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Reformed Church makes nuanced response to Lutherans

Timothy Kincaid

June 26th, 2010

When the Evangelical Church in America decided to give congregations the authority to be accepting of gay ministers, some outside partners were not pleased. And some feared that this would impact the church’s alliances with other Christian denominations.

But at least one, the Reformed Church in America, has decided that this is not an issue that is significant enough to sever relationships. (Christian Post)

“Cutting ties with the ELCA over their Assembly’s narrow decision would witness to the world that Christians will fight and divide themselves from one another, and break the bonds of Christian fellowship, over such an ethical difference,” RCA spokesman Paul Boice told The Christian Post last year.

Still, the RCA voted to express concern with the actions and to direct a panel to discuss and explore the ELCA’s human sexuality statement with representatives from the ELCA “in the spirit of ‘mutual affirmation and admonition’ called for in the Formula of Agreement.” The panel will report on the progress of the dialogue to the General Synod in 2011.

RCA delegates also approved a resolution that invites the ELCA, the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), the United Church of Christ and the Christian Reformed Church to join in a “consultation on the interpretation and use of Scripture in moral discernment and ethical decision making.”

This may be an indication that the Reformed Church may be moving further and faster than I imagined. The UCC is proactively supportive of our community and the ELCA is cautiously accepting (and perhaps more now that those who define their faith in terms of their opposition to gay people have packed up and stomped out). And as the Presbyterian Church (USA) seems to be moving closer each year, this alliance may prove to be the beginning of a unified Christian repudiation of homophobia within the faith.

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Ben in Oakland
June 26th, 2010 | LINK

highly, highly nuanced. I congratulate them, but…

They’re not doing it because it is the right thing to do, because the extremity of religious homophobia and heterosexism (must always rememebr to put those two together) is hardly justified by the tiny bit of scriptural interpretation they can dig up.

Nope, they’re doing it for that nice old catholic reason– let’s not cause a scandal in the church.

Lindoro Almaviva
June 26th, 2010 | LINK

heterosexism

Every time I see that word I laugh out loud. It is so pathetic to actually think that after hundreds of years of abuse, now, instead of “you reap what you sow” they get their chance to claim they are being victimized.

Mom, those fags over there will not let me hit them, they are hitting back. That’s not fair

LOL!

Mark F.
June 26th, 2010 | LINK

Actually, whatever Presbyterians do has already been predestined by God. :-)

Piper
June 26th, 2010 | LINK

I don’t think those who are in disagreement in the ELCA have actually left yet (maybe a few churches have, but the enormous exodus that CORE claimed was inevitable just didn’t happen).

It takes a lot for a congregation to leave the ELCA, at least if you do it by the rules. First you have to have a two thirds vote, and then you have to wait a rather long time before you have another vote, which again has to be two thirds. (Lutherans are a slow lot, we’re proud of it) The process was set up I believe to keep people from acting only on their passionate feelings. OCICBW*

*one of my fathers sayings, meaning, “Of course I could be wrong”

brian
June 26th, 2010 | LINK

I suppose I should be glad that another teeny little step forward has been taken. Quite frankly, I am sick of waiting for all the believers to figure out we aren’t the antichrist. Get over it, get over it, get over it…

Soren456
June 26th, 2010 | LINK

@Piper:

Off-topic, but:

Just curious, who owns the buildings and their contents in the ELCA?

I ask because my family were Episcopalian (200 years of it) and, in that denomination, dissenting parishes often find themselves without a building because of diocesan ownership entanglements.

Now, back to the thread . . .

Piper
June 27th, 2010 | LINK

I’m not sure Soren456, I think the congregations actually might, but that idea comes only because one of my local congregations had a vote to leave (it was defeated) And I think their Pastor (a wonderful moderate older woman, whom I adore!) may have said something about the ELCA losing the church, OCICBW. I’ll have to ask my Dad or our Pastor at church today.

Piper
June 27th, 2010 | LINK

P.S. My mom was raised Episcopalian, and G-ma was one until she died. If I had to leave the ELCA I would probably go there.

Jason D
June 27th, 2010 | LINK

Lindoro — I’m confused by your post. You’re under the impression that heterosexism is defined as discrimination against heteros. It’s not.

Heterosexism is homophobia, essentially.

T.J.
June 27th, 2010 | LINK

“…this alliance may prove to be the beginning of a unified Christian repudiation of homophobia within the faith.”

I can only hope and pray that this is true, Tim. The RCA is very conservative and I would not be surprised if this wasn’t just the desire not to further splint Protestant cooperation. Time will tell, but I remain cautiously optimistic.

Ben in Oakland
June 27th, 2010 | LINK

“Heterosexism is homophobia, essentially.”

A lot of people say, “I’m not afraid of homsoexuals. I just don’t like you.”

That’s heterosexism.

Soren456
June 27th, 2010 | LINK

I’ve always thought that heterosexism is a tangent of plain sexism. That is, discrimination in favor of heterosexuals, and a dismissive arrogance toward those not apparently heterosexual.

This could include homophobia, but I think it’s larger.

Timothy Kincaid
June 27th, 2010 | LINK

homophobia is not strictly a “phobia” in the sense of a fear. Rather it includes animus and plain ol’ bigotry.

heterosexism is the practice of seeing things only from a heterosexual perspective (and often includes the assumption that this is the only acceptable perspective.)

For example a card shop whose wedding cards all assume heterosexual couples might not have any animus at all. It just may have not occured to them to have gay-appropriate cards.

Heterosexism can be arrogant and dismissive, but is also can be benign and unintentional.

Richard W. Fitch
June 27th, 2010 | LINK

With regard to ownership of church property, I think you will find that the vast majority of American Protestant churches are based on a congregational polity. Essentially they are autonomous entities which create charters of voluntary association with the larger state and national bodies. As such, they retain ownership of real estate and fiduciary components in the event of a decision to break from the larger groups. On the other hand, the Vatican essentially owns all Roman Catholic property, both tangible and intangible. As a hierarchical structure, the Anglican/Episcopalian churches hold their property in trust for the provinces of which they are a part. When an individual congregation or a diocese votes to separate from the diocese/province, their holdings revert to the higher governing entities.

Jason D
June 27th, 2010 | LINK

Timothy,
“heterosexism is the practice of seeing things only from a heterosexual perspective (and often includes the assumption that this is the only acceptable perspective.)”

I always thought that was Heterocentrism

Timothy Kincaid
June 27th, 2010 | LINK

OH POOP

Jason, yes, I meant heterocentrism.

Please ignore what I said above.

TampaZeke
June 27th, 2010 | LINK

Heterosexism is widely used to mean heterocentrism. As sexism is to gender, heterosexism is to sexual orientation.

I’d also like to point out that MOST of the Reform Church joined the Evangelical, Congregational and Christian Churches to form the United Church of Christ in 1957. Like some of the Congregational churches refused to join the UCC but kept their “Congregational” name, some Reform churches refused to join the UCC but decided to keep their “Reform” designation. Unlike Reform churches, many of the churches today that are known as Congregational, are in fact UCC’s. The UCC prefers that they include “UCC” in their name but some don’t.

Paul in Canada
June 28th, 2010 | LINK

So here’s the problem I have with the ever-increasing complexity of ‘negotiations’ amongst the larger religious institutions…. they’re ever-increasing complex. And, they distract believers from Christ’s message: a simple child-like faith and personal (not organizational) relationship with the ‘father’/creator.

I just don’t get why religious institutions have so much attraction. I understand the need for ‘community of like-minded faithful’ but doesn’t history tell us that organized religion is nothing but bad news?

toujoursdan
June 28th, 2010 | LINK

No. Organized religion is not “nothing but bad news”. It was organized religion that built most of our universities and hospitals (including the Univ. of Toronto, Ottawa, Bishop’s as well as the Ivy Leagues, Georgetown, Northwestern, USC, etc. in the states) and in most American cities the majority of hospitals were built by the major Christian and Jewish denominations. These groups are also disproportionately involved in the building and running of homeless shelters and foodbanks which are increasingly important given the decline in state aid.

Organized religion, like organized government and, well, organized everything, is a mixture of good and bad because human beings are a mixture of good and bad, and when we get together those good and bad traits become magnified. It may be trendy to bash them nowadays but it’s rather silly to ignore the vital role they play[ed] in shaping what we like best about modern society.

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