Author Topic: Evangelical Catholic: What does this mean?  (Read 4316 times)

Rev. BT Ball

  • ALPB Forum Regular
  • ***
  • Posts: 216
    • View Profile
Re: Evangelical Catholic: What does this mean?
« Reply #30 on: August 14, 2007, 10:58:54 PM »
Dr. Benke-
hey, barky doesn't bother me, and I certainly know and appreciate all the demands on your time, that's why I put at the end of my post, "if you have time."  And don't be in a hurry to respond to this either anytime soon if you can't, or not at all if you can't.  No problem.  

I'm sorry if my comments were unclear or seemed barky coming your way, because I wrote them quickly before a funeral today.  (I wasn't presiding, that would be troublesome if I was messing around on a blog before a funeral.  I would have you call my DP on me.)   ;D

Anyway, I know you said "forbidden" and I wonder what guys are out there saying that as I'd like to here their arguments.  It was that "forbidden" term you used that got me interested.    I wasn't attempting to prove necessity either, but rather posit another possible point of view that in my opinion could/would serve the church better.  Your post made me wonder if there really is room in your definition of evangelical catholic for one to  make an argument against lay readers - in freedom, the freedom that the Gospel truly brings pertaining to church usages.  And if not, I'm wondering why that (no lay readers) couldn't be part of the richness we celebrate and rejoice in, following particularly Luther in his reforms of the mass, (clearly the priest singing the lections) the church orders of the 16th and 17th centuries and then Loehe and many, many more.    If the matter truly is an adiaphoron, which I would imagine you would say it is, then shouldn't there be room, in freedom, amongst evangelical catholics for some to disagree and have a different practice, one way or another? And like I wrote, if I argue against a practice like this do you think it would make me a legalist or simply as you seem to say uninformed?

I do know about the history of Presiding at the Divine Service, I've read quite a bit on it actually, and am certainly aware in our western tradition of different sorts of readers- deacons, subdeacons, lectors and more who were not fully ordained in to the Holy Office and did read along with a host of liturgical actions during the divine service.   However, if, as Irl stated, lay reading as is commonly known today came into the church of Rome post Vatican II then I'm all for investigating why they made that change and what influence Rome's change in practice had on North American Lutheran practice.  

Reading Luther's Formula Missae is always very interesting by the way, I was reading it this afternoon.  He continually states how we are free.  I agree with him, wholeheartedly, and I'm willing to say we are so free so as to not have lay readers.  

Again, when/if you have time.  I have bible studies and sermons to prepare, sick and homebound to see, visitor followup to make, all kinds of good things pertaining to the holy office, in addition to caring for my family, (my wife was on my case tonight, "Why are you on the computer"  Answer, "I am responding to Dr. Benke, who said I have a paucity of understanding"  Bride's response, "Oh, OK".   :)  So posting on this site is simply a bit of an out for a couple minutes, I think everyone should be understanding of the demands on the parish pastor and of a district president who serves in a pulpit and altar.

Ben

Dan Fienen

  • ALPB Contribution Leader
  • *****
  • Posts: 12572
    • View Profile
Re: Evangelical Catholic: What does this mean?
« Reply #31 on: August 15, 2007, 12:56:05 AM »
Ben,

I have interacted with LC-MS pastors who would go for "forbid" in regard to lay readers.  I once had a pastor in a neighboring circuit not only call me up to confirm that I was indeed using lay readers in worship and didn't I know that  a Synodical Convention had forbidden the practice (this was in the mid 90's and the previous Convention had passed a resolution concerning lay readers - counseling that decisions to use lay readers be made with care and sensitivity).  He then called my circuit counselor to inform him of my transgression.  We ended up spending several monthly Winkels in discussion of the issue with a couple of the pastors arguing that lay readers should be forbidden.  (To allow women to read they considered especially verbotten, but to allow any layman to read the scripture lessons in church they argued was a violation of the pastoral office.)

In general I think there are two ways to frame questions of practice.  One way is to ask if the practice if forbidden, commanded or optional.  To list it either as forbidden or commanded should be backed up by a high level of evidence as to God's will in the matter.  If it is optional, then it becomes more a matter of judgment - and on matters of judgment Christians can and often do disagree.  And agree to diasagree.

My personal judgment is that lay readers falls into the optional category - neither commanded nor forbidden.  Whether it is a good idea to utilize lay readers is a qood question.

Dan
Pr. Daniel Fienen
LCMS

Charles_Austin

  • Guest
Re: Evangelical Catholic: What does this mean?
« Reply #32 on: August 15, 2007, 05:13:07 AM »
I may have missed something in my attempt to understand things in the LC-MS. Does the LC-MS have a policy forbidding lay people to read the lessons at worship? Is it something that is just on the books and not enforced, or is it considered important?

Gladfelteri

  • Guest
Re: Evangelical Catholic: What does this mean?
« Reply #33 on: August 15, 2007, 08:29:04 AM »
I may have missed something in my attempt to understand things in the LC-MS. Does the LC-MS have a policy forbidding lay people to read the lessons at worship? Is it something that is just on the books and not enforced, or is it considered important?
I don't know if it was a Synod-wide policy or just Congregational policy, but in most (not all, but most) of the LCMS parishes I served as an Organist - including the one of which I was President of the Congregation, laymen were allowed to read the lessons; but only if they were members of the Board of Elders.  One LCMS parish in East Central Maryland allowed women to read the lessons, but that was the only instance of that I ever saw or heard about, for that matter.

Blessings,
Irl
« Last Edit: August 15, 2007, 01:14:37 PM by Irl Gladfelter »

Dave_Poedel

  • Guest
Re: Evangelical Catholic: What does this mean?
« Reply #34 on: August 15, 2007, 09:44:16 AM »
I am not aware of any "verbotten" (the only German word I know) regarding lay readers.  I have read the articles by those advocating only the Pastor doing the readings and find them unconvincing in the big picture.  While I personally enjoy proclaiming all of the Scripture readings (Which I sometimes do when the appointed Lector does not show up), I find lay involvement in the Divine Service an appropriate exercise of their baptismal priesthood.  And, yes, I have (gasp) women Lectors as well as men.  Both are trained in the projection of voice as well as the theology of their Baptism.  As youth are mature enough and interested, they also become Lectors and are regularly assigned to serve at the lectern.

I also enjoy the service of a Deacon, technically a layman, who proclaims the Gospel reading as well as the Prayer of the Church petitions in the Divine Service.

Dan Fienen

  • ALPB Contribution Leader
  • *****
  • Posts: 12572
    • View Profile
Re: Evangelical Catholic: What does this mean?
« Reply #35 on: August 15, 2007, 09:54:10 AM »
No, there is no general rule within the LC-MS regarding lay readers of the Scripture Lessons.  I would direct attention to Resolution 3-14, Synodical Convention of 1989 where,  iin the final "Resolved, That the congregations of Synod proceed with care and sensitivity in making decisions permitting the lay reading of Scriptures, recognizing decisions in this regard lie in the area of Christian judgment."  Some pastors and congregations have accepted lay readers, some do not.  I really have no idea of relative numbers.  Some still argue that it should be forbidden.  Some churches do not have women sufferage.  Practices and understandings vary, but I would guess that other issues have become more prominant in MO Synod circles since then.

If you are interested in exploring more argumentation in this regard, may I recommend the article "Lay Readers in Public Worship,"  Concordia Journal, 21:4, October 1995 p. 400-414.

Dan
Pr. Daniel Fienen
LCMS

revjagow

  • ALPB Contribution Leader
  • *****
  • Posts: 1491
  • Proverbs 9:8-9
    • View Profile
    • Article 7
Re: Evangelical Catholic: What does this mean?
« Reply #36 on: August 15, 2007, 10:34:12 AM »
I may have missed something in my attempt to understand things in the LC-MS. Does the LC-MS have a policy forbidding lay people to read the lessons at worship? Is it something that is just on the books and not enforced, or is it considered important?

In a word, "no."  This is a matter of practice, not theology, so churches are free to use lay readers or not.  There may be some clergy out there that feel that lay reading is not a matter of Christian freedom.  Here in the east it would be rare to enter a church that did not have lay readers. 

I would ditto pretty much everything Dave just typed as far as what we do at Bethany. 

In Ben's defense, one could look at 1 Timothy 4:13, "Till I come, give attention to reading, to exhortation, to doctrine" and see the Greek root of avnagnwosei is found in similar words in Acts 13:15 and 2 Corinthians 3:14, where the public reading of the Torah is mentioned.  And yes, it was tradition that is was the rabbi, not just an average joe, who was called on to read and interpret.  Seems like a good start, but then you have to go from there and make the case that God actually commanded for all times and everywhere that only the rabbi, apostle, or ordained preacher is allowed to read in public.  If God did not expressly command it, then it is a matter of ceremony, in my opinion.

Anyway, back to EVANGELICAL CATHOLIC, a group I feel I was drawn into when I was invited to the weekly study in Fred Schumacher's church in White Plains.  My subscription to Lutheran Forum came not long after.  I was probably predisposed to this by my father (also an LC-MS pastor), who introduced me to the writings of Arthur Carl Piepkorn.  To me, "Evangelical Catholic" describes those of us who believe that Lutheranism is meant to still be a reforming movement in the church catholic.  We retain too much of our RC roots to be considered Protestant, and yet the gap between Lutherans and the Roman Church is maintained by our Symbols.  In his essay, "Why Lutherans Should Engage in Conversation with Roman Catholics" Piepkorn writes:

Lutherans have a responsibility to engage in conversations with Roman Catholic fellow Christians precisely because they committed themselves to the Augsburg Confession.  One of the reasons for drafting the Augsburg Confession was the existence of "dissension concerning our holy faith and the Christian religion," and one of the reasons for the imperial assembly at which the Lutheran princes and estates presented the Augsburg Confession was "to employ all diligence amicably and charitably to hear, understand, and weigh the judgments, opinions and beliefs of the several parties among us, to unite the same in agreement on one Christian truth, to put aside whatever may not have been rightly interpreted or treated by either side, to have all of us embrace and adhere to a single, true religion and live together in unity and in one fellowship and church, even as we are all enlisted under one Christ" (Preface to the Augsburg Confession, 2-4).  ...Those who today subscribe to the doctrinal content of the Augsburg Confession must regard this objective as a piece of unfinished business, to be worked at whenever the opportunity presents itself


 
Soli Deo Gloria!

Dave Benke

  • ALPB Contribution Leader
  • *****
  • Posts: 12442
    • View Profile
    • Atlantic District, LCMS
Re: Evangelical Catholic: What does this mean?
« Reply #37 on: August 15, 2007, 12:00:11 PM »
OK then, team.  Ben, thanks for your offer for visitation resource assistance.  I may take you up on that. 

RevJagow hits that ev.catholic nail on the head, as is his custom and certainly his formational NY Metro training. 

And as to the issue of lay readers and the LCMS rubrics, you have the 1985 document on the service of women in the church which DIScourages the use of lay readers in Divine Worship.  This then ENcourages what we has been termed the "hermeneutics of suspicion" on the point of view of those who would FORBID the reading of the lessons by the laity.

With the evangelical/catholic perspective being that the pastoral office is secure and the presidential opportunity to ENcourage the use of altar assistants among the laity is the pastoral prerogative (yes, then, Ben, your prerogative could be to encourage them by having them sit and listen - that's a form of encouragement in its own way from your perspective, but just your pastoral prerogative, not the mandate of God - you could just say, as is the custom at St. Smithins under Pastor Ball, the pastor reads the lessons), the laity, gifted by the Spirit not only out in the world after church but also in the assembly of believers, are appropriately empowered.

So then, suspiciously, the evangelical catholic distinction allowing lay ministry in a variety of settings under pastoral supervision MAY, I emphasize MAY, be attacked by some in the LCMS who are forced to go toward FORBIDDING lay lectors and other activities because if the category is "lay," women would be included.  My suspicions have been raised by our own document on lay-reader discouragement.

Anecdotally, I had a guy in high office in a midwestern precinct come to me once after I had admitted that we had women serving as ushers at my parish and say, "We don't allow that here in ________.  You know, you let a woman usher, and the next thing you know she'll be reading the lessons."  It's a slippery, slippery slope out there in fill in the blank!  Woman cantor?  Can't.  Or is it the positive, Cant.  Or shant.

So maybe we should get that out on the table.  My statement would be that the evangelical and catholic position is that lay people may not be forbidden to read the lessons during divine worship.  I think there are those who would say that in order to keep the percentage of laypeople gendered as women away from the lectern, all laypeople SHOULD be forbidden from reading the lessons during divine worship.  That, Ben, to me is to be unevangelical and uncatholic, based on your own response concerning the church through the ages.

Dave Benke

Gladfelteri

  • Guest
Re: Evangelical Catholic: What does this mean?
« Reply #38 on: August 15, 2007, 01:17:02 PM »
Anyway, back to EVANGELICAL CATHOLIC, a group I feel I was drawn into when I was invited to the weekly study in Fred Schumacher's church in White Plains.  My subscription to Lutheran Forum came not long after.  I was probably predisposed to this by my father (also an LC-MS pastor), who introduced me to the writings of Arthur Carl Piepkorn.  To me, "Evangelical Catholic" describes those of us who believe that Lutheranism is meant to still be a reforming movement in the church catholic.  We retain too much of our RC roots to be considered Protestant, and yet the gap between Lutherans and the Roman Church is maintained by our Symbols.  In his essay, "Why Lutherans Should Engage in Conversation with Roman Catholics" Piepkorn writes:

Lutherans have a responsibility to engage in conversations with Roman Catholic fellow Christians precisely because they committed themselves to the Augsburg Confession.  One of the reasons for drafting the Augsburg Confession was the existence of "dissension concerning our holy faith and the Christian religion," and one of the reasons for the imperial assembly at which the Lutheran princes and estates presented the Augsburg Confession was "to employ all diligence amicably and charitably to hear, understand, and weigh the judgments, opinions and beliefs of the several parties among us, to unite the same in agreement on one Christian truth, to put aside whatever may not have been rightly interpreted or treated by either side, to have all of us embrace and adhere to a single, true religion and live together in unity and in one fellowship and church, even as we are all enlisted under one Christ" (Preface to the Augsburg Confession, 2-4).  ...Those who today subscribe to the doctrinal content of the Augsburg Confession must regard this objective as a piece of unfinished business, to be worked at whenever the opportunity presents itself
In the "for what it is worth department,"  several of my Jesuit friends including a couple of Church Historians tell me that they consider the Unaltered Augsburg Confession a Catholic document which was well within the parameters of the decrees and documents of the 4th Lateran Council.
« Last Edit: August 22, 2007, 09:03:43 AM by Irl Gladfelter »

ghp

  • Guest
Re: Evangelical Catholic: What does this mean?
« Reply #39 on: August 15, 2007, 02:37:53 PM »
Bishop Benke:

You are truly an inspiration to me, as a simple parish pastor.  From the first time I heard you speak via videotape, through all of the @#%& of the YS debacle (I side with you on both "incidents" because I have done the same thing under similar circumstances, but being out here in the West, no one is snooping this stuff out...and all of my occurrences were the pastoral thing to do), and your presence on this Forum has raised the status of the LCMS and the level of dialog here.  Thank you...and being a retired paramedic, I say to you: get more rest!

The smaller Dave (on this Forum)

Let me echo Rev. Poedel's sentiment here, although I must admit that I'm coming from the other "side" of how the "incidents" are viewed. Even at the height of my disagreement with certain of the good Rev. DP's actions, I've still strongly admired the fact that he was/is still in the parish. I like & respect the theology that lies behind that pastoral decision. I also like & respect Rev. Benke's participation on this forum. It's been a welcome view into the mind of the man "behind the reputation", if you know what I mean...  ;)

Wrt the topic at hand, my "view from the pew" is that the reading of the lessons in the DS needs to be viewed from the perspective of teaching vs. "sharing". It seems that the well-intentioned desire to get folks included (which strikes me as a law-driven approach to ensuring that folks will be compelled to show up on Sundays -- 'cause if they gotta work, then they gotta be there...) has skewed the purpose of the lessons away from the teaching aspect that builds up to the sermon, towards a more performance-related "sharing" type of thing. (There's also a bit of misapplied Priesthood of All Believers in there too, but we'll just leave that aside for the moment, ok?)

If the lessons are part of the public teaching of the DS, then it would seem quite natural that the responsibility for their proper execution lies with the OHM/Pastor. That being the case, then the question would seem to move out of "can" and into "should" - i.e., not "Can laity read the lessons?" but rather "Should laity read the lessons?"

Given enough oversight & structure from the Pastor, I think that a layman could properly read the lessons. I'm just not sold on whether or not they should. It's definitely not something that falls into the forbidden/mandated category, which is probably why it ends up being such a sticky wicket. A/The danger is that improper use of lay readers (that is, without proper oversight & catechesis) could introduce doubt and/or uncertainty into that which oughtn't have it (i.e., the Divine Service).

-ghp

Dan Fienen

  • ALPB Contribution Leader
  • *****
  • Posts: 12572
    • View Profile
Re: Evangelical Catholic: What does this mean?
« Reply #40 on: August 15, 2007, 05:20:03 PM »
At the risk of stirring up the pot more - and perhaps in an inappropriate direction for this thread but here goes.

On a practical level the decision to allow or not allow lay readers (even women lay readers) has small impact outside the local parish.  That makes it easier to "agree to disagree" about it.  If it is allowed in my parish and you disallow it in yours (which is how it is in my city) it can be treated as simply one of the ways each church does it differently.  Joint worship and worship in larger groups would need some sensitive handling but that can be done.  Similarly, worship material prepared and offered to all parishes - options for lay readers would need to be options and that would not be hard to do.  As long as we can agree that this does not fit into the "Forbidden/Commanded" category it truly need not be divisive.

It is much harder to treat the ordination of active homosexuals the same way - especially if the push is for full inclusion.  To make that a local option so that those who disagree with it may opt out is harder because ordination has more interparish implications.  While the sexual orientation and activity of a neighboring pastor may not immediately affect a congregation that objects to that, what about when it comes the time for them to need a new pastor - would a non-homosexual listing be made available?  What of interacting with an homosexual bishop?  Pulpit supply?  I'm not saying that it could not be done, but it would be very much harder to truly respect both the consciences of those who disagree with the ordaining of partnered homosexuals and those who agree with it. 

Also to be considered should be what the educational material produced would say about sexuality.  Still, as parishes we do go our own way on that and buy what material from whom we choose.

Perhaps it is ironic, but it would be easier to make the blessing of same-sex unions a local options.  Already each parish and each pastor seem to have their own take on who to marry and what is permissible in the service, from what music may be played to how to treat couples who are living together.  To add the question of the mix of genders to the local option would seem to be not such a stretch.

This, of course, does not deal with the question of whether the ordination of partnered GLBT clergy falls into the forbidden/commanded or optional category.  That is a whole other debate that I am not considering here.  But it does perhaps explain some of the upset, anger and fear on the part of those who oppose it.  Not only is it a matter where they feel that faithfulness to God demands a stand (not an inconsiderable consideration) but they feel threatened by the move.  The fear may, may, be unrealistic, but I can certainly understand them seeing the drive to approve these ordinations as step not just to let them serve somewhere but eventually being forced to accept its correctness or be forced to leave. 

This may be an issue that it is not realistically possible in the long run to simply agree to disagree.  If it is, I don't think anyone has yet seen the policies by which it could work.

Dan
« Last Edit: August 15, 2007, 05:25:36 PM by Dan Fienen »
Pr. Daniel Fienen
LCMS

Dave Benke

  • ALPB Contribution Leader
  • *****
  • Posts: 12442
    • View Profile
    • Atlantic District, LCMS
Re: Evangelical Catholic: What does this mean?
« Reply #41 on: August 15, 2007, 09:58:15 PM »
Dan,

The context of evangelical and catholic is meant to expand the dialog beyond the local border.  Sure, I in Brooklyn sitting there in a neighborhood where in the past people would drive by in fear, I'm free to do as I please, because, really, who's watching?  Who cares? 

Evangelical and catholic is the position that states that the integrity of the local situation must match the integrity of the church catholic through time.

Dave Benke