A Missourian’s Perspective on Missouri

Started by Weedon, April 29, 2024, 07:11:46 PM

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Jeremy_Loesch

Quote from: John Mundinger on May 01, 2024, 10:57:35 AM
Quote from: Jeremy_Loesch on May 01, 2024, 09:55:17 AMGroup think?  Nah.  Unity of thought on God's Holy Word and the doctrine of the church that is drawn from it. 


Unity in hermeneutic, i.e. group think

No.  You are free to your opinion.  And thank you for an ELCA perspective on Missouri.  Unity in hermeneutic is just that, unity.  And unity is not the same as uniformity.  The two are vastly different.

Jeremy   

peter_speckhard

Agreement with what God has revealed to be true does not mean the same thing as group think. The Nicene Creed is not a product of group think except in the sense that a group of people thought the same thing. "Have the same mind..." in that sense is not an endorsement of group think, it is encouragement to genuine rather than fake unity.


Mark Brown

Quote from: Weedon on April 30, 2024, 06:33:52 PMMark,

I would also note another aspect of the "yes" and "no" that makes an intolerable situation: the fiscal duties of our corporate officers (who by law have to serve mammon) vs. the spiritual duties to which we pledge these same officers. Jesus told us flat out that serving God and mammon is an impossibility, yet once we became a complex group of incorporated (and entangled) businesses, we've been pretending that the impossible is possible with enough finesse. To borrow from your conclusion: we need a whole lot of death and resurrection, and a lot of that death needs to be in the area of attempting to preserve and increase the stockpile of mammon. The corporate version of "saving your life" rather than "losing it."

Yes, exactly. And this conflict with Mammon goes right into the congregations because the vast majority are too small to support the ministerium of that 2nd LCMS reformation. Every pastor of those congregations is faced constantly with choices that he knows will effect the I&E and Balance Sheet that the treasurer will show monthly. The representatives of that 2nd LCMS have been trying to keep all the assets (the Balance Sheet) of it, and they've been doing it at the expense of the ministers. Bi-voc, 6pt parish with each point maintaining autonomy, SMP, CPH pricing strategy, the list is basically endless. Here is how we will keep this "asset" around. It is pure worldliness.

When we stop that foolishness, let it die, and start trying to build the new thing, we'll have our resurrection.

John Mundinger

Quote from: Jeremy_Loesch on May 01, 2024, 11:11:08 AM
Quote from: John Mundinger on May 01, 2024, 10:57:35 AM
Quote from: Jeremy_Loesch on May 01, 2024, 09:55:17 AMGroup think?  Nah.  Unity of thought on God's Holy Word and the doctrine of the church that is drawn from it. 


Unity in hermeneutic, i.e. group think

No.  You are free to your opinion.  And thank you for an ELCA perspective on Missouri.  Unity in hermeneutic is just that, unity.  And unity is not the same as uniformity.  The two are vastly different.

Jeremy   

Actually, it is my pre-Seminex LCMS perspective.
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

Dave Benke

Now in my latter years I've lived to see a level of confusion in the world and the church I could not have imagined, even in the shadow of the rather turbulent 60s and 70s.  I have seen the culture creep into the church and once again claim ground and set up a foreign presence.  I have watched and seen an erosion of commonality even on the agreement of the basics, seeing churches drift apart theologically to degrees we might not have predicted decades earlier.  Whereas the Christian Church may have yet enjoyed some sense of respectability in the culture-at-large (albeit quickly disappearing, and in some cases gone), I now see the church much more like Paul may have envisioned it in his time as pockets in the sea of Roman and Greek culture, or our distant missionary forbearers who took the gospel to the pagan lands from which many of us now discern our genetic makeup (think Patrick or Cryil and Methodius or Boniface.)

I am committed to a serious and conservative view of Holy Scripture not as a reaction against the higher critics of another century, but because the Word is the last lifeline for our dying times; the only source of true hope in a decaying culture. I still see this in my Synod.  Perfect?  Not by a long shot.  But it's still out there doing what the church has been called to do from the beginning: baptizing all nations and teaching all about Christ.   


Thanks for this post, Don.  I check the same box on "serious" and "conservative" behind what I take to be your articulation of the Word as the last lifeline, and that is that the Word is efficacious.  It does, it points, it produces what it states as its purpose, which is that Christ is the Light of the World, the very purpose of God's love.

Last Sunday I spoke at an event of commemoration and re-chartering for affordable owner-occupied housing in an NYC Park called Nehemiah Park, across the street from the first 1000 of 5000 houses in our part of the world, with thousands more in other parts of the country, called the Nehemiah Homes.  Those homes and those communities are a Missouri Synod legacy to affordable housing as a priority for mission and ministry engagement in the urban areas of the United States.  They are one of the highlights of my pastoral and leadership service in our denomination. 

It not only took great courage for LCMS leaders to undertake that legacy back then, it represented a profound moment of LCMS ecumenical and civic responsibility.  Financially, the greatest single change in personal and family equity in the history of the US in housing is in the properties owned by those 5000 families and their national counterpart families.  That's a fact. 

In counterpoint, when I made the presentation to the LCMS national convention about the Nehemiah Plan in the mid-80s, I was personally accused of being a communist because of advocating and producing as a Missouri Synod leader those affordable homes for purchase.  The answer to the accusation was that I and the Missouri Synod were the greatest mass movement capitalists in the country. 

That didn't matter, because the serious study of Scripture in conserving and promoting the will of God for His people throughout the Scriptural record in God's realm of the Left was being realized in the construction and occupation of those homes.  Call me a communist - who cares?  But call me as well a Bible-truth-teaching Lutheran Christian.

In opposition to some of your thoughts, I find this to be an actual primitive-Church-level era of excitement.  We cannot and should not take anything for granted with the exception of the assurance of salvation in Christ.  That's great!

Yes, steeples are falling.  Yes, institutions are fading away.  Yes, there are alternate ways of couching reality that are competing.  I can't see where that all ends or even leads, nor I guess can you.  My spidey sense is that we're all just killing time until the Singularity, which is hard upon us.  And I do not think that can or will be contained as it rolls out.  That Brave New World will take a supple, able and courageous crew of Christians.  And God will provide.

Dave Benke
It's OK to Pray

Weedon

In the spirit of John Hannah's "loyal criticism", I offer an old critique of Missouri from her most famous curmudgeon, Berthold von Schenk, from his Autobiography, pp. 101, 102:

The fact that I was persecuted by my own church, while receiving high honors outside of my church, does not make me sad, but it does make me mad! I could give the toast: "My Mother, the Missouri Synod—long may she live, the old bitch!" She deserves this toast and yet, even a bitch can give birth to something. There are thosewho be named, "The son of a bitch Missouri Synod." All religious church bodies have earned the title "bitch," but Missouri is still the least offensive! Even though some must accept their mother is a bitch, they know that they can't make her grave. I guess there is an instinct in all of us—I love the old bitch Missouri, and owe her much. I don't think I would have gained the insights I did had I not experienced the rigid education I received in Missouri, my mother church.


D. Engebretson

Quote from: Dave Benke on May 01, 2024, 11:58:23 AMIn opposition to some of your thoughts, I find this to be an actual primitive-Church-level era of excitement.  We cannot and should not take anything for granted with the exception of the assurance of salvation in Christ.  That's great!

Yes, steeples are falling.  Yes, institutions are fading away.  Yes, there are alternate ways of couching reality that are competing.  I can't see where that all ends or even leads, nor I guess can you.  My spidey sense is that we're all just killing time until the Singularity, which is hard upon us.  And I do not think that can or will be contained as it rolls out.  That Brave New World will take a supple, able and courageous crew of Christians.  And God will provide.
I am in no way despairing.  Quite the opposite.  It's just that the challenges are different. It is true, we can take nothing for granted.  I was fortunate to call the ministry my full-time vocation for now nearly 37 years and will undoubtedly retire from full-time work as a pastor.  I have had provided housing (parsonages) for all of that time.  That will become more and more rare.  Bi-vocational pastors will become more of the norm, I suspect. And the place of a pastor in society-at-large will continue to change.  I live in a small town/rural community.  Clergy still enjoy a measure of respect.  But that could change even in contexts such as this.  I have been thankful to work in a missionary fashion as a fire chaplain for over 20 years.  I work side-by-side with many men and even women who have no formal church connection.  Witnessing to such by word and deed is a challenge different than those inside the church walls.  I pray that chaplaincy work can continue in the military and emergency service sectors, but that may not last either.  But we should take advantage of it while it lasts. 

But we must be on guard that we do not reflect the world during those holy moments in God's House when receiving His gifts of Word and Sacrament.  I am concerned in what see that the world has been allowed, like the nose of the proverbial camel, to poke in through the tent, and in some cases the whole animal is now inside and becoming too much the focus of attention. 
Pastor Don Engebretson
St. Peter Lutheran Church of Polar (Antigo) WI

Brian Stoffregen

Quote from: peter_speckhard on May 01, 2024, 11:12:57 AMAgreement with what God has revealed to be true does not mean the same thing as group think. The Nicene Creed is not a product of group think except in the sense that a group of people thought the same thing. "Have the same mind..." in that sense is not an endorsement of group think, it is encouragement to genuine rather than fake unity.


And yet, the filioque clause was a large source of disagreement. Much of what the group thought at Nicea was modified at Constantinople.

Two anecdotes: My intern supervisor was a Wartburg Seminary grad serving in Ohio. Nearly every other ALC pastor in Ohio came from the seminary in Columbus. District conventions, for them, was a home-coming. They had the same professors, were taught the same things, etc. He was an outsider with other professors who may have approached some things a bit differently. He was a bit of a challenge to what they had been taught.

I was invited to lead some workshops for the South Carolina Synod - where nearly every pastor came from the Seminary there. Again, it creates a cohesiveness; but it can also create blinders to what others are thinking and teaching.
I flunked retirement. Serving as a part-time interim in Ferndale, WA.

Weedon

#68
On the Prussian vs. Saxon question, it really was a different situation. In Saxony, the state was enforcing its own "enlightened" version of the faith upon clergy and congregations, and this above all in the so-called "Englightened Agenda" that was released in the early 19th century. This was an enforced replacement of the Herzog Heinrich Agenda that had been used in Saxony from 1539 forward. That was the Agenda under which Bach worked in Leipizg. It had a longer period without substantial change than the BCP had! And so a rallying point of Stephan's emigration movement was the freedom to return to their old liturgy. So we find that once things settled down in the colony, one of the first things Walther and company set their hands to was the publication of an Agenda, and the title is telling: "Kirche-Agende für Evang.-Luth. Gemeinden ungeänderter Augsburgischer Confession *Zusammengestellt aus dem alten rechtgläubigen Sächsischen Kirchen-Agenden und herausgegeben von der Allgemeinen deutschen Evagelischen-Lutherischen Synode von Missouri, Ohio, und andern Staaten." This was published in 1856. It represented an intentional reaching behind the Enlightened Agenda with its tedious and odious lectures disguised as prayers to the last Agenda to carry the Herzog Heinrich tradition forward in the 1770s. They did however see fit to drop the Latin!

And contrary to Pr. Austin's assertion that our church had no concern for outreach among the English speakers, Walther encouraged the translation of this Agenda into English and wrote an editorial in Der Lutheraner commending the publication in 1881 (some few years prior to the Common Service) of the English volume: Church Liturgy for Evangelical Lutheran Congregations of the Unaltered Augsburg Confession. He similarly encouraged the preparation of an English hymnal featuring the German Kernlieder by August Crull.

To understand anything of the LCMS liturgy is to realize that it sought self-consciously to continue to maintain an unbroken tie with the Reformation liturgy of Saxony, and that it was in large part for the hope of the freedom to worship in this old form with all its attendant ceremonial* that many pastors and laymen followed Stephan to Missouri. And this represents a different approach than the Common Service, which was an attempt to put into English a consensus liturgy of the "best" and most representative liturgies of the 16th and 17th century, among which the Saxon liturgy was but a single strand.

*The ceremonial was not explicit in the Agenda, but you can get a feel for it from Christian Gerber's *Church Ceremonies of Saxony*: the use of sanctus bells during the consecration; the chanting of the Our Father and Verba; the use of the historic vestments; etc.

pearson

Quote from: John Mundinger on May 01, 2024, 10:57:35 AM
Quote from: Jeremy_Loesch on May 01, 2024, 09:55:17 AMGroup think?  Nah.  Unity of thought on God's Holy Word and the doctrine of the church that is drawn from it. 


Unity in hermeneutic, i.e. group think.


So, then, in order to avoid "group think," the following:

Quote from: John Mundinger on April 30, 2024, 04:02:40 PMI believe that the God who created all in the image of the loving divine; who created all to love God and to love each other; who created all with free will; desires a mutual relationship of love with the created.  God does have the power to "change all of that".  I believe that God chose to change it through the fulfillment of the promise of forgiveness and salvation through the life, death, resurrection, ascension and abiding presence of Jesus Christ.  Alternatively, God could have used God's power to make us all minions.  I think God desires a loving relationship with creatures who have more depth of character than do the minions.


is -- and should be -- regarded as just one more random hermeneutic among many others.  In order to avoid "group think," of course.

Tom Pearson

John Mundinger

Quote from: pearson on May 01, 2024, 05:08:38 PMSo, then, in order to avoid "group think," the following:

Quote from: John Mundinger on April 30, 2024, 04:02:40 PMI believe that the God who created all in the image of the loving divine; who created all to love God and to love each other; who created all with free will; desires a mutual relationship of love with the created.  God does have the power to "change all of that".  I believe that God chose to change it through the fulfillment of the promise of forgiveness and salvation through the life, death, resurrection, ascension and abiding presence of Jesus Christ.  Alternatively, God could have used God's power to make us all minions.  I think God desires a loving relationship with creatures who have more depth of character than do the minions.


is -- and should be -- regarded as just one more random hermeneutic among many others.  In order to avoid "group think," of course.

Tom Pearson

The context of that comment was very different from this thread.  Regardless, Tom, I'm curious if you disagree with that hermeneutical piece of group think, especially in the context of the conversation in which it was offered.
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

pearson

Quote from: John Mundinger on May 01, 2024, 05:16:44 PM
Quote from: pearson on May 01, 2024, 05:08:38 PMSo, then, in order to avoid "group think," the following:

Quote from: John Mundinger on April 30, 2024, 04:02:40 PMI believe that the God who created all in the image of the loving divine; who created all to love God and to love each other; who created all with free will; desires a mutual relationship of love with the created.  God does have the power to "change all of that".  I believe that God chose to change it through the fulfillment of the promise of forgiveness and salvation through the life, death, resurrection, ascension and abiding presence of Jesus Christ.  Alternatively, God could have used God's power to make us all minions.  I think God desires a loving relationship with creatures who have more depth of character than do the minions.


is -- and should be -- regarded as just one more random hermeneutic among many others.  In order to avoid "group think," of course.

Tom Pearson

The context of that comment was very different from this thread.  Regardless, Tom, I'm curious if you disagree with that hermeneutical piece of group think, especially in the context of the conversation in which it was offered.

You're right; the context of that comment was very different.  But I'm glad that you acknowledge it is a hermeneutical piece of group think.  Do I disagree with it?  Well, I'm certainly skeptical that God created all with free will; either a free will as an original and essential ontological given, or a human will that can function freely subsequent to the Fall. Most of the rest of those statements of belief I would affirm as reliable theological premises.  But I suspect we might disagree when it comes to some of the conclusions that could be inferred from those premises.  However, that's just a suspicion; I could be wrong about that.

Tom Pearson

peter_speckhard

Institutional decline is painful, perhaps unavoidable, but should not be encouraged as part of the needed death before the resurrection. Neuhaus made this point emphatically in Freedom For Ministry. An institution is simply a movement that has gained traction and stabilized.

My first call was to plant mission congregation, and I have never been able to shake the sense that my call is to the congregation as an institution. I know it isn't really true, but it is sort of a gut, default sense of things I have. While I think it is wrong, it is not wholly wrong. The guys who view it as their job strictly to preach and teach and lead worship are in one sense correct, but in another sense a big liability to the overall functioning of the mission. They think they're like teachers who can say, "Give me a classroom and a bunch of kids and I'll teach them," but who are not responsible for coming up the classroom or finding the kids to enroll. Pastors are not and I don't think can be like that. They are responsible for the health of the whole as well as of each individual within it. 

Dave Benke

Quote from: peter_speckhard on May 01, 2024, 05:52:59 PMInstitutional decline is painful, perhaps unavoidable, but should not be encouraged as part of the needed death before the resurrection. Neuhaus made this point emphatically in Freedom For Ministry. An institution is simply a movement that has gained traction and stabilized.

My first call was to plant mission congregation, and I have never been able to shake the sense that my call is to the congregation as an institution. I know it isn't really true, but it is sort of a gut, default sense of things I have. While I think it is wrong, it is not wholly wrong. The guys who view it as their job strictly to preach and teach and lead worship are in one sense correct, but in another sense a big liability to the overall functioning of the mission. They think they're like teachers who can say, "Give me a classroom and a bunch of kids and I'll teach them," but who are not responsible for coming up the classroom or finding the kids to enroll. Pastors are not and I don't think can be like that. They are responsible for the health of the whole as well as of each individual within it. 

Absitively and posolutely.  That propensity to avoid the conversation about the health of the whole organism  is to some degree measured by the Brand.  I don't actually know - maybe Josh can help - if there's an ELCA Brand.  But the Brand in the Missouri Synod is Word and Sacrament.  The expanded Brand for the more Catholic among us is Altar, Font and Table.  Those are Objectifications. 

My comment not yet written on this thread-topic is that the great strength of the Missouri Synod to me is -  THE PEOPLE, the texture and tapestry of the interconnected relationships that have made the lives of myself and my family joyful and uplifting and anticipatory of the feast to come since before I made my appearance on May 5, 1946.

The Slogan/Brand "Word and Sacrament" is dis-incarnational finally.  That's not the design, of course, but it is the outcome.  Really the word is dis-embodied.  The Body of Christ in all its splendor and stinkiness is almost beside the point.

Anyway - I agree with you wholeheartedly.

Dave Benke
It's OK to Pray

Mark Brown

Quote from: peter_speckhard on May 01, 2024, 05:52:59 PMInstitutional decline is painful, perhaps unavoidable, but should not be encouraged as part of the needed death before the resurrection. Neuhaus made this point emphatically in Freedom For Ministry. An institution is simply a movement that has gained traction and stabilized.

My first call was to plant mission congregation, and I have never been able to shake the sense that my call is to the congregation as an institution. I know it isn't really true, but it is sort of a gut, default sense of things I have. While I think it is wrong, it is not wholly wrong. The guys who view it as their job strictly to preach and teach and lead worship are in one sense correct, but in another sense a big liability to the overall functioning of the mission. They think they're like teachers who can say, "Give me a classroom and a bunch of kids and I'll teach them," but who are not responsible for coming up the classroom or finding the kids to enroll. Pastors are not and I don't think can be like that. They are responsible for the health of the whole as well as of each individual within it. 

Peter, I don't know if that was directed at my comments. But what you say there has always been my bigger concern. Having as much divergence congregation to congregation as we do right now isn't good for the whole.  It is understandable that people's loyalty might be to St. John Gaspump that has a stained glass window of the original gaspump paid for by great-grand-daddy, but the whole suffers when you could visit 6 LCMS congregations and 5 of them are under 40 people. Likewise my longstanding arguments to the effect that lower seminary enrollment is a good thing as it should force necessary conversations. My arguments have always been that we need to understand ourselves as larger than any individual congregation and move toward being able to make decisions for that larger church.

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