Author Topic: Giving Polygamy a Chance  (Read 29421 times)

Pilgrim

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Re: Giving Polygamy a Chance
« Reply #180 on: January 26, 2010, 10:01:06 AM »
Brian Stoffregen wrote: Your (and other's) oft repeated statement that we have approved sin indicates a warped idea of what the ELCA has done.

James Gustafson replied nicely: Why are you saying that the ELCA has a warped perception of self?  According to the bound conscience clause it's an ELCA approved position to preach and teach that homosexual activities are contrary to biblical and historical church doctrines, so it is an ELCA approved position to state that the ELCA has approved sin in congregations which teach and preach differently.  If the ELCA is going to advocate double mindedness perhaps someone should remind them of James 1:8, he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways..  The ELCA is purposely double minded about the issues they brought up at the CWA meeting, an issue that they think and they say they cannot find a satisfactory for everyone answer to.

Pilgrim wonders out loud: In my wife's school district, whenever an ethnic group falls below a certain percentage, they cannot even be counted a minority, simply because their numbers are so minuscule relative to the school and/or district. What strikes me as interesting about Brian S. (and the ELCA's) ongoing action and contention is their unrelenting implied attack on the totality of both the historic church and the present day world wide Christian communion's moral teaching, such that, if percentages were used, they(we) ELCA, Episcopals and UCC, etc., would not even constitute a sizeable enough group to be deemed a minority by the aforementioned standards. Now, the "new thing" all these folks are proclaiming may (I say may) be right ... but the fact that being in such a minuscule minority in light of the whole of the Church on earth and the Saints in heaven being a reality, you would think some appropriate humility and far more tentative rhetoric would be in order. Could it be that the stridency of the sexual revolution run amok has caused even some among the faithful to fall away, blown about by the contemporary winds of so-called "religious" self-fulfillment (aka, sin in any other age)?
Pr. Tim Christ, STS

peter_speckhard

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Re: Giving Polygamy a Chance
« Reply #181 on: January 26, 2010, 10:09:39 AM »
Your (and other's) oft repeated statement that we have approved sin indicates a warped idea of what the ELCA has done.

Why are you saying that the ELCA has a warped perception of self?  According to the bound conscience clause it's an ELCA approved position to preach and teach that homosexual activities are contrary to biblical and historical church doctrines, so it is an ELCA approved position to state that the ELCA has approved sin in congregations which teach and preach differently.  If the ELCA is going to advocate double mindedness perhaps someone should remind them of James 1:8, he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways..  The ELCA is purposely double minded about the issues they brought up at the CWA meeting, an issue that they think and they say they cannot find a satisfactory for everyone answer to.

James is exactly right. Because of the "bound conscience" idea, the ELCA recognizes as Christian doctrine taught in ELCA churches that homosexual activity is sinful. It also approves such acitivity among its clergy. Therefore, the ELCA approves what the ELCA classifies as sin. Unless, that is, one position or the other (the approval or the classification) is contrary to the teachings of the ELCA.

DCharlton

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Re: Giving Polygamy a Chance
« Reply #182 on: January 26, 2010, 10:10:52 AM »

I wouldn't rehash this again if I didn't think it illustrated a skepticism that is  common in the  ELCA.  According to Brian, true communication through words is impossible.

I've never said "impossible". Studies I read back in college (40 years ago) indicated that about 60% of what is communicated in a two-way conversation is non-verbal. All of that is lost in written words. Because of that, emoticons were invented to help written texts express non-verbal clues, e.g., speaking ironically.

Quote
We cannot understand another person's mind through language.  Language is an opaque wall seperating two people. All we have are shadows that must be interpreted.

We certainly interpret another person's mind through language -- and we are often wrong. Thus counselors and therapists are trained to probe further if their interpretation of the meaning and inner thinking and feeling are correct by asking questions -- or checking observations. However, we can't ask the biblical writers, "What did you mean by that?" or "Were you being ironic?" or "Were you quoting the opposition?" "Were you serious?"

Quote
On the other hand, through modern psychological theories we can penetrate  beyond the opaque barrier of language and discern the inner thoughts and motivations of others.

Well, I was a psych major in college. Yes, we use that. We also use communication theory and social science studies to better understand what might be going on in the mind of the original biblical writers. Weren't you arguing before that words don't exist in a vacuum? There is the context of the sentence, paragraph, entire writing; and there is the context of the social/cultural world in which the writer lived. The more we understand that the more accurate we are likely to be in interpreting the intended meaning of the written words.

Brian,

It seems that you and I are in agreement.  You place greater trust in psychology, communication theory, and social science than you do it the plain meaning of the text.  You do believe that language itself is a poor medium of communication that must be augmented by the very best of current theory.  

We do not disagree about what yo believe.  We disagree about whether what you believe is true.  I believe that your approach is a return to the methods of interpretation that Luther rejected.  It resembles the four-fold method that sought to penetrate beyond the plain meaning of the text to the deeper and multiple meanings.  Going even further, it seems as if you believe a special gnosis is required to free up the true meaning of the text.  

In summary, your approach, which I'm sure is the product of your college and seminary education, is a step backward from a Lutheran perspective.

David
« Last Edit: January 26, 2010, 10:27:53 AM by DCharlton »
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Was Algul Siento a divinity school?

Brian Stoffregen

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Re: Giving Polygamy a Chance
« Reply #183 on: January 26, 2010, 11:14:11 AM »

More often, I reference Chasing the Eastern Star: Adventures in Biblical Reader-Response Criticism...

Every time you give that title, I have to consciously think, "Don't worry, he's not referring to Masons...."

Shuddering nonetheless, spt+


Lady Masons, none the less!  ;)  Is there something you'd like to share with us, Brian?

Hmmm, I wonder why my thoughts go towards a biblical story and yours go towards "lady Masons".
"The church had made us like ill-taught piano students; we play our songs, but we never really hear them, because our main concern is not to make music, but but to avoid some flub that will get us in dutch." [Robert Capon, _Between Noon and Three_, p. 148]

hillwilliam

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Re: Giving Polygamy a Chance
« Reply #184 on: January 26, 2010, 11:37:46 AM »

And there can be just as much of a "traditional arrogance" that believes God only spoke to those men in the first few centuries after Christ's resurrection.

And naturally you once again attribute to those you oppose something other than what they actually say.

If you can't exegete plain American English of your own era...

spt+

Concerning interpretation of Scripture:

In Oswald Bayer's book, "Martin Luther's Theology" he states on page 27: "The point is that one can use the arts of grammar, dialectic, and rhetoric to determine the meaning of the text of Holy Scripture; one can make sense of it and teach it to others in the schools and institutions of higher learning --- thus serving to articulate the external clarity of Scripture, which (Luther quotation) 'is employed in service to the Word'. "

It continues, (Luther quotation) "Among all the academic disciplines that have been developed by human beings, in a most important way grammar is most useful for the advancement of theology" (end quote) . grammar and rhetoric are more important for him (the theologian) than dialectic, which drifts along emptily without language or history, and leads one astray. (Luther quotation) "the sophists did not take what has been logical from time immemorial into account, that is, they did not think important that grammar and rhetoric need to be taught first. For whenever one seeks to know about logic before one knows grammar, and where one would rather teach than hear, would rather judge than speak, nothing correct is going to follow therefrom." (end quote)

Those who aren't thoroughly grounded in their own language aren't likely to be able to apply reason to the interpretation of Scripture successfully. Reason is most reasonable in service to the word not attacking it with sophist tools.

Brian Stoffregen

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Re: Giving Polygamy a Chance
« Reply #185 on: January 26, 2010, 12:32:10 PM »
Your (and other's) oft repeated statement that we have approved sin indicates a warped idea of what the ELCA has done.

Why are you saying that the ELCA has a warped perception of self?  According to the bound conscience clause it's an ELCA approved position to preach and teach that homosexual activities are contrary to biblical and historical church doctrines, so it is an ELCA approved position to state that the ELCA has approved sin in congregations which teach and preach differently.  If the ELCA is going to advocate double mindedness perhaps someone should remind them of James 1:8, he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways..  The ELCA is purposely double minded about the issues they brought up at the CWA meeting, an issue that they think and they say they cannot find a satisfactory for everyone answer to.

I did not say that the ELCA has a warped perception, but you and others who keep saying that the ELCA has "approved sin". That sounds a lot like the Pharisee's criticism of Jesus -- especially his fellowship practice of eating and associating with the unclean, sinners, tax collectors, and prostitutes.

As far as "double-mindedness," the ELCA looks to Paul rather than James for its guidance. Paul states forcefully in Galatians that circumcision cannot be required for salvation; but he also has Timothy circumcised. He argues that remaining single is the best way to devote one's whole life to God; but if you can't control your desires (and actions,) it's OK for believers to marry. He says that it's OK to eat that has been sacrificed to idols (contrary to the edict of the Jerusalem council,) but he also refuses to eat it in certain circumstances.

Quote
(For context, James 1:5-8
If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him.  But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind. For that person must not suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.
Ask God and read scripture seeking his answer, ask in faith, without doubting what the Scripture says in regards to your answer.  Doubting the scriptural answer from the Lord means that person must not suppose that they will receive an answer from the Lord...)

The word that James uses for doubt (διακρίνω) is interesting. James uses it again in 2:4 to criticize the people for "making distinctions" among the believers! Even more interesting is Paul's use of the word in Romans 14:22-23: "The faith that you have, have as your own conviction before God. Blessed are those who have no reason to condemn themselves because of what they approve. But those who have doubts are condemned if they eat, because they do not act from faith; for whatever does not proceed from faith is sin." This is one of the key texts for talking about "bound consciences" -- one's convictions about a particular issue when other believers have another conviction. In Romans 14 it is about eating meat and drinking wine. We certainly have found ways for meat-eating and wine-drinking believers to respect the convictions of believers who are vegetarians and tea-totallers. The ELCA has seen fit, through study and prayers, to apply the same criteria to the issue of committed same-gender relationships. The ELCA is not "doubting" or being "double-minded," but recognizing, as Paul does in Romans 14, that God leads believers to different convictions about some issues.
"The church had made us like ill-taught piano students; we play our songs, but we never really hear them, because our main concern is not to make music, but but to avoid some flub that will get us in dutch." [Robert Capon, _Between Noon and Three_, p. 148]

Brian Stoffregen

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Re: Giving Polygamy a Chance
« Reply #186 on: January 26, 2010, 12:34:19 PM »
Those who aren't thoroughly grounded in their own language aren't likely to be able to apply reason to the interpretation of Scripture successfully. Reason is most reasonable in service to the word not attacking it with sophist tools.

Except that American English is not the language of scripture.
"The church had made us like ill-taught piano students; we play our songs, but we never really hear them, because our main concern is not to make music, but but to avoid some flub that will get us in dutch." [Robert Capon, _Between Noon and Three_, p. 148]

Pilgrim

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Re: Giving Polygamy a Chance
« Reply #187 on: January 26, 2010, 12:44:15 PM »
Brian Stoffregen writes: Your (and other's) oft repeated statement that we have approved sin indicates a warped idea of what the ELCA has done.

Pilgrim comments: In a sense, you speak rightly, grasshopper. Except that the ELCA has not disapproved this particular sin either (whether you view that warped or not is a separate issue)...the ELCA has clearly stated that it can't make up its mind. Therefore, BOTH approval and disapproval can be properly applied to homosexual behavior and are to be accomodated under this "new thing" (yet to be properly defined and administered if that is even possible) called, "bound conscience".

Kind of reminds me of "oh what a tangled web we weave, when we first practice to deceive". The sexual revolution (sic) claims yet an additional casulty - common sense!  :P
Pr. Tim Christ, STS

James Gustafson

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Re: Giving Polygamy a Chance
« Reply #188 on: January 26, 2010, 01:01:14 PM »
I did not say that the ELCA has a warped perception, but you and others who keep saying that the ELCA has "approved sin". That sounds a lot like the Pharisee's criticism of Jesus -- especially his fellowship practice of eating and associating with the unclean, sinners, tax collectors, and prostitutes.

Yes you did.  BTW: In your entire post, did you address the main issue even once?  The point was and IS, the ELCA approves the position to say that the ELCA approved sin.  It says so straight up, an ELCA congregation is allowed to be in the ELCA and say that the homosexual acts approved of in other ELCA congregations is in fact a sin.   So when you say "You and others" you are pointing at the ELCA too.  Thus, according to what you said, the ELCA has a warped perception of itself.  Try reading your own post before telling others what they are saying, you don't even seem to know what you are saying.
« Last Edit: January 26, 2010, 01:03:18 PM by James Gustafson »

hillwilliam

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Re: Giving Polygamy a Chance
« Reply #189 on: January 26, 2010, 01:39:23 PM »
Those who aren't thoroughly grounded in their own language aren't likely to be able to apply reason to the interpretation of Scripture successfully. Reason is most reasonable in service to the word not attacking it with sophist tools.

Except that American English is not the language of scripture.

However, it is the language that all Scripture is translated into for American Christians. Once again you seem to be saying that scripture cannot be understood by any but those with a special gnosis. If you believe that Scripture cannot be translated into American English maybe you should give all your future proof texts in the original language. Better yet translate the Scriptures yourself and publish the product of that translation. I would be fascinated by the progress of such an effort and it's reception by the world Christian community.

I, personally, believe that the best translations from the original languages into American English are already in existence, are consistent with each other and were produced by the best scholars available. More importantly, I believe that the Holy Spirit has safeguarded the message of the Scriptures so that it comes to us today with the same clarity it had for the original hearers.

Brian Stoffregen

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Re: Giving Polygamy a Chance
« Reply #190 on: January 26, 2010, 02:00:35 PM »
It seems that you and I are in agreement.  You place greater trust in psychology, communication theory, and social science than you do it the plain meaning of the text.  You do believe that language itself is a poor medium of communication that must be augmented by the very best of current theory.

I would say that the disagreement is about what is "the plain meaning of the text." The ELCA approach, at least as spelled out in their Book of Faith initiative, is that it refers to the plain meaning as intended by the author -- or the plain meaning as understood by the first readers/hearers of the text. Thus seeking to understand everything we can about world, culture, society at the time of the biblical writings is essential for discerning the plain meaning of the text. This, at least by our ELCA biblical scholars, is precisely what Luther did in opposition to the allegorical exegesis that had been done.

Quote
It resembles the four-fold method that sought to penetrate beyond the plain meaning of the text to the deeper and multiple meanings.  Going even further, it seems as if you believe a special gnosis is required to free up the true meaning of the text.  

Yup, the special gnosis is learning the biblical languages. If it wasn't so important for properly understanding the text, why do our seminaries require at least Greek for ordination?

Quote
In summary, your approach, which I'm sure is the product of your college and seminary education, is a step backward from a Lutheran perspective.

Actually the method I use for exegesis came primarily from a class at the Lutheran Bible Institute in Seattle. About the only difference from that approach is that I now use it with the Greek (and occasionally Hebrew) text rather than English. The primary resource is the text. The main secondary source are lexicons. Third is a concordance. I spent nearly all of my exegetical time with just the words of the text -- printed out on a sheet of paper with wide spacing and wide margins where I can make comments and notes about the text. (The process I was taught at LBI.)
« Last Edit: January 26, 2010, 02:04:20 PM by Brian Stoffregen »
"The church had made us like ill-taught piano students; we play our songs, but we never really hear them, because our main concern is not to make music, but but to avoid some flub that will get us in dutch." [Robert Capon, _Between Noon and Three_, p. 148]

Brian Stoffregen

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Re: Giving Polygamy a Chance
« Reply #191 on: January 26, 2010, 02:07:02 PM »
Those who aren't thoroughly grounded in their own language aren't likely to be able to apply reason to the interpretation of Scripture successfully. Reason is most reasonable in service to the word not attacking it with sophist tools.

Except that American English is not the language of scripture.

However, it is the language that all Scripture is translated into for American Christians. Once again you seem to be saying that scripture cannot be understood by any but those with a special gnosis. If you believe that Scripture cannot be translated into American English maybe you should give all your future proof texts in the original language. Better yet translate the Scriptures yourself and publish the product of that translation. I would be fascinated by the progress of such an effort and it's reception by the world Christian community.

If a knowledge of Greek wasn't so important, why do our seminaries require it?

Quote
I, personally, believe that the best translations from the original languages into American English are already in existence, are consistent with each other and were produced by the best scholars available. More importantly, I believe that the Holy Spirit has safeguarded the message of the Scriptures so that it comes to us today with the same clarity it had for the original hearers.

My suggestion to folks who don't know the original languages is to study the text in at least two literal translations and perhaps one or two less literal -- noting similarities and differences in the way scholars have translated the text -- including reading the footnotes. Every translation has biases. Every translation has strengths and weaknesses. On the shelves next to my desk, I have 11 different English translations -- as well as Greek and Hebrew texts and tools.
"The church had made us like ill-taught piano students; we play our songs, but we never really hear them, because our main concern is not to make music, but but to avoid some flub that will get us in dutch." [Robert Capon, _Between Noon and Three_, p. 148]

DCharlton

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Re: Giving Polygamy a Chance
« Reply #192 on: January 26, 2010, 02:24:46 PM »
It seems that you and I are in agreement.  You place greater trust in psychology, communication theory, and social science than you do it the plain meaning of the text.  You do believe that language itself is a poor medium of communication that must be augmented by the very best of current theory.

I would say that the disagreement is about what is "the plain meaning of the text." The ELCA approach, at least as spelled out in their Book of Faith initiative, is that it refers to the plain meaning as intended by the author -- or the plain meaning as understood by the first readers/hearers of the text. Thus seeking to understand everything we can about world, culture, society at the time of the biblical writings is essential for discerning the plain meaning of the text. This, at least by our ELCA biblical scholars, is precisely what Luther did in opposition to the allegorical exegesis that had been done.

Quote
It resembles the four-fold method that sought to penetrate beyond the plain meaning of the text to the deeper and multiple meanings.  Going even further, it seems as if you believe a special gnosis is required to free up the true meaning of the text.  

Yup, the special gnosis is learning the biblical languages. If it wasn't so important for properly understanding the text, why do our seminaries require at least Greek for ordination?

Quote
In summary, your approach, which I'm sure is the product of your college and seminary education, is a step backward from a Lutheran perspective.

Actually the method I use for exegesis came primarily from a class at the Lutheran Bible Institute in Seattle. About the only difference from that approach is that I now use it with the Greek (and occasionally Hebrew) text rather than English. The primary resource is the text. The main secondary source are lexicons. Third is a concordance. I spent nearly all of my exegetical time with just the words of the text -- printed out on a sheet of paper with wide spacing and wide margins where I can make comments and notes about the text. (The process I was taught at LBI.)

Brian,

The method you refer to above is not the one you have been advocating on this thread and that we were debating.  We were not disagreeing about the "plain meaning of the text".  We were debating the relative reliability of words and language (the plain meaning of the text) in understanding another person over against various modern tools of psychology, systems theory, etc...  The special gnosis you were championing was not learning biblical languages, it was the power to understand another person's inner thought and motivations by the use of family systems theory.

As I stated earlier, you are a skeptic when it comes to words and language.  However, when it comes to family systems theory, you feel quite confident that you can uncover the motives of another.  That's what we were discussing.  Remember?  Please, no red herrings.

David  
« Last Edit: January 26, 2010, 02:36:31 PM by DCharlton »
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Was Algul Siento a divinity school?

DCharlton

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Re: Giving Polygamy a Chance
« Reply #193 on: January 26, 2010, 02:31:41 PM »
Actually the method I use for exegesis came primarily from a class at the Lutheran Bible Institute in Seattle. About the only difference from that approach is that I now use it with the Greek (and occasionally Hebrew) text rather than English. The primary resource is the text. The main secondary source are lexicons. Third is a concordance. I spent nearly all of my exegetical time with just the words of the text -- printed out on a sheet of paper with wide spacing and wide margins where I can make comments and notes about the text. (The process I was taught at LBI.)

And when it's all done, you throw up your hand and announce, "No one really knows what this means.  It's all a matter or interpretation.  Some believe it means one thing, other believe it means the exact opposite."  It's not the tools you use, but your skeptical and relativist presuppostions that do you in.

« Last Edit: January 26, 2010, 02:39:06 PM by DCharlton »
David Charlton  

Was Algul Siento a divinity school?

northchurch

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Re: Giving Polygamy a Chance
« Reply #194 on: January 26, 2010, 02:35:42 PM »
Your (and other's) oft repeated statement that we have approved sin indicates a warped idea of what the ELCA has done.

Why are you saying that the ELCA has a warped perception of self?  According to the bound conscience clause it's an ELCA approved position to preach and teach that homosexual activities are contrary to biblical and historical church doctrines, so it is an ELCA approved position to state that the ELCA has approved sin in congregations which teach and preach differently.  If the ELCA is going to advocate double mindedness perhaps someone should remind them of James 1:8, he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways..  The ELCA is purposely double minded about the issues they brought up at the CWA meeting, an issue that they think and they say they cannot find a satisfactory for everyone answer to.

I did not say that the ELCA has a warped perception, but you and others who keep saying that the ELCA has "approved sin". That sounds a lot like the Pharisee's criticism of Jesus -- especially his fellowship practice of eating and associating with the unclean, sinners, tax collectors, and prostitutes.

As far as "double-mindedness," the ELCA looks to Paul rather than James for its guidance. Paul states forcefully in Galatians that circumcision cannot be required for salvation; but he also has Timothy circumcised. He argues that remaining single is the best way to devote one's whole life to God; but if you can't control your desires (and actions,) it's OK for believers to marry. He says that it's OK to eat that has been sacrificed to idols (contrary to the edict of the Jerusalem council,) but he also refuses to eat it in certain circumstances.

Quote
(For context, James 1:5-8
If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him.  But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind. For that person must not suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.
Ask God and read scripture seeking his answer, ask in faith, without doubting what the Scripture says in regards to your answer.  Doubting the scriptural answer from the Lord means that person must not suppose that they will receive an answer from the Lord...)

The word that James uses for doubt (διακρίνω) is interesting. James uses it again in 2:4 to criticize the people for "making distinctions" among the believers! Even more interesting is Paul's use of the word in Romans 14:22-23: "The faith that you have, have as your own conviction before God. Blessed are those who have no reason to condemn themselves because of what they approve. But those who have doubts are condemned if they eat, because they do not act from faith; for whatever does not proceed from faith is sin." This is one of the key texts for talking about "bound consciences" -- one's convictions about a particular issue when other believers have another conviction. In Romans 14 it is about eating meat and drinking wine. We certainly have found ways for meat-eating and wine-drinking believers to respect the convictions of believers who are vegetarians and tea-totallers. The ELCA has seen fit, through study and prayers, to apply the same criteria to the issue of committed same-gender relationships. The ELCA is not "doubting" or being "double-minded," but recognizing, as Paul does in Romans 14, that God leads believers to different convictions about some issues.

What I have bolded is what I will respond to.

Brian, do you not see the problem in this. Paul and James are both part of the Canon. They are both inspired Scripture. Therefore it is not proper to take one and ignore the other. Both are in play, both are to be taken together.

Of coure another problem with what you say (you and others who are rejecting the clear word of Scripture) is that the ELCA only looks to Paul in a very narrow way. It actually takes him out of context with regards the issue of bound conscience and ignores what he clearly says about sexual purity and the fact that those who live in sexual immorality, including homosexual sexual practice, shall not inherit the kingdom of God. Paul clearly makes the point in 1 Cor. 5 that the man committing incest must be excommunicated. What his conscience says to him is immaterial. He must repent or perish eternally.  So obviously the ELCA only cares for Paul in so far as he is useful. Otherwise he can be ignored.

The ELCA ignores this very thing in its social statement, and in fact makes it clear that as far as it is concerned Historic Christianity and the Lutheran Confessions (which include the understanding that the Bible is the final authority over matters of faith and life) are not in play with this decision to bless same sex unions and ordain practicing gay/lesbian clergy. They have moved away from Scripture.

 They do not really care for Paul over James. They don't care for either actually and will do their own thing. Their use of Paul (as you say) is only a smoke screen to give their CWA actions a religious gloss. Paul has not been embraced. Nor has Saint James.

Peace in the Lord Jesus Christ!
Rob Buechler, Pastor
Trinity-Bergen Lutheran Church