Author Topic: Unity and the Means of Grace  (Read 30082 times)

Charles_Austin

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Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
« Reply #255 on: November 26, 2010, 10:42:12 PM »
There is a great gulf between today's LCMS and the ELCA.
There are people in the LCMS who want to make that gulf wider; and there are people in the LCMS who - in their day to day parish ministries - find ways to bridge the gulf. Unfortunately, the former seem to be prevailing.

MaddogLutheran

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Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
« Reply #256 on: November 26, 2010, 11:07:50 PM »
There is a great gulf between today's LCMS and the ELCA.
There are people in the LCMS who want to make that gulf wider; and there are people in the LCMS who - in their day to day parish ministries - find ways to bridge the gulf. Unfortunately, the former seem to be prevailing.
And in saying this you fail to acknowledge that it is the ELCA by its recent actions (and not just the social statement, full communion with denominations that fail to unambiguously acknowledge the Real Presence in the Sacrament as our Confessions describe) receding further away from the LCMS, and not Missouri with its foot on the accelerator.  And it's not like Missouri hasn't brought this to our attention, for several years at least.

Sterling Spatz
« Last Edit: November 26, 2010, 11:10:23 PM by MaddogLutheran »
Sterling Spatz
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grabau14

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Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
« Reply #257 on: November 26, 2010, 11:32:48 PM »
Brian... is it that the Confessions' interpretation of Scripture are correct but other interpretations are also correct?  Do you intend to say that there is no real interpretation which is authoritative and Lutheranism offers only one version of a truth which has many versions or interpretations?  If that is indeed what you are saying, then there is a great gulf between the ELCA and Missouri
]

That is an interesting question as I have met Lutheran pastors within the ELCA that take the confessions as seriously as we do (believe that all of the so-called agreements are a farce) and I have met corportate men/women who think the ELCA is the greatest.

pr dtp

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Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
« Reply #258 on: November 27, 2010, 01:55:03 AM »
Like I said, J&S, I'm not getting how anything I said could be construed the way you have construed it.  I suggest you and I hold off trying to discuss this in this forum.  We're just spinning wheels at this point. 

Interesting.

How about some simple questions then.

1.  Do you know or know of pastors who refrain from communing with other members of the synod because of doctrinal disagreement?

2.  Do you know of those in question one who have publicly taken this position?  or who applauded those who did, or who pointed to those that did and claimed it was evidence of poor leadership of a district or synod?

3.  Do you think that such temporary self-excommunication can/should exceed a time point of one year, or for that matter, be taken without following Matthew 18 or some other process which works towards reconciliation?

Let's start there.  A simple yes/no should be possible. :-\


Charles_Austin

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Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
« Reply #259 on: November 27, 2010, 05:24:11 AM »
Sterling Spatz writes:
And in saying this you fail to acknowledge that it is the ELCA by its recent actions (and not just the social statement, full communion with denominations that fail to unambiguously acknowledge the Real Presence in the Sacrament as our Confessions describe) receding further away from the LCMS, and not Missouri with its foot on the accelerator.
I comment:
I am really really tired of attempting to correct this misstatement. The ELCA does indeed "unambiguously acknowledge the real presence of Christ in the sacraments." Period. Stop. End of story.
The complaint that some - very few, apparently - people have is that we are in communion fellowship with churches that - in the minds of those very few people - do not acknowledge the real presence of Christ in the sacrament in precisely the same was that the the ELCA does.
So: to put it as briefly as possible regarding acknowledging the real presence of Christ in the eucharist.
We do.
We think they do.
You say they don't.
We disagree.

Sterling Spatz writes:
And it's not like Missouri hasn't brought this to our attention, for several years at least.
I comment:
Yes, they have. And for "several years at least" their complaints have not caused any significant movement in the ELCA to set aside our fellowship agreements, or stop ordaining women, or adopt a "creationist" interpretation of Genesis.

As for who is trying to widen the gulf: Show me someone in the ELCA who believes that we should end cooperation with the LCMS in Lutheran World Relief, disaster relief and Lutheran social service agencies. Voices in the LCMS, including some in this discussion, think that should happen.
« Last Edit: November 27, 2010, 05:26:50 AM by Charles_Austin »

Weedon

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Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
« Reply #260 on: November 27, 2010, 08:41:28 AM »
J&S,

Since you insist, I'll do my best:


How about some simple questions then.

1.  Do you know or know of pastors who refrain from communing with other members of the synod because of doctrinal disagreement?


Yes.

2.  Do you know of those in question one who have publicly taken this position?  or who applauded those who did, or who pointed to those that did and claimed it was evidence of poor leadership of a district or synod?

No.  The folks I know who have done this in my District do not make an issue out of it publicly.  They have spoken repeatedly with neighboring brothers and have not been able to resolve their differences.  

3.  Do you think that such temporary self-excommunication can/should exceed a time point of one year, or for that matter, be taken without following Matthew 18 or some other process which works towards reconciliation?

I don't think it should exist at all.  But nor do I think that any time frame can be forced upon resolving the situation.  It will take as long as it takes for the parties to either reconcile or to finally and formally break fellowship.  One brother and his parish did so several years back after trying to use the process of doctrinal dissent and being, well, ignored.  They did everything Synod in our covenant asked them to do.  After three years of attempting this, they finally voted to leave.  Others have not reached the same conclusions or come to the same point, though they share the same concerns.  Our God is very patient with us; we need to learn to be patient with one another.
« Last Edit: November 27, 2010, 09:05:39 AM by Weedon »

MaddogLutheran

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Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
« Reply #261 on: November 27, 2010, 08:46:26 AM »
Sterling Spatz writes:
And in saying this you fail to acknowledge that it is the ELCA by its recent actions (and not just the social statement, full communion with denominations that fail to unambiguously acknowledge the Real Presence in the Sacrament as our Confessions describe) receding further away from the LCMS, and not Missouri with its foot on the accelerator.
I comment:
I am really really tired of attempting to correct this misstatement. The ELCA does indeed "unambiguously acknowledge the real presence of Christ in the sacraments." Period. Stop. End of story.
Maybe you wouldn't be so tired, if when you criticized engaged me in dialog, you had not misrepresented what I'd written.  I do not know why you needed to reply that the ELCA does indeed acknowledge the Real Presence.  I completely agree that it does.  Period. Stop. End of story.  I have not argued otherwise.  My point was that there is ambiguity in how other full communion church bodies describe it, and the material difference of that ambiguity is the ongoing subject of debate, and that for such an important doctrine, ambiguity is not a good thing. YMMV.
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Charles_Austin

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Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
« Reply #262 on: November 27, 2010, 09:17:02 AM »
No, there is no "ambiguity in how other full communion church bodies describe" the presence of Christ in the sacrament. They describe it quit fully and in a straightforward manner. A few people just don't like how they do that.
I have probably said this a hundred times in this forum:
We agree that they do not describe the real presence of Christ in the sacrament in the exact same way as Lutherans (at least some Lutherans) have done so.
But we agree that they believe Christ is really present in the sacrament, in the elements and in the assembly.
And we agree that while we may differ on some aspects of how that is described, the differences are not great enough to keep us from communing together and presiding at each other's altars.
That is what our ecumenical agreements say. They do not alter what we teach and believe about the sacrament, except insofar as our teaching and practice has - in some places - kept us from sharing the Lord's Supper with certain other Christians.
 

Dave Benke

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Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
« Reply #263 on: November 27, 2010, 09:18:26 AM »
I find those reasonable answers to J/S questions, Pr. W.  Your last comment deserves a bit more fleshing out.  Some of the brother pastors have been avoiding others at the altar for some time, and there will now be a ten year dialogical process on top of that, during which time the encouragement will be NOT to break fellowship, but to reconcile.  Without pushing forced apologies and other unhappy eventualities, I do think a fair question early on can and maybe should be in the regions where this eucharistic rupture is taking place - what would it take for you to return to the altar with your brothers in Missouri Synod pastoral ministry?  

That question actually opens the dialog about what's truly important to that person (usually a pastor), and allows for clarity on both how deep the divisions are but also how critical or trivial the bases for division are at this time from the perspective of those who are refraining from the Lord's Table.  This particular group should be listened to, not necessarily because they're right, but because their consciences are impinged.  For example, and I'll take one that I'm NOT really that fond of since to me it's a non-issue:  The brother pastor out there somewhere says he will not commune at the same altar with me because we have women/girls serving as lectors.  I respond that this is not forbidden in our denomination nor can it be proven from Scripture, Confessions and the practice of the Church catholic.  He says, I think it can be and I'm not going to communion with you.  I now have to respect his non-attendance, but I/we have a responsibility to remove that burden from his conscience so he can attend the Lord's Meal.  That may take some time, but if it can't be, and as the practice continues not to be forbidden in the Missouri Synod, eventually the brother would either have to come to the Meal or leave the denomination.   That's the patient process as I hear you outlining it.

Dave Benke

Weedon

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Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
« Reply #264 on: November 27, 2010, 09:23:23 AM »
Indeed, Bishop.  And that question is an excellent one to start out with.  In our particular area the female acolyte objection is one I've heard raised before (we have them here too), but I've not heard anyone suggest breaking fellowship over that.  By the bye, note how Piepkorn's observed bifurcation of authority is floating around in the background of these discussions:  those who draw the circle larger, if you will, lean a tad more on the authority of the dogmatic tradition; those who draw the circle more narrowly lean a tad more on the authority of the Symbols and what the Symbols do not address is regarded as not doctrinally divisive. 
« Last Edit: November 27, 2010, 09:38:05 AM by Weedon »

Dave Benke

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Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
« Reply #265 on: November 27, 2010, 10:00:13 AM »
Girls as acolytes as a forbidden zone. That's pretty much a new one on me.  I can see that being treated dismissively.  I think I myself would tend to treat that dismissively.  The process as well as care for the undue burden being carried by the other person encourages me in the other direction. 

Which leads me to posit that the more the dialog turns to what is to be and what cannot be forbidden, there will be a call for an exploration of how pastors in our church-body are arriving at the point of taking mortal offense at these items; mortal offense meaning that they refrain from the medicine of immortality because they can't approach that particular altar cleanly.  Who teaches these things, how are they shared and caught, how and why are they held as beingi at that level of importance?  I think this is some of what J/S is trying to get at not in trems of result but cause.  Under what rules of caution do these kinds of teachings take on that level of importance and centrality, and how can it be addressed?

Dave Benke

Dan Fienen

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Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
« Reply #266 on: November 27, 2010, 10:11:41 AM »
As for who is trying to widen the gulf: Show me someone in the ELCA who believes that we should end cooperation with the LCMS in Lutheran World Relief, disaster relief and Lutheran social service agencies. Voices in the LCMS, including some in this discussion, think that should happen.
How about ending cooperation with the LCMS in the malaria initiative?  Seems to me that came from the ELCA side.  Has the LCMS actually ended cooperation with the LWF, disaster relief or LSS?

Dan
« Last Edit: November 27, 2010, 10:15:38 AM by Dan Fienen »
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Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
« Reply #267 on: November 27, 2010, 10:18:00 AM »
The church that I was confirmed in later established the rule of no girl acolytes - so they had the girls be the crucifer insead!   ???  Go figure.

Actually I think this particular discussion here started more with the question of female lectors than acolytes - a hotter topic.

Dan
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Matt

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Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
« Reply #268 on: November 27, 2010, 10:27:09 AM »
The controversy over women lectors is a good place to get specific.

Currently, we have some congregations who prohibit female lectors and others who use them frequently. Therefore, the witness that we give as a Synod is contradictory and confused. Either this practice is contrary to Scripture or it is not, and we have people who believe, teach and confess opposite positions. I believe that this situation impairs our unity and leads to misunderstandings and hostility such as brothers and sisters who refuse to commune in certain situations.

We should be able to come together (in a process like Koinonia) and with prayer, deep study of the scriptures and frank conversation, work out a consensus. Most importantly, we must urge everyone in the Synod to conform to the consensus position, or leave the Synod. The most important step is the most difficult.

My congregation uses lay readers (including myself) who are exclusively male. Yet we do not teach that female readers are contrary to scripture, we just don't use them.

If consensus is reached that female lectors are acceptable, and if other congregations regularly use female lectors, than we should start using them as well as an expression of unity within our churches. This might be difficult or controversial in our congregation, but we should do this in the name of unity and clarity of confession. Those that cannot tolerate the consensus and find it antiscriptural should leave at this point.

The principle: various LCMS congregations should submit in love and conform themselves to the consensus position in all areas of belief and practice, so that we can truly walk together in unimpaired fellowship and joyfully celebrate the Sacrament of the Altar together. Those who find the consensus position unacceptable should leave the church body.

BUT. This consensus must be arrived at by including all opinions (in the beginning) and always submit itself to the authority of Scripture and confession. We have tried to arrive at this kind of unity through the democratic, parlimentary procedures of the Synod in Convention and have failed. I think Koinonia could be a better process.


kls

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Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
« Reply #269 on: November 27, 2010, 10:40:20 AM »
If consensus is reached that female lectors are acceptable, and if other congregations regularly use female lectors, than we should start using them as well as an expression of unity within our churches. This might be difficult or controversial in our congregation, but we should do this in the name of unity and clarity of confession. Those that cannot tolerate the consensus and find it antiscriptural should leave at this point.

So consensus of men trumps Scripture?  I should leave the LCMS if I don't like the consensus of men?  Just making sure I understand you.  I prefer to worship in a church that doesn't have female lectors, but it's not my place to condemn those who do since the LCMS approves of this.  I take Scripture literally that women should not speak in church.  Others don't.  So I need to leave if more people feel differently than me?  Hmmmm . . .