Author Topic: What Qualifies as ‘Similar Belief’  (Read 17599 times)

Brian Stoffregen

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Re: What Qualifies as ‘Similar Belief’
« Reply #45 on: February 01, 2020, 05:51:12 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.

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.


We believe that's the old gospel of Jesus and the New Testament.


It's like the ELCA finally allowing first communion when a child is baptized. While it's new for us, it's an older tradition than waiting until after confirmation.
"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]

Dan Fienen

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Re: What Qualifies as ‘Similar Belief’
« Reply #46 on: February 01, 2020, 05:55:09 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.

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.


We believe that's the old gospel of Jesus and the New Testament.


It's like the ELCA finally allowing first communion when a child is baptized. While it's new for us, it's an older tradition than waiting until after confirmation.
Ordaining women and partnered homosexuals is just reinstating an old practice that fell out of use?
Pr. Daniel Fienen
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Brian Stoffregen

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Re: What Qualifies as ‘Similar Belief’
« Reply #47 on: February 01, 2020, 06:08:47 PM »

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:

"Through faith" is not optional; but it easily becomes a human work: e.g., sinners are saved by God's grace only if they have the proper faith.


Because of mistranslations of Paul's phrase, "through faith" should refer to the faithfulness of Jesus. Sinners are saved by God's grace through the faithfulness of Jesus.


From the beginning, our sinful nature wants to make salvation about us. We get turned in on ourselves. Looking outward to the faithfulness of Jesus gets shifted inward to my faith.


Quote
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 we should see the different sides as different parts of the one body. It's only when we hear and understand the other views that we are likely to get a clearer picture, e.g., the parable of the six blind men describing an elephant. None of us have the whole truth.

Quote
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.


Perhaps it is the natural development as Christians move from faith to faith. There are studies in the development of faith. It is quite possible to get and comfortable in an earlier stage and never progress to a later stage of faith.

Quote
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?


I have never said that it was not acceptable for traditionalist to state their convictions. I welcome them. I used to be one. (And a quite judgmental one.) I found those earlier beliefs to be contrary to the gospel. I was trusting my own goodness rather than God's grace.
"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]

Matt Hummel

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Re: What Qualifies as ‘Similar Belief’
« Reply #48 on: February 01, 2020, 06:09:57 PM »
So Brian says-

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.

But here's the thing- He is condemning the beer and pretzels Eucharist and lay presidency. But they are the "outliers" now.

20 years ago, sure there were congregations that had sexually active homosexual clergy, or that had rites of blessing for homosexual couples. But they were the outliers, and the ELCA was in the stream of Tradition and Orthodoxy. So I can't wait for the ELCA Assembly and its Fritos and Kool-Aid Eucharist presided over by some lay person who won that day's pick. What will be darkly amusing is watching people like you and Charles clasp your pearls and/or knot your knickers in dismay, only to be told by the powers that be to, "Shut the **** up old man!"
Matt Hummel


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pearson

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Re: What Qualifies as ‘Similar Belief’
« Reply #49 on: February 01, 2020, 06:15:37 PM »

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.


You often fulminate against "legalism," Pr. Stoffregen.  Why are these examples you offer above not just another form of "legalism"?

Tom Pearson

Brian Stoffregen

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Re: What Qualifies as ‘Similar Belief’
« Reply #50 on: February 01, 2020, 06:21:15 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?


I grew up in the Pacific Northwest. Even back in the 50-60s it was 70% unchurched. If we consider that only about 1/3 of the members attend worship on any Sunday, that suggests only 10% of the population was at worship each Sunday. Of those 10% a small minority were Lutherans.


My father-in-law, after his daughter was refused communion at his LCMS congregation, said he called all of the other LCMS congregations in the area. According to him, none of them practiced closed communion. When I was at Concordia, we often heard the phrase, "We're a long way from St. Louis." The Lutheran Christian life in that part of the country was quite different than in the mid-west.


When I traveled on gospel teams from the Lutheran Bible Institute (a pan-Lutheran institution), we went into ALC, LCA, and LCMS congregations. Most of the time we didn't know which of the big three we were in.


When I finished up my college education at a state school, there was a small Christian presence on the secular campus. Seeing another student with a fish pin was exciting. Students from all denominations would gather around the flag pole for prayers. We were a bit like the hypothetical situation above.


"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: What Qualifies as ‘Similar Belief’
« Reply #51 on: February 01, 2020, 06:22:10 PM »

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.


You often fulminate against "legalism," Pr. Stoffregen.  Why are these examples you offer above not just another form of "legalism"?


They aren't matters of salvation, but of good order in the church.
"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]

pearson

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Re: What Qualifies as ‘Similar Belief’
« Reply #52 on: February 01, 2020, 06:50:17 PM »

They aren't matters of salvation, but of good order in the church.


The ordination of women and of partnered gays and lesbians are likewise a matter of good order in the church.  They are not matters of salvation.  So, based on your answer above, I don't see how prohibiting those practices can be criticized as "legalism."  Probiting those practices appears to be simply a matter of good order in the church.

Tom Pearson

Eileen Smith

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Re: What Qualifies as ‘Similar Belief’
« Reply #53 on: February 01, 2020, 07:21:16 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

This reflection on the past week doesn't fully  touch your question but I would like to share it with you.  Fourteen years ago my husband's pastor, Fr. Dan, was diagnosed with a rare form of lymphoma.  He fought this disease with years of strong chemotherapy.  In remission for about eight years he developed a new, more aggressive cancer.  He is days, perhaps hours from death.   He does not want to be alone and, as such, his door is always open.  Former parishioners from a parish he served in Paterson, parishioners from his parish here in Wayne, colleagues, and former students visit and sit with him.   An email comes each day to remind us that the doors open at 11 a.m. and close at 8 p.m.   I will admit to you that I've often thought that I wouldn't last one day in his parish.  He is well loved but no one holds back from saying how difficult he is.  I've gone to Mass often with my husband and have never received the Eucharist.  Fr. Dan has never invited me and I wouldn't have put him in an awkward position.  I don't see this as legalism, but doctrine to be respected.  One of the area priests started coming each day at noon to to celebrate the Mass.   The first day Fr. Dan took my hand and invited me to share in this meal.  He apologized that he couldn't ask me to receive in the parish.  He explained that to do so would go against the teaching of the church and just open up too many questions.  I thanked him and responded that I would never have asked and he thanked me.  It may sound simple, but it was a special moment between us.  And so this week we've shared the Eucharist.  I don't see this as his relaxing the faith he was charged to teach on his ordination.  There are times for pastoral discretion and he chose to exercise it at this time.  The visiting priest is aware that I'm a Lutheran.  Although there are usually about 20 or so for Mass I see this as a very intimate moment between Fr. Dan and me.  There will come a time when we will feast together throughout eternity, but as death closes in on him having this time with Fr. Dan in fellowship, Word, and Sacrament has been a gift.

There are circumstances where we can come together as God's people even though our beliefs are anything but similar.

Dave Benke

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Re: What Qualifies as ‘Similar Belief’
« Reply #54 on: February 01, 2020, 07:25:01 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

This reflection on the past week doesn't fully  touch your question but I would like to share it with you.  Fourteen years ago my husband's pastor, Fr. Dan, was diagnosed with a rare form of lymphoma.  He fought this disease with years of strong chemotherapy.  In remission for about eight years he developed a new, more aggressive cancer.  He is days, perhaps hours from death.   He does not want to be alone and, as such, his door is always open.  Former parishioners from a parish he served in Paterson, parishioners from his parish here in Wayne, colleagues, and former students visit and sit with him.   An email comes each day to remind us that the doors open at 11 a.m. and close at 8 p.m.   I will admit to you that I've often thought that I wouldn't last one day in his parish.  He is well loved but no one holds back from saying how difficult he is.  I've gone to Mass often with my husband and have never received the Eucharist.  Fr. Dan has never invited me and I wouldn't have put him in an awkward position.  I don't see this as legalism, but doctrine to be respected.  One of the area priests started coming each day at noon to to celebrate the Mass.   The first day Fr. Dan took my hand and invited me to share in this meal.  He apologized that he couldn't ask me to receive in the parish.  He explained that to do so would go against the teaching of the church and just open up too many questions.  I thanked him and responded that I would never have asked and he thanked me.  It may sound simple, but it was a special moment between us.  And so this week we've shared the Eucharist.  I don't see this as his relaxing the faith he was charged to teach on his ordination.  There are times for pastoral discretion and he chose to exercise it at this time.  The visiting priest is aware that I'm a Lutheran.  Although there are usually about 20 or so for Mass I see this as a very intimate moment between Fr. Dan and me.  There will come a time when we will feast together throughout eternity, but as death closes in on him having this time with Fr. Dan in fellowship, Word, and Sacrament has been a gift.

There are circumstances where we can come together as God's people even though our beliefs are anything but similar.

This is a wonderful testimony, Eileen.  We'll keep Fr. Dan in our prayers tomorrow,

Dave Benke

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Re: What Qualifies as ‘Similar Belief’
« Reply #55 on: February 01, 2020, 07:36:08 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

This reflection on the past week doesn't fully  touch your question but I would like to share it with you.  Fourteen years ago my husband's pastor, Fr. Dan, was diagnosed with a rare form of lymphoma.  He fought this disease with years of strong chemotherapy.  In remission for about eight years he developed a new, more aggressive cancer.  He is days, perhaps hours from death.   He does not want to be alone and, as such, his door is always open.  Former parishioners from a parish he served in Paterson, parishioners from his parish here in Wayne, colleagues, and former students visit and sit with him.   An email comes each day to remind us that the doors open at 11 a.m. and close at 8 p.m.   I will admit to you that I've often thought that I wouldn't last one day in his parish.  He is well loved but no one holds back from saying how difficult he is.  I've gone to Mass often with my husband and have never received the Eucharist.  Fr. Dan has never invited me and I wouldn't have put him in an awkward position.  I don't see this as legalism, but doctrine to be respected.  One of the area priests started coming each day at noon to to celebrate the Mass.   The first day Fr. Dan took my hand and invited me to share in this meal.  He apologized that he couldn't ask me to receive in the parish.  He explained that to do so would go against the teaching of the church and just open up too many questions.  I thanked him and responded that I would never have asked and he thanked me.  It may sound simple, but it was a special moment between us.  And so this week we've shared the Eucharist.  I don't see this as his relaxing the faith he was charged to teach on his ordination.  There are times for pastoral discretion and he chose to exercise it at this time.  The visiting priest is aware that I'm a Lutheran.  Although there are usually about 20 or so for Mass I see this as a very intimate moment between Fr. Dan and me.  There will come a time when we will feast together throughout eternity, but as death closes in on him having this time with Fr. Dan in fellowship, Word, and Sacrament has been a gift.

There are circumstances where we can come together as God's people even though our beliefs are anything but similar.

This is a wonderful testimony, Eileen.  We'll keep Fr. Dan in our prayers tomorrow,

Dave Benke

Many thanks, Pastor Benke.  I will call his caregiver now to let him know.  He truly has been humbled by the prayers offered on his behalf.

John_Hannah

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Re: What Qualifies as ‘Similar Belief’
« Reply #56 on: February 01, 2020, 08:45:57 PM »
AMEN! AMEN! AMEN!

Peace, JOHN
Pr. JOHN HANNAH, STS

Brian Stoffregen

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Re: What Qualifies as ‘Similar Belief’
« Reply #57 on: February 01, 2020, 09:47:13 PM »

They aren't matters of salvation, but of good order in the church.


The ordination of women and of partnered gays and lesbians are likewise a matter of good order in the church.  They are not matters of salvation.  So, based on your answer above, I don't see how prohibiting those practices can be criticized as "legalism."  Probiting those practices appears to be simply a matter of good order in the church.


The basic issue is salvation: does being a woman or homosexual or in a same-sex marriage exclude one from the kingdom of God? Because we have answered, no, we've taken the next steps to say that these believers can also become ordained in our church. However, like all other clergy, they have to follow the rules we have set for ordination.


What I'm hearing from the traditionalists is that one cannot be a Christian and in a same-sex marriage. If they start with that belief, of course they wouldn't allow them to be ordained.
« Last Edit: February 01, 2020, 09:52:07 PM by Brian Stoffregen »
"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: What Qualifies as ‘Similar Belief’
« Reply #58 on: February 01, 2020, 09:55:10 PM »
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.

I think it would be better if you would differentiate between practice and policy.  The Use of the Means of Grace is the policy of the ELCA.  The practice of the ELCA is whatever congregations and pastors do on a regular basis.  That something is the policy of the ELCA does not necessarily mean it is the practice of the ELCA.  In the case of Holy Communion, I think the practice of the ELCA is fairly close to the policy of the ELCA.  Although from Richard Johnson's recent reports, that conclusion is not certain.

The confusion between practice and policy is sometimes accidental, but oftentimes it is intentional.  So a person complains to the bishop about the a certain practice within the ELCA, only to be reassured that the policy of the ELCA has not changed. 
David Charlton  

Was Algul Siento a divinity school?

Brian Stoffregen

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Re: What Qualifies as ‘Similar Belief’
« Reply #59 on: February 01, 2020, 10:19:16 PM »
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.

I think it would be better if you would differentiate between practice and policy.  The Use of the Means of Grace is the policy of the ELCA.  The practice of the ELCA is whatever congregations and pastors do on a regular basis.  That something is the policy of the ELCA does not necessarily mean it is the practice of the ELCA.  In the case of Holy Communion, I think the practice of the ELCA is fairly close to the policy of the ELCA.  Although from Richard Johnson's recent reports, that conclusion is not certain.

The confusion between practice and policy is sometimes accidental, but oftentimes it is intentional.  So a person complains to the bishop about the a certain practice within the ELCA, only to be reassured that the policy of the ELCA has not changed.


You are right. Pastors and congregations can do pretty much whatever they want to do. I interviewed at one where they pushed the altar to the side to make room for the praise band. They were intentionally trying to become a community church (rather than Lutheran). That's not something I would allow. It's not something a previous pastor there, a friend of mine, would have allowed. (I didn't receive a call to that congregation.)


Pastors and congregations do not have to follow the rules given in The Use of the Means of Grace. Many of us agree with them and use them to guide are decisions.


When I've been on synod worship committees, we did follow the rules. They also guide those who plan the worship for churchwide events.


The same clergy/congregation disregard for rules happens in the LCMS. There are pastors in the LCMS who practice open communion. As far as I know, they are not disciplined. I've had an LCMS pastor preach and preside when I was on vacation. I got his name from the other ELCA pastor in town who also had used him as a supply pastor. He was not disciplined for communing with us. An LCMS pastor friend participated in his grandchild's baptism in an ELCA congregation. There is no LCMS congregation where his daughter and husband live, so they joined the ELCA congregation.


On the other side, an LCMS pastor told me that he could not preach in another denomination, like a nearby ALC pastor who preached each week in one of three Methodist congregations. (The Methodist minister preached in the other two.) He then corrected himself (as best as I remember). "I could preach there once. After I proclaimed to them the truth, they should all want to join the LCMS. If they don't, I couldn't return and preach to them again." I don't believe that's the stance of all LCMS, but it was certainly his position.
"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]