Draft ELCA Social Statement on Women & Justice Released

Started by RPG, November 22, 2017, 01:52:14 PM

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Harvey_Mozolak

Peter, I do not mean to disagree with your distinction but when one speaks about vocation there is the issue of which vocation or are there several vocations... perhaps an example:  A farmer who grows carrots asks the question of the preacher at the door and when told to live out his or her vocation does that mean as a Christian to grow carrots, good, healthy ones, dealing with farm hands and equipment salesmen with honesty and care or does that mean serving on the church evangelism committee and teaching Sunday School and helping put up the Christmas tree?  Or both?  Or give up carrot farming here and go to some far corner of the earth as a Christian missionary farmer teaching folks carrot farming and sharing the faith?  The divide between doing nothing and doing the most saintly looking thing has a number of steps.  How do you see it?  And of course I did not include like the Table being a good parent, child of parents, citizen and the like. 
Harvey S. Mozolak
my poetry blog is listed below:

http://lineandletterlettuce.blogspot.com

DCharlton

#136
Quote from: pearson on November 26, 2017, 03:46:32 PM
Doggone it, Pr. Charlton, you ask profound and sometimes troubling questions here.  Cut it out.

But, from within the confines of my own limited perspective on such matters, here are my tentative answers:

Quote from: DCharlton on November 26, 2017, 02:21:30 PM

1.  Is that lack an oversight on the part of the Lutheran tradition, or intentional?


It seems to me it is neither one.  Given the methodological priorities, and theological emphases, of the Lutheran tradition, it's difficult to find much room for a robust ethics.  It would be a bit like asking if the lack of a premillennial dispensationalism was an oversight on the part of the Lutheran tradition, or intentional.  There's just not much there to craft a premillennial dispensationalism, and there's just not much there to craft an ethical doctrine.

Quote from: DCharlton on November 26, 2017, 02:21:30 PM

2.  Is that lack a good thing or a bad thing?


If we Lutherans are convinced that the doctrine of justification is truly "the doctrine on which the Church stands or falls," and if we think that the Lutheran distinctive revolves around preaching Law and Gospel, then I suppose it's a good thing.  It's a good thing, that is, in that we are not supposed to confuse justification with sanctification, or Law with Gospel; or be tempted to turn good works into moral imperatives.  On the other hand (sorry, Pr. Austin), if we Lutherans are convinced that we are nothing more than a reforming movement within the Church catholic -- that we stand squarely, if a little off-center, inside the Great Tradition of western Christianity -- then I suppose it's a bad thing.  It's a bad thing, that is, in that fundamental Lutheran theology amputates several of the appendages of pre-reformation western Christianity as being little more than "accretions," "human traditions," or "abuses" (and this includes most of what would pass for "ethics").  Thus, the Lutheran theological tradition sits awkwardly within the Great Tradition, if it can be situated there at all.  What to do?  I don't know.

Quote from: DCharlton on November 26, 2017, 02:21:30 PM

3.  Should Lutherans who consider themselves, to be Christian first, western Christians second, and Lutheran Christians third utilize the resources from the greater tradition in answering those questions?


Maybe; but only because being "Lutheran Christians third" would be indistinguishable from not being Lutheran at all.  If it is imperative that Lutherans answer those questions (including ethical questions, I presume) from a distinctively Christian perspective, then we don't have much choice but to absorb the resources of pre-reformation Christianity (western or eastern), and somehow graft them onto a Lutheran model, no matter how clumsy the grafting process may be.

Of course, another alternative would be to locate the most sensible and effective ethical system we can find, no matter what its provenance, and adopt it without bothering to pretend that it was incubated within the Lutheran theological tradition.  Then we might be able to work backwards and see how Lutheran theology could be accommodated within that ethical system, rather than the other way around.

Those answers ain't much, but they're the best I can do at the moment.

Tom Pearson

Thanks for your thoughtful answers, which, as always, have given me a good deal to think about.    I guess I've always been unsure about the distinction between the term ethics and other terms like commandments, Law, good works, new obedience, active righteousness, etc...   That is lacks the resources and perhaps the desire to build an ethical system makes sense.

I'm not sure if you have this in mind, but I am comfortable with locating ethics under the First Article, and therefore in a category that is human rather than exclusively Christian.  I'm also comfortable with subjecting all ethical systems both to the judgment of the Law in its second use and to the eschatalogical limit established by the Gospel.  In the already but not yet of Christian life, it would mean that Christians  will do ethics, but with the acknowledgment that any ethical system belongs to this age and not the age to come. 
David Charlton  

Was Algul Siento a divinity school?

gan ainm

Quote from: Brian Stoffregen on November 24, 2017, 04:48:14 PM
Quote from: George Rahn on November 24, 2017, 11:48:42 AM
Preaching of God's law is more than setting forth descriptive or normative behaviors (civil righteousness as evident in ELCA social statements).  Preaching of the Law should be such that it kills the sinner and allows no wriggle room for self-justification.  To be set before God's righteousness is to acknowledge that one who is baptized into Christ is baptized into Christ's death, first.  It is to face one's lack of foresight into one's own tragic nature as a sinner who does not have a standing before God's face.  Descriptive or normative statements like pure science only set the sinner away from facing the truth of oneself under God's righteousness.  Descriptive statements like ELCA social justice documents presuppose the knowledge of God and proceed to tell the rest of us how to live (normative statements).  By describing and policing behavior, they only push folks into a dream-state in which one believes one is safely away from facing one's personal accountability before God in all things.  If folks realized their need for personal repentance constantly there wouldn't be time for making ELCA social statements.  As 1 Thess. 5 says: 

"Now concerning the times and the seasons, brothers and sisters,[a] you do not need to have anything written to you. 2 For you yourselves know very well that the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night. 3 When they say, 'There is peace and security', then sudden destruction will come upon them, as labour pains come upon a pregnant woman, and there will be no escape!"


ELCA needs to quit placing us in a fantasy where we live in a neutral situation before God, quit following the rest of culture by self-medicating us, and do the real work of the church by doing the thankless job of exposing our situation as sinners so the real comfort of the Gospel can be heard!


We are in the midst of hearing three parables that seem quite clear that there are expectations of God's servants during the time we are waiting for Christ to return. Some of those expectations are about the ways we are to treat other people. There is no mention of "faith" in Matthew 25:31-46. The "sheep" inherit eternal life because of the help they have given to the needy. The question is whether or not the "sheep" are meant to represent believers (who help the needy) or if they represent pagans who act lovingly towards needy believers (Christ's brothers).

Pr. Stoffregen, you might like this sermon on the "sheep".  I believe your understanding of this parable is different than what Pr. Winterstein understands the message to be - from my perspective, he sees the forest and not just the trees.  Context, context, context (three cheers for Dr. James Volez and his book, What Does This Mean? [from Amazon: In its second revised edition, this book is a basic hermeneutics textbook for traditional Christians, especially those of the Lutheran tradition. It discusses textual criticism, semantics, pragmatics, and application of biblical texts to postmodern contexts. It considers areas related to language, thought and reality, and more.]   You might also enjoy Dr. Voelz's book given your enthusiasm for languages.  Enjoy!

https://bishopandchristian.wordpress.com/2017/11/26/the-basis-for-separation-2/

MaddogLutheran

#138
Quote from: pearson on November 26, 2017, 02:06:44 PM
Quote from: DCharlton on November 26, 2017, 01:26:08 PM

If the Lutheran theological tradition has no answer to the question of "what should I do," why is there such a thing as a Lutheran ethicist?


Ah.  This is an excellent question.  So, here's my own answer:

There are "Lutheran ethicists" who do ethics in the same sense that there are Lutherans who happen to play football or Lutherans who happen to write romance novels.  There is no intrinsic connection between their Lutheran identity and the particular vocation they practice.  I happen to be a "Lutheran ethicist" in this sense.

There are also "Lutheran ethicists" who do ethics in the sense that they view ethics as grounded in, and directly informed by, the Lutheran theological tradition.  I have never understood these folks, because I am skeptical that their project can be achieved, given the contours of the Lutheran theological tradition.  I am, pretty emphatically, not a "Lutheran ethicist" in this sense.

As for the event in Portland coming up in January: it takes all kinds to make up the Lutheran Ethicists' Gathering.

The reason I said, "the answer [to the question about what we should do, or how we should live] is not to be found within the Lutheran theological tradition" is that I still don't see how our tradition contains the resources for answering that question.

Does that make sense?

Tom Pearson
My senior pastor, describing himself to new member classes, puts it like this:  an Anglican in worship practice, Presbyterian in preaching, and Lutheran in ethics.  That last one I've never really understood, and I do even less so after what you shared.  Now of course the simple thing to do is just ask him (something I've never actually done).  But I feel even more ignorant about where he is coming from with that, after reading your previous.  Not that it is totally descriptive, but he periodically refers to Karl Barth Paul Tillich (EDIT: got my recently dead white guys mixed up, and it matters here) as the greatest Protestant theologian of the 20th century--one can certainly make such a claim without necessarily agreeing with everything the man has written.  Maybe that helps provide that context here.

Can you help me understand which column you delineated above that a Lutheran parish pastor with a passion for preaching might reside?  I was unaware there even was a distinctive thing as Lutheran ethics until I joined this congregation 12+ years ago.  Reading your comments, it sounds like you agree with me.

Sterling Spatz
Sterling Spatz
ELCA pew-sitter

pearson

Quote from: peter_speckhard on November 26, 2017, 08:05:47 PM

What about the Table of Duties, which is one of the four parts of the catechism?


So, let me ask a question.

Although I was confirmed in an LCMS congregation a long time ago, and although I matriculated at an LCA seminary where I took a confessions course, I never heard of the Table of Duties until I arrived in St. Louis for my last parish call.  I still have the two texts that were used during my three-year catechetical instruction.  One is a small pamphlet, called "Luther's Small Catechism in Contemporary English," published jointly in 1963 by Augsburg Publishing House and Fortress Press.  It has no Table of Duties.  The other is a chubby little book of some 160 pages titled, "Catechism Based on the Bible and Luther's Small Catechism," by J. M. Persenius, who is only identified as "Pastor, Augustana Synod" (and published, I discovered last night to my dismay, in 1936).  It contains all five of the parts of Luther's Small Catechism, framed by some 241 questions and answers (which we had to memorize), along with some table prayers and extracts from the Augsburg Confession.  But there's no Table of Duties.  (I do find it odd today that my LCMS congregation in the 1960s was using a text compiled by a pastor in the Augustana Synod; but maybe things were different back then).

So my Lutheran maturation contained no recognition of the Table of Duties.  I'm aware that some sources refer to the Table of Duties as an "appendix" to the Small Catechism.  So here's my question.  Did Luther actually write the Table of Duties?  Was it part of the Small Catechism from the beginning, or was it added later?  Did some Lutheran bodies (such as the Augustana Synod) ignore (or reject) the Table of Duties?  If so, on what grounds?  I really don't think the Table of Duties is illegitimate or unimportant; I'm genuinely ignorant of the source and origin of the Table of Duties, and would like to know more about it.   

Quote from: peter_speckhard on November 26, 2017, 08:05:47 PM

It seems to me the Lutheran tradition answers the question "What should I do?" rather emphatically with the idea of vocation. To say, "Nothing. It has already been done," limits all discussion to justification, as though the implication of the question were really, "What should I be doing [in order to be saved]?" in which case the answer really is nothing. Only believe, and even that is not by your own power. But if the question is "What should I [as a saved person] be doing [in order to please God]?" then Lutheranism does not give the answer "Nothing."


I think this is right, at least in part.  I also think that the Jenson story was right in the middle of a context wherein a Christian, after hearing a sermon on God's grace, was asking, "Now what should I [as a saved person] be doing?" followed by Jenson's response.

What I like best in what you wrote above, Pr. Speckhard, is the reference to the undervalued Lutheran doctrine of vocation.  But it seems to me that the doctrine of vocation is situated best within a theology of Creation, rather than embedded in any specifically soteriological theology.  Our vocational duties arise when we pay close attention to the structure and dynamics of Creation, where our relationships and labor and service to the neighbor are carried out.  That's where ethics belongs.  Vocation -- that's the one "order of creation" postulate I can really get into.

Tom Pearson

Charles Austin

The answer to the question "what should I be doing?", Is: live as if you are redeemed; and don't be a jerk.
Iowa-born. Long-time in NY/New Jersey, former LWF staff in Geneva.
ELCA PASTOR, ordained 1967. Former journalist. Retired in Minneapolis. Often critical of the ELCA, but more often a defender of its mission. Ignoring the not-so-subtle rude insults which often appear here.

Team Hesse

Quote from: Charles Austin on November 27, 2017, 09:49:02 AM
The answer to the question "what should I be doing?", Is: live as if you are redeemed; and don't be a jerk.


LOL, thanks for the morning chuckle.....


Lou

Donald_Kirchner

#142
Quote from: Team Hesse on November 27, 2017, 10:03:10 AM
Quote from: Charles Austin on November 27, 2017, 09:49:02 AM
The answer to the question "what should I be doing?", Is: live as if you are redeemed; and don't be a jerk.

LOL, thanks for the morning chuckle.....

Lou

Yes, Charles, that was a good one...

Careful, though. The last time I told someone not to be a jerk, Mr. Teigen hollered, "Moderator!"   ;)
Don Kirchner

"Heaven's OK, but it's not the end of the world." Jeff Gibbs

pearson

Quote from: MaddogLutheran on November 27, 2017, 09:21:19 AM

Can you help me understand which column you delineated above that a Lutheran parish pastor with a passion for preaching might reside?


Probably not.  I have heard (and had) Lutheran pastors who were excellent preachers, and who held to the position that God's justifying grace was a pretext for various kinds of moral action; God's grace was necessary, but not sufficient, for living the Christian life.  These pastors (mostly) tended to "psychologize" everything, where all the real action is located in a multiplicity of mental and emotional states, such that both God and human beings are moral agents inhabiting a common moral community.  God's grace refurbishes our human mental and emotional states, so that we can participate more fully in that community.  Where do they get this stuff?  (Never mind; I know).

I have also heard (and had) Lutheran pastors who were excellent preachers, and who pretty much preached straight Law and Gospel (sometimes a little too heavily starched), without much effort to make it "relevant," or to connect it up with the right kinds of moral behavior.  These pastors (mostly) tended to "ontologize" everything, where theological and homiletical reflection is another name for cataloging divine realities.  Academics, and other folks who don't get out much, lap this stuff up.

Of course, it's not that I'm ever sitting out there in the pew on Sunday mornings analyzing the technical merits of the pastor's sermon.  Not me.

But if your pastor says he is "a Lutheran in ethics," I would be suspicious that he might belong to the first group.  But that's only a suspicion.

Quote from: MaddogLutheran on November 27, 2017, 09:21:19 AM

I was unaware there even was a distinctive thing as Lutheran ethics until I joined this congregation 12+ years ago.  Reading your comments, it sounds like you agree with me.


I almost always agree with you, Sterling.  And on this subject, certainly.

Tom Pearson

John_Hannah

Quote from: pearson on November 27, 2017, 09:22:59 AM
Quote from: peter_speckhard on November 26, 2017, 08:05:47 PM

What about the Table of Duties, which is one of the four parts of the catechism?


So, let me ask a question.

Although I was confirmed in an LCMS congregation a long time ago, and although I matriculated at an LCA seminary where I took a confessions course, I never heard of the Table of Duties until I arrived in St. Louis for my last parish call.  I still have the two texts that were used during my three-year catechetical instruction.  One is a small pamphlet, called "Luther's Small Catechism in Contemporary English," published jointly in 1963 by Augsburg Publishing House and Fortress Press.  It has no Table of Duties.  The other is a chubby little book of some 160 pages titled, "Catechism Based on the Bible and Luther's Small Catechism," by J. M. Persenius, who is only identified as "Pastor, Augustana Synod" (and published, I discovered last night to my dismay, in 1936).  It contains all five of the parts of Luther's Small Catechism, framed by some 241 questions and answers (which we had to memorize), along with some table prayers and extracts from the Augsburg Confession.  But there's no Table of Duties.  (I do find it odd today that my LCMS congregation in the 1960s was using a text compiled by a pastor in the Augustana Synod; but maybe things were different back then).

So my Lutheran maturation contained no recognition of the Table of Duties.  I'm aware that some sources refer to the Table of Duties as an "appendix" to the Small Catechism.  So here's my question.  Did Luther actually write the Table of Duties?  Was it part of the Small Catechism from the beginning, or was it added later?  Did some Lutheran bodies (such as the Augustana Synod) ignore (or reject) the Table of Duties?  If so, on what grounds?  I really don't think the Table of Duties is illegitimate or unimportant; I'm genuinely ignorant of the source and origin of the Table of Duties, and would like to know more about it.

. . . .

Tom Pearson

Table of Duties, authoritative? I always consult Piepkorn on those questions ("Suggested Principles for a Hermeneutics of the Lutheran Symbols" in Selected Writings of Arthur Carl Piepkorn: The Sacred Scriptures and the Lutheran Confessions, p 114 .

The answer would be yes.  However, he says that possibly two sections (duties of parishioners and subjects) were written by Schirlentz, not by Luther.  However, they seems to have had Luther's tacit approval.

(An aside:  ACP says the "Christian Question" are pseudonymous and never appeared in any edition during Luther's lifetime.  ACP grants that the 20th question is a reworking of authentic Luther pronouncement in the LC VI, 75-82.)

Peace, JOHN
Peace, JOHN
Pr. JOHN HANNAH, STS

DCharlton

#145
What struck me when I began to read volume 1 of Lenker's edition of Luther's Sermons, was this statement:

1. In the preface I said that there are two things to be noted and considered in the Gospel lessons: first, the works of Christ presented to us as a gift
and blessing on which our faith is to cling and exercise itself; secondly, the same works offered as an example and model for us to imitate and follow.
All the Gospel lessons thus throw light first on faith and then on good works. We will therefore consider this Gospel under three heads: speaking
first of faith; secondly of good works, and thirdly of the lesson story and its hidden meaning.


I'm not sure that Luther means to say that the proper order is faith then good works, but he gives it that order there.

I also notice that Walther says that while Law should be preached before Gospel, grace should be preached before good works.  That leads me to wonder whether Walther got that order from Luther.  (Thesis VII)

PS - I also notice that in the third section, Luther utilizes typology.
David Charlton  

Was Algul Siento a divinity school?

Harvey_Mozolak

Check me if I am wrong in this analysis:

In the last decade or two, perhaps a bit longer, Lutheran clergy have been talking more and more about good works (and in the favorable not works righteousness sense) than they did in the 40s thru 60s... in sermons and in discussions like this (albeit there was no internet then, only conferences and pastoral gatherings)...    I think there used to be an assumption that justification flowed into sanctification, that God was working both as the initiator and gift-giver, and now it seems sanctification needs a special boost and I wonder where the special boost is centered sometimes... ???
Harvey S. Mozolak
my poetry blog is listed below:

http://lineandletterlettuce.blogspot.com

Brian Stoffregen

Quote from: gan ainm on November 26, 2017, 02:48:50 PM
Quote from: Brian Stoffregen on November 26, 2017, 02:44:39 PM
Quote from: pearson on November 26, 2017, 02:06:44 PM
The reason I said, "the answer [to the question about what we should do, or how we should live] is not to be found within the Lutheran theological tradition" is that I still don't see how our tradition contains the resources for answering that question.


I place ethics/morality under the first use of the law. It helps us to live better in society.

Serious question:  Why 1st and not 3rd?


1. Morality is about what is good for all of society regardless of their religious beliefs.


2. I was taught and believe that there is not a special third use - a group of rules that are for Christians only; rather, the third use in the Formula states that the first two uses apply to Christians. We are not free from the Law that curbs and guides our behaviors, and exposes our sins and sinfulness.
I flunked retirement. Serving as a part-time interim in Ferndale, WA.

Brian Stoffregen

Quote from: George Rahn on November 26, 2017, 03:17:37 PM
Quote from: pearson on November 26, 2017, 12:04:48 PM
Quote from: Brian Stoffregen on November 26, 2017, 01:02:39 AM

Isn't it worth asking: "Now that God has saved you by grace, what are you going to do?"


It is very much a question worth asking.  But the answer is not to be found within the Lutheran theological tradition.

Robert Jenson (of blessed memory) used to tell a story in class about some random episodes when he had been asked to preach at a local congregation: "After the liturgy, when people were leaving the chuch, there would be a few folks who would come up to me and say, 'That was a great sermon on God's grace, Pastor Jenson.  Now, what should I be doing?'  And I always say, 'Nothing. It's already been done.'"  Lutheran to the core.

Tom Pearson


Actually, to ask that question is to not to trust God's action in Jesus Christ "for you".  It is to fall back into unbelief that your sins are really forgiven and that there is nothing you HAVE to do.  To ask "what do I do now" is to stop walking in faith only to return to the old life of shoulds, if only I had done this, etc."   There one has to face God's demand under the law to do something and do it quickly and thoroughly righteous so.  Because the God of demands (which one has fallen back into in unbelief) will have it no other way.  There is no more time left.


Ah, you have changed the question from "what are you going to do" to "what do I have to do". The second question does put one back under the law. Someone at a Crossings event I attended made a distinction between "what I have to do" with "what I get to do." E.g., We don't have to come to worship and receive Christ in communion, we get to do that.


QuoteBut what possible difference does it make when an "...apart from law a righteousness of God has appeared" is either ignored or never consulted? 


I've asked for your interpretation of that phrase, e.g., what does "apart from law" modify? And, is the new something in addition to the old or does it replace the old?


I flunked retirement. Serving as a part-time interim in Ferndale, WA.

Brian Stoffregen

Quote from: George Rahn on November 26, 2017, 03:22:18 PM
Quote from: Brian Stoffregen on November 26, 2017, 02:42:00 PM
Quote from: DCharlton on November 26, 2017, 01:24:11 PM
Quote from: Brian Stoffregen on November 26, 2017, 01:33:47 AM
I misrepresented what you said in exactly the same way that I find what I've said to be misrepresented.

Did you do so intentionally?  I have never intentionally misrepresented what you said.


Not intentionally, but sometimes from misunderstanding what you wrote (often because of reading it too quickly and/or after midnight.

Quote
QuoteHave I any where indicated that our righteousness before God is anything other than the righteousness that God has given us?

I'm quite aware you said that.  I replied that it is only a given in a very narrow sense.  Specifically, I said it is a given only where the Holy Spirit gives the gift of faith through Word and Sacrament.  So I did not misrepresent your argument, but took it seriously.


I would not limit the Holy Spirit to the means of grace. The Spirit blows where it wills. We have the assurance that the Spirit works in Word and Sacrament, but we shouldn't limit the Spirit only to those means.

Yes, but it is for those who are born of the Spirit that the "wind" blows where it wills.  For the one born of the flesh, it is Word and Sacrament only, thank you.


Nope. We don't control the Spirit any more than than we control the wind. The Gentiles in Cornelius's household received the Holy Spirit before being born from above through baptismal waters. I've even enlightened a "decision-made, born-again" believer that the Holy Spirit was active in his life before that time of decision - and could point to some things that happened before that time that could be attributed to the Spirit blowing in this not yet reborn person.
I flunked retirement. Serving as a part-time interim in Ferndale, WA.

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