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Topics - DCharlton

Your Turn / Divine Mercy Chaplet
October 12, 2023, 06:28:38 PM
From time to time, I get questions about various kinds of Catholic devotions, like the Rosarie.  One of them is the Divine Mercy Chaplet.  So, the question is, can a Lutheran prayer the Divine Mercy Chaplet?

In my opinion, the key words are these:
Eternal Father, I offer you the Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity of Your Dearly Beloved Son, Our Lord, Jesus Christ, in atonement for our sins and those of the whole world.

That seems to come awfully close to seeing the Eucharist as a sacrifice offered by the faithful to God.

What are your thoughts?
Your Turn / Law-Gospel Dialectic?
December 08, 2022, 05:16:08 PM
This is just a question about terminology.  Has anyone ever heard the Law-Gospel Distinction referred to as a Dialectic?  I have a vague memory of that term being used, but I can't remember where. 
Your Turn / Two Uses and Antinomianism
August 28, 2022, 11:35:11 AM
I wanted to start a thread about what the debate between Two and Three Uses of the Law.  Does denial of the Third Use always lead to antinomianism? 

Just a little background in regard to the ELCA.  While it is true that Schroeder and Bertram denied the Third Use, so did ELCA conservative icons like Gerhard Forde and William Lazareth.  In fact, until a certain article by David Yeago appeared in Lutheran Forum, I would say that few systematic theologians in the ELCA and its PCBs would have questioned the notion that there were only two uses of the Law.

Some of this can be directly attributed to the influence of Elert, but not in all cases.  James Nestingen has argued that Elert was not a major influence for Forde.  You could argue that Barth has a stronger influence of Forde than Elert did.  (The two don't usually go together.)  And while Braaten criticizes the denial of the Third Use, I cannot recall any of his theological (as opposed to biographical) books that emphasized the Third Use.

Regarding same-sex marriage, Forde definitely opposed it, and Bertram did as well, as evidenced by this article in at  Is it true, as many argue, that regardless of their opposition to same sex marriage, the denial of the Third Use made it inevitable?

My own opinion is that it is the so called Second Use of the Gospel that made it inevitable.

After the Definitions and Guidelines for Discipline was revised this year by the ELCA, there was a question about whether the new standards permitted sex outside of marriage.   This action by the Rocky Mountain Synod has now clarified that question:
Your Turn / Defunding the ELCA
September 23, 2020, 01:00:58 PM
Pastor Lenny Duncan, a person who might be considered the logical successor to Nadia Bolz-Weber as the primary ELCA celebrity, has published a call to start an Reparations Process in the ELCA and to #Defundchurchwide.

I believe that he is correct on two points:

1.  A reparations process is the logical next step in the ELCA's antiracism efforts.  To fail to do so would give the lie to all that the ELCA has advocated for since 2009.

2.  I think defunding churchwide is the logical and necessary response to the belief that the ELCA is infected with systemic racism from top to bottom.

I do have not agreed with the direction of the ELCA since 2009, and I not subscribe to the notion that the ELCA is systemically racist.  However, as the VP of the Florida Synod likes to repeat at each annual assembly, to oppose the direction of the ELCA is to be allied with the forces of evil.  So I will not oppose this initiative. 
Your Turn / The Law in a Time of Pandemic
April 17, 2020, 01:50:53 PM
On another thread there was disagreement about whether or not the Law, which always accuses, only accuses.  Leaving that aside, we do agree that the Law accuses.  I was wondering, then, how you think the Law is speaking through the COVID-19 pandemic and all of its consequences.  How is the Law speaking through this pandemic expose our idolatry, our causa sui projects, our attempts to establish our own righteousness. 

One of the symptoms that our idols have been exposed is the need to condemn others and justify ourselves.  There is a blogger who I have followed for several years who has gone off the chart in his condemnation of others.  His level of certainty and self righteousness has gone off the charts.  Those who don't agree with him are condemned as arrogant ideologues.  It easy to see how much of this is a projection.  But then again, the fact that I recognize this probably means I am guilty of the same thing. 

Those who justify themselves are under compulsion to do so. There is no escape. We cannot reject the question that others put to us: Why have you done this? What were you thinking about? Might you not have done something else? In the other's view of us, and also in our own view, we always ways find ourselves to be the ones who are already being questioned and who have to answer. Complaints are made against us. We are forced to justify ourselves, and as we do so, we usually want to be right. Before the court of law, what constitutes our whole life is disclosed with particular clarity. The world of the court is not a special world of its own, but just a particular instance - a very striking one - of what is being done always and everywhere.

Oswald Bayer. Living by Faith: Justification and Sanctification (Lutheran Quarterly Books (LQB)) (Kindle Locations 104-109). Kindle Edition.

How could a Lutheran understanding of the Law be helpful at such a time?  How could God use this time to expose our self righteousness and free us through the righteousness of faith?

Your Turn / ULS Regains Imprimatur
February 05, 2020, 10:37:21 AM
ULS has apparently regained the imprimatur of Reconciling Works:

The way the statement reads, it seems as if Reconciling Works is an accrediting agency, not a advocacy group.
Your Turn / Simon Wiesenthal Center and the ELCA
August 16, 2019, 02:35:20 PM

I'm not sure what to make of this.  I don't want to stir the pot, but really would like to know what others think about this.  Is this THE Simon Wiesenthal Center?  Does this indicate a true breach in the relationship between the ELCA and the Jewish community, or not?  I'm not a fan of the ELCA's rhetoric in regard to Israel myself, thinking that it is obtuse and unbalanced, but I don't want to spread a false alarm either.
Your Turn / Hypocrisy or Process vs. Content
August 31, 2018, 12:57:52 PM
Reflecting on the events in the Roman Catholic Church and on unresolved debates within the Lutheran Church, I am reminded of two things I learned at Trinity Lutheran Seminary, Columbus, Ohio.

1.  Dr. Mark Powell often commented on the difference between Jesus' Disciples and the Pharisees.  In the Gospels, the difference is not that the former are right and the latter wrong.  The Disciples are wrong about as often as the Pharisees.  Peter is a perfect example.  He is putting his foot in his mouth at every turn, with the result that Jesus is constantly correcting or rebuking him.  No, the difference is that the Disciples are without guile.  Again, Peter is the best example.  He says exactly what he thinks.  With Peter, what you see is what you get.  Not so with the Pharisees.  They are hypocrites, as Jesus points out again and again.  What you see is not what you get.  What they say and what they do are in no way consistent.  In fact, it seems that Jesus considers hypocrisy to be the root of evil.

2.  In Family Systems Therapy, the process is more important than the content.  It is the family process that is the root of illness and dysfunction.  How the family handles conflict, disagreement, anxiety matters more than the cause or content. 

If both or either of these things are true, then it would suggest that we need to attend to the process as well as the content of these conflicts.  In the case of the current events in the Roman Catholic Church one thing is clear.  What the Church taught and what the Church did was in conflict.  The Church taught that homosexual acts where intrinsically disordered.  Meanwhile, a significant number of priests and bishops were sexually active homosexuals.  At the least, this resulted in a culture of secrecy that made priests and bishops vulnerable to blackmail.  At the worst, it meant that it created an atmosphere where all moral boundaries where blurred.

It seems to me that it would have been far better for either of the policies to be adopted and put into practice:

a.  The RCC reverses its policy on homosexuality and celibacy, allowing priests to live openly as active homosexuals, with firm boundaries for sexual expression.

b.  The RCC acts according to its official policies by prohibiting gay men from entering the priesthood and enforcing the vow of celibacy relentlessly.

This applies equally to Lutherans.  The real cause of conflict in the ELCA, for instance, is not what the ELCA teaches.  It is the discrepancy between what we say and what we do.  Far better for the ELCA to officially determine that it is 100% in favor of same-sex marriage, transgenderism and open relationships (in the case of bisexuals), meanwhile telling all who disagree to hit the road, than to officially declare its acceptance of four incompatible points of view while in practice implementing only one of them.  Secrecy, duplicity, and hidden agendas open the door to evil, even when we believe cause is good.  Insisting that pastors accept in practice what they are told to deny in public is not the recipe for a healthy church.
Your Turn / 5-Year Pastoral Leadership Degree
June 01, 2018, 07:59:02 PM
A 5-Year Pastoral Leadership Degree is being promoted at my synod's assembly.  It combines  BA from Concordia University, Chicago with an M.Div from Luther House of Studies at Sioux Falls Seminary.  At a glance it seems interesting and innovative.  Apparently this would prepare a person for candidacy in the ELCA. 

Has anyone else heard of this program?  What are your thoughts?
Your Turn / Statues of Martin Luther?
August 17, 2017, 10:46:49 AM
The public discussion of Confederate monuments have made me think quite a bit about other historical icons and how the principles developing in this debate should affect them.  Here are some of those principles:

1.  If a group which has been historically oppressed finds the subject of the statue to be offensive, we should consider removing it.
2.  If the subject of the statue has been a rallying point for hate groups, we should remove it. 
3.  Those of us who may admire the subject of the statue should listen and not talk as people offended by the statue.  (No 'splainin)
4.  Groups that have historically been complicit or quiet in the face of oppression should unequivocally renounce that form of hatred any time it resurfaces.

Statues of Martin Luther qualify on all three counts. 
1a.  There are members of my congregation of Jewish ancestry, who have very strong feelings about Luther and the way he is lifted up as an icon by the Lutheran Church and other Christians. 
2a.  Hate groups, particularly the Nazis, have lifted Luther up as a symbol of anti-Semitism. 
3a.  Are Lutherans willing to listen to these voices without engaging in 'splainin?
4a.  Will Lutherans unequivocally renounce the anti-Semitism in evidence in Charlottesville? 

The fourth is of most importance in my mind.  Some Lutheran bodies in the U.S. have singled out Israel for criticism in a way that some Jews believe is anti-Semitic.  What shall we do?  Is it time for us to rename our churches and stop treating Martin Luther like an icon?
Your Turn / Liberal and Fundamentalist Christianity
August 11, 2017, 11:11:46 AM
On his Patheos blog, evangelical Baptist theologian Roger E. Olson did a post on how he identifies Liberal Christianity and another on how he identifies Fundamentalism.  I thought they would be a good basis of discussion on this forum.

The eight hallmarks of Liberal Christianity are:

1) A tendency to reduce the Bible to "the Christian classic" that is "inspired" insofar as it is inspiring;
2) A tendency to reduce Christianity itself to ethics such that doctrine is an expression of collective opinion always open to revision in light of changing cultural conditions;
3) A tendency to embrace and promote individualism in spirituality and doctrine while insisting on certain controversial ethical positions as matters of justice and therefore beyond debate;
4) A tendency to deny miracles or "demythologize" them so that belief in no miracle is essential to authentic Christian existence;
5) A tendency to emphasize the immanence of God over God's transcendence;
6) A tendency to believe in the essential goodness of humanity and to deny hell except as inauthentic existence in this life;
7) A tendency to interpret Jesus as different from other humans only in degree (e.g., more spiritually and ethically advanced) and not in kind;
8 ) A tendency to promote authentic Christian existence as a life of love only without judgment (except of "injustice").


The hallmarks of Fundamentalism are:

1) A tendency to elevate doctrines historically considered "secondary" (non-essentials) to the status of dogmas such that anyone who questions them questions the gospel itself.
2) A tendency to eschew "Christian fellowship" with fellow evangelical Christians considered doctrinally "impure" along with a tendency to misrepresent them in order to influence others to avoid them.
3) A tendency to "hunt" for "heresies" among fellow evangelical Christians and to reward fellow fundamentalists who "find" and "expose" them—even where said "heresies" are not truly heresies by any major confessional standards shared among evangelical Protestants.
4) A tendency to place doctrinal "truth" above ethics such that misrepresenting others' views in order to exclude or marginalize them, if not get them fired, is considered justified.
5) A tendency to be obsessed with "liberal theological thinking" that leads to seeing it where it does not exist along with a tendency to be averse to all ambiguity or uncertainty about doctrinal and biblical matters.

As we approach the 4th, I would like to encourage a discussion of what the Declaration of Independence calls "happiness". 

1.  To begin with, what would Jefferson, and presumably Locke before him, have meant by that word?  Is it similar to what Aristotle and Aquinas, among others, would have meant, or is it closer to modern hedonism?

2.  Is there any relation between the "pursuit of happiness" and the 1st Amendment, particularly freedom of religion?

3.  What should Lutherans make of this?  Must Lutherans avoid any talk of pursuit of happiness for fear of falling into works righteousness?
Your Turn / Hurricane Matthew
October 06, 2016, 01:02:27 PM
Your prayers for the residents of the east coast of Florida, Georgia and the Carolinas would be appreciated.  About half of the members of Living Lord Lutheran, Vero Beach either live on the barrier islands, in low lying areas or mobile homes.  The Florida-Bahamas Synod has a congregation in he Bahamas which is Our Savior, Freeport. 

Donations can be sent to the Florida-Bahamas Synod fbsynod.comand to Lutheran Disaster Response  I'm sure the the Florida-Georgia District of the LCMS will be involved as well. 
Your Turn / The Devil, the Soul, and Heaven
July 20, 2016, 11:57:25 AM
When I graduated from seminary over 20 years ago, I was often frustrated by the obsession lay people seemed to have with the devil, the soul, and heaven.  These were not the things I was trained to preach and teach about.  I was taught that the soul and heaven were Greek concepts that had unfortunately eclipsed true Biblical eschatology, with its emphasis of resurrection and the kingdom of God.   The devil was a subject that while not denied, was seldom touched upon.   Psychological and social evil were more frequent topics of discussion.  As time went on, I realized that I needed to address those this interest in the devil, the soul, and heaven even if I didn't want to. 

It has been hard to miss the many popular books about heaven that have come out over the last 20 years, along with some less well known scholarly treatments of heaven, NDEs, and the like.  What I didn't realize until recently is that there has been a lot of debate about the the soul, the mind, dualism, monism, outside of the theological circles I'm familiar with.

Recently, I have noticed two books about the devil that have been getting a lot of attention.  One is Reviving Old Scratch: Demons and the Devil for Doubters and the Disenchanted.  The other is Afraid: Demon Possession and Spiritual Warfare in America.  Both have Lutheran publishers.  The former is published by Fortress, the latter by Concordia. 

So I thought I'd ask what the current thought about these three topics looks like in the different Lutheran groups in North America.  Are they generally ignored?  Is there any new interest?  Any new approaches?
Your Turn / BP Eaton - What it means to be Lutheran
July 03, 2016, 07:12:06 PM
Earlier today, Pastor Hannah mention PB Eaton's most recent article in Living Lutheran:

Quote from: John_Hannah on July 03, 2016, 06:57:09 AM
Why Luther? Why Lutheran? In the latest Living Lutheran (July 2016) Bishop Eaton in her regular one page column deals with just that question. I think she does an excellent job with it given the space allotted. Brief but very much to the point of what it means to be Lutheran in 2016, on the eve of the 500th when we might be asked by the curious. 

Peace, JOHN

Pastor Austin posted the entire article in a reply:

Quote from: Charles Austin on July 03, 2016, 09:05:23 AM
Here is the article by ELCA Presiding Bishop Eaton, published in "Living Lutheran."
(For those of you who don't know already, "Living Lutheran" is the new name for the magazine of the ELCA once called "The Lutheran" and the name of the magazine's website.)

What It Means To  Be Lutheran
by Presiding Bishop Elizabeth Eaton
Lutherans don't often garner much media attention. In this country we don't make up a big segment of the population. When groups of Lutherans began arriving on these shores in the 18th and 19th centuries, they tended to stay in their nationality and language groups and didn't assimilate completely into the surrounding culture. We kept to ourselves and so went relatively unnoticed. Lutherans, with some exceptions, weren't part of the political or economic elite. There are both benefits and problems because of this. More later.
   Our state of relative obscurity is about to change. In 16 months we'll mark the 500th anniversary of the Reformation. For a brief time a spotlight will be turned on Lutherans in this country and around the world. Documentaries will be produced and aired, seminars will be held and, particularly if Oct. 31, 2017, is a slow news day, the media is going to seek us out and ask us to explain ourselves. When the local newspaper, radio or TV station comes knocking on our door, what are we going to say?
   In our churchwide conversation about priorities for the ELCA, we have been asking what it means to be Lutheran. We aren't as good as we could be about giving a clear answer to that question. We speak about grace, about our work in advocacy, about the relief and development work we do, about our inclusiveness and diversity—though I believe these last two are more aspirational than actual—about our ecumenical and interreligious dialogues and relationships. These are true and beautiful and important. They are not exclusively Lutheran.
   Many religious and secular organizations are deeply committed to serving the vulnerable and working for justice and peace. The ELCA couldn't engage in ecumenical and interreligious partnerships if there were no ecumenical or interreligious partners. What is distinctive about us then?
   When trying to define Lutheran identity we sometimes default to cultural types—northern and central European heritage, a certain kind of hymnody, even standard entrees at church dinners. I'm not dismissing the faithful witness of the millions of Lutheran immigrants who left Europe to start a new life on this continent. They built churches and hospitals and universities. They cared for the poor, the widow and the orphan.
   They also lived in close-knit ethnic communities that, at first, helped maintain the Lutheran confessional movement. That is the benefit I noted above. The problem is that the Lutheran movement in this country has become overidentified with a particular cultural expression.
   If we manage to not describe ourselves by a particular culture, we have the tendency of describing Lutheranism as a set of behaviors—we are inclusive, we work for justice, we stand with the vulnerable, we are an inviting church. Please, God, let it be so.
   But the danger is we can slip into what scholasticism called "fides formata." Today we might say faith formation: not in the sense of a living faith that has first been given as a gift, but that correct action leads to faith. Either of these expressions—cultural or behavioral—can result in what Martha Stortz, a professor at Augsburg College, Minneapolis, calls the "presumptive we" that leads to the "othering you." Those in the majority assume their experience is universal and those outside of that experience aren't fully part of the tradition.
   Neither culture nor behavior define what is distinctive about the Lutheran movement. It's our understanding of the gospel. The gospel word creates faith. The gospel word is judgment and promise. Faith created by this gospel word sets people free to serve the neighbor. The church's proper work is to proclaim the gospel word. You know, in the end, it's all about God's fierce and tender love that drives us to the cross, and there, at the very point of death, gives us life. The world deserves to hear the gospel—when the spotlight is on us, and when it is not.

Hoping that we can begin a thread about that column, I reply:

Regarding PB Eaton's article, I agree with Pr. Austin and Pr. Hannah that it is well done.  I think that PB Eaton chose two examples of Lutheran identity that would be attractive to members of the ELCA in order to contrast those with and identity based in our understanding of the Gospel.  She avoided, choosing examples that most of her readers would immediately reject, precisely to avoid the "presumptive we" and "othering you" that she mentioned in the 8th paragraph. 

Her argument reminds me of a contrast made by Oswald Bayer in Living by Faith.  Bayer contrasts justifying faith with justifying thinking (metaphysics) and justifying doing (doing).  The first chapter of that book in entitled "In the Dispute of Justifications" and is subtitled "Who Am I?"  In that chapter, he writes:

Before the court of law, what constitutes our life is disclosed with particular clarity.  The world of the court is not a special world of its own, but a particular instance - a very striking one - of what is being done always and everywhere.

I'm not sure that PB Eaton would go this far, but I believe she has identified two of the ways that we seek justification apart from faith in Jesus Christ.  As a Floridian I can't really talk about what it is like to live in an ethnically Lutheran enclave, but her description of the way some Lutherans define themselves by correct behavior is very familiar.   There is a dispute of justifications going on within the ELCA and between the ELCA and the world just as there is in all human communities.  PB Eaton identifies two of those false justifications and points us instead to faith in Christ. 
Your Turn / Collective Guilt After Orlando
June 22, 2016, 05:39:57 PM
In the wake of the Orlando massacre, I wanted to ask how the different Lutheran churches are discussing the issue of collective guilt. 

My own Lutheran church body, the ELCA, has addressed the topic in a confused way.

We have rejected the notion that all Muslims are to blame for the actions of one person.
One the other hand some have suggested that those who oppose LGBTs rights and gun control share in the blame for the atrocity.

We have rejected the notion of collective guilt if regards to Islam and Orlando.
We have reaffirmed the notion of collective guilt in regards to white people and Charleston.

I sure that among some Christians, the disparity is reversed, that Islam as a whole is condemned and that Christians, gun owners and white Americans are absolved. 

What I wonder about is the theological arguments that exist for or against collective guilt.

Your Turn / ISIS Committing Genocide
March 18, 2016, 12:07:17 PM
"WASHINGTON — Secretary of State John Kerry declared on Thursday that the Islamic State is committing genocide against Christians, Yazidis and Shiite Muslims who have fallen under its control in Syria and Iraq."

Your Turn / Voting Guides
February 22, 2016, 07:40:11 PM
This morning during our weekly Pericope Study, two people from the Florida Family Policy Council walked into the narthex and the fellowship hall asking if we wanted voting guides.  Since we were in the middle of a Bible Study I simply told them we don't give our voting guides.  If I had not been occupied, I might have chatted with them about Lutheran theology.  (I would have felt a little hypocritical as I did it, but that's another matter.)

I don't remember anyone coming around in 2012 and wondered there was a resurgence in the voting guide business in 2016, or whether I just missed the visit in 2012. 
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