Saturday, July 5, 2008

Bishop Robinson among the Lutherans

This 4th of July weekend, Lutherans Concerned//North America (LC/NA) is holding its biennial assembly, dubbed Hearts on Fire, in San Francisco.

Visiting LGBT Lutherans were enjoying what a speaker, Bishop John L. Sellers (UCC), called California's "Love Rush." Many of LC/NA leaders and members took time out of four days of meeting and strategic planning to get married.

Bishop Gene Robinson gave the opening keynote address on Thursday. He touched on many of the same themes in an interview with the San Francisco Chronicle, explaining:
"I think I'm so 'dangerous' because I'm so normal. ... What terrifies (conservatives) is that people will get to know me and find me to be not all that extraordinary and, indeed, find out how theologically orthodox I am. And then all of their arguments fall apart."
On Friday Bishop Robinson conversed informally at the conference with a classroom full of very engaged Lutherans. Much of the discussion ranged over the paradox that Lutherans came to ordain women without much controversy but still exclude open LGBT people from ordained ministry. Meanwhile Episcopalians only came to women's ordination through a painful path that included ecclesiastical disobedience -- yet now have many proudly open gay clergy and a gay bishop.

Bishop Robinson told a questioner that he will only discuss the seven Biblical texts that are read as condemnations of homosexuality after a prior discussion of how people read and understand Scripture.

And he opined that religious controversies seem to come down to disputes between people who have very different understandings of the Church. One sort of religious person believes that humans are so deeply damaged/sinful that we need a Church and religious strictures that keeps a lid on us. Another sort takes as a starting point God's pronouncement that God's creation is good and hopes for God's exuberant love to be extended through human life and action.

In his signature line, Bishop Robinson left no doubt which side of that divide he's on: "we're ALL going to heaven."

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