Author Topic: Does It Really Matter?  (Read 6537 times)

JEdwards

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Re: Does It Really Matter?
« Reply #30 on: August 01, 2007, 10:28:19 AM »
In a recent bible study, we read about the healing of Naaman by Elisha.  After vowing to worship only Yahweh, Naaman asked for (and received!) permission to essentially "fake it" when he had to accompany his master, the King of Aram, into the temple of Rimmon.  No one in our group could give a very cogent reason for Elisha's condoning what appears to be a violation of the First Commandment.  Any thoughts?

Jon Edwards

Richard Johnson

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Re: Does It Really Matter?
« Reply #31 on: August 01, 2007, 10:41:32 AM »
And I have a later worry about the poster upstream who said at such a service he might "bow his head out of respect," but not pray. Watch out! Someone just might think that one who does that is actually praying, thereby prompting all kinds of charges and potential damage to one's career.

My wife had a relative who belonged to one of those (older) groups who had lefte the LCMS because LCMS was too liberal. At a family reunion, when the pre-dinner prayer of thanksgiving was being offered, he refused to bow his head. Strikes me as pretty, uh, overly consistent.
The Rev. Richard O. Johnson, STS

ptmccain

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Re: Does It Really Matter?
« Reply #32 on: August 01, 2007, 11:25:04 AM »
Being that the pagan non-gods don't exist, does God care?  I realize you care.

The First Commandment would appear to indicate that "God cares."

And to see the Holy One of Israel, a God who is profoundly jealous for His children's undivided affection and worship, in action, I refer you to the unpleasant episode of Elijah and the Prophets of Baal for evidence of how the Living God regards false worship. I'm sure the prophets of Baal being hacked apart didn't doubt what the one, true God regards as acceptable worship, and unacceptable worship.



And, given your line of thinking, which I think here is particularly confused, there was no reason for the three men to go into the fiery furnace, if, in fact, God doesn't care about worship of non-gods.
« Last Edit: August 01, 2007, 11:41:31 AM by ptmccain »

Pr. Jerry

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Re: Does It Really Matter?
« Reply #33 on: August 01, 2007, 12:02:02 PM »
In a recent bible study, we read about the healing of Naaman by Elisha.  After vowing to worship only Yahweh, Naaman asked for (and received!) permission to essentially "fake it" when he had to accompany his master, the King of Aram, into the temple of Rimmon.  No one in our group could give a very cogent reason for Elisha's condoning what appears to be a violation of the First Commandment.  Any thoughts?


Is not Namaan showing "chessed" by remaining faithful to his oath to the King of Aram?  He himself leaves Elisha's presence a changed man, but he will not abandon his obligation to his master.  And, most importantly, he leaves with a proclamation of peace (shalom).

I was sorely disappointed (no surprise there...) with the Augsburg Fortress "Great Bible Reef" curiculum, which reduced this story to "God's People Help."  The ending of the story, which is so very important, usually get's ommitted, as was the case with the GBR.  So the whole episode gets reduced to a platitude.

God does care, it does matter.  Namaan leaves with two mule loads of earth (eretz) because he leaves with a new loyalty, a new homeland.  And he pleads, not for himself, but for his King to whom he has sworn fielty.  Namaan, in the end, is a picutre of righteousness because he remains faithful to his covenant.  Could you expect him to honor the covenant of the Law if he would not honor the covenant to his master?  But precisely because he will show "chessed" to his master, we are drawn (I think) to the conclusion that he show similar faithfulness to YHWH and Israel.

Pax Christi;
Pr. Jerry Kliner, STS

Mike Bennett

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Re: Does It Really Matter?
« Reply #34 on: August 01, 2007, 12:32:08 PM »
But if there are Christians planning and leading the services, perhaps along with others, are not the services at least in some measure "Christian"?

And I have a later worry about the poster upstream who said at such a service he might "bow his head out of respect," but not pray. Watch out! Someone just might think that one who does that is actually praying, thereby prompting all kinds of charges and potential damage to one's career.

I was the one who said that.  And my career is in business, so not to worry.

I also take off my shoes at the front door of a house where the host/ess expects it.  Same sort of thing. 

Mike Bennett
“What peace can there be, so long as the many whoredoms and sorceries of your mother Jezebel continue?”  2 Kings 9:22

JMOtterman

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Re: Does It Really Matter?
« Reply #35 on: August 01, 2007, 12:46:55 PM »
McCain,

I do love bantering with you, and you are right with the first commandment...good point.   Wow Cool Picture---is that Durer?  What about not having any graven images before me just kidding. :) 

See, the problem exists for me and you in how a person can read and understand the text.

I suppose, and I could be wrong, that you might read scripture with a lense or two at the most and the thought of asking questions of a text like I might ask using 15 or more different lenses would be utterly impossible for you.  I mean I don't always use that many lenses to read the text but I consider more lenses than most would ever use.  

Not only impossible from a personal point but also from a structural point and from a piety point is my guess and your understanding of scripture is fine.

Many of your paradigms were once mine too but I have had for good or ill paradigm shifts that allow me to see scripture scholastically and also with a narrower view.

I choose to believe the narrower view, that everything in the Bible happened as it says, its my choice, my belief even knowing that I could undo what a choose to believe, knowing that certain stories were never intended to be taken literally or for that matter certain scriptures were never intended to be twisted in certain ways either.

A Lutheran reading of Justication by grace through faith alone in Christ Jesus In reading Dunn's book on the Apostle Paul he makes the ascertion that Justification is a secondary matter to the Apostle Pauls intentions where Luther created as a primary ascertion based on the cultural issues of his time, I don't know that I agree with Dunn but he could be right.  So the issue is prolegomena and paradigm how we deal with first things and how we read according to the way we were taught is the issue of why we have a difficult time communicating over understanding of the Holy Scripture.  

I am not sure whether or not you have a choice on how you read the Bible as being anything other than what you read.  I am not saying that your read and take on the Bible is not a bag thing.  Just different than how I read and understand the Bible.

Let me see if I understand you, when you read the Bible the ten commandments were said or written by God, himself.  As if God had a voice or hands?  Does God still write or speak today?  Does God have hands?  Dumb questions don't answer please or I will let you take to kickin me in the keester again, I can't help myself sometimes.  :)
  
I love the fact that you have an ideal of God so set in your mind that there is no other way to read the scripture or to know or hear or understand God.  I find that view amazing but I also want to know what set of lenses do you use when reading the Bible?

PJ    
« Last Edit: August 01, 2007, 12:50:36 PM by JMOtterman »

ptmccain

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Re: Does It Really Matter?
« Reply #36 on: August 01, 2007, 02:06:10 PM »
I freely, without reservation, with joy, gave up my right to "choose" how I will interpret the Scriptures when I promised to teach nothing, publicly, or privately, contrary to the confessions of the Evangelical Lutheran Church because I confess them to be a true and faithful exposition of the Word of God. I gave my solemn oath before God to be faithful to these Confessions precisely because they are a faithful confession of God's Word. I am very happy to be able to join with my fathers in the faith who concluded the Solid Declaration of the Formula of Concord by asserting:

These and like articles, one and all, with what pertains to them and follows from them, we reject and condemn as wrong, false, heretical, and contrary to the Word of God, the three Creeds, the Augsburg, Confession and Apology, the Smalcald Articles, and the Catechisms of Luther. Of these articles all godly Christians should and ought to beware, as much as the welfare and salvation of their souls is dear to them. Since now, in the sight of God and of all Christendom [the entire Church of Christ], we wish to testify to those now living and those who shall come after us that this declaration herewith presented concerning all the controverted articles aforementioned and explained, and no other, is our faith, doctrine, and confession, in which we are also willing, by God's grace, to appear with intrepid hearts before the judgment-seat of Jesus Christ, and give an account of it; and that we will neither privately nor publicly speak or write anything contrary to it, but, by the help of God's grace, intend to abide thereby: therefore, after mature deliberation, we have, in God's fear and with the invocation of His name, attached our signatures with our own hands.

I pray that I will, as God blesses, continue to grow in my understanding of His Holy Word, but never grow past it, or out of it, nor ever place myself above it as judge, but place myself always underneath the Word of God. I do not wish to understand, so I can believe, but I wish to understand, because I believe. I confess freely that I am a sinful man who doubts and questions many things, but with Blessed Saint Peter, I too cry out to my Master Christ, "Lord, I believe, help my unbelief."

I have studied all the major schools of theological thought and try to keep current on the "latest thing" out there, but I come back, again and again, to the fathers of the Church and to the faith once delivered to the saints. I believe there has never been in any period of the chuch's history a more clear and penetrating grasp of the very heart of the Scriptures as there burst forth and flowered during the Reformation. I cherish all who have spoken the truth before and after Luther and our Lutheran fathers. I cherish the gift of knowing that Lutheranism is not a "movement" or an "approach" but is nothing more, and certainly nothing less, than the confession of the faith of the one, holy, catholic and apostolic faith. I find much blessing in reading the writings and studies of our Lutheran fathers and early church fathers. I do not find as much value in reading the speculations of men who do not confess, without reservation, the Creeds and Confessions of the Church.

If that is what you want to regard as my "lens" through which I read Scripture, that would be ok by me.


 


JMOtterman

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Re: Does It Really Matter?
« Reply #37 on: August 01, 2007, 02:49:21 PM »
Pastor McCain,

Again, its two different paradigms.  I agree with you more than you would know.

Thanks for your Piety.  Hard to argue against Piety of your stripe. 

You are a Pastor, right?  LCMS?  How is your church doing?  I am always curious and I would think the church to which you are called is probably growing, because of the strict view of scripture and the Lutheran confessions.

PJ 

SCPO

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Re: Does It Really Matter?
« Reply #38 on: August 01, 2007, 03:12:19 PM »

Pastor McCain,
You are a Pastor, right?  LCMS?  How is your church doing?  I am always curious and I would think the church to which you are called is probably growing, because of the strict view of scripture and the Lutheran confessions.

PJ 

PJ,

     The interim Pastor as at my LCMS congregation mentioned some declining membership numbers just this past Sunday.   I have not verified them, but then again, I have no reason to doubt them.   The decline in membership in the LCMS has stabilized at roughly 42K heads per year.  This equates to roughly one 800 member congregation per week.   Then again, I suspect you knew this.

Regards,

Senior   (who also has gone by the initials PJ)
 

     

JMOtterman

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Re: Does It Really Matter?
« Reply #39 on: August 01, 2007, 03:15:42 PM »

Pastor McCain,
You are a Pastor, right?  LCMS?  How is your church doing?  I am always curious and I would think the church to which you are called is probably growing, because of the strict view of scripture and the Lutheran confessions.

PJ 

PJ,

     The interim Pastor as at my LCMS congregation mentioned some declining membership numbers just this past Sunday.   I have not verified them, but then again, I have no reason to doubt them.   The decline in membership in the LCMS has stabilized at roughly 42K heads per year.  This equates to roughly one 800 member congregation per week.   Then again, I suspect you knew this.

Regards,

Senior   (who also has gone by the initials PJ)
 

     

In all fairness I don't have the slightest idea about numbers in the LCMS.  What exactly did you mean by the numbers you posted.

PJ

SCPO

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Re: Does It Really Matter?
« Reply #40 on: August 01, 2007, 03:52:40 PM »
     
Quote

In all fairness I don't have the slightest idea about numbers in the LCMS.  What exactly did you mean by the numbers you posted.

PJ
Quote

PJ,

     Quite simply, like the ELCA, the LCMS is also experiencing a decline in membership.  I don't have the ELCA numbers handy, but they have often-times been tossed around within this forum.  Usually, the reasons cited for the decline in ELCA numbers is because of their liberal tilt; i.e; GLBT activision.   I'm sure some folks have indeed departed the ELCA for those reasons.   However, looking at the decline within the LCMS, I think that it is reasonable to question whether or not both bodies may be missing the bigger picture as to the reasons for declining membership.  Just my two-cents, worth everything you paid.

Regards,

Senior   
       

bmj

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Re: Does It Really Matter?
« Reply #41 on: August 01, 2007, 04:09:42 PM »
I freely, without reservation, with joy, gave up my right to "choose" how I will interpret the Scriptures when I promised to teach nothing, publicly, or privately, contrary to the confessions of the Evangelical Lutheran Church because I confess them to be a true and faithful exposition of the Word of God. I gave my solemn oath before God to be faithful to these Confessions precisely because they are a faithful confession of God's Word. I am very happy to be able to join with my fathers in the faith who concluded the Solid Declaration of the Formula of Concord by asserting:


Pr. McCain, I admire your firm commitment to tradition and truth.  I would like to know your thoughts on the following paper about the nature of the confessions as they relate to healing the reformational breach with Rome.

  http://theologytoday.ptsem.edu/oct1980/v37-3-article1.htm

There seems to me to be many statements in the confessions and confutation that highlight vast agreement between Lutherans and Rome, and this should be cause for hope.  Were the Lutheran confessions "irenic in tone" as Neuhaus claims?  Are there any Lutheran theologians today that would agree with this 1980 article by Neuhaus?

I personally have more hope for continued healing of RCC/Lutheran relations if Lutherans remain strongly committed to the confessions, which in many respects remain "a true and faithful exposition of the Word of God", but in my belief, not "the true and faithful exposition of the Word of God".

EENGELBRECHT

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Re: Does It Really Matter?
« Reply #42 on: August 01, 2007, 04:19:58 PM »
In a recent bible study, we read about the healing of Naaman by Elisha.  After vowing to worship only Yahweh, Naaman asked for (and received!) permission to essentially "fake it" when he had to accompany his master, the King of Aram, into the temple of Rimmon.  No one in our group could give a very cogent reason for Elisha's condoning what appears to be a violation of the First Commandment.  Any thoughts?


Is not Namaan showing "chessed" by remaining faithful to his oath to the King of Aram?  He himself leaves Elisha's presence a changed man, but he will not abandon his obligation to his master.  And, most importantly, he leaves with a proclamation of peace (shalom).

I was sorely disappointed (no surprise there...) with the Augsburg Fortress "Great Bible Reef" curiculum, which reduced this story to "God's People Help."  The ending of the story, which is so very important, usually get's ommitted, as was the case with the GBR.  So the whole episode gets reduced to a platitude.

God does care, it does matter.  Namaan leaves with two mule loads of earth (eretz) because he leaves with a new loyalty, a new homeland.  And he pleads, not for himself, but for his King to whom he has sworn fielty.  Namaan, in the end, is a picutre of righteousness because he remains faithful to his covenant.  Could you expect him to honor the covenant of the Law if he would not honor the covenant to his master?  But precisely because he will show "chessed" to his master, we are drawn (I think) to the conclusion that he show similar faithfulness to YHWH and Israel.

Pax Christi;
Pr. Jerry Kliner, STS


Thanks for your note, Jerry. I recently studied this passage (2 Kings 5:15-19) for something I was working on. I'll make a few comments. Naaman has an existing, official obligation that troubles his conscience. Note from v 17 that he will not offer sacrifices to his master's god (i.e., he won't ask anything of this god or try to appease him; Naaman's offerings would be for Yahweh alone). Bowing is a ritual act that is even used with fellow human beings, so it no extraordinary service to the god, though it still troubled Naaman to bow (and rightly so).

Elisha does not explicitly approve Naaman to worship in the house of Rimmon but instead bids him peace in this matter of conscience. The prophet shows patience with this new believer's situation that he would not likely have shown to an Israelite who entered into such a situation (cf Gehazi getting wacked for greed/dishonesty in vv 20-27).

I would apply this text (and others) by encouraging people to show respect at official services for non-Christians that they may be obligated to attend (e.g., weddings and funerals for family members). But I would not encourage people to request anything from the god/gods involved in such services by offering prayers, financial support, volunteer service, or rituals that involved such things. I would encourage people to thank the one true God that their family member/friend/neighbor has an interest in spiritual matters and, at an approprite time and place, bear witness to the true God who loves and cares for him/her. At all times, a Christian should be clear about his confession of faith in such situations and not seek religious unity or anonymity. Those are my reflections on the text.

In Christ,
EE

JMOtterman

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Re: Does It Really Matter?
« Reply #43 on: August 01, 2007, 07:04:12 PM »
     
Quote

In all fairness I don't have the slightest idea about numbers in the LCMS.  What exactly did you mean by the numbers you posted.

PJ
Quote

PJ,

     Quite simply, like the ELCA, the LCMS is also experiencing a decline in membership.  I don't have the ELCA numbers handy, but they have often-times been tossed around within this forum.  Usually, the reasons cited for the decline in ELCA numbers is because of their liberal tilt; i.e; GLBT activision.   I'm sure some folks have indeed departed the ELCA for those reasons.   However, looking at the decline within the LCMS, I think that it is reasonable to question whether or not both bodies may be missing the bigger picture as to the reasons for declining membership.  Just my two-cents, worth everything you paid.

Regards,

Senior   
       

SCPO,

What do you think is the white elephant or the big picture that both church bodies are missing? 

PJ

SCPO

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Re: Does It Really Matter?
« Reply #44 on: August 02, 2007, 03:57:39 PM »
       
Quote

SCPO,

What do you think is the white elephant or the big picture that both church bodies are missing? 

PJ
Quote

PJ,

       Obviously, anything I have to say is strictly speculation and a matter of opinion on my part.   But I won't let that stop me from sharing my thoughts.  With that said, I believe that we should first separate "growth in membership" from "decline in membership".

       When I look at the denominations that are experiencing "growth" in membership, such as the Mega Church's, I think that "could" be contributed to their ability to "make people feel good".   When I look at the ELCA and the LCMS, if one puts the politics aside, I think they might agree that the Worship Services are considerably more complex.  I'm sure that the unchurched who walk in off the street probably find our our Worship Services much harder to understand and follow than those at the Mega Church. 

      With respect to our declining numbers, I am not sure that either the ELCA or the LCMS has good data to determine why their numbers are declining.   For example, other than those who relocate to another area, I don't believe exit interviews are routinely conducted when members decide to leave.   True, I'm sure that some folks get upset with something and are not hesitant to tell the Pastor and staff why they are leaving.  But these folks probably transfer to another ELCA or LCMS congregation, so they really don't effect the over Synod numbers.   However, the same thing does not apply to Jim and Mary and the two kids.   This typical family attends Sunday Worship maybe twice a month.   They send the kids to Sunday School, but do not attend adult classes themselves, nor do they serve on any committee's.  They probably are not concerned (or even know) about what is happening at the Chicago or St. Louis level.  (They certainly do not post on this Forum, nor do they know that it even exists)   Then all of a sudden they stop attending Sunday Worship.    But when they do, nobody really takes notice until months have passed.   Then it is more along the lines of "hey, I haven't seen that nice young couple with the two kids for a while".  Nobody from Outreach ever follows up because their focus is on gaining new members, not on keeping existing members.   I suspect that when the time comes to purge the membership roles, nobody will ask what happened to them.  In my humble opinion, if we were to do a parado on the folks that are leaving the ELCA and LCMS, it is folks like these.   Unfortunately, I don't think we really know why they leave. 

      Again, my two-cents, worth everything you paid.

Regards,

Senior