Author Topic: Unity and the Means of Grace  (Read 30034 times)

kls

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Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
« Reply #270 on: November 27, 2010, 10:41:49 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

I think it was a financial decision to pull out of the LMI more than it was a decision not to cooperate with the LCMS.  But I'm not in the know to say for sure.  It seemed like a little bit of spin surrounded the issue.

Weedon

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Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
« Reply #271 on: November 27, 2010, 10:44:49 AM »
I think there are several possible answers on lay readers:

1.  The laity ought not ordinarily read the Scriptures in the Divine Service as this is specifically given by St. Paul to the pastor in 1 Tim. 4:13 (I find this argument untenable myself - St. John Chrysosotom, a native Greek speaker did not take the "read" in the sense of "public reading" but of studying!)
2.  Because in the laity there is "no distinction between male and female" anything which a lay man can do in service to the Church, a lay woman may do also.  (I believe Dr. Lee Maxwell set this forth many years ago in Journal of English District Pastors; though if one grants #1, this point is moot; if one doesn't grant #1, then whether male or female lay readers is an adiaphoron)
3.  Because of the "orders of creation" it is inappropriate for a lay woman to read the Scriptures (citing the passages Pr. Preus cited earlier), but the ministry may delegate this responsibility to certain laymen (the oft-cited passage in Walther by J&S).
4.  A variation of 2 is that although one side may conclude that there is nothing in Scripture forbidding lay women from serving as lectors in the Divine Service, yet so as not to cause offense to those who hold that this practice would be contrary to the Scripture, Synod ought to step aside from the question by forbidding female lay readers for the sake of good order.
5.  A variation of 2 is because there are those who assert that this adiaphoron is a sin, we are obligated to use lay women readers to demonstrate that it is not sinful.  

Are there other options I'm not seeing?
« Last Edit: November 27, 2010, 01:23:51 PM by Weedon »

Team Hesse

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Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
« Reply #272 on: November 27, 2010, 10:46:17 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.



In some ways, I don't have a dog in this discussion. But I am curious, does the notion of Christian freedom enter in here? If one congregation "uses" female lectors must it be a point of contention such that all congregations must use female lectors as a sign of unity or all congregations must not use female lectors as a sign of unity? This feels more like a straight-jacket than freedom. I know one LCMS pastor who deliberately makes the sign of the cross at a different point in the Words of Institution than he was "taught" at Fort Wayne because, as he puts it, "this should be a matter of Christian freedom not a matter of Law." Must there be a consensus on every jot and tittle, and who defines the jots and tittles?

Just asking

Lou

kls

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Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
« Reply #273 on: November 27, 2010, 10:50:52 AM »
Which is why I prefer that just the pastor read to avoid the trouble and confusion altogether.  Our elders do the readings and also assist with communion distribution, which I find completely acceptable.  We make so much out of being inclusive of everyone in worship that I wonder if it's really worth the trouble.  There is so much to be done outside of worship with respect to serving our neighbor and saving souls, I really wish we'd put the focus there.  But alas, I sound like a broken record from previous threads on this topic.

Weedon

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Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
« Reply #274 on: November 27, 2010, 10:56:39 AM »
Pr. Hesse,

Of course there may be freedom on anything which is not itself a doctrinal matter.  Most in our Synod do not consider the issue of lectors a doctrinal matter; some do.  Thus we need to have a discussion about this practice which arose in our churches without ever BEING discussed.

Team Hesse

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Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
« Reply #275 on: November 27, 2010, 11:09:37 AM »
Pr. Hesse,

Of course there may be freedom on anything which is not itself a doctrinal matter.  Most in our Synod do not consider the issue of lectors a doctrinal matter; some do.  Thus we need to have a discussion about this practice which arose in our churches without ever BEING discussed.

Very well, then. Thanks for the clear posts, particularly the one detailing the scriptural and patristic basis for the various options. Best wishes in the process. Would that others were so careful.

Lou

Charles_Austin

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Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
« Reply #276 on: November 27, 2010, 11:14:37 AM »
And if the consensus, or however you reach decision, is - no women lectors, no women acolytes, no women crucifers - good luck on getting the congregations that permit such to stop doing it. I'll be watching to see how that happens.

Weedon

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Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
« Reply #277 on: November 27, 2010, 11:17:41 AM »
I think that's where President Harrison's initial promise that he would not force anyone but would seek to lead only by the clear and compelling Word of God comes in.  Either the Word of God does the job, or it doesn't get done.

Matt

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Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
« Reply #278 on: November 27, 2010, 11:18:19 AM »
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.  

This is not at all what I am saying!

Let us say, hypothetically, that Bishop Dave and Layman Matt disagree on whether using women as lay readers is appropriate. Both of them are Lutheran and holding to Sola Scriptura agree to subordinate their own opinions to the authority of Scripture. Also both come to the table with a humble and teachable attitude that allows them to repent of a given opinion if the other demonstrates that it is contrary to scripture. Also, the Bishop refuses to use his official authority to impose his view on the layman, the two come together as equals in the Priesthood of All Believers, able to use reason to understand the clear meaning of scripture and apply it to current issues.

Then the two pray together for understanding, and examine the scriptures in question. They also examine the Lutheran confessions that may illuminate the topic since both consider these documents authoritative. Beyond that, each appeals to church fathers, tradition, and the writings of theologians in order to make their case, though these voices are not authoritative.

After all this is done, Bishop Dave persuades Layman Matt that the use of female lay readers is good, right and salutary. A consensus is reached. Matt should then return to his congregation and urge them to start using female lay readers because he now truly believes that it is the best practice, and he wants to bring his congregation into greater harmony with Bishop Dave's congregation. That is what I am saying.

And I don't want to change the subject to debate the issue of female lectors at this time, so I won't put my opinion out there. I bring this up merely as an example of how something like Koinonia can lead to greater unity in the LCMS. My key point is that greater unity is not possible without greater uniformity in practice at the level of Sunday morning worship. If no congregation accepts change of any kind, there can be no greater unity. The idea of a "big tent" LCMS that accepts huge diversity in worship is untenable.
« Last Edit: November 27, 2010, 11:22:44 AM by Matthew Jamison »

Charles_Austin

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Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
« Reply #279 on: November 27, 2010, 11:20:12 AM »
Matthew Jamison writes:
The idea of a "big tent" LCMS that accepts huge diversity in worship is untenable.
I ask:
And using women lectors or not using women lectors constitutes "huge diversity"?

kls

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Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
« Reply #280 on: November 27, 2010, 11:24:21 AM »
This is not at all what I am saying!

OK, just wanted clarification.  I'm too cynical to think we can come together in agreement on some topics (I guess I look back even to Luther's experiences as an example), but God is certainly bigger than men (and women, to be inclusive):)

Matt

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Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
« Reply #281 on: November 27, 2010, 11:34:24 AM »
I'm too cynical to think we can come together in agreement on some topics

Realistically, I don't think we can reach 100% agreement on all topics, and neither does Pr. Harrison. So staying with my example, lets say I believe that women lectors are wrong, but the Koinonia consensus decides otherwise. I have a decision to make. If my sanctified conscience tells me that the consensus has taken a position contrary to scripture, then I must break fellowship with the consensus and leave the church body, no matter how difficult, expensive or painful this would be. Scripture must always, always, always have the final word.

Alternatively, I may come to the conclusion that my understanding of scripture is incorrect in this area and accept the consensus.

Either alternative would leave the church body more unified in doctrine and practice.

Matt

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Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
« Reply #282 on: November 27, 2010, 11:45:39 AM »
And using women lectors or not using women lectors constitutes "huge diversity"?

"Huge diversity" refers to a number of controversial issues in today's LCMS, women lectors is just one of these that I am using as an example.

Of course the ELCA tolerates even greater diversity in doctrine and practice, and has also tried to hold the church body together as a "big tent" where people with consciences bound to contradictory positions are urged to remain in communion with one another. The end result is strife, disunity, financial collapse and a disintegrating church body. There simply is no unity in the church except where pure doctrine is insisted upon and enforced. The idea that we can have a unified church body that includes wildly different theologies is a fantasy.

mariemeyer

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Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
« Reply #283 on: November 27, 2010, 11:47:42 AM »
I think there are several possible answers on lay readers:

1.  The laity ought not ordinarily read the Scriptures in the Divine Service as this is specifically given by St. Paul to the pastor in 1 Tim. 4:13 (I find this argument untenable myself - St. John Chrysosotom, a native Greek speaker did not take the "read" in the sense of "public reading" but of studying!)
2.  Because in the laity there is "no distinction between male and female" anything which a lay man can do in service to the Church, a lay woman may do also.  (I believe Dr. Lee Maxwell set this forth many years ago in Journal of English District Pastors; though if one grants #1, this point is mute; if one doesn't grant #1, then whether male or female lay readers is an adiaphoron)
3.  Because of the "orders of creation" it is inappropriate for a lay woman to read the Scriptures (citing the passages Pr. Preus cited earlier), but the ministry may delegate this responsibility to certain laymen (the oft-cited passage in Walther by J&S).
4.  A variation of 2 is that although one side may conclude that there is nothing in Scripture forbidding lay women from serving as lectors in the Divine Service, yet so as not to cause offense to those who hold that this practice would be contrary to the Scripture, Synod ought to step aside from the question by forbidding female lay readers for the sake of good order.
5.  A variation of 2 is because there are those who assert that this adiaphoron is a sin, we are obligated to use lay women readers to demonstrate that it is not sinful.  

Are there other options I'm not seeing?

Yes:

Regarding #4:

1) Luther's understanding of the orders of creation are applicable to the world where God works through men and women without regard for their sexuality to maintain order in a fallen world.

2) The concept of a single stuctured order where men and women have assigned immutable positions to which God is bound cannot be not found in  Scripture or the Confessions.

Thus the option of taking a second look at the concept of men and women having assigned positions in relation to each other.

Marie

Team Hesse

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Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
« Reply #284 on: November 27, 2010, 11:52:57 AM »
. The idea of a "big tent" LCMS that accepts huge diversity in worship is untenable.

A "church" of one is also untenable. Fallen human beings seeing through the glass darkly probably can't come to a clear consensus-- I would hazard a guess that's one of the reasons we need a Redeemer.

Lou