Author Topic: ELCA Considering New Procedures for Congregations Considering Leaving the ELCA  (Read 29797 times)

Brian Stoffregen

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That is my response to those who believe that the "revisionists" were able to use the process to get their way. If that is true, then the "traditionalists" had exactly the same opportunities.


As one who has been a "traditionalist" all my life I can say although the opportunity was there, I never got the opportunity because I was not in the liberalist-revisionist camp. It was that side that got the actual opportunity. Some "traditionalists" got the opportunity but not many, even though an almost super-majority of the whole church is "traditionalist" in orientation.

If so, shouldn't we expect an almost super-majority of our congregations to elect traditionalists to be voting members at synod assemblies, and wouldn't that almost super-majority elect the voting members to the churchwide assemblies? Why didn't/doesn't that happen?

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My wife once had the opportunity to serve on the Justice and Social Change Committee of the NE Penn Synod of the LCA. She was the only "traditionalist" on the committee. The synod staff laison to the committee was an admitted Marxist. When my wife attended a NARAL meeting in Philadelphia with another committee member to ascertain whether or not the Synod should support NARAL, when her pro-life reservations were revealed she was asked, "What are you doing on this committee?" One pastor on the committee was so disqusted with her that he walked out of the room. All she did was report the facts of what NARAL was all about, and that it appeared that it would be inappropriate for the synod to support it. Fortunately the committee voted not to support NARAL with a synod grant.

So, are you complaining that the committee followed the advice of your traditionalists wife rather than the other member? This is how debate is supposed to work. Each side presents their arguments, and people vote.

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How many notable "traditionalists" with outstanding credentials like Carl Braaten, Robert Bene, James Nestigen, are on a "do-not-call" list to speak at synod assemblies and other ELCA events? Where is the same opportunity?

I've heard Jim Nestigen at a couple different synod events.
"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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I can't help but ask-in theory, then, if a large group of what you call "traditionalists" DID make themselves available to serve as delegates to CWA, and they reversed the 2009 CWA actions, that would be God's will too?

Yes. I would see it as God's for us at that particular time in history.

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And the literally hundreds of congregational meetings where members are voting by overwhelming margins to leave the ELCA are also expressing God's will? Is God trying to confuse us by the contradictory actions of various bodies?

There are contradiction of God's will in Scriptures. So why should we be surprised when it happens in our lives. In Ezra, it was God's will that all Jewish men were to get rid of their foreign wives and children. In the book of Ruth, it was God's will that Boaz marry the foreign woman, Ruth.

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There is a higher authority than voting. Every person at any of these assemblies is a sinner and more than capable of making a mistake when casting a vote. We don't want to admit it, but there is more than God's will at work here on earth when we imperfect people meet in assembly. I suppose it's hard to give up on the idea that we always reflect how God wants things to be, but any reasonable person who takes a look at the world can come to no other conclusion.

What process do you recommend for a church body to discern God's will without study, prayer, and a vote?
"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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3. How many of us, over the past decades, believe we were "passed over" for a call that we thought should have been ours, or asked a bishop to put our name up before a congregation and were told that he thought we were not quite right for that place? Happened to me. Happened to most pastors I know. Anyone here?

Yup. Even had an assistant tell me that they had no good congregations for me in the synod -- one that is considered a "revisionist" synod. The assistant knew my abilities and what the open congregations needed, and I was not a good match.
"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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The same is true of Dr. Nestingen (although I do not know for certain whether he is still in the ELCA.)

He is listed as rostered on the ELCA website.
"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]

Erma S. Wolf

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Erma,

And by false teaching and error I do not have in mind here relatively trivial matters, I'm talking about defending the most fundamental articles of the Christian faith, where they are given lip-service on paper, but in actuality there is grave doubt case on even the most basic truths of the Christian faith.
<snip>
I would say that, from a human perspective, there is a much higher probability that the sheep will not be subjected to grave doctrinal error that can jeopardize their salvation. You are comparing apples to oranges, Erma, and I sincerely think that you know that, when you try to compare the grave heretical movements throughout the ELCA with a few oddball LCMS pastors here and there who do things, by way of practice, you may not like. If you in fact honestly think this is The LCMS, then you do not know us very well.

Paul, thank you for your thoughtful reply.  I agree with much of what you write.  I only want to respond briefly to these two matters.
  1) I am also talking about defending the most fundamental articles of the Christian faith.  That is why I send this warning from the battlements over here:  don't think it can't happen in the LCMS.  You do have strengths the ELCA does not have (either never had or has wasted and foolishly, wickedly thrown away).  Nonetheless, attend to your walls and watchtowers and on the, as you say, most fundamental articles of the faith.  You are also at grave risk.
  2)  I know the LCMS that existed in my youth.  That LCMS no longer exists except in my memory.  Now, and for the past 20 years, the only LCMS I experience personally comes from the pastors I have met in STS (men whom I deeply respect and whose guidance I treasure), those I meet on this board, and those who have been in congregations in the communities of Nebraska, Minnesota and South Dakota. (Well, there is one other, but as he is family he gets to roll his eyes at me with impunity!  :D)  The ones on this board do, indeed, argue to excess (my view) about matters that are on the fringe and "oddball."  The ones in my current community in the Great Plains states do not care to talk with me, period.  I hear you and others saying, "Not everyone in the LCMS is like that" when I recount my personal experiences; but what you and others fail to take seriously is that for 360 days out of each year, the only experience I have of LCMS clergy in my community is of those who literally will not speak to me.  
    In spite of that, when I hear of parishoners leaving an ELCA congregation due to the decisions the ELCA has made on any one of a number of recent decisions, I do recommend nearby LCMS congregations.  I want them to remain Lutheran, and I trust what the LCMS teaches about the Christian faith.  But in this area of the country, there is no welcome there for me.  So be it.  

   Keep CPH strong and confessional.  That is the best way I and many others are helped and supported.

   And that's where I'm coming from.

Brian Stoffregen

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Within the ELCA, it is my contention, based on careful reading and study and observation, and many ongoing private conversations with ELCA seminary students, that the seminary educational programs across that there is very little hope that the ELCA's clergy roster will be witnessing an ever increasing number of more orthodox Lutheran pastors. Just the opposite.

If by "orthodox" you mean, "like LCMS pastors," you are right, but it's been that way for decades. ALC and LCA pastors were not like LCMS pastors -- and were not considered "orthodox" by them, except for the brief fellowship between ALC & LCMS. I'm certain that Charles A., John P., and I consider ourselves orthodox in our beliefs; but we are not LCMS.

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And by false teaching and error I do not have in mind here relatively trivial matters, I'm talking about defending the most fundamental articles of the Christian faith, where they are given lip-service on paper, but in actuality there is grave doubt case on even the most basic truths of the Christian faith.

One of the differences is the definition of "the most basic truths of the Christian faith." This difference was true in the 70's when the LCMS created a paper showing the differences between themselves and the ALC. (I thought that they were accurate in their depiction of the ALC.) It remains a difference between our denominations.
"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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It might be the "job" of a bishop to minister on behalf of the ELCA, but the precise question is whether ministry on behalf of the ELCA is aligned or misaligned with ministry to the Word of God in his Church. In other words, doesn't the call of any ordained person transcend allegiance to the denomination? Isn't part of "testing the spirits" to have a healthy skepticism regarding any human institutions?

Scriptures are pretty clear about what "testing the spirits" means in 1 John 4:

1 Dear friends, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world. 2 This is how you can recognize the Spirit of God: Every spirit that acknowledges that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God, 3 but every spirit that does not acknowledge Jesus is not from God. This is the spirit of the antichrist, which you have heard is coming and even now is already in the world.

"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]

ptmccain

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1) I am also talking about defending the most fundamental articles of the Christian faith.  That is why I send this warning from the battlements over here:  don't think it can't happen in the LCMS.

I know you are, and believe me, I do not. The price of orthodoxy is eternal vigilance, to borrow and adapt a phrase.

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You are also at grave risk.

At grave risk in the sense of the devil prowling around like a roaring lion? Of course. At grave risk in the sense of our theological faculties denying and casting doubt on the articles of the Creed and Six Chief Parts? No.

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the only experience I have of LCMS clergy in my community is of those who literally will not speak to me.

I can understand why this is upsetting to you. I can't blame you, at all, for the hurt feelings. I can only chalk it up to intense fear and I'm sorry you get swept up into the general fear all around.

Quote
Keep CPH strong and confessional.  That is the best way I and many others are helped and supported.

By God's grace and with His help, that is what we strive to do!

Thanks, Erma.

 

hillwilliam

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It might be the "job" of a bishop to minister on behalf of the ELCA, but the precise question is whether ministry on behalf of the ELCA is aligned or misaligned with ministry to the Word of God in his Church. In other words, doesn't the call of any ordained person transcend allegiance to the denomination? Isn't part of "testing the spirits" to have a healthy skepticism regarding any human institutions?

Scriptures are pretty clear about what "testing the spirits" means in 1 John 4:

1 Dear friends, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world. 2 This is how you can recognize the Spirit of God: Every spirit that acknowledges that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God, 3 but every spirit that does not acknowledge Jesus is not from God. This is the spirit of the antichrist, which you have heard is coming and even now is already in the world.



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)

That is the same idea expressed by Richard Swanson (a Augustana College, Sioux Falls, SD religion department Professor) in the April 2008 issue of The Lutheran magazine. It is also parallels your statement that Jesus was not divine during His time on earth.

Now, how is that an acknowledgment that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh? I would not object if you wanted to distances yourself from Marcus Borg and/or Richard Swanson, but your quotation clearly puts them into the spirit of the Antichrist.

Papster

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I need to be tutored on how to respond to sections of a previous post. So I apologize for my post below to Brian Stoffregen. I guess I can identify with Charles Austin.

You said:
That is my response to those who believe that the "revisionists" were able to use the process to get their way. If that is true, then the "traditionalists" had exactly the same opportunities.

I said:
As one who has been a "traditionalist" all my life I can say although the opportunity was there, I never got the opportunity because I was not in the liberalist-revisionist camp. It was that side that got the actual opportunity. Some "traditionalists" got the opportunity but not many, even though an almost super-majority of the whole church is "traditionalist" in orientation.

Your Comeback:
If so, shouldn't we expect an almost super-majority of our congregations to elect traditionalists to be voting members at synod assemblies, and wouldn't that almost super-majority elect the voting members to the churchwide assemblies? Why didn't/doesn't that happen?

My Response:
As I stated to you earlier in another post, getting the traditionalist people to go is a difficult task, even though they represent a majority of the church. The people who want to get elected and do get elected to serve tend to be people who are interested in organizational power or have an issue they want the church to address, i.e., people with causes. It is interesting to be at synod assembly after synod assembly to see the same people get up again and again to speak about about the same cause that they are passionate about. The human sexuality debate was a prime example of that happening.

I said:
My wife once had the opportunity to serve on the Justice and Social Change Committee of the NE Penn Synod of the LCA. She was the only "traditionalist" on the committee. The synod staff laison to the committee was an admitted Marxist. When my wife attended a NARAL meeting in Philadelphia with another committee member to ascertain whether or not the Synod should support NARAL, when her pro-life reservations were revealed she was asked, "What are you doing on this committee?" One pastor on the committee was so disqusted with her that he walked out of the room. All she did was report the facts of what NARAL was all about, and that it appeared that it would be inappropriate for the synod to support it. Fortunately the committee voted not to support NARAL with a synod grant.

Your Comeback:
So, are you complaining that the committee followed the advice of your traditionalists wife rather than the other member? This is how debate is supposed to work. Each side presents their arguments, and people vote.


My Response:
I was amazed the committee voted the way they did and my wife has often wondered about how they might have voted if she had not been there to point out the inappropriateness of the funding request. I am certainly not complaining. The fact that I was highlighting is how the composition of that committee was "stacked" with liberalist/revisionists and my wife was the sole traditionalist on a committee of a dozen people.

I Asked:
How many notable "traditionalists" with outstanding credentials like Carl Braaten, Robert Bene, James Nestigen, are on a "do-not-call" list to speak at synod assemblies and other ELCA events? Where is the same opportunity?[/quote]

Your Comeback:
I've heard Jim Nestigen at a couple different synod events.

My Response:
I have also heard Nestigen at synod events, but not since he was forced to retire early from Luther Seminary (please correct me if I am wrong about that).

Charles_Austin

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Once again, Dr. Nestigen had a distinguished career; but exercise some common sense. Given what he has been saying about the ELCA in recent years, does it surprise you that he is not invited to synod events? He has found his audience among the Word Alone and CORE people.

jpetty

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Once again, Dr. Nestigen had a distinguished career; but exercise some common sense. Given what he has been saying about the ELCA in recent years, does it surprise you that he is not invited to synod events? He has found his audience among the Word Alone and CORE people.

Actually, he has spoken at our synod assembly.  It was a few years ago, but after he was identified with WordAlone.

Brian Stoffregen

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It might be the "job" of a bishop to minister on behalf of the ELCA, but the precise question is whether ministry on behalf of the ELCA is aligned or misaligned with ministry to the Word of God in his Church. In other words, doesn't the call of any ordained person transcend allegiance to the denomination? Isn't part of "testing the spirits" to have a healthy skepticism regarding any human institutions?

Scriptures are pretty clear about what "testing the spirits" means in 1 John 4:

1 Dear friends, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world. 2 This is how you can recognize the Spirit of God: Every spirit that acknowledges that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God, 3 but every spirit that does not acknowledge Jesus is not from God. This is the spirit of the antichrist, which you have heard is coming and even now is already in the world.



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)

That is the same idea expressed by Richard Swanson (a Augustana College, Sioux Falls, SD religion department Professor) in the April 2008 issue of The Lutheran magazine. It is also parallels your statement that Jesus was not divine during His time on earth.

Now, how is that an acknowledgment that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh? I would not object if you wanted to distances yourself from Marcus Borg and/or Richard Swanson, but your quotation clearly puts them into the spirit of the Antichrist.

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.) 1 John is speaking against Docetists who argued that Jesus was God who only seemed to be a human being. (I think of Q of Star Trek: The Next Generation, a godlike character who assumes human shape to interact with the humans.) I believe it is those who want to attribute to Jesus all of his divine powers and abilities and downplay the limitations of his humanness during his time on earth who are closer to the wrong spirit that 1 John talks about.
"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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Once again, Dr. Nestigen had a distinguished career; but exercise some common sense. Given what he has been saying about the ELCA in recent years, does it surprise you that he is not invited to synod events? He has found his audience among the Word Alone and CORE people.

Actually, he has spoken at our synod assembly.  It was a few years ago, but after he was identified with WordAlone.

He, with Susan Briehl, also spoke at that synod's theological conference. He was identified with WordAlone, but it was before his "retirement".
"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]

Charles_Austin

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And probably before he started declaring that the ELCA was no longer "church".