Author Topic: An Ambiguously Tentative Probably Not (May 2006)  (Read 49942 times)

Grizzly

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Re: An Ambiguously Tentative Probably Not (May 200
« Reply #270 on: May 17, 2006, 11:40:53 AM »
I would suggest that there are a number of “ways forward” from here—worthy replies that have gone without response or with only partial, mis-directed responses. In the next few posts, I’m going to identify those that have caught my attention and suggest we might further our discussion from any of those points (which you are, of course, to state the obvious, free to critique, ignore, or propose your own).  Here’s the first:

Steven Tibbets, Reply #169, p. 12:
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It's not so much the different approaches to the Scriptures, Brian, as it is reaching diametrically opposed, incompatable conclusions of what this church's (for others of you, "this church" is ELCA-speak for "the ELCA" as distinct from the one holy catholic and apostolic Church) public witness to the Gospel is.

We are currently members of the same church.  For quite some time the Arians were part of the same Church as the Niceans, too.  But it couldn't stay that way forever.

Does the historical and ecclesial analogy to the 4th century Nicene-Arian (Athanasius-Arius) apply to the current controversy in the ELCA (and in other denominations as well)?   Are there lessons to learn or conclusions to draw?  (By the by, did anyone else happen to read the Harry Chronis article in the December 05 edition of Pro Ecclesia?  Very appropro to the current situation in which we find ourselves).  If anyone is interested in an extended discussion of Chronis' article, we can do so on another thread.
Ken Kimball

Grizzly

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Re: An Ambiguously Tentative Probably Not (May 200
« Reply #271 on: May 17, 2006, 11:48:32 AM »
Here's my second one, tooting my own horn a bit, how about what I wrote back on Sat May 13, Reply #171, p. 12. ?  I won’t quote it here but suggest folks go back and reread it.  

I observed that the ELCA Churchwide governing authorities (Presiding Bishop, Office of the Secretary, Church Council, etc.) are indeed constitutionally and organizationally impotent in regard to the actions of revisionist synods, a point for which Pr. Stoffregen’s puzzling response (Reply #172, p. 12) provides supporting documention from the ELCA’s constitution; his conclusions then echo my own.  I thank him for both the supporting documentation and his conclusions, though he labors under the impression that I was somehow asking the Churchwide Expression to do something (a misreading he repeats in Reply #181, p. 13).  I was not. I was simply making an observation which then led to my concluding points:
1. the dissolution of the ELCA “into 65 squabbling  landeskirchen” (further hastening the departure of the orthodox traditionalists);
2. the emergence of opposing confederations of revisionist synods on the one side and non-revisionist synods on the other side;
3. which leaves the ELCA Churchwide what it has become: an irrelevant and shrinking rump.  

Pr. Stoffregen’s objection that this isn’t a constitutional derailment or trainwreck because the constitution doesn’t provide “power or authority” for the Churchwide to discipline synods (i.e. no constitutional derailment because the constitution doesn’t apply)—is niggling.   I’ll concede the point on technicalities but still contend that it portends a bitter ecclesial struggle likely resulting in the organizational train wreck of the ELCA.   Pr. Stoffregen himself underscores the reality that the only remedy for traditionalists is legislative politics (Reply #172 p. 12):
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It is the responsibility of the synod to discipline itself in ways that I mentioned above, and by recruiting enough voting members at synod assemblies to vote for their "traditional" resolutions. Any traditionalist pastor who is not attending synod assemblies with the maximum number of voting members from the congregation has little to complain about.  

Grizzly

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Re: An Ambiguously Tentative Probably Not (May 200
« Reply #272 on: May 17, 2006, 11:58:51 AM »
Thirdly: James Gale, Charles Austin, Eric Swensson, Pr. Stoffregen et al carry on a revealing discussion that results in the conclusion that however cogent a case one may make regarding the permissibility/impermissibility of certain pastoral actions/behaviors, that absent any real Churchwide juridical authority and power (and such authority and power does indeed seem absent in the ELCA), pastors and congregations are left to do whatever they choose to do. (Replies #187, 188, 189, 190, 191, 192, 193, 194, 203, 204, 206, p. 13-15)  The only limiting and determining factor seems to be the degree that congregations and pastors are allowed to do what they wish by synod authorities (i.e. synod bishops, councils, and consultation and discipline committees) and the degree to which synod authorities feel disposed to honor ELCA governing documents and Churchwide rulings.  The lack of a recognized and accepted juridical authority which can compel synods and synodical leadership to submit to the governing documents of the ELCA and/or the rulings of the Churchwide governing authorities brings us back to the sole recourse for remedy in the ELCA: aggressive, legislative control at the synod level and at the Churchwide Assembly level (though it is becoming clear that real and effective power resides more at the synod level than at Churchwide Assembly level—since the authority and actions of the CWA are directed through Churchwide Governing authorities which have been revealed to be impotent.  

Grizzly

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Re: An Ambiguously Tentative Probably Not (May 200
« Reply #273 on: May 17, 2006, 12:17:01 PM »
Lastly, Pr. Austin in his bald and inimitable fashion goes right for the bottom line jugular (Reply #232, p. 16)
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And, as I have said upstream many times, if the same-sex union or gay clergy issue is the deal-breaker above all unity-makers, then let's just drop the subject and face reality. I believe that the ELCA is moving, partly at least, towards fuller, but not total acceptance of same-sex unions and non-celibate gay clergy. It is happening, and it is being defended on theological and biblical grounds.  

Those who disagree have options. They can continue in the ELCA, but of course their souls are in peril because they are part of a heretical, un-biblical and apostate church. They can continue in the ELCA, but "pretend" that they are not part of the ELCA (except for their medical coverage and the pension plan) by withholding benevolence and not taking part in any ELCA activities. They can leave.  

Personally, I would rather that they do not leave. But I sometimes do not understand why they stay.


To which Pr. Speckhard (Reply #238, p. 16) states the orthodox and traditionalist case as well or better than any of us ELCA conservatives could do:
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It is also being attacked on much firmer theological and Biblical grounds. Presumed inevitability is not an argument, it is a bullying tactic. It is one side merely declaring the church to be their own, and naming the terms for the other side's presumed unconditional surrender. Couldn't another option be for the conservatives to prevent the ELCA from doing what you think it will do? Or is it all over but the shouting?


Therein lies the decision of conscience facing many of us.  Why should we, the orthodox traditionalists (whether evangelical catholic, WordAlone, and those in between those two poles) have to be the ones to leave?  This is our church too.  We did not start this fight.  That battle has been foisted upon us by the revisionists.  All we have been doing is to stand our ground and oppose revision.  

Steven has it right: traditionalists and revisionists, ala Niceneans and Arians, cannot remain indefinitely yoked; one or other of the two irreconcilable hermeneutics must prevail at the expense of the other.  

To what end then do we orthodox traditionalists (I like Russ Saltzman’s “classical Christian” term) stay and fight (and here I bemoan and grieve all those who, in my opinion, prematurely abandoned the ship, leaving us the weaker for it):  failing to convince the revisionists to repent or failing to regain the whole ELCA, to force an amicable divorce (an idea I heard from Rob Gagnon), dividing up the ELCA’s assets and debts (including the Higgins Road property and synod headquarters and seminaries) proportionally, allowing every congregation to vote whether it wishes to be part of the revisionist or traditionalist half; then we wish each other well and go our separate ways.  It may take some years of internecine ecclesial headbutting before we come to that point—during which time the Churchwide rump shrinks farther, while the ELCA operates as two separate church bodies anyway.  

It would be nice if it didn’t have to come to that—but it is pretty clear that the revisionists do not intend to back down or leave—it is time for the orthodox traditionalists in the ELCA, who despite the loss of so many who have already left, are still the majority.  

And just to be clear, while some of the orthodox traditionalists may be inerrantists and may oppose the ordination of women, there are many, like myself, who are not inerrantists and who support the ordination of women on Biblical grounds (Peter, if you want to argue either point with me, you’ll have to start another thread).  Perhaps to the dismay of the revisionists, we orthodox traditionalists are discovering, that whatever our differences of ecclesiology et al, we hold far more in common than those things over which we differ.  It is "mere Christianity" on the one side over against "watered down Christianity" on the other.

Pastor Ken Kimball
Old East and Old West Paint Creek Lutheran Parish
Waterville and Waukon, Iowa

Charles_Austin

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Re: An Ambiguously Tentative Probably Not (May 200
« Reply #274 on: May 17, 2006, 12:22:36 PM »
The archbishop writes:
I would say that a forum like this one is a place for open and frank discussion among professionals, but that in general, the laity - parishioners in general - with some noted exceptions who are in fact theologically astute and at least potentially influential, should probably be directed to official Church and Parish publications and duscussion groups which would be intended to present and reinforce what the Church teaches.

I note:
By all means! Let us keep serious theological discussion away from the unwashed laity! Let us assume that they are not smart enough or faithful enough to have the discussion without damage to their souls. Let the poor idiots wait until the almighty theologians and Mother Church tells them what to think! And let us make sure that "official Church and Parish publications" never stray into the dangerous field of speculative theology! Good grief!
« Last Edit: May 17, 2006, 12:30:19 PM by Charles_Austin »

Charles_Austin

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Re: An Ambiguously Tentative Probably Not (May 200
« Reply #275 on: May 17, 2006, 12:28:44 PM »
Pastor Kimball writes:
Therein lies the decision of conscience facing many of us.  Why should we, the orthodox traditionalists (whether evangelical catholic, WordAlone, and those in between those two poles) have to be the ones to leave?  This is our church too.  We did not start this fight.  That battle has been foisted upon us by the revisionists.  All we have been doing is to stand our ground and oppose revision.  

I respond:
Well, some of us did not "start the fight" over lay presidency or the diminished power of bishops or the weakening of our ecumenical stance. We opposed those "revisions." Those battles were foisted upon us by a relatively small group of dissident Lutherans whose heritage stands apart from the mainstream of Lutheranism. The ELCA decided to accomodate them. Some of us didn't like it. We're still here.

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Re: An Ambiguously Tentative Probably Not (May 200
« Reply #276 on: May 17, 2006, 01:01:35 PM »
Let me be blunt-

I will use black and white language and the nit-pickers can have a field-day...

Here are the reasons why the traditionalists will loose the ELCA and the revisionists will win:

1.So far, ELCA PB's have been revisionists.

2. Revisionists are well-funded and coordinated.

3. Revisionists are largely LCA and are used to Robert's Rules of Order. They show up to change things.

4. Traditionalists are largely ALC and hope the Holy Spirit will fix everything and are willing to wait. They don't show up, figuring God's will be done.

5. Traditionalist have one front on which to fight, one stand to make on 2000 years of interpretation.

6. Revisionists can keep discovering something new, use flanking movements in science, sociology, Hollywood, human rights, poetry, and nit-picking.

Pete Garrison
Pete Garrison
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Charles_Austin

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Re: An Ambiguously Tentative Probably Not (May 200
« Reply #277 on: May 17, 2006, 01:21:25 PM »
Pete Garrison writes (about "winning" or "losing"):
1.So far, ELCA PB's have been revisionists.

Me:
Perhaps

2. Revisionists are well-funded and coordinated.
Me:
I don't have numbers (there are no financial disclosure forms required in church politics), but I sensed the "traditionalists" spent more in Orlando.

Pete:
3. Revisionists are largely LCA and are used to Robert's Rules of Order. They show up to change things.

4. Traditionalists are largely ALC and hope the Holy Spirit will fix everything and are willing to wait. They don't show up, figuring God's will be done.

Me:
Not true. I watched the ALC parliamentarians maneuver quite a lot and quite effectively as the constituting convention and subsequent assemblies proceeded. And if they figure that "God's will be done" in the Church, then don't they think that it is being done?

Pete
5. Traditionalist have one front on which to fight, one stand to make on 2000 years of interpretation.

Me:
I'm not sure what this means.

Pete:
6. Revisionists can keep discovering something new, use flanking movements in science, sociology, Hollywood, human rights, poetry, and nit-picking.

Me:
Hollywood? Poetry?
And have we forgotten that the main resolution passed in Orlando urged us to seek ways to maintain our unity in the face of disagreements? The "winning" and "losing" terminology sure doesn't help that effort.
« Last Edit: May 17, 2006, 01:23:06 PM by Charles_Austin »

Grizzly

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Re: An Ambiguously Tentative Probably Not (May 200
« Reply #278 on: May 17, 2006, 01:47:12 PM »
Charles Austin wrote:
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Well, some of us did not "start the fight" over lay presidency or the diminished power of bishops or the weakening of our ecumenical stance. We opposed those "revisions." Those battles were foisted upon us by a relatively small group of dissident Lutherans whose heritage stands apart from the mainstream of Lutheranism. The ELCA decided to accomodate them. Some of us didn't like it. We're still here.  


First, Charles, thanks for your excoriating of Irl's "professional elitist" remarks.  You wrote what needed to be said. On that I'm in agreement with you.
Now to what you wrote above:
1. I'm not in favor of lay presidency.  If they're going to preach and administer the Sacraments, then ordain them.  We may need to make some adjustments to pastors' guild to offer alternative tracks--but this is one for another thread.  
2.  I'd be glad to take up with on another thread the issue over the "power of bishops" and what exactly you mean by "weakening of ecumenical stance." I have no problem with bishops or even the historic episcopate, so long as bishops are orthodox.  The real problem are revisionist bishops.  I opposed Formula of Agreement for selling out the Lutheran position on the Eucharist and the Concordat and CCM because of poor track record of ECUSA bishops in upholding orthodox Christian doctrines (e.g. Spong et nauseum).  
3. How do you define "mainstream" of Lutheranism?  Are you excluding LCMS and WELS?  Are you including the Africans?  Including or excluding Europe?  I can see where "mainstream" might have something to say against lay presidency--but bishops and ecumenical stance have been and are up for grabs across the broad stream of Lutheranism.  IF you want to pursue this, I'd be glad to take it up with (and likely I would learn a good deal) on a separate thread.

However I would respond that among traditional orthodox Lutherans--ec's, WordAlone types, and those of us in between--while we have strong convictions (and differences) on the issues you've raised, they do not rise to the level of concern occasioned by the pro-glbtq revisionist agenda.  My short response: The position of "pastor" in terms of Eucharistic presidency, like the office of bishop, are post-New Testament, post-apostolic developments (though doubtlessly and necessariy informed and undergirded by the NT); they are certainly confessional issues for Lutherans among whom different positions can be taken without revising the Scriptures or undermining their authority.  The same is certainly true of "ecumenical stances."  Where I am in error or deficient in my understanding of these things I certainly welcome correction and enlightenment--but probably best done on a separate thread.

Thanks for responding.
Ken Kimball

peter_speckhard

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Re: An Ambiguously Tentative Probably Not (May 200
« Reply #279 on: May 17, 2006, 01:55:24 PM »
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It's better not to cling to the central teaching?

The alternative to clinging to the central teaching apart from the rest of the doctrine is not to let go of the central teaching; it is to cling to the whole body of doctrine. Did you ever see Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom? Remember when that evil guy reaches into the chest of the prisoner and pulls his heart out, still beating, while the prisoner looks on in horror? (If you've never seen the movie, trust me, that scene is pretty gross). Well, that is a picture of clinging to the central teaching, the heart of the matter, and treating the rest as though it doesn't matter.

Ken, I'm not sure this thread has rambled quite as far afield as some people think-- most (not all) of it has seemed pretty related (strange movie references notwithstanding). But if we narrow it down to the specifics of the ELCA politics, I'm afraid my LCMS input would be a liability; people who disagree with me might simply resent the intrusion. But I will continue to look on with interest.

Dave_Poedel

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Re: An Ambiguously Tentative Probably Not (May 200
« Reply #280 on: May 17, 2006, 03:20:23 PM »
Quote

I'm afraid my LCMS input would be a liability; people who disagree with me might simply resent the intrusion. But I will continue to look on with interest.


That's precisely why I have been prayerfully observing this one from the sidelines.  While it does affect the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church, this one is primarily a family feud withing the ELCA, albeit possibly one that could lead to a family break-up.  We in the LCMS have family fighting down to a dramatic science, much to our detriment.

Perhaps God is realigning His Church in ways that will bring those who accept the designation of "orthodox" and have the history to back it up will be brought together in ways that transcend current boundaries.

I look at the Center for Catholic and Evangelical Theology and the Society of the Holy Trinity as a skeleton of what that may someday look like.

Amen!  Come Lord Jesus!

Richard Johnson

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Re: An Ambiguously Tentative Probably Not (May 200
« Reply #281 on: May 17, 2006, 03:57:15 PM »
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If it is concluded that Brian is so unorthodox that his views lead people to perdition, deny the Gospel, and are damaging to faith; then have the administrator bar him from posting.


Don't bother. Ain't gonna happen.
The Rev. Richard O. Johnson, STS

Richard Johnson

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Re: An Ambiguously Tentative Probably Not (May 200
« Reply #282 on: May 17, 2006, 03:59:01 PM »
Quote

I do not consider myself a liberal, but a moderate.


I do not consider myself a conservative, but a moderate.

Maybe we need some new categories.
The Rev. Richard O. Johnson, STS

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Re: An Ambiguously Tentative Probably Not (May 200
« Reply #283 on: May 17, 2006, 04:08:21 PM »
Quote

3. Revisionists are largely LCA and are used to Robert's Rules of Order. They show up to change things.

4. Traditionalists are largely ALC and hope the Holy Spirit will fix everything and are willing to wait. They don't show up, figuring God's will be done.


Uh, Pete, do a quick survey of the history of bishops in your own synod and you'll see that this doesn't really hold water.
The Rev. Richard O. Johnson, STS

Brian Stoffregen

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Re: An Ambiguously Tentative Probably Not (May 200
« Reply #284 on: May 17, 2006, 05:04:28 PM »
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I do not consider myself a conservative, but a moderate.

Perhaps that's why we continue to have fellowship with each other: learning from each other, worshiping with each other, finding both areas of agreement and disagreement with each other.

Quote
Maybe we need some new categories.

What about ELCA, LCMS, and WELS? :)
"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]