Author Topic: Linguistic turn  (Read 3713 times)

Mark Joel

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Linguistic turn
« on: February 20, 2014, 10:09:04 AM »
Can anyone tell me exactly when the ELCA began to refer to the synod as "this church"? Who were the actors and why was (is) it important? (Perhaps Pr. Johnson will know.)

Richard Johnson

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Re: Linguistic turn
« Reply #1 on: February 20, 2014, 10:56:27 AM »
I'm under the impression that this is one of those things inherited from the old LCA, whose constitution began: "This church confesses Jesus Christ as Lord of the Church" and then went on to a whole series of things "this church" believes.
The Rev. Richard O. Johnson, STS

Brian Stoffregen

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Re: Linguistic turn
« Reply #2 on: February 20, 2014, 11:04:37 AM »
We did it from the beginning. The ELCA Constitution includes this article:



1.02. For the purposes of this constitution and the accompanying bylaws, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America is hereafter designated
as “this church.”


Similarly, the model constitution for synods includes this article:



†S1.02. For the purposes of this constitution and the accompanying bylaws, the (name of synod) of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America is hereafter designated as “this synod” or “the synod.”

"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]

John Mundinger

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Re: Linguistic turn
« Reply #3 on: February 20, 2014, 11:11:42 AM »
We did it from the beginning. The ELCA Constitution includes this article:

1.02. For the purposes of this constitution and the accompanying bylaws, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America is hereafter designated as “this church.”

I think it is significant that it reads "this church" and not "the Church"
Lifelong Evangelical Lutheran layman

Whoever, then, thinks that he understands the Holy Scriptures, or any part of them, but puts such an interpretation upon them as does not tend to build up this twofold love of God and our neighbour, does not yet understand them as he ought.  St. Augustine

George Erdner

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Re: Linguistic turn
« Reply #4 on: February 20, 2014, 11:27:24 AM »
That seems perfectly reasonable and innocuous to me. The ELCA calls itself "this church" because it isn't "that church". I don't see it as any different from referring to myself as "me" and others as "you". Its simply clear, plain English.

Terry W Culler

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Re: Linguistic turn
« Reply #5 on: February 20, 2014, 11:54:33 AM »
George: some of us see the problem with that formulation being that it is not exactly true.  The Church is where the Word is preached in its purity and the Sacraments are rightly administered.  That can only happen in a congregation and therefore only the congregation can truly be called a Church.
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pastorg1@aol.com

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Re: Linguistic turn
« Reply #6 on: February 20, 2014, 12:00:58 PM »
"This" church seems lawyerly and presumptious.
The Church is that to which I belong: OHCA...

Peter ("This" is too small) Garrison
Pete Garrison

George Erdner

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Re: Linguistic turn
« Reply #7 on: February 20, 2014, 12:10:46 PM »
George: some of us see the problem with that formulation being that it is not exactly true.  The Church is where the Word is preached in its purity and the Sacraments are rightly administered.  That can only happen in a congregation and therefore only the congregation can truly be called a Church.

Maybe that's because you're in that church, not in this church.

Also, how do you get around confessing that you believe in One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church?

NCLutheran

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Re: Linguistic turn
« Reply #8 on: February 20, 2014, 01:23:50 PM »
The United States is comprised of fifty states. So if, say, the North Carolina assembly passed a law, would it be wrong for a Charlotte Observer newspaper article about the law to say that "This state hereby bans/allows/restricts..."?

Similarly, the One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church is comprised of many smaller churches, so if the ELCA passes a resolution to do something, how is it wrong for it to say that "this church hereby bans/allows/restricts..."?

And if that is wrong, should we now tell our kids that "it's time for local parish-organized worship services"?
« Last Edit: February 20, 2014, 01:25:46 PM by NCLutheran »

Richard Johnson

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Re: Linguistic turn
« Reply #9 on: February 20, 2014, 01:27:41 PM »
Words do have consequences and implications. "This church" bothers me, and others, for two reasons:

(1) It sets the ELCA up in almost an adversarial position against "other churches." It's sort of like an individual saying, "Well, you can do what you want, but THIS is one person who's not going to go along."

(2) It seems to relish in the fact that the church of Christ is divided. It is, obviously, but that's something to lament, not to relish.

One could just as easily substitute the phrase "the ELCA" every time "this church" is used. It would be less grating, and it would even save space.

I could be wrong, but I don't think I've ever seen any other denominational body consistently and repetitively use the phrase "this church" in talking about itself. That in itself should suggest that there's something weird about the ELCA's usage.
« Last Edit: February 20, 2014, 01:29:31 PM by Richard Johnson »
The Rev. Richard O. Johnson, STS

pearson

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Re: Linguistic turn
« Reply #10 on: February 20, 2014, 01:59:27 PM »

George: some of us see the problem with that formulation being that it is not exactly true.  The Church is where the Word is preached in its purity and the Sacraments are rightly administered.  That can only happen in a congregation and therefore only the congregation can truly be called a Church.


The problem from the other direction is that the proper definition of "in its purity," and of what truly counts as "rightly administered," has never been established by "only the congregation."  Those criteria have been developed by the historical traditions of the Church over 2,000 years, as the visible Church -- the incarnate body of Christ -- has engaged the words of scripture.  The congregation may be the locus of sacramental ministry, but the parameters of that minstry require a much larger ecclesial context.

So Pr. Garrison is right -- "this church" is too small.

Tom Pearson 

Michael Slusser

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Re: Linguistic turn
« Reply #11 on: February 20, 2014, 03:08:03 PM »
I'm with George Erdner here. "This church" seems to me to be innocuous language. In so far as it has any additional implication, it is that the ELCA is modest.

Peace,
Michael
Fr. Michael Slusser
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John Mundinger

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Re: Linguistic turn
« Reply #12 on: February 20, 2014, 03:27:11 PM »
George: some of us see the problem with that formulation being that it is not exactly true.  The Church is where the Word is preached in its purity and the Sacraments are rightly administered.  That can only happen in a congregation and therefore only the congregation can truly be called a Church.

Except that the language is this church and not this Church.  It should be pretty clear from the constitutional language that Pr. Stoffregen  posted that "this church" is shorthand for the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America and not shorthand for the Una Sancta.
Lifelong Evangelical Lutheran layman

Whoever, then, thinks that he understands the Holy Scriptures, or any part of them, but puts such an interpretation upon them as does not tend to build up this twofold love of God and our neighbour, does not yet understand them as he ought.  St. Augustine

Kurt Strause

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Re: Linguistic turn
« Reply #13 on: February 20, 2014, 05:18:55 PM »
Though the ELCA uses the term "this church" with a small "c" in some ways it echoes the Catholic Church's use of the term "particular churches" or I think more recently "autonomous churches" meaning the Latin Rite Church and the various Eastern Rite Churches as well as the recognition of the Orthodox Church. There is but one Una Sancta, but it is comprised of particular churches, each with their own distinctive rites, canons and theology. It seems that one of the lofty, early goals of ELCA ecumenism was to work towards the Roman Catholic Church to recognize "this church" as one of those particular churches. Hence, the language used.

Kurt Strause
ELCA pastor, Lancaster, PA

George Erdner

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Re: Linguistic turn
« Reply #14 on: February 20, 2014, 05:28:59 PM »
I don't think the ELCA's use of "this church" really implies anything, but a lot of people are inferring a great deal from it.