Historical Moment

I am very proud to have been a part of history making.  The Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada (ELCIC) becomes the 2nd mainline church in Canada to become fully welcoming.  Hallelujah.

It is a bittersweet moment I feel sadness for my sisters and brothers who do not share this joy and feel the church has made a mistake.  I pray they find healing.

This entry was posted in 2011 ELCIC Convention, Biblical Interpretation. Bookmark the permalink.

19 Responses to Historical Moment

  1. Hieke Taucher says:

    it’s a sad day when people reject what God has made so clear in His own and only Word to humanity.
    it’s a sad day when the teachers and leaders in the elcic refuse to say, just as clearly, that they do not trust the bible is God’s Word… that they believe the bible ‘contains’ God’s Word.
    it’s a sad day when a hermaneutic of suspicion wins out over a hermaneutic of trust.
    it’s a sad day when the church claims the bible “is the only source of the church’s doctrine and the authoritative standard for the faith and life of the church” but in the final analysis, that church’s authoritative standard is a society that is largely comprised of doubters, unbelievers, sceptics, atheists and agnostics…
    it’s a sad day when people say they have unity (believe what God has said), when it’s obvious they don’t.
    it’s a sad day when people call this a victory for the Church, when the Church weeps.

    Indeed, the time is here, “when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions.” It has an uncanny ring to it… wouldn’t you say? THAT’S what ‘proud’ looks like; dispense with God’s counsel and cling to some other. Proud? Oh. it most certainly is.

    • and I pray for peace for those not so proud. Peace be with you.

      • Hieke Taucher says:

        I pray God grant the mind of Christ to those who would teach His people. A mind that doesn’t change, one that His sheep can trust. A mind that is as changeless as the God I read about in the bible. Take a look at Ezekiel 13:10, then consider its context.

        If we were face to face Steve, you’d see that I am not against you, my tears are not contrived and my concern sincere. Our enemy isn’t flesh and blood Steve, it’s the devil who haunts us with his appeal to doubt… but, you’ve probably read that someplace else before. All that would bring me peace in this world is for the devil’s assault against the bible to end. But that isn’t going to happen until Christ returns.

        Until then, hold Christ’s sheep as though they are your own children. You are teaching them in the way that they should go, and when they see their teachers change direction, they’re going to think their teacher is merely a hired hand who doesn’t truly care for the sheep.

        A pastor delegate from Winnipeg ’05 asked “How can the same spirit lead us in such different directions?” Is it so hard a question to answer? Someone once said, “a kingdom divided against itself cannot stand.” I believe he is trustworthy and true. I’m sure you do too. If it wasn’t written for us, we’d never know would we?

        I know you’re trying my friend.
        εἰρήνη σοι

  2. Pamela Harrington says:

    I am pleased and relieved that this matter has been settled and that finally–perhaps–we can move on to other concerns, like truly living up to being a church in mission for others and called to service in the world. But I regret the divisions this will make in our whole church and in congregations and even in families–my own family included. We must continue to have patience with each other, be kind in our speech, and loving in all things.

    • Hieke Taucher says:

      I admire your positive outlook Pamela. Is the matter truly settled? Is division of no concern? God is certainly patient with us isn’t he. “Slow to anger” we read. Doesn’t it make you wonder what could possibly get him angry? In Luke 5, Jesus says that he has come to call sinners to repentance. And that (Luke 13) unless you repent, you will perish. Doesn’t it make you wonder what there is to repent of?

      I’m sure you would agree that it is wrong to steal, lie and murder – what happens to be 3 of the ten commandments God gave humanity. Jesus teaches us that thinking these things are as good as committing them (Matthew 5). So it seems reasonable to say that the Law is binding on the Christian… not for eternal life (after all, Jesus came to fulfill the Law for us because we simply can’t). Rather to demonstrate love for God and toward our neighbor.

      The world, or anyone who lives in unbelief, doesn’t understand that. They see themselves “doing the right thing” no differently than they see Christians “doing the right thing.” Paul explains, in his letter to the Romans, that the unbeliever does what the law requires (the law is written on the heart of all people). The Christian does the right thing because (s)he knows the 10 commandments teach us how to conduct ourselves in a god-pleasing way – setting ourselves apart from the weeds that we (wheat) are planted among.

      I’m sure you, like Paul (Romans 7:15), hate the sin you can see in your own flesh. I’m sure you, like Paul, thank God for killing His Son, instead of sentencing you to Sheol. I know I do. But it doesn’t make sin okay (antinomianism). Paul writes, “Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound? By no means!” (Romans 6:1). In otherwords, God hates sin – and so should we. And we do!

      The Church has, for centuries, trusted and defended God’s feelings toward ungodly living; taken its queue from God’s written word to a people whose thoughts are not God’s thoughts (whose ways are not God’s ways). Christians are still sinners, so Christians still sin. Because we are not infallible, God gave us his own infallible Word to keep even us in check. That’s why we appeal to Scripture alone. The world, the devil’s plaything, will coerce the Christian back into loving a life of lawlessness and sin.

      The difference between the Christian and the unbeliever is that the Christian hates the sin they commit because it’s not god-pleasing. The unbeliever, on the other hand, doesn’t understand grace, so they “live in sin – by all means!”

      Jesus teaches us to rebuke a sinning brother, and, if he repents, forgive him (Luke 17). Makes sense, in view of what God declares in Ezekiel 3:18: If you see your brother sin and you refuse to bring it to his attention, God will hold both accountable; you for failing to love your neighbor and your neighbor for sinning. I don’t know a single pastor who takes that exhortation lightly. Not to lord it over anyone, but to restore a Christian who hates sin if he knew he was transgressing 🙂

      Repenting means to acknowledge sin. God defines sin and he doesn’t change his mind about what sin is (if he did, how could anyone trust him?). Repentance is also to trust that only Jesus can atone for our sin – and he has… but it still doesn’t make sin okay does it? So it is, that this cycle of sin and repentance is perpetual while we still live.

      Our flesh sins; our spirits hate it and wishes it were not so. For that reason, one Christian’s brand of suffering is no different than another’s. Does upholding God’s feelings and prescription for sexuality mean that we need to be homophobic? Society says so because that’s what an unbeliever would say. But society can’t speak for a Christian who believes something that society doesn’t understand. The Christian isn’t judged by society; society is judged by God (1 Cor 2:15&16).

      Christians need to remember that society is the devil’s tool (Matthew 13:24-30, 36-43) meant to squelch God’s Word. And sadly, as another writer has already pointed out, not all people believe that God’s Word is God’s Word.

      There was a day when Christians stood firm in what God said. Today, some Christians are readily willing to switch than fight (an obscure reference to an old cigarette commercial) for the Word that many died to defend. Small wonder? It was obvious to our founders of the 19th and 20th centuries that pastors and, subsequently, the people they shepherded, didn’t trust that the bible was God’s Word.

      Today, some Christians are more concerned with befriending a godless society than to learn how to speak the truth out of godly love for that society, so the unbeliever can be transformed into a believer and have an eternal share in what the Christian has in Christ…

      Perhaps it’s because some Christians have failed to study that life saving Word. Perhaps it’s because some Christians are taught to doubt what God has clearly said. Maybe it’s a ratio of both. But these things bruise souls and fails to reflect Christ to the world. We say in mission for others… but how loving is it to teach people that God will bless something He calls sin?

      If society were to decide that theft is lawful, would theft then be god-pleasing?
      If society were to decide lying is lawful, would bearing false testimony be god-pleasing?
      Far-fetched, I know. But there was a day when a church blessing sin was absurd in Christian crcles, and unheard of in society’s history books.

      • Bob Thompson says:

        I must say Ms Taucher, that you preach a convincing argument. And I admit being quick to dismiss you from your earlier posts.

        Noteworthy is your observation that “upholding God’s feelings and prescription for sexuality” is estimated by society as “homophobic.” Some Christians hear society draw this unfounded and flatly false conclusion, but barely know how to respond, let alone with a voice loud enough to be heard. It’s not a flattering image of people who are heirs of heaven.

        It reminds me of the men that David consulted concerning Goliath. “For who is this uncircumcised Philistine, that he should defy the armies of the living God?” (1 Samuel 17:26). A boy, a minority has the courage to face upstream while everyone else was headed the other way. The more I think about it, the more examples I can list of similar biblical accounts.

        I’m not proud to admit that it IS easier to “switch than fight” as you say, especially when the opposition is so fierce and too numerous to count. I also see your point about society being the devil’s tool to derail us. Very lucid application of the parable of the weeds.

        So the sources of sin that surround us are the devil, the world and our own flesh. I remember reading that in my Small Catechism. Questions on the Lord’s Supper. Ha! I just found it! And so it makes sense that our only source of truth is the bible. How can we trust anything else? Why would we take our guidance from society when WE are the salt of the world?

        You imply that some Christians sold out over the years. Regrettably, there is a close correlation to the movements in society and the shifts in some denominations through time. The timeline indicates that some denominations changed their tunes after society changed theirs. And now I understand that, while our constitution says the bible is “the only source of the church’s doctrine and authoritative standard for faith and life of the church” it really isn’t.

        I’m dumb-founded. All my life I believed that the bible is God’s Word. I can’t remember doubting that. All this time I understood that when God spoke to Israel, it was as good as God talking to us today. Is this what you mean when you say that some pastors don’t trust this to be the case Hieke?

        Why? Why Vicar Steve? In your sermon you said that “we don’t have to believe certain things.” That’s not what Jesus says in the explanation. The seed is the Word. If people reject it, they die. Seems to me that the Word sprouts faith or it reveals unbelief. So why does the constitution say that the bible is our source, but it’s really not?

        Vicar Steve, do you believe that the bible, cover to cover, is all God’s word? Doesn’t our seminary teach this?

      • Hieke Ruff says:

        I appreciate your last three paragraphs Bob. In Matthew 10, Jesus states that the disciple is not above his teacher, nor a servant above his master. This is not social justice language. Jesus is simply saying his disciples will share in Jesus’ suffering. For what? For proclaiming the Word (good and bad news together).

        In the verses to follow, Jesus makes this clear… the truth will divide people. Yes, divide! Whoever loves society and family more than Christ, will lose the eternal reward Jesus died to win for us. It’s worthy of some pretty serious consideration.

        In our present circumstance, showing our love for all people, at the expense of subverting the Law, is of no avai in the final judgement for anyone. In fact, it’s not showing love at all. The reason Jesus lived and died was “to save his people from their sins” we read in Matthew 1. Who are we to redefine what God has declared sin to be? Truncate the Law (even muzzle it altogether) and we neuter the power of the Gospel. It leads people to conclude that the Law is not binding in this life…

        Now take a look at our world and tell me what you see. Lawlessness? The boundaries of “morality” being relaxed. People constantly claiming that they are innocent of any wrong doing (while their adversary says the same)? And to what end Bob? To the end that people aren’t really concered about sin and its affects anymore. To the end that God’s grace is passé. It’s the “frog in the warming pot of water” symdrome Bob… society dying a slow silent death; unconcerned and lulled into apathy.

        Yes Bob, it’s true that some pastors are reluctant to believe the bible is God’s own and only word to humanity. It was part of the disagreement when pioneering Lutherans tried to merge in North America. Micheal Reu of the Iowa Synod wrote a letter to the chairman of the Joint Commission indicating he couldn’t confess an article of faith that he didn’t believe. The article he was talking about was the inerrancy and authority of Scripture.

        Today, pastors and people alike, either believe it or they don’t. Those who believe the bible is God’s Word are the so-called conservatives John Hamer mentions. Those who don’t, will dismiss the bible as “limited writings.”

        It’s a fascinating circumstance from pure reason: If the bible is “limited” as some suggest, then I guess the so-called conservatives simply missed out on a bit of mammon in this life. But if the bible is how God opted to reveal Himself to humanity, an eternal Word as we read in 1 Peter 1, then those who have rejected His Word is in a bit of difficulty.

        A top down view shows us what the Christian Church has believed from its beginnings; teaching all that Jesus commanded wasn’t popular then either. I’m sure that, given 1 Peter 1:25 and Matthew 28, those who trust what Scripture says, regardless of popular opinion, are standing on solid ground.

        It’s great to dialog with you Bob.

      • Turk Benesch says:

        never heard (or read) anything about this so-called merger disagreement. where do I find primary sources?

      • Jow Timchuk says:

        I red about it in “Formation of the American Lutheran Church written by Fred W. Meuser (Columbus: Wartburg Press, 1958) in a church history class.

      • In response to Bob when he asks,
        “Why? Why Vicar Steve? In your sermon you said that “we don’t have to believe certain things.” That’s not what Jesus says in the explanation. The seed is the Word. If people reject it, they die. Seems to me that the Word sprouts faith or it reveals unbelief. So why does the constitution say that the bible is our source, but it’s really not?

        Vicar Steve, do you believe that the bible, cover to cover, is all God’s word? Doesn’t our seminary teach this?”

        I agree Jesus does say in his explanation of the parable that the seed is the Word, and the Word is Christ (John 1:1, 14). (not the bible).

        Lutheran theologian Paul Tillich defines “Word of God” with six definitions:
        1. refers to the second person of the Trinity, who was co-eternal with the Father.
        2. was the active agent and medium of the creation of the world.
        3. was preached by the prophets of the Old Testament
        4. became flesh in the person of Jesus of Nazareth
        5. was proclaimed by the apostles of Jesus Christ in creating the church
        6. is the living voice of the gospel in every generation of Christians to follow.

        I would suspect (but prefer to leave matters of judgement to God) that in the end on the final day of judgement we will still be given the choice of rejecting the salvation that God gave us through Christ’s death, and allowed to die.

        I don’t recall the seminary definitively declaring anything about the bible, but I would suspect that the seminary tries to teach what Luther taught, “The Bible is the swaddling clothes and manger in which Christ was wrapped and laid”. The bible points us toward Christ.

        I personally, do not believe the bible is historically accurate or without error. It is also important to note that the bible was written in a specific time with a specific context in a different world socially, economically, and politically from our own. That is not to say it doesn’t still speak to us, but we must keep this in mind as we do read it.

      • Bob Thompson says:

        Thank you for making your position clear. A good many church leaders could learn much by your courageous example. And a good many people can, in turn, understand why those who call themselves Christian, believe radically different things.

        Many Christians are confused and dismayed when one church abandons what that church once believed and once defended. Especially when believing in the Word of God (historically and colloquially understood by the Christian Church to be the written Word) remains a constitutional article of faith (see Article 2, Section 3).

        Now check the language in Article 2, section 2 of the constitution. “Word and Sacrament” means the written Word and Sacrament. The people who forged the constitution distinguished between the Incarnate Word and the means of grace.

        When a pastor (or a future pastor) clearly states, “I do not believe the bible is historically accurate and without error,” people wonder, and rightly so, how that pastor can remain in a church that confess “the Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments are the inspired Word of God, through which God still speaks, and as the only source of the church’s doctrine and the authoritative standard for the faith and life of the church.” (see the Reu issue discussed above).

        The answer is quite simple, but few are willing to put it in print. Perhaps you, too, probably believe in “a canon within a canon” (the bible isn’t the written Word of God; it contains the Word of God). Am I close? In order for you to claim an erroneous bible, yet appeal to it for guidance, then you must know what is truth and what is spurious. So the source of the church’s doctrine is not a fallible bible, rather, an enlightened man.

        Unfortunately, it also means that neither of us can dialog on the basis of what’s written in the bible. We don’t agree on who wrote what. You place yourself in authority over the bible; I place myself under the authority of the bible. We don’t believe in the same thing about what God has said, so we can’t claim the unity described in Article 2, section 2. That’s what divides the church! Makes talk about unity look like a sham.

        Yes, John (for those who trust that John authored John) makes reference to the pre-incarnate Christ. For those who trust that the bible is God’s only Word to humanity and that Jesus is the incarnation of that same Word, the written Word teaches us that the 2nd Person of the Trinity and the written Word is a distinction without a difference. Jesus doesn’t say, teach or act contrary what God has said. A house divided will not stand (if you believe that part of an erroneous bible).

        When people perceive an error in what God, by His own nature, is incapable of conferring, it is a human failure to comprehend God. Is that so hard to concede?

        Humanity’s solution has always been to escape the consequence of sin. Even if you regard the bible as a story book, it’s hard to avoid the tight parallels in how people behaved in those stories, and the way people behave today. Whoever wrote 1 John 1:8 knew what he was talking about eh?

        Time and space doesn’t change sin. It just changes the way sin is packaged. Time and space doesn’t change God. God doesn’t change (if you believe that part of an erroneous bible).

        Doesn’t it strike you as odd that a seminary would remain mute on what it claims to be its source of doctrine, faith and life? Not if you’re a fan of existentialism.

        Tillich is an existentialist and as such, he dismisses absolute truth in favour of a subjective analysis by the individual. And since the individual, Christian or not, is subject to the affects of sin (his conscience either accusing or accusing him), absolute truth is disregarded. In other words, the individual determines whether or not the bible will be his authority.

        From what God has taught you about himself in an erroneous bible Steve, do you think God would permit people to choose their Judge? Doesn’t God, rather, reveal Himself to be our authority (like it or not)? False prophets ignored God’s warnings; false teachers revised what God said; both preached peace when, in the midst of rebellion against God’s Law, there was none. God was angry!

        Being given the option to accept or reject salvation on judgement day flies in the face of Jesus’ teachings Steve. It flies in the face of the judgement God already declared. That day is described aptly in the end of Matthew. Jesus doesn’t give unbelievers the option to change their mind after death. The place of weeping/gnashing is for those who rejected the Word in this life, which is a common thread throughout an erroneous bible.

        Who in their right mind, would say no to heaven, after being dangled at the cusp of hell… or even spending a night there? From your reckoning, hell will be empty. But the dialog between Abraham and the rich man claims otherwise.

        I dunno Steve. I think you don’t give yourself enough credit. I think you know full well what is god-pleasing and what is not. It’s not according to a fallible conscience… it’s from an unchanging, unchangeable written Word.

        Again, I commend you for your honesty. Always make your position clear to God’s people so they can pick their teacher wisely. They’ll appreciate knowing, in advance, what you will teach them and their children.

  3. Saul says:

    everyone is looking. looking for affirmation – affirmation that their beliefs are the right beliefs. sometimes, the answers we need cannot be found in those limited writings from two millenia ago, but rather, in our hearts – our souls, if your prefer. There we cannot hide from ourselves or others. Certainly not a magnificent deity. We know true right from wrong, just from unjust and if we really seek truth we will find everything we need to know – and how to proceed with love.

    • Gerry Forth says:

      sure your heart knows right from wrong Saul. Even an atheist can say the same. And so, as someone once wrote, “the law is written on their hearts… and their conflicting thoughts accuse or even excuse them.” It’s not a flattering statement. So much for seeking truth in a heart blackened with sin eh? Almost as if those limited ancient writings knows us better than we do.

  4. John Faithful Hamer says:

    Dear Friends,

    The issues we face at the moment will define us—as Lutherans, as Christians, and as human beings. As such, we should approach the subject with the utmost caution. Where should we look for guidance and direction? This seems to be the most obvious place to start. Conservatives maintain that historical and biblical proof-texts can guide us through this controversy. Though it is true that the voices of our forefathers rarely support innovation, it would be foolish of liberals to reject this approach out of hand. Our ancestors have much to teach us, and it is indeed usually wise to do that which has been customarily done and to steer clear of that which has been habitually avoided. This is the precautionary principle that we hear so much about in our ecologically aware age. But we must here differentiate between nature and convention. Nature is that which is—that which was created by God. Convention is that which human beings create. When dealing with nature—that is, with God’s creation—it is generally prudent to do that which our ancestors have customarily done.

    When dealing with convention, however, historical precedent is not nearly so faithful a guide. For instance, my ancestors were slave holders in the American state of Maryland. They were also, by all accounts, good Christians, kind parents, excellent farmers, and honest neighbors. They gave a great deal of money to charity, and they probably prayed a great deal more than I do. Indeed, if they could talk and I was ready to listen, I suspect that my ancestors could teach me how to be a better husband, a better Christian, a better steward-of-creation, and a better father to my two sons. But what could they teach me about politics? They believed that the enslavement of blacks was natural—just as natural, in fact, as the subordination of women. Of course there was nothing natural about the enslavement of blacks; it had nothing to do with nature and everything to with convention. Christians led the movement to abolish slavery, Christians who had self-consciously chosen to reject convention and historical precedent. Our church’s former policy concerning homosexuality was a convention, just as the enslavement of blacks and the subordination of women were conventions. Conventions can change, and I believe changing this one was one of the best things we’ve done in a while.

    -John Faithful Hamer (St. John’s, Montreal)

    • Hieke Taucher says:

      The bible doesn’t prescribe slavery or oppression in any way John. In fact you will find several statements condemining it by our Lord Jesus, by God, the OT prophets and the apostles. When our actions accords with what God tells us, it’s a pretty good indication that we’re on the right track.

      Our Christian ancenstors failed to love their neighbors as themselves by treating “other than phenotype caucasians” and women in the way they did. Thier failure to love their neighbor as themselves was a convention grounded in sin.

      Lifting bans that were based on sex and phenotypes was, at one time, innovative. It was also a logical consequence of loving our neighbor… the voice of a heart transformed by the gospel speaks out against injustice! It didn’t require Christians to overlook God’s Word to bring it about. It didn’t require Christians to sin. Rather, it was an action that flowed from what God urged.

      But you will now try to find a single proof-text that affirms or urges homosexual behavior. So the bible doesn’t seem to hold the high place of authority as your church’s constitution suggests.

      If your church’s former policy on homosexuality was based on convention, then it was based on God’s convention John. And since it’s God’s convention, He would be the only One with the authority to change it. Popular opinion doesn’t change a word (1 Peter 1:25) any more than your children determined what your house rules would be.

      Remember that nature as we see it is that which is ruined by the Fall. Harmony and eternal life was God’s convention, but we wrecked it when our first parents doubted what God told them. Now, sin and rebellion is our convention. There was a time when death wasn’t. Anywhere you see death and discord, you see a symptom of sin. Some erroneously call death natural, but there’s nothing natural about it. God created us to live eternaly; we opted for death instead. That’s what innovation buys us when our innovation rejects what God has to say.

      There was a time when homosexuality wasn’t. God makes it pretty clear that hetrosexuality is His convention. He also makes it pretty clear that anything other than hetrosexuality is our innovation. He also makes clear that sexual sin carries the same penalty as any other sin.

      So this isn’t about some irrational fear of sexual oreintation. It’s not based on some irrational convention. It’s about rejecting human convention and clinging to the divine innovation of grace, and pointing people of all stripes to the sin that makes grace so vital.

  5. John Faithful Hamer says:

    Dear Friends,

    This is what I said at the mike in Saskatoon, and I stand by it still:

    John-Faithful Hamer, lay delegate, St. John’s (Montreal, Quebec). I speak in favor of adopting the Social Statement on Human Sexuality. Last night, during the discussion period, we heard a whole lot about sex but practically nothing about love. This strikes me as odd because the Social Statement on Human Sexuality, as I read it, isn’t primarily (or even mostly) about sex; it’s about love, commitment, friendship, and fidelity. It’s about fostering the growth of loving families and tightly-knit communities. It was Freud who popularized the idea that love is an illusion and it’s really all about sex. And our culture has been soaking in this idea for a century. What I love about the Social Statement is that it rejects this reductionist, and, thus far, unproven argument. The Statement before you today champions a much older and nobler vision of “sexual orientation”—one which sees sexuality as a means to an end: the end being love and friendship of an especially profound kind. Your sexual orientation leads you to love. But once you find love, that love grows and flowers to such a degree that it largely transcends sexuality. Just as the love between my wife and I has long since transcended “heterosexuality”, the love between our friends Rachel and Nitika has long since transcended “homosexuality”.

    Regardless, those who oppose this motion often look to the Bible for guidance—as they well should. Yet they too often forget that the Bible is riddled with paradox and ambiguity. If you want proof-texts that seem to condemn homosexual relationships, you can surely find a few of them in the Bible. But you will find many more proof-texts that seem to endorse slavery, ethnic cleansing, mass murder, and the oppression of women. What’s more, you’ll discover that the author of the Book of Leviticus considered the ban on clothing composed of two different materials to be just as serious as the ban on homosexual relationships. Regardless, the hunt for proof-texts rarely gets us anywhere interesting. We need to remember that Martin Luther exhorted us to read the Bible critically, to pray for the guidance of the Holy Spirit, and to remember at all times that the Bible was written by imperfect men inspired by a perfect God. The Bible is one thing; the Word of God is another.

    Proof-texts and historical precedent cannot guide us through this controversy. The only reliable compass for the twenty-first-century Christian is the Law of Love. If two people solemnly decide to make a lifelong commitment to each other, we ought to applaud their courage and support their union. Marriage is difficult, very difficult, as any honest married person will tell you. It is an institution that requires community support. The church ought to be part of that support network. The Law of Love should here, as elsewhere, reign supreme. As Christians, we ought to be defined not by our past but by our future, not by what we’ve been but by what we must become. History cannot be our court of final appeal, as it is for the secular conservative, because we are oriented towards the future, and the only golden age we long for is to be found on the golden streets of the New Jerusalem.

    • Bob Thompson says:

      Thanks for making your position clear to God’s people too John. It is frustrating arguing from an authority that we don’t agree on. So there is no value in that. The exchanges in this thread to date demonstrates that quite aptly.

      Don’t dismiss the search for proof texts until you find one that seems to defend homosexuality. Then again, what makes the bible erroneous in your view is that you won’t find any.

  6. John Faithful Hamer says:

    Dear Steve,

    I agree wholeheartedly with pretty much everything you’ve said concerning the Word of God, as would most Lutheran theologians past and present. Frankly, I’m amazed at how successful the fundamentalist interpretation of the Bible has been. Those who oppose the position you’re championing seem to see themselves as conservatives–viz., people who are defending an older view against something new and strange. The truth is that it is their position which is new and strange. Fundamentalism is a rather recent addition to Christian History. It emerged, as you surely know, in the United States in the early twentieth century, primarily as a reactionary response to modernity. Regardless, the fundamentalists were vehemently opposed by theologians all over the world. Their simplistic view of the Bible was rejected as heretical and infantile. Even so, due in large part to the amazing success of Pentecostalism, the fundamentalist view of the Bible has managed to sway Protestants the world over, even some dyed-in-the-wool Lutherans! This is a very VERY strange development, especially in light of Luther’s wise words.

    Warm regards from Montreal,
    John Faithful Hamer

    • Bob Thompson says:

      A brief history account:

      Biblical criticism is a product of the rationlist movement of the 17th cent; evaluating the bible as a historical document; a hermaneutic of suspicion (did God really say…?).

      Existentalism followed in the 1800s. The existentialist answer is simply, “What do you think?”

      The pendulum swung the other way in the 1900s. Disciples of biblical criticism, rationalism and existentialism put lutherans in the same camp as fundamentalists only because both defended inerrency. But a simple study of the two reveal they are quiote different.

      Fundamentalists find no freedom to navigate between what God has commanded and what God has condemned. So-called conservative lutherans don’t care to venture into those places where God remains silent. A distilled description, sure. But an essential ingredient you overlook John, maybe in the interest of time.

      Luther advocated a critical reading the bible (considering original language nuance, the intended message of the writer, and the context it was written) – a check against Ich theologie and heresy.

      The definition of heresy: a controversial or novel change to a system of beliefs, especially a religion, that conflicts with established dogma. Now consider what is new and strange John.

      I am also interested in your list of Lutheran theologians, past and present, that side with Steve’s view, and yours. “Most” implies you also have reckoned a list of those who don’t. Please share.

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