Getting along with each other

27 Apr

What lens do we view Scripture through?

One’s culture can limit one’s perceptions. This is the principle of ethnocentrism, the viewpoint that “one’s own group is the center of everything,” against which all other groups are judged.  More  A common idiom for ethnocentrism is “tunnel vision.” In this context, ethnocentrism is the view that a particular ethnic group’s system of beliefs and values is morally superior to all others.  All about

The LCA has been accused of tunnel vision, but it could be said that faith of any persuasion walks close to ethnocentrism. How does one hold a conviction without implicitly asserting that one’s system of beliefs and values, one’s worldview, is superior to somebody else’s system of beliefs and values?   Under ethnocentrism one consciously believes that one’s cultural arts are the most beautiful, values the most virtuous, and beliefs the most truthful. Is this the perspective of those proposing a male-only pastorate?

On the other hand, those who counsel tolerance of diversity may be accused of cultural relativism (where there is no absolute standard of right and wrong). Is this the perspective of those proposing women’s ordination?

Perhaps it would be better to use the term, pluralism, which stands in opposition to one single approach, or homogeneity. Is this the perspective of those proposing women’s ordination?

Theocentrism may be suggested as a third way. This is where God’s will is accepted and adopted regardless of any controversy.  Deciding just what is God’s will, however, is the issue.  At this time the lenses we bring to a text, the hermeneutics we use to interpret Scriptures from another time and culture, becomes a new focus of discussion.

Are these terms necessarily exclusive?

Theocentrism does not exclude pluralism. The key convergence between theocentrism and pluralism lies in the concept of God-centeredness in our life and acceptance of unity in diversity as a divine mandate. This “theocentric view of pluralism” presents a solid moral basis for tolerance of other religions and cultures. … Pluralism and theocentrism are compatible and complementary and can lead humanity to peace, collaboration and mutual respect both locally and globally. Ref

While this passages refer to inter-faith and inter-cultural tolerance, and the building of world peace, they are just as appropriate as a call for mutual respect within the LCA over women’s ordination.

We suggest, rather than looking at how we operate, (progressive/conservative, liberal/fundamentalist, ethnocentric/cultural relativist, theocentrist/pluralist) it could be useful to take a broader perspective and look at our culture, from where our tensions arise and divisions become attractive options. We find that our culture is not alone in displaying a disparate and conflicted membership.

We have learned from work in critical sociology and postcolonial, feminist, and cultural studies that cultures are heterogenous and heteroglossic (K+M: a diversity of voices, styles of discourse, or points of view), written through and through with complexity and difference, with conflict over power.  Ref. Reading Online – Research: Four Resources Model.

Any culture, or Christian denomination, is heterogenous and ‘written through with complexity and difference, with conflict over power’.  Despite beliefs of institutional homogeneity, and beliefs about consensual rules and cultures, the LCA is complex and far from being homogenous. Pretense of homogeneity is pointless.  Pretense of the Church, shining like a beacon of unchanging theology in a storm-tossed society is counter-productive. It is time for another paradigm of God, of faith and of our evangelical presence in our society and culture.

We have experienced change through women’s new voice and position in society, through leadership of lay women and men within the Church, through the watering down of ‘German-ness’ in the LCA, through couples living together outside of marriage, through a new era of information and education, from ecumenism, inter-church dialogue, inter-faith dialogue, through birth-control, television, the pill, social networking, through the ease of international travel, through awareness of different theologies within other Lutheran synods, through the reporting of war and civil strife on news broadcasts, and so on.

The LCA will continue to change at an increasing pace. Women’s ordination will be a reality soon in the LCA, however, asserting something is right doesn’t make it right. Our key challenge is how to get along with each other fairly. Ref


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8 responses to “Getting along with each other

  1. Barney

    April 27, 2012 at 12:12 pm

    The picture you posted in your last blog is BLASPHEMOUS !
    Christ the Son of God was crucified for us, it was Him not a female who bore the sins of the world. You have done enormous harm to your own reputation and to your standing as a Lutheran.

  2. janine

    April 27, 2012 at 8:48 pm

    hmm, not so sure it’s a woman, looks like a young man to me.

    but i guess it depends what you’re looking to see.

  3. PIchi

    April 28, 2012 at 7:18 pm

    I’ve been challenged with the reality that the Old Testament books (next semester is NT) contain different theological opinions, often jumbled together in the same place. So the church has always been composed of people with differing theological perspectives, from different sources: revelation, experiences, history. I was spinning out until I came to an answer in a summary of Job: “theology – reflection on the nature of God – is not so much the systematic reflections of ivory tower intellectuals, but rather the diverse and often conflicting claims about God made by believers who grapple with a world beset by the dualities of joy and sorrow, wonder and dread, prosperity and poverty, war and peace.” Also, “If nothing else, the book of Job accomplished this ‘theological task’: it reveals to readers of every generation that life lived in God’s sight is most definitely not the perfectly ordered existence popular piety has sought since humanity first conceived of a divine creator and overseer…life with God evokes as many questions about human experience as it provides answers.” pp. 194,195 Kugler and Hartin “An Introduction to the Bible”.
    But having ordained women as worship leaders doesn’t seem to be a big theological question to me. Just one frayed and dirty piece of red tape which need never have existed.

    • Katie and Martin

      May 1, 2012 at 2:38 am

      What a nice reflection on church life! The neat borders to the garden have never existed. The perfect vines, shrubs and grass have never existed.
      We followers of Jesus have never been that neat.


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