09 April 2010

Can a Bishop Do Evil?

Jack Stanton, the Episcopal Bishop of Dallas, felt compelled to publish a book a few years ago in response to Jack Spong, the heretic Bishop of Newark. The title of this book was "Can a Bishop Be Wrong?" The very fact that this question must be asked has to do with the peculiar ecclesiology of the Episcopal Church.

As a Lutheran, my answer to that question is pretty straightforward. Bishops are human. As such, they are in bondage to sin just like the rest of us. And just like the rest of us, I suspect that most of the time they sin because of our fallen human nature, and sometimes they sin because they willfully choose to follow something other than Christ. Just like the rest of us.

For the latter category, I nominate the recent actions of Pastor Duane Pederson, ELCA Bishop of the Northwest Synod of Wisconsin.

Down in Eau Claire, one of the largest cities in the Synod, there are about a half-dozen ELCA congregations. Members of five of those congregations were very upset with the ELCA sexuality decisions of last summer. But, rather than start a fight within their local congregations, they decided to leave. Together, 60 members of the five congregations have formed a new mission church and affiliated with LCMC.

I have been working with these folks. They are hurt, they are lost. They feel betrayed by the church and yet God has comforted them as he has gathered them together as Faith Lutheran Mission Church.

They meet on Sunday evenings in LCMS church building(!). A number of us from the area have been serving as preachers for this congregation. Two of the individuals who were asked by the congregation to preach for them are rostered pastors of the ELCA who served in the Northwest Synod.

Now I thought it was the duty and privilege of a Christian pastor to reach out to the lost and hurting and preach the Good News. Bishop Pederson apparently disagrees. He has sent a letter to those two pastors declaring the folks at Faith Lutheran Mission Church to be schismatics. He has forbidden the pastors who serve “under” him to preach there.

I am tempted to go to a couple of meetings that I know that Bishop Pederson will be appearing at (I won't) and asked him this question: Jesus says you cannot serve two masters. Based on the facts I have just related above, and the fact that you have forbidden your pastors to preach the Good News to people in your synod who are lost,

when did you stop serving the Gospel and start serving the institution? And, as a follow-up, do you lose any sleep over that change in loyalties?

Shellfish: ELCT voices a big 'no' to same-sex marriages

Shrimp, who has quoted me before, has some comments on the ELCA - Tanzania story too.

Shellfish: ELCT voices a big 'no' to same-sex marriages

Lewis Carroll rules!

This headline did not surprise me:

ELCA Head Affirms Commitment to Centrality of Scripture.

In the article, Presiding Bishop Mark Hanson says, "we share a commitment to proclaim to the whole world the good news of salvation through Jesus Christ, to serve our neighbor, and to build a world of justice and peace."

The problem with the ELCA's proclamation was neatly summed up by H. Richard Niebuhr 50 years before the ELCA was born: "A God without wrath brought men without sin into a kingdom without judgment through the ministrations of a Christ without a cross.”

The ELCA uses words like salvation, evangelical, Law and Gospel, even sin. But the normative theologian seems to be a Lewis Carroll character
'When I use a word,' Humpty Dumpty said in rather a scornful tone, 'it means just what I choose it to mean - neither more nor less.'
They were sitting on the wall. They have had a great fall. I do not think they will be put together again.

So sad.

Pseudoscientific myopia

Perhaps the most common problem in our society today is myopia. We can see those things, ideas and beliefs that we hold close quite clearly, but we are unable to see things at a distance.

Consider the case of Sandi Siefker of Rock Island, Illinois. Sandy attended the Tea Party Express when it visited the Quad cities of Illinois and Iowa. Now please know, I am agnostic regarding the Tea Party as a movement. I am thrilled to see more people involved in politics and concerned about issues that I think are potentially devastating for our country, but whether this will be translated anything... well, I'm agnostic. Ms. Siefker, however, is quite clear that this is an act of evil.
Sandi Siefker of Rock Island attended the rally, but not in support of the Tea Party's message. She stood quietly on the edge of the gathering with a sign that read "Tea Klux Klan, Modern Day KKK."

"I'm pleasantly surprised," Ms. Siefker said. "There's no hoods or capes, but I know they are racists."

Ms. Siefker said these protests didn't occur when America had a white president. She said she believes much of the Tea Party fervor started when a black president took over the Oval Office.
Given that Pres. Obama is our first black president, and given that there have been street demonstrations, many of them much more violent than anything the tea party is even accused of by even the most ranting lunatic critics, it seems to me that Ms. Siefker is suffering from a case of political myopia. Because she "knows" ... she KNOWS ... that these people are racists, apart from any evidence, she cannot see the lack of evidence that she is right as possibly evidence that she is wrong.

This same sort of myopia occurs on the subject though Wobal Glarming. Consider former VP Gore, quoted here, making it clear that today's weather is a result of climate change:

Gore, the self-anointed climate change alarmist-in-chief, told supporters on a March 15 conference call that severe weather in certain regions of the country could be attributed to carbon in the atmosphere--including the recent rash of rainy weather. "The odds have shifted toward much larger downpours," Gore said. "And we have seen that happen in the Northeast, we've seen it happen in the Northwest--in both of those regions are among those that scientists have predicted for a long time would begin to experience much larger downpours."

And contrast that with this report from the Hill:
A top Obama administration scientist on Monday struck back at climate skeptics who claim that record snowstorms this winter have undercut evidence of global warming. “It is important that people recognize that weather is not the same thing as climate,” said Jane Lubchenco, head of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
In other words, we know that wobal glarming exists, we know that human beings cause it, and therefore if today's weather fits our expectations, it is proof; if it does not, it is not proof.Scientific myopia prevents them from seeing that the lack of evidence-or contrary evidence-is proof that they could be wrong.

One more example. As I commented, I recently spent some time on avowedly liberal blog. (I don't know why. I did let myself get drawn into a p***ing match that was ultimately pointless. It is hard to discuss Scripture with someone who doesn't believe that some of the most important books the New Testament are. in fact, inspired.)

One of the frequent commentators to the blog has made it very clear that while we cannot know the source and origin of human sexual orientations, the experience of homosexual and bisexual persons, while not normative for the rest of us, is normative for them. (My phrasing, but trying to be fair.) But it is simply impossible but that could be the case when dealing with someone who claims to have recovered from homosexual attractions. She writes:
Richard Cohen cites anecdotal evidence, ie his own marriage, as scientific proof that gayness can be cured. I’m sorry, but a case study of 1 is hardly scientific proof. It only proves that he is either bisexual or lying to himself and others.
I will stipulate that a case study of one is not scientific proof, there is certainly more than one case. But, rather than accept the possibility, that someone can in fact be changed in their sexual orientations, and the experiential testimony of someone who says it happened to them, the preconceived notions amount to "proof" that he is "bisexual or lying".

Myopia rules.

06 April 2010

Racist Tea?

I wish I could find a picture, but last week I saw a news report on a Tea Party, and, as God is my witness, there was a protester in the crowd carrying a sign that read:

The Revolution Will Not Be Televised!

It has been de rigueur in the MSM to call the Tea Partier's "racist."

But really, why would a racist quote the original rap song?

03 April 2010

Constitutional Principles

Did you hear about the congressman who said that if there was a criminal out there, we had to lock him up, so that the people would be safe, even if it meant that we would accidentally lock up a bunch of innocent guys? He was challenged on that, and said, "I don't worry too much about the constitution."

Me either, but it is the same set of liberties that are at risk when a congressman says this:

What I find particularly hopeful about the opportunity to overturn the Health care reform that Congress just passed is that even the liberal Seattle Times is troubled by it's constitutional impact.

We think McKenna [the Washington Attorney General who has joined in the suit against the bill] has a good case, and one the progressives who condemn him ought to appreciate. These critics are so often right about the dangers of corporate power, and particularly the rapacity of insurance companies.

But if it's federal power, and it's for a social purpose, and Barack Obama is presiding over it, they set their judgment aside. They accept a 2,000-page bill on its label only. They accept its promise, almost surely vacant, of cost savings. They overlook the deals cut with the insurance and pharmaceutical interests. They shrug off the "cornhusker kickback." And to those who invoke the Constitution, they become shrill.

This page supported Obama, and we still like him. But we also support checks and balances on federal power, and review of this law by the Supreme Court.

If this passes muster with the Supreme Court, the states will lose all power over their own affairs. Under a more conservative congressional regime, Washington and Oregon can say goodbye to death with dignity laws, and a lot of other things.