Friday, February 15, 2013

Lutherans and Received Authority: Beliefs, Synod Divisions, Which Adhere to Received Authority.

Lutherans and Received Authority.

Driven and Riven R We.
Religious Divisions Spilling into Politics

How do the group's variations in mindset 
affect styles in governance, Lutheran legislators

Earlier:  Southern Baptists, SoBaps. 
Here: Lutherans.


Inquiry:  This series looks at religious groups, their beliefs, and whether or which divisions of the religious institution adopt received authority as its anchor and identity.  Or, does the denomination or division foster autonomy, and foster independent individual or group vetting of dogma or other tenets. 

Religious persons, like anyone else, will probably self-select with their own sorting hats into the division of thought in that or other areas that most fits their predilection. Go beyond the sorting, to whether the sorting into a "received authority" religion, transfers to the same mindset in politics:  obey the received authority, get in line, march.  Can a received-authority legislator or should a received-authority legislator put common good above ideology, when serving as a legislator. Martin Luther:  rejected "received-authority" -- posted his 95 Theses challenging church authority in many areas.  Do his followers in the protestant camp(s) follow him in his challenge, or just move the goal posts for believers to continue as usual:  swallow up.

Which of the various Lutheran groups espouse received-authority? As of 2009 (to be updated), there were 20 Lutherans in the House, in the 2011 Congress.  Of those, which are the most conservative, the ones least likely to challenge received authority?

I. Lutheran Church organization. Synods, meaning "walking together".  That's nice.   There is wide variety, in autonomy and structure (some are like the Presbyterian pyramidal structure) see http://www.patheos.com/Library/Lutheran/Ethics-Morality-Community/Community-Organization-and-Structure.html.  Lutheranism:  The formal state religion in Germany and Scandinavia. 

For an overview of what varieties of Lutherans are in Congress, see http://steadfastlutherans.org/?p=2808 .  Need to check for changes.  Overall:  how to govern for a plural society when dogma supersedes. Or, if not dogma, then the mindset that is primed to keep hold of old ideas, without ability to adapt. 

US -- Omnia Lutheria in tres partes divisa est.


A.  Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA)  Progressive, liberal, see http://www.elca.org/.

Not focused on received authority.

 Evangelical Lutherans in the House: Newly elected Martin Heinrich D-NM, Chellie Pengree D-Maine, Marc Schauer D-Mich. Incumbents re-elected: Lois Capps D-CA, John R. Carter, R-TX; Norman D. Dicks D-WA.; Stephanie Herseth D-S.D.; Tom Latham R-Ia; Zoe Lofgren D-CA, Collin C. Peterson D-Mn.; Thomas Petri R-WI, Bill Shuster, R-Pa,Tim Walz, D-Minn.

This branch declared itself in full communion with other denominations, see The Difference Between  ELCA and LCMS at the listing of beliefs at http://www.lcms.org/page.aspx?pid=388.

Excerpt - "*** The ELCA tolerates and encourages methods of interpreting the Scripture that presuppose that the Bible contains error and is unclear about various doctrinal matters. ***"

Excerpt - "*** The ELCA views the Lutheran Confessions as historical expressions of the faith held to be true at the time that they were written,but not necessarily as normative standards for teaching and practice today.***"

B.  Lutheran Church - Missouri Synod (LCMS).  Heavy on received authority.
How is this different from Southern Baptists SoBaps??

Conservative, to those of us who use reliance on received authority as substantial measure, Moderate, by Lutheran site ID, see http://lcms.org/ 

From differences between LCMS and ELCA, listing of PDF's on specific belief areas -- see http://www.lcms.org/page.aspx?pid=388.

Excerpt -“*** "We believe, teach, and confess”and “We reject and condemn.” These phrases reflect the Lutheran
church’s firm belief that God’s Word is clear,that it does assert truth that is binding for all times and all peoples, and that we are able with joy to confess and proclaim this truth.***"


Other:   End times:  Coming, don't know when, so watch. Signs include earthquakes, famine and disease showing God's divine judgment (yes, we do have those. Does that mean governmental administration is the AntiChrist or something, and so oppose?) Satan and the AntiChrist will be destroyed, all will be judged, this to heaven salvation, that damned to hell, look up The New Millennium at the lcms site. Click on the difference between LCMS and ELCA -- LCMS will not accept ordination of women, opposes homosexuality, [many issues arise from definitions or translation used in the justifications, but the idea apparently is to accept the received authority on all that].

 Missouri Synod Lutherans in the House, 2011th Congress: Debbie Halvorsen D-Ill, Cynthis Lummis R-Wyo (why-o, why-o, why-o?), Erik Paulsen D-Minn.

The LCMS members are Dave Reichert, R-Wash., and John M. Shimkus, R-Ill.

Because of its apparent strong (extreme?) conservatism and dedication to received authority, the Missosuri Synod and Confessional Lutherans are our interest here.

C.  Confessional Lutherans - Very Conservative, see http://steadfastlutherans.org/  

WELS, founded 1850 in Wisconsin.

1.  WELS --Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran, sounds Evangelical, but the focus on received authority is not the liberal view of the Evangelicals, I think so far. I am putting it in with Confessional Lutherans, but that may not be correct.  Wiki says it is Confessional, see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wisconsin_Evangelical_Lutheran_Synod

 "The teachings of the Lutheran Church are those of the original, ancient church of the apostles and early Christians."

WELS Lutherans in the House - Michelle Bachmann R-Minn, and Ron Kind D-Wis

What the Bible and Lutherans Teach, see categories of belief thte WELS site, at http://www.wels.net/what-we-believe/statements-beliefs/what-lutherans-teach.  Clicking down and summarizing some of it, and some commentary:
  •  God inspired every word in the Bible, every statement is true, you need nothing but the Bible for your salvation.
  • Creation 6 days
  • No living together unmarried
  • Intelligent Design and not evolution as it gets taught, and please read the whole thiing
  • "Wife" -- marriage ordained.  [not so -- word is "woman" and women are bought or taken, no ceremony in Eden or elsewhere in Genesis -- it was Jerome who put in "wife" for "woman", search this blog.
  •  They pick one Creation story of the two given, the rib bit. People have souls but no other creature (challenge that with transliteration of oldest texts nphsh),
  •  God gave us rule over creation (not so -- dominion in old sense is to guide as a god, gently, search here for that), 
  • God always loving and just, 
  • Creation in six days, 
  • man and woman are a special creation(just because in the image means also the divine attributes???), 
  • good deeds will not get you salvation, only faith will (so how to argue that a government should act for a common good??),
  •  salvation by grace means, apparently, that an elect are designated at the beginning of time and nothing they do can affect that election?, 
  • all is on faith, take it on faith, or you will not be saved,
  •  "beware hypocrites and defenders of false teachings" or be damned,
  •  on Judgment Day all the dead will rise who believed, rest go to hell, 
  • exclusions -- "We cannot engage in religious association with those whose confession reveals that error is allowed, taught, or defended."  Thus the condemnation of participation in the Newtown CT community service
  • Religious education duty for parents and primary for fathers,
  •  obey the government so long as the government is not asking you to disobey God (who vets that? what if all of what God says is not included in the beliefs, all of Leviticus, for ex.
  • government is to keep good order and peace (is that the fear of big government, that it will do more for its people than keep good order and peace??),
  •  life begins at conception and ends when the soul leaves the body (why not life beginning when soul enters the body and start with that? because nobody knows? that had been the traditional church usage in abortion, is that so ), 
  • marriage one man one woman and man the loving head, 
  • divorce only justified for fornication or desertion, as Biblically based
Vet not, lest thee question the cherry-picking, saith the defender of the false teaching of vetting before thee swallows.

Does anybody vet the translations of the Bible used, look to how dogma evolved from those words??

D.  SUBSETS OF CONFESSIONAL LUTHERANS
There are probably many such associations, this one just came up.

 Brothers of John the Steadfast 1468-1538.

How broad an influential is this group?  It is an institutionally organized group of men that support the broader Confessional Lutheran doctrine.  John the Steadfast stood fast with Martin Luther, fostering the survival of the protestant movement.  Lutheran Confessions:  see history of creeds etc. at http://steadfastlutherans.org/?page_id=29

They have a war chest.  See http://steadfastlutherans.org/?page_id=6
  •  historic liturgy as a "means of conserving the truth of God's word," see http://steadfastlutherans.org/?page_id=78.  The Confessions are an ongoing topic, see the Association of Confessional Lutherans (ACL) site, 2012, http://theacl.org/TheACL/Home.html
  •  the husband as the spiritual head of the household, weekly and other men's group meetings for bonding and support and discussion, see site.  [What were the religious identifications of the Fellowship of political residents at C Street, Washington DC, congress members, see http://www.newyorker.com/reporting/2010/09/13/100913fa_fact_boyer -- Evangelical, but is that a broad term covering that mindset in various denominations?)
  • participating in worship services with those designated as pagans (including Muslims and other peoples of the Book) or others who are not of the Lutheran persuasion is condemned, see  http://steadfastlutherans.org/?p=27067
  • "boundaries of doctrinal truth" should not be crossed, in that context, even when that boundary is crossed as a show of community support (Newtown) http://steadfastlutherans.org/?p=27067
  • The Luther Academy, founded 1991,  focus on confessional theology http://www.lutheracademy.com/, also international
    • Antinomianism:  topic at the 2013 Convention, http://www.lutheracademy.com/conferences/2013-congress.html; see http://www.theopedia.com/Antinomianism [term for Christians who believe they are under no obligation to obey any law because faith justifies and only faith is needed for salvation, term used by one Christian group against another, but also embraced, apparently, see http://www.theopedia.com/Antinomianism.  Opposite is legalism. So where do Confessional Lutherans stand? Under the Uses of the Law, it looks like grace trumps law.
    • The Third Use of the Law, another topic at the 2013 Convention. A Lutheran View of Third Use of the Law.  Law is subordinate to the Gospel, see Pastoral Applications section, scroll down.  In conflict between law and grace, pick grace. Overall, 
      • first use of the law is to curb chaos;  
      • the second use is to use it like a mirror, reveal sin, and need for salvation, and
      • the third use, "guide for sanctified living among the regenerate".  But what if one's view of sanctified living, such as killing abortion providers, conflicts with others' views of that as sanctified living? Are we back to chaos?  What religion was the killer of Dr. Tiller??
        • Then see Calvin's Third Use of the Law, where the phrase means that law and grace are not opposites, An Assessment of Reformed Explications of the Ten Commandments by John P. Burgess, Pgh Theological Seminary at p.24 [note this is a Presbyterian school but the discussion of the Third Use of the Law from another perspective is helpful to understanding Lutherans), see http://faculty.samford.edu/~whbunch/Chapter9.pdf
 ..............................................................................
II.  Discussion:

If people's religion teaches that everybody who does not think like you do, is merely a defender of a false teaching or a hypocrite, or, worse, that as long as someone has faith, there is no obligation to the law because the gospel commands him or her otherwise than the law provides, how does a democracy sustain.

Vet those doctrines, words and their evolution.  Creation in 6 days?  And we put them on Science Committees in the government?  Do we?

If an ancient teaching does not fit what was probably actually done or said, as far as scholarship can determine, then the teaching may well be addressed in debate as a cultural adjunct, and not a religious requirement as a founder's reasonably known position. Branchings of religions get complicated.  Christianity:  Founder, Jesus. What did he really say, do, think?  Fogged, but some reasonably known from original texts.  Mantle-bearers claim and bear this mantle or that, with varying degrees of coercion, marketing, reaulting institutional turf growth and required dogma as identity.

Religious groups, with time passing long after a Founder or large movement in history, then may well become more human culture-responsive, than anything inspired. And the culture may require not double-checking words or meanings.

Yet "inspiration" and belief in it beefs up the institution, if not the "faith".  Faith may or may not be based on actual divine inspiration somewhere back there or now, but that is the point.  Does it get accepted as received authority even if the inspiration bit is rocky, tenuous, human-motivation-riddled, or not. How to know? And if we cannot possibly "know", how can we, in a democracy, tolerate forced conformity to it?