Author Topic: The Battle Lines are Drawn  (Read 10671 times)

Eric_Swensson

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Re: The Battle Lines are Drawn
« Reply #45 on: July 11, 2007, 04:41:35 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.



Have a safe trip. Are you going to Canoas? Charles, please do try and reflect on where the hostility you lament comes from, and how much of it you are registering in yourself is actually being at least partially generated by what you write. You consistently say there is perhaps reason to be a little upset but its not that bad. You get reactions from people who have a quite different experience than yourself. And you keep on writing that we are not talking to leadership in the ELCA, which for many of us is simply not true. Many traditionalists in this forum are on their synod councils. I speak wiht my bishop and some of his assistants regularly. Enough said?

Erma_S._Wolf

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Re: The Battle Lines are Drawn
« Reply #46 on: July 22, 2007, 07:56:23 PM »
Here is the letter that I wrote that has been sent to the CWA voting members by Lutheran CORE.

Dear Friend in Christ,
It is a tremendous gift and responsibility to be able to serve as a voting member to a churchwide assembly of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.  You have already received some of the many reports and information that you will need to read in order to participate fully in the work of the assembly.  Other Lutherans across this country, like you, are also preparing for this challenge.  On behalf of Lutheran CORE, I want to extend both my gratitude for your service to the ELCA and the promise of my prayers for you and all at the assembly.

My writing to you, like my membership on the steering committee of Lutheran CORE, comes out of my deep commitment to the ministry that God has entrusted to the ELCA.  I have served the ELCA for the past twenty years as a parish pastor.  The issues that are under discussion in the ELCA are ones that I have studied and prayed over, as I have sought to understand the history and background as well as the real-life human dimension of these issues.  How are we being called to live together faithfully in the midst of our disagreements, faithful first of all to the Word of God as revealed to us in the person of Jesus Christ, and through his Scriptures and his Church down through the ages?  To answer such a question means listening carefully, not only to the voices of our time, but to the faithful voices that speak to us from the Church of all times and all places.  Most of all, it means listening to the voice of our Lord, prayerfully, mindfully, asking always that his will be done.

Lutheran CORE seeks to be a voice for the Word of God within our church.  I became a part of this work because, for the first time in a long time, I no longer felt alone and isolated with my concerns and apprehensions regarding the direction of the ELCA.  Lutheran CORE is a coalition of many individuals and groups around the country who wish to be a positive voice for reform within this church, working to strengthen the commitment of the ELCA to these matters:
*    The priority of the name of God as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit in worship and Christian education
*    The Biblical teaching and practice of marriage and sexuality throughout the church
*    The role of leaders, churchwide and synodical, who are committed to the orthodoxy of our creeds and confessions
*    The interpretation of the Bible as God's authoritative word of law and Gospel over the church.

The ELCA, like its predecessor church bodies, is called to proclaim the good news of God in Christ Jesus, a good news that welcomes sinners into the Kingdom of God through the redeeming and transforming waters of baptism.  By that baptism we are declared righteous for the sake of the suffering, death, and resurrection of the only Son of God, and through daily living in that baptism we are called, gathered, enlightened and sanctified by the Holy Spirit to be his holy people.  Lutheran CORE is committed to be faithful to that proclamation, regardless of the disagreements that beset the ELCA.

Recent synod assemblies have reminded all of us that the ELCA is deeply divided over matters of human sexuality, in particular those relating to homosexuality.  It is a reality that there is pain and anguish felt by Christians on all sides of this issue.  Such pain and division only demonstrates the need for following the careful process laid out by earlier churchwide assemblies and the church council, to give the sexuality task force time to do its work and develop a proposed social statement on human sexuality.  While current events, such as the decision of the Committee on Appeals ratifying the decision of the Discipline Hearing Committee to remove Pastor Bradley Schmeling from the clergy roster, grabs our attention, the mission of the ELCA would be badly served by a precipitous rush to change these policies.  Upholding standards for sexual behavior that honors Biblical teaching on marriage and sexuality has never been easy.  To do so now requires that we speak the truth in love, so that the life-giving Word may do its work of re-shaping all of us, sinners one and all, into the image of Christ.

There are many other important issues and decisions that will be brought before you and the other voting members at the assembly in Chicago.  I invite you to be in touch with me or with those of us who are on the Lutheran CORE steering committee.  We are eager to have conversation with you about who we are, and what our hopes and dreams are for our church.  May the guidance of the Holy Spirit be with you in your preparations, travels, and deliberations in the coming weeks.
Yours in Christ,

Erma S. Wolf
Vice Chair

J. Thomas Shelley

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Re: The Battle Lines are Drawn
« Reply #47 on: July 22, 2007, 09:53:30 PM »

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.   


For situations such as these, I love the explanation that Luther wrote to Peter, the barber of Wittenberg, regarding the Lord's Prayer:

"Dear Lord God and Father, convert and control.  Convert those who are still to become children and members of your kingdom, that together we may serve you in your kingdom  in the right faith and true love and pass from this kingdom begun here to your everlasting kingdom.  Control those who would not withdraw their might and means from disturbing your kingdom.  May they be dethroned and in humiliation stop molesting your kingdom"

And I pray for that conversion and control for my heart as well.  For another prayer that I have come to love is a petition in many General Intercessions written by Lucien Deiss, C.S.P., for when addressing God concerning the lost he concludes "convert their hearts...and ours."
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Charles_Austin

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Re: The Battle Lines are Drawn
« Reply #48 on: July 23, 2007, 11:42:37 AM »
Eric wrote last week:

Have a safe trip. Are you going to Canoas?

I respond:
I did. No. Buenos Aires, Iguazu Falls, Rio, Paraty.

Eric:
Charles, please do try and reflect on where the hostility you lament comes from, and how much of it you are registering in yourself is actually being at least partially generated by what you write.

Me:
I do reflect. I have no control over how people respond to what I write. Believe me, after more than 40 years of writing for publication, I know this!

Eric:
You consistently say there is perhaps reason to be a little upset but its not that bad. You get reactions from people who have a quite different experience than yourself.

Me:
No, I do not believe it is as "bad" as some people in this forum say it is. I am very sorry that the ELCA is not more forthright in opposing the war in Iraq. But that is not a matter of the heart of the Gospel (although it could become that.)

Eric:
And you keep on writing that we are not talking to leadership in the ELCA, which for many of us is simply not true. Many traditionalists in this forum are on their synod councils. I speak wiht my bishop and some of his assistants regularly. Enough said?

Me:
Well, let's define "many". Let's see who in this forum is on their synod councils. Doesn't every pastor regularly speak with his or her bishop or an assistant? How could they not do so?

Sublime_Harbinger

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Re: The Battle Lines are Drawn
« Reply #49 on: July 23, 2007, 12:28:02 PM »
Greetings all,

I joined this forum primarily to give further information for you regarding OT of this thread.  Pastor Jill Henning is currently on sabbatical from Trinity Lutheran Church.  Trinity did not fund or endorse the letter that was sent out, so I would imagine it was something that came out of her sabbatical time and other connections in the area.

As for the position of the congregation as a whole, no formal votes or positions have been established and it is hard to say.  I would hazard to say that on the whole though, the congregation is more conservative in the matter than their pastors (especially Pastor Jill) are.

Mike Bennett

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Re: The Battle Lines are Drawn
« Reply #50 on: July 23, 2007, 12:40:54 PM »

Eric:
Charles, please do try and reflect on where the hostility you lament comes from, and how much of it you are registering in yourself is actually being at least partially generated by what you write.

Me:
I do reflect. I have no control over how people respond to what I write. Believe me, after more than 40 years of writing for publication, I know this!


It took me far less than my full 40 years as a professional to learn that when I am the speaker or writer, I bear the primary responsibility for clear communication.  If what I say or write is misunderstood, in a large majority of cases it's my fault, not the fault of the hearer or the reader.  If I'm continually misunderstood, the chances that I'm causing the problem rises to near 100%. 
“What peace can there be, so long as the many whoredoms and sorceries of your mother Jezebel continue?”  2 Kings 9:22

djbaer

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Re: The Battle Lines are Drawn
« Reply #51 on: July 23, 2007, 01:10:25 PM »
Greetings all,

I joined this forum primarily to give further information for you regarding OT of this thread.  Pastor Jill Henning is currently on sabbatical from Trinity Lutheran Church.  Trinity did not fund or endorse the letter that was sent out, so I would imagine it was something that came out of her sabbatical time and other connections in the area.

As for the position of the congregation as a whole, no formal votes or positions have been established and it is hard to say.  I would hazard to say that on the whole though, the congregation is more conservative in the matter than their pastors (especially Pastor Jill) are.


The note from the member of Pastor Henning's church is significant.

There must be more to the story or could it be that Pr. Henning is attempting to deceive CWA voting members into thinking that her congregation is supporting her crusade regarding this situation. 

If she wanted to write a letter for Lutherans Concerned or Good Soil, that would have been fine, but it should have acknowledged its source. 

djbaer

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Re: The Battle Lines are Drawn
« Reply #52 on: July 23, 2007, 01:14:37 PM »
Erma:

Thank you for sharing your letter on behalf of Lutheran CORE.  You did a nice job of introducing Lutheran CORE and then sharing your concerns and asking only that the ELCA honor its process regarding sexuality decisions at this assembly.

I admire your restraint and commitment to the church.

Brian Stoffregen

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Re: The Battle Lines are Drawn
« Reply #53 on: July 23, 2007, 01:26:20 PM »
It took me far less than my full 40 years as a professional to learn that when I am the speaker or writer, I bear the primary responsibility for clear communication.  If what I say or write is misunderstood, in a large majority of cases it's my fault, not the fault of the hearer or the reader.  If I'm continually misunderstood, the chances that I'm causing the problem rises to near 100%.
However, for most of us in most of our communications, e.g., sermons, newsletter articles, etc. we usually find that most understand and respond as we expect, and a few misunderstand and/or respond in ways we do not expect. Seldom is it a case that everyone misunderstands a communication. When they do, it is probably caused by poor writing (or a computer glitch?). However, when they are mixed, the different understandings and responses are likely to be caused by something within the reader/hearer.

To use a big example, part of the causes of different denominations and fighting within denominations are different responses to what is written in scriptures. Do you then blame scriptures for not communicating God's will clearly, or are the differences found in the ways people read and understand the Bible?
"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]

Charles_Austin

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Re: The Battle Lines are Drawn
« Reply #54 on: July 23, 2007, 03:18:05 PM »
Mike Bennett writes (Re my comment about how people respond to information):
If I'm continually misunderstood, the chances that I'm causing the problem rises to near 100%.

I note:
But I am not "continually misunderstood." My parishioners seem to like my preaching and understand it; editors keep printing what I write, which they would not do if I were "continually misunderstood."
I continue to assert that I have no control over how people respond to information.
Supposedly someone once asked Harry Truman (who could be a cantankerous guy), "Harry, why do you give people hell all the time?"
The president responded, according to the story. "I don't give 'em hell. I just tell the truth and they think it's hell."

hansen

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Re: The Battle Lines are Drawn
« Reply #55 on: July 23, 2007, 03:42:04 PM »
Mike Bennett writes (Re my comment about how people respond to information):
If I'm continually misunderstood, the chances that I'm causing the problem rises to near 100%.

I note:
But I am not "continually misunderstood." My parishioners seem to like my preaching and understand it; editors keep printing what I write, which they would not do if I were "continually misunderstood."
I continue to assert that I have no control over how people respond to information.
Supposedly someone once asked Harry Truman (who could be a cantankerous guy), "Harry, why do you give people hell all the time?"
The president responded, according to the story. "I don't give 'em hell. I just tell the truth and they think it's hell."

I'd say that it has to do with knowing your audience or readers, and speaking/writing in a manner that they will understand. 

You obviously (should) know the audience here by now -- very well.  And you're very skilled with the English language.  So why do you continually slip in barbs, and other things that you know full well will prick and set-off the people you're talking to?  To persuade them of the rightness of your position?  That's "loving"?  Please do make thoughtful points, but the barbs are not persuasive.  Quite the contrary.  It looks more like a boy poking another boy in the classroom, hoping to evoke an angry response, just for the fun of it, and maybe even to get the other kid in trouble with the teacher (giggle giggle).

Mike Bennett

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Re: The Battle Lines are Drawn
« Reply #56 on: July 23, 2007, 04:34:03 PM »

However, for most of us in most of our communications, e.g., sermons, newsletter articles, etc. we usually find that most understand and respond as we expect, and a few misunderstand and/or respond in ways we do not expect. Seldom is it a case that everyone misunderstands a communication. When they do, it is probably caused by poor writing (or a computer glitch?). However, when they are mixed, the different understandings and responses are likely to be caused by something within the reader/hearer.

To use a big example, part of the causes of different denominations and fighting within denominations are different responses to what is written in scriptures. Do you then blame scriptures for not communicating God's will clearly, or are the differences found in the ways people read and understand the Bible?

I remember being taught that the Holy Spirit has a role in proper understanding of Scripture.  I don't remember anything about such involvement in the writings of Austin, Stoffregen, or Bennett, each of whom says darned well what he means to say 99% of the time, without stuttering.
“What peace can there be, so long as the many whoredoms and sorceries of your mother Jezebel continue?”  2 Kings 9:22

Charles_Austin

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Re: The Battle Lines are Drawn
« Reply #57 on: July 23, 2007, 05:55:11 PM »
Mr. Hansen writes:
You obviously (should) know the audience here by now -- very well.  And you're very skilled with the English language.

I comment:
I think I do, but sometimes they surprise me. And thanks, it's been my living for a long time.

Mr. Hansen:
So why do you continually slip in barbs, and other things that you know full well will prick and set-off the people you're talking to?  To persuade them of the rightness of your position? 

Me:
First, I do not slip in such things "continually," nor is my intention to "prick and set-off" anyone. But who says theological discourse has to be ponderous? And, I repeat again for the umpteenth time, on many things under discussion here, I am not trying to persuade anyone of the "rightness of my position." As a matter of fact, I rarely express a "position," except to say that I am trying to be faithful to my commitment to the Gospel and to the church as it is expressed in our ELCA. Mostly, I think I try to provide information and perspective.

Mr. Hansen:
That's "loving"?  Please do make thoughtful points, but the barbs are not persuasive.  Quite the contrary.  It looks more like a boy poking another boy in the classroom, hoping to evoke an angry response, just for the fun of it, and maybe even to get the other kid in trouble with the teacher (giggle giggle).

Me:
My wife loves me (I am fairly sure), but she barbs and needles me quite frequently. And we are all adults here (I think), and can surely take it if one of us tweaks them a little. What I do object to is the rhetoric in some of these circles that trounces the faith and commitment of those with whom we are in dialogue. A good friend who is a semi-lapsed, but still "practicing" (I suppose until she gets it right) Catholic, doesn't mind at all if I say that some of her views on the church sound a bit like that "old voodoo."

hansen

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Re: The Battle Lines are Drawn
« Reply #58 on: July 23, 2007, 06:36:13 PM »
My wife loves me (I am fairly sure), but she barbs and needles me quite frequently. And we are all adults here (I think), and can surely take it if one of us tweaks them a little. What I do object to is the rhetoric in some of these circles that trounces the faith and commitment of those with whom we are in dialogue. A good friend who is a semi-lapsed, but still "practicing" (I suppose until she gets it right) Catholic, doesn't mind at all if I say that some of her views on the church sound a bit like that "old voodoo."

I'd compare such things to practical jokes that people might play on one another.  A good practical joke is the one which, when it's all over, the recipient of it gets a laugh out of it too.  It sounds like your wife does it in a way that, when all's said and done, you too get a kick out of it.  But I don't get any indication that most anyone here appreciates your barbs and needles.
« Last Edit: July 23, 2007, 06:37:54 PM by Don Hansen »

Brian Stoffregen

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Re: The Battle Lines are Drawn
« Reply #59 on: July 23, 2007, 08:16:45 PM »
I'd compare such things to practical jokes that people might play on one another.  A good practical joke is the one which, when it's all over, the recipient of it gets a laugh out of it too.  It sounds like your wife does it in a way that, when all's said and done, you too get a kick out of it.  But I don't get any indication that most anyone here appreciates your barbs and needles.
I do. I also don't think that I've ever misunderstood Charles. Perhaps it's because of over a decade of "conversing" with him on the internet; and I have actually met him a couple times at Churchwide Assemblies.

There is also something about respecting the other person, and wanting and trying to understand each other. It has happened a few times that opponents in online discussion groups have sent private e-mails, and through more personal discussions, we have come to better understand and respect each other. We have clarified difference and know better where each other is "coming from." We have learned to appreciate each other's posts. Often where there had been antagonistic responses, there are sympathetic disagreements.
"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]