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Messages - Svensen

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1
Your Turn / Lutherans and Socialism
« on: September 18, 2021, 10:58:45 PM »
The spring 2021 issue of LF includes a provocative article by John B. King on Lutherans and socialism. It seems that the linchpin of King's argument is that Lutheran pastors are obligated to preach against socialism because it violates the Ten Commandments, especially the seventh:
Quote
From Luther’s exposition of these commandments, we can identify the subtle operation of thievery and covetousness within a socialist system. Through the intervention of the state, person B takes person A’s money and property rather than helping person A to protect his property and income. According to Luther, this transfer is stealing. Likewise, through the intervention of the state, person B takes person A’s property by claiming to have a legal right to it rather than helping person A to keep what is his. The false idea here is that person B has a moral and legal claim on person A’s property simply because person B needs it. Socialists call this claim economic justice; Luther calls it covetousness. (p. 56)
Incidentally, this reminds me of Robert Benne's claim that when he was trying to find a dissertation topic at the University of Chicago, he wanted to write on how the Nordic welfare state was a product of Nordic Lutheran culture. When he looked into the main sources, he found that the thesis was unsupportable. I wonder what an objection to the welfare state – and socialism more specifically – might look like for Lutherans who agree with King, in the main. It might parallel some of the objections registered by Nordic Lutherans in the recent past to the expansion of the state into the church's own work on behalf of the poor.

2
Your Turn / Re: Discussing Together
« on: September 07, 2019, 09:25:05 PM »
Here is the paragraph I snipped above:

Quote from:  Amy Carr & Christine Helmer, paragraph 8

Let's take the terminology of a woman's "right to choose." The language of "right" is a legal term that has its origins in the modern understanding of individuals possessing rights and freedoms.  But what if we used the language of relationship to better understand how a women who bears a child is connected to partners, family, friends and society  Wouldn't this new term frame another understanding of what it means to be pregnant, wantedly or unwantedly so, in a social context?  Child-rearing is an enormous responsibility, as any parent will agree.  It requires a "village" of family, friends, viable healthcare, day care and educational opportunities, churches, infrastructure that guarantees clean air and water, and cultural and sports centers.  Being pregnant is only the beginning of a long-term relationship that involves family and society, politics and economics, church and state.


"Claiming Christian Freedom to Discuss Abortion Together," Amy Carr and Christine Helmer, p. 49 Lutheran Forum, Summer 2019

What struck me first was no mention of the mother-child relationship.  (Since Brian wants to point to the Bible, I'll particularly offer St. Luke 1:39-45, where the Blessed Virgin is ἡ μήτηρ τοῦ κυρίου μου and what leapt is τὸ βρέφος ἐν τῇ κοιλίᾳ μου.  Apparently the Gospels have no problem speaking of "mother" and "baby" or "child" well before "viability," much less birth.)   Someone else has noted above that also unmentioned in this "language of relationship" is "father."

I also wondered how the species propagated when so many of the "required" parts of child-rearing didn't exist, some even during my suburban, middle-class North American childhood of the 1960s.  I know, ancient history in today's discourse.

Pax, Steven+

This is a very helpful addition, Steven. Thank you.

The broader issue here is that the idea of "discussing together" strikes me as dubious. My issue with the piece isn't so much that we should avoid discussion, per se, but that discussion will only ever proceed on a certain, predetermined basis. Someone must set the terms of discussion. Nothing can be discussed neutrally with power somehow bracketed, as many conservatives think. Liberalism in the American tradition has proven a fruitless foundation upon which to "discuss" the matter of nascent life (and a host of other issues) – and I hardly think microwaved tropes about Lutheran theology from school-marmish theologians will prove any more helpful. It is very clear what Carr and Helmer are doing here, and it is to take possession of a platform with which they can cynically advance the cause of infanticide. Calling it anything other than wicked is weak.

Ultimately, all of these discussions are about power: who can seize it and wield it effectively. "Discussion" – as if the value of the unborn were even something worth discussing in a civilized society, let alone the church – is "always and already" a framing of the issue that has manifestly forwarded the pro-abortion position. The venerable tendency of those with conservative sensibilities to allow for debate has served only to empower evil and facilitate the overthrow of reasonable and traditional limitations on human behavior. Pleas for conversation about something contested always end in revision – and that is a bad thing for those of us who think the unborn should not be killed because of poor planning. The ELCA's experience of having a "discussion together" about homosexuality should prove evidential enough in this case.

Those of us who favor a traditionalist approach to issues like abortion and homosexuality should jealously guard the organs of our own expression. These are not platforms for neutral conversation, but the means by which we exert power in the interest of our own ends. Platforms like LF should keep this in mind if they're going to position themselves well for the future and continue to be effective fora of productive theological reflection. Otherwise, they will become irrelevant, nothing more than something akin to a private Facebook conversation that opportunistic theologians can enter on their CVs.
While I agree on the issue,, I disagree with this assessment of how to go forward. It is the anti-Christian, deconstructionist, and ultimately Marxist/materialist presupposition that everything is always about power. The traditionalist can only prevail on those terms at the cost of many of the underlying justifications for being a conservative/traditionalist in the first place.

I guess it's just clear to me that this is so blinkered. Marxism and materialism are correct that power is fundamental, and their recognition has redounded to their success. If conservatism cannot take and sustain power, it is impotent and ultimately self-aggrandizing.

3
Your Turn / Re: Discussing Together
« on: September 07, 2019, 02:13:55 AM »
Here is the paragraph I snipped above:

Quote from:  Amy Carr & Christine Helmer, paragraph 8

Let's take the terminology of a woman's "right to choose." The language of "right" is a legal term that has its origins in the modern understanding of individuals possessing rights and freedoms.  But what if we used the language of relationship to better understand how a women who bears a child is connected to partners, family, friends and society  Wouldn't this new term frame another understanding of what it means to be pregnant, wantedly or unwantedly so, in a social context?  Child-rearing is an enormous responsibility, as any parent will agree.  It requires a "village" of family, friends, viable healthcare, day care and educational opportunities, churches, infrastructure that guarantees clean air and water, and cultural and sports centers.  Being pregnant is only the beginning of a long-term relationship that involves family and society, politics and economics, church and state.


"Claiming Christian Freedom to Discuss Abortion Together," Amy Carr and Christine Helmer, p. 49 Lutheran Forum, Summer 2019

What struck me first was no mention of the mother-child relationship.  (Since Brian wants to point to the Bible, I'll particularly offer St. Luke 1:39-45, where the Blessed Virgin is ἡ μήτηρ τοῦ κυρίου μου and what leapt is τὸ βρέφος ἐν τῇ κοιλίᾳ μου.  Apparently the Gospels have no problem speaking of "mother" and "baby" or "child" well before "viability," much less birth.)   Someone else has noted above that also unmentioned in this "language of relationship" is "father."

I also wondered how the species propagated when so many of the "required" parts of child-rearing didn't exist, some even during my suburban, middle-class North American childhood of the 1960s.  I know, ancient history in today's discourse.

Pax, Steven+

This is a very helpful addition, Steven. Thank you.

The broader issue here is that the idea of "discussing together" strikes me as dubious. My issue with the piece isn't so much that we should avoid discussion, per se, but that discussion will only ever proceed on a certain, predetermined basis. Someone must set the terms of discussion. Nothing can be discussed neutrally with power somehow bracketed, as many conservatives think. Liberalism in the American tradition has proven a fruitless foundation upon which to "discuss" the matter of nascent life (and a host of other issues) – and I hardly think microwaved tropes about Lutheran theology from school-marmish theologians will prove any more helpful. It is very clear what Carr and Helmer are doing here, and it is to take possession of a platform with which they can cynically advance the cause of infanticide. Calling it anything other than wicked is weak.

Ultimately, all of these discussions are about power: who can seize it and wield it effectively. "Discussion" – as if the value of the unborn were even something worth discussing in a civilized society, let alone the church – is "always and already" a framing of the issue that has manifestly forwarded the pro-abortion position. The venerable tendency of those with conservative sensibilities to allow for debate has served only to empower evil and facilitate the overthrow of reasonable and traditional limitations on human behavior. Pleas for conversation about something contested always end in revision – and that is a bad thing for those of us who think the unborn should not be killed because of poor planning. The ELCA's experience of having a "discussion together" about homosexuality should prove evidential enough in this case.

Those of us who favor a traditionalist approach to issues like abortion and homosexuality should jealously guard the organs of our own expression. These are not platforms for neutral conversation, but the means by which we exert power in the interest of our own ends. Platforms like LF should keep this in mind if they're going to position themselves well for the future and continue to be effective fora of productive theological reflection. Otherwise, they will become irrelevant, nothing more than something akin to a private Facebook conversation that opportunistic theologians can enter on their CVs.

4
Your Turn / Re: Discussing Together
« on: September 04, 2019, 07:46:44 PM »
Have you read the full article, Brian?

I rather doubt that Brian is a subscriber, so no, he probably hasn't. That never stopped him from having an opinion before, though.

I am a subscriber, but some of the contents of this issue have really made me question whether it's worth my money anymore. I'm honestly appalled that the Carr-Helmer piece was even published.

5
Your Turn / Re: Dan Selbo's election as NALC Bishop
« on: August 26, 2019, 12:01:33 PM »
If Lutherans have a compelling need to codify, confessionally, just which Scriptures are or are not canonical they should simply adopt the Thirty-Nine Articles of Religion.

Seems to me Lutherans have a compelling need not to codify which scriptures are canonical.

6
Your Turn / Re: Dan Selbo's election as NALC Bishop
« on: August 18, 2019, 12:23:54 AM »
Have any STS members been elected bishop in the ELCA?

7
Your Turn / Re: Dan Selbo's election as NALC Bishop
« on: August 15, 2019, 12:48:03 AM »
A key point here of course is that all three groups would at least claim that they all emphasize both word and sacrament. There are also confessionalists in the NALC whose "worship style" (for lack of a better word) would resemble either the evangelical or the evangelical catholic sensibility. There are even evangelical catholics whose piety resembles the piety of the evangelicals...

8
Your Turn / Re: Dan Selbo's election as NALC Bishop
« on: August 14, 2019, 09:30:31 PM »
Characterizing the "two" streams of the NALC as a "word and sacrament group" and a "Word of God group" with a "more pietistic faith" misses what exactly divides the NALC and mischaracterizes both positions. Everyone in the NALC would be emphatic about both word and sacrament, just like everyone in the NALC would be emphatic about the importance of the bible. Locating the divisions in the NALC requires more nuance than this.

Where do you locate them?

Dave Benke

I think there're at least three: the evangelical catholics, the evangelicals, and the confessionalists.

9
Your Turn / Re: Dan Selbo's election as NALC Bishop
« on: August 13, 2019, 09:54:56 PM »
Characterizing the "two" streams of the NALC as a "word and sacrament group" and a "Word of God group" with a "more pietistic faith" misses what exactly divides the NALC and mischaracterizes both positions. Everyone in the NALC would be emphatic about both word and sacrament, just like everyone in the NALC would be emphatic about the importance of the bible. Locating the divisions in the NALC requires more nuance than this.

10
I certainly think Pres. Harrison is correct. I also believe that the Supreme Court decision he describes isn't far off. As a conservative/libertarian, I almost hope that such a decision happens, for it will only further alienate conservative Protestants (including the LCMS) from the Democratic Party - which I see as a very good thing. At least the Democrat Party will make a good scapegoat.

11
Your Turn / Re: As Western Holy Week begins
« on: March 21, 2016, 08:51:47 AM »
The story of my family's journey is posted here:

http://www.alpb.org/forum/index.php?topic=5681.msg352315#msg352315

As you will find in some of the comments, my journey was very atypical for a Protestant clergyman.  From talking to many Priests, some cradle Orthodox, some convert, the "usual" path is that one begins reading the Church Fathers, particularly Basil the Great and Chrysostom, and becomes intellectually convinced that Orthodoxy is the true faith; then begins to attend a few services and struggles with the other-worldliness of Orthodox worship.  Eventually the heart and body follow the head.

Despite having left Methodism, in part, because of a distrust/dislike of emotionalism, I found myself captivated in the heart first, through the experience of Holy Saturday Lamentations, although the groundwork had been laid and built up through many years of reading various Orthodox liturgical pieces and being awestruck at the depth of Biblical wisdom contained therein.   My head is still catching up.

What is the fundamental doctrinal attraction?   That Nicene Christology is uncompromised, and that the Most Holy Trinity is unashamedly named by the revealed name of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.    In that sense Orthodox worship is as politically incorrect as it gets, for we repeatedly declare "it is meet and right to worship Father, Son, and Holy Spirit:  The Trinity, one in essence and undivided"  (final phrase of the Sursum

Thanks. I have no doubt that the uncompromising Nicene Christology would have been attractive considering the situation regarding the naming of God in many mainline denominations. The situation is grave indeed, and verges on a retraction of the orthodox doctrines of the Trinity and the two natures of Christ.

12
Your Turn / Re: As Western Holy Week begins
« on: March 20, 2016, 08:13:19 PM »
Tom,

I know this is perhaps off topic for this thread, but is there a series of posts in which you detail the theological reasoning behind your conversion to Orthodoxy? I know that you had been ELCA, and that your church had gone into LCMC not long after 2009, and then came under the episcopal supervision of an ACNA bishop.

I guess I'm curious: at what point did you find yourself beyond being unable to subsist in a Lutheran (or Anglican) church, and what was the process leading up to that like?

13
"We have no law barring murderers from marrying but we bar gay people?"

Wow! How'd that one slip past the editor?

Almost as rich as one of her closing lines: "The ethics and exegesis of this need working out. It’s the religious—not the legal—discussion that’s lacking."

But perhaps she's right. Maybe the religious discussion is lacking. After all, her attempt to engage that discussion meaningfully failed quite miserably. A compelling case for recognizing and blessing same-sex relationships? That I would welcome. But unfortunately, we're left with refuting over and over again these kinds of lousy arguments. After all, Jesus didn't mention incest either, nor did Paul live in a world with "loving, loyal, enduring" relationships between humans and animals. (Sigh)

The real deficit in this debate is with those on the left who want to ramrod the acceptance of homosexuality into our churches and in the public space without having to stop long enough to rationally consider what they're doing.

14
Your Turn / Re: Pr. R.O. Johnson on LCMS (FL Dec. 2015)
« on: December 14, 2015, 06:42:36 PM »
What are the objections to the Eucharistic Prayer?
Could someone answer this please?


If you google Oliver K Olsen you will find some resources which state some problems with some Eucharistic prayers. In a nutshell, many of these prayers end up changing the direction of the service. Rather than the Supper being God's gift to us they encourage the idea that the Supper is our sacrifice to God. The issues around sacrifice/sacrament are many and continuing. Luther's reform of the mass and Chytraeus' tome "On Sacrifice" both speak to the problematic nature of the Sacrament becoming sacrifice.


Lou


(Charles runs in limited circles, issues involving Eucharistic prayers were prominent in the formation of the old WordAlone movement in the ELCA)

I've always been sort of intrigued with this whole question, and really have never been adequately convinced that the use of the eucharistic prayer actually confuses the directionality of the liturgy. I understand in the case of the old Roman Canon, which was - and remains - a monstrosity. But especially in light of Melanchthon's implicit endorsement of the canon from the Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom in the Apology, I fail to see how eucharistic praying is, in every instance, a confusion of divine and human action. If Melanchthon were denouncing the use of the eucharistic prayer altogether, he would not have cited that canon as an example of a proper understanding of eucharistic sacrifice (one of thanksgiving for God's gifts, rather than an atoning sacrifice in which humans participate by going to or celebrating the mass). Even if we say that the verba are proclamation (which I do), their enclosure in a prayer doesn't mitigate their kerygmatic nature. It's usually argued that the verba shouldn't be enclosed as such, but if we shouldn't engage in "enclosing" Christ's words in prayer, then they shouldn't be used in the liturgy at all - since the liturgy is, after all, externally constituted by prayers offered by the church. This is where the logic really breaks down for me.

15
Your Turn / Re: Baptize my grandson!
« on: October 30, 2015, 02:19:23 PM »
I hesitate to speculate about such things, but it seems that there is some other reason that Don is so exercised by this. He seems unwilling to be realistic about his position (that it really would be more consistent to just deny baptismal regeneration), but won't engage with the honest and thoughtful objections that others have offered to his precarious construal of this problem. Not sure why he isn't able to see the aporia that he's set up here. Perhaps he doth protest too much?

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