Author Topic: I don't understand? Concordia Portland asked to be independent?  (Read 9560 times)

Mbecker

  • ALPB Contribution Leader
  • *****
  • Posts: 1277
    • View Profile
Re: I don't understand? Concordia Portland asked to be independent?
« Reply #135 on: June 02, 2017, 01:29:40 PM »
I said nothing about "avoiding defending positions unless they are in line with institutional orthodoxy," whatever that phrase means.
And here we get to the heart of the problem: it is clear that your ideological blinkers are strong and effective. Were they not, that phrase would be clear to you as a high-sky day, and that this really is your position. The paragraph with which I began ("As to the rest of your hypothetical scenario...") clearly delineates some aspects of Valpo's institutional orthodoxy, things not to be said, questioned, or perhaps even thought. Peter is entirely right: for you, things not in line with institutional orthodoxies are heresies, things which are unable to be thought, and you cannot for a moment understand ("I can't imagine") how anyone might agree with or hold them, because they are not Right Thought there is something wrong with someone spouting them, for to hold them is to be a propagandist, a bigot, or mentally impaired. This is not how the Academy has traditionally functioned, but it is how dissidents were dealt with under Stalin's heirs.

Your fear of "shut[ting] down the learning process" leaves your students with method, and nothing more. A useful method, to be sure differing positions should be examined and investigated, and learning to deal critically and logically with texts, facts, and arguments is essential but one that does not give the tools to do more than agree that one take on a matter is less strong than some others. What is missing here is an understanding that perspectives are merely another piece of data, and have no value in and of themselves except as another angle from which to view something; while in some cases we might not be able to see clearly just what the truth of something is (in the "black-and-white" sense), we can substantially narrow things down after subtracting, among other things, the prejudices that those differing perspectives bring to the table. If all you have or end up with are "perspectives" and "views"...then there's no point in helping your students examine varying perspectives, unless your job is simply to help students practice proper method. if that's the case, then by all means, keep at it.

WJV,
Please, tell me what you think my "ideology" is? And can you provide a brief summary of Valpo's "institutional orthodoxy," things not to be said, questioned, or perhaps thought? Apparently you know Valpo and me better than I do, so please enlighten me and free me from my blindness....

None of us can escape being perspectival. You can't jump over your own shadow. Your comments, too, would be opened to careful analysis/criticism, if shared in a Valpo classroom.

My classes are not just about method. The one course I teach most often, "The Christian Tradition: Conflict and Consensus," is largely a set of arguments about what constitutes "the Christian tradition." Students read from the Bible and from my book, "Fundamental Theology." Throughout the semester, students research a topic that they then debate at the end of the course. The students pick the five or six research/debate topics at the beginning of the term, e.g., the Bible does not condemn gay marriage, Christians and Muslims worship the same God, Christians should support the #blacklives movement, women may be ordained to the pastoral office, the theory of evolution is compatible with Christian doctrine, Christians should support physician-assisted suicide, Christians should support genetically-modified crops, and so on.

Each of the debates sets forth both "pro" and "con" evidence and argumentation. After each debate, the class as a whole evaluates the evidence and arguments. We also take a vote to see which side of the debate was more persuasive and then discuss why that was the case. Often, students who personally favor one side of the debate are forced to argue the opposite position, like a good lawyer might have to do in a court of law. Some tell me that their views on the subject became more complicated over the course of the term. (They have to meet with the opposing team three or four times in the semester.) A few end up changing their minds. Nearly all tell me at the end of the term that the project/debates is a worthwhile learning activity. I tell them that they are participating in a venerable academic tradition, the disputation.

M. Becker

Brian Stoffregen

  • ALPB Contribution Leader
  • *****
  • Posts: 44460
  • ἐγὼ δὲ λέγω ὑμῖν, ἀγαπᾶτε τοὺς ἐχθροὺς ὑμῶν
    • View Profile
Re: I don't understand? Concordia Portland asked to be independent?
« Reply #136 on: June 02, 2017, 01:36:15 PM »
I said nothing about "avoiding defending positions unless they are in line with institutional orthodoxy," whatever that phrase means.
And here we get to the heart of the problem: it is clear that your ideological blinkers are strong and effective. Were they not, that phrase would be clear to you as a high-sky day, and that this really is your position. The paragraph with which I began ("As to the rest of your hypothetical scenario...") clearly delineates some aspects of Valpo's institutional orthodoxy, things not to be said, questioned, or perhaps even thought. Peter is entirely right: for you, things not in line with institutional orthodoxies are heresies, things which are unable to be thought, and you cannot for a moment understand ("I can't imagine") how anyone might agree with or hold them, because they are not Right Thought there is something wrong with someone spouting them, for to hold them is to be a propagandist, a bigot, or mentally impaired. This is not how the Academy has traditionally functioned, but it is how dissidents were dealt with under Stalin's heirs.

Your fear of "shut[ting] down the learning process" leaves your students with method, and nothing more. A useful method, to be sure differing positions should be examined and investigated, and learning to deal critically and logically with texts, facts, and arguments is essential but one that does not give the tools to do more than agree that one take on a matter is less strong than some others. What is missing here is an understanding that perspectives are merely another piece of data, and have no value in and of themselves except as another angle from which to view something; while in some cases we might not be able to see clearly just what the truth of something is (in the "black-and-white" sense), we can substantially narrow things down after subtracting, among other things, the prejudices that those differing perspectives bring to the table. If all you have or end up with are "perspectives" and "views"...then there's no point in helping your students examine varying perspectives, unless your job is simply to help students practice proper method. if that's the case, then by all means, keep at it.


When the truth is the truth, the proper method will discern it. Truth is able to stand up to examination. College should be a time students learn to think critically, not just blindly accept what a professor says.


Someone wrote about his apologetics course and the professor said, "You defend God like you defend a lion. You get out of the way."
"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]

LCMS87

  • Guest
Re: I don't understand? Concordia Portland asked to be independent?
« Reply #137 on: June 02, 2017, 02:06:07 PM »

"But what will a confessional synod need more in the days ahead?  A nice leafy grove surrounded by wealth and respectability trying to keep up appearances with worn clothes, or a slightly downscale place with a chip on its shoulder but a clear mission to take on the world in every way possible?  The second fits who we are and the times better.  The first is weeping over Babylon the fallen."

The above suggests that the St. Louis seminary under the leadership of Dale Meyer does not have a clear mission to take on the world.  IOW, does St. Louis not think globally in terms of the mission Christ entrusts to His Bride, the Church?

marie meyer

I guess I would say that St. Louis' "thinking globally" is the problem.  When I say take on the world, I mean it in the sense of "the devil, the world and our sinful nature".  Or the sense of Athanasius contra mundum.  Or Benedict. Which all go back to Jesus turning down all those kingdoms.  None of those who "took on the world" were doing so from some "thinking globally" statement.  They were doing, in their place, what they could, against the temptations to bow down to temporal power and glory.  Each was an intensely personal and time bound choice.  Like Lot and his wife fleeing Sodom.  That is something that preaches in every individual's life.

St. Louis is very H. Richard Niebuhr-esqe.  It "thinks globally" in the Christ and culture sense.  Individuals become statistics and people groups and eventually *-studies departments.  It all makes sense from a c-suite.  But it doesn't preach.  It doesn't have that kairos moment.  So it tends to be the longer path to acceptance of whatever culture you engage.     

This comment is way off.

M. Staneck

My reaction was that Pr. Brown's characterization of our two seminaries resonated with my perceptions over the past decade or so.  Clearly that's not a uniform conclusion.  One thing that seems clear from Pr. Benke's response above, though, is that however we might characterize it, individuals of diverse opinions believe there is a discernible difference in the way our two Seminaries approach culture.

My own evaluation is that in regards to being in the world but not of the world my alma mater tends toward blurring the line between the two, whereas the seminary my wife and I support financially and in which we have encouraged students to enroll guards somewhat more carefully against becoming of the world.

Unfortunately it's difficult within the strictures of an online forum and the eighth commandment to engage in a full discussion of the reasons why I've come to this conclusion.  I'd only say that it involves engagement with the Concordia Journal and Concordia Theological Quarterly, presentations by faculty from both seminaries, along with the programs they sponsor and the publications they send out.  In other words, mine is a considered opinion even if you believe it to be erroneous.

Matt Staneck

  • ALPB Contribution Leader
  • *****
  • Posts: 3337
  • Shabbat Shalom! Matthew 11:28-30, 12:8
    • View Profile
Re: I don't understand? Concordia Portland asked to be independent?
« Reply #138 on: June 02, 2017, 02:25:06 PM »
I could've been more specific. I especially took issue with this comment: "Individuals become statistics and people groups and eventually *-studies departments." This conclusion(?) is baseless.

I don't deny that CSL thinks globally (I really have no way to compare to Fort Wayne since I didn't go there but I very much like President Rast). But I think CSL attempts to think globally in the way that Lutheranism is a global confession. CSL is by no means above improvement (and even correction), but it's baseless to say that it processes human beings into statistics. I went to St. Louis recently and I keep in touch with faculty and current students. Send your money wherever you want, but the above presented idea is not true.

M. Staneck
Matt Staneck, Pastor
St. John's Evangelical Lutheran Church
Queens, NY

Voelker

  • Guest
Re: I don't understand? Concordia Portland asked to be independent?
« Reply #139 on: June 02, 2017, 02:25:20 PM »
Please, tell me what you think my "ideology" is? And can you provide a brief summary of Valpo's "institutional orthodoxy," things not to be said, questioned, or perhaps thought? Apparently you know Valpo and me better than I do, so please enlighten me and free me from my blindness....
You yourself lay out some things your ideology, whatever it might be, will not countenance:
As to the rest of your hypothetical scenario, I can't imagine why a faculty member at VU would feel the need to publicly and forcefully deny the validity of gay marriage or the benevolence of #blacklivesmatter, declare Islam a false and destructive religion, or promote what you describe as "the idea of male/female as a binary per Genesis and not a spectrum." The one so denying, declaring, and promoting would likely be acting contrary to central values of our academic community and would come in for strong criticism on those grounds.
I could guess to what other items and areas would also fall into this fenced-off region, but there's no way to be sure unless one is part of the Valpo community, which I am not. All that is addressed here is what you yourself have claimed falls within Valpo’s no-man's land. What we have been given are some of the contours of the ideology to which you’re blind; not enough of the whole has been revealed to properly categorize it. I’m in no place to figure out just which ideolog(y)(ies) hold you captive; perhaps listening to a few of Žižek’s lectures would aid self-diagnosis.

None of us can escape being perspectival. You can't jump over your own shadow. Your comments, too, would be opened to careful analysis/criticism, if shared in a Valpo classroom.
Well, yeah. No claim for an aperspectival position here, and of course my comments, if shared in a Valpo classroom, would be “opened to careful analysis/criticsm.” Who would think or want otherwise? What was claimed, however, is that there is nothing special about a particular perspective or particular person's perspective, other than it exists and influences how things are read or seen, and then accounted for adequately (thus, "perspectives are merely another piece of data"). That someone else has another perspective than mine, however, doesn't make theirs or mine special because they are perspectives; recognizing differing perspectives simply points out how we come at the problem from alternate directions, and help us round out the data we have to work with — what we know, what we’ve missed, what we may still have yet to determine. Recognizing perspectives is merely a tool in sussing out the truth of things.

Mark Brown

  • ALPB Contribution Leader
  • *****
  • Posts: 1315
  • Pastor, St. Mark Lutheran, West Henrietta, NY
    • View Profile
    • Saint Mark's Website
Re: I don't understand? Concordia Portland asked to be independent?
« Reply #140 on: June 02, 2017, 02:58:12 PM »

"But what will a confessional synod need more in the days ahead?  A nice leafy grove surrounded by wealth and respectability trying to keep up appearances with worn clothes, or a slightly downscale place with a chip on its shoulder but a clear mission to take on the world in every way possible?  The second fits who we are and the times better.  The first is weeping over Babylon the fallen."

The above suggests that the St. Louis seminary under the leadership of Dale Meyer does not have a clear mission to take on the world.  IOW, does St. Louis not think globally in terms of the mission Christ entrusts to His Bride, the Church?

marie meyer

I guess I would say that St. Louis' "thinking globally" is the problem.  When I say take on the world, I mean it in the sense of "the devil, the world and our sinful nature".  Or the sense of Athanasius contra mundum.  Or Benedict. Which all go back to Jesus turning down all those kingdoms.  None of those who "took on the world" were doing so from some "thinking globally" statement.  They were doing, in their place, what they could, against the temptations to bow down to temporal power and glory.  Each was an intensely personal and time bound choice.  Like Lot and his wife fleeing Sodom.  That is something that preaches in every individual's life.

St. Louis is very H. Richard Niebuhr-esqe.  It "thinks globally" in the Christ and culture sense.  Individuals become statistics and people groups and eventually *-studies departments.  It all makes sense from a c-suite.  But it doesn't preach.  It doesn't have that kairos moment.  So it tends to be the longer path to acceptance of whatever culture you engage.     

I make it a habit to read the Concordia Theological Journal and Dale Meyer's daily devotional thoughts. To suggest that he or Journal articles think of individuals as "statistics" or people groups as "studies departments" is  judgment that deserves re-thinking.

Marie Meyer

Let me make an LCMS observation and an elaboration on my statement.  The observation is that everything in LCMS politics eventually becomes personalized.  Saying that you think St. Louis' approach is out of step with the needs of the current environment is taken as an attack on Dale Meyer.  And who could attack Dale Meyer.  I happen to read Concordia Journal cover to cover when it comes.  I used to occasionally listen to those devotional thoughts.  Yes, Dale Meyer is a very personally warm guy.  He personally would never devolve people to statistics or process.  But my point is not about Dale Meyer as a person.

The elaboration on the statement is this.  There are times to cast away stones, and times to gather stones together.  St. Louis' approach, the H. Richard Niebuhr approach of Christ and Culture, is to cast away stones.  You take people who are fully formed in the faith, send them to a different culture, and let them figure out through interaction how to believe, teach and confess what they do, in that other culture's idiom.  In the process what you hope to eventually do is form a true native, as the sent one is never going to be a true native.  The presuppositions to that approach are: a) a sending culture that is able to produce and form someone and b) a receiving culture that in some sense "has ears to hear".  The Ft. Wayne approach, as far as I can intuit from reading their journal and observing its graduates, is the gathering of stones together.  You gather a group who believe, teach and confess the same things together, but who might not fully know what that means, or are at different points of maturity.  Through their life together, which should be salt and light, the pagans will see their good deeds and praise the Father.  There is still cultural interaction, but it is done by the community gathered in the midst attempting to live its life in the midst of a more hostile world, not by a casting away of a stone.  The presuppositions of that approach are: a) a sending culture that is weak enough it isn't sure of forming disciples itself, so it needs some separation and b) the culture that you are in the midst might have individuals who will over time hear, but is largely hostile or has rejected your witness.  St. Louis is apostolic (formed by Christ himself) and Christendom based - solid formation/expectation of hearing.  Ft. Wayne is Augustinian/Benedictine/pseudo-monastic and built for a time of dissolution.

When you send a half formed person into a cultural dissolution what happens is not St. Paul's Fowler's Stage 5 confident faith, not Dale Meyer's personal warmth, what happens is a struggle to comprehend both what I believe, teach and confess and what the culture is telling me.  And the way that is done today is by numbers.  The first thing that greets a seminarian in a new call is the LCEF statistical summary for the area they have been called to.  The pastoral min suggestions both in sem and by the immediate books everybody grabs (usually Rainer but not limited to his) are here is how you categorize.  The secular culture is all about ID-politics.  And when you are not sure who you are, it is very easy to confuse absorbing with translating, acceptance with discernment of gold from dross in the culture.

I think it is a time to gather stones together.  I think people who are pushing a casting strategy are either nostalgic, in denial or hopelessly optimistic.  In biblical terms I'd say they are letting their "innocent as doves" overpower their "shrewd as snakes".  But then being the one counseling being snake-like I would not expect a warm welcome. 

Weedon

  • Guest
Re: I don't understand? Concordia Portland asked to be independent?
« Reply #141 on: June 02, 2017, 03:15:44 PM »
Mark,

Could you explain what you mean by this sentence a little more. I'm not sure I'm tracking with your argument here, and I'm intrigued by what are postulating:

The presuppositions of that approach are: a) a sending culture that is weak enough it isn't sure of forming disciples itself, so it needs some separation

TIA!

LCMS87

  • Guest
Re: I don't understand? Concordia Portland asked to be independent?
« Reply #142 on: June 02, 2017, 03:22:23 PM »
I could've been more specific. I especially took issue with this comment: "Individuals become statistics and people groups and eventually *-studies departments." This conclusion(?) is baseless.

I don't deny that CSL thinks globally (I really have no way to compare to Fort Wayne since I didn't go there but I very much like President Rast). But I think CSL attempts to think globally in the way that Lutheranism is a global confession. CSL is by no means above improvement (and even correction), but it's baseless to say that it processes human beings into statistics. I went to St. Louis recently and I keep in touch with faculty and current students. Send your money wherever you want, but the above presented idea is not true.

M. Staneck

Pr. Staneck, I appreciate your clarification.  I could have been clearer as well.  The sentence to which you reacted didn't factor heavily in my response.  Indeed, I took it to be hyperbole, extending an apparent tendency to its typical eventual conclusion in our culture.  My response was in connection with Pr. Brown's general thesis in the post quoted and his earlier one which Dcs. Meyer excerpted.

One thing this discussion has brought into stark clarity for me for the first time is the place of campus infrastructure in any consideration of going to a single seminary.  For the most part, the land and buildings have nothing to do with the decision.   Whichever seminary was "closed" the faculty and staff of the other could be moved into the now vacant campus and you'd have the Theological Seminary in St. Louis or the St. Louis seminary in Ft. Wayne.  From what I gather, whatever were to be done regarding the educational program, it would be most fiscally advantageous to sell the Clayton campus and retain the one in Ft. Wayne.  Obviously that decision would require real expertise, not my impression.  But doing such a thing wouldn't necessarily mean closing Concordia Seminary and retaining Concordia Theological Seminary.  If a decision were made to have just one seminary, my guess is that some kind of merger would be likely, with some faculty and administrators taking calls to parishes or other institutions, or retiring.  The single seminary would be some sort of hybrid of the previous two.  And it would likely have a character distinct from either of our current seminaries.     

Dave Benke

  • ALPB Contribution Leader
  • *****
  • Posts: 13337
    • View Profile
    • Atlantic District, LCMS
Re: I don't understand? Concordia Portland asked to be independent?
« Reply #143 on: June 02, 2017, 03:59:09 PM »

"But what will a confessional synod need more in the days ahead?  A nice leafy grove surrounded by wealth and respectability trying to keep up appearances with worn clothes, or a slightly downscale place with a chip on its shoulder but a clear mission to take on the world in every way possible?  The second fits who we are and the times better.  The first is weeping over Babylon the fallen."

The above suggests that the St. Louis seminary under the leadership of Dale Meyer does not have a clear mission to take on the world.  IOW, does St. Louis not think globally in terms of the mission Christ entrusts to His Bride, the Church?

marie meyer

I guess I would say that St. Louis' "thinking globally" is the problem.  When I say take on the world, I mean it in the sense of "the devil, the world and our sinful nature".  Or the sense of Athanasius contra mundum.  Or Benedict. Which all go back to Jesus turning down all those kingdoms.  None of those who "took on the world" were doing so from some "thinking globally" statement.  They were doing, in their place, what they could, against the temptations to bow down to temporal power and glory.  Each was an intensely personal and time bound choice.  Like Lot and his wife fleeing Sodom.  That is something that preaches in every individual's life.

St. Louis is very H. Richard Niebuhr-esqe.  It "thinks globally" in the Christ and culture sense.  Individuals become statistics and people groups and eventually *-studies departments.  It all makes sense from a c-suite.  But it doesn't preach.  It doesn't have that kairos moment.  So it tends to be the longer path to acceptance of whatever culture you engage.     

I make it a habit to read the Concordia Theological Journal and Dale Meyer's daily devotional thoughts. To suggest that he or Journal articles think of individuals as "statistics" or people groups as "studies departments" is  judgment that deserves re-thinking.

Marie Meyer

Let me make an LCMS observation and an elaboration on my statement.  The observation is that everything in LCMS politics eventually becomes personalized.  Saying that you think St. Louis' approach is out of step with the needs of the current environment is taken as an attack on Dale Meyer.  And who could attack Dale Meyer.  I happen to read Concordia Journal cover to cover when it comes.  I used to occasionally listen to those devotional thoughts.  Yes, Dale Meyer is a very personally warm guy.  He personally would never devolve people to statistics or process.  But my point is not about Dale Meyer as a person.

The elaboration on the statement is this.  There are times to cast away stones, and times to gather stones together.  St. Louis' approach, the H. Richard Niebuhr approach of Christ and Culture, is to cast away stones.  You take people who are fully formed in the faith, send them to a different culture, and let them figure out through interaction how to believe, teach and confess what they do, in that other culture's idiom.  In the process what you hope to eventually do is form a true native, as the sent one is never going to be a true native.  The presuppositions to that approach are: a) a sending culture that is able to produce and form someone and b) a receiving culture that in some sense "has ears to hear".  The Ft. Wayne approach, as far as I can intuit from reading their journal and observing its graduates, is the gathering of stones together.  You gather a group who believe, teach and confess the same things together, but who might not fully know what that means, or are at different points of maturity.  Through their life together, which should be salt and light, the pagans will see their good deeds and praise the Father.  There is still cultural interaction, but it is done by the community gathered in the midst attempting to live its life in the midst of a more hostile world, not by a casting away of a stone.  The presuppositions of that approach are: a) a sending culture that is weak enough it isn't sure of forming disciples itself, so it needs some separation and b) the culture that you are in the midst might have individuals who will over time hear, but is largely hostile or has rejected your witness.  St. Louis is apostolic (formed by Christ himself) and Christendom based - solid formation/expectation of hearing.  Ft. Wayne is Augustinian/Benedictine/pseudo-monastic and built for a time of dissolution.

When you send a half formed person into a cultural dissolution what happens is not St. Paul's Fowler's Stage 5 confident faith, not Dale Meyer's personal warmth, what happens is a struggle to comprehend both what I believe, teach and confess and what the culture is telling me.  And the way that is done today is by numbers.  The first thing that greets a seminarian in a new call is the LCEF statistical summary for the area they have been called to.  The pastoral min suggestions both in sem and by the immediate books everybody grabs (usually Rainer but not limited to his) are here is how you categorize.  The secular culture is all about ID-politics.  And when you are not sure who you are, it is very easy to confuse absorbing with translating, acceptance with discernment of gold from dross in the culture.

I think it is a time to gather stones together.  I think people who are pushing a casting strategy are either nostalgic, in denial or hopelessly optimistic.  In biblical terms I'd say they are letting their "innocent as doves" overpower their "shrewd as snakes".  But then being the one counseling being snake-like I would not expect a warm welcome.

I like this, and agree with your assessment as far as it goes.  We, the oldsters, entered the seminary at St. Paul's Fowler's Stage 5 Confident Faith (which sounds like hair tonic or shaving cream), having been raised inside the walls for (in my case) 16 years prior to entering the seminary.  The percentage of students in that category now would be slimmish.  I don't have a problem with, then, gathering stones together for bonding to the wonderfully dynamic doctrinal corpus in our possession.

The down side of taking unformed/half-quarter-formed students and indoctrinating them and inoculating them against the world, however, is that they become more than faith-holders against the tide. 
They become indoctrinees, ideological wards of the counter-culture, tending toward the stiff and standoffish for fear of touching the unclean, purveyors and articulants of the bylaw change and the hyper-fine-tuned theological opinion as the cure-all.  Purposeful disengagement can then become the default strategy. 

Jesus, in this picture, was the other Guy, the One in trouble specifically for failing to live up to the standoffish standards, the impure Pure Son of God.

Dave Benke

Mark Brown

  • ALPB Contribution Leader
  • *****
  • Posts: 1315
  • Pastor, St. Mark Lutheran, West Henrietta, NY
    • View Profile
    • Saint Mark's Website
Re: I don't understand? Concordia Portland asked to be independent?
« Reply #144 on: June 02, 2017, 04:03:41 PM »
Mark,

Could you explain what you mean by this sentence a little more. I'm not sure I'm tracking with your argument here, and I'm intrigued by what are postulating:

The presuppositions of that approach are: a) a sending culture that is weak enough it isn't sure of forming disciples itself, so it needs some separation

TIA!

Lutheranism in American in the 20 - 40 year old range that would send someone to seminary, that would then send them to pastor or be a missionary, is not a strong identity.  What are the most recent survey numbers - 30-50% of the people in are pews, high younger, don't believe what we teach on foundational things?  When Mark 10 comes up (Oct 2-8, proper 22, Matthew 19 conveniently gets skipped!), don't you know that you are going into that pulpit and preaching a word that is rejected by many in the pews?  Some flagrantly?  Confirmation (on my mind because ours is this weekend), confirmation instruction used to be serious in the sense that parents would force children to memorize or do the homework and take the tests.  And people would come out of the woodworks to enroll their kids.  Today, you don't have the woodworks, you will not get parents forcing homework like schoolwork and you better schedule the time such that it doesn't interfere with anything more important, which is almost everything.  I could continue the litany.  And this is not meant as a complaint.  It just is.  Or at least it is in places that haven't been deeply and intentionally shepherded over the past 40 years.  If the seminaries were taking in people as Lutheran as as 22 yo Dale Meyer, a sending strategy makes sense.  We should trust Dale Meyer to incarnate to an alien culture.  But they aren't, and they won't be.  Biblically we aren't dealing with Timothy's, but with John Mark's.   As Paul eventually realized, you can't just throw a John Mark at an alien culture.  When the church identity or culture is that weak, you withdraw a little.  You ensure that there is a core that can strengthen and encourage each other, that grows together.   You send John Mark to travel with Peter, and in his age after writing the gospel he can go to Alexandria.  Because we are weak, we need a generation to relearn what it means to be a disciple.  And the longer we want to pretend that we are strong, we fritter away what strength is left.

Weedon

  • Guest
Re: I don't understand? Concordia Portland asked to be independent?
« Reply #145 on: June 02, 2017, 04:08:01 PM »
Mark,

Thanks for the explanation. I get what you are saying now.

Mark Brown

  • ALPB Contribution Leader
  • *****
  • Posts: 1315
  • Pastor, St. Mark Lutheran, West Henrietta, NY
    • View Profile
    • Saint Mark's Website
Re: I don't understand? Concordia Portland asked to be independent?
« Reply #146 on: June 02, 2017, 04:13:14 PM »

"But what will a confessional synod need more in the days ahead?  A nice leafy grove surrounded by wealth and respectability trying to keep up appearances with worn clothes, or a slightly downscale place with a chip on its shoulder but a clear mission to take on the world in every way possible?  The second fits who we are and the times better.  The first is weeping over Babylon the fallen."

The above suggests that the St. Louis seminary under the leadership of Dale Meyer does not have a clear mission to take on the world.  IOW, does St. Louis not think globally in terms of the mission Christ entrusts to His Bride, the Church?

marie meyer

I guess I would say that St. Louis' "thinking globally" is the problem.  When I say take on the world, I mean it in the sense of "the devil, the world and our sinful nature".  Or the sense of Athanasius contra mundum.  Or Benedict. Which all go back to Jesus turning down all those kingdoms.  None of those who "took on the world" were doing so from some "thinking globally" statement.  They were doing, in their place, what they could, against the temptations to bow down to temporal power and glory.  Each was an intensely personal and time bound choice.  Like Lot and his wife fleeing Sodom.  That is something that preaches in every individual's life.

St. Louis is very H. Richard Niebuhr-esqe.  It "thinks globally" in the Christ and culture sense.  Individuals become statistics and people groups and eventually *-studies departments.  It all makes sense from a c-suite.  But it doesn't preach.  It doesn't have that kairos moment.  So it tends to be the longer path to acceptance of whatever culture you engage.     

I make it a habit to read the Concordia Theological Journal and Dale Meyer's daily devotional thoughts. To suggest that he or Journal articles think of individuals as "statistics" or people groups as "studies departments" is  judgment that deserves re-thinking.

Marie Meyer

Let me make an LCMS observation and an elaboration on my statement.  The observation is that everything in LCMS politics eventually becomes personalized.  Saying that you think St. Louis' approach is out of step with the needs of the current environment is taken as an attack on Dale Meyer.  And who could attack Dale Meyer.  I happen to read Concordia Journal cover to cover when it comes.  I used to occasionally listen to those devotional thoughts.  Yes, Dale Meyer is a very personally warm guy.  He personally would never devolve people to statistics or process.  But my point is not about Dale Meyer as a person.

The elaboration on the statement is this.  There are times to cast away stones, and times to gather stones together.  St. Louis' approach, the H. Richard Niebuhr approach of Christ and Culture, is to cast away stones.  You take people who are fully formed in the faith, send them to a different culture, and let them figure out through interaction how to believe, teach and confess what they do, in that other culture's idiom.  In the process what you hope to eventually do is form a true native, as the sent one is never going to be a true native.  The presuppositions to that approach are: a) a sending culture that is able to produce and form someone and b) a receiving culture that in some sense "has ears to hear".  The Ft. Wayne approach, as far as I can intuit from reading their journal and observing its graduates, is the gathering of stones together.  You gather a group who believe, teach and confess the same things together, but who might not fully know what that means, or are at different points of maturity.  Through their life together, which should be salt and light, the pagans will see their good deeds and praise the Father.  There is still cultural interaction, but it is done by the community gathered in the midst attempting to live its life in the midst of a more hostile world, not by a casting away of a stone.  The presuppositions of that approach are: a) a sending culture that is weak enough it isn't sure of forming disciples itself, so it needs some separation and b) the culture that you are in the midst might have individuals who will over time hear, but is largely hostile or has rejected your witness.  St. Louis is apostolic (formed by Christ himself) and Christendom based - solid formation/expectation of hearing.  Ft. Wayne is Augustinian/Benedictine/pseudo-monastic and built for a time of dissolution.

When you send a half formed person into a cultural dissolution what happens is not St. Paul's Fowler's Stage 5 confident faith, not Dale Meyer's personal warmth, what happens is a struggle to comprehend both what I believe, teach and confess and what the culture is telling me.  And the way that is done today is by numbers.  The first thing that greets a seminarian in a new call is the LCEF statistical summary for the area they have been called to.  The pastoral min suggestions both in sem and by the immediate books everybody grabs (usually Rainer but not limited to his) are here is how you categorize.  The secular culture is all about ID-politics.  And when you are not sure who you are, it is very easy to confuse absorbing with translating, acceptance with discernment of gold from dross in the culture.

I think it is a time to gather stones together.  I think people who are pushing a casting strategy are either nostalgic, in denial or hopelessly optimistic.  In biblical terms I'd say they are letting their "innocent as doves" overpower their "shrewd as snakes".  But then being the one counseling being snake-like I would not expect a warm welcome.

I like this, and agree with your assessment as far as it goes.  We, the oldsters, entered the seminary at St. Paul's Fowler's Stage 5 Confident Faith (which sounds like hair tonic or shaving cream), having been raised inside the walls for (in my case) 16 years prior to entering the seminary.  The percentage of students in that category now would be slimmish.  I don't have a problem with, then, gathering stones together for bonding to the wonderfully dynamic doctrinal corpus in our possession.

The down side of taking unformed/half-quarter-formed students and indoctrinating them and inoculating them against the world, however, is that they become more than faith-holders against the tide. 
They become indoctrinees, ideological wards of the counter-culture, tending toward the stiff and standoffish for fear of touching the unclean, purveyors and articulants of the bylaw change and the hyper-fine-tuned theological opinion as the cure-all.  Purposeful disengagement can then become the default strategy. 

Jesus, in this picture, was the other Guy, the One in trouble specifically for failing to live up to the standoffish standards, the impure Pure Son of God.

Dave Benke

True, disengagement could become a standard, but it is one that I just don't fear at all.  But then I took Dr. Robinson's Western Monasticism.  There is a stock phrase about out culture - "you will be made to care."  When the Little Sisters of the Poor have held headlines for a while, you get the sense of why I don't fear disengagement.  Either the Spirit or Satan won't let it happen.  We may long for it, but it won't happen just because if we are living what we say we believe, teach and confess, we are going to be a light shining in a dark place.  You can't hide a city on a hill.

Dave Likeness

  • ALPB Contribution Leader
  • *****
  • Posts: 5284
    • View Profile
Re: I don't understand? Concordia Portland asked to be independent?
« Reply #147 on: June 02, 2017, 05:07:04 PM »
Bishop Benke hinted at some LCMS history that might interest our younger posters.

Carl and Leonard Wuerffel were brothers.  (Leonard was a professor at St. Louis Seminary)

Leonard had a son named Chuck who attended Concordia Jr. College Milwaukee
and went on to become a Lutheran school teacher.  Chuck looked like Charles Atlas and
was in excellent physical condition.  When he was in the swimming pool at Concordia
he really made waves.  He was an acolyte for Dean Bill Ackmann

Carl had two sons. Ted and Jon , who went to Concordia Seminary, St. Louis and
became ordained pastors.  Ted was really into vocal music.

Jon had a son named Danny who won a Heisman Trophy while playing college football

Dave Benke

  • ALPB Contribution Leader
  • *****
  • Posts: 13337
    • View Profile
    • Atlantic District, LCMS
Re: I don't understand? Concordia Portland asked to be independent?
« Reply #148 on: June 02, 2017, 05:41:05 PM »

"But what will a confessional synod need more in the days ahead?  A nice leafy grove surrounded by wealth and respectability trying to keep up appearances with worn clothes, or a slightly downscale place with a chip on its shoulder but a clear mission to take on the world in every way possible?  The second fits who we are and the times better.  The first is weeping over Babylon the fallen."

The above suggests that the St. Louis seminary under the leadership of Dale Meyer does not have a clear mission to take on the world.  IOW, does St. Louis not think globally in terms of the mission Christ entrusts to His Bride, the Church?

marie meyer

I guess I would say that St. Louis' "thinking globally" is the problem.  When I say take on the world, I mean it in the sense of "the devil, the world and our sinful nature".  Or the sense of Athanasius contra mundum.  Or Benedict. Which all go back to Jesus turning down all those kingdoms.  None of those who "took on the world" were doing so from some "thinking globally" statement.  They were doing, in their place, what they could, against the temptations to bow down to temporal power and glory.  Each was an intensely personal and time bound choice.  Like Lot and his wife fleeing Sodom.  That is something that preaches in every individual's life.

St. Louis is very H. Richard Niebuhr-esqe.  It "thinks globally" in the Christ and culture sense.  Individuals become statistics and people groups and eventually *-studies departments.  It all makes sense from a c-suite.  But it doesn't preach.  It doesn't have that kairos moment.  So it tends to be the longer path to acceptance of whatever culture you engage.     

I make it a habit to read the Concordia Theological Journal and Dale Meyer's daily devotional thoughts. To suggest that he or Journal articles think of individuals as "statistics" or people groups as "studies departments" is  judgment that deserves re-thinking.

Marie Meyer

Let me make an LCMS observation and an elaboration on my statement.  The observation is that everything in LCMS politics eventually becomes personalized.  Saying that you think St. Louis' approach is out of step with the needs of the current environment is taken as an attack on Dale Meyer.  And who could attack Dale Meyer.  I happen to read Concordia Journal cover to cover when it comes.  I used to occasionally listen to those devotional thoughts.  Yes, Dale Meyer is a very personally warm guy.  He personally would never devolve people to statistics or process.  But my point is not about Dale Meyer as a person.

The elaboration on the statement is this.  There are times to cast away stones, and times to gather stones together.  St. Louis' approach, the H. Richard Niebuhr approach of Christ and Culture, is to cast away stones.  You take people who are fully formed in the faith, send them to a different culture, and let them figure out through interaction how to believe, teach and confess what they do, in that other culture's idiom.  In the process what you hope to eventually do is form a true native, as the sent one is never going to be a true native.  The presuppositions to that approach are: a) a sending culture that is able to produce and form someone and b) a receiving culture that in some sense "has ears to hear".  The Ft. Wayne approach, as far as I can intuit from reading their journal and observing its graduates, is the gathering of stones together.  You gather a group who believe, teach and confess the same things together, but who might not fully know what that means, or are at different points of maturity.  Through their life together, which should be salt and light, the pagans will see their good deeds and praise the Father.  There is still cultural interaction, but it is done by the community gathered in the midst attempting to live its life in the midst of a more hostile world, not by a casting away of a stone.  The presuppositions of that approach are: a) a sending culture that is weak enough it isn't sure of forming disciples itself, so it needs some separation and b) the culture that you are in the midst might have individuals who will over time hear, but is largely hostile or has rejected your witness.  St. Louis is apostolic (formed by Christ himself) and Christendom based - solid formation/expectation of hearing.  Ft. Wayne is Augustinian/Benedictine/pseudo-monastic and built for a time of dissolution.

When you send a half formed person into a cultural dissolution what happens is not St. Paul's Fowler's Stage 5 confident faith, not Dale Meyer's personal warmth, what happens is a struggle to comprehend both what I believe, teach and confess and what the culture is telling me.  And the way that is done today is by numbers.  The first thing that greets a seminarian in a new call is the LCEF statistical summary for the area they have been called to.  The pastoral min suggestions both in sem and by the immediate books everybody grabs (usually Rainer but not limited to his) are here is how you categorize.  The secular culture is all about ID-politics.  And when you are not sure who you are, it is very easy to confuse absorbing with translating, acceptance with discernment of gold from dross in the culture.

I think it is a time to gather stones together.  I think people who are pushing a casting strategy are either nostalgic, in denial or hopelessly optimistic.  In biblical terms I'd say they are letting their "innocent as doves" overpower their "shrewd as snakes".  But then being the one counseling being snake-like I would not expect a warm welcome.

I like this, and agree with your assessment as far as it goes.  We, the oldsters, entered the seminary at St. Paul's Fowler's Stage 5 Confident Faith (which sounds like hair tonic or shaving cream), having been raised inside the walls for (in my case) 16 years prior to entering the seminary.  The percentage of students in that category now would be slimmish.  I don't have a problem with, then, gathering stones together for bonding to the wonderfully dynamic doctrinal corpus in our possession.

The down side of taking unformed/half-quarter-formed students and indoctrinating them and inoculating them against the world, however, is that they become more than faith-holders against the tide. 
They become indoctrinees, ideological wards of the counter-culture, tending toward the stiff and standoffish for fear of touching the unclean, purveyors and articulants of the bylaw change and the hyper-fine-tuned theological opinion as the cure-all.  Purposeful disengagement can then become the default strategy. 

Jesus, in this picture, was the other Guy, the One in trouble specifically for failing to live up to the standoffish standards, the impure Pure Son of God.

Dave Benke

True, disengagement could become a standard, but it is one that I just don't fear at all.  But then I took Dr. Robinson's Western Monasticism.  There is a stock phrase about out culture - "you will be made to care."  When the Little Sisters of the Poor have held headlines for a while, you get the sense of why I don't fear disengagement.  Either the Spirit or Satan won't let it happen.  We may long for it, but it won't happen just because if we are living what we say we believe, teach and confess, we are going to be a light shining in a dark place.  You can't hide a city on a hill.

OK as far as you go, Mark.  But a) being a City on a Hill includes, as with the Little Sisters of the Poor, who have an NYC hq in the Bronx, engaging those in the area, not running and hiding from them or avoiding them as actually or potentially impure.   And b) an ordained person ideologically trained to disengage is also leading a flock of folks in that direction, not just on the moral issues, but as a default position vis a vis the world in which the congregants are enmeshed.   Let's take the Mennonites in my neighborhood.  What they have done over time is to take positions with NYC or in neighborhood organizations to bring service to those living in East New York.  Their mind-set/life-set/value base is very well-defined and is, I would say, counter-cultural.  Their way of explaining and exploring that with other people is to assist, for example, in running our community garden, where our day care kids plant tomatoes.  It doesn't have to be St. Peter's or People of the Way's garden.  We can engage through gardening.

As to the outcome, of course, the Light that shines is not ours, but Christ.

Dave Benke

Weedon

  • Guest
Re: I don't understand? Concordia Portland asked to be independent?
« Reply #149 on: June 02, 2017, 05:56:11 PM »
Bishop,

I don't think that Mark was advocating disengaging from those in the area and he explicitly said there can be no running and hiding: "You will be made to care." I honestly don't know who any of these pastors are who advocate disengagement. To move back to the monastic movement again, it is utterly falsification of history to portray it as retreat from society to keep one's self from being untouched by impurity. The great monastics, particularly of the West, were above all evangelists. They sought to spread the Gospel and actively went forward to do so. They just knew that it couldn't be done outside of that community gathered around the wells of the Coming Kingdom. They literally lived from the Mass and the Office, and drew strength from brothers (or sisters) who joined them in planting bits of order into the midst of the chaos. The order being, above all, a taste of the future kingdom itself to which they were inviting and summoning the world into which they went, knowing that it was a world that would often hate them, seek to wipe them out, and ideologically never welcome them. It was okay. They lived from the end and to the end they invited, they engaged, if you will.

P.S. Said another way, they weren't into building bridges. They offered folks the ride of their life in a divine transporter to the age to come. Beam me up, Scotty! Or rather, come with us to where the future kingdom is beamed down to us!!!

P.S.S. If we thought like the monastics we'd realize that the task of evangelism and the task of planting communities nurtured in the Mass and Office are one in the same. Evangelism is the invitation to feast on this life that is pouring in through them. Without that community at the core you're only inviting folks into a "go out and get some more club" which I have termed missiolatry.
« Last Edit: June 02, 2017, 06:08:02 PM by Weedon »