Thursday, July 28, 2005

What are we to think?

From Bp. Hanson Press Conference

"In a July 26 telephone press conference with an array of reporters from Boston to Fargo to Los Angeles, ELCA presiding bishop Mark Hanson talked about his hopes and expectations for the Churchwide Assembly in Orlando.

Bishop Hanson began with a summary of the issues before the assembly. He listed six issues--and interestingly, put the sexuality debate last on the list, in what was apparently an attempt to emphasize that there are more important things happening. (His list: Renewing Worship; evangelism, specifically proposed ethnic strategies; ecumenical relationships, specifically full communion with the United Methodists; God's mission for the life of the world, mentioning especially the Middle East; the ELCA's "plan for mission" (code for restructuring proposal); and then sex, which he described as "continuing a process of study of human sexuality."

The questions, not unexpectedly, mostly had to do with sexuality. The bishop declined (rightly, of course) to express either a personal opinion on the recommendations, or a prediction of what might happen. He did express hope that the "middle" of the spectrum of opinions would be able to craft some way that would allow the "ends" of the spectrum to continue to live together (as per recommendation one).

When asked about possible defections from the ELCA, the bishop expressed the hope that people, if they are considering leaving, would not make that decision solely on the basis of the sexuality actions, but would consider the full context, searching their hearts, the scriptures, and the confessions.

A reporter from the Minneapolis/St. Paul area noted that some bishops are not currently enforcing the existing standards, and wondered, if in Orlando the proposed changes are not made, whether bishops will be under greater obligation to discipline those who violate the standards. Bishop Hanson expressed the opinion that bishops are, in fact, enforcing the standards, and that any action taken in Orlando will have to be factored in to the decisions of individual bishops.

Forum Letter asked the bishop about Carl Braaten's recent open letter charging the ELCA with having become another liberal protestant denomination, and specifically whether the agenda items in Orlando support the charge. Bishop Hanson replied that he had read the letter, was reflecting on it, but any public response, if any, would come after a personal response to Braaten "in the context of Matthew 18." We think that is a reasonable evasion of comment, though bringing Matthew 18 into it seems a little odd. Braaten's letter, after all, is not a personal attack against Bishop Hanson, so can hardly be considered "sinning against him." But then Matthew 18, along with the 8th commandment, seems more and more to be used in expansive ways to stifle public discussion.

The final question came from the New York Times reporter, who wondered about the influence on the ELCA's sexuality discussion of what has happened with the Episcopal Church. Bishop Hanson replied that Lutherans have "deep concern for the woundedness of the Body of Christ"--but also, of course, deep concern for the woundedness of gay and lesbian Christians who do not feel welcome in the church."

Shrimp here: I have decided to no longer write anything that might be construed as an attack on the character of the Presiding Bishop during the run up to Orlando.
Perhaps I could be wrong and Hanson has been completely honest with us. Let me just ask one question here, OK?

Mark Hanson, you think it is best to not express an opinion on how the assembly would vote? Why? Do you think that we think you have no opinion, that you have not been relentless in pushing a secular social agenda until it becomes policy in a Confessional church?

What are we to think?


Mwalimu Daudi said...

It's interesting that, having transformed the ELCA into a secular-political party, Bishop Hanson is astonished and even unhappy with the result.

As we say in my part of the country, you gotta dance with who brought ya to the prom. Having dumped that square from Nazareth, Hanson will have to spend his time at Orlando spinning around the dance floor with his new flame - whether he likes it or not. It's nothing to me if suddenly his date does not look so hot after all.

An attack? No - an observation.

Eric Swensson said...

It is all interesting, isn't it? mark seems to want everything, to be thought well of by the Pope, by Jim Thomas, by his 5,000,000 sheep, but feels he needs to address our potential split in the news media.

Lost_in_Chicago said...

This, in my opinion, appears to be the “company line”. That is, push your non-Biblically based agenda in the dark of the night, then, when people start asking questions, act as if this issue has been overblown (because we Bible toting ogres demand that their agenda be grounded in Scripture). This is done, again in my opinion, by changing the focus to “more important/pressing issues”. Bishop Landahl did the very same thing at the Metro Chicago Synod gathering… look for more in Orlando.

Not anti-homosexual/sinner… just pro-Bible,
Lost in Chicago

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