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Topics - RevSteve

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Your Turn / Excommunication ever???
« on: August 26, 2012, 08:58:48 PM »

On another thread a discussion I had de-railed into a debate about excommunication. If I understood the person correctly he basically felt that excommunication was never a viable option. I disagreed and said that while it's certainly nothing any pastor should hope for, nor should any pastor seek to make it a regular part of their practice,  under the worse possible conditions it could become necessary, citing Matthew 18:15-20 as biblical precedent for this.

I personally am aware of this happening at two different churches in the last few years; one ELCA and one LCMS. I have also heard second-hand of excommunications happening elsewhere in the last few years.

So am I just backwards?? Should excommunication ever be something we ever consider, or should we never consider it even under the most dysfunctional of situations??

Are any of you personally aware of excommunications taking place in your years of ministry? Have any of you had to make the, doubt painful decision to remove someone from fellowship??

What role, if any, does excommunication play in church discipline??


Many of the LCMS folk on here have justifiably stated their very vocal opposition to the Minnesota South District's decision to close the University Lutheran Chapel for the University of Minnesota. However it has recently come to my attention that the same district decided to close the ULC chapel at Mankato State University in Mankato, MN. Why is there no outrage over that?? I don't know Pastor Meyer who heads the ministry there personally but I have heard that great work is being done in and through his ministry. Why are you not also lamenting this loss?? I am not trying to stir something up or pry into anyone's business. I am just curious why all the sadness seems focused on one ministry when two were closed down.

Your Turn / Denomination or association
« on: March 14, 2010, 07:06:28 PM »

I just finished having an informational forum on "The State of the ELCA" and we had a representative from the synod come out and speak. She gave a pretty typical presentation that one would expect. It was largely a PR job with any discussion of the social-statement or the changes to ministry guidelines limited to pretty much stating that the ELCA has "Agreed to disagree on this issue." She subtly tried to equate prohibition of homosexual relationships with the holines code. To her credit, she did say that she wanted to dispel three myths that she sees in the ELCA and one of those myths was essentially that "Everybody who is opposed to the social-statement is a homophobic." But then later, when she was speaking of how the way that Christians have understood the Bible over the years has changed, she spoke of how it pains her that scripture was used by some to justify the holocaust; thus ever so subtly equating those who don't support PALMS realationships with nazis. I'll admit it was very subtle, but it was definitely there.  And then when she got done talking about the sexuality issue, she went back to her PR job. She spoke well over an hour, leaving roughly 15-20 minutes for questions, even though she gave me the impression that she speak for 45 minutes and have 45 minutes question and answer time. Although I she did end up allowing close to 30 minutes for questions.

Anyway, near the end someone asked her a question that somehow led to her talking about LCMC. She said that LCMC is a denomination. I said that is not true; meaning that they have never considered themselves a denomination. Unfortanately there was a parishioner standing right by me who has serious disagreements with me on the state of the ELCA who pounced on the opportunity to try to make me look bad who responded to this by commenting to me "Better get your story straight." Later I went and spoke one-on-one with the woman from the synod and I told her that all I was saying is that LCMC has never referred to themselves as a denomination. She conceded that I was right. Unfortanately the damage was done and this parishioner my now go around town and accuse me of either not having my facts straight or trying to be intentionally deceptive. 

So I looked up the word "denomination" online and this is the definition that I came up with.

 : a religious organization whose congregations are united in their adherence to its beliefs and practices

And so initially I had to admit that defintion seemed to match LCMC. But then I wondered if the distinction lays in the "practices" in the phrase "united in their adherence to its beliefs and practices." Certainly LCMC congregations are united in their beliefs, but the dsictinction indeed seems to come in their practices. There is no official LCMC relief agency or LCMC college or seminary, Bible-camp etc. Instead, the leadership in LCMC (which consists as far as I know of two people) points congregations to different agencies, Bible-camps, colleges, seminaries etc that LCMC has developed working relationships with. But those are merely reccomendations.

So does the difference between an association and a denomination lay in that denominations are united in practice also? This is not the first time that I have heard an ELCA representative refer to LCMC as a denomination, and it probably will not be the last. So what is the difference?? Where does the disctinction lay? What are these ELCA representatives not seeing??

Your Turn / When is someone "in opposition" to the church?
« on: July 14, 2008, 11:38:45 AM »

In a, shall we say spirited discussion on anther thread i realized that one of the major contributing factors to divisiveness in the church could likely be differing ideas of when someone is "in opposition" to the mission of the church. I seems to me that if a church-body is going to ascribe to a somewhat "democratic" process in selecting leadersio and establishing policies then shouldn't there be enough room within the church-body for those who may not agree with certain policies or who may not have supported the election of certain leaders? I am not talking about refusing to work with those policies or to recgnize the authority of leadership, but should there not be room for individuals to not only hold those views but express those views in appropraite venues without having to fear that such action may lead to them beling labeled as "in opposition" to the church. After all in such a church body many of the policies will have stemmed from people working within the system for change which means many of the policies are the result of an organized effort of people who disagreed with the leadership or policies of the time that said policies were established. Bishops lose bids for re-election because of organized efforts by those who don't support the incumbent. Should those who supported the incumbent or were opposed to the new policies now all of the sudden be considered to be "in opposition" to the mission of the church?

I know that there is a reality that speaking out against policies of a church-body has "consequences." I know that my affiliation with Word Alone will lead to me not being considered for certain calls, and I am ok with that and I accept that. But is it acceptable for leadership to label someone who is known to not agree with certain policies and express that disagreement within the parameters and structures of the respective church-body as being "in opposition" to the mission of the church? It is my belief that such unilateral labeling would actually be far more detrimental to the mission of the church than the presence of such candidates in a synod, region, or church-body. But that is just me, what do you think.

And I am curious to hear thoughts on this from people from all church-bodies that might be represented here; ELCA, LCMS, LCMC, AFLC,AALC whoever.

This June at Mt Carmel retreat center the Institute of Lutheran Theology, a joint effort between Word Alone and a handful of individuals out of LCMS, are having their annual theological conference.  I think this is a a great effort that is bringing together confessional Lutherans from the ELCA and the LCMS. Here is a link with the details.

4 speakers-2 from the ELCA and 2 from LCMS
Actually 5 speakers. I don't know which brand of Lutheran the judge is.

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