Author Topic: Carl Braaten's Critique of Sexuality Proposal  (Read 21191 times)

DCharlton

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Re: Carl Braaten's Critique of Sexuality Proposal
« Reply #75 on: March 07, 2009, 01:02:20 PM »
Thanks Lou,

I think I understand what you are saying.  It sounds very similar to one made by Gerhard Forde and to me it is convincing.  What I hear you saying is this:

Attempting to silence the Law by declaring that certain things are no longer sinful will not work.  Only the Gospel will silence the accusations of the Law.  We reject any change to V&E and the social statements of the ELCA because they would offer up a false gospel.  

The weakness I see hear is that it presumes that we know what the Law says.  But if agreement on the content of the Law is not important, how is that possible?  There are many who would agree with the statement above, but still maintain that it doesn't apply to the blessing of same sex unions.

I believe that kind of argument has been made here many times.  As long as we stipulate that all human relations are sinful (because none of us is without sin) then we will not violate the principle above.  Those in same sex relationships will be reminded that the still need to repent and believe the Good News.  As long as the same sex blessing does not create the illusion that the two partners are without sin, then no harm has been done.

"We don't have agree on the content of the Law, except to say that all people are sinners."  Does that sound familiar?

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Re: Carl Braaten's Critique of Sexuality Proposal
« Reply #76 on: March 07, 2009, 01:09:11 PM »
  I also know there was famous argument between Bouman and David Yeago at a Call to Faithfulness Conference on this issue, but I never seen a transcript of it, so I don't know what was said.

David Charlton
Yeago's piece, "Bouman on the Law : Amica Responsio," was published in Lutheran Forum, vol 29, issue 3 (1995).  Walt Bouman's piece was in the previous issue.
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Re: Carl Braaten's Critique of Sexuality Proposal
« Reply #77 on: March 07, 2009, 01:17:43 PM »
Thank you.

David Charlton
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Re: Carl Braaten's Critique of Sexuality Proposal
« Reply #78 on: March 08, 2009, 02:21:27 PM »
I did the bullet treatment on Braaten's critique:

•   “Human Sexuality: Gift and Trust” and “Report and Recommendation on Ministry Policies,” A Critique by Carl E. Braaten

•   Familiar Lutheran language may dispose Lutherans to accept it, but they are mostly an ornamental covering that hides its egregious departure from the biblical, doctrinal, and ethical teachings. . .would constitute a radical departure from the overwhelming consensus that has prevailed in historic Christianity.
•   No real theology in this social statement [only] descriptive statements.
•   We must demonstrate that what we assert is true on the basis of Holy Scripture in continuity with the classical creeds and confessions which the ELCA accepts in its Constitution.

•   There is no biblical exegesis in this. . .For example, the statement refers to the “seven texts” in the Bible that specifically address the issue of homosexual behavior. No effort is made to explain or interpret these texts. They are not identified or quoted, let alone exegeted or interpreted. . .This social statement does not take Scripture seriously, and does not even try. Nor does it take church tradition seriously. . .This is the kind of evidence a sister Lutheran Church can use to bolster its nasty accusation that the ELCA is heterodox.

•    It is difficult to have any confidence in the theological competence of this Task Force that shows such utter confusion on theological method.

•   This social statement is not reluctant to talk about sin. . .But it depicts a God without wrath and without judgment. . . God is a prisoner of his own love. . .This document no doubt represents the idea of God held by the Task Force; it most certainly does not faithfully reflect the Lutheran understanding of God.

•   In Lutheran theology the Word of God meets us in two forms, as law and as gospel. And it is important to make the proper distinction. The summary of the law is love to God and neighbor. This summary, however, does not nullify the force of the individual laws and commandments of God. They are binding on the people of God, the church of Jesus Christ. In our first critique we accused the social statement of repeating the typical “Lutheran heresy” that reared its ugly head at the time of the Reformation and against which Luther fought with all his might and mane. That is the heresy of antinomianism. This social statement never brings it up, never mentions the word, and the charge is never refuted. Why? The answer is that this social statement collapses the three uses of the law into two, admitting that it “streamlines its discussion of law by focusing solely on the two uses.” (“Human Sexuality: Gift and Trust,” p. 6, n. 8 ) Since it is the third use of the law that is at stake when the church discusses ordaining clergy involved in homosexual behavior, this use of the law should have been treated at length, and not swallowed up into the first two, neither of which lies at the center of the churchwide controversy.

•   But there is an even more serious misinterpretation of the law that bears upon the unity of the church. The statement makes a number of questionable assertions, such as: “We believe that the way we order our lives in matters of sexuality, although important for us as people of faith, is not central to the Gospel itself.” (“Human Sexuality: Gift and Trust,” line 300) Here is another: “Thus, we realize that this church’s deliberations related to human sexuality do not threaten the center of our faith.” (line 326) And another: “The task force recognizes the deep love that all hold for this church and the shared commitment to remaining together in spite of differences on these matters.” (“Report and ecommendation,” line 225) And another: “In this regard the task force believes that, as this is a matter of God’s civil realm, ‘God’s left hand,’ this church is free to live with a diversity of opinions in this matter.” (“Report and Recommendation,” line 465) What the task force is asserting in these statements is that matters having to do with the laws and commandments of God, and not with the core principles of the gospel, cannot be church-dividing and are not basic to church unity. Matters that fall under the rubric of the “left hand of God,” namely, the will and rule of God in the orders of creation (political, economic, and social structures, including marriage, family, and sexuality), are not central to the gospel as such and therefore cannot be foundational for church unity. The Task Force is mistaken. The church is founded upon the Word of God, which includes what it believes about God’s activity in both creation and redemption, both law and gospel, both the kingdom on the left and on the right. The church is not founded on only one half of the Word of God. Consider this: the Lutheran World Federation raised the task of resisting apartheid in South Africa to a matter of status confessionis. This meant that opposing apartheid becomes a necessary implication of the church’s confession of faith. The white Lutheran congregations protested that the racial struggles in South Africa had nothing to do with the gospel, but only with the kingdom of God on the left hand. Ergo, the struggle for racial justice, whatever side one takes on the issue, cannot constitute a status confessionis for church fellowship. If the LWF was right in its declaration, it shows that the gospel cannot be separated from the law, the kingdom on the right from the kingdom on the left. Lutheran Churches in the United States faced the same issue in the struggle for civil rights when the system of racial segregation meant that Blacks and Whites were not welcome to celebrate Holy Communion together. The Lutheran Churches in Germany under Hitler were confronted by the same problem. The theologians supporting National Socialism declared that its anti-Semitic policies regarding the Jews have nothing to do with the gospel, therefore they have no bearing on church unity and fellowship. The Lutherans in Chile under General Pinochet faced the same kind of issue. The Task Force is unrealistic to believe that the majority of members in the ELCA will so easily separate the law and the gospel, the left hand and the right hand kingdoms of God. Separating the law and the gospel, the two integral forms of the Word of God, is as pernicious in church life as confusing or equating them.

•   The Task Force nowhere acknowledges that many pastors and congregations, anticipating that the ELCA was heading in the direction of ordaining same-gendered pastors, have already left the ELCA, and many others are lining up at the door ready to make their exit.. .many pastors and congregations will choose not to leave, but to remain and protest as a confessing movement.

•   The historic Christian tradition and the Lutheran Confessions have recognized marriage as a covenant between a man and a woman [but] they do more than that. They define marriage not merely as a human institution that has evolved through the centuries but as an institution ordained by God. God is the author of marriage. Should not that be the first thing that the church says about marriage?

•   The church has always taught that, like their many heterosexual brothers and sisters who happen not to have found the right person to marry, homosexual persons are called to a vocation of celibacy. Many have responded and lived faithfully according to that call. The Task Force is now proposing that a life of sexual relations with persons of the same gender is open to the ordained clergy of the ELCA. [However] the issue is not orientation but behavior. . .What do those qualifications for the ordination of homosexuals mean? What does “publicly accountable” mean? This is a desideratum that has proved to be unworkable even among heterosexual pastors? Pastors by the hundreds up and leave their spouses with virtual impunity. Where is the “public accountability?” None to speak of. What would it mean to hold practicing homosexuals publicly accountable? What does “lifelong” mean? The marriage vow used to mean “as long as life shall last.” Now it has become “as long as love shall last.” How long is “lifelong?” [The] category of ordained clergy who are supposed to enter into a “publicly accountable, lifelong, monogamous, same-gender, committed relationship” is an arbitrary concoction of the Task Force. On close inspection its criteria do not even hold for heterosexual clergy.

•   The Task Force is correct in observing numerous times that there is no consensus in the ELCA on the rostering of homosexual persons in same-gender relationships. The Task Force postulates that the difference between the traditionalists and revisionists is a matter of conscience. The statement asserts that there are “differing and conscience-bound understandings about the place of such relationships within the Christian community.” (“Human Sexuality: Gift and Trust,” lines 607 ff). This is a specious non-theological appeal to conscience. Of course, when facing a critical moral decision, it goes without saying that persons should follow their conscience. What else should they do? But that does not mean that one’s subjective conscience is right. I have my conscience, you have yours. So what? The question is, what is right in the sight of God? Has God not said anything about sex, marriage, and family, so that we are left in the dark to follow our own subjective feelings? For the church private personal conscience does not have the last word. It needs to be instructed and illuminated by the Word and Spirit of God. Luther said he was bound by his conscience; it was bound by the Word of God. It is the church’s responsibility to enlighten conscience, to teach the Word of God. This social statement fails to be a teaching document of the church. It professes not to know the difference between right and wrong on crucial matters of human sexuality. If reflects the cultural Zeitgeist, the spirit of the age. The church has spent a million dollars to be informed by this Task Force that there is no consensus in the church on human sexuality. Since there is no consensus in the church, why not keep the status quo? Why not follow the sage advice, when in doubt, stick with the tradition?

•    The recommendation of this Task Force to accept practicing homosexuals for ordination does not necessarily follow from the social statement, “Human Sexuality: Gift and Trust.” This statement states that all of us in the ELCA should show deep respect for the conscience-bound beliefs of those with whom we disagree. Luther showed little respect for the beliefs of Erasmus of Rotterdam when he wrote his diatribe, The Bondage of the Will. . . Athanasius showed little respect for Arius who denied the divinity of Christ. Augustine show little respect for Pelagius who taught that the human will is free in relation to God and the offer of salvation. . .Every heretic in the church was convinced by his conscience that his doctrine was true, even biblical.

•   Amazingly this Task Force claims that those who advocate for changing the ELCA policy regarding practicing homosexuals “affirm the same biblical and confessional doctrines as the advocates for present policies.” (“Report and Recommendation,” line 151) No they don’t. Otherwise, the proposed social statement and its appended recommendation would not have set loose such an avalanche of negative criticisms throughout the church, including this one.

•   The ELCA is at the crossroads. The Task Force has not helped to enlighten the church as to what is right or wrong.. . .There is an authority crisis in the Lutheran Church glaringly exposed by the fiasco of having to deal with the report and recommendations of another theologically challenged Task Force.

•   The acceptance of the Task Force’s “Report and Recommendation on Ministry Policies” would return the ELCA to the kind of individualistic congregationalism that characterized American Lutheranism during the 1900’s. . .the ELCA was moving toward a higher ecclesiology that aims to manifest the Church as one, apostolic, catholic, and holy. . .The doctrine of the church reflected in this social statement is perhaps the worst that has ever appeared in the history of Lutheranism in America. Congregations and synods are invited to go their own way and to reach their own decisions with respect to the ordained ministry, based not on what is essential to the church’s witness and proclamation as a whole, but on what seems relevant to the cultural vision of a new age. That kind of individualistic mindset puts the ELCA adrift in the ever-changing tides of culture. The people of the ELCA will then merit the epitaph applied to the people of Israel in the Book of Judges: “EVERY MAN DID WHAT WAS RIGHT IN HIS OWN EYES.” (17:6)


Gary Schnitkey

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Re: Carl Braaten's Critique of Sexuality Proposal
« Reply #79 on: March 08, 2009, 05:59:30 PM »
I have been disappointed by both Benne's and Braaten's response to the sexuality study.  This may be unfair to them in that I feel their errors are not substantive but rather are strategic.  As one would expect from academics, both Benne and Braaten provide academic responses countering points in the drafts.  This may be a useful exercise but it also causes their response to be wonkish and appear argumentative.  The revisionists will come up with their "experts" to refute Benne and Braaten and around the circle everything will go.

At this point, a more global perspective of what is at stake needs to be stated.   This may focus the attention of voters at the August meeting concerning what is at stack.  Something of the following is in order:

"Throughout history, the Christian sexual ethic has been that sexual relations should be restricted to husbands and wives united in marriage.  This ethic prohibits many sexual relationship including those between individuals who are not married.  It prohibits infidelity.  It also prohibits sexual relations between individuals of the same sex as they can not be married.  Given the Lutheran heritage, sexual relationships are not only prohibited in deed, but also in thought and word, which would prohibit many activities not specifically culminating in physical sexual activity.

Approval of the sexuality draft would breach this understanding by specifically allowing congregations to support individuals having sex in homosexual relationships through a "bounded conscience" doctrine.  This doctrine allows individuals to deviate from the orthodoxy because of "strong" feelings.  What consequence this deviation will have is difficult to ascertain.  However, it is safe to say that this one specific breach calls into question the ELCA's understanding of the Christian sexual ethic."

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Re: Carl Braaten's Critique of Sexuality Proposal
« Reply #80 on: March 08, 2009, 09:29:19 PM »
The GLBT issue can and should be framed as an issue of the Gospel, in my opinion, because it is finally about the nature of the Church's proclamation.  Do we proclaim "Your sins are forgiven for Jesus' sake" or do we proclaim "All are welcome in Jesus' name"?    If we bless what should be forgiven, we are denying the Gospel to whoever is receiving this false blessing.  That is no compassion at all, to encourage a person in their fallenness and deny them the comfort of the forgiveness of sins.  This last statement applies to a host of people, not just GLBT folks.  It is reminiscent of the first chapter of the Hammer of God when pastor Savonius first contacts dying Johannes, the only words of comfort he can offer to this afflicted sinner on the edge of death is "You weren't really that bad... your life was really fairly good..." and the like.  And poor dying Johannes lays there afflicted because he knows he's a sinner -- until peasant Katrina shows up and says "Yes, Johannes, you are indeed a sinner.  But don't you know that Jesus is a greater Savior than you are a sinner?"  And poor old Johannes hears the Gospel, accepts the sacrament and dies in peace.  Katrina showed more compassion by a country mile than Savonius did.  Fortunately, Savonius learned that.  Can the ELCA?

Lou
Lou, I'm not sure I understand this line of reasoning. You consistently claim that all our works are filthy rags. Everything we do is sinful because we are by nature in bondage to sin. This is true so far as justification goes. However, all a gay couple is asking your church to do is treat their "marriage" the same way your church treats your marriage to Deb. According to you, every aspect of your own marriage is 100% sinful because you and Deb are sinners. Ditto their gay "relationship". They aren't asking that the church say they aren't sinning in all they do; they're asking that the church treat their sin like your sin. I do not agree with them because I do not agree with you on this matter. I'm sure they'd be happy to acknowledge their relationship as sinful in the same sense that you acknowledge that your relationship to Deb is sinful. Your church is a RIC congregation when it comes to sinner husbands with sinner wives; what is the big deal with being RIC with two sinner husbands? Again, they don't want to be declared righteous in their relationship; they merely want to be declared no different than you in their relationship. Are they? If so, why?   

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Re: Carl Braaten's Critique of Sexuality Proposal
« Reply #81 on: March 09, 2009, 03:20:26 PM »

Lou, I'm not sure I understand this line of reasoning. You consistently claim that all our works are filthy rags. Everything we do is sinful because we are by nature in bondage to sin. This is true so far as justification goes. However, all a gay couple is asking your church to do is treat their "marriage" the same way your church treats your marriage to Deb. According to you, every aspect of your own marriage is 100% sinful because you and Deb are sinners. Ditto their gay "relationship". They aren't asking that the church say they aren't sinning in all they do; they're asking that the church treat their sin like your sin. I do not agree with them because I do not agree with you on this matter. I'm sure they'd be happy to acknowledge their relationship as sinful in the same sense that you acknowledge that your relationship to Deb is sinful. Your church is a RIC congregation when it comes to sinner husbands with sinner wives; what is the big deal with being RIC with two sinner husbands? Again, they don't want to be declared righteous in their relationship; they merely want to be declared no different than you in their relationship. Are they? If so, why?   

Our oldest godson baptized his firstborn yesterday, so Debbie and I have been gone to Forks, WA.  Yes, of Twilight fame...
Not an easy drive, snowy mountain passes, lots of ice, crooked road.  So I am slow to respond, but my response to pastors Charlton and Speckard is --
Yes, indeed, all is locked down under the Law.  None are found righteous.  So then how can we say that gay couplehood is worse than marriage?  In that, we go to scripture for command and promise.  As you know, we can find a lot of reference which commands the marital relationship, including one of the oldest commands of all, "be fruitful and multiply."  As Scott Y. has pointed out consistently, there is no positive reference to same-sex sexual liason to be found in scripture.  If all is locked under sin and there is no positive command which would enable a person to "sin boldly and even more boldly trust in the righteousness of Christ," then it seems to me we are dealing with something which simply cannot be encouraged.  When sinners try to locate their righteousness in anything other than Christ, they are going to be disappointed. 

I dispute the idea that a gay couple "would be happy to acknowledge their relationship as sinful in the same sense that you acknowledge that your relationship to Deb is sinful,"  (because even you don't, Peter).  Very few people do, finally, surrender that they are a sinner in EVERYTHING they do.

Lou

DCharlton

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Re: Carl Braaten's Critique of Sexuality Proposal
« Reply #82 on: March 09, 2009, 04:19:59 PM »
Lou,

You said:
As Scott Y. has pointed out consistently, there is no positive reference to same-sex sexual liason to be found in scripture.  If all is locked under sin and there is no positive command which would enable a person to "sin boldly and even more boldly trust in the righteousness of Christ," then it seems to me we are dealing with something which simply cannot be encouraged. 

Now what we have been discussing is the idea that, "Disagreements over the Law should not be church dividing.  Only disagreements over the Gospel rise to that level."

I believe that is a false premise.  Let me show you why.

1.  If we say, "Disagreement over the Law are not church dividing."

2.  And, "Both positive commands and negative commands are Law and not Gospel."

3.  And, "There are many negative commands and no positive commands concerning same sex marriage."

4.  Disagreement over same sex marriage should not be church dividing because it concerns the Law not the Gospel.

Either the premise that disagreement over the Law is not necessary is wrong or the Sexuality Statement is correct in saying that the issue of same sex marriage should not be church dividing.

David Charlton
« Last Edit: March 09, 2009, 04:23:41 PM by DCharlton »
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Re: Carl Braaten's Critique of Sexuality Proposal
« Reply #83 on: March 09, 2009, 04:45:34 PM »
Lou,

You said:
As Scott Y. has pointed out consistently, there is no positive reference to same-sex sexual liason to be found in scripture.  If all is locked under sin and there is no positive command which would enable a person to "sin boldly and even more boldly trust in the righteousness of Christ," then it seems to me we are dealing with something which simply cannot be encouraged. 

Now what we have been discussing is the idea that, "Disagreements over the Law should not be church dividing.  Only disagreements over the Gospel rise to that level."

I believe that is a false premise.  Let me show you why.

1.  If we say, "Disagreement over the Law are not church dividing."

2.  And, "Both positive commands and negative commands are Law and not Gospel."

3.  And, "There are many negative commands and no positive commands concerning same sex marriage."

4.  Disagreement over same sex marriage should not be church dividing because it concerns the Law not the Gospel.

Either the premise that disagreement over the Law is not necessary is wrong or the Sexuality Statement is correct in saying that the issue of same sex marriage should not be church dividing.

I think I see your point, and I think I see the distinction that still needs to be made.  Forde, in his book Where God Meets Man, points out that you can't label one thing as either solely Law or solely Gospel because it is in the hearing, what it does to the hearer, that determines what it is for that hearer.  This is true even of the pure statement "Your sins are forgiven for Jesus' sake" --  a hearer will hear that as Law (condemnation) if they don't believe what that statement refers to is actually sin.  It will be pure Gospel to a person who recognizes whatever you're speaking to as sin.

What bothers me is if the Law is considered church-dividing, then we can't have Democrats and Republicans or a host of other distinctions at the same altar.  To put this in scriptural terms, Paul would have to be seen as in error for insisting that circumcision could not be required.  As I was told in my Galatians class at Luther, Dr. Martin is considered the arch-heretic by the Roman Catholics because he, citing St. Paul, says nothing may be required other than the Gospel; and he declares the Pope to be the antiChrist precisely because he does require a whole bunch of other things than the Gospel. If I see raising taxes to fund welfare to the poor as a command of scripture, how can I be at the same altar with someone who insists that scripture says "if any would not work, neither should he eat"?  If both believe that we fall short in either our care or our work, then both can approach the altar and receive the promised forgiveness.  If one is convinced of his righteousness without a need of forgiveness, both can't approach the altar because one is "an open and apparent sinner" while the other is "righteous."  Take your pick which is which.

I think Law can be church-dividing IF the argument can be made that it changes the proclamation of the Gospel.  Apartheid was wrong because it denied black folks opportunity to hear that proclamation; Nazi Germany was wrong because it denied Jews, gypsies, homosexuals, and the mentally deficient the opportunity to hear the Gospel;  abortion is wrong because it denies the unborn the opportunity to hear the Gospel ... and blessing/encouraging something which should be properly placed under forgiveness is denying the hearer the Gospel.  Even if the hearer doesn't want to hear it.

Lou

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Re: Carl Braaten's Critique of Sexuality Proposal
« Reply #84 on: March 09, 2009, 06:20:34 PM »
I think we can agree that IN SOME CASES disagreement over the Law can be church dividing.  Disagreement over the Law is not necessarily Church dividing, and in some cases is should not be church dividing.

One issue we did not discuss was slavery.  I many cases slaves were allowed to hear the Gospel.  In some cases slaves were allowed into the same church as their owners.  So, if slavery did not necessarily prevent slaves from hearing the Gospel, should it have been church dividing? 

David Charlton
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Re: Carl Braaten's Critique of Sexuality Proposal
« Reply #85 on: March 09, 2009, 11:23:31 PM »
I think we can agree that IN SOME CASES disagreement over the Law can be church dividing.  Disagreement over the Law is not necessarily Church dividing, and in some cases is should not be church dividing.

One issue we did not discuss was slavery.  I many cases slaves were allowed to hear the Gospel.  In some cases slaves were allowed into the same church as their owners.  So, if slavery did not necessarily prevent slaves from hearing the Gospel, should it have been church dividing? 

David Charlton

It may be possible, theoretically, to make an argument that slavery, under certain circumstances, would not have to be church dividing.  However, the institution of slavery as it existed in the United States prior to the Civil War is known to be an extremely harsh form of slavery.  The forced division of families, the legal non-existence of marriage for slaves, and the legal claim of the slave states that slavery existed in perpetuity from generation to generation all works to raise a legitimate question regarding what kind of "Gospel" was proclaimed.  Was it the true Gospel, or was it a false, deformed, sham gospel that in fact was evil masquarading as a message of God?  Certainly the Christian faith was proclaimed, but did this happen because of or in spite of those who supported and enforced the laws of the "Peculiar Institution"?  It would be interesting to look at the arguments of Lutherans in this country who opposed slavery, as to their arguments regarding this matter and whether they found slavery to be in opposition to the Gospel, and not just the Law.  I've never studied this from the standpoint of Lutheran church history, but it could be worthwhile to do so.

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Re: Carl Braaten's Critique of Sexuality Proposal
« Reply #86 on: March 10, 2009, 08:10:11 AM »
Erma, yes and it would also be interesting to look not only at those who preached and defended slavery but discuss a bit about those who, while not owning, not sanctioning, not condemning slavery-- simply ignored it in pulpit, teaching and conversation.  Of course, there would be the tacit acceptance in commerce of anything that had gone through the hands or labors of slaves.  Can the church ignore and deliver the Gospel as a kind of side dish to what is on the world's table?   Sometimes Lutherans have been good at attempting that, staying above the fray so as not to dirty our hands with any bold sinning.  Say, like during the Viet Nam war for many, at the end, oh yes it was so clear that we really should not have done this, that, or all of it....  but during, protesting seemed so out of step with Christian quietism.      Harvey Mozolak
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DCharlton

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Re: Carl Braaten's Critique of Sexuality Proposal
« Reply #87 on: March 10, 2009, 02:22:45 PM »
Erma and Harvey,

Just to further the discussion:

I agree that the gospel preached in the midst of slavery was a false gospel.  It was a false gospel that called evil good and good evil.  It was the kind of false gospel that Bonhoeffer talked about, which justifies the sin rather than the sinner. In that case, it was a false gospel because it refused to call sin what it is.  Calling sin sin is the job of the Law.  So because the Law was not proclaimed, a false gospel ensued.  The  Word of God to the obstinate slave holder would have been "Slavery is a damnable sin, repent" (Law).    To the repentant slave holder it would have been, "For Christ's sake, your sins are forgiven" (Gospel).

When we try to preach only half the Word of God, whether it is law or gospel, we are left with a false gospel.  This false gospel either tells us that we can save ourselves by moral effort or it tells us that God blesses our sin.  In either case it is a false gospel. 

David Charlton
« Last Edit: March 10, 2009, 02:27:45 PM by DCharlton »
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Re: Carl Braaten's Critique of Sexuality Proposal
« Reply #88 on: July 08, 2009, 07:27:37 PM »
Thank you, Rev. Dr. Braaten, for laying out a coherent and orthodox response.  You have given clear words to my many negative reactions to both documents as I read through this proposed "social statement."

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Re: Carl Braaten's Critique of Sexuality Proposal
« Reply #89 on: November 23, 2011, 05:21:10 PM »
Quote
The  Word of God to the obstinate slave holder would have been "Slavery is a damnable sin, repent" (Law).

And here lies the problem we're faced with: the question of scriptural authority.  The scriptures which are to be the "norm, source, and rule," claim that the institution of slavery (all be it a very different one than that system which existed in the Southern US) is one to be left in place.  However, outside of the Pauline letters we find a different ethic.  For example, consider the Exodus from Egypt. 

We all most likely read the bible from a cultural-critical standpoint to some extent.  For instance, would anyone here claim that Sarah's calling Abraham "Lord" was laudable as 1 Peter 3:6 claims?  Also, does anyone here enforce the rule for women to wear head coverings in the church?  I would guess that inerrancy is not the stance of most of the contributors on this blog, which seems to beg the question: at one point are we being intellectually honest about our views of the bible?  What is merely culturally relevant and what is eternal truth?  To me these are the questions which the theological moderate must struggle with, if they are to be intellectually sincere.  We should not bury our heads in the sand on the problems of the inerrancy hermeneutic, but we do not want to dismiss the tradition, making a tyranny of the "democracy of the dead."

An exclusively male clergy had 20 centuries of tradition behind it too, but most self-identified "moderates" reject it.  Why is homosexual activity the dividing issue?  I personally am not that concerned about it.  If you don't want a gay pastor then don't call one.  I'm more concerned with losing the gospel to either liberalism or legalistic pietism than this (which I believe sadly characterizes the two opposing sides on this debate).  I think conservatives and moderates set themselves up as being portrayed as "homophobic" when they stay in a body which has endorsed many doctrinal ambiguities concerning the Justification of the human being before God without considerable debate yet jump ship when it comes to Gays and Lesbians.