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What’s my problem?

September 23, 2010 Leave a comment

Well, not my specific problem as the former presiding bishop of the ELCA was not actually asking me what my problem was because I’m not a member of the ELCA, but I like to think he was asking me what my problem was.

Actually his question was, “First, what is it about sex that pushed you over the edge?”

Actually, Herb, you lost me in 1997, when you led your church body in full fellowship with church bodies (RCA, UMC, UCC) who confess the “real absence,” that is, they confess that Jesus is not present in the sacrament of the altar.  But I guess the presence of Christ in the sacrament is one of those “non essentials” of the faith you like to refer to.  You further lost me when I found out that your church body sanctions murder.  It became public several years back that the ELCA churchworker health plan offered coverage for abortions.  The US military health plan doesn’t even do that, Herb. But it’s a great question.

Actually, I’ve been asking some ELCA folks this very question.  “What is it about this issue, openly homosexual pastors, that pushed you over the edge?”  Where was the fuss when the issue was sanctioning murder?  Where was the fuss when the issue was the real presence of our Lord in His own Supper?  I guess all those other issues were esoteric theological questions by comparison.  Decades of poor catechesis for the layity can elevate something to the status of esoterica that was once as simple as: “Is Jesus here or not?” By adopting this agenda, it’s blatantly apparent that the ELCA has stepped way beyond anything akin to the tradition of the apostles, or the Confessions of the Lutheran Church or the Scriptures.

See, that’s the thing.  It’s really not about sex.  If you look at the rite of reinstatement for the seven “pastors” of the ELCA, it’s not about sex, not nearly as much as it is about what they’ve done to twist the entire teaching of the Church about God.  Seriously, what is “prayed” in this rite is not to be believed by orthodox Christians.  Although there are many, (in fact, I’m almost willing to bet I could get at least a master’s thesis out of deconstructing this rite) I point to only one example to make my point: “The Prayer of Jesus” in the rite of “The Meal.”

P Now in union with our friend and lover Jesus, and in the language most familiar to you, [emphasis original] let us pray:

And there follows six “versions” of the Lord’s Prayer, but of course its not called the Lord’s Prayer, because that’s an example of patriarchalism, so they call it the Prayer of Jesus.

Of these six versions, look them up for yourself, I’m not making this up, there is:

“God, lover of us all, most holy one,
Help us to respond to you
To create what you want for us
here on earth.
Give us today enough for our needs; ”

(The paraphrase of the Lord’s Prayer, “God, lover of us all” has been written by Lala Winkley and is from the resource, “Celebrating Women.”)

As well as:

“Eternal Spirit,
Earth-maker, Pain bearer, Life-giver,
Source of all that is and that shall be,
Father and Mother of us all,
Loving God, in whom is heaven.
The hallowing of your name
echo through the universe! ”

(The translation of the Lord’s Prayer, “Eternal Spirit” is copyright material taken from “A New Zealand Prayer Book – He Karakia Mihinare o Aotearoa” and is used with permission.)

And what could possibly be the worst of them all:

“Our Mother who is within us
we celebrate your many names.
Your wisdom come,
your will be done,
unfolding from the depths
within us.
Each day you give us all that we need. ”

(The paraphrase of the Lord’s Prayer, “Our Mother who is within us” has been written by Miriam Therese Winter and is a part of the Goddess Rosary
offered at University Lutheran Chapel* of Berkeley.)

(*And some LCMS people wonder why we need to seriously reevaluate our cooperative agreements in places like campus ministry.)

Okay, first, for whom is any of these aberrations “familiar”?  The most familiar of these for me would be the one in Latin.  I guess the feminist agenda folks don’t speak Spanish or Latin, “Padre neustro, ” “Pater noster,”.

No, Herb, it’s not about sex; it’s about what you and your friends here are doing to the Church.  Since our Lord Jesus Christ gave us that prayer, we’ve been praying it in roughly the same literal sense in which it was give to us by Him in our language, that is our tongue, not our heart language or our patriarchally dominated cultural tongue.  Jesus taught the Church that prayer.  And while I recognize that, sometimes, earthly fathers are evil toward their children, those victims of evil fathers are given grace in Christ Jesus by His cross and introduced to a proper Father in heaven; they should not be given new prayers, and ultimately new gods.

See, this is not about the phrasing of an ancient prayer; is about the god to whom you and the rest of your friends are leading people to pray.  It’s really not about sex; it’s about God.  It’s not about me; it’s about you and the god you’re pointing people to because that god does not save them from sin.

And so what we do with sinners who are being told that what they are doing is not sin especially when God clearly says it is.  I’m remembering something Jesus said about millstones.  It makes me shudder every time I hear it.  But I guess, that’s my problem.

The only question that remains is which commandment is next?  Will it be okay to lie?  Or maybe it will be 9 and 10, the prohibitions against coveting, that no longer apply.  “Greed is good,” so says the fictional prophet Gordon Gekko.  Don’t you think it’s about time that the church embrace the philosophy of the times, raw pure capitalism?  Or is there just too much hermeneutical gymnastics to be done to talk over the loud clear voice of our Lord, Jesus?  Or do you think that this is just an overly simplistic rhetorical point?  “Millstones,” Jesus says.  “Pay attention to yourselves,” He says.  He’s not kidding.