Author Topic: Issues for a Dissenting Lutheran Synod (July 2005)  (Read 8842 times)

Karl E. Moyer

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Re: Issues for a Dissenting Lutheran Synod (July 2
« Reply #30 on: July 03, 2005, 01:27:14 PM »
     What parallels exist between the General Council's departure from the General Synod in 1867, the more recent AELC's departure from the LC-MS, and the potential of a (hopefuly short-lived) reforming, confessing body made up of pastors, congregations, and/or entire synods within the present ELCA that would leave the ELCA because they find the ELCA unacceptable?
   It's interesting to ponder the General Council's salutary effect on the eventual ULCA merger in 1918 and how the former General council, General Synod, and General Synod of the South congregations eventually took on faith and order more than not consistent with what the General Council had been calling for all along.  Would  a "momentary" separation from ELCA serve the church and the Gospel well in any similar way?
 As a lay voting member at Orlando, the question "plays" on the "first" recommendation, which I assume to refer not to the unity of the Church but merely the unity of the ELCA, despite its title.  (Is not the unity of the Church a gift of God, upon which we do no vote?)  But is the sense of organic unity withint he ELCA at almost "any cost" really worth it?    Does history, even of Lutheranism as a reforming movement within the Church catholic, encourage us to consider whether a separation from the ELCa or a division of the ELCA might well be appropriate?  
   Hey, this layman needs all the help he can get to try to figure out what constitutes responsible discussion and voting at Orlando!   Thanks.

Brian Stoffregen

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Re: Issues for a Dissenting Lutheran Synod (July 2
« Reply #31 on: July 03, 2005, 01:56:59 PM »
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Brian, I respectfully disagree on this one.  This is not about "us."  This is an Epiklesis, an invocation of the Holy Spirit over the "gifts and creatures of bread and wine," as the Book of Common Prayer puts it; and which a technical part of a Prayer of Consecration which the Eastern Orthodox Churches, the Roman Catholic Church, the Anglican Church of Scotland, and even the non-Chalcedonian churches (with the possible exception of the Nestorians) and the ECUSA's Book of Common Prayer have retained thanks to the influence of the Non-Juring Scottics Anglican Bishops who consecrated Bishop Samuel Seabuty, the ECUSA's first Bishop.
 

Often the Epiklesis -- the invoking of the Spirit -- is directed to both the elements and to the gathered community. To quote from Hippolytus' prayer:

And we ask you:
Send your Spirit
upon these gifts of your Church;
gather into one all who share this bread and wine;
fill us with your Holy Spirit
to establish our faith in truth,
that we may praise and glorify you
through your Son Jesus Christ.


Note that the request for the Spirit is first on "these gifts of your Church" i.e., the bread and wine; but secondly, upon "all who share this bread and wine," and "us".

I also note that Holy Eucharist II in The Book of Common Prayer, p. 363, includes this Epiklesis:


Sanctify them by your Holy Spirit to be for your people the Body and Blood of your Son, the holy food and drink of new and unending life in him. Sanctify us also that we may faithfully receive this holy Sacrament, and serve you in unity, constancy, and peace; and at the last day bring us with all your saints into the joy of your eternal kingdom.

In most of the Great Thanksgiving that I have, like the Episcopal one above, the prayer invokes the Holy Spirit on the elements and on the people -- often within the same paragraph, sometimes in subsequent paragraphs.
« Last Edit: July 03, 2005, 01:57:36 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]

Gladfelteri

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Re: Issues for a Dissenting Lutheran Synod (July 2
« Reply #32 on: July 03, 2005, 02:55:47 PM »
  The Epiklesis in the 1928 Book of Common Prayer states, "And we most humbly beseech thee, O merciful Father, to hear us; and, of thy almighty goodness, vouchsafe to bless and sanctify, with thy Word and Holy Spirit, these thy gifts and creatures of bread and wine; that we, receiving them according to thy Son our Saviour Jesus Christ’s holy institution, in remembrance of his death and passion, may be partakers of his most blessed Body and Blood."

So, it is actually about both then.  Fair enough.   ;)

(For what it is worth, the Roman Catholic Anglican Use Book of Divine Worship does not have a formal Epiklesis as such (although I understand that will change in the next edition.  Since that is the ECCL primary Liturgy Book, until then, we (the ECCL) add the one cited above from the 1928 BCP.)
« Last Edit: July 03, 2005, 08:41:42 PM by Gladfelteri »

Gladfelteri

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Re: Issues for a Dissenting Lutheran Synod (cont.)
« Reply #33 on: July 03, 2005, 06:43:28 PM »
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The historic office of bishop seems to me to have been both a symbol of unity among several congregations of a local area, a center of orthodox teaching, and an example of pastoral practice.  We lack these today.  There is no way a bishop can reasonably serve as a  pastor to 300 pastors and their families spread across much of an entire state or region.  Time and distance along with human limitations make it impossible for a bishop to fulfill this historic role.


This is an organizational problem rather than one inherent in the Episcopacy.  

If a Bishop cannot be (1) the primary Pastor to his diocesan priests and their family, (2) an active minister fo the Gospel involved in at least some aspects of local ministry - saying Mass, baptizing, caring for people at least those attending his own Chapel or Oratory, (3) the primary defender of the integrity of the faith in his own Diocese (4) one the Church's "theologians in residence" - a resource as such to his subordinate Pastors (all of this is in addition to (5) a bishop's role as a symbol of the unity of the Church and (here is where the historic apostolic succession comes in) a visible, tangible link - tactilly to one or more of the orininal apostles) THEN the size of a Bishop's jurisdiction should be trimmed to where that is eminently do-able.  Theoretically there is no reason a Diocese of Synod could not have several Auxuluary Bishops responsible for the care and oversight of subdivisions of a Synod, or a synod could be limited to not over a certain "manageable" number of pastors and their congregations (or they can divide their jurisdictions into districts led by Archdeacons, rural Deans, Vicars General or Domestic Prelates (Monsignori) and delegate much of their duties to them, and then supervise just those officials - except for the specific things only a bishop can perform.  (This is the ECCL's model.  Following the U. S. Army's basic organizational principles, the ECCL does not really want a person to have to be directly responsible for more than 10 people - and they will not once we are finally large enough to have all elements of our polity in place.)

The Moravians (Unitus Fratrum) ( http://www.moravian.org/ ) have an interesting concept of the role of the Office and Order of Bishops.  Their Superintendents (most of whom are NOT bishops)  take care of the day-to-day operation of their Church Districts and most of them are NOT bishps.  Moravian Bishops (who are ordained for life) do not necessarily run a district / diocese.  Some do, but many do not.  Many actually serve as parish Pastors except when called upon to exercise one of their strictly limited Episcopal functions; after which they go right back to their duties in their parish.  Their role is (1) to serve as the primary guardians and teachers of the faith, symbols of the unity of the Church and of continuity with the apostoles (they are in an historic apostolic succession, but there are some questions as to the technical validity due to possible problems with form and intent, and possible breaks in the succession during some points in their history - but that is up to the  theologians to argue;) and (2) to perform all Ordinations.  It seems to me, that the Moravian model of the role of Bishops does fit rather well with Martin Luther's concept that a bishop should first and foremost be a Minsiter of the Gospel.

Moravian Bishops are ordained for life, but their role is quite different than the middle-level and senior management executives (500 lb.  gorillas and occasionally "cheerleaders" ) we have come to consider bishops to be.

In a new dissenting synod, perhaps the Moravian model of the office, order, and function of Bishops is one which might be considered.  And I do know a couple of Lutheran Bishops in the Vatican/Rebiban, Anglican, and several Eastern Orthodox successions who would be happy to participate as co-consecrators in the consecration of such bishops using the Moravian model of function in order to "broaden the apostolic lineages" without asking for any preliminary concordats of full communion or any other strings or ties.

Maybe this is a time for y'all to think outside the box and take a look at the Moravian model of the historic Episcopacy and how it functions among them.  In many ways, I do kind of like the Moravian model, for that that is worth, and those planning a "dissenting Synod" certainly have time to talk to some Moravian Bishops and check out how they do things, and learn from them.

Incidentally, I do think Pr. Saltzmann is 100% right:  a Lutheran Church should NOT have bishops unless and until (only) they are absolutely convinced that it is God's will for their Church and they want it for themselves -- not pursuant to any agreement with other Church families.

Hope this helps.  As usual please excuse the typos.  Proofreading is not my long soot.

As an unrelated aside, I do think Pr. Saltzmann's recommendations are a very thoughtful starting point not for the formation of just another Liberal Lutheran Church but rather for discussions to work out a set of ground rules for a nice, centrist Lutheran Synod inclining, perhaps somewhat to the right. "Good show," Rus.
« Last Edit: July 03, 2005, 08:41:04 PM by Gladfelteri »

G.Edward

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Re: Issues for a Dissenting Lutheran Synod (July 2
« Reply #34 on: July 08, 2005, 10:09:28 AM »
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G. Edward, you and the ECCL have fundamentally different understandings of the doctrines of the nature of the Church, Church Polity, and of the nature of the Office of the Public Ministry of Word and Sacrament.


An excellent statement of the obvious.

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The ECCL accepts the Roman Catholic (and "high-church") Anglocatholic doctrine on these matters.  We also follow the views of Martin Luther prior to his meeting with Cardinal Cajetan in 1520 as normative (the so-called, "Catholic Luther," not those of the late-career of "Protestant Luther."


Why choose this part of Luther's writings?  There is tension throughout all of Luther's writings (just as there is tension throughout the canon of scripture).  Isn't our call to live in that tension, not dispense with or ignore the parts that offend the way we think things should be?

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The ECCL, as you will note from our website, accepts as confessional documents insofar as (quatenus) they are faithful witnesses to the Gospel, Tracts for the Times by John Henry Newman before he converted to Roman Catholicism, and put them on the same level as those portions of the Book of Concord (1580) which we also accept insofar as (quatena) they are trustworthy witnesses to the Gospel.


I guess I will go to the ECCL website to seek an understanding of ECCL, though it sounds as if everything is parsed and sifted (in so far as) it agrees with the sensibilities of some group of believers.

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When there is a disagreement between the Lutheran Confessions (especially the ones presented after the Apology of the Augsburg Confession, we view them through an Anglocatholic (high-church Anglican) lens and so come down on the side of Western Catholic donctrines.


What you have avoided completely in all this round-aboutness is any statement of why you believe in apostolic succession.

Quote
In other words, the ECCL ain't Protestant at all (nor was Luther in 1520 - or even as late as 1537.)  We stick with the so-called "Catholic Luther" and the goals he had in 1520; not as things developed later on, and absolutely disagre with WordAlone and their allies on these doctrines.  That is simply how it is.


I don't recall even suggesting that ECCL was protestant.  What you still haven't addressed is how ECCL reconciles the official RCC postions condemning the Lutheran reform movement with your hope of "returning to Rome".  They didn't accept the pre-1520 Luther any more than the post-1520 Luther.
« Last Edit: July 08, 2005, 10:12:00 AM by G.Edward »

G.Edward

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Re: Issues for a Dissenting Lutheran Synod (July 2
« Reply #35 on: July 08, 2005, 11:37:49 AM »
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This would place their bishops in the Apostolic Succession in more than 20 separate lines of succession.  Send me an e-mail for details.


Gladfelteri,

Are the number of "lines of succession" - the history of who touched whom - a measure of how valid a particular succession claim is?  Are some "lines" more valid and valuable than others?  Such talk sounds more like a breeding convention than a discussion of how to faithfully lead the church.

Again, I ask, where in scripture is the basis for any claim to the historic episcopate?  Other than the sole verse of last recourse, Matthew 16:18-19 - "You are Peter...etc" only seems to appear as a human institution around the time of Constantine, which would make it an artifact of the Roman Empire.  

If you don't want to take the time to answer here, kindly recommend some reference works that might help me begin to see what I'm misunderstanding here.

G.Edward

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Re: Issues for a Dissenting Lutheran Synod (cont.)
« Reply #36 on: July 08, 2005, 02:33:37 PM »
Quote


This is an organizational problem rather than one inherent in the Episcopacy.


Episcopacy is a different issue.  I'm going to stick with the organizational aspects here.

Quote
If a Bishop cannot be (1) the primary Pastor to his diocesan priests and their family, (2) an active minister fo the Gospel involved in at least some aspects of local ministry - saying Mass, baptizing, caring for people at least those attending his own Chapel or Oratory, (3) the primary defender of the integrity of the faith in his own Diocese (4) one the Church's "theologians in residence" - a resource as such to his subordinate Pastors (all of this is in addition to (5) a bishop's role as a symbol of the unity of the Church and (here is where the historic apostolic succession comes in) a visible, tangible link - tactilly to one or more of the orininal apostles) THEN the size of a Bishop's jurisdiction should be trimmed to where that is eminently do-able.


I couldn't agree more with your definition of the office of bishop and its role in the life of the church!  May God grant us more bishops who fit that model.

Quote
Theoretically there is no reason a Diocese of Synod could not have several Auxuluary Bishops responsible for the care and oversight of subdivisions of a Synod, or a synod could be limited to not over a certain "manageable" number of pastors and their congregations (or they can divide their jurisdictions into districts led by Archdeacons, rural Deans, Vicars General or Domestic Prelates (Monsignori) and delegate much of their duties to them, and then supervise just those officials - except for the specific things only a bishop can perform.  (This is the ECCL's model.  Following the U. S. Army's basic organizational principles, the ECCL does not really want a person to have to be directly responsible for more than 10 people - and they will not once we are finally large enough to have all elements of our polity in place.)


A span of 10 is a noble goal as long as everyone in the organization has primary responsibilities to a congregation in order to stay grounded in reality.  A larger span, such as those of the ELCA bishops, is doable for bishops/leaders without primary responsibility to a congregation.  A span of 10 with no other reponsibilities would likely lead to micormanagement/medling.  

I like your concept of multiple bishops or local leaders (deans, vicars, etc.) as a more faithful and responsive model for the church, but such an organizational design does open itself up to the possibility of ever-increasing number of layers of buracracy, now that I think about it.

Thank you for pointing out the Moravians as an example.  The EKD also comes to mind - conference deans function much like local bishops.

G.Edward

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Re: Issues for a Dissenting Lutheran Synod (July 2
« Reply #37 on: July 10, 2005, 04:03:54 PM »
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Anglicans went to bishops in other countries because they need a leader/overseer who is in the historic episcopate and in communion with the See of Canterbury.  That is part of being an Anglican.

This is apples to oranges.

Lutherans have never viewed the church in the same way, obviously.  The overseer, whether Bishop, President, or Presiding Pastor does not need to be approved by or in communion with Lutherans in other countries.  


Dennis,

I suppose you are right in the strictest sense when you refer to seeking delegated oversight "apples to oranges," however I believe it would show a new synod's intent to sustain the "good order" the reformers were so fond of trying to uphold.

Pr. William McDonald

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Re: Issues for a Dissenting Lutheran Synod (July 2
« Reply #38 on: July 15, 2005, 03:54:37 PM »
I recommend taking a gander at the United Methodist eucharistic prayer (U M Hymnal, p. 9). After all, you may as well get used to it, given the likely ratification of a full communion agreement. Really, it's not that bad. Pretty good, in fact. It is gospel proclamation through and through, a recital of the history of salvation, good trinitarian form.

Can it not be recognized that Luther's reduction to the bare Verba was in light of the bad times upon which eucharistic praying had fallen, and not a declaration that there could be no evangelical canon? Same with bishops, on that score. Sure, bishops screw up. So do congregations. Doesn't mean we can't have them, or eucharistic prayers or monastic vows, for that matter! All too often,  gospel freedom is simply conceived of as "freedom from" and not "freedom for". This freedom for....adiaphora like eucharistic prayers, doesn't mean they're foolproof (we're always simul!). Just because bad prayers are written and sloppy liturgies are performed, not to mention theologically suspect sermons, doesn't call for merely reactionary, reductionist measures.

How can anyone claim to be "catholic" and be having such a debate?

Revbert

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Re: Issues for a Dissenting Lutheran Synod (July 2
« Reply #39 on: July 15, 2005, 07:27:31 PM »
Ah, William...

You make good points, but miss the bull's eye slightly in re: bishops.

While Brother Martin tossed the Eucharistic prayers by the wayside in response to the abuses, as to bishops, he took a different approach.  If the bishops of the church wouldn't act like bishops should (and in particular, to the ordination of evangelical priests), then it was incumbent on the princes, as Notbischofen, or emergency bishops, should act accordingly.

Thus, Luther maintains the need for bishops (in or out of apostolic succession as the case might be).

Of course, the AC and AP also confirm the three-fold order of ministry, too, but that's another battle.....


Art

Gladfelteri

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Re: Issues for a Dissenting Lutheran Synod (July 2
« Reply #40 on: July 15, 2005, 09:56:05 PM »
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Are the number of "lines of succession" - the history of who touched whom - a measure of how valid a particular succession claim is?


Not at all.  Only one line of succession is necessary for ordaining / consecrating a Bishop into the historic apostolic succession.  There are several reasons for multiple lines: (1) If there is a gap or break in a given line of succession which one is unaware of, the other lineages will assure validity.  (2) A given line of succession (like the Anglican or Canterbury Succession for instance) may be technically invalid due to defects of form or intent (technical matters addressed in Catholic Canon Law based on the criteria set by St. Augustine in his works, "On the Correction of the Donatists" and "On Baptism.")  The possession of other lines of succession assures that the Bishop is in the historic Apostolic Succession even though one or more of his lines are technically invalid.  (3)  A bishop's having valid apostolic lineages from different branches of the Church (the Vatican or Rebiban Succession, and various Eastern lineages as well) is a symbol of physical, tactile continuity with the Church through the ages both East and West.  

Of course if one is opposed to Episcopal polity and prefers a congregational or presbyterian system, all this is moot.

In scripture, the first instance of the transmission of the apostolic succession by the laying on of hands was the Consecration of St. Matthias in Acts.

For more information, a good general reference on the Apostolic Succession and a real classic is, "Laws of Ecclesiastical Polity" by Elizabethan Anglican Bishop Richard Hooker.

Remember, Martin Luther did not originally want to drop the ministry of Deacons, Priests and Bishops in the historic Apostolic Succession and when he was not able to arrange for the consecration / ordination of Bishops for his movement, he felt that the Bishops who refused to ordain Bishops for them (the Lutherans) were oppressors of the Church, and that his Evangelical Church would operate without bishops temporarily - under "emergency conditions" only. . . that this was not initially intended to be a permanent situation or an intentional "reform."  That came much later.

Since not only the ECCL, but a number of other Lutheran Churches now have their clergy in the historic Apostolic Succession, and in fact, any Lutheran church which wants the AC can now easily obtain it from them - not just from the Episcopal Church (whose primary succession - the Canterbury Succession - is technically invalid anyway)  the time in which we must "operate under emergency conditions" has passed.

Opposition to the historic apostolic succession, and the advocacy of Presbyterian and Congregational Polity and the various forms of inherent anticlericalism underlying all this as permanent and valuable reforms - not as undesirable, temporary emergency measures, were imported into Lutheranism from Calvinism.

We Lutherans keep making things hard for ourselves - by making choices which make it hard to see the Wittenberg skyline without that of Geneva blocking the view. . .
« Last Edit: July 18, 2005, 10:38:58 AM by Gladfelteri »

G.Edward

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Re: Issues for a Dissenting Lutheran Synod (July 2
« Reply #41 on: July 16, 2005, 03:26:21 AM »
Thank you, Gladfelteri, for taking a moment to respond to some of my questions.  I will look into the sources to which you refered.  

You correctly noted, without addressing it directly and also by omission, that there is no broad scriptural basis for the historic episcopate, apostolic succession, or the primacy of Peter.  

I am fully supportive of a threefold pattern of ministry:  deacon, pastor, and bishop.  There is scriptural justification for this order, and it makes sense in human organizational terms, too.  In short, God said it and it works.

However, I found your "one line is enough, though more is better just in case there is a defect" comment fascinating, because it suggests that the authorization must come from some perfect human ritual and not from God.  What a fascinating position for one who claims to be a Lutheran.  Human works/lines over and against God active in the world.  Sounds more Roman Catholic to me.

And let's be honest.  The historic episcopacy - a decidedly human institution and pure adiaphora - is no guaranty of the purity or truth of church teaching or doctrine.  There are a boatload of HE-ASive bishops to prove that.  Because it's a human invention like secular humanism, socialism, capitalism, marxism, pacifism, and communism, it works sometimes but fails over the long run.

No human-constructed church organization will be perfect, but running from the Lutheran church to Rome still seems like jumping out of the frying pan into the fire.  Except it's a bigger fire, so maybe we all could hide somewhere for a while.  ::)

That aside, I did greatly admire Pope John Paul II and study his teachings, and I do harbor great hopes for Benedict XVI.  But I remain Lutheran.

Gladfelteri

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Re: Issues for a Dissenting Lutheran Synod (July 2
« Reply #42 on: July 16, 2005, 06:31:33 AM »
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That aside, I did greatly admire Pope John Paul II and study his teachings, and I do harbor great hopes for Benedict XVI.  But I remain Lutheran.
 So do I . . . but an Evangelical Catholic Lutheran rather than a Confessing Evangelical one . . .  ;)
« Last Edit: July 16, 2005, 06:32:16 AM by Gladfelteri »

Gladfelteri

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Re: Issues for a Dissenting Lutheran Synod (July 2
« Reply #43 on: July 16, 2005, 06:33:55 AM »
Lets just agree to disagree on the matter of the historic Apostolic Succession and move on to areas where we share common concerns  ;D

G.Edward

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Re: Issues for a Dissenting Lutheran Synod (July 2
« Reply #44 on: July 17, 2005, 10:42:21 PM »
You're right.  There are much more significant issues staring us right in the face.