Thursday, May 31, 2007

The Congregation - Scriptural and Lutheran?

First, a bit of background.....

I had the delightful honor of hosting the Lutheran Carnival (Spring Training Edition) in March, and I would encourage anybody to sign up to do it. The one point of sadness that I had was that I had to turn someone down (from what I hear, I was lucky that it was only one). She was a person who had just left her ELCA congregation because her pastor had hurt her feelings. She was hurt and angry. These feelings were clearly real, but the focus of her writing was about how she this justified her leaving “the organized church” to be on her own.

I wish I could say that we had a good conversation about it. I goofed, big time. Because of two hours of sleep and two sick kids, and myself being under the profoundly foggy influence of Benadryl, I got the names of the posters mixed up and called her by the wrong name. I am sure that did not go over well. I apologized, but I know that would’ve ticked me off, too. I’ve thought of this woman many times since then and prayed for her, though she probably doesn’t think too well of me and probably doesn’t believe that I’ve given her another moment’s thought. I told her that her writing was not in the spirit of the Lutheran Confessions. The Carnival blog did say that posts needed to be in line with the Book of Concord. I also understand that a good portion of Lutherans out there do not understand the word "confessional" and what that means theologically, and a good portion of LCMS Lutherans have never heard of the Book of Concord, so I expect that to be the case in the ELCA. But, it is a confessional Lutheran blog carnival, so I still stand by my decision to leave it out. The church is key in how the Holy Spirit strengthens and sanctifies us. Specifically, I said:

I pray that you find a congregation where you can be fed and find comfort in God's Word and in His Sacraments. To a Lutheran, that is where we find God's grace.

Recently, she posted an update on her spiritual journey, and let me know that she had written about me. She quoted this and stated:

Moreover, that's neither what I was taught during my previous lifetime of
Lutheranism nor is it consistent with Scripture.

I’ve chosen not to link to her, because she (respectfully?) chose not to mention me by name, and I likewise do not have her permission to do so. I am trying to respectfully address the statements, inviting discussion, not looking for a war of words, on her blog or mine.

There are a lot of people out there who think that they don’t need the church, and that it is just an organized group of stubborn, arrogant people on committees, etc. and that being a member is pointless. That it is fine to go on to be a Christian alone. And I make no secret that at one point in my life, I was disgusted with the Lutheran Church myself, and didn’t see a problem with my going my own way either.

For the past three days, I’ve had my nose in the Bible and in the Book of Concord, and I know that my theology on this will not be exhaustive, so if anyone wants to add anything, I definitely invite guidance. My knitting has definitely suffered during this time, but on the whole, I could say that my time was spent in a more worthwhile manner, even if it will add three more days until I get that sock done!

I’ve even debated whether it would be worthwhile to write this or not. I don’t know if the aforementioned woman is interested in what I have to say on the matter, but I still ended up with the fact that it is a worthwhile topic, and I not only want to write about it, I feel compelled to write about it. So maybe it will do someone some good, if only to stop all of this from bouncing around inside my head!

So Post 1 is coming up, sometime by the end of this weekend. Thoughts are coming together slowly as I digest all that I have taken in and it is a busy weekend, not to mention that I do have to compete with three other people for the use of the computer. I wrote this because I wanted to give a background, and I didn't want to make the posts so long that it would all seem muddled together (I know, why stop now?). And besides....I'm low in the caffeine department, and I can't think write without my caffeine!!!!


Marie N. said...

I look forward to reading. This is a question I've had people ask me before. The best answer I could come up with was your initial response.

elephantschild said...

I will also be "tuning in." It's the number one thing I heard at Big Public Univ - "you don't need church to worship God."

Hopeful Spirit said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Rebellious Pastor's Wife said...

The person that I was writing about had chosen to reply in a manner that I found terribly offensive. She insulted my personal beliefs (which she claims to respect all beliefs) when I was trying to show complete respect to her and address an issue that I care deeply about. Because of the nature of her post, I have deleted it, as I already said that I was looking for courteous discussion. When my life gets a little less chaotic, I will continue with the church and the New Testament.

So that it does not look like I am simply censoring her for "not agreeing," here is part of what she wrote:

I see no hint of the "rebellious" nature you claim in your blog's title. What I see is someone who espouses the "company line" and that's ok if it works for you. Obviously, you have a vested interest in doing so since the institutional church is your husband's employer and quite literally puts bread and butter on your table.

She also accused me of not reading her blog. I read the post that she submitted to the carnival carefully and repeatedly, and the one that she called my attention to later, but both were so full of such bitterness, poor logic, and bad theology that I really didn't peruse her entire blog. I didn't want to.

She accused me of not being "rebellious." Looking at the verse under the title of my blog, I would hope that it is clear that my rebellion is not against an "establishment" or against my husband, but is referring to the fact that my very nature is in rebellion against God because of my sinfulness, but He has saved me and continues to nourish me.

Her posts say that her pastor accused her of being a devisive force in the congregation, and she was attacked by someone on the church board, and left because no one defended her. There is nothing in her writing that even gives any indication that they could possibly have been wrong about her. I don't look at her writings and think "now there is a nice person who was obviously slandered" The fruits of the Spirit are "love, joy, peace, patience, goodness, kindness, gentleness, and self-control." I find little of that in what she chooses to show in her writings. I fear that if she tested the Spirit that she says is guiding her, that it would prove to be of Satan, not of God.

I am Lutheran because I believe that the Book of Concord is the most accurate confession of Scripture. I have thought and debated long and hard about it. To be accused of towing party-lines, to have it said that I am loyal to an institution because it puts bread and butter on my table is highly offensive. You don't know me or what my motivations are! My family lives the life we live because we truly care about nurturing God's flock, we do without MANY things because of it. I guarantee there are hundreds of jobs out there that my husband is qualified to fill that would pay better than a pastor's salary. It is done out of love and devotion to God's Word.

But the person who touts that she respects all religious beliefs accuses me of being short-sighted, pragmatic, and superficial.

And I am not this day, I have read three of her posts all telling the same story, and knowing Scripture, it is clear that her stance is unscriptural, unlutheran, and not Christian in the least - and full of bitterness and superficiality.

I am sick of to death of immature "Christians" who would sacrifice the fellowship of all believers because they are hurt by what someone SAID to them, when people are dying for their faith, enslaved for their faith, and persecuted for their faith,daily. Grow up.

My prayers that the real Holy Spirit someday brings her to true faith and repentance still stand.

Hopeful Spirit said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Rebellious Pastor's Wife said...

You are right. That will be deleted. It was tremendously rude and judgemental.

You demand treatment and courtesy from others that you are not willing to give. I went out of my way to be courteous, when I rejected your submission, and I went out of my way to be courteous when you restarted the conversation. But you showed up on my blog and said harsh and mean things that were assumptions about what was going on in my heart.

God does give us the right and the responsiblity to judge things according to Scripture, just not to think that our works are more righteous than those others.

"For there are many insubordinate, both the talkers and deceivers....whose mouths must be stopped who subvert whole households, teaching things which they ought not for the sake of dishonest gain. One of them, a prophet of their own said "Cretans are always liars, evil beasts, and lazy gluttons." (sounds a lot how you describe Christians who actually believe what Scripture teaches about the church)

"This testimony is true. Therefore, rebuke them sharply that they mayb esound in the faith, not giving heed to Jewish fables and commandments of men who turn from the truth. To the pure all things are pure, but to those who are defiled and unbelieving nothing is pure; but even their mind and conscience are defiled. They profess to know God but in works they deny Him, being abominable, disobedient, and disqualified for every good work." Titus 1:

Your words will not remain because while I state that your teachings are terribly false and hope for your repentance, you attack and insult. I quoted you accurately, and if anyone would doubt it, I have the whole texts because Blogger sends it to my email.

This discussion is over.

Rebellious Pastor's Wife said...

P.S., So "Hopeful Spirit" doesn't think that I am completely censoring her, what I saw when I deleted her post was that it still listed her name and a link to her profile, and therefore her blog, so that people could judge for themselves. I chose not to completely delete all reference to her post so that people could see what she is writing should they so choose. However, when I viewed the comments directly from the homepage, I saw that it simply says "comments deleted."

I am not for censorship, I simply will not be insulted in that manner on my own blog. What she does on her blog, I could care less.

If you click on the title above that says "The Congregation - Scriptural and Lutheran?" it will take you to a page that has this post and its comments. There it says the name of the poster and links to her profile.

That is not full censorship. You can read what she professes on her blog.