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ALPB => Your Turn => Topic started by: ptmccain on July 28, 2007, 07:50:51 AM

Title: Does It Really Matter?
Post by: ptmccain on July 28, 2007, 07:50:51 AM
How often have we all heard it said: "It doesn't matter where I worship, or how I worship. All paths lead to the same god." Martin Luther faced this same attitude and here was how he responded to it:

God through Moses had issued a most rigorous prohibition against the impudence of inventing new forms of worship, as when He says: “You shall not offer in every place but at the place which the Lord your God will choose out of all your tribes to put His name and make His habitation there; thither you shall go, and thither you shall bring your burnt offerings and your sacrifices” (cf. Deut. 12:4–6). At that time the place appointed for worship was the temple at Jerusalem. The ark of the covenant was there, and G had promised that He would speak from the mercy seat to draw the people away from the diversity of idols to a united worship of God, to which He wanted to gather all together, if not in bodily presence and external works, at least in heart and prayer, if any were too far away from this place.

But the false prophets used to fight against this viewpoint and say: “God is everywhere; therefore He can be adored and worshiped in every place, both in Bethel as well as on any other mountain.” They did not have regard for the commandment of God. For when God fixes a certain manner and designates a certain place for His worship, it must not be said: “Wherever I will worship God, it will be pleasing to Him if only I do it in a godly and devoted manner,” or, “I shall make offerings to Him wherever it pleases me.” Isaiah, for example, censures this madness very severely, saying (Is. 57:5): “You burn with lust … under every green tree.” The Turks and Jews are accustomed to speak in this manner today, claiming that they are able to serve God outside of the unity of faith and the church of Christ. Mohammed claims that anyone is saved in his own religion if he prays, if he gives alms, if he does other good works. It is not necessary for him to be a Christian or that he should be in the unity of Christ and the church. In the papacy also all corners were occupied with chapels, convents, and idolatry of every kind.

Therefore Hosea cries: “This example of Jacob by no means confirms your idolatry. He did, indeed, struggle with the angel, but you should have remembered that the Lord God of hosts led Israel out of Egypt through the prophet. But where is this God to be [Vol. 6, Page 128] found? Where has He made a memorial for His name? Where is this memorial? Where the ark of the covenant is” (cf. Ex. 20:24).

This is true, indeed, that God is not bound, neither to Jerusalem nor to any other place, and that He is able to save also elsewhere. No one will deny this. But try it and see what you will get! If you invent forms of worship according to your own judgment, you will be in danger of God’s wrath. By His almighty power God could save the human race without Christ, without Baptism, and without the Word of the Gospel. He could have illuminated men’s hearts inwardly through the Holy Spirit and forgiven their sins without the ministry of the Word and of ministers. But it was not His will to do so. And God very strictly prohibited all erring forms of devotion and worship.

When hypocrites say: “Whatever is done with good intention is pleasing to God,” those self-chosen devotions are to be condemned, and men should be reminded that they should direct their eyes where God has revealed Himself. We must not say: “Paul preached at Rome, therefore Christ is there. James is buried at Compostela in Spain, therefore God should be worshiped there by the invocation of Saint James.” By no means! Yet many miracles are performed there? My reply is that God abominates and condemns all erring thoughts outside the one and only revelation made in the Word and sacraments, to which He wished to gather us and in which He wished to include us. For this reason Christ sent His disciples with this command: “Go therefore and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you” (Matt. 28:19–20), and “He who believes and is baptized will be saved” (Mark 16:16). He wants us to be gathered in connection with the Word and Baptism as by a sure and infallible sign because He wants to save us and help us, just as He promised He would listen at the mercy seat among the people of Israel.

If you want to be absolved from your sins in this manner, go to your pastor, or to your brother and neighbor if your pastor cannot hear you; he has the command to absolve you and comfort you. Do not invent a special absolution for yourself. If you want to receive the Lord’s Supper, go to the assembly of the church and the public congregation and receive it there. Do not devise a special administration and use of the sacraments. For God does not want us to go astray in our own self-chosen works or speculations, and so He gathers us together and encloses us within the limits of the Word so that we are not tossed about by every kind of doctrine (cf. Eph. 4:14).

This happened to us under the papacy when we despised Baptism, the Lord’s Supper, and the remission of sins and made pilgrimages meanwhile to Saint James, Borne, and Jerusalem, as though God were not present in all the churches and congregations which have His Word and sacraments. Finally, there was an infinite variety of sects and orders, each of which had its peculiar, segregated ritual in distinction from the ritual and ordinance of God. Nor could those innumerable forms of fornication, as Holy Scripture calls them, be prevented except by casting off our own works. So God wants all these things to be removed, and He sets forth His Word, which says: “Here you shall adore, worship, and make offerings. In the Word, in the Lord’s Supper, and in Baptism you have the remission of sins. With these you will have to be satisfied if you wish to be saved.”

Martin Luther, vol. 6, Luther's Works, Vol. 6  : Lectures on Genesis: Chapters 31-37, ed. Jaroslav Jan Pelikan, Hilton C. Oswald and Helmut T. Lehmann, Luther's Works, 6:127 (Saint Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1999, c1970).
Title: Re: Does It Really Matter?
Post by: EENGELBRECHT on July 30, 2007, 09:23:57 AM
Give us some application for this, Paul. Where do you see this fitting with:

Relationships to non-Christians
Relationships with Christians

In Christ,
EE
Title: Re: Does It Really Matter?
Post by: ptmccain on July 30, 2007, 10:23:28 AM
Application?  Huh? You think that this old 16th century stuff is relevant for today? Radical thought.

Some immediate thoughts do come to mind.

(A) It does matter where we worship and how we worship.

(B) Top priority is finding the Lord where He has promised to be found: in the Gospel purely preached and Sacraments rightly administered.

(C) Worship with non-Christians is out of the question.

Those are some of my initial thoughts. Yours?
Title: Re: Does It Really Matter?
Post by: EENGELBRECHT on July 30, 2007, 07:25:10 PM
When hypocrites say: “Whatever is done with good intention is pleasing to God,” those self-chosen devotions are to be condemned, and men should be reminded that they should direct their eyes where God has revealed Himself.

These words from Luther were quite striking to me. Sort of "It's the thought that counts," as we say it today when we want to get fuzzy about things.

In Christ,
EE
Title: Re: Does It Really Matter?
Post by: SCPO on July 31, 2007, 03:14:14 PM

(C) Worship with non-Christians is out of the question.

Those are some of my initial thoughts. Yours?

     Pastor McCain...please clarify bullet C.  Are suggesting that we should not allow non-Christians to join us in worship?   Or, is this bullet centered along the lines of Christian's attending a non-Christian worship?

Regards,

Senior
Title: Re: Does It Really Matter?
Post by: ptmccain on July 31, 2007, 03:37:06 PM
Are suggesting that we should not allow non-Christians to join us in worship?

>>>No, of course not, in which case they are invited to worship with us, but we are not joining them in their religious rites and ceremonies.

Or, is this bullet centered along the lines of Christian's attending a non-Christian worship?

>>>>Yes.

Title: Re: Does It Really Matter?
Post by: Charles_Austin on July 31, 2007, 04:13:49 PM
Someone writes:
Pastor McCain...please clarify bullet C.  Are suggesting that we should not allow non-Christians to join us in worship?   Or, is this bullet centered along the lines of Christian's attending a non-Christian worship?

I ponder:
If a Christian attends and worships, isn't his or her worship Christian?
Title: Re: Does It Really Matter?
Post by: Mike Bennett on July 31, 2007, 04:21:59 PM
Someone writes:
Pastor McCain...please clarify bullet C.  Are suggesting that we should not allow non-Christians to join us in worship?   Or, is this bullet centered along the lines of Christian's attending a non-Christian worship?

I ponder:
If a Christian attends and worships, isn't his or her worship Christian?

Hmm.  Trying to think along with you here.  In Christian worship we hear the Word and receive the Body and Blood of Christ.  In what non-Christian worship setting would a Christian expect to receive those things, so that (s)he could be said to have engaged in Christian worship? 

Mike Bennett
Title: Re: Does It Really Matter?
Post by: Charles_Austin on July 31, 2007, 04:29:29 PM
Mike Bennett writes:
In Christian worship we hear the Word and receive the Body and Blood of Christ. 

I comment:
Not always. Sometimes we just sing and pray. Sometimes we hear readings from scripture and readings from other things. Sometimes we just praise God. Sometimes we just stand around a tree, a campfire, a flagpole, a site of historical significance or an accident scene and do whatever people do at such times. And sometimes all the people around the tree, campfire, flagpole, site of historical significance or accident scene are not all Christian. Sometimes - (LC-MS-ers cover your ears!) - they aren't even all Lutheran.
Title: Re: Does It Really Matter?
Post by: ptmccain on July 31, 2007, 04:50:19 PM
I'm sorry that apparently I have not been sufficiently clear. I am saying that Christians are not to attend and participate in the rites and ceremonies of non-Christian worship functions/services/events, etc. I have nothing further to add, other than to refer readers to this great quote from Martin Luther that I shared elsewhere a few days ago:

God through Moses had issued a most rigorous prohibition against the impudence of inventing new forms of worship, as when He says: “You shall not offer in every place but at the place which the Lord your God will choose out of all your tribes to put His name and make His habitation there; thither you shall go, and thither you shall bring your burnt offerings and your sacrifices” (cf. Deut. 12:4–6). At that time the place appointed for worship was the temple at Jerusalem. The ark of the covenant was there, and God had promised that He would speak from the mercy seat to draw the people away from the diversity of idols to a united worship of God, to which He wanted to gather all together, if not in bodily presence and external works, at least in heart and prayer, if any were too far away from this place.

But the false prophets used to fight against this viewpoint and say: “God is everywhere; therefore He can be adored and worshiped in every place, both in Bethel as well as on any other mountain.” They did not have regard for the commandment of God. For when God fixes a certain manner and designates a certain place for His worship, it must not be said: “Wherever I will worship God, it will be pleasing to Him if only I do it in a godly and devoted manner,” or, “I shall make offerings to Him wherever it pleases me.” Isaiah, for example, censures this madness very severely, saying (Is. 57:5): “You burn with lust … under every green tree.” The Turks and Jews are accustomed to speak in this manner today, claiming that they are able to serve God outside of the unity of faith and the church of Christ. Mohammed claims that anyone is saved in his own religion if he prays, if he gives alms, if he does other good works. It is not necessary for him to be a Christian or that he should be in the unity of Christ and the church. In the papacy also all corners were occupied with chapels, convents, and idolatry of every kind.

Therefore Hosea cries: “This example of Jacob by no means confirms your idolatry. He did, indeed, struggle with the angel, but you should have remembered that the Lord God of hosts led Israel out of Egypt through the prophet. But where is this God to be [Vol. 6, Page 128] found? Where has He made a memorial for His name? Where is this memorial? Where the ark of the covenant is” (cf. Ex. 20:24).

This is true, indeed, that God is not bound, neither to Jerusalem nor to any other place, and that He is able to save also elsewhere. No one will deny this. But try it and see what you will get! If you invent forms of worship according to your own judgment, you will be in danger of God’s wrath. By His almighty power God could save the human race without Christ, without Baptism, and without the Word of the Gospel. He could have illuminated men’s hearts inwardly through the Holy Spirit and forgiven their sins without the ministry of the Word and of ministers. But it was not His will to do so. And God very strictly prohibited all erring forms of devotion and worship.

When hypocrites say: “Whatever is done with good intention is pleasing to God,” those self-chosen devotions are to be condemned, and men should be reminded that they should direct their eyes where God has revealed Himself. We must not say: “Paul preached at Rome, therefore Christ is there. James is buried at Compostela in Spain, therefore God should be worshiped there by the invocation of Saint James.” By no means! Yet many miracles are performed there? My reply is that God abominates and condemns all erring thoughts outside the one and only revelation made in the Word and sacraments, to which He wished to gather us and in which He wished to include us. For this reason Christ sent His disciples with this command: “Go therefore and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you” (Matt. 28:19–20), and “He who believes and is baptized will be saved” (Mark 16:16). He wants us to be gathered in connection with the Word and Baptism as by a sure and infallible sign because He wants to save us and help us, just as He promised He would listen at the mercy seat among the people of Israel.

If you want to be absolved from your sins in this manner, go to your pastor, or to your brother and neighbor if your pastor cannot hear you; he has the command to absolve you and comfort you. Do not invent a special absolution for yourself. If you want to receive the Lord’s Supper, go to the assembly of the church and the public congregation and receive it there. Do not devise a special administration and use of the sacraments. For God does not want us to go astray in our own self-chosen works or speculations, and so He gathers us together and encloses us within the limits of the Word so that we are not tossed about by every kind of doctrine (cf. Eph. 4:14).

This happened to us under the papacy when we despised Baptism, the Lord’s Supper, and the remission of sins and made pilgrimages meanwhile to Saint James, Borne, and Jerusalem, as though God were not present in all the churches and congregations which have His Word and sacraments. Finally, there was an infinite variety of sects and orders, each of which had its peculiar, segregated ritual in distinction from the ritual and ordinance of God. Nor could those innumerable forms of fornication, as Holy Scripture calls them, be prevented except by casting off our own works. So God wants all these things to be removed, and He sets forth His Word, which says: “Here you shall adore, worship, and make offerings. In the Word, in the Lord’s Supper, and in Baptism you have the remission of sins. With these you will have to be satisfied if you wish to be saved.”
Martin Luther, vol. 6, Luther's Works, Vol. 6  : Lectures on Genesis: Chapters 31-37, ed. Jaroslav Jan Pelikan, Hilton C. Oswald and Helmut T. Lehmann, Luther's Works, 6:127 (Saint Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1999, c1970).
Title: Re: Does It Really Matter?
Post by: Charles_Austin on July 31, 2007, 04:59:15 PM
Father Martin seems to be speaking primarily of the mass and of how we receive forgiveness of sins and of how he saw the mass trashed by the church of his time.

So when a terrible event happens, whether the death of a community leader or an attack on the whole community, and people gather to mourn and share the suffering, and I am there, praying to the triune God in the name of Jesus; but in the next pew or on the podium are people who may have another view of God, then I am wrong to be there? Even if by being there I have a chance to witness to Jesus Christ? Could that be so wrong? Could anybody really be mad at me for that?
Title: Re: Does It Really Matter?
Post by: Mike Bennett on July 31, 2007, 05:02:44 PM
Mike Bennett writes:
In Christian worship we hear the Word and receive the Body and Blood of Christ. 

I comment:
Not always. Sometimes we just sing and pray. Sometimes we hear readings from scripture and readings from other things. Sometimes we just praise God. Sometimes we just stand around a tree, a campfire, a flagpole, a site of historical significance or an accident scene and do whatever people do at such times. And sometimes all the people around the tree, campfire, flagpole, site of historical significance or accident scene are not all Christian. Sometimes - (LC-MS-ers cover your ears!) - they aren't even all Lutheran.

Well, in the Daily Office we don't receive the Body and Blood - I'll give you that.  But we do hear the Word, sing Psalms, and pray to the Most Holy Trinity.  I've played in a woodwind ensemble in a unitarian assembly, and the morning's talk was thought-provoking but not Christian.  I've been in synagogues several times - for a Bat Mitzvah, a funeral, and (my favorite) Purim.  I honored the young woman featured in the first, grieved for the old man mourned in the second, and enthusiastically dis'ed Haman in the third, before going downstairs for very good holiday pastries.  But no Christian worship there.  

Mike Bennett
Title: Re: Does It Really Matter?
Post by: Charles_Austin on July 31, 2007, 05:34:41 PM
Mike Bennett write (re being in synagogues):
 I honored the young woman featured in the first, grieved for the old man mourned in the second, and enthusiastically dis'ed Haman in the third, before going downstairs for very good holiday pastries.  But no Christian worship there. 

I comment:
I've been there, too. But I sneaked in some prayers to the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob (and Jesus). No, it wasn't "Christian worship," but neither was it nothing.
Title: Re: Does It Really Matter?
Post by: Mike Bennett on July 31, 2007, 06:10:07 PM
Mike Bennett write (re being in synagogues):
 I honored the young woman featured in the first, grieved for the old man mourned in the second, and enthusiastically dis'ed Haman in the third, before going downstairs for very good holiday pastries.  But no Christian worship there. 

I comment:
I've been there, too. But I sneaked in some prayers to the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob (and Jesus). No, it wasn't "Christian worship," but neither was it nothing.

You and I know that the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob is the God of Jesus.  I quite agree that what's done in the synagogue isn't "nothing."  I think it's further from "nothing" than any non-Christian place of worship I know.  I'd overlooked that I heartily joined in the Psalms when I went to sit shiva (sp?) one evening for the old boy whose funeral I'd attended.  I expect that gets me on the wrong side of the line Pr McCain refers to (that's a speculation of fact, not a snide comment) but I can say I'd be very uncomfortable with the notion of joining in any part of "worship" at, say, the unitarian fellowship.  I'd bow my head during prayer in courtesy, but would not pray.  (Does that sound like a stubborn little kid or what?)

Mike Bennett
Title: Re: Does It Really Matter?
Post by: Charles_Austin on July 31, 2007, 06:36:58 PM
Mike Bennett writes:
I can say I'd be very uncomfortable with the notion of joining in any part of "worship" at, say, the unitarian fellowship.  I'd bow my head during prayer in courtesy, but would not pray.

I comment:
Let me get this straight. If I am surrounded (fully? partially? in the same room with?) those "others," God doesn't hear my prayers? How do they do that? Keep God from hearing my prayers in a place like that? Or if I think those "others" are not even praying to the "real" God, how is it that my prayers are unheard and useless?
Title: Re: Does It Really Matter?
Post by: Mike Bennett on July 31, 2007, 07:13:25 PM
Mike Bennett writes:
I can say I'd be very uncomfortable with the notion of joining in any part of "worship" at, say, the unitarian fellowship.  I'd bow my head during prayer in courtesy, but would not pray.

I comment:
Let me get this straight. If I am surrounded (fully? partially? in the same room with?) those "others," God doesn't hear my prayers? How do they do that? Keep God from hearing my prayers in a place like that? Or if I think those "others" are not even praying to the "real" God, how is it that my prayers are unheard and useless?

Well, I assume we're talking here about praying *with*, for instance, the unitarians.  I could pray to the most Most Holy Triune God while I sat in the unitarian meeting, and I don't expect that there's anything on the walls or ceiling that would block my prayers from reaching God's ears.  But I could not in good conscience pray *with* them, because they are not praying to God;  they're praying to some other god.  Further, if I feigned to be praying with them, I would be committing a very unloving act to those who observed (not that anybody but me would be paying attention to me, but I'm playing the whole thing out here) and thought that I was fine with the unitarian god.  Because, frankly, I still hold the backward view that there is one way to the Father, and that's the Son.  And that anybody who is seeking another way to the Father, or whoever their god is, is eternally lost.  I won't add to anybody's case of the vapors by being explicit about the fate of the lost, but as I understand Scripture, it isn't pretty.

Mike Bennett
Title: Re: Does It Really Matter?
Post by: MMH on July 31, 2007, 07:51:02 PM
Here, I think, is where we can bring out the Catholic idea I have heard expressed- differentiating between coming together to pray and coming to pray together.

The former would be some type of "interreligious affair ala post 9/11.  The latter would be an ecumenical experience.

Matt+
Title: Re: Does It Really Matter?
Post by: Dan Fienen on July 31, 2007, 08:36:01 PM
At the risk of over simplifying, an examination of 1 Corinthians 10 could be useful for this discussion.  A thorough study is beyond the scope of a post (and should probably include chapters 8 and 9), but Paul seems pretty clear that Christians should not participate in the worship of idols, both for our own sake that we keep faithful to God, and for the sake of others that they not be encouraged in thinking that worship is simply worship and the nominal addressee of that worship is unimportant.  Especially the witness to weak Christians is to be considered.

How this works out in specific situations can be difficult.  Not all situations are created equal.  Some observers may missinterpret the intentions of the Christian (in many different interpretations of the same event) and situations may be entered into thinking one sort of situation is intended and it end up something altogether different.  Things are not always what they seem and intentions can at times at least explain if they do not always excuse mistakes.

I think, I hope, that we can all agree that no matter what the event or why a Christian is at that event, a Christian will not direct his/her worship and prayer to any intended recipient other than the one true God, the God of Abraham, Issac, Jacob and Paul, the God most clearly manifest in the person and work of Jesus, the Christ.  What others are doing around the Christian, and why the Christian is there is another matter - worthy of discussion perhaps.  But a Christian should only intentionally worship and pray to the one true God.  The problem with rushing to judgement of others is that we may not know all the facts and intentions and things may not always be what they seem on the surface.

(As an aside, it should be obvious that no one and no thing can prevent God from hearing the prayers of a Christian no matter where or what the situation.  For that matter, can we lay to rest the idea floated [not in this forum, I think] that God does not hear the prayers of non-Christians?  How could He not hear them, being omniscient and all?  What He does with what He hears is His concern and I won't try to tell Him what to do.  Besides, don't forget Matthew 5:45.)

Can I pray to the one true God in the midst of people praying to false Gods?  Certainly, and God would certainly hear me.  Whether He would be pleased with me being there is a more complicated and difficult question.  And certainly one on which sincere Christians may disagree.  For Christians to raise questions and make suggestions is certainly in order and we encourage each other to faithful worship, service and witness.  But let us not forget 1 Corinthians 10:29b, "For why should my freedom be judged by another's conscience?" and Romans 14:4 "Who are you to judge someone else's servant?  To his own master he stands or falls.  And he will stand for the Lord is able to make him stand."
Title: Re: Does It Really Matter?
Post by: Dan Fienen on July 31, 2007, 09:33:35 PM
Just an odd thought.  Would my going to a non-Christian worship event and worshiping the non-Christian diety be roughly equivalent to going on a date (in the usual couple going out courting sense) with someone other than my wife?  I've never tried it but I have a pretty good idea what she would think of it.  I definately do not want to know experientially what God would think of it.  (The OT prophets had a few things to say about that kind of behavior.)

Dan

By the way - I picked the message icon labelled "cheesy" for this post but I don't think it really looks cheesy enough.  Sorry.
Title: Re: Does It Really Matter?
Post by: JMOtterman on July 31, 2007, 10:01:30 PM
Pastor McCain,

How might you be a witness in the world if you don't hang out in places with people that don't believe just like you do?  Your argument might be developed as a way to not have public school prayer.  My faith given me by God permits me to be with people that have no relationship with Jesus Christ, and being with people that tend to bag on Christianity in general gives me an opportunity to present Jesus Christ and Lutheranism where I might not have had the opportunity to do so before.  Even as they might be doing something pagan, cannot God find his way to reach me as I pray?  My faith in Christ Jesus is strong and no group of those who don't believe as I do will cause me to lose my faith.  My faith God given is a gift I share.  What of Paul in the book of Acts where he landed on the shore after a shipwreck and was bitten by a poisonous snake, he landed amidst a people that didn't know God were pagans, but turned their belief to God because Paul did not die.  If I am sheltered in my own space then how can I ever share my Christian faith with those who have never heard the story Jesus the Christ?

Unless of course, I see that in your use of Luther you are proposing your belief in double predestination; those that are chosen as the damned are damned and those that are in the Elect well, you would never need to, leave to worship somewhere else would you?

Problem is Luther was at most a theologian that believed in single predistination; that is we are all damned and its by God's mercy and gift that we are justified by grace through faith in Christ Jesus yet his colleague Melanchthon believed in double predestination and can understand your preoccupation with control issues, I know too because I have 'em as well.  Which one is right I do not know.  But I choose to be with both those that believe in Jesus Christ and be with those that for the most part hate Christians because of arguments just like these.  I go to baptize and make disciples to all nations in Christ Jesus not according to the heresies we continue to bounce about but just going as I am sent to where you live.

If everyone is already chosen/ damned or elect/ then logic would suffice that you must stay in your buildings and only worship with those who believe just as you do.  For you already believe that some of these folks are unreachable but I am sure you are not intending this or are you?  I find your use of Luther though is tragic and if he were here with us now he would drink us both under the table and straighten all of us out for sure.

PJ
Title: Re: Does It Really Matter?
Post by: peter_speckhard on July 31, 2007, 11:21:13 PM
PJ-- I don't think anyone was suggesting not hanging out with non-Christians at all. There is, after all, more to witnessing than joint worship. If they people are fit to be in the presence of God in worship then they don't really need to be witnessed to anyway. And yes, I know God is everywhere so we're all in His presence all the time, but the local presence of God in Word and Sacrament requires faith. Can't I give a reason for the hope that is in without a woship service? And of course God can hear your prayer--He is hears your prayers no more or less because of the presence of unbelievers, so the only issue is not the prayer itself but the public witness of the prayer. By your reasoning, Shadrach and the boys should have just gone ahead and bowed at the sound of the instruments--God would have known to whom they were praying. But the whole point is that other people wouldn't have known. It would have been fine as a prayer, but a betrayal as a public witness.
Title: Re: Does It Really Matter?
Post by: JMOtterman on August 01, 2007, 12:29:21 AM
PJ-- I don't think anyone was suggesting not hanging out with non-Christians at all. There is, after all, more to witnessing than joint worship. If they people are fit to be in the presence of God in worship then they don't really need to be witnessed to anyway. And yes, I know God is everywhere so we're all in His presence all the time, but the local presence of God in Word and Sacrament requires faith. Can't I give a reason for the hope that is in without a woship service? And of course God can hear your prayer--He is hears your prayers no more or less because of the presence of unbelievers, so the only issue is not the prayer itself but the public witness of the prayer. By your reasoning, Shadrach and the boys should have just gone ahead and bowed at the sound of the instruments--God would have known to whom they were praying. But the whole point is that other people wouldn't have known. It would have been fine as a prayer, but a betrayal as a public witness.

Where do you get the reasoning that I would imply that Shadrach and the boys should have just gone ahead and bowed at the sound of the instruments?

Their witness to God is that they are slaves to these countrymen and in not bowing their faith is tested and rewarded by God, they were being forced to do something against their will.  Most people that I know are not forced to do something against their will anywhere in these United States of America.  We, as westerners create issues as a point of rhetoric for agendas that fit our needs and beliefs and think that in so doing we are just like Shadrach and the boys, although I am probably now steppin in it big time.  You all of people know the counter arguments about masters and servants in the New Testament don't they apply as well?  When you are forced to go against your conscience then the issue is truly at hand, that was what Luther was about was it not?  Luther must recant?  What did Luther say? 


Can't I give a reason for the hope that is in without a woship service?  What does this mean?  I believe you or someone else can give a reason for the hope...I still don't know what you mean. 

Further for you to suggest what others think or suggest is your opinion, I know you were probably writing in haste.  I appreciate your opinion but it seems to me that you are overstepping when you state that "I don't think anyone" of those who had written before you or I, of whom will probably kick me in the rear for other more cogent reasons, just the same as you, without your help.  But thanks for illuminating my mind to the possibilities of that reality.

PJ
Title: Re: Does It Really Matter?
Post by: ptmccain on August 01, 2007, 06:56:19 AM
Quote
How might you be a witness in the world if you don't hang out in places with people that don't believe just like you do?

I did not say: Christians are not to "hang out" in any place where there are people who don't believe as we do.

I did say: Christians are not to participate in the worship service and rites of non-Christians.

Title: Re: Does It Really Matter?
Post by: ptmccain on August 01, 2007, 07:28:16 AM
Would my going to a non-Christian worship event and worshiping the non-Christian diety be roughly equivalent to going on a date (in the usual couple going out courting sense) with someone other than my wife?

Dan, you are exactly right, but the Scriptures are even more blunt about it. Participating in the worship services of non-Christians is spiritual adultery, it would be not simply going out on a date with a woman not your wife, but taking her home and having sexual relations with her.
Title: Re: Does It Really Matter?
Post by: Charles_Austin on August 01, 2007, 07:37:19 AM
But if there are Christians planning and leading the services, perhaps along with others, are not the services at least in some measure "Christian"?

And I have a later worry about the poster upstream who said at such a service he might "bow his head out of respect," but not pray. Watch out! Someone just might think that one who does that is actually praying, thereby prompting all kinds of charges and potential damage to one's career.
Title: Re: Does It Really Matter?
Post by: ptmccain on August 01, 2007, 07:38:58 AM
Repeating: Christians are not to participate in the worship service and rites of non-Christians.

The one, true God does not permit Himself to be given "equal time" with pagan non-gods.
Title: Re: Does It Really Matter?
Post by: peter_speckhard on August 01, 2007, 07:46:20 AM
PJ-- I don't think anyone was suggesting not hanging out with non-Christians at all. There is, after all, more to witnessing than joint worship. If they people are fit to be in the presence of God in worship then they don't really need to be witnessed to anyway. And yes, I know God is everywhere so we're all in His presence all the time, but the local presence of God in Word and Sacrament requires faith. Can't I give a reason for the hope that is in without a woship service? And of course God can hear your prayer--He is hears your prayers no more or less because of the presence of unbelievers, so the only issue is not the prayer itself but the public witness of the prayer. By your reasoning, Shadrach and the boys should have just gone ahead and bowed at the sound of the instruments--God would have known to whom they were praying. But the whole point is that other people wouldn't have known. It would have been fine as a prayer, but a betrayal as a public witness.

Where do you get the reasoning that I would imply that Shadrach and the boys should have just gone ahead and bowed at the sound of the instruments?

Their witness to God is that they are slaves to these countrymen and in not bowing their faith is tested and rewarded by God, they were being forced to do something against their will.  Most people that I know are not forced to do something against their will anywhere in these United States of America.  We, as westerners create issues as a point of rhetoric for agendas that fit our needs and beliefs and think that in so doing we are just like Shadrach and the boys, although I am probably now steppin in it big time.  You all of people know the counter arguments about masters and servants in the New Testament don't they apply as well?  When you are forced to go against your conscience then the issue is truly at hand, that was what Luther was about was it not?  Luther must recant?  What did Luther say? 


Can't I give a reason for the hope that is in without a woship service?  What does this mean?  I believe you or someone else can give a reason for the hope...I still don't know what you mean. 

Further for you to suggest what others think or suggest is your opinion, I know you were probably writing in haste.  I appreciate your opinion but it seems to me that you are overstepping when you state that "I don't think anyone" of those who had written before you or I, of whom will probably kick me in the rear for other more cogent reasons, just the same as you, without your help.  But thanks for illuminating my mind to the possibilities of that reality.

PJ
I didn't mean to suggest you thought Shadrach and the boys should have prayed, but only the logic behind joint prayer with non-Christians (God can sort it out) also can support such a conclusion. My suggestion that nobody thought Christians ought not hang out with non-Christians was merely a response to your question to Paul, in which you asked how we can witness if we aren't in places with people who do not believe as we do. I was trying to distinguish between mission/witness activity and prayer/worship activity, which can easily become confused, maybe not by you but by a lot of people I know. But at any rate, you are right, I was typing in haste late at the Youth Gathering and probably not making my points as well as I should have.
Title: Re: Does It Really Matter?
Post by: JMOtterman on August 01, 2007, 09:50:48 AM
Repeating: Christians are not to participate in the worship service and rites of non-Christians.

The one, true God does not permit Himself to be given "equal time" with pagan non-gods.

Being that the pagan non-gods don't exist, does God care?  I realize you care.

PJ
Title: Re: Does It Really Matter?
Post by: JMOtterman on August 01, 2007, 10:13:29 AM
Peter,

How is it going at your youth gathering?  Your paragraph now makes all the sense in the world, writing in haste with not much sleep and students always on the go possibly means controlled chaos at best and more than likely not that controlled.  My prayers are with you as you continue to lead your students and disciple followers of Jesus Christ.

Peace,

PJ
Title: Re: Does It Really Matter?
Post by: scott3 on August 01, 2007, 10:26:32 AM
Repeating: Christians are not to participate in the worship service and rites of non-Christians.

The one, true God does not permit Himself to be given "equal time" with pagan non-gods.

Being that the pagan non-gods don't exist, does God care?  I realize you care.

PJ

Exodus 20:1-6 (ESV)
1 And God spoke all these words, saying, 2 “I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery. 3 “You shall have no other gods before me. 4 “You shall not make for yourself a carved image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth. 5 You shall not bow down to them or serve them, for I the Lord your God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children to the third and the fourth generation of those who hate me, 6 but showing steadfast love to thousands of those who love me and keep my commandments.


Exodus 34:13-16 (ESV)
13 You shall tear down their altars and break their pillars and cut down their Asherim 14 (for you shall worship no other god, for the Lord, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God), 15 lest you make a covenant with the inhabitants of the land, and when they whore after their gods and sacrifice to their gods and you are invited, you eat of his sacrifice, 16 and you take of their daughters for your sons, and their daughters whore after their gods and make your sons whore after their gods.


Deuteronomy 6:14-15 (ESV)
14 You shall not go after other gods, the gods of the peoples who are around you, 15 for the Lord your God in your midst is a jealous God, lest the anger of the Lord your God be kindled against you, and he destroy you from off the face of the earth.


Deuteronomy 32:21 (ESV)
21 They have made me jealous with what is no god; they have provoked me to anger with their idols. So I will make them jealous with those who are no people; I will provoke them to anger with a foolish nation.


PJ,

I think He does care.
Title: Re: Does It Really Matter?
Post by: JEdwards on August 01, 2007, 10:28:19 AM
In a recent bible study, we read about the healing of Naaman by Elisha.  After vowing to worship only Yahweh, Naaman asked for (and received!) permission to essentially "fake it" when he had to accompany his master, the King of Aram, into the temple of Rimmon.  No one in our group could give a very cogent reason for Elisha's condoning what appears to be a violation of the First Commandment.  Any thoughts?

Jon Edwards
Title: Re: Does It Really Matter?
Post by: Richard Johnson on August 01, 2007, 10:41:32 AM
And I have a later worry about the poster upstream who said at such a service he might "bow his head out of respect," but not pray. Watch out! Someone just might think that one who does that is actually praying, thereby prompting all kinds of charges and potential damage to one's career.

My wife had a relative who belonged to one of those (older) groups who had lefte the LCMS because LCMS was too liberal. At a family reunion, when the pre-dinner prayer of thanksgiving was being offered, he refused to bow his head. Strikes me as pretty, uh, overly consistent.
Title: Re: Does It Really Matter?
Post by: ptmccain on August 01, 2007, 11:25:04 AM
Being that the pagan non-gods don't exist, does God care?  I realize you care.

The First Commandment would appear to indicate that "God cares."

And to see the Holy One of Israel, a God who is profoundly jealous for His children's undivided affection and worship, in action, I refer you to the unpleasant episode of Elijah and the Prophets of Baal for evidence of how the Living God regards false worship. I'm sure the prophets of Baal being hacked apart didn't doubt what the one, true God regards as acceptable worship, and unacceptable worship.

(http://www.wels.net/wmc/Downloads/116.gif)

And, given your line of thinking, which I think here is particularly confused, there was no reason for the three men to go into the fiery furnace, if, in fact, God doesn't care about worship of non-gods.
Title: Re: Does It Really Matter?
Post by: Pr. Jerry on August 01, 2007, 12:02:02 PM
In a recent bible study, we read about the healing of Naaman by Elisha.  After vowing to worship only Yahweh, Naaman asked for (and received!) permission to essentially "fake it" when he had to accompany his master, the King of Aram, into the temple of Rimmon.  No one in our group could give a very cogent reason for Elisha's condoning what appears to be a violation of the First Commandment.  Any thoughts?


Is not Namaan showing "chessed" by remaining faithful to his oath to the King of Aram?  He himself leaves Elisha's presence a changed man, but he will not abandon his obligation to his master.  And, most importantly, he leaves with a proclamation of peace (shalom).

I was sorely disappointed (no surprise there...) with the Augsburg Fortress "Great Bible Reef" curiculum, which reduced this story to "God's People Help."  The ending of the story, which is so very important, usually get's ommitted, as was the case with the GBR.  So the whole episode gets reduced to a platitude.

God does care, it does matter.  Namaan leaves with two mule loads of earth (eretz) because he leaves with a new loyalty, a new homeland.  And he pleads, not for himself, but for his King to whom he has sworn fielty.  Namaan, in the end, is a picutre of righteousness because he remains faithful to his covenant.  Could you expect him to honor the covenant of the Law if he would not honor the covenant to his master?  But precisely because he will show "chessed" to his master, we are drawn (I think) to the conclusion that he show similar faithfulness to YHWH and Israel.

Pax Christi;
Pr. Jerry Kliner, STS
Title: Re: Does It Really Matter?
Post by: Mike Bennett on August 01, 2007, 12:32:08 PM
But if there are Christians planning and leading the services, perhaps along with others, are not the services at least in some measure "Christian"?

And I have a later worry about the poster upstream who said at such a service he might "bow his head out of respect," but not pray. Watch out! Someone just might think that one who does that is actually praying, thereby prompting all kinds of charges and potential damage to one's career.

I was the one who said that.  And my career is in business, so not to worry.

I also take off my shoes at the front door of a house where the host/ess expects it.  Same sort of thing. 

Mike Bennett
Title: Re: Does It Really Matter?
Post by: JMOtterman on August 01, 2007, 12:46:55 PM
McCain,

I do love bantering with you, and you are right with the first commandment...good point.   Wow Cool Picture---is that Durer?  What about not having any graven images before me just kidding. :) 

See, the problem exists for me and you in how a person can read and understand the text.

I suppose, and I could be wrong, that you might read scripture with a lense or two at the most and the thought of asking questions of a text like I might ask using 15 or more different lenses would be utterly impossible for you.  I mean I don't always use that many lenses to read the text but I consider more lenses than most would ever use.  

Not only impossible from a personal point but also from a structural point and from a piety point is my guess and your understanding of scripture is fine.

Many of your paradigms were once mine too but I have had for good or ill paradigm shifts that allow me to see scripture scholastically and also with a narrower view.

I choose to believe the narrower view, that everything in the Bible happened as it says, its my choice, my belief even knowing that I could undo what a choose to believe, knowing that certain stories were never intended to be taken literally or for that matter certain scriptures were never intended to be twisted in certain ways either.

A Lutheran reading of Justication by grace through faith alone in Christ Jesus In reading Dunn's book on the Apostle Paul he makes the ascertion that Justification is a secondary matter to the Apostle Pauls intentions where Luther created as a primary ascertion based on the cultural issues of his time, I don't know that I agree with Dunn but he could be right.  So the issue is prolegomena and paradigm how we deal with first things and how we read according to the way we were taught is the issue of why we have a difficult time communicating over understanding of the Holy Scripture.  

I am not sure whether or not you have a choice on how you read the Bible as being anything other than what you read.  I am not saying that your read and take on the Bible is not a bag thing.  Just different than how I read and understand the Bible.

Let me see if I understand you, when you read the Bible the ten commandments were said or written by God, himself.  As if God had a voice or hands?  Does God still write or speak today?  Does God have hands?  Dumb questions don't answer please or I will let you take to kickin me in the keester again, I can't help myself sometimes.  :)
  
I love the fact that you have an ideal of God so set in your mind that there is no other way to read the scripture or to know or hear or understand God.  I find that view amazing but I also want to know what set of lenses do you use when reading the Bible?

PJ    
Title: Re: Does It Really Matter?
Post by: ptmccain on August 01, 2007, 02:06:10 PM
I freely, without reservation, with joy, gave up my right to "choose" how I will interpret the Scriptures when I promised to teach nothing, publicly, or privately, contrary to the confessions of the Evangelical Lutheran Church because I confess them to be a true and faithful exposition of the Word of God. I gave my solemn oath before God to be faithful to these Confessions precisely because they are a faithful confession of God's Word. I am very happy to be able to join with my fathers in the faith who concluded the Solid Declaration of the Formula of Concord by asserting:

These and like articles, one and all, with what pertains to them and follows from them, we reject and condemn as wrong, false, heretical, and contrary to the Word of God, the three Creeds, the Augsburg, Confession and Apology, the Smalcald Articles, and the Catechisms of Luther. Of these articles all godly Christians should and ought to beware, as much as the welfare and salvation of their souls is dear to them. Since now, in the sight of God and of all Christendom [the entire Church of Christ], we wish to testify to those now living and those who shall come after us that this declaration herewith presented concerning all the controverted articles aforementioned and explained, and no other, is our faith, doctrine, and confession, in which we are also willing, by God's grace, to appear with intrepid hearts before the judgment-seat of Jesus Christ, and give an account of it; and that we will neither privately nor publicly speak or write anything contrary to it, but, by the help of God's grace, intend to abide thereby: therefore, after mature deliberation, we have, in God's fear and with the invocation of His name, attached our signatures with our own hands.

I pray that I will, as God blesses, continue to grow in my understanding of His Holy Word, but never grow past it, or out of it, nor ever place myself above it as judge, but place myself always underneath the Word of God. I do not wish to understand, so I can believe, but I wish to understand, because I believe. I confess freely that I am a sinful man who doubts and questions many things, but with Blessed Saint Peter, I too cry out to my Master Christ, "Lord, I believe, help my unbelief."

I have studied all the major schools of theological thought and try to keep current on the "latest thing" out there, but I come back, again and again, to the fathers of the Church and to the faith once delivered to the saints. I believe there has never been in any period of the chuch's history a more clear and penetrating grasp of the very heart of the Scriptures as there burst forth and flowered during the Reformation. I cherish all who have spoken the truth before and after Luther and our Lutheran fathers. I cherish the gift of knowing that Lutheranism is not a "movement" or an "approach" but is nothing more, and certainly nothing less, than the confession of the faith of the one, holy, catholic and apostolic faith. I find much blessing in reading the writings and studies of our Lutheran fathers and early church fathers. I do not find as much value in reading the speculations of men who do not confess, without reservation, the Creeds and Confessions of the Church.

If that is what you want to regard as my "lens" through which I read Scripture, that would be ok by me.


 

Title: Re: Does It Really Matter?
Post by: JMOtterman on August 01, 2007, 02:49:21 PM
Pastor McCain,

Again, its two different paradigms.  I agree with you more than you would know.

Thanks for your Piety.  Hard to argue against Piety of your stripe. 

You are a Pastor, right?  LCMS?  How is your church doing?  I am always curious and I would think the church to which you are called is probably growing, because of the strict view of scripture and the Lutheran confessions.

PJ 
Title: Re: Does It Really Matter?
Post by: SCPO on August 01, 2007, 03:12:19 PM

Pastor McCain,
You are a Pastor, right?  LCMS?  How is your church doing?  I am always curious and I would think the church to which you are called is probably growing, because of the strict view of scripture and the Lutheran confessions.

PJ 

PJ,

     The interim Pastor as at my LCMS congregation mentioned some declining membership numbers just this past Sunday.   I have not verified them, but then again, I have no reason to doubt them.   The decline in membership in the LCMS has stabilized at roughly 42K heads per year.  This equates to roughly one 800 member congregation per week.   Then again, I suspect you knew this.

Regards,

Senior   (who also has gone by the initials PJ)
 

     
Title: Re: Does It Really Matter?
Post by: JMOtterman on August 01, 2007, 03:15:42 PM

Pastor McCain,
You are a Pastor, right?  LCMS?  How is your church doing?  I am always curious and I would think the church to which you are called is probably growing, because of the strict view of scripture and the Lutheran confessions.

PJ 

PJ,

     The interim Pastor as at my LCMS congregation mentioned some declining membership numbers just this past Sunday.   I have not verified them, but then again, I have no reason to doubt them.   The decline in membership in the LCMS has stabilized at roughly 42K heads per year.  This equates to roughly one 800 member congregation per week.   Then again, I suspect you knew this.

Regards,

Senior   (who also has gone by the initials PJ)
 

     

In all fairness I don't have the slightest idea about numbers in the LCMS.  What exactly did you mean by the numbers you posted.

PJ
Title: Re: Does It Really Matter?
Post by: SCPO on August 01, 2007, 03:52:40 PM
     
Quote

In all fairness I don't have the slightest idea about numbers in the LCMS.  What exactly did you mean by the numbers you posted.

PJ
Quote

PJ,

     Quite simply, like the ELCA, the LCMS is also experiencing a decline in membership.  I don't have the ELCA numbers handy, but they have often-times been tossed around within this forum.  Usually, the reasons cited for the decline in ELCA numbers is because of their liberal tilt; i.e; GLBT activision.   I'm sure some folks have indeed departed the ELCA for those reasons.   However, looking at the decline within the LCMS, I think that it is reasonable to question whether or not both bodies may be missing the bigger picture as to the reasons for declining membership.  Just my two-cents, worth everything you paid.

Regards,

Senior   
       
Title: Re: Does It Really Matter?
Post by: bmj on August 01, 2007, 04:09:42 PM
I freely, without reservation, with joy, gave up my right to "choose" how I will interpret the Scriptures when I promised to teach nothing, publicly, or privately, contrary to the confessions of the Evangelical Lutheran Church because I confess them to be a true and faithful exposition of the Word of God. I gave my solemn oath before God to be faithful to these Confessions precisely because they are a faithful confession of God's Word. I am very happy to be able to join with my fathers in the faith who concluded the Solid Declaration of the Formula of Concord by asserting:


Pr. McCain, I admire your firm commitment to tradition and truth.  I would like to know your thoughts on the following paper about the nature of the confessions as they relate to healing the reformational breach with Rome.

  http://theologytoday.ptsem.edu/oct1980/v37-3-article1.htm

There seems to me to be many statements in the confessions and confutation that highlight vast agreement between Lutherans and Rome, and this should be cause for hope.  Were the Lutheran confessions "irenic in tone" as Neuhaus claims?  Are there any Lutheran theologians today that would agree with this 1980 article by Neuhaus?

I personally have more hope for continued healing of RCC/Lutheran relations if Lutherans remain strongly committed to the confessions, which in many respects remain "a true and faithful exposition of the Word of God", but in my belief, not "the true and faithful exposition of the Word of God".
Title: Re: Does It Really Matter?
Post by: EENGELBRECHT on August 01, 2007, 04:19:58 PM
In a recent bible study, we read about the healing of Naaman by Elisha.  After vowing to worship only Yahweh, Naaman asked for (and received!) permission to essentially "fake it" when he had to accompany his master, the King of Aram, into the temple of Rimmon.  No one in our group could give a very cogent reason for Elisha's condoning what appears to be a violation of the First Commandment.  Any thoughts?


Is not Namaan showing "chessed" by remaining faithful to his oath to the King of Aram?  He himself leaves Elisha's presence a changed man, but he will not abandon his obligation to his master.  And, most importantly, he leaves with a proclamation of peace (shalom).

I was sorely disappointed (no surprise there...) with the Augsburg Fortress "Great Bible Reef" curiculum, which reduced this story to "God's People Help."  The ending of the story, which is so very important, usually get's ommitted, as was the case with the GBR.  So the whole episode gets reduced to a platitude.

God does care, it does matter.  Namaan leaves with two mule loads of earth (eretz) because he leaves with a new loyalty, a new homeland.  And he pleads, not for himself, but for his King to whom he has sworn fielty.  Namaan, in the end, is a picutre of righteousness because he remains faithful to his covenant.  Could you expect him to honor the covenant of the Law if he would not honor the covenant to his master?  But precisely because he will show "chessed" to his master, we are drawn (I think) to the conclusion that he show similar faithfulness to YHWH and Israel.

Pax Christi;
Pr. Jerry Kliner, STS


Thanks for your note, Jerry. I recently studied this passage (2 Kings 5:15-19) for something I was working on. I'll make a few comments. Naaman has an existing, official obligation that troubles his conscience. Note from v 17 that he will not offer sacrifices to his master's god (i.e., he won't ask anything of this god or try to appease him; Naaman's offerings would be for Yahweh alone). Bowing is a ritual act that is even used with fellow human beings, so it no extraordinary service to the god, though it still troubled Naaman to bow (and rightly so).

Elisha does not explicitly approve Naaman to worship in the house of Rimmon but instead bids him peace in this matter of conscience. The prophet shows patience with this new believer's situation that he would not likely have shown to an Israelite who entered into such a situation (cf Gehazi getting wacked for greed/dishonesty in vv 20-27).

I would apply this text (and others) by encouraging people to show respect at official services for non-Christians that they may be obligated to attend (e.g., weddings and funerals for family members). But I would not encourage people to request anything from the god/gods involved in such services by offering prayers, financial support, volunteer service, or rituals that involved such things. I would encourage people to thank the one true God that their family member/friend/neighbor has an interest in spiritual matters and, at an approprite time and place, bear witness to the true God who loves and cares for him/her. At all times, a Christian should be clear about his confession of faith in such situations and not seek religious unity or anonymity. Those are my reflections on the text.

In Christ,
EE
Title: Re: Does It Really Matter?
Post by: JMOtterman on August 01, 2007, 07:04:12 PM
     
Quote

In all fairness I don't have the slightest idea about numbers in the LCMS.  What exactly did you mean by the numbers you posted.

PJ
Quote

PJ,

     Quite simply, like the ELCA, the LCMS is also experiencing a decline in membership.  I don't have the ELCA numbers handy, but they have often-times been tossed around within this forum.  Usually, the reasons cited for the decline in ELCA numbers is because of their liberal tilt; i.e; GLBT activision.   I'm sure some folks have indeed departed the ELCA for those reasons.   However, looking at the decline within the LCMS, I think that it is reasonable to question whether or not both bodies may be missing the bigger picture as to the reasons for declining membership.  Just my two-cents, worth everything you paid.

Regards,

Senior   
       

SCPO,

What do you think is the white elephant or the big picture that both church bodies are missing? 

PJ
Title: Re: Does It Really Matter?
Post by: SCPO on August 02, 2007, 03:57:39 PM
       
Quote

SCPO,

What do you think is the white elephant or the big picture that both church bodies are missing? 

PJ
Quote

PJ,

       Obviously, anything I have to say is strictly speculation and a matter of opinion on my part.   But I won't let that stop me from sharing my thoughts.  With that said, I believe that we should first separate "growth in membership" from "decline in membership".

       When I look at the denominations that are experiencing "growth" in membership, such as the Mega Church's, I think that "could" be contributed to their ability to "make people feel good".   When I look at the ELCA and the LCMS, if one puts the politics aside, I think they might agree that the Worship Services are considerably more complex.  I'm sure that the unchurched who walk in off the street probably find our our Worship Services much harder to understand and follow than those at the Mega Church. 

      With respect to our declining numbers, I am not sure that either the ELCA or the LCMS has good data to determine why their numbers are declining.   For example, other than those who relocate to another area, I don't believe exit interviews are routinely conducted when members decide to leave.   True, I'm sure that some folks get upset with something and are not hesitant to tell the Pastor and staff why they are leaving.  But these folks probably transfer to another ELCA or LCMS congregation, so they really don't effect the over Synod numbers.   However, the same thing does not apply to Jim and Mary and the two kids.   This typical family attends Sunday Worship maybe twice a month.   They send the kids to Sunday School, but do not attend adult classes themselves, nor do they serve on any committee's.  They probably are not concerned (or even know) about what is happening at the Chicago or St. Louis level.  (They certainly do not post on this Forum, nor do they know that it even exists)   Then all of a sudden they stop attending Sunday Worship.    But when they do, nobody really takes notice until months have passed.   Then it is more along the lines of "hey, I haven't seen that nice young couple with the two kids for a while".  Nobody from Outreach ever follows up because their focus is on gaining new members, not on keeping existing members.   I suspect that when the time comes to purge the membership roles, nobody will ask what happened to them.  In my humble opinion, if we were to do a parado on the folks that are leaving the ELCA and LCMS, it is folks like these.   Unfortunately, I don't think we really know why they leave. 

      Again, my two-cents, worth everything you paid.

Regards,

Senior
   
Title: Re: Does It Really Matter?
Post by: SCPO on August 03, 2007, 03:54:33 PM
       
Quote

SCPO,

What do you think is the white elephant or the big picture that both church bodies are missing? 

PJ
Quote

PJ,

      Check out some of the uncharitable comments being posted over on the "Bridge Collapse" thread and see if you think behavior such as this from Church leaders might prompt a typical Lutheran member to take a look at another denomination. 

Regards,

Senior   
Title: Re: Does It Really Matter?
Post by: JMOtterman on August 03, 2007, 04:28:11 PM
SCPO,

Yep. 

PJ
Title: Re: Does It Really Matter?
Post by: scott3 on August 03, 2007, 05:25:27 PM
Check out some of the uncharitable comments being posted over on the "Bridge Collapse" thread and see if you think behavior such as this from Church leaders might prompt a typical Lutheran member to take a look at another denomination. 
Regards,

Senior   

Senior,

I'm reasonably sure that the "uncharitable comments" were not "uncharitable" if by that you mean unmotivated by love and concern for the well-being of those involved.  Rather, the comments are motivated out of care and concern for all involved in the tragedy so that they might place their hope on the One who deserves such hope; that is, that people look for the comfort that God gives by his conquering of death in Christ Jesus.  A thread of concern for those hurt by the tragedy was started, and then a positive citation of an inter-faith worship service was inserted into that thread thereby changing the entire discussion. 

If it is a thread of expressing care and concern in the midst of tragedy -- great.  There is no debate there but full-hearted agreement and a deep desire to show care to all in the midst of tragedy.

If the thread becomes one of saying that such care should be expressed in the form of an inter-faith worship event, then those who think that all people are best served by placing our hope only in the one who rose as the first-fruits from the dead will have difficulty participating.

A thread of concern for the victims should be focused on that, but if expressing such concern involves agreeing that an inter-faith worship event is a good idea, then there's a problem.
Title: Re: Does It Really Matter?
Post by: Charles_Austin on August 03, 2007, 05:31:05 PM
Scott writes:
A thread of concern for the victims should be focused on that, but if expressing such concern involves agreeing that an inter-faith worship event is a good idea, then there's a problem.

I comment (as I did over there):
No one has to agree that an inter-faith worship event is a good idea. But it will happen; and some of our Lutheran bishops will take part. That's it. We (and they) know that folks in the LC-MS don't like this. You don't have to tell us. But is this really the time to try and clobber our bishops? It seems - as I said over there to the one most wrought up about this - exceedingly insensitive.
Title: Re: Does It Really Matter?
Post by: Brian Stoffregen on August 03, 2007, 05:43:45 PM
If the thread becomes one of saying that such care should be expressed in the form of an inter-faith worship event, then those who think that all people are best served by placing our hope only in the one who rose as the first-fruits from the dead will have difficulty participating.
I can think of no better way to reach the masses -- especially those who most need to hear about our hope in the One who rose as the first-fruits from the dead -- than at a huge inter-faith event. Holding a Lutheran prayer service at a congregation will (1) not bring in nearly as many people, and (2) be attended primarily by Lutheran believers.

"Inter-faith" does not mean giving up our unique faith and proclamation; but we can emphasize what we believe, without degrading others in such a service. I could certainly see myself including a statement about the risen Jesus Christ being the first-first from the dead in a prayer at such a service.
Title: Re: Does It Really Matter?
Post by: scott3 on August 03, 2007, 05:48:43 PM
But is this really the time to try and clobber our bishops? It seems - as I said over there to the one most wrought up about this - exceedingly insensitive.

Well, the bishops have a responsibility to care for the flock.  If they are not properly exercising their care, then they are not doing what God called them to do.

There is no requirement that I know of for people to express care and concern through an inter-faith service.  Rather, there are many avenues that they could have taken to publicly and consistently express their care and concern most effectively as ministers of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

On one level, I do empathize with them.  I do believe that they were honestly doing what they thought was appropriate to comfort people.  The problem is that true comfort comes through Jesus, and as public ministers of the Gospel, they need to be about proclaiming that clearly.

If they clearly say that salvation and true comfort only comes through the great hope that we have in the great resurrection of all on the Last Day of whom Jesus has already arisen as the first-fruits of the dead -- the resurrection where only those who cling to Christ will live with him forever -- then I would have less of a concern with it though I would still consider such participation unwise and giving the appearance of a contradiction at the heart of the message.


[I just noticed that I constructed a sentence of which any German-speaker should be proud as it never seems to end...]
Title: Re: Does It Really Matter?
Post by: Mike Bennett on August 03, 2007, 06:10:28 PM
But is this really the time to try and clobber our bishops? It seems - as I said over there to the one most wrought up about this - exceedingly insensitive.

Well, the bishops have a responsibility to care for the flock.  If they are not properly exercising their care, then they are not doing what God called them to do.

There is no requirement that I know of for people to express care and concern through an inter-faith service.  Rather, there are many avenues that they could have taken to publicly and consistently express their care and concern most effectively as ministers of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

On one level, I do empathize with them.  I do believe that they were honestly doing what they thought was appropriate to comfort people.  The problem is that true comfort comes through Jesus, and as public ministers of the Gospel, they need to be about proclaiming that clearly.

If they clearly say that salvation and true comfort only comes through the great hope that we have in the great resurrection of all on the Last Day of whom Jesus has already arisen as the first-fruits of the dead -- the resurrection where only those who cling to Christ will live with him forever -- then I would have less of a concern with it though I would still consider such participation unwise and giving the appearance of a contradiction at the heart of the message.

Is one prayer service in Minneapolis going to become the cancer that invades every topic on this forum?  Mention of it immediately dominated the "Prayers for Minneapolis ....." topic.  Then somebody started a topic with the apparent sole purpose of scolding somebody who disagrees with him.  Now it's being discussed here.  LCMS doesn't do joint prayer services, except for the ones who do. ELCA people do, except for the ones who don't.  OK?

 :'( Mike Bennett  :'(
Title: Re: Does It Really Matter?
Post by: Richard Johnson on August 04, 2007, 01:01:00 AM
But is this really the time to try and clobber our bishops? It seems - as I said over there to the one most wrought up about this - exceedingly insensitive.

Well, the bishops have a responsibility to care for the flock.  If they are not properly exercising their care, then they are not doing what God called them to do.

There is no requirement that I know of for people to express care and concern through an inter-faith service.  Rather, there are many avenues that they could have taken to publicly and consistently express their care and concern most effectively as ministers of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

On one level, I do empathize with them.  I do believe that they were honestly doing what they thought was appropriate to comfort people.  The problem is that true comfort comes through Jesus, and as public ministers of the Gospel, they need to be about proclaiming that clearly.

If they clearly say that salvation and true comfort only comes through the great hope that we have in the great resurrection of all on the Last Day of whom Jesus has already arisen as the first-fruits of the dead -- the resurrection where only those who cling to Christ will live with him forever -- then I would have less of a concern with it though I would still consider such participation unwise and giving the appearance of a contradiction at the heart of the message.

Is one prayer service in Minneapolis going to become the cancer that invades every topic on this forum?  Mention of it immediately dominated the "Prayers for Minneapolis ....." topic.  Then somebody started a topic with the apparent sole purpose of scolding somebody who disagrees with him.  Now it's being discussed here.  LCMS doesn't do joint prayer services, except for the ones who do. ELCA people do, except for the ones who don't.  OK?

 :'( Mike Bennett  :'(

Well said, Mike. I would propose that we drop this discussion right now. In a month or two, if someone wants to talk more in the abstract about the matter of interfaith worship, start a thread about it. But as several have said, this is a matter about which we obviously disagree, and this is not a good moment to be debating it in this forum. Please, folks, on this one, just have the common sense and courtesy to keep silent--if for no other reason than that raising this question in this context at this time will not in any way be productive for anyone.
Title: Re: Does It Really Matter?
Post by: Deb_H. on August 16, 2007, 12:28:32 PM
LCMS doesn't do joint prayer services, except for the ones who do. ELCA people do, except for the ones who don't.  OK?
 :'( Mike Bennett  :'(

And Catholics don't except for those who do --
http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,293394,00.html
Hoping it's not too soon to add on to this thread, but this news item caught my attention when I heard it on the radio yesterday, so I looked it up online.

Yes, this is only one bishop and he's obviously in his own camp on more than one Catholic issue.  But there are things said in this article that I have heard elsewhere and they are being repeated with increasing frequency, in particular these lines:
"It reinforces the fact that Muslims, Christians and Jews all worship the same God," (As it gets repeated, it has now become a "fact.")
  and 
"I don't think the name is as important as the belief in God and following God's moral principles. I think that's true for all faiths." (Is following moral principles the important thing?  Sounds like working one's way into God's good graces (heaven?) to me.)


In getting back to the title of this thread, does it really matter what we call God?
And how do we explain that we don't all worship the "same God," when we all know and profess that there is only One?

Debbie Hesse