WHY THIS BLOG?

WHY THIS BLOG?

Let’s open the windows man, coz i think someone farted in here!

By Neil Hart.

Theology…God stuff…is not the reserve of the clergy. It does not sit well on the agendas of representative committees, officially appointed discussion groups, pastors’ conferences or commissions.

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Theology, first and foremost, is something that is done over bbqs, in living rooms, on long drives and in  internet random chat rooms. It is done by all of us as we talk argue agree fight listen repent reflect change forgive teach and learn to with by and from each other.

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Earlier this year, a working group was set up by the LCA. It began to consider the question of consensus. How can we find answers to controversial and difficult questions. Is it possible to come to agreement on say…women’s ordination,,,homosexuality…abortion…euthanasia…?   I think the idea behind the working group was admirable and i read their report eagerly. And then (sigh) i came across this statement which seemed to kinda sum up where the report was heading (double sigh)….

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Synod (the representative gathering of the church) should not vote on doctrinal change. It should await a statement from the pastors’ conference articulating the consensus of the pastors on the matter under dispute. Delegates should then, after due deliberation and discussion, either refer the matter back to the pastors’ conference, or give their assent to the recommended change by rising.

(Walking in Concensus the Lutheran Way. pg5. from John G Strelan, 2001. Public doctrine. The duties of pastors and people, unpublished paper, 24 Nov 2001. 1,2.)

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Man! that statement sure has an optimistic view of what a conference of pastors is able to achieve. I have only been to one national pastors’ conference and it proved to be an entirely predictable gathering of bald headed men speaking from entrenched positions (speaking, of course, as one bald headed and entrenched pastor). I have no real desire to go to another. So…let me get this straight…when there are questions to be considered… we ask pastors’ conference to do it. The rest of us then sit and wait while they “cast the bones”,  “seek the seer”, “throw spit balls till the last man stands” or however else they decide these things….come back to the synod with their decision and we participate by either rising or not rising?

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OK. 2 problems.

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  1. try as i might, i have never been very good at rising. it might be a muggle thing but no matter what i do my feet just stay firmly planted on the ground. And…lets not even talk about levitating if i ever DO get to rise. (wingardium leviOhsa, wingardium leviosAh…where is Hermione when you need her? Damn this stupid wand!…)
  2. (and this is the real issue at stake) the laity..the members of Christ’s body, the church, are not just passive recipients of that which is dished up to them by the pastors? They are theologians, educated, informed, interested in and passionate about what the bible has to say to them in all areas of life. Testing what they know from scripture against life’s experiences. Eager to come to home groups to learn, to teach, to listen and to discuss their views with others. To play a real part in shaping the future of the church.
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Of course there is a place for the pastors and specialist commissions. But that place should never silence or disempower the whole people of God in the theological process, particularly on controversial issues. The above statement from the LCA report does exactly that. It is a recipe for alienation.

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Surely a healthier approach is one which attempts to engage as many people as possible in the process of theology, all of us involved in the working out of hard questions in the light of the Bible and our daily experiences. Well, im only one person but I would like to be a part of a much wider (perhaps even church wide) discussion on theological issues. So….here it is….my start…my voice…my opinion. Have a read. agree, disagree but mostly, COMMENT! join the discussion. Maybe you can start your own blog, link it with mine. Lets open the windows a little, maybe get some of the stink out,  and see what happens…yeh?

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