27 September 2008

Sketching Some Categories and Contours for Consideration and Conversation

First, a clarification: This most recent string of posts dealing with the possibility of an evangelical "rule" is not the underlying point, nor the primary purpose, of the Four-and-Twenty Blackbirds. It is simply a current topic of conversation. Some of the blackbirds are interested; others are not. Some may agree that this is worth pursuing; others may not. Some may think that this or that would be the best way to proceed; whereas others may have entirely different ideas. In the end, we may all walk away from this discussion, and that'll be that. In the meantime, other topics are fair game, and no one is bound one way or the other by these present debates.

Second, along with the reading list I previously shared in my comments under the previous post, a good friend pointed me to the "Rule" of the Society of the Holy Trinity. That may be found at: http://www.societyholytrinity.org/ (link to the Rule of the Society on the lefthand side of their homepage). I am aware of differences of opinion regarding the Society of the Holy Trinity; there are certain aspects of that Society's principles and practices to which I also take exception. However, I think it does provide an instructive example worthy of consideration. I attended one of the Society's general retreats as an observer several years ago, and I was frankly impressed with much of what I saw and heard. In any case, for purposes of this discussion, the "Rule" of the Society is helpful, and so for that reason I call attention to it.

Finally, to the main point of this new post: As I've been perusing various readings, pondering our discussions heretofore, and putting my pen to paper over the past week or so, I've been sketching some categories and contours for consideration and conversation. What I've drafted along those lines so far is what follows. The only "rules" included at this point are some basic Scriptural texts, which help (I hope) to define the scope and determine the structure I envision.

I've formulated three broad categories: Prayer, Pastoral Care, and Public Profession of the Faith. Somewhat coincidentally, these three areas appear to correspond with leitourgia, diakonia, and marturia, such as Dr. Just described and discussed in his plenary presentation at our recent Indiana District Worship and Spiritual Care Workshop. Of course, he didn't invent those categories; he learned them from the discourse of the early church. I was struck with the similarity of these distinctions to the parameters with which I had already been tinkering, and that helped, in turn, to clarify, firm up, and develop my thinking.

For the time being, then, I've attempted to organize the shape that a broad evangelical "rule" of pastoral practice might take. As I've said before, I imagine that such a "rule" would be spelled out in a kind of manual, preferrably one that would be easily updated, edited and expanded, as collective pastoral experience and wisdom were brought to bear upon it. Already, it is for the sake of soliciting the input of such pastoral experience and wisdom that I set this forth, a work in progress, that it might be fodder for fraternal conversation.


"So then, those who received his word were baptized. . . . They were continually devoting themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. . . . And all those who had believed were together and had all things in common. . . . Day by day continuing with one mind in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, they were taking their meals together with gladness and sincerity of heart, praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord was adding to their number day by day those who were being saved" (Acts 2:41a, 42, 44–47).

RULES OF PRAYER (lex orandi / leitourgia)

"Rejoice always; pray without ceasing; in everything give thanks."
(1 Thessalonians 5:16–18a)

"First of all, then, I urge that entreaties and prayers, petitions and thanksgiving, be made on behalf of all men. . . . Therefore I want the men in every place to pray, lifting up holy hands, without wrath and dissension" (1 Timothy 2:1, 8).

"I received from the Lord that which I also delivered to you, that the Lord Jesus in the night in which He was betrayed took bread; and when He had given thanks, He broke it and said, ‘This is My body, which is for you; do this in remembrance of Me.’"
(1 Corinthians 11:23–24)

"Let all things be done for edification. . . . For God is not a God of confusion but of peace, as in all the churches of the saints. . . . But all things must be done properly and in an orderly manner."
(1 Corinthians 14:26c, 33, 40)

1. Service Books and Hymnals

2. The Divine Service

a. orders of service

b. special rites

c. additional rubrics

3. Assisting Ministers

a. the order of the clergy within the parish

b. Communion assistants

c. acolytes and other assistants

4. Daily Prayer

a. of the pastor

b. of the parish

c. resources for homes and families

5. Calendar

a. lectionary

b. seasonal contours

c. festivals and precedence

d. sanctoral cycle

e. additional propers

6. Music

a. cantors and choirs

b. liturgical music

c. hymnody

d. instrumentation

7. Ceremonies

a. the evangelical and catholic understanding of adiaphora

b. the use of ceremonies for the sake of love and good order, without frivolity

c. the avoidance of novelty, innovation, and offense

d. processions

e. genuflecting

f. elevations

g. incense

8. Vestments and Paraments

a. for the Divine Service

b. for the daily offices

c. the color of the day

9. Architecture and Accouterments

a. vessels

b. furnishings

c. candles

RULES OF PASTORAL CARE (inner missions / diakonia)

"Jesus came up and spoke to them, saying, ‘All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age’" (St. Matthew 28:28–20).

"The congregation of those who believed were of one heart and soul, and not one of them claimed that anything belonging to him was his own, but all things were common property to them. And with great power the apostles were giving testimony to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and abundant grace was upon them all. For there was not a needy person among them, for all who were owners of land or houses would sell them and bring the proceeds of the sales and lay them at the apostles’ feet, and they would be distributed to each as any had need" (Acts 4:32–35).

"The twelve summoned the congregation of the disciples and said, ‘It is not desirable for us to neglect the word of God in order to serve tables. Therefore, brethren, select from among you seven men of good reputation, full of the Spirit and of wisdom, whom we may put in charge of this task. But we will devote ourselves to prayer and to the ministry of the word’" (Acts 6:2–4).

"Be on guard for yourselves and for all the flock, among which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to shepherd the church of God which He purchased with His own blood" (Acts 20:28).

1. Preaching

2. Catechesis

a. resources

b. methodology

c. involvement of parents in the catechesis of children

d. fostering ongoing catechesis within the congregation

3. Holy Baptism

a. scheduling and preparation
i. infants
ii. older children
iii. adults

b. recognition of emergency Baptism

c. uncertainty concerning Baptism

4. Admittance to the Holy Communion

a. criteria

b. preparation

c. examination

d. First Communion

e. the rite of confirmation

5. The Office of the Keys

a. Confession and Holy Absolution
i. the pastor’s father confessor
ii. being a father confessor
iii. scheduling times for confession

b. Church discipline

6. Visitations

a. general

b. homebound members

c. hospital

d. prison

e. delinquents

f. visitors

7. Counsel and Advice

a. vocational questions

b. illnesses of body and mind

c. addictions and besetting sins
i. pornography
ii. alcoholism
iii. drug addiction

d. financial decisions

8. Marriage and Family

a. living together

b. out of wedlock pregnancy

c. preparation for marriage

d. weddings

e. marital counseling

f. procreation questions

e. divorce and remarriage

f. the pastor’s personal vocations as husband and father

9. Serving the Youth

10. Pastoral Oversight of Diakonia

a. almsgiving

b. widows and orphans in distress

c. the care of women

d. the role of lay elders

11. Death and Dying

a. ministry to the dying

b. ministry to the bereaved

c. funerals

d. cremation

e. miscarriage and still-birth

12. Working with Lutheran Schools

a. relations with the principal and teachers

b. the pastor’s role in the life of the school

c. association schools

d. Lutheran high school

13. Communication within the Parish

RULES OF PUBLIC PROFESSION (outer mission / marturia)

"First of all, then, I urge that entreaties and prayers, petitions and thanksgivings, be made on behalf of all men, for kings and all who are in authority, so that we may lead a tranquil and quiet life in all godliness and dignity. This is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth" (1 Timothy 2:1–4).

"Honor all people, love the brotherhood, fear God, honor the king."
(1 Peter 2:17)

"Every person is to be in subjection to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those which exist are established by God. Therefore whoever resists authority has opposed the ordinance of God; and they who have opposed will receive condemnation upon themselves. . . . Therefore it is necessary to be in subjection, not only because of wrath, but also for conscience’ sake. . . . Render to all what is due them: tax to whom tax is due; custom to whom custom; fear to whom fear; honor to whom honor. Owe nothing to anyone except to love one another; for he who loves his neighbor has fulfilled the law" (Romans 13:1–2, 5, 7–8).

"Sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts, always being ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you, yet with gentleness and reverence; and keep a good conscience so that in the thing in which you are slandered, those who revile your good behavior in Christ will be put to shame."
(1 Peter 3:15–16)

1. Church Fellowship

a. synodical fellowship
i. participation in synodical polity and politics
~ circuit winkels, forums and convocations
~ district conferences and conventions
ii. respect for synodical structures and protocols
iii. conscientious dissent and means of reconciliation

b. Communion fellowship / closed Communion

c. cooperation in externals (?)

2. The Divine Call

a. consideration

b. announcing acceptance or decline

c. ordination and installation

d. sabbaticals and leaves of absence

3. Missions and Evangelism

a. support of seminaries and colleges

b. encouraging evangelism in the proper vocations of each member

c. evangelism as a corporate enterprise of the congregation

d. supporting and participating in the larger mission of the Church

4. Chaplaincy

a. military

b. institutional

c. government

d. police force

e. firefighters and paramedics

f. crisis situations

5. The Public Square

a. apologetics

b. morality and ethics

c. publicity in the media / public communications

d. political commentary

e. participation in civic events


Rev. Eric J Brown said...

My thoughts on this would be that if the proposed _________ were to be of this detail two things should be remembered.

1. Take it slowly - create it in chunks. The outline is huge; the completed document would be very long. It would be too much to finish at one time - and it would end up being too divisive. There will be little things that people don't like - and if you unleash all of those little things that people don't like at the same time - bad things, bad things.

2. I would recommend making it preferred practice with secondary allowable practice. Again - there is a lot there, and also what could be considered a lot of "small detail." If there isn't some flexibility it will never work for a matter of voluntary association.

I suppose a third point is that you might want to make a separate Apology when it is made - with the ___________ just give the final positions, but at the same time produce something with extended rationales and defenses of the positions taken -- that way the __________ is manageable in length, things not belabored to people who get it, but also there would be a resource available to those who wonder why a specific point is given.

It would be an ambitious project - best on it.

wmc said...

This could easily be the longest Stuckwisch post to date. A personal "best"! Does anyone keep track of such things?

wmc said...

In spite of its expansive length, I like this outline very much. You certainly realize that this is nothing other than a "pastoral theology," the likes of which we have not seen since Walther's magisterial Pastoraletheologie. This to our great lack.

I would see this not as a "rule" for some sort of pastor society, or the basis of a "canon law", but a genuine, evangelical pastoral theology articulated by those who practice genuine evangelical, catholic, and orthodox theology. I think an ad hoc group of practicing pastors would do a much better job at this than academic and institutional writers who have essentially lost touch with the front lines.

Such a work could then be offered to the church and perhaps received and adopted as a norm, but even if it isn't, it would inspire and instruct a generation of pastors in the Lutheran way of pastoral and liturgical practice. This was the tremendous influence of Walther's Pastorale, even though it was never adopted as a "rule" in the Synod.

Far better than any "rule" in my opinion.

Rev. Paul Beisel said...

WMC--now this is something I could definitely support, and think that it is needed terribly. I actually told Klem. Preus that he should write a pastoral theology, since he did such a great job with Fire and the Staff. But I think this is exactly what would be the most beneficial and helpful. That way we could offer it to the whole church as a Preferred way of doing things, with some specific suggestions, perhaps, regarding the use of ceremony in the church, including music (since music is considered part of the ceremonial of the service). In fact, should something like this materialize, different pastors could write different chapters, depending on one's expertise. Keep the good thinking up guys!

Rev. Eric J Brown said...

Cwirla, Bishop of Awesomeness-ville, hits on a fantastic idea. What if this were to be approached as a the creation of a new Pastoral Theology. We could parcel out the various sections on the outlines to interested folks, who could then submit them for review. People who are interested in specific topics could work on ones that they are interested (and would thus be a joy to them) and yet benefit from reading the ones that are outside of their theological wheelhouses.

Then, anyone who followed the Pastoral Theology would de facto be following any rule - and we wouldn't be burdening anyone with anything either. I like it

Rev. Gifford A. Grobien said...

"Easily" Pr. Stuckwisch's longest post? Not likely :)

Rev. Rick Stuckwisch said...

What Pastor Cwirla has said is exactly to the point. Not the part about this being my longest post ever (I don't think it is, actually). But regarding a pastoral theology, that is exactly what I have been contemplating and aiming at, especially over the past week or so. My sense is that such a thing would be welcome by many, many pastors, and that it would serve the very sort of concerns that we've been touching upon in our discussions; and it would do so in a truly evangelical and catholic manner.

Several of you have, I think, also identified the right sort of way to develop this pastoral theology, this "manual of pastoral practice." (St. Gregory's is called a pastoral "rule," and I still think that terminology may contribute something useful, but the nomenclature is not the most important thing, obviously.) It can both begin and continue as a work-in-progress, developed as new needs and new concerns arise. And a collaborative effort on the part of pastors with the experience and wisdom of faithful practice is the very thing I have contemplated.

wmc said...

What is particularly productive about this idea of a pastoral theology is that it must necessarily arise from those who are actually engaged in pastoral practice. It also needs to come from actual individuals not an anonymous committee. The greatness of Walther's Pastoraletheologie was that it was his pastoral theology, how he put his idea of confessional Lutheranism into pastoral practice. The greatest contributions in this area have always come from individuals writing for the benefit of the whole church.

One area that has not been developed is the area of liturgy as pastoral care. I know Wm Willimon had a little book on the topic, but not in the same sense we are talking about here. This would be the great strength and unique contribution of such a pastoral theology project. It would bring liturgical theology into the realm of pastoral theology within a manual of pastoral practice, which makes an awful lot of sense.

Paul McCain said...

And keep in mind re. Walther's work, that it is replete with quotes from the orthodox Lutheran fathers, a treasure-trove in that regard.

Dcn. Muehlenbruch said...

Reverend Fathers and Brothers:

My pastor told me about this blog, and I find it to be something that I will visit often. However, not finding a direct way of contacting the persons responsible for this blog, I would like to make one small suggestion.

Unless my browser is doing strange things, I find the site difficult to read with a white font on a black background. Maybe it is just my weak, old eyes; but you might consider using a light background and a dark font.

If, however, the problem is with my browser, I would appreciate your suggestions on how to adjust my settings.

Thank you for your consideration of this comment.

revpaulcain said...

I really like the idea of this becoming a new pastoral theology and echo Rev. McCain's reminder that quotes from the Lutheran fathers would be good. Scripture/Confessions/Fathers (Lutheran & Early Church)is a great pattern

Rev. Rick Stuckwisch said...

Dear Brother Muehlenbruch,

My apologies for being slow to answer your question. I've been a bit inundated with things lately, and I'm afraid it got lost in the shuffle.

Thanks, though, for your kind words, and for your interest in our Blackbirds blog. I hope it can be of benefit to you, in your vocations and faithful service.

I'm not sure what to say about the appearance of the white on black. It seems to work well on my computer, but I imagine that such things can vary quite a bit from monitor to monitor. Advice in those areas is not my forte ;-) But perhaps adjusting the contrast and brightness on your computer monitor could make things better.

The white on black sort of fits our moniker and so forth, so I'm reluctant to make a change in that. I hope it will become easier to read with some adjustment.