Monday, October 25, 2010

Let's not get theological . . .

The grandson of friends is enrolled in a sociology class at Ohio State University. Recently, the instructor brought in a guest speaker, a lesbian Lutheran pastor who had been a member of the sexuality task force that has split the ELCA and caused a steady decline in membership since the synod was formed in 1988. Gay men and women were allowed to become Lutheran pastors but had to take a vow of celibacy in the past. She told the class how proud she was of her role in the August 19, 2009 Human Sexuality Statement and reversing that "discriminatory" rule. (I'd truly like to say you could read this without tearing your hair out over the obfuscation and double-speak, but sadly I can't.) In short, it provides for gay pastors in "committed relationships." Our congregation has voted to leave the ELCA, but many Lutheran congregations have never been given an opportunity to vote, or even discuss leaving.

The student is still in his teens, however, he is not a Lutheran but was aware of the ELCA decision. When she asked for questions there were none about the church's new stance, only about her personally. So the young man bravely raised his hand, and began to clarify points in her presentation. "You said that. . . ." and she agreed; and "further you said that. . . " and she agreed, that yes, that is what she said. Finally, after clarifying all her major points, he asked her where in the Bible she found justification for this decision by the synod.

At that point she brushed him off and said, "Let's not get theological. . ." I guess it's all right to bring a gay Lutheran pastor to class, but not God and his word. And isn't that the crux of the matter for the ELCA?

Thursday, October 21, 2010

An Analysis of the Pre-Pauline Creed in 1 Corinthians 15:1-11

Last night in Pastor Eric's class "Ten tough questions" at the Mill Run campus of Upper Arlington Lutheran Church he discussed the resurrection. The resurrection of Jesus from the dead is absolutely central to the Christian faith, and I've been surprised by some who prefer to focus everything on the cross, or everything on good works. Eric showed us the 12 appearances of Jesus over a period of 40 days after his death (after a very vivid description with slides of how and why no one survived a crucifixion). Then he focused on the first Christian creed, 1 Corinthians 15:1-11, which predates all the Gospel accounts and predates Paul's own experience (Damascus Road). It's a fairly simple creed, but one the earliest Christians may have been saying to each other 1-3 years after the Resurrection. You are wasting your time hanging around Christian churches for the music, the values, the projects that make you feel good, or even a salary, if you deny the bodily resurrection of Jesus. And this is our hope for our future, too.

For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance

that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the scriptures
and that he was buried
and that he was raised on the third day
in accordance with the scriptures
and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve.

Eric's presentation isn't on the web site yet (the class is recorded), but here's something very similar.

An Analysis of the Pre-Pauline Creed in 1 Corinthians 15:1-11 Christian Apologetics and Research Ministry

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Monday, October 18, 2010

Why would you do this?

I was just checking on some college costs--I have no one in college--was just curious. I attended a church related college my Freshman year, and the costs then were the same as my second year at a state university.

California Lutheran Tuition, fees, books, supplies, room & board is $44,980

Capital University, Columbus, for the same is $40,374.

Ohio State University is $18,700.

California Lutheran and Capital University are affiliated with the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA), but I'm guessing that like most church liberal arts colleges, there is little in the way of religion to be found on the campus that couldn't be found at a state university. Why would any parent fork out this kind of money, or student take on a debt load like this?

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Stewardship series

Many churches have stewardship campaigns in the fall--ours is always very low key, and there have been years in the past, where nothing was said at all. But giving is part of worship, and we miss a lot if the topic never comes up. Here are the passages:

September 27 - October 3, 2010
27 Matthew 6:1-4, 19-24 (Giving and treasures)
28 Matthew 13:1-23 (Parable of the soils)
29 Matthew 15:1-9 (Care of parents)
30 Matthew 17:24-27 (Jesus pays temple tax)
1 Matthew 18:21-35 (Parable of the unmerciful servant)
2 Matthew 19:16-30 (The rich young man)
3 2 Corinthians 8:1-9 Grace Giving


October 4 - 10, 2010
4 Matthew 20:1-16 (Parable of the workers in the vineyard)
5 Matthew 21:12-17 (Temple purpose)
6 Matthew 22:15-22 (Paying taxes)
7 Matthew 23:23-28 (Pharisees’ righteousness)
8 Matthew 25:14-30 (Parable of the talents)
9 Matthew 25:31-46 (Day of Judgment)
10 2 Corinthians 8:10-24 Giving by Churches

October 11 - 17, 2010
11 Mark 12:41-44 (The widow’s offering)
12 Mark 14:1-11 (A costly anointing)
13 Luke 12:13-21 (Parable of the rich fool)
14 Luke 16:1-15 (Parable of the shrewd manager)
15 Luke 18:9-14 (Parable of the Pharisee & Tax Collector)
16 Luke 19:1-10 (Zacchaeus the Tax Collector)
17 2 Corinthians 9:1-9 Giving Blesses All

We began tithing in our 30s after joining UALC, a tithe of the gross, not net, and really didn't experience the "too much month" feeling after that. If you take 10% off the top, you learn to live on what remains. God blesses. Christians can argue about what Scripture teaches, but not the results.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Stem Cell Awareness Day Poetry winner requires an apology--still

CIRM has "apologized" for its offensive winner in a poetry contest, reporting
    "[it] contained some religious language that is identical to liturgical language used in the context of Christian and Catholic sacraments. The language introduces a religious element that we now realize was offensive to some people. We are deeply sorry for any offense caused by the poem. Neither the author nor CIRM intended for the language to insult or offend any religious group. When CIRM recognized that the language was of concern we removed all four poems from the CIRM web site and from the Stem Cell Awareness Day web site."
I'm not surprised that people who advocate embryonic stem cell research didn't recognize "this is my body given for you."

UPDATE -- Stem Cell Awareness Day Poetry Contest Winners Announced | California Institute for Regenerative Medicine

CIRM continues on the embryonic quest for a cure for something, even though all the success in stem cell research has been with adult stem cells. It was created in California in 2004 to counteract the limited number of lines available through the federal funding (embryonic stem cell research has never been illegal--private money could do it).

Saturday, October 02, 2010

What's wrong with this prayer?

    Eternal Parent, we praise and thank you for the loving rules you provide to guide us. Strengthen our trust in you and our willingness to obey in order to serve you better and to live in loving fellowship with all of your children. Amen.
Not very personal, is it? Feminist to the core. Just can't say "Father," or "Son."

It was a meditation on the hymn, Trust and Obey. You might start with the language.