Author Topic: Full inclusion through grace and standards for leaders  (Read 5147 times)

revklak

  • Guest
Full inclusion through grace and standards for leaders
« on: August 13, 2007, 10:15:20 AM »
I have a piece of scripture I've been struggling with and wonder if folks can help me-- either that you have thought about this or read about this.

A little background/context: We all agree that Paul makes clear that there can be no barriers or addition to the grace that saves in Christ Jesus.  No additional ritual, no requirements, nothing.  We also agree, I would assume, that when Paul says that circumcision or no circumcision means nothing, just Christ, and that he fought for the "full inclusion" of all people as they are (particularly Gentiles).  He even waged a strong debate and received approval from the Jerusalem council that for the sake of the gospel, nothing beyond the Holy Spirit and grace is needed for salvation.  Period.  No more was circumcision a requirement.  I think we are all there.  NO BARRIERS TO SALVATION.  (This is the typical line of debate "full inclusion" includes rostering gay and lesbians in committed relationships and not to do so puts limits or boxes our salvation, etc, etc, etc).

Ok, now, starting with no barriers to salvation, now lets turn to standards and practices, etc for rostering/authorizing leaders.  I came across this text in my devotions last week, and began wondering why this happened AFTER the Jerusalem debate and why Luke would include it:

Acts 16: {Paul} came to Derbe and then to Lystra, where a disciple named Timothy lived whose mother was a Jewess and a believer, but whose father was a Greek.  The brothers at Lystra and Iconium spoke well of him.  Paul wanted to take him along on the journey, so he circumcised him because of the Jews who lived in that area, for they all knew that his father was a Greek.  As they traveled from town to town, they delivered the decisions reached by the apostles and the elders in Jerusalem. (Acts 16:1-4)

Ok, now, maybe we can't really know the mind of Paul, or Luke for that matter.  But here it is.  Why circumcise when it has been agreed as not necessary?  Timothy is already a "disciple," so we can assume he has been saved as he is.  So when bringing him on the journey, training him and equipping him to be a leader, on possibly even the level of apostle (though I know we don't typically classify him thus), Paul feels compelled to circumcise.  Is this not some sort of 'additional standard' for leadership and authority?  Would not the message have been more powerful with a "living example" of this fuller teaching?  And yet the fact remains: Paul still circumcises!

I would like to get some input to help sort it out.  Also, I need to point out, I know this is one text.  So before there is an outcry of "proof-texting," I would just like to say we should read this more anecdotally than as a mandate, but it seems to me to be a missing component in all the circumcism/requirements, etc talk and debate.  Does it broaden and deepen the discussion, or is this something that only causes confusion and therefore gets ignored?  Is there any thought and discussion already out there?

Brian Stoffregen

  • ALPB Contribution Leader
  • *****
  • Posts: 43151
  • ἐγὼ δὲ λέγω ὑμῖν, ἀγαπᾶτε τοὺς ἐχθροὺς ὑμῶν
    • View Profile
Re: Full inclusion through grace and standards for leaders
« Reply #1 on: August 13, 2007, 01:26:07 PM »
This was a text that was discussed as part of the CCM debate. The historic episcopate is not required, like circumcision; but in particular circumstances, for the sake of spreading the gospel, one may do something that is not required, like adopt the HE or agree to circumcision.

Note that the issue in Acts 16 is not Timothy's salvation, but his effectiveness in witnessing to Jews. Because something is not required for salvation, doesn't mean that we can't choose to do it for other reasons -- especially for reasons that may help open doors to spread the gospel.
"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]

revklak

  • Guest
Re: Full inclusion through grace and standards for leaders
« Reply #2 on: August 13, 2007, 02:45:10 PM »
True, it is not a matter of his salvation.  I get that.  And we are not questioning the salvation of any GLBT's seeking to be ordained AND in a partnered relationship.    Yet, I still wonder, why can we NOT say that we are not talking about questioning their faith or salvation, but we are saying "for the sake of not compromising God's word, will, the gospel," we can indeed set standards that include what type of "lifestyles" are acceptable and which are not for our rostered leaders. 

I know we have set some standards, but it seems to me a bit of self-worship to seek the elimination of standards that cramp our personal "style."

Brian Stoffregen

  • ALPB Contribution Leader
  • *****
  • Posts: 43151
  • ἐγὼ δὲ λέγω ὑμῖν, ἀγαπᾶτε τοὺς ἐχθροὺς ὑμῶν
    • View Profile
Re: Full inclusion through grace and standards for leaders
« Reply #3 on: August 13, 2007, 02:54:40 PM »
True, it is not a matter of his salvation.  I get that.  And we are not questioning the salvation of any GLBT's seeking to be ordained AND in a partnered relationship.    Yet, I still wonder, why can we NOT say that we are not talking about questioning their faith or salvation, but we are saying "for the sake of not compromising God's word, will, the gospel," we can indeed set standards that include what type of "lifestyles" are acceptable and which are not for our rostered leaders. 

I know we have set some standards, but it seems to me a bit of self-worship to seek the elimination of standards that cramp our personal "style."
Yes, we set standards for our rostered leaders. The question is whether or not celibacy is a legitimate standard for homosexuals who wish to be rostered. On one hand, it can be argued that for some people, even knowing that someone is homosexual (even if abstaining from sex) would be such an offense, that such a rostered person is not likely to be a good witness in that setting, even if s/he is meeting the standards for ordination. There are ELCA congregations who would not call a homosexual or even a female pastor, even though they meet our present standards. They shouldn't be forced to call someone who would have such a offending witness to them.

On the other hand, there are congregations for whom a rostered leader who models a a mutual, chaste, and faithful committed same-gender relationship" is an important witness to them. Should they be denied that witness?

In the middle of these, I have had congregational members tell me that they don't like my beard. Is that such an offense to someone's faith that I should remove it from my face; or should I illustrate my freedom in the gospel that clean-shavenness is not a requirement for salvation? Besides the fact that my wife prefers me with a beard. (The wife wins, not the church member.) I have also heard from people how having a beard was part of an effective witness to Jesus Christ, whom, I might add, also had a beard. :))
"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]

revklak

  • Guest
Re: Full inclusion through grace and standards for leaders
« Reply #4 on: August 13, 2007, 03:07:04 PM »
True, it is not a matter of his salvation.  I get that.  And we are not questioning the salvation of any GLBT's seeking to be ordained AND in a partnered relationship.    Yet, I still wonder, why can we NOT say that we are not talking about questioning their faith or salvation, but we are saying "for the sake of not compromising God's word, will, the gospel," we can indeed set standards that include what type of "lifestyles" are acceptable and which are not for our rostered leaders. 

I know we have set some standards, but it seems to me a bit of self-worship to seek the elimination of standards that cramp our personal "style."
Yes, we set standards for our rostered leaders. The question is whether or not celibacy is a legitimate standard for homosexuals who wish to be rostered. On one hand, it can be argued that for some people, even knowing that someone is homosexual (even if abstaining from sex) would be such an offense, that such a rostered person is not likely to be a good witness in that setting, even if s/he is meeting the standards for ordination. There are ELCA congregations who would not call a homosexual or even a female pastor, even though they meet our present standards. They shouldn't be forced to call someone who would have such a offending witness to them.

On the other hand, there are congregations for whom a rostered leader who models a a mutual, chaste, and faithful committed same-gender relationship" is an important witness to them. Should they be denied that witness?

In the middle of these, I have had congregational members tell me that they don't like my beard. Is that such an offense to someone's faith that I should remove it from my face; or should I illustrate my freedom in the gospel that clean-shavenness is not a requirement for salvation? Besides the fact that my wife prefers me with a beard. (The wife wins, not the church member.) I have also heard from people how having a beard was part of an effective witness to Jesus Christ, whom, I might add, also had a beard. :))

I am glad that having or not having a beard is a requirement for salvation, and the freedom of the gospel gives me the right to have one myself.  However, the beard doesn't seem to make it as a bilical/moral issue.  Homosexual activity does.  Thus, I guess I am still stuck at asking, how can there even be a standard for a behavior that has such moral problems?  And yet I suppose that is the point... we are arguing from different perspectives.  It is a sin.... It is not a sin.  One or the other.  There seems to be no middle ground.

Brian Stoffregen

  • ALPB Contribution Leader
  • *****
  • Posts: 43151
  • ἐγὼ δὲ λέγω ὑμῖν, ἀγαπᾶτε τοὺς ἐχθροὺς ὑμῶν
    • View Profile
Re: Full inclusion through grace and standards for leaders
« Reply #5 on: August 13, 2007, 03:51:10 PM »
I am glad that having or not having a beard is a requirement for salvation, and the freedom of the gospel gives me the right to have one myself.  However, the beard doesn't seem to make it as a bilical/moral issue.
Was the circumcision of Timothy a moral issue or something else?

Quote
Thus, I guess I am still stuck at asking, how can there even be a standard for a behavior that has such moral problems?
At the end of my first year at seminary, the seniors were receiving their first calls. One of them told me that the district president suggested that if he accepted the call to that particular congregation, he should probably refrain from drinking beer. For that congregation alcohol consumption was a moral problem. Should he agree to that restriction for the sake of his ministry at that place? He agreed to it, even though he saw no problem with drinking beer or any other alcoholic beverages.

There certainly are congregations where homosexuality of any sort is a moral problem. In other congregations, mutual, chaste, and faithful committed same-gender relationships are not a moral problem; although promiscuity, adultery, sexual abuse should always be moral problems for any congregation. Can we accept that our congregations differ on this issue and help each of them call pastors that can best minister in that particular setting?

There is an ELCA congregation near me where, I believe, about half the membership is homosexual. Many are in relationships. The members who are heterosexual are certainly pro-homosexual. I would think that any bishop would know that an anti-homosexual pastor would not be a good "fit" there. Is that a place where a homosexual pastor who could model a "mutual, chaste, and faithful committed same-gender relationship" might give a good witness to both the gospel and living as a "practicing" homosexual?


Quote
And yet I suppose that is the point... we are arguing from different perspectives.  It is a sin.... It is not a sin.  One or the other.  There seems to be no middle ground.
I don't think sin...not sin is the issue. We all are sinners. There is no such thing as a pastor who does not sin. My guess that all of us have some sins that are repeated, e.g., pride, gluttony, judgmentalism, etc. The question is whether or not a particular (repeated) sin should keep one from the ordained ministry or serving in a particular place. Certainly there are such sins that disqualify one from the ordained ministry; but there are also repeated sins that do not disqualify one.
"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]

dfrazer

  • Guest
Re: Full inclusion through grace and standards for leaders
« Reply #6 on: August 13, 2007, 04:01:53 PM »
although promiscuity... should always be moral problems for any congregation.

I would suspect that there are some people somewhere who would disagree that this is a moral problem. I certainly wouldn't want to exclude them. (sigh)


revklak

  • Guest
Re: Full inclusion through grace and standards for leaders
« Reply #7 on: August 13, 2007, 04:31:13 PM »
I am glad that having or not having a beard is a requirement for salvation, and the freedom of the gospel gives me the right to have one myself.  However, the beard doesn't seem to make it as a bilical/moral issue.
Was the circumcision of Timothy a moral issue or something else?

Either way, it was done...  Moral or not, there was a biblical mandate in place, though, as we've agreed, the gospel gave us freedom to move beyond it.

However, I see no such biblical mandate or prohibition for either the HE, having a beard, or drinking (though I have heard one should not get drunk on wine). It can be done or not done according your your good conscience.  Which Luther pointed out, should always be captive to the Word of God.  In that respect, how can we, in good conscience (captive to the Word of God), give acceptance or tolerance to a behavior that has not only no mandate for (or positive example of) but clear prohibition against?  And can a church be in unison, in good conscience, with others who hold a practice and belief that runs contrary to said conscience?  The witness to the Word, it seems, becomes clouded by personal opinions.

(By the way, thanks for running with this conversation... I don't get much chance to debate so far into a subject)

Pr. Jerry

  • Guest
Re: Full inclusion through grace and standards for leaders
« Reply #8 on: August 13, 2007, 04:41:32 PM »
There certainly are congregations where homosexuality of any sort is a moral problem. In other congregations, mutual, chaste, and faithful committed same-gender relationships are not a moral problem; although promiscuity, adultery, sexual abuse should always be moral problems for any congregation. Can we accept that our congregations differ on this issue and help each of them call pastors that can best minister in that particular setting?

Had we used this logic with the Ordination of Women, we would still have congregations that (blatantly) refuse to accept a woman as their Pastor.  Instead, it was right and salutary for the denomination to demand that congregations accept all the clergy as acceptable instead of being allowed to "pick-and-choose," who they would accept.  Not that saying that ended sexism, but it would have been impossible to address the grave sin of sexism without demanding a single roll of pastors who were deemed as acceptable to all.


There is an ELCA congregation near me where, I believe, about half the membership is homosexual. Many are in relationships. The members who are heterosexual are certainly pro-homosexual. I would think that any bishop would know that an anti-homosexual pastor would not be a good "fit" there. Is that a place where a homosexual pastor who could model a "mutual, chaste, and faithful committed same-gender relationship" might give a good witness to both the gospel and living as a "practicing" homosexual?

So they will only recieve the Gospel from one whom they approve?  Whatever happened to listening and being challenged by the other?  Should congregations who are majority white, middle-to-upper class only call those who look like them and come from similar circumstance?  Or should they dare to be stretched by an African-American pastor?  Or a Pastor from the developing world?

It limits the Gospel when we say that only certain types of Pastors can witness faithfully to and in certain circumstance.  This is what has moved congregations past issues of race and gender.  Again, not that the work is done yet, but to retreat into a "patch-work" model on this issue inevitably undercuts other areas. 

Pax Christi
Pr. Jerry Kliner, STS









revklak

  • Guest
Re: Full inclusion through grace and standards for leaders
« Reply #9 on: August 13, 2007, 04:44:45 PM »
There certainly are congregations where homosexuality of any sort is a moral problem. In other congregations, mutual, chaste, and faithful committed same-gender relationships are not a moral problem; although promiscuity, adultery, sexual abuse should always be moral problems for any congregation. Can we accept that our congregations differ on this issue and help each of them call pastors that can best minister in that particular setting?

Had we used this logic with the Ordination of Women, we would still have congregations that (blatantly) refuse to accept a woman as their Pastor.  Instead, it was right and salutary for the denomination to demand that congregations accept all the clergy as acceptable instead of being allowed to "pick-and-choose," who they would accept.  Not that saying that ended sexism, but it would have been impossible to address the grave sin of sexism without demanding a single roll of pastors who were deemed as acceptable to all.

And this seems to be the direction the ELCA will head with this issue.  I have worked with folks from the GLBT lobby who have told me that this will have to be the ultimate goal of "full-inclusion" -- that you not only are accepted in one place but ALL.

Pr. Jerry

  • Guest
Re: Full inclusion through grace and standards for leaders
« Reply #10 on: August 13, 2007, 04:58:47 PM »
And this seems to be the direction the ELCA will head with this issue.  I have worked with folks from the GLBT lobby who have told me that this will have to be the ultimate goal of "full-inclusion" -- that you not only are accepted in one place but ALL.

It has to be this way, Dave...

My first parish told me that they were not bothered by the idea of a gay (celibate or not) clergy person as long as they stayed in San Francisco...  It would be OK, they thought, as long as they never had to see or deal with them.  Or, as they were wont to say, "as long as they leave us alone..."  But when I mentioned that ordaining non-celibate gay or lesbian clergy (or, as Brian would have me say, a gay or lesbian pastor in a "committed relationship") meant that such a candidate might show up in their next call process, they said that they'd leave the ELCA before they would ever let that happen. 

It's funny.  I am from Colorado, I went to seminary in Dubuque, Iowa, I did my CPE in Wichita, Kansas, and a residency in Des Moines, Iowa.  My first call was in rural, Southeast Indiana.  And now I serve deep in Appalachia.  I have learned from all these places, taken on new accents and learned new terms.  But it required me to be open to the possibility that the "other" could teach me something.

Sadly, we have already developed competing rolls of pastors (via the exceptions to CCM), and allow pastors and congregations to limit themselves to who they will accept.  So, I suspect Brian's example will come to pass with little or no drama or impact.

Pax Christi;
Pr. Jerry Kliner, STS

bmj

  • Guest
Re: Full inclusion through grace and standards for leaders
« Reply #11 on: August 13, 2007, 05:00:13 PM »
I have a piece of scripture I've been struggling with and wonder if folks can help me-- either that you have thought about this or read about this.

A little background/context: We all agree that Paul makes clear that there can be no barriers or addition to the grace that saves in Christ Jesus.  No additional ritual, no requirements, nothing.  We also agree, I would assume, that when Paul says that circumcision or no circumcision means nothing, just Christ, and that he fought for the "full inclusion" of all people as they are (particularly Gentiles).  He even waged a strong debate and received approval from the Jerusalem council that for the sake of the gospel, nothing beyond the Holy Spirit and grace is needed for salvation.  Period.  No more was circumcision a requirement.  I think we are all there.  NO BARRIERS TO SALVATION.  (This is the typical line of debate "full inclusion" includes rostering gay and lesbians in committed relationships and not to do so puts limits or boxes our salvation, etc, etc, etc).

Ok, now, starting with no barriers to salvation, now lets turn to standards and practices, etc for rostering/authorizing leaders.  I came across this text in my devotions last week, and began wondering why this happened AFTER the Jerusalem debate and why Luke would include it:

Acts 16: {Paul} came to Derbe and then to Lystra, where a disciple named Timothy lived whose mother was a Jewess and a believer, but whose father was a Greek.  The brothers at Lystra and Iconium spoke well of him.  Paul wanted to take him along on the journey, so he circumcised him because of the Jews who lived in that area, for they all knew that his father was a Greek.  As they traveled from town to town, they delivered the decisions reached by the apostles and the elders in Jerusalem. (Acts 16:1-4)

Ok, now, maybe we can't really know the mind of Paul, or Luke for that matter.  But here it is.  Why circumcise when it has been agreed as not necessary?  Timothy is already a "disciple," so we can assume he has been saved as he is.  So when bringing him on the journey, training him and equipping him to be a leader, on possibly even the level of apostle (though I know we don't typically classify him thus), Paul feels compelled to circumcise.  Is this not some sort of 'additional standard' for leadership and authority?  Would not the message have been more powerful with a "living example" of this fuller teaching?  And yet the fact remains: Paul still circumcises!

I would like to get some input to help sort it out.  Also, I need to point out, I know this is one text.  So before there is an outcry of "proof-texting," I would just like to say we should read this more anecdotally than as a mandate, but it seems to me to be a missing component in all the circumcism/requirements, etc talk and debate.  Does it broaden and deepen the discussion, or is this something that only causes confusion and therefore gets ignored?  Is there any thought and discussion already out there?

Is it possible that although not necessary, it was part of the tradition he was taught, and he was following his own teaching in 2 Thessalonians 2:15?  He could have viewed it as good and proper if not necessary?

Dan Fienen

  • ALPB Contribution Leader
  • *****
  • Posts: 12572
    • View Profile
Re: Full inclusion through grace and standards for leaders
« Reply #12 on: August 13, 2007, 05:22:00 PM »

Quote
And yet I suppose that is the point... we are arguing from different perspectives.  It is a sin.... It is not a sin.  One or the other.  There seems to be no middle ground.
I don't think sin...not sin is the issue. We all are sinners. There is no such thing as a pastor who does not sin. My guess that all of us have some sins that are repeated, e.g., pride, gluttony, judgmentalism, etc. The question is whether or not a particular (repeated) sin should keep one from the ordained ministry or serving in a particular place. Certainly there are such sins that disqualify one from the ordained ministry; but there are also repeated sins that do not disqualify one.

Yes we are all sinners, I am a pastor and have dealt with many pastors, I cannot doubt that.  But is that really the issue?  Are you saying that Goodsoil is willing to say, "Yes, living in a committed homosexual partnership is an intrinsically sinful lifestyle, but since we are all forgiven anyway, the sin of homosexual activity should not disqualify someone from ministry."?  Is not the point of this argument the affirmation that homosexual activity like heterosexual activity is a gift from God and when enjoyed within God given parameters is good and not sinful?   
Pr. Daniel Fienen
LCMS

revklak

  • Guest
Re: Full inclusion through grace and standards for leaders
« Reply #13 on: August 13, 2007, 05:31:33 PM »

Is it possible that although not necessary, it was part of the tradition he was taught, and he was following his own teaching in 2 Thessalonians 2:15?  He could have viewed it as good and proper if not necessary?


I can buy that... but it also then begs another question/possibility?  If it was what he was taught and, assuming, his greek father didn't allow him to be circumcised, by the time of this story, he is already a disciple and quite well know, implying a maturity to the point he should have been able to choose to be circumcised already --  if he was follwoing his own teaching.

Deb_H.

  • Guest
Re: Full inclusion through grace and standards for leaders
« Reply #14 on: August 13, 2007, 05:37:31 PM »
Is it possible that although not necessary, it was part of the tradition he was taught, and he was following his own teaching in 2 Thessalonians 2:15?  He could have viewed it as good and proper if not necessary?
Quote from:  B.Stoffrengen
Because something is not required for salvation, doesn't mean that we can't choose to do it for other reasons -- especially for reasons that may help open doors to spread the gospel.

I've always sort of thought this is the attitude the GLBT folks should have if they want to be a pastor, at least -- if celebacy is not required of them in order to become a pastor (I think it is, but they obviously don't),  for the sake of not hindering the Gospel (that is, Jesus' gospel of salvation, not the social gospel of today) they must selflessly give it up. 
  Say what you want about changing "norms," but homosexual behavior is not normal in most people's understanding, and to do so as if it is equivalent to heterosexual (married) sex will not be helpful to the task at hand.

My concern, of course, has always been that too many are less concerned about Jesus' death and resurrection for the sake of us sinners than they are about the social and justice issues (something that anyone, even atheists and pagans, can and do take care of perfectly fine most of the time), which sounds a bit self-serving when the GLBT consider themselves one of the very groups who need extra consideration as a justice issue. 

What I see instead of selflessness in this regard is instead a  "I'm entitled to it, and you will just have to get over it!" sort of attitude, which isn't helpful to getting the message Gospel out there ... in my opinion of course.

Debbie Hesse