Author Topic: ELCA Considering New Procedures for Congregations Considering Leaving the ELCA  (Read 29802 times)

Charles_Austin

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Some of us have a vision of the ELCA which includes people of varying opinions on matters that do not touch on what it is we need to believe or know to be saved.
I despise the practice of "licensing" non-ordained people to preside at the sacrament and will not go to services where such people preside. But I'm not leaving the ELCA over that.
I think we should devote a lot more time and energy towards peace-making issues that we do. But I'm not leaving the ELCA because of that.
I think we should elect bishops for life, letting them retire when they wish, but retain their episcopal standing. But....
I'm not totally thrilled with the way we have justified some of our ecumenical statements. I believe they reach the right conclusions, but don't always present enough of the right arguments. But I'm not leaving the ELCA because of that.
We have people in the ELCA who adopt a "creationist" view of Genesis. That is not actually what the ELCA teaches, but I have no problem with ELCA members who hold those views.
We have people in the ELCA who are staunchly "pro-life" in the abortion discussion and people who are staunchly "pro-choice." That's o.k. with me and I'm glad that both views are expressed in our church.
That's the kind of "church" that the ELCA wants to be. Oh, and did I say I believe we are solid, firm, and orthodox in that which pertains to how we are brought to salvation in the eyes of God?

Ken Kimball

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Which "God" Pastor Austin?  Father, Son, and Holy Spirit?  Or Mother within us, Sophia, and the She-spirit?  
And "saved" from "what"?   Salvation from what?  

The ELCA is fuzzy on Nicenean Trinitarian teaching and practice.  The ELCA is fuzzy on "sin".  

Pastor Stoffregen repeatedly demonstrates fuzziness on the Incarnation and the two natures of Christ.

Remember the 2007 CWA discussion on "sin" and "sinner" and "sinful" being too negative?  Or early in the HS Statement, the admission that the task force could not agree on "sin."?  

To claim everything is all right with ELCA because we still believe in and teach Justification misses the huge point that Justification without the three previous articles in the AC is completely unintelligible and ambiguous.  A confusion of Law and Gospel.  Enthusiasm. 

I take no joy or schadenfreude in the self-inflicted disintegration of the ELCA.  I wish deeply it had not taken the path it has.  I wish that things had been otherwise, so that I and the congregations I serve did not have to leave.  That I did not have to be at odds with my synod bishop, a man I once regarded as a good friend and a good bishop.  I wish I did not have to be at odds with you, a pastor whose long service to the church I greatly appreciate, whose churchmanship (mostly in other venues than this one) I greatly admire, and whose loyalty to the ELCA I wish I could emulate...were the ELCA other than what it has chosen to become...if wishes were horses...I'd have a troop of mounted beggars.

Ken
« Last Edit: December 03, 2010, 10:38:21 PM by Ken Kimball »

dkeener

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Some of us have a vision of the ELCA which includes people of varying opinions on matters that do not touch on what it is we need to believe or know to be saved.
I despise the practice of "licensing" non-ordained people to preside at the sacrament and will not go to services where such people preside. But I'm not leaving the ELCA over that.
I think we should devote a lot more time and energy towards peace-making issues that we do. But I'm not leaving the ELCA because of that.
I think we should elect bishops for life, letting them retire when they wish, but retain their episcopal standing. But....
I'm not totally thrilled with the way we have justified some of our ecumenical statements. I believe they reach the right conclusions, but don't always present enough of the right arguments. But I'm not leaving the ELCA because of that.
We have people in the ELCA who adopt a "creationist" view of Genesis. That is not actually what the ELCA teaches, but I have no problem with ELCA members who hold those views.
We have people in the ELCA who are staunchly "pro-life" in the abortion discussion and people who are staunchly "pro-choice." That's o.k. with me and I'm glad that both views are expressed in our church.
That's the kind of "church" that the ELCA wants to be. Oh, and did I say I believe we are solid, firm, and orthodox in that which pertains to how we are brought to salvation in the eyes of God?

On the last day I doubt that the Lord will care what bothers you or me. And I don't think he will much care if we are ELCA, NALC, or MOUSE. Each of us will stand naked before God and simply plead "Lord have Mercy."  You keep saying that this isn't a salvation issue and that is why you and I will probably never agree.  As a called and ordained minister of the Gospel I truly do believe I will be held accountable for the lives of those who God called me to lead. I know that I am supposed to be much more sophisticated than that but I am not. When I listen to all the revisionist arguments calling into doubt the plain reading of scripture all I can hear is the voice of the serpent asking (my paraphrase), "Are you sure that is what God said?", "Look the fruit is good to eat", "Eat of the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil and you will be like God."  Humans wanting to be God, wanting to decide for themselves what is right and wrong is how the fall began.

Please don't take this as a personal attack - it is not. I believe you are sincere in your belief that an undue burden has been put upon those who are homosexual in their understanding. I am just as sincere in my belief that it is irresponsible (and dangerous) for a pastor to ignore something that has been considered sin for thousands of years. We will both have to make an account - Lord have Mercy on us all.

Dan Fienen

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So, there should be room in the ELCA for a great variety of opinions, except when you come to the question of what should be or should not be church dividing.  There the decisions have been made and should not be questioned.

Dan
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Re: ELCA Considering New Procedures for Congregations Considering Leaving the EL
« Reply #319 on: December 03, 2010, 10:43:32 PM »

To claim everything is all right with ELCA because we still believe in and teach Justification misses the huge point that Justification without the three previous articles in the AC is completely unintelligible and ambiguous.  A confusion of Law and Gospel.  Enthusiasm. 


We are on dangerous ground whenever we become narrowly focussed on any one particular article of the Augsburg Confession to the neglect of the other twenty-seven.
Greek Orthodox-Ecumenical Patriarchate

Baptized, Confirmed, and Ordained United Methodist.
Served as a Lutheran Pastor October 31, 1989 - October 31, 2014.
Charter member of the first chapter of the Society of the Holy Trinity.

Chrismated Antiochian Orthodox, eve of Mary of Egypt Sunday, A.D. 2015

hillwilliam

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Some of us have a vision of the ELCA which includes people of varying opinions on matters that do not touch on what it is we need to believe or know to be saved.
I despise the practice of "licensing" non-ordained people to preside at the sacrament and will not go to services where such people preside. But I'm not leaving the ELCA over that.
I think we should devote a lot more time and energy towards peace-making issues that we do. But I'm not leaving the ELCA because of that.
I think we should elect bishops for life, letting them retire when they wish, but retain their episcopal standing. But....
I'm not totally thrilled with the way we have justified some of our ecumenical statements. I believe they reach the right conclusions, but don't always present enough of the right arguments. But I'm not leaving the ELCA because of that.
We have people in the ELCA who adopt a "creationist" view of Genesis. That is not actually what the ELCA teaches, but I have no problem with ELCA members who hold those views.
We have people in the ELCA who are staunchly "pro-life" in the abortion discussion and people who are staunchly "pro-choice." That's o.k. with me and I'm glad that both views are expressed in our church.
That's the kind of "church" that the ELCA wants to be. Oh, and did I say I believe we are solid, firm, and orthodox in that which pertains to how we are brought to salvation in the eyes of God?

I can walk arm in arm with you on most of what you stated above. I would rather not have non-ordained people preside at the Eucharist but don't believe that it requires a 7 or 8 year college education to qualify to preside. It should be a matter of ordination after a thorough education in altar service  and a fervent belief in the efficacy of the Eucharist. In other words, whoever presides should be immersed in the the theology and praxis of the Eucharist, ordained for that service and believe that it isn't just a "trafficking of priests".

I would like the ELCA to devote a lot more time and energy towards peace-making issues than we do. By that I do not mean lobbying congress to bring sanctions against whoever we don't like that week.

I agree that we should elect bishops for life, letting them retire when they wish, but retain their episcopal standing. But I would expect a Bishop to be a defender of the faith handed down by the Apostles (not the ELCA) and to be an example of Christian humility and chastity.

I would rather see the ELCA, which I am still a member of, make ecumenical agreements based on adherence to the historic creeds and not expect or require absolute uniformity in altar practice for inter-faith cooperation. Altar fellowship should be restricted to church bodies that subscribe to the Augsburg Confession. All baptized Christians who believe that Jesus is present in the Eucharist should be welcome to receive communion.

Secular ideology, political affiliation or activism, and special interest pleading should never be included in the policies, mission, or preaching of the ELCA. Such influences are motivated by the flesh and not the Holy Spirit and, even if God uses them for good, they are sin.

So obviously we can agree on enough to not be church dividing. However when I am told that secular ideology that exalts free will, multiple paths to God, Goddess worship, doubt about the divinity of Jesus and His resurrection are equally valid expressions of the Christian faith, division seems to be the only responsible solution.

I was willing to respect the bound conscience of those who claimed to see scriptural support for gay ordination and marriage as long as that was not denominational policy. The fact that our friend Steve Sabin was called by an ELCA congregation even though he was not rostered was one expression of my respect for the bound conscience of that congregation. After all, I could be wrong. But when the ELCA calls the teaching of the OHACC, the Augsburg Confession, the scriptural witness into question it is no longer a matter of respecting bound consciences, it is a matter of placing ourselves above the authority of both the OHACC and the historic Lutheran Church. At some point the faith has to take presidence over our individual realities or division is inevitable.

Charles_Austin

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We are not necessarily "at odds," Pastor Kimball. Where we are is confused about how to best be the church given our differences of opinion on issues which we seem to be unable to "rank" in mutually agreeable ways.

The ELCA confesses the God proclaimed in scripture and the creeds. Some within the ELCA stretch the boundaries and push the edges in ways that disturb both of us. So all is not "right" within the ELCA and that grieves all of us. What we need is less denunciation and more willingness to find common ground. Some will find it. Others will not. I hope you are among the former.




dkeener

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We are not necessarily "at odds," Pastor Kimball. Where we are is confused about how to best be the church given our differences of opinion on issues which we seem to be unable to "rank" in mutually agreeable ways.

The ELCA confesses the God proclaimed in scripture and the creeds. Some within the ELCA stretch the boundaries and push the edges in ways that disturb both of us. So all is not "right" within the ELCA and that grieves all of us. What we need is less denunciation and more willingness to find common ground. Some will find it. Others will not. I hope you are among the former.


This is a Charles I could like.


Steven Tibbetts

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Marcus Borg "distinguishes between the pre-Easter Jesus, who was a Jewish mystic and the founder of Christianity, and the post-Easter Jesus who is a divine reality that Christians can still experience personally" (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marcus_Borg)


I think that you have it backwards. I see Borg as affirming that Jesus was a man of human flesh. (He may be more sketchy about Jesus divine side before Easter.)


Help me here, Brian.  Just how is Gary's attribution "backwards"  -- especially given your parenthetical addition? 

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That is precisely why Charles and I have stated our desire for "traditionalists" to stay. Their voices are important. They are heard -- although the majority may not always agree with them.


I've been hearing that for years, both in general and specifically in reference to me.  What usually followed such comments, though, was that the conversation/discussion picked up where it was before I spoke and "was listened to," as if I hadn't said anything at all.

After a while one wonders, "Why the continued expression of desire that we remain and speak up?" when it has no effect on the actual decisions.
« Last Edit: December 04, 2010, 03:04:11 AM by The Rev. Steven P. Tibbetts, STS »
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Steven Tibbetts

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Then on the next page:

Importantly, Jesus is not the revelation of "all" of God, but of what can be seen of God in human life. Some of God's traditional attributes of qualities cannot be seen in a human life. The omnipresence of God cannot be seen in a human life -- a human being cannot be present everywhere. The infinity of God cannot be seen in a human life -- a human being by definition is finite. So also omnipotence: a human being cannot be all-powerful and still be human. So also omniscience: what could it mean to say that a human is "omniscient" and that Jesus in particular was? That he would "know everything" -- including, for example, the theory of relativity and the capital of Oregon?

So there is much of God that cannot be seen in a human life. But -- and this is what matters -- what can be seen is the character and passion of God. By the "character of God," I mean simply "what God is like." By the "passion of God," I mean simply "what God is passionate about," what God most cares about, what concerns God most. The first is often called the nature of God, the second the will of God. This is what Jesus reveals: the character and passion, the nature and will, of God.


This sounds to me to be much like the opening chapter of John, especially if λόγος is translated "Revelation" rather than "Word". Jesus is the Word/Revelation of God. Borg goes on to argue that to say that Jesus is God, is docetism. If Jesus had all those divine "omni-" abilities, then he was not human. He was God appearing in human form.

Sounds to me more like finitum non capax infiniti.

The Rev. Steven Paul Tibbetts, STS
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Steven Tibbetts

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Oh, and btw God wasn't just seen in the life of Jesus. Jesus was God incarnate.

Jesus is God incarnate.

Pax, Steven+
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Charles_Austin

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Steven writes (regarding the need for "traditionalist" voices):
I've been hearing that for years, both in general and specifically in reference to me.  What usually followed such comments, though, was that the conversation/discussion picked up where it was before I spoke and "was listened to," as if I hadn't said anything at all.

I comment:
No. The conversation would have been different had you not spoken.

Steven writes:
After a while one wonders, "Why the continued expression of desire that we remain and speak up?" when it has no effect on the actual decisions.
I comment:
See above. Your voice has had an "effect," though not the one that you desire. Without certain voices in the discussion, we might have made quite different decisions or made them at different times. We might have justified our decisions in different language. We might have implemented the decisions differently. We might have done things which would have made our disagreements worse or more divisive than they seem to be now.
If the only purpose of your "voice" is to assure that the decisions agree with you completely, then I understand why you feel you have had "no effect." But if you see your participation as part of our continuing, long-range life together, you have had and are having an effect on who we are.
 

Scott6

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As for what Borg was affirming, please see "The meaning of Jesus: two visions
 By Marcus J. Borg, Nicholas Thomas Wright" and show me there he affirms the earthly divinity of Jesus.

I TA'd for an intro course to Christianity, and the prof required that book, which means I got to teach it in my discussion sessions.  It's a good way to see two people arguing on opposite sides of the same field.

Reaallly! Well come on Scott, does anything in that book contradict the quote from wikipedia that Marcus Borg "distinguishes between the pre-Easter Jesus, who was a Jewish mystic and the founder of Christianity, and the post-Easter Jesus who is a divine reality that Christians can still experience personally" (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marcus_Borg)

In its general form, nope.  It's a pretty basic distinction in Borg.  Though I would quibble about the living, earthly Jesus intentionally being the founder of Christianity as well as inquiring what the writer means by "divine reality."

A Catholic Lutheran

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I may have not spoken quite as clearly as I should have.  Phyllis Tickle speaks very favorably of the impact of folks like Dominic Crossan, Marcus Borg and others within the Jesus Seminar.  You are right, Gary, that it is very hard to pin down what marks the Emergent Church movement.  I have read mostly McLaren, and he surely is charting a most unusual course for the Church's future.

Tickle wrestles with the question of authority, which all have to face.  She goes with the usual critique of those who speak of the Word's authority.  Ten interpreters all see a passage differently.  The only conclusion is that this blows holes in any notion of the authority of Scriptures.

As I said, I was shocked by her notion that the Emergent Church in its multiple forms was clearly the wave of the future and that it was growing "exponentially" in numbers and its pride of place.  If anyone can verify that assertion, please let me know, and I will stand corrected.

I may have to spend my hard earned money to buy a copy of Tickle's book just to understand where Bishop X, Y, or Z is coming from.

What I see in the emergent church (and some mainline churches) is indeed something new. It is a church that claims to be the future of religion because it can be coherent within secular society. This new spirit may be ascendant within the our culture (dominated by the politically correct ideology of middle/upper class liberal professionals) where free will is over-valued. However, being dominant and having the faith handed down by the Apostles isn't the same thing and doesn't make it Christian. If someone is more concern about retaining their property than they are about defending the faith then the suggested changes to procedures for leaving the ELCA may keep some (uninformed) congregations in the ELCA. OTOH, it may motivate some congregations to shake the the dust from their sandals.

I think it's worth noting a couple of things about the "Emergent Church" thinking...

First, there is no coherent POV about the "Emergent Church."  As a matter of fact, the very definition of "Emergent" almost defies a singular definition or category.  That being said, there seems to be a couple of powerful, maybe uncompatible, thoughts that seem to typify the "Emergent Church" thinking.  The first strand of thought in Emergent Church stuff seems to be extremely conservative in it's social stances and "primitive" (not meant as a perjorative here, but rather as a descriptive term, like "Primitive" Art...) in it's ecclesiology.  These tend to focus on the "House Church" movement, downplaying any sense of physical connection between "worshipping communities," focussing upon the literal model of the Church as found in the Acts of the Apostles.  This expression of the "Emergent Church" movements seem to be distrustful of "institutional" Christianity because they see "institutional" Christianity as being irrepairably corrupted by the culture of the day.  A second stain in the "Emergent Church" movement seems to be typified in congregations that blend contemporary worship music and preaching styles, but attempt to recreate ancient "rituals" in a modern "idiom."  This strain attempts to be (at least vocally) "a-political" and "neutral" on social issues, declaring themselves to be "welcoming for all."  St. Gregory of Nyssa Episcopal Church in San Francisco is what I might cite as "typical" of this strain.  This strain seems to want to "reform" institutional Christianity by "challenging" it from "the margains."   A final strain of the "Emergent Church" seems to be typified by Spong, Tickle, and Barbara Brown-Taylor and others who advocate a "burning down" of "institutional" Christianity in favor of a "de-mythologized" and "de-theized" (Spong's term) "faith" that is focussed around the individual's "free-thinking."  The hall-mark of this strain of the "Emergent Church" seems to be a radical individualism that allows each individual believer to accept and reject whatever parts of spiritualities that they want.  "Faith," in this strain is an individual assent and excercise.

Second, it is unclear whether the "Emergent Church" is a real thing or just a recapitulation of older trends.  For example, the "House Church" tendancies of the "Emergent Church" look remarkably like the anabaptist movements that followed in the wake of the Reformation in Eastern Europe.  The desire of Rick Warren (for one) to recreate ancient "rituals" in a modern idiom has been with us since antiquity.  (For example, Warren's use of "40 Days..." is not so different in some key ways from the medieval Franciscan desire to "recreate" the nativity experience by setting up full-sized "Creches")  So whether or not the "Emergent Church" has more sticking power than the "Charismatic Movement" that preceded it is somewhat up for debate.

Finally, the "Emergent Church" defies any easy description precisely because it is not static.  I remember at the ELW training when someone complained that "there aren't any Emergent Church resources in this book."  That is a little like going to the zoo and complaining that there are no dinosaurs.  The whole premise behind the "Emergent Church" is that it exists outside the institutional control of the Church.  Whether embodied in distrust or a desire to "burn it down," the whole "Emergent Church" thesis implies that the "Emergence" is happening outside the prompting or the control of institutional rules.

Pax Christi;
Pr. Jerry Kliner, STS
 
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