Sunday, July 08, 2007

"The Network"

We all know what an "Aha" moment is. Well, what would you call it when you have one of those but it is more like a " that's why that is the way that is" type of moment. I just had one. I went to the site to see what's going on and clicked on the links of their partners. Probably everyone in the ELCA besides me knew that there was an organization whose sole goal was to bring the ELCA into full inclusion of gays. Looking at the list of members (a rather long list) there are quite a few leaders there. There are professors who wrote for the sexuality study. A former PB of course. The group has 1089 names, many of them clergy.

Actually, I've probably heard of this group but forgot: Lutheran Network for Inclusive Vision. It is no conspiracy. It's a free country and so it seems a free church. Take a look at their mission statement. It's very interesting:

Below are three "Affirmations" of those who have publicly placed themselves on The Network Roster.

  • We affirm the authority of God's Word for our faith and life. We acknowledge that our church has, on the basis of scriptural interpretation, condemned all sexual activity outside of heterosexual marriage. However, we believe recent and respected scholarship requires other interpretations of certain biblical passages, particularly as they apply to committed and faithful same-gender relationships.
  • We believe it is time for ELCA clergy, AIMS and church members to challenge the policies and practices which continue to bring so much pain to the gay and lesbian members of our church and their families, and deprives the church of gifted professionals.
  • We further affirm the vision of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America in which the Gospel of God's grace in Christ is central. It is that Gospel which empowers us to move beyond estrangement to mutual trust, consolation, and cooperation in the life and ministry of the church. We are deeply concerned when the only choice given to our gay and lesbian pastors, AIMS, diaconal ministers, deaconesses and seminarians is to be silent or to leave the church. The continued expulsion of gay and lesbian professionals who are in stable, committed relationships deprives the church of positive role models for its gay and lesbian members, drives them out of the church and leaves them bereft of sacraments, pastoral care and Christian community.

From their latest newsletter (on the Schmeling decision and the resolutions):

So then, where do we go from here? In addition to working toward changing the policy by passing memorials to the Churchwide Assembly and working for Synod Councils to pass requeststo the Church Council to make the changes, there is oneother avenue. When you look at the templates referenced earlier,you will see a third suggestion, “Endorsing Restraint.” Passage of this would send a message that, while a synod mightnot be ready for total change in this policy, it might be willing togive space and discretion to Bishops to deal with situations such as Pastor Schmeling’s in ways other than removal from the roster. One thing is clear; we cannot sit back and catch our breath. We need to press for change at every turn. We must also support those who are in a position to effect change and give congregations such as St. John’s, Atlanta, and Pastor Schmeling, space to do the ministry to which they have been called.

You might want to bookmark them and go back to see if they come out with a pre-assembly newsletter.

Here is an article written by the person responsible for the area of the New Testament and what it says about "the issue" back in Journey Together Faithfully:

Texts and Meanings: Why Do Scholars Differ about the Meaning of Texts on Sexuality? Arland J. Hultgren of Luther Seminary writes an outstanding piece on the bible and homosexuality. Arland J. Hultgren is the Asher O. and Carrie Nasby Professor of New Testament at Luther Seminary in St. Paul, Minnesota. His article below was written for the Lent, 2007 issue of the newsletter of The Network.

Biblical scholars differ widely in the interpretation of texts having to do with sexuality issues, and that is particularly the case in regard to those that are brought into discussions concerning homosexuality. To be sure, there is no end to the list of texts that can be brought into the discussion. The list could include the creation narratives in Genesis and still other texts that have to do with males and females, sexual expression, marriage, and so on. But there are a select few that are almost always brought to the table, including Genesis 19:1-11; Judges 19:16-30; Leviticus 18:22; 20:13; Romans 1:26-27; 1 Corinthians 6:9; and 1 Timothy 1:10. Scholars who share the same confessional or denominational heritage and use virtually the same methods of interpretation can come up with quite different conclusions concerning the meaning of the texts and their applicability to issues facing the church and society.It is sometimes suggested that the line of demarcation between scholars is any one of the following (or a combination of them): (1) the one group has a high view of Scripture and its authority; the other does not; (2) the one group is conservative; the other is liberal; (3) the one group is counter-cultural; the other has capitulated to the culture; (4) the one group is open to hearing what the texts actually say; the other consists of people who have their minds made up before dealing with the texts; (5) the one is committed to traditional theological norms (Scripture, creeds, and confessions); the other is not; and (6) the one group honors the integrity of theological work; the other has been affected by experiences that override theology, such as having been moved emotionally by hearing the testimony of gays or lesbians, or perhaps having gay or lesbian relatives and/or friends.In actual fact, however, the lines of demarcation listed here can be set aside. The polarizations that they cause are often inaccurate caricatures; they are unfortunate, unnecessary, and not conducive to discourse or mutual understanding. In their place I have found that there are other, more basic factors that enter into the discussion among scholars concerning the issues around homosexuality and the Scriptures. Four are of particular importance.
The rest is here.

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