Monday, August 21, 2023

Anantomy Of An Explosion (SEMINEX)

 In an attempt to understand more about the split between the ELCA and the LCMS, I was directed to the subject book. To some degree, even though I made it through the book, there was a bit of the "asking the time and being told how to build a watch" effect. I'm not saying I "understood" the book, which would require multiple readings and reading other referenced works. It was an "exercise" which I would not recommend to anyone but a Lutheran theological scholar. 

SEMINEX -- "Concordia Seminary in Exile". It existed from 1974 to 1987 because of issues on inerrancy of scripture, represented by the begun to utilize the Historical Critical method to understand the Bible vs the traditional Historical Grammatical method hat considered scripture to be the "inerrant Word of God". (assuming the translations, attention to what the authors were able to write at the time they wrote it, etc) 

There seems to me to be a bit of correlation between an "originalist" interpretation of the US Constitution, vs a "living" interpretation, however there is difficulty with that analogy. Biblical texts are FAR older, writing in ancient languages, and derived from oral traditions. As a Christian, I believe that the KJV translation is "good", however, "good" is still problematic. An example that I beat to death because I am far from a Biblical scholar is "thou shalt not kill". The following from Google's AI;

The Hebrew phrase for "Thou shalt not kill" is "lo tirṣaḥ" (לֹא תִּרְצָח). The phrase translates to "You shall not murder". In biblical Hebrew, "harag" means "killing" and "ratzah" means "murder". The two words have different moral connotations.
In the US, some religions demand their members be conscientious objectors from military service, or even pacifists because of this apparently "clear" text in the KJV, which is less clear than it seems. 

To quote from Wikipedia on SEMINEX: 

After attempts at compromise failed, the LCMS president, Jacob Preus, moved to suspend the seminary president John Tietjen, leading to a walkout of most faculty and students, and the formation of Seminex. Seminex existed as an institution until its last graduating class of 1983 and was formally dissolved and merged with Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago in 1987. Concordia Seminary quickly rebuilt and by the late 1970s had regained its place as one of the largest Lutheran seminaries in the United States.

 My title for the book would be "Anatomy of a Slippery Slope".  I find humans to be Manichean by nature (black and white). Even though a computer scientist sees the utility of a binary world. (there are 10 types of people in the world, those who understand binary and those who don't), binary like decimal is just a numbering system ... a way to represent numbers. 

The more I read the Bible, the more convinced I am that God is not a Manichean. He converses with Satan and allows him to test one of his favorite servants, Job. Moses talks him out of destroying the Israelites three times. Abraham bargains with him over Sodom ... the list goes on. I like to believe that my prayers, and the prayers of 3 or more gathered together can have an effect on God. Perhaps not the effect we want, but sometimes, maybe even frequently, yes. I can't find historical evidence for this, yet I believe it. 

Witing is a way to represent language, which is a way to communicate. Meaning is another kettle of fish (maybe 153 of them?).  This is ALL a misleading simplification, only partially because there is a whole branch of philosophy, " Epistemology" about what can we know and how can we know it.

Our "reality" is perceived through a brain that we have nearly no understanding of. It may well be more like a TV than a computer

Secularly, Socrates was the wisest man because he knew that he knew nothing. Solomon is declared so in the Bible. "All is vanity, chasing after the wind" seems to give that assertion support. 

Proverbs 1:7 The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge; fools despise wisdom and instruction.

The view of "fundamentalists", "pure text" is that once you "question" any verse in the Bible, you are never going to consider it definitive on anything. Once you take a step on a "slippery slope", it's over ... you are going to the bottom. Probably atheism. 

Speech is a tool. Language is a tool. Writing is a tool. Theology, methods of textual analysis, science, etc are all tools. 

Just because you have a gun does not mean you are going to kill someone. Just because you go into a skid on ice doesn't, mean you can't recover. (although watching drivers in Texas, there seem to be cases where that is not true), Respect for "slippery slopes" is warranted, however there is such a thing as an inordinate fear. I like to go out a do a few practice skids in a parking lot when the snow comes. 

The book goes into great detail on historical schisms, power struggles. politics, etc 

Page 51 seemed to approach a little theological humility. Even Luther did not consider all books in the Bible to have the same authority ... specifically Hebrews, James, Jude, and Revelation. 

I often say "there are always two ditches", with the highway as a metaphor. Because humans tend toward the Manichean, we tend to be ditch drivers. The road analogy fails for a lot of reasons, one of which is because almost always there are MANY ditches. It could be that the ELCA, the LCMS, the Evangelicals, and the Catholics are all either in a ditch, or riding a shoulder. 

The ELCA seems to have gone deep into the way of Nietzsche - "all things are permissible" ditch. We may all be ditch drivers, but that looks like a fatal crash to me. If you lose the divinity of Christ, Virgin Birth, Body and Blood, etc, it seems you are lost. God will be the judge. 

I believe in the Creeds, so I definitely believe God created everything, including man. The Bible says very little about "how" in a scientific sense, it doesn't claim to be a scientific work, nor should it. All humans ever "understand" is a "story", we live by narrative embedded in a worldview. God the Creator, God the Redeemer, God the Paraclete ... all being one. I believe this. How is this possible? I don't know, I only believe. 

We may want to have some sort of 2+2=4 kind of airtight "proof" of all in the Bible, but even Thomas desired and needed to physically put his hand in the wound, after walking around with Jesus for a couple years. JESUS is the Way, the Truth, and the Life. Mark 16:16 "All who believe and are baptized will be saved". We often love to be "right" more than we love. Yes, theology is important, faith in Christ is essential. 

The history of big theological controversy, sometimes including a lot of blood like the Spanish Inquisition, the Crusades, the 30 years war, etc are not helpful for leading souls to Christ. Like the Fall, they don't seem like Gods will, OTOH, he did allow them ...  

Our understanding of reality is murky at best. Our understanding of God's ways are only through a really dark lense at great distance. 

Isaiah 55:8-9
8 “For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
neither are your ways my ways,”
declares the Lord.

9 “As the heavens are higher than the earth,
so are my ways higher than your ways
and my thoughts than your thoughts.
We have much to be humble about! 

Hubble Deep Field. 10,000 galaxies in portion of sky 1/100th of the moon


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