Author Topic: The ELCA Requires Nothing  (Read 47003 times)

Brian Stoffregen

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Re: The ELCA Requires Nothing
« Reply #510 on: January 15, 2013, 09:16:58 PM »
PS - For evidence that there are people who consider the work of assemblies and councils to be the true work of the church, I refer all to the words of both Brian and Charles on this very thread.


I just searched for it, and I never used the phrase "true work of the church."

To be clear, I do not claim that you used that phrase.  I direct you to page 14 and following of this thread.  Reread our exchange beginning there, especially Reply #207.  The point was that I can give reasons for what I argue on this thread.  It's not just based on the argument that "because I can't think of a reason, they must have only contemptible motives."  Before I go about summarizing the arguments that begin on page 14, it might be helpful to review them.


As I recall, I was making a distinction between sitting around a discussing theology; and decision-making through parliamentary procedures. Discussions aren't making decisions. I was part of a wonderful Bible study discussion this afternoon. It had no bearing on the decisions I have to make about which hymns to sing at our services on Saturday and Sunday.


« Last Edit: January 15, 2013, 09:31:59 PM by Brian Stoffregen »
"The church had made us like ill-taught piano students; we play our songs, but we never really hear them, because our main concern is not to make music, but but to avoid some flub that will get us in dutch." [Robert Capon, _Between Noon and Three_, p. 148]

Brian Stoffregen

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Re: The ELCA Requires Nothing
« Reply #511 on: January 15, 2013, 09:27:55 PM »

The uses don't refer to the content or source of Law, just how God uses Law.

Law is anything that tells us what we should or shouldn't do.


This is helpful.  It appears that you have a formalistic definition of Law; "Law" refers to a generic form ("anything that tells us what we should or shouldn't do"), that is independent of, and indifferent to, any particular content of the Law.  But is God only the user of "Law" in this formal sense, or also the source of divine Law (e.g., the Mosaic Law), which surely has substantive content?  Does this divine Law have any privileged status among God's uses, or is the divine Law just one among many different kinds of "Law" that God uses to accomplish His purposes?


There is a definition of Law, as I posted: being told what we are to do.
There are sources of Laws: God, scriptures, civil authorities, church canons, parents, etc.
There are uses of the Law. From Luther's perspective there are two: the civil use which promote order in society, which includes curbing evil and promoting good behaviors. The "society" can be the world, or within a household, and everything in between. It is a God-given use, but it is often carried out by civil and other authorities. Police officers encourage us to follow the traffic laws. Christians may also believe that it is their obligation as Christians to follow traffic laws; but any moral person can have the same conviction without giving any thought to God.


The other use is the theological one which convicts us of sins and that we are sinful. Being "put down" can come from many sources, too. The coach who belittles a player for mistakes made on the field. The parent for whom nothing a child is good enough. I had one theology professor who argued that we did not have to preach the Law from the pulpit because the people had been beaten down by the theological use (without ever knowing that term) all week long at work, at school, at home, etc. Others argued that we needed to verbalize those issues drive us to our knees before Christ to give content to the good news that responds to our sinfulness.

"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]

DCharlton

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Re: The ELCA Requires Nothing
« Reply #512 on: January 15, 2013, 09:29:21 PM »
PS - For evidence that there are people who consider the work of assemblies and councils to be the true work of the church, I refer all to the words of both Brian and Charles on this very thread.


I just searched for it, and I never used the phrase "true work of the church."

To be clear, I do not claim that you used that phrase.  I direct you to page 14 and following of this thread.  Reread our exchange beginning there, especially Reply #207.  The point was that I can give reasons for what I argue on this thread.  It's not just based on the argument that "because I can't think of a reason, they must have only contemptible motives."  Before I go about summarizing the arguments that begin on page 14, it might be helpful to review them.


As I recall, I was making a distinction between sitting around a discussing theology; and decision-making through parliamentary procedures. Discussions aren't making decisions. I was part of a wonderful Bible study discussion this afternoon. It had no bearing on the decisions I have to make about which hymns to sing at our services on Saturday and Sunday.

It seems to me that you believe that more is accomplished when we make decisions.  That the wonderful Bible study accomplished less than the decisions that the worship committee made.  That is symptomatic of what I am talking about. 

The true work of the Church is what happens in the Bible study and in worship.  That is primary.  The decisions committees, council, and assemblies are secondary.  Their purpose is to make sure that what is primary gets done. 

However, when you use phrases like "spinning our wheels" and "talk is cheap" to describe doing theology, you imply that it is of secondary importance.  When we do theology, we just "sit around and discuss things", but when we "make decisions" we get things done.  The handmaiden becomes the queen. 

This argument began when Charles demanded that people either take action through parliamentary means, or shut up.  I said that thee was a third and better option.  The better option was theological discussion.  It was in response to my recommendation that you and Charles argued that it was in committees, assemblies and council meetings that things really get done.

This lead me to argue that we have a fundamental confusion about where the real work of the church takes place.  I thought, and think, that you and Charles put way too much emphasis on the work of committees, assemblies and councils.  Furthermore, I argued that an over focus on politics was a problem not only for you and Charles, but that afflicts the LCMS and the ELCA.  Finally, I reported an observation made by a former professor that the way the ELCA is structured places too much emphasis on power and politics. 

Through Charles' journalistic alchemy, he was able to turn phrases such as "too much emphasis" and "over focus" into his "no proclamation" and "mostly involved".   
« Last Edit: January 15, 2013, 09:46:42 PM by DCharlton »
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Brian Stoffregen

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Re: The ELCA Requires Nothing
« Reply #513 on: January 15, 2013, 09:52:20 PM »
The true work of the Church is what happens in the Bible study and in worship.


And if all that happens in Bible Study is a discussion about what possible meanings it may have; and people return home not having learned anything new, not having come to a deeper understanding of God and God's grace - then, no, I don't believe sitting around and talking is the true work of the church.


Proper Bible Studies should be life transforming. They force participants to make decisions about God and their own lives.


Note again: my contrast is between just discussing and making-decisions / coming to conclusions. Worship happens because someone or some committee made decisions about what liturgy would be used, what hymns would be sung, what would be said in a sermon.



Quote
That is primary.  The decisions committees, council, and assemblies are secondary.  Their purpose is to make sure that what is primary gets done. 


Sermons and liturgy are not meant just to be the sharing of information, but to evoke decisions from the worshipers: a decision to repent of sins. A decision to believe the gospel. A decision to respond with prayer, praise, and thanksgiving to God.

Quote
However, when you use phrases like "spinning our wheels" and "talk is cheap" to describe doing theology, you imply that it is of secondary importance.  When we do theology, we just "sit around and discuss things", but when we "make decisions" we get things done.


I believe that I used those phrases to describe discussing theology. How does one "do" theology? It's a topic of study and debate and discussion and then making decisions about which words better describe the God who has revealed himself in the Word of Jesus and Scripture.


In our Bible study today, we looked at Luke 4:14-21. For Jesus, the proclamation of good news meant changing people's lives. Another minister raised a good question - which we didn't answer. In applying this text to our preaching, do we need to figure out in what ways our people in the pews are the poor, the prisoners, the blind, and the oppressed and how Christ's presence in our sermon and sacrament brings good news to them? Or, do we see the people outside the church walls as the poor, the prisoners, the blind, and the oppressed and we try to figure out how our people in the pews can become Christ-figures, having been anointed with the Spirit at baptisms, to bring good news to them? We could discuss that all evening; but eventually we have to decide which (or both) we are going to do during the worship service.

"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]

DCharlton

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Re: The ELCA Requires Nothing
« Reply #514 on: January 15, 2013, 09:55:48 PM »
Do I understand you correctly, Brian?  Are you saying that nothing happens in Bible study and Worship until the individual makes a decision?

Let me try to be clear.  I am not and never was arguing that mere discussion was the best way to make decisions.  I argued that making decisions is neither the only nor the primary work of the church.  This making of decisions is what politics is about.  If "making decisions" is primary, then "politics" is primary. 

I suggest that the Church has better things to do than engage endlessly in such decision making, or politics.  The better thing begins with theology that leads to proclamation.  Charles and Brian argued vehemently against that proposition.  That was the beginning of the argument, not the random and unfounded insult that Charles suggests I hurled.
« Last Edit: January 15, 2013, 10:04:25 PM by DCharlton »
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Re: The ELCA Requires Nothing
« Reply #515 on: January 15, 2013, 10:16:05 PM »
Nor have I ever said, or would I ever say that assemblies are "the true work of the church." The church does do "work," however, at assemblies.

Brian Stoffregen

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Re: The ELCA Requires Nothing
« Reply #516 on: January 15, 2013, 10:30:52 PM »
Do I understand you correctly, Brian?  Are you saying that nothing happens in Bible study and Worship until the individual makes a decision?


Much can happen in a Bible study without making decisions. The effectiveness of a Bible study to influence one's life comes from making conscience decisions.

Quote
Let me try to be clear.  I am not and never was arguing that mere discussion was the best way to make decisions.  I argued that making decisions is neither the only nor the primary work of the church.  This making of decisions is what politics is about.  If "making decisions" is primary, then "politics" is primary. 


Do you not preach to have people make a decision - like a decision to believe this is true?

Quote
I suggest that the Church has better things to do than engage endlessly in such decision making, or politics.  The better thing begins with theology that leads to proclamation.  Charles and Brian argued vehemently against that proposition.  That was the beginning of the argument, not the random and unfounded insult that Charles suggests I hurled.


I suggest that you try to keep count of how many decisions are made in preparation for the worship service this weekend. In my case, there is no worship committee, so all of the decisions are mine to make pretty much alone. If there were a committee or a musician who needed to be consulted -- there will be some politics in the decision-making process that are necessary to prepare for the worship service.
"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]

DCharlton

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Re: The ELCA Requires Nothing
« Reply #517 on: January 15, 2013, 10:39:41 PM »
Nor have I ever said, or would I ever say that assemblies are "the true work of the church." The church does do "work," however, at assemblies.

Then what were we arguing about beginning on page 14 of this thread.  I never said that theological conversation was the best way to make political decisions.  I said that there were more important things than making political decisions and that theological conversation was one of them.    You and Brian argued against that. 

Many have argued, revisionists included, that on the question of same-sex relationships politics has lost its usefulness and that something different is needed.  Some urge us to "continue the conversation."  What I suggested is not radical.  What is radical is the suggestion that unless one is willing to engage in unending political struggle, one has not right continue to discuss the matter.

That led me to opine that the various Lutheran churches, LCMS and ELCA included, have placed too much emphasis on politics over recent decades and that this emphasis distracts the Church from its proper work.  You argued against that proposition as well. 

It was your position, not that of "every congregation, pastor and church organization" that I argued against.  You seem, again and again, to conflate disagreement with Charles Austin and disloyalty to the ELCA.
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DCharlton

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Re: The ELCA Requires Nothing
« Reply #518 on: January 15, 2013, 10:40:42 PM »
Do I understand you correctly, Brian?  Are you saying that nothing happens in Bible study and Worship until the individual makes a decision?

Much can happen in a Bible study without making decisions. The effectiveness of a Bible study to influence one's life comes from making conscience decisions.

Quote
Let me try to be clear.  I am not and never was arguing that mere discussion was the best way to make decisions.  I argued that making decisions is neither the only nor the primary work of the church.  This making of decisions is what politics is about.  If "making decisions" is primary, then "politics" is primary. 

Do you not preach to have people make a decision - like a decision to believe this is true?

Quote
I suggest that the Church has better things to do than engage endlessly in such decision making, or politics.  The better thing begins with theology that leads to proclamation.  Charles and Brian argued vehemently against that proposition.  That was the beginning of the argument, not the random and unfounded insult that Charles suggests I hurled.

I suggest that you try to keep count of how many decisions are made in preparation for the worship service this weekend. In my case, there is no worship committee, so all of the decisions are mine to make pretty much alone. If there were a committee or a musician who needed to be consulted -- there will be some politics in the decision-making process that are necessary to prepare for the worship service.

Decision theology? 
« Last Edit: January 15, 2013, 10:44:08 PM by DCharlton »
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Brian Stoffregen

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Re: The ELCA Requires Nothing
« Reply #519 on: January 15, 2013, 10:50:28 PM »
Nor have I ever said, or would I ever say that assemblies are "the true work of the church." The church does do "work," however, at assemblies.

Then what were we arguing about beginning on page 14 of this thread.  I never said that theological conversation was the best way to make political decisions.  I said that there were more important things than making political decisions and that theological conversation was one of them.    You and Brian argued against that.



Yes, given the two choices on the board: theological conversation or making-decisions; it is making decisions that gets something done. Conversations are, well, just talk.


"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: The ELCA Requires Nothing
« Reply #520 on: January 15, 2013, 10:53:21 PM »
Do I understand you correctly, Brian?  Are you saying that nothing happens in Bible study and Worship until the individual makes a decision?

Much can happen in a Bible study without making decisions. The effectiveness of a Bible study to influence one's life comes from making conscience decisions.

Quote
Let me try to be clear.  I am not and never was arguing that mere discussion was the best way to make decisions.  I argued that making decisions is neither the only nor the primary work of the church.  This making of decisions is what politics is about.  If "making decisions" is primary, then "politics" is primary. 

Do you not preach to have people make a decision - like a decision to believe this is true?

Quote
I suggest that the Church has better things to do than engage endlessly in such decision making, or politics.  The better thing begins with theology that leads to proclamation.  Charles and Brian argued vehemently against that proposition.  That was the beginning of the argument, not the random and unfounded insult that Charles suggests I hurled.

I suggest that you try to keep count of how many decisions are made in preparation for the worship service this weekend. In my case, there is no worship committee, so all of the decisions are mine to make pretty much alone. If there were a committee or a musician who needed to be consulted -- there will be some politics in the decision-making process that are necessary to prepare for the worship service.

Decision theology?


Answer 1: Yes, someone has to decide which theology is right.


Answer 2: Practical needs in getting something accomplished. For us with a Percieving preferences on the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator, decision-making doesn't come naturally, but it is necessary. For those with a Judging preference, decision-making comes naturally - sometimes at the expense of not having done enough research.
"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]

DCharlton

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Re: The ELCA Requires Nothing
« Reply #521 on: January 15, 2013, 11:03:23 PM »
Again, I submit the replies that Brian makes above as proof that some in the ELCA do indeed place politics above theology and do indeed minimize  the "mere talk" that takes place apart from our decisions.  It was not a false assertion that I made, as Charles alleged.  Now if Brian and Charles believe that  decision making, whether the decisions of committees, worship planners, or worshipers, is what really counts, and not the "mere talk" that happens in Bible studies, theological discussions and even preaching, it would seem reasonable, and not unfair, to conclude that he considers decision making the "proper work of the Church."  If they insist that they don't, their argument is with themselves, not with me.
« Last Edit: January 15, 2013, 11:08:48 PM by DCharlton »
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Brian Stoffregen

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Re: The ELCA Requires Nothing
« Reply #522 on: January 15, 2013, 11:09:12 PM »
Again, I submit the replies that Brian makes above as proof that some in the ELCA do indeed place politics above theology and do indeed minimize  the "mere talk" that takes place apart from our decisions.  It was not a false assertion that I made, as Charles alleged.  Now if decision making, whether the decisions of committees, worship planners, or worshipers, is what really counts, and not the "mere talk" that happens in Bible studies, theological discussions and even preaching, it would see logical to conclude that decision making is the "proper work of the Church."  It seems reasonable to conclude that this is what Brian and Charles believe.  If they insist that they don't, their argument is with their own words, not with me.


How do you think the Church Fathers established proper theology? How did our Lutheran Fathers come to approve our confessional writings (actually many of them were signed by political not religious leaders). They had to do more than just sit around and have conversations. The only reason you can sit and judge some theologies as orthodox or confessional or heretical is because those Fathers made political decisions about what is the right theology.
"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]

DCharlton

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Re: The ELCA Requires Nothing
« Reply #523 on: January 15, 2013, 11:11:34 PM »
I refer the right honorable gentleman the the reply I gave some pages ago.  Page 14, in fact. 
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Re: The ELCA Requires Nothing
« Reply #524 on: January 15, 2013, 11:22:24 PM »
If the ELCA required nothing, they would be unaware anyone had left because they would not be able to distinguish those on the outside from those on the inside. Why not just declare every congregation in the world an ELCA congregation, require nothing of them and be done with it?