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Messages - Steverem

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1561
Your Turn / Re: TEC unraveling officially begins
« on: March 07, 2008, 11:22:17 AM »
Steverem writes:
While I think most of us can agree that the Millennium Development Goals are--as a whole--good, I would also hope that most here would agree that the Beatitudes are the "beatitudes of the 21st century."

I comment:
O.k., and I long ago gave up trying to base my decisions on the homiletical excesses of enthusiast preachers, be they at either end or any place on the spectrum. "Beatitudes for the 21st century" seems to me to be one of those excesses.

Charles,

That's true, but when the presiding bishop of The Episcopal Church decides to focus one of her Easter messages (not exactly sure which--I'll have to look it up) almost exclusively on the MDGs, it makes it appear that such excesses are coming from the top down.

(Oh, and for the record, while I have many disagreements with Bishop Hanson, I must say that his Easter messages are very good.  My Episcopalian/Anglican friends are envious.)

1562
Your Turn / Re: TEC unraveling officially begins
« on: March 07, 2008, 10:58:12 AM »
So someone somewhere with authority for the Church catholic has declared the Millennium Development Goals heretical? And should they be a "framework" for prayers about our earth, is this some kind of apostasy? Did I miss those pronouncements from somewhere?
Or are those Millennium Development Goals evil because it appears that "liberals" - those nasty "revisionists" - seem to support them? Enlighten me.


Charles,

I think the following is an example of why some here are nervous about the increased emphasis on MDGs within the church:

The United Nations Millennium Development Goals, which disturbed the writer for being found in a Christmas sermon, most would agree, are the beatitudes of the 21st century.  When we preach a Jesus that does not reorient us in our values and actions, then we preach sentimentality and ask nothing more from people than to take their place within accepted cultural norms.

- The Rev. Pierce Klemmt, Rector of Christ Church, Alexandria, VA (http://www.alextimes.com/article.asp?article=8691)


While I think most of us can agree that the Millennium Development Goals are--as a whole--good, I would also hope that most here would agree that the Beatitudes are the "beatitudes of the 21st century."

1563
Your Turn / Bishop Lazareth Passes
« on: February 27, 2008, 10:23:14 AM »
Didn't see this mentioned anywhere else on the board:

CHICAGO (ELCA) -- The Rev. William H. Lazareth, former bishop of the Metropolitan New York Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) died of cancer Feb. 23 in Bar Harbor, Maine.  Lazareth, 79, had a distinguished career as a college and seminary professor, author and leader with the ELCA, the former Lutheran Church in America (LCA) and the World Council of Churches (WCC), Geneva.
     
At the time of his death, Lazareth was a faculty member at Carthage College, Kenosha, Wis., serving as Jerald C. Brauer Distinguished Professor of Lutheran Studies.  He was also founding co-director of the online Augustine Institute at Carthage.
     
A memorial service is planned for April 26 at 3 p.m. at St. Matthew Lutheran Church, White Plains, N.Y., where he was a member.  A second memorial service will be held in Bar Harbor at a date to be determined.
     
"A most eloquent voice in witness to the gospel is now silent," said the Rev. Mark S. Hanson, ELCA presiding bishop, in a statement. "With people throughout the whole Church on earth, I mourn (his) death. At the same time, I convey to his dear wife, Jacqueline, and his children, the sympathy of a grateful church."
     
"Dr. Lazareth was a teacher of the Church.  The ecclesial, theological and ecumenical legacy that he leaves will bless the people of the Church for generations to come," he said.
     
Hanson noted that Lazareth oversaw the drafting "of one of the most influential documents of the 20th century" in his role as director of the WCC Faith and Order Secretariat from 1980 to 1983.  The document, "Baptism, Eucharist and Ministry," emerged from a half century of theological endeavor and consensus- building concerning issues that have separated churches, he said. "That document now exists in about 40 languages and continues to shape theological dialogue in the quest for deeper church-to- church relationships," Hanson said.
     
Hanson said Lazareth "had a special gift for using comparisons and contrasts in his patterns of preaching and teaching.  He employed vivid phrases and well-crafted sentences to convey abiding truths.  Those who had the privilege of hearing him always gained memorable insights into the witness of Scripture and the tradition of the Church."
     
The Rev. Stephen P. Bouman, who served as bishop of the ELCA Metropolitan New York Synod from 1996 to 2007, said Lazareth was "a giant among us."  Bouman is now executive director, ELCA Evangelical Outreach and Congregational Mission.
     
"Baptism, Eucharist and Ministry" is a document that will be a legacy for the whole Church, Bouman said. "It helped me in my understanding of the ministry of the diaconate in the Metropolitan New York Synod, as well as an enduring way in which to think, work and pray for the unity of Christ's Body," he said.
     
"As bishop he (Lazareth) was an outstanding missional leader.  Many remember his clear and passionate call for justice among the urban poor on the streets of the Bronx as he helped launch Nehemiah affordable housing.  His leadership as bishop, in so many ways, made our synod proud and public," Bouman said, adding that he was grateful for Lazareth's counsel while Bouman was serving as bishop.
     
Born in New York, Lazareth earned a bachelor's degree in history in 1948 from Princeton University, Princeton, N.J.  In 1953 he earned a master of divinity degree from the Lutheran Theological Seminary at Philadelphia (LTSP), one of eight ELCA seminaries.  Lazareth earned a doctorate in doctrinal theology from Columbia University- Union Theological Seminary, New York, in 1958.  Seven honorary doctorates were awarded to Lazareth.
     
Following his ordination in 1956 in the former United Lutheran Church, Lazareth was a faculty member for nearly 20 years at LTSP, serving as Hagan Professor of Systematic Theology and dean of the faculty.  After he left the faculty, Lazareth became a distinguished visiting professor at LTSP. In 1976 he became director of the Department for Church in Society, LCA Division for Mission in North America.
     
After serving three years as years as director of the WCC Faith and Order Secretariat, he became pastor of Holy Trinity Lutheran Church, New York, where he served from 1983 to 1987.  He was visiting professor, Union Theological Seminary, New York, from 1987 to 1996.  From 1991 to 2002, he was co-president of the Lutheran-Eastern Orthodox International Doctrinal Dialogues, Lutheran World Federation, Geneva.
     
In 1988 Lazareth was elected bishop of the ELCA Metropolitan New York Synod and served in that role until 1992 when he retired from active ministry. From 1996 to 2003, he was a member of the executive staff, Center of Theological Inquiry, Princeton, and was a visiting professor at Princeton University before he joined the faculty at Carthage College in 2003.
     
Lazareth authored 13 books, edited 15 books and wrote at least 45 essays.  In 1995 he was named "Lutheran Pastor of the Year USA" by the Luther Institute, Washington, D.C.
     
Lazareth is survived by Jacqueline, his wife of 53 years, daughters Karen and Victoria, and a son, Paul.

1564
Your Turn / Re: Teens and Faith
« on: November 28, 2007, 01:03:04 PM »

I think we are missing one major point here. That major point is that we are operating from a mentality of "gettting youth into our churches".

Why do we still have that mentality? Are we a club of some sort? I think we need to be out WHERE the youth are-coffee shops, concerts, movies, bars, wherever it may be.

And we have to do it intentionally-they won't often engage us on "our turf" ,  so do we  go to them?

I say this being a part of a church that has 250 active senior highs and about the same middle schoolers. Our youth ministry (which I have little or anything to do with)  is active and dynamic, but I do get concerned we are missing a whole mission field of kids that we are just ignoring, or overlooking.

From my experience (involved over 20 years in youth ministry on various levels), the "active and dynamic" church youth ministries are the ones that are seeking to go where the kids are.  And you're right--if we wait for young people to walk through our church doors to minister to them, we are missing the opportunity to minister to the overwhelming number of teenagers who will never do that.

I'm going to be the proverbial "stick-in-the-mud" in this discussion and ask a question that has not yet been asked of the proponents of "going out" to wherever.  My question is simple and straightforward on its face: "What are the limits to which the Church 'goes out,' and where do we then ask those 'out there' to 'come in' to a life of discipleship?"

Let me illustrate: A Church in Huntington, WV, held a "WrestleMania" style "worship drama" to reach out to the "unChurched" using a popular form of entertainment, complete with mock violence.  Is this acceptable?  Are there places the Church will not go in an effort to "reach out?"  What, exactly, are the limits to which the Faith can accomodate pop culture?

And further: What sorts of disciples are we growing when the Church is the only active seeker?  I have a similar question around "seeker" worship that is almost completely unlike the primary worship of the congregation; how does this help welcome the "outsider" and the "seeker" into the Faith and discipleship of Jesus who is unlike and bigger than ourselves?

I am not advocating the "passive" approach of "our doors are open, why aren't they coming in."  Nor am I advocating a "maintence" model of faith that simply seeks to maintain the status quo.  But I think this idea of taking the Church "out" to wherever has real limits and weaknesses.

But, as so many others have pointed out on other issues, I may not have a clue on what I speak.
Pax Christi;
Pr. Jerry Kliner, STS

To me, it's much more simple than that.  It means going to the local H.S. football games and getting to know teens there.  It means finding out what your church's teens are into, and going to those events to support them.  (Oh, for a dime for every band concert or J.V. football/volleyball/baseball/soccer game I've attended!)  In doing this, we are building up the teens already in our churches, and we are getting the opportunity to meet and minister to their friends and classmates.  Some of those might actually come to church or youth group events in the future, but even for the vast majority of those you meet who won't, you are given the opportunity to reflect Christ in an environment that doesn't always embrace the faith.

It's not a matter of accomodating pop culture, but a matter of being light in the darkness.

1565
Your Turn / Re: Teens and Faith
« on: November 28, 2007, 11:58:30 AM »

I think we are missing one major point here. That major point is that we are operating from a mentality of "gettting youth into our churches".

Why do we still have that mentality? Are we a club of some sort? I think we need to be out WHERE the youth are-coffee shops, concerts, movies, bars, wherever it may be.

And we have to do it intentionally-they won't often engage us on "our turf" ,  so do we  go to them?

I say this being a part of a church that has 250 active senior highs and about the same middle schoolers. Our youth ministry (which I have little or anything to do with)  is active and dynamic, but I do get concerned we are missing a whole mission field of kids that we are just ignoring, or overlooking.

Jeff Ruby 

From my experience (involved over 20 years in youth ministry on various levels), the "active and dynamic" church youth ministries are the ones that are seeking to go where the kids are.  And you're right--if we wait for young people to walk through our church doors to minister to them, we are missing the opportunity to minister to the overwhelming number of teenagers who will never do that.

1566
Your Turn / Re: TEC unraveling officially begins
« on: November 13, 2007, 12:47:07 PM »

The Episcopal Diocese of Colorado moved Friday to sue individual parishioners who support the breakaway congregation at Grace Church and St. Stephen's Parish in Colorado Springs, according to documents filed in El Paso District Court.

The petition asks the court to add 18 people to the diocese's existing countersuit, which is seeking monetary damages as well as repossession of the church.
I note the term "countersuit," which suggests that a suit against the diocese had been filed by the congregation and/or individual parishioners.

It has been my understanding that congregational councils can be held liable for decisions which they make. It is also not a new policy in TEC concerning church properties. Constitutionally, I believe, in case of division they revert to the diocese.

John Dornheim

Yes and no.  As a general rule, yes, the property is held in trust by the diocese.  However, there are instances (such as the case with the two most prominent CANA churches here in northern VA) where the church actually pre-dates the creation of the diocese.  Also, in Virginia, there is a certain Civil War-era legislation that allowed churches to leave the diocese with their property that is still actually on the books.  These are both fairly unique circumstances, but there are other legal questions raised elsewhere as well.  And then there is the issue of dioceses that leave the denomination--do those seeking to remain in TEC lose their property to the diocese?  Suffice to say, these property disputes will likely drag on for many, many years.

(Note:  It appears Brian H. beat me to the punch.)

1567
Your Turn / Re: Interesting Results from ELCA Congregational Survey
« on: November 09, 2007, 05:18:27 PM »
I know that the LCMS shut down it's office in DC, though there is still some activity conducted remotely.  They occasionally send out a newsletter and their activity pretty much mirrors our doctrinal committments and faith positions.  As the LCMS does not tend towards social statements like the ELCA does and, perhaps the belief that the 2 Kindgom Theology is more applicable, there seems to be less governmental lobbying from the LCMS.  Anyone who knows more about LCMS activity in legislative matters?

Your overall sense is right.  The LCMS' Office of Governmental Affairs (since closed) pretty much avoided commenting on any specific legislation, choosing to deal with the meta-issues, and offering analysis rather than lobbying.  LOGA is much more comfortable with promoting specific bills and legislation.  (To LOGA's credit, however, they have avoided some of the extremes of other church lobbying offices--TEC and UMC come to mind--that have marched in support of abortion on demand, and are active members of the Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice [RCRC, for whomever was asking], despite a notable lack of church unity on such matters.)

1568
Your Turn / Re: Is Taking a Life or Waging War Ever Justified?
« on: November 09, 2007, 05:03:35 PM »
Okay, personal pet peeve here--on what basis do we claim that all humans are "children of God"?  Surely, we are all created by God, and loved by God, but childhood comes only through adoption--the saving act of Christ's death and resurrection for those who believe.  Are our enemies all children of God?  Some most certainly are.  Others likely are not.  We are to treat all people with whom we come in contact as those for whom God loved enough that he offered his Son as a sacrifice for their sins, but that is not to say that they are automatically God's children--except in the most general sense that He is the Creator of all.  It is also not to say that when those indviduals act in a way that could be described as "evil," or endangers others created by God in His image, that force may not be used to preserve peace and order.

1569
Your Turn / Re: Diocese of Pittsburgh to vote on leaving TEC
« on: November 08, 2007, 02:55:51 PM »
Just a small part of Spong's writings are offered as though one must conclude that everything he has written is pointless. That is far from the case. I have read him and found him to be helpful in refining my own thinking. That which I found unhelpful I reject. As a  bishop, he is also a teacher of the church. TEC has not adopted many of his ideas so there is no reason to conclude that his work has had the negative impact which is suggested.

John Dornheim

"All atonement theories root in a sense of human alienation and with it a sense of human powerlessness. 'Without Thee we can do nothing good!' So we develop legends about the God who does for us what we cannot do for ourselves. . . . As we Christians tell the story of Jesus' dying for our sins in doctrine, hymns and liturgy, we quite unknowingly turn God into an ogre, a deity who practices child sacrifice and a guilt-producing figure, who tells us that our sinfulness is the cause of the death of Jesus. God did it to him instead of to us who deserved it. Somehow that is supposed to make it both antiseptic and worthwhile. It doesn't. I think we can and must break the power of these images."  - Rt. Rev John Shelby Spong

When Spong denies substitutional atonement, he denies Christianity at the core, and renders anything else he has to say on the faith superfluous.  If one is unable to say that such blatant heresy is outside the Christian faith, you have to wonder what it would take to qualify as heresy.

(Of course, this isn't the only objectionable thing Spong has said.  One need only look at his comments saying the reason why African Anglicans have been slow to embrace the new sexual morality pioneered by the Western churches is because they are only "one generation removed from tribalism" and all the supserstitions that come with it.  Had a theological conservative said such a thing, he or she would have been (rightly) labeled a raving racist.  How Spong manages to say such things without punishment is beyond me.)

1570
Your Turn / Re: Homosexual "Marriage" in the ELCA
« on: October 26, 2007, 03:06:22 PM »
Such an argument would carry greater weight if those advocating for such a position hadn't spent a good deal of time here defending all manner of behavior at the Folsom Street Festival.  Failure to identify that behavior as inherently sinful just underscores the view of many that those favoring same-sex marriage are, in their essence, antinomian.

1571
Your Turn / Re: Lutheran factions
« on: August 23, 2007, 10:57:39 AM »
A book I found helpful in distinguishing some of the different elements within Lutheranism is Lutherans Today: American Lutheran Identity in the 21st Century (Eerdmans Publishing, 2003, Richard Cimino, Editor).

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