Of unity in general:…..â€The Gospel is so exceedingly rich that no section of Christendom can claim a full and exhaustive grasp of its richness. One church has grasped more of it, another less. One has penetrated to the central things, while another has remained to a greater degree at peripheral points. One has grasped one side the other another side. In this respect the churches can learn from each other and help each other to arrive at a simpler, richer and deeper understanding of the Gospel (N.L.C. New Bureau Release, June 30, 1947) ….
What a crossroad….
As a administrator of a fairly large ecumenical ministry, who reaches out to all, I’ve often kept the cards held pretty close when it comes to the political issues of abortion and homosexuality. I always felt in picking a specific side, I’d end up polarizing things more than they already were. Thus, other than to state the facts, the disagreements, and background, I kept my opinions to myself. Granted, part of it is due to not really having a solid theologicalÂ opinion I guess, but more so, my role is to facilitate and guide, not to direct.
I’ve studied a multitude of studies others have created, including the ELCA’s Journey Together Faithfully. I’ve read almost every Bible translation in English, and although my Biblical Greek course work occured nearly 20 years ago, I dug into the Greek as well. Hebrew, I’m too paranoid to dig into. I’ve read Dr Jenson’s works, I’ve read Bishop Bouman’s responses, I’ve even checked the goodsoil website, as well as others such as the ECP. I’ve prayed a lot. And I come to the conclusion, I really don’t have much more of a theological opinion than when I started. And it would be easy to remain publicly neutral.
Yet, I have to ponder this a bit. I know folks on the ECP candidate list, some who would make a mighty fine pastor. I also know conservative folks who are just itching to leave, yet are staying due to church family, Lutheran tradition, location and super cool things they really like about the ELCA.
I know there were folks fussing over the unauthorized handouts and such at the CWA. In some regards due to them being unauthorized, in others, due to the fact there were not theological, but instead were more personal in nature. I can understand the issue of being unauthorized, but as far as the personal aspect goes…. it make sense. Anyone who has been down this path, knows the wealth of theological arguments on both sides. Thus to restate them for the CWA just doesn’t make a lot of sense. On the other hand, once you put real people in the picture who are deeply affected by the outcome of policy, it very much gives one pause to seriously thing things through, rather than a somewhat isolated academic theological study. Likewise, it also makes me think of whether I should formalize an opinion, and more so, whether to have such opinion public.
Granted, to some of my more literalistic oriented readers of my blog, they probably say, whoa, you have an opinion, as scripture is obvious. In all seriousness, I just don’t see it. And to some of my LGBT readers, my lack of opinion, is probably just as dead to them as a negative opinion.
What I keep returning to, is something I think Dr Jenson said at one point, what if you are wrong, in responding to another with a counter opinion. Egads, I don’t want to go there. Yet, what if we are wrong the other way……
I saw this myself upfront and personal in the very recent past within theÂ ecumenical ministry I’m involved with as its undergoing huge changes. I remember a dear pastor friends comment. “I believe this is right, I am praying this is right, what if we are wrong…..” I really wonder if Dr Jenson’s writings are that wide spread. I don’t think this statement is in any of his texts…..
Despite all the turmoil, I have never seen God moving as much. It may well be that staff and our members dug into scripture and prayed like they never had before.. on both sides of the issues.
And getting back to the ELCA in closing, one of the super cool things going on is similar to my much smaller, but much more personal experiences. Be sure to check out the photo, as well as the blog entry on Pastor Zips blog. It is pretty powerful.
Some nifty news releases from the ELCA Churchwide Assembly.
Pondering Pastor blogged many of the events, his blog is a must read.
Also voting results are located at the assembly website.
I also debated whether to discuss the relatively controversial Landahl substitution concerning pastors in same gender relationships. On the one hand, its pretty newsworthy, on the other, it has the potential to be pretty polarizing. Even more so, that the news media seems to be confusing this as a change in standards, rather than interim guidance for Bishops.
Sadly though, depending upon how it comes across, it has the potential to cause significant division. This morning is going to be a tough one in some pulpits, thus prayer for our leaders and pastors is critical. No doubt much midnight oil is being burned rewritting sermons and in prayer as to what to say tomorrow.
Be encouraged and trust God