The ELCA Requires Nothing

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

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Dadoo

Quote from: Johan Bergfest on January 10, 2013, 10:42:43 PM
Quote from: pearson on January 10, 2013, 10:02:16 PMI don't see why...But I confess that I don't know how any community can long survive if its' "interpretations" (whatever those are) of key texts and practices are "always open."

...and I don't see why not.

Ecclesiastical orders have been continuously changing since Paul had difficulty getting along with Peter and, similarly, Paul's fall out with Barnabas.  I have every confidence that the Una Sancta and, within it, the Evangelical Lutheran Church will persist.  I feel that way because I believe both are the work of God's hands and His hands, alone.

<snip>


By that reasoning, John, the NALC is also the work of GOd's hand. In other words the 2009 assembly and the rift that  occurred was by God's design. The NALC can now claim that it is God ordained-according to you theology. THerefore the Article in the Lutheran that started all this discussion is clearly wrong: The NALC is God's work our (ELCA and ELCA defectors' hand) Not only are the departures not to be condemned they ought to be celebrated as the great unfolding of God's great plan.
Peter Kruse

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

Dadoo

Quote from: pearson on January 10, 2013, 10:02:16 PM
Quote from: Johan Bergfest on January 10, 2013, 09:37:43 PM

If the conversation is sustained, does that not also suggest that certain questions - including the ordination of women and committed, same-gender relationships - are always open?


I don't see why.  Does "sustained" mean "endless" (I mean that literally: no end point to the conversation, no telos, no resolution)?  If so, that seems to me to refer to a different way of defining "interpretation" -- an "always open" array of personal preferences on parade, perhaps.  The way an interpretive community determines an "interpretation" (according to Stanley Fish) involves the last part of the definition I offered earlier:  the community "thereby establishes the norms by which the meaning of a text is fixed."  The sustained process engaged in by the community establishes the norms and fixes the meaning of the text.  If that definition of "interpretation" is flawed, I'd be really happy to hear another one.

But I confess that I don't know how any community can long survive if its' "interpretations" (whatever those are) of key texts and practices are "always open."

Tom Pearson



Tom,

You are making the assumption here: You are assuming you know what the source documents are or that there are even documents in the first place. If the community that John is talking about is "a place and community of deliberation and debate" then it exists not to have answers on questions concerning the Christian symbols. It merely exists to "dialog" about them. It has no sin other then the sin of having a definitive answer to anything. It is not irate unless you refuse them the right to experiment as part of their continued debate.

I am driving a mild tangent of liberal Christianity over the logical cliff here and I know it. But, the written purpose of a denomination and its expressed theology are not always what the organization actually models as that which it actually believes.
Peter Kruse

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

Johan Bergfest

Quote from: Dadoo on January 11, 2013, 11:09:05 AM
Quote from: Johan Bergfest on January 10, 2013, 10:42:43 PM
Quote from: pearson on January 10, 2013, 10:02:16 PMI don't see why...But I confess that I don't know how any community can long survive if its' "interpretations" (whatever those are) of key texts and practices are "always open."

...and I don't see why not.

Ecclesiastical orders have been continuously changing since Paul had difficulty getting along with Peter and, similarly, Paul's fall out with Barnabas.  I have every confidence that the Una Sancta and, within it, the Evangelical Lutheran Church will persist.  I feel that way because I believe both are the work of God's hands and His hands, alone.

<snip>


By that reasoning, John, the NALC is also the work of GOd's hand. In other words the 2009 assembly and the rift that  occurred was by God's design. The NALC can now claim that it is God ordained-according to you theology. THerefore the Article in the Lutheran that started all this discussion is clearly wrong: The NALC is God's work our (ELCA and ELCA defectors' hand) Not only are the departures not to be condemned they ought to be celebrated as the great unfolding of God's great plan.

Peter - my point is that the Una Sancta and the Evangelical Lutheran Church are the products of God's work.  ALL of the Lutheran denominations are the product of human hands - all are flawed and, thus, heterodox.  God works through NALC. LCMC and ELCA, just as God works through LCMC, WELS, ELS, etc., including the non-Lutheran Christian denominations.  But, NONE of those denominations is God's work.

I am critical, very critical (it would be incorrect to say that I condemn) of all divisions within the Body of Christ.  I do not celebrate any of them.  However, I do celebrate that God continues to accomplish His purposes, working through all of our flawed institutions and in spite of our best efforts to thwart God's intentions.

DCharlton

Quote from: John_Hannah on January 11, 2013, 05:29:30 AM
Quote from: DCharlton on January 10, 2013, 06:43:51 PM

Okay.  That makes sense.  I did not understand what you meant until now.

In the ELCA, we seem to have both an abandonment of the Confessions (by some) along with a demand for subscription to "other cherished teachings and practices" of the denomination.  I say, somewhat tongue in cheek, that the ELCA requires a quatenus subscription to the Lutheran Symbols, but a quia subscription to its policies and pronouncements.  In truth, the ELCA doesn't, but some of its defenders do.


And, David, you and many other of my ELCA friends actually hold to a "quia" subscription to the confessions. Right?


Peace, JOHN

Yes.
David Charlton  

Was Algul Siento a divinity school?

Coach-Rev

Quote from: Johan Bergfest on January 11, 2013, 10:07:52 AM
Quote from: Coach-Rev on January 11, 2013, 09:52:57 AM
Quote from: Charles_Austin on January 10, 2013, 08:59:13 PM
And do you believe those vaunted "ecumenical councils" were truly ecumenical, not influenced by current social and political trends, did not cave in to the wishes of emperors or power-hungry bishops? Do you think they were just attended by pure, well-educated, pious Christians with nothing at stake but the "pure" Gospel?
Of course, if you were from a segment of Christianity not in favor, you didn't attend those councils, and if you didn't accept their edicts, you were "out."
Yet these flawed, very human assemblies decided what we teach about Jesus as both human and divine, how God is Father, Son and Holy Spirit and related matters.

This smacks strangely of the exact kind of argument I would expect from one who was condemned for heresy at one of those councils.  Should I be surprised?

Lest you forget, the creeds themselves, which are held in high regard (and to which you claim to support, EVEN in your beloved ELCA) were compiled and written at those very councils.

Pastor Cottingham - I hear the same hubris that you suggested was in Pr. Austin's post in your reply to him.

God's work often is accomplished through our hands.  We are sinners and we often make a mess of it.  That is the history of the Christian Church.  Nothing is accomplished by ignoring the reality of our history.  In spite of our worst efforts, God has accomplished His purpose.  We can celebrate that.  But, we can't take credit for it and we should avoid assigning fault to those with whom we disagree.  It makes little sense for one potshard to criticize the rough edges of another potshard.

Help me understand your point:  You think we ought to refer to the councils of the church as something other than The Holy Spirit working through those who gathered there?  That those who penned the statements of faith got it right in spite of their sinful selves?  I'm at a loss to understand your point here, as that is not at all what Charles was even suggesting, based on what he wrote.

Brian Stoffregen

Quote from: Charles_Austin on January 11, 2013, 02:13:37 AM
Pastor Fienen writes (re the early ecumenical councils):
After all, hadn't the early fathers proven how much they were willing to bow to those with power, it's not that those who, for example, attended the council at Nicea had faced serious persecution was it?

I comment:
Actually at Nicea not many of them had faced "serious persecution." I ask you again; who do you think attended those early councils and what do you think influenced their decisions? Those early fathers may not all have been "pushovers for power" (some of them were the power doing the pushing). But who do you think attended and what do you think influenced them? The Bible? A clear, pure, undiluted and universally accepted strain of "apostolic truth"?
No, the miracle of the councils, if there is to be one, is that a biblical orthodoxy did emerge from them in the creeds (but with that nagging filioque matter, among other things, left hanging, and later there was to be no respect for a "bound conscience" on that issue).


I note that the same council that gave us the Nicene Creed also mandated the Historic Episcopate - with the requirement that every new bishop have the laying on of hands of at least three other bishops.


Why can churches of today hold on to part of an ecumenical council's decisions and ignore another? Did those voting members suddenly become less inspired?
I flunked retirement. Serving as a part-time interim in Ferndale, WA.

pearson

Quote from: Dadoo on January 11, 2013, 11:21:29 AM

You are making the assumption here: You are assuming you know what the source documents are or that there are even documents in the first place.


You're right, Pr. Kruse.  I am assuming a coherent historical community that possesses something objective (a text, a practice, a worldview) to "interpret."  Perhaps I am assuming 'way too much.

Quote from: Dadoo on January 11, 2013, 11:21:29 AM

I am driving a mild tangent of liberal Christianity over the logical cliff here and I know it.


I wasn't targeting the big picture of liberal Christianity (although I applaud those who do).  I'd just like to figure out what people mean when they talk about "interpretation."

Tom Pearson

Brian Stoffregen

Quote from: Coach-Rev on January 11, 2013, 09:55:31 AM
Quote from: Brian Stoffregen on January 10, 2013, 11:00:28 PM
Yes, it does, for the ELCA. We created our articles of faith. We have the power to change them. We also have the power and responsibility to interpret them for our congregations.

Not according to Charles.


Charles and I don't always agree -- and we don't have to. We're in the ELCA! :)  And I'm looking forward to fellowshipping with him at CWA13.
I flunked retirement. Serving as a part-time interim in Ferndale, WA.

Brian Stoffregen

Quote from: Coach-Rev on January 11, 2013, 11:58:24 AM
Quote from: Johan Bergfest on January 11, 2013, 10:07:52 AM
Quote from: Coach-Rev on January 11, 2013, 09:52:57 AM
Quote from: Charles_Austin on January 10, 2013, 08:59:13 PM
And do you believe those vaunted "ecumenical councils" were truly ecumenical, not influenced by current social and political trends, did not cave in to the wishes of emperors or power-hungry bishops? Do you think they were just attended by pure, well-educated, pious Christians with nothing at stake but the "pure" Gospel?
Of course, if you were from a segment of Christianity not in favor, you didn't attend those councils, and if you didn't accept their edicts, you were "out."
Yet these flawed, very human assemblies decided what we teach about Jesus as both human and divine, how God is Father, Son and Holy Spirit and related matters.

This smacks strangely of the exact kind of argument I would expect from one who was condemned for heresy at one of those councils.  Should I be surprised?

Lest you forget, the creeds themselves, which are held in high regard (and to which you claim to support, EVEN in your beloved ELCA) were compiled and written at those very councils.

Pastor Cottingham - I hear the same hubris that you suggested was in Pr. Austin's post in your reply to him.

God's work often is accomplished through our hands.  We are sinners and we often make a mess of it.  That is the history of the Christian Church.  Nothing is accomplished by ignoring the reality of our history.  In spite of our worst efforts, God has accomplished His purpose.  We can celebrate that.  But, we can't take credit for it and we should avoid assigning fault to those with whom we disagree.  It makes little sense for one potshard to criticize the rough edges of another potshard.

Help me understand your point:  You think we ought to refer to the councils of the church as something other than The Holy Spirit working through those who gathered there?  That those who penned the statements of faith got it right in spite of their sinful selves?  I'm at a loss to understand your point here, as that is not at all what Charles was even suggesting, based on what he wrote.


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.
I flunked retirement. Serving as a part-time interim in Ferndale, WA.

Charles_Austin

Pastor Cottingham writes:
Lest you forget, the creeds themselves, which are held in high regard (and to which you claim to support, EVEN in your beloved ELCA) were compiled and written at those very councils.

I comment:
Did you not read that I said the miracle was that a biblical orthodoxy was indeed handed down by those councils? Along with some other things that may not have been so biblical or orthodox.

P.S. Pastor Stoffregen and I might disagree on the extent to which constitutions can be "interpreted" and at what level the "interpretation" is authoritative; but I do not think we disagree on this. The interpretation of the Church Secretary, whose call it is to interpret our documents, trumps the opinion/interpretation of someone like this humble correspondent, or any of us here.

Pastor Cottingham writes:
Help me understand your point:  You think we ought to refer to the councils of the church as something other than The Holy Spirit working through those who gathered there?  That those who penned the statements of faith got it right in spite of their sinful selves?
I comment:
Yes and no. No and yes. The Holy Spirit did indeed work through those folks "in spite of their sinful selves"? Do you not believe that the Holy Spirit works through us in spite of our sinful selves?
We have long since set aside many decisions of those ancient councils. Perhaps what they did was right for their time and the needs of the church at that time (or the result of heavy-handed political pressure from the emporer.)

Johan Bergfest

Quote from: Coach-Rev on January 11, 2013, 11:58:24 AMHelp me understand your point:  You think we ought to refer to the councils of the church as something other than The Holy Spirit working through those who gathered there?  That those who penned the statements of faith got it right in spite of their sinful selves?  I'm at a loss to understand your point here, as that is not at all what Charles was even suggesting, based on what he wrote.

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.

Wherever 2 or 3 are gathered in Christ's name, I believe that He is among us and the Spirit is at work.  Yet, I also am aware that those 2 or 3 or however make up the assembly/convention/council remain sinners.  There is a divine/human ambiguity with everything that we do.  Pr. Austin's posts highlighted the human side of those church councils.  I did not read anything that he said to challenge the divine work that those councils accomplished.

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.  And, were we to do that, we just might listen less to our own selfish voices and hear more the voice of the Spirit speaking through the voices of others, including those with whom we disagree.

Brian Stoffregen

Quote from: pearson on January 11, 2013, 11:59:10 AM
Quote from: Dadoo on January 11, 2013, 11:21:29 AM

You are making the assumption here: You are assuming you know what the source documents are or that there are even documents in the first place.


You're right, Pr. Kruse.  I am assuming a coherent historical community that possesses something objective (a text, a practice, a worldview) to "interpret."  Perhaps I am assuming 'way too much.


Written sources come with an interpretation of the authors/compilers/editors that we can only partially imagine. I recently read, "Recent Form Criticism Revisited in an Age of Reader Response," by Roy F. Melugin, in The Changing Face of Form Criticism for the Twenty-First Century, ed by Marvin A. Sweeney & Ehud Ben Zvi. Melugin states: "While 'reader-response' critics do not all agree as to the nature and extent of the reader's role in the making of meaning, they do concur that what readers bring to the activity of interpretation affects to no small degree how a text will be understood." He adds a footnote to this statement: "If this s so, we can no longer uncritically assume that meaning resides solely, or perhaps even primarily, in author or text." (pp. 59-60).


I believe that this is just as true for a community seeking to interpret a text. What they bring to the task determines to a great deal what the interpretation will be. To use one of his examples, a form-critic will ask different questions than a non-form-critic will ask of a text.


QuoteI wasn't targeting the big picture of liberal Christianity (although I applaud those who do).  I'd just like to figure out what people mean when they talk about "interpretation."


Interpretation is seeking to explain the meaning of something. It is seeking to answer the question, "What does this mean?" One process is to see what the scholars throughout the centuries have said about a text. The Talmud presents this kind of "interpretation". Another process is to let individuals respond to a text as to what it means to them. I'm sure that translation committees often debate the questions: "What does this mean?" and "How do we express that in English?" It becomes a corporate event to determine the meaning.


Mark Allen Powell in, I believe, Chasing the Eastern Star, discovered that asking lay people about a text, "What does this mean?" or "What does this mean to you?" produced the same response. However, among clergy, they saw them as two separate questions. I can and have argued about possible meanings of a text. There is likely to be one of those possible meanings that affects my mind and life more than the others.


That leads to another aspect of meaning -- how does the meaning affect or change ones life? I'm willing to argue that the the proper meaning of God's Word is to effect changes in one's life. It is to produce metanoia -- a change in thinking and living. It leads to the question: "What difference(s) does it make in your life to believe that this is true?"
I flunked retirement. Serving as a part-time interim in Ferndale, WA.

DCharlton

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. 
David Charlton  

Was Algul Siento a divinity school?

Dadoo

Quote from: pearson on January 11, 2013, 11:59:10 AM
Quote from: Dadoo on January 11, 2013, 11:21:29 AM

You are making the assumption here: You are assuming you know what the source documents are or that there are even documents in the first place.


You're right, Pr. Kruse.  I am assuming a coherent historical community that possesses something objective (a text, a practice, a worldview) to "interpret."  Perhaps I am assuming 'way too much.

Quote from: Dadoo on January 11, 2013, 11:21:29 AM

I am driving a mild tangent of liberal Christianity over the logical cliff here and I know it.


I wasn't targeting the big picture of liberal Christianity (although I applaud those who do).  I'd just like to figure out what people mean when they talk about "interpretation."

Tom Pearson

Tom,

As Pastor Stoffregen's response to this posts shows, for many it merely assumes repeating and asserting something that someone has written so the conversation goes on. Conclusions are secondary and always temporary and tentative since another scholar is certain to arrive at a new angle and the discussion continues. '

The 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.
Peter Kruse

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

Dadoo

Quote from: Johan Bergfest on January 11, 2013, 11:24:34 AM
Quote from: Dadoo on January 11, 2013, 11:09:05 AM
Quote from: Johan Bergfest on January 10, 2013, 10:42:43 PM
Quote from: pearson on January 10, 2013, 10:02:16 PMI don't see why...But I confess that I don't know how any community can long survive if its' "interpretations" (whatever those are) of key texts and practices are "always open."

...and I don't see why not.

Ecclesiastical orders have been continuously changing since Paul had difficulty getting along with Peter and, similarly, Paul's fall out with Barnabas.  I have every confidence that the Una Sancta and, within it, the Evangelical Lutheran Church will persist.  I feel that way because I believe both are the work of God's hands and His hands, alone.

<snip>


By that reasoning, John, the NALC is also the work of GOd's hand. In other words the 2009 assembly and the rift that  occurred was by God's design. The NALC can now claim that it is God ordained-according to you theology. THerefore the Article in the Lutheran that started all this discussion is clearly wrong: The NALC is God's work our (ELCA and ELCA defectors' hand) Not only are the departures not to be condemned they ought to be celebrated as the great unfolding of God's great plan.

Peter - my point is that the Una Sancta and the Evangelical Lutheran Church are the products of God's work.  ALL of the Lutheran denominations are the product of human hands - all are flawed and, thus, heterodox.  God works through NALC. LCMC and ELCA, just as God works through LCMC, WELS, ELS, etc., including the non-Lutheran Christian denominations.  But, NONE of those denominations is God's work.

I am critical, very critical (it would be incorrect to say that I condemn) of all divisions within the Body of Christ.  I do not celebrate any of them.  However, I do celebrate that God continues to accomplish His purposes, working through all of our flawed institutions and in spite of our best efforts to thwart God's intentions.

On what basis would you be critical of divisions in the body of Christ? I read in your body of work here no hint at a theology that would give ground of that criticism. I would say that based on what you write, and that is what I had the last post based, you ought to accept the division as God's work working itself out. Who says God is not trying to diminish the ELCA? Maybe God needs and NALC. How do you disagree with that?
Peter Kruse

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

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