Author Topic: Filling Future Pastoral Vacancies  (Read 6737 times)

Charles Austin

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Re: Filling Future Pastoral Vacancies
« Reply #30 on: October 24, 2021, 08:57:34 PM »
Pastor Bohler:
Well, they may SAY the same words but they do not believe they mean the same thing.  Presbyterians do not believe it is the Body and Blood but only represent them.

Me:
I was privileged to sit in on the final year of the Lutheran-Reformed dialogue. Three comments which I’m sure will be useless to you.
1. The Presbyterian theologians were willing to affirm the real, bodily presence of Christ in the sacrament if we could understand that for them the “Real Presence” extended to the Lord’’s presence in the Word and in the gathered assembly.
2. We agreed that we have used and stressed different aspects of the presence.
3. We agreed that the differing histories and emphases should not keep us from communing together.
BTW, about a year earlier in the dialogue, when post-1969 LCMS theologians were taking part, I witnessed this exchange.
Presbyterian seminary professor: “yes, we believe that the Lord is present in the elements. We teach that.”
LCMS seminary professor: “I don’t believe you,” and he went on to cite a comment from Calvin.
Presbyterian seminary professor: “And do you still believe and teach every word Luther wrote?”
Retired ELCA Pastor. Iowa native. Now in Minneapolis. One must always ponder both the value and the dangers of poking the bear. Aroused and stimulated, the bear usually shows its true self. Or it might leap to an extreme version of itself. You never know with bears.

Charles Austin

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Re: Filling Future Pastoral Vacancies
« Reply #31 on: October 24, 2021, 09:14:10 PM »
Pastor Bohler:
If the answer does not matter, why have separate churches?
Me:
Good question.
If, as you suggest, the answer does matter, who is going to hell for believing which way? How is the mission of the Church to the world helped by howling about the 16th Century divisions? Can we not rethink those divisions? How is the saving faith of our people damaged if we worship and commune together? Do we dishonor the sacrament or the Lord or the Gospel by sharing our ministries and worship?
Do you and your LCMS colleagues believe that all your members have such a “pure,” “Lutheran” understanding of the sacrament?
But talk to me after you have had 5, 10 or 20 years of open, serious theological dialogue with anybody outside your hyper-Lutheran cohort. Until then, you’re a math student who doesn’t know the multiplication tables.
Retired ELCA Pastor. Iowa native. Now in Minneapolis. One must always ponder both the value and the dangers of poking the bear. Aroused and stimulated, the bear usually shows its true self. Or it might leap to an extreme version of itself. You never know with bears.

Steven W Bohler

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Re: Filling Future Pastoral Vacancies
« Reply #32 on: October 24, 2021, 09:14:38 PM »
Pastor Bohler:
Well, they may SAY the same words but they do not believe they mean the same thing.  Presbyterians do not believe it is the Body and Blood but only represent them.

Me:
I was privileged to sit in on the final year of the Lutheran-Reformed dialogue. Three comments which I’m sure will be useless to you.
1. The Presbyterian theologians were willing to affirm the real, bodily presence of Christ in the sacrament if we could understand that for them the “Real Presence” extended to the Lord’’s presence in the Word and in the gathered assembly.
2. We agreed that we have used and stressed different aspects of the presence.
3. We agreed that the differing histories and emphases should not keep us from communing together.
BTW, about a year earlier in the dialogue, when post-1969 LCMS theologians were taking part, I witnessed this exchange.
Presbyterian seminary professor: “yes, we believe that the Lord is present in the elements. We teach that.”
LCMS seminary professor: “I don’t believe you,” and he went on to cite a comment from Calvin.
Presbyterian seminary professor: “And do you still believe and teach every word Luther wrote?”

Well, I will agree with you this far: those points ARE useless.  To me and to anyone who is interested in more than trying to come up with language that leaves sufficient wiggle room to say whatever you want the words to say.

Steven W Bohler

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Re: Filling Future Pastoral Vacancies
« Reply #33 on: October 24, 2021, 09:23:19 PM »
Pastor Bohler:
If the answer does not matter, why have separate churches?
Me:
Good question.
If, as you suggest, the answer does matter, who is going to hell for believing which way? How is the mission of the Church to the world helped by howling about the 16th Century divisions? Can we not rethink those divisions? How is the saving faith of our people damaged if we worship and commune together? Do we dishonor the sacrament or the Lord or the Gospel by sharing our ministries and worship?
Do you and your LCMS colleagues believe that all your members have such a “pure,” “Lutheran” understanding of the sacrament?
But talk to me after you have had 5, 10 or 20 years of open, serious theological dialogue with anybody outside your hyper-Lutheran cohort. Until then, you’re a math student who doesn’t know the multiplication tables.

To answer your questions:
1.  That is God's place, not mine.  However, it is VERY dangerous to play the devil's game of "Did He really say...?"
2.  Not howling but understanding where these differences lead if one is consistent. 
3.  How does one "rethink" mutually exclusive positions?  Either it is, or is not, the Body and Blood of Christ.  And how one answers that question affects all sorts of things (like Christology).  Perhaps rather than looking down your long nose at those benighted 16th century theologians, you would do well to actually read them.
4.  As I mentioned above, how one answers this question affects all sorts of other things.  Like Christology.  Read some 16th century Lutherans.
5.  Yes.
6.  No.
7.  I will do that after you read the Lutheran Confessions (which you pledged to follow in your ministry) and let them truly guide you. 
« Last Edit: October 25, 2021, 08:50:31 AM by Richard Johnson »

Charles Austin

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Re: Filling Future Pastoral Vacancies
« Reply #34 on: October 24, 2021, 09:38:35 PM »
Pastor Bohler:
Well, I will agree with you this far: those points ARE useless.  To me and to anyone who is interested in more than trying to come up with language that leaves sufficient wiggle room to say whatever you want the words to say.

Me:
And with those words, you impugn the integrity, scholarships and the faith of hundreds of theologians - including some of your own - who sought to heal our divisions in order to better proclaim the gospel to the world. For heaven’s sake, Pastor Bohler, if all we wanted was “wiggle room” to say whatever we wanted, would it have taken 20 years to reach the agreements?
See my last post. When you have poked your head out of your Lutheran ghetto and taken the faith of others seriously for years maybe you would understand.
I challenge you to read the dialogue study materials and conclusions. You will find our Confessions cited.
And how dare you call me a “liar and hypocrite” when I have often said how the confessions have guided my ministry? You are way out of line.
You probably think you have a strong faith. I think your faith is fragile and weak because anything suggesting that Lutherans are not in lock-step with you makes your knees shake.
Retired ELCA Pastor. Iowa native. Now in Minneapolis. One must always ponder both the value and the dangers of poking the bear. Aroused and stimulated, the bear usually shows its true self. Or it might leap to an extreme version of itself. You never know with bears.

Jim Butler

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Re: Filling Future Pastoral Vacancies
« Reply #35 on: October 24, 2021, 11:13:07 PM »
I think it should be noted that the more conservative Reformed bodies, e.g. the Presbyterian Church in America  the Orthodox Presbyterian Church, don't think there is any more agreement between Lutherans and the Reformed on the doctrine of the sacrament than does the LCMS. I was at Gordon-Conwell when the ELCA/Reformed agreement was ratified. Not a single Reformed faculty member thought there was really any such agreement. And they made it very clear to me that no, Christ is not physically present in the Sacrament. He is in heaven, not in the elements (cf. the translation of Acts 3:21 in the 1978 NIV). One of my professors was ordained in the PCUSA (as was his wife) and they made it clear to me that they wouldn't be inviting any ELCA pastors to preach from the pulpit of the church they pastored.

During this time, I was also part of the New England ELCA/LCMS Dialogue. The ELCA members made it pretty clear that they weren't entirely comfortable with the agreement, particularly having the UCC as an ecumenical partner. Given the UCC's polity, they weren't even sure if it was possible to have an actual agreement with them.

One other thing. While the agreement between the ELCA and the Reformed strikes us in the LCMS as odd, it really is in the DNA of the ELCA. "Union churches"--made up of Reformed and Lutheran--are quite common in Pennsylvania and many of them are quite old. One of my members in Springfield would tell me about going to the church with her father every Saturday to change out the hymnals. One week they would use the Lutheran hymnal; the next the Reformed. Some of the pastors were Lutheran; others were not. It was a congregation of mixed confession--and it was not alone. To a certain extent, this agreement simply takes that to its logical conclusion.

In contrast, when the LCMS constitution says that members of the Synod are to reject unionism, it most likely refers to those arrangements. While Missouri pastors could accept a call to churches of mixed confession (and often did), it was understood that they would only preach and teach according to the Lutheran confessions and that no celebration of Sacrament would take place until the entire congregation had been catechized. Churches such as First Lutheran in Holyoke, MA and First Lutheran in Boston came into the Synod that way (one could also mention St. Paul in Fort Wayne, but that predates the Synod).
The significance of the passage of time, right? The significance of the passage of time. So when you think about it, there is great significance to the passage of time. -- VP Kamala Harris

Charles Austin

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Re: Filling Future Pastoral Vacancies
« Reply #36 on: October 25, 2021, 12:28:43 AM »
The PCA was not part of our ecumenical agreement with the reformed churches. They did not take part in the dialogue. Yes, There was some concern about the UCC, but the reformed partners insisted that they be a part of the discussion and so it was. It is also important to note that no one is required to have services with the reformed, although probably thousands of our churches have done so.
Ecumenically, if we wait until everyone is totally and without question “comfortable“ with things, nothing will ever happen. But if we conclude That ecumenical agreements can advance the proclamation of gospel, in mission and in service to our people  and I believe that, then things can happen.
Retired ELCA Pastor. Iowa native. Now in Minneapolis. One must always ponder both the value and the dangers of poking the bear. Aroused and stimulated, the bear usually shows its true self. Or it might leap to an extreme version of itself. You never know with bears.

Pastor Ken Kimball

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Re: Filling Future Pastoral Vacancies
« Reply #37 on: October 25, 2021, 12:34:52 AM »
I wrote a piece a number of years ago that eventually made its way into the FL, recounting my experience with the local ministerial group (of which I was president at the time--the Roman Catholic priest serving as secretary).  There was also a Methodist, 2 UCC pastors, 1 PCUSA pastor, 2 Christian Reform pastors, and 2 PCA pastors.  We had one of our monthly meetings.  Father Birch was gone.  After we had conducted our business and were engaged in "small talk" someone made a comment about "how different" Catholic services were, remarking on a Catholic wedding in which he had taken part as the pastor of the groom.  The PCUSA pastor said something about the strangeness of the Catholics believing that Holy Communion was really about receiving the actual body and blood of Christ.  When I countered that Lutherans believe the same thing about Holy Communion, all the Calvinist tongues started to wag, "You can't really mean that!"  The elderly and deeply pious Christian Reformed pastor of the town church pulled out his wallet and pulled out a picture.  "This is my family," he said, and then added, "Well actually it's just a picture of my family.  That's what you mean that you Lutherans believe about Holy Communion, isn't it?  It's just a picture of Christ, just a representation?"  The others, including the United Methodist, the PCUSA and one of the UCC pastors nodded in agreement, looking at me curiously.  I felt like an object in a museum.  "No," I said, "We go by what the Bible says.  Jesus said, 'This is My Body...This is My Blood.'  He didn't say 'This represents or this symbolizes'.  He said, 'This IS my body, this IS my blood.'" The other UCC pastor had a bemused look and said, "Actually my theological forebear is Zwingli.  I don't agree with either Calvin or Luther."  This was at a time when the theological discussions   between the ELCA and the RCA, PCUSA, and UCC that Pastor Austin refers to were taking place.  Whatever the muckety-mucks were saying at the "high level" conferences, it was not filtering down to the local level and it left me with a profound distrust for what was supposedly taking place between the leaders and representatives of the church bodies.  I'm NALC now, but I'm with Pastor Bohler and other LCMS pastors here.  When Lutherans accept Calvinist (no matter how much they say they eschew or have moved beyond Calvin or Zwingli) claims about Holy Communion, they are holding positions that are no longer Lutheran.     

Charles Austin

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Re: Filling Future Pastoral Vacancies
« Reply #38 on: October 25, 2021, 01:29:58 AM »
Pastor Kimball, as you know, I have to disagree with your final sentences. In our ecumenical agreements we do not, we most pointedly and intentionally do not "accept Calvinist claims about Holy Communion." When I preached at that Presbyterian Church, I did not "become" a Presbyterian.
Our agreements say that our differences exist and that we will keep working on them, but that they should not keep us from sacramental fellowship and ministry together.
And we understand that Reformed theology can be understood as saying that Christ is present in the elements of the sacrament. Our 16th Century histories handled the topic in different ways, due to the theological disputes, territorial matters, and even the "personalities" of those in the discussions.
I have often said here that were I a 16th Century Lutheran, I would have had vile words for those awful Calvinists and probably sought capital punishment for the followers of Zwingli. But it is not the 16th Century. We are not first generation Lutherans and Presbyterians I have know do not bury themselves in Calvin's words as the chief explanation of their faith. 
Yes, the understanding and teachings "on the ground" may not be fully in tune with our agreements. Acceptance of the impact of the accords is a long process for all sides.
But it is happening among us. I think it is a good thing.
Obviously others disagree. My concern is that some in this modest forum, unlike yourself, have no first-hand knowledge of the agreements or the road we took to reach them.
I believe our witness to the Gospel, our proclamation of the grace of God, and our service to our neighbors, not to mention the nurturing of faith among our members is strengthened by the places where - for the sake of the local mission - Lutherans and Presbyterians, Lutherans and Methodists, Lutherans and Episcopalians, Lutherans and other ecumenical partners unite their mission and ministry.
Retired ELCA Pastor. Iowa native. Now in Minneapolis. One must always ponder both the value and the dangers of poking the bear. Aroused and stimulated, the bear usually shows its true self. Or it might leap to an extreme version of itself. You never know with bears.

Brian Stoffregen

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Re: Filling Future Pastoral Vacancies
« Reply #39 on: October 25, 2021, 01:38:41 AM »
I believe that Christ is truly present in the sacraments; AND Christ is seated at the right hand of the Father. How Christ is remaining in heaven AND uniquely present to us in water, bread, wine, word, and fellowship is beyond our ability to understand. We celebrate it. We proclaim it. It is not our understanding that makes Christ present; but Christ's promise and his divine power.


I believe that Christ is truly present in the sacrament even among those Christians who see it as nothing but a memorial meal. It is not their belief that creates the reality but the Word of promise - sometimes, in spite of our beliefs.


I will gladly receive communion in our full communion partner congregations, knowing that Christ keeps his promise to be present when we gather in his name; and to be the bread and cup of the sacrament.
"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]

Steven W Bohler

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Re: Filling Future Pastoral Vacancies
« Reply #40 on: October 25, 2021, 07:45:38 AM »
So, the ELCA and its partner churches recognize/acknowledge that there are differences in their understandings of the Lord's Supper.  But, those differences are not enough to prevent joint worship and ministry.  OK, I get that.  I disagree with it, but that doesn't matter; I am not a member of those churches.  My original question was basically: what do those clergy actually teach when they serve a congregation of a differing confession?  And now a second question comes to mind, after Rev. Austin's rehearsal of the discussions that led to that agreement: In the almost 25 years since, have further discussions been held to work through those areas of disagreement?  And if so, what progress has been made?

Terry W Culler

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Re: Filling Future Pastoral Vacancies
« Reply #41 on: October 25, 2021, 07:47:28 AM »
Luther and the Reformed, represented by Bucer and Capito, came to agreement in 1536 in the Wittenberg Concord.  Luther communed with the other signatories.  There was no real problem until Calvin seems to have conceived the idea that he could, by reaching out to Zurich as well as Wittenberg, bring the Reformation together.  That is when the Lutherans rejected Calvin for having, in their view, broken the Concord.  At one point Luther, speaking of the young Calvin, said if he had been at Marburg they might have come to agreement. 

IMO, Calvin's agreement with Zurich is unfortunate because of the split it caused between our two communions.  We've now spent 400+ years defining our differences and forgetting our common positions, which are more than any of us want to admit.  I have worshipped in several PCA congregations and I heard the proclamation of the Gospel in each one of them.  I wish I could say the say for every Lutheran church I've worshipped in. 
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Donald_Kirchner

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Re: Filling Future Pastoral Vacancies
« Reply #42 on: October 25, 2021, 08:06:48 AM »
I believe that Christ is truly present in the sacrament even among those Christians who see it as nothing but a memorial meal.

Lutherans do not.
Don Kirchner

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John_Hannah

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Re: Filling Future Pastoral Vacancies
« Reply #43 on: October 25, 2021, 08:44:07 AM »
I believe that Christ is truly present in the sacrament even among those Christians who see it as nothing but a memorial meal.

Lutherans do not.

This is probably not correct. Sasse (footnote in This Is My Body) states that although Lutheran pastors warned people not to receive at Reformed altars, they refrained from speculating what the Reformed actually received.

Peace, JOHN
Pr. JOHN HANNAH, STS

Rev. Edward Engelbrecht

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Re: Filling Future Pastoral Vacancies
« Reply #44 on: October 25, 2021, 08:50:55 AM »
Here's how I taught this topic to my catechism students last year.

https://youtu.be/T4y__PyLv84

I would post the video, use questions on Zoom to see how they understood it, and then review with them their workbook on the topic.
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