Thursday, 6/25, we'll continue our Bible Study discussion topic is church and society. Join us, 7:30-8:30pm, on Zoom: https://zoom.us/j/703956236
What do you consider as the relationship between church/faith and society? And/or what should it be?
A new resource published by our denomination (ELCA) week of 6/22, Being a Public Church, outlines what's acceptable and not for congregations and clergy's public engagement in elections and campaigns.
From this morning's daily prayer, the reading was Ezekiel 34:1-16 - about the leaders of the people who are false shepherds, and God's promise to be a good shepherd. God has a lot to say in scripture about leaders, governments, kings, leaders, and the weaknesses of societies, for the sake of the people. What does that mean for how we as people of faith are to respond?
Any study of this topic often begins or can be helped by starting with (but not necessarily sticking to or accepting) H. Richard Niebuhr's categories in his book Christ & Culture (as summarized by Pt. Bob Benne here, with some edits):
But like most things, Lutherans believe all of these things, and find themselves all across this spectrum, and some find these categories unhelpful, to simple, or bound by modern thinking to begin with. I (Pastor Brett) personally believe that while Lutherans technically believe in the "in paradox" type above, that foundational belief moves us toward the "transforming" position - when it comes to living out our faith, and I personally find that reflected in Luther and subsequent Lutheran theologians.
One key thing we often consider or respond to when we consider this topic, is religious freedom and the "separation of church and state" which comes from the "establishment clause" in the First Amendment. Much of our thinking also flows from Jefferson's language in a letter he wrote regarding the First Amendment:
Believing with you that religion is a matter which lies solely between Man & his God, that he owes account to none other for his faith or his worship, that the legitimate powers of government reach actions only, & not opinions, I contemplate with sovereign reverence that act of the whole American people which declared that their legislature should 'make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof,' thus building a wall of separation between Church and State."
Ok. But what does that mean to you?
What are the scripture verses/concepts/religious teachings that come to mind when you consider this topic?
Check back later here and I'll update this with some for us to discuss - feel free to add yours in the comments below.
Some other questions to consider:
What is the Christian call/duty to advocate to change society?
How much did Jesus talk about social/civil/political matters?
What does it mean to you for a topic to be "political?" Where is the line?
A couple examples for you to consider/question the church and society place here:
There is an ELCA Social Statement on Church and Society - click here for the brief summary (1pg) or the full social statement (8pg), which was approved in 1991.