Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Still time to respond to third sexuality study

Cap'n Bill here: Some of my Lutheran friends want you to know that there is still time to save the ELCA. If you have not yet responded to the third ELCA sexuality study, Free in Christ to Serve the Neighbor: Lutherans Talk about Human Sexuality, now is the time. The deadline for submitting your responses is November 1, which leaves you only three days (counting down) to let your voice be heard.

You can download the study on the ELCA web site at:

There is an online response form or you can mail your response to ELCA Studies on Sexuality, 8765 West Higgins Road, Chicago, IL 60631.

If you have not yet read the entire study but need some assistance in "faithfully" getting through the material there are helpful resources provided on the WordAlone website:

(They got an amazing amount of links to biblical teaching on sexuality there)

Please take this opportunity to let your voice be heard.

The church you save may be your own...

Monday, October 29, 2007

Sticking to the Roof of Your Mouth

Shrimp here. The November eUpdate for Augsburg Fortress O'Hare Plaza showed up in subscribers' inboxes earlier today, and one correspondent noticed how it opened:
ELCA Open House Brunch
November 9: 9:00am - 12:00pm

Julie Sevig will be signing her new book, Peanut Butter and Jelly Prayers. Everything in the store is 20% off (excluding ELW worship series), and 50% off on select Christmas Cards.
While still somewhat addled from our recent adventures departure and return, that rang a bell for Shrimp. Those who still read The Lutheran will recognize Ms. Sevig as an associate editrix for the ELCA's magazine. Her bio there proudly concludes mentioning the kiddies in her household. It doesn't mention this, but she is also a rostered lay leader in the ELCA, specifically an AIM (Associate in Ministry).

And now for the rest of the story. Ms. Sevig has been with The Lutheran for more years than Shrimp can remember. But in searching recollections, we discovered that our bell-ringing was of something that predated Shellfish by a couple of years, way back to the summer of 2003 when a highly respected ELCA pastor died and his newpaper obituary began flying through the e-mail (the blogosphere hadn't really been invented yet) because among the survivors were a daughter and her domestic partner. The daughter? Julie Sevig. The partner? Michelle Miller, who was then an Associate Director for the ELCA's Commission for Women. Oh, and also an ELCA rostered leader, specifically an ordained minister.

Got it? AIM. Pastor. Both under call to offices at 8765 W. Higgins Road, the ELCA's headquarters. Vision and Expectations anyone? Oh, just to make it all the more interesting, shortly before this Pastor Miller had given birth to a bouncing baby boy -- yes, one of the kiddies in Ms. Sevig's bio. Mind you, this is all in summer of 2003. Old news. Rotting, stinking old news. Shellfish may be immune to it, but how about you?

But we'll freshen this up. This is autumn 2007. There is no more Commission on Women, but Miller is Associate Pastor in an ELCA congregation in Chicago that publishes its bulletin on its website. (Shrimp does wonder about churches that do that, for some information gets mighty personal, doncha know.) 4 Sundays ago the congregational prayers included these people as celebrating: "Michelle Miller and Julie Sevig who celebrate the anniversary of their wedding or holy union this week."

Maybe someone ought to go to Ms. Sevig's book signing: "Oh Julie, I'm soo looking forward to reading your Peanut Butter and Jelly Prayers. I hope they don't stick to the roof of my mouth like your career does!" Shrimp out.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

"Call Me Ishmael" or "Gore-d Again"

Shrimp here. Back on board this (for-a-time derelict) blog, having been caught by Cap'n Bill along with some other shellfish. Some say that global warming caused her to toss me overboard in the first place. Don't know about that. While amongst them, other sea creatures said the Artic ice melt is offset by more ice on the other pole. And some dolphins going away on another journey (while crying, "So long, and thanks for all the fish!)" mentioned something about Mars and Neptune and Pluto and Jupiter and... maybe you get the point? All we shellfish know is that nobody's climate models describe what we've been experiencing lately.

So, what does this have to do with the ELCA? In this case it's the PB's
other job, head of the Lutheran World Federation, where his enthusiasms seem to have infected some of the bright lights in Geneva, as highlighted in this LWF news release from last week. Remember, it's all your fault, your own fault, your own most grevous fault.
LWF General Secretary Lauds Nobel Peace Prize Laureates for Focus on Climate Change Challenges

Noko Underlines LWF Assembly Commitment to Further Action

GENEVA, 15 October 2007 (LWI) – The Lutheran World Federation (LWF) has congratulated former US Vice President Al Gore and the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) for being jointly awarded the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize.

In a statement issued today, LWF General Secretary Rev. Dr Ishmael Noko, commends both the IPCC and Gore for “increasing public awareness about the gravity of climate change and promoting political commitment to addressing the challenge it represents.”

On 12 October, the Norwegian Nobel Committee named the IPCC and the former US vice-president as co-recipients of the Nobel Peace Prize “for their efforts to build up and disseminate greater knowledge about man-made climate change, and to lay the foundations for the measures that are needed to counteract such change.”

In his statement, Noko mentions the role of religious leaders in responding to the climate crisis, and cites the LWF’s commitment, as underlined by the Assembly, its highest governing body. “The LWF made the commitment to ‘work against climate change and the greenhouse effect, by acting to decrease the consumption of fossil fuel and use renewable energy resources,’” the general secretary notes, referring to commitments of the July 2003 LWF Tenth Assembly in Winnipeg, Canada.

Noko points out that the 11th Assembly, to be held in July 2010 in Stuttgart, Germany, would provide a forum to deepen these commitments and further such actions. (248 words)

The full text of Dr Noko’s statement follows:

Statement by Rev. Dr Ishmael Noko
General Secretary, The Lutheran World Federation

The Lutheran World Federation (LWF) warmly congratulates former US Vice President Al Gore and the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change on the award of the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize. Mr Gore and the Panel have taken a leading role in increasing public awareness about the gravity of climate change and promoting political commitment to addressing the challenge it represents. They richly deserve the recognition they have received.

I agree wholeheartedly with Mr Gore when he says that “the climate crisis is not a political issue, it is a moral and spiritual challenge to all of humanity.” The dimensions of this crisis transcend politics. It calls for engagement at the most fundamental ethical level. Religious leaders have essential roles to play in responding to the crisis, alongside political and other community leaders.

At its Tenth Assembly in 2003, the LWF made the commitment to “work against climate change and the greenhouse effect, by acting to decrease the consumption of fossil fuel and use renewable energy resources.” The Lutheran communion has repeatedly supported “international agreements [such as the Kyoto Protocol] that seek to preserve the environment and the integrity of creation.” The 11th Assembly to take place in 2010, in Stuttgart, Germany, will provide a forum to deepen these commitments and further such actions.

All faith traditions acknowledge the sacredness of creation. The threat of climate change demands that our common respect for creation be recognized as a basis for interfaith cooperation to protect and preserve the earth and to assure just, sustainable life for all.

Geneva, 15 October 2007
Jesus' blood never fails me. Some of his servants, though, make my head swim.

Thanks, Cap'n Bill, for your rescue. And the rest of you shellfish, say ahoy. Shrimp out.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Got Dry Rot in Your Timbers?

Me, I'm only a Marine Salvage Operator, but if you ask me, the ELCA should have known better. They had warnings long ago to do something about forgetting to do its homework on Christian Ethics regarding sexuality.

From www.robgagnon.net/articles/homoJourneyTogetherCritique.pdf

"The concept of “faithfulness” has been often invoked repeatedly by Director of the Task Force, Prof. James M. Childs Jr., and by members of the Task Force. It is invoked in the title of the book Faithful Conversation edited by Childs and stressed in its introduction and authors’ forum (Fortress, 2003; for a critique go to http://www.robgagnon.net/RevFaithfulConv.htm or here for pdf).

Obviously it appears also in the title of the two main study guides put out by the Task Force, Journey Together Faithfully, parts 1 and 2. However, those employing the concept have largely restricted it to mean that people are trying their best or are sincere in their efforts even as they affirm the authority of Scripture. Such a restriction is wrong. I am not questioning anyone’s ‘faithfulness’ defined as doing what one thinks is best for the church rather than what one thinks is best for one’s own personal advancement. I make no assumptions—one way or the other—though I am inclined to believe the best.

Yet some may perhaps note that any Christian mainline denomination worth its salt, especially one with roots back to Luther, will have a profound awareness of the sin’s ongoing effect even on self-professed believers. They may view the constant, insistent refrain that “we are being faithful” as an instance of “protesting too much, methinks” (Hamlet III, ii, 239). Then, too, some may seek an explanation for the terrible imbalance of the study guides, given that the material that could have provided the necessary balance was readily available to the authors. After all, they will wonder, why did the authors of these study guides time and again ignore or misstate numerous arguments that would have been devastating for a pro-homosex reading entertained or even espoused by the study guides? At any rate, the issue of people’s motivations or their claims to being faithful to Scripture is secondary. The reason is that a “good faith effort” is not what Scripture primarily means by the concept by faithfulness.

Faithfulness has to do with faithfulness to God’s revealed will and word—in fact and not merely in intent, much less in claim. Accurate teaching and preaching of Scripture is an essential component of this. An “elder” or “overseer,” for example, must “hold firmly to the faithful word, in accordance with the teaching (i.e. as taught), in order that he may be able both to exhort by means of the sound teaching and to refute those who contradict (that word)” (Titus 1:9)."

Have You Seen Shrimp? Please call 1-800-NEEDAWITNESS...

Nigeria: Anglican Crises More About Leadership, Doctrine, Not Homosexuality- African Bishops

Cap'n Billy here: With my spy glass trained on the eastrn Atlantic, looks to me like the African Anglicans are getting ready to move on... Read it and think about it. The problem has been stated, proven. It is absolutely clear that there are two thought systems, two world views, and it is clear that manifests as two different gospels. That's the theme. Here is Akinola's most recent take.

Daily Champion (Lagos)
Posted to the web 22 October 2007
Munawar NamdarkhanLagos

The President of the Council of Anglican Provinces of Africa(CAPA), Archbishop Peter Akinola of Nigeria, Anglican crises hinge on leadership, doctrine - African bishops have said at a convention in Mauritius that the Anglican Church in Africa had more serious problems to address than its stance on homosexuality.

The Primate of Church of Nigeria (Anglican Communion) was speaking to journalists after the two-day closed-door CAPA meeting that began in the Indian Ocean Island on Oct. 3. While responding to a question from the press, Archbishop Akinola said the church would focus on problems like the HIV/AIDS pandemic and the crises in Darfur and Zimbabwe, which he said threatened the wellbeing of Africa.

"Homosexuality is not our headache," Archbishop Akinola said. "Everything that has to be said has been said. We are not going back to it."

Affirming that unity in the communion was of course crucial, Archbishop Akinola pointed out that every organization has got its own problems.
"When we resolve our problem, we'll let the world know through the media," he said.

Homosexuality has been a contentious and divisive issue among Anglican believers. The crisis reached a climax in 2003 when the U.S. Diocese of New Hampshire elected V. Gene Robinson, an confessed gay, as bishop. The General Convention of the Episcopal Church confirmed him and its presiding bishop participated at Robinson's consecration. In February 2004, 13 Global South primates, including eight from Africa, denounced the actions of the Episcopal Church as a "direct repudiation of the clear teaching of the Holy Scriptures, historic faith and order of the church." In April 2004, CAPA pledged to reject donations from the American dioceses that supported Robinson.

At the conference, Bishop Trevor Mwamba of Botswana read CAPA's statement that in part addressed the division in the church. The report acknowledged that the church had been unable to ignore the current crisis in its communion, but denied that CAPA was to blame.

"The current situation is a two fold crisis for the Anglican Communion: A crisis of doctrine and a crisis of leadership, in which the failure of the instruments of the Communion to exercise discipline had called into question the viability of the Anglican Communion as a united Christian body under a common foundation of faith, as is supposed by the Chicago-Lambeth Quadrilateral," Bishop Mwamba read from the report.

"Due to this breakdown of discipline, we are not sure that we can in good conscience continue to spend our time, our money and our prayers on behalf of a body that proclaims two Gospels: the Gospel of Christ and the Gospel of Sexuality," he added.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Out In Scripture!!!

Shrimp here: This is one of those times that I cannot resist getting back in the warning buzzness. Out In Scripture is a resource for you if you want to go deeper into brainwashing. These people are so confused! They can't wait to confuse so, so you can confuse others. Check this out:
This Week's Out In Scripture Commentary Next Week's Out In Scripture Commentary Seasonal Commentary
"Hear Rev. Dr. Sidney D. Fowler, Editor for Out In Scripture, talk about Out in Scripture and the provocative readings for the final weeks of the Christian year.

"You don’t have to leave your mind, heart and body behind when you encounter the Bible. This Human Rights Campaign resource places comments about the Bible alongside the real life experiences and concerns of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people of faith and our allies. With the help of skilled scholars, you will discover a fresh approach to Scripture. Here you can be honest, question and go deeper.

"Out In Scripture is a resource for you — anyone open to God’s voice for today. It is especially helpful for preachers preparing sermons based on the Revised Common Lectionary (a selection of Bible readings for each Sunday). The Bible’s not about beating you up, but lifting us all up. It includes the seeds of liberation and justice. You, too, can be out in scripture.

Check out:

This Week’s Out In Scripture Commentary

Next Week's Out In Scripture Commentary

Seasonal Commentary

Here's what Christianity Today has to say about this venture and their hermeneutics:

Theology in the News
Itchy Ears and Tongues of Fire
Gay-rights group employs Scripture. Also: Pentecostal success invites new challenges.
Collin Hansen posted 10/12/2007 09:27AM
Reading the weekly e-zine from Sojourners/Call to Renewal, I was surprised to see an advertisement for the Human Rights Campaign (HRC). Readers may recognize HRC as the leading gay-rights organization, so I wondered what this group would have to say to Christians. I dutifully clicked on the ad and landed on the home for Out In Scripture, a resource website promoting a pro-gay hermeneutic.

Most interesting was HRC's explanation of the project. "You don't have to leave your mind, heart, and body behind when you encounter the Bible," HRC explains. "This Human Rights Campaign resource places comments about the Bible alongside the real life experiences and concerns of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people of faith and our allies."

Without reading too closely between the lines, HRC seems to imply that the Bible offers something less than a relevant historical account of real life. The website goes on to say, "Out In Scripture is a resource for you—anyone open to God's voice for today. … The Bible's not about beating you up, but lifting us all up."
By appealing to "anyone open to God's voice for today," HRC recalls the United Church of Christ's "God Is Still Speaking" ad campaign. Don't like what the Bible says? Lucky for you, God changed his mind, the UCC insinuates. HRC, on the other hand, purports to take Scripture seriously, if checked by an individual's experience. In one study, Out In Scripture tackles the lectionary reading from 2 Timothy 3:14-4:5. The HRC contributors explain the passage this way:

[I]n the course of our conversation together we realized that, in fact, Scripture is our Scripture. LGBT people are not excluded from affirming this Scripture's teaching that "All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful for teaching, for reproof, for correction and for training in righteousness" (verse 16). We are not excluded because this affirmation does not mean that we believe we should robotically "do" everything we might read about in Scripture.

The study's authors suppose that Christians who disapprove of homosexuality could be akin to the mythmakers Paul warns Timothy to "correct, rebuke, and encourage." HRC turns the tables on Christians who have used this same passage to defend orthodox teaching. The tactic may not be compelling to Christians familiar with the Bible's many plain teachings against homosexual behavior. But the approach has a certain appeal to those who respect Scripture but don't understand it. These people would not be so persuaded if HRC simply denounced Scripture as a relic of ancient culture. Misguided theologians of earlier eras sank venerable denominations with that strategy.

Still, the campaign looks like another example of Paul's prophetic warning: "For the time will come when men will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear" (2 Tim. 4:3-4).

Surely Christians can agree with the HRC on at least one point: "The Bible's not about beating you up, but lifting us all up." But before they can be lifted up, Christians must recognize themselves in the crowd that cheered Jesus' beating, and repent of their sins.


A moderate revisionist does not necessarily have a different religion, but anyone who has a radical contextuality does. Period. It has already happened in some circles in TEC & the ELCA (venrealble denominations?).

What is going on in your congregation, conference, synod? Get involved in your local CORE chapter, and if there is not one, start one.

The good ship ELCA...

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