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Topics - DCharlton

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Your Turn / Law-Gospel Dialectic?
« on: 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
« on: 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.

Your Turn / Clarification on Definitions and Guidelines for Discipline
« on: August 23, 2021, 09:06:43 PM »
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
« on: 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
« on: 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
« on: 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
« on: 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
« on: 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
« on: 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?
« on: 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
« on: 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.


Your Turn / What Does the Declaration Mean By Happiness?
« on: July 01, 2017, 02:08:53 PM »
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
« on: 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
« on: 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?

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