Author Topic: An Ambiguously Tentative Probably Not (May 2006)  (Read 47949 times)

peter_speckhard

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Re: An Ambiguously Tentative Probably Not (May 200
« Reply #300 on: May 18, 2006, 07:39:02 AM »
Don, I do think it would be safe to say that the distinction is in the authority of Scripture-- inspired, inerrent, "Word of God"-- what do those things mean? You'll notice that nearly all the topic threads, when there is substantive disagreement, eventually meander their way back to a discussion of Scriptural authority, and whether we can use the same tools to get meaning out of the text as we would if we were looking at any other ancient document. But I doubt the "revisionists" would agree with your description of their view (though I, as a non-revisionist, think it hits the mark.)  
« Last Edit: May 18, 2006, 07:40:15 AM by peter_speckhard »

hansen

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Re: An Ambiguously Tentative Probably Not (May 200
« Reply #301 on: May 18, 2006, 07:49:01 AM »
Pr. Speckhard,
Thank you for your thoughts on both of those.  I was guessing that Pr. Stoffregen would agree with the Revisionist description.  And my goal in both of my last two posts, is to clarify differences.  Like you said, re: authority of scripture, all discussions seem to lead back to that.  And therefore, it's pointless for the two sides to discuss/debate anything of a higher level.  That doesn't leave us (revisionists vs. traditionalists) with much to talk about, because each position is a leap of faith.

James_Gale

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Re: An Ambiguously Tentative Probably Not (May 200
« Reply #302 on: May 18, 2006, 08:05:29 AM »
Don --

For purposes of this thread, I have used the term "orthodox" to describe the long standing teaching of the Church Catholic regarding sexuality.  (I do not like the term "traditionalist" because it suggests that tradition ought to be upheld simply because it is tradition.  Jaroslav Pelikan defined traditionalism as "the dead faith of the living."  The Emergence of the Catholic Tradition (100-600) at p. 9.  Your definition shows that this is not what you intend. Even so, I think that "orthodox" is a better word because it suggests the possibility of continuing revelation.)

I have used the term "revisionist" to describe the view that the ELCA should adopt a set of practices that clashes with the orthodox teaching of the Church Catholic.  

Peter is right that the different views expressed here on the sexuality issue generally reflect different hermeneutic approaches.  However, I think that your two definitions do not capture the range of ways in which Christians read and understand the Bible.  Some on the orthodox side of the sexuality issues would be less open to continuing revelation than you are (some fundamentalists, eg), and some might be more open to it (RC Church, perhaps).

Moreover, I am sure that many on the revisionist side of the sexuality issue give the Bible a much higher status as revelation than what you describe.  As far as I can tell, Scripture unambiguously condemns sexual relations outside of marriage generally, and between two men in particular.  I believe that one has to twist and turn words upside down to conclude otherwise.  That said, I know revisionists on the sexuality issue who have convinced themselves that their view is supported by the Scripture.  And some of these people otherwise take very orthodox positions regarding the teachings of Scripture and the Church.

Bottom line:  I would not use your defined terms in the context of this thread, in which the main topic is sexuality.  They might be more useful in a thread focusing directly on hermeneutics.
« Last Edit: May 18, 2006, 08:17:39 AM by James_Gale »

hansen

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Re: An Ambiguously Tentative Probably Not (May 200
« Reply #303 on: May 18, 2006, 08:49:18 AM »
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I do not like the term "traditionalist" because it suggests that tradition ought to be upheld simply because it is tradition.

Yes -- I agree totally.

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Your definition shows that this is not what you intend.  Even so, I think that "orthodox" is a better word because it suggests the possibility of continuing revelation.)

Accepted -- I'll switch.

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Some on the orthodox side of the sexuality issues would be less open to continuing revelation than you are (some fundamentalists, eg), and some might be more open to it (RC Church, perhaps).

I thought about that.  And I suppose that could potentially be a major point of conflict too.  But likewise with revisionism, probably not until there's a significant divergence between the Bible and what's "new".  One case I've made in this forum, is that even if one accepts the possibility of new revelations, modern-day sexual revisionism makes the entire history of the church, and even Jesus Christ Himself, look stupid and/or rotten.  So, I guess my point is, that even for the RC position, there's only so far and so much you can digress from the entire history of the church catholic, while remaining orthodox.  And that's why Fr. Luther could so effectively argue against the catholic church -- the R. Catholic church had digressed from the church catholic.  And so, even though there's this difference of opinion on whether new revelation is possible within the church catholic, maybe mutual respect and reverence for orthodoxy, is enough to keep us in unity.

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Moreover, I am sure that many on the revisionist side of the sexuality issue give the Bible a much higher status as revelation than what you describe.  As far as I can tell, Scripture unambiguously condemns sexual relations outside of marriage generally, and between two men in particular.  I believe that one has to twist and turn words upside down to conclude otherwise.  That said, I know revisionists on the sexuality issue who have convinced themselves that their view is supported by the Scripture.  And some of these people otherwise take very orthodox positions regarding the teachings of Scripture and the Church.

Well, when defining/clarifying ideas, we have to seek out the clearest thinkers on both sides, right?  I'm reminded of hearing that there are many Christians who are members of PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals).  PETA believes that there is no distinction between humans and animals, which is a very un-Christian idea.  So, I wouldn't conclude that Christians can be members of PETA, but rather that the Christians who join it either don't know what they're doing, or else they aren't actually Christian.  

Similarly with sexual revisionism, doesn't it require a low view of the authority of scripture, to make it fit?  I'm presuming that the believer of sexual revisionism is approaching it with a clear mind, and is well thought-out in it.

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Bottom line:  I would not use your defined terms in the context of this thread, in which the main topic is sexuality.  They might be more useful in a thread focusing directly on hermeneutics.

O.k.  Or, maybe a thread titled "Can Revisionists and Orthodox be in communion?"
« Last Edit: May 18, 2006, 08:51:55 AM by hansen »

Brian Stoffregen

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Re: An Ambiguously Tentative Probably Not (May 200
« Reply #304 on: May 18, 2006, 10:25:07 AM »
Quote
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?

The issue was not about traditionalists or revisionist but the categories of liberal, moderate, and conservative. I think that as denominations the ELCA, LCMS, and WELS present distinctly different categories. Even the conservatism of LCMS and WELS are in slightly different categories. As a denomination, I think that the ELCA is usually labelled moderate. We're not as liberal as the UCC or UU nor as conservative as the LCMS. What label would you use for the ELCA?
"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]

Eric_Swensson

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Re: An Ambiguously Tentative Probably Not (May 200
« Reply #305 on: May 18, 2006, 10:39:43 AM »
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What label would you use for the ELCA?


There is limited value in labels. We do it, we need labels in order to process information and communicate, but we are in trouble if we label things wrong.  It's obvious to me at least that ELCA has both liberal, moderate and consevatives in large numbers so it cannot be labeled as such.

Why not answer my question, or give another go at it, why do you try to frame this as ELCA in oppostion to LCMS and WELS? I see you trying to set up a syllogism something like ELCA has taken the liberal positin on women's ordination thereore ELCA is a liberal institution hence ELCA members must have a liberal view of Scripture. That is wrong. If this forum did nothing else it would show that there is a large number of ELCA clergy and laity who are not liberal, hence you cannot apply that label.

I do not know an accurate label for the ELCA except perhaps "conflicted."

Brian Stoffregen

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Re: An Ambiguously Tentative Probably Not (May 200
« Reply #306 on: May 18, 2006, 10:54:48 AM »
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Would it be safe to say that a primary distinction between "revisionists" and "traditionalists" is the authority of scripture?

No. People on both sides believe that scriptures is authoritative for their interpretations. Most, if not all of the revisionist agree with the ELCA's confession of faith concerning the authority of scriptures.

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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.

Divine inspiration is not the same thing as authority. In terms of inspiration, I have argued that the process of writing the biblical books was likely no different than the process that ministers use in writing sermons. However, the authority given by the church to scriptures is certainly much greater than given to any preacher's sermons.

We do not dismiss large portions of scriptures, but we seek always to interpret them, first of all, as a divine message to the original readers, and secondly, as it is appropriate, as a divine message to us.

It is clear, for example, that the book of Revelation was addressed to seven churches of Asia Minor while John was exiled on Patmos. It was not addressed to Americans living in the 21st century. I think that we need to take that historical situation seriously. It is part of the inspired scriptures. Paul addressed his letters to believers at specific churches, and in many cases, to deal with specific problems they were having. In so far as we may be dealing with the same problem, the text can speak directly to us. If we are not having the same problems, we may find indirect messages for us.

For example, the issue of head coverings for women and length of hair for men and women in 1 Corinthians was a problem in first century Corinth. For the most part, they are not a problems in our congregations. However, we don't dismiss those passages as irrelevant, but try and discern the reason for Paul's advice, e.g., appearing in ways that are offensive to other believers; and then consider if there are styles of clothing or other things that might be offensive if worn to church.

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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.

I recently saw an ad in Lutheran Partners that said:

Does the Bible prove your point ... or Point you to God?

The ad was for a Bible study called Encountering God in Scriptures, written by teachers from Luther Seminary.

I saw nothing in your "traditional" approach to indicate that the Bible's purpose is to point people to God. I wonder, if the Bible is not being used to point people to God (especially as revealed in Christ), is its divine authority and power being being misused?
"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]

Eric_Swensson

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Re: An Ambiguously Tentative Probably Not (May 200
« Reply #307 on: May 18, 2006, 11:08:51 AM »
Brian, Don's one sentence descripter does not need to include the words "point to God" or any other additional words. It can't. He was trying to be brief (something some here are incapable of!)

Anyway, thanks for this post. It is pretty good evidence of what contextualists believe. pretty amazing stuff for an ol' fundametalist-millenial-apocalyticist like myself.

So you think the Holy Spirit was no more at work in the writing of the Gospel of John than when you wrote your last sermon?

James_Gale

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Re: An Ambiguously Tentative Probably Not (May 200
« Reply #308 on: May 18, 2006, 11:12:06 AM »
Brian --

By UU, do you mean the Unitarians?  If so, do you really want to bring a non-Christian group into this discussion?  

You say that the UU is more "liberal" than the ELCA.  In what sense are you using the word "liberal"?  If you are saying that the UU takes more "liberal" political positions than the ELCA, you may be right.  But not by all that much.  

If you are saying that the UU is more "liberal" theologically, you may be proving the point that Peter, Don, Eric and others have been pressing.  After all, the Unitarians in this country came out of the congregationalist tradition.  They ultimately applied contextualism and relativism to Scripture, and followed this process to what they viewed as its logical conclusion; namely, a rejection of orthodox Christianity and the faith reflected in its ecumenical creeds.  Thus, if the Unitarians are what you would consider to be theologically "liberal," you seem to be equating liberalness with a rejection of orthodox Christianity.  And your assertion that the ELCA is "moderate" means that the ELCA is "moderately" orthodox.  (For a summary of what the Unitarians believe, take a look here:  http://www.uua.org/aboutuua/principles.html.)

Is that what you mean?
« Last Edit: May 18, 2006, 11:25:13 AM by James_Gale »

Brian Stoffregen

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Re: An Ambiguously Tentative Probably Not (May 200
« Reply #309 on: May 18, 2006, 11:13:29 AM »
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It's obvious to me at least that ELCA has both liberal, moderate and consevatives in large numbers so it cannot be labeled as such.

I was not talking about labelling the members, but the denomination. The fact that we have such a range among our members indicates that we are not a conservative or ultra-conservative denomination.

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Why not answer my question, or give another go at it, why do you try to frame this as ELCA in oppostion to LCMS and WELS?

Why did you assume I was presenting the ELCA in opposition to LCMS and WELS? I never said such a thing. I presented them as three distinct denominations that can be generally categorized as moderate, conservative and ultra-conservative.

Another generalization may be that the members of the ELCA reflect a much broader range of theological positions than in the LCMS and WELS.

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I see you trying to set up a syllogism something like ELCA has taken the liberal positin on women's ordination thereore ELCA is a liberal institution hence ELCA members must have a liberal view of Scripture. That is wrong.

I state in new member classes that the ELCA is the most liberal of the Lutheran denominations in America. The ordination of women is one indication of this. The use of the historical-critical method in our seminaries is another indication of this. Our ecumenical agreements is a third indication.

Among all "Christian" denominations, the ELCA is not a liberal one, but at best "moderate". Few of our scholars are part of the Jesus Seminar, and certainly not the major spokespeople for their liberal views of scriptures.

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If this forum did nothing else it would show that there is a large number of ELCA clergy and laity who are not liberal, hence you cannot apply that label.

I've also seen that a large number of ELCA clergy and laity are not conservative -- at least not like those in WELS. Many traditionalists will drink beer, play cards, go to movies, dance, participating in Boy Scouts and ecumenical worship services, etc. While there are some members within the ELCA who believe no Christians should do such things, that is not what is being taught in our schools, nor, would I guess, in most of our confirmation classes.
« Last Edit: May 18, 2006, 11:17:08 AM by Brian_Stoffregen »
"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]

Steven Tibbetts

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Disservice?
« Reply #310 on: May 18, 2006, 12:29:30 PM »
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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.

Earlier in this thread I observed (and Pr. Kimball picked up on), "For quite some time the Arians were part of the same Church as the Niceans, too.  But it couldn't stay that way forever. "

Drawing upon that comment, I'll note that the Arians also understood themselves to be (as you say, Mark) standing very much upon the Word and in the tradition of the Church.  Nevertheless, they were heretics.  And it is truly a disservice to lift up their self-understanding without firmly and forthrightly beginning and ending with the definitive declaration that they were heretics.

Similarly Luther and Zwingli at Marburg.  Zwingli understood himself to be standing in the Word and therefore offered all sorts of gentle compromises the divided Evangelicals could have a united front against the Papists.  But he was wrong about the Body and Blood of Christ in the Sacrament of the Altar, and it is truly a disservice to acknowledge all the "good" Zwingli tried to do while setting aside that he was denying the Faith.

The saying goes, "The road to Hell is paved with good intentions."  The Deceiver likes it when we admire the skill and ingenuity of someone going down that road.  But it is truly a disservice to do anything other than trying to turn him around.  An eternal disservice.

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Eric_Swensson

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Re: An Ambiguously Tentative Probably Not (May 200
« Reply #311 on: May 18, 2006, 01:00:42 PM »
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I was not talking about labelling the members, but the denomination.


I was quite aware of that!


Eric_Swensson

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Re: An Ambiguously Tentative Probably Not (May 200
« Reply #312 on: May 18, 2006, 01:06:55 PM »
Quote

Why did you assume I was presenting the ELCA in opposition to LCMS and WELS?


Because that is what you have been doing for over the last year since I've been trying to talk to you. Maybe the word "opposition" throws you but what is it you are doing right now? You are saying that LCMS and WELS don't do this, we do, therefore... You want to call it compare/contrast, name it, but I'm telling you, it isn't logical. ELCA is too large, too big a spectrum, too much in flux, too conflicted to say that because we dance and play cards we are not (fill in the blank).  

Eric_Swensson

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Re: An Ambiguously Tentative Probably Not (May 200
« Reply #313 on: May 18, 2006, 01:08:53 PM »
Quote

Many traditionalists will drink beer, play cards, go to movies, dance, participating in Boy Scouts and ecumenical worship services, etc. While there are some members within the ELCA who believe no Christians should do such things, that is not what is being taught in our schools, nor, would I guess, in most of our confirmation classes.


While some members of the ELCA... really Brian, this is too funny. You have built the ultimate straw man!!!!!!!!!!!

buechler

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Re: Disservice?
« Reply #314 on: May 18, 2006, 01:38:19 PM »
Quote

Earlier in this thread I observed (and Pr. Kimball picked up on), "For quite some time the Arians were part of the same Church as the Niceans, too.  But it couldn't stay that way forever. "

Drawing upon that comment, I'll note that the Arians also understood themselves to be (as you say, Mark) standing very much upon the Word and in the tradition of the Church.  Nevertheless, they were heretics.  And it is truly a disservice to lift up their self-understanding without firmly and forthrightly beginning and ending with the definitive declaration that they were heretics.

Similarly Luther and Zwingli at Marburg.  Zwingli understood himself to be standing in the Word and therefore offered all sorts of gentle compromises the divided Evangelicals could have a united front against the Papists.  But he was wrong about the Body and Blood of Christ in the Sacrament of the Altar, and it is truly a disservice to acknowledge all the "good" Zwingli tried to do while setting aside that he was denying the Faith.

The saying goes, "The road to Hell is paved with good intentions."  The Deceiver likes it when we admire the skill and ingenuity of someone going down that road.  But it is truly a disservice to do anything other than trying to turn him around.  An eternal disservice.

Christe eleison, spt+



True enough. Just because one claims to be standing in the Word doesn't mean that one is. The Devil can quote Scripture too.

It is time to say enough already. Dialogue for the purpose of "living together in heresy" is not the purpose of Christian dialogue anyway. Once the truth is settled, and on this gay/lesbian issue it has been settled by the church for over 2,000 years, (and longer if one counts the Old Testament, which I do) it is finished. Those who wish to go against those teachings may do so. But they cannot legitimately call themselves a part of the Christian church. They have defied the authority of the Lord Jesus directly. They need to repent.

That is purpose of dialogue here. Those who seek to move against the Lord are called by dialogue to repent. Anything else is a waste of breathe and precious time.

Peace in the Lord!
Rob Buechler