Author Topic: American Civil Religion  (Read 35892 times)

Pr. Don Kirchner

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Re: American Civil Religion
« Reply #555 on: May 15, 2013, 08:44:03 AM »
I prefer to hear about God's actions for us. Your various enthusiasms (which may be of the Spirit but may also just be a gas bubble that won't clear) are really not all that interesting to me. Witnessing for me is living my life in such a way that people ask what it is that sets me apart. Then I can ask how do they mean? and point to Jesus. Some of us find this much more meaningful than someone running around trying to convince everyone that Jesus did so-and-so for me. (We had a JW at the door last week....and live in a community heavy on Mormons).

Indeed. A Lutheran witness is not about personal testimonies, which simply are variations on the Law and a focus on the "I." A Lutheran witness is about what Christ has done and is doing for all.

http://www.lcms.org/wmlt
Pr. Don Kirchner

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Charles_Austin

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Re: American Civil Religion
« Reply #556 on: May 15, 2013, 09:19:37 AM »
Pastor Kirchner writes:
A Lutheran witness is not about personal testimonies, which simply are variations on the Law and a focus on the "I." A Lutheran witness is about what Christ has done and is doing for all.

I comment:
I really really really do not understand this. So if Hans Olav Lutheran - God forbid! - dares to tell what God has actually done for Hans Olav, there is something "law" and improper about that? Are we such ice people that we do not talk about how God has worked in our lives? If we talk about what God has done for us as individuals, it is not a proper "Lutheran" witness?
I don't get that.
« Last Edit: May 15, 2013, 09:29:30 AM by Charles_Austin »

Pr. Don Kirchner

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Re: American Civil Religion
« Reply #557 on: May 15, 2013, 09:24:57 AM »
Pastor Engebretson writes:
A Lutheran witness is not about personal testimonies, which simply are variations on the Law and a focus on the "I." A Lutheran witness is about what Christ has done and is doing for all.

I comment:
I really really really do not understand this. So if Hans Olav Lutheran - God forbid! - dares to tell what God has actually done for Hans Olav, there is something "law" and improper about that? Are we such ice people that we do not talk about how God has worked in our lives? If we talk about what God has done for us as individuals, it is not a proper "Lutheran" witness?
I don't get that.

Pastor Engebretson may not want my comments attributed to him.  ;)

Because if Hans Olav Lutheran tells Auggie Agnostic what God actually has done for Hans Olav what makes Auggie Agnostic think that God will do anything similar for him? You see, the personal testimony is Law.

Lutherans tell Hans what God in Christ has done and is doing for all. A Lutheran witness proclaims the Gospel.
Pr. Don Kirchner

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Dan Fienen

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Re: American Civil Religion
« Reply #558 on: May 15, 2013, 09:30:04 AM »
Always be ready to give reason for the hope that is within you.  A good personal witness or testimony will likely have several parts.  One will likely be to tell of the hope one has, what being a Christian has meant in my life.  But it will also tell of what it is to be a Christian.  What God has done, not just for me but for everyone in Jesus Christ.  Everyone's Christian experience is different, so to give a testimony as though that were the only way that a person can experience God's presence would be false.  This is what has happened to me, this is what I experienced, YMMV.  But to be complete, it needs to put the focus back on God and what He has done.
 
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Charles_Austin

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Re: American Civil Religion
« Reply #559 on: May 15, 2013, 09:36:44 AM »
Sorry, Pastor Kirchner, sometimes all you LCMSers look alike.  ;D
I still don't get it.
You write: if Hans Olav Lutheran tells Auggie Agnostic what God actually has done for Hans Olav what makes Auggie Agnostic think that God will do anything similar for him? You see, the personal testimony is Law.
Maybe my young days in "Youth for Christ" took me a different direction. We used to sing, "It is no secret, what God can do; what he's done for others, he'll do for you." The "testimonies" - yes a few of us young Lutherans gave "testimonies" - were that the blessings I had received from God could come to you, to "you" - specifically, Mark, Harry, Doris, Billy, Linda - out there in the congregation.
Now as a young Lutheran, I never said you had to "come down" and "accept Jesus Christ as your personal savior" in order for this to happen, but that you could claim those blessings as a result of your baptism.

Brian Stoffregen

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Re: American Civil Religion
« Reply #560 on: May 15, 2013, 11:29:32 AM »
I prefer to hear about God's actions for us. Your various enthusiasms (which may be of the Spirit but may also just be a gas bubble that won't clear) are really not all that interesting to me. Witnessing for me is living my life in such a way that people ask what it is that sets me apart. Then I can ask how do they mean? and point to Jesus. Some of us find this much more meaningful than someone running around trying to convince everyone that Jesus did so-and-so for me. (We had a JW at the door last week....and live in a community heavy on Mormons).

Indeed. A Lutheran witness is not about personal testimonies, which simply are variations on the Law and a focus on the "I." A Lutheran witness is about what Christ has done and is doing for all.

http://www.lcms.org/wmlt


And if what Christ has done and is doing for all is not also done for me and experienced by me, what good is it?


I have really liked this distinction that I read some years ago. The real question to ask is not, "What do you believe?" but "What difference does it make in your life that you believe?"
"The church Ö 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: American Civil Religion
« Reply #561 on: May 15, 2013, 11:32:40 AM »
But to be complete, it needs to put the focus back on God and what He has done.


And I argue that what God has done for all is to have a personal affect on me and my life. One of the ways "faith" is defined is that it receives what God has done for all and believes that it is also for me.
« Last Edit: May 15, 2013, 11:37:17 AM by Brian Stoffregen »
"The church Ö 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: American Civil Religion
« Reply #562 on: May 15, 2013, 11:35:34 AM »
Now as a young Lutheran, I never said you had to "come down" and "accept Jesus Christ as your personal savior" in order for this to happen, but that you could claim those blessings as a result of your baptism.


But we do tell people to "come down". They "come down" to the font to receive God's new birth in the waters of baptism. They "come down" to the table to receive Christ's body and blood in the loaf and cup. Occasionally, we've even sung "Just as I am" as a communion hymn!
"The church Ö 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]

Dan Fienen

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Re: American Civil Religion
« Reply #563 on: May 15, 2013, 11:49:04 AM »
But to be complete, it needs to put the focus back on God and what He has done.


And I argue that what God has done for all is to have a personal affect on me and my life. One of the ways "faith" is defined is that it receives what God has done for all and believes that it is also for me.

My argument is that a testimony should tell both elements, telling what God has done for all and telling what the personal effect has been on me and my life.  What would be wrong would be to imply that every one's life with God has to be the same as mine.
 
For example.  I argue that God always brings healing to people.  But that healing can take several different forms and not everyone experiences healing in the same way.  Sometimes God heals by removing the condition.  Sometimes the healing is in providing the resources needed to bear up under and deal with the condition.  An example would be Paul's thorn in the flesh.  And finally, sometimes God's healing is removing us from the veil of tears to heaven.
 
I believe that I can assure people that God will bring healing to His people, but to assure them that if they just pray hard enough and sincerely enough, their illness will be all taken away - that would be wrong.
 
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pearson

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Re: American Civil Religion
« Reply #564 on: May 15, 2013, 12:14:46 PM »

I have really liked this distinction that I read some years ago. The real question to ask is not, "What do you believe?" but "What difference does it make in your life that you believe?"


You've repeated this statement many times over the past several years, Pr. Stoffregen, but I still don't understand its significance.  Don't all our beliefs, of every sort, make a difference in our lives?  That's just what makes them "beliefs": that they provide structure and meaning to our various cognized environments.  If I believe that taking vitamins is good for me, that belief makes a difference in my life (in trusting nutritional reports), does it not?  If I believe that the eighteen-wheeler bearing down on me is crossing over into my lane, that makes a difference in my life (in trusting my vision), does it not?  If I believe my wife is unfaithful, that makes a difference in my life (in trusting my wife), does it not?  If I believe that George Washington was the first president of the United States, that makes a difference in my life (in trusting history books), does it not?  Isn't "What do you believe?" and "What difference does it make in your life that you believe?" really asking the same question?  Do we actually hold any beliefs if they have no effect on our lives?  I can't think of any.

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Pr. Don Kirchner

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Re: American Civil Religion
« Reply #565 on: May 15, 2013, 12:39:15 PM »
"Look at me! I believe, and look what God has done for me. If you believe, God will do this in your life too!"

Didn't some guy named Joel Osteen right a book "Your Best Life Now"? What a theology of glory.

Perhaps if someone believes their life will be one of persecution, suffering, and the fear of certain death, like Job and the Christian pastor in Iran.

I suppose one could witness by stating, "Look at Saeed Abedini! He came to faith in Christ. He believes, and look what God has done for him. If you believe, God will do this in your life too!"
Pr. Don Kirchner

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Steven Tibbetts

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Re: American Civil Religion
« Reply #566 on: May 15, 2013, 01:59:42 PM »

And, a consistent thread through our history is one of free-market capitalism empowering and enriching the wealthy and all too often doing so at the expense of the less fortunate.  Perhaps you don't see it.  Are you bothering to look?

Current events are replete with examples, the most obvious of which are spin-offs of the K-Street project.  Karl Rove was quite transparent in his efforts to establish a system in which corporate lobbyists would fund political candidates working toward perpetual one-party domination of government that would work to serve the interests of corporations over the interests of the average citizen.  Although the K-Street project has not achieved one-party rule, we still see its consequences in the influence that corporate lobbyists have in the crafting of legislation and regulations.  And, we see it in the significant increase in wealth disparity in this country that has occurred over the past three decades.

What you describe, John, is not "free market capitalism." Rather, you describe people using the government to protect their businesses from the free market.

This is one way (perhaps the cheif way in this generation) the rich and/or provileged actually do take from the middle class and the poor -- but, that can only happen (over an extended period of time) with the active co-operation of the government or its refusal to uphold a consistent rule of law.  That's what K Street lobbyists are for.

Nevertheless, there remain sufficient vestiges of free market capitalism that a proportion of this decade's rich were not so a generation ago, and some who were so a generation ago are -- despite their often-successful efforts to game the system -- no longer.

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George Erdner

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Re: American Civil Religion
« Reply #567 on: May 15, 2013, 02:09:25 PM »
I prefer to hear about God's actions for us. Your various enthusiasms (which may be of the Spirit but may also just be a gas bubble that won't clear) are really not all that interesting to me. Witnessing for me is living my life in such a way that people ask what it is that sets me apart. Then I can ask how do they mean? and point to Jesus. Some of us find this much more meaningful than someone running around trying to convince everyone that Jesus did so-and-so for me. (We had a JW at the door last week....and live in a community heavy on Mormons).

Indeed. A Lutheran witness is not about personal testimonies, which simply are variations on the Law and a focus on the "I." A Lutheran witness is about what Christ has done and is doing for all.

http://www.lcms.org/wmlt


Now just a minute there. Aren't general principles often well-illustrated with specific examples? So, wouldn't a witness about what Christ had done and is doing for all be well-illustrated by citing specific examples? And if that's the case, what's so wrong about a first-person example used as an illustration?


Pr. Don Kirchner

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Re: American Civil Religion
« Reply #568 on: May 15, 2013, 03:01:44 PM »
Now just a minute there. Aren't general principles often well-illustrated with specific examples? So, wouldn't a witness about what Christ had done and is doing for all be well-illustrated by citing specific examples? And if that's the case, what's so wrong about a first-person example used as an illustration?

Perhaps pointing to a crucifix to show what Christ has done and will do for all would work. That's second-person though.
Pr. Don Kirchner

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Charles_Austin

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Re: American Civil Religion
« Reply #569 on: May 15, 2013, 03:09:31 PM »
How about....
"Look at me. I was a sinner, weighed down by my sin, caught up in it, nearly strangled by it, powerless in its grip. The love of Christ, expressed in the gospel, celebrated in the Christian community, and renewed daily in prayer, meditation, sacrament and service set me free.
"God did that for me. God can do that for you."

Or what about the many inspiring stories we heard during the days of Eastern European communism? Stories of people who suffered great things, but whose faith strengthened them and enable them to survive? I heard those stories and thought "If God can bring these people through that, imagine what God can bring me through, when the troubles of my life are not nearly so catacylismic."

When St. Paul explained how he came to faith and service in Christ's name, I don't think he only referred to what Jesus had done for others.