|School of Athens in the Apostolic Palace in Rome by Raphael|
The figures represent Philosophy, Poetry, Theology, and Law
The Greek Philosophers above wrote on Natural Law.
Now cooperation in externals has been on the collective mind of the Missouri Synod for sometime now. Most recently brought to the fore due to the actions of the ELCA regarding human sexuality, i.e., the promotion of homosexual marriage, adoption of children by homosexual couples, and the acceptance of homosexual ordination. The LCMS Convention in July 2010 passed resolution 3-03, "Cooperation in Externals with Theological Integrity."
Lately, I have been thinking a great deal about Natural Law and Cooperation in Externals. This is, in part, due to some research and writing I have been doing, but also due to circumstances regarding my position as the Director of Church Relations. In any case, I had trouble sleeping so I thought I'd try my hand at some Theses for Cooperation in Externals.
Theses for Cooperation in Externals
Premise: Cooperation in Externals can only occur on the basis of Natural Law. "Externals" are defined as areas apart from pulpit and altar fellowship, occurring primarily in the realm of the left-hand kingdom.
- Cooperation in Externals can only occur when there is agreement in Natural Law.
- Cooperation in Externals can also occur when there is agreement in doctrine and practice, because such agreement constitutes agreement in Natural Law.
- The area of cooperation itself (the task at hand) cannot violate Natural Law.
- In an area of cooperation, if there is not agreement in Natural Law, then cooperation cannot occur, because such cooperation would violate the Law of God.
- The means of accomplishing the task or area of cooperation cannot violate Natural Law.
(At 3:30 AM, I thought of a few more theses, but this gives the general drift...)
In a similar way, natural law can be applied to "cooperation in externals" within the church. Is it permissible for the church to cooperate with such and such a group or church body? The short answer: will such cooperation result in the violation of Natural Law. If yes, then cooperation is not permissible. Can two church bodies cooperate in an area where they do not have agreement on how Natural Law applies to that area of cooperation? The Theses above would suggest not.
Perhaps, the real issue is not "cooperation" but confusion over Natural Law.
|An Irrelevant Graphic From a Google Images|
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