Author Topic: Estranged members sue ELCA-LCMC congregation  (Read 101452 times)

Dan Fienen

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Re: Estranged members sue ELCA-LCMC congregation
« Reply #525 on: March 10, 2012, 12:30:48 PM »
I have a bit of a different spin on votes taken on things like LCMS doctrinal statements and ELCA social statements and subsequent policy.  We do not establish God's will or God's truth by majority vote.  God determines for Himself what His will is and what truth is.  What we do when we vote on such things is to determine what we as a body understand God's truth and God's will to be.  Majorities may be wrong - but that cannot stop us from stepping forward on what we as a group understand it to be.  For those who disagree, they may try to convince the rest of the error of their ways, determine that the issue is not important enough to argue about, or leave to find or form a group that sees God's will and truth the way they do.  Doctrine is not established by majority vote, but it may be recognized as such by such a vote.  The alternative is to have no official doctrine, accept everything and so stand for nothing.

A workshop for congregation councils asked the question: "How do you know if your decisions are faithful ones?" The same question can apply to synods, districts, or national denominational decisions. Often in congregations decisions are judged by their effectiveness or efficiency -- or, in other terms, "the numbers" -- more people, lower costs, etc. Numbers are measurable.


How do you propose that we determine faithfulness in our decisions? How does a legislative body determine what is God's truth and will for them at this time? Was it God's will for Luther to be kicked out of the church and begin a split in the Western Church? Was it God's will for Seminex and the AELC to happen that split the LCMS? Was it God's will that LCMC and NALC be formed that further split the church? Why is one "split and a new church body" God's will and not another?


Or, a much more common occurrence, how does a congregation determine if calling a candidate as its pastor is God's will?

That is a difficult question, and one that ultimately does not have rock hard answers.  One studies the texts - Bible and for Lutherans the Confessions - using the tools that one believes results in interpretations that are most faithful to text; one listens to the "cloud of witnesses" as others have refered to them - the Christians who have gone before us; one prays for guidance; one carefully considers the posibilities that one's reasoning is not rational but rationalizing and one decides.  Sometimes, not making a decision is a decision in itself.  Not deciding is sometimes not a viable option.  Could we have been fooled - by others, by ourselves and our own sinful desires - yes.  But if it turns out that was case then confession and asking for forgiveness is in order.
 
On several key points (one of which is what tools and proceedures are proper for interpreting Scripture) the ELCA and the LCMS have gone separate ways.  That is unfortunate.  We have also disagreed on how important our disagreements are.  A number of ELCA folk who post here opine that the differences are not that important and so expect that the LCMS should be in Altar if not Altar and Pulpit fellowship and at least offer Communion Table hospitality to those of the ELCA.  What should be necessary for such fellowship is one of our areas of disagreement.  What frustates some of us in the LCMS is that while the ELCA seems willing to accept and even celebrate diversity of belief and practice in some areas - they also seem to insist that in this area we of the LCMS must accept their judgement.  We are somehow subLutheran or even subChristian for not offering them communion hospitality and accepting that our differences are not important enough to disrupt that.  To us it seems that ELCA people are willing and even eager to welcome diversity - but only in areas that they deem suitable for diversity - in other areas they expect us to accept their judgement with little question and little hesitation - and our divergence from their teaching and practice is simply wrong - and we should know and accept that.
 
Much ill will has been generated from both sides over these questions.  In the end a church body must make decisions that it deems faithful to God - recognizing that all will not agree and that there will likely be fallout.  In the end I will acknowledge that at times the LCMS has seemed and was arrogant in her actions towards others.  But it seems to me that ELCA folk has been at times equally arrogant towards the LCMS, demanding that we abandon what we have determined is correct teaching a practice to adopt ELCA standards.
 
Dan
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Brian Stoffregen

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Re: Estranged members sue ELCA-LCMC congregation
« Reply #526 on: March 10, 2012, 02:01:40 PM »
My statement about the facebook participants' views did not argue about the decision being right or wrong -- but that they offer a better reflection of the thinking in the ELCA than the few ELCAers here (and not a statement about what thinking is right or wrong -- that's the judgment you put on it, but not what I said.)

You seem to imply that "the few ELCAers here" claim to represent the majority in the new ELCA.  I think you know better than that, so why repeat it?


No, I'm not saying that -- and I don't think that most would claim to represent the ELCA. It has been said that Charles and I are more like the mainstream ELCA clergy -- and that's probably true.

Quote
I've also asked several times why you rely on the self selected sample of a facebook group, but rejected the self selected sample when it was found in the surveys related to the Study on Human Sexuality.  You repeatedly dismissed those studies because they were not statistically valid, saying that they were not an accurate representation of what the majority of ELCA people thought.  Then you repeatedly put membership on a facebook group forward as an indicator of what the majority in the ELCA think.  Are you suffering from amnesia or being disingenuous?


I have used the responses in the Study on Human Sexuality, but they don't prove anything, except to give us statistics about the people who responded to the survey. While a majority of those who responded were not in favor of changes; demographically, the percentage of responders who approved of homosexual relationships increased the younger they were. It suggests that there is a gap in the thinking between many oldsters (70+) the young adult members (20-30 year olds).


All I've commented about the facebook group is that the tenor of the discussions there are quite different than in this forum. For example, while many here may chastise Obama and democrats and some of their plans, they often receive support from the ELCA Clergy discussion. (Again, I'm not saying that one is right and the other wrong -- just an observation.)


It seems likely to me that a group of LCMS clergy chatting around glasses of beer would be quite different than a group of ELCA clergy chatting around their beer. We almost live in two different worlds.



"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: Estranged members sue ELCA-LCMC congregation
« Reply #527 on: March 10, 2012, 02:15:28 PM »
That is a difficult question, and one that ultimately does not have rock hard answers.  One studies the texts - Bible and for Lutherans the Confessions - using the tools that one believes results in interpretations that are most faithful to text; one listens to the "cloud of witnesses" as others have refered to them - the Christians who have gone before us; one prays for guidance; one carefully considers the posibilities that one's reasoning is not rational but rationalizing and one decides.  Sometimes, not making a decision is a decision in itself.  Not deciding is sometimes not a viable option.  Could we have been fooled - by others, by ourselves and our own sinful desires - yes.  But if it turns out that was case then confession and asking for forgiveness is in order.


One group that you are omitting are the people being served today. An example that was given at the workshop on faithful decisions was about setting the time for worship services. Can you find anything in scripture that says what time we should worship God? We can look at what's been done in the past, but we should also look at the needs of the people we believe God wants to bring to the worship: when are they able to come? Should the bus schedule be part of the discernment process? Soccer practices?
 
Quote
On several key points (one of which is what tools and proceedures are proper for interpreting Scripture) the ELCA and the LCMS have gone separate ways.  That is unfortunate.  We have also disagreed on how important our disagreements are.  A number of ELCA folk who post here opine that the differences are not that important and so expect that the LCMS should be in Altar if not Altar and Pulpit fellowship and at least offer Communion Table hospitality to those of the ELCA.  What should be necessary for such fellowship is one of our areas of disagreement.  What frustates some of us in the LCMS is that while the ELCA seems willing to accept and even celebrate diversity of belief and practice in some areas - they also seem to insist that in this area we of the LCMS must accept their judgement.  We are somehow subLutheran or even subChristian for not offering them communion hospitality and accepting that our differences are not important enough to disrupt that.  To us it seems that ELCA people are willing and even eager to welcome diversity - but only in areas that they deem suitable for diversity - in other areas they expect us to accept their judgement with little question and little hesitation - and our divergence from their teaching and practice is simply wrong - and we should know and accept that.
 
Much ill will has been generated from both sides over these questions.  In the end a church body must make decisions that it deems faithful to God - recognizing that all will not agree and that there will likely be fallout.  In the end I will acknowledge that at times the LCMS has seemed and was arrogant in her actions towards others.  But it seems to me that ELCA folk has been at times equally arrogant towards the LCMS, demanding that we abandon what we have determined is correct teaching a practice to adopt ELCA standards.


In this way we may be similar, when we have come to our convictions based on our understanding of God's Word, we do what we can to bring others to that same conviction -- because it is what we believe God is saying, and thus it is God's will, e.g., that woman may also be ordained; that the sacrament is open to all the baptized.


The issue is whether we believe that our understanding of God's will on such issues is universal -- that it applies to all people and it is our job to bring them to that truth -- or it can it be a matter of different interpretations of God's Word and it becomes part of the differing parts of the one body. A foot doesn't have to be as dexterous as a hand to be a valuable part of the body. We don't have to have the same ordination or communion practices to be part of the one body.


"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]

A Catholic Lutheran

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Re: Estranged members sue ELCA-LCMC congregation
« Reply #528 on: March 10, 2012, 03:00:25 PM »

A workshop for congregation councils asked the question: "How do you know if your decisions are faithful ones?" The same question can apply to synods, districts, or national denominational decisions. Often in congregations decisions are judged by their effectiveness or efficiency -- or, in other terms, "the numbers" -- more people, lower costs, etc. Numbers are measurable.


How do you propose that we determine faithfulness in our decisions? How does a legislative body determine what is God's truth and will for them at this time? Was it God's will for Luther to be kicked out of the church and begin a split in the Western Church? Was it God's will for Seminex and the AELC to happen that split the LCMS? Was it God's will that LCMC and NALC be formed that further split the church? Why is one "split and a new church body" God's will and not another?

Or, a much more common occurrence, how does a congregation determine if calling a candidate as its pastor is God's will?

Your basic premise is so badly flawed that I don't think it can even be worked with.
How do you propose that we determine faithfulness in our decisions?  The classic Lutheran answer is how do "our decisions" relate to the Holy Scriptures.

How does a legislative body determine what is God's truth and will for them at this time?  Here you run into problems.  God's truth is not "voteable."  This is the essential problem with the ELCA.  We, as Christians dwell UNDER the Scriptures, not above them, voting on them.  The Scriptures speak to us, we are supposed to listen.  Certain things... the "unity of the Church," the Commandments, God's Holy Name and essence, God's revealed intention for human sexuality...these things are not open for "vote."  And, though I know you will doubtless disagree, God's Truth does not change from time to time.

Was it God's will for Luther to be kicked out of the church and begin a split in the Western Church?  Maybe.  Even Jaroslav Pelikan (of Blessed Memory) called the Reformation a "tragic necessity."  But the bigger problem for you is that you confuse God's will with the effect of sin in a broken reality. 

Was it God's will for Seminex and the AELC to happen that split the LCMS?  Maybe.  But again, see the above comment. 

Was it God's will that LCMC and NALC be formed that further split the church? Maybe, if the Truth is preserved and the Faith is proclaimed.  But you keep asking about OTHERS, never asking (nor answering) the question of yourself...  The guilt of fracturing is not upon one party, but upon all.

Why is one "split and a new church body" God's will and not another?  I guess the answer comes down to how you measure faithfulness.  If one body has become schismatic, rejecting God's self-revealed will in the Scriptures in favor of principles that are counter to Scripture the faithful may have to defy the schismatic group in favor of being faithful.... 

...At least that was what Luther and company came up with.

Pax Christi;
Pr. Jerry Kliner, STS
« Last Edit: March 10, 2012, 03:03:59 PM by A Catholic Lutheran »

A Catholic Lutheran

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Re: Estranged members sue ELCA-LCMC congregation
« Reply #529 on: March 10, 2012, 03:33:07 PM »
As I think about it, there is one other issue at play here...  A while back William Willimon wrote to the effect that the struggle "to make the Bible relevant" to us was completely backwards.  The issue is not whether the Bible is relevant to us in our lives, but rather the question is whether our lives are relevant to the Bible?

To me this fits oh so well with Luther's explanation of the Second and Third Petition of the Lord's Prayer.  God's Kingdom and Will most surely come...what we ask in these prayers is that we might gladly be part of them.  So rather than taking votes as to the relevancy of God's Word and Kingdom among us, perhaps we should be asking how we fit them?

But again, I'm a bit of a screw-ball in the ELCA... ;D

Pax Christi;
Pr. Jerry Kliner, STS

Chuck Sampson

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Re: Estranged members sue ELCA-LCMC congregation
« Reply #530 on: March 10, 2012, 03:37:08 PM »
As I think about it, there is one other issue at play here...  A while back William Willimon wrote to the effect that the struggle "to make the Bible relevant" to us was completely backwards.  The issue is not whether the Bible is relevant to us in our lives, but rather the question is whether our lives are relevant to the Bible?

To me this fits oh so well with Luther's explanation of the Second and Third Petition of the Lord's Prayer.  God's Kingdom and Will most surely come...what we ask in these prayers is that we might gladly be part of them.  So rather than taking votes as to the relevancy of God's Word and Kingdom among us, perhaps we should be asking how we fit them?

But again, I'm a bit of a screw-ball in the ELCA... ;D

Pax Christi;
Pr. Jerry Kliner, STS
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George Erdner

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Re: Estranged members sue ELCA-LCMC congregation
« Reply #531 on: March 10, 2012, 03:43:28 PM »
I've also asked several times why you rely on the self selected sample of a facebook group, but rejected the self selected sample when it was found in the surveys related to the Study on Human Sexuality. 

Don't forget, the ELCA Facebook kicks out all dissenters and revisionists who don't keep silent.
 

Brian Stoffregen

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Re: Estranged members sue ELCA-LCMC congregation
« Reply #532 on: March 10, 2012, 05:06:55 PM »

A workshop for congregation councils asked the question: "How do you know if your decisions are faithful ones?" The same question can apply to synods, districts, or national denominational decisions. Often in congregations decisions are judged by their effectiveness or efficiency -- or, in other terms, "the numbers" -- more people, lower costs, etc. Numbers are measurable.


How do you propose that we determine faithfulness in our decisions? How does a legislative body determine what is God's truth and will for them at this time? Was it God's will for Luther to be kicked out of the church and begin a split in the Western Church? Was it God's will for Seminex and the AELC to happen that split the LCMS? Was it God's will that LCMC and NALC be formed that further split the church? Why is one "split and a new church body" God's will and not another?

Or, a much more common occurrence, how does a congregation determine if calling a candidate as its pastor is God's will?

Your basic premise is so badly flawed that I don't think it can even be worked with.
How do you propose that we determine faithfulness in our decisions?  The classic Lutheran answer is how do "our decisions" relate to the Holy Scriptures.

How does a legislative body determine what is God's truth and will for them at this time?  Here you run into problems.  God's truth is not "voteable."  This is the essential problem with the ELCA.  We, as Christians dwell UNDER the Scriptures, not above them, voting on them.  The Scriptures speak to us, we are supposed to listen.  Certain things... the "unity of the Church," the Commandments, God's Holy Name and essence, God's revealed intention for human sexuality...these things are not open for "vote."  And, though I know you will doubtless disagree, God's Truth does not change from time to time.

Was it God's will for Luther to be kicked out of the church and begin a split in the Western Church?  Maybe.  Even Jaroslav Pelikan (of Blessed Memory) called the Reformation a "tragic necessity."  But the bigger problem for you is that you confuse God's will with the effect of sin in a broken reality. 

Was it God's will for Seminex and the AELC to happen that split the LCMS?  Maybe.  But again, see the above comment. 

Was it God's will that LCMC and NALC be formed that further split the church? Maybe, if the Truth is preserved and the Faith is proclaimed.  But you keep asking about OTHERS, never asking (nor answering) the question of yourself...  The guilt of fracturing is not upon one party, but upon all.

Why is one "split and a new church body" God's will and not another?  I guess the answer comes down to how you measure faithfulness.  If one body has become schismatic, rejecting God's self-revealed will in the Scriptures in favor of principles that are counter to Scripture the faithful may have to defy the schismatic group in favor of being faithful.... 

...At least that was what Luther and company came up with.


So, to some of the major issues that have faced the church, the best you can conclude is that maybe they were God's will!! So  it's a crap shoot if something is God's will or not. We just sin boldly and let God figure it out.
"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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Re: Estranged members sue ELCA-LCMC congregation
« Reply #533 on: March 10, 2012, 05:54:29 PM »
Mr. Erdner writes:
Don't forget, the ELCA Facebook kicks out all dissenters and revisionists who don't keep silent.
 
I comment:
And you have proof of this?

Steven Tibbetts

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Re: Estranged members sue ELCA-LCMC congregation
« Reply #534 on: March 10, 2012, 06:00:46 PM »

Don't forget, the ELCA Facebook...

Brian is speaking of the ELCA Clergy group on Facebook.  It's 3600 members includes ELCA traditionalists (including past and present leaders in Lutheran CORE), along with former ELCA clergy now in LCMC or the NALC, along with a few LCMS pastors.  I can't speak for the level of conversation or debate there, as I left the group fairly early in its existence.  But I do know that the moderator, an ELCA parish pastor, ably moderates other groups of diverse theological/pastoral membership. 

Pax, Steven+
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Charles_Austin

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Re: Estranged members sue ELCA-LCMC congregation
« Reply #535 on: March 10, 2012, 06:02:47 PM »
 Pastor Fienen writes:
A number of ELCA folk who post here opine that the differences are not that important and so expect that the LCMS should be in Altar if not Altar and Pulpit fellowship and at least offer Communion Table hospitality to those of the ELCA.  What should be necessary for such fellowship is one of our areas of disagreement.  What frustates some of us in the LCMS is that while the ELCA seems willing to accept and even celebrate diversity of belief and practice in some areas - they also seem to insist that in this area we of the LCMS must accept their judgement.
I comment:
No, we do not think that you must accept our view. We just wish that you would.

Pastor Fienen writes;
We are somehow subLutheran or even subChristian for not offering them communion hospitality and accepting that our differences are not important enough to disrupt that.
I comment:
For the umpteenth time, would you please quit saying that? We/I do not consider you "subLutheran" or "subChristian." I have said that over and over again. Your repeated whining about this and use of this erroneous language is really tiresome.
For one thing, you do not always and in every place refuse to offer us communion hospitality. I know that. We wish you would do it more often; and maybe - since God is gracious - you do it more often than either of us knows.

Pastor Fienen:
To us it seems that ELCA people are willing and even eager to welcome diversity - but only in areas that they deem suitable for diversity - in other areas they expect us to accept their judgement with little question and little hesitation - and our divergence from their teaching and practice is simply wrong - and we should know and accept that.
Me:
See above. But yes, in some areas Christians can diverge, and in some areas they should not. No big news there.

Charles_Austin

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Re: Estranged members sue ELCA-LCMC congregation
« Reply #536 on: March 10, 2012, 06:10:03 PM »
Pastor Fienen writes:
I have a bit of a different spin on votes taken on things like LCMS doctrinal statements and ELCA social statements and subsequent policy. ...What we do when we vote on such things is to determine what we as a body understand God's truth and God's will to be.
I comment:
Yes, we do that in the ELCA and you do that in the LCMS. However, I do not think that - outside of the vote approving our statements of faith at the inception of the ELCA - we have ever voted on "doctrine." You, however... seem to do it all the time.
Our social statements are not "doctrine," and we do not insist that people agree with them in order to be in the ELCA. Some of your votes have indeed been on "doctrine" and those who do not agree are supposed to get out.

Pastor Fienen writes:
Doctrine is not established by majority vote, but it may be recognized as such by such a vote.
I comment:
See above.

Pastor Fienen writes:
The alternative is to have no official doctrine, accept everything and so stand for nothing.
I comment:
We in the ELCA - as you have been told over and over and over and over and over again here - have "official doctrine." It is in our statement of faith. I do not like the suggestion that we "accept everything and so stand for nothing." Unfair in the extreme.

Charles_Austin

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Re: Estranged members sue ELCA-LCMC congregation
« Reply #537 on: March 10, 2012, 06:15:03 PM »
Steven writes (of the ELCA clergy group on Facebook):
But I do know that the moderator, an ELCA parish pastor, ably moderates other groups of diverse theological/pastoral membership. 

I comment:
And I would assume that means he does not  "kick out all dissenters and revisionists who don't keep silent" as Mr. Erdner alleged (without proof) just upstream.

George Erdner

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Re: Estranged members sue ELCA-LCMC congregation
« Reply #538 on: March 10, 2012, 06:32:01 PM »

Don't forget, the ELCA Facebook...

Brian is speaking of the ELCA Clergy group on Facebook.  It's 3600 members includes ELCA traditionalists (including past and present leaders in Lutheran CORE), along with former ELCA clergy now in LCMC or the NALC, along with a few LCMS pastors.  I can't speak for the level of conversation or debate there, as I left the group fairly early in its existence.  But I do know that the moderator, an ELCA parish pastor, ably moderates other groups of diverse theological/pastoral membership. 

Pax, Steven+

I did not know that. It wasn't indicated in what I read and replied to.

DCharlton

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Re: Estranged members sue ELCA-LCMC congregation
« Reply #539 on: March 10, 2012, 08:44:33 PM »
I have used the responses in the Study on Human Sexuality, but they don't prove anything, except to give us statistics about the people who responded to the survey. While a majority of those who responded were not in favor of changes; demographically, the percentage of responders who approved of homosexual relationships increased the younger they were. It suggests that there is a gap in the thinking between many oldsters (70+) the young adult members (20-30 year olds).

If so, then statistics you provide from facebook prove nothing, except to give us statistics about a certain ELCA clergy facebook group.  And yet us use that in an attempt to prove something.  Namely, you seek to prove that the majority in the ELCA is happy with the way things are going.  At the least, you claim that it provides compelling evidence.

I don't disagree with the conclusion you draw from facebook.  I disagree with your continued insistence that the Sexuality Study was and is rightfully dismissed as evidence of what congregations and individuals in the ELCA thought at the time.  While not proving what the majority thought at the time, it should have made the Sexuality Task Force and the ELCA leaders aware that there was a clear possibility that the direction they had chosen was at odds with the will of the majority of ELCA congregations and individuals. 

Quote
All I've commented about the facebook group is that the tenor of the discussions there are quite different than in this forum. For example, while many here may chastise Obama and democrats and some of their plans, they often receive support from the ELCA Clergy discussion. (Again, I'm not saying that one is right and the other wrong -- just an observation.)

No, you reached a conclusion about what the majority of pastors in the ELCA think.  You claimed that those of us on this forum who are in the ELCA are not representative.  (I don't disagree with your conclusion.) 

The point is not that your conclusion is wrong, but that you are utilizing a different standard of proof.  Now, that is really no big deal.  You're only one person.  However, what you have done is what I believe the leaders of the ELCA did and continue to do.  When its to your benefit, the standard of proof is quite low.  When it leads to a conclusion that harms your argument, your standard of proof is quite high.

PS - Your skills of observation are a little wanting.  While the general tone here is critical of Obama and democrats, that is no reason to conclude that the majority of ELCAers on this forum are politically conservative.  When it comes to politics, I (an ELCA pastor) tend to take a rather left wing position.  There are others that do as well.  Please apply the standards of proof you yourself that you apply to others.
« Last Edit: March 10, 2012, 08:49:13 PM by DCharlton »
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