Author Topic: Draft ELCA Social Statement on Women & Justice Released  (Read 14552 times)

DCharlton

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Re: Draft ELCA Social Statement on Women & Justice Released
« Reply #105 on: November 26, 2017, 01:23:42 AM »
If the only righteousness that counts is the one God gives us, why should we bother to try and live moral lives before others? Why strive for civil righteousness if it just doesn't matter to God? Has God abandoned the civil use of the law?

You have to make the distinction between the two kinds of righteousness.  The only kind of righteousness that counts coram deo is that given to us by God. 

It matters a whole lot to me that my doctor makes right decisions about my health and medicines. It matters a whole lot to me that my bank does the right thing with my money. I believe that righteousness before others is very important to us living our lives in the midst of other people. We need them to do what is right.

What good is it for a youth worker who confesses and believes that God has made him righteous by faith when he sexually assaults a young girl? What good is it for a pastor who confesses and believes that God has made him righteous by faith when he embezzles money from the church? No matter how much they believe that God forgives all their sins through Jesus Christ, it won't keep them from destroying lives and spending time in prison. Righteousness before others certainly counts for something.

If you had not deleted the remainder of my statement, it would be clear that I already addressed this.  Here is what I actually said.  The part in bold is what you left out.

You have to make the distinction between the two kinds of righteousness.  The only kind of righteousness that counts coram deo is that given to us by God.  Political righteousness definitely counts coram mundo.  Article VI makes it clear that political righteousness is important, to the point of making the (somewhat puzzling) claim that good works are necessary.

The question that our social statements raise is the norm for determining what is actually a good work and of what political righteousness consists.    Is Scripture to be the norm, or do we look elsewhere?  Is there a distinction between the works commanded by God and "man made" works?


Why delete the majority of my words and then pretend I had neglected to mention righteousness coram mundo?  Are you being sloppy, or intentionally misrepresenting what I said?

« Last Edit: November 26, 2017, 01:28:14 AM by DCharlton »
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Brian Stoffregen

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Re: Draft ELCA Social Statement on Women & Justice Released
« Reply #106 on: November 26, 2017, 01:29:27 AM »
And Brian gets folks to follow down the rabbit hole of exegesis and confessional theology not related to the topic at hand.

Actually, I think the discussion of political righteousness versus the righteousness of faith in very relevant to all of our Social Statements.  So is the question of what informs the exhortation to good works within the arena of political righteousness.  What concerns me most about the way the ELCA approaches social statement is the evident confusion regarding these traditional point of Lutheran doctrine.

Exactly, Pr. Charlton.  The ELCA confuses righteousness under God's Law (ie. political righteousness, as one form of expression of the law) and the righteousness of faith (ie. righteousness under the Gospel).  The institution (this church) seems to choose the former because it is relevant to the culture.  And yes, if the righteousness of faith were to become dominant again in the preaching, many clergy would lose reason for being...well, clergy, that is, defined by their peers under the heading of relevancy.  The confusion between the two is very necessary for to be addressed by this church (ELCA) and very soon.  There are many of us who recognize this danger and commit to overturning politically preoccupied theology of our current moment.  Many of us cannot find calls because our preaching sets teeth on edge as we try to untangle the mingling of law with gospel (and vice-versa).  It is time to wake from sleep, my friends.


Well, pastor Rahn, since you are ELCA, are you describing yourself; or is it possible that there are many in the ELCA who are like you and keep the proper distinction between the righteousness of faith that comes only as a gift from God and the civil righteousness that sinful humans can achieve on their own?


I visited with an assistant to our bishop today. He mentioned that millennials are looking for authenticity in preaching - that preachers live what they proclaim. Perhaps more than other generations, they look at the fruit of our lives to know what we really preach rather than just the words out of our mouths.


If we are to use an image from Jesus, a righteous tree (made that way by God) will produce righteous fruit (our outward lives). If the world isn't seeing righteousness fruit, they conclude that it is not a righteous tree.
"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]

Brian Stoffregen

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Re: Draft ELCA Social Statement on Women & Justice Released
« Reply #107 on: November 26, 2017, 01:33:47 AM »
If the only righteousness that counts is the one God gives us, why should we bother to try and live moral lives before others? Why strive for civil righteousness if it just doesn't matter to God? Has God abandoned the civil use of the law?

You have to make the distinction between the two kinds of righteousness.  The only kind of righteousness that counts coram deo is that given to us by God. 

It matters a whole lot to me that my doctor makes right decisions about my health and medicines. It matters a whole lot to me that my bank does the right thing with my money. I believe that righteousness before others is very important to us living our lives in the midst of other people. We need them to do what is right.

What good is it for a youth worker who confesses and believes that God has made him righteous by faith when he sexually assaults a young girl? What good is it for a pastor who confesses and believes that God has made him righteous by faith when he embezzles money from the church? No matter how much they believe that God forgives all their sins through Jesus Christ, it won't keep them from destroying lives and spending time in prison. Righteousness before others certainly counts for something.

If you had not deleted the remainder of my statement, it would be clear that I already addressed this.  Here is what I actually said.  The part in bold is what you left out.

You have to make the distinction between the two kinds of righteousness.  The only kind of righteousness that counts coram deo is that given to us by God.  Political righteousness definitely counts coram mundo.  Article VI makes it clear that political righteousness is important, to the point of making the (somewhat puzzling) claim that good works are necessary.

The question that our social statements raise is the norm for determining what is actually a good work and of what political righteousness consists.    Is Scripture to be the norm, or do we look elsewhere?  Is there a distinction between the works commanded by God and "man made" works?


Why delete the majority of my words and then pretend I had neglected to mention righteousness coram mundo?  Are you being sloppy, or intentionally misrepresenting what I said?


I misrepresented what you said in exactly the same way that I find what I've said to be misrepresented. Have I any where indicated that our righteousness before God is anything other than the righteousness that God has given us? You seem to be arguing that I have said something different. Since you misrepresented me in your argument, I argued against that.
"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]

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Re: Draft ELCA Social Statement on Women & Justice Released
« Reply #108 on: November 26, 2017, 01:56:38 AM »
Since the righteousness of faith was given to us in baptism and affirmed every week by God in Holy Communion, we might not have to say a lot about that in sermons. That gift of righteousness is already ours. A simple reminder each week along with receiving Christ's body and blood is probably sufficient. It's our relationship with other people that continues to be problematic.

Sometimes you outdo yourself. ???  If the righteousness of faith is such a given, then the office of Word and Sacrament is obsolete.  In fact the Church is obsolete.  The Church has to find something helpful to do to justify its existence. 

In fact, this is exactly what I believe is happening to the ELCA and Mainline Christianity in general.  We have either lost confidence in the Gospel or have decided the that preaching the Gospel is unnecessary.  We then frantically seek out a role that will justify the time and money dedicated to the organization and the salaries that depend on it.  Social services and political advocacy is now our raison d'etre.  I'm not even sure if this rises to the level of Moralistic Therapeutic Deism.

Are you saying that the righteousness by faith is not a given - that God didn't do it all at our baptisms?

What do you suggest that we do to get more righteousness by faith?

Article V seems to say that the righteousness of faith is a gift of the Holy Spirit, given where and when it pleases God, through the Word and the Sacraments.  The righteousness of faith is not a given.  In fact, apart from the Holy Spirit working through Word and Sacrament, the righteousness of faith would not be given at all. 

Only when Article V is forgotten or ignored is it possible for a church claiming the title Lutheran to think that preaching political righteousness is its primary mission.


Who said it's the primary mission? Isn't it worth asking: "Now that God has saved you by grace, what are you going to do?"

No, it's more like what am I doing now that I'm saved?  Or better,maybe just do what I'm doing and let God be the judge (which He already is, btw.)

readselerttoo

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Re: Draft ELCA Social Statement on Women & Justice Released
« Reply #109 on: November 26, 2017, 01:59:50 AM »
Yes, we should be moral people but our futile attempts at morality (see Kant vs. his critic Nietzsche) lead toward self-justification rather than living-for-others.


I disagree. I believe that Christians can be moral people for the sake of other people, and not for reasons of self-justification. We know that we are justified by God's grace. We know that our moral lives don't justify us so our attempts at morality can't be for reasons of self-justification. As I recall in a book on Lutheran ethics, we seek to live moral lives for the sake of other people.

You know this for you.  Many people don't know this and walk step by step in hope of a moral life...ie. justification by faith in Christ.

readselerttoo

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Re: Draft ELCA Social Statement on Women & Justice Released
« Reply #110 on: November 26, 2017, 02:05:14 AM »
Since the righteousness of faith was given to us in baptism and affirmed every week by God in Holy Communion, we might not have to say a lot about that in sermons. That gift of righteousness is already ours. A simple reminder each week along with receiving Christ's body and blood is probably sufficient. It's our relationship with other people that continues to be problematic.

Sometimes you outdo yourself. ???  If the righteousness of faith is such a given, then the office of Word and Sacrament is obsolete.  In fact the Church is obsolete.  The Church has to find something helpful to do to justify its existence. 

In fact, this is exactly what I believe is happening to the ELCA and Mainline Christianity in general.  We have either lost confidence in the Gospel or have decided the that preaching the Gospel is unnecessary.  We then frantically seek out a role that will justify the time and money dedicated to the organization and the salaries that depend on it.  Social services and political advocacy is now our raison d'etre.  I'm not even sure if this rises to the level of Moralistic Therapeutic Deism.


Are you saying that the righteousness by faith is not a given - that God didn't do it all at our baptisms?


What do you suggest that we do to get more righteousness by faith?


The preaching is also a public matter calling people of all types into faith.  There are others who are not so confident in their righteousness as you.  We need to hear what God has done in Christ to help us gain the confidence in Jesus.


Huh? My confidence is not in my righteousness. My confidence is in God. I'm confident that my righteousness won't measure up to what God demands, but I've also seen that being kind to other people: like feeding the hungry, giving drink to the thirsty, etc., makes a whole lot of difference in their lives. I also know that obeying the laws, e.g., driving the speed limit, creates a much less stressful life than speeding and watching out for law enforcement.

"I say 'potato'.  You say 'potahto'.  Potato. potahto, tomato, tomahto....ah, let's call the whole thing off. :) :... :-[

readselerttoo

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Re: Draft ELCA Social Statement on Women & Justice Released
« Reply #111 on: November 26, 2017, 02:54:40 AM »
And Brian gets folks to follow down the rabbit hole of exegesis and confessional theology not related to the topic at hand.

Actually, I think the discussion of political righteousness versus the righteousness of faith in very relevant to all of our Social Statements.  So is the question of what informs the exhortation to good works within the arena of political righteousness.  What concerns me most about the way the ELCA approaches social statement is the evident confusion regarding these traditional point of Lutheran doctrine.

Exactly, Pr. Charlton.  The ELCA confuses righteousness under God's Law (ie. political righteousness, as one form of expression of the law) and the righteousness of faith (ie. righteousness under the Gospel).  The institution (this church) seems to choose the former because it is relevant to the culture.  And yes, if the righteousness of faith were to become dominant again in the preaching, many clergy would lose reason for being...well, clergy, that is, defined by their peers under the heading of relevancy.  The confusion between the two is very necessary for to be addressed by this church (ELCA) and very soon.  There are many of us who recognize this danger and commit to overturning politically preoccupied theology of our current moment.  Many of us cannot find calls because our preaching sets teeth on edge as we try to untangle the mingling of law with gospel (and vice-versa).  It is time to wake from sleep, my friends.


Well, pastor Rahn, since you are ELCA, are you describing yourself; or is it possible that there are many in the ELCA who are like you and keep the proper distinction between the righteousness of faith that comes only as a gift from God and the civil righteousness that sinful humans can achieve on their own?


I visited with an assistant to our bishop today. He mentioned that millennials are looking for authenticity in preaching - that preachers live what they proclaim. Perhaps more than other generations, they look at the fruit of our lives to know what we really preach rather than just the words out of our mouths.


If we are to use an image from Jesus, a righteous tree (made that way by God) will produce righteous fruit (our outward lives). If the world isn't seeing righteousness fruit, they conclude that it is not a righteous tree.

FWIW, civil righteousness is not done alone unless you are an atheist or Barthian, for that matter.

Regarding making the desires of the Millenials standard and authority, shows me what takes precedent here and it's not the Gospel.  This church bows to consumerist culture yet again.

SomeoneWrites

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Re: Draft ELCA Social Statement on Women & Justice Released
« Reply #112 on: November 26, 2017, 09:11:41 AM »


FWIW, civil righteousness is not done alone unless you are an atheist or Barthian, for that matter.


Could you please unpack that for me. 
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Donald_Kirchner

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Re: Draft ELCA Social Statement on Women & Justice Released
« Reply #113 on: November 26, 2017, 09:37:01 AM »


In fact, this is exactly what I believe is happening to the ELCA and Mainline Christianity in general.  We have either lost confidence in the Gospel or have decided the that preaching the Gospel is unnecessary. 

Agree. A couple of years after I graduated from Yale Divinity School and begun parish ministry, I bumped into Prof. Paul Holmer at an event. "Well, how are you?" he asked, with the customary twinkle in his eye. "Are you preaching the gospel, or have you found something better?"

Exactly. There's absolutely nothing we can do to improve the righteousness God has given us by grace through faith. There's nothing better than to remind people of what God did at their baptisms and what God is doing for us in Holy Communion. There's a whole lot we can do to improve the ways we show love to our neighbors and self.

How interesting, putting the best construction on things, to see Brian promoting the 3rd use of the law.

I consider it the first use of the law.

In that case, it's uninteresting for, as is usual, you end up under the law. It has been correctly stated that there is no such thing as a true antinomian.
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Brian Stoffregen

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Re: Draft ELCA Social Statement on Women & Justice Released
« Reply #114 on: November 26, 2017, 10:18:47 AM »
Regarding making the desires of the Millennials standard and authority, shows me what takes precedent here and it's not the Gospel.  This church bows to consumerist culture yet again.


What's wrong with that? Isn't one of our goals to have people "consume" Christ in the sacrament? Throughout a large part of Church history, the church bowed to the people of its times. The Bible was written in the "common" Greek language of the people. (Even before that, the Hebrew Bible was translated into Greek because that was the common language in the Hellenistic world. When Latin became the common language of the Roman Empire, the Bible was translated into the "common" (vulgate) Latin. When Paul witnessed in the synagogue he quoted Jewish scriptures. When he witnessed in the Greeks on Mars Hill he quotes one of their inscriptions and a Greek poet.


Unfortunately, the church got locked into a particular language for scripture and worship. Latin for Roman Catholics. German, Norwegian, Swedish, and Danish for Lutherans. King James English for English and American Protestants. There were often major fights when Lutheran congregations wanted to worship in the language of the people. Some saw it bowing to consumerism. It was. It was a good thing to have Lutheran English language services in America.


Nowadays Lutheran congregations offer Spanish language services, and some in Asian and African languages - again bowing to the consumers so that they might better hear and believe the Gospel we are proclaiming.


I dislike and don't do children's sermons. (Neither do I do special sermons for all the retired people, or all the teachers, etc.) This probably cost me some calls when the topic came up in interviews. Isn't offering a children's time with a different style of "sermon" (sitting on the floor with children gathered around the preacher, often using objects and simple language) bowing to the consumers?


When I travelled on Gospel teams we talked about the Treasure of the Gospel that we were presenting that remained the same, but the way we wrapped it could vary to make the receivers more interested in opening that treasure.
"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]

Brian Stoffregen

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Re: Draft ELCA Social Statement on Women & Justice Released
« Reply #115 on: November 26, 2017, 10:21:57 AM »


In fact, this is exactly what I believe is happening to the ELCA and Mainline Christianity in general.  We have either lost confidence in the Gospel or have decided the that preaching the Gospel is unnecessary. 

Agree. A couple of years after I graduated from Yale Divinity School and begun parish ministry, I bumped into Prof. Paul Holmer at an event. "Well, how are you?" he asked, with the customary twinkle in his eye. "Are you preaching the gospel, or have you found something better?"

Exactly. There's absolutely nothing we can do to improve the righteousness God has given us by grace through faith. There's nothing better than to remind people of what God did at their baptisms and what God is doing for us in Holy Communion. There's a whole lot we can do to improve the ways we show love to our neighbors and self.

How interesting, putting the best construction on things, to see Brian promoting the 3rd use of the law.

I consider it the first use of the law.

In that case, it's uninteresting for, as is usual, you end up under the law. It has been correctly stated that there is no such thing as a true antinomian.


Exactly, which is why I keep denying the charge of antinomianism that some level against me. We live under the law. The law is God's Word for us. God uses the law. Obeying the law is good and necessary. It's legalism that's a problem - using the law as a means of salvation rather than trusting God for our salvation.
"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]

readselerttoo

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Re: Draft ELCA Social Statement on Women & Justice Released
« Reply #116 on: November 26, 2017, 11:00:29 AM »


FWIW, civil righteousness is not done alone unless you are an atheist or Barthian, for that matter.


Could you please unpack that for me.

For me,  to say one is operating alone in anything is to reject God as source of all things.  God is not ex machina but as Scripture proclaims:  "In Him we live and move and have our being."
Even reflecting on God is rejecting our place as God's creation and playing the judge on God.  We make God an object when he is beyond the sinner's capacity to reflect upon the One who creates, preserves us.  God is always present as he created this very moment as a gift.
« Last Edit: November 26, 2017, 11:10:18 AM by George Rahn »

Team Hesse

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Re: Draft ELCA Social Statement on Women & Justice Released
« Reply #117 on: November 26, 2017, 11:00:36 AM »


In fact, this is exactly what I believe is happening to the ELCA and Mainline Christianity in general.  We have either lost confidence in the Gospel or have decided the that preaching the Gospel is unnecessary. 

Agree. A couple of years after I graduated from Yale Divinity School and begun parish ministry, I bumped into Prof. Paul Holmer at an event. "Well, how are you?" he asked, with the customary twinkle in his eye. "Are you preaching the gospel, or have you found something better?"

Exactly. There's absolutely nothing we can do to improve the righteousness God has given us by grace through faith. There's nothing better than to remind people of what God did at their baptisms and what God is doing for us in Holy Communion. There's a whole lot we can do to improve the ways we show love to our neighbors and self.

How interesting, putting the best construction on things, to see Brian promoting the 3rd use of the law.

I consider it the first use of the law.

In that case, it's uninteresting for, as is usual, you end up under the law. It has been correctly stated that there is no such thing as a true antinomian.


Exactly, which is why I keep denying the charge of antinomianism that some level against me. We live under the law. The law is God's Word for us. God uses the law. Obeying the law is good and necessary. It's legalism that's a problem - using the law as a means of salvation rather than trusting God for our salvation.


Antinomian is not a charge I make anymore.....we live in a very auto-nomistic culture. Autonomy is God. This is a long way from theo-nomism as traditionally understood.


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Re: Draft ELCA Social Statement on Women & Justice Released
« Reply #118 on: November 26, 2017, 12:04:48 PM »

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.

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Re: Draft ELCA Social Statement on Women & Justice Released
« Reply #119 on: November 26, 2017, 12:50:33 PM »

The ELCA Task Force on Women and Justice: One in Christ invites you to read and evaluate the “Draft of a Social Statement on Women and Justice.”


FWIW, this document will be the focus of the discussion for the Lutheran Ethicists' Network meeting in Portland, Oregon, at its annual Lutheran Ethicists' Gathering, this coming year on Januray 2-3, at the Portland Doubletree Hotel. As usual, the Gathering typically includes ELCA, LCMS, NALC (Bob Benne, for instance, has been a past participant and presenter), and other Lutheran clergy and laity.  The constituency is usually about 40% academics, 40% pastors, and 20% laity.  It is a happy event, with a focus on broad themes in ethics, and with no intramural squabbles encouraged.  It really is worth the investment in time and resources to share those two days with us, especially in light of the fact that this rough draft of a controversial social statement will be under discussion.  If you are, or will be, in the Pacific Northwest right after the first of the year, please consider attending.

And let me endorse what others have already said here -- the current status of the proposed social statement really is a rough draft.  The ELCA is committed to a consultative process when it comes to our social statements.  They are reviewed by groups such as the Lutheran Ethicists' Network and the (ELCA) Lutheran Teaching Theologians, and hearings are held in synods throughout the ELCA, where pastors and laity may register possible additions, corrections and objections.  I'm not aware of any ELCA social statement that survives in its original wording, or its original format.  As Pr. Hesse can tell you better than I, one of the reasons that 2009's "Human Sexuality: Gift and Trust" is in many places so lumpy and incoherent, is that, in the interest of inclusiveness, it was revised by so many hands throughout the process.  Inclusivity is the enemy of specificity.

It appears to me that there are serious ideological distortions embedded in this current proposed social statement.  The Lutheran Ethicists' Gathering in Portland is one of the venues where the conversation may result in some of that language being changed.  So come to Portland, and join the discussion.

Tom Pearson