Author Topic: What Qualifies as ‘Similar Belief’  (Read 17606 times)

RDPreus

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Re: What Qualifies as ‘Similar Belief’
« Reply #30 on: February 01, 2020, 12:35:23 AM »
"We respect the tradition and teaching of salvation by grace alone. That is a core doctrine that caused us to question the legalism that excluded women and homosexuals."  Clearly, we don't agree on what salvation by grace alone means.

Jeremy Loesch

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Re: What Qualifies as ‘Similar Belief’
« Reply #31 on: February 01, 2020, 07:11:53 AM »
But to me, where I and the LCMS are fellow travelers are in these areas:

1)  Respect for tradition and the historic teachings of the Christian Church


We respect the tradition and teaching of salvation by grace alone. That is a core doctrine that caused us to question the legalism that excluded women and homosexuals.

Quote
2)  Respect for the Holy Scriptures and their role in upholding the teachings of the Church


It has been the study of Holy Scriptures that has led us to the convictions about women and homosexuals. Jesus seemed to be on the side of the underdogs.

Quote
3)  Suspicion of innovation and novelty in both belief and worship


Acts makes it clear that the innovation and novelty or welcoming eunuchs and Samaritans and Gentiles was the work of the Holy Spirit. Yes, we are suspicious of innovation and novelty; but also realize that it could be leading of the Holy Spirit. I see the "conversion of the Gentile Cornelius and his family" to be as much a story about the conversion of the Jewish Christians the Spirit sent to them - and then Peter dealing with the fallout with the Jewish believers back in Jerusalem. Peter actually ate with those Gentiles.

Quote
4)  A foundational belief that God does not change, and therefore that God's moral dogma also does not change

Yet, the same Holy Scriptures you attest to above declare that God changes his mind, e.g., not destroying the people of Nineveh in Jonah. If God doesn't change, why pray?

Quote
You have to first disagree on every single one of those issues in order to get to any of the issues you reference.  Otherwise, each and every one would simply be dismissed out of hand.


I see it just as much of a habit to maintain the tradition without critically thinking about them, and scriptures, and the role of the Holy Spirit in our lives today.

I know it's early, 6:07CST. I've had one sip of coffee, but....

What the bleep? Your study of scripture led you to an interpretation that's 180 degrees different? Your comment to David gives me this impression: "We're exactly like you except we differ on these 84 points."

Jeremy (I probably shouldn't read alpb before the coffee kicks in.)
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David Garner

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Re: What Qualifies as ‘Similar Belief’
« Reply #32 on: February 01, 2020, 07:35:29 AM »
Acts makes it clear that the innovation and novelty or welcoming eunuchs and Samaritans and Gentiles was the work of the Holy Spirit. Yes, we are suspicious of innovation and novelty; but also realize that it could be leading of the Holy Spirit. I see the "conversion of the Gentile Cornelius and his family" to be as much a story about the conversion of the Jewish Christians the Spirit sent to them - and then Peter dealing with the fallout with the Jewish believers back in Jerusalem. Peter actually ate with those Gentiles.

I'm not going to tit for tat on all of this today, because I lack the time.  I do want to ask, sincerely, can you give me examples of you or the ELCA being suspicious of innovation and novelty in deference to the tradition of the Church?

I honestly tried to think of an instance and nothing came to mind, but I don't follow the ELCA all that closely, so I would be interested to hear examples of this suspicion at work.
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Re: What Qualifies as ‘Similar Belief’
« Reply #33 on: February 01, 2020, 07:54:30 AM »
"We respect the tradition and teaching of salvation by grace alone. That is a core doctrine that caused us to question the legalism that excluded women and homosexuals."  Clearly, we don't agree on what salvation by grace alone means.

Exactly. Pr. Stoffregen’s comments will make much more sense if you view them through the lens of the new gospel of diversity and inclusion.

Dan Fienen

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Re: What Qualifies as ‘Similar Belief’
« Reply #34 on: February 01, 2020, 09:46:14 AM »

On a number of occasions Pr. Austin has complained that posters here have called him and the ELCA unLutheran or heretical. That it is this violation of politeness, respect, and collegiality that have caused some others from the ELCA to stop posting here. And yet Pr. Stoffregen has also posted on several occasions (without objection by Pr. Austin that this violates politeness, respect, and collegiality) that those who do not accept same sex marriage and the ordination of partnered homosexuals as violating the basic Christian Gospel of salvation by grace (in his Gospel "through faith" is optional), misinterpreting Scripture, resisting the Holy Spirit, and acting just as did the Pharisaical opponents of Jesus. For example, this recent post:


But to me, where I and the LCMS are fellow travelers are in these areas:

1)  Respect for tradition and the historic teachings of the Christian Church


We respect the tradition and teaching of salvation by grace alone. That is a core doctrine that caused us to question the legalism that excluded women and homosexuals.

Quote
2)  Respect for the Holy Scriptures and their role in upholding the teachings of the Church


It has been the study of Holy Scriptures that has led us to the convictions about women and homosexuals. Jesus seemed to be on the side of the underdogs.

Quote
3)  Suspicion of innovation and novelty in both belief and worship


Acts makes it clear that the innovation and novelty or welcoming eunuchs and Samaritans and Gentiles was the work of the Holy Spirit. Yes, we are suspicious of innovation and novelty; but also realize that it could be leading of the Holy Spirit. I see the "conversion of the Gentile Cornelius and his family" to be as much a story about the conversion of the Jewish Christians the Spirit sent to them - and then Peter dealing with the fallout with the Jewish believers back in Jerusalem. Peter actually ate with those Gentiles.

In this post he did not include the acting like the opponents of Jesus although he has opined that elsewhere.


So which is it, are the revisionists who redefine Christian sexual morality to include same sex sexual activity and per NBW extra marital sexual activity actually promoting just the same Christianity as their traditionalist colleagues, or are they the true faithful Christians and the traditionalists actually the antiGospel, enemies of Christ, and resisters of the Holy Spirit?


Perhaps Pr. Austin and Pr. Stoffregen just represent different stages of the standard progression of churches from traditional/orthodox to revisionist/progressive. I have lost track of the origin of this, I think it might have come from Fr. Richard John Neuhaus so I paraphrase:


First those from the revisionist/progressive point of view request tolerance as simply being an alternative point of view, of no threat to the beliefs of the organization.


Then as their numbers and power grow they demand equal standing with traditional/orthodox teaching for their revisionist/progressive positions. Both are to be accepted as proper teachings in the church.


When they are able to they then exert dominance within the church as the standard, accepted position. The traditional/orthodox may still be tolerated by the revisionist/progressive who are feeling generous if they do not threaten the revisionist/progressive dominance, support whatever is on the revisionist/progressive agenda, and don't make too much noise.


Finally, the traditional/orthodox position is proscribed as being unchristian, antiGospel, unloving, intolerant, and about the same as those Jews in Jesus' day who opposed Him and ultimately put Him to death.


In any case, why is it not acceptable for traditionalist to suggest that certain progressive positions are contrary to God's will but totally fine to suggest that traditionalists hold positions that are legalistic and contrary to the Gospel?



Pr. Daniel Fienen
LCMS

David Garner

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Re: What Qualifies as ‘Similar Belief’
« Reply #35 on: February 01, 2020, 10:42:26 AM »
Perhaps Pr. Austin and Pr. Stoffregen just represent different stages of the standard progression of churches from traditional/orthodox to revisionist/progressive. I have lost track of the origin of this, I think it might have come from Fr. Richard John Neuhaus so I paraphrase:

You are correct.  Neuhaus's law is:

"Where orthodoxy is optional, orthodoxy will sooner or later be proscribed."
Orthodox Reader and former Lutheran (LCMS and WELS).

pearson

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Re: What Qualifies as ‘Similar Belief’
« Reply #36 on: February 01, 2020, 10:50:36 AM »

Groaned for 20 years as we used the doctrinally inferior Lutheran Worship (LBW lite)


If I may ask about this one small snippet from your post, Mr. Eivan:

Why do you think Lutheran Worship was doctrinally inferior?  Is it because it was only a "lite" version of LBW?  Or was LBW also doctrinally inferior?  If both Lutheran Worship and LBW were doctrinally inferior, can you give me two or three examples from either text that demonstrate what you see in them that is doctrinally inferior?  I want to be able to read your comments more clearly.  Thanks.

Tom Pearson   


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Re: What Qualifies as ‘Similar Belief’
« Reply #37 on: February 01, 2020, 12:32:43 PM »
Perhaps Pr. Austin and Pr. Stoffregen just represent different stages of the standard progression of churches from traditional/orthodox to revisionist/progressive. I have lost track of the origin of this, I think it might have come from Fr. Richard John Neuhaus so I paraphrase:

First those from the revisionist/progressive point of view request tolerance as simply being an alternative point of view, of no threat to the beliefs of the organization.

Then as their numbers and power grow they demand equal standing with traditional/orthodox teaching for their revisionist/progressive positions. Both are to be accepted as proper teachings in the church.

When they are able to they then exert dominance within the church as the standard, accepted position. The traditional/orthodox may still be tolerated by the revisionist/progressive who are feeling generous if they do not threaten the revisionist/progressive dominance, support whatever is on the revisionist/progressive agenda, and don't make too much noise.

Finally, the traditional/orthodox position is proscribed as being unchristian, antiGospel, unloving, intolerant, and about the same as those Jews in Jesus' day who opposed Him and ultimately put Him to death.

David Garner already cited Neuhaus' Law, but your longer version reminds me more of Charles Porterfield Krauth, in The Conservative Reformation and Its Theology:

"When error is admitted into the Church, it will be found that the stages of its progress are always three. It begins by asking toleration. Its friends say to the majority: You need not be afraid of us; we are few, and weak; only let us alone; we shall not disturb the faith of others. The Church has her standards of doctrine; of course we shall never interfere with them; we only ask for ourselves to be spared interference with our private opinions. Indulged in this for a time, error goes on to assert equal rights. Truth and error are two balancing forces. The Church shall do nothing which looks like deciding between them; that would be partiality. It is bigotry to assert any superior right for the truth. We are to agree to differ, and any favoring of the truth, because it is truth, is partisanship. What the friends of truth and error hold in common is fundamental. Anything on which they differ is ipso facto non-essential. Anybody who makes account of such a thing is a disturber of the peace of the church. Truth and error are two co-ordinate powers, and the great secret of church-statesmanship is to preserve the balance between them. From this point error soon goes on to its natural end, which is to assert supremacy. Truth started with tolerating; it comes to be merely tolerated, and that only for a time. Error claims a preference for its judgments on all disputed points. It puts men into positions, not as at first in spite of their departure from the Church’s faith, but in consequence of it. Their recommendation is that they repudiate the faith, and position is given them to teach others to repudiate it, and to make them skillful in combating it."

Neuhaus' version is definitely more pithy, but I've always wondered if he didn't borrow the concept from Krauth.

Kurt Strause

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Re: What Qualifies as ‘Similar Belief’
« Reply #38 on: February 01, 2020, 12:38:53 PM »
The OP asked what constitutes "similar belief" and the conversation quickly turns towards differences with scant attempt to answer the original question.

I know I do more lurking than participating so I will not appear in any statistical top 10 (or even 100 for that matter). For some reason, more than any other time, this topic prompted a thought experiment for me. Let's say there was in some future an anti-Christian effort to suppress the Christian faith and all the ALPB participants were rounded up and thrown into prison together.  Would we pray together, sing together, celebrate eucharist with one another? Or would we retreat to our own corners, even in prison? Does how we answer that question inform in any way how we approach each other, even in our online interactions, let alone in our ministries as pastors and lay leaders in our respective churches?

Kurt Strause
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John_Hannah

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Re: What Qualifies as ‘Similar Belief’
« Reply #39 on: February 01, 2020, 12:43:43 PM »
The OP asked what constitutes "similar belief" and the conversation quickly turns towards differences with scant attempt to answer the original question.

I know I do more lurking than participating so I will not appear in any statistical top 10 (or even 100 for that matter). For some reason, more than any other time, this topic prompted a thought experiment for me. Let's say there was in some future an anti-Christian effort to suppress the Christian faith and all the ALPB participants were rounded up and thrown into prison together.  Would we pray together, sing together, celebrate eucharist with one another? Or would we retreat to our own corners, even in prison? Does how we answer that question inform in any way how we approach each other, even in our online interactions, let alone in our ministries as pastors and lay leaders in our respective churches?

Kurt Strause
A very good question!    :)

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Dan Fienen

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Re: What Qualifies as ‘Similar Belief’
« Reply #40 on: February 01, 2020, 01:33:17 PM »
The OP asked what constitutes "similar belief" and the conversation quickly turns towards differences with scant attempt to answer the original question.

I know I do more lurking than participating so I will not appear in any statistical top 10 (or even 100 for that matter). For some reason, more than any other time, this topic prompted a thought experiment for me. Let's say there was in some future an anti-Christian effort to suppress the Christian faith and all the ALPB participants were rounded up and thrown into prison together.  Would we pray together, sing together, celebrate eucharist with one another? Or would we retreat to our own corners, even in prison? Does how we answer that question inform in any way how we approach each other, even in our online interactions, let alone in our ministries as pastors and lay leaders in our respective churches?

Kurt Strause

I'm sorry but this sort of question always seems to trigger my latent paranoia. I don't know if you mean it in this way or not, but all too often this kind of hypothetical posing of an exceptional situation for which exceptional actions are needed leads to questions of if you are willing to set aside your usual rules for those exceptional situations, then those rules cannot be that important and shouldn't you set them aside to facilitate working, discussing, worshipping, exchanging pulpits and preachers, etc. in our everyday interactions? The exception becomes the rule. Which in turn leads some of us to be quite hesitant to bend rules for exceptional circumstances, even hypothetically, since in our experience such reasonableness will come back to bite us and be used as rational to abolish those rules.


To my eye, your post hints at just that eventuality. You go from asking how we should act if our faith were made illegal and we all ended up in prison together, to asking, "Does how we answer that question inform in any way how we approach each other, even in our online interactions, let alone in our ministries as pastors and lay leaders in our respective churches?" Sorry, I don't intend to play those games, walk into your trap, or willingly hand you ammunition to use against me. If I find myself in such an extreme situation, I will then consider how I should act. I do not intend to base my behavior in ordinary circumstances on a doomsday scenario. 


The tragedy of that is that there are situations and circumstances that are so out of the ordinary with needs that are so great that regular rules should be bent. Meeting the immediate need is in some cases more important that following usual rules and procedures. But that does not say that ordinary rules are not important and should not be followed in ordinary situations.


Would you condone cutting off someone's leg? What if that person's circulation is poor and the leg had developed an intractable infection that antibiotics could not stop and which was progressing up the leg and threatening to infect the whole body and kill the person? Would you support cutting off the leg then? So, if amputation can be a reasonable action, why not for an ingrown toenail or athlete's foot? Amputation would certain remove those problems.


We are beset by temptations no matter what we do, or what rules that we follow. Some are tempted to be super picky about rule following and are tempted to put following rules above meeting human need. Others are tempted to be super lax about rules and look for any excuse to forget the rules and do what people might think is nice, no matter the eventual consequences. Sometimes extraordinary situations demand extraordinary actions.


I'm reminded of a passage from the 1966 work, Situation Ethics by Joseph Fletcher. In it he suggested that it could be perfectly moral, admirable even for a psychiatrist to seduce a patient to demonstrate to her that she was a desirable person and help her self esteem. Perhaps such a doctor would have really been acting solely on what he felt was best for his patient, but I doubt that he could convince a medical review board or a jury that there should not be a general rule against doctors seducing patients or that such a rule should not be enforced.


So yes, in such an apocalyptic scenario where all Christians are jailed I may well ignore our differing faith traditions. But I find that no justification for doing so in America of today.
Pr. Daniel Fienen
LCMS

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Re: What Qualifies as ‘Similar Belief’
« Reply #41 on: February 01, 2020, 02:39:46 PM »
David Garner already cited Neuhaus' Law, but your longer version reminds me more of Charles Porterfield Krauth, in The Conservative Reformation and Its Theology:

"When error is admitted into the Church, it will be found that the stages of its progress are always three. It begins by asking toleration. Its friends say to the majority: You need not be afraid of us; we are few, and weak; only let us alone; we shall not disturb the faith of others. The Church has her standards of doctrine; of course we shall never interfere with them; we only ask for ourselves to be spared interference with our private opinions. Indulged in this for a time, error goes on to assert equal rights. Truth and error are two balancing forces. The Church shall do nothing which looks like deciding between them; that would be partiality. It is bigotry to assert any superior right for the truth. We are to agree to differ, and any favoring of the truth, because it is truth, is partisanship. What the friends of truth and error hold in common is fundamental. Anything on which they differ is ipso facto non-essential. Anybody who makes account of such a thing is a disturber of the peace of the church. Truth and error are two co-ordinate powers, and the great secret of church-statesmanship is to preserve the balance between them. From this point error soon goes on to its natural end, which is to assert supremacy. Truth started with tolerating; it comes to be merely tolerated, and that only for a time. Error claims a preference for its judgments on all disputed points. It puts men into positions, not as at first in spite of their departure from the Church’s faith, but in consequence of it. Their recommendation is that they repudiate the faith, and position is given them to teach others to repudiate it, and to make them skillful in combating it."

Neuhaus' version is definitely more pithy, but I've always wondered if he didn't borrow the concept from Krauth.

What strikes me about this is that the victory of error could not be possible unless: 1) its proponents where willing to lie again and again, and 2) the defenders of truth are unable to believe that the proponents of error would lie. 
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Kurt Strause

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Re: What Qualifies as ‘Similar Belief’
« Reply #42 on: February 01, 2020, 04:43:56 PM »
I'm sorry but this sort of question always seems to trigger my latent paranoia. I don't know if you mean it in this way or not, but all too often this kind of hypothetical posing of an exceptional situation for which exceptional actions are needed leads to questions of if you are willing to set aside your usual rules for those exceptional situations, then those rules cannot be that important and shouldn't you set them aside to facilitate working, discussing, worshipping, exchanging pulpits and preachers, etc. in our everyday interactions? The exception becomes the rule. Which in turn leads some of us to be quite hesitant to bend rules for exceptional circumstances, even hypothetically, since in our experience such reasonableness will come back to bite us and be used as rational to abolish those rules.


To my eye, your post hints at just that eventuality. You go from asking how we should act if our faith were made illegal and we all ended up in prison together, to asking, "Does how we answer that question inform in any way how we approach each other, even in our online interactions, let alone in our ministries as pastors and lay leaders in our respective churches?" Sorry, I don't intend to play those games, walk into your trap, or willingly hand you ammunition to use against me. If I find myself in such an extreme situation, I will then consider how I should act. I do not intend to base my behavior in ordinary circumstances on a doomsday scenario. 


The tragedy of that is that there are situations and circumstances that are so out of the ordinary with needs that are so great that regular rules should be bent. Meeting the immediate need is in some cases more important that following usual rules and procedures. But that does not say that ordinary rules are not important and should not be followed in ordinary situations.


Would you condone cutting off someone's leg? What if that person's circulation is poor and the leg had developed an intractable infection that antibiotics could not stop and which was progressing up the leg and threatening to infect the whole body and kill the person? Would you support cutting off the leg then? So, if amputation can be a reasonable action, why not for an ingrown toenail or athlete's foot? Amputation would certain remove those problems.


We are beset by temptations no matter what we do, or what rules that we follow. Some are tempted to be super picky about rule following and are tempted to put following rules above meeting human need. Others are tempted to be super lax about rules and look for any excuse to forget the rules and do what people might think is nice, no matter the eventual consequences. Sometimes extraordinary situations demand extraordinary actions.


I'm reminded of a passage from the 1966 work, Situation Ethics by Joseph Fletcher. In it he suggested that it could be perfectly moral, admirable even for a psychiatrist to seduce a patient to demonstrate to her that she was a desirable person and help her self esteem. Perhaps such a doctor would have really been acting solely on what he felt was best for his patient, but I doubt that he could convince a medical review board or a jury that there should not be a general rule against doctors seducing patients or that such a rule should not be enforced.


So yes, in such an apocalyptic scenario where all Christians are jailed I may well ignore our differing faith traditions. But I find that no justification for doing so in America of today.

Dan,

Thank you for your response. I know hypothetical extremes don't make for good policy, but I was trying to get at something, clumsily I admit, that bothers me.

I see the instinctive reaction to define ourselves over against some alien "other" all too prevalent. When it happens among Lutheran Christians it's all the more distressing. I grew up in a moderately Muhlenberg style of Lutheran church in Central Pennsylvania. By the time I went to seminary (Gettysburg late 70'-early 80's) I was only becoming aware of the Missouri Synod. (In Lancaster County 52 LCA, 0 ALC, 2 Missouri) My future father in law, an ULCA/LCA mission developer pastor always spoke highly of the Missouri Synod pastors he encountered in New Jersey and the level of cooperation they enjoyed among each other. The LBW was just published with high hopes for greater cooperation. I didn't know about "The Wars" until I went to seminary. Still, those who belonged to Missouri I got to know in those early days confirmed what my father in law experienced himself.

I realize our two churches have both changed. I think those who have prevailed in the ELCA and the Missouri Synod both feel they "won" somehow. But now, coming into the twilight of my career I definitely feel something important has been lost. My ham-handed question was directed towards an appeal to see each other as brothers and sisters in Christ. I hope we do. That's all.

Kurt Strause
ELCA pastor, Lancaster, PA

Brian Stoffregen

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Re: What Qualifies as ‘Similar Belief’
« Reply #43 on: February 01, 2020, 05:39:41 PM »
"We respect the tradition and teaching of salvation by grace alone. That is a core doctrine that caused us to question the legalism that excluded women and homosexuals."  Clearly, we don't agree on what salvation by grace alone means.


Correct, we don't agree. In my opinion, you add legalism to grace which nullifies grace, e.g., God can save homosexuals only if they abstain from sexual relationships. "Only if" is legalism. Even when it's only if they repent; or only if they believe in Jesus Christ. It's what Paul argues against in Galatians: "Only if they obey God's command to be circumcised" or more generally, "Only if they try to obey God's commandments." Putting any conditions on grace nullifies grace grace alone. It becomes a different gospel.
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Re: What Qualifies as ‘Similar Belief’
« Reply #44 on: February 01, 2020, 05:48:07 PM »
Acts makes it clear that the innovation and novelty or welcoming eunuchs and Samaritans and Gentiles was the work of the Holy Spirit. Yes, we are suspicious of innovation and novelty; but also realize that it could be leading of the Holy Spirit. I see the "conversion of the Gentile Cornelius and his family" to be as much a story about the conversion of the Jewish Christians the Spirit sent to them - and then Peter dealing with the fallout with the Jewish believers back in Jerusalem. Peter actually ate with those Gentiles.

I'm not going to tit for tat on all of this today, because I lack the time.  I do want to ask, sincerely, can you give me examples of you or the ELCA being suspicious of innovation and novelty in deference to the tradition of the Church?

I honestly tried to think of an instance and nothing came to mind, but I don't follow the ELCA all that closely, so I would be interested to hear examples of this suspicion at work.


We've had experiments with using something other than bread and wine/juice for communion; e.g. beer and pretzels; crackers and kool aid. We state in The Use of the Means of Grace, that bread and wine will be used.


There were some, and continue to be some, who do not see baptism as a requirement for feasting at the Table of the Lord. Again, we state in The Use of the Means of Grace, that the meal is for the baptized.


There are pastors/congregations who authorize lay people to preside at communion. That is not our practice. Presiders are to be ordained, on the clergy roster of the ELCA or a full partner denomination, or receive permission to preside from the bishop.
"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]