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Four responses —to bishops' resolution
by Michael Rogness (Luther Seminary,
St. Paul, Minn.)
My response to the bishops' Tucson
Appreciation that they did attempt to clarify the CCM.
Note the huge irony: After months of pro-CCM people telling us that the CCM
has clarified the unclear items of the 1997 Concordat, it now seems the bishops
feel it necessary to issue TWENTY (count 'em) statements to clarify the CCM!
Neither the bishops nor the ELCA Church Council can legally say that this
Resolution is binding or authoritative for the future. The CCM sets up a Joint
Commission for exactly that purpose -- to work out future arrangements. There
are crucial implications of the CCM to be worked out, and nobody can say how
they will go. If the bishops' Resolution were truly the final interpretation of
the CCM, we wouldn't need a Joint Commission. (I am assuming that no one opposed
to the CCM will be on the Joint Commission, apart from maybe a token minority
vote which won't count much in the final direction, so I have my idea of what
directions the Joint Commission will recommend to the future church.)
At the NE-MN Synod Assembly a delegate pleaded that we should pass the CCM
so we can get back to the true mission of the church, namely spreading the
Gospel. I responded to say that if we pass the CCM we will be dealing with
matters of clergy structure, clergy status, bishops' status, etc. three-fold
ministry, use of the term "ordination," etc., etc., etc., for years to come. The
job of the Joint Commission is exactly that: to recommend interpretations and
developments of the CCM to both churches for discussion and action at synod and
churchwide assemblies ... on and on and on ... Want to be mired in structural
stuff for your lifetime? Then vote for the CCM. Want to get back to the real
mission of the church for the 21st century? Then drop the CCM.
Michael Rogness teaches homiletics at Luther Seminary,
Saint Paul, Minnesota.