Author Topic: 4-10 LCMS Bound Conscience  (Read 10004 times)

revjagow

  • ALPB Contribution Leader
  • *****
  • Posts: 1491
  • Proverbs 9:8-9
    • View Profile
    • Article 7
4-10 LCMS Bound Conscience
« on: April 01, 2010, 05:23:12 PM »
Once again, thanks are in order for the excellent writing and editing in Forum Letter.  It may veer toward the "cranky" but never without reason and never without love for Christ's church. 

The title of Peter's article grabbed me right away because when we were all parsing and debating the "bound conscience" language this time last year, I was thinking to myself that were many-a situation within the LCMS that this "bound conscience" thing would apply.  There have been times I have been beyond frustration because there does not (in my opinon) have to be a winner or a looser for every doctrinal controversy.  Yet, that is how we act most of the time. 

So, regarding the request for communion assistants to be male - Peter asserts that "the reason something to tangential could potentially ruin something so central is that the LCMS has tried to paper over a disagreement by pretending there is agreement."  I do not see it that way.  My view is that the issue of communion assistants is adiaphora and those that wish to make it into a law are wrong.  Period.  Yet, I am O.K. with this policy at the youth gathering.  To my youth, I will explain that there are those that have a weaker conscience (as Paul writes) and would be scandalized by a woman serving communion.  They are wrong, but we still love them.  Its not as if they themselves are guilty of anything except being pious.  So, for now, we act out of love for the weaker brother, hoping that eventually the Spirit guides them into seeing that they are making a law where we have freedom, or to show us that we are wrong in giving liberty where there should be law.   

It has to be said, that we cannot do this for every teaching or practice in the church.  There are areas where we need to have agreement in order to function (sexual ethics comes to mind).  But, in this area, I think there can be disagreement and the church will not tear itself apart because people have two different views on this.  I think there is plenty of room on a number of issues where we can be more like Jesus and wash each other's feet.   If Christ can take hold of a traitor and serve him by washing, then how much more can I yeild out of love for my brothers and sisters?  How much more can I look past what offends me?  In truth, Christ will come and feed all the knuckleheads who approach the altar in faith tonight - even me.  So, the rest of you are probably not so bad.  Even if you are wrong.
Soli Deo Gloria!

peter_speckhard

  • ALPB Administrator
  • ALPB Contribution Leader
  • *****
  • Posts: 16439
    • View Profile
Re: 4-10 LCMS Bound Conscience
« Reply #1 on: April 01, 2010, 05:34:48 PM »
Do you get the online version or did you already get the paper copy? I doubt this conversation will take off until more people know what you're talking about. But the gist of it until then is that I'm still right.  ::)

Dan Fienen

  • ALPB Contribution Leader
  • *****
  • Posts: 11968
    • View Profile
Re: 4-10 LCMS Bound Conscience
« Reply #2 on: April 01, 2010, 05:40:21 PM »
Got my paper copy in the mail today - appropriate fodder for April Fools Day.

Dan
Pr. Daniel Fienen
LCMS

peter_speckhard

  • ALPB Administrator
  • ALPB Contribution Leader
  • *****
  • Posts: 16439
    • View Profile
Re: 4-10 LCMS Bound Conscience
« Reply #3 on: April 01, 2010, 06:11:07 PM »
Got my paper copy in the mail today - appropriate fodder for April Fools Day.

Dan
Ouch. Anything particularly foolish?

Steven Tibbetts

  • ALPB Contribution Leader
  • *****
  • Posts: 10214
  • Big tents are for circuses.
    • View Profile
Re: 4-10 LCMS Bound Conscience
« Reply #4 on: April 01, 2010, 06:43:03 PM »
My copies as the Synod Liaison arrived today, but not my personal subscription copy.

Near the conclusion of the article, Peter, you compared this to those in PALMS relationships as communion servers at an ELCA Youth gathering.  One difference, of course, is that usually one can tell that the server is a female just by looking.  So unless the server is infamous for being in a homosexual relationship, no one would likely know.

Would ELCA youth planners seek to account for those whose conscience is bound to Scripture and tradition?  I doubt it.  One of the communion servers at the opening Eucharist of last August's CWA, at station with his Bishop, was Pr. Jim Boline -- who outed himself and his partner on the floor of the 2005 CWA.  During the 2003 CWA, Jeff Johnson (the first "extraordinarily ordained" gay man) was a communion server.  Of course, if you didn't recognize them, you'd never have known it.

Pax, Steven+
« Last Edit: April 02, 2010, 12:52:36 AM by The Rev. Steven P. Tibbetts, STS »
The Rev. Steven Paul Tibbetts, STS
Pastor Zip's Blog

revjagow

  • ALPB Contribution Leader
  • *****
  • Posts: 1491
  • Proverbs 9:8-9
    • View Profile
    • Article 7
Re: 4-10 LCMS Bound Conscience
« Reply #5 on: April 01, 2010, 09:23:12 PM »
Do you get the online version or did you already get the paper copy? I doubt this conversation will take off until more people know what you're talking about. But the gist of it until then is that I'm still right.  ::)

There is an online version?  (that should answer your question)  ::)

Shows you how egocentric I am.  Not only am I right, but I also feel that because I have my copy of Letter, everyone else does too.  ;D
Soli Deo Gloria!

James_Gale

  • ALPB Contribution Leader
  • *****
  • Posts: 4018
    • View Profile
Re: 4-10 LCMS Bound Conscience
« Reply #6 on: April 01, 2010, 10:13:05 PM »
Mine arrived in DC today.  Atypically early.

Richard Johnson

  • ALPB Administrator
  • ALPB Contribution Leader
  • *****
  • Posts: 10334
  • Create in me a clean heart, O God.
    • View Profile
Re: 4-10 LCMS Bound Conscience
« Reply #7 on: April 02, 2010, 01:27:53 AM »


There is an online version? 

No, there is not an online version. See, Peter is not always correct.

There is, however, an electronic version which, if you contact Donna at the ALPB office, you may request. You then get Forum Letter emailed to you as a pdf file, in lieu of the paper version. Only applies to the Letter, not Lutheran Forum. It's still only available by Pony Express--the 150th anniversary of which is upon us.

The Rev. Richard O. Johnson, STS

Scott6

  • Guest
Re: 4-10 LCMS Bound Conscience
« Reply #8 on: April 02, 2010, 03:23:41 PM »
Just read your article, Peter, and I think your analysis missed its mark in that the use of the "bound conscience" in the ELCA's sexuality statement is quite different from the position taken by the LCMS wrt female communion assistants (or women's suffrage).

The LCMS does have an officially promulgated and adopted teaching on the propriety of female communion assistants -- it is an adiaphoron if they are used or if they are not used.  The recommendation, however, has been to avoid their use for a number of reasons principally surrounding sowing confusion re: the office of the ministry.

The ELCA, in its sexuality statement, does not have an officially promulgated and adopted teaching re: the sinfulness of homosexual sexual activity -- it says that the opinion that it is sinful is acceptable as is the one that says that it's not sinful.  In what it explicitly says, the statement takes no position, outlining four separate and conflicting viewpoints as those that can be held with "conviction and integrity" (20) and noting that "this church lacks consensus on this matter." (21)

These are two different phenomena.

One says what is true wrt the issue at hand.  Agreement with the truth claim is expected (e.g., someone who says that it's a matter of divine doctrine and not an adiaphoron would be disagreeing with Synod's position), and recommendations based upon the truth claim are made (e.g., a recommendation to avoid using female communion assistants b/c of the possibility of confusion re: the pastoral office).  Those who agree that the practice of women's suffrage is an adiaphoron are united on that point even if they evaluate the use of female communion assistants differently.  It is this dynamic that you described when you spoke of "officially" calling the practice an adiaphoron while in practice disallowing such assistants.

The other avoids saying what is true wrt the issue at hand.  There is no single teaching re: the issue with which agreement is expected (e.g., four conflicting views are explicitly condoned).  Recommendation are made not based upon a truth claim made re: the issue to be dealt with (homosexual sexual behavior) but rather upon a different truth claim -- the perceived need to live together despite disagreements.

Apples and oranges.
« Last Edit: April 02, 2010, 03:31:53 PM by Scott Yakimow »

peter_speckhard

  • ALPB Administrator
  • ALPB Contribution Leader
  • *****
  • Posts: 16439
    • View Profile
Re: 4-10 LCMS Bound Conscience
« Reply #9 on: April 02, 2010, 03:53:31 PM »
Just read your article, Peter, and I think your analysis missed its mark in that the use of the "bound conscience" in the ELCA's sexuality statement is quite different from the position taken by the LCMS wrt female communion assistants (or women's suffrage).

The LCMS does have an officially promulgated and adopted teaching on the propriety of female communion assistants -- it is an adiaphoron if they are used or if they are not used.  The recommendation, however, has been to avoid their use for a number of reasons principally surrounding sowing confusion re: the office of the ministry.

The ELCA, in its sexuality statement, does not have an officially promulgated and adopted teaching re: the sinfulness of homosexual sexual activity -- it says that the opinion that it is sinful is acceptable as is the one that says that it's not sinful.  In what it explicitly says, the statement takes no position, outlining four separate and conflicting viewpoints as those that can be held with "conviction and integrity" (20) and noting that "this church lacks consensus on this matter." (21)

These are two different phenomena.

One says what is true wrt the issue at hand.  Agreement with the truth claim is expected (e.g., someone who says that it's a matter of divine doctrine and not an adiaphoron would be disagreeing with Synod's position), and recommendations based upon the truth claim are made (e.g., a recommendation to avoid using female communion assistants b/c of the possibility of confusion re: the pastoral office).  Those who agree that the practice of women's suffrage is an adiaphoron are united on that point even if they evaluate the use of female communion assistants differently.  It is this dynamic that you described when you spoke of "officially" calling the practice an adiaphoron while in practice disallowing such assistants.

The other avoids saying what is true wrt the issue at hand.  There is no single teaching re: the issue with which agreement is expected (e.g., four conflicting views are explicitly condoned).  Recommendation are made not based upon a truth claim made re: the issue to be dealt with (homosexual sexual behavior) but rather upon a different truth claim -- the perceived need to live together despite disagreements.

Apples and oranges.
Scott, true, the distinction is critical, but the apples and oranges nevertheless have similarities worth comparing. I take it as read (acknowledging, of course, vehement objections that I am wrong so to take it) that the bound conscience idea as officially stated in the ELCA is not the truth of the situation. In reality, those who think homosexual behavior to be sinful stand in the ELCA in the same position that those who oppose women communion assistants stand in the LCMS. Not officially, but in reality. In other words, though they say the ELCA views both positions as valid, that is a logical contradiction. By validating the one side, they have de facto invalidated the other. Yes, I know they'll deny that, but it is true by the very nature of the question. If the dispute is between A) "this is tolerable," and B) "this is not tolerable", then merely by tolerating it they answer the question in favor of position A, all claims to neutrality notwithstanding. So the question is one of how this plays out where the rubber hits the road in concrete terms, especially in settings where everyone is together. Perhaps I should have been clearer in the article. Because I still think there is real similarity. Though the LCMS, unlike the ELCA, has an official position that admits to taking a side, those in the LCMS who oppose women communion assistants do not all do so for the reasons outlined in the recommendations-- avoiding confusion about the pastoral office. Some view it not merely as inadvisable but as wrong. This leads to confusion. For example, Andy Jagow upstream explained how he will explain this to his youth. But will his explanation be true? According to the official version of our position, we're agreed that it is doctrinally okay to have women communion assistants but we're also agreed that we ought to recommend against it. That is not what Andy says to his youth at all. He says, contra the synod, that there ought to women assistants but that there aren't, again contra the official explanation, not because it would be confusing but because some LCMS pastors are "weaker brothers" who think that would be wrong. This is why I say we declare ourselves in agreement where we are not in agreement.

grabau14

  • Guest
Re: 4-10 LCMS Bound Conscience
« Reply #10 on: April 02, 2010, 05:01:32 PM »
I love the "Weaker Brother" gambit whenever it is played  ::).  Using Pr. Jagow's "weaker brother" gambit, we can argue for all sorts of things such as WO-  We don't ordain women in the OHM because it may offend x, y, and z. 

(Calling Fr. Weedon for language/historical help...) I remember reading an article by Fr. Fenton (when he was a Missourian) in which he stated that the terms (espcially the German) used in the AC for "administer" means "to distribute", "to offer and present,"  and "to serve or dispense food" not to manage or direct another to do so.

In Latin, AC XIV uses the word "administrare" which according to my dictionary means "to perform the duties of an office" not to "direct" a person.  So confessionally speaking, is it improper to say that only called/ordained men should be distributing the elements? (I say this knowing that I have 4 laymen who assist with the distribution.)

I also know AC XIV is treated like the proverbial "red-headed step child" in the Missouri Synod.  We come up with all sorts of excuses to ignore that article.

peter_speckhard

  • ALPB Administrator
  • ALPB Contribution Leader
  • *****
  • Posts: 16439
    • View Profile
Re: 4-10 LCMS Bound Conscience
« Reply #11 on: April 02, 2010, 05:39:11 PM »
Where I think the ELCA and LCMS are similar on this is in the actual situation on the ground. In the ELCA, some pastors celebrate and affirm homosexual relationships as God-pleasing and some condemn such relationships as sinful. That is an untenable situation, and the CWA accurately identified it but chose to offer an incoherent principle of bound conscience to account for it. In other words, the statement is incoherent because it accurately describes an incoherent state of affairs. In the LCMS, some pastors celebrate and go out of their way to have women as communion assistants while others decry this as false practice and un-Confessional. That is also an untenable situation. The LCMS, however, instead of offering an incoherent description of an incoherent situation, chooses to offer a perfectly coherent but inaccurate description of an incoherent situation. It makes perfect sense theologically to agree that women may be communion assistants but also to agree to recommend against the practice, which is what our statement says. It is adiaphora, but there are good reasons to prefer one choice to the other. But that isn't a true assessment of the situation. In fact, many pastors do not at all agree that women may be communions assistants and many others do not agree at all that we should recommend against the practice. 

This is why I take Andy's post as an example. He makes perfect sense, but he is not saying what the synod says. The synod does not say, "Some pastors say we can't, so we don't lest we offend our weaker brother." The synod, at least in theory, proposes that every pastor at the youth gathering might agree that it is adiaphora whether women assist with communion and that every pastor would also agree that it would be a bad idea to do so. That isn't at all what Andy is saying, and I think Andy is speaking the real truth of the matter. So it is true that it is an apples to oranges comparison in the sense that the ELCA has a philosophically incoherent position that accurately reflects an untenable situation while the LCMS has a principled, philosophically sound position that bears little semblance to that actual state of affairs. But where the comparison holds true is precisely in the actual state of affairs, in which different preachers in the same church promote and denounce the same thing.

Scott6

  • Guest
Re: 4-10 LCMS Bound Conscience
« Reply #12 on: April 03, 2010, 10:00:39 AM »
Where I think the ELCA and LCMS are similar on this is in the actual situation on the ground. In the ELCA, some pastors celebrate and affirm homosexual relationships as God-pleasing and some condemn such relationships as sinful. That is an untenable situation, and the CWA accurately identified it but chose to offer an incoherent principle of bound conscience to account for it. In other words, the statement is incoherent because it accurately describes an incoherent state of affairs. In the LCMS, some pastors celebrate and go out of their way to have women as communion assistants while others decry this as false practice and un-Confessional. That is also an untenable situation. The LCMS, however, instead of offering an incoherent description of an incoherent situation, chooses to offer a perfectly coherent but inaccurate description of an incoherent situation. It makes perfect sense theologically to agree that women may be communion assistants but also to agree to recommend against the practice, which is what our statement says. It is adiaphora, but there are good reasons to prefer one choice to the other. But that isn't a true assessment of the situation. In fact, many pastors do not at all agree that women may be communions assistants and many others do not agree at all that we should recommend against the practice.  

There may be similarities on the ground, but not on the principle of the ELCA's "bound conscience."  Like you said, it "accurately describes an incoherent state of affairs" within the ELCA.

However, the LCMS approach is not to describe a state of affairs among our congregations but rather to offer an analysis of Scripture via the Confessions.  It produces an answer that is "perfectly coherent" but not as "description of an incoherent situation," inaccurate or otherwise.

The net effect is that our disagreements can be mediated by a clear confession of faith on this issue.  Folks can agree or choose to dissent, but in the end we do have a confession on the issue which can settle disagreements.  If we actually had adopted the "bound conscience" as a theologoumenon (remember, it is a theological concept, after all), we could not mediate our disagreements in principle.

Which is to say that we do have an operative discourse in the LCMS, flawed as it is.  We can discuss Scripture and the Confessions (as opposed to being forced to merely rely our experience) and have that discussion carry weight.  Having participated in this forum for 4-5 years, I see little evidence of that in the ELCA, and that observation is confirmed with the adoption of the "bound conscience" principle per sexuality statement.
« Last Edit: April 03, 2010, 10:02:19 AM by Scott Yakimow »

John_Hannah

  • ALPB Contribution Leader
  • *****
  • Posts: 5110
    • View Profile
Re: 4-10 LCMS Bound Conscience
« Reply #13 on: April 03, 2010, 11:00:19 AM »
It does seem to me that Peter is correct in comparing the "bound conscience" principle (ELCA) and the adiaphora of women Eucharistic ministers (communion assistants) at the youth gathering (LCMS).

In both cases there is a disputed practice. In both cases the magisterium expects one side to accede to the other. In the ELCA, the traditional side should accede to the other. In the LCMS, the more "liberal" side should accede to the other. In theory both practices are the same. (Is not "bound conscience" simply a variation of the classic Lutheran principle of "adiaphora?" --a question for another day)

The consequences of each case, however, is quite different. In the ELCA case all are expected to grant that the status of marriage may be accorded to homosexual couples. That is a major break with our Judeo-Christian past as well as the majority of modern world wide opinion, whether Christian or not.

By comparison the LCMS case seems rather minor. Yes, the less traditional must accede and refrain from employing women Eucharistic ministers in some conditions. That is contrary to the world wide practice of Christians who share with us the Nicene Creed and belief in the Real Presence. Fortunately, those who assign women to serve are not expected to accord ordained status to those who distribute the Sacrament. The effect is rather minor (and probably only temporary).

I can see why ELCA traditionalists are much more unsettled with their magisterium (CWA) than I am as an LCMS pastor who has permitted women to serve for 40 years.


Peace, JOHN HANNAH
Pr. JOHN HANNAH, STS

Brian Stoffregen

  • ALPB Contribution Leader
  • *****
  • Posts: 42059
  • ἐγὼ δὲ λέγω ὑμῖν, ἀγαπᾶτε τοὺς ἐχθροὺς ὑμῶν
    • View Profile
Re: 4-10 LCMS Bound Conscience
« Reply #14 on: April 03, 2010, 11:07:11 AM »
The consequences of each case, however, is quite different. In the ELCA case all are expected to grant that the status of marriage may be accorded to homosexual couples. That is a major break with our Judeo-Christian past as well as the majority of modern world wide opinion, whether Christian or not.

Although, at this point, in the ELCA the word "marriage" is not used for homosexual couples, but the lengthy, "publicly accountable, life-long, monogamous relationship." This allows us to continue the traditional understanding of "marriage" as being between a man and a woman.
"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]