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Four responses —to bishops' resolution

by Michael Rogness (Luther Seminary, St. Paul, Minn.)

Date Unknown

My response to the bishops' Tucson Resolution:

  1. Appreciation that they did attempt to clarify the CCM.
  2. 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!
  3. 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.)
  4. 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.