In the April issue of the online Journal of Lutheran Ethics (JLE), Church historian Dr. Jon Pahl wrote a scathing critique of LutheranCORE's theological underpinnings. The article caused quite a stir, not least because of Dr. Pahl's no-holds-barred rhetorical tone. The article was accompanied by a brief, dismissive reply from ethicist Dr. Robert Benne.
I am pleased to note that in the June issue of JLE, Rev. Cathy A. Ammlung, "an ordained woman who is a member of Lutheran CORE" offers a more thoughtful response to Dr. Pahl's article. I appreciate that Rev. Ammlung engages some of the very real issues that Dr. Pahl raised. A brief quote:
Dr. Pahl draws the entirely unwarranted conclusion that this represents a Docetic understanding of the Church. This is uncharitable and is a serious misunderstanding of Word Alone and Lutheran CORE. The scandal and pain of schisms, controversies and divisions in the Body of Christ ought not to blind us to the fact that faithful Christians in many denominations understand themselves to be congregationally-based outposts of that Body.Dr. Pahl's response to both Dr. Benne and Pastor Ammlung can be found here. Though he adopts a less abrasive tone, he sticks by his critical guns. A quote from Dr. Pahl:
Ammlung does address the question of Docetism in CORE, which I appreciated. She feels that CORE members are committed to the church as "the Body of Christ." I hope that's true. But what is the living corpus to which CORE members are committed — is it the congregation, Word Alone, LCMC, NALC, CORE? As I tried to suggest by talking about how "Protestants multiply by dividing" in America, the typical "body" of the church in the American civil religion has no flesh, but is a fantasy of purity that invariably fails — what Luther called a church in "cloud cuckoo land." As is common with Docetics, one senses suspicion of the body of the ELCA and its duly called and elected leaders on the part of some in CORE — a need to control the body, discipline it, punish it, even. And I must confess that I have experienced more than a little punishment from individual CORE members over the past few weeks. I've repeatedly been called a "liar," "ignorant," "narcissistic," "disgusting," — the list goes on an on — usually without any substantive engagement with the theological critiques I offered, or the evidence I gave.Dr. Pahl's original article caused quite a stir around the internet, including here in my own little corner of the blogosphere. Editor, Rev. Kaari Reierson makes note of the response JLE received and defends the decision to publish Pahl's article.
Many e-mails expressed disappointment that we published an article that was so out-spoken in its criticism. Several writers suggested that publication of the article proved "there's no place for disagreement in the ELCA."There's plenty of good reading and food-for-thought in the links provided above.
We at JLE beg to differ, and believe JLE's record as a whole supports this claim. JLE regularly publishes articles critical of public documents of the ELCA; moreover, we have often received affirmation for providing a balance of authorship and perspective on controversial issues with writing that expresses sharp disagreement.