Author Topic: Unity and the Means of Grace  (Read 30175 times)

swbohler

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Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
« Reply #225 on: November 25, 2010, 08:19:38 PM »
Rev. McCain,

No, I am not equating candles with communion.  I am equating the mention of "our churches" having the sacrament weekly with the mention that "our churches" have/use candles and vestments: if the mere mention of weekly communion is taken to mean that such MUST be our practice in order to be Lutheran, then so must the mention of our use of candles and vestments. 

Clearly, there is a difference between candles and communion.  But if Jesus did not specify such a requirement on the frequency of communion, how can we? 

Weedon

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Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
« Reply #226 on: November 25, 2010, 08:58:37 PM »
Pr. Bohler,

May we do so by human right, and not divine right?  May we actually BE the Church that speaks in the Lutheran Symbols?  "Yes, among us the Mass is celebrated more reverently than among our opponents...."?

pr dtp

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Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
« Reply #227 on: November 26, 2010, 12:39:11 AM »
Wow, J&S.  I don't get the anger (at least it is coming across that way).  The Church Catholic position is that the sacrament is given to the baptized who living in repentance confess the faith once delivered to the saints.  The divisions manifesting themselves inside of unsere geliebte Synode  are precisely disputes about what that faith is; some draw the circle bigger, some smaller.  Those who draw it smaller believe that there are no doctrinal divisions to speak of; those who draw it bigger argue that it is indeed differences in doctrine that have caused divisions.  How would one put the best construction on those who confess a larger circle, if you will?  Begin there.  

I don't see how you read anger - then again I am thinking I understand less of you than I thought.

Your diversions (along with others) giving alternative reasons for pastors forgoing a DS when the brothers come together for mutual edification is bothersome.  It is a gathering of believers, a congregation,  though it may not be formed as one in the Kingdom of the Left.  One, because you frequent the forums where this is trumpeted loudly as a badge of honor, and where the existence of such division was proclaimed as a reason to defeat Dr. Kieschnick.  So I ask - why such avoidance on your part?  Why do you deny it, and seek to divert attention from the existence of such?  That isn't like you, at least the guy I met this summer - after being on the same forums for nearly a decade now.

Further, if a congregation member you knew of used the reasons to avoid communing, or a church didn't have weekly communion for those reasons - you would question it.  Yet you accept it in this circumstance - even avoiding the brotherly work of encouraging the brothers to reconcile, to bear that cross.  So again I have to ask, why?

Simply put, there is an attitude that exists when a brother says he isn't a brother - when he goes to the extent of publicly treating other pastors like publicans and sinners. That attitude is not conducive to koinonia - in fact it denies it.


RDPreus

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Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
« Reply #228 on: November 26, 2010, 07:23:26 AM »
J & S, a couple of days ago you spoke of reducing “the concept of a congregation to a left hand kingdom organization.”  Now you speak of a congregation that “may not be formed as one in the Kingdom of the Left.”  Perhaps you’ve gone over this before on this forum, but would you be so kind as to explain it to me?  I think I know the difference between a Christian congregation and an ad hoc gathering of Christians for worship, but I don’t get the connection to the kingdom of God’s left hand.


Dave Benke

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Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
« Reply #229 on: November 26, 2010, 08:31:36 AM »
I believe one of the great outcomes of the Koinonia Project as the next generation of the Task Force on Harmony, with its dual anticipations of a long shelf life and the denial of change through political/convention-al means over that long shelf life is that there COULD be a greater final appreciation for the slightly nuanced but sound ways in which the positions we now hold have been crafted, even as mutual respect for those offering different practice options is observed.  Lots of it has to do with pastors - and the Task Force on Harmony rightly, in my opinion, lays the disharmony primarily at the feet of the clergy. 

Take these three - a) we hold to close(d) communion, with pastoral discretion, as per various resolutions.  As the dialog continues, those who are both the willy-nilly admitters and the zero discretioners will realize the authenticity of the pastoral role and practice it. 
b) the role of women as laity.  As the dialog continues and examination includes the various resolutions, it will be seen that there are no mandates to practice in certain ways, but what cannot be forbidden from Scripture is not forbidden, and a level of difference in practice will not be seen as divisive of fellowship, but allowable differences.
c) diversity in worship.  Many of the exhortations and outline of principles in documents and resolutions received through the years will be read through and with growing trust, there will be a growing appreciation for the Ordo in the Divine Service and at the same time a willingness to live with diversity of styles especially in non-Eucharistic worship. 

In these ways as pastors who had foresworn their common participation in the Meal return to the Table together, the faithful will be shown an example that leads them to breathe easier, move between and among parishes inside the denomination, and invite friends and folks off the street to their parish which is one of 5500 nationwide (10 years from now I think 500 of the tiniest will no longer be with us).  Their will be more pride in God's grace in the ways we walk together.  I believe that's what COULD eventuate.

Dave Benke

Dave_Poedel

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Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
« Reply #230 on: November 26, 2010, 09:33:50 AM »
I believe one of the great outcomes of the Koinonia Project as the next generation of the Task Force on Harmony, with its dual anticipations of a long shelf life and the denial of change through political/convention-al means over that long shelf life is that there COULD be a greater final appreciation for the slightly nuanced but sound ways in which the positions we now hold have been crafted, even as mutual respect for those offering different practice options is observed.  Lots of it has to do with pastors - and the Task Force on Harmony rightly, in my opinion, lays the disharmony primarily at the feet of the clergy. 

Take these three - a) we hold to close(d) communion, with pastoral discretion, as per various resolutions.  As the dialog continues, those who are both the willy-nilly admitters and the zero discretioners will realize the authenticity of the pastoral role and practice it. 
b) the role of women as laity.  As the dialog continues and examination includes the various resolutions, it will be seen that there are no mandates to practice in certain ways, but what cannot be forbidden from Scripture is not forbidden, and a level of difference in practice will not be seen as divisive of fellowship, but allowable differences.
c) diversity in worship.  Many of the exhortations and outline of principles in documents and resolutions received through the years will be read through and with growing trust, there will be a growing appreciation for the Ordo in the Divine Service and at the same time a willingness to live with diversity of styles especially in non-Eucharistic worship. 

In these ways as pastors who had foresworn their common participation in the Meal return to the Table together, the faithful will be shown an example that leads them to breathe easier, move between and among parishes inside the denomination, and invite friends and folks off the street to their parish which is one of 5500 nationwide (10 years from now I think 500 of the tiniest will no longer be with us).  Their will be more pride in God's grace in the ways we walk together.  I believe that's what COULD eventuate.

Dave Benke
That is a beautiful vision of what should be in our Synod.  The refusal of brothers to commune with each others is emblematic of the true division that exists in our Synod.  Let's stop pretending that a group of us LCMS Pastors sees the rest of us, to put it kindly, as less than Lutheran.  It will take a lot of patience and a direct working of the Holy Spirit to bring these brothers into acceptance of the majority of LCMS Pastors.

My sinful nature says there is no way it's going to happen, my renewed nature in Christ tells me it is not only possible but absolutely necessary

FrPeters

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Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
« Reply #231 on: November 26, 2010, 09:38:57 AM »
I have hope for the koinonia project but it will require that we bring to the table something more than our defensiveness or that table will be Missouri's last stand... That means being willing to have an honest discussion shaped less by what the teachers of Missouri have said and more by what the Confessions say and what the catholic and apostolic tradition commends (which is presumed and expected in those Confessions).

You could be surprised, Bp Benke, since those small congregations tend to be far more resilient than many would like... or they would have gone away a long time ago...

The one thing in all of this that has not been mentioned in this is that Missouri's most conservative and liberal voices both delight in a radical congregationalism which makes it impossible to discipline or draw limits on the excesses you have mentioned.  Pastoral discretion is used by some to do whatever they want and they hide behind Missouri's congregational locus for church so that they continue to do what they want and even flaunt their abuse of close(d) communion (making even the Galesburg rule seem too limiting).  On the other hand, some sit in their congregations as if they were battleships constantly lobbing words that are weapons designed to wound instead of bring healing and find demons in every discretion decision.  I am not identifying people on this forum but speaking of the Synod as a whole.  None of the good fruit of koinonia discussions will endure as long as this congregationalism is used to isolate both ends of the theological spectrum as bunkers against which reason, dialog, and study are repelled.

I don't know if Missouri was ever (at least in the last hundred years) a cake in which you could cut and it was the same throughout... but today it is a fruitcake, complete with cake and fruit and nuts and what you get depends on where you cut into it...
Fr Larry Peters
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Weedon

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Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
« Reply #232 on: November 26, 2010, 09:44:34 AM »
J&S,

For whatever reason, we are just not able to discuss this in this forum.  I literally don't understand what you wrote.  But one of the advantages of Koinonia will hopefully be face to face conversations where miscommunication is certainly minimized.  You and I will have to wait for that conversation over a couple beers and we can revisit this and say:  "Now, what on earth were you saying?" and either of us can start with the question!

Charles_Austin

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Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
« Reply #233 on: November 26, 2010, 09:50:49 AM »
When LCMS Lutherans gather, does it have to be an officially organized congregation before there can be a celebration of the sacrament? This is what I am hearing from some.

Scott6

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Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
« Reply #234 on: November 26, 2010, 09:58:54 AM »
...more by what the Confessions say and what the catholic and apostolic tradition commends (which is presumed and expected in those Confessions).

The problem is, of course, that presuming and expecting do not equal mandating or prescribing.  While I sincerely wish and hope that folks will cease to use worship formats that focus on the response of the individual worshipper rather than the gifts God brings to His people, we cannot say that folks who don't use the liturgy are violating the doctrinal content of the Confessions with our historic understanding of what a quia subscription entails.

Dave Benke

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Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
« Reply #235 on: November 26, 2010, 10:23:49 AM »
Fruitcake - nice, Fr. Peters!  As long as it's a rum fruitcake. 

Charles, the group isn't the congregation - a congregation, normally one near the gathering, is the sponsor.  It was so at the national convention last summer, it is normally so at colleges (unless there's a parish in/at the college) and it's normally so at pastoral conferences.  Thus is Walther honored.

I do have hopes for the outcome written, actually.  I've found even on this forum that there are unexpected convergences through the months that bode well.

Dave Benke

FrPeters

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Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
« Reply #236 on: November 26, 2010, 10:26:31 AM »
Why is it that the article on the Mass is always a shrug and other articles in which adiaphora are mentioned merits attention?  If the presumption of the Mass is not mandatory then neither can those who violate the presumption and intent of this article claim the adiaphora privilege as mandatory... that's my two cents worth.  It is only centuries after the Confessions that any Lutheran ever conceived of much less practiced a non-Communion Sunday service as the regular Sunday offering...
Fr Larry Peters
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Weedon

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Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
« Reply #237 on: November 26, 2010, 10:31:41 AM »
Actually, Fr. Peters, that is sadly not true.  There were already Lutheran territories in Germany where by the end of the 16th century, the Sacrament was not a weekly gift.  But you were no doubt thinking of the Saxon tradition, and there, as we see in Stiller's work (and others), the Sacrament did indeed retain its central place for a very long time after the Reformation.  The stickler for Lutherans was always:  "when there are communicants."  Obviously (for us) if no one presents themselves for the Sacrament, the Sacrament is not celebrated.  So in a small village, say, where no one wanted the Sacrament on a given Lord's day, it was not celebrated, and instead the priest was instructed to encourage the people toward more frequent communion.  Those situations grew in numbers.  

ptmccain

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Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
« Reply #238 on: November 26, 2010, 10:32:35 AM »
Fr. Peters writes: "It is only centuries after the Confessions that any Lutheran ever conceived of much less practiced a non-Communion Sunday service as the regular Sunday offering..."

This point seems to make absolutely no difference, to those who choose to be indifferent, about the issue. I find it utterly baffling.

In recent generations "The Lutheran Hymnal" is largely responsible for people thinking it is perfectly normal to have a Service of Holy Communion without Communion. TLH gave us p. 5. We have been suffering every since with the legacy of that fateful decision.

Fr. Weedon rightly notes the growing problem in German Lutheranism, as Pietism gained the ascendancy.

We never force anyone to receive the Sacrament, but on the other hand, why are some pastors willing to deny it to those who desire it? Makes no sense, at all. None.

There are no good reasons for not offering the Sacrament every Sunday, only poor excuses and bad reasons not to do it.

« Last Edit: November 26, 2010, 10:35:00 AM by ptmccain »

Brian Stoffregen

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Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
« Reply #239 on: November 26, 2010, 10:37:34 AM »
I have hope for the koinonia project but it will require that we bring to the table something more than our defensiveness or that table will be Missouri's last stand... That means being willing to have an honest discussion shaped less by what the teachers of Missouri have said and more by what the Confessions say and what the catholic and apostolic tradition commends (which is presumed and expected in those Confessions).

What about Scriptures? What happened to sola scriptura if Church Fathers and Lutheran Confessions become the source of discussion? Why shouldn't the primary source be primary?
"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]