Friday, April 11, 2008

FELC more confessional than ever?

In my previous entry, I described the Kuopio Diocese's resolution concerning Mr. Suokonautio. The resolution is now published on a Finnish blog, and can be read here (for those of you who know Finnish:

The verdict itself was by no means surprising - I personally didn't have any false hope concerning theological preference in the consistory and its bishop. However, the arguments used in the verdict still succeed in leaving me dumbfounded. Such sophistry must be respected, even when it turns black into white and white into black. This at least should teach us that apostates are not dim-witted by any means. It takes a very capable mind to deliberately misunderstand in such a way as they have.

Mr. Suokonautio, in his newspaper interview (which started the whole process of complaint) stated his view of the authority of dogma and bible: "All our views and comprehensions of God are wholly formed by people, and therefore tied to specific times and cultures. This is true also with those formed by the Bilbe and the christian church."

Well, what does this mean? Even a freshman in theological faculty could tell you that. Suokonautio means to say, that religion is man-made. There is a monotheistic entity called "god" behind all religions, but basically all doctrine as well as Scripture is of human origin. This interpretation is well-enfoced in Suokonautio's later interviews where he denies Christ's atoning death, bodily resurrection etc.

Nothing new here. But what is new is that this view is now being called "Lutheran" by the consistory in Kuopio Diocese! Based on Epitome of the Formula of Concord I, the consistory states that the FC itself holds the view that all human formulations of God are tied to specific times and cultures. This is done by quoting passages where reformation theologians claim that The Word of God in the Bible must be given supremacy, and all documents following that are only secondary to it. This fine Lutheran principle of sola scripture is therefore twisted to mean that even the authors of FC themselves did not claim their confession to be true in the objective sense, but only true to them, in that time and in that cultural context.

Is this really true? The FC describes itself (rather ambitiously, I give you that) to be "general, clear, correct and definitive explanation." Now it would seem that the consistory holds a view that by holding fast to sola scriptura, Formula in fact states that it is not "general" and therefore doesn't apply to our time and context; it is not "clear" since it is merely man-made and open to ambiguous interpretations; neither is it "correct" - for same reasons - and finally, as a logical conclusion, it surely should not be considered "definitive"!

And while the FC itself holds that the Bible is to be considered the entirely trustworthy basis for all our teaching, consistory does not. Consistory goes on declaring, like an axiomatic truth, that the Bible itself contains a variety of views about God and is bound to its temporal and cultural context.

I don't know about you, but I consider it to be rather schizophrenic that the consistory first grants Mr. Suokonautio freedom from confession using sola scriptura-principle, and immediately after this has been done, forgets the whole sola scriptura and declares the Word of God to be ambiguous and inherently human-originated.

The resolution states that Suokonautio's teachings can not "in any way" be considered contrary to the Book of Concord. Therefore it would seem, that Suokonautio is more orthodox Lutheran than I can even hope to be. If this is declared "Lutheran" then we can surely see a literal wave of young "confessional" theologians and clergy in ELCF, albeit this "confessionalism" will be as confessional as democracy of old "People's Republics" was democratic.

One thing is widely common to all apostasy: it can not bring itself to publicly confess that doctrine and faith have really been changed. The facade of confessions are kept up, the traditions and church history are highly revered, yes. Because in the end, Church which has given up the Word of God has no other force keeping it together than tradition and power. And that is why Luther-foundation is such an insult to the official ELCF.

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