Author Topic: An Ambiguously Tentative Probably Not (May 2006)  (Read 47946 times)

pastorg1@aol.com

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Re: An Ambiguously Tentative Probably Not (May 200
« Reply #255 on: May 16, 2006, 10:23:27 PM »
Dudes-

We've veered into metaphysics. Let's retire to our corners and take a breath.

While we're simmering down, let's read the following and then start up again, full throttle...

ENCYCLICAL LETTER
FIDES ET RATIO
OF THE SUPREME PONTIFF
JOHN PAUL II
TO THE BISHOPS
OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH
ON THE RELATIONSHIP
BETWEEN FAITH AND REASON



My Venerable Brother Bishops,
Health and the Apostolic Blessing!

Faith and reason are like two wings on which the human spirit rises to the contemplation of truth; and God has placed in the human heart a desire to know the truth—in a word, to know himself—so that, by knowing and loving God, men and women may also come to the fullness of truth about themselves (cf. Ex 33:18; Ps 27:8-9; 63:2-3; Jn 14:8; 1 Jn 3:2).

and so on... Google for more info...

Pax Christi,

Good old Pete Garrison
Pete Garrison

Steven Tibbetts

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Re: An Ambiguously Tentative Probably Not (May 200
« Reply #256 on: May 16, 2006, 11:28:39 PM »
Quote
For example, if confirmands don't want to wear robes when affirming their baptism, they shouldn't have to.

So, you are telling us that the MNYS resolution and the ELCA Church Council's response are of the same insignificance as whether or not confirmands wear robes?  

If yes, then why did they, and are we, putting so much effort into the discussion?  

If no, then what is your point in bringing it up?

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James_Gale

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Re: An Ambiguously Tentative Probably Not (May 200
« Reply #257 on: May 17, 2006, 05:40:38 AM »
Here is a link to a "summary" of the 2006 New Jersey Synod Assembly:  http://www.njsynod.org/SynodAssembly06.pdf.

I would summarize the summary, but that doesn't seem to make much sense, given that you all can read it yourself.  Besides, the author of the summary appears to be one "Pastor Charles Austin".  If there is anything beyond the summary that ought to be said, he can say it.

 

Charles_Austin

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Re: An Ambiguously Tentative Probably Not (May 200
« Reply #258 on: May 17, 2006, 05:43:55 AM »
Someone notes (Re the New Jersey Synod Assembly Summary):
Besides, the author of the summary appears to be one "Pastor Charles Austin".  If there is anything beyond the summary that ought to be said, he can say it.

I note:
Yes, I wrote the summary; I don't think I have anything else to say about the Assembly, except to note that the spirit of the assembly was good and people were truly excited about some of the synod's new mission outreach efforts.

Gladfelteri

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Re: An Ambiguously Tentative Probably Not (May 200
« Reply #259 on: May 17, 2006, 06:11:08 AM »
Quote

Nope. Ironically, it was a theology professor who said that one should be able to argue both sides of an issue with conviction.
I have to agree with Brian, his theology professor and their rationale on this one.  This is essential both as an academic exercise, a way of firming up ones position, understanding the issues and the ramifications thereof and as a spiritual discipline. This is nothing to fear.  My Jesuit friends would also agree on this one.  They encourage this sort of evaluation and debate in their students and they,  themselves, are masters of this sort of thing.

peter_speckhard

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Re: An Ambiguously Tentative Probably Not (May 200
« Reply #260 on: May 17, 2006, 08:03:35 AM »
Quote

 My Jesuit friends would also agree on this one.  They encourage this sort of evaluation and debate in their students and they,  themselves, are masters of this sort of thing.

Hence the word "Jesuitical". (sp?) There is such a thing as always learning and never coming to knowledge of the truth. But again, I don't have anything in principle against being able to argue both sides; that is as important as thinking your opponent's thoughts in chess. But you have to know what side you're on, especially when dealing with matters of the faith. (Otherwise, those parents who say they're going to expose their children to a smattering of every religion and then let them decide when they're 18 are actually the best parents. I think they are especially unfaithful parents.)  
« Last Edit: May 17, 2006, 09:30:50 AM by peter_speckhard »

hansen

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Re: An Ambiguously Tentative Probably Not (May 200
« Reply #261 on: May 17, 2006, 08:21:51 AM »
Quote

I have to agree with Brian, his theology professor and their rationale on this one.  This is essential both as an academic exercise, a way of firming up ones position, understanding the issues and the ramifications thereof and as a spiritual discipline. This is nothing to fear.  My Jesuit friends would also agree on this one.  They encourage this sort of evaluation and debate in their students and they,  themselves, are masters of this sort of thing.

So you think it's a good thing that, say, a plumber's helper, who gets home at the end of the day, dirty, greasy, and tired to the bone, not very highly educated (esp. not in theology), not much of a future to look forward to (parents don't care about him, can't afford to go back to school, women won't give him a second look, etc.), but trying hard to be faithful and true to what God wants of him, in spite of the junk he faces in the world every day, might actually be strengthened in wisdom and faith by following this forum?
« Last Edit: May 17, 2006, 08:22:48 AM by hansen »

Gladfelteri

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Re: An Ambiguously Tentative Probably Not (May 200
« Reply #262 on: May 17, 2006, 08:55:17 AM »
Don, I rather doubt a apprentice plumber would be reading and following this forum and if he did he would be more theologically astute than one might otherwise give him credit for.  

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.
« Last Edit: May 17, 2006, 08:56:19 AM by Gladfelteri »

hansen

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Re: An Ambiguously Tentative Probably Not (May 200
« Reply #263 on: May 17, 2006, 09:37:01 AM »
And what if he's confused about what the church teaches (not a difficult scenario to imagine in this day and age...)?  Might he try tuning in to a discussion group for a theologically conservative publication?  Forum Letter is readable and enjoyable for the layman.  And I don't see any warning signs on the front page of this web site, that it's "for professional use only".  

And even then, I think that Pr. Speckhard made excellent points (as usual) on the topic.

And again, a huge part of the problem here isn't confronting various perspectives.  I've done plenty of that in my studies, and even sought that out here by debating with Pr. Stoffregen (I perceived him as being one of the best at his position).  The most troubling aspect is the debate mind-games which are designed to manipulate, rather than to confront and illuminate.  Even you stated that "it's an old debating trick" regarding tactics he uses.  If the tactics don't matter, then this isn't a forum for even professionals to seek the truth.  It's a sporting event, where the goal is to see who's best at beating the snot out of the competition.
« Last Edit: May 17, 2006, 09:46:14 AM by hansen »

Brian Stoffregen

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Re: An Ambiguously Tentative Probably Not (May 200
« Reply #264 on: May 17, 2006, 10:01:54 AM »
Quote
If no, then what is your point in bringing it up?

The wearing of confirmation robes was brought up as an illustration of my understanding of "adiaphora." Adiaphora came into this discussion because it shows that Lutheranism has lived with ambiguity about some issues since its beginning. "Ambiguously" is part of this meetng's title.

As far as I remember, this subtheme hasn't addressed the question of whather or not parts or all of the Metro NY Synod's Resolution and the Church Council's response should be considered adiaphora or issues that are commanded or forbidden by scriptures.
"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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Re: An Ambiguously Tentative Probably Not (May 200
« Reply #265 on: May 17, 2006, 10:05:05 AM »
Quote
I have to agree with Brian,

Has the eschaton arrived - - - - again  ;)
"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]

Michael_Rothaar

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Re: An Ambiguously Tentative Probably Not (May 200
« Reply #266 on: May 17, 2006, 10:09:59 AM »
Quote
Someone notes (Re the New Jersey Synod Assembly Summary):
Besides, the author of the summary appears to be one "Pastor Charles Austin".  If there is anything beyond the summary that ought to be said, he can say it.

I note:
Yes, I wrote the summary; I don't think I have anything else to say about the Assembly,


It seems helpful when a synod makes use of a person with your journalistic skills to create a summary of its assembly that's such a useful tool for congregations to use among their members. I wish all synods would do the same.

I don't expect Chuck to comment, but I did find myself, upon reading the quotes he selected, wondering what difference it would make if a synod would resolve to encourage “prophetic restraint and disciplinary witness” instead.


Quote
it was a theology professor who said that one should be able to argue both sides of an issue with conviction


Not to pile on in the beat-up-Brian-brigade, but just to comment that I heard something similar from a couple of different seminary professors, but with a different purpose and intent than Brian recalls in his own experience.

Hans Schwarz required 1/2 page summaries of LOTS of journal articles. (Memory says it was 10 every week, but I could be exagerrating the volume. He didn't care about how small the type was or how narrow the margins, but he drew a line across the 5.5 inch mark and would not read further). He expected a full and complete summary of the article without the injection of any reaction or personal opinion. (I seem to remember him saying something about seminarians not knowing enough to have an opinion worth considering.) By far the most useful training I ever got.

Fred Meuser insisted that we be able to articulate the classical heresies on the basis of their own internal arguments. He was fond of pointing out that heretics were mostly people who were making an honest effort to articulate the faith in a way that was faithful to their sources and apprehendible by the faithful. The reason they're called heretics was because in the judgment of the church at large they got it wrong. But that doesn't mean their arguments were incomprehensible, nor that the questions they were addressing weren't real -- and one couldn't hope to understand their error without a detailed understanding of their initial argument.

In both cases, what I believe they were trying to teach us was not the uncritical acceptance of any rational argument, nor a relativism that would later have been described as post-modern or deconstructionist, which is how I'm hearing Brian's subtext. The purpose was to instill a sense of rigor about stating other people's views, and to be sure that polemics were focused appropriately.

Brian's polemics are often helpful to me in revealing unstated assumptions and ill-founded assertions. (But I usually do regard them as polemics rather than theological positions.)
« Last Edit: May 17, 2006, 10:12:09 AM by Michael_Rothaar »
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peter_speckhard

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Re: An Ambiguously Tentative Probably Not (May 200
« Reply #267 on: May 17, 2006, 10:33:32 AM »
Quote

And even then, I think that Pr. Speckhard made excellent points (as usual) on the topic.

Thank you, Don, and to the others who have said nice things in passing. I sometimes fail to acknowledge that I appreciate your words. And to those who have said mean things, well then I'm just not going to be your friend.  ;)

I agree with Michael Rothaar that you have to have sympathy with and understand people's positions, but I just don't think it is possible or desirable to avoid taking a position until the conclusion of the battles. The battles are never concluded. Nor do I think you can simply cling to the central teaching of salvation by grace through faith and treat all other doctrine subject to endless debate. That would be like saying "I believe in liberty, but I'm not too worried about specific rights and laws as defined in statutes and regulations." The fact is, the various rights and laws are the opertational definition of liberty. And the doctrine of the church is the operational definition of salvation by grace through faith. To say otherwise is de facto to declare everything except Eph. 2:8 to be adiaphora.
« Last Edit: May 17, 2006, 10:33:58 AM by peter_speckhard »

Brian Stoffregen

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Re: An Ambiguously Tentative Probably Not (May 200
« Reply #268 on: May 17, 2006, 11:07:48 AM »
Quote
I agree with Michael Rothaar that you have to have sympathy with and understand people's positions, but I just don't think it is possible or desirable to avoid taking a position until the conclusion of the battles. The battles are never concluded.

I think that people usually have a position, but by learning from others and coming to a greater understanding of the issues, especially through the oposition, one's position may change or be modified or be strengthened.

I've used the phrase "tentative absolutes". I have beliefs and convictions, but I'm also not going to rule out the possibility that God could change me and my thinking. It has happened in the past. (During my first year of seminary, a professor wrote about me, "anti-intellectual, probably won't make it.") I had some beliefs at that time that needed changing. Other beliefs stayed the same and were strengthened.

If we use the metaphor of "following" Jesus, that means that we are on a journey. We are not standing on an immoveable rock, but we are heading somewhere. We are likely to encouter new and different things that will challenge and change us in some ways.


Quote
Nor do I think you can simply cling to the central teaching of salvation by grace through faith and treat all other doctrine subject to endless debate.

It's better not to cling to the central teaching?

Has there ever been a debate within the church that came to an end? It seems to me that most of the ancient heresies keep showing up again and again. Some of the debates at the time of the Reformation continue.

Quote
That would be like saying "I believe in liberty, but I'm not too worried about specific rights and laws as defined in statutes and regulations." The fact is, the various rights and laws are the opertational definition of liberty.

It makes a lot of difference if one believes in liberty for myself -- that I should be able to do whatever I want to do, such as driving 150 mph down the highway; or if one believes in liberty for all people -- even if it means giving up some of my own desires, such as driving really fast. In the first case, any rules or regulations work against my individual liberty. In the second case, a belief that my neighbor should also have some liberty means that we both need to give up some of our freedoms for the sake of others. In church terms, we create rules and regulations so that society may be rune decently and with good order.

Quote
And the doctrine of the church is the operational definition of salvation by grace through faith. To say otherwise is de facto to declare everything except Eph. 2:8 to be adiaphora.

Isn't that what we mean by sola gratia?
"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]

Grizzly

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Re: An Ambiguously Tentative Probably Not (May 200
« Reply #269 on: May 17, 2006, 11:32:17 AM »
Brian Stoffregen wrote in Reply #252 p. 17:

Quote
Shall we get back to discussing the role of ambiguity in the life of the church and in the lives of faithful people?


Again, Brian et al, the main point of this thread is “the constitutional and governance challenges facing the ELCA’ ecclesial leadership and the broader consequences for the ELCA’s structural unity—in light of the subsequent actions at synod assemblies across the ELCA this spring.”  I would suggest that a discussion of “the role of ambiguity in the life of the church and in the lives of faithful people” belongs on a separate thread.  I would also suggest that a discussion of the various rhetorical skills, devices, and virtues of the various posters (and that of their fathers and professors and the Jesuits) could also be dealt with on that separate thread (perhaps even making room for a discussion of MB personality types and the value of such testing/categorizing).  I’m sorry to be such a kill-joy but I find the “if you can’t dazzle ‘em with your brilliance, baffle ‘em with your b--------t” diversions to be a tiresome display of egoism.  I doubt I am the only one who finds this so (this is not a call for nor permission for others then to chime in against any particular poster to this thread as being the most guilty of tiresome displays of egoism—if you want to, then take it to another thread).   Can we not substantively attend to and respond to the central concerns of this thread—and deal with the main thrust of people’s arguments instead of degenerating into nit-picking at minutiae and digressing into expositions of our “inner selves”?    
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