Saturday, February 25, 2006

Robert Goldstein to be installed as Lead Pastor

From the St. Francis Lutheran Church web site:

On Sunday, March 26 at 2:30 pm, Pr. Robert Goldstein will be formally installed as the Lead Pastor of St. Francis Church. Preaching will be The Rev. Paul R. Landahl, bishop of the Metropolitan Chicago Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America; presiding will be the Rev. Dr. Susan Strouse of First United Lutheran Church in San Francisco; and performing the rite of installation will be the Rev. Daniel Solberg of St. Paulus Lutheran Church and dean of the Conference of San Francisco Lutheran Churches.

If you have hopes that the ELCA will be reformed, be outraged. In a denomination with a polity, consitution, tradtitions and Confessions, members would expect that their bishops would abide "by the rule of law." When we expect seminarians to "make an oath" to live a life "above reproach," why would a sitting bishop install a pastor in a church that has been removed from the roll for just such actions.

Bishop Landahl should be suspended from the Council of Bishops by the other bishops (along with Payne and Bouman)while they decide what they can do to restore integrity.

14 comments:

Dan said...

These bishops will not be disciplined. The Elca is broken; there are still many healthy congregations within it, but its time to consider other options for evangelical and confessional folk within the elca.
But there would be harsh discipline for a synod bishop who refused to go along with the historic episcopate. Its a rigged game.

Norsk said...

This is truly outrageous. Participating in the installation of a pastor at a congregation that has been thrown out of the ELCA is black and white violation of church discipline. And of course the "presider" is pastor at another expelled congregation. What can "expelled" possibly mean if it does not mean "church fellowship cannot continue"???

Just to give a feel for how dirty it all is:

Goldstein (who is openly gay and was vocally active at the Orlando convention, see http://www.st-francis-lutheran.org/050810_wp.html) was previously pastor at a church in Chicago. This church, Immanuel Ev. Luth., is sufficiently high-profile that Pres Bp Hanson preached at their 150th anniversary celebration (see http://www.immanuellutheranchicago.org/150thanniv.html). The PrezBish is of course always close to the Bishop of Chicago, simply due to geographical proximity. Thus I find it almost unimagineable that Hanson is unaware that Landahl plans to participate in this installation.

ELCA leadership is carrying on as if Orlando didn't happen. They are doing whatever they want, and counting on Lutheran passivity to avoid reaction.

As an aside, how perfectly fitting is it that Krister Stendahl also preached at Goldstein's former congregation's anniversary celebrations. The man is an out and out heretic.

Megan Rohrer said...

Actually, it should be noted that St. Francis has been invited (along with First United) to reenter the ELCA by the Sierra Pacific Synod.

Additionally, the current ELCA policy does not say that pastors cannot be out, it says that if they are "homosexual in their self understanding" that they are required to be celibate.

This of course is a huge departure from our confessions- as I'm sure you know. Luther is VERY clear. Indeed our confessions state over 256 times that requiring a vow of celibacy for pastors is AGAINGST the gospel.

So, as an openly gay seminarian from the SD synod who is married to another pastor in a chaste relationship- I, like you, hope that the ELCA will reform itself and fully embrace it's confessional heritage.

Anonymous said...

"Megan Rohrer, 23, is a native of Sioux Falls, SD. She was the executive director and founder of GLSEN (Gay, Lesbian, Straight, Education Network) Sioux Falls. Megan is a graduate of Augustana College in Sioux Falls and is currently working on her masters in Ethics and Social Theory at Pacific Lutheran Theological Seminary in Berkeley, California and working on her Master of Divinity for ordained ministry in the Evengelical Luteran Church of America (ELCA). Megan also is the Director of The Welcome Ministry (a ministry to the homeless and hungry in the Polk Gultch District of San Francisco, CA) at Old First Presbyterian Chruch Megan is currently working on publishing her first book: How I Learned to Breathe. She is also works with Pace e Bene, a Franciscan nonviolence organization, and will be publishing curriculum on nonviolence for Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer and Questioning individuals and organizations that will be completed in June. In addition to writing, Megan is also an accomplished musician, artist, orator and promoter and creator of internet activism for non-profit queer organizations."

http://www.angelfire.com/sd/megan/

Anonymous said...

Megan, one can admire you for your candor, and the fact that you help the poor, but one might wonder about some other things...

Would you like to talk about the Confessions?

Robert Goldstein said...

Having attended the ELCA Orlando Assembly as a delegate I can say that the decision of the ELCA on LGBT issues was mixed. For some of us, the glass is half empty. For others of us, which includes me, the glass is half full. Half full of promise that the church will not hide in some Lutheranistic culture of denial, but without fear, but in faith, venture into assessing and adopting critically modern truths about sexual identity. Some of us are fully prepared to use modern technology to the hilt, especially in medicine when our lives are on the line, but when it comes to modern scientific understandings of sexuality we run to our fears and a literal reading of Bible texts. Luther distinguished between the words of the Bible and the Word of God heard and seen -distinguished between the straw and the little fleshly baby God called Jesus. Why don't some of us Lutherans have the guts to consider that the modern scientific explanations of how we gain our sexual identity and orientation might just be a better explanation than the understandings reflected in ancient writings and ancient pre-modern mentalities! Where's the humility that hard working scientists have something to make us rethink our assumptions about sexuality? Have the guts to be open to this advance in scientific understanding as we have been in accepting a round planet and an expanding, God mysterious universe -instead of the flat earth cosmology of the book of Genesis. Or shall we consign Lutheran Christianity to the junk heap of a past lost in fear at the possibility we could learn something new? The Rev. Robert Goldstein

Shrimp said...

Thanks for replying, Robert. It seems that you are able to understand our concerns here and that they are "not personal."

There is much to talk about from your comments. You seem to assume too much about "science," i.e., it is a double edged sword for you. There are many studies which show that EVERYTHING the gay advocacy wants us t believe about homosexuality is still very much up in the air. Until that is all worked out, the safest thing for anyone with homosexual implulses to do is to m=not act on them.

I appreciate the calm in your reply and do not want to ratchet it up, but I must also reply that if Lutheranism is "consigned to the trash heap of history" it will not be because the ELCA "hid behind" literal reading of Scripture. It has never done that. it will be because none of our leaders had the courage to enforce our constitution and facilitated every inroad GLBT made into "educating" leaders and members alike.

If we make the trasheap I would actually just blame Chilstrom. Please send him over. If you know Megan to come back and tell us about the Confessions. I've been looking forward to the day a Lutheran such as yourself would drop by and we can have a open discussion.

I want to serve notice to everyone to be respectful. Passion is one thing; rudeness is another.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for your kind response. I am glad that we can have dialog. At the 2005 Assembly as I heard myself being described homosexually as a wild animal who gives into lusts and disobeys a Lutheran system of moral laws, I came to the thought that what we need is for us who disagree in Christ to live and work together for a few weeks to try to build relationships and to clarify just how we disagree. It won't come even from the wonders of the internet.

I do not believe that EVERYTHING on the LGBT agenda is up in the air. There is simply a well established body of knowledge that gives a better explanation than the direction of the wild animal theory. Just as there is a better explanation of the stars above, there is simply a better explanation of sexual behavior. There will always be studies that disagree, but they are greatly in the minority. Ok volume doesn't equal truth, but the explanation is so encompassing and wise.

If that were granted for a moment for the sake of my argument, then how does the church relate to that? The classical concepts on the interpretation of Scripture are called Scripture and Tradition. Scripture is where we always begin, but mission requires us to "tradition" our understandings of scripture. By "tradition" here used as a verb, I mean in the Latin technical sense of carrying over the Gospel from one generation to another -of passing on our faith and values to our children. The most obvious case in the Bible is that of the arrival of Gentiles wanting to become Christians. The New Testament is full of struggle in the church over this issue as we are in ours. Jesus' own ministry was pedominantly or only to Jews and the next generation was faced with a completely new situation. That had to "tradition" the faith and interpret the sayings of Jesus and the Scripture of the OT in this new context. The Conference in acts is a compromise on that process. And St. Paul was the major figure in that translation from which Jewish Christianity eventually disappeared.

The new explanations of sexuality do explain humanly and more adequately how humans come to sexual identity. But there is a deep culture, espacially of discomfort of talking about sexuality as there has been a deep culture of seeing women and lower than men. We bring these cultures to the sexuality discussion, as Jewish Christians brought the culture of circumcision and the Law. Perhaps we could begin at this place. Robert Goldstein

Good Soil said...

I would love to have an open conversation about the confessions. Actually, I have thought for some time that the Word Alone movement and the ECP have had more in common with each other (though seemingly at different ends of the camp) than we have in common with the ELCA. Many of the confessional reforms you are calling for are the same reforms that GLBTQ individuals are looking for as well. Though our understanding about sexuality and other social issues may differ.

Megan Rohrer

Good Soil said...

Nothing is more clear than the fact that our Lutheran forefathers believed that celibacy was against the gospel. Can we agree on this?

Additionally, we are all saints and sinners equally in need of grace? Can we agree on this?

Also, our confessions are very clear that it is not our works that save us (only God alone can save -by grace through faith). Can we agree on this?

While our ELCA asks people to live a life that is "above reproach" it is not possible on our own merits. All fail on their own merits. True?

Now, I am not looking to begin a slippery slope of releasing all ethical requests for pastors and rostered leaders in the church. But, I believe that if we are indeed a preisthood of all believers with our clergy elected from among us - then we must allow people to follow the guide of the Spirit to elect leaders as they choose.

While in a perfect world (which we do not live in) we would try and do everything to stop sinning (missing the mark). Should we give up our vices (if our sexuality is indeed a vice as you argue) - perhaps. Yet, Luther did not. He outspokenly said that anger was his vice and he certainly held onto it proclaiming "sin boldly, and belive more bodly still."

If GLBTQ individuals are vile sinners (as you may believe), then at the very least it should be admitted as Jesus argues proclaimed this Epiphany season in the gospel of Mark that even demons and that which is considered evil can be used for God's purpose in the world.

Luther believed that woman were evil. Is that true about your wife, your daughter, your mother? I hope not.

I continue to keep you in my prayers and long for the day when we can share a meal at the great banquet table.

Blessings.
Vicar Megan Rohrer

Good Soil said...

P.S. If you want to speak directly about confessional issues you can contact me at megan@welcomeministry.org

I value your conversations. And I really do believe that are positions are closer than the ELCA would ever want us to figure out. Imagine the power of both the Word Alone and Good Soil communities calling the ELCA to be more faithful to the confessions of the Lutheran church.

Eric Swensson said...

Megan;

You are a really adamant, aren't you? Let me go through your post. It needs answering! You said (in quotes):

"Nothing is more clear than the fact that our Lutheran forefathers believed that celibacy was against the gospel. Can we agree on this?"

You are twisting that (and a few other things below). That only applied to males who wished to marry women! You find one single case where it applied to same-sex, OK?

"Additionally, we are all saints and sinners equally in need of grace? Can we agree on this?"

Yes.

"Also, our confessions are very clear that it is not our works that save us (only God alone can save -by grace through faith). Can we agree on this?"

Yes.

"While our ELCA asks people to live a life that is "above reproach" it is not possible on our own merits. All fail on their own merits. True?"

"Above reproach" does not have anything to do with the God/human/eternal life dynamic as you well know, but applies soley to the life of a leader in a congregation.

"Now, I am not looking to begin a slippery slope of releasing all ethical requests for pastors and rostered leaders in the church. But, I believe that if we are indeed a preisthood of all believers with our clergy elected from among us - then we must allow people to follow the guide of the Spirit to elect leaders as they choose."

As they choose? That is a hole for a truck to drive through. We could choose a Mormon maybe?

"While in a perfect world (which we do not live in) we would try and do everything to stop sinning (missing the mark). Should we give up our vices (if our sexuality is indeed a vice as you argue) - perhaps. Yet, Luther did not. He outspokenly said that anger was his vice and he certainly held onto it proclaiming "sin boldly, and believe more boldly still."

Speaking in an angry manner is in itself not wrong, but again, by this logic we can get away with *fill in the blank*

"If GLBTQ individuals are vile sinners (as you may believe)"

Let's take a break…NO. you can go through all the archives and never find that in anything I wrote or posted.

"then at the very least it should be admitted as Jesus argues proclaimed this Epiphany season in the gospel of Mark that even demons and that which is considered evil can be used for God's purpose in the world."

Megan, you might have to explain that one with some additional information!

"Luther believed that woman were evil. Is that true about your wife, your daughter, your mother? I hope not."

Megan, who taught you that? It is a lie. All the teachers and writers from that period spoke of women in very different ways than we do now, and these ways seem very coarse to our ears. Luther never said that.

Megan if you get nothing else out of this, please realize that you need to reassess your assumptions about the other side. Your side has been making all these similar speeched for years and, congratulations, they seem to have the majority of "nice Lutherans" completely frozen, like deer in headlights. But it’s a pack of lies. I was a sympathizer of your movement for a dozen years until I saw the lawlessness it was leading to. And then there is the schism thing.

Your words are reckless, Vicar. I wish the best for you and will pray accordingly.

I continue to keep you in my prayers and long for the day when we can share a meal at the great banquet table.

Blessings.
Vicar Megan Rohrer

And also with you,
Shrimp

Good Soil said...

What? Why is celibacy only against the gospel if it was a male marrying a female. That makes no sense. Did not nuns abandon celibacy as well? There were many gay people during the time of Luther – he even writes about them. He only mentions one problem with male homosexuals and that is that they are choosing to be like women and men should never choose to be like women. Lesbians he seems to have no problems with (see Luther’s comments on Romans 15:33). Luther thought if two people wanted to be married that the service should be performed even when the parents didn’t approved and he even married someone who he knew was already married to a woman saying that it was better to have two wives than to have harlotry. Is it better for a man to have two wives then for a woman to marry a woman? Why?

I will look and find cases for you during Luther’s time. Would you like them to be done by Lutherans or must they be by Luther himself? For Luther, weddings were and he believed should remain a civil matter not a religious matter because he believed churches should not involve themselves in contracts. Let me know specifically what you would like me to find in this area.

If we are both simultaneously saints and sinners equally in need of grace, why does my sin (as you would name it) preclude me from the priesthood and yours does not?

If my works cannot save me why is it so important that I try to rid myself of sin (as you would name it) instead of doing God’s work in the world? Is it more important that I help myself than my neighbor?

Thank you for your prayers, I too will pray for you. Not that your mind is change, but that you best able to follow God’s call for your life.

Are you afraid that the Spirit cannot lead people to appropriate choices? Why then do we allow individual churches to extend a call? I have faith that the Spirit can guide the church. I have faith that actively listening to the call of God can illumine the Gospel just as the gospel can illumine the call of God. To allow Christ to be alive is to allow the church to continue to discern the call of God. I am not interested in dead faith. Just, as I am sure you are not. I want the faith of the resurrection and the Word’s of life. Can the church truly be the resurrected Christ if the church does not continually discern the will and call of God in the world? What else could the work of the church be beside proclaiming the living Word to this time and space?

I know that you have never posted nor to my knowledge has anyone posted that GLBTQ people are vile sinners. But, Luther does state that we are all vile wretched sinners (and it is of course true). It is indeed true that the logic of being able to sin boldly means that you can indeed get away with anything absolutely. You can even enjoy it. But, the Gospel calls us to a higher standard than the law. The law says divorce is wrong, the gospel says even a lustful thought is adultery. The law says do not kill, the gospel says even thinking bad of someone is killing them. We are all convicted indeed.

This is why the Gospel says that most important commandment is to love (which holds all of the commandments to a higher standard). Show me that homosexuality is not love. Show me that my loving a woman takes away from my ability to spread the gospel. These are the things that truly matter. And just saying “it’s sinful” isn’t really enough. For Jesus, breaking Sabbath law was loving his neighbor.

While indeed you are correct that at his best he does not see woman as evil, his rhetoric is rarely consistent with this. In his reflection on Genesis 24:45 in Volume 4, Luther writes “Therefore if these facts had to be compared with one another and entered into a list or a book, far greater evils would be discovered in men than in women. But such is our wretched condition and foolishness that we cannot discover and see anything good but see only those things that the devil has put into our senses and into the powers of soul and body. This has led to so many more insults of the female sex than of the male.”
(Luther, M. (1999, c1964). Vol. 4: Luther's works, vol. 4 : Lectures on Genesis: Chapters)

This however does not prevent him from hundreds of other references to the spiritual and physical weaknesses in woman that he believes is inherent in their sex. My mother and grandmother are certainly not physically or spiritually weak.

On Mark’s use of demons to promote God’s purpose in the world: In the Gospel of Mark’s is the demons that recognize Jesus as the son of God and the Messiah. The disciples get it wrong over and over again and when Peter calls Jesus the Messiah he still does not understand that Jesus must die on the cross. In Mark 9:38-50 the disciples see someone casting out demons in Jesus’ name who is not with them and Jesus tells them to let them because they should not put a stumbling block in front of other people who seek to do deeds of power for Christ. Just as I put no stumbling block before you to proclaim Christ and to further the Gospel, and I ask you not to put a stumbling block before my naming of Christ (in polity or in actions).


Blessings. Vicar Megan

Shrimp said...

Megan, I myself am not going to answer all your questions. I wish you well, but the way to help you is to refer you to someone else who can take you under their wing and point out your recklessnes, lack of training in logic, the principles of hermeneutics, and the value and meaning of tradition. You live in a seminary community, right?

What I mean is this. You try to make the point that Luther had no problem with lesbians, but only men because you know of a place where he says men should not try and be like women. You cannot argue that a person is neutral or negative on an issue because their opinion on certain subjects is not on record. If the record is silent, it is silent, it cannnot endorse the question you bring to it.

This is sort of like the problem that people have when they want to argue that Jesus endorses homosexuality because he does not explicitly condemn it. He doesn't condemn everything that Scripture condemns--if he did the NT would be as many pages as the OT. However, when he endorses marriage as between a man and a woman, that taken with the fact that he says he came not to abolish the law would negate the proposition that Jesus endorses same sex marriage. But beyond that, the Christ does speak of sexual immorality:

Revelation 21:6-8 He also said to me, "It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. To the one who is thirsty I will give water free of charge from the spring of the water of life. 7 The one who conquers will inherit these things, and I will be his God and he will be my son. 8 But to the cowards, unbelievers, detestable persons, murderers, the sexually immoral, and those who practice magic spells, idol worshipers, and all those who lie, their place will be in the lake that burns with fire and sulfur."

You'll note that that also has implications to the argument that it doesn't matter so much what sins we do since we are all sinners.

Megan, from what you've written in the last few days, you simply must understand that your position is antinomian. You have been condemned by Luther himself.

You think the Bible is beautifual becasue you can spin out many explanations. No, the bible is beautiful because it speaks of salvation and does this by pointing out our need for salvation and the promis f God to save those who accept their need for a savior.

In the future if you want an answer from me keep it to one question (some writers might get paid by the word, we don't).


Also, rethink your positions. Try out your arguments on someone who is not a radical (I'm sure you can find one in the Bay area if you try hard). Have a good day!

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