Author Topic: Refrain and Restrain  (Read 26455 times)

Steven Tibbetts

  • ALPB Contribution Leader
  • *****
  • Posts: 10213
  • Big tents are for circuses.
    • View Profile
Re: Refrain and Restrain
« Reply #330 on: July 24, 2008, 11:44:19 PM »
Gary Hinton writes:
Gee, Charles, I don't know. Which of the list of historic churches viewed homosex as a sin?

I comment:
So the unifying factor of Christianity through all the ages is a view of homosexuality?


No.  But that's the topic of this thread.

pax, spt+
The Rev. Steven Paul Tibbetts, STS
Pastor Zip's Blog

Pr. Jerry Kliner

  • Guest
Re: Refrain and Restrain
« Reply #331 on: July 24, 2008, 11:54:58 PM »
Pastor Kliner writes:
1) None of us rejoices when disciplinary actions are undertaken, even where they are appropriate.
I respond:
And neither would I, but what if sometimes they are "appropriate"? Do we fail to act just because we can't rejoice about it?

Pastor Kliner:
2) There is a feeling that the Bishop is the appropriate "first line" of defense when it comes to the Church.
Me:
But you then say that bishops are failing in this. So maybe a "second line of defense" needs to be erected?

Pastor Kliner:
3) Then there is there is the reality that such disciplinary action, when initiated against the wishes of the Bishop, will not ammount to anything.
Me:
How do you know that this is "reality"? And could not a synod, in Assembly, take some sort of disciplinary action or censure, whether the bishop agreed or not? Or what about electing bishops who promise that they will act? Why is that not happening? 

Pastor Kliner:
4) Finally, you are asking Pastors and congregations to "hang on a limb" by levering charges against their neighbors and in a climate which is, by its very nature, hostile to the charge-bringers.
Me:
Perhaps. But I have said many times, if the essence of the Gospel and the faith of the Church is at stake, is that not simply part of the deal? Who ever said that contending for "the true faith" was without difficulty?

Pastor Kliner:
I can't imagine walking into the next Synod Assembly having been labeled (as would inevitably happen) "judgmental, Pharisaical, homophobic, and arrogant..." for having brought charges against my fellow clergy.
Me:
But you would know that you are right and they are wrong. And presumably you would forgive them their sins against you.

Pastor Kliner:
That might be the price that needs to be paid, but I think it likely that, bringing charges against a fellow clergy-person in the ELCA, would be tantamount to signing your resignation from the "Roster of Ordained Ministers" in the ELCA.
Me:
I doubt that.

Pastor Kliner:
Lastly, it is interesting that the threshold for such action is 10 Pastors from the same Synod, or 3 Congregations.  The activists have had many years to work to "stack the deck" with clergy who are sympathetic to this cause...  Are there 10 Pastors in the S.P. Synod who even see this as a problem, much less rising to the level demanding them to hang-on-the-limb?  I don't know the Synod, but I wonder...
Me:
Seems to me this is giving up too easily. And just how do the "activists" stack the "deck" that is the clergy roster of the ELCA? Are the "activists" the only ones on candidacy committees, the staffs of bishops, the call committees of congregations? This is a dodge.

Charles, I'm NOT going to do this "line-by-line" give-and-take with you.  You asked why traditionalists are not lining up to bring charges, and I've given you my take on it.  Perhaps there are other reasons that someone else would like to contribute, but I've given you my main four...

Take em' or leave em'...  I'm not going to argue with you about them.

Pax Christi;
Pr. Jerry Kliner, STS

Mel Harris

  • ALPB Contribution Leader
  • *****
  • Posts: 726
    • View Profile
Re: Refrain and Restrain
« Reply #332 on: July 25, 2008, 01:45:53 AM »

Rightly or wrongly, what traditionalist pastor would want to inject this controversy into his or her own congregation by asking them to vote on such a thing? In my own congregation, there is strong negative feeling toward the direction of the ELCA with regard to sexuality, but it is far from unanimous. To ask the congregation to go through this trauma would be pastorally irresponsible. If I were to suggest it, I might be able to get a majority vote, but I imagine at least a third would vote against it, and many of those would be extremely unhappy about it.


I am sorry to hear this, though I have heard a few other pastors say similar things about their congregations.  I can understand picking your battles and not wanting to stir up unnecessary controversy in a congregation.  At the same time, I think that there are some things that should not be swept under the rug, even though exposing them to the light of day might expose some division of convictions within a congregation.

It might be easier to sit back and hope that the issues tearing apart our ELCA will be resolved, without our particular congregations having to play a part in that resolution.  I, however, think that the revisionists have gotten as far as they have because many in our ELCA have not wanted to speak up, rock the boat or upset anyone. 

I guess the question is:  When is it time to speak up, rock the boat and risk upsetting some people, and when will it be too late to speak up and have any possibility of making a difference?  There is a time for every matter under heaven.

Mel Harris     

Charles_Austin

  • Guest
Re: Refrain and Restrain
« Reply #333 on: July 25, 2008, 04:13:31 AM »
Pastor Kliner writes:
Charles, I'm NOT going to do this "line-by-line" give-and-take with you.  You asked why traditionalists are not lining up to bring charges, and I've given you my take on it.

I respond:
No need for a line by line.
My simple point is: If someone thinks a person, pastor or parish is acting in a way that contradicts, goes against, violates or otherwise compromises the heart of the Gospel or the essence of the faith or the integrity of the church; then one is obligated to take whatever action necessary to correct that, including assuming whatever risks that entails.
Otherwise, what we have are differences of opinion, and we should be working on mission and ministry together without reservation while discussing our differences.

Brian Stoffregen

  • ALPB Contribution Leader
  • *****
  • Posts: 44236
  • ἐγὼ δὲ λέγω ὑμῖν, ἀγαπᾶτε τοὺς ἐχθροὺς ὑμῶν
    • View Profile
Re: Refrain and Restrain
« Reply #334 on: July 25, 2008, 12:05:08 PM »
My simple point is: If someone thinks a person, pastor or parish is acting in a way that contradicts, goes against, violates or otherwise compromises the heart of the Gospel or the essence of the faith or the integrity of the church; then one is obligated to take whatever action necessary to correct that, including assuming whatever risks that entails.
In contrast to this, by "coming out," Jeff Johnson, Ruth Frost, and Phyllis Zillhart risked being refused ordination in the ELCA. The ELCA refused to ordain them. By the "extraordinary" calls and ordinations in 1990 to Jeff, Ruth, and Phyllis, the two congregations risked disciplinary actions by the ELCA. They were removed. By "coming out," Steve Sabin, Ross Merkel, and Brad Schmeling risked disciplinary actions by their respective synods and the expenses involved in defending themselves. They faced those risks and costs and were removed from the ELCA clergy roster. Every congregation who has called an ELM or other non-rostered candidate risks being removed from the ELCA. (And I imagine that the choice to call such a pastor originally caused turmoil within the congregation.) When non-partnered, homosexual candidates for ministry are not willing to agree to abstain from sexual behaviors for the rest of their lives, they risk losing their endorsement and ordination in the ELCA. This happens.

These are the risks that "revisionists" have taken and consequences of taking those risks. What risks are the "traditionalists" willing to take?
"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]

Team Hesse

  • Guest
Re: Refrain and Restrain
« Reply #335 on: July 25, 2008, 12:05:48 PM »

Rightly or wrongly, what traditionalist pastor would want to inject this controversy into his or her own congregation by asking them to vote on such a thing? In my own congregation, there is strong negative feeling toward the direction of the ELCA with regard to sexuality, but it is far from unanimous. To ask the congregation to go through this trauma would be pastorally irresponsible. If I were to suggest it, I might be able to get a majority vote, but I imagine at least a third would vote against it, and many of those would be extremely unhappy about it.


I am sorry to hear this, though I have heard a few other pastors say similar things about their congregations.  I can understand picking your battles and not wanting to stir up unnecessary controversy in a congregation.  At the same time, I think that there are some things that should not be swept under the rug, even though exposing them to the light of day might expose some division of convictions within a congregation.

It might be easier to sit back and hope that the issues tearing apart our ELCA will be resolved, without our particular congregations having to play a part in that resolution.  I, however, think that the revisionists have gotten as far as they have because many in our ELCA have not wanted to speak up, rock the boat or upset anyone. 

I guess the question is:  When is it time to speak up, rock the boat and risk upsetting some people, and when will it be too late to speak up and have any possibility of making a difference?  There is a time for every matter under heaven.

Mel Harris     

Reading a conversation like this one between two obviously devout and caring people simply moves me to greater sympathy for the folks who had to wrestle with the same kind of questions (what to do or not to do) back in the '30s.  Everyone thought Winston Churchill was an incredible crank for his overwhelming negative view of events in continental Europe, and he spent the '30s painting and writing books, out of power.  Sadly, he was right. 

"The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to" focus only on their local circumstances.   Which, quite frankly, is the reality for the majority of people.  There is indeed a time for acting on every matter under heaven.  Is this the time?

Lou

Brian Stoffregen

  • ALPB Contribution Leader
  • *****
  • Posts: 44236
  • ἐγὼ δὲ λέγω ὑμῖν, ἀγαπᾶτε τοὺς ἐχθροὺς ὑμῶν
    • View Profile
Re: Refrain and Restrain
« Reply #336 on: July 25, 2008, 12:17:03 PM »
"The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to" focus only on their local circumstances.   Which, quite frankly, is the reality for the majority of people.  There is indeed a time for acting on every matter under heaven.  Is this the time?
Could it also be that folks like Richard Johnson, even though they have their deeply held view about the homosexuality issues, believe that this it not a battle worth fighting; that there are more important issues to deal with in the congregation, such as being united as the body of Christ in proclaiming the Gospel (which is not the same thing as making a statement about homosexual persons); administering the sacraments, and paying for a new addition to the church.
"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]

Team Hesse

  • Guest
Re: Refrain and Restrain
« Reply #337 on: July 25, 2008, 12:17:14 PM »
These are the risks that "revisionists" have taken and consequences of taking those risks. What risks are the "traditionalists" willing to take?

I could give you a long list, Brian, but I'm not into whining.
Life goes on, and we all have our crosses to bear.

I know a young pastor, with a family, serving an ELCA congregation who needs to escape the ELCA because it's destroying his health.  The doctors initially thought it was cancer, but it's not.  They can't figure out what is wrong with him, but it's literally killing him.  I believe the problem is he is participating in a system that he knows in the depths of his being is wrong.   I know the mental strain and anguish that he is going through.  I could always go home to my farm.  He's there for his parishioners and his call to proclaim Christ crucified in that place, but it's killing him. 
Cross to bear.

Lou

Brian Stoffregen

  • ALPB Contribution Leader
  • *****
  • Posts: 44236
  • ἐγὼ δὲ λέγω ὑμῖν, ἀγαπᾶτε τοὺς ἐχθροὺς ὑμῶν
    • View Profile
Re: Refrain and Restrain
« Reply #338 on: July 25, 2008, 12:22:33 PM »
He's there for his parishioners and his call to proclaim Christ crucified in that place, but it's killing him.  Cross to bear.
Clergy, and we are often not too good at this, also need to people people to whom Christ crucified is proclaimed. We need to see ourselves as the recipients of the proclamation, and not just the proclaimers. We need to hear and believe that Christ is our ransom -- he paid the price to free us from bondage and slavery. It can be easy to become so bound to the duties of being a pastor and bringing Christ crucified to the folks under our care, that we fail to be humble recipients of the grace that we proclaim.
"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]

Team Hesse

  • Guest
Re: Refrain and Restrain
« Reply #339 on: July 25, 2008, 12:24:58 PM »
"The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to" focus only on their local circumstances.   Which, quite frankly, is the reality for the majority of people.  There is indeed a time for acting on every matter under heaven.  Is this the time?
Could it also be that folks like Richard Johnson, even though they have their deeply held view about the homosexuality issues, believe that this it not a battle worth fighting; that there are more important issues to deal with in the congregation, such as being united as the body of Christ in proclaiming the Gospel (which is not the same thing as making a statement about homosexual persons); administering the sacraments, and paying for a new addition to the church.

Well, Brian, there are some things that you and I agree about, but we don't agree on the Gospel.  I won't deny the forgiveness of sins to gay and lesbian people by lying to them that their behaviors are good.  The only thing that matters to this sinner is that my sins are forgiven, and I want all people to hear that.  It says in Romans that God has consigned all things to sin, and I find no place in scripture where he encourages any of these behaviors.  It's about the forgiveness of sin, not the new addition on the building.  If you take Augsburg VII seriously, the Gospel is the only thing that counts,  anywhere and everywhere. 

Lou

Layman Randy

  • Guest
Re: Refrain and Restrain
« Reply #340 on: July 25, 2008, 12:34:21 PM »

Rightly or wrongly, what traditionalist pastor would want to inject this controversy into his or her own congregation by asking them to vote on such a thing? In my own congregation, there is strong negative feeling toward the direction of the ELCA with regard to sexuality, but it is far from unanimous. To ask the congregation to go through this trauma would be pastorally irresponsible. If I were to suggest it, I might be able to get a majority vote, but I imagine at least a third would vote against it, and many of those would be extremely unhappy about it.


I am sorry to hear this, though I have heard a few other pastors say similar things about their congregations.  I can understand picking your battles and not wanting to stir up unnecessary controversy in a congregation.  At the same time, I think that there are some things that should not be swept under the rug, even though exposing them to the light of day might expose some division of convictions within a congregation.

It might be easier to sit back and hope that the issues tearing apart our ELCA will be resolved, without our particular congregations having to play a part in that resolution.  I, however, think that the revisionists have gotten as far as they have because many in our ELCA have not wanted to speak up, rock the boat or upset anyone. 

I guess the question is:  When is it time to speak up, rock the boat and risk upsetting some people, and when will it be too late to speak up and have any possibility of making a difference?  There is a time for every matter under heaven.

Mel Harris     

Reading a conversation like this one between two obviously devout and caring people simply moves me to greater sympathy for the folks who had to wrestle with the same kind of questions (what to do or not to do) back in the '30s.  Everyone thought Winston Churchill was an incredible crank for his overwhelming negative view of events in continental Europe, and he spent the '30s painting and writing books, out of power.  Sadly, he was right. 

"The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to" focus only on their local circumstances.   Which, quite frankly, is the reality for the majority of people.  There is indeed a time for acting on every matter under heaven.  Is this the time?

Lou

Thank you for beating me to the Edmund Burke quote.  I like your "focus only on their local circumstances" as an appropriate complement to "do nothing".

Acting on every matter under heaven in its time is critical as well.  One of the "non-Gospel" passages in Scripture that I quote most often in leadership situations is Philippians 4:8-9, ever since Pastor Vic Constein used it as his sermon text one November several decades ago - entitled "Action is the New Competence"  :

"Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is gracious, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.  What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, DO; and the God of peace will be with you."

Pastor Constein's emphasis was on verse 9 and "DO", since it seems that most everyone stops at "...think about these things" and then does nothing.  Meanwhile "Nero fiddles while Rome burns", but it isn't Nero and it isn't Rome (well, it is also Rome).

"All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing." Edmund Burke.
"All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to focus only on their local circumstances." Lou Hesse.



Charles_Austin

  • Guest
Re: Refrain and Restrain
« Reply #341 on: July 25, 2008, 12:35:24 PM »
Lou, I've met a couple of pastors such as the one you describe; and I say firmly: Get him career counseling and, if necessary, a change of careers. Or get him into another church body. Now.
This does not sound like a case where one must bear suffering literally "unto death" for the sake of the Gospel. The people he is serving now can be served by someone else. He can serve somewhere else. If he continues to, as you say, participate "in a system that he knows in the depths of his being is wrong," the strain on him and his family will be enormous, and it is unnecessary.
If he refuses such help, then you have another problem.   

Layman Randy

  • Guest
Re: Refrain and Restrain
« Reply #342 on: July 25, 2008, 01:02:20 PM »
Lou, I've met a couple of pastors such as the one you describe; and I say firmly: Get him career counseling and, if necessary, a change of careers. Or get him into another church body. Now.
This does not sound like a case where one must bear suffering literally "unto death" for the sake of the Gospel. The people he is serving now can be served by someone else. He can serve somewhere else. If he continues to, as you say, participate "in a system that he knows in the depths of his being is wrong," the strain on him and his family will be enormous, and it is unnecessary.
If he refuses such help, then you have another problem.   

"When the faith is present in the leader, it communicates itself to followers with powerful effect.  In the conventional mode people want to know whether the followers believe in the leader; a more searching question is whether the leader believes in the followers." John W. Gardner.

Brian Stoffregen

  • ALPB Contribution Leader
  • *****
  • Posts: 44236
  • ἐγὼ δὲ λέγω ὑμῖν, ἀγαπᾶτε τοὺς ἐχθροὺς ὑμῶν
    • View Profile
Re: Refrain and Restrain
« Reply #343 on: July 25, 2008, 01:11:25 PM »
Well, Brian, there are some things that you and I agree about, but we don't agree on the Gospel.  I won't deny the forgiveness of sins to gay and lesbian people by lying to them that their behaviors are good.
Three questions: What behaviors of hommosexuals are you calling "not good"? How many of those are also done by heterosexuals? How is it different from proclaiming: "We are all sinners and fall short of the glory of God. Because of Jesus, God forgives us all of our sins."

Quote
The only thing that matters to this sinner is that my sins are forgiven, and I want all people to hear that.  It says in Romans that God has consigned all things to sin, and I find no place in scripture where he encourages any of these behaviors.
 
Exactly. The gospel is proclaiming the forgiveness of sins by God's grace through faith in Jesus. It is not the Gospel to proclaim that same-sex sexual behaviors are not good. That may be a proclamation that we make -- but it is not Gospel. It is Law.

Quote
It's about the forgiveness of sin, not the new addition on the building.  If you take Augsburg VII seriously, the Gospel is the only thing that counts,  anywhere and everywhere. 
Declaring that same-sex sexual behaviors are wrong is not Gospel.
"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]

pastorg1@aol.com

  • ALPB Contribution Leader
  • *****
  • Posts: 1142
    • View Profile
Re: Refrain and Restrain
« Reply #344 on: July 25, 2008, 01:54:34 PM »
"The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to" focus only on their local circumstances.   Which, quite frankly, is the reality for the majority of people.  There is indeed a time for acting on every matter under heaven.  Is this the time?
Could it also be that folks like Richard Johnson, even though they have their deeply held view about the homosexuality issues, believe that this it not a battle worth fighting; that there are more important issues to deal with in the congregation, such as being united as the body of Christ in proclaiming the Gospel (which is not the same thing as making a statement about homosexual persons); administering the sacraments, and paying for a new addition to the church.

You have to pick your battles...

I used to battle publically at synod assemblies- at the microphone, in small assembly-rooms. I could see 20 years ago that our adversaries were smarter, faster better-funded and dwelling in a culture where a bishop's admonition would be seen, not with shame, but as a red badge of courage and a future career-boost.

Now I tend to my flock and when I attend synod assemblies, I pace and pray and eat too many cookies.

Napoleon noted that moral courage,of the sort  glimpsed two hours after midnight, is a very rare. He admires the 'l'improviste," who, in spite of the most surprising events, nevertheless exhibits a freedom of spirit, judgement and decision.

I don't see tending my flock as a lack of moral courage, but rather as a dwelling in courageous hope that, though the day may be now lost, the dawn is coming- and may be, indeed, the most surprising event of all.

Pax et bonum Christi.


« Last Edit: July 25, 2008, 03:05:01 PM by pastorg1@aol.com »
Pete Garrison