Let’s Talk thanks Carl Isaacson for putting blood and passion into our synodical theological dialog. We trust all will understand that irony can be irritating and still be irenic.
Some slightly less bloody responses:
- Maxine Washington was the author of the article–noted only in editorial brackets in Carl’s piece. Granted, she was writing as a member of the Bishop’s Office, but it was clearly her voice. And good theological dialog acknowledges persons. Isn’t all theology embodied interpretation for the sake of obedience?
- We must all beware of reading cement into liquid words. Our sister confessed missing Sunday worship in a rough first month on the job. Ask her if she was writing this article itself “on the fly.” Ask her where and how else she may have been gladly hearing and learning God’s Word that month. And let us ask ourselves how we check out self and others on the ways we honor days à la Romans 14.
- Hidden in Carl’s own irony is the implicit message that, if our sister did set a bad example by neglecting worship during a time fraught with anxieties, there is another, perhaps more alarming bad example set by a system of episcopacy that is not adequately mobilized to lift burdens and administer the gospel and sacraments apposite to real-life brokenness or bent-ness. How can the pastor-for-the-pastors better help people caught fretting over their sense of call? Let’s not miss that message.
- Such a real-life gospel-centeredness is perhaps the difference between authority, which we need more of from every Bishop’s office, and authoritarianism, which we could do with less of. We all seem to be looking for a sure center to our theology and rhetoric. “Salvation by grace through faith for the sake of Christ” is a great one. The reason it seems so dissatisfying when we apply it to real-life is that it has this irritating tendency to undermine all of our attempts to find final answers to practical problems—such as whether we really, really have an inner call to anything. Then it is not doctrine, but narrative, that emboldens us to sin and sin boldly but believe in God’s grace more boldly still. Something to which Maxine may have been testifying in her article.