Author Topic: The Public Role of the Pastor In The Community  (Read 146860 times)

Mike Gehlhausen

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Re: The Public Role of the Pastor In The Community
« Reply #105 on: December 19, 2012, 09:25:07 AM »
If I stand on a platform and pray to God, the father of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, God, the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit; how is that taking God's name in vain?
I am not using God's name to "curse, swear, use witchcraft, lie, or deceive by His name," but I am calling upon it "in every trouble," and I am using God's name to "pray, praise, and give thanks."
How is that violating the second commandment?

It is not.

However, it is violating the First Commandment by bringing false gods before His Face.

It seems that the Israelites paid quite a price for building the Golden Calf in worshiping Ba'al.  And I believe that Aaron himself never worshiped Ba'al and proclaimed Jehovah solely.

However, God condemned his accommodating of Ba'al worshipers anyway.

Mike

Pr. Don Kirchner

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Re: The Public Role of the Pastor In The Community
« Reply #106 on: December 19, 2012, 09:31:22 AM »
However, it is violating the First Commandment by bringing false gods before His Face.


Which Pr. Morris did not do.
Pr. Don Kirchner

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Charles_Austin

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Re: The Public Role of the Pastor In The Community
« Reply #107 on: December 19, 2012, 09:32:46 AM »
The only God I "bring" anywhere, Mr. Gehlhausen, is the one both you and I worship and adore. Do you make me responsible for what someone else does?

Johan Bergfest

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Re: The Public Role of the Pastor In The Community
« Reply #108 on: December 19, 2012, 09:44:14 AM »
The only God I "bring" anywhere, Mr. Gehlhausen, is the one both you and I worship and adore. Do you make me responsible for what someone else does?


Pr. Austin - I agree with your perspective regarding Pr. Morris, it should be noted that this conversation reveals the challenge of talking about spiritual matters within the limitations of human language. 

None of us takes the Triune God anywhere.  God already is everywhere.  God, at God's choosing, accompanies us wherever we go.  And, from that perspective, it is foolish to suggest that any of us, by associating with those who practice other traditions, bring false gods before God's face.

Mike Gehlhausen

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Re: The Public Role of the Pastor In The Community
« Reply #109 on: December 19, 2012, 09:51:57 AM »
The only God I "bring" anywhere, Mr. Gehlhausen, is the one both you and I worship and adore. Do you make me responsible for what someone else does?


Pr. Austin - I agree with your perspective regarding Pr. Morris, it should be noted that this conversation reveals the challenge of talking about spiritual matters within the limitations of human language. 

None of us takes the Triune God anywhere.  God already is everywhere.  God, at God's choosing, accompanies us wherever we go.  And, from that perspective, it is foolish to suggest that any of us, by associating with those who practice other traditions, bring false gods before God's face.

The issue is not associating with the believers in false gods.  To not do that we would have to leave the world as St. Paul says.

The issue is placing our prayers alongside the prayers to false gods in a public prayer service.

God does hold us reponsible for that just as He held Aaron responsible for molding the Golden calf even though the only God Aaron himself brought anywhere was Yahweh.

And God spoke all these words, saying,

2 "I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery.

3 You shall have no other gods before me."
  Exodus 20:1-3 (ESV)

It is a sin.  A sin specifically against the First Commandment even though all sins are inevitably ones against the First Commandment.

And Jesus died for that sin too.  But does that mean we should go on sinning in this way?  By no means!

Mike.

peter_speckhard

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Re: The Public Role of the Pastor In The Community
« Reply #110 on: December 19, 2012, 09:53:07 AM »
The overall disagreement over whether serial prayer or interfaith services are edifying seems to fall along the lines of whether the doctrinal ramifications of the words are the primary thing or only thing to be considered. Consider St. James. He said that kind and loving words were worthless in the context of neglect for the neighbor. So even if what you say is absolutely orthodox, if it is divorced from what you are in the act of doing when you say it, it is essentially false. So those who favor participation point to the clear orthodoxy of what was said, while those who object to participation point to the context. If the argument is merely over the words on paper, I think those who object will lose that argument every time. If the argument is over the appropriateness of offering a prayer to God in a context when that prayer is clearly (to the observer) one prayer among many offered to one god among many, well, that is a whole different argument.

We can put ourselves in the shoes of an observer by changing the names. If you changed all the names of the God or gods invoked or prayed to and changed all the garb of those doing the invoking to something totally unfamiliar, but otherwise replayed the whole scene exactly as it went down, would it be clear to you that one of the prayers was the to the only true God and that the other were all demons or fakes, or would you get the impression that these were all just different takes on the same basic religious phenomenon, or different tribal/cultural religiojns coming together for a show of unity? To me that is the question. We all agree that prayer to God is a good thing. The issue is whether there is something different about me praying to God in my church as the pastor of my church vs. me praying to God as a representative of Christianity among a panoply of other spokesman for other religions. It isn't whether what I say is true or whether God hears and understands, but whether what I'm saying is contradicted by what I'm doing while saying it, sort of like the Christian who cheers up the poor man with kind and loving words while neglecting the poor man's needs. We all agree with the words; we disagree on whether the words and example harmonize.

So I don't see it primarily as a second commandment issue. It is more a public witness issue. There is a public witness to not participating and a public witness to participating. Not participating will be taken as "they think they're better than everyone, they think they're different and special, they think we're impure, etc." Participating will be taken as "they, like every religion when it isn't fanatical, care about people, they are normal and mainstream, their differences are less important than what they have in common, they all have their take on evil and suffering and want to alleviate it in their own way, etc." Neither outsider's take is entirely accurate or particularly edifying as a public witness, but which one do we want to live with?   

JoeEckman

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Re: The Public Role of the Pastor In The Community
« Reply #111 on: December 19, 2012, 09:57:21 AM »
Quote
Catching Joe Eckman's post - AMEN!  I would add a different-ish one, and that is that it IS possible for a pastor to run for and potentially hold public office. 

Dave Benke

President Benke,

While I agree that it is possible, I do not think it is usually wise.  I recognize the exceptions, but it could divide a congregation.  I suspect most Lutheran congregations have a mixed bag of political ideologies represented any given Sunday morning. 

My father and his father were held political office (for no pay) in a small town.  I suspect the total amount of service between them amounted to over 75 years, and I them and am proud of them for it.  But they suffered often enough when they voted their conscience and others disagreed with their vote.  I would be afraid of the damage that could do to a congregation.

It may work in some places, but I suspect not in most.

Eckman

Daniel L. Gard

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Re: The Public Role of the Pastor In The Community
« Reply #112 on: December 19, 2012, 10:13:06 AM »
There are risks on both sides of the question. I have lived with this tension for 24 years as a Navy chaplain and have yet to feel a moment of comfort in walking that tight rope.

The societal/cultural expectation is that everyone recognize the established faith of American civic religion. The god who we are to acknowledge according to this religion has no particular name and exists in whatever form the individual imagines him/her/it to be. Minority faith groups are free to speak according to their doctrine such as a Muslim using the name allah. But Christians are not to speak the Name of Jesus in public lest someone be offended or feel excluded.

Of course, Christians are for now still free to say what they believe behind the walls of a Church building but not so much in the public square.

Dave Benke

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Re: The Public Role of the Pastor In The Community
« Reply #113 on: December 19, 2012, 10:15:33 AM »
However, it is violating the First Commandment by bringing false gods before His Face.


Which Pr. Morris did not do.

Accusations that Pastor Morris sinned are over the line, and represent the "not possible at any time" framework of some in the LCMS.  Unfortunately, that framework begins with "you have sinned, repent now," rather than listening to the context, to the guidelines presented by the denomination, or to the totality of the situation at hand.  That to me is a shame.

I am convinced that the LC-MS guidelines as written, received and approved for guidance and use do indeed provide a helpful framework for determining participation, and do give sufficient breadth for the Office of the Public Ministry to be conducted in an appropriate orthodox Lutheran manner. 

Dave Benke

Johan Bergfest

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Re: The Public Role of the Pastor In The Community
« Reply #114 on: December 19, 2012, 10:16:50 AM »
The issue is placing our prayers alongside the prayers to false gods in a public prayer service.

Are you suggesting that God ignored the prayer offered by Pr. Morris and, for that matter, the prayers of the other Christians on that stage, including that of the President?  What about the prayers offered by fellow sisters and brothers in Christ who were in attendance?

Dave Benke

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Re: The Public Role of the Pastor In The Community
« Reply #115 on: December 19, 2012, 10:22:11 AM »
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Catching Joe Eckman's post - AMEN!  I would add a different-ish one, and that is that it IS possible for a pastor to run for and potentially hold public office. 

Dave Benke

President Benke,

While I agree that it is possible, I do not think it is usually wise.  I recognize the exceptions, but it could divide a congregation.  I suspect most Lutheran congregations have a mixed bag of political ideologies represented any given Sunday morning. 

My father and his father were held political office (for no pay) in a small town.  I suspect the total amount of service between them amounted to over 75 years, and I them and am proud of them for it.  But they suffered often enough when they voted their conscience and others disagreed with their vote.  I would be afraid of the damage that could do to a congregation.

It may work in some places, but I suspect not in most.

Eckman

I agree with you.  It might be wiser in the larger political arena for a pastor who is elected say as a Congressman to forego local parish duties.  In other traditions, that does not happen, and several of our congressmen and statewide officials were/are rostered and active pastors in NYMetro. 

In a smaller community, those decisions get micro-managed.  Even when members of a parish hold office it can come back around to divide the congregation based on a specific issue or vote.  Normally these would have to do with who got the feed lot permit or which big box outfit got the permit that disenfranchises the mom and pop store that the member runs, stuff like that. 

We have a parish that wanted a little zoning variance that was involved with the sale of their parsonage on a street that's both residential and commercial.  I went to the hearing, and got whacked upside the head at levels almost to the place of Missouri Synod incivility.  It was over whether a two or three story building could potentially be built on property that probably would never be used for commercial purpose.  So when we enter that fray, especially as an elected official who was also a pastor, it has plenty of risks - agreed.

Dave Benke

Dave Likeness

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Re: The Public Role of the Pastor In The Community
« Reply #116 on: December 19, 2012, 10:24:53 AM »
I know of a LCMS pastor in our circuit who ran
for a local school board position.  He felt that
he could bring some intellectual acumen as
a school board member and campaigned on that
note.  His parish members were opposed to him
being a candidate but he ignored their advice.

Due to his arrogance he was soundly defeated at
the polls and his members actively promoted his
opponent. The real problem: He was not doing
much work in his parish and the members resented
his poor work ethic.

My personal feeling is that pastoral ministry is a
full-time vocation and we need to give our best
effort there and not become involved in local
politics.  Our members know if we are giving an
honest effort in the parish.

Pr. Don Kirchner

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Re: The Public Role of the Pastor In The Community
« Reply #117 on: December 19, 2012, 10:25:43 AM »
The societal/cultural expectation is that everyone recognize the established faith of American civic religion. The god who we are to acknowledge according to this religion has no particular name and exists in whatever form the individual imagines him/her/it to be. Minority faith groups are free to speak according to their doctrine such as a Muslim using the name allah. But Christians are not to speak the Name of Jesus in public lest someone be offended or feel excluded.

Of course, Christians are for now still free to say what they believe behind the walls of a Church building but not so much in the public square.

Thanks be to God that such was not the case at Newtown.
Pr. Don Kirchner

"Heaven's OK, but itís not the end of the world." Jeff Gibbs

Johan Bergfest

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Re: The Public Role of the Pastor In The Community
« Reply #118 on: December 19, 2012, 10:26:11 AM »
Minority faith groups are free to speak according to their doctrine such as a Muslim using the name allah. But Christians are not to speak the Name of Jesus in public lest someone be offended or feel excluded.

In my opinion, you have posed a false dichotomy that does little to help us work through the complexities of this issue.

Christians are just as free as Muslims to speak the Lord's name in public.  And, just as the government is constrained from promoting at public expense Christian prayer at public events, public display of Christian symbols, etc., the government would be constrained in matters of Muslim prayer, symbols, etc.  The difference that is that Christians have asked for that kind of special treatment.  I am not aware of too many comparable requests from Muslims.

Mike Gehlhausen

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Re: The Public Role of the Pastor In The Community
« Reply #119 on: December 19, 2012, 10:26:22 AM »
However, it is violating the First Commandment by bringing false gods before His Face.


Which Pr. Morris did not do.

Accusations that Pastor Morris sinned are over the line, and represent the "not possible at any time" framework of some in the LCMS.  Unfortunately, that framework begins with "you have sinned, repent now," rather than listening to the context, to the guidelines presented by the denomination, or to the totality of the situation at hand.  That to me is a shame.

I am convinced that the LC-MS guidelines as written, received and approved for guidance and use do indeed provide a helpful framework for determining participation, and do give sufficient breadth for the Office of the Public Ministry to be conducted in an appropriate orthodox Lutheran manner. 

Dave Benke

I thought we were not discussing Pr. Morris in this thread.  Besides which, he read Scripture.  He did not pray as Pr. Kirchner noted.

Pr. Austin asked this general question.

If I stand on a platform and pray to God, the father of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, God, the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit; how is that taking God's name in vain?
I am not using God's name to "curse, swear, use witchcraft, lie, or deceive by His name," but I am calling upon it "in every trouble," and I am using God's name to "pray, praise, and give thanks."
How is that violating the second commandment?

I responded..

Mike