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The ELCA Requires Nothing

Started by DCharlton, January 01, 2013, 09:22:19 PM

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Dadoo

Maybe we read too much into this. By his own confession, this is a bunch of thoughts. Yes, the writer once worked in a bishop's office in an East Coast synod. Still, they are but a bunch of thoughts. Are they fair to those whom we have seen leave and have talked to personally and seriously about their motives? No. Again, these are just his thoughts.

Yet, he is a pastor who once was in a bishop's office. As such he really ought to have not written that the ELCA requires nothing of the congregation. I would remind him of this:

9.03.c. Every pastor shall:
1) strive to extend the Kingdom of God in the community, in the
nation, and abroad;
2) seek out and encourage qualified persons to prepare for the
ministry of the Gospel;
3) impart knowledge of this church and its wider ministry through
distribution of its periodicals and other publications; and
4) endeavor to increase the support given by the congregation to the work of the churchwide organization of the Evangelical Lutheran
Church in America (ELCA) and of the (insert name of synod)
Synod of the ELCA.


or this

12.04. The duties of the Congregation Council shall include the following:

h. To emphasize partnership with the synod and churchwide
organization of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America as well as cooperation with other congregations, both Lutheran and non-Lutheran, subject to established policies of the synod and the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.
I. To recommend and encourage the use of program resources produced or approved by the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.


His theses seems to be that one can disconnect from ELCA if one chooses to not like what goes on beyond the congregation. I would counter that that is not true. Our constitutions do require that council and pastor advocate as the voice of the ELCA to the congregation even if what they are to transmit might seem to them unpleasant or even if it is seen by them as false teaching. How does one do that? How did that work out in the past? Have we not seen 20 years when the opposite happened? Was that too "Closed theology" or "truth is found only with us?"

But, these were just some thoughts. If he had reasoned them out harder, I would think he would have made a much more coherent and rational argument. As it is, I think, he is letting us in on his discontent with how his church has been hurt and how it has shrunk (the theme of the January Lutheran) as a result giving yet another sign that the great confluence of Lutherans (I think that is behind his too ELCA centered comment on Lutheran presence in America) would just not happen. I mourn with him. But blaming those who departed is letting ourselves off much, much too easily. By neglect or carless design, we all did that together.
Peter Kruse

Diversity and tolerance are very complex concepts. Rigid conformity is needed to ensure their full realization. - Mike Adams

Dan Fienen

#16
Good points Pr. Kruse. What is especially unfortunate is that they were  expressed not in a bull session over beers or even in an internet forum such ALPB but as a letter in an official publication.  I doubt that it will do much to improve discussion or to make those dissatisfied with CWA '09 feel that their continued membership in the ELCA IS truly welcomed or valued.  Conservatives have said some unfortunate things along the way, but this illustrates that they are not alone in this.

Some like Pr. Christian have been saddened by how some have reacted to what many saw as a good and necessary step by the ELCA.  I do feel for them and recognize their pain.  But what they seem  not to recognize is how others have acted according to their bound conscience and left.  Perhaps part of whatever we have here is a failure of imagination, an inability to comprehend how  someone else could in good faith come to such an opposite conclusion and action.  It has been said of conservatives that if they just got to know a gay person they would feel and think differently about the whole gay issue.  Perhaps the same could be said of Pr. Christian and others who are similarly dismissive of those who left that if he had really gotten to know a few conservatives as more than opponents or obstuctions, he might be less ready to dismiss them as simply acting out of selfish ego motives.  Some were perhaps itching to leave for reasons Pr. Christian has described.  Many have discussed here their struggle over leaving.

Dan
Pr. Daniel Fienen
LCMS

Tim Schenks

#17
Quote from: FrPeters on January 02, 2013, 08:07:24 AM
QuoteMy experiences with the ELCA in the last 10 years suggest that congregations and pastors are more likely to be lone wolves than pack members. For the church, this is not good. But as noted above, it is not only happening with the church. We are increasingly fragmented as a society and loyalties to social institutions are fragile and easily broken.

Congregations and their clergy act like lone wolfs but they use the resources of the church like people with an emergency 911 call.  In Missouri the loners are often connected in small but loosely organized packs -- perhaps more so than in the ELCA.  But I do agree with you.  It is not good for the church.  I would go one further, it is not good for the congregation and the pastor either.

I'm sure the members of the actual congregations would like to see more activies with sister congregations if the pastors don't.  Too bad there's no winkels for laymen.

Dadoo

Quote from: Dan Fienen on January 02, 2013, 03:12:14 PM
Good points Pr. Kruse. What is especially unfortunate is that they were  expressed not in a bull session over beers or even in an internet forum such ALPB but as a letter in an official publication.  I doubt that it will do much to improve discussion or to make those dissatisfied with CWA '09 feel that their continued membership in the ELCA IS truly welcomed or valued.  Conservatives have said some unfortunate things along the way, but this illustrates that they are not alone in this.

Some like Pr. Christian have been saddened by how some have reacted to what many saw as a good and necessary step by the ELCA.  I do feel for them and recognize their pain.  But what they seem  not to recognize is how others have acted according to their bound conscience and left.  Perhaps part of whatever we have here is a failure of imagination, an inability to comprehend how  someone else could in good faith come to such an opposite conclusion and action.  It has been said of conservatives that if they just got to know a gay person they would feel and think differently about the whole gay issue.  Perhaps the same could be said of Pr. Christian and others who are similarly dismissive of those who left that if he had really gotten to know a few conservatives as more than opponents or obstuctions, he might be less ready to dismiss them as simply acting out of selfish ego motives.  Some were perhaps itching to leave for reasons Pr. Christian has described.  Many have discussed here their struggle over leaving.

Dan

Pr. Fienen,

Yes, I would consider the publication of this article an editorial error. It is said that it is not wise to take the dog along when you hunt the wolf. Many conservatives have remained in the ELCA, many remaining connected in graceful disagreement. This is not making them feel at home or "part of the family."

So, My ELCA friends: What are we going to do about this column? It is in The Lutheran. What are you going to do?
Peter Kruse

Diversity and tolerance are very complex concepts. Rigid conformity is needed to ensure their full realization. - Mike Adams

Charles_Austin

Pastor Kruse writes:
So, My ELCA friends: What are we going to do about this column? It is in The Lutheran. What are you going to do?

I answer:
I will read it.
I will recommend that others read it.
I will say that I believe the "ELCA requires nothing" phrase is wrong and unfortunate.
I will remember that this is one man's opinion.
I will ponder that some of what he says squares with what others have said to me and with my own observation.
I will continue to be glad that The Lutheran is free to print articles that might cause controversy and is willing to publish opinions that do not always put us in the rosy glow of success and sentimentalism. Anyone read the "shrinking church" article yet?
It is not the job of the magazine to be simply a public relations rag for the denomination. Dan Lehman spent years and years as an award-winning secular journalist and he knows the difference between flackery and real articles.
He wants to serve the church by delivering a variety of articles and opinions. Good for him.
Full disclosure statement: He has been a friend of mine from my days in secular and church journalism. I occasionally write for The Lutheran. They pay me when I do.
 

Marshall_Hahn

Quote from: Gary Hatcher on January 02, 2013, 10:38:27 AM
Here is the text of the article:


Why do they leave?
Church defections a puzzle
When The Lutheran arrives in the mail, invariably I read the obits first (I am a retired pastor).
Recently, however, another page has been of great interest—the list of congregations that voted to leave the ELCA. Many of the congregations are well known to me.
Many of the pastors who lead these congregations are well known also. So I've been asking "Why?" Why do they leave? There is no real cause for departure—just a desire, it seems, to "take a stand."

Pastor Christian frets that he does not understand the actions of these congregations and pastors who are well-known to him.  There is a readily available remedy to his puzzlement - ask them.  I submit that such a course of action would be preferable to publicizing his imaginative speculations in The Lutheran.

Marshall Hahn

George Erdner

#21
Quote from: Dadoo on January 02, 2013, 10:35:02 AM
"The ELCA requires nothing from Congregations?" Just that sentence ought to give us something to ponder.


The main thing to ponder is what is the difference between an expectation and a requirement. For something to be a requirement, then there must be some consequence or penalty if the condition is not met. If there is no consequence or penalty, then a defined condition is merely an expectation or recommendation. Church bodies like the ELCA can list as many official conditions and expectations as they can think of, but if there is no consequence or penalty for non-compliance, those conditions and expectations are merely that. They are not requirements.


As for the writer's suggestion that congregations changing affiliation with the ELCA is about the leader's (ie. the Pastor's) ego, that is such contemptible poppycock that it doesn't really deserve being addressed. As has been pointed out often, congregations only "leave" from the perspective of the ELCA. From the perspective of the church bodies that they switch there affiliation to, they aren't leaving, they are joining. The act of severing ties with the ELCA is not a departure, it is a change in affiliation. It's a transfer within the Lutheran faith tradition.


I'd also note, the ELCA wasn't formed from the bottom up. It was created from the top down. As I've often said before, most of us went to bed one night members of the LCA, ALC, or AELC, and woke up the next morning in the ELCA. Very few of us rank and file folks were even asked about whether or not we wanted to be in the ELCA. The leadership decided for us. Perhaps if there had been more real input from the pewsitters, such as requiring a ratification of the agreement that created the ELCA by a supermajority of congregations, this mess wouldn't exist now.

Charles_Austin

Mr. Erdner writes:
I'd also note, the ELCA wasn't formed from the bottom up. It was created from the top down. As I've often said before, most of us went to bed one night members of the LCA, ALC, or AELC, and woke up the next morning in the ELCA. Very few of us rank and file folks were even asked about whether or not we wanted to be in the ELCA. The leadership decided for us. Perhaps if there had been more real input from the pewsitters, such as requiring a ratification of the agreement that created the ELCA by a supermajority of congregations, this mess wouldn't exist now.

I comment:
Once again, it is necessary that I point out that nearly every word of that statement is wrong. Plans for the merger took shape over a 10-year period. Synods were involved. Congregations and their pastors were involved. Thousands of pages of documents were provided across the ALC, LCA and AELC. The merger had to be approved by at least two national conventions of the merging church bodies; and the final plans approved at a constituting convention.
To say that "the leadership decided for us" is absurd, no matter how many times. Mr. Erdner tries to say it.
Again... criticize the ELCA if you wish; object to how it does things; but for the sake of Aunt Gertie's goats, stop saying that no one knew what was going on and that it was suddenly foisted upon unsuspecting members. That it utter, total nonsense.
But perhaps I speak too harshly. Sensible people here know that.

vicarbob

I wasn't Lutheran at the time and yet even I knew about ongoing talks between the varied Lutheran entities. So to suggest as Mr George does that most pew sitters didn't......I guess that would depend how engaged they were outside and beyond their own congregations.......
However, I have first hand knowledge about how peoples from a denomination may be completely ignorant of what is going on in the wider church body in which they belong....a "leader" in the local Episcopal congregation in which we were in discernment for CCM, said publicly that CCM is not a fact and was being made up.....this was 10+ years after its signing.
It happens.............
pax
Bob+

DCharlton

#24
Quote from: Charles_Austin on January 02, 2013, 10:05:23 PM
Again... criticize the ELCA if you wish; object to how it does things; but for the sake of Aunt Gertie's goats, stop saying that no one knew what was going on and that it was suddenly foisted upon unsuspecting members. That it utter, total nonsense.
But perhaps I speak too harshly. Sensible people here know that.

Aha!  You're right.  That would be like saying no one knew why congregations departed the ELCA; that they had no reasons, theological or otherwise, for doing what they did; that they simply left in the middle of the night on impulse; that having leaders with clinical personality disorders or laity with a host of prejudices and phobias was the only thing that could account for it.  Utter, total nonsense.

Maybe George and others can agree that the Merger and HSGT were not foisted on an unsuspecting laity from above, and you can agree that the claim that those who departed the ELCA had no real cause or legitimate reason is equally nonsensical.  Such such falsehoods are worthy neither of ALPB Forum nor The Lutheran.
David Charlton  

Was Algul Siento a divinity school?

Dave Likeness

We have our first journalist jewel of 2013

"for the sake of Aunt Gertie's goats"

Thank You, Pastor Austin

George Erdner

Quote from: DCharlton on January 02, 2013, 11:11:34 PM
Quote from: Charles_Austin on January 02, 2013, 10:05:23 PM
Again... criticize the ELCA if you wish; object to how it does things; but for the sake of Aunt Gertie's goats, stop saying that no one knew what was going on and that it was suddenly foisted upon unsuspecting members. That it utter, total nonsense.
But perhaps I speak too harshly. Sensible people here know that.

Aha!  You're right.  That would be like saying no one knew why congregations departed the ELCA; that they had no reasons, theological or otherwise, for doing what they did; that they simply left in the middle of the night on impulse; that having leaders with clinical personality disorders or laity with a host of prejudices and phobias was the only thing that could account for it.  Utter, total nonsense.

Maybe George and others can agree that the Merger and HSGT were not foisted on an unsuspecting laity from above, and you can agree that the claim that those who departed the ELCA had no real cause or legitimate reason is equally false.


My recollections from that period of time, and that of most of the people I have talked with about the merger era, were that SOME people were involved. There were 10 years of high-level discussions involving the leadership of the three predecessor bodies. There were SOME select, blue-ribbon committees of carefully chosen lay people involved. But there was little to no attempt to solicit input from the great masses of pewsitters. And there was not the one specific thing I mentioned that would have created a sense of participation and ownership in the hearts and minds of the majority of pewsitters. There was not a plebiscite of all of the congregations. The average pewsitter could, if he was diligent in digging for information in those pre-internet days, gain some glimpse into what the leadership was planning. But as for input into the process, the majority of pewsitters were not involved. And that's one of the main reasons why the majority of pewsitters today have little or no sense of belonging or loyalty to the ELCA. To their congregations, yes. But to the national church body, no.


The lack of involvement of the laity in the process of creating the ELCA is one factor. Another is the central theme of the article this thread is based on. There are no requirements in the ELCA. Forget the excuses of hiding behind regional synod prerogatives. As long as congregations like "herchurch" can get away with doing what they do without consequence or penalty, none of the expectations of the ELCA can be seen as being requirements.


Charles_Austin

#27
Pastor Charlton writes:
Maybe George and others can agree that the Merger and HSGT were not foisted on an unsuspecting laity from above, and you can agree that the claim that those who departed the ELCA had no real cause or legitimate reason is equally nonsensical.

I comment:
I do believe that those who departed the ELCA acted because they believed they had "real cause" and "legitimate reason." I do believe that. I do believe that. I do believe that. (How many times to I have to say that before people believe it?)
I happen to disagree with their reasons.

Mr. Erdner persists:
My recollections from that period of time, and that of most of the people I have talked with about the merger era, were that SOME people were involved. There were 10 years of high-level discussions involving the leadership of the three predecessor bodies.
I comment:
The "big lie" continues. The merger discussions involved tens of thousands of people far far below the "high level" of leadership. If it didn't happen where Mr. Erdner was living (and I'll bet it did), he wasn't paying attention.

Mr. Erdner:
There were SOME select, blue-ribbon committees of carefully chosen lay people involved. But there was little to no attempt to solicit input from the great masses of pewsitters.
Me:
The "big lie" continues. I was directly involved in creating some of the surveys sent to all congregations in the ALC, LCA, and AELC soliciting information and providing information.

Mr. Erdner:
And there was not the one specific thing I mentioned that would have created a sense of participation and ownership in the hearts and minds of the majority of pewsitters. There was not a plebiscite of all of the congregations.
Me:
Nope. There wasn't. None of the church bodies in the merger had any procedure for doing that. It was even discussed in the merger negotiations. To whine and moan about that now is like complaining that no one asked every person in the new-born United States of America how many senators each state should have.

Mr. Erdner:
The average pewsitter could, if he was diligent in digging for information in those pre-internet days, gain some glimpse into what the leadership was planning. But as for input into the process, the majority of pewsitters were not involved.
Me:
The "big lie" continues. Will someone please send Mr. Erdner a copy of Anatomy of a Merger by Edgar Trexler? I was at LCA synod and ALC district conventions, AELC conventions, local meetings, and every national convention for about five years, all attended by thousands of "pewsitters" involved in the merger discussions.
I fielded hundreds of questions by telephone and letter from people with questions about the merger. The negotiations were front page stories in dozens of newspapers throughout the country, and especially in the midwest and states like Pennsylvania where Lutherans are dense.

Mr. Erdner:
And that's one of the main reasons why the majority of pewsitters today have little or no sense of belonging or loyalty to the ELCA. To their congregations, yes. But to the national church body, no.
Me:
No. That is not the reason. As noted frequently in every discussion in every organization, whether religious or secular, over the past 30 years, the "sense of belonging" to ANYTHING in our society has deteriorated in recent decades. It applies to bowling leagues, the Rotary Club, Lions, The League of Women Voters, Masonic lodges, Boy Scouts and other groups. The reasons are complex and have little to do with the structure of the organizations.

I comment:
The lack of involvement of the laity in the process of creating the ELCA is one factor.
Me:
The "big lie" continues.

Mr. Erdner:
Another is the central theme of the article this thread is based on. There are no requirements in the ELCA. Forget the excuses of hiding behind regional synod prerogatives. As long as congregations like "herchurch" can get away with doing what they do without consequence or penalty, none of the expectations of the ELCA can be seen as being requirements.
Me:
Well, let us consider that. Congregations were dismissed for calling pastors not properly ordained. (Those congregations were "liberal" BTW.) No one can be ordained with proper approval or continued on the roster without proper approval, which reaches all the way up to the Conference on Bishops.
   The ELCA as the ELCA has no direct means of disciplining congregations. (That would be the "top down" thing that Mr. Erdner finds so objectionable.)
   Synods (more local lay leadership) do work out their own ways of dealing with recalcitrant congregations. The problems that arise when congregations wanted to leave improperly prove that.
   On some matters, considerable (too much?) grace or leniency might indeed be in existence. If Mr. Erdner cannot be removed from his congregation for the uncharitable things he says here or his refusal to accept the facts about his denomination, then maybe he will understand why a pastor or congregation cannot easily be disciplined for not sending in a proper share of mission support or endorsing ELCA activities.


Dadoo

Quote from: George Erdner on January 03, 2013, 12:06:58 AM
Quote from: DCharlton on January 02, 2013, 11:11:34 PM
Quote from: Charles_Austin on January 02, 2013, 10:05:23 PM
Again... criticize the ELCA if you wish; object to how it does things; but for the sake of Aunt Gertie's goats, stop saying that no one knew what was going on and that it was suddenly foisted upon unsuspecting members. That it utter, total nonsense.
But perhaps I speak too harshly. Sensible people here know that.

Aha!  You're right.  That would be like saying no one knew why congregations departed the ELCA; that they had no reasons, theological or otherwise, for doing what they did; that they simply left in the middle of the night on impulse; that having leaders with clinical personality disorders or laity with a host of prejudices and phobias was the only thing that could account for it.  Utter, total nonsense.

Maybe George and others can agree that the Merger and HSGT were not foisted on an unsuspecting laity from above, and you can agree that the claim that those who departed the ELCA had no real cause or legitimate reason is equally false.


My recollections from that period of time, and that of most of the people I have talked with about the merger era, were that SOME people were involved. There were 10 years of high-level discussions involving the leadership of the three predecessor bodies. There were SOME select, blue-ribbon committees of carefully chosen lay people involved. But there was little to no attempt to solicit input from the great masses of pewsitters. And there was not the one specific thing I mentioned that would have created a sense of participation and ownership in the hearts and minds of the majority of pewsitters. There was not a plebiscite of all of the congregations. The average pewsitter could, if he was diligent in digging for information in those pre-internet days, gain some glimpse into what the leadership was planning. But as for input into the process, the majority of pewsitters were not involved. And that's one of the main reasons why the majority of pewsitters today have little or no sense of belonging or loyalty to the ELCA. To their congregations, yes. But to the national church body, no.


The lack of involvement of the laity in the process of creating the ELCA is one factor. Another is the central theme of the article this thread is based on. There are no requirements in the ELCA. Forget the excuses of hiding behind regional synod prerogatives. As long as congregations like "herchurch" can get away with doing what they do without consequence or penalty, none of the expectations of the ELCA can be seen as being requirements.


George,

Yes and no on most of what you wrote. THe ELCA was the result of a dream of a united Lutheran presence in America. That vision was had by the leaders of various church bodies. It was made plausible by the history of merging many smaller denominations into sizable ones in the two generations that preceded the 60's. It seemed possible. It seemed to be the logical trajectory to travel on. It seemed desirable somehow as a sign that the church is one.

Those dreams were probably not prevalent at pew level but they were also not absent. Face it, congregations are not as likely as leaders to think that a reshaped denominational structure would somehow be a benefit.

Mergers are funny things. If the top levels cannot envision them, they will not happen. If the pew level has no taste for it, it will not happen either. But, at pew level the various Lutherans around town knew each other and could see no reason not to be church together. All the scare literature that "bishops" (can we change that to "big giant heads" now please) would come and close all redundant congregations were simply false. Those specters were raised precisely to worry those who wondered: "Well we got two Lutheran churches right across the street - and we all believe the same thing . . . " after that a merger is either a good idea because commonality is recognized or it is painted in the dark pictures of forced local consolidation that can only be averted if the congregations are claimed by different stables. What seemed like common sense prevailed in the end.

I am the reluctant veteran of a congregational merger. Can somebody rail at Pastor Kruse for "closing our church and making us change our name," or worse: "go to that other place?" I would suspect so. When time came for somebody to rise and make the process happen the lot fell on me. Did I sit in a place apart and say to a bunch of friends: "I think I will make them merge, yes, that's the ticket?" No. There was in both congregations the idea and glimpse (it was not yet a vision) that it might be a good idea and that it might just work. If that had not been there I would not have risen to say: "Now that you think that, what are you prepared to do about it?" That was the necessary leadership at the time. Nobody else rose to say: "I know just what to do." I reluctantly did so because the glimpse and the idea voiced had to be acted on. Pass or fail, leadership required that we acted and not let it lie there as a distraction any longer.

Did we have our ducks all nicely in a row? No. Absolutely not. We are still working out many an expected turn in the road that we managed to not expect.  ::) That is to say: Christmas comes. Two have become one. How do you celebrate? Whose traditions will reign? One day in November we realized in horror that we had to create Christmas ex nihilo. A scramble ensued.

THere is no "We always did it this way," at my congregation any longer. There is where I see the danger in mergers. Only so many things can be foreseen and planned for. Only so many things can be written into constitution and bylaw. We made no plans for our first Christmas together. Had we tried to plan out every future "new" moment the consolidation  would have fallen dead because boredom and tedium would have driven everyone crazy. There will be uncrossed "i's" and undotted "t's." What we had in common would guide us ahead in meeting our first Christmas and it did.

When ELCA was formed, all the ducks were not in a row. But, everyone knew we could not work out every little detail and still have anyone left awake to vote for it. So, things were left to be carried into tomorrow by assuming good will in each other and trusting that we believed and did things about the same way anyway so things would work themselves out. That is why, I believe, there are not heavy consequences tied to every foreseen infraction and that is why not every future infraction was anticipated. Bishops (seminary presidents and respected district leaders) and commonly held values were going to win the day. The sudden explosion of post modern sloppy diversity, especially theological diversity, was still over the horizon. The generation of 60's destructive activists were still in seminary or were in their first decade of ministry and had not gained any clout, influence, or prominence. The instantaneous conversions, which imported many new ecclesiologies in America into Lutheranism,  from one denomination to another as one moved was not yet as prevalent as it is now. Our bishops, or the hierarchy, or even the lowarchy, were not given "power" or "coercive tools" of punishment because no one thought it was necessary. "Surely they will listen to the bishop!" "Surely the Bishop will know what is right and everyone will respect their word." "Surely our seminaries will defend and perpetuate solid orthodox Lutheran theology and morals." "Surely our teachers will keep new and crazy ideas out of our pulpits."

Well, . . . tomorrow is always surprisingly new. Whether the church should adopt that as a motto is questionable even in America which is driven by the new thing. Maybe we are loosing members because we are no longer a stable pylon in the swirling waters. The more my consolidation progresses the more I am aware that I am pulled toward the needs of the organization and the more I am fighting to work with the people and their need to be reassured of eternity and the values thereof. Maybe that is were WLCA needs to do more work. Not on the margins, not "at the intersection of church and <your favorite cliche's here>," not by trying to bring the margins to the center, but by forcefully restating the center. The activists will hate it as much as he traditionalists will hate it because the margins are not "empowered" or castigated. But our business is at the center. And all the organization deserves is just enough attention to make that holding up the center happen.

There you are. My thoughts. Maybe too many of them . . . .
Peter Kruse

Diversity and tolerance are very complex concepts. Rigid conformity is needed to ensure their full realization. - Mike Adams

Dadoo

#29
THe article needs to be discussed if for no other reason then for need of how to respond or even just for reason of realizing what kind of church we have become. For that matter, for us conservatives, it must remind us what folks think of us. It requires a graceful response on our behalf. It needs that response. . . . or . . . . or . . . . we could just jointly decide that he is just afraid that we conservatives are actually right about what we teach and preach. Yes . . . that's the ticket . . . he is just succumbing to his phobias.  ;)

On second thought . . . . let's not do that. But I think that all of us need to write to Lehman about this column. Maybe one of us ought to write a rational and passionate rebuttal that has nothing to do with Christian or any other hominem we would like to ad right now  but deals with the situation at hand instead.

Peter Kruse

Diversity and tolerance are very complex concepts. Rigid conformity is needed to ensure their full realization. - Mike Adams

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