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Farewell article

Started by peter_speckhard, December 26, 2023, 12:44:55 PM

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Jim Butler

Quote from: Brian Stoffregen on February 14, 2024, 08:10:24 PM
Quote from: Jeremy_Loesch on February 14, 2024, 05:57:10 PMJust want to add an amen.  I've found it easier to converse with ACNA, some Roman Catholics, and some non-Christians than it is to talk with some other Lutherans.  And it goes both ways.  I've heard it said, "I don't understand the language you use."

Consider that "Missouri-speak" was taught to some of your clergy from kindergarten through seminary. Some (many?) of your clergy went through the whole system and weren't really exposed to alternative ways of thinking/speaking. Most went to Concordia St. Louis rather than Springfield. (I was involved in the program for a mere 2 years.)

This would have been true until about 50 years ago. I was one of the last of the "system" people. When I arrived at CSL in 1981, there were students from every Concordia and many other schools as well (my roommate attended Cornell). Both seminaries recruited me. None of what you say applies any longer and hasn't for the majority of the current LCMS clergy roster.

Quote from: Brian Stoffregen on February 14, 2024, 08:10:24 PMOur clergy our exposed to many different professors who have differing viewpoints. While I was at Wartburg, we had a professor who had been a missionary in Africa and participated in exorcisms. Another professor considered all the biblical talk about demons to be just a way they explained what they didn't understand - and that demons don't really exist. Could such a variety exist within an LCMS seminary?

We had quite different approaches to training of our clergy.


Better question: would we want "such a variety [to] exist within an LCMS seminary"?

So, if Prof. A argues that "all the biblical talk about demons to be just a way they explained what they didn't understand" because "demons don't really exist." Does that mean he believes that Prof. B who "had been a missionary in Africa and participated in exorcisms" is just trying to explain things that he doesn't really understand? That would strike me as the obvious conclusion. Seems to me that this is a set up for conflict. "How can you say demons don't exist; I personally exorcised them!" "There is no such thing as a demon. Stop being so superstitious."

I think I prefer our way to profs who outright contradict each other.
"Pastor Butler... [is] deaf to the cries of people like me, dismissing our concerns as Satanic scenarios, denouncing our faith and our very existence."--Charles Austin

Brian Stoffregen

Quote from: Mark Brown on February 15, 2024, 10:25:11 AMWhile having been LCMS all my life, I never went to an LCMS education institution other than CSL.  Public School (Molech), Grove City (Presby) and University of Pittsburgh (Mammon). "Poor sheltered LCMS clergy" isn't it.  As an LCMS clergy you are forced to occasionally try and understand what the former mainline is talking about.  Because the laity wash up in your congregation, often mad or just lost.  The older ones you have to reconnect them with their small catechism understanding and then they get a big smile on their face.  Something lost has been given back. The younger ones you have to know it to deprogram, or patiently explain the terrible theology they have been fed until the light-bulb goes on. The "calls, gathers, enlightens" sequence is something you see again and again. It's comforting when you see it.

But I do imagine that this doorway is closing. Those younger ones no longer show up at your place thinking difference in degree (i.e. just transfer my membership).  They understand it is a difference in kind (i.e. tell me what you believe, teach and confess although not with the phrase.)
My wife was LCMS most of her life - and attended public schools, until we met at Concordia, Portland. (We discovered that we went to the same high school, but didn't know each other there. Her home congregation went the AELC/ELCA route, though.) Some of the pre-sem students at Concordia were as I described - only trained in LCMS schools, but not all.

I suspect that another differences is found in a phrase my seminary theology professors used: "We want you to develop your own theology within the Lutheran framework." I suspect that LCMS professors talked about "The Lutheran theology" rather than a framework upon which to build one's own theology. The ELCA colleague in Yuma build his theology a bit differently than I did. He commented about us to a third person, "We live in different worlds," even though we are part of the same church body.
I flunked retirement. Serving as a part-time interim in Ferndale, WA.

Jeremy_Loesch

I'm in agreement with Mark and Jim that 'sheltered LCMS seminarians/clergy' is a myth and hasn't been reality since the 1960s.  There is far more interaction with non-LCMS people than many would think.  I worked off campus in a restaurant and that was a great opportunity to make money and talk with people about the school I went to (other workers went to SLU, Fontbonne, Webster, WashU, UMSL.  One going to seminary was quite the anomaly. And why can't you work Sunday mornings?) I did 4 units of CPE in two different settings.  In one setting I was the only LCMS chaplain among UCC, Roman Catholic, Presbyterian, and Episcopalian.  In the other setting I was one of three LCMS chaplains among an Episcopalian, an Anglican, Roman Catholics, ELCA, UCC, and Methodist.  I recall that the LCMS chaplains and the Anglican chaplain were most in alignment.

Then when arriving at my first church in Ohio, there was a weekly breakfast- me, a retired ELCA pastor, a retired LCMS pastor, and a Jewish rabbi.  There was great collegiality, and the differences were in degree, because we knew who we were.  Now among Lutherans it really is a difference in kind. 

Jeremy

Brian Stoffregen

Quote from: Jim Butler on February 15, 2024, 11:20:21 AMBetter question: would we want "such a variety [to] exist within an LCMS seminary"?

Because it illustrates the variety of ways biblical texts can be interpreted. Was the father's boy epileptic of demon-possessed? If demon-possessed, why are their no demon-possessions in the Old Testament, did they just suddenly appear?

QuoteSo, if Prof. A argues that "all the biblical talk about demons to be just a way they explained what they didn't understand" because "demons don't really exist." Does that mean he believes that Prof. B who "had been a missionary in Africa and participated in exorcisms" is just trying to explain things that he doesn't really understand? That would strike me as the obvious conclusion. Seems to me that this is a set up for conflict. "How can you say demons don't exist; I personally exorcised them!" "There is no such thing as a demon. Stop being so superstitious."

Why in Africa and not in America? In 43 years of ministry (and a few years on traveling gospel teams before that,) I have never been asked or came close to doing an exorcism. Have you? Could it be something about differences in American and African cultures?

QuoteI think I prefer our way to profs who outright contradict each other.

On important matters, e.g., "the Lutheran framework," they did not. Both those professors would insist that we are sinners who are saved only by the grace of God revealed and given to us through Jesus Christ.

Another differences was between professors who team-taught our first theology course. One developed a class on story-telling preaching. (It was after I had graduated, but I attended a continuing ed event where he talked about it and have read his two books on the topic.) The other professor complained about the awful story-telling preaching students did in chapel. In his view, they were setting themselves up as their own canon or authority for story-telling. Their creative writing skills seemed more important than good biblical exegetical skills. At a workshop where he was presenting his views, a pastor began a comment, "Jesus spoke in parables ...," before he could finish, the professor stated, "You're not Jesus." That pretty much summed up his argument against the story-telling preaching. I was friends with both of those professor and had private talks with them about this topic. Both make good points. (The story-teller agreed that there were some bad ones in chapel - but they came from folks who hadn't taken his class, where he insists on doing good biblical exegesis before crafting a story that conveys the biblical message.)

I think that that was a good tension to have in the seminary. There were also differences about where the students should preach in the chapel: from the pulpit or chancel area.

Such differences doesn't change the key gospel message we are trying to proclaim.
I flunked retirement. Serving as a part-time interim in Ferndale, WA.

John Mundinger

Quote from: Jeremy_Loesch on February 15, 2024, 12:46:06 PMI'm in agreement with Mark and Jim that 'sheltered LCMS seminarians/clergy' is a myth and hasn't been reality since the 1960s.  There is far more interaction with non-LCMS people than many would think.  I worked off campus in a restaurant and that was a great opportunity to make money and talk with people about the school I went to (other workers went to SLU, Fontbonne, Webster, WashU, UMSL.  One going to seminary was quite the anomaly. And why can't you work Sunday mornings?) I did 4 units of CPE in two different settings.  In one setting I was the only LCMS chaplain among UCC, Roman Catholic, Presbyterian, and Episcopalian.  In the other setting I was one of three LCMS chaplains among an Episcopalian, an Anglican, Roman Catholics, ELCA, UCC, and Methodist.  I recall that the LCMS chaplains and the Anglican chaplain were most in alignment.

Then when arriving at my first church in Ohio, there was a weekly breakfast- me, a retired ELCA pastor, a retired LCMS pastor, and a Jewish rabbi.  There was great collegiality, and the differences were in degree, because we knew who we were.  Now among Lutherans it really is a difference in kind. 

Jeremy

I have also known LCMS pastors who got grief from their peers because they were collegial with non-LCMS pastors in their communities; LCMS pastors who refuse to engage with other clergy in their communities; and, LCMS congregations that decline to engage in ecumenical support for community-based service organizations.
Lifelong Evangelical Lutheran layman

Whoever, then, thinks that he understands the Holy Scriptures, or any part of them, but puts such an interpretation upon them as does not tend to build up this twofold love of God and our neighbour, does not yet understand them as he ought.  St. Augustine

Dan Fienen

Quote from: John Mundinger on February 15, 2024, 12:57:22 PMI have also known LCMS pastors who got grief from their peers because they were collegial with non-LCMS pastors in their communities; LCMS pastors who refuse to engage with other clergy in their communities; and, LCMS congregations that decline to engage in ecumenical support for community-based service organizations.
Yes, so? Does that mean that all LCMS clergy as so insular? Or that to be authentically LCMS a clergyman must be so insular? 

The LCMS seminaries do not turn out cookie cutter pastors, all treat all situations the same way. I dare say that if one looked, one could find some ELCA pastors who fit the stereotypical ELCA pastor who is little concerned with preaching the Bible and very concerned that their people have the correct perspective on the socio-political issues of the day. That does not mean that all ELCA pastors are that way. 

Neither are all LCMS pastors so determined to be isolated. There are some LCMS pastors, we've read some of them on this forum, who cannot be polite to women pastors. Many of us are more respectful. There are some ELCA pastors who figure that unless you are for Women's Ordination you cannot be respectful towards women. Do you agree, John?

Anecdotes of bad behavior by a few LCMS pastors does not prove how bad the LCMS is, any more than anecdotes of bad behavior by a few ELCA pastors proves how evil the ELCA is. 
Pr. Daniel Fienen
LCMS

Brian Stoffregen

#51
Quote from: John Mundinger on February 15, 2024, 12:57:22 PM
Quote from: Jeremy_Loesch on February 15, 2024, 12:46:06 PMI'm in agreement with Mark and Jim that 'sheltered LCMS seminarians/clergy' is a myth and hasn't been reality since the 1960s.  There is far more interaction with non-LCMS people than many would think.  I worked off campus in a restaurant and that was a great opportunity to make money and talk with people about the school I went to (other workers went to SLU, Fontbonne, Webster, WashU, UMSL.  One going to seminary was quite the anomaly. And why can't you work Sunday mornings?) I did 4 units of CPE in two different settings.  In one setting I was the only LCMS chaplain among UCC, Roman Catholic, Presbyterian, and Episcopalian.  In the other setting I was one of three LCMS chaplains among an Episcopalian, an Anglican, Roman Catholics, ELCA, UCC, and Methodist.  I recall that the LCMS chaplains and the Anglican chaplain were most in alignment.

Then when arriving at my first church in Ohio, there was a weekly breakfast- me, a retired ELCA pastor, a retired LCMS pastor, and a Jewish rabbi.  There was great collegiality, and the differences were in degree, because we knew who we were.  Now among Lutherans it really is a difference in kind. 

Jeremy

I have also known LCMS pastors who got grief from their peers because they were collegial with non-LCMS pastors in their communities; LCMS pastors who refuse to engage with other clergy in their communities; and, LCMS congregations that decline to engage in ecumenical support for community-based service organizations.
In one community where I served, the local ministers group sponsored a baccalaureate service each year. Two clergy led it. When it was time for the LCMS clergy, they would if the other clergy was the other LCMS minister. We respected and let them do their turn according to their rules.

A retired Lutheran minister (I'm not sure which flavor,) attended a close relative's funeral in a WELS congregation. He asked if he could say a few words. The first answer was, "No." Finally, there was a compromise, the (heterodox) pastor could speak, but only after the WELS pastor had finished and left the building. There could be no indication of jointly leading the service.
I flunked retirement. Serving as a part-time interim in Ferndale, WA.

John Mundinger

#52
Quote from: Brian Stoffregen on February 15, 2024, 02:53:43 PMIn one community where I served, the local ministers group sponsored a baccalaureate service each year. Two clergy led it. When it was time for the LCMS clergy, they would if the other clergy was the other LCMS minister. We respected and let them do their turn according to their rules.

A retired Lutheran minister (I'm not sure which flavor,) attended a close relative's funeral in a WELS congregation. He asked if he could say a few words. The first answer was, "No." Finally, there was a compromise, the (heterodox) pastor could speak, but only after the WELS pastor had finished and left the building. There could be no indication of jointly leading the service.

One of my uncles, the husband of my father's older sister and my godmother, was a WELS pastor.  He attended my grandmother's funeral but declined to say the Lord's Prayer at the appropriate time in the service.
Lifelong Evangelical Lutheran layman

Whoever, then, thinks that he understands the Holy Scriptures, or any part of them, but puts such an interpretation upon them as does not tend to build up this twofold love of God and our neighbour, does not yet understand them as he ought.  St. Augustine

John Mundinger

Quote from: Dan Fienen on February 15, 2024, 01:17:21 PMYes, so? Does that mean that all LCMS clergy as so insular? Or that to be authentically LCMS a clergyman must be so insular?

The context of my post and the post to which I responded was the matter of insularity.  In my opinion, Pastors and the congregations they lead are continuously challenged with the question, "what does it mean for us to be faithfully present in our community".  Given different contexts and different personalities of pastors and congregations, there isn't a single answer to that question.  But, I don't think defaulting to isolation is the right answer.

And, I note that there are two pastors who occasionally post in these conversations who responded to challenging situations with community engagement and got a lot of grief from their peers for doing so.
Lifelong Evangelical Lutheran layman

Whoever, then, thinks that he understands the Holy Scriptures, or any part of them, but puts such an interpretation upon them as does not tend to build up this twofold love of God and our neighbour, does not yet understand them as he ought.  St. Augustine

Jim Butler

Quote from: Brian Stoffregen on February 15, 2024, 12:54:59 PM
Quote from: Jim Butler on February 15, 2024, 11:20:21 AMBetter question: would we want "such a variety [to] exist within an LCMS seminary"?

Because it illustrates the variety of ways biblical texts can be interpreted. Was the father's boy epileptic of demon-possessed? If demon-possessed, why are their no demon-possessions in the Old Testament, did they just suddenly appear?


About Mark 9--Funny you should bring that up. I'm preaching on that tomorrow in the jail. I take Mark's account for what it says: the boy had a demon and Jesus cast him out. Now, he could have had epilepsy as well.

Asking why demon possession is so prevalent in the Gospels when it doesn't appear to be so in the Hebrew Scriptures (or even in Acts) is an excellent question. I've often wondered about it myself.

But your professor is not interested in these questions. According to you, he has, a priori, ruled out any possibility that demons are real. You quoted him as saying "all the biblical talk about demons to be just a way they explained what they didn't understand" and "demons don't really exist."

Quote from: Brian Stoffregen on February 15, 2024, 12:54:59 PMWhy in Africa and not in America? In 43 years of ministry (and a few years on traveling gospel teams before that,) I have never been asked or came close to doing an exorcism. Have you? Could it be something about differences in American and African cultures?

This is a good question assuming demons actually exist. But you quote your former professor as saying that demons do not exist and that they were just used to explain things people didn't understand. I assume his answer to "Why in Africa and not in America" would be: there are no demons. They do not exist in Africa nor do they exist in America. The difference is, we have drugs for sick people in America.

What you other prof would have said to your question is anyone's guess. But I'd assume it would begin with the assumption that demons actually exist.

What you had was two professors who both argued the other was wrong. One said he participated in exorcisms, the other said there were no demons and, I would assume, that the other guy exorcised nothing. There is no reconciling those two positions. So any side arguments about Africa and America are just red herrings.

Quote from: Brian Stoffregen on February 15, 2024, 12:54:59 PMAnother differences was between professors who team-taught our first theology course. One developed a class on story-telling preaching. ...I think that that was a good tension to have in the seminary. There were also differences about where the students should preach in the chapel: from the pulpit or chancel area.

I had profs that were more sold on narrative preaching than were others. I had some profs that were more liturgical than others. Those kinds of perspectives are not unique.

But all of my profs would have affirmed that if Mark said that Jesus cast a demon out of a boy, then Jesus cast a demon out of a boy. According to you, one of your profs would have said either Jesus didn't understand what the kids' real problem was or this never actually happened and someone made it up, because demons don't really exist.
"Pastor Butler... [is] deaf to the cries of people like me, dismissing our concerns as Satanic scenarios, denouncing our faith and our very existence."--Charles Austin

Brian Stoffregen

Quote from: Jim Butler on February 15, 2024, 05:40:52 PMBut all of my profs would have affirmed that if Mark said that Jesus cast a demon out of a boy, then Jesus cast a demon out of a boy. According to you, one of your profs would have said either Jesus didn't understand what the kids' real problem was or this never actually happened and someone made it up, because demons don't really exist.

Actually, the story in Mark 9:14-29 never uses the word "demon." Four times, πνεῦμα, is used as the source of the boy's affliction. δαιμόνιον is used later in v. 38. This noun is used in the LXX. Most often for Hebrew words referring to idols. Do idols really exist? Or are they just creations of artisans?

Isaiah 65:3 LXX gives an answer to that.
ὁ λαὸς οὗτος ὁ παροξύνων με ἐναντίον ἐμοῦ διὰ παντός,
αὐτοὶ θυσιάζουσιν ἐν τοῖς κήποις καὶ θυμιῶσιν ἐπὶ ταῖς πλίνθοις τοῖς δαιμονίοις, ἃ οὐκ ἔστιν·

The NETS translation: These are the people who provoke me to my face continually; they sacrifice in the gardens and burn incense on bricks to the demons, which do not exist.
I flunked retirement. Serving as a part-time interim in Ferndale, WA.

Jim Butler

Quote from: Brian Stoffregen on February 15, 2024, 09:00:08 PM
Quote from: Jim Butler on February 15, 2024, 05:40:52 PMBut all of my profs would have affirmed that if Mark said that Jesus cast a demon out of a boy, then Jesus cast a demon out of a boy. According to you, one of your profs would have said either Jesus didn't understand what the kids' real problem was or this never actually happened and someone made it up, because demons don't really exist.

Actually, the story in Mark 9:14-29 never uses the word "demon." Four times, πνεῦμα, is used as the source of the boy's affliction. δαιμόνιον is used later in v. 38. This noun is used in the LXX. Most often for Hebrew words referring to idols. Do idols really exist? Or are they just creations of artisans?

Isaiah 65:3 LXX gives an answer to that.
ὁ λαὸς οὗτος ὁ παροξύνων με ἐναντίον ἐμοῦ διὰ παντός,
αὐτοὶ θυσιάζουσιν ἐν τοῖς κήποις καὶ θυμιῶσιν ἐπὶ ταῖς πλίνθοις τοῖς δαιμονίοις, ἃ οὐκ ἔστιν·

The NETS translation: These are the people who provoke me to my face continually; they sacrifice in the gardens and burn incense on bricks to the demons, which do not exist.


You were the one who brought up Mark 9 which you now argue is completely irrelevant to the subject. So why did you bring it up in the first place? Do you often make assertions and then do your research? I suggest you try reversing the order in the future.

Regardless, I doubt that either of your professors would have seen any difference between Jesus casting out demons in Mark 1 and this spirit in Mark 9. Nor do I think that either of them thought Jesus was casting idols out of people in Mark 1. One of them would have affirmed that demons exist and the other would have denied it. These are diametrically opposed positions; only one of them can be right.

I do not believe any LCMS professor would argue that demons, spirits, etc. do not exist and that they were only used to explain things people didn't understand. Nor do I think they would see any benefit in doing so.
"Pastor Butler... [is] deaf to the cries of people like me, dismissing our concerns as Satanic scenarios, denouncing our faith and our very existence."--Charles Austin

Brian Stoffregen

Quote from: Jim Butler on February 17, 2024, 02:26:18 PM
Quote from: Brian Stoffregen on February 15, 2024, 09:00:08 PM
Quote from: Jim Butler on February 15, 2024, 05:40:52 PMBut all of my profs would have affirmed that if Mark said that Jesus cast a demon out of a boy, then Jesus cast a demon out of a boy. According to you, one of your profs would have said either Jesus didn't understand what the kids' real problem was or this never actually happened and someone made it up, because demons don't really exist.

Actually, the story in Mark 9:14-29 never uses the word "demon." Four times, πνεῦμα, is used as the source of the boy's affliction. δαιμόνιον is used later in v. 38. This noun is used in the LXX. Most often for Hebrew words referring to idols. Do idols really exist? Or are they just creations of artisans?

Isaiah 65:3 LXX gives an answer to that.
ὁ λαὸς οὗτος ὁ παροξύνων με ἐναντίον ἐμοῦ διὰ παντός,
αὐτοὶ θυσιάζουσιν ἐν τοῖς κήποις καὶ θυμιῶσιν ἐπὶ ταῖς πλίνθοις τοῖς δαιμονίοις, ἃ οὐκ ἔστιν·

The NETS translation: These are the people who provoke me to my face continually; they sacrifice in the gardens and burn incense on bricks to the demons, which do not exist.


You were the one who brought up Mark 9 which you now argue is completely irrelevant to the subject. So why did you bring it up in the first place? Do you often make assertions and then do your research? I suggest you try reversing the order in the future.

Regardless, I doubt that either of your professors would have seen any difference between Jesus casting out demons in Mark 1 and this spirit in Mark 9. Nor do I think that either of them thought Jesus was casting idols out of people in Mark 1. One of them would have affirmed that demons exist and the other would have denied it. These are diametrically opposed positions; only one of them can be right.

I do not believe any LCMS professor would argue that demons, spirits, etc. do not exist and that they were only used to explain things people didn't understand. Nor do I think they would see any benefit in doing so.
Regardless if the cause of the boy's uncontrolled behaviors were from a demon or epilepsy, I believe both professors would agree that Jesus brought about a miraculous healing. In a similar way, when folks are hospitalized and recover from their illness, some may credit God for the healing, others may credit medical science for the healing without any need for God. Some make take a position that God gave the doctors knowledge to bring healing to the patient. We have different ways of talking about illnesses and cures. 

In terms of biblical studies, one's belief in demons makes little difference when exploring why Mark tells us this story in this location of his narrative and in the way he tells it. Mark has some unique features that aren't found in the synoptic parallels. Those I find much more compelling than wondering about demon-possession.
I flunked retirement. Serving as a part-time interim in Ferndale, WA.

J. Thomas Shelley

Quote from: Brian Stoffregen on February 17, 2024, 06:59:10 PMRegardless if the cause of the boy's uncontrolled behaviors were from a demon or epilepsy, I believe both professors would agree that Jesus brought about a miraculous healing. In a similar way, when folks are hospitalized and recover from their illness, some may credit God for the healing, others may credit medical science for the healing without any need for God. Some make take a position that God gave the doctors knowledge to bring healing to the patient. We have different ways of talking about illnesses and cures.

In terms of biblical studies, one's belief in demons makes little difference when exploring why Mark tells us this story in this location of his narrative and in the way he tells it. Mark has some unique features that aren't found in the synoptic parallels. Those I find much more compelling than wondering about demon-possession.

That is one of most helpful of all of your posts.
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Ordained to the Holy Diaconate Mary of Egypt Sunday A.D. 2022

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Served as a Lutheran Pastor October 31, 1989 - October 31, 2014.
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