Tuesday, May 03, 2005

Shrimp here:

I want to review the issue of statement that was drafted by two theologians from the Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago, Rev. Barbara R. Rossing and Rev. Ralph W. Klein, and released on Apr. 6 -- just three days prior to the ELCA Church Council meeting slated to tackle the topic of homosexuality in the Church.

The ELCA Church Council then made the church-dividing recommendation to ordain actively homosexual clergy as "an exception," thus going further than the task force on sexuality.

This, of course, is the pattern, to move the agend forward by degrees.

One might will wonder if the statement, which in actuality is an online petition, was not meant to do just what its ewffect was, to provide some justification for Church Council's actions?

There is one piece of theological reasoning in the petition (which by the way was signed by 107 theologians and can be seen at http://prophetess.lstc.edu/~rklein/ )

"We disagree with the claims of the seventeen theologians who have criticized the taskforce’s recommendations on ecclesiological and theological grounds. Churches in the Lutheran World Federation already hold multiple positions on both sexuality and ecclesiology, and the Federation’s communion holds together in the midst of this diversity. The taskforce’s recommendations do not jeopardize our Lutheran communion or our ecumenical partnerships. Differences on sexuality and ecclesiology do not threaten the unity of the gospel. "

As reasoning this is outrageous, but the real red flag is that 107 of the ELCA's finest minds put their name to it.

I am just a crustacean, I have no PhD (heck, my brain is smaller than a pea), yet common sense says if it is tearing the Anglican Communion apart that says their reasoning is a disregard of the potential of a similar dvelopment.

Since we know where there is smoke there is fire, let's look at the reasoning which one of the two authors gave to a reporter:

"During a phone interview Friday, Rossing further elaborated the fourth point: “The church does not divide on issues on sexuality and Christians can take different positions on that. We call these Adia Phora -- a Latin term that unity is sufficient if the Word is rightly preached,” said Rossing, an associate professor of New Testament. “We are taking a middle way, and I think that's a gift to the world."


Is this a correct usage of adiaphora? Something can only be adiaphora if it is neither commanded nor forbidden by God (as Mark Chavez of WordAlone points out).

Moreover, common sense would reveal that the concept of adiaphora was used rarely by Luther. He used in once in his commentaries. If we do a search of the 55 volumes of Luther's Works we see that 12 0f 19 occurances happen in a few sections of the Formula of Concord. They are concerned with tne Melanchthan/Flaccius dispute over the Interim. Melancthon said certain church customs were adiaphora, but eventually recanted to Flaccius. Two lessons from this is that 1) there is no equivalence between an issue of whether there are seven sacraments of two and the issue of disregarding mutiple biblical injunctions against the practice of homosexuality and 2) Melanchthan lost. (hello?)

So, why propose the argument and why was it so popular amongst Lutheran theologians? Is it anything more than, "Because they wanted to?" or "They did it because they could?"

Ask a real theologian. The above reporter did:

"I wasn’t surprised, and I think the seminaries are washed in theology that is falling down to the culture of decadence,” explained Braaten, the Executive Director of the Center for Catholic and Evangelical Theology. “More and more, this is the kind of Protestantism that is being absorbed by the culture.”

"Braaten said he knows "the people who drafted the counterstatement and their theology.” “There is no basis in scripture or tradition for what they are saying, so that means they are getting their ideas from contemporary culture,” said Braaten. “It has more to do with the collapse of Christian morality in Western culture.”

Now read, not a petitiion, but a real theological statement, well-crafted, succinct, touching on the several issues at stake:


I'm just a shrimp, but from where I swim, if the logic of the 107 trumps that of the 17, the future of the ELCA is very much in doubt.


Norsk said...

Another observation about this ridiculous reasoning is that, despite the apparent desires of some, the LWF is NOT a "communion". It is a worldwide association of churches. Member churches have not entered into "full communion" with each other, in the sense that pastors are fully interchangeable, teaching is presumably consistent, etc etc. To the extent that Lutheran churches around the world live with certain disagreements today (as even the members of the LWF do on the question of the ordination of women), it is because there are fewer practical consequences of disagreement than for Anglicans. This does not mean that sexual revisionism wouldn't strain or break our relations with other Lutheran church bodies. It simply means that those damaged relations might be less visible.

Eli said...

Isn' it remarkable that a Church that bears the name of the one who was quoted as stating: "Here I stand" can never seem to take a stand. Middle way. What tripe.

Mwalimu Daudi said...

It is both sad and horrible to watch the ELCA merge itself into the popular cultural. But we've been here before. How are the ELCA's actions any different from the actions of the German Christian movement of the 1920s and 1930s? In both cases theologians buckled under the weight of pressure from popular culture, abandoned fidelity to the Scriptures, and began to preach an inhuman philosophy.

Allen Lewis said...

Whatever Dr. Rossing is, she is not a professor of Greek. Adiaphora is from Greek, not Latin! Perhaps she was misquoted, but somehow I doubt it.

I don't recall Luther ever advocating a "middle way" aka via media, a favorite phrase of the Episcopalians who favor this sort of revision, although in the Episcopal Church they are going for full-bore public recognition and endorsement of the homosexual agenda.

Shrimp said...

Norsk: you're right, it was a red herring. You probably can't even get kicked out of the LWF! But you agree that it will strain relations. WordAlone sent a letter to all LWF member churches and received great replies from all but two. Guess? ELCA and ELCIC (whose PB was at the last Church Council fiasco pickiing up tips).

Eli: isn't it true that Luther did such a good job of taking a stand that no Lutheran has had to since?

Mwalimu actually makes the point that contridicts my last joke. A few Lutherans paid with their life when they chose to take a stand. WordAlone is starting a new Finkewalde

Allen: She is a NT prof, it might have been the reporter's typo but I left it as it was. Barbara knows Greek, loves Jesus, just happens to be the typical boomer Lutheran who has no clue to where their loyalties lay, therefore they turn truth into a lie.

Josh S said...

Every religion needs a few pagan lesbian priestesses to spice it up. 50 years from now, an ELCA task force will recommend that ritual sex be implemented in the liturgy, since some congregations have been practicing it anyway, and it is now a "reality among us."

Eli said...

Your scenerio would be perfect if the ELCA actually exists in 50 years. I give it 20 or less before it falls below the membership level of of a respectable cult.

Shrimp said...

Seriously humans, there will be no ELCA in much less than 50 years, and it wil be defective church, a status not easily attained, in a few months, perhaps.

The good ship ELCA...

The good ship ELCA...
Or the Shellfish blog...