Author Topic: The Bishops' Angst (Part 2)  (Read 2024 times)

Richard Johnson

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The Bishops' Angst (Part 2)
« on: December 17, 2004, 10:38:42 AM »
The Bishops' Angst (continued)

“The core of the ELCA doesn’t know what it thinks because of the battle over scriptural authority,” that same group complained. Funny, we hadn’t noticed too many in the ELCA who “don’t know what they think,” but then maybe we’re not looking at the core. Where are they, exactly?

Several groups suggested allowing “local option.” If we were betting on all this, we would wager this will be the final recommendation of the task force. We think it’s a bad idea, for a number of reasons, and perhaps we’ll spell that out in more detail in the future. For now, suffice it say that “local option” on matters as basic as the doctrine of marriage and the expectations for those ordained is just no way to be the church. The Anglican Communion’s African primates put it this way in a recent response to the recommendations of the Windsor Commission: refusal by one synod or another to uphold the teaching and discipline of the church means “that they have chosen to ‘walk alone’ and follow another religion.”

“Can we see our way into some flexibility of practice?” asked Bp. David Mullen. “It causes deep agony to see these people whom the Spirit has raised up for leadership in the church” unable to serve. But why, exactly, are they unable to serve? Because they choose not to follow the standards and expectations of the church. To frame the issue in another way, how do we discern that “the Spirit has raised up” particular persons? Isn’t it by considering all kinds of factors—their gifts, their education and other preparation, but above all their faithfulness? We expect pastors to confess and teach that the Holy Scriptures are the Word of God, the norm of the church’s life and faith. The ELCA has yet to affirm that its understanding of Holy Scriptures with regard to homosexuality is today utterly different from that of the church over the last twenty centuries. If a candidate is willing to sign on to the Scriptures as our norm of life and faith, but demands to make exceptions to which the rest of the church has not agreed, then how is it clear that “the Spirit has raised [him or her] up for leadership”?

What is to be done? Well, we agree with the bishops that we’ve come to a point where any decision is going to be difficult. What we would recommend might look something like this: Let’s reaffirm the standards of Vision and Expectations and of the ELCA constitution and bylaws, and let’s direct the bishops to “walk together” by agreeing to stop winking at flagrant violations of those standards. Let’s pull the plug on the proposed social statement inching its way toward the 2007 Churchwide Assembly, and reaffirm the most recent statements on human sexuality by the predecessor church bodies. Let’s say, “Depart in peace” to those congregations, pastors, and members who cannot in good conscience abide by this. And then let’s have a ten-year moratorium on resolutions and petitions having to do human sexuality.

roj

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« Last Edit: February 12, 2005, 02:08:42 PM by roj »
The Rev. Richard O. Johnson, STS

Brian Stoffregen

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Re: The Bishops' Angst (Part 2)
« Reply #1 on: December 17, 2004, 02:40:11 PM »
Quote
If a candidate is willing to sign on to the Scriptures as our norm of life and faith, but demands to make exceptions to which the rest of the church has not agreed, then how is it clear that “the Spirit has raised [him or her] up for leadership”?


How does your statement relate to females and the ordained ministry? Most of "the rest of the Church" have not agreed that women should be ordained. For most of the 2000 years of Christian history, women were not ordained. The Church believed that women should be silent and not have authority in church -- which was seen as the normative interpretation of scriptures.

Those denominations, such as ours, who allow women to be ordained, are we not asking the rest of the catholic Church to allow us to make an exception to the more commonly held view of male-only ordination?
"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]

Richard Johnson

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Re: The Bishops' Angst (Part 2)
« Reply #2 on: December 18, 2004, 06:31:02 AM »
One obvious difference is that in the case of the ordination of women, Lutherans acted together corporately and after considerable study. In the present instance, individuals and subgroups are acting without the consensus or decision of the whole church body.
The Rev. Richard O. Johnson, STS

Brian Stoffregen

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Re: The Bishops' Angst (Part 2)
« Reply #3 on: December 18, 2004, 07:29:43 AM »
Will Lutherans be acting together if the 2005 Churchwide Assembly approves changes to our policies?
"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]

Paul Gausmann

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Re: The Bishops' Angst (Part 2)
« Reply #4 on: January 04, 2005, 07:09:07 PM »
It is interesting to see how much more radicalized the confessionlaists have become, rejecting the local option before  the report has even come out.  I think that is commendable as it clearly indicates that the issue of sexuality is not to be compromized away. The solution offered of enforcing Visions and Expectations and offering those who refuse to abide by that either compliance or the door is a logical alternative from the confessionalists viewpoint but would be mightily resisted by those who see things otherwise. Still it does suggest that those willing to abide by the Biblical witness are not obligated to change the policies, whereas those who wish for change not based on that witness have every right to find a denomination more to their liking and more reflective of their theology.

G.Edward

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Re: The Bishops' Angst (Part 2)
« Reply #5 on: March 04, 2005, 07:45:46 PM »
I listened to a current ELCA bishop explain how ordaining and marrying homosexuals was OK for congregations who felt called to this.  

Fifteen minutes later I listened to the same bishop explain how they could not support their own adult child in their attempt to return to a homosexual relationship/lifestyle because it wasn't right.  

If this kind of double-standard (and illogical thinking) applies to the deliberations of our leadership, where are we headed?