Author Topic: The Battle Lines are Drawn  (Read 10537 times)

Mike Bennett

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Re: The Battle Lines are Drawn
« Reply #30 on: July 11, 2007, 01:02:03 PM »


My point is that the materials from both sides should be subject to evaluation and fact-checking.




I disagree.  I think it's important for advocates to have their say, in their words, without being censored by some operative on Higgins Road. 

Mike Bennett
“What peace can there be, so long as the many whoredoms and sorceries of your mother Jezebel continue?”  2 Kings 9:22

EENGELBRECHT

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Re: The Battle Lines are Drawn
« Reply #31 on: July 11, 2007, 01:06:34 PM »
When we think of discussions within the body of Christ as "battles" and draw "battle lines," we are on destructive ground. When we speak of "political fronts," we are on even more dangerous ground. If such lines need be drawn, it should be on matters relating to the core doctrine of the Gospel of justification by grace through faith.

But it seems, at least in these forums, that we are unable to abandon such language; and that we are unable to think brothers and sisters in the whole Church - and that means the whole ELCA and the rest of Christendom -  as fellow proclaimers of the Gospel, united in the faith, who are struggling through difficult issues.

Hi, Charles. Do you believe I've sinned against you or others by my use of language in my post?

In Christ,
EE

Bergs

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Re: The Battle Lines are Drawn
« Reply #32 on: July 11, 2007, 01:26:58 PM »


My point is that the materials from both sides should be subject to evaluation and fact-checking.




I disagree.  I think it's important for advocates to have their say, in their words, without being censored by some operative on Higgins Road. 

Mike Bennett

Nothing in my statements imply censoring anyone.  I agree advocates deserve to have their say.  They have the right to spin it anyway they want.   My point is that the materials should be subject to evaluation by many different viewpoints.

Grace & Peace
Brian J. Bergs
Minneapolis, MN
But let me tell Thee that now, today, people are more persuaded than ever that they have perfect freedom, yet they have brought their freedom to us and laid it humbly at our feet. But that has been our doing.
The Grand Inquisitor

Jeffrey Spencer

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Re: The Battle Lines are Drawn
« Reply #33 on: July 11, 2007, 01:40:05 PM »
Jeffrey Spencer writes (re a communication from the Good Soil organization):
What we're seeing (I got the letter and accompanying newsletter too) are the machinations of a well-oiled political spin machine.

I ponder:
And what would one call the messages from those organizations that oppose any change in ELCA policies on the matter under discussion?

How about "orthodox Christians?"

JRS

MMH

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Re: The Battle Lines are Drawn
« Reply #34 on: July 11, 2007, 01:54:11 PM »
OK- I see where they are going with the "40%"  Those 22 synods combined may well equal 40% of the ELCA.

But what metric is used? AWA, CCC, Total?  Any clues?

Also- I am am willing to bet anyone that the folks who are waving the 40% banner were some of the loudest voices as well in protesting both the 2000 & 2004 elections and the fact that they did not speak for them.  If we were to ask all of those 40% for their voice in the matter, would it be so high?

You cannot have it both ways.  Oh yeah, I forgot, when you are a revisionist, you can!

Matt Hummel+ 

Erma_S._Wolf

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Re: The Battle Lines are Drawn
« Reply #35 on: July 11, 2007, 02:10:31 PM »

As I am also not a voting member, I do not know what materials are being sent.  If CORE or WAN are sending things to voting members, I am curious what is being sent out.   

Brian, I am writing one of the letters Lutheran CORE is sending out to the voting members.  Once it is completed and out, I will post it here.

Erma Wolf

Bergs

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Re: The Battle Lines are Drawn
« Reply #36 on: July 11, 2007, 02:12:58 PM »
My comments are in italics.

Grace & Peace
Brian J. Bergs

Good Soil has sent me and I am guessing all the other CWA voting folks an 8 page newsletter.  One of the pages is called Questions and Answers.  Here goes.

Why not delay any more conversation about the ordination of partnered gay clergy until after the social statement on sexuality has been approved?

The guide Journey Together Faithfully Part 3: Free to Serve the Neighbor, is not intended to offer study resources or guidance to the church regarding homosexuality, blessings of relationship or partnered gay clergy.
At CWA 2005 the assembly considered numberous resolutions regarding the recommentdations of the Sexuality Task Force.  The upshot was a collection of votes which confirmed our desire to live together faithfully in the midst of our disagreements, stayed the course with intentional ambiguity concerning blessings of same-gender relationships, and said what we don't want relative to ordination but not what we do want.  The ciritical vote of the day was the defeat of a motion to enforce the current policy of exclusion.  The recommendation of the Church Council on an exception policy for partnered gay pastors failed to reach a majority by only seven votes.
You should know that many gay, lesbian, and allied voting members were not in favor of the exception policy and voted against it since it would have established extra rules for the qualification of partnered gay clergy as well as a second class of rostered clergy. 
If we don't change the policy in 2007, the issues will stand before us again at Churchwide 2009 and beyond until the policy is changed.  If we do not come to terms with out disagreements regarding homosexuality, we will not be able to pass a social statement of human sexuality which will require a two-thirds majority vote. 
Meanwhile pastors, like Bradley, stand trial or are pressured to resign their calls.  How many gifted pastors must we lose, until the church says enough is enough and the policy fails? 

This note sounds like a threat.  If you don't change the policy, there is a threat to bring it back until the CWA changes policy to Goodsoil's liking.  The statement that we must come to terms about our disagreements is not at all about compromise though the language sounds that way.   This is the threat.  Either you capitulate or we will hound you till you do.  That is a threat borne out by experience.

My question is how many pastors will we lose if the CWA capitulates?  How many more members?


Why all the fuss about the story of just one person?
We are concerned about Bradley--but also about many others.  Because of the policies currently in place, hundreds, perhaps thousands, of people in the ELCA have been denied their calling to the ordained ministry.  Pastor Schmeling's story is just one of many similar situations occuring since the beginning of the ELCA.  Se the timeline beginning on page 6 listing the 4 trials the ELCA has conducted, the 12 otherwise qualified seminarians which the ELCA wouldn't approve for ordinations, 7 ELCA rostered leaders that have been defrocked or forced to resign, 3 congregations removed from the ELCA, 7 ELCA congregations which have been disciplined, and 15 Extraordinary Candidacy Project pastors currently serving ELCA and Independent Lutheran Congregations.  Ultimately, the current policies impoverish the whole church--all laypersons, all ordained clergy, all servants, all leaders of all sexual orientations and gender identities.

Impoverish the whole church?  The controversy spun by these advocates have impoverished the church a whole lot more.  


Who put the policy in place?
There is a constitutionally prescribed process for the creation of Definitions and Guidelines for Discipline and Vision and Expectations, the Committee on Appeals presented a draft to the ELCA Church Council which edited it to include the current language precluding practicing homosexuals for the ordained ministry.  The Council passed the policy in November 1989.  The policiy was never approved by the CWA.
For Vision and Expectations, the Division for Ministry in consultation with the Conference of Bishops presented a draft to the ELCA Church Council which was edited to include the phrase, "persons who are homosexual in their self understanding are expected to abstain from Homosexual sexual relationships."  The Church Council passed Vision and Expectations in October 1990.  The policy was never approved by the CWA.

Must the policies in Definitions and Guidelines for Discipline and Vision and Expectations comport with the ELCA Constitution?
Yes, they must.  Until the Schmeling trial, no one has challenged the constitutionality of the policies excluding partnered gay pastors.

So for 18 years no one thought the policy was unconstitutional.  What changed in 2007?  New Scriptural revelations?  More likely it is the failure of these advocates to convince enough of the ELCA that it is wrong.  So now they will try to prove the rules are unconstitutional though for 18 years no one brought this up.  

Which entity holds the highest legislative authority in the ELCA?
The Churchwide Assembly is the highest legislative authority in the ELCA.  The ELCA Church Council has interim authority between CW assemblies.

Can the ELCA CWA change the policies excluding partnered gay clergy?
While the CWA may not change the policies outright, according to Secretary Almen, the assembly may direct the appropriate units of the church to change the policies.  Consequently, memorials regarding policy change must be worded carefully to direct the responsible entities within the ELCA structure to make the changes as instructed.  Such memorials directing change will require a simple majority pass.

Watch for those memorials.  Look for long nights.  My sympathies and prayers go out to CWA attendees.
But let me tell Thee that now, today, people are more persuaded than ever that they have perfect freedom, yet they have brought their freedom to us and laid it humbly at our feet. But that has been our doing.
The Grand Inquisitor

Charles_Austin

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Re: The Battle Lines are Drawn
« Reply #37 on: July 11, 2007, 02:40:08 PM »
Mike Bennett writes:
 wtihout being censored by some operative on Higgins Road.

I comment:
And if we are to continually use the language of mistrust, suspicion and label our church leaders "operatives" rather than our chosen leaders (with whom we may disagree), then the discussion is doomed to fail. I tried to point out above how - in this forum - we talk about people, those seeking change, our church leaders; and apparently we are not talking to them. Nor are we likely to, so long as we label them such.

It is likely that such dialogue is impossible in this particular medium. But I still lament the fact that we post with such hostility rather than hopefulness.

And that's really it for me. I'm off to Argentina and Brazil.


Erma_S._Wolf

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Re: The Battle Lines are Drawn
« Reply #38 on: July 11, 2007, 02:45:05 PM »

  Yes, it's a fight.  It's not even a contest.  It's a level five conflict for the advocates (using Alban Institute's scale for such things) which denotes a jihad - a war where winning is so important that both sides may be taken out in the conflict.  Look at the home congregation of Good Soil's face to world; Jeff Johnson.  My sources in Bay Area tell me he's down to less than 20/Sunday in worship.  That's certainly a signal as to their ultimate agenda .... and it has nothing to do with the Gospel or reaching people for Christ.

So the question becomes, is this fight worth it for the orthodox?  As Lou has pointed out, if we step up into it all we'll probably do is create the same outcomes in our congregations as the advocates; the fight will send the next generation off into the ranks of the unchurched.

So you can go to the national assembly and cast your vote against change ... but does anyone here think that will have any impact at all on 1) seminary faculty, 2) Lutheran Youth Organization, 3) our campus ministries, 4) ECP and their candidates, 5) certain out-of-control synods  and.... 6) a particular congregation in Atlanta currently being led by a defrocked pastor?

Their aim is to change or kill the church.  You fight their conflict as they've defined it and they'll still win because they already have a grip on most of the institutional expression of this church.  All you'll do is kill your congregation in the process.... hence they win again.

Why are you folks losing sleep over this?  Go after the Lost in your community.  I think heaven will rejoice over that.  And sit back and grieve the collapse of the ELCA along the same lines as TEC and PCUSA.  But don't fight their conflict, not the way they want it.

Brian and others, I also think about this.  I try to remember and apply the lessons I learned from the Missouri Synod conflict in the seventies.  I was a teenager when that happened, and as a female I was definitely out of the loop.  But I remember watching two pastors, both of whom I deeply respected, arguing from the two different positions (at that time it looked like only two) and just feeling grief for what my church was coming to.  Folks are probably sick of me saying we should pray for those we disagree with, and view that as naive and simplistic advice.  But I keep trying to remind myself to do that first and always, in hopes that God will keep me from being consumed by (un)righteous anger at people and organizations that I fear may end up destroying my church body.  

And I hear you when you warn "don't fight their conflict, not the way they want it."  That is the danger of using the "fight" language as metaphor; it can become literal.  And folks in congregations do grow weary and tire of hearing about this stuff.  In the run up to 2005 I spoke about these issues quite a bit, because there was interest; this year, people in my parish have told me they don't want to know what is happening at the CWA, and I have refrained from bringing it up unless I am asked.  If the assembly this year passes any of the Goodsoil memorials, it will be interesting to see how people in my congregation react.  

I do try to focus on reaching the Lost.  But you see, I believe some of the Lost will be there in Chicago.  I am not there to beat anyone into submission, but I believe I have to be there, to witness what is said and done, and to bear witness to what I believe is the truth, and of the truth.  Will it change any institutions?  No, I'm sure not.  But one person at a time? Maybe, if the Holy Spirit wishes it.  

I've been reading Hebrews a lot, recently.  "Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen."   That, and Galatians 6:9-10 from last Sunday.  

You keep looking for the Lost too, Brian.  Alas, they are everywhere, as last week's Gospel reminded us.

Erma  

Mike Bennett

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Re: The Battle Lines are Drawn
« Reply #39 on: July 11, 2007, 03:04:47 PM »
Mike Bennett writes:
 wtihout being censored by some operative on Higgins Road.

I comment:
And if we are to continually use the language of mistrust, suspicion and label our church leaders "operatives" rather than our chosen leaders (with whom we may disagree), then the discussion is doomed to fail. I tried to point out above how - in this forum - we talk about people, those seeking change, our church leaders; and apparently we are not talking to them. Nor are we likely to, so long as we label them such.

It is likely that such dialogue is impossible in this particular medium. But I still lament the fact that we post with such hostility rather than hopefulness.

And that's really it for me. I'm off to Argentina and Brazil.



I also don't want responsibility for fact-checking somebody's advocacy piece for myself.   It's hard to imagine a more thankless task than that.   I don't know why you consider "operative" to show hostility.  I also find it odd that a journalist's first instinct isn't to be sympathetic to freedom of expression by the advocates, rather than to find things to criticize in a brief statement advocating such freedom.

Mike Bennett
“What peace can there be, so long as the many whoredoms and sorceries of your mother Jezebel continue?”  2 Kings 9:22

bmj

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Re: The Battle Lines are Drawn
« Reply #40 on: July 11, 2007, 03:08:57 PM »
Although as to inappropriate terminology was it inappropriate terminology that Paul used in Ephesians 6: 10-20?  The Battle Lines are stated quite clearly by the good soil people in the Q and A section of what their intent is for the next few years, they have read the Art of War and are using it as a means by which to confound those who think they will just go away. 

  Yes, it's a fight.  It's not even a contest.  It's a level five conflict for the advocates (using Alban Institute's scale for such things) which denotes a jihad - a war where winning is so important that both sides may be taken out in the conflict.  Look at the home congregation of Good Soil's face to world; Jeff Johnson.  My sources in Bay Area tell me he's down to less than 20/Sunday in worship.  That's certainly a signal as to their ultimate agenda .... and it has nothing to do with the Gospel or reaching people for Christ.

So the question becomes, is this fight worth it for the orthodox?  As Lou has pointed out, if we step up into it all we'll probably do is create the same outcomes in our congregations as the advocates; the fight will send the next generation off into the ranks of the unchurched.

So you can go to the national assembly and cast your vote against change ... but does anyone here think that will have any impact at all on 1) seminary faculty, 2) Lutheran Youth Organization, 3) our campus ministries, 4) ECP and their candidates, 5) certain out-of-control synods  and.... 6) a particular congregation in Atlanta currently being led by a defrocked pastor?

Their aim is to change or kill the church.  You fight their conflict as they've defined it and they'll still win because they already have a grip on most of the institutional expression of this church.  All you'll do is kill your congregation in the process.... hence they win again.

Why are you folks losing sleep over this?  Go after the Lost in your community.  I think heaven will rejoice over that.  And sit back and grieve the collapse of the ELCA along the same lines as TEC and PCUSA.  But don't fight their conflict, not the way they want it.

Maryland Brian

I agree that it is a fight and that damage is being done on all sides.  There is one misconception that is stated in many of these discussions.  The assumption is that those who leave the ELCA are falling " into the ranks of the unchurched.".   Many of those who leave are passionate for orthodox and tradition, and one should not assume they leave Christendom rather than follow a calling elsewhere.  After all, the ELCA is a fraction of a percent of the overall body of Christ (about 0.25 % I believe).  My guess is that the majority who "leave" do not fall into the ranks of the unchurched.

EENGELBRECHT

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Re: The Battle Lines are Drawn
« Reply #41 on: July 11, 2007, 03:35:39 PM »
It is likely that such dialogue is impossible in this particular medium. But I still lament the fact that we post with such hostility rather than hopefulness.

Charles, I bid you safe travel.

On the topic of appropriate language in Christian dialogue, I invite folks to read St. Paul's comments to the Galatians:

"When Cephas came to Antioch, I opposed him to his face, because he stood condemned" (Gal 2:11).

"I wish those who unsettle you would emasculate themselves!" (Gal 5:12).

Rather sharp, I'd say. How should one take such statements in Sacred Scripture? Is this worthy of public reading or as a text for preaching? In a hot voters meeting I found that pausing to pray and recite the Lord's Prayer together worked wonders.

In Christ,
EE

Deb_H.

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Re: The Battle Lines are Drawn
« Reply #42 on: July 11, 2007, 04:13:28 PM »
My guess is that the majority who "leave" do not fall into the ranks of the unchurched.

I can't say that this has been my experience.  There are more that have left for "nowhere" than have left for "somewhere else."  Our house church is merely one attempt to provide one more place for those who have left to feel welcome if they want to hear the Word and receive the sacraments.  The temptations of Sunday mornings sleeping in, being free from the contentious atmosphere of a congregation of people, and the desire to simply have a day of rest lead many to say "why bother?"

Lou Hesse

Maryland Brian

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Re: The Battle Lines are Drawn
« Reply #43 on: July 11, 2007, 04:14:17 PM »

I've been reading Hebrews a lot, recently.  "Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen."   That, and Galatians 6:9-10 from last Sunday. 

You keep looking for the Lost too, Brian.  Alas, they are everywhere, as last week's Gospel reminded us.

Erma 

Erma,

You've probably seen enough of my posts over the years to know I don't take this issue lightly.  I appreciate what you are trying to do.  It grieves me to think that millions of dollars of ELCA assets have already been wasted on this debate.  It can become very depressing.

As you know, I think the family in this country is in deep trouble and yet the best we can do as a tradition is argue about gay sexuality.  Fine.  Let this ever more irrelevant institution called the ELCA fight the wrong battle.  The real issue is whether the next generation will be Christ followers.  That means reaching the parents.  Children will not be shaped by the Gospel if their parents are not disciples either.  That's where my energy will be going.

MD Brian

EENGELBRECHT

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Re: The Battle Lines are Drawn
« Reply #44 on: July 11, 2007, 04:28:02 PM »
As you know, I think the family in this country is in deep trouble and yet the best we can do as a tradition is argue about gay sexuality.  Fine.  Let this ever more irrelevant institution called the ELCA fight the wrong battle.  The real issue is whether the next generation will be Christ followers.  That means reaching the parents.  Children will not be shaped by the Gospel if their parents are not disciples either.  That's where my energy will be going.

Here, here! After a clergy friend of mine came out of the closet, his wife tried to be understanding. She tried to work with the situation. But when he began telling their little boy that he was going to be gay just like daddy, she explained to me, "I just couldn't stay." His response, "I tried to talk her out of leaving me. Oh, well."

I used to baby sit for these kids. I saw up close the self-destructiveness of gay lifestyle and it permanently settled my mind on what's most important---and I do not mean self-indulgent adults. God have pity.

In Christ,
EE