reasoning the attorney gave is that adding a CR constituted a change and that the synod council must approve all changes to the congregation's constitution. The congregation did not submit its previously approved constitution, with its new CR, but communicated the substance of the assistant's recommendation (to go the CR route rather than the bylaw route, for precisely this reason) and went on its way. To my knowledge, that is where the matter ended.

No, I didn't want to convey false information.  My synod will allow you to put such a statement in the continuing resolutions, but not the bylaws.
Title: Re: The ELCA Requires Nothing
Post by: DCharlton on January 10, 2013, 03:55:04 PM
I must also say the the synod was glad to assist us in crafting our resolution so that it would be approved without any difficulty.  For which we were grateful. 

Our resolution says:

_________ Lutheran Church is a congregation of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.

_________ Lutheran Church, as a congregation of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, understands that it has the right to call, or refuse to call, as a pastor or rostered leader any person who in on the roster of ordained ministers or lay roster or any candidate approved for those rosters.

_________ Lutheran Church, in accordance with the 2009 Church wide Assembly which resolved that the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America “make provision in its policies to recognize the conviction of members who believe that this church should not call or roster people in publicly accountable, lifelong, monogamous, same-gender relationship,” declares that this congregation will not call a pastor or lay rostered leader who is or intends to be in such a same-gender relationship.

_________ Lutheran Church declares that marriages, civil unions, or blessing of persons in same gender relationships will not be performed on its property, in this church building or authorized by this congregation or church council.

_________ Lutheran Church declares that this congregation understands the proper place for sexual relations to be within marriage, which is defined as a union between one man and one woman.  This is most clearly stated in Matthew 19:4-6, were Jesus says, “Have you not read that the one who made them from the beginning ‘made them male and female,’ and said, ‘For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’?  So they are no longer two, but one flesh.  Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate.”  All who preach and teach in this congregation are expected to do so in accordance with this understanding of marriage.  Furthermore, teaching materials will be selected which reflect this understanding of marriage. 


Title: Re: The ELCA Requires Nothing
Post by: Johan Bergfest on January 10, 2013, 04:26:23 PM
David - what part of, "I believe that I cannot by my own reason or strength believe on the Lord Jesus Christ or come to Him, but the Holy Ghost has called me by the Gospel..." do you disagree with?

There is no part that I disagree with.  I stated three things:

1.  The statement, "By faith, I believe" is a tautology.  It's akin to saying, "By faith, I have faith," or "By belief, I believe."  Did you intend to convey what the Small Catechism does by saying, "By the power of the Spirit, I have faith that....," or , "By the power of the Spirit, I believe that..."  If so, I understand that.

2.  I asked if what you "understand" about what we Lutherans believe in common about Justification was arrived at through reason or faith. 

3.  I stated that a rejection of the use of formal logic in talking about what we "believe, teach and confess" would require you to reject the Lutheran Confessions. 

Nothing of what I wrote was a rejection of the teaching of the Small Catechism, which by the way is very logical in its structure.

Pr. Charlton - I guess that, if nothing else, our exchange demonstrates is that human language is insufficient to hold God's Word and really insufficient to hold the Lutheran Confessions.  If nothing else, I suspect that also is the basis for much of the misunderstandings among Lutherans.
Title: Re: The ELCA Requires Nothing
Post by: Charles_Austin on January 10, 2013, 04:32:17 PM
Pastor Cottingham writes:
And again we see the emptiness of the sham known as "respecting the bound conscience."   I would argue, dear Charles, that it was the ELCA actions precipitating such a response that has done irreparable harm to the Holy office of the ministry, anyone's call, and the synod and ELCA to which he and the congregation belongs.  But apparently you don't get that, and never will.

I comment:
Ah, but we have just seen posted upstream an example of how the ELCA and its synods have helped a congregation craft continuing resolutions enabling it to refrain from having a partnered gay or lesbian clergy or to allow same sex unions. That makes your charge that not respecting concience is a "sham" wrong, doesn't it?
I'm not sure yet whether I agree with the process described and I am not likely to take a call to a congregation that puts restrictions on pastoral ministry, but my opinion doesn't matter here.
Title: Re: The ELCA Requires Nothing
Post by: Dadoo on January 10, 2013, 04:37:11 PM
David - what part of, "I believe that I cannot by my own reason or strength believe on the Lord Jesus Christ or come to Him, but the Holy Ghost has called me by the Gospel..." do you disagree with?

There is no part that I disagree with.  I stated three things:

1.  The statement, "By faith, I believe" is a tautology.  It's akin to saying, "By faith, I have faith," or "By belief, I believe."  Did you intend to convey what the Small Catechism does by saying, "By the power of the Spirit, I have faith that....," or , "By the power of the Spirit, I believe that..."  If so, I understand that.

2.  I asked if what you "understand" about what we Lutherans believe in common about Justification was arrived at through reason or faith. 

3.  I stated that a rejection of the use of formal logic in talking about what we "believe, teach and confess" would require you to reject the Lutheran Confessions. 

Nothing of what I wrote was a rejection of the teaching of the Small Catechism, which by the way is very logical in its structure.

Pr. Charlton - I guess that, if nothing else, our exchange demonstrates is that human language is insufficient to hold God's Word and really insufficient to hold the Lutheran Confessions.  If nothing else, I suspect that also is the basis for much of the misunderstandings among Lutherans.

John,

If that was true, Justification, Grace, Faith and nothing you hear read from the bible is sufficient either. In other words nothing is sufficient, period. I would then worry, if that word means anything, if I had faith, whether there was such a thing as grace, whether grace perhaps meant I was going to be swallowed by eels or whether justification might mean being beaten with 12 inch rulers.

No. Insufficiency just does not wash.
Title: Re: The ELCA Requires Nothing
Post by: Dadoo on January 10, 2013, 04:38:45 PM
Pastor Cottingham writes:
And again we see the emptiness of the sham known as "respecting the bound conscience."   I would argue, dear Charles, that it was the ELCA actions precipitating such a response that has done irreparable harm to the Holy office of the ministry, anyone's call, and the synod and ELCA to which he and the congregation belongs.  But apparently you don't get that, and never will.

I comment:
Ah, but we have just seen posted upstream an example of how the ELCA and its synods have helped a congregation craft continuing resolutions enabling it to refrain from having a partnered gay or lesbian clergy or to allow same sex unions. That makes your charge that not respecting concience is a "sham" wrong, doesn't it?
I'm not sure yet whether I agree with the process described and I am not likely to take a call to a congregation that puts restrictions on pastoral ministry, but my opinion doesn't matter here.

Charles,

You already have: taken a call to a congregation that puts restrictions on pastoral ministry. The ELCA, the synod , and the Congregation you are at all have these in their governing documents.
Title: Re: The ELCA Requires Nothing
Post by: Charles_Austin on January 10, 2013, 04:44:06 PM
Yes, and as I have said a gazillion times, I recognize the restrictions the ELCA places on my ministry. But nothing in the constitutions of the congregations I serve places additional restrictions, or forbids me from doing what in other ELCA venues I would be allowed to do.
A congregation cannot tell me that every service, whether eucharist, vespers, matins, compline, funeral, wedding, memorial, or whatever has to have a sermon or a 10-minute sermon or a 20-minute sermon.
And if a congregation chooses to do try and do that, I have the choice of refusing to serve there. "Conscience," you know.  ;)
Title: Re: The ELCA Requires Nothing
Post by: DCharlton on January 10, 2013, 05:00:13 PM
I don't understand the insistence that pastors must abide by the policies and constitutions of the ELCA, but that they have no duty to abide by the policies and constitutions of the congregations they serve.  If so, a congregation would not be an equal expression of "this church," in an interdependent relationship with synod and churchwide, but a subordinate expression of the church.  This is the kind of hierarchical top down structure that the ELCA denies it is. 

I also feeds the paranoia of some congregations.  They fear that pastors will be foisted upon them who will impose same-sex marriage against their will.  They have repeatedly been reassured that this will not happen.  Charles seems to believe it can and most likely will happen. 
Title: Re: The ELCA Requires Nothing
Post by: Johan Bergfest on January 10, 2013, 05:12:05 PM
If that was true, Justification, Grace, Faith and nothing you hear read from the bible is sufficient either. In other words nothing is sufficient, period. I would then worry, if that word means anything, if I had faith, whether there was such a thing as grace, whether grace perhaps meant I was going to be swallowed by eels or whether justification might mean being beaten with 12 inch rulers.

No. Insufficiency just does not wash.

Insufficiency is not God's problem ... it is  ours.

I'm operating on a very basic premise - faith is the gift of the Holy Spirit; reason is my own doing.  The former is perfect, the latter is compromised by sin.  I accept the Confessions by faith.  I do not understand why that should be a point of disagreement among Lutherans.
Title: Re: The ELCA Requires Nothing
Post by: John_Hannah on January 10, 2013, 05:15:18 PM
Concerning Arthur Carl Piepkorn.  He had this to say about "Subscription to the Lutheran Symbols":

These facts in no way alter the basic consideration, that Lutherans subscribe to the doctrinal content of the Lutheran Symbols because it correctly reproduces the teaching of the Sacred Scriptures.  The alternative is not really to subscribe to the Lutheran Symbols at all.  As theologians have long pointed out, one can just as well subscribe to the Qur'an, the Bhagavad-Gita, or the collected works of Thomas Paine as far as these reproduce the Sacred Scriptures.  Such a commitment really says nothing.  (Secker, p. 204)

Exactly, David!

He doesn't employ the "those Lutherans we don't like use 'quatenus' and we use 'quia.'"  He had little patience, by the way, with Missouri Lutherans who thought every opinion and practice common in Missouri derived from the Confessions when it is no so.


Peace, JOHN
Title: Re: The ELCA Requires Nothing
Post by: DCharlton on January 10, 2013, 05:19:10 PM
Concerning Arthur Carl Piepkorn.  He had this to say about "Subscription to the Lutheran Symbols":

These facts in no way alter the basic consideration, that Lutherans subscribe to the doctrinal content of the Lutheran Symbols because it correctly reproduces the teaching of the Sacred Scriptures.  The alternative is not really to subscribe to the Lutheran Symbols at all.  As theologians have long pointed out, one can just as well subscribe to the Qur'an, the Bhagavad-Gita, or the collected works of Thomas Paine as far as these reproduce the Sacred Scriptures.  Such a commitment really says nothing.  (Secker, p. 204)

Exactly, David!

He doesn't employ the "those Lutherans we don't like use 'quatenus' and we use 'quia.'"  He had little patience, by the way, with Missouri Lutherans who thought every opinion and practice common in Missouri derived from the Confessions when it is no so.


Peace, JOHN

And yet I notice the way he uses "because" and "as far as", commending the "because" and dismissing the "as far as".  Don't the terms "because" and "as far as" mean the same thing as quia and quatenus?
Title: Re: The ELCA Requires Nothing
Post by: John_Hannah on January 10, 2013, 05:35:35 PM

And yet I notice the way he uses "because" and "as far as", commending the "because" and dismissing the "as far as".  Don't the terms "because" and "as far as" mean the same thing as quia and quatenus?


I think the problem is that there may be no one claiming "quatenus" today, while the LCMS claim for "quia" is actually about other cherished teachings and practices. Is there anybody in the ELCA (or LCMC or NALC) claiming a "quatenus" subscription? It seems to me that some in the ELCA have just plain abandoned the confessions, not pretending to have some "cover" like the "quatenus" argument from the 19th century.

That is not good, for sure. (Neither is the Missouri habit of falsely claiming confessional authority for "other cherished teachings and practices.")


Peace, JOHN
Title: Re: The ELCA Requires Nothing
Post by: Dadoo on January 10, 2013, 05:50:41 PM
If that was true, Justification, Grace, Faith and nothing you hear read from the bible is sufficient either. In other words nothing is sufficient, period. I would then worry, if that word means anything, if I had faith, whether there was such a thing as grace, whether grace perhaps meant I was going to be swallowed by eels or whether justification might mean being beaten with 12 inch rulers.

No. Insufficiency just does not wash.

Insufficiency is not God's problem ... it is  ours.

I'm operating on a very basic premise - faith is the gift of the Holy Spirit; reason is my own doing.  The former is perfect, the latter is compromised by sin.  I accept the Confessions by faith.  I do not understand why that should be a point of disagreement among Lutherans.

 . . . because theLutherans believe that the Holy Spirt works through means, word and sacrament.
Title: Re: The ELCA Requires Nothing
Post by: pearson on January 10, 2013, 05:51:54 PM

I'm operating on a very basic premise - faith is the gift of the Holy Spirit; reason is my own doing. 


And how did you arrive at this "very basic premise"?

I suspect that what some folks here are suggesting to you is that either this "very basic premise" -- like all our assumptions and all our judgments -- arises from rational reflection, or else slides into solipsism.

Tom Pearson
Title: Re: The ELCA Requires Nothing
Post by: Dadoo on January 10, 2013, 05:54:25 PM
Yes, and as I have said a gazillion times, I recognize the restrictions the ELCA places on my ministry. But nothing in the constitutions of the congregations I serve places additional restrictions, or forbids me from doing what in other ELCA venues I would be allowed to do.
A congregation cannot tell me that every service, whether eucharist, vespers, matins, compline, funeral, wedding, memorial, or whatever has to have a sermon or a 10-minute sermon or a 20-minute sermon.
And if a congregation chooses to do try and do that, I have the choice of refusing to serve there. "Conscience," you know.  ;)

The constitution of your congregation is part of the constitution of the ELCA. They are of one fabric and are presented as such.
Title: Re: The ELCA Requires Nothing
Post by: Johan Bergfest on January 10, 2013, 06:05:25 PM

I'm operating on a very basic premise - faith is the gift of the Holy Spirit; reason is my own doing. 


And how did you arrive at this "very basic premise"?

I suspect that what some folks here are suggesting to you is that either this "very basic premise" -- like all our assumptions and all our judgments -- arises from rational reflection, or else slides into solipsism.

Tom Pearson

And, I am suggesting that I am suspicious of that all of us are tempted to "assist" the work of the Spirit by augmenting faith with human reasoning.
Title: Re: The ELCA Requires Nothing
Post by: Brian Stoffregen on January 10, 2013, 06:24:06 PM

I am speaking in the context of congregations and church bodies making decisions. The process of coming to a decision is a political action.

But I am not.  I'm talking about what takes place in journals, at conferences, and even on internet forums.



Those are all places where wonderful discussions take place. A group of students used to meet in a professor's house every week for beer, popcorn and theological discussions. It was wonderful. Within that context, we made absolutely no decisions that had any affect on the church. Discussions are not the same thing as decision-making processes. Discussions should be part of the process; but decisions are generally made by taking a vote: majority of a quorum, 2/3 majority, or consensus.

Quote
Quote
Who has said that the "real work of the church" takes place at assemblies, council meetings, and the like"? Those are arenas where decisions are made by and for the church. Decisions are what give structure to the work that congregations and individuals are to do on behalf of the congregation and larger expressions.

I disagree.  I don't believe that the political process sets the agenda for congregations or individuals in the ELCA.  Nor is it the job of congregations and individuals to implement the agenda of denominational political bodies.   The agenda is set by Scripture and the Confessions.    One shouldn't ignore the decisions of such political bodies and one should seek to abide by the policies of one's church, but the agenda of any Lutheran church, regardless of which denominational body it belongs to, has already been set. 


Scriptures and Confessions mean absolutely nothing until they are interpreted by individuals and groups. You and I read the same Scriptures and Confessions and come to different interpretations that lead to some differences in our actions. Those differences are even more glaring when we look at the actions of different Lutheran denominations. Our differences do not come about because we have different Scriptures and Confessions, but because through our political processes, we have come to different interpretations of those primary documents. It gets even more glaring when Lutheranism gets compared to the Baptists or Roman Catholics. We all base our actions on Scriptures -- but those actions have a great variety.

Quote
The notion that the real work of the church takes place through the decisions of assemblies as implemented by obedient congregations and individuals is false.  Assemblies should make decisions that support the proper work of congregations and individuals as determined by Scripture and the Confessions.


How does a congregation or church body determine what Scripture and the Confessions say? I can, and I do read scriptures (often in Greek) and the Confessions (never in German or Latin) and I can come to conclusions about what they say -- and I have to confess that they are my conclusions. Maybe they are the same as my church body or not. For a body of believers to arrive at a common understanding rather than a whole bunch of individual understandings requires a political process.
Title: Re: The ELCA Requires Nothing
Post by: Brian Stoffregen on January 10, 2013, 06:28:32 PM
… there is a third alternative.  It is serious theological conversation.


I'm all for serious theological conversation. Conversations can lead to decision-making, but they are not the same thing.


I was just at our county Interfaith Leaders meeting. We approach issues from many different theological perspectives: Lutherans, Episcopalian, Methodist, Presbyterian, United Church of Christ, Buddhist, Jewish. We also know that at points in our deliberations, a motion will be made, a vote taken, so that actions can come out of our conversations.
Title: Re: The ELCA Requires Nothing
Post by: Brian Stoffregen on January 10, 2013, 06:32:09 PM
Some years ago, a certain PB of the ELCA urged folks like me to stay in the ELCA and "continue the conversation" because our "voices were needed".  Did that gentleman mean that our voices were needed only at synod assemblies and churchwide assemblies?  By "continue the conversation" did he mean incessant attempts to bring about political change in the ELCA.  Or did he have something else in mind?  Perhaps he meant the conversation that goes on in between synod and churchwide assemblies. 

Again, the notion that people should either organize and take political action at an assembly or shut up is false.  Furthermore, the notion that what happens at synod and churchwide assemblies is the only thing that matters is false. 


What I mean when I say that we need the voices of traditionalists is that they help make better decisions when all kinds of different voices have input to the discerning process. It doesn't mean that "traditionalists" will get their way; but it does mean that "revisionists" will be challenged about their assumptions and they are not likely to have everything go how they want it to go. I maintain that it is from the people who disagree with us that we learn the most.


The notion that someone can continually whine about a problem and be unwilling to personally do anything about it is quite annoying - and in most cases,  they should do something about their concern or shut up. To quote a proverb: "If you're not part of the solution, you're part of the problem."

In political terms your modern day proverb translates as: You are either marching and voting with me or you are my enemy.


If you believe that about me, then you don't know me very well at all -- and it is not what I, and many, perceive the ELCA to be about.
Title: Re: The ELCA Requires Nothing
Post by: Brian Stoffregen on January 10, 2013, 06:33:59 PM
When the issue is the credibility of the Word of God,


The credibility of the Word of God has never been an issue. No one has denied the inspiration of Scriptures and its power to save sinners.
Title: Re: The ELCA Requires Nothing
Post by: Brian Stoffregen on January 10, 2013, 06:39:17 PM
Now I understand what Mr. Bergfest is saying, but I haven't arrived at the point that he has yet.  He suggests that we must find an alternative to "I'm right, you're wrong."


We have one. "I have a different opinion about that then you." There can be all sorts of reasons why my opinion is different than yours -- and it doesn't necessarily mean that I'm right and you're wrong -- just different.



Quote
Notice that the ELCA never resolved the theological disagreement surrounding same-sex relationships.  Instead, it arrived at a political solution that sought to make theological agreement unnecessary. 


And the reason for that is because after years and years of conversations, the ELCA could not reach an agreement about one position. They saw some validity in all four that were presented. Our decision was to not decide - and that's a valid decision to make.
Title: Re: The ELCA Requires Nothing
Post by: DCharlton on January 10, 2013, 06:43:51 PM

And yet I notice the way he uses "because" and "as far as", commending the "because" and dismissing the "as far as".  Don't the terms "because" and "as far as" mean the same thing as quia and quatenus?


I think the problem is that there may be no one claiming "quatenus" today, while the LCMS claim for "quia" is actually about other cherished teachings and practices. Is there anybody in the ELCA (or LCMC or NALC) claiming a "quatenus" subscription? It seems to me that some in the ELCA have just plain abandoned the confessions, not pretending to have some "cover" like the "quatenus" argument from the 19th century.

That is not good, for sure. (Neither is the Missouri habit of falsely claiming confessional authority for "other cherished teachings and practices.")


Peace, JOHN

Okay.  That makes sense.  I did not understand what you meant until now.

In the ELCA, we seem to have both an abandonment of the Confessions (by some) along with a demand for subscription to "other cherished teachings and practices" of the denomination.  I say, somewhat tongue in cheek, that the ELCA requires a quatenus subscription to the Lutheran Symbols, but a quia subscription to its policies and pronouncements.  In truth, the ELCA doesn't, but some of its defenders do.
Title: Re: The ELCA Requires Nothing
Post by: Brian Stoffregen on January 10, 2013, 06:45:23 PM
An "agreement to disagree" is a theological decision. Except on some things.
The family who comes to me seeking baptism as "fire insurance" for their wee bairn, with no intent of following up with Christian nurture has a different view of baptism that we do. I do not "agree to disagree" with them on that point and do the baptism anyway.
As for the guy who says "I know the ELCA approves of same-sex unions; but I don't," we can agree to disagree on that point and worship together each Sunday and he can serve on the Congregation Council.

Well, sure, he can serve on the church council--until the church is approached by a same-sex couple hoping to perform a wedding ceremony in the sanctuary, and the council is called upon to determine if such a ceremony should be allowed.  At that point, it ceases to be a theological decision, and "agreeing to disagree" is no longer an option.


No, we have a political process by which we have agreed to make decisions. He is free to vote no, but the majority vote approves the resolution. He may even conclude that while he thinks homosexual behaviors are wrong, it's better for those are going to engage in them to be married, so he could vote yes while he opposes homosexual relationships. There may be people on the council who approve of same-gender relationships and marriages; but who will vote "no" because they believe that the congregation is not ready for this kind of actions; or because they don't want their congregation to become a center of media attention.


Serving as leaders in congregations (and synods and churchwide) means that one has to look beyond just his/her own convictions to what might be the best decision for the larger body.
Title: Re: The ELCA Requires Nothing
Post by: Johan Bergfest on January 10, 2013, 06:45:33 PM
How does a congregation or church body determine what Scripture and the Confessions say? I can, and I do read scriptures (often in Greek) and the Confessions (never in German or Latin) and I can come to conclusions about what they say -- and I have to confess that they are my conclusions. Maybe they are the same as my church body or not. For a body of believers to arrive at a common understanding rather than a whole bunch of individual understandings requires a political process.

Pr. Stoffregen - following your logic, I have two suggestions. 

The first is that I think we need to be honest with ourselves that we are talking about church bodies, ecclesiastical orders, the product of human hands.  We should assume that every person in these bodies are members of the Body of Christ.  However, the ecclesiastical orders, themselves are not.

The second, as you correctly note, is that decision making within institutions of human origin necessarily requires a political process.  Those of us who confess original sin also understand that corruption in such processes is unavoidable.  That, however, is no excuse for doing the politics poorly.  We should stop looking to Washington D.C. for the model.  Instead, we need a new model, one which is more respectful of the Confessions that we profess to share.  Somewhere in this conversation I have made reference to "Getting to Yes".  That book, and a companion, "The Third Side", would be good secular sources to consider.


Serving as leaders in congregations (and synods and churchwide) means that one has to look beyond just his/her own convictions to what might be the best decision for the larger body.

Within the church body, I think that everyone - leaders and followers - ought to function according to principle.
Title: Re: The ELCA Requires Nothing
Post by: Brian Stoffregen on January 10, 2013, 06:48:12 PM
Both sides have to accept the authority of our common confession for Lutheran theological dialogue to take place.


No one has denied the authority of our Confessions. At issue is who is the authorized interpreter of our common confession and theological issues. An LCMS pastor and I used to get together, and we were certain that we had solved all the problems in both our denominations (I was ALC at the time); but we also recognized that we had no authority to implement our truly wonderful plans in our church bodies.
Title: Re: The ELCA Requires Nothing
Post by: DCharlton on January 10, 2013, 06:48:46 PM
… there is a third alternative.  It is serious theological conversation.
I'm all for serious theological conversation. Conversations can lead to decision-making, but they are not the same thing.

Theology is reflection upon and preparation for proclamation.  It's primary purpose is not to assist governing bodies in making decisions.  Long before their were democratic assemblies there was theology. 
Title: Re: The ELCA Requires Nothing
Post by: DCharlton on January 10, 2013, 06:50:21 PM
Both sides have to accept the authority of our common confession for Lutheran theological dialogue to take place.


No one has denied the authority of our Confessions.

No, ignored is more like it. 

Quote
At issue is who is the authorized interpreter of our common confession and theological issues. An LCMS pastor and I used to get together, and we were certain that we had solved all the problems in both our denominations (I was ALC at the time); but we also recognized that we had no authority to implement our truly wonderful plans in our church bodies.

Two things:

1.  It ain't a democratic churchwide assemlbly.
2.  There are some interpretations that are simply invalid.
Title: Re: The ELCA Requires Nothing
Post by: Brian Stoffregen on January 10, 2013, 06:53:12 PM
The point, pastor, is that there is likely to come a time when such a disagreement goes from an abstract, philosophical disagreement to one that has real-life implications in the purposes and functions of a congregation.  At that point, "agreeing to disagree" becomes untenable. It would be one thing if you as my pastor disagree with me on the legitimacy of such unions.  But as soon as you as my pastor start performing these unions, it takes it out of the realm of the philosophical and makes it "real."  At that point, I have to decide to continue to be a part of a congregation that is actively engaging in what I believe to be unbiblical practices.


I just don't understand why "agree to disagree" becomes untenable. I talked with a man from another congregation who didn't believed women should be ordained; and yet, one of the three pastors at his congregation was a woman. He didn't find any need to leave that congregation because they had done something he disagreed with. There were enough other things with which he agreed and enjoyed and supported that he continued to be an active member of that congregation.


He even came to appreciate the ministry that Pastor Sally was able to do in that congregation -- but he still disagreed with her about women pastors.
Title: Re: The ELCA Requires Nothing
Post by: DCharlton on January 10, 2013, 06:56:48 PM
The point, pastor, is that there is likely to come a time when such a disagreement goes from an abstract, philosophical disagreement to one that has real-life implications in the purposes and functions of a congregation.  At that point, "agreeing to disagree" becomes untenable. It would be one thing if you as my pastor disagree with me on the legitimacy of such unions.  But as soon as you as my pastor start performing these unions, it takes it out of the realm of the philosophical and makes it "real."  At that point, I have to decide to continue to be a part of a congregation that is actively engaging in what I believe to be unbiblical practices.


I just don't understand why "agree to disagree" becomes untenable. I talked with a man from another congregation who didn't believed women should be ordained; and yet, one of the three pastors at his congregation was a woman. He didn't find any need to leave that congregation because they had done something he disagreed with. There were enough other things with which he agreed and enjoyed and supported that he continued to be an active member of that congregation.


He even came to appreciate the ministry that Pastor Sally was able to do in that congregation -- but he still disagreed with her about women pastors.

Because there was only one policy, not two?  That the congregation called a woman as pastor?  When it comes to making policy and deciding which course to take, agree to disagree doesn't work?
Title: Re: The ELCA Requires Nothing
Post by: Brian Stoffregen on January 10, 2013, 06:58:05 PM
My synod encouraged my congregation to adopt a policy regarding expectations for rostered leaders and what kinds of weddings we would perform.  Subsequently they deemed the policy we adopted to be constitutional. 

They gave no indication that the pastor was free to ignore those policies.


Yes, congregations can adopt wedding policies. They are not mandated by the ELCA Model Constitution.
Title: Re: The ELCA Requires Nothing
Post by: Brian Stoffregen on January 10, 2013, 07:03:21 PM
My synod encouraged my congregation to adopt a policy regarding expectations for rostered leaders and what kinds of weddings we would perform.  Subsequently they deemed the policy we adopted to be constitutional. 

They gave no indication that the pastor was free to ignore those policies.

Those policies really ought to be written before it becomes acute and arguments make resolution impossible.

But, yes, pastors are not free floating agents in this respect.


Yes, I believe that I am. I decide if I will officiate at a wedding or not. I can even decide what my fee will be -- especially for weddings done outside of the congregation. (There is a wedding policy and fee schedule for weddings in the congregation.) The last wedding I did, was for a long-time friend. I made it part of my vacation and charged nothing. I've been asked by a friend to officiate at another wedding out of town, and I will probably turn that into a vacation trip. (They have offered to pay my expenses.) I do not ask the council for permission to officiate at these weddings. The IRS considers me a self-employed contractor for such weddings.
Title: Re: The ELCA Requires Nothing
Post by: Brian Stoffregen on January 10, 2013, 07:08:00 PM
Is an "interpretation" a traditional way of reading of a text, or an informed public opinion, or a socially accepted prejudice, or a personal preference, or a subjective feeling about "what's right"?


Isn't "a traditional way of reading of a text" just how folks in previous years have interpreted the text with all the short-comings that you apply to interpretation?


Title: Re: The ELCA Requires Nothing
Post by: Brian Stoffregen on January 10, 2013, 07:13:52 PM
The idea that we (as Lutherans and Christians), by virtue of being human, are agnostic is deadly wrong.  We can, absolutely, KNOW God and God's will even if we cannot COMPREHEND God's reason and wisdom.  Why?  Because God has revealed himself to us.  God has self-disclosed himself TO US because he wants us to know and be in relationship with him.  This is not merely a Christian world-view, but resonates throughout the Hebrew Bible (the Old Testament) where God consistantly reveals himself and his will to humanity, pursuing them through the Law and the Prophets.  In the New Testament, this forms the core of the story of the Incarnation, where our Lord takes on human flesh so that he might know us and we might know him.  And in the (Lutheran) Confessions we are over and over again confronted with the reality that God is imminently KNOWABLE... NOT through "mind games" (which is a perversion of theology, hence my reference to Lewis)... but through God's Word and the Sacraments.

St. Paul got it right.  If we cannot KNOW that Christ is indeed risen from the tomb, we are most to be pitied of all people.  If it is all about playing "mind games" and mentally "playing with ourselves" to demonstrate our theological prowess--arguing one position one day and another position another day--then we are wasting ourselves and perverting wisdom.

That's why, Pr. Austin, Pr. Stoffregen's posts evoke such a reaction from me.  It's not because he "simply and eloquently presents his points with patience..." but because he is so very far from the Faith.  It's precisely because he "muses" on issues of critical importance and his "musing" is so very, very unChristian and unLutheran that I am tempted to tresort to breaking my silence.

But I am done arguing with both you and him, because in the end you are not really interested in real argument, discourse, or even inquiry.  These pages are, for you, not really about fellowship, learning, or edification; you use these pages as your own personal universe that revolves around you, to prove that (like "cognito ergo sum") that you exist and somehow are important.  This forum seems to exist as your own personal echo chambers, everyone else be damned.

(Peter and/or Richard, please feel free to strike that last portion if it is unduly personal or lapses into ad hominem...)

Anyway, we most certainly can KNOW God, even if we cannot COMPREHEND God.


And yet, on the Judgment Day, when many people who have done all kinds of wonderful works in Jesus' name, come to Jesus seeking to get into the kingdom of heaven, Jesus doesn't criticize with, "You didn't know me," but with, "I don't know you." Whether my knowledge of God is right or wrong doesn't matter nearly as much as having Jesus know me. (see Matthew 7:21-23)
Title: Re: The ELCA Requires Nothing
Post by: Brian Stoffregen on January 10, 2013, 07:19:07 PM
David - what part of, "I believe that I cannot by my own reason or strength believe on the Lord Jesus Christ or come to Him, but the Holy Ghost has called me by the Gospel..." do you disagree with?

I think that would be the part where the Holy Spirit works through "means" to awaken and strengthen faith. It's 5th article kind of stuff. See also St John: These things are written that you believe . . .


But it doesn't say, "These things are written that you may know …."

Title: Re: The ELCA Requires Nothing
Post by: Brian Stoffregen on January 10, 2013, 07:24:58 PM
I don't understand the insistence that pastors must abide by the policies and constitutions of the ELCA, but that they have no duty to abide by the policies and constitutions of the congregations they serve.  If so, a congregation would not be an equal expression of "this church," in an interdependent relationship with synod and churchwide, but a subordinate expression of the church.  This is the kind of hierarchical top down structure that the ELCA denies it is. 

I also feeds the paranoia of some congregations.  They fear that pastors will be foisted upon them who will impose same-sex marriage against their will.  They have repeatedly been reassured that this will not happen.  Charles seems to believe it can and most likely will happen.


The model constitution says nothing about weddings. The word doesn't even occur. When "marriage" and "marry" occur (one time each) there are under the pastor's duties. There's nothing about them under the responsibility of the council.
Title: Re: The ELCA Requires Nothing
Post by: Brian Stoffregen on January 10, 2013, 07:30:25 PM
… there is a third alternative.  It is serious theological conversation.
I'm all for serious theological conversation. Conversations can lead to decision-making, but they are not the same thing.

Theology is reflection upon and preparation for proclamation.  It's primary purpose is not to assist governing bodies in making decisions.  Long before their were democratic assemblies there was theology.


What do you think happened at the ancient ecumenical councils that have give us the creeds, the canon, and other key elements of our theology?
Title: Re: The ELCA Requires Nothing
Post by: Brian Stoffregen on January 10, 2013, 07:38:39 PM
Both sides have to accept the authority of our common confession for Lutheran theological dialogue to take place.


No one has denied the authority of our Confessions.

No, ignored is more like it.


I'd rather say that we are very cognizant of higher authorities than our Confessions: the Gospel, Jesus as the Word, the Scriptures; by the time we come to the authority of the Confessions, sometimes decisions are already clear from the other authorities.

Quote
Quote
At issue is who is the authorized interpreter of our common confession and theological issues. An LCMS pastor and I used to get together, and we were certain that we had solved all the problems in both our denominations (I was ALC at the time); but we also recognized that we had no authority to implement our truly wonderful plans in our church bodies.

Two things:

1.  It ain't a democratic churchwide assemlbly.
2.  There are some interpretations that are simply invalid.


If not the highest legislative organization of a church body, then who? Some might have preferred a college of bishops or theologians or biblical or confessional scholars to be ones who authorize the proper interpretations. That isn't how we structured ourselves.


Yes, some interpretations are invalid; but some authority has to make such a decision. I can say that the interpretation that prohibits women from being ordained is invalid; but many won't accept my authority on that matter.
Title: Re: The ELCA Requires Nothing
Post by: Dan Fienen on January 10, 2013, 07:40:26 PM
And yet, on the Judgment Day, when many people who have done all kinds of wonderful works in Jesus' name, come to Jesus seeking to get into the kingdom of heaven, Jesus doesn't criticize with, "You didn't know me," but with, "I don't know you." Whether my knowledge of God is right or wrong doesn't matter nearly as much as having Jesus know me. (see Matthew 7:21-23)

Any ideas why Jesus would not know someone come judgment day?  If it purely arbitrary or random, how can any of us who do anything in Jesus' name have any confidence that when the time comes He will not say that to us?  If it is unknowable to us then we can have no assurance that salvation is for us.
 
Dan
Title: Re: The ELCA Requires Nothing
Post by: Brian Stoffregen on January 10, 2013, 07:44:08 PM
The point, pastor, is that there is likely to come a time when such a disagreement goes from an abstract, philosophical disagreement to one that has real-life implications in the purposes and functions of a congregation.  At that point, "agreeing to disagree" becomes untenable. It would be one thing if you as my pastor disagree with me on the legitimacy of such unions.  But as soon as you as my pastor start performing these unions, it takes it out of the realm of the philosophical and makes it "real."  At that point, I have to decide to continue to be a part of a congregation that is actively engaging in what I believe to be unbiblical practices.


I just don't understand why "agree to disagree" becomes untenable. I talked with a man from another congregation who didn't believed women should be ordained; and yet, one of the three pastors at his congregation was a woman. He didn't find any need to leave that congregation because they had done something he disagreed with. There were enough other things with which he agreed and enjoyed and supported that he continued to be an active member of that congregation.


He even came to appreciate the ministry that Pastor Sally was able to do in that congregation -- but he still disagreed with her about women pastors.

Because there was only one policy, not two?  That the congregation called a woman as pastor?  When it comes to making policy and deciding which course to take, agree to disagree doesn't work?


Yes, the policy is that congregations are free to call whomever on the clergy roster that they believe best fits the ministry they want done and members are free to disagree with the recommendation of the Call committee and the vote of a congregation. (There's even been a discussion about whether or not a pastor should accept a Call if the vote was only an 80% majority. If 20% of the people disagree with calling him, is that a battlefield he (or she) wants to enter.)


Title: Re: The ELCA Requires Nothing
Post by: Brian Stoffregen on January 10, 2013, 07:47:25 PM
And yet, on the Judgment Day, when many people who have done all kinds of wonderful works in Jesus' name, come to Jesus seeking to get into the kingdom of heaven, Jesus doesn't criticize with, "You didn't know me," but with, "I don't know you." Whether my knowledge of God is right or wrong doesn't matter nearly as much as having Jesus know me. (see Matthew 7:21-23)

Any ideas why Jesus would not know someone come judgment day?  If it purely arbitrary or random, how can any of us who do anything in Jesus' name have any confidence that when the time comes He will not say that to us?  If it is unknowable to us then we can have no assurance that salvation is for us.


Whatever assurance we have doesn't come from our knowledge, but from trusting Jesus -- and our trust/faith isn't all that great. Jesus said that if it were as big as a mustard seed, we'd be moving mountains. I admit that I haven't moved mountains or mole hills or even a single clump of dirt with my faith, so I have to consider it smaller than a mustard seed.
Title: Re: The ELCA Requires Nothing
Post by: DCharlton on January 10, 2013, 07:57:53 PM
I don't understand the insistence that pastors must abide by the policies and constitutions of the ELCA, but that they have no duty to abide by the policies and constitutions of the congregations they serve.  If so, a congregation would not be an equal expression of "this church," in an interdependent relationship with synod and churchwide, but a subordinate expression of the church.  This is the kind of hierarchical top down structure that the ELCA denies it is. 

I also feeds the paranoia of some congregations.  They fear that pastors will be foisted upon them who will impose same-sex marriage against their will.  They have repeatedly been reassured that this will not happen.  Charles seems to believe it can and most likely will happen.


The model constitution says nothing about weddings. The word doesn't even occur. When "marriage" and "marry" occur (one time each) there are under the pastor's duties. There's nothing about them under the responsibility of the council.

No kidding.  The necessity of wedding policy came about because of CWA 2009.  Churches who don't want to called pastors in PALMSGR or have  same sex marriages in their facilities need to make their policy explicit.  Don't you remember?
Title: Re: The ELCA Requires Nothing
Post by: DCharlton on January 10, 2013, 07:59:19 PM
… there is a third alternative.  It is serious theological conversation.
I'm all for serious theological conversation. Conversations can lead to decision-making, but they are not the same thing.

Theology is reflection upon and preparation for proclamation.  It's primary purpose is not to assist governing bodies in making decisions.  Long before their were democratic assemblies there was theology.


What do you think happened at the ancient ecumenical councils that have give us the creeds, the canon, and other key elements of our theology?

Churchwide assemblies are not ecumenical councils.  They don't have the competence to establish articles of faith.
Title: Re: The ELCA Requires Nothing
Post by: DCharlton on January 10, 2013, 08:03:26 PM

I'd rather say that we are very cognizant of higher authorities than our Confessions: the Gospel, Jesus as the Word, the Scriptures; by the time we come to the authority of the Confessions, sometimes decisions are already clear from the other authorities.

And so you subscribe to the Confessions insofar as they agree with your, or some other authority's, interpretation of Scripture?  Apparently, the quatenus subscription is alive and well in the ELCA.
Title: Re: The ELCA Requires Nothing
Post by: Evangel on January 10, 2013, 08:11:09 PM
Pastor Schimmel writes:
Before I left the ELCA I had drafted a bylaw for our congregational constitution that forbid same sex blessings or marriages from being performed in or on our church property.  It also forbid the participation in such a ceremony/service by any person employed or called by the congregation at any other location.  Any disobedience of this bylaw would be interpreted by the council as being equivalent to an immediate unconditional notice of resignation.

I comment:
Fine. But I contend that any pastor who consents to such a thing does irreparable harm to the Holy Office of the ministry, his or her call, and the synod and ELCA to which he and the congregation belongs. What's next? Voting on how many sermons there can be or what can or cannot be included in the content? Fie!

Why would my synod recommend that congregations adopt such policies?  Why would they allow them to pass synodical review before they are incorporated into the continuing resolutions of the congregation?

I have no doubt that most (all?) synod councils would not recommend such a policy.  But the synod council has no authority over bylaws or continuing resolutions.

From the ELCA constitution:
Quote
BYLAWS
*C16.01. This congregation may adopt bylaws. No bylaw may conflict with this constitution.
...
*C16.04. Approved changes to the bylaws shall be sent by the secretary of this congregation to the synod.
...
*C17.03. Any amendments to this constitution that result from the processes provided in *C17.01. and *C17.02. shall be sent by the secretary of this congregation to the synod. The amendment shall become effective within 120 days from the date of the receipt of the notice by the synod unless the synod informs this congregation that the amendment is in conflict with the constitution and bylaws of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America or the constitution of the (insert name of synod) Synod of the ELCA.
...
*C18.01. The congregation in a legally called meeting or the Congregation Council may enact continuing resolutions. Such continuing resolutions may not conflict with the constitution or bylaws of this congregation.
*C18.02. Continuing resolutions shall be enacted or amended by a majority vote of a meeting of the congregation or a two-thirds vote of all voting members of the Congregation Council.

Bylaws are merely sent to the synod, Constitutional changes must be challenged by the synod council within 120 days or they go into effect, Continuing Resolutions do not need to be sent to synod.  They do need to comply with the ELCA constitution, so the wording needs to mesh with the ELCA constitution wording on resignation of a pastor found in C9.05.a2)
Quote
resignation of the pastor, which shall become effective, unless otherwise agreed, 30 days after the date on which it was submitted;
Title: Re: The ELCA Requires Nothing
Post by: pearson on January 10, 2013, 08:14:30 PM

Isn't "a traditional way of reading of a text" just how folks in previous years have interpreted the text with all the short-comings that you apply to interpretation?


Maybe.  But not necessarily.  I was thinking of Stanley Fish's version of reader-response theory, which calls for an interpretive community to define the meaning of a text.  An interpretive community, according to Fish, engages in a structured and sustained process of deliberation and argument, and thereby establishes the norms by which the meaning of a text is fixed.  The result is not an "interpretation" understood as an informed public opinion, or a socially accepted prejudice, or a personal preference, or a subjective feeling about "what's right."  Is everybody here happy with that definition of "interpretation"?  If so, at least that's a start on getting some clarity on what an "interpretation" is.

Tom Pearson
Title: Re: The ELCA Requires Nothing
Post by: Dan Fienen on January 10, 2013, 08:19:01 PM
And yet, on the Judgment Day, when many people who have done all kinds of wonderful works in Jesus' name, come to Jesus seeking to get into the kingdom of heaven, Jesus doesn't criticize with, "You didn't know me," but with, "I don't know you." Whether my knowledge of God is right or wrong doesn't matter nearly as much as having Jesus know me. (see Matthew 7:21-23)

Any ideas why Jesus would not know someone come judgment day?  If it purely arbitrary or random, how can any of us who do anything in Jesus' name have any confidence that when the time comes He will not say that to us?  If it is unknowable to us then we can have no assurance that salvation is for us.


Whatever assurance we have doesn't come from our knowledge, but from trusting Jesus -- and our trust/faith isn't all that great. Jesus said that if it were as big as a mustard seed, we'd be moving mountains. I admit that I haven't moved mountains or mole hills or even a single clump of dirt with my faith, so I have to consider it smaller than a mustard seed.

But according to Matthew, Jesus will say to some, "I don't know you."   How can I trust that Jesus will not place me in that group if I have no idea why someone is in that group?   Shouldn't we trust that Jesus will do what He says He'll do?  He says that He will turn some away.  Is there any basis for me to trust that I'll not be part of that group?

Dan
Title: Re: The ELCA Requires Nothing
Post by: Johan Bergfest on January 10, 2013, 08:24:03 PM
I was thinking of Stanley Fish's version of reader-response theory, which calls for an interpretive community to define the meaning of a text.  An interpretive community, according to Fish, engages in a structured and sustained process of deliberation and argument, and thereby establishes the norms by which the meaning of a text is fixed.

Granted, the conversation may not always have been structured or deliberative and, certainly, not always polite.  But, haven't God's people been engaged in a sustained argument about the meaning of the texts for about 2500 years? 
Title: Re: The ELCA Requires Nothing
Post by: Charles_Austin on January 10, 2013, 08:59:13 PM
Pastor Charlton writes:
Churchwide assemblies are not ecumenical councils.  They don't have the competence to establish articles of faith.

I muse:
And do you believe those vaunted "ecumenical councils" were truly ecumenical, not influenced by current social and political trends, did not cave in to the wishes of emperors or power-hungry bishops? Do you think they were just attended by pure, well-educated, pious Christians with nothing at stake but the "pure" Gospel?
Of course, if you were from a segment of Christianity not in favor, you didn't attend those councils, and if you didn't accept their edicts, you were "out."
Yet these flawed, very human assemblies decided what we teach about Jesus as both human and divine, how God is Father, Son and Holy Spirit and related matters.
Title: Re: The ELCA Requires Nothing
Post by: pearson on January 10, 2013, 09:34:43 PM
I was thinking of Stanley Fish's version of reader-response theory, which calls for an interpretive community to define the meaning of a text.  An interpretive community, according to Fish, engages in a structured and sustained process of deliberation and argument, and thereby establishes the norms by which the meaning of a text is fixed.

Granted, the conversation may not always have been structured or deliberative and, certainly, not always polite.  But, haven't God's people been engaged in a sustained argument about the meaning of the texts for about 2500 years?

Absolutely.  And if that is the criteria by which normative "interpretations" are established, then the traditional readings of, say, the western Christian Church over the past 2,000 years on questions of, say, the ordination of women, and of gays and lesbians in publicly accountable and lifelong committed relationships, should also prevail.  Right?

Tom Pearson 
Title: Re: The ELCA Requires Nothing
Post by: Johan Bergfest on January 10, 2013, 09:37:43 PM
I was thinking of Stanley Fish's version of reader-response theory, which calls for an interpretive community to define the meaning of a text.  An interpretive community, according to Fish, engages in a structured and sustained process of deliberation and argument, and thereby establishes the norms by which the meaning of a text is fixed.

Granted, the conversation may not always have been structured or deliberative and, certainly, not always polite.  But, haven't God's people been engaged in a sustained argument about the meaning of the texts for about 2500 years?

Absolutely.  And if that is the criteria by which normative "interpretations" are established, then the traditional readings of, say, the western Christian Church over the past 2,000 years on questions of, say, the ordination of women, and of gays and lesbians in publicly accountable and lifelong committed relationships, should also prevail.  Right?

Tom Pearson

If the conversation is sustained, does that not also suggest that certain questions - including the ordination of women and committed, same-gender relationships - are always open?
Title: Re: The ELCA Requires Nothing
Post by: DCharlton on January 10, 2013, 09:41:18 PM
Pastor Charlton writes:
Churchwide assemblies are not ecumenical councils.  They don't have the competence to establish articles of faith.

I muse:
And do you believe those vaunted "ecumenical councils" were truly ecumenical, not influenced by current social and political trends, did not cave in to the wishes of emperors or power-hungry bishops? Do you think they were just attended by pure, well-educated, pious Christians with nothing at stake but the "pure" Gospel?
Of course, if you were from a segment of Christianity not in favor, you didn't attend those councils, and if you didn't accept their edicts, you were "out."
Yet these flawed, very human assemblies decided what we teach about Jesus as both human and divine, how God is Father, Son and Holy Spirit and related matters.

And yet, assemblies are not ecumenical councils.  They cannot establish articles of faith.  Their decisions apply to the Left Hand Realm in the form of denominational policy.  As a pastor in the ELCA, I "submit to the ruling authorities".  On the other hand, I subscribe to the Lutheran Confessions.  A churchwide assembly has no authority to add to the Confessions.  They make no claim to such authority.
Title: Re: The ELCA Requires Nothing
Post by: Kurt Strause on January 10, 2013, 10:01:00 PM
Can doctrine ever rise to the status of dogma without the deliberations and decision of a church council? In this matter I believe Robert Jenson and Eric Gritsch (of blessed memory) are correct; the Lutheran core confession is a proposal to the whole church of a dogma, "justification by faith." Our confession, normative for Lutherans, has been set before the church catholic for consideration. It will take the decision of an ecumenical council, and it's subsequent reception (a necessary component of any conciliar decision), for the Lutheran proposal to bear its fruit for the whole church.

Kurt Strause
Title: Re: The ELCA Requires Nothing
Post by: pearson on January 10, 2013, 10:02:16 PM

If the conversation is sustained, does that not also suggest that certain questions - including the ordination of women and committed, same-gender relationships - are always open?


I don't see why.  Does "sustained" mean "endless" (I mean that literally: no end point to the conversation, no telos, no resolution)?  If so, that seems to me to refer to a different way of defining "interpretation" -- an "always open" array of personal preferences on parade, perhaps.  The way an interpretive community determines an "interpretation" (according to Stanley Fish) involves the last part of the definition I offered earlier:  the community "thereby establishes the norms by which the meaning of a text is fixed."  The sustained process engaged in by the community establishes the norms and fixes the meaning of the text.  If that definition of "interpretation" is flawed, I'd be really happy to hear another one.

But I confess that I don't know how any community can long survive if its' "interpretations" (whatever those are) of key texts and practices are "always open."

Tom Pearson

 
Title: Re: The ELCA Requires Nothing
Post by: Satis Est on January 10, 2013, 10:05:12 PM
Mr. Erdner writes:
You and Satis Est both have it right. Regardless of whether or not there is some formal requirement that all weddings be approved by council before they take place, any pastor who does something controversial like performing a pseudo-marriage ceremony for two homosexuals is begging to have his call rescinded.
I comment:
A call issued under normal ELCA procedures cannot be rescinded.

Sorry to bust your bubble, but the 2008-9 recession proved that "a call issued under normal ELCA procedures" can most definitely be rescinded.  And bishops don't say "boo."
Title: Re: The ELCA Requires Nothing
Post by: Charles_Austin on January 10, 2013, 10:09:45 PM
One might even contend that for the modern churches, at least denominations, our conventions/assemblies are better staffed by smart people and freer of political and social domination than were those ancient gatherings.
Title: Re: The ELCA Requires Nothing
Post by: Dan Fienen on January 10, 2013, 10:15:02 PM
Pastor Charlton writes:
Churchwide assemblies are not ecumenical councils.  They don't have the competence to establish articles of faith.

I muse:
And do you believe those vaunted "ecumenical councils" were truly ecumenical, not influenced by current social and political trends, did not cave in to the wishes of emperors or power-hungry bishops? Do you think they were just attended by pure, well-educated, pious Christians with nothing at stake but the "pure" Gospel?
Of course, if you were from a segment of Christianity not in favor, you didn't attend those councils, and if you didn't accept their edicts, you were "out."
Yet these flawed, very human assemblies decided what we teach about Jesus as both human and divine, how God is Father, Son and Holy Spirit and related matters.

One might even contend that for the modern churches, at least denominations, our conventions/assemblies are better staffed by smart people and freer of political and social domination than were those ancient gatherings.
Would you have any evidence or any references that suggest that the early Ecumenical Councils were corrupt and that the decisions were more motivated by politics and social pressure than are the decisions of contemporary denominational assemblies?
 
Dan
Title: Re: The ELCA Requires Nothing
Post by: Satis Est on January 10, 2013, 10:15:54 PM

Mr. Erdner writes:
I'm pretty confident that for most ELCA pastors, conducting a pseudo-marriage ceremony for a pair of homosexuals without council approval will mean either the pastor will lose his call, or he'll lose quite a few pewsitters.
I comment:
Mr. Erdner can be confident. But he can also be wrong.
Union ceremonies for such people have been going on in ELCA churches for some time.

Union ceremonies may have been "going on in ELCA churches for some time" in New Jersey.

The "Jersey way" isn't the rule for all 65 synods.  And since the 2009 CWA allowed for four equal interpretations of same sex unions, there is no reason that it should be. 

Ain't being in a "big tent" wonderful?  ;D
Title: Re: The ELCA Requires Nothing
Post by: Charles_Austin on January 10, 2013, 10:32:28 PM
Pastor Fienen writes:
Would you have any evidence or any references that suggest that the early Ecumenical Councils were corrupt and that the decisions were more motivated by politics and social pressure than are the decisions of contemporary denominational assemblies?

I comment:
Well you might read just about any history of those councils, fr example W.H.C. Frend, The Rise of Christianity; or Christianity, the first Thousand Years, by Diarmaid MacCulloch. There's also a book somewhere in my basement with, I think, "Four Queens" in the title and something about a "Battle" for Christianity.
I do not say they were "corrupt" in the way we use that word. I do say they were 1) not truly ecumenical, 2) heavily influenced by the ruling powers, 3) partly staffed by power-seeking wheelers and dealers with ecclesiastical titles, and 4) attended by flawed human beings, some with loyalties to a political party rather than the gospel.
Did you think those councils were all composed of pious, orthodox (but there was no orthodoxy!), Bible readers?
Title: Re: The ELCA Requires Nothing
Post by: Brian Stoffregen on January 10, 2013, 10:32:46 PM
I don't understand the insistence that pastors must abide by the policies and constitutions of the ELCA, but that they have no duty to abide by the policies and constitutions of the congregations they serve.  If so, a congregation would not be an equal expression of "this church," in an interdependent relationship with synod and churchwide, but a subordinate expression of the church.  This is the kind of hierarchical top down structure that the ELCA denies it is. 

I also feeds the paranoia of some congregations.  They fear that pastors will be foisted upon them who will impose same-sex marriage against their will.  They have repeatedly been reassured that this will not happen.  Charles seems to believe it can and most likely will happen.


The model constitution says nothing about weddings. The word doesn't even occur. When "marriage" and "marry" occur (one time each) there are under the pastor's duties. There's nothing about them under the responsibility of the council.

No kidding.  The necessity of wedding policy came about because of CWA 2009.  Churches who don't want to called pastors in PALMSGR or have  same sex marriages in their facilities need to make their policy explicit.  Don't you remember?


I remember. I understand. I have no problems with congregations passing such resolutions. All I'm saying is that the ELCA does not require them.
Title: Re: The ELCA Requires Nothing
Post by: DCharlton on January 10, 2013, 10:36:42 PM
One might even contend that for the modern churches, at least denominations, our conventions/assemblies are better staffed by smart people and freer of political and social domination than were those ancient gatherings.

I believe that the tendency to take pride in our assemblies and all they "accomplish" is further evidence of the way politics (denominational and otherwise) has replaced theology in mainline churches, including the ELCA.  Some think, apparently, that this is a vast improvement.  I think it has impoverished the church. 

I remember hearing a PB of the ELCA preach.  He spoke of the Lutheran heritage of which we can be proud, but he placed much greater emphasis on what we (the ELCA) had accomplished in the past year, and what we had yet to accomplish.  We seem to think of our Confessions as things of the past which have little relevance to the modern world, while the actions of our assemblies have the potential to make us "relevant."
Title: Re: The ELCA Requires Nothing
Post by: Brian Stoffregen on January 10, 2013, 10:40:10 PM
And yet, on the Judgment Day, when many people who have done all kinds of wonderful works in Jesus' name, come to Jesus seeking to get into the kingdom of heaven, Jesus doesn't criticize with, "You didn't know me," but with, "I don't know you." Whether my knowledge of God is right or wrong doesn't matter nearly as much as having Jesus know me. (see Matthew 7:21-23)

Any ideas why Jesus would not know someone come judgment day?  If it purely arbitrary or random, how can any of us who do anything in Jesus' name have any confidence that when the time comes He will not say that to us?  If it is unknowable to us then we can have no assurance that salvation is for us.


The assurance that we have of our salvation is the same one that Luther used against the devil, "I am baptized."
Title: Re: The ELCA Requires Nothing
Post by: Charles_Austin on January 10, 2013, 10:40:48 PM
If you prefer a church captive to an emperor (Constantine), the Medici popes, a theocracy under a Protestant "pope" (Geneva in Calvin's day), or any other earlier manifestation of church order, go for it. 
Title: Re: The ELCA Requires Nothing
Post by: Johan Bergfest on January 10, 2013, 10:42:43 PM
I don't see why...But I confess that I don't know how any community can long survive if its' "interpretations" (whatever those are) of key texts and practices are "always open."

...and I don't see why not.

Ecclesiastical orders have been continuously changing since Paul had difficulty getting along with Peter and, similarly, Paul's fall out with Barnabas.  I have every confidence that the Una Sancta and, within it, the Evangelical Lutheran Church will persist.  I feel that way because I believe both are the work of God's hands and His hands, alone.

Likewise, I am recently certain that denominations of Lutherans (and other Christian denominations) will morph over time and may even go extinct.  That has been happening throughout my lifetime and, in this country, has been happening since Lutherans emigrated to this country from various northern European countries.  The stuff that has been in flux and that is the focus of most disagreement, is all peripheral to core Lutheran doctrine.  And, it would not surprise me that, if we had sufficient wisdom to really know, we would discover that most of that stuff is adiophora.

For the sake of conversation, I'll take it a step further.  If ELCA and LCMS continue to focus their mission on my generation, because that was good for my parents' and my grandparents' generations, these denominations will go extinct - and they ought to!  The mission field in this country is my children and my grandchildren and we are not serving it.  Why?  I suspect that a lot of it has to do with the fact that we insist on wrapping the important message in 16th Century European traditions - the traditions that are so comfortable for you and me.  The cacaphony competes with the Gospel and people cannot hear it.  If we expect to serve the great commission, we have a duty to figure out the boundaries between the central message and all the trappings and get comfortable letting go of the trappings.  And, that, in my opinion, is well worth sustained conversation because, if we don't figure that out, we ought to go extinct.
Title: Re: The ELCA Requires Nothing
Post by: Charles_Austin on January 10, 2013, 10:45:37 PM
The other book is Jesus Wars: How Four Patriarchs, Three Queens, and Two Emperors Decided What Christians Would Believe for the Next 1,500 Years by John Philip Jenkins.

Title: Re: The ELCA Requires Nothing
Post by: Johan Bergfest on January 10, 2013, 10:46:01 PM
I do not say they were "corrupt" in the way we use that word. I do say they were 1) not truly ecumenical, 2) heavily influenced by the ruling powers, 3) partly staffed by power-seeking wheelers and dealers with ecclesiastical titles, and 4) attended by flawed human beings, some with loyalties to a political party rather than the gospel.
Did you think those councils were all composed of pious, orthodox (but there was no orthodoxy!), Bible readers?

Pr. Austin - are you talking about the early years of Christianity, or the origins of the Lutheran Church?  ;)
Title: Re: The ELCA Requires Nothing
Post by: Brian Stoffregen on January 10, 2013, 10:46:06 PM

Isn't "a traditional way of reading of a text" just how folks in previous years have interpreted the text with all the short-comings that you apply to interpretation?


Maybe.  But not necessarily.  I was thinking of Stanley Fish's version of reader-response theory, which calls for an interpretive community to define the meaning of a text.  An interpretive community, according to Fish, engages in a structured and sustained process of deliberation and argument, and thereby establishes the norms by which the meaning of a text is fixed.  The result is not an "interpretation" understood as an informed public opinion, or a socially accepted prejudice, or a personal preference, or a subjective feeling about "what's right."  Is everybody here happy with that definition of "interpretation"?  If so, at least that's a start on getting some clarity on what an "interpretation" is.

I would challenge the idea that the meaning of a text becomes "fixed". If an interpretive community established a meaning, another interpretive community could come up with a different meaning. Consider how the woman's head covering has been interpreted by different communities over the centuries.
Title: Re: The ELCA Requires Nothing
Post by: Brian Stoffregen on January 10, 2013, 10:48:10 PM
… there is a third alternative.  It is serious theological conversation.
I'm all for serious theological conversation. Conversations can lead to decision-making, but they are not the same thing.

Theology is reflection upon and preparation for proclamation.  It's primary purpose is not to assist governing bodies in making decisions.  Long before their were democratic assemblies there was theology.


What do you think happened at the ancient ecumenical councils that have give us the creeds, the canon, and other key elements of our theology?

Churchwide assemblies are not ecumenical councils.  They don't have the competence to establish articles of faith.


To get back to what I was referring to, you don't think that the ecumenical councils used a democratic process to reach their decisions?
Title: Re: The ELCA Requires Nothing
Post by: Charles_Austin on January 10, 2013, 10:50:19 PM
I am speaking of the first three or four hundred years of Christianity. BTW that book about the "Jesus Wars" apparently got a good review in Christianity Today.
But one just might think about the role the German princes played in the success and excesses of the Reformation; not to mention the subsequent wars of religion which came partly because secular powers held sway over the church, though of course, Christians were quite ready to use those secular powers to annihilate Christians who did not adopt their particular "confession."
Title: Re: The ELCA Requires Nothing
Post by: DCharlton on January 10, 2013, 10:51:26 PM
Again, some who post on this forum seem to be confused about the difference between church order (politics) and theology.  The distinction is as old as that between the Left and Right Hand Rule.  The church order that characterized the ELCA was not intended to replace theology, much less Word and Sacrament Ministry.

Nor, despite assertions to the contrary, does the ELCA Constitution grant the CWA the power to establish articles of faith, add or subtract from the Canon, the Ecumenical Creeds or the Lutheran Symbols. 
Title: Re: The ELCA Requires Nothing
Post by: Satis Est on January 10, 2013, 10:53:34 PM
I do not say they were "corrupt" in the way we use that word. I do say they were 1) not truly ecumenical, 2) heavily influenced by the ruling powers, 3) partly staffed by power-seeking wheelers and dealers with ecclesiastical titles, and 4) attended by flawed human beings, some with loyalties to a political party rather than the gospel.
Did you think those councils were all composed of pious, orthodox (but there was no orthodoxy!), Bible readers?

No. But the ELCA churchwide assemblies do the best they can with those who are elected to serve as voting members.

Wait -- you were talking about something else?   :o
Title: Re: The ELCA Requires Nothing
Post by: pearson on January 10, 2013, 10:54:18 PM

Would you have any evidence or any references that suggest that the early Ecumenical Councils were corrupt and that the decisions were more motivated by politics and social pressure than are the decisions of contemporary denominational assemblies?
 

I'm afraid Pr. Austin is right about this.  In addition to the works he cited, you can check Lewis Ayres' Nicaea and Its Legacy; R.P.C. Hanson's The Search for the Christian Doctrine of God; Frances Young's From Nicaea to Chalcedon; even even John Henry Newman's classic The Arians of the Fourth Century.  It turns out, sadly enough, there were as many hooligans as holy men at Nicaea and subsequent ecumenical councils.  Earthen vessels, and all that.

Tom Pearson
Title: Re: The ELCA Requires Nothing
Post by: Brian Stoffregen on January 10, 2013, 11:00:28 PM
Again, some who post on this forum seem to be confused about the difference between church order (politics) and theology.  The distinction is as old as that between the Left and Right Hand Rule.  The church order that characterized the ELCA was not intended to replace theology, much less Word and Sacrament Ministry.

Nor, despite assertions to the contrary, does the ELCA Constitution grant the CWA the power to establish articles of faith, add or subtract from the Canon, the Ecumenical Creeds or the Lutheran Symbols.


Yes, it does, for the ELCA. We created our articles of faith. We have the power to change them. We also have the power and responsibility to interpret them for our congregations.
Title: Re: The ELCA Requires Nothing
Post by: DCharlton on January 10, 2013, 11:06:12 PM
I really encourage those who want to escape the shackles of the Lutheran Confessions to do so.  There are many non-denominational churches that one can join.  Or gather in assembly and adopt a new canon, new creeds and new confessions (if needed).  But that's not what it means to be a Lutheran.  Even the ELCA, the most progressive of all the Lutheran bodies in the USA, has not abandoned Canon, Creed and Confessions.

I see no conflict between what the ELCA Constitution states and what I have stated.  As a pastor in the ELCA, I am free to, and I am expected to, accept the authority of Scripture, the Creeds and the Confessions.  I am not required to consider the a CWA to be the equivalent of an Ecumenical Council.  Nor am I required to treat the pronouncements of CWAs as if they were doctrine or dogma. 

Some chafe under the restrictions placed on us by our Confessions.  I don't. 
Title: Re: The ELCA Requires Nothing
Post by: Dan Fienen on January 10, 2013, 11:10:55 PM
Aren't we fortunate that those who make up Assemblies these day are more pious, more learned, and less open to influence from their surrounding culture than were the Early Fathers who were such push overs for those in power.  After all, hadn't the early fathers proven how much they were willing to bow to those with power, it's not that those who, for example, attended the council at Nicea had faced serious persecution was it?  :o
 
Dan
Title: Re: The ELCA Requires Nothing
Post by: DCharlton on January 10, 2013, 11:16:49 PM
Again, some who post on this forum seem to be confused about the difference between church order (politics) and theology.  The distinction is as old as that between the Left and Right Hand Rule.  The church order that characterized the ELCA was not intended to replace theology, much less Word and Sacrament Ministry.

Nor, despite assertions to the contrary, does the ELCA Constitution grant the CWA the power to establish articles of faith, add or subtract from the Canon, the Ecumenical Creeds or the Lutheran Symbols.


Yes, it does, for the ELCA. We created our articles of faith. We have the power to change them. We also have the power and responsibility to interpret them for our congregations.

You are confused.  ELCA policies, including its constitution, votes of assemblies, decisions of the ELCA Church Council and whatever else you like, apply to the temporal realm.  The determine how a particular denomination will govern itself.  They are not articles of faith.  I am required, as to abide by those policies while I remain a "rostered leader".  I am not required to acknowledge them as the equivalent of Scripture, the Creeds or the Confessions.  Nor must I acknowledge their right to interpret, add to, or altar any of those three.
Title: Re: The ELCA Requires Nothing
Post by: DCharlton on January 10, 2013, 11:26:18 PM
Aren't we fortunate that those who make up Assemblies these day are more pious, more learned, and less open to influence from their surrounding culture than were the Early Fathers who were such push overs for those in power.  After all, hadn't the early fathers proven how much they were willing to bow to those with power, it's not that those who, for example, attended the council at Nicea had faced serious persecution was it?  :o
 
Dan

I remember stories of the "bad old days" in the LCMS, when attempts were made to require pastors to subscribe to various brief summaries of doctrine and statements of biblical principles.  As I have heard it, that was a bad thing.  Pastors should not be required to subscribe to anything in addition to the Lutheran Symbols.

But I don't see how that is different from the claim being made by some here that in addition to the Lutheran Symbols, ELCA pastors must subscribe to the decisions of Churchwide Assemblies.  It would seem to me that it is okay for the ELCA to require that, it was fine for the LCMS to do the same, say, 40 years ago.

Of course, I don't believe the ELCA has or covets that power.
Title: Re: The ELCA Requires Nothing
Post by: Johan Bergfest on January 10, 2013, 11:28:21 PM
Christians were quite ready to use those secular powers to annihilate Christians who did not adopt their particular "confession."

...and, I suspect the same would be true today if it were politically feasible.
Title: Re: The ELCA Requires Nothing
Post by: readselerttoo on January 10, 2013, 11:28:52 PM
Again, some who post on this forum seem to be confused about the difference between church order (politics) and theology.  The distinction is as old as that between the Left and Right Hand Rule.  The church order that characterized the ELCA was not intended to replace theology, much less Word and Sacrament Ministry.

Nor, despite assertions to the contrary, does the ELCA Constitution grant the CWA the power to establish articles of faith, add or subtract from the Canon, the Ecumenical Creeds or the Lutheran Symbols.


Yes, it does, for the ELCA. We created our articles of faith. We have the power to change them. We also have the power and responsibility to interpret them for our congregations.

You are confused.  ELCA policies, including its constitution, votes of assemblies, decisions of the ELCA Church Council and whatever else you like, apply to the temporal realm.  The determine how a particular denomination will govern itself.  They are not articles of faith.  I am required, as to abide by those policies while I remain a "rostered leader".  I am not required to acknowledge them as the equivalent of Scripture, the Creeds or the Confessions.  Nor must I acknowledge their right to interpret, add to, or altar any of those three.


Technically, I think Pr. Stoffregen is saying that yes, the ELCA has the choice to vote itself to be non-Lutheran in the long of it.   While this scenario is technically (and imo unfortunate if it should ever come down to the case of changing the confession of faith) possible it is up to each pastor who is confessional that if and when that time should come, that they would make a a stand and either walk away from that heterodoxy or else stay and be non-Lutheran.  That is why clergy need to keep themselves informed and if necessary either choose to stay or leave based on those parameters.  Those would be unfortunate circumstances if the time came for that agenda.
Title: Re: The ELCA Requires Nothing
Post by: DCharlton on January 10, 2013, 11:34:42 PM
I think Pr. Stoffregen is claiming that the decisions of the ELCA assemblies have the power to overrule the Lutheran Confessions.  I agree with you that such a thing would be a decision to become non-Lutheran, but I doubt he would see it that way.  I suspect he thinks ELCA assemblies have the power to determine what it means to be Lutheran.
Title: Re: The ELCA Requires Nothing
Post by: Brian Stoffregen on January 10, 2013, 11:55:25 PM
Again, some who post on this forum seem to be confused about the difference between church order (politics) and theology.  The distinction is as old as that between the Left and Right Hand Rule.  The church order that characterized the ELCA was not intended to replace theology, much less Word and Sacrament Ministry.

Nor, despite assertions to the contrary, does the ELCA Constitution grant the CWA the power to establish articles of faith, add or subtract from the Canon, the Ecumenical Creeds or the Lutheran Symbols.


Yes, it does, for the ELCA. We created our articles of faith. We have the power to change them. We also have the power and responsibility to interpret them for our congregations.

You are confused.  ELCA policies, including its constitution, votes of assemblies, decisions of the ELCA Church Council and whatever else you like, apply to the temporal realm.  The determine how a particular denomination will govern itself.  They are not articles of faith.  I am required, as to abide by those policies while I remain a "rostered leader".  I am not required to acknowledge them as the equivalent of Scripture, the Creeds or the Confessions.  Nor must I acknowledge their right to interpret, add to, or altar any of those three.


I made an assumption and used incorrect terminology. We created our constitutional "Confession of Faith" which contains articles; and we have the power to change them. While we didn't change the ecumenical creeds, a decision was made to use the ELLC translations in our worship materials. We haven't as the UCC did in their hymnal, created alternative statements of faith in addition to the creeds; but I imagine we could. Luther did write a paraphrase for use as the creed in the liturgy.


I agree that actions of CWAs are not equivalent to Scripture, the Creeds, or the Confessions; but I also believe, as our Confession of Faith presents them, that these three are not equivalent to each other. Scriptures ranks higher than the Creeds which rank higher than the Confessions. Our doctrines of the Trinity, Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord, the proclamation of the Gospel as God's power to save; and the God's Word as Law and Gospel, rank higher than Scriptures.


This means that should someone interpret a passage of scripture that denies the Trinity or presents Jesus as just a good man who taught excellent morals, our historic Christian doctrines supersede those interpretations. They cannot be right.
Title: Re: The ELCA Requires Nothing
Post by: Brian Stoffregen on January 10, 2013, 11:58:59 PM
I think Pr. Stoffregen is claiming that the decisions of the ELCA assemblies have the power to overrule the Lutheran Confessions.  I agree with you that such a thing would be a decision to become non-Lutheran, but I doubt he would see it that way.  I suspect he thinks ELCA assemblies have the power to determine what it means to be Lutheran.


We have the power and responsibility to interpret the Lutheran Confessions for our congregations of today. We have the power and responsibility to interpret scriptures for our congregations of today -- and should our understanding of scripture be in conflict with the Confessions, Scripture wins.
Title: Re: The ELCA Requires Nothing
Post by: Charles_Austin on January 11, 2013, 02:13:37 AM
Pastor Fienen writes (re the early ecumenical councils):
After all, hadn't the early fathers proven how much they were willing to bow to those with power, it's not that those who, for example, attended the council at Nicea had faced serious persecution was it?

I comment:
Actually at Nicea not many of them had faced "serious persecution." I ask you again; who do you think attended those early councils and what do you think influenced their decisions? Those early fathers may not all have been "pushovers for power" (some of them were the power doing the pushing). But who do you think attended and what do you think influenced them? The Bible? A clear, pure, undiluted and universally accepted strain of "apostolic truth"?
No, the miracle of the councils, if there is to be one, is that a biblical orthodoxy did emerge from them in the creeds (but with that nagging filioque matter, among other things, left hanging, and later there was to be no respect for a "bound conscience" on that issue).

Title: Re: The ELCA Requires Nothing
Post by: John_Hannah on January 11, 2013, 05:29:30 AM

Okay.  That makes sense.  I did not understand what you meant until now.

In the ELCA, we seem to have both an abandonment of the Confessions (by some) along with a demand for subscription to "other cherished teachings and practices" of the denomination.  I say, somewhat tongue in cheek, that the ELCA requires a quatenus subscription to the Lutheran Symbols, but a quia subscription to its policies and pronouncements.  In truth, the ELCA doesn't, but some of its defenders do.


And, David, you and many other of my ELCA friends actually hold to a "quia" subscription to the confessions. Right?


Peace, JOHN
Title: Re: The ELCA Requires Nothing
Post by: John_Hannah on January 11, 2013, 05:36:35 AM

Would you have any evidence or any references that suggest that the early Ecumenical Councils were corrupt and that the decisions were more motivated by politics and social pressure than are the decisions of contemporary denominational assemblies?
 

I'm afraid Pr. Austin is right about this.  In addition to the works he cited, you can check Lewis Ayres' Nicaea and Its Legacy; R.P.C. Hanson's The Search for the Christian Doctrine of God; Frances Young's From Nicaea to Chalcedon; even even John Henry Newman's classic The Arians of the Fourth Century.  It turns out, sadly enough, there were as many hooligans as holy men at Nicaea and subsequent ecumenical councils.  Earthen vessels, and all that.

Tom Pearson

Also, a brand new history. Robert Louis Wilken, The First Thousand Years: A Global History of Christianity.

Peace, JOHN
Title: Re: The ELCA Requires Nothing
Post by: Coach-Rev on January 11, 2013, 09:52:57 AM
And do you believe those vaunted "ecumenical councils" were truly ecumenical, not influenced by current social and political trends, did not cave in to the wishes of emperors or power-hungry bishops? Do you think they were just attended by pure, well-educated, pious Christians with nothing at stake but the "pure" Gospel?
Of course, if you were from a segment of Christianity not in favor, you didn't attend those councils, and if you didn't accept their edicts, you were "out."
Yet these flawed, very human assemblies decided what we teach about Jesus as both human and divine, how God is Father, Son and Holy Spirit and related matters.

This smacks strangely of the exact kind of argument I would expect from one who was condemned for heresy at one of those councils.  Should I be surprised?

Lest you forget, the creeds themselves, which are held in high regard (and to which you claim to support, EVEN in your beloved ELCA) were compiled and written at those very councils. 
Title: Re: The ELCA Requires Nothing
Post by: Coach-Rev on January 11, 2013, 09:55:31 AM
Yes, it does, for the ELCA. We created our articles of faith. We have the power to change them. We also have the power and responsibility to interpret them for our congregations.

Not according to Charles.
Title: Re: The ELCA Requires Nothing
Post by: Coach-Rev on January 11, 2013, 09:57:40 AM
Aren't we fortunate that those who make up Assemblies these day are more pious, more learned, and less open to influence from their surrounding culture than were the Early Fathers who were such push overs for those in power.  After all, hadn't the early fathers proven how much they were willing to bow to those with power, it's not that those who, for example, attended the council at Nicea had faced serious persecution was it?  :o
 
Dan

Excellent point. 

The shift in this thread the last couple of pages illustrates yet again the profound rift between those in power in the ELCA and those  non-ELCA.   ::)
Title: Re: The ELCA Requires Nothing
Post by: Johan Bergfest on January 11, 2013, 10:07:52 AM
And do you believe those vaunted "ecumenical councils" were truly ecumenical, not influenced by current social and political trends, did not cave in to the wishes of emperors or power-hungry bishops? Do you think they were just attended by pure, well-educated, pious Christians with nothing at stake but the "pure" Gospel?
Of course, if you were from a segment of Christianity not in favor, you didn't attend those councils, and if you didn't accept their edicts, you were "out."
Yet these flawed, very human assemblies decided what we teach about Jesus as both human and divine, how God is Father, Son and Holy Spirit and related matters.

This smacks strangely of the exact kind of argument I would expect from one who was condemned for heresy at one of those councils.  Should I be surprised?

Lest you forget, the creeds themselves, which are held in high regard (and to which you claim to support, EVEN in your beloved ELCA) were compiled and written at those very councils.

Pastor Cottingham - I hear the same hubris that you suggested was in Pr. Austin's post in your reply to him.

God's work often is accomplished through our hands.  We are sinners and we often make a mess of it.  That is the history of the Christian Church.  Nothing is accomplished by ignoring the reality of our history.  In spite of our worst efforts, God has accomplished His purpose.  We can celebrate that.  But, we can't take credit for it and we should avoid assigning fault to those with whom we disagree.  It makes little sense for one potshard to criticize the rough edges of another potshard.
Title: Re: The ELCA Requires Nothing
Post by: Dadoo on January 11, 2013, 11:09:05 AM
I don't see why...But I confess that I don't know how any community can long survive if its' "interpretations" (whatever those are) of key texts and practices are "always open."

...and I don't see why not.

Ecclesiastical orders have been continuously changing since Paul had difficulty getting along with Peter and, similarly, Paul's fall out with Barnabas.  I have every confidence that the Una Sancta and, within it, the Evangelical Lutheran Church will persist.  I feel that way because I believe both are the work of God's hands and His hands, alone.

<snip>


By that reasoning, John, the NALC is also the work of GOd's hand. In other words the 2009 assembly and the rift that  occurred was by God's design. The NALC can now claim that it is God ordained-according to you theology. THerefore the Article in the Lutheran that started all this discussion is clearly wrong: The NALC is God's work our (ELCA and ELCA defectors' hand) Not only are the departures not to be condemned they ought to be celebrated as the great unfolding of God's great plan.
Title: Re: The ELCA Requires Nothing
Post by: Dadoo on January 11, 2013, 11:21:29 AM

If the conversation is sustained, does that not also suggest that certain questions - including the ordination of women and committed, same-gender relationships - are always open?


I don't see why.  Does "sustained" mean "endless" (I mean that literally: no end point to the conversation, no telos, no resolution)?  If so, that seems to me to refer to a different way of defining "interpretation" -- an "always open" array of personal preferences on parade, perhaps.  The way an interpretive community determines an "interpretation" (according to Stanley Fish) involves the last part of the definition I offered earlier:  the community "thereby establishes the norms by which the meaning of a text is fixed."  The sustained process engaged in by the community establishes the norms and fixes the meaning of the text.  If that definition of "interpretation" is flawed, I'd be really happy to hear another one.

But I confess that I don't know how any community can long survive if its' "interpretations" (whatever those are) of key texts and practices are "always open."

Tom Pearson

 

Tom,

You are making the assumption here: You are assuming you know what the source documents are or that there are even documents in the first place. If the community that John is talking about is "a place and community of deliberation and debate" then it exists not to have answers on questions concerning the Christian symbols. It merely exists to "dialog" about them. It has no sin other then the sin of having a definitive answer to anything. It is not irate unless you refuse them the right to experiment as part of their continued debate.

I am driving a mild tangent of liberal Christianity over the logical cliff here and I know it. But, the written purpose of a denomination and its expressed theology are not always what the organization actually models as that which it actually believes.
Title: Re: The ELCA Requires Nothing
Post by: Johan Bergfest on January 11, 2013, 11:24:34 AM
I don't see why...But I confess that I don't know how any community can long survive if its' "interpretations" (whatever those are) of key texts and practices are "always open."

...and I don't see why not.

Ecclesiastical orders have been continuously changing since Paul had difficulty getting along with Peter and, similarly, Paul's fall out with Barnabas.  I have every confidence that the Una Sancta and, within it, the Evangelical Lutheran Church will persist.  I feel that way because I believe both are the work of God's hands and His hands, alone.

<snip>


By that reasoning, John, the NALC is also the work of GOd's hand. In other words the 2009 assembly and the rift that  occurred was by God's design. The NALC can now claim that it is God ordained-according to you theology. THerefore the Article in the Lutheran that started all this discussion is clearly wrong: The NALC is God's work our (ELCA and ELCA defectors' hand) Not only are the departures not to be condemned they ought to be celebrated as the great unfolding of God's great plan.

Peter - my point is that the Una Sancta and the Evangelical Lutheran Church are the products of God's work.  ALL of the Lutheran denominations are the product of human hands - all are flawed and, thus, heterodox.  God works through NALC. LCMC and ELCA, just as God works through LCMC, WELS, ELS, etc., including the non-Lutheran Christian denominations.  But, NONE of those denominations is God's work.

I am critical, very critical (it would be incorrect to say that I condemn) of all divisions within the Body of Christ.  I do not celebrate any of them.  However, I do celebrate that God continues to accomplish His purposes, working through all of our flawed institutions and in spite of our best efforts to thwart God's intentions.
Title: Re: The ELCA Requires Nothing
Post by: DCharlton on January 11, 2013, 11:42:23 AM

Okay.  That makes sense.  I did not understand what you meant until now.

In the ELCA, we seem to have both an abandonment of the Confessions (by some) along with a demand for subscription to "other cherished teachings and practices" of the denomination.  I say, somewhat tongue in cheek, that the ELCA requires a quatenus subscription to the Lutheran Symbols, but a quia subscription to its policies and pronouncements.  In truth, the ELCA doesn't, but some of its defenders do.


And, David, you and many other of my ELCA friends actually hold to a "quia" subscription to the confessions. Right?


Peace, JOHN

Yes.
Title: Re: The ELCA Requires Nothing
Post by: Coach-Rev on January 11, 2013, 11:58:24 AM
And do you believe those vaunted "ecumenical councils" were truly ecumenical, not influenced by current social and political trends, did not cave in to the wishes of emperors or power-hungry bishops? Do you think they were just attended by pure, well-educated, pious Christians with nothing at stake but the "pure" Gospel?
Of course, if you were from a segment of Christianity not in favor, you didn't attend those councils, and if you didn't accept their edicts, you were "out."
Yet these flawed, very human assemblies decided what we teach about Jesus as both human and divine, how God is Father, Son and Holy Spirit and related matters.

This smacks strangely of the exact kind of argument I would expect from one who was condemned for heresy at one of those councils.  Should I be surprised?

Lest you forget, the creeds themselves, which are held in high regard (and to which you claim to support, EVEN in your beloved ELCA) were compiled and written at those very councils.

Pastor Cottingham - I hear the same hubris that you suggested was in Pr. Austin's post in your reply to him.

God's work often is accomplished through our hands.  We are sinners and we often make a mess of it.  That is the history of the Christian Church.  Nothing is accomplished by ignoring the reality of our history.  In spite of our worst efforts, God has accomplished His purpose.  We can celebrate that.  But, we can't take credit for it and we should avoid assigning fault to those with whom we disagree.  It makes little sense for one potshard to criticize the rough edges of another potshard.

Help me understand your point:  You think we ought to refer to the councils of the church as something other than The Holy Spirit working through those who gathered there?  That those who penned the statements of faith got it right in spite of their sinful selves?  I'm at a loss to understand your point here, as that is not at all what Charles was even suggesting, based on what he wrote.
Title: Re: The ELCA Requires Nothing
Post by: Brian Stoffregen on January 11, 2013, 11:58:24 AM
Pastor Fienen writes (re the early ecumenical councils):
After all, hadn't the early fathers proven how much they were willing to bow to those with power, it's not that those who, for example, attended the council at Nicea had faced serious persecution was it?

I comment:
Actually at Nicea not many of them had faced "serious persecution." I ask you again; who do you think attended those early councils and what do you think influenced their decisions? Those early fathers may not all have been "pushovers for power" (some of them were the power doing the pushing). But who do you think attended and what do you think influenced them? The Bible? A clear, pure, undiluted and universally accepted strain of "apostolic truth"?
No, the miracle of the councils, if there is to be one, is that a biblical orthodoxy did emerge from them in the creeds (but with that nagging filioque matter, among other things, left hanging, and later there was to be no respect for a "bound conscience" on that issue).


I note that the same council that gave us the Nicene Creed also mandated the Historic Episcopate - with the requirement that every new bishop have the laying on of hands of at least three other bishops.


Why can churches of today hold on to part of an ecumenical council's decisions and ignore another? Did those voting members suddenly become less inspired?
Title: Re: The ELCA Requires Nothing
Post by: pearson on January 11, 2013, 11:59:10 AM

You are making the assumption here: You are assuming you know what the source documents are or that there are even documents in the first place.


You're right, Pr. Kruse.  I am assuming a coherent historical community that possesses something objective (a text, a practice, a worldview) to "interpret."  Perhaps I am assuming 'way too much.


I am driving a mild tangent of liberal Christianity over the logical cliff here and I know it.


I wasn't targeting the big picture of liberal Christianity (although I applaud those who do).  I'd just like to figure out what people mean when they talk about "interpretation."

Tom Pearson
Title: Re: The ELCA Requires Nothing
Post by: Brian Stoffregen on January 11, 2013, 12:02:22 PM
Yes, it does, for the ELCA. We created our articles of faith. We have the power to change them. We also have the power and responsibility to interpret them for our congregations.

Not according to Charles.


Charles and I don't always agree -- and we don't have to. We're in the ELCA! :)  And I'm looking forward to fellowshipping with him at CWA13.
Title: Re: The ELCA Requires Nothing
Post by: Brian Stoffregen on January 11, 2013, 12:09:25 PM
And do you believe those vaunted "ecumenical councils" were truly ecumenical, not influenced by current social and political trends, did not cave in to the wishes of emperors or power-hungry bishops? Do you think they were just attended by pure, well-educated, pious Christians with nothing at stake but the "pure" Gospel?
Of course, if you were from a segment of Christianity not in favor, you didn't attend those councils, and if you didn't accept their edicts, you were "out."
Yet these flawed, very human assemblies decided what we teach about Jesus as both human and divine, how God is Father, Son and Holy Spirit and related matters.

This smacks strangely of the exact kind of argument I would expect from one who was condemned for heresy at one of those councils.  Should I be surprised?

Lest you forget, the creeds themselves, which are held in high regard (and to which you claim to support, EVEN in your beloved ELCA) were compiled and written at those very councils.

Pastor Cottingham - I hear the same hubris that you suggested was in Pr. Austin's post in your reply to him.

God's work often is accomplished through our hands.  We are sinners and we often make a mess of it.  That is the history of the Christian Church.  Nothing is accomplished by ignoring the reality of our history.  In spite of our worst efforts, God has accomplished His purpose.  We can celebrate that.  But, we can't take credit for it and we should avoid assigning fault to those with whom we disagree.  It makes little sense for one potshard to criticize the rough edges of another potshard.

Help me understand your point:  You think we ought to refer to the councils of the church as something other than The Holy Spirit working through those who gathered there?  That those who penned the statements of faith got it right in spite of their sinful selves?  I'm at a loss to understand your point here, as that is not at all what Charles was even suggesting, based on what he wrote.


Let's turn it around. If you believe that the Holy Spirit worked through the ecumenical councils, then why don't we follow every decision that the Spirit led them to make, e.g., the historic episcopate and the ordination of bishops for one example. The fact that none of the major American Lutheran denominations ordain bishops with at least three bishops in the historic episcopate present suggests that we don't believe that the Holy Spirit inspired all the decisions of those ecumenical councils.
Title: Re: The ELCA Requires Nothing
Post by: Charles_Austin on January 11, 2013, 12:10:10 PM
Pastor Cottingham writes:
Lest you forget, the creeds themselves, which are held in high regard (and to which you claim to support, EVEN in your beloved ELCA) were compiled and written at those very councils.

I comment:
Did you not read that I said the miracle was that a biblical orthodoxy was indeed handed down by those councils? Along with some other things that may not have been so biblical or orthodox.

P.S. Pastor Stoffregen and I might disagree on the extent to which constitutions can be "interpreted" and at what level the "interpretation" is authoritative; but I do not think we disagree on this. The interpretation of the Church Secretary, whose call it is to interpret our documents, trumps the opinion/interpretation of someone like this humble correspondent, or any of us here.

Pastor Cottingham writes:
Help me understand your point:  You think we ought to refer to the councils of the church as something other than The Holy Spirit working through those who gathered there?  That those who penned the statements of faith got it right in spite of their sinful selves?
I comment:
Yes and no. No and yes. The Holy Spirit did indeed work through those folks "in spite of their sinful selves"? Do you not believe that the Holy Spirit works through us in spite of our sinful selves?
We have long since set aside many decisions of those ancient councils. Perhaps what they did was right for their time and the needs of the church at that time (or the result of heavy-handed political pressure from the emporer.)
Title: Re: The ELCA Requires Nothing
Post by: Johan Bergfest on January 11, 2013, 12:23:13 PM
Help me understand your point:  You think we ought to refer to the councils of the church as something other than The Holy Spirit working through those who gathered there?  That those who penned the statements of faith got it right in spite of their sinful selves?  I'm at a loss to understand your point here, as that is not at all what Charles was even suggesting, based on what he wrote.

Pastor Cottingham - as Lutherans, we understand paradox.  Yet, at times we are uncomfortable with the ambiguity that comes with it.  As Lutherans, we also understand that God often uses very simple things, including us, to accomplish His miraculous purpose.

Wherever 2 or 3 are gathered in Christ's name, I believe that He is among us and the Spirit is at work.  Yet, I also am aware that those 2 or 3 or however make up the assembly/convention/council remain sinners.  There is a divine/human ambiguity with everything that we do.  Pr. Austin's posts highlighted the human side of those church councils.  I did not read anything that he said to challenge the divine work that those councils accomplished.

I have posted several times in the brief period that I have been a member here that I think, in all of these difficult deliberations, we should begin from all of the things which we hold in common instead of insisting on defining each other on the basis of our differences.  And, were we to do that, we just might listen less to our own selfish voices and hear more the voice of the Spirit speaking through the voices of others, including those with whom we disagree.
Title: Re: The ELCA Requires Nothing
Post by: Brian Stoffregen on January 11, 2013, 12:35:24 PM

You are making the assumption here: You are assuming you know what the source documents are or that there are even documents in the first place.


You're right, Pr. Kruse.  I am assuming a coherent historical community that possesses something objective (a text, a practice, a worldview) to "interpret."  Perhaps I am assuming 'way too much.


Written sources come with an interpretation of the authors/compilers/editors that we can only partially imagine. I recently read, "Recent Form Criticism Revisited in an Age of Reader Response," by Roy F. Melugin, in The Changing Face of Form Criticism for the Twenty-First Century, ed by Marvin A. Sweeney & Ehud Ben Zvi. Melugin states: "While 'reader-response' critics do not all agree as to the nature and extent of the reader's role in the making of meaning, they do concur that what readers bring to the activity of interpretation affects to no small degree how a text will be understood." He adds a footnote to this statement: "If this s so, we can no longer uncritically assume that meaning resides solely, or perhaps even primarily, in author or text." (pp. 59-60).


I believe that this is just as true for a community seeking to interpret a text. What they bring to the task determines to a great deal what the interpretation will be. To use one of his examples, a form-critic will ask different questions than a non-form-critic will ask of a text.


Quote
I wasn't targeting the big picture of liberal Christianity (although I applaud those who do).  I'd just like to figure out what people mean when they talk about "interpretation."


Interpretation is seeking to explain the meaning of something. It is seeking to answer the question, "What does this mean?" One process is to see what the scholars throughout the centuries have said about a text. The Talmud presents this kind of "interpretation". Another process is to let individuals respond to a text as to what it means to them. I'm sure that translation committees often debate the questions: "What does this mean?" and "How do we express that in English?" It becomes a corporate event to determine the meaning.


Mark Allen Powell in, I believe, Chasing the Eastern Star, discovered that asking lay people about a text, "What does this mean?" or "What does this mean to you?" produced the same response. However, among clergy, they saw them as two separate questions. I can and have argued about possible meanings of a text. There is likely to be one of those possible meanings that affects my mind and life more than the others.


That leads to another aspect of meaning -- how does the meaning affect or change ones life? I'm willing to argue that the the proper meaning of God's Word is to effect changes in one's life. It is to produce metanoia -- a change in thinking and living. It leads to the question: "What difference(s) does it make in your life to believe that this is true?"
Title: Re: The ELCA Requires Nothing
Post by: DCharlton on January 11, 2013, 12:59:41 PM
Let's turn it around. If you believe that the Holy Spirit worked through the ecumenical councils, then why don't we follow every decision that the Spirit led them to make, e.g., the historic episcopate and the ordination of bishops for one example. The fact that none of the major American Lutheran denominations ordain bishops with at least three bishops in the historic episcopate present suggests that we don't believe that the Holy Spirit inspired all the decisions of those ecumenical councils.

Well of course you know that there are Lutherans that believe the very thing that you suggest.  At least they believe the historic episcopate is desirable.  And I thought that the ELCA was working toward the day when what you describe would actually take place.

Now, others disagree, as you well know.  CCM lead to the first major split in the ELCA and the formation of LCMC. 
Title: Re: The ELCA Requires Nothing
Post by: Dadoo on January 11, 2013, 01:01:22 PM

You are making the assumption here: You are assuming you know what the source documents are or that there are even documents in the first place.


You're right, Pr. Kruse.  I am assuming a coherent historical community that possesses something objective (a text, a practice, a worldview) to "interpret."  Perhaps I am assuming 'way too much.


I am driving a mild tangent of liberal Christianity over the logical cliff here and I know it.


I wasn't targeting the big picture of liberal Christianity (although I applaud those who do).  I'd just like to figure out what people mean when they talk about "interpretation."

Tom Pearson

Tom,

As Pastor Stoffregen's response to this posts shows, for many it merely assumes repeating and asserting something that someone has written so the conversation goes on. Conclusions are secondary and always temporary and tentative since another scholar is certain to arrive at a new angle and the discussion continues. '

The problem is that there really is no community that wants to come to a conclusion. It seems to me that academia does not want a conclusion but that its desired result is creation and assertion of new theory. That might work in academia but it does not work for the church.  Those who write and think for the church must have a conclusion eventually. I suspect that that is the reason that the ecumenical councils actually wrote statements that were binding instead of committing themselves to continued conversation.
Title: Re: The ELCA Requires Nothing
Post by: Dadoo on January 11, 2013, 01:04:36 PM
I don't see why...But I confess that I don't know how any community can long survive if its' "interpretations" (whatever those are) of key texts and practices are "always open."

...and I don't see why not.

Ecclesiastical orders have been continuously changing since Paul had difficulty getting along with Peter and, similarly, Paul's fall out with Barnabas.  I have every confidence that the Una Sancta and, within it, the Evangelical Lutheran Church will persist.  I feel that way because I believe both are the work of God's hands and His hands, alone.

<snip>


By that reasoning, John, the NALC is also the work of GOd's hand. In other words the 2009 assembly and the rift that  occurred was by God's design. The NALC can now claim that it is God ordained-according to you theology. THerefore the Article in the Lutheran that started all this discussion is clearly wrong: The NALC is God's work our (ELCA and ELCA defectors' hand) Not only are the departures not to be condemned they ought to be celebrated as the great unfolding of God's great plan.

Peter - my point is that the Una Sancta and the Evangelical Lutheran Church are the products of God's work.  ALL of the Lutheran denominations are the product of human hands - all are flawed and, thus, heterodox.  God works through NALC. LCMC and ELCA, just as God works through LCMC, WELS, ELS, etc., including the non-Lutheran Christian denominations.  But, NONE of those denominations is God's work.

I am critical, very critical (it would be incorrect to say that I condemn) of all divisions within the Body of Christ.  I do not celebrate any of them.  However, I do celebrate that God continues to accomplish His purposes, working through all of our flawed institutions and in spite of our best efforts to thwart God's intentions.

On what basis would you be critical of divisions in the body of Christ? I read in your body of work here no hint at a theology that would give ground of that criticism. I would say that based on what you write, and that is what I had the last post based, you ought to accept the division as God's work working itself out. Who says God is not trying to diminish the ELCA? Maybe God needs and NALC. How do you disagree with that?
Title: Re: The ELCA Requires Nothing
Post by: Johan Bergfest on January 11, 2013, 01:07:21 PM
The problem is that there really is no community that wants to come to a conclusion. It seems to me that academia does not want a conclusion but that its desired result is creation and assertion of new theory. That might work in academia but it does not work for the church.  Those who write and think for the church must have a conclusion eventually. I suspect that that is the reason that the ecumenical councils actually wrote statements that were binding instead of committing themselves to continued conversation.

Pr. Kruse - do you suppose that is so because the conclusion is God's to know and that, as sinners, the conclusion might be beyond our grasp?
Title: Re: The ELCA Requires Nothing
Post by: DCharlton on January 11, 2013, 01:09:06 PM
I have posted several times in the brief period that I have been a member here that I think, in all of these difficult deliberations, we should begin from all of the things which we hold in common instead of insisting on defining each other on the basis of our differences. 

That brings up the earlier subject of whether there are any questions that don't remain open, whether there are any interpretations that are accepted as authoritative.  If all questions remain open and there are no authoritative interpretations, then how can there be anything that we hold in common?

Are these issues settled, or do they remain open: The Canon of Scripture, The Trinitarian Dogma, The Christological Dogma?

And for Lutherans: The Doctrine on Justification?

Do we agree that these texts are authoritative: The Scriptures, the Creeds?

And for Lutherans: the Lutheran Symbols?

If so, we do indeed have something in common, but then it is not true that all questions remain open.   

Title: Re: The ELCA Requires Nothing
Post by: Dadoo on January 11, 2013, 01:19:06 PM
The problem is that there really is no community that wants to come to a conclusion. It seems to me that academia does not want a conclusion but that its desired result is creation and assertion of new theory. That might work in academia but it does not work for the church.  Those who write and think for the church must have a conclusion eventually. I suspect that that is the reason that the ecumenical councils actually wrote statements that were binding instead of committing themselves to continued conversation.

Pr. Kruse - do you suppose that is so because the conclusion is God's to know and that, as sinners, the conclusion might be beyond our grasp?

John,

If you suppose that then I would ask you to refrain from criticism of division in the body of Christ because it would seem that you do it for no reason other than perhaps you own personal dislike of it. Solipsism was mentioned earlier by Tom Pearson in this regard. 
Title: Re: The ELCA Requires Nothing
Post by: DCharlton on January 11, 2013, 01:21:48 PM
The problem is that there really is no community that wants to come to a conclusion. It seems to me that academia does not want a conclusion but that its desired result is creation and assertion of new theory. That might work in academia but it does not work for the church.  Those who write and think for the church must have a conclusion eventually. I suspect that that is the reason that the ecumenical councils actually wrote statements that were binding instead of committing themselves to continued conversation.

Pr. Kruse - do you suppose that is so because the conclusion is God's to know and that, as sinners, the conclusion might be beyond our grasp?

I think the distinction between the Deus Absconditus and the Deus Revelatus is helpful here.  Johan seems to have the idea that the ELCA posters like Peter are trying to "peer into the hidden things of God."  Perhaps, coming from the LCMS he is has met those who attempt to settle every possible question and establish an an encyclopedic body of knowledge that all must accept.  He takes it for granted that we agree on essential matters like the Christology, Justification, Original Sin, etc...

We in the ELCA are coming from a background were Revelation and the essential Dogmas of Christianity remain open questions.  When we try to reassert the necessity of agreement on the things, he thinks we are asserting the necessity of agreement on everything.
Title: Re: The ELCA Requires Nothing
Post by: Dadoo on January 11, 2013, 01:26:48 PM
The problem is that there really is no community that wants to come to a conclusion. It seems to me that academia does not want a conclusion but that its desired result is creation and assertion of new theory. That might work in academia but it does not work for the church.  Those who write and think for the church must have a conclusion eventually. I suspect that that is the reason that the ecumenical councils actually wrote statements that were binding instead of committing themselves to continued conversation.

Pr. Kruse - do you suppose that is so because the conclusion is God's to know and that, as sinners, the conclusion might be beyond our grasp?

I think the distinction between the Deus Absconditus and the Deus Revelatus is helpful here.  Johan seems to have the idea that the ELCA posters like Peter are trying to "peer into the hidden things of God."  Perhaps, coming from the LCMS he is has met those who attempt to settle every possible question and establish an an encyclopedic body of knowledge that all must accept.  He takes it for granted that we agree on essential matters like the Christology, Justification, Original Sin, etc...

We in the ELCA are coming from a background were Revelation and the essential Dogmas of Christianity remain open questions.  When we try to reassert the necessity of agreement on the things, he thinks we are asserting the necessity of agreement on everything.

David,

That is a good point. The language John uses is code language for us since it identifies the anythingshouldgo crowd ELCA. Maybe John does not realize how much that makes Lutherans Lutherans is actually "being dialoged" among us.

He can tell us, I suppose.
Title: Re: The ELCA Requires Nothing
Post by: A Catholic Lutheran on January 11, 2013, 01:44:43 PM
Pastor Cottingham - as Lutherans, we understand paradox.  Yet, at times we are uncomfortable with the ambiguity that comes with it.  As Lutherans, we also understand that God often uses very simple things, including us, to accomplish His miraculous purpose.

Paradox is not "ambiguity."

Take Simul Justus et Peccator, which is often held up as the classical "Lutheran Paradox."  There is not a whit of ambiguity in it.  We are at once Saint and Sinner via Christ's righteousness.  Not "I may be a saint or a sinner, I can't really tell..."  When looking at ourselves...as the Baptized...we are at once Saint and Sinner. 

Or take the Eucharist...  When we recieve the Sacrament, we are recieving Bread and Wine, and the Real Body and Real Blood of our Lord Jesus Christ.  There is no ambiguity there, there is no "maybe" or "I can't tell..."

So I can't quite figure out where you are finding this ambiguity that Lutherans supposedly revel in...  Don't get me wrong, I have a health sense of Mystery.  But Mystery is not ambiguity either.  It's a mystery how we can be Saint and Sinner at the same time.  It's a mystery as how to the Word takes flesh and becomes Incarnate.  It's mystery as to how we can recieve Christ's True Body and Blood in, with, and under the forms of bread and wine.  But that's not ambiguity.

Pax Christi;
Pr. Jerry Kliner, STS
Title: Re: The ELCA Requires Nothing
Post by: Johan Bergfest on January 11, 2013, 02:04:19 PM

That brings up the earlier subject of whether there are any questions that don't remain open, whether there are any interpretations that are accepted as authoritative.  If all questions remain open and there are no authoritative interpretations, then how can there be anything that we hold in common?

Are these issues settled, or do they remain open: The Canon of Scripture, The Trinitarian Dogma, The Christological Dogma?

And for Lutherans: The Doctrine on Justification?

Do we agree that these texts are authoritative: The Scriptures, the Creeds?

And for Lutherans: the Lutheran Symbols?

If so, we do indeed have something in common, but then it is not true that all questions remain open.

Pr. Charlton - my roots are firmly planted in LCMS, as I understood it to be in my youth (I don't think that denomination exists anymore).
One of the "aha! moments" that I took from Mary Todd's book was her discussion of closed/open questions and how that has troubled Lutherans, generally, and LCMS Lutherans since the reformation.

My response would be that 1) Scripture is God's Inspired Word, the revelation of Law/Gospel; 2) The Trinity; 3) Justification, by grace, through faith in Jesus Christ; and, 4) The Small Catechism are answers to the most important closed questions.  And, I operation on the supposition that others, who profess to be Lutheran, share that understanding.

I would also suggest, that, except for the qualifiers we might hang on those 4 answers (qualifiers which, in my opinion, diminish those answers), those are not the questions/answers about which Lutherans disagree.
Title: Re: The ELCA Requires Nothing
Post by: Johan Bergfest on January 11, 2013, 02:15:48 PM
Paradox is not "ambiguity."

Take Simul Justus et Peccator, which is often held up as the classical "Lutheran Paradox."  There is not a whit of ambiguity in it.  We are at once Saint and Sinner via Christ's righteousness.  Not "I may be a saint or a sinner, I can't really tell..."  When looking at ourselves...as the Baptized...we are at once Saint and Sinner. 

Or take the Eucharist...  When we recieve the Sacrament, we are recieving Bread and Wine, and the Real Body and Real Blood of our Lord Jesus Christ.  There is no ambiguity there, there is no "maybe" or "I can't tell..."

So I can't quite figure out where you are finding this ambiguity that Lutherans supposedly revel in...  Don't get me wrong, I have a health sense of Mystery.  But Mystery is not ambiguity either.  It's a mystery how we can be Saint and Sinner at the same time.  It's a mystery as how to the Word takes flesh and becomes Incarnate.  It's mystery as to how we can recieve Christ's True Body and Blood in, with, and under the forms of bread and wine.  But that's not ambiguity.

Pr. Kliner - the ultimate paradox(Lutheran or otherwise) is Jesus Christ - true God/true Man.  And, the penultimate would be the divine/human nature of God's Inspired Word.  But, I agree that simul justus et peccator and the Sacraments also make the list.

By faith, I hold all of those paradoxes to be true.  But, think about faith, i.e. Hebrews 11.  From a rational point of view, none of those paradoxes make any sense.  Isn't that why we give them that label?  I am human.  I cannot comprehend God's wisdom.  I doubt.  I believe in spite of all of the rational evidence to the contrary.  That is the ambiguity to which I referred and the ambiguity with which I am very comfortable.
Title: Re: The ELCA Requires Nothing
Post by: Pastor Ted Crandall on January 11, 2013, 02:18:33 PM
Those who write and think for the church must have a conclusion eventually. I suspect that that is the reason that the ecumenical councils actually wrote statements that were binding instead of committing themselves to continued conversation.

I apologize to you, Sir, for what I said earlier about finding it difficult to take seriously most of what is posted around here.  Thank you for your contributions to Lutheranism. 
Title: Re: The ELCA Requires Nothing
Post by: Johan Bergfest on January 11, 2013, 02:22:31 PM
If you suppose that then I would ask you to refrain from criticism of division in the body of Christ because it would seem that you do it for no reason other than perhaps you own personal dislike of it. Solipsism was mentioned earlier by Tom Pearson in this regard.

Pr. Kruse - I criticize division in the Body of Christ because I think it is an inappropriate way for Christians to begin an honest dialogue regarding the things about which they disagree.
Title: Re: The ELCA Requires Nothing
Post by: DCharlton on January 11, 2013, 02:41:07 PM

That brings up the earlier subject of whether there are any questions that don't remain open, whether there are any interpretations that are accepted as authoritative.  If all questions remain open and there are no authoritative interpretations, then how can there be anything that we hold in common?

Are these issues settled, or do they remain open: The Canon of Scripture, The Trinitarian Dogma, The Christological Dogma?

And for Lutherans: The Doctrine on Justification?

Do we agree that these texts are authoritative: The Scriptures, the Creeds?

And for Lutherans: the Lutheran Symbols?

If so, we do indeed have something in common, but then it is not true that all questions remain open.

Pr. Charlton - my roots are firmly planted in LCMS, as I understood it to be in my youth (I don't think that denomination exists anymore).
One of the "aha! moments" that I took from Mary Todd's book was her discussion of closed/open questions and how that has troubled Lutherans, generally, and LCMS Lutherans since the reformation.

My response would be that 1) Scripture is God's Inspired Word, the revelation of Law/Gospel; 2) The Trinity; 3) Justification, by grace, through faith in Jesus Christ; and, 4) The Small Catechism are answers to the most important closed questions.  And, I operation on the supposition that others, who profess to be Lutheran, share that understanding.

I would also suggest, that, except for the qualifiers we might hang on those 4 answers (qualifiers which, in my opinion, diminish those answers), those are not the questions/answers about which Lutherans disagree.

Then I think my hypothesis is correct.  We are talking past each other.  You seem to be, coming from the LCMS, arguing for the position that, since we agree on the essentials (Scripture, Creed and Confessions), we do not need to agree on everything else.  Trying to settle every question amounts to a Theology of Glory, where one attempts to "peer into the hidden things of God."  It's not content with God "clothed in his promises" but seeks to literally unclothe God. 

However, in the ELCA, when people speak of open questions, they mean everything.  What you assume are settled "question/answer" are not so settled in the ELCA.  For many, new scholarship and wider vistas allow us to reopen what once was settled.  Yes, Scripture, Creeds, and Confessions are acknowledged as authoritative in the ELCA, but in practice they are open to question.   God remains effectively Hidden and we are groping about in the dark to imagine and re-imagine what the Hidden God must be like.  Its still a Theology of Glory, although a much more modest one than you are familiar with. 
Title: Re: The ELCA Requires Nothing
Post by: Dadoo on January 11, 2013, 03:05:33 PM
If you suppose that then I would ask you to refrain from criticism of division in the body of Christ because it would seem that you do it for no reason other than perhaps you own personal dislike of it. Solipsism was mentioned earlier by Tom Pearson in this regard.

Pr. Kruse - I criticize division in the Body of Christ because I think it is an inappropriate way for Christians to begin an honest dialogue regarding the things about which they disagree.

The division ELCA vs NALC is not a matter of dialog never engaged in but a story of dialog and decision  over 20 years and ending in the conclusion that we did not hold enough in common. It is not what we hold in common that is the trouble.

And again, what gives you the conviction that God does not want the NALC vs ELCA division?

For that matter, maybe "dialog" is merely the sinners' attempt to pool their sin and ignorance rather than repenting.

Your objection to division seems to be based more in personal preference. One could dismiss that by saying: "So what," and be perfectly justified in doing so. There is no weight behind the objection other than John. And who is John if there is a possibility that God might want division. Maybe God does. Maybe God don't. It takes more then "John or Peter don't like it" as  a basis for an answer. And suppose we can't say, then we need to be honest about that as well. But there are implications to the answer. One of those implications is to admit that we don't know if God wants a unified church and quit insisting on it. Scary . . .
Title: Re: The ELCA Requires Nothing
Post by: Brian Stoffregen on January 11, 2013, 03:33:25 PM
Let's turn it around. If you believe that the Holy Spirit worked through the ecumenical councils, then why don't we follow every decision that the Spirit led them to make, e.g., the historic episcopate and the ordination of bishops for one example. The fact that none of the major American Lutheran denominations ordain bishops with at least three bishops in the historic episcopate present suggests that we don't believe that the Holy Spirit inspired all the decisions of those ecumenical councils.

Well of course you know that there are Lutherans that believe the very thing that you suggest.  At least they believe the historic episcopate is desirable.  And I thought that the ELCA was working toward the day when what you describe would actually take place.

Now, others disagree, as you well know.  CCM lead to the first major split in the ELCA and the formation of LCMC.


My point is, if one believes that the voting members of that ecumenical council were inspired when creating the Nicene Creed that we need to maintain for our church practice today, did that inspiration suddenly leave when they also made decisions about bishops and the historic episcopate?


It appears like folks want to say that they were inspired when we agree with their decisions, but that they were erring when we disagree with them -- even when it's the same council!
Title: Re: The ELCA Requires Nothing
Post by: Johan Bergfest on January 11, 2013, 03:34:55 PM
The division ELCA vs NALC is not a matter of dialog never engaged in but a story of dialog and decision  over 20 years and ending in the conclusion that we did not hold enough in common. It is not what we hold in common that is the trouble.

I am not suggesting that Christians should not dialogue about their disagreements.  In fact, to the contrary.  I am a strong proponent of dialogue.  I am talking about how we shape the conversation.

Please consider two different approaches to buying a new car.  What kind of relationship develops between the buyer/salesman when the negotiation begins with a buyer trying to low ball and dealership that is trying to sell the car for sticker price ++.  That is how I think Christians/Lutherans tend to approach their disagreements.  As an alternative, what would the conversation look like if the buyer says, "I would like to buy this car at a fair price.  Fair means you make you margin and I get a bargain.  How do we determine the dollar amount that corresponds with fair".  That is the kind of conversation that I am advocating.

And again, what gives you the conviction that God does not want the NALC vs ELCA division?

Jesus' high priestly prayer.

I have every confidence that God will use that division, just as God will use the ACELC/Jesus First division in LCMS, to accomplish His purpose.  But, God's intention is for us to be one, just as Jesus and the Father are one.  In Baptism, God has claimed each of us as His child.  God has called each of us into a unique and loving relationship with Him and, empowered by God's love, we are called to live that same relationship with one another.

For that matter, maybe "dialog" is merely the sinners' attempt to pool their sin and ignorance rather than repenting.


If by "dialog" you mean talking at one another (rather than talking with one another), I agree.

Your objection to division seems to be based more in personal preference. One could dismiss that by saying: "So what," and be perfectly justified in doing so.

Without question, it is my personal preference.  Out of the same mouths are proceeding blessings for those with whom we agree and curses for those with whom we disagree.  That ought not to be so!  Are divisions are hurtful.  Worse, our divisions, or, at least our poor behavior in dealing with divisions, bear false witness to the Gospel.  So, I think it is more important than "so what". 
Title: Re: The ELCA Requires Nothing
Post by: Johan Bergfest on January 11, 2013, 03:51:40 PM
Then I think my hypothesis is correct.  We are talking past each other.

If that is the case, please accept my apology for adding to the misunderstanding.


Yes, Scripture, Creeds, and Confessions are acknowledged as authoritative in the ELCA, but in practice they are open to question.   God remains effectively Hidden and we are groping about in the dark to imagine and re-imagine what the Hidden God must be like.  Its still a Theology of Glory, although a much more modest one than you are familiar with.

Please tell me more.

I'm not real comfortable thinking about any of this as a "Theology of Glory".  I tend to think of that in the same way that I think about "religion".  And, I am reminded of one sentence from a sermon that has stuck with me for a long time.  "Grace undermines the efforts of religion to reward the good ones."  That pastor, like myself, aspired to the Theology of the Cross.

I do not question that God remains effectively hidden and that I am groping.  However, I am less interested in re-imagining what the Hidden God must be like and more interested in re-imagining how that Hidden God is trying to accomplish His purpose through me, through my congregation, through my denomination and through the greater invisible church.  I do not perceive that to be an open question around Scripture or the heart of the Lutheran Confession.  It is, and will remain, and open "so what?"
Title: Re: The ELCA Requires Nothing
Post by: DCharlton on January 11, 2013, 04:10:49 PM
John,

The best thing I could recommend to you is to re-read the Heidelberg Disputation and The Bondage of the Will.  That will make the distinctions between Theology of Glory or Theology of Cross, as well as Deus Absconditus and Deus Revelatus, more clear. 

I take you at your word that you accept the Scriptures, Creeds and Confessions as the basis for dialogue among Lutherans.  Those are the things we agree upon which make fruitful conversation possible.  You are also wary of making further lists of "things which must be believed" among us.  In the past, if I recall correctly, some in the LCMS sought to require subscription to brief summaries of doctrine or statement of biblical principles in addition to the Lutheran Confessions.  It's that kind of thing that I understand you to reject.

However, over here in the ELCA, we have a different problem.  Some would reopen what has previously been settled in Lutheranism.  Others, including some posters here, leave open the possibility that future churchwide assemblies might add to or subtract from our confessions.  According to this theory, the consciences of pastors and congregations would be bound by these decisions.  It is in this context that talk of open  questions and continuing dialog is heard. 

David 
Title: Re: The ELCA Requires Nothing
Post by: Johan Bergfest on January 11, 2013, 05:09:37 PM
Pr. Charlton - thanks for the additional clarification.  My understanding of the Theology of the Cross v. Theology of Glory comes from Luther's commentary on Galatians.

You are correct.  I am content with the expression of what it means to be a member of the Evangelical Lutheran Church (invisible), as I stated that confession in my confirmation vows.  I am comfortable with the ambiguity that comes with it and am not at all comfortable with any effort to diminish it by hanging a bunch of qualifiers on it.

I do not believe that "truth" is determined by majority vote.  And, from that perspective, I think it would be inappropriate for a church body in convention/assembly to adopt confessional statements by resolution/memorial.  The LCMS states their confession in the Constitution (I think it is Article II) and includes and additional paragraph which states that Article II may not be amended.  If my memory is correct (I do not have a copy of the minutes), LCMS had to finesse around that language at the '73 convention in order to adopt a resolution that was then held as binding on the seminary faculty and that then resulted in the Seminex fiasco.



Title: Re: The ELCA Requires Nothing
Post by: Charles_Austin on January 11, 2013, 05:20:06 PM
The issue for "division" in the church is really the effect of the "divisions" we believe we have and what we let them do to the Gospel mission.
It is not inherently "wrong" or even "divisive" that there are Lutherans and Presbyterians. But the damage is done when what seems to be "different" 'twixt Lutherans and Presbyterians stands in the way of mission and fellowship.
It is not inherently "wrong" or even "divisive" that there are Lutherans and Anglicans. But the damage is done if one "side" says: "Bishops! Gotta have 'em or else you guys ain't got valid priests!" and another "side" says "Bishops! Fie! Never! Don't need no stinkin' bishops!" and when that line in the sand sets one against the other when it comes to mission and fellowship.
It's not that the differences don't "matter." It's what we let the differences do to us.
Title: Re: The ELCA Requires Nothing
Post by: Pastor Ted Crandall on January 12, 2013, 06:40:33 AM
Some would reopen what has previously been settled in Lutheranism.  Others, including some posters here, leave open the possibility that future churchwide assemblies might add to or subtract from our confessions.  According to this theory, the consciences of pastors and congregations would be bound by these decisions.  It is in this context that talk of open  questions and continuing dialog is heard. 

I leave it open that the Church could add, not to Christian doctrine, but to the written confession of the Church.  Didn't a churchwide assembly add to the written confessions each time one of the Creeds were written?  Didn't the Church again add to the written confession of the Church when the Book of Concord was written?  Is it inconceivable that after nearly 500 years "It's Time" again to address contemporary misunderstandings of God's Word, just as the Church once addressed the Trinity and Justification? 

"This is the catholic faith, which except a man believe faithfully he cannot be saved."

What made these mere mortals think they could use such immoderate language when they added to the written confession of the catholic faith? 
Title: Re: The ELCA Requires Nothing
Post by: Charles_Austin on January 12, 2013, 06:48:07 AM
Pastor Crandall writes:
I leave it open that the Church could add, not to Christian doctrine, but to the written confession of the Church.  Didn't a churchwide assembly add to the written confessions each time one of the Creeds were written?  Didn't the Church again add to the written confession of the Church when the Book of Concord was written?  Is it inconceivable that after nearly 500 years "It's Time" again to address contemporary misunderstandings of God's Word, just as the Church once addressed the Trinity and Justification? 

I muse:
Amazingly "liberal" and "open" and even - dare I say? - quasi-"revisionist" words, Pastor Crandall. WTG!
Oh, but I suspect you meant that as irony or sarcasm. Sorry.
But as noted elsewhere, the "Church" did indeed add or detract what is taught. Those early councils added what should be taught about the Holy Trinity and the Incarnation. Parts of the Reformation subtracted what should be taught about bishops and the papacy. Subsequent conventions/assemblies in our land added or subtracted from what was taught by the folks who first came over.
And running through all these re-teachings, some significant, some minor, is still the solid, clear, scriptural Gospel message. There is the miracle.
What a pity that some let it be clouded or overshadowed by other things.
Title: Re: The ELCA Requires Nothing
Post by: Pastor Ted Crandall on January 12, 2013, 06:49:04 AM
...if there is a possibility that God might want division. Maybe God does. Maybe God don't. It takes more then "John or Peter don't like it" as  a basis for an answer. And suppose we can't say, then we need to be honest about that as well. But there are implications to the answer. One of those implications is to admit that we don't know if God wants a unified church and quit insisting on it. Scary . . .

I'd like to hear more about this.  I've never even considered the possibility that God wants division... 

I can see on the one hand, where God would not want us being united with those who oppose his Word, but I can also see where he wishes that those who cause the division by opposing his Word would stop and be one with Him and His. 
Title: Re: The ELCA Requires Nothing
Post by: Johan Bergfest on January 12, 2013, 07:42:27 AM
I leave it open that the Church could add, not to Christian doctrine, but to the written confession of the Church.

Pr. Crandall - please help me understand what you mean by a distinction between "Christian doctrine" and the "written confession of the Church".

I can see on the one hand, where God would not want us being united with those who oppose his Word, but I can also see where he wishes that those who cause the division by opposing his Word would stop and be one with Him and His.

I'd like to hear more about this.  I might agree with you strictly in the abstract.  However, we do not live in the abstract.  We are called to be faithful in a field of wheat and tares.  We are instructed that the task of weeding God's field is NOT our responsibility.  So, how do you distinguish wheat from tares?  How can you be so sure?  How do you know that ALPB is not a field that is growing multiple varieties of pure wheat? 
Title: Re: The ELCA Requires Nothing
Post by: George Erdner on January 12, 2013, 08:02:08 AM
...if there is a possibility that God might want division. Maybe God does. Maybe God don't. It takes more then "John or Peter don't like it" as  a basis for an answer. And suppose we can't say, then we need to be honest about that as well. But there are implications to the answer. One of those implications is to admit that we don't know if God wants a unified church and quit insisting on it. Scary . . .

I'd like to hear more about this.  I've never even considered the possibility that God wants division... 

I can see on the one hand, where God would not want us being united with those who oppose his Word, but I can also see where he wishes that those who cause the division by opposing his Word would stop and be one with Him and His.


God specifically called for us to do what we do in "good order". There are natural limits to how big an individual congregation can be. I don't think God objects to us having different congregations, or that when we assemble to worship, we divide into small groups. Based on what we know from scripture, we cannot say for certain that God regards the fact that some congregations are bunched together in one organization, while others are bunched together into different organizations, both operating in good order. We cannot say for certain that He approves. Since we cannot know the will of God regarding what He thinks about "unity", we're stuck trying to do our best as we pray for His guidance. I suspect that He wants us to be "united" in love and respect for each other, and open in accepting visitors to our congregations.
Title: Re: The ELCA Requires Nothing
Post by: Dadoo on January 12, 2013, 09:52:18 AM
...if there is a possibility that God might want division. Maybe God does. Maybe God don't. It takes more then "John or Peter don't like it" as  a basis for an answer. And suppose we can't say, then we need to be honest about that as well. But there are implications to the answer. One of those implications is to admit that we don't know if God wants a unified church and quit insisting on it. Scary . . .

I'd like to hear more about this.  I've never even considered the possibility that God wants division... 

I can see on the one hand, where God would not want us being united with those who oppose his Word, but I can also see where he wishes that those who cause the division by opposing his Word would stop and be one with Him and His.

About 20 pages ago the assertion was made that theology is basically a mental game. In ELCA that is sometimes used to say: "Well, it does not matter we all love Jesus, and that is enough, never mind what you do with it."

I used that question in response to John who is committed to unity somehow but wants to talk about "things held in common" and in the process of the debate seemed to join the "theology is a mental game" line.  He also states that God's work is still, somehow,  being done through the hands of us sinners (GOd's work; our hands - is and ELCA slogan BTW)  David and I made mention how that thinking functions in ELCA and why we are suspicious.

Further, the thread deals with an article that criticizes people who left ECLA. It is about division.

To answer the question one has to do one of several things: One has to use sacred sources in which case one does theology way beyond "we love Jesus." Or one has to make a case that God has nothing to do with it and merely a human decision which also needs theology to be done because one has to explain why God is not involved.  For that matter, one has to answer the question whether one even has the answer without violating Theology of Glory territory.

So the question asked that many necessary theological alleys be traveled including the alleys labeled: 'Theology is good for something after all." and "maybe the departures from ELCA were necessary losses." The latter is after all what the article is about.
 
If the question itself intrigues you I would be happy to explore it. I have ideas but no answers. But maybe we need to do it on another thread. Be happy to start it . just say the word.
Title: Re: The ELCA Requires Nothing
Post by: Dadoo on January 12, 2013, 10:07:34 AM
The division ELCA vs NALC is not a matter of dialog never engaged in but a story of dialog and decision  over 20 years and ending in the conclusion that we did not hold enough in common. It is not what we hold in common that is the trouble.

I am not suggesting that Christians should not dialogue about their disagreements.  In fact, to the contrary.  I am a strong proponent of dialogue.  I am talking about how we shape the conversation.

Please consider two different approaches to buying a new car.  What kind of relationship develops between the buyer/salesman when the negotiation begins with a buyer trying to low ball and dealership that is trying to sell the car for sticker price ++.  That is how I think Christians/Lutherans tend to approach their disagreements.  As an alternative, what would the conversation look like if the buyer says, "I would like to buy this car at a fair price.  Fair means you make you margin and I get a bargain.  How do we determine the dollar amount that corresponds with fair".  That is the kind of conversation that I am advocating.

John,

you are talking about a new relationship built between two parties that have agreed that something is negotiable. In the ELCA NALC LCMC dustup we are facing a matter were a generation long negotiation has reached and impasse with one side saying that a essential boundary has been crossed. In you example it is the time when the seller has a set bottom line and the buyer has a hard ceiling. They will part ways. They can still be friends. In the ELCA NALC LCMC case that is harder because we all once were ELCA. The floor or the ceiling were moved after many years of equilibrium. <editorial insertion Maybe the real situation is living in a one up one down condo and the downstairs owner demands that you let him have 11 foot ceilings but would be willing to settle for 9 feet. You still end up with 7 foot ceilings in a depressing apartment you can't sell but they tell you that you should be happy that you are not living with 5 foot ceilings. >

In a debate on finding common ground your example might apply. I am not sure we were in that place as ELCA. We were either at CarMax were the price wa non negotiable or we were being shopped by the maffia were the offer was better not refused. Take you pick


Quote

And again, what gives you the conviction that God does not want the NALC vs ELCA division?

Jesus' high priestly prayer.

I have every confidence that God will use that division, just as God will use the ACELC/Jesus First division in LCMS, to accomplish His purpose.  But, God's intention is for us to be one, just as Jesus and the Father are one.  In Baptism, God has claimed each of us as His child.  God has called each of us into a unique and loving relationship with Him and, empowered by God's love, we are called to live that same relationship with one another.

For that matter, maybe "dialog" is merely the sinners' attempt to pool their sin and ignorance rather than repenting.


If by "dialog" you mean talking at one another (rather than talking with one another), I agree.


Once the sides hardened into position it was a matter of asserting power - at least that what it looked like. That is why so many are dismissive of Charles_Austin's assertion that all solutions are merely legislative involvement. That road is snowed in by more power play than common sense and reason.

Quote

Your objection to division seems to be based more in personal preference. One could dismiss that by saying: "So what," and be perfectly justified in doing so.

Without question, it is my personal preference.  Out of the same mouths are proceeding blessings for those with whom we agree and curses for those with whom we disagree.  That ought not to be so!  Are divisions are hurtful.  Worse, our divisions, or, at least our poor behavior in dealing with divisions, bear false witness to the Gospel.  So, I think it is more important than "so what".

I am not sure about the false witness thing any more. In the face of disagreement we could have modeled standing apart creatively as well. A suggestions had been floated to just make two ELCA wings, officially, and have one operate more liberal and one more centrist - right; both still connected but with a boundary that was not porous to each other's theology. It went nowhere. An attempt to duplicate that in a very large congregation also failed - the two campuses were going to go one this way - one the other. Had they had more time to negotiate this in peace it might have happened but 2010 was not such a year.
Title: Re: The ELCA Requires Nothing
Post by: Dadoo on January 12, 2013, 10:13:22 AM
Worse, our divisions, or, at least our poor behavior in dealing with divisions, bear false witness to the Gospel.  So, I think it is more important than "so what".

I think we've discovered Johan's true identity, since he, like Charles, doesn't want to use the quote feature.  ;)

This is not a difference over the real presence in the Sacrament, these are fundamental issues involving changing what Scripture actually says.  Seems to me that bears more false witness than your suggestion of it being merely because of "division".

I think you are referring to his reply to me where he manually parsed. He does not seem to be averse to the use of the feature nor incapable of it technically as his reply shows.

Neither does he know your reason for leaving I think, as he is new here and it might be good to give him the summary of the causes for your farewell. Coming to think of it Pr. Christian - remember him; wrote that article - might benefit from such knowledge as well.
Title: Re: The ELCA Requires Nothing
Post by: Johan Bergfest on January 12, 2013, 10:40:55 AM
Pr. Kruse - I am not suggesting that there are not legitimate reasons for disagreement.  I admit that I come to this conversation with a bias, having been an observer/parishioner affected by the Seminex dabacle.  Apart from the honest disagreement, that event impressed me as a political power struggle in search of theological legitimacy.  That political struggle continues in LCMS.  Although I am less familiar with the subtleties, I suspect political struggles, apart from the CCM and human sexuality questions, are also a significant undercurrent in the ELCA/NALC/LCMC struggle.

Let's continue the dialogue.  Let's do so by informing it with a little more justus and a little less et peccatur.  Let us do so with a little more understanding that the visible church is our opportunity to work together, doing those things we cannot do as individuals, to be the visible presence of our Lord in this world.  Let us do so without forgetting that it is more important to equip the saints than it is to get every last jot and tittle correct.
Title: Re: The ELCA Requires Nothing
Post by: Dadoo on January 12, 2013, 03:40:31 PM
Pr. Kruse - I am not suggesting that there are not legitimate reasons for disagreement.  I admit that I come to this conversation with a bias, having been an observer/parishioner affected by the Seminex dabacle.  Apart from the honest disagreement, that event impressed me as a political power struggle in search of theological legitimacy.  That political struggle continues in LCMS.  Although I am less familiar with the subtleties, I suspect political struggles, apart from the CCM and human sexuality questions, are also a significant undercurrent in the ELCA/NALC/LCMC struggle.

Let's continue the dialogue.  Let's do so by informing it with a little more justus and a little less et peccatur.  Let us do so with a little more understanding that the visible church is our opportunity to work together, doing those things we cannot do as individuals, to be the visible presence of our Lord in this world.  Let us do so without forgetting that it is more important to equip the saints than it is to get every last jot and tittle correct.

How do I do that? the simul justus etc statement is a declaration of what I am. I have no choice in how much I am or act like one or the other. It is  a statement. I can only respond. I can, I must, in contrition, confess my sin and I must, I may, humbly give thanks to my savior Jesus Christ. I have no right to utilize the whole designation or to attempt to say: Now I will act more like this and now I will act more like that. The justified still sin and sinners are justified by a gracious God. The old Adam, to use the Forde term, is happy to tell you how justified he is. He does it to hide the sinner from you and from himself. Give me a repentant sinner any day. Save me from those who think the law; the word of God is also law; no longer applies to them. I think that that is the battle field that is before confessional and conservative Lutherans in ELCA now.

The visible presence that the church gives, BTW, is to be  Justified sinners. The word and sacrament are the visible and tangible presence of the Lord. We are notable examples of his presence when we act according to His word and only then. It prevents us boasting when we remember that.
Title: Re: The ELCA Requires Nothing
Post by: Johan Bergfest on January 12, 2013, 03:58:54 PM
How do I do that? ... I can, I must, in contrition, confess my sin and I must, I may, humbly give thanks to my savior Jesus Christ.

Pr. Kruse - well isn't that a significant first step for all of us?  And, please notice that the focus is on confessing our own sins not those of our brothers/sisters.


The old Adam, to use the Forde term, is happy to tell you how justified he is.

Remember your Baptism and return to step 1. 

Save me from those who think the law; the word of God is also law; no longer applies to them. I think that that is the battle field that is before confessional and conservative Lutherans in ELCA now.

With all due respect, I think it is a bit more complex.  I have not heard many, if any, Lutherans say that the law no longer applies to them.  I have heard some disagreement whether one specific issue is as black and white as some others might suggest.
Title: Re: The ELCA Requires Nothing
Post by: Pastor Ted Crandall on January 12, 2013, 04:12:38 PM
I leave it open that the Church could add, not to Christian doctrine, but to the written confession of the Church.

Pr. Crandall - please help me understand what you mean by a distinction between "Christian doctrine" and the "written confession of the Church".

The Creeds and the Book of Concord did not change the teaching of God in any way, but added to the written confession of the Church.  They did not add to the teaching of God or take anything away.  What they teach is what the Word of God has always taught, which is Christian doctrine. 

Title: Re: The ELCA Requires Nothing
Post by: Pastor Ted Crandall on January 12, 2013, 04:14:35 PM
...if there is a possibility that God might want division. Maybe God does. Maybe God don't. It takes more then "John or Peter don't like it" as  a basis for an answer. And suppose we can't say, then we need to be honest about that as well. But there are implications to the answer. One of those implications is to admit that we don't know if God wants a unified church and quit insisting on it. Scary . . .

I'd like to hear more about this.  I've never even considered the possibility that God wants division... 

I can see on the one hand, where God would not want us being united with those who oppose his Word, but I can also see where he wishes that those who cause the division by opposing his Word would stop and be one with Him and His.

About 20 pages ago the assertion was made that theology is basically a mental game. In ELCA that is sometimes used to say: "Well, it does not matter we all love Jesus, and that is enough, never mind what you do with it."

I used that question in response to John who is committed to unity somehow but wants to talk about "things held in common" and in the process of the debate seemed to join the "theology is a mental game" line.  He also states that God's work is still, somehow,  being done through the hands of us sinners (GOd's work; our hands - is and ELCA slogan BTW)  David and I made mention how that thinking functions in ELCA and why we are suspicious.

Further, the thread deals with an article that criticizes people who left ECLA. It is about division.

To answer the question one has to do one of several things: One has to use sacred sources in which case one does theology way beyond "we love Jesus." Or one has to make a case that God has nothing to do with it and merely a human decision which also needs theology to be done because one has to explain why God is not involved.  For that matter, one has to answer the question whether one even has the answer without violating Theology of Glory territory.

So the question asked that many necessary theological alleys be traveled including the alleys labeled: 'Theology is good for something after all." and "maybe the departures from ELCA were necessary losses." The latter is after all what the article is about.
 
If the question itself intrigues you I would be happy to explore it. I have ideas but no answers. But maybe we need to do it on another thread. Be happy to start it . just say the word.


I would greatly appreciate you for starting a new thread. 
Title: Re: The ELCA Requires Nothing
Post by: Brian Stoffregen on January 12, 2013, 04:16:41 PM
I leave it open that the Church could add, not to Christian doctrine, but to the written confession of the Church.

Pr. Crandall - please help me understand what you mean by a distinction between "Christian doctrine" and the "written confession of the Church".

The Creeds and the Book of Concord did not change the teaching of God in any way, but added to the written confession of the Church.  They did not add to the teaching of God or take anything away.  What they teach is what the Word of God has always taught, which is Christian doctrine.


The creeds and the book of Concord attacked the teachings of some within the church. They declared them heretical. We presume that those who shut down these other teachings were acting on behalf of God; but the creeds did not float down from heaven. They were not written on a tablet of stone. They are the work of a committee of folks who were opposed to what some others were teaching.
Title: Re: The ELCA Requires Nothing
Post by: DCharlton on January 12, 2013, 04:30:48 PM
Some would reopen what has previously been settled in Lutheranism.  Others, including some posters here, leave open the possibility that future churchwide assemblies might add to or subtract from our confessions.  According to this theory, the consciences of pastors and congregations would be bound by these decisions.  It is in this context that talk of open  questions and continuing dialog is heard. 

I leave it open that the Church could add, not to Christian doctrine, but to the written confession of the Church.  Didn't a churchwide assembly add to the written confessions each time one of the Creeds were written?  Didn't the Church again add to the written confession of the Church when the Book of Concord was written?  Is it inconceivable that after nearly 500 years "It's Time" again to address contemporary misunderstandings of God's Word, just as the Church once addressed the Trinity and Justification? 

"This is the catholic faith, which except a man believe faithfully he cannot be saved."

What made these mere mortals think they could use such immoderate language when they added to the written confession of the catholic faith?

I'm just glad that, subscribing to the Book of Concord, I am not required to subscribe to the decisions of synodical conventions or churchwide assemblies, whether their new confessions represent the Fundamentalism and Moralism of the right or the Marxism and Modernism of the left. 
Title: Re: The ELCA Requires Nothing
Post by: DCharlton on January 12, 2013, 04:44:27 PM
I leave it open that the Church could add, not to Christian doctrine, but to the written confession of the Church.

Pr. Crandall - please help me understand what you mean by a distinction between "Christian doctrine" and the "written confession of the Church".

The Creeds and the Book of Concord did not change the teaching of God in any way, but added to the written confession of the Church.  They did not add to the teaching of God or take anything away.  What they teach is what the Word of God has always taught, which is Christian doctrine.


The creeds and the book of Concord attacked the teachings of some within the church. They declared them heretical. We presume that those who shut down these other teachings were acting on behalf of God; but the creeds did not float down from heaven. They were not written on a tablet of stone. They are the work of a committee of folks who were opposed to what some others were teaching.

Those who wish to embrace the teachings condemned in the Book of Concord are free to do so, at least in the United States of America.  No one should try to force them to believe otherwise.  They simply shouldn't insist on being called Lutheran. 

A person who wishes to kick the basketball will be ejected from the game.  He shouldn't complain that the rules are arbitrary and that other sports consider kicking the ball to be within the rules.  Rather he should go play football.  Or Brian may be more like the man penalized for handling the ball in Association Football.  He complains that in American Football, Australian Rules Football and Gaelic Football one may handle the ball, so why not in Association Football. 
Title: Re: The ELCA Requires Nothing
Post by: Pastor Ted Crandall on January 12, 2013, 06:37:04 PM
Some would reopen what has previously been settled in Lutheranism.  Others, including some posters here, leave open the possibility that future churchwide assemblies might add to or subtract from our confessions.  According to this theory, the consciences of pastors and congregations would be bound by these decisions.  It is in this context that talk of open  questions and continuing dialog is heard. 

I leave it open that the Church could add, not to Christian doctrine, but to the written confession of the Church.  Didn't a churchwide assembly add to the written confessions each time one of the Creeds were written?  Didn't the Church again add to the written confession of the Church when the Book of Concord was written?  Is it inconceivable that after nearly 500 years "It's Time" again to address contemporary misunderstandings of God's Word, just as the Church once addressed the Trinity and Justification? 

"This is the catholic faith, which except a man believe faithfully he cannot be saved."

What made these mere mortals think they could use such immoderate language when they added to the written confession of the catholic faith?

I'm just glad that, subscribing to the Book of Concord, I am not required to subscribe to the decisions of synodical conventions or churchwide assemblies, whether their new confessions represent the Fundamentalism and Moralism of the right or the Marxism and Modernism of the left.

I concur completely.  And of course, I am not talking about a white paper from Bishop Hanson or "It's Time" from President Harrison.  I'm talking about the possibility of the Church writing another creed that could contain the line, "This is the catholic faith, which except a man believe faithfully he cannot be saved."

What would it take for the Church to write another such creed? 
Title: Re: The ELCA Requires Nothing
Post by: readselerttoo on January 12, 2013, 06:51:46 PM
Some would reopen what has previously been settled in Lutheranism.  Others, including some posters here, leave open the possibility that future churchwide assemblies might add to or subtract from our confessions.  According to this theory, the consciences of pastors and congregations would be bound by these decisions.  It is in this context that talk of open  questions and continuing dialog is heard. 

I leave it open that the Church could add, not to Christian doctrine, but to the written confession of the Church.  Didn't a churchwide assembly add to the written confessions each time one of the Creeds were written?  Didn't the Church again add to the written confession of the Church when the Book of Concord was written?  Is it inconceivable that after nearly 500 years "It's Time" again to address contemporary misunderstandings of God's Word, just as the Church once addressed the Trinity and Justification? 

"This is the catholic faith, which except a man believe faithfully he cannot be saved."

What made these mere mortals think they could use such immoderate language when they added to the written confession of the catholic faith?

I'm just glad that, subscribing to the Book of Concord, I am not required to subscribe to the decisions of synodical conventions or churchwide assemblies, whether their new confessions represent the Fundamentalism and Moralism of the right or the Marxism and Modernism of the left.

I concur completely.  And of course, I am not talking about a white paper from Bishop Hanson or "It's Time" from President Harrison.  I'm talking about the possibility of the Church writing another creed that could contain the line, "This is the catholic faith, which except a man believe faithfully he cannot be saved."

What would it take for the Church to write another such creed?


I don't know.  Ask a Presbyterian (Reformed).  The Barmen Declaration is considered a valid confession within that denomination.  There is a fundamental difference between what Lutherans understand to be confession and what Reformed believe to be confession.  That is one of the express differences between Lutherans and the Reformed as is the issue of Christology.   One of my reasons to bring up Barmen is because it doesn't talk enough about the issue of two words of God:  God's law and God's Gospel.  Barmen wants to talk as if only there was one word:  Jesus Christ.  For Lutherans there are two valid words of God as noted above.  The problem we face as American Lutherans is that some within the Lutheran church actually focus on the Barthian conception of God as found in Barmen.  That is why many of the so-called Lutheran intact churches (ie. Bavaria, etc.) could not sign off on Barmen.  This was to preserve the Lutheran confessional position.
Title: Re: The ELCA Requires Nothing
Post by: Pastor Ted Crandall on January 12, 2013, 07:00:01 PM
I admit that I come to this conversation with a bias, having been an observer/parishioner affected by the Seminex dabacle.  Apart from the honest disagreement, that event impressed me as a political power struggle in search of theological legitimacy.  That political struggle continues in LCMS. 

If, as you say, there were essentially no theological issues in what you call "the Seminex debacle" (and assuming that today's ELCA shares the theology of the pastors who exiled themselves from the LCMS), then I perceive you believe the ELCA and the LCMS have essentially the same theology.  Please correct me, if I am wrong.  Can you offer an example or two of the parts of ELCA's theology to which you cannot subscribe and must stay in the LCMS? 

In your writings you consistently criticize the LCMS, except the parts that closely resemble the ELCA.  Is it possible your bias comes from being catechized by pastors in the LCMS who could conscientiously be members of the ELCA? 

Title: Re: The ELCA Requires Nothing
Post by: Coach-Rev on January 12, 2013, 07:18:12 PM
Worse, our divisions, or, at least our poor behavior in dealing with divisions, bear false witness to the Gospel.  So, I think it is more important than "so what".

I think we've discovered Johan's true identity, since he, like Charles, doesn't want to use the quote feature.  ;)

This is not a difference over the real presence in the Sacrament, these are fundamental issues involving changing what Scripture actually says.  Seems to me that bears more false witness than your suggestion of it being merely because of "division".

I think you are referring to his reply to me where he manually parsed. He does not seem to be averse to the use of the feature nor incapable of it technically as his reply shows.

Neither does he know your reason for leaving I think, as he is new here and it might be good to give him the summary of the causes for your farewell. Coming to think of it Pr. Christian - remember him; wrote that article - might benefit from such knowledge as well.

It was my poor attempt at humor, since others often complain of Charles' lack of use of the quote feature.  I know he normally does use it.   I'll stress the word "poor" and apologize.  I've deleted the post as well.
Title: Re: The ELCA Requires Nothing
Post by: Johan Bergfest on January 12, 2013, 07:41:15 PM
I admit that I come to this conversation with a bias, having been an observer/parishioner affected by the Seminex dabacle.  Apart from the honest disagreement, that event impressed me as a political power struggle in search of theological legitimacy.  That political struggle continues in LCMS. 

If, as you say, there were essentially no theological issues in what you call "the Seminex debacle"...


Pr. Crandall - if you are going to quote what I said, please refrain from editing it for the purpose of distorting it.  What I really said, highlighted so that you can see the parts that you ignored was:

Pr. Kruse - I am not suggesting that there are not legitimate reasons for disagreement.  I admit that I come to this conversation with a bias, having been an observer/parishioner affected by the Seminex dabacle.  Apart from the honest disagreement, that event impressed me as a political power struggle in search of theological legitimacy.  That political struggle continues in LCMS.  Although I am less familiar with the subtleties, I suspect political struggles, apart from the CCM and human sexuality questions, are also a significant undercurrent in the ELCA/NALC/LCMC struggle.


In your writings you consistently criticize the LCMS, except the parts that closely resemble the ELCA.  Is it possible your bias comes from being catechized by pastors in the LCMS who could conscientiously be members of the ELCA?

I was catechized by two LCMS pastors, both of whom are now with the Lord, and several years prior to the Seminex debacle.  Were they alive today, one of those men would be somewhere between "Jesus First" and ACELC, definitely leaning toward the confessional side but probably quietly critical of behavior like the admonition.  I can't say for certain where the other man would be - Jesus First?, ELCA? NALC?.  For sure, he would be on your "fecal roster" because he was one of the "44".  Please remember that I also have shared with you more than once that there was no difference in the instruction in the doctrines of the Evangelical Lutheran Church that I received from both men and I am grateful for the instruction that I received from each.

I am not critical of the LCMS.  I am critical of the confessional movement within the LCMS.  As others have commented on it in the LCMS/NALC thread, the LCMS today is not the LCMS as it existed in 1973.  One person in the other thread expressed gratitude for that.  I do not.  In response to the confessional cacaphony, LCMS has been very vigilant in defending agains "liberal" theology.  One consequence is that LCMS, or, at least those aligned with the confessional movement, have embraced a measure of neo-calvinism.  LCMS is now a heterodox horse of a different color - one which, in my opinion, has embraced a quest for "pure doctrine" in a manner that looks very much like legalism.  And, that opinion is reenforced by behavior by some that looks like an intentional effort to purge LCMS of everyone who does not capitulate to the admonition.
Title: Re: The ELCA Requires Nothing
Post by: Pastor Ted Crandall on January 12, 2013, 08:12:21 PM
Pr. Crandall - if you are going to quote what I said, please refrain from editing it for the purpose of distorting it.  What I really said, highlighted so that you can see the parts that you ignored was...

You didn't just read my mind and discover my evil intent, right?  (I'm sure you didn't put the worst construction on my actions intentionally.) 

OK, so you admit there were legitimate theological differences, but you practically dismiss them as too minor to be concerned about, when compared to the politics involved.  Is that a fair assessment of your view of "the Seminex debacle"? 

Again I ask:

Can you offer an example or two of the parts of ELCA's theology to which you cannot subscribe and must stay in the LCMS? 
Title: Re: The ELCA Requires Nothing
Post by: Dan Fienen on January 13, 2013, 01:14:44 AM
What does the ELCA stand for?  Naturally there are the Confessional commitments in the Constitution.  But beyond those, what does the ELCA stand for?

Over the years, there have been a number of Social Statements, press releases, statements by the PB and the like communicating to the membership and the world at large the opinion of, if not the ELCA as a whole,  the opinion of those who would normally be expected to speak for the ELCA.   None of  these, I hasten to add, approach being considered part of the formal confession of This Church, or with the expectation that everybody in This  Church will agree.  Still, taken together they at least give an idea of what the ELCA stands for.  The ELCA is a progressive church body, whose theology comes out of the Lutheran tradition and is open to most of the theological tools and themes common to Western mainline Protestant churches.  When it comes to social stands and themes, the ELCA is comfortable with what is normally considered "progressive" positions and generally parallels what would be typicsl of the Democratic party.

This is, roughly speaking, what I take the ELCA to stand for. 

Perhaps it is just the LCMS in me, but it seems to me that at least one consideration that some people have in choosing a church and denomination is that it stands for much the same things that they do.  Similarly, for a congregation they might generally want to be associated with other congregations and a denomination where there is a congruence in what they stsnd for.  If nothing else one ends up explaning over and over that yes, my church/denomination stands for this but I don't.

Obviously, there are other considerations involved in choices of affiliation, but could this not be one, more important to some than to others?  What I would suggest is that this could be another reason for disaffiliation other than phobias against certain groups of people, egomania, or frustrated greed formal power (see the artcle that started this thread).  As the dissonance between the stands taken by the larger group and some congregations and individuals has groen, eventually it became too much and they sought another affiliation with others whose stands are  closer to their own.

None of this questions the legitimacy of the decision processes whereby stands were taken.  I'm simply suggesting another interpretation for why some have felt the need to leave.

But has the ELCA taken a stand on homosexuality?   Officially, this church has adopted four different stands on homosexuality as acceptable in this church (HSGT).  But formal documents do not tell the whole  story.  And the question of where to stand on homosexuality is not just a church question but is very much a cultural and societal issue.  Might some find that being a part of a denomination that tolerates but does not support where they stand on this hot issue insufficient and seek an affiliation that supports their stand?

Much has been made of the promise thst no congregation will be forced to act against their conscience and call a worker in a PALMSGR or to perform same-sex marriage or quasi-marriage (depending on local laws)  ceremonies.  True enough, but that does not speak to need of some for congruence between what they stand for and what their church body stands for.  It is unreasonable for individuals or individual congregation to dictate directly where the  denominatin will stand on an issue.  Is it perhaps also unreasonable to expect the individuals or individual congregations to automatically be comfortable being part of an organization that has taken stands so different from their own?  Can it perhaps be understood that eventually dome see the need to leave without denigrating them for not accepting what the perceive is unacceptable?

In the case of the ordinstion of people in a PALMSGR,  on the local level opting out is fairly simple and straight forward,   simply don't call such an individual.  But to the conscientious objector, thst only works on the local level.  Once one becomes involved in the larger church (cluster, synod and denomination), simply refusing to recognize partnered homosexuals as suitable for ordination is no longer possible.  Can a congregation the conscientiously refuses to call a pastor in a same-sex partnership also refuse to acknowledge a neighboring ELCA pastor as legitimate?  How about a bishop? 

The ELCA has taken her stand as a church body that ordains  partnered homosexuals.  Given the realities of the whole situation I don't see hoe she could have done otherwise.   (Not that I agree with the decision, I emphatically do not , but for this discussion here,  that's irrelevant.)   Some within the ELCA cannot tolerate that, for reasons different than ego, fear, or power hunger.  They have taken a stand but outside the ELCA becsuse in their conscince their stand no longer fits inside.

Dan
Title: Re: The ELCA Requires Nothing
Post by: Charles_Austin on January 13, 2013, 03:30:05 AM
Pastor Fienen writes:
What does the ELCA stand for?  Naturally there are the Confessional commitments in the Constitution.
I comment:
Yes. Thank you for that. But we will have a problem below with the "stands for" comment.

Pastor Fienen writes:
Over the years, there have been a number of Social Statements, press releases, statements by the PB and the like communicating to the membership and the world at large the opinion of, if not the ELCA as a whole,  the opinion of those who would normally be expected to speak for the ELCA. 
I comment:
This is a bit imprecise. Social statements are "teachings," rather than "position papers" as narrowly defined; rather than "stands." It is not necessary to affirm what ELCA social statements say in order to be in the ELCA and they make no pretense of communicating what the "ELCA as a whole" stands for. And, yes, there is nothing wrong with our leaders having opinions and expressing them. Pastors do it every Sunday and every time they teach.

Pastor Fienen:
None of  these, I hasten to add, approach being considered part of the formal confession of This Church, or with the expectation that everybody in This  Church will agree.
Me:
Thank you for that. But I don't think you are comfortable with that.

Pastor Fienen:
Still, taken together they at least give an idea of what the ELCA stands for.
Me:
We continue the problem with "stands for."

Pastor Fienen:
The ELCA is a progressive church body, whose theology comes out of the Lutheran tradition and is open to most of the theological tools and themes common to Western mainline Protestant churches.
Me:
I don't care for the use of a single, partisan modifier for any church body, but I guess we sort of have to live with that. I'm not sure what all those "tools" are that are "common."

Pastor Fienen:
When it comes to social stands..., the ELCA is comfortable with what is normally considered "progressive" positions and generally parallels what would be typicsl of the Democratic party.
Me:
Aside from our confessions of faith, governing documents, synods, congregations, and church-wide organization; there is no "ELCA." To use "the ELCA" in this broad context is inaccurate and technically impossible. "The ELCA," in any of its "expressions" - congregations, and synods, for example - might be comfortable with the views of other parties. And that would be o.k.

Pastor Fienen:
This is, roughly speaking, what I take the ELCA to stand for.
Me:
See above. A congregation of the ELCA could take positions, if it wanted to, on any number of things that would not fit your stereotype stated above. And it would not endanger its relationship with the ELCA for doing that. You want to box us in. Bad idea.

Pastor Fienen: 
Perhaps it is just the LCMS in me, but it seems to me that at least one consideration that some people have in choosing a church and denomination is that it stands for much the same things that they do.
Me:
Yes, that is the LCMS in you. It depends upon the "things," doesn't it? I am a member of the ACLU;I do not endorse quit a bit of the things they do and downright oppose some other things. But I support their general purpose and believe they do good work.

Pastor Fienen:
Similarly, for a congregation they might generally want to be associated with other congregations and a denomination where there is a congruence in what they stsnd for.  If nothing else one ends up explaning over and over that yes, my church/denomination stands for this but I don't.
Me:
No, you don't. And even if you do, so what? It's all part of our discussion and individual witness. I even welcome the chance to explain or disagree.

Pastor Fienen:
Obviously, there are other considerations involved in choices of affiliation, but could this not be one, more important to some than to others?
Me:
But as for those congregations and people leaving the ELCA, are we not being told their departure goes far far beyond a simple difference of opinions about one thing or another? I think you diminish and minimize the conscientious stance of those who have left.

Pastor Fienen:
What I would suggest is that this could be another reason for disaffiliation other than phobias against certain groups of people, egomania, or frustrated greed formal power (see the artcle that started this thread).
Me:
Yes, but this being a real world, and our friends and colleagues being real people; it is not incorrect to state that those things did play a role in the decisions of some. Not all, but some; and I don't know why people are so upset that in this one place, a man speaks that truth.

Pastor Fienen:
None of this questions the legitimacy of the decision processes whereby stands were taken.  I'm simply suggesting another interpretation for why some have felt the need to leave.
Me:
Let us not forget those who have contended that the whole process was corrupt, manipulated and even "illegal."

Pastor Fienen:
But has the ELCA taken a stand on homosexuality?   Officially, this church has adopted four different stands on homosexuality as acceptable in this church (HSGT).
Me:
See above. A social statement is a teaching, not a "stand" in the usual sense of that word.

Pastor Fienen:
But formal documents do not tell the whole  story.  And the question of where to stand on homosexuality is not just a church question but is very much a cultural and societal issue.  Might some find that being a part of a denomination that tolerates but does not support where they stand on this hot issue insufficient and seek an affiliation that supports their stand?
Me:
And if you want to pick a church because it aligns comfortably with what you believe socially and politically and supports you politically, go for it. I find that disturbing.

Pastor Fienen:
In the case of the ordinstion of people in a PALMSGR,  on the local level opting out is fairly simple and straight forward,   simply don't call such an individual.  ...  Can a congregation the conscientiously refuses to call a pastor in a same-sex partnership also refuse to acknowledge a neighboring ELCA pastor as legitimate?
Me:
Can you LCMS pastors acknowledge nearby pastors of other denominations who are women? Can you partner with them in certain things, even if you would not have them on your clergy roster? (BTW, I know that some of you can't.)

Pastor Fienen:
The ELCA has taken her stand as a church body that ordains  partnered homosexuals.  ... Some within the ELCA cannot tolerate that, for reasons different than ego, fear, or power hunger.
Me:
No one disputes this.
What continues to amaze me is 1) Pastor Fienen's repeated on-the-one-hand-on-the-other-hand stereotype of the dynamics of the ELCA, 2) the refusal in this small discussion thread to recognize that some people did indeed leave the ELCA for reasons that were other than pure, undiluted, noble, honorable, self-less commitment to "The Truth Of All Things."
I think it's great that some in the ELCA question some of our teachings on social issues. (I think it's great that some in the LCMS question some of its teachings.) I think it's great that a congregation can call a partnered gay or lesbian pastor and It think it's great that we cannot force a congregation to call anyone.
Pastor Fienen seems uncomfortable with this; and tries to project his feelings on the ELCA. I don't think he understands us or grasps the idea of real diversity within a church body.
Hence my lengthy response.
We are, Pastor Fienen and others, a multi-faceted church body. I think that's terrific. I've got people in my current parish who, I know for certain, hold views on political and social issues that are nowhere near those expressed in some of our social statements or by our Presiding Bishop. (And I print some of them in our newsletter, even though I wish he had a better ghost-writer.) But they recognize that we in the church do not have to agree on everything to be in the church together.
Title: Re: The ELCA Requires Nothing
Post by: Pastor Ted Crandall on January 13, 2013, 06:23:42 AM

Amazingly "liberal" and "open" and even - dare I say? - quasi-"revisionist" words, Pastor Crandall. WTG!

I see you've taken my advice about fiber! 

Quote
Oh, but I suspect you meant that as irony or sarcasm. Sorry.

Maybe not. 
 :)

Actually, I so exceeded my quota of cynicism and sarcasm (which is the definition of snarky) that your suspicion was completely warranted.  Nevertheless, this time I was being serious, not sarcastic. 

Still being serious, you'll be pleased to know I registered for the Viet Nam draft in '73 as a Conscientious Objector.  (I'm not making this up!)

I don't expect you to be nearly as pleased to hear that CTS proved to me from Scripture that I could serve in the military with a clear conscience, so I dropped out of the seminary just before vicarage and instead enlisted in the Navy.  I ended up serving a full 20 years, 16 of them as a chaplain and most of the 16 as a chaplain to the Marines. 

LCMS and long exposure to the USMC...  If not indulgence, can I get a little understanding for being immoderate?  Please note I even changed my quote so as not to annoy you -- that way. 
Title: Re: The ELCA Requires Nothing
Post by: Charles_Austin on January 13, 2013, 07:31:15 AM
Pastor Crandall writes:
Still being serious, you'll be pleased to know I registered for the Viet Nam draft in '73 as a Conscientious Objector.  (I'm not making this up!)
I comment:
I am only pleased if that was your sincere conscientious viewpoint. (Apparently it wasn't. And why would you be making it up anyway?)

Pastor Crandall writes:
I don't expect you to be nearly as pleased to hear that CTS proved to me from Scripture that I could serve in the military with a clear conscience, so I dropped out of the seminary just before vicarage and instead enlisted in the Navy.
I comment:
Guess you haven't exceeded your self-alloted ration of snark. Why would I not be pleased to hear that CTS taught you something that can be found in the Bible and the teachings of the Church, namely that Christian can indeed serve in the armed forces. If that was your call, why should I not be pleased?

Pastor Crandall:
I ended up serving a full 20 years, 16 of them as a chaplain and most of the 16 as a chaplain to the Marines. 
Me:
It looks like you graduated from seminary in 1990. Was that after your military service? Were you a chaplain before you were ordained LCMS? The years don't quite add up, but I might be looking at things in the wrong way.
Nonetheless, thank you for your service in the military and to our armed forces. Some of my current best friends are ex-Marines.
P.S. I don't know what any of this has to do with fiber in my diet.

Now as to the topic at hand.
Can we set aside this nonsense that says "The ELCA requires nothing"? Probably not.
Can we set aside this nonsense that attempts to define the ELCA totally by its social statements.
Can we set aside this nonsense that says the ELCA - congregations, synods, and church-wide agencies all together remember? - is just the prayer room for the Democratic party?
Title: Re: The ELCA Requires Nothing
Post by: Johan Bergfest on January 13, 2013, 08:00:30 AM
You didn't just read my mind and discover my evil intent, right?  (I'm sure you didn't put the worst construction on my actions intentionally.)


Pr. Crandall - actually, I made no effort to read your mind.  All I did was to read your words and your words convey a very different meaning.
If, as you say, there were essentially no theological issues in what you call "the Seminex debacle"...

OK, so you admit there were legitimate theological differences, but you practically dismiss them as too minor to be concerned about, when compared to the politics involved.  Is that a fair assessment of your view of "the Seminex debacle"? 

Wrong, again.  I do not dismiss those legitimate theological differences.  However, I think that politics more than the theological differences have been the drivers of the division.  Absent the politics, we would have witnessed a very different shape and tone to the conversation.  Now, before you suggest otherwise, it takes two parties to make for political warfare.


Can you offer an example or two of the parts of ELCA's theology to which you cannot subscribe and must stay in the LCMS?

I'm not sure that you and I would agree which is "theology" and which is "practice" when it comes to the ELCA.  In fact, I don't think we would agree on that point when it comes to the LCMS, either. 

Suffice it to say that the organized church, in which my spiritual roots were initially nourished and in which they are still deeply rooted, no longer exists.

Title: Re: The ELCA Requires Nothing
Post by: Dadoo on January 13, 2013, 08:17:55 AM
Pastor Crandall writes:
Still being serious, you'll be pleased to know I registered for the Viet Nam draft in '73 as a Conscientious Objector.  (I'm not making this up!)
I comment:
I am only pleased if that was your sincere conscientious viewpoint. (Apparently it wasn't. And why would you be making it up anyway?)

Pastor Crandall writes:
I don't expect you to be nearly as pleased to hear that CTS proved to me from Scripture that I could serve in the military with a clear conscience, so I dropped out of the seminary just before vicarage and instead enlisted in the Navy.
I comment:
Guess you haven't exceeded your self-alloted ration of snark. Why would I not be pleased to hear that CTS taught you something that can be found in the Bible and the teachings of the Church, namely that Christian can indeed serve in the armed forces. If that was your call, why should I not be pleased?

Pastor Crandall:
I ended up serving a full 20 years, 16 of them as a chaplain and most of the 16 as a chaplain to the Marines. 
Me:
It looks like you graduated from seminary in 1990. Was that after your military service? Were you a chaplain before you were ordained LCMS? The years don't quite add up, but I might be looking at things in the wrong way.
Nonetheless, thank you for your service in the military and to our armed forces. Some of my current best friends are ex-Marines.
P.S. I don't know what any of this has to do with fiber in my diet.

Now as to the topic at hand.
Can we set aside this nonsense that says "The ELCA requires nothing"? Probably not.
Can we set aside this nonsense that attempts to define the ELCA totally by its social statements.
Can we set aside this nonsense that says the ELCA - congregations, synods, and church-wide agencies all together remember? - is just the prayer room for the Democratic party?

Charles,

THe claim that the ELCA requires nothing of its congregations was made in the pages of the Lutheran. It is false though congregations have gotten away with near total detachment in the past. The claim was made by someone who knew better than to say that. His plea was for those who are discontent to just stay and not pay attention to ELCA and they could just be fine. I have no idea why Lehmann published it without at least making a disclaimer which as the ELCA magazine would have been right meet and just plain a good idea. 
The article also engaged in the usual ad hominem talk that the debate on HSGT tends to disintegrate into.

Our statements social/ teaching/ etc actually do have a point. When one speaks or acts on behalf of the ELCA one is only on solid ground when one refers back to CWA decisions. So, if someone asked the headquarters in Chicago about a matter that we have a statement on they would immediately quote that statement. When LOGA goes to lobby they likewise use the statements to guide what they lobby for or against. I would say that in some respects and in some circles, what we say in our social statements does become our public face.

Politically, and at congregational level, the ELCA seems to be diverse right now. When we become socially active at national level where advocacy obviously replaces food pantry, it does seem that the solutions to problems are more aligned with the DNC than the GOP. If you want to clai that the GOP is just wrong about everything then so be it. But it does seem that what we do at that level is very liberal, the conservative content of our pews non with standing. Should majority rule on this? No, but maybe balance.
Title: Re: The ELCA Requires Nothing
Post by: Charles_Austin on January 13, 2013, 08:39:48 AM
Pastor Kruse writes:
 I have no idea why Lehmann published it without at least making a disclaimer which as the ELCA magazine would have been right meet and just plain a good idea. 

I comment:
That column is and always has been personal opinion. "Personal opinion." Personal opinion. Personal opinion.
It says "My View." "My View," the "my" referring to the writer of the article. Why is that so hard to understand?

Agreed that social statements become the background for some of our concerns as expressed legislatively. So what? You don't have to agree with that either.

What we agree on in the ELCA is our statement of faith and we have voluntarily agreed to conduct ourselves according to our governing documents. And one is required to be on board with regard to those things.

If one cannot do that for the sake of one's conscience; or if one concludes that an ELCA decision, for example, to let non-ordained persons preside at the Eucharist, is an offense of deal-breaking magnitude, then - as I have said a hundred times - one has a decision to make.

Some people have alleged that the decisions of 2009 were the deal-breakers. The writer of the "My View" article thinks a bunch of stuff was going on in the minds of people who left; those who left did make their decision based on their own reasons. Some were noble reasons; some, I suspect, were not. Why is it so terrible to recognize that?
Title: Re: The ELCA Requires Nothing
Post by: Dan Fienen on January 13, 2013, 08:44:04 AM
Pr. Austin, were some eho have left the ELCA sinners and left for ignoble reasons?  Yes.  Were those the only reasons people left?  Apparently Pr. Christian thought so, it would not have taken many words to qualify his blanket condemnation. Was it his right to express his blanket condemnation and so denigrate all who left; and the right of The Lutheran to publish that?  I believe that you have defended that right.  You have also complained on a number of occasions about intemperate remarks from those who have left.  Why is it so wrong for the one side to question the motives of the other but not the reverse?

I was not trying to say that my suggestion was the only reason people left, but another aspect of it. 

Dan
Title: Re: The ELCA Requires Nothing
Post by: Charles_Austin on January 13, 2013, 09:05:23 AM
Pastor Fienen writes:
Pr. Austin, were some eho have left the ELCA sinners and left for ignoble reasons?  Yes.
I comment:
Good. At least someone understands that.

Pastor Fienen writes:
Were those the only reasons people left?  Apparently Pr. Christian thought so, it would not have taken many words to qualify his blanket condemnation.
I comment:
Well, not so many words. And nowhere does he say he thinks as you say he thinks, thanks to the almighty qualifier, "might," which he uses.

Pastor Fienen:
Was it his right to express his blanket condemnation and so denigrate all who left; and the right of The Lutheran to publish that? 
Me:
No "blanket condemnation." You overstate things again. Yes, it is the right of the magazine to publish whatever the editor thinks should be published. It's called a free press.

Pastor Fienen:
I believe that you have defended that right.  You have also complained on a number of occasions about intemperate remarks from those who have left.  Why is it so wrong for the one side to question the motives of the other but not the reverse?
Me:
Because some have claimed that there were no ignoble reasons for leaving or that those who left are only poor, pious persecuted ones. Some weren't. Pastor Fienen, I personally know a few people who left because of bruised egos, a search to be a bigger fish in a smaller pond, or because of long-standing gripes about this or that or some other thing over the past two decades. They took the exodus after 2009 as a convenient bus to board.
Title: Re: The ELCA Requires Nothing
Post by: George Erdner on January 13, 2013, 09:26:25 AM
Can anyone who says that the ELCA does require things of congregations list examples of more than one or two isolated examples of any congregation being disciplined for failing to meet the requirements of the ELCA?


As the author of the article that this thread is discussing stated, "A congregation will not be removed from the roster for lack of giving, lack of diversity in membership, lack of a youth ministry, lack of mission activity, lack of social work in its community, lack of Bible studies, wrong vestments or secular music on Sundays." He goes on to note, "It is possible to be removed if a congregation votes to disavow the constitution of the ELCA and the congregation's own documents of affiliation with the ELCA." So, what requirements does the ELCA have for congregations if there are no consequences or discipline for failing to meet the requirements?


As has been pointed out before, if there are no consequences or discipline for failing to meet a condition, then that condition is an expectation, not a requirement. In order for something to be required, it cannot be optional. What does the ELCA have that is a bona-fide (aka not merely empty words on paper) requirement that congregations must do in order to avoid consequences or discipline?


To the best of my knowledge, the ELCA kicked out one congregation for calling a homosexual pastor, but ignored dozens of others. And, they let the kicked out congregation come back in when the ELCA changed its rules, despite no indication of repentance or remorse from the congregation that ignored the ELCA rules that were in place at the time they were disciplined. If there are other instances of the ELCA enforcing a requirement, please share it with everyone.
Title: Re: The ELCA Requires Nothing
Post by: Charles_Austin on January 13, 2013, 10:53:06 AM
Actually, it was more than one congregation; but Mr. Erdner has been told that before.
And "discipline" does not always mean being "kicked out." Bishops and synod councils may have other ways of dealing with congregations that fail in adequate mission support or in other matters subject to discipline. We do not have any way of knowing how those ways are employed.
I personally know of pastors whose actions have caused bishops to refuse to consider them for calls. Before the howling begins, let it be known that such things happened before 2009.
The article - which I agree is in parts poorly worded - but it's his opinion, not mine; says A congregation will not be removed from the roster for lack of giving, lack of diversity in membership, lack of a youth ministry, lack of mission activity, lack of social work in its community, lack of Bible studies, wrong vestments or secular music on Sundays.
Except for "lack of giving," that is, mission support, none of those other things rise to the level of "official" discipline, at least the kind that might get a congregation "kicked out."
I am also rather certain that a pastor today who transgresses in such things as being a sexual predator or financial rapscallion will be "prosecuted" by the church as well as by civil authorities.
Title: Re: The ELCA Requires Nothing
Post by: Evangel on January 13, 2013, 11:45:06 AM
Pastor Schimmel writes:
Before I left the ELCA I had drafted a bylaw for our congregational constitution that forbid same sex blessings or marriages from being performed in or on our church property.  It also forbid the participation in such a ceremony/service by any person employed or called by the congregation at any other location.  Any disobedience of this bylaw would be interpreted by the council as being equivalent to an immediate unconditional notice of resignation.

I comment:
Fine. But I contend that any pastor who consents to such a thing does irreparable harm to the Holy Office of the ministry, his or her call, and the synod and ELCA to which he and the congregation belongs. What's next? Voting on how many sermons there can be or what can or cannot be included in the content? Fie!

Why would my synod recommend that congregations adopt such policies?  Why would they allow them to pass synodical review before they are incorporated into the continuing resolutions of the congregation?

This is going back a few pages in this thread, but I have some new information to add.

I was at the SC LCMC gathering in Columbia yesterday and we had a visitor ... a layman from an ELCA congregation that is in the midst of the current process of voting their way out of the ELCA.  He mentioned that the bishop - as part of the new consultation process - asked them to write up a statement of their beliefs and concerns that they could eventually add to their constitution.  I was a bit surprised to read one of the items in their draft statement as being - for all practical purposes - what I reported above as having written years ago regarding forbidding the pastor from performing same sex unions/weddings.

I don't know if this particular congregation will have the votes to leave - but if they don't, one of the things that keeps them in the ELCA might well be the assurance that they have from adding such a restriction to their constitution.
Title: Re: The ELCA Requires Nothing
Post by: vicarbob on January 13, 2013, 12:51:54 PM
Help me out here, how does a congregation go about forbidding its pastor from officiating at same sex marriages......while the congregation can state that it is polity of that congregation not to same sex nuptials in the church, they can not tell a pastor , apart from use of the facility, not to officiate. Or am I missing something???
pax
Bob+
Title: Re: The ELCA Requires Nothing
Post by: Evangel on January 13, 2013, 01:09:41 PM
QED, Bob.  The pastor is not an independent actor in regards to officiating at such public rites.  He or she is the pastor of a particular congregation solely due to the fact that he is under call to that congregation and he is therefore always a public face or ambassador of the congregation.  The congregation makes it clear by a bylaw or continuing resolution that their expectations and policies are for said pastor not to sully the reputation of the congregation by such participation, and that any such violation of the congregation's policies will be interpreted as an immediate and unconditional resignation of call.
Title: Re: The ELCA Requires Nothing
Post by: Charles_Austin on January 13, 2013, 03:17:02 PM
Pastor Schimmel is correct.
A congregation might say it will not allow its pastor to perform same-sex unions or use the church for such. I believe that is within our proper procedures and policies. Then a pastor would have to decide whether he or she accepts the call with that restriction on the ministry. I wouldn't, not necessarily for the sake of same-sex unions, but for the principle.
On some things given to the ordained, the congregation may not place restrictions, although some may try to do so or think they have already done so. I think any pastor who accepts a call to a congregation that tries to legislate or by-law the way he or she ministers is in for trouble.

Title: Re: The ELCA Requires Nothing
Post by: Dan Fienen on January 13, 2013, 03:22:37 PM
Would it be acceptable for a congregation to ask a pastor before extending a call if he or she would be open to performing same-sex ceremonies?
Title: Re: The ELCA Requires Nothing
Post by: Charles_Austin on January 13, 2013, 03:23:24 PM
Pastor Fienen writes:
Would it be acceptable for a congregation to ask a pastor before extending a call if he or she would be open to performing same-sex ceremonies?

I comment:
Yes.
Title: Re: The ELCA Requires Nothing
Post by: Pastor Ted Crandall on January 13, 2013, 03:35:55 PM
Pastor Crandall writes:
Still being serious, you'll be pleased to know I registered for the Viet Nam draft in '73 as a Conscientious Objector.  (I'm not making this up!)
I comment:
I am only pleased if that was your sincere conscientious viewpoint. (Apparently it wasn't. And why would you be making it up anyway?)

Oh, but it was my sincere conscientious viewpoint.  Why would you think otherwise? 

Quote
Pastor Crandall writes:
I don't expect you to be nearly as pleased to hear that CTS proved to me from Scripture that I could serve in the military with a clear conscience, so I dropped out of the seminary just before vicarage and instead enlisted in the Navy.
I comment:
Guess you haven't exceeded your self-alloted ration of snark. Why would I not be pleased to hear that CTS taught you something that can be found in the Bible and the teachings of the Church, namely that Christian can indeed serve in the armed forces. If that was your call, why should I not be pleased?

Snarky?  No!  Actually, I was trying to amuse you.  I thought you and I could have a moment of bonding when you understood that I have a strong liberal streak.

(This might be a good time for me to explain that I was alluding to fiber in the diet being good to keep one regular, as a remedy for irritability due to constipation.) 

Quote
Pastor Crandall:
I ended up serving a full 20 years, 16 of them as a chaplain and most of the 16 as a chaplain to the Marines. 
Me:
It looks like you graduated from seminary in 1990. Was that after your military service? Were you a chaplain before you were ordained LCMS? The years don't quite add up, but I might be looking at things in the wrong way.

I first enrolled at CTS in 1981, withdrew in 1983 to serve in the Navy, returned to CTS in 1988, served as vicar in Wichita Falls, Texas in 1989, and graduated in 1990.  After serving 2 years as a pastor in McCook, Nebraska, I was recruited back into the Navy, this time as a chaplain. 

Quote
Nonetheless, thank you for your service in the military and to our armed forces. Some of my current best friends are ex-Marines.

Thank you. 
Title: Re: The ELCA Requires Nothing
Post by: Charles_Austin on January 13, 2013, 04:23:54 PM
You write:
Still being serious, you'll be pleased to know I registered for the Viet Nam draft in '73 as a Conscientious Objector.
I comment:
You may have registered in 1973, but that was the year the draft ended, so the registration was a mere formality in case we needed to institute it again. (We never did.) And you were in college until 1978, which would have given you student deferment. (Draft boards at the time were required to give a man the category least likely to make him available for call-up; hence student deferment trumped C.O.)
Seminary 1981-1983, then military service, then seminary again. Got that.
I understand that you went back to the Navy in 1992 after a parish in McCook, Nebraska, and then did 20 years a chaplain. Got that.
Title: Re: The ELCA Requires Nothing
Post by: Brian Stoffregen on January 13, 2013, 04:49:23 PM
Actually, it was more than one congregation; but Mr. Erdner has been told that before.


Also, the reason the congregations were removed was for calling a non-rostered pastor. That is cause for the removal of any congregation regardless of the sexual orientation of the non-rostered pastor called. Removal in such a case does not require the disciplinary process spelled out in chapter 20 of the ELCA's constitution. It essentially becomes a decision of the bishop and then a vote of the synod council. The bishop may remove a congregation in this way who has called a non-rostered pastor. It is not a requirement that s/he has to remove them.

Title: Re: The ELCA Requires Nothing
Post by: Brian Stoffregen on January 13, 2013, 04:55:52 PM
QED, Bob.  The pastor is not an independent actor in regards to officiating at such public rites.  He or she is the pastor of a particular congregation solely due to the fact that he is under call to that congregation and he is therefore always a public face or ambassador of the congregation.  The congregation makes it clear by a bylaw or continuing resolution that their expectations and policies are for said pastor not to sully the reputation of the congregation by such participation, and that any such violation of the congregation's policies will be interpreted as an immediate and unconditional resignation of call.


I, as well as the IRS, believe that the pastor is an independent contrator when officiating at weddings (or funerals); unless it is the congregation who pays him to do the weddings/funerals. I've done a few weddings with folks who had no connection with my congregation. Usually, they were personal friends, and the services were not in the church building. In fact, I have one in the works now. It's out of town. It's will not be held at a church. The bride's family are friends. I will inform our council that I will be gone for this wedding. They aren't given a choice about saying yea or nay to it.
Title: Re: The ELCA Requires Nothing
Post by: Brian Stoffregen on January 13, 2013, 05:02:33 PM
Would it be acceptable for a congregation to ask a pastor before extending a call if he or she would be open to performing same-sex ceremonies?


I had call committees ask me what I thought of the CCM agreement with the Episcopal Church. They can ask whatever they want. They may or may not like our answers.
Title: Re: The ELCA Requires Nothing
Post by: Johan Bergfest on January 13, 2013, 05:34:59 PM
Would it be acceptable for a congregation to ask a pastor before extending a call if he or she would be open to performing same-sex ceremonies?


I had call committees ask me what I thought of the CCM agreement with the Episcopal Church. They can ask whatever they want. They may or may not like our answers.

If the congregation has serious concerns on specific matters, wouldn't it be the best practice for the congregation to communicate that information to the Bishop/District President and for the Bishop/DP to take that information into consideration prior to vetting a short list of candidates for the congregation to consider?  I would think that "deal breakers" ought to be exposed before you ever get invited for an interview.
Title: Re: The ELCA Requires Nothing
Post by: Pastor Ted Crandall on January 13, 2013, 06:31:25 PM
Suffice it to say that the organized church, in which my spiritual roots were initially nourished and in which they are still deeply rooted, no longer exists.

Doesn't it still exist in the ELCA? 
Title: Re: The ELCA Requires Nothing
Post by: George Erdner on January 13, 2013, 06:50:51 PM
Suffice it to say that the organized church, in which my spiritual roots were initially nourished and in which they are still deeply rooted, no longer exists.

Doesn't it still exist in the ELCA?


You are joking, right? Those who are members of ELCA congregations usually have their spiritual roots nourished because of the work of individual pastors at that "expression" of church. But there is very little spiritual nourishment filtering down to the local congregation from Higgins Road or the Synod offices, beyond the publications of AF (which either is or isn't considered an ELCA venture, depending on whether or not it's convenient to see it as such), and the educations that older pastors received from the seminaries if they went there before recent times.


So, perhaps the most accurate answer to your question would be, "It exists in the ELCA, but not because of the ELCA." Those who find themselves in former ELCA congregations that are now affiliated with different Lutheran bodies still receive the same spiritual nourishment at their local congregations that they formerly received.

Title: Re: The ELCA Requires Nothing
Post by: vicarbob on January 13, 2013, 07:08:10 PM
QED, Bob.  The pastor is not an independent actor in regards to officiating at such public rites.  He or she is the pastor of a particular congregation solely due to the fact that he is under call to that congregation and he is therefore always a public face or ambassador of the congregation.  The congregation makes it clear by a bylaw or continuing resolution that their expectations and policies are for said pastor not to sully the reputation of the congregation by such participation, and that any such violation of the congregation's policies will be interpreted as an immediate and unconditional resignation of call.


I, as well as the IRS, believe that the pastor is an independent contrator when officiating at weddings (or funerals); unless it is the congregation who pays him to do the weddings/funerals. I've done a few weddings with folks who had no connection with my congregation. Usually, they were personal friends, and the services were not in the church building. In fact, I have one in the works now. It's out of town. It's will not be held at a church. The bride's family are friends. I will inform our council that I will be gone for this wedding. They aren't given a choice about saying yea or nay to it.

That is how I understand it also. I am not an employee of a congregation but its called and ordained pastor. I am ordained as a presbyter/minister/priest/pastor in the OHCA Church and rostered in the ELCA.
I got my answer, thank you
pax
Bob+
Title: Re: The ELCA Requires Nothing
Post by: Johan Bergfest on January 13, 2013, 07:28:38 PM
Suffice it to say that the organized church, in which my spiritual roots were initially nourished and in which they are still deeply rooted, no longer exists.

Doesn't it still exist in the ELCA?

Pr. Crandall - The LCMS today is not the same organized church that it was when I spoke my confirmation vows.  Certainly there are individual congregations and pastors that are still more like the LCMS was prior to Seminex.  Folks like you are constantly on the lookout for those so that you can add them to the "admonition" and demand that they either leave are capitulate to the confessional understanding of what it means to be Lutheran.  That was not appropriate behavior in the LCMS in which my roots were nourished.

I like George's answer to your question. 

Every Lutheran Church body confesses Scripture as God's Inspired Word and the Lutheran Confession as a correct expression of God's Word.  In my opinion, that confession is correctly held by the Evangelical Lutheran Church.  Every Lutheran Church body, in practice, adds to and, thereby, subtracts from the confession of the Evangelical Lutheran Church.  Every Lutheran Church body is a human institution and, in some respects, each functions like most other secular organizations.  For those reasons, I think that every Lutheran Church body is - to use a word from your vocabulary - heterodox.  That includes LCMS. 

I assume that every member of every Lutheran Church body (actually, every Christian denomination) is my sister/brother in Christ.  I believe that most are and I will leave it to God to sort out the tares.  I believe that you are my brother in Christ and I would prefer to relate with you on that basis.  Frankly, I am not convinced that you accept me are your brother in Christ.

There are flaws in every Lutheran body and there are flaws in every Lutheran congregation.  I believe that my roots could be nourished in most, although I also am aware that I would not be welcome in some.  I have been an active church member most of my adult life and I will continue to be so for the rest of my life.
Title: Re: The ELCA Requires Nothing
Post by: Coach-Rev on January 13, 2013, 07:51:13 PM
What we agree on in the ELCA is our statement of faith and we have voluntarily agreed to conduct ourselves according to our governing documents. And one is required to be on board with regard to those things.

Charles, this is blatantly untrue, and you know it.  Examples have been given time and again of churches that are failing to abide by the official "statement of faith" and nothing is done about it.  NOTHING. NOTHING. Zero.  Zilch.  Nada.   Does "Herchurch" ring a bell?  or a "Lutheran" article from approx 2 years ago about the value of praying to "sophia" during a stewardship campaign? 
Title: Re: The ELCA Requires Nothing
Post by: Dadoo on January 13, 2013, 07:53:25 PM
QED, Bob.  The pastor is not an independent actor in regards to officiating at such public rites.  He or she is the pastor of a particular congregation solely due to the fact that he is under call to that congregation and he is therefore always a public face or ambassador of the congregation.  The congregation makes it clear by a bylaw or continuing resolution that their expectations and policies are for said pastor not to sully the reputation of the congregation by such participation, and that any such violation of the congregation's policies will be interpreted as an immediate and unconditional resignation of call.


I, as well as the IRS, believe that the pastor is an independent contrator when officiating at weddings (or funerals); unless it is the congregation who pays him to do the weddings/funerals. I've done a few weddings with folks who had no connection with my congregation. Usually, they were personal friends, and the services were not in the church building. In fact, I have one in the works now. It's out of town. It's will not be held at a church. The bride's family are friends. I will inform our council that I will be gone for this wedding. They aren't given a choice about saying yea or nay to it.

That is how I understand it also. I am not an employee of a congregation but its called and ordained pastor. I am ordained as a presbyter/minister/priest/pastor in the OHCA Church and rostered in the ELCA.
I got my answer, thank you
pax
Bob+

According to the tangle of constitutional writ in ELCA, you would both be incorrect. The call to a pastor is to preach the word and administer the sacraments and advocate for the faith. Marriage is NOT a sacrament in Lutheranism. It is a function that a pastor is performing within the congregation akin to visiting the members when they are sick. The rite of marriage is a worship service and while the pastor is expected to preside over the service the worship life is under the authority of the council. No matter where you perform the marriage service, if you enter it into the records of the congregation, it is their service.

Can you "do weddings" outside your usual gig? Yes, but on the basis of the authority vested in you by the state of Upper Southern West Central Carolina or whatnot, not on the basis of your call as pastor to St. Mickey's by the gas station or your rostering in the ELCA, or Lutheranism- ism- mism, or the OHCA (unless you claim marriage a sacrament in which case you are on the wrong denomination's roster). You are basically a JoP. You lack ecclesial - theological authority; though you have that letter from the secretary of state, so its all nice and legal in the eyes of the law but not necessarily blessed by your church.

The constitution can also have continuing resolutions attached to it concerning who you can and cain't marry and the congregation can write a clause into the letter of call on the matter which would mean they would have to offer you a new call before the matter can be changed.

The IRS . . . ahhh, yes. Again, that designation is merely a legal designation that was convenient to the Department of the Treasury. It has been challenged by various municipalities since no withholdings are made of each paycheck and they do not like it when everyone is not paying right away. It could be challenged or changed at will in the next revision of the tax code. If so, it will be by sweeping change, accident or oversight but not for reasons of recognizing the ordained ministry as those set aside to do Holy Ministry in the OHCA. It will be for totally non theological reasons and ecclesiology will not be considered in the change. THe IRS designation as contractor is not relevant to the ecclesiology of the matter but: You better report the income from the wedding on your taxes, since you promised that you would lead a life of holy living in you r ordination and paying your dues would be part of fulfilling all righteousness in this matter.
Title: Re: The ELCA Requires Nothing
Post by: Dadoo on January 13, 2013, 08:22:08 PM
Pastor Kruse writes:
 I have no idea why Lehmann published it without at least making a disclaimer which as the ELCA magazine would have been right meet and just plain a good idea. 

I comment:
That column is and always has been personal opinion. "Personal opinion." Personal opinion. Personal opinion.
It says "My View." "My View," the "my" referring to the writer of the article. Why is that so hard to understand?

Because the author is a former synod employee, a former Bishop's assistant, whose former position was in the by line and whose former call will be seen as a sign that he is someone who is supposed to know. Therefore the column is misleading about an ELCA matter about which it is purely wrong and as the ELCA magazine it was pretty much the duty of the editor to correct  Pr. Christian's statement. As "our" magazine, it has our name, ELCA, on it, he cannot just hide behind the "my View" title or "accepted editorial practice."

Why is that so hard to understand.  :)

Quote

Agreed that social statements become the background for some of our concerns as expressed legislatively. So what? You don't have to agree with that either.


That is a bit more complicated, but for some, maybe even many, things will be said on behalf of the ELCA. Things will be lobbied for in the name of ELCA. If one was to be a faithful member of ELCA and one sharply disagreed one's name would still be attached to the press release. That maybe offensive. There are a number of sport shooters in our church and I would bet we have a good number of members with concealed carry permits. Might they be miffed that the ELCA has signed its name to a petition to apply greater restrictions to gun ownership? (we did, BTW, about 2 years ago even before the current uproar, based on one of our social statements)

Quote

What we agree on in the ELCA is our statement of faith and we have voluntarily agreed to conduct ourselves according to our governing documents. And one is required to be on board with regard to those things.


As pastors, we did more than voluntarily agree. We vowed before God at ordination to do so. The lay folk agreed by virtue of membership and are much lighter bound. I realize I am a stickler and a bit severe with the matter of vows.

Quote

If one cannot do that for the sake of one's conscience; or if one concludes that an ELCA decision, for example, to let non-ordained persons preside at the Eucharist, is an offense of deal-breaking magnitude, then - as I have said a hundred times - one has a decision to make.

Actually, I would think you are nowhere close to 100 times on this. 30 maybe, 45 at the outside, but 100, no.  :)

BTW, the matter of lay presidency has not driven away congregations or pastors to my knowledge though at least LCMC has no problem with the practice. It has been criticized here because the practice is seen by quite a few as an add on to the confessions, see the above thing of agreement and vows, which say one should be ordained to preside. The point made is that the creation of separate rosters is a grave confusion and that the matter would have ben better served by straight ordination. A move to do exactly that is in progress in a number of synods.

Quote

Some people have alleged that the decisions of 2009 were the deal-breakers. The writer of the "My View" article thinks a bunch of stuff was going on in the minds of people who left; those who left did make their decision based on their own reasons. Some were noble reasons; some, I suspect, were not. Why is it so terrible to recognize that?


Because the article was published in 2012 - almost 2013 - after everyone has been told so many times that " the church has moved on." I think you have used words with that sentiment yourself right here. It seems to me the NALC has "moved on" more than Pr. Christian or the editor who chose his piece to publish. On top of that, the column used language that really does not muster up under the 8th commandment.

Why is it so hard to recognize that?   :)
Title: Re: The ELCA Requires Nothing
Post by: Pastor Ted Crandall on January 13, 2013, 08:26:49 PM
Frankly, I am not convinced that you accept me are your brother in Christ.

I accept you personally as my brother in Christ much like I accept my brothers and sisters in Christ who have chosen to belong to the Roman Catholic Church, the Southern Baptist Convention, the ELCA, etc.  Is it necessary that I also accept you as a fellow Lutheran in order for you to become convinced that I accept you as my brother in Christ? 
Title: Re: The ELCA Requires Nothing
Post by: Johan Bergfest on January 13, 2013, 11:27:45 PM
I accept you personally as my brother in Christ much like I accept my brothers and sisters in Christ who have chosen to belong to the Roman Catholic Church, the Southern Baptist Convention, the ELCA, etc.

Thank you for saying that, Pr. Crandall.

Is it necessary that I also accept you as a fellow Lutheran in order for you to become convinced that I accept you as my brother in Christ?

Of course it isn't.  However, the way you and other confessionals sometimes talk about other Christians, I sometimes get that impression that some confessionals think that way.
Title: Re: The ELCA Requires Nothing
Post by: DCharlton on January 14, 2013, 12:00:46 AM
Help me out here, how does a congregation go about forbidding its pastor from officiating at same sex marriages......while the congregation can state that it is polity of that congregation not to same sex nuptials in the church, they can not tell a pastor , apart from use of the facility, not to officiate. Or am I missing something???
pax
Bob+

Bob,

I you go back a few pages, you can find the policy that my congregation adopted as a continuing resolution.  It was adopted first by the council and affirmed at an annual meeting of the congregation, with the approval and encouragement of the synod. 

The wording actually does not forbid the pastor from doing anything.  It says that such weddings and/or blessings will not be held in church facilities, nor will the congregation sponsor such ceremonies. 

On the other hand, HSGT has put shut policy decisions in the hands of each and every congregation.  The ELCA has no policy on such matters, but offered several positions that are considered acceptable.  Which one of the positions will be enacted has been made the decision of the congregation.

I'm sure there are congregations who will only call a pastor who supports same sex unions, teaches that they fulfill the will of God, and is willing to perform same sex marriages.

David

Title: Re: The ELCA Requires Nothing
Post by: DCharlton on January 14, 2013, 12:03:44 AM
Would it be acceptable for a congregation to ask a pastor before extending a call if he or she would be open to performing same-sex ceremonies?


I had call committees ask me what I thought of the CCM agreement with the Episcopal Church. They can ask whatever they want. They may or may not like our answers.

If the congregation has serious concerns on specific matters, wouldn't it be the best practice for the congregation to communicate that information to the Bishop/District President and for the Bishop/DP to take that information into consideration prior to vetting a short list of candidates for the congregation to consider?  I would think that "deal breakers" ought to be exposed before you ever get invited for an interview.

Congregations in my synod have been told that such concerns can and should be communicated to synod staff when the congregation develops its "profile".  They have been assured that their preferences will be respected and that the interview and call process will not be abused to foist a candidate upon the congregation against their will.
Title: Re: The ELCA Requires Nothing
Post by: George Erdner on January 14, 2013, 12:07:35 AM
Can anyone honestly state that if a pastor does something so egregious that the majority of the council and congregation want him gone that they cannot take steps to end his call at their congregation? If a pastor did something that caused a significant number of the congregation to leave in protest, would the local bishop just sit on his hands and do nothing, especially if asked to step in by the congregation's council?



Title: Re: The ELCA Requires Nothing
Post by: DCharlton on January 14, 2013, 12:17:23 AM
Pastor Schimmel is correct.
A congregation might say it will not allow its pastor to perform same-sex unions or use the church for such. I believe that is within our proper procedures and policies. Then a pastor would have to decide whether he or she accepts the call with that restriction on the ministry. I wouldn't, not necessarily for the sake of same-sex unions, but for the principle.
On some things given to the ordained, the congregation may not place restrictions, although some may try to do so or think they have already done so. I think any pastor who accepts a call to a congregation that tries to legislate or by-law the way he or she ministers is in for trouble.

I don't see how congregations can avoid doing the very they that you find so objectionable.  In the past, a pastor who followed ELCA policies would be justified in refusing to accept additional restrictions imposed by the congregation.  The ELCA at one time had uniform policies regarding a whole host of matters. 

For instance, in the past I would have considered it inappropriate for a congregation to refuse to consider a candidate who was approved for ordination in the ELCA.  Today, as a result of HSGT, we have no single policy governing expectations for rostered leaders.  The ELCA did not decide on a single policy, but approved as many as four policies related to the matter of same sex relationships.

By reassuring those who opposed the rostering of those in same-sex relationships that, "No congregation can or will be forced to call such a person as pastor," the ELCA placed the burden for setting policy on the congregation.  Likewise, when it comes to same-sex marriages, the ELCA neither forbids nor endorses them.  It, therefore, is up to the congregation to set the policy that the national church has refused to set.

Congregations have been consistently reassured that no one is going to force them to do what they don't want to do.  However, if each pastor was free to do as he/she chose, the congregation would have no say.  The reassurance from the ELCA contradicts your understanding of the minister's prerogative.

One of the reasons that HSGT was opposed was that it created an impossible situation, where there was not a clear policy and each individual congregation and each individual pastor had to contend for their own interpretation.  There is no single standard for rostered leaders.  There is no single policy on same-sex unions.  There is not clear statement about "what this church teaches" about marriage. 

Congregations have to choose what their policy will be.

Title: Re: The ELCA Requires Nothing
Post by: Brian Stoffregen on January 14, 2013, 01:35:09 AM
The IRS . . . ahhh, yes. … You better report the income from the wedding on your taxes, since you promised that you would lead a life of holy living in you r ordination and paying your dues would be part of fulfilling all righteousness in this matter.


Even if the congregation withholds taxes, income from weddings and funerals is reported on Schedule C - the form for self-employed contractors. A pastor's expenses for weddings and funerals can be deducted on that Schedule.


When I began my ministry, the congregation issued a 1099 form with what they had paid me, and all my pastoral income was reported on Schedule C, as well as business related expenses. Generally, the IRS considers pastors employees of the congregation and they issue a W-2 and the salary is reported on the 1040 form; except for weddings, funerals, and payments for other pastoral acts.
Title: Re: The ELCA Requires Nothing
Post by: Brian Stoffregen on January 14, 2013, 01:50:43 AM
Pastor Schimmel is correct.
A congregation might say it will not allow its pastor to perform same-sex unions or use the church for such. I believe that is within our proper procedures and policies. Then a pastor would have to decide whether he or she accepts the call with that restriction on the ministry. I wouldn't, not necessarily for the sake of same-sex unions, but for the principle.
On some things given to the ordained, the congregation may not place restrictions, although some may try to do so or think they have already done so. I think any pastor who accepts a call to a congregation that tries to legislate or by-law the way he or she ministers is in for trouble.

I don't see how congregations can avoid doing the very they that you find so objectionable.  In the past, a pastor who followed ELCA policies would be justified in refusing to accept additional restrictions imposed by the congregation.  The ELCA at one time had uniform policies regarding a whole host of matters. 

For instance, in the past I would have considered it inappropriate for a congregation to refuse to consider a candidate who was approved for ordination in the ELCA.  Today, as a result of HSGT, we have no single policy governing expectations for rostered leaders.  The ELCA did not decide on a single policy, but approved as many as four policies related to the matter of same sex relationships.

By reassuring those who opposed the rostering of those in same-sex relationships that, "No congregation can or will be forced to call such a person as pastor," the ELCA placed the burden for setting policy on the congregation.  Likewise, when it comes to same-sex marriages, the ELCA neither forbids nor endorses them.  It, therefore, is up to the congregation to set the policy that the national church has refused to set.

Congregations have been consistently reassured that no one is going to force them to do what they don't want to do.  However, if each pastor was free to do as he/she chose, the congregation would have no say.  The reassurance from the ELCA contradicts your understanding of the minister's prerogative.

One of the reasons that HSGT was opposed was that it created an impossible situation, where there was not a clear policy and each individual congregation and each individual pastor had to contend for their own interpretation.  There is no single standard for rostered leaders.  There is no single policy on same-sex unions.  There is not clear statement about "what this church teaches" about marriage. 

Congregations have to choose what their policy will be.


Successful calls happen when there is a good match between the pastor and the congregation. Good pastors and good congregations when not well matched up create misery for both.
Title: Re: The ELCA Requires Nothing
Post by: Charles_Austin on January 14, 2013, 03:23:30 AM
Mr. Erdner writes:
Can anyone honestly state that if a pastor does something so egregious that the majority of the council and congregation want him gone that they cannot take steps to end his call at their congregation? If a pastor did something that caused a significant number of the congregation to leave in protest, would the local bishop just sit on his hands and do nothing, especially if asked to step in by the congregation's council?

I comment:
Active ELCA members, especially those who have been on Congregation Councils, know that there is a process whereby a congregation can ask the synod to step in when a pastor is in trouble or if the synod thinks the mission of the congregation is in peril.
Such procedures are usually clearly spelled out - as anyone who has been on a congregation council knows - in congregation constitutions and synod policies.
That information should be familiar to all council members and is available in the model constitutions on the ELCA website.
So it would seem "pedantic"  ::) ::) ::) for me to explain here what responsible council members should know and what is easily found online.
Someone please inform Mr. Erdner.
Title: Re: The ELCA Requires Nothing
Post by: Charles_Austin on January 14, 2013, 03:35:10 AM
Yes, it would seem that congregations can stipulate which of the approaches to same-sex unions will be used in that congregation. Should not everyone in this particular forum (except perhaps this humble correspondent) be happy about that?
But the relationship between the pastor and council and congregation should not be based solely on constitution and by-laws, but first of all on trust between both parties.
Many things are explored in the call process.
I informed congregations that if they didn't have a weekly celebration of the sacrament, they would have six months after I arrived.
Congregations asked me if - since my children are grown and gone - I thought I could "handle" young children and teens.
I told congregations I would be encouraging them to increase members' giving to the congregation and the congregation's mission support to the synod.
A council asked me if I would keep "regular" office hours (this seemed weirdly important to one person).
In my current interim, the council asked me why I would not agree to take the interim call full-time at full pay.
Pastors and call committees and councils need to listen to each other and trust each other. There should be relatively few "surprises" once the call is issued.

Title: Re: The ELCA Requires Nothing
Post by: DCharlton on January 14, 2013, 07:45:04 AM
Quote
Yes, it would seem that congregations can stipulate which of the approaches to same-sex unions will be used in that congregation. Should not everyone in this particular forum (except perhaps this humble correspondent) be happy about that?

All things considered, should we be happy with it?  Yes.  I prefer that the ELCA have a uniform policy, so that we don't have each congregation defining it's own policy, that all pastors aren't treated equally, etc...  In fact, I think the ELCA should move to rectify that ASAP. 
     
Quote
But the relationship between the pastor and council and congregation should not be based solely on constitution and by-laws, but first of all on trust between both parties.
Many things are explored in the call process.
I informed congregations that if they didn't have a weekly celebration of the sacrament, they would have six months after I arrived.
Congregations asked me if - since my children are grown and gone - I thought I could "handle" young children and teens.
I told congregations I would be encouraging them to increase members' giving to the congregation and the congregation's mission support to the synod.
A council asked me if I would keep "regular" office hours (this seemed weirdly important to one person).
In my current interim, the council asked me why I would not agree to take the interim call full-time at full pay.
Pastors and call committees and councils need to listen to each other and trust each other. There should be relatively few "surprises" once the call is issued.

Agreed.
Title: Re: The ELCA Requires Nothing
Post by: Dadoo on January 14, 2013, 09:00:39 AM
Yes, it would seem that congregations can stipulate which of the approaches to same-sex unions will be used in that congregation. Should not everyone in this particular forum (except perhaps this humble correspondent) be happy about that?
But the relationship between the pastor and council and congregation should not be based solely on constitution and by-laws, but first of all on trust between both parties.
Many things are explored in the call process.
I informed congregations that if they didn't have a weekly celebration of the sacrament, they would have six months after I arrived.
Congregations asked me if - since my children are grown and gone - I thought I could "handle" young children and teens.
I told congregations I would be encouraging them to increase members' giving to the congregation and the congregation's mission support to the synod.
A council asked me if I would keep "regular" office hours (this seemed weirdly important to one person).
In my current interim, the council asked me why I would not agree to take the interim call full-time at full pay.
Pastors and call committees and councils need to listen to each other and trust each other. There should be relatively few "surprises" once the call is issued.

Charles,

Yes, a trust issue lurks beneath all of the mess. When I said to my congregation that I was going to move towards weekly communion, I did that based on several consecutive statements by my church which had unified behind the idea that it should be that way and that the congregation was to move toward that practice. The ELCA, and the LCA before, had made those statements based on historical practice and confessional writing as well as theological and biblical scholarship that had all been laid out in a fairly comprehensive statement. I was taught the theology of that statement and urged to gently move my congregation toward that goal by my seminary profs. They in turn believed that the denomination ought to be unified in this. I remember Bauman saying things like: "You are not out there to do your own thing. We are sending you out there to do the Church's Thing." 

On the other hand, other teachers were into "prophetic ministry" and "transformation." Liberation of the minority was usually strong and under the table one got urged to "move the church" along the HSGT trail - sometimes not so much under the table. President Meuser's favorite line was:
'As the seminary goes, so goes the church." THat is of course a self fulfilling prophecy. If you control what future pastors think and teach and to what they will be sympathetic, yes, you do control the future of the church. I remember that HS1 was overwhelmingly rejected by the people; to the tune of 80% against. Yet, at that time already 35% of the clergy approved. If you read HS1 today you would think that it had been adopted since it saw HSGT as a waypoint one the road to full unified acceptance within the ELCA. And even after HS1 was denounced and thrown back at the drafters the seminaries did not change their minds neither did they listen to the voice of the faithful  while, ironically, at the same time talking glowingly of the "priesthood of all believers" and the wisdom of the pew, and how pastors needed to listen to their people.

I think that there is where the trust issue comes in. In the denomination ought the seminaries of that denomination be innovation engines or ought they be fairly laid back and cautious about change? Further, within a denomination there ought to be a fair amount of uniformity, otherwise there really is no reason to be in the denomination, since in America, six dozen others denomination and multiple independent churches will certainly be happy to have a theology that fits the individual who think the church should think more like him. Those who worked diligently to change ELCA policy seem to think that the church, this church, ought to think like they do. So even they believe that the church ought to be of one mind, but, along with many conservatives who stayed, they settled for an attempt to hold the denomination together and make peace.

If one was to be a congregational leader in ELCA would one wonder what comes next and what the pastor was taught and what views pastor finally arrived on, or whose voices he is listening and whether he will be one who can be swayed? Would call interviews be a place of trust in the denomination in that culture? And in that culture, every congregation and maybe every person and therefor every pastor is held to the standard that there are four ideas out there. So what does the seminary teach and how will they deal with candidates who believe what the professors don't? Can they entrust their members to those professors? They already have shown that they are on their own page. They showed in the aftermath of HS1 that they were not interested what the pews thought. In the matter of weekly communion they had the weight of history behind them. In the sexuality matter the roots went no deeper than the sexual revolution of the 60's. What will they do next? Can trust be built on that history?

Congregations are the church and the church has the duty to pass along to the next generations the faith delivered to it, not just the "things we agree on" but the totality of it. We have become a bit reductionistic about what we consider vital or defining. And with HSGT we enshrined a culture where the pastor is not predictable any longer and he has the policy of the ELCA behind that says he need not be.

Trust in that environment will be slow to return if ever. In the interim, if one was a congregation and one cared, a continuing resolution or a line in the letter of call might just be a good idea.
Title: Re: The ELCA Requires Nothing
Post by: Charles_Austin on January 14, 2013, 09:35:11 AM
Pastor Kruse writes:
Yes, a trust issue lurks beneath all of the mess.
I comment:
That prickly issue of "unity" or being "unified" rises up again. I don't believe it is necessary for all congregations to do everything the same for the sake of "unity." First, it ain't gonna happen. Then the boundaries of "unity" are notoriously fuzzy.

Pastor Kruse writes (re seminary profs): 
'As the seminary goes, so goes the church." THat is of course a self fulfilling prophecy. If you control what future pastors think and teach and to what they will be sympathetic, yes, you do control the future of the church.
I comment:
If so, do you wish to change this? And how would you do that?

Pastor Kruse:
And even after HS1 was denounced and thrown back at the drafters the seminaries did not change their minds neither did they listen to the voice of the faithful  while, ironically, at the same time talking glowingly of the "priesthood of all believers" and the wisdom of the pew, and how pastors needed to listen to their people.
Me:
We have been down this road before. Just because they did not do everything "the people" supposedly said does not mean they did not "listen" to the people. It meant they did not agree. The first draft was revised, but not in the way that everyone wanted.
Time was when "the people" would support all manner of things we would find abhorrent today. And, as noted often, "the people," through Synod assemblies and elsewhere still had their say.

Pastor Kruse:
I think that there is where the trust issue comes in. In the denomination ought the seminaries of that denomination be innovation engines or ought they be fairly laid back and cautious about change? Further, within a denomination there ought to be a fair amount of uniformity,.....
Me:
I doubt that one will ever be able to get seminaries to be "fairly laid back" and never be engines of change. How would you bring this about? And again, what constitutes a "fair amount of uniformity"?

Pastor Kruse:
Those who worked diligently to change ELCA policy seem to think that the church, this church, ought to think like they do. So even they believe that the church ought to be of one mind, but, along with many conservatives who stayed, they settled for an attempt to hold the denomination together and make peace.
Me:
Those who opposed those changes seem to think that the church, this church ought to think like they do. And was the desire really to "hold the denomination together"? (I thought people didn't give a tinker's dam for denominations today.) Or was the desire to find ways to accommodate various views, even on big-ticket issues?

Pastor Kruse:
If one was to be a congregational leader in ELCA would one wonder what comes next and what the pastor was taught and what views pastor finally arrived on, or whose voices he is listening and whether he will be one who can be swayed? Would call interviews be a place of trust in the denomination in that culture?
Me:
We shall see. Pastor Kruse implies that congregations should be automatically suspicious of "what kind of training" their next pastor received. That is an unfortunate predominance of suspicion that I find unhealthy. Furthermore, every question in every congregation does not revolve around sexuality. Can you possibly fathom the idea that it is possible in a congregation to have people who approve of same-sex unions, people who disapprove, and still have congregational peace and unity and mission? It is possible.
Everyone here writes as if a single aspect of the sexuality debate is all that matters.
It isn't.

 
Title: Re: The ELCA Requires Nothing
Post by: George Erdner on January 14, 2013, 09:42:06 AM
On the other hand, other teachers were into "prophetic ministry" and "transformation." Liberation of the minority was usually strong and under the table one got urged to "move the church" along the HSGT trail - sometimes not so much under the table. President Meuser's favorite line was:
'As the seminary goes, so goes the church." THat is of course a self fulfilling prophecy. If you control what future pastors think and teach and to what they will be sympathetic, yes, you do control the future of the church. I remember that HS1 was overwhelmingly rejected by the people; to the tune of 80% against. Yet, at that time already 35% of the clergy approved. If you read HS1 today you would think that it had been adopted since it saw HSGT as a waypoint one the road to full unified acceptance within the ELCA. And even after HS1 was denounced and thrown back at the drafters the seminaries did not change their minds neither did they listen to the voice of the faithful  while, ironically, at the same time talking glowingly of the "priesthood of all believers" and the wisdom of the pew, and how pastors needed to listen to their people.



You can add another factor into that mix. Given the control the ELCA has, through the bishops, over whose names are submitted for calls and whose names are not, those pastors who are not on board with the revisionist agenda can be easily marginalized and effectively cast aside. I doubt if that's what the ELCA's governing documents say is how things should be managed, but based on what has been posted in this forum, it truly does happen out there.


Which raises a question. Is something that isn't formally written down, and is actually contrary to what is written down, a "requirement" if there apparently are consequences for not meeting that unspoken requirement, such as being on-board with the entire revisionist agenda.

Title: Re: The ELCA Requires Nothing
Post by: Charles_Austin on January 14, 2013, 09:53:02 AM
Mr. Erdner writes:
Given the control the ELCA has, through the bishops, over whose names are submitted for calls and whose names are not, those pastors who are not on board with the revisionist agenda can be easily marginalized and effectively cast aside.

I muse (sarcasm alert! Whimsey ahead! Don't read it if you are thin of skin!:
Doggone it! He figured it out. All 65 bishops are quietly refusing calls to anyone not on board with the "revisionist" agenda. (We have so many extra pastors, you know.) Meanwhile, revisionistas are being foisted on congregations and promoted to levels of authority.
Could that happen?
Really? Gee whiz that would be terrible!
It would be as if a "traditionalist" faction gained control of a denomination, drove out pastors and congregations that were too "moderate," disciplined (or threatened discipline) to all those not on board with a staunchly conservative agenda, took great pains to insure that seminary profs weren't closet moderates; and put only the strictest of conservative loyalists in synod - oops! I mean - denominational positions.
No, that could never happen.  ;D ;D
Title: Re: The ELCA Requires Nothing
Post by: Norman Teigen on January 14, 2013, 10:04:10 AM
I see another conspiracy here.  Everyone watch out.
Title: Re: The ELCA Requires Nothing
Post by: Dadoo on January 14, 2013, 10:21:21 AM
Pastor Kruse writes:
Yes, a trust issue lurks beneath all of the mess.
I comment:
That prickly issue of "unity" or being "unified" rises up again. I don't believe it is necessary for all congregations to do everything the same for the sake of "unity." First, it ain't gonna happen. Then the boundaries of "unity" are notoriously fuzzy.


I was actually talking about trust and the post in its entirety was about trust between congregation vs structure. Unity is the result of trust. THere will be no unity in its absence.

Quote

Pastor Kruse writes (re seminary profs): 
'As the seminary goes, so goes the church." THat is of course a self fulfilling prophecy. If you control what future pastors think and teach and to what they will be sympathetic, yes, you do control the future of the church.
I comment:
If so, do you wish to change this? And how would you do that?


Olson, a bishop's assistant for Rocky Mountain and publisher of Glimpse of God Newsletter as well as a few books thought back in the 90's that the solution was to maintain fewer seminaries and to make one of the remaining ones a school of theology so the denomination could train a fair amount of its own PhD. I am not sure that is still a solution. I can think of many worse solutions though . . . .

Quote

Pastor Kruse:
And even after HS1 was denounced and thrown back at the drafters the seminaries did not change their minds neither did they listen to the voice of the faithful  while, ironically, at the same time talking glowingly of the "priesthood of all believers" and the wisdom of the pew, and how pastors needed to listen to their people.
Me:
We have been down this road before. Just because they did not do everything "the people" supposedly said does not mean they did not "listen" to the people. It meant they did not agree. The first draft was revised, but not in the way that everyone wanted.
Time was when "the people" would support all manner of things we would find abhorrent today. And, as noted often, "the people," through Synod assemblies and elsewhere still had their say.

There was a HS2 that was also rejected because, even though it attempted to do so, could not reproduce the position that the people could recognize as their own, a deathblow in intellectual discourse. I also note that the interview that the writer of HS1 gave to Minnesota Sunday Morning - PBS Minneapolis, on Reformation Sunday 1993 could have been replayed in 2008 and no one would have noticed that it was 15 years old. That is being dug in. That is not listening. 

Quote

Pastor Kruse:
I think that there is where the trust issue comes in. In the denomination ought the seminaries of that denomination be innovation engines or ought they be fairly laid back and cautious about change? Further, within a denomination there ought to be a fair amount of uniformity,.....
Me:
I doubt that one will ever be able to get seminaries to be "fairly laid back" and never be engines of change. How would you bring this about? And again, what constitutes a "fair amount of uniformity"?


We shall see. Minimum uniformity is not serving UCC terribly well and at the same time uniformity only at home in the presence of "vibrant, transforming, passionate ministries" is serving the independents fairly well though it is reported that the financial scheme behind the independent church is faulty.

Quote


Pastor Kruse:
Those who worked diligently to change ELCA policy seem to think that the church, this church, ought to think like they do. So even they believe that the church ought to be of one mind, but, along with many conservatives who stayed, they settled for an attempt to hold the denomination together and make peace.
Me:
Those who opposed those changes seem to think that the church, this church ought to think like they do. And was the desire really to "hold the denomination together"? (I thought people didn't give a tinker's dam for denominations today.) Or was the desire to find ways to accommodate various views, even on big-ticket issues?


Both sides share a devotion to the denomination and both sides believe they are right. No doubt about it. THose who were lesser bound left and formed their own denomination. Those who do not care about denomination left us years ago, more recently they made a non denomination denomination called LCMC.

If no one cared about the denomination then we would have simply parted ways and we could have done so admirably I am sure. No, Both sides wanted ELCA to be a certain place. It is kind of weird if you think about it. There are Catholics and LCMS walkouts in ELCA pews who still pine for the pope to teach or act different or the LCMS to change this way or that. As Lutheran we have a certain affinity to denomination in general and the denomination that raised us.

I am confused by the way. Was this a big ticket issue or was it just outer circle but not defining an issue? You suggested in the past that sexuality was not a defining issue. WHat gives?

And "holding the denomination together" is the issue in Pr. Christian's article. just noting.

One might in that respect wonder: Why, if your denomination does not think the way you accept, do you not start your own? Why take the denomination for a ride? One side had a reason to take ELCA for a ride. They can state that reason though people did leave because they had found UCC very sympathetic to them and good for them and UCC. Some found reasons to start their own in response to unacceptable teaching. Good for them? I guess that is something to argue about. Maybe here: http://www.alpb.org/forum/index.php?topic=4742.msg285076#new

Quote

Pastor Kruse:
If one was to be a congregational leader in ELCA would one wonder what comes next and what the pastor was taught and what views pastor finally arrived on, or whose voices he is listening and whether he will be one who can be swayed? Would call interviews be a place of trust in the denomination in that culture?
Me:
We shall see. Pastor Kruse implies that congregations should be automatically suspicious of "what kind of training" their next pastor received. That is an unfortunate predominance of suspicion that I find unhealthy. Furthermore, every question in every congregation does not revolve around sexuality. Can you possibly fathom the idea that it is possible in a congregation to have people who approve of same-sex unions, people who disapprove, and still have congregational peace and unity and mission? It is possible.
Everyone here writes as if a single aspect of the sexuality debate is all that matters.
It isn't.


Pr. Austin here implies that what the personal relationships and ties that exist in a congregation are transferable to the whole denomination. I respond: some things do not scale up. But pastor Austin is correct: A lot of congregations have much better things to do then to tear themselves asunder of human sexuality issues. I would bet that those who have peace in this respect have arrived at that peace organically and not programatically. They did it because, and this ties again into my first reply, because they trusted the other whom they could and did see every week if not more. Yet, that peace was none the less disturbed and challenged by HSGT. At least that is my personal experience.

BTW, Charles, I dislike the habit of responding to me in  sentence structure that suggests you are talking about me and not to me. I reproduced that method in this last section. I find it annoying. I hope you do too and we can discontinue it.
Title: Re: The ELCA Requires Nothing
Post by: Charles_Austin on January 14, 2013, 10:29:57 AM
It is an online dilemma, Pastor Kruse. Do we speak first person or third person? I tend to think that the third person makes it less likely that remarks will be construed as so "personal" as to cross some line (which no one seems to know where it is).
That third person form seems to me to be a bit more formal, but that's just the view of this humble correspondent.

Title: Re: The ELCA Requires Nothing
Post by: DCharlton on January 14, 2013, 10:48:11 AM
I have found that addressing Charles in the third person makes it less likely that he'll get his knickers in a twist and start hurling insults.  On the second half of this thread I tried not responding to him directly and it worked well. 

Pretend that Charles is an anonymous poster and that you don't know his name. 
Title: Re: The ELCA Requires Nothing
Post by: Brian Stoffregen on January 14, 2013, 11:56:39 AM
You can add another factor into that mix. Given the control the ELCA has, through the bishops, over whose names are submitted for calls and whose names are not, those pastors who are not on board with the revisionist agenda can be easily marginalized and effectively cast aside. I doubt if that's what the ELCA's governing documents say is how things should be managed, but based on what has been posted in this forum, it truly does happen out there.


Of course bishops give names to congregations who are bad matches, so that the congregations will keep asking for more and more names; and when they call someone who is a poor match, the bishop will have to spend time dealing with conflicts in the congregations. I'm sure that's what our bishops do -- give themselves more problems to deal with in congregations. (Lest anyone be mistaken - I am speaking ironically.) Numerous bishops that I know personally work hard at trying to give congregations good matches because it makes the bishops' lives much easier in the long run.
Title: Re: The ELCA Requires Nothing
Post by: DCharlton on January 14, 2013, 12:14:17 PM
It would be as if a "traditionalist" faction gained control of a denomination, drove out pastors and congregations that were too "moderate," disciplined (or threatened discipline) to all those not on board with a staunchly conservative agenda, took great pains to insure that seminary profs weren't closet moderates; and put only the strictest of conservative loyalists in synod - oops! I mean - denominational positions.

Well it certainly wouldn't be rehashed on ALPB Forum nearly 40 years later, would it? ;D :P

Partisan politics and seminary faculties seeking to remake the synod in their own image in the LCMS?  Bad.  Bad.  Bad.

Partisan politics and seminary faculties seeking to remake "this church" over in their own image in the ELCA?  Quit whinging.  That's the way we do things.
Title: Re: The ELCA Requires Nothing
Post by: Charles_Austin on January 14, 2013, 03:31:06 PM
Let me ask you where I ever said the conservative takeover of the LCMS was "bad," except that it took that church body a direction I find troubling. It is generally agreed by all but the most wooden-headed apologists that many of the tactics of the Preus faction smelled rather like Chicago politics of the 1915-1939 era. And there were unique aspects - the Otten enterprise, for example - that played critical roles.
   I do not dispute that the moderate-to-liberal factions of the ELCA have taken it certain directions; albeit without the bare knuckles and nightsticks of an earlier era.
   But... The LCMS has always been essentially "conservative," so no one should be surprised which wing triumphs, save for those who thought the more moderate view of the Harms era would prevail.
   And...The ELCA and its predecessor bodies have always been essentially "moderate" to "liberal," so no one should be surprised which wing rises, save for those in certain pietistic/conservative circles who for the most part, weren't really paying attention.
   Now ducking and running, covering my ears against the impending howls.
Title: Re: The ELCA Requires Nothing
Post by: DCharlton on January 14, 2013, 04:11:52 PM
One wonders why a certain poster invoked LCMS politics on an ELCA thread, only to pretend he hadn't done so?  Oh, yes.  To divert us from the observation Pr Kruse had made.
Title: Re: The ELCA Requires Nothing
Post by: Dan Fienen on January 14, 2013, 05:39:41 PM
Let me ask you where I ever said the conservative takeover of the LCMS was "bad," except that it took that church body a direction I find troubling. It is generally agreed by all but the most wooden-headed apologists that many of the tactics of the Preus faction smelled rather like Chicago politics of the 1915-1939 era. And there were unique aspects - the Otten enterprise, for example - that played critical roles.
   I do not dispute that the moderate-to-liberal factions of the ELCA have taken it certain directions; albeit without the bare knuckles and nightsticks of an earlier era.
   But... The LCMS has always been essentially "conservative," so no one should be surprised which wing triumphs, save for those who thought the more moderate view of the Harms era would prevail.
   And...The ELCA and its predecessor bodies have always been essentially "moderate" to "liberal," so no one should be surprised which wing rises, save for those in certain pietistic/conservative circles who for the most part, weren't really paying attention.
   Now ducking and running, covering my ears against the impending howls.

Who is surprised that church politics can be dirty?  Or is it only the conservatives that play dirty politics?  For another side of the Seminex era, I would suggest Exodus from Concordia: A Report on the 1974 Walkout from St. Louis Seminary Board of Control.  To pretend that one side played dirty politics while the other did not is naïve at best.
 
Dan
Title: Re: The ELCA Requires Nothing
Post by: Johan Bergfest on January 14, 2013, 07:43:32 PM
Who is surprised that church politics can be dirty? 

I am!! 

I was brought up with a healthy understanding of the Lutheran confessions and with a healthy respect for the clergy.  Most laypersons who grew up in the church learned similar lessons.  It is shocking and hurtful to average parishioners whenever it is obvious that pastors are behaving in a manner that contradicts the confessions.  Out of the same mouths proceed blessings and cursings.  Pastor, that ought not to be so!

Or is it only the conservatives that play dirty politics?

No.  But, I learned in kindergarten - and, I suspect that you did, too - that two wrongs do not make a right.  And, when it comes to matters theological, if dirty politics are what is required to advance a theological agenda, something is wrong with the theology.
Title: Re: The ELCA Requires Nothing
Post by: Charles_Austin on January 14, 2013, 08:11:37 PM
Pastor Fienen writes:
 To pretend that one side played dirty politics while the other did not is naïve at best.
 
I comment:
No one is pretending that, Pastor Fienen; but the weight of the historical record shows that most of the muscle and mauling was done by a particular "side," the side that had the power, the votes, and the money.
Title: Re: The ELCA Requires Nothing
Post by: Dan Fienen on January 14, 2013, 08:30:03 PM
Fourty years from now when CWA '09 is discussed I wonder how that and subsequent events will be remembered,  who had the muscle,  power, votes and money, who did the mauling?

Dan
Title: Re: The ELCA Requires Nothing
Post by: DCharlton on January 14, 2013, 08:49:31 PM
No one is pretending that, Pastor Fienen; but the weight of the historical record shows that most of the muscle and mauling was done by a particular "side," the side that had the power, the votes, and the money.

Now, I'm not sure, but is Charles saying that the "revisionists" in the ELCA "had the power, the votes, and the money"?  And that "most of the muscle and mauling" was done by the winning side?  A remarkable admission!
Title: Re: The ELCA Requires Nothing
Post by: Johan Bergfest on January 14, 2013, 08:55:54 PM
Fourty years from now when CWA '09 I wonder how that and subsequent events will be remembered,  who had the muscle,  power, votes and money, who did the mauling?

Pr. Fienen - how were delegates selected for the 1973 LCMS convention?  How did that process compare with that used to select voting members for the 2009 CWA?  I would also be curious to read your perspective regarding the politics involved in the LCMS approach to nominating/electing persons to leadership compared with the ecclesiastical ballot that ELCA uses.

My observation is that the ELCA's approach is more egalitarian than LCMS' approach.  I'm not suggesting that one is more or less prone to political manipulation.  But, given the differences in the polity, it seems like the political manipulations likewise must be different.
Title: Re: The ELCA Requires Nothing
Post by: DCharlton on January 14, 2013, 09:56:56 PM
Fourty years from now when CWA '09 I wonder how that and subsequent events will be remembered,  who had the muscle,  power, votes and money, who did the mauling?

Pr. Fienen - how were delegates selected for the 1973 LCMS convention?  How did that process compare with that used to select voting members for the 2009 CWA?  I would also be curious to read your perspective regarding the politics involved in the LCMS approach to nominating/electing persons to leadership compared with the ecclesiastical ballot that ELCA uses.

My observation is that the ELCA's approach is more egalitarian than LCMS' approach.  I'm not suggesting that one is more or less prone to political manipulation.  But, given the differences in the polity, it seems like the political manipulations likewise must be different.

Perhaps I am confused.  I am not aware of "the ecclesiastical ballot" being used to elect anyone in the ELCA, including delegates to the CWA.
Title: Re: The ELCA Requires Nothing
Post by: Team Hesse on January 14, 2013, 10:04:31 PM
Fourty years from now when CWA '09 I wonder how that and subsequent events will be remembered,  who had the muscle,  power, votes and money, who did the mauling?

Pr. Fienen - how were delegates selected for the 1973 LCMS convention?  How did that process compare with that used to select voting members for the 2009 CWA?  I would also be curious to read your perspective regarding the politics involved in the LCMS approach to nominating/electing persons to leadership compared with the ecclesiastical ballot that ELCA uses.

My observation is that the ELCA's approach is more egalitarian than LCMS' approach.  I'm not suggesting that one is more or less prone to political manipulation.  But, given the differences in the polity, it seems like the political manipulations likewise must be different.

Perhaps I am confused.  I am not aware of "the ecclesiastical ballot" being used to elect anyone in the ELCA, including delegates to the CWA.


I believe, David, that that term was used to describe the process by which Churchwide officials are elected at Churchwide Assemblies.


Lou
Title: Re: The ELCA Requires Nothing
Post by: Charles_Austin on January 14, 2013, 10:21:01 PM
Pastor Charlton writes:
Now, I'm not sure, but is Charles saying that the "revisionists" in the ELCA "had the power, the votes, and the money"?  And that "most of the muscle and mauling" was done by the winning side?  A remarkable admission!

I comment:
No. It was clear in my postings that I was referring to the LCMS in the schism of the 1970s. There was not even a reference to honoring "bound conscience" following the LCMS convention decisions of those days.
Title: Re: The ELCA Requires Nothing
Post by: Pastor Ken Kimball on January 14, 2013, 10:52:29 PM
Got anything helpful to say, "Lutherman"? If not, why are you here?
Answer your own questions Pr. Austin.
Title: Re: The ELCA Requires Nothing
Post by: DCharlton on January 14, 2013, 11:04:51 PM
Pastor Charlton writes:
Now, I'm not sure, but is Charles saying that the "revisionists" in the ELCA "had the power, the votes, and the money"?  And that "most of the muscle and mauling" was done by the winning side?  A remarkable admission!

I comment:
No. It was clear in my postings that I was referring to the LCMS in the schism of the 1970s. There was not even a reference to honoring "bound conscience" following the LCMS convention decisions of those days.

Once again, politics in LCMS?  Bad.  Politics in ELCA? Good.  Seminary faculty that want to remake church in their image?  LCMS*, bad.  ELCA,  good.  Power, votes and money in LCMS?  Bad.  Power, votes and money in ELCA?  Good.  A chance that some who learned their politics in the LCMS brought it into the ELCA?  No.  Not a chance.     

Now, I suggest an alternative way of looking at this:  The lesson is that when politics trumps theology, you have trouble.  If we are liberal, then we will find liberal politics to be just fine, and conservative politics to be unsavory.  If we are conservative, it may be the opposite.  But the effects of placing politics first is the same, even if it looks different.
Title: Re: The ELCA Requires Nothing
Post by: Brian Stoffregen on January 15, 2013, 12:07:15 AM
Fourty years from now when CWA '09 I wonder how that and subsequent events will be remembered,  who had the muscle,  power, votes and money, who did the mauling?

Pr. Fienen - how were delegates selected for the 1973 LCMS convention?  How did that process compare with that used to select voting members for the 2009 CWA?  I would also be curious to read your perspective regarding the politics involved in the LCMS approach to nominating/electing persons to leadership compared with the ecclesiastical ballot that ELCA uses.

My observation is that the ELCA's approach is more egalitarian than LCMS' approach.  I'm not suggesting that one is more or less prone to political manipulation.  But, given the differences in the polity, it seems like the political manipulations likewise must be different.

Perhaps I am confused.  I am not aware of "the ecclesiastical ballot" being used to elect anyone in the ELCA, including delegates to the CWA.


Voting members to CWA are not elected by ecclesiastical ballot. They are elected by each synod. In the synods where I have served, conferences also had a role in the selection of voting members. In some cases they nominate people to fill the "slots" of that conference, and from the nominees the synod assembly elects the voting members. In another case, they elect the voting members, and the synod assembly ratifies the election.
Title: Re: The ELCA Requires Nothing
Post by: Pastor Ted Crandall on January 15, 2013, 05:39:39 AM
There was not even a reference to honoring "bound conscience" following the LCMS convention decisions of those days.

Of course not, because the LCMS honored Sola Scriptura.  She still has not elevated "the bound conscience" above the Word of God. 
Title: Re: The ELCA Requires Nothing
Post by: Johan Bergfest on January 15, 2013, 07:57:53 AM
Now, I suggest an alternative way of looking at this:  The lesson is that when politics trumps theology, you have trouble.  If we are liberal, then we will find liberal politics to be just fine, and conservative politics to be unsavory.  If we are conservative, it may be the opposite.  But the effects of placing politics first is the same, even if it looks different.

I agree.  So, why don't we simply agree that there is no legitimate place for politics within the Body of Christ and each of us make a personal commitment to stop playing politics, even the politics played by persons with whom we agree? 

Isn't it strange to think that "kumbyah" is thought of as a 4-letter word among folks who all profess faith in Jesus Christ, the same Christ who prayed that we would be one just as Christ and the Father are one?


Voting members to CWA are not elected by ecclesiastical ballot. They are elected by each synod. In the synods where I have served, conferences also had a role in the selection of voting members. In some cases they nominate people to fill the "slots" of that conference, and from the nominees the synod assembly elects the voting members. In another case, they elect the voting members, and the synod assembly ratifies the election.

Thanks for that much of the explanation.

What I am trying to understand is how politics plays out in the selection of nominees for to fill the ballots for CWA voting members and how politics influences the voting at synod assemblies.  I'm also curious how that process/politics compares with that used to select delegates to the Synod convention.

I understand that the ecclesiastical ballot applies to the election of leadership positions and not to the election of voting members.  I thought that I had phrased the question with that understanding, but, apparently, I left to much room for misunderstanding.  So I will try again.

President Harrison is up for re-election during the next LCMS convention and a person does not have to spend much on the internet to understand that groups within LCMS are working hard to rally support for him and to rally support for a potential alternative candidate or two.  The process looks like it was modeled after the process used by D's and R's to nominate their candidates for President of the United States.  Bishop Hanson is completing a term and will either stand for re-election or step down.  In either case, he will be re-elected or his successor will be selected by ecclesiastical ballot.  I am curious to know how politics will play out to influence the outcome.
Title: Re: The ELCA Requires Nothing
Post by: Charles_Austin on January 15, 2013, 08:32:11 AM
Pastor Charlton writes:
Now, I suggest an alternative way of looking at this:  The lesson is that when politics trumps theology, you have trouble.

I comment:
But "politics," in every place and in one sense of the word, is not evil, corrupt and of the dark side. Politics is people coming together to make decisions.
   "Theology" is not some pure, undefiled, crystal-clear, shining "thing" which by its very existence enlightens and inspires.
   "Politics" was at work when the apostles chose a successor for Judas; they decided how they were going to do that and did it. "Politics" was at work at the Council in Jerusalem reported in Acts.   
   "Politics" was, as we have seen elsewhere, oozing out the pores of those ecumenical councils.
   "Politics" can be seen throughout the Lutheran confessional documents of the 16th Century, making sure that the papists, Calvinists and Zwinglians got bopped in the head and booted in the butt.
   "Politics" is people deciding how they are going to make a decision, making that decision, and then implementing it.
   "Theology" cannot stand alone; and it certainly cannot be put to work for the Church unless there is a way to decide what - on a particular point - the "theology" is and how to implement it.
   This construct - politics=bad; theology=good - is unrealistic.
   Those who want a certain person to become president of the LCMS act politically to make that happen. (It's harder to do in the ELCA with our methods of electing bishops.) Those who wanted seminary faculty ousted acted politically to bring that about.
   Those who want the ELCA to do certain things with regard to ordination, act politically to make that happen. Those who wanted the ELCA to be in fellowship with other church bodies acted politically.
    Now in all those cases, partisans on all sides will proclaim that "theology" was the foundation and driving force in what they did. And it was.
   Elsewhere I have lamented the fact that some claiming to speak "theology" (in all its "purity" ::) ) seem cold, distant at at times lacking in human emotion, because they believe they have this "thing" called "theology," sort of a crystal ball they consult for answers to everything. I believe they discount "political" reality and human experience and the result is something icily Spockian (the Vulcan, not the baby doctor). I still believe that and see it happening in this forum; not everywhere, but in some places.
 
Title: Re: The ELCA Requires Nothing
Post by: DCharlton on January 15, 2013, 08:52:01 AM
Trumps.  When theology becomes the handmaid of politics.  When politics replaces proclamation, etc...
Title: Re: The ELCA Requires Nothing
Post by: Dadoo on January 15, 2013, 10:41:17 AM
Trumps.  When theology becomes the handmaid of politics.  When politics replaces proclamation, etc...

Arn't we driving a false dichotomy(not sure it is the right words even) here? Theology ought to inform and shape church politics. Church politics will certainly inform theology here and there, even influence it for good or bad, and at the outside pole politics will dictate theology. I think the latter point we can all agree is a "bad,"  against which one ought to stand up. I think theology influencing and informing church politics is a "good" in everyone's book unless you are beyond  "no - third - use - of - the - law" into "anti - third- use - of - the law." 
The middle, influence of church politics on theology, is really the problem. HSGT may just be an instance where the politics of the church which was trying to maintain the institution made a decision that now has to be followed up by a theology to justify it. The trick seems to be being able to tell when the boundary to bad method is crossed.

Title: Re: The ELCA Requires Nothing
Post by: Coach-Rev on January 15, 2013, 10:45:35 AM
There was not even a reference to honoring "bound conscience" following the LCMS convention decisions of those days.

Of course not, because the LCMS honored Sola Scriptura.  She still has not elevated "the bound conscience" above the Word of God.

But, Rev. Crandall, the whole "bound conscience" thing was the bone thrown to those who still held Scripture as the highest authority (cue Charles' protestations here) over and against the revisionist side who claimed that God was doing a "new thing." 

For many, including myself, they saw it as the sham that it was and pulled up stakes and left town after years of fighting and debating on the issues.
Title: Re: The ELCA Requires Nothing
Post by: DCharlton on January 15, 2013, 10:52:57 AM
Trumps.  When theology becomes the handmaid of politics.  When politics replaces proclamation, etc...

Arn't we driving a false dichotomy(not sure it is the right words even) here? Theology ought to inform and shape church politics. Church politics will certainly inform theology here and there, even influence it for good or bad, and at the outside pole politics will dictate theology. I think the latter point we can all agree is a "bad,"  against which one ought to stand up. I think theology influencing and informing church politics is a "good" in everyone's book unless you are beyond  "no - third - use - of - the - law" into "anti - third- use - of - the law." 
The middle, influence of church politics on theology, is really the problem. HSGT may just be an instance where the politics of the church which was trying to maintain the institution made a decision that now has to be followed up by a theology to justify it. The trick seems to be being able to tell when the boundary to bad method is crossed.

I agree.  It ought not be a dichotomy, but a distinction.  The church exists in both the Left Hand and the Right Hand Realms.  Churches, like families, businesses, civic groups and the state need rules, procedures, organization, etc...  The distinction I'd like to focus on is that between what you might call the alien work* of the Church, and the Church's proper work.  The proper work of the Church is  proclamation of the Word of God and administration of the Sacraments.   Politics is the handmaid, not the queen.  The Church needs enough politics to make the proper work of the Church possible. 

In my own denomination, the ELCA, that distinction is too often obscured.  People speak of what happens at assemblies and council meetings as if that was the work of the church, as if changing policy, passing resolutions, and adopting social statements advanced the Kingdom of God. 

One of my old colleges professors, and a fellow member of STS, Dr. Larry Yoder, has long argued that the focus on politics and power was the fatal flaw in the organization of the ELCA.  Looking back, I think he might be right. 

*Not to be confused with God's Alien Work and Proper Work. 
Title: Re: The ELCA Requires Nothing
Post by: Pastor Ted Crandall on January 15, 2013, 11:01:49 AM
There was not even a reference to honoring "bound conscience" following the LCMS convention decisions of those days.

Of course not, because the LCMS honored Sola Scriptura.  She still has not elevated "the bound conscience" above the Word of God.

But, Rev. Crandall, the whole "bound conscience" thing was the bone thrown to those who still held Scripture as the highest authority (cue Charles' protestations here) over and against the revisionist side who claimed that God was doing a "new thing." 

For many, including myself, they saw it as the sham that it was and pulled up stakes and left town after years of fighting and debating on the issues.


Wasn't a similar offer made to the congregations and pastors who objected to the "new thing" when women were first ordained? 
Title: Re: The ELCA Requires Nothing
Post by: DCharlton on January 15, 2013, 11:19:16 AM
I think theology influencing and informing church politics is a "good" in everyone's book unless you are beyond  "no - third - use - of - the - law" into "anti - third- use - of - the law." 

More and more, I'm convinced that "anti-third-us-of-the-law" or what we might call tertiusususophobia is a big part of our problem.  The church, as a temporal organization that falls within the Left Hand Realm, needs rules, regulations, standards, policies, constitutions and "visions and expectations".  The most obvious thing would be to allow the Word of God to provide the basis and primary content of those rules. 

However, when we have tertiusususophobia we dare not do that.  So we must craft new rules and regulations based on another source.  Here we turn to the "Second Use of the Gospel" for our new and better policies.  We seek to craft new policies and rules that embody the Gospel.  So we enact rules that we believe will promote diversity, inclusivity, justice, etc...  You might call this The Politics of the Second Use of the Gospel.

Now, I'm sure that ReadsElertToo, Lou Hesse, and others will retch we they hear of "rules that embody the Gospel."  I share their distaste.   
Title: Re: The ELCA Requires Nothing
Post by: Dadoo on January 15, 2013, 11:30:54 AM
I think theology influencing and informing church politics is a "good" in everyone's book unless you are beyond  "no - third - use - of - the - law" into "anti - third- use - of - the law." 

More and more, I'm convinced that "anti-third-us-of-the-law" or what we might call tertiusususophobia is a big part of our problem.  The church, as a temporal organization that falls within the Left Hand Realm, needs rules, regulations, standards, policies, constitutions and "visions and expectations".  The most obvious thing would be to allow the Word of God to provide the basis and primary content of those rules. 

However, when we have tertiusususophobia we dare not do that.  So we must craft new rules and regulations based on another source.  Here we turn to the "Second Use of the Gospel" for our new and better policies.  We seek to craft new policies and rules that embody the Gospel.  So we enact rules that we believe will promote diversity, inclusivity, justice, etc...  You might call this The Politics of the Second Use of the Gospel.

Now, I'm sure that ReadsElertToo, Lou Hesse, and others will retch we they hear of "rules that embody the Gospel."  I share their distaste.   

OK tertiusususophobia , that was a spew-coffee-out-of-nose-at-the-screen moment.  :) Good one.

on a much more serious side: trying to derive law out of Gospel destroys the Gospel.
Title: Re: The ELCA Requires Nothing
Post by: DCharlton on January 15, 2013, 11:40:49 AM
Yes.  So what I'm concerned about is not only the way politics seeks to become the queen rather than the handmaiden, but they way church politics tends to turn the Gospel into Law.
Title: Re: The ELCA Requires Nothing
Post by: Coach-Rev on January 15, 2013, 11:45:05 AM
There was not even a reference to honoring "bound conscience" following the LCMS convention decisions of those days.

Of course not, because the LCMS honored Sola Scriptura.  She still has not elevated "the bound conscience" above the Word of God.

But, Rev. Crandall, the whole "bound conscience" thing was the bone thrown to those who still held Scripture as the highest authority (cue Charles' protestations here) over and against the revisionist side who claimed that God was doing a "new thing." 

For many, including myself, they saw it as the sham that it was and pulled up stakes and left town after years of fighting and debating on the issues.


Wasn't a similar offer made to the congregations and pastors who objected to the "new thing" when women were first ordained?

That, I cannot comment on.  It is truly before my time, as I was about 5 years old when all of that went down. 
Title: Re: The ELCA Requires Nothing
Post by: Pastor Ted Crandall on January 15, 2013, 03:54:54 PM
There was not even a reference to honoring "bound conscience" following the LCMS convention decisions of those days.

Of course not, because the LCMS honored Sola Scriptura.  She still has not elevated "the bound conscience" above the Word of God.

But, Rev. Crandall, the whole "bound conscience" thing was the bone thrown to those who still held Scripture as the highest authority (cue Charles' protestations here) over and against the revisionist side who claimed that God was doing a "new thing." 

For many, including myself, they saw it as the sham that it was and pulled up stakes and left town after years of fighting and debating on the issues.


Wasn't a similar offer made to the congregations and pastors who objected to the "new thing" when women were first ordained?

That, I cannot comment on.  It is truly before my time, as I was about 5 years old when all of that went down.

Charles?  Were you there? 
Title: Re: The ELCA Requires Nothing
Post by: Johan Bergfest on January 15, 2013, 05:25:01 PM

OK tertiusususophobia , that was a spew-coffee-out-of-nose-at-the-screen moment.  :) Good one.

on a much more serious side: trying to derive law out of Gospel destroys the Gospel.

I'm still trying to get a handle on this third use thing.  Based on a comment that I made in another thread, a few folks have suggested that I have it all wrong.  In that thread, I said that I though third use was a conversation between me and the Holy Spirit, not a conversation that I have with a fellow Christian.

I agree that trying to derive law out of Gospel destroys the Gospel (I also think it is a mis-use of the Law).  Isn't telling one another "you should" or "you shouldn't" because you have been redeemed a matter of deriving law out of the Gospel if such conversations are rationalized on the basis of 3rd use?  Please understand that I am not suggesting that such conversations should not occur.  But, when they do, it is a matter of 2nd use.
Title: Re: The ELCA Requires Nothing
Post by: Dadoo on January 15, 2013, 06:22:33 PM

OK tertiusususophobia , that was a spew-coffee-out-of-nose-at-the-screen moment.  :) Good one.

on a much more serious side: trying to derive law out of Gospel destroys the Gospel.

I'm still trying to get a handle on this third use thing.  Based on a comment that I made in another thread, a few folks have suggested that I have it all wrong.  In that thread, I said that I though third use was a conversation between me and the Holy Spirit, not a conversation that I have with a fellow Christian.

I agree that trying to derive law out of Gospel destroys the Gospel (I also think it is a mis-use of the Law).  Isn't telling one another "you should" or "you shouldn't" because you have been redeemed a matter of deriving law out of the Gospel if such conversations are rationalized on the basis of 3rd use?  Please understand that I am not suggesting that such conversations should not occur.  But, when they do, it is a matter of 2nd use.

John,,
I would hope you have read the Book of Concord or even have one at hand. If not, here

http://www.bookofconcord.org/fc-ep.php#VI.%20The%20Third%20Use%20of%20the%20Law.

  and here

http://www.bookofconcord.org/sd-thirduse.php


are some bits of interest on the matter.

I am not sure what you mean by having a conversation with the Holy Spirit. That could go wrong ever so quickly if not understood in a word a sacrament way that is unique to Lutherans.

Maybe we can start by saying that, if you do trust God and his word, why would it not occur to you to obey it? So your trust is defective? The law will do its work and accuse you to bring you to repentance. But again, if you already know that something grieves the Father's heart or is an abomination to Him, why would you do it? And does not thinking that way somehow guide you? If so, then maybe you are practicing the third use of the law.

Or another way: You seem to like "Getting to Yes." you are conversing here guided by Getting . . . 's principles, suggestions and warnings. And you cannot do that with the Law of God that the Holy Spirit has seen fit to transmit to you in bible and sermon, brotherly admonition and sisterly counsel?
Title: Re: The ELCA Requires Nothing
Post by: pearson on January 15, 2013, 06:40:53 PM

I'm still trying to get a handle on this third use thing.


Me, too.


I agree that trying to derive law out of Gospel destroys the Gospel (I also think it is a mis-use of the Law).  Isn't telling one another "you should" or "you shouldn't" because you have been redeemed a matter of deriving law out of the Gospel if such conversations are rationalized on the basis of 3rd use?  Please understand that I am not suggesting that such conversations should not occur.  But, when they do, it is a matter of 2nd use.


This may be my problem alone, but I really don't understand any of this; and that's probably because it seems to me that we Lutherans aren't consistent in the way we treat "Law."  Just look at the so-called three "uses" of the Law -- they don't each refer to the same "Law," do they?  It seems obvious to me that the second "use" of the Law refers to the whole of God's Law, since it is the attempt to live up to God's whole Law that so emphatically fails to justify us before God.  If God's Law (in the second "use") serves as a mirror to show us our sin and to drive us to Christ, it is the very integrity of God's singular Law that "mirrors" the lack of integrity in our broken attempts to fulfill it.

But the first "use" of the Law cannot refer to God's Law as the second "use" does, can it?  The first "use" is for curbing lawlessness in the civil realm, to constrain those who would do evil to harm the neighbor.  But we use a vast ensemble of common law and statute law to maintain civil order, and not much of it resembles God's Law as portrayed in the Scriptures.  We don't think that it is an appropriate "use" of God's Law to punish those in civil life who covet, or who neglect to remember the Sabbath and keep it holy (at least, not lately; and not in Texas).  So the first "use" of Law must be indicating a different type of Law than the second "use" indicates.  Right?

And the third "use" has got to be something else entirely, doesn't it?  The third "use" of the Law is allegedly to guide sanctified believers into God-pleasing behaviors.  But these sanctified believers are also sinners, right (simul iustus et peccator)?  How do we know they are sinners?  The second "use" tells us so.  Therefore, the second "use" tells us we cannot live up to the standards of God's Law, while the third "use" tells us we should guided by God's Law in how we live.  How can the same Law -- God's Law -- tell us two such contrary things?  It looks like the second and third "uses" cannot be referring to the same Law, when one "use" says "you'll never succeed in doing it," and the other says, "do it, anyway."

I've always been baffled how anyone can see these as three "uses" of the same Law, when it seems that we are speaking of three different types of Law here.  And so I think Lutherans would do well to reflect more seriously on just what we mean when we talk about "Law."

Yes, yes, I know: these are the sorts of misguided questions that could only be raised by someone who is addicted to relying on reason and logic to figure things out, instead of just falling back on faith to illumine the paradoxes.  But I gotta tell ya, doing the latter sure makes theology and "getting a handle on this third use thing" a lot more difficult.

Tom Pearson           
Title: Re: The ELCA Requ