WordAlone - Commentary on “Journey Together Faithfully, part 2”
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Commentary on
“Journey Together Faithfully, part 2” -- preface

by Pastor Gary Jepson (Pilgrim Lutheran Church, Puyallup, Washington)

July 9, 2004

Commentary/critique of Journey Together Faithfully, Part 2

photo of Pastor JepsenThis commentary on “Journey Together Faithfully, part 2” (JTF-2) was written primarily as a study aid for use in the congregation I serve, Pilgrim Lutheran Church – Puyallup, Washington. Having read JTF-2, I was disappointed in both the format and substance of much of the document having expected something more firmly grounded in Lutheran roots

The idea of writing a commentary/critique came to me during a discussion of JTF-2 with two other pastors – Pastor David Norland of Emanuel Lutheran Church in Tacoma, WA and Pastor Phil Nesvig of First Lutheran Church also in Tacoma (both Phil and Dave have offered their own excellent studies of JTF-2 in their respective congregations). As we were discussing various concerns we had regarding JTF-2, I wondered about using it, especially when I considered my role as a Lutheran Pastor who had promised at my ordination to preach and teach in accordance with the Scriptures and the Lutheran Confessions. However, I also wanted to be true to the spirit of dialogue regarding this very controversial document and issue. It was then that I started thinking of utilizing JTF-2 with critique/commentary.

However, when I consulted some of the critiques and essays that were already available on line from other critics (most of which were quite excellent), it seemed these essays were targeted more towards pastors, theologians and other religious professionals than to the average person in the pew. I am not in any way insinuating that the average person in the pew is not intelligent, but few of us can be proficient in a host of fields beyond the one in which we make our livelihood. Give me a medical, legal or other technical journal and I’m lost!

Thus, I opted to write my own critique of JTF-2 in the form of editorial comments in a box that would be more accessible to a larger audience than many of the critiques I had heretofore seen. To be sure, I too raise issues with which some laypersons may not be conversant. However, these topics are not dealt with in long essays that lose the average participant. Instead the comments are for the most part brief, and the reader can at least get the sense that there are ways of looking at the issues in question other than those presented in JTF-2. My hope is that the majority of the critique will be accessible to most readers.

I have included both an introduction and a conclusion to this commentary and critique. The introduction summarizes a variety of things including:

  • an overview to the cultural context in which we find ourselves and some of the philosophical assumptions that seem so prevalent today,
  • a summary of some theological assumptions I make,
  • an introduction to and summary of what I believe is the most workable biblical interpretive tool for approaching this issue, namely, “orders of creation”,
  • and a call for Lutherans to steward faithfully the perspective on the gospel we have been given.

In the conclusion, I offer a Session by Session overview of some of the major points I have covered in the critique/commentary. I also offer some concluding observations which, on the basis of stewarding faithfully our theological heritage and perspective, urge the ELCA to stop dashing down this road to disaster if it continues down this present course.

And so I offer JTF-2 to my congregation with this additional commentary to round out the discussion. If this commentary/critique is of interest to any others, they are welcome to use it. I suppose the critique/commentary portion could be read by itself, or the Introduction and Conclusion might be read alone or together. However, taken in toto, they make the fuller picture. The reader is of course free to do whatever s/he wishes.

A special word of thanks to Pastor Dave Norland for his encouragement, suggestions and critique and to Phil Nesvig for his especially early on in this project.

Also, although this critique/commentary was written for use at Pilgrim Lutheran Church – Puyallup, Washington, the reader should not construe from this that Pilgrim, as a congregation or as a board, has as of this writing endorsed the points of view expressed in within

Gary R. Jepsen, Pastor

09 July 2004