Author Topic: An Ambiguously Tentative Probably Not (May 2006)  (Read 49940 times)

Grizzly

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Re: An Ambiguously Tentative Probably Not (May 200
« Reply #285 on: May 17, 2006, 05:10:34 PM »
Prs. Speckhard and Poedal,
Actually I think your involvement in the conversation to be very helpful.  And it's worth remembering that the omnipotent power on this thread and over all of ALPB Forum-land is Richard.  All I've tried to do is exert an informal appeal to staying somewhat on topic.  After all this a strictly volunteer on-your-honor system and those of us who try to make rules invariably end up being the worst violaters.  And Peter, you are right, that most posts have been closer to on topic than might appear.  Of course I'm operating from an ELCA perspective and still bearing the dark grime on my soul from those two long days at ELCA HQ away from parish and family.  

I think issues and questions of truth and confessional and Biblical integrity matter (and I presume that of everyone who posts to this forum, including Charles and Brian, until someone repeatedly demonstrates otherwise).  I also think that what we confess and teach on the basis of Scripture and the Confessions must be translated into organizational integrity and unity.  Conversely, church organization, whatever the polity, must uphold the integrity of the Scriptures and theological and confessional continuity with those who have gone before us.  We do not get to reinvent the church in every generation.  

I think that on the broader issue of the necessary connection between theological confession and church leadership that you in LCMS have a lot to contribute--and you have and I hope you will keep plugging in and challenging us--and I would be very sorry if my occasional refocusing of the conversation pushed you out.  I just want to remind people that we do not do theology in a vacuum and that there are consequences for our church bodies.    And laity are welcome and needed in the conversation as well, along with Archbishops.
 
Ken  

Brian Stoffregen

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Re: An Ambiguously Tentative Probably Not (May 200
« Reply #286 on: May 17, 2006, 05:26:08 PM »
Quote
Pastor Ken Kimball
Old East and Old West Paint Creek Lutheran Parish
Waterville and Waukon, Iowa

OFF TOPIC WARNING
I've visited your congregations when Judd & April Larson were pastors there. I provided special music at one of them -- played an arrangement I'd done of Kum Ba Yah.

POSSIBLY BACK ON TOPIC
What keeps two nearby, struggling congregations from coming together into one congregation? I'm not singling out your congregations. 25 years ago the conference I was in stuggled with this isse with a three-point parish in the conference. All three were struggling. All three had poorly kept buildings. It was easy for us to decide that it would be better for them to come together -- one building to support rather than three; a larger worshiping community seems more worshipful than a tiny crowd, but we also knew that the congregations wouldn't go for it at that time.

(The best solution we came up with was to pray that lightning would destroy all three buildings, then they might be willing to talk about merging.)

What can we learn about congregational divisions (and mergers) that might help us in the bigger picture? What would it mean for them to try and be one congregation?

Or even within a single congregation, how do the members stay unified in the one congregation when the differences of opinion, in many cases, are as great or greater than those expressed in this meeting. I know that in my congregation, there are members who wanted to call a practicing homosexual at their pastor. There are others who said that if the ELCA had approved the ordination of practicing homosexuals, they were leaving the denomination. These people are fellow members of one congregation. Some have even served on the congregation council together.

Is this parallel to the situation in the ELCA? We have 65 synods who may not agree with each other, just as a church with 65 members are not likely to agree with each other about everything, but there is something that keeps them belonging to the congregation -- and living and working and worshiping together in spite of individual differences.
"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]

James_Gale

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Re: An Ambiguously Tentative Probably Not (May 200
« Reply #287 on: May 17, 2006, 07:40:46 PM »
Here and in corners throughout the ELCA, we and others with various perspectives talk about developments that threaten the unity of our church body.  Most of the time, we take as a given that a split in the ELCA would be a bad thing.  Perhaps we are influenced in this by Our Lord's prayer in John 21 that we "may all be one."  

But perhaps we are approaching the issue of unity from the wrong perspective.  Perhaps we should all ask ourselves instead why the ELCA should stay together.  If the people of the ELCA can formulate an answer to this that question the vast majority of its members find compelling, then we will have discovered a foundation upon which to move forward as a single church body.  If not, perhaps we should consider whether a split of some sort makes sense.

It most certainly is true that any split that works against Our Lord's prayer that we all may be one would be a product of our sin.  But I do not believe that Lutherans understand organic union as a requirement for Christian unity.  (At the risk of getting in over my head in conversation with all you professionals, I believe that Augustana 7 supports this notion.)   And perhaps if we separate into 2 or 3 groups, each will be freed from devoting so much time and energy to issues that divide us (sexuality, ecclesiology, etc.), and can focus instead on the core Christian missions of evangelism and the ministry of Word and Sacrament.  Perhaps these groups will discover a unity among them once they are liberated from the struggles over that which divides them.  

I don't know one way or another whether a split (which could be viewed more like an annulment than a divorce) is the right answer.  But I do think it makes sense at the very least to endeavor together to find out.

Thoughts?

Brian Stoffregen

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Re: An Ambiguously Tentative Probably Not (May 200
« Reply #288 on: May 17, 2006, 07:56:53 PM »
Quote
And perhaps if we separate into 2 or 3 groups, each will be freed from devoting so much time and energy to issues that divide us (sexuality, ecclesiology, etc.), and can focus instead on the core Christian missions of evangelism and the ministry of Word and Sacrament.

Perhaps these groups will discover a unity among them once they are liberated from the struggles over that which divides them.

If a group feels so strongly that they have to split from another group, the thought that they could then work together is unlikely.

I've known it to happen in a small number of instances, that a husband and wife get along better with each other after they have divorced and are no longer living together. While that might be possible if there is a "divorce" among ELCA members, I think that it's unlikely. In the 19 years since a group of people split from this congregation and formed a TAALC congregation -- long before I came -- we have done nothing together. That which drove them away from the budding ELCA continues to keep us apart.

In contrast, my home congregation was the product of a merger in the mid '60's between an ALC and an LCA congregation. Some of those divisions remain. Occasionally comments about the old Hope people or the old Mt Olivet people come up.

It might be argued that we are already split into 65 different churches. (Note that the synod is one of the interdependent expressions of church.)

I think that a big part of this discussion is how much autonomy should each synod have. How different can one synod be from another synod within the ELCA? Synodical "local option" has been one of the "solutions" suggested to the homosexual problem. Let some synods ordain practicing homosexuals and let other synods refuse to ordain them. This is the way the UCC has resolved the issue.

It has been noted previously in this meeting that the churchwide expression has no power and authority to discipline pastors or congregations. While we have common rules: ELCA Constitution & Bylaws, Definitions and Guidelines, and Vision and Expectations -- how those are interpreted and enforced has varied between synods.
"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]

ROB_MOSKOWITZ

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Re: An Ambiguously Tentative Probably Not (May 200
« Reply #289 on: May 17, 2006, 08:41:38 PM »
Quote

POSSIBLY BACK ON TOPIC
What keeps two nearby, struggling congregations from coming together into one congregation? I'm not singling out your congregations.........
Is this parallel to the situation in the ELCA? We have 65 synods who may not agree with each other, just as a church with 65 members are not likely to agree with each other about everything, but there is something that keeps them belonging to the congregation -- and living and working and worshiping together in spite of individual differences.


Why does it come down to "living and working and worshiping together in spite of individual differences"?   Why does this require one building?  Or to be in the same denomination?

I have served 2 congregations for my last 2 calls?  The first 2 where literally right across the street from each other.  I always love when other pastors try the "Why cant they just join together" speech.

My congregations do work together on different occasions.  For the most part usually they don't corporately join because they are 2 different communities with very different personalities.   As a pastor of my second 2 congregations I have learned to respect that over such things as buildings and budgets.

My congregations each have a Pastor.  He also serves another congregation.  Their identity is not dependant in any way upon me.   In fact I find it makes congregations even more independent and vibrant.   Yet they still respect each other and work with one another.   Both by the way both are conservative and have addressed the current situation in different ways.

I think this does apply to the situation in the ELCA.   It relates to how we define ourselves, how we relate and how we understand unity and independence in Christ.

**Essentially my answer to congregations joining has been that the first thing to remember is congregations are like people.  Each with a distinct personality.   Just because they have the same pastor or even are accross the street from each other does not mean they should join in one building ect.  Join, close or grow they will have to move, evolve or leap as the Spirit moves them.

Yours In Christ
Rob Moskowitz
« Last Edit: May 18, 2006, 05:30:28 AM by ROB_MOSKOWITZ »

ROB_MOSKOWITZ

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Re: An Ambiguously Tentative Probably Not (May 200
« Reply #290 on: May 17, 2006, 08:49:59 PM »
Quote

In the 19 years since a group of people split from this congregation and formed a TAALC congregation -- long before I came -- we have done nothing together. That which drove them away from the budding ELCA continues to keep us apart.


I think more to the point what they did not like about the merger has continued to grow.  Hense not only have they not dealt with us but others continue to leave.

Also the AELC folks left the LCMS and they still work with the LCMS as part of the ELCA?   Do they not?

Yours In Christ
Rob Moskowitz
« Last Edit: May 17, 2006, 08:50:22 PM by ROB_MOSKOWITZ »

ROB_MOSKOWITZ

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Re: An Ambiguously Tentative Probably Not (May 200
« Reply #291 on: May 17, 2006, 08:53:55 PM »
Quote

I think that a big part of this discussion is how much autonomy should each synod have. How different can one synod be from another synod within the ELCA? Synodical "local option" has been one of the "solutions" suggested to the homosexual problem. Let some synods ordain practicing homosexuals and let other synods refuse to ordain them. This is the way the UCC has resolved the issue.


I understand the UCC has lost a number of congregations since last fall.  Maybe the issue is not so resolved?   Also one could argue whether the UCC as a denomination ever had any theological basis to begin with.  Its certainly not a Lutheran structure.

Yours In Christ
Rob Moskowitz

hansen

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Re: An Ambiguously Tentative Probably Not (May 200
« Reply #292 on: May 17, 2006, 10:15:21 PM »
Seems to me (as a layman -- limited knowledge, but learning...) that in the one extreme, 'God loves us and forgives us' as the alpha and omega of all that matters (and everything else is insignificant) is the ticket to unity.

In the other extreme, 'unless everything is exactly the way I think it should be, then there must be division' is a requirement of orthodoxy.

Seems to me that most "theological liberals" are in the former camp.  And such a church organization is thoroughly unacceptable to theological conservatives, and would cause them to leave.  But I don't perceive any theological conservatives to insist on having everything their own way.  If they were, then I presume they'd be "free" Lutherans.

For the rest of us, I presume it boils down to identifying what the non-negotiables are -- those things which, if accepted, would leave those who objected to it, feeling and believing that they were violating their relationship with God, and violating the integrity of their own beliefs.

The homosex issue is obviously a non-negotiable -- for both sides:  revisionists can't live without it, and traditionalists can't live with it.  It is a complete, total, 100%, permanent impasse.  And the longer it continues in the same church body, the more it's going to damage everyone.  This 'family' isn't functional.  It's a constant state of war.  It's miserable for everyone.

Differences and diversity are indeed good, makes us richer for it, leads to learning and growth, etc. -- but only to a point.  Beyond that point, there isn't enough common ground to be able to relate to each other.
« Last Edit: May 17, 2006, 10:17:02 PM by hansen »

mchristi

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Re: An Ambiguously Tentative Probably Not (May 200
« Reply #293 on: May 17, 2006, 11:18:10 PM »
Quote
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.


You think so?  We've had 3 so far.  The first has made himself clear since he left that office.  I didn't think him a so-called "revisionist" when he was the PB.  Indeed, he had his role to play in the whole controversy of the ordinations in San Francisco and the creation of Vision and Expetations.  I might have agreed with you about Bp. Hanson when I first knew him.  Now I'm really not sure.  And, unless I've missed Bp. Anderson saying something, I've not seen him as at all friendly to the cause of those seeking to change ELCA policy.  In fact, he seemed very eager to not have the converstation/debate about the topic.

Quote
2. Revisionists are well-funded and coordinated.


Maybe.  But then it seems to me that "Traditionalists" are also well-funded and coordinated.

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.


You've allowed stereotypes to cloud things here.  I think neither your parlementary v. Holy Spirit idea nor an ALC/LCA split between outlook on matters of homosexuality are valid.  There are plenty with ALC backgrounds who would recieve your label of "revisionist" and there are plenty with LCA bakgronds that would recieve your label of "traditionalist."

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


Although you should also be able and willing to acknowledge that some of the arguments and notions of "traditionalist" positions are of much more recent origin.  "Traditionalists" even sometimes use the things you list in number 6 from time to time.

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


It is a disservice to "revisionists" to fail to acknowledge that they, too, understand themselves to be standing very much upon the Word and within the 2000 year tradition of the church.  Some may quite loudly point to things such as those you list, but I beleive you overestimate the degree to which they are important to so-called "revisionists."  Many "revisionists" might even say that they, too, have one front on which to fight and one stand to make on the gospel of Jesus Christ.

Mark C.

Charles_Austin

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Re: An Ambiguously Tentative Probably Not (May 200
« Reply #294 on: May 18, 2006, 02:07:46 AM »
Mark C Writes:
It is a disservice to "revisionists" to fail to acknowledge that they, too, understand themselves to be standing very much upon the Word and within the 2000 year tradition of the church.  Some may quite loudly point to things such as those you list, but I beleive you overestimate the degree to which they are important to so-called "revisionists."  Many "revisionists" might even say that they, too, have one front on which to fight and one stand to make on the gospel of Jesus Christ.

I note:
A correct and noble post, and I am inclined to agree; but the majority of the people in this forum do not agree with this analysis.  To them, the "revisionists" - an uncomfortable term, in my opinion - have abandoned scripture, the teaching of the church and the Gospel itself.

Grizzly

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Re: An Ambiguously Tentative Probably Not (May 200
« Reply #295 on: May 18, 2006, 06:29:25 AM »
Pr. Stoffregen writes:
Quote
OFF TOPIC WARNING
I've visited your congregations when Judd & April Larson were pastors there. I provided special music at one of them -- played an arrangement I'd done of Kum Ba Yah.


OFF-TOPIC RESPONSE: Glad to know you were here Brian.  Did you enjoy the scenery?  What was the occasion?  Did you get to visit over at the parsonage?  Did you know Judd or April well?  Their youngest, son Ben, now graduating from Luther College, was here to sing at both churches back in March and April braved a snowstorm and a busy Sun afternoon of business back in Wisconsin to pop down here to be at both congregations (I didn't realize she was here until she came to the altar rail at the early service for Holy Communion--both congregations commune every Sunday). I run into Judd and April occasionally on hospital calls or business in LaCrosse 45 miles to the N, where April is bishop. We had them back for the parish's 150th in 2000.  They have standing permission from me to visit and call on friends in the parish without having to check with me.  Judd and April have told methat their kids have never forgiven them for leaving Paint Creek--they loved the big old parsonage and the parish.  They're good folk even if we are on the opposite of the homosexual issue (among others) but I'm pretty sure that April would never let me be available for call in her synod--she runs a tight screening process.  By the way Brian, if you're ever in the area stop by.  If it's Sunday, worship and commune with us.  If it's some other time of the week, coffee or beer at the parsonage depending on the time of day.  The same invitation to Charles and everyone else on this post--might want to call first (we're in the phone book) as I'm out a lot on calls (it's a geographically big parish) and May-September out on my mountain bike (good for the hills here).  
Ken, egregious violator of his own off-topic principles!

Eric_Swensson

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Re: An Ambiguously Tentative Probably Not (May 200
« Reply #296 on: May 18, 2006, 06:32:20 AM »
Mark and Charles, there is no reason to put revisionists in quotes, especially after the first usage.

Is there another name you would like to use? Why not choose contextualist with the other side being traditionist. You might also call yourself progressive.

More to content now, I believe it is a canard to say what Charles did that we traditionalists say that contextualists have abandoned Scripture. It is rather about hermeneutics. The discussion of these two ideas is a legitimate theological debate. It is not being dome ad hominem, but Charles is always trying to reframe it as an attack, some sort of emotional argument, as there is some sort of "urge to purge," but there is absolutely no need to go there.

Mark, if you do not think Hanson wants to revise and reshape the ELCA, I wonder if you read Ken's article. His conception that  were idealist revisionists wanting one thing and pragmatic revisionists working against them is the answer to whether hanson is a revisionist. It's just that he is one of the pragmatic ones. He want sto remodel the church, not burn it down and build another.

Actually, Anderson is the only PB we've had who may not be a revisionist. He was a church historian who wanted to change history....

And yes, Mark it is brave to come out as a revisionist if that is what you are in this forum. Good luck.

I wish more revisionists/contextualists would show up. Invite your friends, please.
« Last Edit: May 18, 2006, 07:48:32 AM by Eric_Swensson »

Eric_Swensson

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Re: An Ambiguously Tentative Probably Not (May 200
« Reply #297 on: May 18, 2006, 06:34:43 AM »
To "Maybe we need some new categories?" Brian said, "What about ELCA, LCMS, and WELS?"

I don't know why no one calls you on this repeated theme of yours Brian. Is it not the case that you are trying to frame this whole thing as traditionists do not belong in the ELCA?

peter_speckhard

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Re: An Ambiguously Tentative Probably Not (May 200
« Reply #298 on: May 18, 2006, 07:09:56 AM »
Quote
Seems to me (as a layman -- limited knowledge, but learning...) that in the one extreme, 'God loves us and forgives us' as the alpha and omega of all that matters (and everything else is insignificant) is the ticket to unity.

In the other extreme, 'unless everything is exactly the way I think it should be, then there must be division' is a requirement of orthodoxy.


I know I'm breaking back into the discussion rather soon, but I think these categories relate to many wider issues, and I also think they need quite a bit of fine-tuning or they miss the point. "Conservatives" would be quite comfortable with the first extreme you describe if it were clear what the words meant. What God? What kind of love? Who is "us"? Forgives us for what? All these things call for definitions, which show that in agreeing even to that basic statement, we're ultimately agreeing on a lot of detailed doctrine or on mere meaningless words. As for the second extreme, the phrasing you use flows out of the categories of thought normally used by people who occupy the first extreme. It isn't "everything", it is doctrine-- anything that is true because God revealed it to be true, esp. in the Scriptures. In the LCMS there are huge differences of congregational polity, worship instrumentation (some of which I personally find revolting), community or political involvement, etc. And "exactly the way I think it should be" misses the point. It isn't what I think, it is what God says. As I just noted, I'm in fellowship with thousands of congregations who don't do things the way I think they should be done. But doctrine is not a matter of personal preference.

hansen

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Re: An Ambiguously Tentative Probably Not (May 200
« Reply #299 on: May 18, 2006, 07:29:43 AM »
Would it be safe to say that a primary distinction between "revisionists" and "traditionalists" is the authority of scripture?  And, is this a proper description of each side?:

Revisionist:  Believes that scripture is divinely inspired, but to no greater degree than any faithful person of any other time or place.  And therefore, a Christian of today is free to dismiss large sections of the Bible as being a byproduct of that culture, rather than divine.

Traditionalist:  Believes that the Bible is divinely inspiried, in order to provide the faithful with a standard and norm for the faithful to follow, for all time.  That's not to exclude new revelation, but that new revelation must be a byproduct of something moving within the collective body of Christians, worldwide.

Those two views can peacefully coexist, when the revisionist's opinion just happens to synchronize with the Bible.  But when/where it departs from it, it's a polar opposite way of understanding scripture, which can't be reconciled.