Category Archives: ELCA

Why I’m ELCA

There was a query on the ELCA FB group as to why… I didn’t get around to responding, and the thread has since scrolled off the page. Alas, here would be my response.

We have the absolute best preflight announcements.

On a more serious note, there are a few key bits that really resonate with me.

  • The ELCA does grace well… as we get accused of being antinomian. At the same time, the law is a big deal, a lot bigger I think than the law obsessed churches that make a lot of noise. Its not law, its not Gospel, its both, but they must be viewed through a societal lens, and overwhelmingly, the hundred + ELCA congregations I’ve been at do well with this.
  • The 100% Saint 100% Sinner thing. Granted, some push the limits on this a bit, its a matter of daily regeneration, not a progressive holiness ladder thing, nor an antinomian thing, Personally, I think the “Weak on Sanctification” T shirt rocks.
  • The real presence, and even better when its offered every Sunday, and even better than even better when its offered mid-week as well as Sunday. (And it would be super cool if compline could fit in there somewhere….)
  • The extreme anti-pelagianism stance which permeates our theology and practice. Its never take a small step, and God will meet you, or climbing ladders, or reaching out to God, its always God to us, not us to God.
  • Corporate confession and absolution, even for those who do not believe. (Granted, its controversial and was never really resolved back in ~1867
  • The scriptures point to Jesus, they are not items for man’s idolatry or to be sacrelized. Some pastors I’ve heard use the term “feeding trough”. The Bible is a much bigger deal than the terms inerrant or infallible reduce it to.
  • Paradox and the conflict rule, rather than reason and logic to bend and harmonize. Questioning is generally revered.
  • The ecclesiastical structure of synods and churchwide, rather than independent congregational models.
  • I really like the churchwide voting mix, where in its mostly lay folks and as of late, more and more young folks setting the direction. I wish we had more cultural diversity.
  • The tent is huge:
      1. Ecumenicalism is a big deal
      2. Inclusion is a big deal. Gay folks are welcome, and are not barred from the pastorate whether they are in same gender relationships or not. Bound conscience provides for churches who dont approve of such.
      3. Change is constant and to be embraced. The tag line from CWA13 “Always being made new” is pretty cool, as was “God’s work our hands”
      4. Many don’t get too hung up on the confessions, some feel Luther was far from finished, some feel he was in error on a few things, some ascribe to the Book of Concord in total.
      5. High church and low church are both practiced. The only bird some have, including me, is pietism and its resulting legacy.

The ELCA has a lot of really cool, as well as some incredibly disturbing predecessor synod history. I wish well meaning folks hadn’t scrubbed and sanitized so much of it. We learn from error and scandal too.

 

 

Does the ELCA believe in Universalism?

Is the ELCA universalists [sic]? was a question I was asked on twitter last weekend. And the answer I tweeted back was “no, but its fairly easy to misinterpret our theology in such a fashion, Braaten explains it well here http://tinyurl.com/2g3durv

In hindsight, not knowing the fellow asking the question, sending him to a book by a high powered theologian such as Dr Braaten may or may not have been the right way to answer such a question. Most certainly, while doing so was expeditious and correct, it was not by any means stepping up to the plate personally. As a result, here would have been a more appropriate answer, albeit being its far too long to fit within 140 characters…

The answer is no, we are not universalists. However, in the eyes of many US evangelicals, we might appear to be. The reason is that many US evangelicals hold to a model of the destiny of the unevangelized called exclusivism or restrictivism. It is the narrowest model, and pretty goes much narrower than just “No one comes to the Father but through me“. It holds to the belief that only those who actively respond in faith to the explicit preaching of the Gospel are saved…. but in practice, few actually hold to such a hard core restrictivism, especially when it concerns children or the unborn. A couple common workarounds are the age of accountability, and/or a re-definition of original sin in other than a view of total depravity from conception… such that children and or the unborn are saved, even if they have never heard the Gospel explicitly preached. Ultimately, it would be correct to say that the ELCA does not ascribe to restrictivism.

Going to the other extreme is a view held by some unitarian universalists, which states that all are saved, and that Christ has nothing to do with such. As a result, it would be correct to say that the ELCA does not ascribe to the views of the above unitarian universalists either.

Rather, my view, which is close to the ELCA’s, is that its in God’s hands, and His grace is huge, we know He desires that all be saved. Scripture leans towards universalism, that God’s work in Christ was done for all, yet we must also be aware of God’s judgment. We hold to a universal hope that all will be saved through the grace and love of Christ… but ultimately, we do not know. We do not put absolutes around God and put Him in a box to our liking, whether it be restrictivism on the one hand, or universal salvation for all apart from Christ on the other.

For further reference:

Principles of Lutheran theology Carl Braaten

What we believe from the ELCA website

******** added at 12:05PM CDT 19 August 2010 ********

One thing I forgot to add last night was a reference to the first edition of the ELCA’s Lutheran Study Bible. There was a lot of fuss over Dr Priebe’s commentary on the great commission being it came across as a type of universalism. Its well worth reading the background on the commentary from Dr Priebe It makes a whole lot of sense, and no it is not universalism.

Bishop Hanson after Passage of Res 4 CWA09

I thought Bishop Hansen’s statement right after resolution 4 was passed were quite profound. This is from the ELCA unofficial text feed.

Presiding Bishop Hanson:

I WANT MORE TIME TO THINK ABOUT WORDS FROM ONE YOU HAVE CALLED TO SERVE AS PASTOR OF THIS CHURCH.
I HAVE BEEN STANDING HERE THINKING ABOUT MY 23 YEARS AS A PARISH PASTOR AND HOW DIFFERENTLY I WOULD GO INTO A CONTEXT IF I WAS GATHERING WITH A FAMILY OR A GROUP OF PEOPLE THAT HAD JUST EXPERIENCED LOSS OR PERHAPS WERE WONDERING IF THEY STILL BELONGED OR IN FACT FELT DEEPLY THAT ONES TO WHOM THEY BELONG HAD BEEN SEVERED FROM THEM.
THAT WOULD BE A VERY DIFFERENT PASTORAL CONVERSATION.
AND I WOULD PROBABLY TURN TO WORDS SUCH AS ROMANS 8, “WHO IS TO CONDEMN?
IT IS CHRIST JESUS WHO DIED, YES, WHO WAS RAISED, WHO WAS AT THE RIGHT HAND OF GOD, WHO INTERCEDES FOR US, WHO WILL SEPARATE US FROM THE LOVE OF CHRIST?
I’M CONVINCED THAT NEITHER DEATH, NOR LIFE, NOR ANGELS NOR RULERS NOR THINGS PRESENT, NOR THINGS TO COME, NOR POWERS, NOR HEIGHT NOR ANYTHING ELSE IN ALL CREATION WILL BE ABLE TO SEPARATE US FROM THE LOVE OF GOD IN CHRIST JESUS.
BUT THEN I THOUGHT, “WHAT IF I WERE GOING INTO A FAMILY OR A GROUP, A COMMUNITY THAT HAD ALWAYS WONDERED IF THEY BELONGED AND SUDDENLY HAD NOW RECEIVED A CLEAR AFFIRMATION THAT THEY BELONGED.
ALL OF THE WONDERING ABOUT THE DIVIDING WALLS, THE FEELINGS OF SEPARATION SEEMED TO HAVE DROPPED AWAY.
THAT WOULD BE A VERY DIFFERENT CONVERSATION.
I WOULD PROBABLY READ TO THEM OUT OF EPHESIANS. “BUT NOW IN CHRIST JESUS, YOU WHO WERE ONCE FAR OFF HAVE BEEN BROUGHT NEARBY THE BLOOD OF CHRIST.
FOR HE IS OUR PEACE.
IN HIS FLESH, HE HAS MADE BOTH GROUPS INTO ONE.
HE’S BROKEN DOWN THE DIVIDING WALL THAT IS THE HOSTILITY BETWEEN US.
IN HIM, THE WHOLE STRUCTURES JOINING TO AND GROWS INTO A HOLY TEMPLE AND LORD IN WHOM YOU ALSO ARE BUILTING TO SPIRITUALLY INTO A DWELLING PLACE OF GOD. “.
BUT THEN I THOUGHT, WHAT IF THOSE TWO GROUPS WERING TO?
WERE TOGETHER, BUT ALSO IN THEIR MIDST WERE THOSE WHO HAD NOT EXPERIENCED LOSS OR THE FEELING OF THE DIVIDING WALL OF SEPARATION COMING DOWN, BUT WERE WONDERING AND WORRIED IF ALL THAT HAD OCCURRED MIGHT RECEIVER THE UNITY THAT — SEVER THE UNITY AND WONDERED IF THEIR ACTIONS MIGHT HAVE CONTRIBUTED TO RECONCILIATION OR SEPARATION?
IF ALL THOSE PEOPLE WERING TO IN A ROOM — WERE TOGETHER IN A ROOM, I WOULD READ FROM COLOSSIANS, “AS GOD’S CHOSEN ONES, HOLY AND BELOVED, CLOTHE YOURSELVES WITH COMPASSION, KINDNESS, HUMILITY, MEEKNESS AND PATIENCE.
BEAR WITH ONE ANOTHER.
IF ANYONE HAS A COMPLAINT AGAINST THE OTHER, FORGIVE EACH OTHER JUST AS THE LORD HAS FORGIVEN YOU SO YOU MUST ALSO FORGIVE.
ABOVE ALL, CLOTHE YOURSELVES WITH LOVE, WHICH BINDS EVERYTHING TO IN PERFECT HARMONY AND LET THE PEACE OF CHRIST RULE IN YOUR HEARTS, TO WHICH INDEED YOU WERE CALLED IN THE ONE BODY AND BE THANKFUL.
LET THE WORD OF CHRIST DWELL IN YOU RICHLY.
TEACH AND ADMONISH ONE ANOTHER IN ALL WISDOM, WITH DRAT TUD IN YOUR — GRATITUDE IN YOUR HEARTS, SING SONGS, HYMNS AND SPIRITUAL SONGS TO GOD.
AND WHATEVER YOU DO IN WORD OR DEED, DO EVERYTHING IN THE NAME OF JESUS, GIVING THANKS TO GOD THE FATHER THROUGH HIM. “.
THAT PASSAGE GIVES INVITATION AND EXPECTATION THAT THOSE DEEPLY DISAPPOINTED TODAY WILL HAVE IN THIS CHURCH THE EXPECTATION AND THE FREEDOM TO CONTINUE TO ADMONISH AND TO TEACH.
AND SO, TOO, THOSE THAT HAVE EXPERIENCED RECONCILIATION TODAY, YOU ARE CALLED TO HUMILITY.
YOU ARE CALLED TO CLOTHE YOURSELVES WITH LOVE.
BUT WE’RE ALL CALLED TO LET THE PEACE OF CHRIST RULE IN OUR HEARTS, REMEMBERING AGAIN AND AGAIN THAT WE ARE CALLED IN THE ONE BODY.
I WILL INVITE YOU TOMORROW AFTERNOON INTO IMPORTANT, THOUGHTFUL, PRAYERFUL CONVERSATIONS ABOUT WHAT ALL OF THIS MEANS FOR OUR LIFE TOGETHER.
BUT WHAT IS ABSOLUTELY IMPORTANT FOR ME IS THAT THAT’S A CONVERSATION WE HAVE TOGETHER.
I ENDED MY ORAL REPORT WITH THESE WORDS.
“WE MEET ONE ANOTHER FINALLY, NOT IN OUR AGREEMENTS OR OUR DISAGREEMENTS, BUT AT THE FOOT OF THE CROSS.
WHERE GOD IS FAITHFUL, WHERE CHRIST IS PRESENT WITH US, AND WHERE, BY THE POWER OF THE HOLY SPIRIT, WE ARE ONE IN CHRIST.
LET US PRAY.
OH, GOD, GRACIOUS AND HOLY, MYSTERIOUS AND MERCIFUL, WE MEET THIS DAY AT THE FOOT OF THE CROSS AND THERE WE KNEEL IN GRATITUDE AND AWE THAT YOU HAVE LOVED US SO MUCH THAT YOU WOULD GIVE THE LIFE OF YOUR SON SO THAT WE MIGHT HAVE LIFE IN HIS NAME.
SEND YOUR SPIRIT THIS NIGHT, THE SPIRIT OF THE RISEN CHRIST THAT HAS BEEN BREATHED INTO US.
MAY IT CALM US.
MAY YOUR SPIRIT UNITE US.
MAY IT CONTINUE TO GATHER US.
IN JESUS’ NAME,

AMEN.

Does the Sexuality vote Define #CWA09 & by ext ELCA

@erikullestad tweeted the following: “Lots of people (on both “sides”) who think the sexuality vote DEFINES the #CWA09 and, by extension, the ELCA. I’d love to hear why..”  As such, I’ll give it a shot 🙂

To the same gender seminary grad praying to be allowed ordination, by all means, the vote defines #CWA09. Granted, they no doubt see the vote as one of many good things, but being it is so personal, absolutely, it is a defining moment. As far as extending to the ELCA, I’m less sure for a couple reasons.

First, sexuality issues do not define, nor really even extend to the body of believers as a whole. As potential pastors, their focus is on Christ and the Gospel, much less so their own identity. Secondly, this really is a tiny step in the big scheme of things, granted, its massive progress, but there still remain huge barriers. I think it puts a major dent in the “welcome, but…” exclusion of the least of these. Otoh, just as the old adam remains, until same gendered folks, single, married, committed, etc are welcomed the same as anyone else, the almost welcome thing will remain.

To the person who upholds views similar to Carl Braaten’s, or even more so, someone who ascribes to a different/more literal Bibliology, or even the remnants of congregations with a pietist leaning or even historical connection, it is a huge deal. To the few who would leave over the vote, by all means, it would define #CWA09, as at the bottom if they leave, the vote would also define the ELCA.

In a nutshell, I think the call as to its definition, or lack there of depends upon their level of personal connecton to the results of it.

For me, what defines #CWA09, as well as the ELCA, is what happened at CWA07. It was pretty cool, that despite the disagreements, how much Jesus was seen as truly the center of all that occurred, not just the sexuality, not just the diversity, not all the other uber cool resolutions, but that the light of Christ shown forth over all.

Southeast MN Synod Assembly starts in ~4 hours

Doggone it, this would have been cool to attend, or even crash as a vistor :), but alas other commitments will keep me away. Its too bad someone isnt live tweeting or blogging it, but the news updates will suffice. If someone has a time expansion machine and an extra couple hundred bucks-25, and wants me to live blog, I’d jump at the chance 🙂

If I do get some spare time, as I understand it, visitors can attend the plenaries for no charge, so I might try to catch one or two of them (the advantage of being local) I’d really like to hear Stephen Bouman, being I bugged him back when he was the Bishop for the Metro NY synod.

The workshops sounded cool too.. but alas too many irons, too little money, and not enough time.

Some useful links:

The agenda: http://www.semnsynod.org/assembly/2009/agenda.html

The resolutions:  http://www.semnsynod.org/assembly/2009/resolutions.html

As expected, many are focused on the homosexuality debate, although world hunger, environment, and clergy/staff resolutions are included as well. Teaching intelligent design set me back a bit, but I guess its presence shows the diversity of the synod, and thats cool, but its also quite ironic that the discussion of such is at the Mayo civic center.

The workshops are super cool… I campaigned for Jack Nelson Pallmeyer when he was running for senate, his workshop on the Just War Doctrine would be great to hear… but thats where the $$$$ enter in.

I also think Islam-People of the Book  by Dr. Charles Amjad-Ali would have been cool. It was one of the long term leadership discussions that our leadership team often had, but it was a real bear to move forward with. Whether I ever end up in such a role again is unlikely, but greater knowledge in the arena is cool no matter what.

Lastly, the LIRS workshop would be interesting to attend, especially since I had fairly close ties to Postville, IA years ago.

It would be a blast to be there, but alas, I dont have a time expander, nor even a DMC-12 to pull it off in its entirety. Hopefully I can catch a plenary session or two.

Christian unity and views on Palestine

There are significant differences of opinion within Christianity as a whole as concerns the following ELCA amendment from some time back.

To call upon the ELCA to underscore the call for economic initiatives by this church and its members in the peace not walls campaign. Such initiatives, in consultation with the Evangelical Lutheran church in Jordan and the Holy Land could include purchasing of products of Palestinian providers and exploration of the feasibility of refusing to buy products produced in Israeli settlements. Also to be explored is the entire investment activity activity by this church. Examination of investment would exclude the option of divestiture.

It created quite a firestorm, here is a summary of comments Pondering Pastor received after posting the amendment in his blog.

I’ve been told that God will only bless those nations protecting Israel. I’ve been told that the ELCA position with respect to Israel and Palestine is the primary cause of conflict in all matters within the ELCA. I’ve been told that the ELCA supports terrorism, the destruction of the United States, and teaching children to prefer death over life. I’ve been told that we need to consider the spiritual implications of boycotts of Israel.

Yikes, it seems many seem to forget, some Palestinians are brothers and sister in Christ too.

The question then becomes, despite huge differences in opinion, is unity in Christ still possible? Up until this morning, my answer would have been of course it is. We are not talking about the essentials of faith, its not a soteriological matter. However… an interesting argument was presented by Carl Braaten as concerns another matter, which to me presents some very strong parallels. I don’t know that I agree with him, but it sure warrants careful study and thought.

He states an excellent summary of my prior and current beliefs, which he believes to be in error. Its so well stated, I’m just copying verbatim.

….matters having to do with the laws and commandments of God, and not with the core principles of the gospel, cannot be church-dividing and are not basic to church unity. Matters that fall under the rubric of the “left hand of God,” namely, the will and rule of God in the orders of creation (political, economic, and social structures, including marriage, family, and sexuality), are not central to the gospel as such and therefore cannot be foundational for church unity.

And his response:

The church is founded upon the Word of God, which includes what it believes about God’s activity in both creation and redemption, both law and gospel, both the kingdom on the left and on the right.

He then goes on with some pretty hard hitting examples:

The church is not founded on only one half of the Word of God. Consider this: the Lutheran World Federation raised the task of resisting apartheid in South Africa to a matter of status confessionis. This meant that opposing apartheid becomes a necessary implication of the church’s confession of faith. The white Lutheran congregations protested that the racial struggles in South Africa had nothing to do with the gospel, but only with the kingdom of God on the left hand. Ergo, the struggle for racial justice, whatever side one takes on the issue, cannot constitute a status confessionis for church fellowship. If the LWF was right in its declaration, it shows that the gospel cannot be separated from the law, the kingdom on the right from the kingdom on the left. Lutheran Churches in the United States faced the same issue in the struggle for civil rights when the system of racial segregation meant that Blacks and Whites were not welcome to celebrate Holy Communion together. The Lutheran Churches in Germany under Hitler were confronted by the same problem. The theologians supporting National Socialism declared that its anti-Semitic policies regarding the Jews have nothing to do with the gospel, therefore they have no bearing on church unity and fellowship. The Lutherans in Chile under General Pinochet faced the same kind of issue.

Indeed, these are compeling arguments, but they seem mostly based upon man’s reasoning, as concerns unity. While I agree with the points of view, I find it difficult to back it up as a standalone. I find the use of the word “If” more than a bit troubling.

If the LWF was right in its declaration, it shows that the gospel cannot be separated from the law, the kingdom on the right from the kingdom on the left.


The slavery controversy in the Norwegian Lutheran church and others

Today, I reached the section on the slavery controversy of the mid- late 1800’s. In many ways, its saddening to read the opinions of the well respected men of the past and how wrong they were. They were dealing with a society about to undergo a major shift, and with that, the definition of what was sinful or not.

For some, it appeared an annoyance, they didnt see it as having soteriological implications, but more so, a dispute over the third use of the law. Others did take a stance on it in regards to the third use of the law on both sides. Others, saw it as impacting the first use of the law and that it had soteriological implications bordering on the second, and for others, there was nothing wrong with it. The thing is, depending on how one interpreted scripture, or picked and chose, it was possible to take nearly any position, and Biblically back it up.

There was also a strong focus on not wanting to divide the church or even polarize their congregation. Many pastors did not want to give an opinion, and a few that did, came up with wishy washy answers, or they chose to redirect their response by referring to the laws of the land. A few others with strong views, saw this as something to fall on their sword over, and aligned their views appropriately. Some pastors went forth with scathing remarks as concerning those who held opposing views.

In many ways, reading through the history this is like digging up dirt of the past that should likely be long since forgotten. Certainly, the info is not published in current church literature, and few will go to the lengths of reading antique church history books. On the other hand, I think we best be aware of our history, such that we can avoid the errors of the past. A few things I read seem just way too close to home even today, albeit the topics are different. May the reader have much wisdom.

ELCA task force on sexuality Whats with the blogosphere and obscuration

So, I’ve been persusing blogs on all sides of the ELCA’s task force recommendations. A somewhat recurrent theme seems to be long drawn out entries, almost white papers. Granted, its a complex and lengthy document…. but when one brings up 10, 20, or more points of response within a single blog entry, its a bit of a bear to disect. On the other hand in doing so, there is an element of protection; ie its hard to gang up on an author when they have a fire hose of shooting out. Being one in the past who always volunteered to jumped into the fire so to speak, I’ve made good use of datadump obscuration. Not so much as to avoid criticism, but if I’m going to have a few hundred to a few thousand folks ticked off at me, I’d rather have them ticked off on 50 different matters than 1 or 2.

However, I’m going to try to go the other way, short of this post where I’ll ramble on a bit. I really want to come to some conclusion. As I wrote before, I dont have an opinion , and now a year and then later I still dont. By the time I get through this series of blog entries, I hopefully will have one. Its not that I’d be voting or anything, but what the document if fully implemented could do is put a congregation, a synod, and a bishop in the position to make some difficult decisions. As such, I ask myself, what would I do? What if I were a Bishop, and was presented with such? What would be my decision, such that I could sleep at night? Creating such a hypothetical, albeit impossible, situation, puts my skin in the game. It makes the task force recommendations real, not just a academic third party thing where i sit as an outside observer.

Major rambling and rabbit trails, open questions, trust, church failures, technology

First, I need to blame the LCMS for keeping me up all night. They have the most amazing Cyclopedia on their website. It all stared when I came across progressive invovements blog, where he discussed Sigmund and Gottfreid Fritschel. That led to a google search, which brought me to their Cyclopedia entry.

Which then turned into a fascinating read of American Lutheran history of the late 1800’s to the early 1900’s. I’m likely to spend hours digging through the cyclopedia. In the past I’ve talked about the election controversy of the 1880’s, but always suspected there was a lot more to it than that.. and yes there was. High church, low church, open questions, eschatology. All sorts of way cool things one can dig into.

And then open questions brought me over to Janice Heidlberger’s blog, where she discusses an article called “The Downside of Worship” which I commented upon, and copied the big issue here.

A guy named George stated

“God is big enough to handle our fear, anger and questions.” But there doesn’t seem to be a forum for these kinds of discussions in the church, he also said.

Why is this… or perhaps in more Lutheran terminoloy, “What does this mean?”

I’ve got some ideas… First, I know it can work outside of church, it works out pretty well online if the proper environment is created.

  • I’ve connected with some pastors and seminary students on facebook in a small discussion group, where there is some seriously major big question discussions… Sort of the egads, man am I out of my league here type of questions.
  • Along that line BelindaP and I started CFA a tad over a year ago with the same intent, to go after the hardcore questions in a safe environment, and it worked pretty well, Until we had a software crash which I’m still trying to debug.,, Granted, as we state in the preamble. …you will find topics that you don’t see on other Christian sites. Peoples’ exploration of faith is messy, so we allow for that.

But within the church proper, it doesnt seem to work out too well. I think a few things are the problem.

  • Many hard core questions can be embarrasing or perhaps a tad too personal, and thats where anonymity online plays a significant factor. Granted I’m not anonymous online, but thats a personal choice I made… the vast majority of folks use psuedonyms or pen names online, and thats ok.
  • In the midwest, we have mostly Norwegian or German heritage, and historically correct or not, today, it fosters a lot of independence. There is a lot less community within the church than their really ought to be.
  • Many times the church has failed with a bang… how do you create safe environment, when you have ex-members whose confidence has been betrayed a church staffer, or have been abused, etc etc. Perhaps co-leading a large ecumenical ministry gave me a somewhat jaded view, but the heartaches shared by far too many doesnt bode too well for the church proper. At least within the ELCA the ecclesiastical structure’s oversights go a long way in preventing such, but I’m sure it still occurs albeit rarely.

Solutions… well, recovery from church failure is a tough one, and it will take time, and a ton of pastoral care, if a potential member can even get to that point. Community wise, well I think the economic downturn may well force the issue on that one, and mitigate it a lot. Still the hard core issue remains… anonymity in 3D doesnt work too well, and it requires a ton of trust.

George in the article describes himself as a long term church member… if time doesnt do it… People are fallible, as are pastors, yet within the scope of edification, open and hard questions very much fall within the churches domain.

Perhaps there is a blending of tech and church which could work though, the guys over at Grainger Community Church are doing some fascinating work with text messaging. Granted its a mega church with a budget large enough to support some cool tech, but the potential to address this hole in ministry is pretty amazing.

Star Tribune on ELCA’s task force recommendations

First, one major beef with the article. The issue is with changing the Visions and Expectations document. The issue at hand is this, currently it states “ordained ministers who are homosexual in their self-understanding are expected to abstain from homosexual sexual relationships” The ELCA has ordained homosexual ministers for years, that’s nothing new, where as the press and the associated comments seen to reinforce this aspect of whether to ordain gay ministers or not as being the focus, its not.

The issue is whether ministers in committed same gender relationships can be ordained or not. The task force’s recommendation is to leave it in the hands of the local infrastructure. I don’t know if that’s really a good thing or not on either side of the equation, I’ll need to pray, study, and think, on it a bit, or more likely a lot. Its a whole lot grayer and convoluted than would seem on the surface, that’s for sure.

My rant of the day however is in the comment section of the newspaper. Egads, the ELCA has some of the best resources in the world for education, and the sheer number of folks leaving comments who are confusing law and Gospel, or adding a whole lot of non-Lutheran theology to the mix is disheartening (note I am referring to folks who self identified as Lutheran, I would not have the same expectations of someone who ascribed to the teachings of Calvin or Arminus). In addition, the ELCA’s stance on Bibliology is very clear, yet that too was confused by many. Of course I probably need to step up to the plate and take responsibility for some of that. I haven’t formally taught for years, I guess I ought to change that.