Author Topic: Is this ELCA Synod trying to put an end to a pastor's "bound conscience?"  (Read 15282 times)

Steven Tibbetts

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Re: Is this ELCA Synod trying to put an end to a pastor's "bound conscience?"
« Reply #195 on: September 25, 2010, 04:43:31 PM »

However, this second use of the Law is not telling people: this is right and you should do it or this is wrong and you should stop doing it. It is declaring: "You have done wrong. You deserve God's judgment. Repent and believe the gospel." The only sin of any consequence that matters, is the sin of refusing to repent and believe the gospel.


Don't change anything, just repent?
« Last Edit: October 13, 2010, 10:29:13 PM by The Rev. Steven P. Tibbetts, STS »
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Brian Stoffregen

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Re: Is this ELCA Synod trying to put an end to a pastor's "bound conscience?"
« Reply #196 on: September 25, 2010, 07:24:18 PM »
Let's review Luther's "Uses of the Law" and see if they bear your hypothesis out:
The First Use of the Law: To curb sin.  Seems like "knowing right or wrong" might be somewhat important in curbing sin.
The Second Use of the Law: To destroy self-righteousness and push the believer to God's grace.  Seems like, if we are to know our own sin and disabuse ourselves of any sense of self-righteousness we would need to KNOW where we have sinned and run afoul of the Law, not to mention being able to recognize the Righteousness of Christ.
The Third Use of the Law*: To educate the believer so that, having been redeemed by God's grace, we might live a sanctified life: (*disputed in some quarters)  Seems to me that, if we are going to speak of sanctification, we must KNOW right from wrong so that we may turn from the wrong and live in the right.

First of all, "The Third Use of the Law" doesn't come from Luther but from the Formula of Concord. Calling it "Lutheran" or "Confessional" is more accurate than attributing it to Luther.

Secondly, for an alternate view.

The First Use of the Law: The Civil Use promotes civil righteousness for the good of society, the world, and neighbor. As such it curbs sin and promotes acting rightly and lovingly.

The Second Use of the Law: The Theological use exposes and convicts of sins and our inner sinfulness and self-centeredness. It destroys self-righteousness and pushes sinners to God's grace. 

The Third Use of the Law declares that even as believers we are not free from the first two uses. We need the law to promote civil righteousness and to destroy self-righteousness. Sanctification is nothing other than daily justification: dying to self/sin and being raised up anew; or to use Luther's phrase, it is daily baptism.
"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: Is this ELCA Synod trying to put an end to a pastor's "bound conscience?"
« Reply #197 on: September 25, 2010, 07:30:02 PM »
However, this second use of the Law is not telling people: this is right and you should do it or this is wrong and you should stop doing it. It is declaring: "You have done wrong. You deserve God's judgment. Repent and believe the gospel." The only sin of any consequence that matters, is the sin of refusing to repent and believe the gospel.

Don't change anything, just repent?

Repentance involves lots of changes. To quote from the upcoming sermon:

The Greek word translated "repent," literally means, "to have a change in thinking." It involves a change in attitude – a change in what goes on inside of us that results in changes in the way we act.

Change can be hard. I’m sure many of you have heard the joke: "How many Lutherans does it take to change a light bulb?" "CHANGE!" is the startled response.
However, just yesterday morning I was reading a secular book on leadership. The authors write:

You know the adage “People resist change.” It is not really true. People are not stupid. People love change when they know it is a good thing. No one gives back a winning lottery ticket. What people resist is not change per se, but loss. When change involves real or potential loss, people hold on to what they have and resist the change.
[Ronald Heifetz, Alexander Grashow, & Marty Linsky, The Practice of Adaptive Leadership, p. 22]

"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]

Dadoo

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Re: Is this ELCA Synod trying to put an end to a pastor's "bound conscience?"
« Reply #198 on: September 27, 2010, 07:44:57 AM »
i usually preach on the lectionary and I preach the law and gospel --law to my mind is not telling people what is right or wrong, but showing our inability to rely on anything other than God's pure grace, repentance, being our need to turn away from all the other things we trust in and trust only in God's love and grace.  And I believe I've done that quite well without talking about specific sexual sins of any orientation.

So a proper preaching of the law is only to point out the sin of relying on anything other than God's love and grace for salvation.  Is that the only sin that exists?  Nothing else counts as sin - or at least worth a passing mention as something that God does not like?  It is a good thing that Moses did not claim to be a Christian preacher.  That whole 10 Commandment (or whatever you want to call what Moses brought back from Mt. Sinai - Brian can jump in and give us his interpretation as to why 10 Commandments is not a good translation and somehow the question of whether that should ever be mentioned in a sermon or in the teaching of the church will be lost) That whole 10 Commandment thing would not pass your standard for sermon material since it is not the job of the preacher to talk about what is right or wrong.

Does it matter whether people know right from wrong?  After all if we have some vague idea that somehow God holds us as sinful (never matter for what, who's to say) and we cannot save ourselves but God has taken care of that for us, is that all God would have to say to His people through His preachers?  Perhaps right and wrong is something that each individual needs to decide for him/herself.  So I get to choose, I am my own authority (and decide what I will accept as authority) on right and wrong?  Where then do the statements on the environment, health care, Middle Eastern politics, poverty and the rest that issue from Higgens Road.  If preachers are not to tell people what is right and wrong - why should the denomination?

Dan

The purpose of proclamation is to proclaim the gospel.  The purpose of the law is to drive us to the Gospel. I do not believe the purpose of the sermon is to teach morality.  Discussion about the first use of the llaw, right, wrong, ethics, ect has a place in the church - in bible study, forums, sunday school, discussion.  Not the sermon. 

Pastor Colville- Hanson

I would agree that the sermon is for the purpose of preaching the Gospel. If the preacher does not get around to actually showing the congregation that they made it necessary for Christ to die on the cross so that assurance can be made that indeed he did it for them then the sermon has failed. In the sermon that got pastor Cooper into trouble, his point seems to have been: God had a plan and design for life but we have decided to make up our own designs because we trust our own judgment more than we trust God's plan. He was not very clear on the Gospel to set free any troubled soul who heard him and said: He is right I am doomed, but a good dose of reminding them of Calvary would have covered it.

That latter problem, giving advice but not Gospel, is not rare. David Charlton recalled Hanson doing so. The last two weekends, while we were preaching on the unjust steward and the rich man Lazarus passages,  pastors everywhere will probably have spoken lines like this: We must learn to work with money without becoming it's slave, along with things like: we have to know how to live with the ways of the world, etc surrounded by exegesis of various quality. Many of us probably sounded that warning and then put an amen to it. If one had concluded that money as an idol was the problem pointed to in the passages then perhaps the homiletical strategy should have been to show the congregation that they are guilty of just that idolatry and that God hates taking the backseat to anything including mean of exchange. At that point Gospel ought to be preached: Repent/ rethink your life, God has not abandoned you because of your idolatry, instead he has paid the price that your sin of idolatry has brought unto you.

I am not sure if I worry more about preachers who preach law and are weak on Gospel or those who, also assuming but not stating the Gospel, have numerous We must . . ., or We need to . . . lines toward the end of their sermons. I am thinking the latter approach is a hopeless as the former.
Peter Kruse

Diversity and tolerance are very complex concepts. Rigid conformity is needed to ensure their full realization. - Mike Adams

George Erdner

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Re: Is this ELCA Synod trying to put an end to a pastor's "bound conscience?"
« Reply #199 on: September 27, 2010, 08:18:35 AM »
If the preacher does not get around to actually showing the congregation that they made it necessary for Christ to die on the cross so that assurance can be made that indeed he did it for them then the sermon has failed.


Are you saying that if a pastor preaches 52 Sunday morning sermons a year, they cannot be examined as a total whole but rather each and every Sunday sermon must be viewed as a totally standalone message, with no consideration for context over the course of the entire year?

Dadoo

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Re: Is this ELCA Synod trying to put an end to a pastor's "bound conscience?"
« Reply #200 on: September 27, 2010, 08:30:35 AM »
If the preacher does not get around to actually showing the congregation that they made it necessary for Christ to die on the cross so that assurance can be made that indeed he did it for them then the sermon has failed.


Are you saying that if a pastor preaches 52 Sunday morning sermons a year, they cannot be examined as a total whole but rather each and every Sunday sermon must be viewed as a totally standalone message, with no consideration for context over the course of the entire year?

George,

First: If you want to know if a preacher is good or average you pretty much have to listen to her/ him about 4 times. Chances are out of those 4 one will knock a buzzard of a garbage truck, one will rival Crysostom at his finest, and two will be average. You owe it to yourself and the pastor, to whom you owe your attention at sermon time according to Luther, to listen more than once before forming an oppinion.

Second: I am addressing method and strategy in my post, not the content of individual sermons though strategy will be exemplified by the sermons that are created. Again, that strategy will emerge in your hearing but not necessarily by hearing just once.

Hope that helps.
Peter Kruse

Diversity and tolerance are very complex concepts. Rigid conformity is needed to ensure their full realization. - Mike Adams

Charles_Austin

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Re: Is this ELCA Synod trying to put an end to a pastor's "bound conscience?"
« Reply #201 on: September 27, 2010, 08:48:55 AM »
Having spent a lot of time sitting in the pews, Pastor Kruse, I sadly conclude that three out of every four sermons will be below average in terms of language, oral presentation and use of common rhetorical skills. And I fear that even the one that is "average" will fall short of challenging the listener to think more deeply or show that the preacher has spent some time in deep thought and/or prayer to stimulate the intellect and the spirit.
I weary of personal narratives (o.k. on occasion, but there are far too many), rambling "well-maybe" kinds of exegesis, or trite moralisms and those "lettuce" conclusions.
I cringe at incorrect literary (or even scriptural) references, ideas bouncing around like a golf ball thrown hard in a tile bathroom, and the lack of a sensible "arc" from introduction to conclusion.
« Last Edit: September 27, 2010, 10:49:49 AM by Richard Johnson »

Keith Falk

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Re: Is this ELCA Synod trying to put an end to a pastor's "bound conscience?"
« Reply #202 on: September 27, 2010, 09:04:25 AM »
If the preacher does not get around to actually showing the congregation that they made it necessary for Christ to die on the cross so that assurance can be made that indeed he did it for them then the sermon has failed.


Are you saying that if a pastor preaches 52 Sunday morning sermons a year, they cannot be examined as a total whole but rather each and every Sunday sermon must be viewed as a totally standalone message, with no consideration for context over the course of the entire year?

I like Peter's answer, though I will answer somewhat differently. 

Yes.  Each sermon should be a standalone.  Why?  Mrs. Schmidt and her four kids may only be there once this month.  Mr. and Mrs. Jones will be there the 1st, 3rd, and 4th Sundays.  Everyman Johnson will only be there once every 6-8 weeks.  Ms. Williams will be there every Sunday.  They all need the Law and the Gospel, and if either Law or Gospel is absent (ehhh, I'll get 'em next Sunday) that week, I can't assume the person/family in question will be there next week.  This is not to say that a sermon series can't be done or that themes cannot connect from week to week, but that each sermon must be a standalone proclamation of Law and Gospel.
Rev. Keith Falk, STS

dkeener

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Re: Is this ELCA Synod trying to put an end to a pastor's "bound conscience?"
« Reply #203 on: September 27, 2010, 10:38:55 AM »
Since the Holy Spirit is involved in both the speaking and hearing, the failure to "hear" a good sermon may have as much to do with the attitude of the listener as the skill of the preacher.

Maryland Brian

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Re: Is this ELCA Synod trying to put an end to a pastor's "bound conscience?"
« Reply #204 on: September 27, 2010, 01:04:35 PM »
Since the Holy Spirit is involved in both the speaking and hearing, the failure to "hear" a good sermon may have as much to do with the attitude of the listener as the skill of the preacher.

  Zing ...   ;)

Mike Bennett

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Re: Is this ELCA Synod trying to put an end to a pastor's "bound conscience?"
« Reply #205 on: September 27, 2010, 01:23:38 PM »
If the preacher does not get around to actually showing the congregation that they made it necessary for Christ to die on the cross so that assurance can be made that indeed he did it for them then the sermon has failed.


Are you saying that if a pastor preaches 52 Sunday morning sermons a year, they cannot be examined as a total whole but rather each and every Sunday sermon must be viewed as a totally standalone message, with no consideration for context over the course of the entire year?

I like Peter's answer, though I will answer somewhat differently. 

Yes.  Each sermon should be a standalone.  Why?  Mrs. Schmidt and her four kids may only be there once this month.  Mr. and Mrs. Jones will be there the 1st, 3rd, and 4th Sundays.  Everyman Johnson will only be there once every 6-8 weeks.  Ms. Williams will be there every Sunday.  They all need the Law and the Gospel, and if either Law or Gospel is absent (ehhh, I'll get 'em next Sunday) that week, I can't assume the person/family in question will be there next week.  This is not to say that a sermon series can't be done or that themes cannot connect from week to week, but that each sermon must be a standalone proclamation of Law and Gospel.

I'm not a pastor, so I don't have to preach.  But as I teach junior high Sunday School I try to be mindful that this Sunday might be the one Sunday that Susie attends this semester, or the only time Johnny actually pays attention.  So I try to be sure nobody leaves without hearing the Gospel.  Next Sunday God promises Abraham and Sarah a son and fulfils the promise.  The Sunday after God calls Moses to lead Israel out of Egypt.  I'm intending that the kids will hear the gospel  both weeks, along with Abraham and Moses.

Mike Bennett
“What peace can there be, so long as the many whoredoms and sorceries of your mother Jezebel continue?”  2 Kings 9:22

Maryland Brian

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Re: Is this ELCA Synod trying to put an end to a pastor's "bound conscience?"
« Reply #206 on: September 27, 2010, 02:37:18 PM »

I'm not a pastor, so I don't have to preach.  But as I teach junior high Sunday School I try to be mindful that this Sunday might be the one Sunday that Susie attends this semester, or the only time Johnny actually pays attention.  So I try to be sure nobody leaves without hearing the Gospel.  Next Sunday God promises Abraham and Sarah a son and fulfils the promise.  The Sunday after God calls Moses to lead Israel out of Egypt.  I'm intending that the kids will hear the gospel  both weeks, along with Abraham and Moses.

Mike Bennett

  Once Upon A Time when I was a dean in SW PA Synod, I invited Dr. John Reumann to speak at a conference gathering.  One individual asked about the dreadful level of preaching that was going on in the church those days (late 80's) to which he replied something like, "We can only train what you pastors and your congregations send us."  Still think that was a pretty good answer.

frluther1517

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Re: Is this ELCA Synod trying to put an end to a pastor's "bound conscience?"
« Reply #207 on: September 27, 2010, 04:19:10 PM »
Seeing as we are well afield of the thread and have wandered into a further discussion of preaching in general.  I wish to pose a question.   Which takes homiletical priority: Preaching Law & Gospel in that order in every sermon or Preaching the Text?   Frankly I lean towards the second.  I grow rather tired of the weak Law/Gospel sermons in which I hear what would be a good sermon, but then the whole sermon is undercut by a simple, "but Jesus died for your sins..."  Frankly it comes off more as cheap grace/gospel than any Law/Gospel sermon.  Why must (every Sunday) we force this structure upon the text?  I guess I'm more in favor of letting Christ's words speak for themselves. 

Perhaps one of the reasons I'm feeling more and more like a bad Lutheran.   

Dadoo

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Re: Is this ELCA Synod trying to put an end to a pastor's "bound conscience?"
« Reply #208 on: September 27, 2010, 04:27:03 PM »
Seeing as we are well afield of the thread and have wandered into a further discussion of preaching in general.  I wish to pose a question.   Which takes homiletical priority: Preaching Law & Gospel in that order in every sermon or Preaching the Text?   Frankly I lean towards the second.  I grow rather tired of the weak Law/Gospel sermons in which I hear what would be a good sermon, but then the whole sermon is undercut by a simple, "but Jesus died for your sins..."  Frankly it comes off more as cheap grace/gospel than any Law/Gospel sermon.  Why must (every Sunday) we force this structure upon the text?  I guess I'm more in favor of letting Christ's words speak for themselves. 

Perhaps one of the reasons I'm feeling more and more like a bad Lutheran.   

That strategy actually has a name: The anti Pelegian codicil.  ;)
Peter Kruse

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G.Edward

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Re: Is this ELCA Synod trying to put an end to a pastor's "bound conscience?"
« Reply #209 on: September 30, 2010, 03:49:01 PM »
Anticipating the argument about having the bishop respect his bound conscience, as pastors of the ELCA we are to uphold our ELCA policies. Recommendation 1 which was approved by the highest number of votes -- over 70% -- calls us in the ELCA -- especially the leadership -- to respect the convictions of others. A pastor who endorses only one position from the pulpit is not respecting the views of others.

So because it gets a lot of votes it must be true?  And, again, the obvious question:  where is the respect for a pastor's bound conscience?  Or are ELCA pastors not allowed to have bound consciences, or only bound consciences that are bound to the agenda of Higgins Road?  Are we not to call a thing what it is, or are we supposed to just accept everything from everyone, teaching only consistent tolerance for everything?  The Jesus of the Gospels is a pretty intolerant dude towards those (like pastors, bishops, and other leaders) who use their position and influence to lead folks away from God.