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My view

read Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis, himself a self-professed atheist until the

Spirit came knocking. Paul Brammeier Stoughton, Wis.

Words of wisdom

What a pleasure to read “Digesting Scripture” by Peter W. Marty (February, page 3). This humble, wise view about working at understanding Scripture cer- tainly is in short supply today. It never ceases to amaze me that so many folks believe they know for sure what God means by those words written so many years ago in another language. Better that we walk humbly with our God and realize that none of us mortals can ever fully know or understand all the great

mystery of his love. Sue Kaestner Houston

No respect

I find it amazing that the ELCA would allow pension cuts for pastors to hap- pen. We have cut out going to special events, limited eating out, postponed or totally abandoned home repairs. And yet there is no hue and cry about treating the servants of the church with respect. Our pension leaders send out a letter with the good news of only a 6 percent cut this year on top of the 9 percent cut last year. Listen, young clergy, get your

pension program somewhere else. The Rev. C. Marcus Engdahl Virginia Beach, Va.

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Seaton has taught Sunday school to all ages from 3-year- olds to adults during the 35 years he has attended St. Luke Church, Devon, Pa.

By Paul B. Seaton

Religion & modernity Engage current thinking to remain relevant


artin Luther doubted. His skepticism ranged from disillusionment with his efforts to earn justification, to his lack of confidence with the training of local priests, to his dissatisfaction with some books in the Roman Catholic canon, to his belief that selling indulgences was neither appropriate nor scripturally sound. As a result of the skepticism of Reformation-era reli-

gious leaders, church polity underwent unsettling and sig- nificant changes. This coincided with challenges to church perspectives from science and enlightened thought. The ELCA needs to engage, once again, in vigorous dia-

logue about modern thinking and religion. Conversations with church colleagues suggest that, for many of us, post- modern thinking challenges notions of unscientific religious dogma. Specific religious doctrines and practices seem increasingly irrelevant to many of our educationally sophis- ticated, technologically advanced young people. Declining attendance implies disengagement from the church. Sociologists might better determine to what extent mod- ern influences dampen religious conviction and participa- tion, but my reading and experience suggest that some of these factors might stimulate attitude shifts regarding the church:

• Popular media persistently portray secular lifestyles that run counter to traditional religious perspectives. • Multicultural contacts in business and education and an interest in interfaith dialogue support acceptance of others’ traditions and diminish the one way, one truth principle. • Conservative organizations and denominations often cling to outmoded concepts, traditional styles or homo- phobic ideas that are rejected by many modern critics. • The ubiquitous emphasis in America on math and sci- ence education that engages students in fact-based logical thinking undermines acceptance of mythology. • Contentment with an ethical and charitable way of life independent of the church may lead to satisfaction with this disengagement. • The evisceration of the historical Bible by many modern authors and scholars might discourage participation by those who perceive that the entire institution is based on untruths. A parishioner recently said, “I believe the Bible is God’s word, not God’s words.” But what does God’s word say if the words are inaccurate or outside of scientific conceptual- ization? As a committed Lutheran, I believe Christian the- ology must, in Luther-like fashion, resolutely engage post- modern people to maintain its relevance to the world. M

March 2011 49

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