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The ELCA Requires Nothing

Started by DCharlton, January 01, 2013, 09:22:19 PM

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Johan Bergfest

Quote from: Dadoo on January 11, 2013, 01:01:22 PMThe problem is that there really is no community that wants to come to a conclusion. It seems to me that academia does not want a conclusion but that its desired result is creation and assertion of new theory. That might work in academia but it does not work for the church.  Those who write and think for the church must have a conclusion eventually. I suspect that that is the reason that the ecumenical councils actually wrote statements that were binding instead of committing themselves to continued conversation.

Pr. Kruse - do you suppose that is so because the conclusion is God's to know and that, as sinners, the conclusion might be beyond our grasp?

DCharlton

#376
Quote from: Johan Bergfest on January 11, 2013, 12:23:13 PM
I have posted several times in the brief period that I have been a member here that I think, in all of these difficult deliberations, we should begin from all of the things which we hold in common instead of insisting on defining each other on the basis of our differences. 

That brings up the earlier subject of whether there are any questions that don't remain open, whether there are any interpretations that are accepted as authoritative.  If all questions remain open and there are no authoritative interpretations, then how can there be anything that we hold in common?

Are these issues settled, or do they remain open: The Canon of Scripture, The Trinitarian Dogma, The Christological Dogma?

And for Lutherans: The Doctrine on Justification?

Do we agree that these texts are authoritative: The Scriptures, the Creeds?

And for Lutherans: the Lutheran Symbols?

If so, we do indeed have something in common, but then it is not true that all questions remain open.   

David Charlton  

Was Algul Siento a divinity school?

Dadoo

Quote from: Johan Bergfest on January 11, 2013, 01:07:21 PM
Quote from: Dadoo on January 11, 2013, 01:01:22 PMThe problem is that there really is no community that wants to come to a conclusion. It seems to me that academia does not want a conclusion but that its desired result is creation and assertion of new theory. That might work in academia but it does not work for the church.  Those who write and think for the church must have a conclusion eventually. I suspect that that is the reason that the ecumenical councils actually wrote statements that were binding instead of committing themselves to continued conversation.

Pr. Kruse - do you suppose that is so because the conclusion is God's to know and that, as sinners, the conclusion might be beyond our grasp?

John,

If you suppose that then I would ask you to refrain from criticism of division in the body of Christ because it would seem that you do it for no reason other than perhaps you own personal dislike of it. Solipsism was mentioned earlier by Tom Pearson in this regard. 
Peter Kruse

Diversity and tolerance are very complex concepts. Rigid conformity is needed to ensure their full realization. - Mike Adams

DCharlton

Quote from: Johan Bergfest on January 11, 2013, 01:07:21 PM
Quote from: Dadoo on January 11, 2013, 01:01:22 PMThe problem is that there really is no community that wants to come to a conclusion. It seems to me that academia does not want a conclusion but that its desired result is creation and assertion of new theory. That might work in academia but it does not work for the church.  Those who write and think for the church must have a conclusion eventually. I suspect that that is the reason that the ecumenical councils actually wrote statements that were binding instead of committing themselves to continued conversation.

Pr. Kruse - do you suppose that is so because the conclusion is God's to know and that, as sinners, the conclusion might be beyond our grasp?

I think the distinction between the Deus Absconditus and the Deus Revelatus is helpful here.  Johan seems to have the idea that the ELCA posters like Peter are trying to "peer into the hidden things of God."  Perhaps, coming from the LCMS he is has met those who attempt to settle every possible question and establish an an encyclopedic body of knowledge that all must accept.  He takes it for granted that we agree on essential matters like the Christology, Justification, Original Sin, etc...

We in the ELCA are coming from a background were Revelation and the essential Dogmas of Christianity remain open questions.  When we try to reassert the necessity of agreement on the things, he thinks we are asserting the necessity of agreement on everything.
David Charlton  

Was Algul Siento a divinity school?

Dadoo

Quote from: DCharlton on January 11, 2013, 01:21:48 PM
Quote from: Johan Bergfest on January 11, 2013, 01:07:21 PM
Quote from: Dadoo on January 11, 2013, 01:01:22 PMThe problem is that there really is no community that wants to come to a conclusion. It seems to me that academia does not want a conclusion but that its desired result is creation and assertion of new theory. That might work in academia but it does not work for the church.  Those who write and think for the church must have a conclusion eventually. I suspect that that is the reason that the ecumenical councils actually wrote statements that were binding instead of committing themselves to continued conversation.

Pr. Kruse - do you suppose that is so because the conclusion is God's to know and that, as sinners, the conclusion might be beyond our grasp?

I think the distinction between the Deus Absconditus and the Deus Revelatus is helpful here.  Johan seems to have the idea that the ELCA posters like Peter are trying to "peer into the hidden things of God."  Perhaps, coming from the LCMS he is has met those who attempt to settle every possible question and establish an an encyclopedic body of knowledge that all must accept.  He takes it for granted that we agree on essential matters like the Christology, Justification, Original Sin, etc...

We in the ELCA are coming from a background were Revelation and the essential Dogmas of Christianity remain open questions.  When we try to reassert the necessity of agreement on the things, he thinks we are asserting the necessity of agreement on everything.

David,

That is a good point. The language John uses is code language for us since it identifies the anythingshouldgo crowd ELCA. Maybe John does not realize how much that makes Lutherans Lutherans is actually "being dialoged" among us.

He can tell us, I suppose.
Peter Kruse

Diversity and tolerance are very complex concepts. Rigid conformity is needed to ensure their full realization. - Mike Adams

A Catholic Lutheran

Quote from: Johan Bergfest on January 11, 2013, 12:23:13 PM
Pastor Cottingham - as Lutherans, we understand paradox.  Yet, at times we are uncomfortable with the ambiguity that comes with it.  As Lutherans, we also understand that God often uses very simple things, including us, to accomplish His miraculous purpose.

Paradox is not "ambiguity."

Take Simul Justus et Peccator, which is often held up as the classical "Lutheran Paradox."  There is not a whit of ambiguity in it.  We are at once Saint and Sinner via Christ's righteousness.  Not "I may be a saint or a sinner, I can't really tell..."  When looking at ourselves...as the Baptized...we are at once Saint and Sinner. 

Or take the Eucharist...  When we recieve the Sacrament, we are recieving Bread and Wine, and the Real Body and Real Blood of our Lord Jesus Christ.  There is no ambiguity there, there is no "maybe" or "I can't tell..."

So I can't quite figure out where you are finding this ambiguity that Lutherans supposedly revel in...  Don't get me wrong, I have a health sense of Mystery.  But Mystery is not ambiguity either.  It's a mystery how we can be Saint and Sinner at the same time.  It's a mystery as how to the Word takes flesh and becomes Incarnate.  It's mystery as to how we can recieve Christ's True Body and Blood in, with, and under the forms of bread and wine.  But that's not ambiguity.

Pax Christi;
Pr. Jerry Kliner, STS

Johan Bergfest

Quote from: DCharlton on January 11, 2013, 01:09:06 PM

That brings up the earlier subject of whether there are any questions that don't remain open, whether there are any interpretations that are accepted as authoritative.  If all questions remain open and there are no authoritative interpretations, then how can there be anything that we hold in common?

Are these issues settled, or do they remain open: The Canon of Scripture, The Trinitarian Dogma, The Christological Dogma?

And for Lutherans: The Doctrine on Justification?

Do we agree that these texts are authoritative: The Scriptures, the Creeds?

And for Lutherans: the Lutheran Symbols?

If so, we do indeed have something in common, but then it is not true that all questions remain open.

Pr. Charlton - my roots are firmly planted in LCMS, as I understood it to be in my youth (I don't think that denomination exists anymore).
One of the "aha! moments" that I took from Mary Todd's book was her discussion of closed/open questions and how that has troubled Lutherans, generally, and LCMS Lutherans since the reformation.

My response would be that 1) Scripture is God's Inspired Word, the revelation of Law/Gospel; 2) The Trinity; 3) Justification, by grace, through faith in Jesus Christ; and, 4) The Small Catechism are answers to the most important closed questions.  And, I operation on the supposition that others, who profess to be Lutheran, share that understanding.

I would also suggest, that, except for the qualifiers we might hang on those 4 answers (qualifiers which, in my opinion, diminish those answers), those are not the questions/answers about which Lutherans disagree.

Johan Bergfest

Quote from: A Catholic Lutheran on January 11, 2013, 01:44:43 PM
Paradox is not "ambiguity."

Take Simul Justus et Peccator, which is often held up as the classical "Lutheran Paradox."  There is not a whit of ambiguity in it.  We are at once Saint and Sinner via Christ's righteousness.  Not "I may be a saint or a sinner, I can't really tell..."  When looking at ourselves...as the Baptized...we are at once Saint and Sinner. 

Or take the Eucharist...  When we recieve the Sacrament, we are recieving Bread and Wine, and the Real Body and Real Blood of our Lord Jesus Christ.  There is no ambiguity there, there is no "maybe" or "I can't tell..."

So I can't quite figure out where you are finding this ambiguity that Lutherans supposedly revel in...  Don't get me wrong, I have a health sense of Mystery.  But Mystery is not ambiguity either.  It's a mystery how we can be Saint and Sinner at the same time.  It's a mystery as how to the Word takes flesh and becomes Incarnate.  It's mystery as to how we can recieve Christ's True Body and Blood in, with, and under the forms of bread and wine.  But that's not ambiguity.

Pr. Kliner - the ultimate paradox(Lutheran or otherwise) is Jesus Christ - true God/true Man.  And, the penultimate would be the divine/human nature of God's Inspired Word.  But, I agree that simul justus et peccator and the Sacraments also make the list.

By faith, I hold all of those paradoxes to be true.  But, think about faith, i.e. Hebrews 11.  From a rational point of view, none of those paradoxes make any sense.  Isn't that why we give them that label?  I am human.  I cannot comprehend God's wisdom.  I doubt.  I believe in spite of all of the rational evidence to the contrary.  That is the ambiguity to which I referred and the ambiguity with which I am very comfortable.

Pastor Ted Crandall

Quote from: Dadoo on January 11, 2013, 01:01:22 PM
Those who write and think for the church must have a conclusion eventually. I suspect that that is the reason that the ecumenical councils actually wrote statements that were binding instead of committing themselves to continued conversation.

I apologize to you, Sir, for what I said earlier about finding it difficult to take seriously most of what is posted around here.  Thank you for your contributions to Lutheranism. 

Johan Bergfest

Quote from: Dadoo on January 11, 2013, 01:19:06 PMIf you suppose that then I would ask you to refrain from criticism of division in the body of Christ because it would seem that you do it for no reason other than perhaps you own personal dislike of it. Solipsism was mentioned earlier by Tom Pearson in this regard.

Pr. Kruse - I criticize division in the Body of Christ because I think it is an inappropriate way for Christians to begin an honest dialogue regarding the things about which they disagree.

DCharlton

Quote from: Johan Bergfest on January 11, 2013, 02:04:19 PM
Quote from: DCharlton on January 11, 2013, 01:09:06 PM

That brings up the earlier subject of whether there are any questions that don't remain open, whether there are any interpretations that are accepted as authoritative.  If all questions remain open and there are no authoritative interpretations, then how can there be anything that we hold in common?

Are these issues settled, or do they remain open: The Canon of Scripture, The Trinitarian Dogma, The Christological Dogma?

And for Lutherans: The Doctrine on Justification?

Do we agree that these texts are authoritative: The Scriptures, the Creeds?

And for Lutherans: the Lutheran Symbols?

If so, we do indeed have something in common, but then it is not true that all questions remain open.

Pr. Charlton - my roots are firmly planted in LCMS, as I understood it to be in my youth (I don't think that denomination exists anymore).
One of the "aha! moments" that I took from Mary Todd's book was her discussion of closed/open questions and how that has troubled Lutherans, generally, and LCMS Lutherans since the reformation.

My response would be that 1) Scripture is God's Inspired Word, the revelation of Law/Gospel; 2) The Trinity; 3) Justification, by grace, through faith in Jesus Christ; and, 4) The Small Catechism are answers to the most important closed questions.  And, I operation on the supposition that others, who profess to be Lutheran, share that understanding.

I would also suggest, that, except for the qualifiers we might hang on those 4 answers (qualifiers which, in my opinion, diminish those answers), those are not the questions/answers about which Lutherans disagree.

Then I think my hypothesis is correct.  We are talking past each other.  You seem to be, coming from the LCMS, arguing for the position that, since we agree on the essentials (Scripture, Creed and Confessions), we do not need to agree on everything else.  Trying to settle every question amounts to a Theology of Glory, where one attempts to "peer into the hidden things of God."  It's not content with God "clothed in his promises" but seeks to literally unclothe God. 

However, in the ELCA, when people speak of open questions, they mean everything.  What you assume are settled "question/answer" are not so settled in the ELCA.  For many, new scholarship and wider vistas allow us to reopen what once was settled.  Yes, Scripture, Creeds, and Confessions are acknowledged as authoritative in the ELCA, but in practice they are open to question.   God remains effectively Hidden and we are groping about in the dark to imagine and re-imagine what the Hidden God must be like.  Its still a Theology of Glory, although a much more modest one than you are familiar with. 
David Charlton  

Was Algul Siento a divinity school?

Dadoo

Quote from: Johan Bergfest on January 11, 2013, 02:22:31 PM
Quote from: Dadoo on January 11, 2013, 01:19:06 PMIf you suppose that then I would ask you to refrain from criticism of division in the body of Christ because it would seem that you do it for no reason other than perhaps you own personal dislike of it. Solipsism was mentioned earlier by Tom Pearson in this regard.

Pr. Kruse - I criticize division in the Body of Christ because I think it is an inappropriate way for Christians to begin an honest dialogue regarding the things about which they disagree.

The division ELCA vs NALC is not a matter of dialog never engaged in but a story of dialog and decision  over 20 years and ending in the conclusion that we did not hold enough in common. It is not what we hold in common that is the trouble.

And again, what gives you the conviction that God does not want the NALC vs ELCA division?

For that matter, maybe "dialog" is merely the sinners' attempt to pool their sin and ignorance rather than repenting.

Your objection to division seems to be based more in personal preference. One could dismiss that by saying: "So what," and be perfectly justified in doing so. There is no weight behind the objection other than John. And who is John if there is a possibility that God might want division. Maybe God does. Maybe God don't. It takes more then "John or Peter don't like it" as  a basis for an answer. And suppose we can't say, then we need to be honest about that as well. But there are implications to the answer. One of those implications is to admit that we don't know if God wants a unified church and quit insisting on it. Scary . . .
Peter Kruse

Diversity and tolerance are very complex concepts. Rigid conformity is needed to ensure their full realization. - Mike Adams

Brian Stoffregen

Quote from: DCharlton on January 11, 2013, 12:59:41 PM
Quote from: Brian Stoffregen on January 11, 2013, 12:09:25 PM
Let's turn it around. If you believe that the Holy Spirit worked through the ecumenical councils, then why don't we follow every decision that the Spirit led them to make, e.g., the historic episcopate and the ordination of bishops for one example. The fact that none of the major American Lutheran denominations ordain bishops with at least three bishops in the historic episcopate present suggests that we don't believe that the Holy Spirit inspired all the decisions of those ecumenical councils.

Well of course you know that there are Lutherans that believe the very thing that you suggest.  At least they believe the historic episcopate is desirable.  And I thought that the ELCA was working toward the day when what you describe would actually take place.

Now, others disagree, as you well know.  CCM lead to the first major split in the ELCA and the formation of LCMC.


My point is, if one believes that the voting members of that ecumenical council were inspired when creating the Nicene Creed that we need to maintain for our church practice today, did that inspiration suddenly leave when they also made decisions about bishops and the historic episcopate?


It appears like folks want to say that they were inspired when we agree with their decisions, but that they were erring when we disagree with them -- even when it's the same council!
I flunked retirement. Serving as a part-time interim in Ferndale, WA.

Johan Bergfest

The division ELCA vs NALC is not a matter of dialog never engaged in but a story of dialog and decision  over 20 years and ending in the conclusion that we did not hold enough in common. It is not what we hold in common that is the trouble.

I am not suggesting that Christians should not dialogue about their disagreements.  In fact, to the contrary.  I am a strong proponent of dialogue.  I am talking about how we shape the conversation.

Please consider two different approaches to buying a new car.  What kind of relationship develops between the buyer/salesman when the negotiation begins with a buyer trying to low ball and dealership that is trying to sell the car for sticker price ++.  That is how I think Christians/Lutherans tend to approach their disagreements.  As an alternative, what would the conversation look like if the buyer says, "I would like to buy this car at a fair price.  Fair means you make you margin and I get a bargain.  How do we determine the dollar amount that corresponds with fair".  That is the kind of conversation that I am advocating.

And again, what gives you the conviction that God does not want the NALC vs ELCA division?

Jesus' high priestly prayer.

I have every confidence that God will use that division, just as God will use the ACELC/Jesus First division in LCMS, to accomplish His purpose.  But, God's intention is for us to be one, just as Jesus and the Father are one.  In Baptism, God has claimed each of us as His child.  God has called each of us into a unique and loving relationship with Him and, empowered by God's love, we are called to live that same relationship with one another.

For that matter, maybe "dialog" is merely the sinners' attempt to pool their sin and ignorance rather than repenting.


If by "dialog" you mean talking at one another (rather than talking with one another), I agree.

Your objection to division seems to be based more in personal preference. One could dismiss that by saying: "So what," and be perfectly justified in doing so.

Without question, it is my personal preference.  Out of the same mouths are proceeding blessings for those with whom we agree and curses for those with whom we disagree.  That ought not to be so!  Are divisions are hurtful.  Worse, our divisions, or, at least our poor behavior in dealing with divisions, bear false witness to the Gospel.  So, I think it is more important than "so what". 

Johan Bergfest

Quote from: DCharlton on January 11, 2013, 02:41:07 PMThen I think my hypothesis is correct.  We are talking past each other.

If that is the case, please accept my apology for adding to the misunderstanding.


Quote from: DCharlton on January 11, 2013, 02:41:07 PMYes, Scripture, Creeds, and Confessions are acknowledged as authoritative in the ELCA, but in practice they are open to question.   God remains effectively Hidden and we are groping about in the dark to imagine and re-imagine what the Hidden God must be like.  Its still a Theology of Glory, although a much more modest one than you are familiar with.

Please tell me more.

I'm not real comfortable thinking about any of this as a "Theology of Glory".  I tend to think of that in the same way that I think about "religion".  And, I am reminded of one sentence from a sermon that has stuck with me for a long time.  "Grace undermines the efforts of religion to reward the good ones."  That pastor, like myself, aspired to the Theology of the Cross.

I do not question that God remains effectively hidden and that I am groping.  However, I am less interested in re-imagining what the Hidden God must be like and more interested in re-imagining how that Hidden God is trying to accomplish His purpose through me, through my congregation, through my denomination and through the greater invisible church.  I do not perceive that to be an open question around Scripture or the heart of the Lutheran Confession.  It is, and will remain, and open "so what?"

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