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Messages - Mike Bennett

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916
Your Turn / Re: Evolution Weekend 2008
« on: February 09, 2008, 06:56:13 PM »
Mike,
Please note I said "some ELCA pastors and parishes have all but abandoned God's Word."
I realize there are faithful parishes and pastors in the ELCA who are fighting for the truth and that is laudable, but these press releases that deviate from orthodox teachings seem to paint Lutheranism as a whole as deviating from traditional and orthodox Lutheran beliefs and doctrine.  Just look at the forthcoming statement on sexuality that is to come out during Lent.
I was a little harsh in my rhetoric, I'll admit, but this stuff is very frustrating to me.

And I was a little harsh in mine.  It's frustrating to me too.  I do think the LCMS-ELCA differences can be clearly described without treating the fringes of either as though they were the norm.

I haven't read the forthcoming statement on sexuality yet, but took the time to read the study materials and write a response to the materials ahead of the deadline for doing so.  I understand that the last time such responses were solicited (before our 2005 CWA), responses were taken into account and were useful in the process.  Lou Hesse, who was in the middle of that process, could correct me if I'm wrong.

Mike Bennett   

917
Your Turn / Re: Evolution Weekend 2008
« on: February 09, 2008, 06:20:07 PM »
My local newspaper has Evolution Weekend 2008 featured at an ELCA parish & a TEC parish with workshops showing how Darwinism and the Bible are in sync and compatable with one another.  Very disheartening and tedious to have to explain the differences between LCMS & ELCA to the uninitiated and how some ELCA pastors and parishes have all but abandoned God's Word.   I have to explain how they have chopped up Scriptures (historical criticism) with mans puny reasoning trying to decide which is actually God's Word and which is merely history, thereby coming to these erroneous conclusions which result in blatant false doctrine and obvious heterodoxy.

If it's so disheartening and tedious to you, you could make it easier on yourself by describing the differences between LCMS and ELCA in an honest and clear way that by-passes the polemics about all but abandoning God's Word, chopping up Scripture, puny resoning, trying to decide which parts are God's Word, blatant false doctrine and obvious heterodoxy. 

As I understand it (willilng to be corrected if incorrect) LCMS permits no reading of Genesis 1 and 2 other than a creation in 6 24-hour days, and officially eschews any consideration of the theory of evolution.  ELCA does not insist on either of those.  That pretty much explains it for your neighbor, if that's your objective.

I don't know what your other exposures have been, but I know for a fact that you have subscribed here long enough to know very well that there are faithful ELCA pastors right here who do not necessarily insist on creation in 6 24-hour days, who have a place for evolution in their understanding of things, and who do not abandon God's Word, chop up Scripture, use puny reasoning, pick and choose which parts of Scripture are God's Word, or teach blatant false doctrine and obvious heterodoxy.  Your polemics above are tiresome.

For what it's worth, I'm an ELCA layman who has no problem with understanding Genesis 1 and 2 as teaching creation in 6 24-hour days, is indifferent regarding the theory of evolution (biological science being one of the gaps in my education and experience), believes that all 66 books of the Old and New Testaments are the inspired Word of God, and has absolutely no interest in Evolution Weekend 2008.

Mike Bennett

918
Your Turn / Re: "MORMONS: LDS members are Christians"
« on: February 09, 2008, 05:35:52 PM »


What is the litmus test for being called "Christian," and why would you say (as I assume nearly all on this list will) that Mormons don't qualify?

Debbie Hesse



Before I read everything that others have already written, I'll bite and give a simple response to your last, simple question. What is the litmus test for being called "Christian"?  The Nicene Creed.  I believe that Mormons don't qualify because they would choke on the confession, "eternally begotten of the Father, God from God, light from light, True God from True God, begotten not made, of one being with the Father.  Through Him all things were made."

I agree with you that the letter writer's most obvious misunderstanding is of how we obtain salvation, but it seems to me that before that she had made statements about the Holy Trinity that should raise orthodox Christian suspicions.  The Three are One in essence, in being, not just in purpose.  By the way, I agree with your speculation that lots of our fellow Lutherans would find nothing to fault with the letter writer's statement of how we obtain salvation.

Mike Bennett

919
Your Turn / Re: "Living in Samaria"
« on: January 30, 2008, 05:58:13 PM »
Gary Hinton writes:
There is hope on the horizon since WordAlone is developing a Theological Institution with the very goal of classical and orthodox Trinitarian practice. This is a source of new young pastors to carry on the orthodox Lutheran tradition. They are already providing a class taught by James Nestingen formerly of Luther Seminary. It will be initially hosted by Concordia Seminary, St. Louis. Go to http://www.instituteoflutherantheology.org/ for information.

I comment:
Isn't this the same process and same dynamic used by the Extraordinary Candidacy Project? So will we have numbers of allegedly "orthodox" clergy prepared outside the process of the ELCA and approved for ordination and probably ordained outside ELCA approval? Amusing.

As far as I know the WordAlone Theological Institution does not attempt to certify candidates who are disqualified from ELCA ordination.  So I don't know what's amusing about it.  Perhaps just an excuse to say something snarky about WordAlone, so they won't feel left out.

Mike Bennett (not a member of or affiliated with WordAlone)

920
Your Turn / Re: TEC unraveling officially begins
« on: January 15, 2008, 12:04:22 AM »


Pastor Bennett,

Quote

I'm not a pastor.

Mike Bennett
Bidnessman

921
Your Turn / Re: TEC unraveling officially begins
« on: January 14, 2008, 06:10:59 PM »
I'm only sending this note to this topic because it's the last one I read before finally popping a vein.  It applies to many topics here, and to the tone of the ALPB Form Online in general.

The bickering, insults, counter-insults, never-ending arguments about anonymous posting (which was long-since ruled on by the moderators), charges and counter-charges of unfaithfulness and heresy, accusations, constant repetition of one schtick in response to any topic (Mark Twain said that to a man with a hammer everything looks like a nail - Pudd'n'head Wilson I believe), inter-Lutheran spatting, and general playground misbehavior by a small minority of subscribers has turned what was a really good place for grownup Lutheran discussion into a really unpleasant place in a few short months.  I suspect, though I can't prove it, that all (well, nearly all) the pepetrators pass for responsible churchmen in everyday life, which tells me that they know better and could behave if they wanted to. 

 Mike Bennett >:(

922
Your Turn / Re: Playoff Predictions
« on: January 13, 2008, 08:26:59 PM »


Well, the Anti-Christ lost today (Manning)

So the Superbowl winner will come from a saltwater district!


  ::)
Gosh, I hope Green Bay and Dallas don't read this and cancel the NFC championship game, or decide not to send its winner to the Super Bowl.

Mike Bennett

923
Your Turn / Re: TEC unraveling officially begins
« on: January 13, 2008, 07:57:41 PM »
Could this be the same person who just told somebody else to check his attitude?

No, our sister churches for the most part are in agreement with the LCMS in all the articles of the Faith.  As it should be.  Historic Lutherans who confess the faith of Augsburg seek fellowship with like-minded Lutheran bodies.  For example Kenya (BTW, my parish had a fund-raiser for the parish/clinic/school that was destroyed) looked to us when the LWF acting like a Chicago mafia boss said "ordain women or lose money." 

Unlike the St Louis mafia (which assuredly does exist, as my employer learned when we attempted to do some straightforward business on their turf) which would say what?

Now I would be open to talking to those conservative Episcopalians such as Schofield but I don't know if that is on the LCMS radar. 

Conservative Episcopalians confess the faith of Augsburg, which was your standard one paragraph earlier?  I don't think so.


At the same time, when the LCMS gets involved in dialogue with Rome (Rome likes us), the ELCA tries their best to remove us from the discussion.  After all, we don't want Roman Catholics to see and hear what Lutherans actually believe.

This fairly cries aloud for evidence. 

Mike Bennett

924
Your Turn / Re: Changing Realities - or - Distortion of the Gospel
« on: January 11, 2008, 10:40:12 PM »
Mike, our Pastors never say that you have to be baptised  or Christian. They just say all are welcome. ???

I hope to not be confronted with that situation in our congregation, and I'm sorry that you and many others are.   :(

Mike Bennett

925
Your Turn / Re: Changing Realities - or - Distortion of the Gospel
« on: January 11, 2008, 10:10:32 PM »
Unfortunately. Sir, that is what we are dealing with at our Church. It is no longer stated that you are reaceiving the True Body of Christ, and anyone can take Communion without restrictions. The Gospel is rarely preached.

I'm not sure whether by "our Church" you refer to your congregation or to ELCA.

In the congregation where I'm a member, I'm pleased to report that (1) the bulletin announcement clearly states that baptised Christians who believe that Jesus' body and blood are truly present in the bread and wine are welcome to commune, (2) the (very rare) visitor known to be of a faith other than Christian receives a blessing at the rail and not the elements, and (3) the Gospel is preached.  Additionally, though you didn't mention it, we confess our faith in a "real" creed (Apostles or Nicene) each Lord's Day, not in some substitute.

Mike Bennett
ELCA Layman


Mike,

Praise God for your congregation.

This summer, I visited a ELCA congregation a relative goes to.  The Lord's prayer was changed (the prelude referred to other than father), the creed was not the norm, the crosses in the sanctuary removed, and the lecture was on how we have to live at peace and not attempt to evangelize people of other faiths.

My relative was mildly disappointed I didn't commune (wasn't planning on it) until her pastor did indicate it would have made him very uncomfortable (as my presence did to some extent - though I said ntohing save I was a pastor, and when he asked, I said LCMS) as we shared a much different confession - since i was LCMS. 

Now my question - your ELCA church - is it more akin to this and ECUSA churches in its understanding of the the faith delivered to the saints, or closer to those in the LCMS?

We don't fall neatly into either category of your either-or question.

None of the things you described from your visit would occur in our congregation, though I will admit that our now-retired Associate Pastor was known to deliver some sermons that raised the hair on the back of my neck from time-to-time.  Our congregation is led by our faithful Pastor to receive the faith delivered to the saints just as I understand its predecessor bodies (LCA, and before that Augustana Synod) have for many decades before.  By this I mean unreserved adherence to Scripture, acceptance of God's self-revealed identity as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit,   the historic creeds of the Church, and the Lutheran Confessions.  I do fear that a large proportion of our lay members could be led in different directions by a less faithful pastor, but I don't know that for sure.  Objections to the "non-nice" aspects of the revealed faith are repeatedly raised in adult Bible studies by folks who should know better (e.g., "Pastor, I just can't accept that a good God would send anybody to Hell.") 

I will say that our understanding of Scripture is different than I understand the LCMS holds (which I know only from what I hear in places like this and from a couple of years of Issues, Etc. podcasts, as I've never worshipped in an LCMS congregation).  We are comfortable with historical critical methods of understanding Scripture, which I understand to be unacceptable in LCMS.  We do not insist on an understanding of a six calendar day creation (although I am personally quite comfortable with it).  And of course we have become comfortable with women in the office of Pastor and we offer Holy Communion to all baptised Christians who believe in the Christ's real presence in the elements.

Mike Bennett

926
Your Turn / Re: Changing Realities - or - Distortion of the Gospel
« on: January 11, 2008, 06:14:19 PM »
Unfortunately. Sir, that is what we are dealing with at our Church. It is no longer stated that you are reaceiving the True Body of Christ, and anyone can take Communion without restrictions. The Gospel is rarely preached.

I'm not sure whether by "our Church" you refer to your congregation or to ELCA.

In the congregation where I'm a member, I'm pleased to report that (1) the bulletin announcement clearly states that baptised Christians who believe that Jesus' body and blood are truly present in the bread and wine are welcome to commune, (2) the (very rare) visitor known to be of a faith other than Christian receives a blessing at the rail and not the elements, and (3) the Gospel is preached.  Additionally, though you didn't mention it, we confess our faith in a "real" creed (Apostles or Nicene) each Lord's Day, not in some substitute.

Mike Bennett
ELCA Layman

927
Your Turn / Re: In what "name" do we marry?
« on: January 10, 2008, 06:03:52 PM »
I would like to ask if this how our bishops treat these kind of circumstances?  I always thought that our bishops were to enforce ELCA policies to the letter.  Both regarding the correct teaching of God's Word, and the Correct teachings of the ELCA.
The ELCA has no official policy about officiating at same-sex unions. The following is from the ELCA web site (boldface added):

At the 2005 Churchwide Assembly, the Assembly voted to adopt Recommendation Two from the ELCA Church Council regarding blessing of same-sex unions, that the church not adopt a policy, but continue to follow the advice of the Conference of Bishops. The advice states that there is no basis for an official ceremony, and that pastors are trusted to provide pastoral care. (http://www.elca.org/faithfuljourney/policy/)

This is, I believe, accurate but not quite truthful.  The fact is that the 2005 Churchwide Assembly debated several proposed ammendments to the (so-called) "Proposition #2," including an ammendment that would have sanctioned blessing of same-sex relationships (though this ammendment, as I recall, did not propose a "rite" for such a blessing), and rejected it.  As a matter of fact, the CWA ammended the proposal to remove the mention of homosexuality out of the "pastoral care" provision altogther (thanks to Bp. Hendrix).  So yes, while a policy was "not adopted," the situation was anything but ambigous--as you well know.

Add to that fact that the previous standing of the ALC/LCA/AELC was not "neutral" on this subject (as you would seem to argue) but the predecessor statements and sentiments were UNANIMOUSLY against a favorable understanding of homosexuality and same-sex relationships.  So to argue that "because a policy was not adopted, therefore there is no policy" is erronous.  The burden of proof in these cases is not on the "status quo," but upon those seeking change.  Those who sought a change failed, status quo remains.  The status quo rejects blessing of same-sex unions.

Of course your logic is pervasive in our society and denomination.  Hence why we need a warning label to tell us not to use the hair-drier while in the shower, or that matches may cause a fire...  Because, God forbid someone doesn't tell us not to do something....

Pax Christi;
Pr. Jerry Kliner, STS


Further to the comments regarding the 2005 CWA's actions/inactions with respect to same sex unions and related matters, I'll contribute the following.  I was a voting member of that assembly, and found the assembly's refusal to take an unambiguous stand one way or the other on same sex unions frustrating and inexplicable.  Following are some vote results regarding 2005 CWA votes that I carry in my organizer to this day:

Moved; Seconded; Defeated:
Yes-334; No-665 (33% to 67%)
It shall be the policy of the ELCA that for the sake of ministry and mission a congregation may choose to authorize its pastor(s) to preside at services of blessing for persons in covenanted
same-gender relationships.

Moved; Seconded; Defeated:
Yes-415; No-580 (42% to 58%)
To amend by addition:
RESOLVED, that this church welcome gay and lesbian persons into its life (as stated in Churchwide Assembly resolutions from 1991, 1995, and 1999) and trust pastors and congregations to discern ways [add "other than the blessing of unions"] to provide faithful pastoral care to same-sex couples.

Moved; Seconded; Defeated:
Yes-418; No-581(42% to 58%)
WHEREAS, the Conference of Bishops issued a statement in 1993 acknowledging "that there is basis
neither in Scripture nor tradition for the establishment of an official ceremony by this church for the blessing of a homosexual relationship"; therefore, be it
RESOLVED, that the 2005 ELCA
Churchwide Assembly urge all congregations to welcome everyone in the life of its congregations
regardless of their sexual self-identity; and be it further
RESOLVED, that the 2005 ELCA
Churchwide Assembly believe the solemnizing and blessing of sexual unions is a rite of the church to
be reserved for the marriage of a man and a woman.

Moved; Seconded; Carried:
Yes-491; No-484 (50.4% to 49.6%)
To amend by substitution:
RESOLVED, that this church welcome gay and lesbian persons into its life (as stated in Churchwide Assembly Resolutions from 1991, 1995, and 1999) and trust pastors and congregations to discern ways to provide faithful pastoral care [strike "to same-sex couples"] and substite "for all to whom they minister."
The amendment was adopted.

Taken one at a time, each vote seems to express a view of the assembly on the matter of same sex unions.  Taken together, the votes are something of a dog's breakfast.

Mike Bennett

928
Your Turn / Re: ELCA's Grace Matters podcast pushes universalism
« on: January 10, 2008, 08:21:16 AM »
I think there are (at least) two flavors of belief in universal salvation.  The key difference might be in what you say to a Reverend of the Hindu or Buddhist religion.  One might say, "I would like to learn about God from you";  the other might say, "Christ will draw all peoples to him, including you: you're saved!"   Taken out of context, some passages might seem to give weight to the latter flavor even though it flies in the face of the AC if not the Creeds; the former flavor is mere heresy.

As an aside, I also find the Boy Scouts' position on religion to be very interesting. They want you to be a devout SOMETHING, regardless of whether it's a Jew or Hindu or Muslim or Bahai or Protestant or Catholic. Agnosticism is frowned upon; Cub Scouts are required to discuss "Duty to God" with their parents.  It sort of includes everyone, but I sometimes wonder just how large is the fraction of folks, both in the US and the world, who honor no God in their devotional life.

A recent episode of the "Grace Matters" podcast,  billed as the radio ministry of the ELCA, featured an interview with a Quaker who had written a book with the subtitle, if grace is true, why all people will be saved. In the podcast, the host made a long argument for universal salvation.   I had a few problems:

"If Grace is True.  1/6/2008"
http://www.gracematters.org/listen.html#January
http://phobos.apple.com/WebObjects/MZStore.woa/wa/viewPodcast?id=73798525&s=143441&i=21885263


They responded to scriptural prooftexts like "no one comes to the Father except by me" and "no other name by which we must be saved" with passages that said things like "God will draw all those who do good or honor him together", "Christ will draw all to him."   Two problems:


i) From what I read about my own lifestyle from Greenpeace and Amnesty International and MADD and Lutherans for Life, and from what I hear from some of my coworkers,  I personally am not doing good.  I may not even be honoring God. Yikes for my sake!  This posits God's law as a very silly trivial and idiotic thing if say the average Social Ministry Committee member of a congregation faithfully fufills it!

ii) The prooftexts and logical arugments made in the podcast are an argument for universalism where Christ is still the center, is still the save-r for those in those other religions.  Shouldn't we tell them that?

iii) What about those who don't even meet the Boy Scouts' criteria for honoring "a" God?  Don't we need to urgently evangelize them?



I think the problem you numbered i) is really the key problem.  I don't even need "Greenpeace and Amnesty International and MADD and Lutherans for Life, and . . . . . some of my coworkers" to tell me I'm 'way short of doing good.  Nor even my wife.  All I have to do is look into my own black heart and evaluate my own twisted motives for doing even what I can pass off to an observer as being "good."  It isn't good.  On my best day it isn't good. 

That's why I need Christ's righteousness in exchange for my own unrighteousness.  Learning that doing good is all I need isn't encouraging; it's reason for despair, without Jesus Christ.

The most universalistic notion I can buy is that at the last day the Great Judge might choose to declare every soul righteous for Christ's sake.  He can do that if He wants.  But Scripture gives me no warrant to assume that will be the case.
Mike Bennett

929
Your Turn / Re: January Lutheran
« on: January 08, 2008, 10:37:16 AM »
Tom, aren't you glad your mother did not decide to kill you when you were but a tiny little embryo?

Paul:

Tom's postings included the statement "I happen to think that natural embryos are human persons from the moment of conception," so I'm not sure what the basis of your question might be.  To have a meaningful conversation with Tom it's necessary to actually read and understand what he writes.  In ten years of trying to do that, I've only been partially successful a few times myself.   ;)

Mike Bennett

930
Your Turn / Re: The future of intimate relations and marriage
« on: January 04, 2008, 05:36:42 PM »
There is a new interesting commentary by Richard John Neuhaus over on First Things (http://www.firstthings.com/onthesquare/?p=943).  The discussion is on the following exchange:

   http://www.commonwealmagazine.org/article.php3?id_article=1957

In the commonweal article, Johnson makes the claim: 

“I think it important to state clearly that we do, in fact, reject the straightforward commands of Scripture, and appeal instead to another authority when we declare that same-sex unions can be holy and good. We appeal explicitly to the weight of our own experience and the experience thousands of others have witnessed to, which tells us that to claim our own sexual orientation is in fact to accept the way in which God has created us.”

I find it interesting that the article in question was brought to the attention of Fr. Neuhaus while he was speaking to the group 'Courage'  http://www.couragerc.net/


An astonishing part of the Johnson article in Commonweal is his statement, apparently made with a straight face:  "I trusted that God was at work in the life of one of my four daughters, who struggled against bigotry to claim her sexual identity as a lesbian. I trusted God was at work in the life she shares with her partner-a long-lasting and fruitful marriage dedicated to the care of others, and one that has borne fruit in a wonderful little girl who is among my and my wife’s dear grandchildren."  A lesbian "marriage" "bore fruit" in the form of a child.  Evidently his "experience" has overruled not only the clear teachings of Scripture (as he defiantly concedes) but also the laws of nature revealed by birds and bees.  :P

Mike Bennett

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