Author Topic: Johnson Goes Ballistic  (Read 12324 times)

Deb_H.

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Re: Johnson Goes Ballistic
« Reply #30 on: August 02, 2007, 11:33:04 AM »
Since it is clear that the shift in interest in the BTGC is not about to be changed, and I am no longer a member, wouldn't I be making myself a little nutty if I kept hollering "Leave this flower stuff alone! Grow tomatoes and zucchinis and rutabagas!"
Just wondering...

Not even a close comparison.  It seems to me that you continually confuse the ELCA with the Church.
The Church is not a garden club.  There is no universal truth that a garden club might operate under, they are just interested in gardening.  If a veggie club wanted to branch off into "other growing things" and not just veggies, why not?  Unless, of course, they were to begin to classify roses and daisies as vegetables ... then it would be a matter of truth.  Which is what is happening in certain denominations where the truth is being redefined or even denied, causing people of conscience and integrity to have to depart.  But in so doing, they still have a concern for those people left behind, who are being led astray, now beginning to believe that a rose by any other name could be or even IS a vegetable.   And so, from afar perhaps, they are compelled to continue to point out the TRUTH.

The ELCA is not the Church.  It is just one tiny part of it.  As members of the whole Christian church on earth, we ought to be able to point out the flaws and errors of parts of the church, so they can be examined and corrected.  That you don't want to hear it at all is troubling.  Is there nothing that the ELCA might do that would cause you to question the leadership and/or wonder if they have themselves departed the ranks of the (universal) Church?

Debbie

Richard Johnson

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Re: Johnson Goes Ballistic
« Reply #31 on: August 02, 2007, 11:46:51 AM »
This thread is about Johnson going ballistic. It is inappropriate for anyone else to go ballistic on this thread. If you want to talk about anything, talk about the significance and importance (or not) of teaching the Apostles' Creed to confirmands.
The Rev. Richard O. Johnson, STS

ROB_MOSKOWITZ

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Re: Johnson Goes Ballistic
« Reply #32 on: August 02, 2007, 12:01:25 PM »
This thread is about Johnson going ballistic. It is inappropriate for anyone else to go ballistic on this thread. If you want to talk about anything, talk about the significance and importance (or not) of teaching the Apostles' Creed to confirmands.

Actually I think that is the point.   When the people with you on your camping seemed to deny the basic faith you hold and you thought they held in the creeds, it surprised you.    It surprises me to have the Church compared to garden club just as Mrs. Hesse expressed above .

If faith is the basis for any sort of unity and the aspects of faith such as communion, scripture, baptism and doctrine yield deviation, conflict or disunity.    Well it is a serious cause for concern.  I think anger is understandable.   Concern is seriously appropriate.

After all you were there to share the ministry and instruct the youth.   You where met with a conflicting message from those whom you assumed shared your most basic tenants.

Rob Moskowitz
« Last Edit: August 02, 2007, 12:04:33 PM by ROB_MOSKOWITZ »

Mike Bennett

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Re: Johnson Goes Ballistic
« Reply #33 on: August 02, 2007, 12:07:26 PM »


Tonight at dinner there were eight or nine pastors sitting at our table. The discussion across the table turned to the creeds. One pastor was explaining how at their church, they don't make the confirmands memorize the Apostles' Creed. "Once in a while we pull out the Apostles' or Nicene Creeds, on high holy days. But we won't use it for confirmation Sunday." I could feel my blood pressure rising. Why is this? I asked. The reply was that the creeds have a hole in them big enough to drive a truck through (by which was meant that "there's nothing in there about Jesus's life, it just jumps from birth to death"), and what they do instead is have the confirmands (and maybe others, I was feeling a little dizzy and didn't quite follow it) "write their own creeds" which they then use in worship.

The "holes big enough to drive a truck through" resonated a bit with me, but in a different way.  A couple of years ago, after one of the major seasons (Easter I think) when we'd confessed the Nicene Creed every Sunday for several weeks instead of the Apostles Creed, it occurred to me that the Apostles Creed is so sketchy in places, and the Nicene Creed so meaty, that it's worth the small effort to memorize the Nicene Creed (which I'd never done before - very complicated, don't you know  ) for use in personal daily prayers and meditation instead of the Apostles Creed.  Does anybody know why the sketchier Apostles Creed has been the one used for catechesis?  

As for "writing my own creed," heaven forbid!  I still need to ponder on the Church's creed.

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

Pr. Jerry

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Re: Johnson Goes Ballistic
« Reply #34 on: August 02, 2007, 12:21:14 PM »
This thread is about Johnson going ballistic. It is inappropriate for anyone else to go ballistic on this thread. If you want to talk about anything, talk about the significance and importance (or not) of teaching the Apostles' Creed to confirmands.

Actually I think that is the point.   When the people with you on your camping seemed to deny the basic faith you hold and you thought they held in the creeds, it surprised you.    It surprises me to have the Church compared to garden club just as Mrs. Hesse expressed above .

If faith is the basis for any sort of unity and the aspects of faith such as communion, scripture, baptism and doctrine yield deviation, conflict or disunity.    Well it is a serious cause for concern.  I think anger is understandable.   Concern is seriously appropriate.

After all you were there to share the ministry and instruct the youth.   You where met with a conflicting message from those whom you assumed shared your most basic tenants.

Firstly, I think Richard is correct...  This thread is/was about him "going ballistic," (which is preferable, I assume, to going postal...) to open and blatant heresy (ie. the belief that the Creeds are not binding and dispensable...).  So the question for this thread should probably return to the core question(s) at hand: how are the Creeds used and misused, what should our response(s) be when we are confronted with the misuse and misunderstanding of the Creeds by clergy, and the like...

Second, I think it's a related, but important thread, that has just surfaced: ecclesiology.  I, for one, am not surprised that the metaphor of a "club" is used to describe the ELCA by Pr. Austin.  After all, ordination is commonly viewed only in operational terms, unity is viewed only as consensus, and all things doctrinal are up for vote and individual acceptance in the ELCA...  Even so-called "Social Statements" are non-binding upon conscience.  So, why not use the metaphor of the "club" to describe the ELCA?  But that, as I say, may be a whole 'nother thread...

To return to the original question: Richard, I'm glad that you had the chutzpah to stand up to naked heresy.  I, unfortuneately, tend to get furious inwardly, but "throw up my hands" and not bother trying to confront such faithlessness when I see it.  I am humbled by your example.

Pax Christi;
Pr. Jerry Kliner, STS
 

Pr. Jerry

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Re: Johnson Goes Ballistic
« Reply #35 on: August 02, 2007, 12:41:00 PM »
As for "writing my own creed," heaven forbid!  I still need to ponder on the Church's creed.

I agree with you, Mike.  The question for the ELCA (in particular) is do we truly consider the Apostles', Nicene, and Athanasian Creeds the "Church's Creed(s)"?  I would argue "YES," but I seem to be in the minorty view.  After all, our new "worship book" (ELW) omits the Athanasian Creed completely and uses novel translations of the Nicene and Apostles' Creeds that are, as of the present moment, not shared by any other tradition outside of the ELCA and ELCIC.  Are they the "Church's Creeds" or are they ours to modify (perhaps wisely, perhaps not...) unilaterally or dispose of depending upon our sensibility?  It seems to me that, if they are indeed the "Church's Creeds," then we are bound by the wider Church-- the Church catholic-- about just how we use and treat the Creeds.

But the more pervasive view in the ELCA, the view of the Pastor with whom Pr. Johnson was at odds with, is that the Creeds are not the "Church's" Creeds, but our own property.  They then become dispensable... We can quit using them or use them when and however we want.  If they offend us, we simply drop them or change the language so that they sound better.  We can formulate our own "credos" that "make sense to me..."  But the sad thing is that we end up separating ourselves from fellow Christians and trading universal truth for individual truth that is only applicable for myself and this moment.

The Church's Creeds should challenge us and push us.  It is never a bad thing to challenge confirmands to disect the Creeds and to make the Creeds "their own..." through study and conforming their lives to the truth of the Creeds.  Sadly, much more commonly we get that backwards and demand that the Creeds be challenged to conform to our lives, making the Creeds not the property of the Church, but the property of the individual.

Pax Christi;
Pr. Jerry Kliner, STS
 

Charles_Austin

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Re: Johnson Goes Ballistic
« Reply #36 on: August 02, 2007, 12:41:31 PM »
I feared this parable would go awry, due to the "ohmygod-the-world-is-ending" attitudes in some of these discussions. I have no problems with anybody's criticism. And I know the ELCA is not The "Church". But it is an organization, and as such has its ways of doing things which its members have constructed. I grow a little weary of those who are no longer in ministry with us, who have left us for ideological reasons, but who persist in trying to tell us how to do things or who make sweeping statements about how bad we all are. As far as I am concerned the Big Tomato Garden Club is still a part of the horticultural community and I wish them well, though I'm growing my rutabagas elsewhere. The problem in these discussions, I fear, is that some of us have been written out of the community by people who think they are the only ones who know how to get seeds to grow.
I teach confirmands the creeds, require them to memorize it, and work through the catechism's explanations. (We're on topic now, right?)

David Charlton

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Re: Johnson Goes Ballistic
« Reply #37 on: August 02, 2007, 12:45:40 PM »
This thread is about Johnson going ballistic. It is inappropriate for anyone else to go ballistic on this thread. If you want to talk about anything, talk about the significance and importance (or not) of teaching the Apostles' Creed to confirmands.

I wonder if we have things backwards.  Perhaps it isn't because pastors question the core teachings of the Christian faith that they neglect the Creeds and the Catechism.  They might question the core of the Christian faith because they have neglected to teach the Catechism regularly.  

Too often, pastors choose to offer courses that are "more relevant" to todays seekers, topical classes that will create more interest.  They choose non-denominational resources for a more lively confirmation class.  Other pastors say they are too busy to teach confirmation, leaving it to youth ministers or lay volunteers.  The result is that these pastors no longer teach the catechism on a regular basis.  In turn, they lose the regular discipline of teaching the Ten Commandments, the Creed, the Lords Prayer and the Sacraments.

Would so many be able to meddle with God's name, deny the uniqueness of Christ, or reject traditional teachings about sexual morality, if they were teaching the Catechism on a regular basis?
« Last Edit: August 02, 2007, 12:55:48 PM by David Charlton »

frluther1517

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Re: Johnson Goes Ballistic
« Reply #38 on: August 02, 2007, 01:11:58 PM »
I think another part of this nonsense about not teaching the creeds and having students write there own is due to the rejection of knowable objective Truth and the superiority of the subjective truth of the individual.  This is textbook post-modernism, isn't it?.  One book which speaks to this I think is On Bullshit by Harry G. Frankfurt.  His discourse on BS is actually quite enlightening.  He defines BS, at least in my understanding, as having a complete lack of care or concern for the Truth.  

He writes,

      "The contemporary proliferation of bullshit also has deeper sources, in various forms of skepticism which deny that we can have any reliable access to an objective reality, and which therefore reject the possibility of knowning how things truly are.  These "antirealist" doctrines undermine confidence in the value of disinterested efforts to determine what is true and what is false, and even in the intelligibility of the notion of objective inquiry.  One response to this loss of confidence has been a retreat from the discipline required by a dedication to the ideal of correctness to a quite different sort of discipline, which is imposed by pursuit of an alternative ideal of sincerity.  Rather than seeking primarily to arrive at accurate representations of a common world, the individual turns toward trying to provide honest representations of himself.  Convinced that reality has no inherent nature, which he might hope to identify as the truth about things, he devotes himself to being true to his own nature.  It is as though he decides that since it makes no sense to try to be true to the facts, he must therefore try instead to be true to himself.
     "But it is preposterous to imagine that we are ourselves are determinate, and hence susceptible both to correct and to incorrect descriptions, while supposing that the ascription of determinacy to anything else has been exposed as a mistake.  As conscious beings, we exist only in response to other things, and we cannot know ourselves at all without knowing them.  Moreover, there is nothing in theory, and certainly nothing in experience, to support the extraordinary judgement that it is the truth about himself that is the easiest for a person to know.  Facts about ourselves are not peculiarly solid and resistant to skeptical dissolution.  Our natures are, indeed, elusively insubstantial--notoriously less stable and less inherent than the natures of other things.  And insofar as this is the case, sincerity itself if bullshit."

Frankfurt, Harry G.  On Bullshit. Princeton, New Jersy: Princeton University Press 2005, pp.64-67

I think Frankfurt's description of BS as a lack of concern or desire to search for objective knowable Truth corresponds to Pastor Johnson's encounter with letting students write their own personal creeds.  Why teach Truth when one can sincerly figure out what's true to each individual?  

Another book that I cautiously recommend, just because I have only started it, is B16's On Conscience.  This book contains two lectures given to the National Catholic Bioethics Center while he was Cardinal Ratzinger.  The gist of the book is dealing with relativisim by arguing against what he calls "the infallibility of the conscience."  Here he talks about the growth of the understanding of the "infallible conscious" within the RCC contra the magisterium of the Church.  I am probably doing a horrible job of explaining the book.  I'll do better when I've actually finished it.    


I am sure somewhere on this forum there is a list of books on postmodernism.  Could anyone point them out to me or if you know of some send me a private message with the titles and authors?  I would greatly appreciate it!

Pax
Pr. Ian Wolfe
« Last Edit: August 02, 2007, 01:14:57 PM by frluther1517 »

Brian Stoffregen

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Re: Johnson Goes Ballistic
« Reply #39 on: August 02, 2007, 01:41:16 PM »
Does anybody know why the sketchier Apostles Creed has been the one used for catechesis?  
I'll offer my guess. The Nicene Creed is the Creed of the Church. It came out of a church controversy and created and revised by a church committee and is a statement of what we believe.

The Apostles' Creed, which took a long time to be formed into its final wording, perhaps 700 years, was a confession of individuals about to be baptized. Thus the "I believe" language. It has remained connected to baptism, and catechesis, which originally led to baptism, now, more often than not, leads to affirmation of baptism, has kept that connection.

From my reading on ancient liturgies, the creeds were not part of the traditional mass. Rather, the trinitarian confession was part of the Great Thanksgiving as mention of God the Creator, and God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit were essential elements of the Prayer.
"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]

JoshuaEM

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Re: Johnson Goes Ballistic
« Reply #40 on: August 02, 2007, 02:04:05 PM »
As per the moderator's remark a few posts up that this is about one particular 'ballistic incident' I would like to add my congratulations (though I'm sorry for the angst this must have caused) for this example of public 'losing it' in the face of other pastors who espouse outright ecclesial lunacy. It's easier to call out the crazies, even those on the roster, who are jettisoning Christianity when we have examples to follow!

Josh

Mike in Pennsylvania

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Re: Johnson Goes Ballistic
« Reply #41 on: August 02, 2007, 02:35:50 PM »
Brian S. is correct that the Apostles' Creed was originally a baptismal creed, and is thus the basis still today for baptism, catechesis and confirmation. 

But while the Creed is in the 1st person singular (I believe) that does not mean that it is simply one individual's statement of faith.  The fact that a candidate for baptism or confirmation confesses the same Creed as the rest of the baptized means that the candidate is publicly identifying with the common confession of the whole Church.  So while it may be a useful exercise for confirmation students to explore how they understand the common Creed, it is still the one Creed they confess.
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Brian Stoffregen

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Re: Johnson Goes Ballistic
« Reply #42 on: August 02, 2007, 03:10:11 PM »
But while the Creed is in the 1st person singular (I believe) that does not mean that it is simply one individual's statement of faith.  The fact that a candidate for baptism or confirmation confesses the same Creed as the rest of the baptized means that the candidate is publicly identifying with the common confession of the whole Church.  So while it may be a useful exercise for confirmation students to explore how they understand the common Creed, it is still the one Creed they confess.
Yes, this is noted by the name that it has been given, "The Apostles' Creed." Although not written by the apostles, it was determined by the church to contain the same confession as the apostles.
"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]

bmj

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Re: Johnson Goes Ballistic
« Reply #43 on: August 02, 2007, 03:47:33 PM »
Supposing I am a member of the Big Tomato Garden Club (BTGC). Our mission is to become better gardeners, help other people learn how to grow our beloved vegetables. We focus on tomatoes, but are also skilled at growing cabbage, zucchini and rutabagas. Over time, people say we should also concern ourselves with flowers - a valid gardening enterprise. But I - being a foodie type - am not at all interested in roses or hydrangias, and those concerns are now a key aspect of the Big Tomato Garden Club. As the focus shifts, I say "this is not why I joined the Big Tomato Garden Club, let's get back to tomatoes and zucchinis!" The club majority disagrees and continues to embrace the rose/hydrangia people.
So, somewhat sadly, I pick up my trowel and hoe, and transfer my gardening activties to the Terrific Tomato Growers of Teaneck the (my fair city), and leave the flower people behind.
I still like my friends in the BTGC even if I think they are no longer being true to their name.
But... Should I be writing letters to the newspaper saying how "wrong" those folks in the BTGC are? Should I be telling people still in that garden club how to run their meetings or what their concerns should be? Wouldn't that be an imposition, not to mention a waste of my time. Wouldn't that keep me from my new garden mission with the TTGT? Since it is clear that the shift in interest in the BTGC is not about to be changed, and I am no longer a member, wouldn't I be making myself a little nutty if I kept hollering "Leave this flower stuff alone! Grow tomatoes and zucchinis and rutabagas!"
Oh, and by the way, both clubs are friendly, active members of the New Jersey Federation of Garden Enthusiasts.
Just wondering...


The answer depends on if you are talking about the "one holy catholic and apostolic Big Tomato Garden Club" (OHCABTGC ), created and empowered by God himself.   Or if you are simply talking about human organizational constructs, such as the "BTGC".  I do not think your example fits well when comparing parts of the Body of Christ.


Richard Johnson

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Re: Johnson Goes Ballistic
« Reply #44 on: August 02, 2007, 04:15:39 PM »

I'll offer my guess. The Nicene Creed is the Creed of the Church. It came out of a church controversy and created and revised by a church committee and is a statement of what we believe.

The Apostles' Creed, which took a long time to be formed into its final wording, perhaps 700 years, was a confession of individuals about to be baptized. Thus the "I believe" language. It has remained connected to baptism, and catechesis, which originally led to baptism, now, more often than not, leads to affirmation of baptism, has kept that connection.


Well, ahem, putting on my church historian cap, though without benefit of my library close at hand, Brian is at least in the ballpark here, though I would not say it quite this way.  The Nicene Creed (more properly, the Niceano-Constantinopolitan Creed, since it was adopted at the Council of Nicea and then somewhat revised at the Council of Constantinople to get to the form in which we have received it) was not the product of a "committee" but a Council of the Church, authorized and representative of the church as a whole in the 4th century. "Committee" generally, except in Soviet language, suggests a small group. This was several hundred bishops.

And the Apostles' Creed was not "a confession of individuals" but was the "confession of the church" cast into a form appropriate for catechesis and for use at baptism.

The two creeds are both "creeds of the church," albeit in somewhat different ways and with different purposes. The one is intended to be a basic document for catechesis and baptism (thus its association with confirmation), and the other is a more specifically doctrinal piece meant to rule "out of bounds" certain heretical notions in the 4th century. They both have their uses, and IMO they should both be committed to memory by Christians.
The Rev. Richard O. Johnson, STS