Michelangelo as secret Lutheran?

Anthony Sacramone reports on a strain of research that is linking Michelangelo to the “Spirituali,” a group of proto-Lutherans in the Roman church who believed in justification by faith:

While studying Michelangelo’s sculpture of Moses, part of the Tomb of Julius II, [Antonio] Forcellino began to notice certain “anomalies” that gave him pause. Further research, especially in the Vatican archives, led him to the relationship between Michelangelo and Cardinal Reginald Pole, Cardinal Ercole Gonzaga, and Vittoria Colonna, a noblewoman.

What these folks had in common was a desire to reform the Catholic Church from within. In fact, Pole’s views on justification, like Gaspar Contarini’s, bears a striking resemblance to Luther’s, although not identical to it.

Forcellino believes a tortured and conflicted Michaelangelo began to ask that question that seemed to be in the 16th-century air: “What must I do to be saved?”  ”Grace cannot be purchased,” Michelangelo wrote to Colonna in light of the indulgences controversy, and, influenced by the Spirituali and their Christocentric discussions of reform and renewal, the work of il Maestro began to focus increasingly on Christ and a direct relationship with God, rather than on the insitutional church, its clergy, and its sacraments.

By 1547, Pole, then a papal governor in northern Italy, was at the center of a network of reformed-minded clergy, laity, and artists. They were educated, wealthy, and sympathetic to many of the same concerns as the Protestants, although they themselves were not Protestants.

Pole was seen as a man who could bridge the divide between Rome and the Reformers. Michelangelo, a member of this network, began to produce images “that mirror these ideas,” says one scholar in the Secrets documentary.

But the Spirituali began making the authorities nervous, and Cardinal Caraffa, a nobleman from Naples, became Pope Paul III’s top heresy hunter, Inquisitor General for Rome. He despised anything that smacked of Lutheranism, and to him the Spirituali were secret Lutherans.

And that included, believe it or not, Michelangelo. Caraffa denounced the master painter’s Second Coming of Christ, not only because of the rampant nudity, but also because it focused too much on man and his relation to Christ, not the church.

This group was soon persecuted out of existence. But not before the Pope named Cardinal Pole, an Englishman, as his hoped-for successor to the papacy! He was not elected, but think what might have been.

About Gene Veith

Professor of Literature at Patrick Henry College, the Director of the Cranach Institute at Concordia Theological Seminary, a columnist for World Magazine and TableTalk, and the author of 18 books on different facets of Christianity & Culture.

  • Joe

    That is really interesting. So often, I have the tendency to view the Roman Catholic Church as being of one mind. This is a good reminder that there are many different views under that umbrella.

  • Joe

    That is really interesting. So often, I have the tendency to view the Roman Catholic Church as being of one mind. This is a good reminder that there are many different views under that umbrella.

  • Carl Vehse

    He was not elected, but think what might have been.”

    I wonder if the Lutheran Confessions in the Book of Concord would still contain Martin Luther’s “Smalcald Articles” (including Article IV, On the Papacy, and Philip Melanchthon’s “Treatise on the Power and Primacy of the Pope”?

  • Carl Vehse

    He was not elected, but think what might have been.”

    I wonder if the Lutheran Confessions in the Book of Concord would still contain Martin Luther’s “Smalcald Articles” (including Article IV, On the Papacy, and Philip Melanchthon’s “Treatise on the Power and Primacy of the Pope”?

  • http://www.hempelstudios.blogspot.com Sarah in Exile

    COOL!

  • http://www.hempelstudios.blogspot.com Sarah in Exile

    COOL!

  • Carl Vehse

    Check out Edward Courtenay’s 1548 English translation, Benefit of Christ’s Death (from the Italian Beneficio di Cristo.

    There is an extensive preface and introduction, along with other language versions, prior to the English translation on pp. 89-188.

  • Carl Vehse

    Check out Edward Courtenay’s 1548 English translation, Benefit of Christ’s Death (from the Italian Beneficio di Cristo.

    There is an extensive preface and introduction, along with other language versions, prior to the English translation on pp. 89-188.

  • Peter Leavitt

    Too bad that the Catholic reformers in the Sixteenth Century were defeated by stiff-necked authorities, just as stiff-necked Protestant authorities resist serious ecumenical reform that would unite Christ’s one church in our time. Christ prayed for the unity of all his disciples, as the Gospel of John made clear with “that they may be one” [ ut unum sint].

    We Protestants may regret the narrowness of Catholics in Michaelangelo’s time, though we hardly do any better in our own time.

    One thinks of this particularly when daily singing Matins, the Canticles, and Compline, following the Lutheran Treasury of Daily Prayer that Dr. Veith recommends.

  • Peter Leavitt

    Too bad that the Catholic reformers in the Sixteenth Century were defeated by stiff-necked authorities, just as stiff-necked Protestant authorities resist serious ecumenical reform that would unite Christ’s one church in our time. Christ prayed for the unity of all his disciples, as the Gospel of John made clear with “that they may be one” [ ut unum sint].

    We Protestants may regret the narrowness of Catholics in Michaelangelo’s time, though we hardly do any better in our own time.

    One thinks of this particularly when daily singing Matins, the Canticles, and Compline, following the Lutheran Treasury of Daily Prayer that Dr. Veith recommends.

  • http://willbenton.com wb

    “…a group of proto-Lutherans in the Roman church who believed in justification by faith.”

    Do you mean like Augustine? Or Clement of Rome?

    (I am mostly kidding. But it seems unwise — and incorrect — to concede the claim that Lutheran soteriology represents a doctrinal innovation of the 16th century.)

  • http://willbenton.com wb

    “…a group of proto-Lutherans in the Roman church who believed in justification by faith.”

    Do you mean like Augustine? Or Clement of Rome?

    (I am mostly kidding. But it seems unwise — and incorrect — to concede the claim that Lutheran soteriology represents a doctrinal innovation of the 16th century.)

  • Carl Vehse

    Christ prayed for the unity of all his disciples, as the Gospel of John made clear with “that they may be one” [ ut unum sint].

    Other than the Apostles Creed’s “one holy Christian Church” (in the Nicene Creed aka, the one holy Catholic and Apostolic Church; among Lutherans aka, the invisible Church), what unity of all his disciples did Christ pray for in the Gospel of John?

  • Carl Vehse

    Christ prayed for the unity of all his disciples, as the Gospel of John made clear with “that they may be one” [ ut unum sint].

    Other than the Apostles Creed’s “one holy Christian Church” (in the Nicene Creed aka, the one holy Catholic and Apostolic Church; among Lutherans aka, the invisible Church), what unity of all his disciples did Christ pray for in the Gospel of John?

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  • Peter Leavitt

    Carl, read John 17:6-19, of which verse 11 as follows is key:

    And now I am no more in the world, but these are in the world, and I come to thee. Holy Father, keep through thine own name those whom thou hast given me, that they may be one, as we are.

    Probably the best modern exposition of “…that they may be one” is John Paul II’s encyclical, Ut Unum Sint: On commitment to Ecumenism. In it he explains the scandal of a divided Christianity that is one of the main reasons that radical secularism has come to dominate in the modern West.

    Luther himself originally hoped to reform not divide the Christian church. That’s why his movement is called the <Reformation. Unfortunately the Protestant Reformation has become a cacophony of dissonant voices.

  • Peter Leavitt

    Carl, read John 17:6-19, of which verse 11 as follows is key:

    And now I am no more in the world, but these are in the world, and I come to thee. Holy Father, keep through thine own name those whom thou hast given me, that they may be one, as we are.

    Probably the best modern exposition of “…that they may be one” is John Paul II’s encyclical, Ut Unum Sint: On commitment to Ecumenism. In it he explains the scandal of a divided Christianity that is one of the main reasons that radical secularism has come to dominate in the modern West.

    Luther himself originally hoped to reform not divide the Christian church. That’s why his movement is called the <Reformation. Unfortunately the Protestant Reformation has become a cacophony of dissonant voices.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Peter (@9), and how are the Father and the Son one? Do they disagree on points, but still occupy the same Trinity out of solidarity?

    Or are they completely in agreement with each other?

    If the latter, then I submit that the problem is false doctrine that has appeared in various denominations. Once that is removed (as indeed was Luther’s hope), then denominations will no longer have any significance, as there will already be complete agreement.

    Until then, it would be gravely foolhardy to overlook false doctrines in a misguided attempt to pretend to be “one”.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Peter (@9), and how are the Father and the Son one? Do they disagree on points, but still occupy the same Trinity out of solidarity?

    Or are they completely in agreement with each other?

    If the latter, then I submit that the problem is false doctrine that has appeared in various denominations. Once that is removed (as indeed was Luther’s hope), then denominations will no longer have any significance, as there will already be complete agreement.

    Until then, it would be gravely foolhardy to overlook false doctrines in a misguided attempt to pretend to be “one”.

  • Peter Leavitt

    Todd, I’ll take the Gospel of John’s word that there is a fundamental unity between Christ and God within the Trinity. Further that John at 17:11 is right with Christ’s remark: Holy Father, keep through thine own name those whom thou hast given me, that they may be one, as we are.

    I should suggest that if you’re serious about this subject, you study with an open mind John Paul II’s Ut unum sint: On commitment to Ecumenism including the following from the introduction:

    Christ calls all his disciples to unity. My earnest desire is to renew this call today, to propose it once more with determination, repeating what I said at the Roman Colosseum on Good Friday 1994… There I stated that believers in Christ, united in following in the footsteps of the martyrs, cannot remain divided. If they wish truly and effectively to oppose the world’s tendency to reduce to powerlessness the Mystery of Redemption, they must profess together the same truth about the Cross.1 The Cross! An anti-Christian outlook seeks to minimize the Cross, to empty it of its meaning, and to deny that in it man has the source of his new life. It claims that the Cross is unable to provide either vision or hope. Man, it says, is nothing but an earthly being, who must live as if God did not exist.

    Having read that, you might then have a look at JOINT DECLARATION ON THE DOCTRINE OF JUSTIFICATION by the Lutheran World Federation and the Catholic Church Here.

    Among serious Christians of good will, these differences could be worked out. Among foolish and stiff-necked men who speak easily of false doctrines, of course, we Protestants can continue with our cacophonous discord.

  • Peter Leavitt

    Todd, I’ll take the Gospel of John’s word that there is a fundamental unity between Christ and God within the Trinity. Further that John at 17:11 is right with Christ’s remark: Holy Father, keep through thine own name those whom thou hast given me, that they may be one, as we are.

    I should suggest that if you’re serious about this subject, you study with an open mind John Paul II’s Ut unum sint: On commitment to Ecumenism including the following from the introduction:

    Christ calls all his disciples to unity. My earnest desire is to renew this call today, to propose it once more with determination, repeating what I said at the Roman Colosseum on Good Friday 1994… There I stated that believers in Christ, united in following in the footsteps of the martyrs, cannot remain divided. If they wish truly and effectively to oppose the world’s tendency to reduce to powerlessness the Mystery of Redemption, they must profess together the same truth about the Cross.1 The Cross! An anti-Christian outlook seeks to minimize the Cross, to empty it of its meaning, and to deny that in it man has the source of his new life. It claims that the Cross is unable to provide either vision or hope. Man, it says, is nothing but an earthly being, who must live as if God did not exist.

    Having read that, you might then have a look at JOINT DECLARATION ON THE DOCTRINE OF JUSTIFICATION by the Lutheran World Federation and the Catholic Church Here.

    Among serious Christians of good will, these differences could be worked out. Among foolish and stiff-necked men who speak easily of false doctrines, of course, we Protestants can continue with our cacophonous discord.

  • http://www.geneveith.com Veith

    Of course Luther’s re-discovery of the Gospel and God’s Word was not “his,” as if the Gospel did not exist until he formulated it. What is of interest here is the well-known fact that in the 16th century, the centrality of justification by faith for Christ’s sake–as opposed to the accretions of indulgences, salvation by acquiring merit, etc.–and Luther’s other Reforming teachings were being spread not only in Germany but everywhere in Europe, including Italy and Spain.

    I didn’t know about this particular group of high-placed clerics and laypeople in Rome itself, but it fits what we know. I was aware, for example, of the Spanish cleric Juan Valdes (no relation to the coffee grower, I presume). I knew that Michelangelo struggled at his failure to save himself–possibly a struggle over homosexuality–and the prospect that he found the Gospel fills me with joy.

    The bigger point, addressing what has been said here and elsewhere, is that Luther did not invent a sect. He brought much-needed reformation to the universal church, which it still needs.

    I do agree with tODD that we don’t need to work for ecumenical unity as such because the true church is already one! Christ’s prayer is answered. The Gospel of Christ creates the church.

    This is also why I rejoiced that the Muslim terrorist who tried to kill the pope wants to become a Christian and be baptized. That’s more than just becoming Catholic instead of becoming Lutheran or Baptist or whatever. He wants in the holy Christian church, and I’m glad to welcome him.

  • http://www.geneveith.com Veith

    Of course Luther’s re-discovery of the Gospel and God’s Word was not “his,” as if the Gospel did not exist until he formulated it. What is of interest here is the well-known fact that in the 16th century, the centrality of justification by faith for Christ’s sake–as opposed to the accretions of indulgences, salvation by acquiring merit, etc.–and Luther’s other Reforming teachings were being spread not only in Germany but everywhere in Europe, including Italy and Spain.

    I didn’t know about this particular group of high-placed clerics and laypeople in Rome itself, but it fits what we know. I was aware, for example, of the Spanish cleric Juan Valdes (no relation to the coffee grower, I presume). I knew that Michelangelo struggled at his failure to save himself–possibly a struggle over homosexuality–and the prospect that he found the Gospel fills me with joy.

    The bigger point, addressing what has been said here and elsewhere, is that Luther did not invent a sect. He brought much-needed reformation to the universal church, which it still needs.

    I do agree with tODD that we don’t need to work for ecumenical unity as such because the true church is already one! Christ’s prayer is answered. The Gospel of Christ creates the church.

    This is also why I rejoiced that the Muslim terrorist who tried to kill the pope wants to become a Christian and be baptized. That’s more than just becoming Catholic instead of becoming Lutheran or Baptist or whatever. He wants in the holy Christian church, and I’m glad to welcome him.

  • Carl Vehse

    There is only true unity within the holy Christian Church, that is, the true believers who are the body of Christ, the invisible Church. It is this unity of true believer to which Christ referred in John 17. The Lutheran exposition of this unity of the Church is given in Art. VII/VIII in Augsburg Confession and the Apology to the Augsburg Confession.

    Insofar as any visible unity with the Church of Rome, Lutherans will look forward to that beginning when the confession of the Church or Rome is congruent with the Augsburg Confession and the Apology as well as the Smalcald Articles and the Treatise on the Power and Primacy of the Pope.

  • Carl Vehse

    There is only true unity within the holy Christian Church, that is, the true believers who are the body of Christ, the invisible Church. It is this unity of true believer to which Christ referred in John 17. The Lutheran exposition of this unity of the Church is given in Art. VII/VIII in Augsburg Confession and the Apology to the Augsburg Confession.

    Insofar as any visible unity with the Church of Rome, Lutherans will look forward to that beginning when the confession of the Church or Rome is congruent with the Augsburg Confession and the Apology as well as the Smalcald Articles and the Treatise on the Power and Primacy of the Pope.

  • Peter Leavitt

    Dr. Veith, it is true that on an important level that Christ’s Gospel unites His church. Yet, anyone who understands that the church is the bride of Christ must be pained at the proud discord among the churches. That is why serious Protestant theologians of the caliber of the Episcopal Newman and Lutheran Neuhaus thought it essential to reconcile their differences with the Catholic church, which in the end they found wasn’t all that hard to do.

    Carl, yes there are serious issues that divide including that of the primacy and power of the Pope. If you expect a unity with the Catholic Church based on every jot and tittle of the assorted propositions of the Augsburg confession and the Catholic Magisterium, then the scandal of church disunity will continue. When serious people and institutions reconcile their differences, they find ways to compose them, not to dwell on them.

  • Peter Leavitt

    Dr. Veith, it is true that on an important level that Christ’s Gospel unites His church. Yet, anyone who understands that the church is the bride of Christ must be pained at the proud discord among the churches. That is why serious Protestant theologians of the caliber of the Episcopal Newman and Lutheran Neuhaus thought it essential to reconcile their differences with the Catholic church, which in the end they found wasn’t all that hard to do.

    Carl, yes there are serious issues that divide including that of the primacy and power of the Pope. If you expect a unity with the Catholic Church based on every jot and tittle of the assorted propositions of the Augsburg confession and the Catholic Magisterium, then the scandal of church disunity will continue. When serious people and institutions reconcile their differences, they find ways to compose them, not to dwell on them.

  • http://www.geneveith.com Veith

    I know, Peter, and I feel this too. Here we get into the paradoxes of Lutheran ecclessiology. We would say that the Gospel not only unites the church on an important level, but that this level IS the church. The institutional manifestation of that church varies but is only of secondary importance. Furthermore, the most important aspect of that institutional level is the local congregation. It is in the local church–not the hierarchies or bureaucracies–where the Word of God is proclaimed and the Sacraments are administered and Christ is present with His people.

    It’s good for those congregations to band together. We confessional Lutherans believe they can only do so when they are in full agreement with each other, as tODD says. (He is always arguing with me and most people here, being on the liberal side politically, but as a Wisconsin synod Lutheran he is even more conservative than us Missouri synod Lutherans on this issue! I’m glad to draw out that side of him.)

    (It isn’t so much that we think the church is “invisible,” which was the term I used, but, more technically, that it is “hidden.” That’s a mode of presence. The church is present, though, not seen, where ever the Word of God is creating faith.

    This is why we Lutherans can seem both so open to other churches–as when I was rejoicing that the Mehmet Acga (sp?) wanted to get Baptized at the Vatican–AND so closed to other churches (as in our practice of closed communion, in which congregations share the Lord’s Supper only with those who are in full doctrinal agreement with them. Also why we can be so harshly critical of our own church body!

    This all comes out of Lutheran ecclessiology. I realize other Christians have different ecclessiologies and will come to different conclusions.

  • http://www.geneveith.com Veith

    I know, Peter, and I feel this too. Here we get into the paradoxes of Lutheran ecclessiology. We would say that the Gospel not only unites the church on an important level, but that this level IS the church. The institutional manifestation of that church varies but is only of secondary importance. Furthermore, the most important aspect of that institutional level is the local congregation. It is in the local church–not the hierarchies or bureaucracies–where the Word of God is proclaimed and the Sacraments are administered and Christ is present with His people.

    It’s good for those congregations to band together. We confessional Lutherans believe they can only do so when they are in full agreement with each other, as tODD says. (He is always arguing with me and most people here, being on the liberal side politically, but as a Wisconsin synod Lutheran he is even more conservative than us Missouri synod Lutherans on this issue! I’m glad to draw out that side of him.)

    (It isn’t so much that we think the church is “invisible,” which was the term I used, but, more technically, that it is “hidden.” That’s a mode of presence. The church is present, though, not seen, where ever the Word of God is creating faith.

    This is why we Lutherans can seem both so open to other churches–as when I was rejoicing that the Mehmet Acga (sp?) wanted to get Baptized at the Vatican–AND so closed to other churches (as in our practice of closed communion, in which congregations share the Lord’s Supper only with those who are in full doctrinal agreement with them. Also why we can be so harshly critical of our own church body!

    This all comes out of Lutheran ecclessiology. I realize other Christians have different ecclessiologies and will come to different conclusions.

  • http://www.utah-lutheran.com Bror Erickson

    Yes Peter you are absolutely correct it is us protestants who are stiff necked and proud. The Roman Catholics have nothing to be ashamed of when it comes to ecumenical dialogue, except playing the same card over and over again. “Give up Justification by faith alone and submit to the Pope.” And of course the LWF is hardly serious about doctrine, and did give up Justification by faith alone. I suppose it is the feminism in their ranks that has given them the backbone that does not allow them to submit to the Pope.

  • http://www.utah-lutheran.com Bror Erickson

    Yes Peter you are absolutely correct it is us protestants who are stiff necked and proud. The Roman Catholics have nothing to be ashamed of when it comes to ecumenical dialogue, except playing the same card over and over again. “Give up Justification by faith alone and submit to the Pope.” And of course the LWF is hardly serious about doctrine, and did give up Justification by faith alone. I suppose it is the feminism in their ranks that has given them the backbone that does not allow them to submit to the Pope.

  • Peter Leavitt

    Bror, the Roman Catholics were far from the view of “Give up Justification by faith alone and submit to the Pope.” Their theologians and those from the Lutheran World Federation arrived at a carefully worked out position that upheld justification by faith. Article five of the Joint Declaration reads:

    The present Joint Declaration has this intention: namely, to show that on the basis of their dialogue the subscribing Lutheran churches and the Roman Catholic Church[9] are now able to articulate a common understanding of our justification by God’s grace through faith in Christ. It does not cover all that either church teaches about justification; it does encompass a consensus on basic truths of the doctrine of justification and shows that the remaining differences in its explication are no longer the occasion for doctrinal condemnations.

    Among the stiff-necked Protestants whom I referred to are those who fought the Joint Declaration and continue to be smugly satisfied with their denominations.

  • Peter Leavitt

    Bror, the Roman Catholics were far from the view of “Give up Justification by faith alone and submit to the Pope.” Their theologians and those from the Lutheran World Federation arrived at a carefully worked out position that upheld justification by faith. Article five of the Joint Declaration reads:

    The present Joint Declaration has this intention: namely, to show that on the basis of their dialogue the subscribing Lutheran churches and the Roman Catholic Church[9] are now able to articulate a common understanding of our justification by God’s grace through faith in Christ. It does not cover all that either church teaches about justification; it does encompass a consensus on basic truths of the doctrine of justification and shows that the remaining differences in its explication are no longer the occasion for doctrinal condemnations.

    Among the stiff-necked Protestants whom I referred to are those who fought the Joint Declaration and continue to be smugly satisfied with their denominations.

  • http://www.utah-lutheran.com Bror Erickson

    Hmmm,
    Yes I’m sure your right, I am, contrary to the beliefs of all my “ecclesiastical supervisors” who have heard from me on occasion, smugly satisfied with my denomination. I say that because I am one that firmly rejects the Joint Declaration.
    I also find it curious that the only Lutheran Churches that signed it, were ones that had prior to doing so given up on the Bible as the sole source and norm for faith, that has been followed by the ordination of women, and the condoning of homosexual behavior, which are only the symptoms of much deeper doctrinal problems.
    The Catholics themselves are keenly aware that the Lutherans they were talking to, long ago gave up being Lutheran, and have the theological integrity of a bitch in heat willing to take the first mutt that comes along. the document means nothing! It hasn’t changed one bit of practice as usual in either church. It made more or less a few press releases, but it changed nothing for either of them, except that the LWF officially gave up on the Lutheran doctrine of justification it had already given up on long before when it through out the Bible. Like I said they may have even submitted to the pope, but the women would had to have given up their frocks and that is the last sacred cow of the LWF, though that cow has given birth to a light loafered golden calf. You seriously contend that these people take theology seriously?
    Though there were in the ranks of the LWF some very serious minded theologians that did not follow suit, Gerhard Forde, Nestingen, Bengt Haglund etc. all have lost an ecclesiastical home at this point.

  • http://www.utah-lutheran.com Bror Erickson

    Hmmm,
    Yes I’m sure your right, I am, contrary to the beliefs of all my “ecclesiastical supervisors” who have heard from me on occasion, smugly satisfied with my denomination. I say that because I am one that firmly rejects the Joint Declaration.
    I also find it curious that the only Lutheran Churches that signed it, were ones that had prior to doing so given up on the Bible as the sole source and norm for faith, that has been followed by the ordination of women, and the condoning of homosexual behavior, which are only the symptoms of much deeper doctrinal problems.
    The Catholics themselves are keenly aware that the Lutherans they were talking to, long ago gave up being Lutheran, and have the theological integrity of a bitch in heat willing to take the first mutt that comes along. the document means nothing! It hasn’t changed one bit of practice as usual in either church. It made more or less a few press releases, but it changed nothing for either of them, except that the LWF officially gave up on the Lutheran doctrine of justification it had already given up on long before when it through out the Bible. Like I said they may have even submitted to the pope, but the women would had to have given up their frocks and that is the last sacred cow of the LWF, though that cow has given birth to a light loafered golden calf. You seriously contend that these people take theology seriously?
    Though there were in the ranks of the LWF some very serious minded theologians that did not follow suit, Gerhard Forde, Nestingen, Bengt Haglund etc. all have lost an ecclesiastical home at this point.

  • Carl Vehse

    Peter Leavitt: “Among the stiff-necked Protestants whom I referred to are those who fought the Joint Declaration and continue to be smugly satisfied with their denominations.”

    Would this include Lutherans holding to their confession that recognizes the pope as the Antichrist?

    “This teaching shows forcefully that the Pope is the very Antichrist, who has exalted himself above, and opposed himself against Christ because he will not permit Christians to be saved without his power, which, nevertheless, is nothing, and is neither ordained nor commanded by God…. Therefore, just as little as we can worship the devil himself as Lord and God, we can endure his apostle, the Pope, or Antichrist, in his rule as head or lord.” [Martin Luther, Smalcald Articles]

  • Carl Vehse

    Peter Leavitt: “Among the stiff-necked Protestants whom I referred to are those who fought the Joint Declaration and continue to be smugly satisfied with their denominations.”

    Would this include Lutherans holding to their confession that recognizes the pope as the Antichrist?

    “This teaching shows forcefully that the Pope is the very Antichrist, who has exalted himself above, and opposed himself against Christ because he will not permit Christians to be saved without his power, which, nevertheless, is nothing, and is neither ordained nor commanded by God…. Therefore, just as little as we can worship the devil himself as Lord and God, we can endure his apostle, the Pope, or Antichrist, in his rule as head or lord.” [Martin Luther, Smalcald Articles]

  • http://www.utah-lutheran.com Bror Erickson

    funny thing about that Carl, since Vatican II it seems the pope will permit Buddhists, Muslims, and Hindu’s to salvation, but not so much Lutherans as Trent hasn’t been renounced in any of their documents, and Trent anethamatizes all who hold to Justification by Faith Alone, the self same Gospel Paul preached to the Galatians.

  • http://www.utah-lutheran.com Bror Erickson

    funny thing about that Carl, since Vatican II it seems the pope will permit Buddhists, Muslims, and Hindu’s to salvation, but not so much Lutherans as Trent hasn’t been renounced in any of their documents, and Trent anethamatizes all who hold to Justification by Faith Alone, the self same Gospel Paul preached to the Galatians.

  • Peter Leavitt

    Bror, a fair reading of the Joint Declaration makes clear that the fundamental Lutheran doctrine of Justification is upheld. That some of the churches supported this declaration are flaccid liberal ones hardly obviates the point.

    Carl, the Smalcald articles that declared the Pope to be an Antichrist were written in 1537 at a time of mainly decadent Italian Renaissance popes. A lot of water has gone over the Roman dam since then including Vatican II that favors religious liberty. Do you really regard the late John Paul II and the Present Benedict as Antichrist Popes?

  • Peter Leavitt

    Bror, a fair reading of the Joint Declaration makes clear that the fundamental Lutheran doctrine of Justification is upheld. That some of the churches supported this declaration are flaccid liberal ones hardly obviates the point.

    Carl, the Smalcald articles that declared the Pope to be an Antichrist were written in 1537 at a time of mainly decadent Italian Renaissance popes. A lot of water has gone over the Roman dam since then including Vatican II that favors religious liberty. Do you really regard the late John Paul II and the Present Benedict as Antichrist Popes?

  • Carl Vehse

    ”a fair reading of the Joint Declaration makes clear that the fundamental Lutheran doctrine of Justification is upheld.”

    To you perhaps, but not as explained in detail in the Missouri Synod document, “The Joint Declaration on the Doctrine of Justification in Confessional Lutheran Perspective” (1999). Furthermore, prior to the signing of JDDJ over 200 Lutheran theologians in Europe issued a “Position Statement of Theological Instructors” which raised a number of objections to the JDDJ, including the objection that JDDJ promulgates an essentially Romanist view of justification.

  • Carl Vehse

    ”a fair reading of the Joint Declaration makes clear that the fundamental Lutheran doctrine of Justification is upheld.”

    To you perhaps, but not as explained in detail in the Missouri Synod document, “The Joint Declaration on the Doctrine of Justification in Confessional Lutheran Perspective” (1999). Furthermore, prior to the signing of JDDJ over 200 Lutheran theologians in Europe issued a “Position Statement of Theological Instructors” which raised a number of objections to the JDDJ, including the objection that JDDJ promulgates an essentially Romanist view of justification.

  • Carl Vehse

    As for the pope, in its section, Of the Antichrist, The Brief Statement of 1932 affirmed: “Hence we subscribe to the statement of our Confessions that the Pope is “the very Antichrist.” This Confessional statement was upheld almost six decades later in the Missouri Synod’s report, “The End Times: A Study on Eschatology and Millennialism” (1989). There has been nothing in papal views since to warrant changing this position.

    So, not only do I agree with the Confessions, and particularly the statement regarding the pope as the Antichrist, but Missouri Synod Lutheran pastors at their ordination make a public confession of it.

  • Carl Vehse

    As for the pope, in its section, Of the Antichrist, The Brief Statement of 1932 affirmed: “Hence we subscribe to the statement of our Confessions that the Pope is “the very Antichrist.” This Confessional statement was upheld almost six decades later in the Missouri Synod’s report, “The End Times: A Study on Eschatology and Millennialism” (1989). There has been nothing in papal views since to warrant changing this position.

    So, not only do I agree with the Confessions, and particularly the statement regarding the pope as the Antichrist, but Missouri Synod Lutheran pastors at their ordination make a public confession of it.

  • http://www.utah-lutheran.com Bror Erickson

    Peter,
    For the sake of this conversation, of what denomination do you belong? Are you sure you know what the Lutheran Doctrine of Justification is?

  • http://www.utah-lutheran.com Bror Erickson

    Peter,
    For the sake of this conversation, of what denomination do you belong? Are you sure you know what the Lutheran Doctrine of Justification is?

  • Peter Leavitt

    I am a Congregationalist and have a good understanding of the Lutheran Doctrine of Justification, just as do the Lutherans theologians from the World Federation who formulated the Joint Declaration. Recently I read an excellent biography of Luther Here I Stand, by Roland Bainton, a former Yale historian of religion.

    I am, also, well aware of the heated opposition among some Lutherans to the Joint Declaration. Ecumenical development is always accompanied by serious resistance.

  • Peter Leavitt

    I am a Congregationalist and have a good understanding of the Lutheran Doctrine of Justification, just as do the Lutherans theologians from the World Federation who formulated the Joint Declaration. Recently I read an excellent biography of Luther Here I Stand, by Roland Bainton, a former Yale historian of religion.

    I am, also, well aware of the heated opposition among some Lutherans to the Joint Declaration. Ecumenical development is always accompanied by serious resistance.

  • http://www.utah-lutheran.com Bror Erickson

    Good you read a biography of Luther, that makes you well prepared to discern on behalf of Lutherans. I stand corrected. And snark off.

  • http://www.utah-lutheran.com Bror Erickson

    Good you read a biography of Luther, that makes you well prepared to discern on behalf of Lutherans. I stand corrected. And snark off.

  • Peter Leavitt

    Actually, I for many years have been a close amateur student of Christianity including the Reformation. Note above that my main criticism has to with the narrowness in general of Protestantism when it comes to issues of ecumenism. I appreciate your charity in the matter.

  • Peter Leavitt

    Actually, I for many years have been a close amateur student of Christianity including the Reformation. Note above that my main criticism has to with the narrowness in general of Protestantism when it comes to issues of ecumenism. I appreciate your charity in the matter.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    I find it a bit odd being lectured on a lack of ecumenism by someone who himself remains separate from the Roman Catholic church. You haven’t exactly crossed the Tiber yourself, Peter. I realize that’s not perhaps what you think ecumenism means, but I’m not convinced Rome thinks the same..

    Anyhow, if you really want to impress Bror, I’d suggest actually reading the relevant sections of the Lutheran confessions (easily found in the Book of Concord) on justification. Then tell us why those sections are no longer relevant today — what that they refer to has been repudiated by the Roman Catholic church?

    I do think unity is a worthy goal, but only the unity that Jesus spoke of: we Christians being one as the Father and Son are one. That is, without disagreement, united in doctrine and practice. Glossing over false doctrine just so we can hold hands isn’t the unity that Jesus was talking about.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    I find it a bit odd being lectured on a lack of ecumenism by someone who himself remains separate from the Roman Catholic church. You haven’t exactly crossed the Tiber yourself, Peter. I realize that’s not perhaps what you think ecumenism means, but I’m not convinced Rome thinks the same..

    Anyhow, if you really want to impress Bror, I’d suggest actually reading the relevant sections of the Lutheran confessions (easily found in the Book of Concord) on justification. Then tell us why those sections are no longer relevant today — what that they refer to has been repudiated by the Roman Catholic church?

    I do think unity is a worthy goal, but only the unity that Jesus spoke of: we Christians being one as the Father and Son are one. That is, without disagreement, united in doctrine and practice. Glossing over false doctrine just so we can hold hands isn’t the unity that Jesus was talking about.

  • Peter Leavitt

    Todd, one doesn’t need to cross the Tiber to be interested in the crucial ecumenical work of making Christ’s church one.

    I read the section of the Book of Concord on Justification and quite agree with its basic tenets, though not at present with its divisive theme of the Catholic Church being an adversary.

    What exactly is the “false doctrine” in the Joint Declaration that you assert but don’t make clear?

  • Peter Leavitt

    Todd, one doesn’t need to cross the Tiber to be interested in the crucial ecumenical work of making Christ’s church one.

    I read the section of the Book of Concord on Justification and quite agree with its basic tenets, though not at present with its divisive theme of the Catholic Church being an adversary.

    What exactly is the “false doctrine” in the Joint Declaration that you assert but don’t make clear?

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Peter (@29), perhaps it’s just me, but I have yet to see the Roman Catholic church make any concessions in any discussion of ecumenism. If you think any movement towards external so-called unity is going to involve Rome declaring a body outside Rome to be a full and equal partner, I would like to sell you some real estate in Florida.

    I wonder, regarding the “divisive” theme of labeling the Catholics as “adversaries”, what you also think of Paul’s letter to the Galatians? Can you get more divisive than “If anybody is preaching to you a gospel other than what you accepted, let him be eternally condemned!” (Not to mention Paul’s less-than-ecumenical “emasculation” comment later on in that letter!) But if Paul was right in so stridently opposing the “circumcision group” at that time, then perhaps the Lutherans’ defense of the pure gospel against those who would corrupt it was also correct.

    The main problem in the Joint Declaration is that it manages to choose words that both sides can agree on, yet without there being agreement as to the meaning of those words. Though I myself do not belong to the Missouri Synod, I think their document The Joint Declaration
    on the Doctrine of Justification
    in Confessional Lutheran Perspective
    nonetheless is helpful in understanding this and other problems with the Joint Declaration.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Peter (@29), perhaps it’s just me, but I have yet to see the Roman Catholic church make any concessions in any discussion of ecumenism. If you think any movement towards external so-called unity is going to involve Rome declaring a body outside Rome to be a full and equal partner, I would like to sell you some real estate in Florida.

    I wonder, regarding the “divisive” theme of labeling the Catholics as “adversaries”, what you also think of Paul’s letter to the Galatians? Can you get more divisive than “If anybody is preaching to you a gospel other than what you accepted, let him be eternally condemned!” (Not to mention Paul’s less-than-ecumenical “emasculation” comment later on in that letter!) But if Paul was right in so stridently opposing the “circumcision group” at that time, then perhaps the Lutherans’ defense of the pure gospel against those who would corrupt it was also correct.

    The main problem in the Joint Declaration is that it manages to choose words that both sides can agree on, yet without there being agreement as to the meaning of those words. Though I myself do not belong to the Missouri Synod, I think their document The Joint Declaration
    on the Doctrine of Justification
    in Confessional Lutheran Perspective
    nonetheless is helpful in understanding this and other problems with the Joint Declaration.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    But if you will not take the LCMS’s writings as “serious” enough, I also find the Response of the Catholic Church to the Joint Declaration of the Catholic Church and the Lutheran World Federation on the Doctrine of Justification to be reason enough to declare the Joint Declaration worthless. I find it telling enough that the Catholics needed to have an official, clarifying response to a joint declaration to which they were party — wasn’t that what the joint declaration was for in the first place?

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    But if you will not take the LCMS’s writings as “serious” enough, I also find the Response of the Catholic Church to the Joint Declaration of the Catholic Church and the Lutheran World Federation on the Doctrine of Justification to be reason enough to declare the Joint Declaration worthless. I find it telling enough that the Catholics needed to have an official, clarifying response to a joint declaration to which they were party — wasn’t that what the joint declaration was for in the first place?

  • Carl Vehse

    In an ecumenical moment with tODD, I would only point out that the Roman Catholic Response document was prepared in cooperation with the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, formerly aka, the Supreme Sacred Congregation of the Universal Inquisition.

    Guess who was the Congregation’s Prefect during the time of the JDDJ and Response.

    Hint: He rides around in this.

  • Carl Vehse

    In an ecumenical moment with tODD, I would only point out that the Roman Catholic Response document was prepared in cooperation with the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, formerly aka, the Supreme Sacred Congregation of the Universal Inquisition.

    Guess who was the Congregation’s Prefect during the time of the JDDJ and Response.

    Hint: He rides around in this.

  • Peter Leavitt

    Todd, you didn’t answer the question of what exactly you found to be the false doctrines of the Joint Declaration. Your points about the atmospherics of the dialog don’t cut it. Have you read the is document?

    The late Richard John Neuhaus, a former Lutheran Missouri Synod pastor and respected theologian, who was involved at the highest levels of the Lutheran- Catholic dialog, came to the conclusion that the issues between these churches were as straw. He converted and became a Catholic priest. He saw, as did the former Presbyterian, Avery Cardinal Dulles, that the issues that concerned Luther and Calvin had been effectively dealt with by the Roman Catholic church. They, also, saw clearly the danger to Christ’s church of the narcissism of small and provincial differences.

    Apart from John Paul II’s superb encyclical, Ut Unum Sint, [That They Be One], the best short article on the proper spirit of ecumenism is Dulles’ article, Saving Ecumenism from Itself.

  • Peter Leavitt

    Todd, you didn’t answer the question of what exactly you found to be the false doctrines of the Joint Declaration. Your points about the atmospherics of the dialog don’t cut it. Have you read the is document?

    The late Richard John Neuhaus, a former Lutheran Missouri Synod pastor and respected theologian, who was involved at the highest levels of the Lutheran- Catholic dialog, came to the conclusion that the issues between these churches were as straw. He converted and became a Catholic priest. He saw, as did the former Presbyterian, Avery Cardinal Dulles, that the issues that concerned Luther and Calvin had been effectively dealt with by the Roman Catholic church. They, also, saw clearly the danger to Christ’s church of the narcissism of small and provincial differences.

    Apart from John Paul II’s superb encyclical, Ut Unum Sint, [That They Be One], the best short article on the proper spirit of ecumenism is Dulles’ article, Saving Ecumenism from Itself.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Peter (@32), I never actually said anything about the existence of “false doctrine” in the Joint Declaration itself, which is why I ignored your question. However, I will assert that there is false doctrine in the Roman Catholic church, which is why to gloss over it (which the Joint Declaration does its best to do, at least on the part of the Lutheran World Federation, an organization that is rather less than free from the influence of false doctrine itself) would be counter to the true unity that Jesus prayed for.

    I will admit to having skimmed the full text of the Joint Declaration here and there, but only because — and the official Catholic “response” makes this clear enough — not even the Catholics take it very seriously, and must add their own interpretation to the carefully chosen words of the Declaration before they can agree with it.

    Peter, have you ever talked to a Mormon? You can talk about Jesus, heaven, and hell, salvation, and so on, and come away convinced that you and the Mormon believe the same things. But those words do not mean the same things to Mormons as they do to Christians. Our apparent agreement would be based on nothing more than ignorance in how we use terms differently. The Joint Declaration is little different.

    As to Neuhaus, you don’t seriously expect to use a single anecdote as shorthand for something larger, do you? Shall I tell you about all the former Catholics in my congregation?

    But one further point on Neuhaus: “He converted and became a Catholic priest.” So you see where ecumenism with the Catholics will get you!

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Peter (@32), I never actually said anything about the existence of “false doctrine” in the Joint Declaration itself, which is why I ignored your question. However, I will assert that there is false doctrine in the Roman Catholic church, which is why to gloss over it (which the Joint Declaration does its best to do, at least on the part of the Lutheran World Federation, an organization that is rather less than free from the influence of false doctrine itself) would be counter to the true unity that Jesus prayed for.

    I will admit to having skimmed the full text of the Joint Declaration here and there, but only because — and the official Catholic “response” makes this clear enough — not even the Catholics take it very seriously, and must add their own interpretation to the carefully chosen words of the Declaration before they can agree with it.

    Peter, have you ever talked to a Mormon? You can talk about Jesus, heaven, and hell, salvation, and so on, and come away convinced that you and the Mormon believe the same things. But those words do not mean the same things to Mormons as they do to Christians. Our apparent agreement would be based on nothing more than ignorance in how we use terms differently. The Joint Declaration is little different.

    As to Neuhaus, you don’t seriously expect to use a single anecdote as shorthand for something larger, do you? Shall I tell you about all the former Catholics in my congregation?

    But one further point on Neuhaus: “He converted and became a Catholic priest.” So you see where ecumenism with the Catholics will get you!

  • http://www.utah-lutheran.com Bror Erickson

    Peter,

    “The late Richard John Neuhaus, a former Lutheran Missouri Synod pastor and respected theologian, who was involved at the highest levels of the Lutheran- Catholic dialog, came to the conclusion that the issues between these churches were as straw. He converted and became a Catholic priest. He saw, as did the former Presbyterian, Avery Cardinal Dulles, that the issues that concerned Luther and Calvin had been effectively dealt with by the Roman Catholic church. They, also, saw clearly the danger to Christ’s church of the narcissism of small and provincial differences.”
    You agree with these two? and yet you haven’t crossed the Tiber? What is wrong with you? Go with your convictions finally, before you start lecturing people who don’t agree with your convictions. You have not a leg to stand on, if you agree with these two, and remain a Congregationalist.

  • http://www.utah-lutheran.com Bror Erickson

    Peter,

    “The late Richard John Neuhaus, a former Lutheran Missouri Synod pastor and respected theologian, who was involved at the highest levels of the Lutheran- Catholic dialog, came to the conclusion that the issues between these churches were as straw. He converted and became a Catholic priest. He saw, as did the former Presbyterian, Avery Cardinal Dulles, that the issues that concerned Luther and Calvin had been effectively dealt with by the Roman Catholic church. They, also, saw clearly the danger to Christ’s church of the narcissism of small and provincial differences.”
    You agree with these two? and yet you haven’t crossed the Tiber? What is wrong with you? Go with your convictions finally, before you start lecturing people who don’t agree with your convictions. You have not a leg to stand on, if you agree with these two, and remain a Congregationalist.

  • Peter Leavitt

    Todd, knowing something of the bizarre Mormon theology, I would hardly equate it with serious Christian theology. Comparing orthodox Catholic or Lutheran theology with Mormonism is absurd.

    As to Neuhaus, you’re mistaken to view him as a mere minor anecdote. George Weigel. writing in a Newsweek article, Richard John Neuhaus, 1936–2009 An Honorable Christian Soldier wrote:

    Father Richard John Neuhaus’s work will be remembered and debated for decades. As a Lutheran pastor, he was one of the first civil-rights activists to identify the pro-life cause with the moral truths for which he and others had marched in Selma; he set the terms of the contemporary American church-state debate and added a new phrase to our public vocabulary with his 1984 bestseller, “The Naked Public Square.” As a Catholic priest, he helped define new patterns of theological dialogue between Catholics and evangelicals, and between Christians and Jews. The journal he launched in the early 1990s, First Things, quickly became, under his leadership and inspiration, the most important vehicle for exploring the tangled web of religion and society in the English-speaking world. All of this suggests that Richard Neuhaus was, arguably, the most consequential public theologian in America since the days of Reinhold Niebuhr and John Courtney Murray, S.J.

  • Peter Leavitt

    Todd, knowing something of the bizarre Mormon theology, I would hardly equate it with serious Christian theology. Comparing orthodox Catholic or Lutheran theology with Mormonism is absurd.

    As to Neuhaus, you’re mistaken to view him as a mere minor anecdote. George Weigel. writing in a Newsweek article, Richard John Neuhaus, 1936–2009 An Honorable Christian Soldier wrote:

    Father Richard John Neuhaus’s work will be remembered and debated for decades. As a Lutheran pastor, he was one of the first civil-rights activists to identify the pro-life cause with the moral truths for which he and others had marched in Selma; he set the terms of the contemporary American church-state debate and added a new phrase to our public vocabulary with his 1984 bestseller, “The Naked Public Square.” As a Catholic priest, he helped define new patterns of theological dialogue between Catholics and evangelicals, and between Christians and Jews. The journal he launched in the early 1990s, First Things, quickly became, under his leadership and inspiration, the most important vehicle for exploring the tangled web of religion and society in the English-speaking world. All of this suggests that Richard Neuhaus was, arguably, the most consequential public theologian in America since the days of Reinhold Niebuhr and John Courtney Murray, S.J.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Peter, I have no idea why you think citing one man’s biography (@35, and that from Newsweek!!) will counteract official Catholic doctrine, and the problems in it. You admire Neuhaus, that is clear, though not enough to follow him to his Catholic conclusion, it would seem — I guess you don’t admire him that much?

    It’s clear that you value ecumenism highly. What’s not clear from this discussion is whether you place such a high value on speaking clearly against false doctrine where and when it occurs.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Peter, I have no idea why you think citing one man’s biography (@35, and that from Newsweek!!) will counteract official Catholic doctrine, and the problems in it. You admire Neuhaus, that is clear, though not enough to follow him to his Catholic conclusion, it would seem — I guess you don’t admire him that much?

    It’s clear that you value ecumenism highly. What’s not clear from this discussion is whether you place such a high value on speaking clearly against false doctrine where and when it occurs.

  • Peter Leavitt

    Not really Bror. I am a member of a conservative Congregational church in Massachusetts that my paternal family has been involved with since 1635 and have no intention of crossing the Tiber. I’ve thought about the crossing but so far for family reasons have decided not to do so. Both Fr Neuhaus and Cardinal Dulles, a personal close friend of mine, were unmarried men. I hope and pray that at the end the good Lord will understand this with the degree of his penance.

  • Peter Leavitt

    Not really Bror. I am a member of a conservative Congregational church in Massachusetts that my paternal family has been involved with since 1635 and have no intention of crossing the Tiber. I’ve thought about the crossing but so far for family reasons have decided not to do so. Both Fr Neuhaus and Cardinal Dulles, a personal close friend of mine, were unmarried men. I hope and pray that at the end the good Lord will understand this with the degree of his penance.

  • http://www.utah-lutheran.blogspot.com Bror Erickson

    Come on Peter. Really? You think that is an excuse? They were single, I’m married? What does that have to do with the price of tea in China. I don’t care how long you family has been affiliated with that church. If you don’t agree with its teachings you are a hypocrite for staying. And you don’t come off as being very remorseful. Get a backbone. You make me as sick as the Mormon’s around here who stay even though they don’t believe because they wouldn’t want to offend their families. Christ says something about men like you. You are neither hot nor cold but lukewarm…

  • http://www.utah-lutheran.blogspot.com Bror Erickson

    Come on Peter. Really? You think that is an excuse? They were single, I’m married? What does that have to do with the price of tea in China. I don’t care how long you family has been affiliated with that church. If you don’t agree with its teachings you are a hypocrite for staying. And you don’t come off as being very remorseful. Get a backbone. You make me as sick as the Mormon’s around here who stay even though they don’t believe because they wouldn’t want to offend their families. Christ says something about men like you. You are neither hot nor cold but lukewarm…

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Peter (@37), I question your commitment to ecumenism, even while you lecture us on the same.

    You tell us that Jesus wants us to be one in the sense that we “smug”, “stiff-necked”, “cacaphonous” Protestants need to seek (external) unity with the Catholics, and then tell us you won’t actually be doing so because of your family history with a particular building.

    Didn’t Jesus also say “Anyone who loves his father or mother more than me is not worthy of me”? And yet how casually you treat your own interpretation of Jesus’ “unity” — “for family reasons”!

    Of course, due to the aforementioned false doctrines within the Catholic church (something you haven’t addressed nearly as much as you have, say, the life of Neuhaus), I can’t actually encourage you to join the Roman Catholic church as such, but nor can I commend you for making a law for yourself and then ignoring it.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Peter (@37), I question your commitment to ecumenism, even while you lecture us on the same.

    You tell us that Jesus wants us to be one in the sense that we “smug”, “stiff-necked”, “cacaphonous” Protestants need to seek (external) unity with the Catholics, and then tell us you won’t actually be doing so because of your family history with a particular building.

    Didn’t Jesus also say “Anyone who loves his father or mother more than me is not worthy of me”? And yet how casually you treat your own interpretation of Jesus’ “unity” — “for family reasons”!

    Of course, due to the aforementioned false doctrines within the Catholic church (something you haven’t addressed nearly as much as you have, say, the life of Neuhaus), I can’t actually encourage you to join the Roman Catholic church as such, but nor can I commend you for making a law for yourself and then ignoring it.

  • Peter Leavitt

    Bror and Todd, there are plenty of devout Protestant Christians who are seriously interested in ecumenical matters and have not made the move to Rome for family and other principled reasons. Both of you at this stage of the discussion have turned simplistically moralistic.

    I, also, understand and respect Mitt Romney for staying loyal to the Mormonism of his family. Fr. Neuhaus remarked that over time even the Mormons might be back into a holy, apostolic, catholic church. With C.S. Lewis and John Updike, I agree that we ordinary Christians, faithful to the churches in which we were brought up, need to leave ecumenical issues to the theologians, while hoping and praying that they will work out the issues over time.

    My understanding of Luther, and, especially Melanchton, is that to begin with they wished mainly to reform the Roman Catholic Church. Unfortunately the situation heated up on both sides, along with getting tangled with imperial and national concerns, causing a tragic split at the heart of the church.

  • Peter Leavitt

    Bror and Todd, there are plenty of devout Protestant Christians who are seriously interested in ecumenical matters and have not made the move to Rome for family and other principled reasons. Both of you at this stage of the discussion have turned simplistically moralistic.

    I, also, understand and respect Mitt Romney for staying loyal to the Mormonism of his family. Fr. Neuhaus remarked that over time even the Mormons might be back into a holy, apostolic, catholic church. With C.S. Lewis and John Updike, I agree that we ordinary Christians, faithful to the churches in which we were brought up, need to leave ecumenical issues to the theologians, while hoping and praying that they will work out the issues over time.

    My understanding of Luther, and, especially Melanchton, is that to begin with they wished mainly to reform the Roman Catholic Church. Unfortunately the situation heated up on both sides, along with getting tangled with imperial and national concerns, causing a tragic split at the heart of the church.

  • http://www.utah-lutheran.blogspot.com Bror Erickson

    Peter,
    Come now, is that all you have, calling people moralistic for challenging your integrity, on the very thing you were taking them to task for. Yes, Luther wanted to Reform the Catholic Church, we see where that got him. I suppose you expect me to believe that you are trying to reform the congregationalists, introducing allegiance to the Pope, Baptismal regeneration, Transubstantiation, Indulgences, Maryolatry, Rosary beads, genuflection and the like? Hows that going for you, sell any indulgences lately?
    If you are not doing those things then don’t bring Luther’s example into the question. Luther at least made an honest attempt at reform before they kicked him out.
    Now get a back bone like the one your forefathers had, or be quiet.

  • http://www.utah-lutheran.blogspot.com Bror Erickson

    Peter,
    Come now, is that all you have, calling people moralistic for challenging your integrity, on the very thing you were taking them to task for. Yes, Luther wanted to Reform the Catholic Church, we see where that got him. I suppose you expect me to believe that you are trying to reform the congregationalists, introducing allegiance to the Pope, Baptismal regeneration, Transubstantiation, Indulgences, Maryolatry, Rosary beads, genuflection and the like? Hows that going for you, sell any indulgences lately?
    If you are not doing those things then don’t bring Luther’s example into the question. Luther at least made an honest attempt at reform before they kicked him out.
    Now get a back bone like the one your forefathers had, or be quiet.

  • Peter Leavitt

    Bror, you are apparently clueless about the contemporary Roman Catholic approach to ecumenical work. A good short discussion of this is Dulles’ Saving Ecumenism from Itself, including:

    How then can Christian unity be envisaged? That is the question asked at Oberlin five decades ago. The first condition, I believe, is that the various Christian communities be ready to speak and listen to one another. Some will perhaps receive the grace to accept what they hear credibly attested as an insight from other communities. The witnesses and their hearers need not insist on rigorous proof, because very little of our faith can be demonstrated by deductive methods. Testimony operates by a different logic. We speak of what has been graciously manifested to us and what we have found to be of value for our relationship with God. If others accept what we proclaim, it is because our words evoke an echo in them and carry the hallmark of truth.

    Regarding backbone, as a former Marine officer, I’ll stand mine up to yours, especially looking at that rather risible image of you decked out in hunting paraphernalia.

  • Peter Leavitt

    Bror, you are apparently clueless about the contemporary Roman Catholic approach to ecumenical work. A good short discussion of this is Dulles’ Saving Ecumenism from Itself, including:

    How then can Christian unity be envisaged? That is the question asked at Oberlin five decades ago. The first condition, I believe, is that the various Christian communities be ready to speak and listen to one another. Some will perhaps receive the grace to accept what they hear credibly attested as an insight from other communities. The witnesses and their hearers need not insist on rigorous proof, because very little of our faith can be demonstrated by deductive methods. Testimony operates by a different logic. We speak of what has been graciously manifested to us and what we have found to be of value for our relationship with God. If others accept what we proclaim, it is because our words evoke an echo in them and carry the hallmark of truth.

    Regarding backbone, as a former Marine officer, I’ll stand mine up to yours, especially looking at that rather risible image of you decked out in hunting paraphernalia.

  • http://www.utah-lutheran.blogspot.com Bror Erickson

    I’ll go with the tenants that the book of Concord has laid out for Christian unity. When Rome does in fact accept Justification by Faith alone on account of Christ’s death and resurrection alone, and recognizes scripture, (from which all Lutheran Doctrines can be clearly demonstrated) as the sole source and norm for doctrine then we can talk, other wise I am not about to listen to other gospels, especially ones that can’t be demonstrated.

  • http://www.utah-lutheran.blogspot.com Bror Erickson

    I’ll go with the tenants that the book of Concord has laid out for Christian unity. When Rome does in fact accept Justification by Faith alone on account of Christ’s death and resurrection alone, and recognizes scripture, (from which all Lutheran Doctrines can be clearly demonstrated) as the sole source and norm for doctrine then we can talk, other wise I am not about to listen to other gospels, especially ones that can’t be demonstrated.


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