An Ecumenical Catechism

Is this possible?

A Vatican official has floated the idea of a shared “ecumenical catechism” as one of the potential fruits of 40 years of dialogue among Catholics, Anglicans, Lutherans, Methodists and members of the Reformed churches.

“We have affirmed our common foundation in Jesus Christ and the Holy Trinity as expressed in our common creed and in the doctrine of the first ecumenical councils,” Cardinal Walter Kasper, president of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, told representatives of the churches.

Opening a three-day symposium at the Vatican to brainstorm on the future of ecumenism, Cardinal Kasper said it is essential “to keep alive the memory of our achievements” in dialogue, educate the faithful about how much has been accomplished and prepare a new generation to carry on the work.

He said the members of his council “proposed an ecumenical catechism that would be written in consultation with our partners,” but “we do not yet have any idea how such a catechism could be structured and written.”

One thing for sure, he said, is that there is a need for “an ecumenism of basics that identifies, reinforces and deepens the common foundation” of faith in Christ and belief in the tenets of the creed. The churches may hold those positions officially, but if their members do not hold firmly to the basics of Christian faith, the dialogue cannot move forward, the cardinal said.

via Vatican Official Proposes Ecumenical Catechism » Evangel | A First Things Blog.

Before you answer, consider: Isn’t there such a thing as what C. S. Lewis calls “mere Christianity” that all strains of Christianity agree on? What about the Apostle’s and Nicene Creed, which all of these groups, I believe, say they affirm? Couldn’t there be a catechism based on those?

I think what is most problematic in this proposal is that the mainline Protestant groups that have forged agreement with Rome in their very stance towards doctrine would be unwilling to accept a catechism of any kind.

I would argue that there IS an ecumenical catechism already: Luther’s Small Catechism. Seriously. It bridges what it most precious in both the Catholic and the Protestant traditions.

I would love to hear a review of that Catechism from you non-Lutherans. Read it–it isn’t long–and post your thoughts.

HT: Paul McCain

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.

  • fws

    what veith says.

    charles porterfield krauth (paraphrased from memory):

    that church that claims to be THE church , eveb claiming a name that says that (the christian church, the church of God, the catholic church, etc) declares itself to be a sect.

    Alternatively, that christian sect that does not claim that to it´s part, rightfully belongs the whole, is a sect that has lost it´s justification for a separate existence and for standing apart and not merging with some other group of christians.

    The Evangelical Lutheran Church claims to be hold only some members of that One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church. It alone promiscuously recognizes the baptismal regeneration of all believers in all christian sects.

    It also claims to hold in trust for the whole church, only those ecumenical truths that the whole church in all times and in all places has confessed as the the unanimous teaching of the entire church. Nothing more.

    The Small Catechism is a summary of those truths.

  • fws

    what veith says.

    charles porterfield krauth (paraphrased from memory):

    that church that claims to be THE church , eveb claiming a name that says that (the christian church, the church of God, the catholic church, etc) declares itself to be a sect.

    Alternatively, that christian sect that does not claim that to it´s part, rightfully belongs the whole, is a sect that has lost it´s justification for a separate existence and for standing apart and not merging with some other group of christians.

    The Evangelical Lutheran Church claims to be hold only some members of that One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church. It alone promiscuously recognizes the baptismal regeneration of all believers in all christian sects.

    It also claims to hold in trust for the whole church, only those ecumenical truths that the whole church in all times and in all places has confessed as the the unanimous teaching of the entire church. Nothing more.

    The Small Catechism is a summary of those truths.

  • Larry

    It’s impossible, the sacraments forbid it. But it does point out the real issues. I say that with sadness on the one hand, the desire for unity is there…but not so much sadness that one should despise the Word for the sake of unity.

    Take the Nicene Creed can it be ecumenical? Not for Baptist, “I confess ONE baptism for the remission of sins”. On multiple levels they cannot confess that for one “rebaptism”. Really, neither can a Calvinist, because it confesses one baptism (no problem here) FOR THE REMISSION OF SINS” (problem there since baptism is only a sign of grace not an action). This is just one obvious issue.

    The Apostle’s Creed, “I believe…in the communion of the saints”, the Lord’s Supper gives us problems here.

    In theory CS Lewis is somewhat correct, if one can get real high up and blur your eyes a whole lot so that the image looks amalgamated and homogenous, most would confess “grace alone” in the protestant strains but then there comes that “BUT…” all the time that takes away with the left hand what the right hand gives/confesses. “We believe in grace alone BUT you must have faith to be baptism and make baptism a baptism first….” (Baptist). “We believe in grace alone BUT you must be elect and you know you are by knowing you believe and thus have faith” (various Reformed, particularly Owenian strains of Calvinism). “We believe in the sacraments BUT that’s not really the real body and blood of Christ, therefore nothing is given FOR THE FORGIVENESS OF SIN”. “We believe in Baptism BUT it really doesn’t wash away your sins, the promise is not given to your children, it doesn’t give the Holy Spirit, it doesn’t effect anything really…”. “We believe the Word is powerful and effective BUT the Holy Spirit is not always operating through it, on one guy He converts on the other guy He does not even though the same Gospel is spoken at the same time and place going into two separate ears.”

    When one sums these “left hand takes away what the right hand gives/confesses” one cannot help BUT to ask the begging question, “Do you really believe and confess in grace alone or is that just a catch phrase sense you know the right short answer to the confession?” Because for alllllll the huffing and puffing about “grace alone” there sure is a lot of preventing Jesus to be given in these doctrines.

    Ecumenicalism can happen but at the expense of the truth. While getting my car repaired just yesterday I was reading our local paper, it’s a small town probably under 5000 folks. There was this full page Wednesday worship advertisement. It had roughly 50+ churches listed, this in a town that is very small. Various names, all Christian derivatives, 90% baptistic but not all (e.g. church of god, first Baptist church, new hope, nazereene, X Baptist church, united Methodist, PCUSA, etc…) the heading was this (no joke) “Worship At A Church Of Your Choice”. Ecumenicalism at its best.

    Larry

  • Larry

    It’s impossible, the sacraments forbid it. But it does point out the real issues. I say that with sadness on the one hand, the desire for unity is there…but not so much sadness that one should despise the Word for the sake of unity.

    Take the Nicene Creed can it be ecumenical? Not for Baptist, “I confess ONE baptism for the remission of sins”. On multiple levels they cannot confess that for one “rebaptism”. Really, neither can a Calvinist, because it confesses one baptism (no problem here) FOR THE REMISSION OF SINS” (problem there since baptism is only a sign of grace not an action). This is just one obvious issue.

    The Apostle’s Creed, “I believe…in the communion of the saints”, the Lord’s Supper gives us problems here.

    In theory CS Lewis is somewhat correct, if one can get real high up and blur your eyes a whole lot so that the image looks amalgamated and homogenous, most would confess “grace alone” in the protestant strains but then there comes that “BUT…” all the time that takes away with the left hand what the right hand gives/confesses. “We believe in grace alone BUT you must have faith to be baptism and make baptism a baptism first….” (Baptist). “We believe in grace alone BUT you must be elect and you know you are by knowing you believe and thus have faith” (various Reformed, particularly Owenian strains of Calvinism). “We believe in the sacraments BUT that’s not really the real body and blood of Christ, therefore nothing is given FOR THE FORGIVENESS OF SIN”. “We believe in Baptism BUT it really doesn’t wash away your sins, the promise is not given to your children, it doesn’t give the Holy Spirit, it doesn’t effect anything really…”. “We believe the Word is powerful and effective BUT the Holy Spirit is not always operating through it, on one guy He converts on the other guy He does not even though the same Gospel is spoken at the same time and place going into two separate ears.”

    When one sums these “left hand takes away what the right hand gives/confesses” one cannot help BUT to ask the begging question, “Do you really believe and confess in grace alone or is that just a catch phrase sense you know the right short answer to the confession?” Because for alllllll the huffing and puffing about “grace alone” there sure is a lot of preventing Jesus to be given in these doctrines.

    Ecumenicalism can happen but at the expense of the truth. While getting my car repaired just yesterday I was reading our local paper, it’s a small town probably under 5000 folks. There was this full page Wednesday worship advertisement. It had roughly 50+ churches listed, this in a town that is very small. Various names, all Christian derivatives, 90% baptistic but not all (e.g. church of god, first Baptist church, new hope, nazereene, X Baptist church, united Methodist, PCUSA, etc…) the heading was this (no joke) “Worship At A Church Of Your Choice”. Ecumenicalism at its best.

    Larry

  • http://LeitersburgLutheran.org Terry Culler

    This is a very bad idea from so many aspects that no short discussion could cover them all. Mere Christianity is found in the ecumenical creeds. Beyond that the differences, few if any trivial, are profound. The most important, of course, is the one doctrine on which the Church stands or falls, salvation by faith through grace without the works of the law. Only Lutherans and Calvinists hold to this. We should teach our people nothing which could lead them from this greatest truth.

  • http://LeitersburgLutheran.org Terry Culler

    This is a very bad idea from so many aspects that no short discussion could cover them all. Mere Christianity is found in the ecumenical creeds. Beyond that the differences, few if any trivial, are profound. The most important, of course, is the one doctrine on which the Church stands or falls, salvation by faith through grace without the works of the law. Only Lutherans and Calvinists hold to this. We should teach our people nothing which could lead them from this greatest truth.

  • Winston Smith

    Can you imagine what Luther would say if he learned that his Small Catechism was going to be used for reconciliation with Babylon-on-the-Tiber?

    Luther would probably remind us that the Council of Trent (which says that those of us who believe in grace alone through faith alone are anathema) is still official Roman doctrine and has never been repealed.

  • Winston Smith

    Can you imagine what Luther would say if he learned that his Small Catechism was going to be used for reconciliation with Babylon-on-the-Tiber?

    Luther would probably remind us that the Council of Trent (which says that those of us who believe in grace alone through faith alone are anathema) is still official Roman doctrine and has never been repealed.

  • Joe

    I think you could have one but it would be really short and would be the ultiamte work of gospel reductionism. Once you got passed, “we believe that Jesus Christ is our Lord and Savior” things would get messy. Larry points out that we would not even be able to agree on the same meaning for the Creeds.

  • Joe

    I think you could have one but it would be really short and would be the ultiamte work of gospel reductionism. Once you got passed, “we believe that Jesus Christ is our Lord and Savior” things would get messy. Larry points out that we would not even be able to agree on the same meaning for the Creeds.

  • http://brbible.org/from-rich Rich Shipe

    As a non-Lutheran protestant…

    I didn’t read Luther’s Shorter Catechism closely but my only objections would be in the areas of Baptism and Communion. I hold a memorial view of both. But while I consider the theology around Baptism and Communion to be very important, I don’t consider them to be essential. So while I have some disagreement with Luther’s view here, my disagreement does not invade what I consider to be essential. My understanding of the Catholic views in this area do invade the essentials.

    I consider the truths of the Gospel, or the bare minimum requirements for salvation, to be the essentials. It seems to me that by my definition of “essentials” I can agree with the core of Luther’s Smaller Catechism. And isn’t the Catholic invasion of the essentials at the heart of Luther’s biggest contribution, starting the Reformation? Rome left the Gospel, we didn’t leave them.

  • http://brbible.org/from-rich Rich Shipe

    As a non-Lutheran protestant…

    I didn’t read Luther’s Shorter Catechism closely but my only objections would be in the areas of Baptism and Communion. I hold a memorial view of both. But while I consider the theology around Baptism and Communion to be very important, I don’t consider them to be essential. So while I have some disagreement with Luther’s view here, my disagreement does not invade what I consider to be essential. My understanding of the Catholic views in this area do invade the essentials.

    I consider the truths of the Gospel, or the bare minimum requirements for salvation, to be the essentials. It seems to me that by my definition of “essentials” I can agree with the core of Luther’s Smaller Catechism. And isn’t the Catholic invasion of the essentials at the heart of Luther’s biggest contribution, starting the Reformation? Rome left the Gospel, we didn’t leave them.

  • Orianna Laun

    I am reminded of the sainted Rev. Kurt Marquart’s words regarding the Joint Declaration. He referred to it as “The Augsburg Concession.”
    It’s odd–the book I’m reading right now about the Lakota Black Elk talks about how he converted to Catholicism when he was older and was a catechist and worked within his tribe and other tribes to convert them from their Sioux religion to Catholicism. The author asserts that he never really stopped beliving the old way, and the author used the word “ecumenical” to describe the need to blend the two religions. (Not that Catholic and Protestant and Lutheran are as separate as Sioux and Catholic, but there are some differences to large to fill the gap–like a bridge from Alaska to Russia.)

  • Orianna Laun

    I am reminded of the sainted Rev. Kurt Marquart’s words regarding the Joint Declaration. He referred to it as “The Augsburg Concession.”
    It’s odd–the book I’m reading right now about the Lakota Black Elk talks about how he converted to Catholicism when he was older and was a catechist and worked within his tribe and other tribes to convert them from their Sioux religion to Catholicism. The author asserts that he never really stopped beliving the old way, and the author used the word “ecumenical” to describe the need to blend the two religions. (Not that Catholic and Protestant and Lutheran are as separate as Sioux and Catholic, but there are some differences to large to fill the gap–like a bridge from Alaska to Russia.)

  • Kirk

    I don’t think the small catechism is the unifying document that the Catholics are looking for. I’m fairly sure that he majority of Protestants are consubstantive to the point of being memorialists. I can’t speak for most denominations, but as an Anglican, we believe in the real presence, but in a spiritual sense. Article XXVIII says transubstantiation: “cannot be proved by Holy Writ; but is repugnant to the plain words of Scripture, overthroweth the nature of a Sacrament, and hath given occasion to many superstitions.” As you can see, this presents a problem with the answer to the nature of the Altar.

    Then, there’s the issue of forgiveness. Most protestants hold to assurance, not to the ability of ministers to forgive or bind.

    Finally, I think that many low church denominations have a problem with sacramentalism, period. I’ve heard it described as a “salvation by works issue,” although I feel that this is a simplistic and incorrect view of the sacraments. Most may feel that there’s room for interpretation, but wouldn’t sign on to a sacramental ecumenical document like the small catechism.

    It’s a good, thoughtful document, to be sure, but couldn’t be used as a broad ecumenical agreement.

  • Kirk

    I don’t think the small catechism is the unifying document that the Catholics are looking for. I’m fairly sure that he majority of Protestants are consubstantive to the point of being memorialists. I can’t speak for most denominations, but as an Anglican, we believe in the real presence, but in a spiritual sense. Article XXVIII says transubstantiation: “cannot be proved by Holy Writ; but is repugnant to the plain words of Scripture, overthroweth the nature of a Sacrament, and hath given occasion to many superstitions.” As you can see, this presents a problem with the answer to the nature of the Altar.

    Then, there’s the issue of forgiveness. Most protestants hold to assurance, not to the ability of ministers to forgive or bind.

    Finally, I think that many low church denominations have a problem with sacramentalism, period. I’ve heard it described as a “salvation by works issue,” although I feel that this is a simplistic and incorrect view of the sacraments. Most may feel that there’s room for interpretation, but wouldn’t sign on to a sacramental ecumenical document like the small catechism.

    It’s a good, thoughtful document, to be sure, but couldn’t be used as a broad ecumenical agreement.

  • Purple Kooaid

    A start would be the Vatican recanting the Council of Trent. The whole, “Those who believe in Grace alone, through faith alone in Christ alone be damned” part especially.

  • Purple Kooaid

    A start would be the Vatican recanting the Council of Trent. The whole, “Those who believe in Grace alone, through faith alone in Christ alone be damned” part especially.

  • fws

    larry at 2

    what he says…

  • fws

    larry at 2

    what he says…

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

    Winston,
    Lutherans have always regarded our confessions as ecumenical documents, including Luther’s Small Catechism. Far from being dismayed I think Luther would be overjoyed if that bit of genius he put together became the platform for reconciliation with Rome. (I don’t see this happening, but…)
    In many ways I think the time is right for this sort of power play for the Roman Catholic Church, the protestant world is more and more lost, witness the “post evangelical wilderness” of Internet Monk. No one knows what they believe anymore or why. I shouldn’t say no one, but a great majority of them. But I have to question what they think these great ecumenical breakthroughs have been in the past century. There has been no Altar Pulpit fellowship proclaimed, they talk about 19th cnetury issues, and ignore the 21st century issues. The ecumenical movement of the 20th century was a farce, it isn’t based on “we agree” we are of the same mind body and spirit. No it is based on we no longer care, do you?

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

    Winston,
    Lutherans have always regarded our confessions as ecumenical documents, including Luther’s Small Catechism. Far from being dismayed I think Luther would be overjoyed if that bit of genius he put together became the platform for reconciliation with Rome. (I don’t see this happening, but…)
    In many ways I think the time is right for this sort of power play for the Roman Catholic Church, the protestant world is more and more lost, witness the “post evangelical wilderness” of Internet Monk. No one knows what they believe anymore or why. I shouldn’t say no one, but a great majority of them. But I have to question what they think these great ecumenical breakthroughs have been in the past century. There has been no Altar Pulpit fellowship proclaimed, they talk about 19th cnetury issues, and ignore the 21st century issues. The ecumenical movement of the 20th century was a farce, it isn’t based on “we agree” we are of the same mind body and spirit. No it is based on we no longer care, do you?

  • http://carolmsblog.blogspot.com/ C-Christian Soldier

    It was good to skim through the Small Catechism again-it has been a long time-thank you….
    The SC is direct and to the point…
    C-CS

  • http://carolmsblog.blogspot.com/ C-Christian Soldier

    It was good to skim through the Small Catechism again-it has been a long time-thank you….
    The SC is direct and to the point…
    C-CS

  • Jerry

    “The SC would work fine given its limits. RC theologians know that Luther was correct in many ways. But you Lutherans! Can’t you see that God has given us the ability to participate in our salvation. You’re disparaging the work of God.”

  • Jerry

    “The SC would work fine given its limits. RC theologians know that Luther was correct in many ways. But you Lutherans! Can’t you see that God has given us the ability to participate in our salvation. You’re disparaging the work of God.”

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

    Jerry,
    If you mean I played a part in nailing Christ to the cross, well I suppose, but then again he gave himself up of his own volition.

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

    Jerry,
    If you mean I played a part in nailing Christ to the cross, well I suppose, but then again he gave himself up of his own volition.

  • Ryan

    One of the other ecumenical difficulties was expressed, inadvertently, by Rich at #6. Namely that Sacramental Christians view the Sacraments – especially the Lord’s Supper and Baptism – as central to their theology and thus non negotiable, while the other side view them as negotiable and can’t understand why everyone is so upset.

    The divide from the Reformation Era was, is, and will remain on the areas of Justification and the Lord’s Supper. (Baptism is in many ways related with Justification).

  • Ryan

    One of the other ecumenical difficulties was expressed, inadvertently, by Rich at #6. Namely that Sacramental Christians view the Sacraments – especially the Lord’s Supper and Baptism – as central to their theology and thus non negotiable, while the other side view them as negotiable and can’t understand why everyone is so upset.

    The divide from the Reformation Era was, is, and will remain on the areas of Justification and the Lord’s Supper. (Baptism is in many ways related with Justification).

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

    I’m still trying to grasp what Rich Shipe said about this too Ryan.
    Rich,
    If you don’t consider them to be essential why do they keep you from being Lutheran. I mean I suppose perhaps integrity is at issue, and for that I commend you.
    But I hear this from many people and I am trying to figure it out. The sacraments aren’t essential they say. Well then why are you arguing with me about it. But the fact that someone regards these institutions of Christ, yes indeed, Christ’s very own last will and testament, as to be not so important, makes me really question what they think Christianity itself is. I would hope that after I died people would take my last will and testament quite seriously. I would think that someone who calls himself a Christian would find Christ’s last will and testament to be quite important, a thing not to be trifled with.
    I’m just going to be honest here for a minute, when I hear things like that I begin to wonder if I’m hearing a confession of unbelief, a denial of Christ. I make room for ignorance, and felicitous inconsistencies, but then sometimes I wonder if Pieper might have been a bit to generous with all that.

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

    I’m still trying to grasp what Rich Shipe said about this too Ryan.
    Rich,
    If you don’t consider them to be essential why do they keep you from being Lutheran. I mean I suppose perhaps integrity is at issue, and for that I commend you.
    But I hear this from many people and I am trying to figure it out. The sacraments aren’t essential they say. Well then why are you arguing with me about it. But the fact that someone regards these institutions of Christ, yes indeed, Christ’s very own last will and testament, as to be not so important, makes me really question what they think Christianity itself is. I would hope that after I died people would take my last will and testament quite seriously. I would think that someone who calls himself a Christian would find Christ’s last will and testament to be quite important, a thing not to be trifled with.
    I’m just going to be honest here for a minute, when I hear things like that I begin to wonder if I’m hearing a confession of unbelief, a denial of Christ. I make room for ignorance, and felicitous inconsistencies, but then sometimes I wonder if Pieper might have been a bit to generous with all that.

  • http://thirstytheologian.com David Kjos

    An ecumenical catechism? Only for those to whom the Reformation is meaningless (2 Corinthians 6:14ff).

    I was born and raised Lutheran (AFLC). While I deeply respect Luther and my former denomination, I could never use Luther’s catechism. My disagreement with his view of baptism, the Lord’s Supper, and confession and absolution, while insurmountable, are the least of my problems with it.

    My main objection is to what I think can only be seen as embellishments. Luther was quite imaginative in his expositions. Take, for example, the 9th — excuse me, that would be the 8th, according to the Papist/Lutheran system — Commandment, “You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.” According to Luther, that means “We should fear and love God, and so we should not tell lies about our neighbor, nor betray, slander, or defame him, but should apologize for him, speak well of him, and interpret charitably all that he does.” (The version I memorized was somewhat condensed, but I’m quoting from The Book of Concord, which is what I have closest at hand.) Really, it means all that? That’s quite an embellishment. Too bad he didn’t stick to the text, as in the Westminster Shorter Catechism:

    Q. 77. What is required in the Ninth Commandment?
    A. The Ninth Commandment requireth the maintaining and promoting of truth between man & man, & of our own & our neighbour’s good name, especially in witness- bearing.

    Q. 78. What is forbidden in the Ninth Commandment?
    A. The Ninth Commandment forbiddeth whatsoever is prejudical to truth, or injurious to our own or our neighbour’s good name.

    I have even greater problems with the particular version I was taught, which included explanatory questions and answers by H. U. Sverdrup, which was quite anthropocentric, but I guess that’s not at issue here.

    Finally, it annoys me that I sometimes feel the urge to end propositional statements with “This is most certainly true.”

  • http://thirstytheologian.com David Kjos

    An ecumenical catechism? Only for those to whom the Reformation is meaningless (2 Corinthians 6:14ff).

    I was born and raised Lutheran (AFLC). While I deeply respect Luther and my former denomination, I could never use Luther’s catechism. My disagreement with his view of baptism, the Lord’s Supper, and confession and absolution, while insurmountable, are the least of my problems with it.

    My main objection is to what I think can only be seen as embellishments. Luther was quite imaginative in his expositions. Take, for example, the 9th — excuse me, that would be the 8th, according to the Papist/Lutheran system — Commandment, “You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.” According to Luther, that means “We should fear and love God, and so we should not tell lies about our neighbor, nor betray, slander, or defame him, but should apologize for him, speak well of him, and interpret charitably all that he does.” (The version I memorized was somewhat condensed, but I’m quoting from The Book of Concord, which is what I have closest at hand.) Really, it means all that? That’s quite an embellishment. Too bad he didn’t stick to the text, as in the Westminster Shorter Catechism:

    Q. 77. What is required in the Ninth Commandment?
    A. The Ninth Commandment requireth the maintaining and promoting of truth between man & man, & of our own & our neighbour’s good name, especially in witness- bearing.

    Q. 78. What is forbidden in the Ninth Commandment?
    A. The Ninth Commandment forbiddeth whatsoever is prejudical to truth, or injurious to our own or our neighbour’s good name.

    I have even greater problems with the particular version I was taught, which included explanatory questions and answers by H. U. Sverdrup, which was quite anthropocentric, but I guess that’s not at issue here.

    Finally, it annoys me that I sometimes feel the urge to end propositional statements with “This is most certainly true.”

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

    David,
    Exactly how are these to explanations of the 8th commandment antithetical to one another. I just don’t see what you are getting at.
    What in Luther’s explanation goes beyond the promotion of truth?

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

    David,
    Exactly how are these to explanations of the 8th commandment antithetical to one another. I just don’t see what you are getting at.
    What in Luther’s explanation goes beyond the promotion of truth?

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Regarding an “ecumenical catechism”, Veith asked, “Is this possible?” Having read the foregoing 18 comments, I’m gonna go with: No.

    If asked to expound upon that answer, I’d say: Well, technically, yes, but it would be disappointingly short.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Regarding an “ecumenical catechism”, Veith asked, “Is this possible?” Having read the foregoing 18 comments, I’m gonna go with: No.

    If asked to expound upon that answer, I’d say: Well, technically, yes, but it would be disappointingly short.

  • http://brbible.org/from-rich Rich Shipe

    Hi Bror,

    Wow, I need to be more careful before I write next time. When I say “essential” I’m meaning essential to salvation. Something that is non-essential is not unimportant. I take Christ’s command to make disciples and baptize them very seriously and have and do obey that command. It is my sincerest desire to not trivialize Christ’s words, by God’s grace.

    I was trying to write about ecumenical agreement and trying to center around what I consider to be the most important, which is the Gospel.

    Bottom line is I completely agree with Luther’s chief problem with Rome. And it is why I agree with other commenters here that there isn’t any hope in ecumenical agreement with the RC. And I like what Winston Smith suggests above, repeal Trent and then we’ll talk.

    I’m the outsider here I guess. But I really appreciate the chance to learn and be shaped by those with a different position on really important stuff.

    In Christ,
    Rich

  • http://brbible.org/from-rich Rich Shipe

    Hi Bror,

    Wow, I need to be more careful before I write next time. When I say “essential” I’m meaning essential to salvation. Something that is non-essential is not unimportant. I take Christ’s command to make disciples and baptize them very seriously and have and do obey that command. It is my sincerest desire to not trivialize Christ’s words, by God’s grace.

    I was trying to write about ecumenical agreement and trying to center around what I consider to be the most important, which is the Gospel.

    Bottom line is I completely agree with Luther’s chief problem with Rome. And it is why I agree with other commenters here that there isn’t any hope in ecumenical agreement with the RC. And I like what Winston Smith suggests above, repeal Trent and then we’ll talk.

    I’m the outsider here I guess. But I really appreciate the chance to learn and be shaped by those with a different position on really important stuff.

    In Christ,
    Rich

  • Matt

    On what legitimate grounds do Lutherans remain in schism? The ecumenical creeds and the doctrines of the real presence and baptismal regeneration are catholic. No Lutheran (no Protestant, really) truly accepts ‘sola scriptura’ since much of Luther’s teaching was based on the church’s traditional beliefs. Luther was probably bipolar, a condition exacerbated by the church’s lamentable decison to expel him.

  • Matt

    On what legitimate grounds do Lutherans remain in schism? The ecumenical creeds and the doctrines of the real presence and baptismal regeneration are catholic. No Lutheran (no Protestant, really) truly accepts ‘sola scriptura’ since much of Luther’s teaching was based on the church’s traditional beliefs. Luther was probably bipolar, a condition exacerbated by the church’s lamentable decison to expel him.

  • Peter Leavitt

    A deep need among all Christians is to pay attention to catechetical matters. What’s really going on in the West, including among Protestant and Catholic Christians, is a barbarian antinomian approach to morality and ethics in the romantic name of human autonomy.

    Avery Cardinal Dulles in a First Things article, True and False Reform, writes:

    The immoral behavior of Catholics, both lay and clergy, is a cause of scandal and defections. Under this heading I would include not only sexual abuse of minors, which has been so extensively publicized in recent years, but sex outside of marriage, abortion, divorce, alcoholism, the use and marketing of drugs, domestic violence, defamation, and financial scandals such as falsification of records and embezzlement. The morality of Catholics all too often sinks below the standards commonly observed by Protestants and unbelievers.

    Cardinal Kasper’s proposal for a common Christian Catechism makes a lot of sense, though we know deep down that most Christians won’t pay attention to this due to narrow, petty doctrinal matters along with the supposed enjoyment of a Christianity without serious catechetical instruction. Can we imagine a catechism, such as that of the Catholic Church, that in no uncertain terms declare homosexuality to be a disorder of nature, the acting out of which is a grave sin. Of course not.

    Most Americans, including Sunday church goers, could not care less about a holy, apostolic, catholic church with a serious catechism.

  • Peter Leavitt

    A deep need among all Christians is to pay attention to catechetical matters. What’s really going on in the West, including among Protestant and Catholic Christians, is a barbarian antinomian approach to morality and ethics in the romantic name of human autonomy.

    Avery Cardinal Dulles in a First Things article, True and False Reform, writes:

    The immoral behavior of Catholics, both lay and clergy, is a cause of scandal and defections. Under this heading I would include not only sexual abuse of minors, which has been so extensively publicized in recent years, but sex outside of marriage, abortion, divorce, alcoholism, the use and marketing of drugs, domestic violence, defamation, and financial scandals such as falsification of records and embezzlement. The morality of Catholics all too often sinks below the standards commonly observed by Protestants and unbelievers.

    Cardinal Kasper’s proposal for a common Christian Catechism makes a lot of sense, though we know deep down that most Christians won’t pay attention to this due to narrow, petty doctrinal matters along with the supposed enjoyment of a Christianity without serious catechetical instruction. Can we imagine a catechism, such as that of the Catholic Church, that in no uncertain terms declare homosexuality to be a disorder of nature, the acting out of which is a grave sin. Of course not.

    Most Americans, including Sunday church goers, could not care less about a holy, apostolic, catholic church with a serious catechism.

  • John

    My understanding is that confessional Lutherans require that communicant members subscribe to their teachings on the sacramental union so that they may worthily receive the Lord’s Supper. My experience in Protestant churches is that a baptized Christian, who is a member of a church and confesses the Creed (Nicene or Apostles’) may partake in Holy Communion. That is, we commune with brethren who hold different views on the nature of the sacrament. While church leaders are held to a confessional standard, members aren’t as a condition of communion.

    Have I misunderstood the prevailing Lutheran view on this? It has seemed to be quite clear in what I’ve encountered locally, but possibly this is not the most widely held view. (?)

  • John

    My understanding is that confessional Lutherans require that communicant members subscribe to their teachings on the sacramental union so that they may worthily receive the Lord’s Supper. My experience in Protestant churches is that a baptized Christian, who is a member of a church and confesses the Creed (Nicene or Apostles’) may partake in Holy Communion. That is, we commune with brethren who hold different views on the nature of the sacrament. While church leaders are held to a confessional standard, members aren’t as a condition of communion.

    Have I misunderstood the prevailing Lutheran view on this? It has seemed to be quite clear in what I’ve encountered locally, but possibly this is not the most widely held view. (?)

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

    Rich Shipe,
    So what do you find to be “essential” for salvation? And how does this go to being able to ignore what Christ says concerning those sacraments that he instituted?

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

    Rich Shipe,
    So what do you find to be “essential” for salvation? And how does this go to being able to ignore what Christ says concerning those sacraments that he instituted?

  • http://brbible.org/from-rich Rich Shipe

    Bror,

    I don’t think that is a very fair way of asking the question and implies that I deliberately ignore Christ. I haven’t said I would ignore Christ on this issue.

    What’s essential for salvation is a whole other question. But bottom line I don’t think you have to be baptized in order to heaven. But I thought Lutherans agree with that, don’t they?

    Rich

  • http://brbible.org/from-rich Rich Shipe

    Bror,

    I don’t think that is a very fair way of asking the question and implies that I deliberately ignore Christ. I haven’t said I would ignore Christ on this issue.

    What’s essential for salvation is a whole other question. But bottom line I don’t think you have to be baptized in order to heaven. But I thought Lutherans agree with that, don’t they?

    Rich

  • Peter Leavitt

    Note how this thread, which is about a common orthodox Christian Catechism, has become conveniently distracted by doctrinal matters, including that of what is “essential for salvation.”

  • Peter Leavitt

    Note how this thread, which is about a common orthodox Christian Catechism, has become conveniently distracted by doctrinal matters, including that of what is “essential for salvation.”

  • Rich Shipe

    Sorry guys! I’ll just read from now on with this post.

  • Rich Shipe

    Sorry guys! I’ll just read from now on with this post.

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

    Peter,
    Quite frankly I find it pertinent to the discussion. Catechisms after all are meant to teach doctrine, especially those things essential for salvation.

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

    Peter,
    Quite frankly I find it pertinent to the discussion. Catechisms after all are meant to teach doctrine, especially those things essential for salvation.

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

    Rich,
    I don’t mean to “entrap.”
    And Lutherans under normal circumstances find baptism necessary to salvation. Though we do believe that a person who has come to faith is saved, even before they have a chance to be baptized. We would say that person is not saved if they found baptism to be nonessential, or some sort of adiaphora they could do without. Faith takes Christ’s words a bit more seriously than all that.

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

    Rich,
    I don’t mean to “entrap.”
    And Lutherans under normal circumstances find baptism necessary to salvation. Though we do believe that a person who has come to faith is saved, even before they have a chance to be baptized. We would say that person is not saved if they found baptism to be nonessential, or some sort of adiaphora they could do without. Faith takes Christ’s words a bit more seriously than all that.

  • http://thirstytheologian.com David Kjos

    Bror Erickson,
    The two are not antithetical. I only quoted WSC as an example of a statement that does not go beyond what the text says. I suppose one could say that Q. 77 goes beyond the commandment, and they may be right. One might also say, though, that “maintaining and promoting the truth between man & man, & of our own & our neighbour’s good name, especially in witness-bearing” is no more than a very general positive reiteration of the negative command. Luther, on the other hand, says “We should fear and love God, and so we should not tell lies about our neighbor, nor betray, slander, or defame him, but should apologize for him, speak well of him, and interpret charitably all that he does.” That goes well beyond “maintaining and promoting the truth,” and may well require disingenuousness. Luther goes way beyond a simple “don’t misrepresent your neighbor,” which is the commandment in a nutshell.

  • http://thirstytheologian.com David Kjos

    Bror Erickson,
    The two are not antithetical. I only quoted WSC as an example of a statement that does not go beyond what the text says. I suppose one could say that Q. 77 goes beyond the commandment, and they may be right. One might also say, though, that “maintaining and promoting the truth between man & man, & of our own & our neighbour’s good name, especially in witness-bearing” is no more than a very general positive reiteration of the negative command. Luther, on the other hand, says “We should fear and love God, and so we should not tell lies about our neighbor, nor betray, slander, or defame him, but should apologize for him, speak well of him, and interpret charitably all that he does.” That goes well beyond “maintaining and promoting the truth,” and may well require disingenuousness. Luther goes way beyond a simple “don’t misrepresent your neighbor,” which is the commandment in a nutshell.

  • Peter Leavitt

    Bror, I see your point, though wouldn’t it be a good thing if orthodox Protestants and Catholics could hammer out a catechism, despite our fine doctrinal differences, that would deal intelligently about such matters as sex outside of marriage, homosexuality, abortion, divorce, alcoholism, use and marketing of drugs, domestic violence, defamation, and financial scandals such as falsification of records and embezzlement?

    Christianity is rather a house divided that has given the secularists who fervently preach human autonomy an easy field for their dubious antinomian nostrums. Richard Niebuhr nailed the modern easy Christian view with his following remark: A God without wrath brought people without sin into a kingdom without judgment through the ministry of a Christ without the cross.

    We Christians talk a good game about Christian morality, though in truth we mostly and supinely resign ourselves to the dominant secular order that emphasizes the virtue of human autonomy coupled with moral nihilism,

  • Peter Leavitt

    Bror, I see your point, though wouldn’t it be a good thing if orthodox Protestants and Catholics could hammer out a catechism, despite our fine doctrinal differences, that would deal intelligently about such matters as sex outside of marriage, homosexuality, abortion, divorce, alcoholism, use and marketing of drugs, domestic violence, defamation, and financial scandals such as falsification of records and embezzlement?

    Christianity is rather a house divided that has given the secularists who fervently preach human autonomy an easy field for their dubious antinomian nostrums. Richard Niebuhr nailed the modern easy Christian view with his following remark: A God without wrath brought people without sin into a kingdom without judgment through the ministry of a Christ without the cross.

    We Christians talk a good game about Christian morality, though in truth we mostly and supinely resign ourselves to the dominant secular order that emphasizes the virtue of human autonomy coupled with moral nihilism,

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    I realize this is off in the weeds, but what interesting weeds! David (@30), I, along with Bror (@18), don’t see how Luther’s explanation of that Commandment differs at all from that of the WSC. Which is to say that, if Luther goes beyond the text, then so does the WSC. If the WSC does not, then neither does Luther. I would argue for the latter.

    I think part of the problem is in how you read Luther’s explanation. It doesn’t require “disingenuousness” at all. Being charitable doesn’t mean ignoring a sinful attitude. We should label sin as it is. But Luther isn’t saying anything different than the WSC does in expressing concern for our neighbor’s “good name”.

    As an example, surely you’ve had an instance where you thought someone on the Internet was saying something rude or insulting, when it turns out they weren’t (I’m certainly guilty of this; the Internet is the testing ground for this Commandment, among others). Or, even if they were, maybe they were just having a bad day. Wouldn’t concern for that other person’s “good name” require us to “interpret charitably” what he’s written, rather than instantly assuming he’s a jerk, say?

    None of which makes me think this ecumenical catechism is any more likely, of course.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    I realize this is off in the weeds, but what interesting weeds! David (@30), I, along with Bror (@18), don’t see how Luther’s explanation of that Commandment differs at all from that of the WSC. Which is to say that, if Luther goes beyond the text, then so does the WSC. If the WSC does not, then neither does Luther. I would argue for the latter.

    I think part of the problem is in how you read Luther’s explanation. It doesn’t require “disingenuousness” at all. Being charitable doesn’t mean ignoring a sinful attitude. We should label sin as it is. But Luther isn’t saying anything different than the WSC does in expressing concern for our neighbor’s “good name”.

    As an example, surely you’ve had an instance where you thought someone on the Internet was saying something rude or insulting, when it turns out they weren’t (I’m certainly guilty of this; the Internet is the testing ground for this Commandment, among others). Or, even if they were, maybe they were just having a bad day. Wouldn’t concern for that other person’s “good name” require us to “interpret charitably” what he’s written, rather than instantly assuming he’s a jerk, say?

    None of which makes me think this ecumenical catechism is any more likely, of course.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Okay, can we step back here? I have yet to see anybody explain why we would want this as-yet-mythical ecumenical catechism. That is to say: What would it do? What function would it serve? Because you can’t really answer if one could exist until you answer what it’s supposed to do.

    Could we come up with some list of shared beliefs? Of course. But to do so, we’d have to define the group that will share them first. And how do we pick that list? The discussion so far would seem to have it that “Catholics, Anglicans, Lutherans, Methodists and members of the Reformed churches” are in, but that presumably others who call themselves “Christian” are out (e.g. Mormons, Jehovah’s Witnesses). I understand why those decisions are made, but then, picking the list of participants sort of begs the question.

    And what would this list of shared beliefs mean? Would it be a document on all that is required of a Christian? All that you really need to know from the Bible? I kind of doubt it.

    Along those lines, Peter (@31) seems to think that if we’d just limit the catechism to “sex outside of marriage, homosexuality, abortion, divorce, alcoholism, use and marketing of drugs, domestic violence, defamation, and financial scandals such as falsification of records and embezzlement,” then surely we could all agree. But of what value is that? I mean, if we’re just going to hammer out a (rather limited) moral code, then couldn’t we get some other, non-Christian religions to sign on as well? I’ll bet that many Muslims could agree to that list, as well. If so, then we’d have to conclude that such a catechism would not, in fact, be strictly Christian. It would merely be a moral code. And missing the entire point of Christianity, as least as spelled out thusly.

    And there’s the problem. In attempting to find the common ground and strip out all the tricky areas, Peter has (hopefully unintentionally, lest I forget what I just said in the previous comment) made Christianity appear to be nothing more than a moral code. Which it emphatically is not.

    The fact remains that divisions remain on the very big questions, on the matter of what, exactly, Christianity is. Is it a religion in which we do something? Or in which God does something? Or some combination of both? And if we can’t agree on something that simple, is any ecumenical catechism going to have any value?

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Okay, can we step back here? I have yet to see anybody explain why we would want this as-yet-mythical ecumenical catechism. That is to say: What would it do? What function would it serve? Because you can’t really answer if one could exist until you answer what it’s supposed to do.

    Could we come up with some list of shared beliefs? Of course. But to do so, we’d have to define the group that will share them first. And how do we pick that list? The discussion so far would seem to have it that “Catholics, Anglicans, Lutherans, Methodists and members of the Reformed churches” are in, but that presumably others who call themselves “Christian” are out (e.g. Mormons, Jehovah’s Witnesses). I understand why those decisions are made, but then, picking the list of participants sort of begs the question.

    And what would this list of shared beliefs mean? Would it be a document on all that is required of a Christian? All that you really need to know from the Bible? I kind of doubt it.

    Along those lines, Peter (@31) seems to think that if we’d just limit the catechism to “sex outside of marriage, homosexuality, abortion, divorce, alcoholism, use and marketing of drugs, domestic violence, defamation, and financial scandals such as falsification of records and embezzlement,” then surely we could all agree. But of what value is that? I mean, if we’re just going to hammer out a (rather limited) moral code, then couldn’t we get some other, non-Christian religions to sign on as well? I’ll bet that many Muslims could agree to that list, as well. If so, then we’d have to conclude that such a catechism would not, in fact, be strictly Christian. It would merely be a moral code. And missing the entire point of Christianity, as least as spelled out thusly.

    And there’s the problem. In attempting to find the common ground and strip out all the tricky areas, Peter has (hopefully unintentionally, lest I forget what I just said in the previous comment) made Christianity appear to be nothing more than a moral code. Which it emphatically is not.

    The fact remains that divisions remain on the very big questions, on the matter of what, exactly, Christianity is. Is it a religion in which we do something? Or in which God does something? Or some combination of both? And if we can’t agree on something that simple, is any ecumenical catechism going to have any value?

  • Peter Leavitt

    Todd, your straw man that I’ve reduced Christianity to a moral code is hogwash. My position is consonant with that of Cardinal Kasper who premised his proposal for an ecumenical catechism on the potential fruits of 40 years of dialogue among Catholics, Anglicans, Lutherans, Methodists and members of the Reformed churches.

    C.S. Lewis remarked wisely in Mere Christianity that there is substantial agreement among orthodox Christian churches and that it is best for sophisticated and fair-minded theologians to deal with the remaining differences. This is in fact the basis for the title of his book that is regarded as the best contemporary apologetic for the Christian faith.

    The truth is that the objections to such broad Christian minded proposals as that of Cardinal Casper are based for the most part on the narcissism of small sectarian differences.

  • Peter Leavitt

    Todd, your straw man that I’ve reduced Christianity to a moral code is hogwash. My position is consonant with that of Cardinal Kasper who premised his proposal for an ecumenical catechism on the potential fruits of 40 years of dialogue among Catholics, Anglicans, Lutherans, Methodists and members of the Reformed churches.

    C.S. Lewis remarked wisely in Mere Christianity that there is substantial agreement among orthodox Christian churches and that it is best for sophisticated and fair-minded theologians to deal with the remaining differences. This is in fact the basis for the title of his book that is regarded as the best contemporary apologetic for the Christian faith.

    The truth is that the objections to such broad Christian minded proposals as that of Cardinal Casper are based for the most part on the narcissism of small sectarian differences.

  • JonSLC

    Re. the Ten Commandments Luther/WC discussion…

    Luther notes that the Ten Commandments are really expressions of God’s timeless moral law, expressions which are couched in the language of the Old Covenant. A Christian looking for a neat summary of the moral law will find that the 10 Commandments provide such a summary.

    Thus Luther finds it legit to use the “false witness” commandment to summarize many Biblical truths about the use of speech. A similar example is his treatment of the Sabbath command. He notes that the command regarding the day of worship no longer applies to the Christian, yet the commandment reminds us of many scriptures about hearing and learning God’s Word, which are timeless truths. He doesn’t wish to go beyond Scripture, but rather he uses each commandment as a touchstone for all other related parts of the moral law.

  • JonSLC

    Re. the Ten Commandments Luther/WC discussion…

    Luther notes that the Ten Commandments are really expressions of God’s timeless moral law, expressions which are couched in the language of the Old Covenant. A Christian looking for a neat summary of the moral law will find that the 10 Commandments provide such a summary.

    Thus Luther finds it legit to use the “false witness” commandment to summarize many Biblical truths about the use of speech. A similar example is his treatment of the Sabbath command. He notes that the command regarding the day of worship no longer applies to the Christian, yet the commandment reminds us of many scriptures about hearing and learning God’s Word, which are timeless truths. He doesn’t wish to go beyond Scripture, but rather he uses each commandment as a touchstone for all other related parts of the moral law.

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

    Peter,
    If I may, what was doctrinal in your list and not strictly moral? Is that all the ecumenical movement has hammered out in forty years is agreement in morality? Is that all Cardinal Kasper has or is there more? Because I think Gandi could have signed that.
    But Peter it isn’t just this post here, but a conglomerate that makes me wonder how you define Orthodox? Is it simply a moral stance for you? Or is there more. Does what one confesses concerning the person and work of Christ also become a determining factor for you somewhere?

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

    Peter,
    If I may, what was doctrinal in your list and not strictly moral? Is that all the ecumenical movement has hammered out in forty years is agreement in morality? Is that all Cardinal Kasper has or is there more? Because I think Gandi could have signed that.
    But Peter it isn’t just this post here, but a conglomerate that makes me wonder how you define Orthodox? Is it simply a moral stance for you? Or is there more. Does what one confesses concerning the person and work of Christ also become a determining factor for you somewhere?

  • http://thirstytheologian.com David Kjos

    tODD,
    The point is not to answer “what should I do in this hypothetical situation?” but simply to answer “what does this particular text say.” You may teach the truth, but if you draw it from a text in which it is not found, you have not accurately handled the word (2 Timothy 2:15). That’s my objection to Luther.

  • http://thirstytheologian.com David Kjos

    tODD,
    The point is not to answer “what should I do in this hypothetical situation?” but simply to answer “what does this particular text say.” You may teach the truth, but if you draw it from a text in which it is not found, you have not accurately handled the word (2 Timothy 2:15). That’s my objection to Luther.

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

    “The truth is that the objections to such broad Christian minded proposals as that of Cardinal Casper are based for the most part on the narcissism of small sectarian differences.”
    Are you referring to the narcissism that keeps one in the congregational church of his forefather’s even though he has no disagreement with Rome?

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

    “The truth is that the objections to such broad Christian minded proposals as that of Cardinal Casper are based for the most part on the narcissism of small sectarian differences.”
    Are you referring to the narcissism that keeps one in the congregational church of his forefather’s even though he has no disagreement with Rome?

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Peter (@34), you said to me, “your straw man that I’ve reduced Christianity to a moral code is hogwash.” Perhaps so, but I only had to go off what you wrote:

    Wouldn’t it be a good thing if orthodox Protestants and Catholics could hammer out a catechism, despite our fine doctrinal differences, that would deal intelligently about such matters as sex outside of marriage, homosexuality, abortion, divorce, alcoholism, use and marketing of drugs, domestic violence, defamation, and financial scandals such as falsification of records and embezzlement?

    All that you’ve suggested for contents of this ecumenical catechism is, as I have already noted (@33), “a moral code”. If you’d like to suggest other areas for common ground, please do so. But you haven’t yet done so. But you have appeared to express more concern for an “approach to morality and ethics” (@22) than you have “doctrinal matters, including that of what is ‘essential for salvation’” (which you considered a “distraction”, @26). What words of yours would I look to to discover that you do think Christianity is about more than morality?

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Peter (@34), you said to me, “your straw man that I’ve reduced Christianity to a moral code is hogwash.” Perhaps so, but I only had to go off what you wrote:

    Wouldn’t it be a good thing if orthodox Protestants and Catholics could hammer out a catechism, despite our fine doctrinal differences, that would deal intelligently about such matters as sex outside of marriage, homosexuality, abortion, divorce, alcoholism, use and marketing of drugs, domestic violence, defamation, and financial scandals such as falsification of records and embezzlement?

    All that you’ve suggested for contents of this ecumenical catechism is, as I have already noted (@33), “a moral code”. If you’d like to suggest other areas for common ground, please do so. But you haven’t yet done so. But you have appeared to express more concern for an “approach to morality and ethics” (@22) than you have “doctrinal matters, including that of what is ‘essential for salvation’” (which you considered a “distraction”, @26). What words of yours would I look to to discover that you do think Christianity is about more than morality?

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Also, Peter (@34), what is this silliness: “it is best for sophisticated and fair-minded theologians to deal with the remaining differences”? I’m not sure you’ve entirely grasped the point of the Reformation, though I can see why you favor Rome so, with statements like that.

    And Bror reminds us (@38) that your house isn’t exactly in order on the point of “the narcissism of small sectarian differences.”

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Also, Peter (@34), what is this silliness: “it is best for sophisticated and fair-minded theologians to deal with the remaining differences”? I’m not sure you’ve entirely grasped the point of the Reformation, though I can see why you favor Rome so, with statements like that.

    And Bror reminds us (@38) that your house isn’t exactly in order on the point of “the narcissism of small sectarian differences.”

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    David (@37), did you see JonSLC’s comment (@35)? I think it’s a good reply to your comment, even if it preceded yours.

    That is to say, when we read a piece of Scripture (such as the Ten Commandments), we do not read it in isolation, but in context. Luther’s explanations of the Commandments have as their context the entirety of Scripture. And, indeed, we see that this is quite necessary, especially considering the Commandment about the Sabbath. More than a few denominations, not taking into account the whole of Scripture, have interpreted this Commandment in rather odd (and, of course, legalistic) fashions.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    David (@37), did you see JonSLC’s comment (@35)? I think it’s a good reply to your comment, even if it preceded yours.

    That is to say, when we read a piece of Scripture (such as the Ten Commandments), we do not read it in isolation, but in context. Luther’s explanations of the Commandments have as their context the entirety of Scripture. And, indeed, we see that this is quite necessary, especially considering the Commandment about the Sabbath. More than a few denominations, not taking into account the whole of Scripture, have interpreted this Commandment in rather odd (and, of course, legalistic) fashions.

  • Wyldeirishman

    Interesting topic, indeed. The notion of any sort of ecumenical catechism puts me in mind of the late J. Gresham Machen (from the Presbytarian tradition of Christendom), writing in his classic work “Christianity and Liberalism:”

    ‘Certainly the atheistic or agnostic ‘Christianity’ which sometimes goes under the name of a “practical” religion is no Christianity at all. ”

    and again, from the same work:

    “Modern men have been so much impressed with this element in Jesus’ teaching that they have sometimes been inclined to regard it as the very sum and substance of our religion. We are not interested, they say, in many things for which men formerly gave their lives; we are not interested in the theology of the creeds; we are not interested in the doctrines of sin and salvation; we are not interested in atonement through the blood of Christ: enough for us is the simple truth of the fatherhood of God and its corollary, the brotherhood of man. We may not be very orthodox in the theological sense, they continue, but of course you will recognize us as Christians because we accept Jesus’ teaching as to the Father God.”

    Machen goes on to enumerate several differences between orthodox Christianity and theological liberalism, which will no doubt be a blight that we will never fail to be rid of in the here and now, and because of these vast and important differences amongst all of the various groups adhering to the title ‘Christian’ (as well as the aforementioned Joint Declaration fiasco), I do not believe that such a catechism could be effectively penned, nor do I think that such a think bears the mark of any real wisdom.

  • Wyldeirishman

    Interesting topic, indeed. The notion of any sort of ecumenical catechism puts me in mind of the late J. Gresham Machen (from the Presbytarian tradition of Christendom), writing in his classic work “Christianity and Liberalism:”

    ‘Certainly the atheistic or agnostic ‘Christianity’ which sometimes goes under the name of a “practical” religion is no Christianity at all. ”

    and again, from the same work:

    “Modern men have been so much impressed with this element in Jesus’ teaching that they have sometimes been inclined to regard it as the very sum and substance of our religion. We are not interested, they say, in many things for which men formerly gave their lives; we are not interested in the theology of the creeds; we are not interested in the doctrines of sin and salvation; we are not interested in atonement through the blood of Christ: enough for us is the simple truth of the fatherhood of God and its corollary, the brotherhood of man. We may not be very orthodox in the theological sense, they continue, but of course you will recognize us as Christians because we accept Jesus’ teaching as to the Father God.”

    Machen goes on to enumerate several differences between orthodox Christianity and theological liberalism, which will no doubt be a blight that we will never fail to be rid of in the here and now, and because of these vast and important differences amongst all of the various groups adhering to the title ‘Christian’ (as well as the aforementioned Joint Declaration fiasco), I do not believe that such a catechism could be effectively penned, nor do I think that such a think bears the mark of any real wisdom.

  • Peter Leavitt

    Bror, one example of doctrinal agreement that Cardinal Kasper referred to would be The Joint Declaration on the Doctrine of Justification prepared between 1995 and 1997 by Roman Catholic and Lutheran theologians. One of the leading Protestant ecumenical theologians is the conservative Lutheran theologian, Carl Braaten, whose book Mother Church: Ecclesiology and Ecumenism you might fit in sometime to your occasional serious reading.

    Dr. Braaten, like many serious Protestants, has kept with his cradle faith while seriously working toward a holy, apostolic, catholic church, though he has had to contend over the years with those smitten with the narcissism of small differences.

    You might, also, reflect on someone who did find a way to cross the Tiber, the former Lutheran pastor, Richard John Neuhaus, who in an article How I Became the Catholic I Was wrote:

    Mine was a decision mandated by conscience. I have never found it in his writings, but a St. Louis professor who had been his student told me that the great confessional Lutheran theologian Peter Brunner regularly said that a Lutheran who does not daily ask himself why he is not a Roman Catholic cannot know why he is a Lutheran. That impressed me very deeply. I was thirty years a Lutheran pastor, and after thirty years of asking myself why I was not a Roman Catholic I finally ran out of answers that were convincing either to me or to others. And so I discovered not so much that I had made the decision as that the decision was made, and I have never looked back, except to trace the marks of grace, of sola gratia, each step of the way.

  • Peter Leavitt

    Bror, one example of doctrinal agreement that Cardinal Kasper referred to would be The Joint Declaration on the Doctrine of Justification prepared between 1995 and 1997 by Roman Catholic and Lutheran theologians. One of the leading Protestant ecumenical theologians is the conservative Lutheran theologian, Carl Braaten, whose book Mother Church: Ecclesiology and Ecumenism you might fit in sometime to your occasional serious reading.

    Dr. Braaten, like many serious Protestants, has kept with his cradle faith while seriously working toward a holy, apostolic, catholic church, though he has had to contend over the years with those smitten with the narcissism of small differences.

    You might, also, reflect on someone who did find a way to cross the Tiber, the former Lutheran pastor, Richard John Neuhaus, who in an article How I Became the Catholic I Was wrote:

    Mine was a decision mandated by conscience. I have never found it in his writings, but a St. Louis professor who had been his student told me that the great confessional Lutheran theologian Peter Brunner regularly said that a Lutheran who does not daily ask himself why he is not a Roman Catholic cannot know why he is a Lutheran. That impressed me very deeply. I was thirty years a Lutheran pastor, and after thirty years of asking myself why I was not a Roman Catholic I finally ran out of answers that were convincing either to me or to others. And so I discovered not so much that I had made the decision as that the decision was made, and I have never looked back, except to trace the marks of grace, of sola gratia, each step of the way.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Peter (@43), I honestly don’t know why you think the Joint Declaration is impressive. Nor do I understand why you keep bringing it up, ignoring all that has been said before when you’ve brought it up in the past [1][2][3][4][5]. But even the Catholic church itself disagrees that the Declaration represents “doctrinal agreement”, as they stated quite clearly in their “Response of the Catholic Church to the Joint Declaration of the Catholic Church and the Lutheran World Federation on the Doctrine of Justification” [6]:

    The Catholic Church is, however, of the opinion that we cannot yet speak of a consensus such as would eliminate every difference between Catholics and Lutherans in the understanding of justification.

    Never mind the humorous fact that the Catholics felt the need to issue a rather lengthy response to a “joint declaration” to which they were party. That says a lot about how the Joint Declaration should be read. And, of course, the only Lutherans that were party to this document were ELCA Lutherans, the likes of which you routinely pillory in your comments as, perhaps, “modern, spineless, syncretic, liberal Christians”, to borrow your phrase. The “serious” Lutherans rejected the Joint Declaration — and rightly so, because they care about faithfulness to what Jesus taught, and not merely ecumenism qua ecumenism. I guess you like ELCA when they agree with the Catholic church on justification, and you don’t like them when they throw away clear Biblical teaching (e.g. on same-sex sexual activity). Too bad you don’t understand that the former is an example of the latter. But then, I’m not saying anything that hasn’t been pointed out to you before.

    Anyhow, if anyone is to “reflect on someone who did find a way to cross the Tiber”, it’s not Bror, it’s you. But then, in these discussions, we’re always treated to examples of why we — who have serious, Biblically-rooted theological disagreements with the Catholics — should “cross the Tiber”, while you, who have nothing more than family history keeping you in your Congregationalist church (with which you do seem to have theological problems), remain where you are. It is very difficult to take your admonitions seriously when you are so inconsistent.

    [1] geneveith.com/calvinist-cool/_1302/
    [2] geneveith.com/dc-vote-on-gay-marriage-entangles-congress/_2210/
    [3] geneveith.com/michelangelo-as-secret-lutheran/_2283/
    [4] geneveith.com/rome-recruits-conservative-anglicans-makes-them-a-deal/_3608/
    [5] geneveith.com/why-conservative-anglicans-cant-just-go-to-rome/_3652/
    [6] vatican.va/roman_curia/pontifical_councils/chrstuni/documents/rc_pc_chrstuni_doc_01081998_off-answer-catholic_en.html

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Peter (@43), I honestly don’t know why you think the Joint Declaration is impressive. Nor do I understand why you keep bringing it up, ignoring all that has been said before when you’ve brought it up in the past [1][2][3][4][5]. But even the Catholic church itself disagrees that the Declaration represents “doctrinal agreement”, as they stated quite clearly in their “Response of the Catholic Church to the Joint Declaration of the Catholic Church and the Lutheran World Federation on the Doctrine of Justification” [6]:

    The Catholic Church is, however, of the opinion that we cannot yet speak of a consensus such as would eliminate every difference between Catholics and Lutherans in the understanding of justification.

    Never mind the humorous fact that the Catholics felt the need to issue a rather lengthy response to a “joint declaration” to which they were party. That says a lot about how the Joint Declaration should be read. And, of course, the only Lutherans that were party to this document were ELCA Lutherans, the likes of which you routinely pillory in your comments as, perhaps, “modern, spineless, syncretic, liberal Christians”, to borrow your phrase. The “serious” Lutherans rejected the Joint Declaration — and rightly so, because they care about faithfulness to what Jesus taught, and not merely ecumenism qua ecumenism. I guess you like ELCA when they agree with the Catholic church on justification, and you don’t like them when they throw away clear Biblical teaching (e.g. on same-sex sexual activity). Too bad you don’t understand that the former is an example of the latter. But then, I’m not saying anything that hasn’t been pointed out to you before.

    Anyhow, if anyone is to “reflect on someone who did find a way to cross the Tiber”, it’s not Bror, it’s you. But then, in these discussions, we’re always treated to examples of why we — who have serious, Biblically-rooted theological disagreements with the Catholics — should “cross the Tiber”, while you, who have nothing more than family history keeping you in your Congregationalist church (with which you do seem to have theological problems), remain where you are. It is very difficult to take your admonitions seriously when you are so inconsistent.

    [1] geneveith.com/calvinist-cool/_1302/
    [2] geneveith.com/dc-vote-on-gay-marriage-entangles-congress/_2210/
    [3] geneveith.com/michelangelo-as-secret-lutheran/_2283/
    [4] geneveith.com/rome-recruits-conservative-anglicans-makes-them-a-deal/_3608/
    [5] geneveith.com/why-conservative-anglicans-cant-just-go-to-rome/_3652/
    [6] vatican.va/roman_curia/pontifical_councils/chrstuni/documents/rc_pc_chrstuni_doc_01081998_off-answer-catholic_en.html

  • Larry

    “I don’t consider them to be essential”, as we well know this has always been the reformed/Baptist side of the problem, for Luther and Lutherans they are essential…they drive everything. It is like Sasse said in my paraphrase the way one sees/understands the sacraments is the way one reads the rest of Scripture, positively or negatively, true and false. There is no “getting around this”. There are several ways to see this. It should be well noted that it is the Gospel that divides ultimately, which is the point of confession and “I believe” also means “I reject or do not believe” the antithesis!

    As Luther said “this sacrament IS the Gospel”, in this case he specifically meant the eating of the true and real flesh and blood of Christ. What did Luther mean? He meant this that to alter those words that institute or speak that sacrament – since it IS the Gospel – by doctrine, preaching and teaching is be at war, even by ignorance, with the very Gospel itself and at the end of the day declaring another “good news”. Thus to say, “I don’t consider them to be essential”, is to really say (even unknowingly), “I don’t consider the Gospel to be essential”. For there is no such Word that says, “This is NOT My body/blood…” that’s another gospel and thus a damned message when all is said and done.

    Similar can be said of the sacrament of Baptism, e.g. Lutherans do not believe, teach or confess that baptism is based upon faith or comes into being due to faith, thus rebaptism. In fact Luther points out that to base baptism on faith is shear idolatry…remember confession affirms and denies a thing.

    Luther rightly recognized, this is often missed, that the looking at predestination and God’s foreknowledge (whether God has elected me or not) via faith or secondary works that may or may not be assessed as “coming from said ‘true saving’ faith as an outright denial of Christ. How so? Because God, the hidden God, sent His Son as revelation of this, not via reason or other such. Thus looking to these other things is to attempt to see God in the nude, original sin, and not the revelation where God spoke the Word and the Word was quite literally incarnate before us.

    I use to be Reformed, WCF, I simply was amazed to find that we opened “communion” up to Baptist (which I also use to be) when in the WCF itself says to not baptize one’s infant children was not “just a sin” but a “GREAT sin”. So much for that confession. But heterodoxy eventually allows for this because it leads to “I don’t consider them to be essential”, and reality eventually proves itself in a confession eventually.

    It’s not as if unity is “not” desired, it is but it cannot be at the expense of the Word. The logical extension of “I don’t consider them to be essential” is an utter denial of Christ alone. We saw this in extended Baptist circles in which while there we noted that over time increasingly Baptist congregations language is utterly anti-Trinitarian and Christ is hardly ever mentioned though “grace” is. It’s always the “grace of God”, which is not bad but eventually Christ’s name get eschewed and the idea becomes increasingly a “grace” from “a god” who happens to “just be gracious”. This leads to the essential nature of the sacraments as to what Sasse said and another thing he said that eventually without the sacraments the Gospel slowly disappears, and the church, like a dying echo. The Word and the Sacrament (as Christ instituted them) in balance are utterly essential and NOT “I don’t consider them to be essential”.

    Also along with Sasse on the sacraments, merely echoing Luther, if you loose infant baptism you loose the Gospel in that sacrament. That’s another way of saying that you are at war in “believers baptism” (for example), again even if out of ignorance, with the very Gospel itself. Much like the LS this goes to the issue of what the Gospel is and the critical particular “for me” that the sacraments give, AND to the very nature of the GIVING of the gifts that are the Gospel (GOOD news to/for me), which in turn goes to the very essence of what faith is and is NOT and why Luther and Lutherans confess “I cannot by my own power of will believe in my faithful Savior Jesus Christ but am called by the Gospel by the Holy Spirit”. THAT confession CANNOT be understood in a baptist nor Calvinistic paradigm correctly AT ALL, even though they can grab it and use it. A lot of times the devil’s greatest trick is to not change the words confessed but simply invert them so that they can be confessed exactly as written but be in antithesis in meaning and a demonic confession behind them. Another gospel need not nor rarely if at all says of itself, “Hey, I’m another gospel…”.

    Another, baptistic and reformed, ultimately divide the Spirit from the Word itself. This is shown of course in the Word-Sacraments but also in “conversion” and has its outcome in their theories of “regeneration/rebirth/born again”. The Spirit only sometimes operates effectively in the Word and other times not, baptism does not regenerate they say, the body and blood are not really there. Ultimately this divorce of the Holy Spirit from the Word is to tear asunder the Trinity. Similarly to not have the real body and blood of Christ in the sacrament is to create the deity of the Son apart from the incarnation and Luther ALSO saw this as it is, tearing asunder the Incarnate Word.

    Lest we forget also that Luther rightly identified (opposite of CS Lewis) that Christianity is a tapestry of which if one alters but one thread the entire tapestry is lost. All articles of faith are connected, all articles of faith demand reason, affections and experiences be subdued to faith which is fixed on Christ alone in all articles of faith…even to the offense of these three things. When the Word says, it matters little that reason, affections or experience can handle what the Word says or not.

    Ultimately to not confess the sacraments as essential and/or differently has implications to the confession of the Trinity and two natures of Christ, Luther, Chemnitz, et. Ali saw this against Zwingli, Bucer and Calvin. Thus, we do not even confess the ecumenical creeds the same, the meanings behind them under the various paradigms (Reformed or Lutheran for example) are completely different. It was over the Nicene Creed that the east and the west ultimately divided. As said before the more overt examples might be in “I affirm ONE baptism FOR THE FORGIVENESS OF SINS”. Not two baptisms as in rebaptism with water (Baptist), not two baptisms one with water and another “spiritual” (Baptist and most Calvinist, especially of the Owenian/puritan derivatives).

    So as one may see, one may not like it, but they must honestly be seen for what they are and they ARE essential and not “I don’t consider them to be essential”. Granted these are tough things that take time to grasp, I’ve been there and still do study. But that simply SCREAMS of the need to be under a confession and pastor who teaches, preaches and confesses them rightly or in true orthodoxy (right teaching and right praise) and not mixed (heterodoxy teaching and false teaching/false praise). As an individual Christian one should shed as it were “denominational” (i.e. confessional/confession) moorings and seek these things out, and play the Ethiopian Eunuch on this and not be afraid to seek help and guidance from more learned.

    Larry

  • Larry

    “I don’t consider them to be essential”, as we well know this has always been the reformed/Baptist side of the problem, for Luther and Lutherans they are essential…they drive everything. It is like Sasse said in my paraphrase the way one sees/understands the sacraments is the way one reads the rest of Scripture, positively or negatively, true and false. There is no “getting around this”. There are several ways to see this. It should be well noted that it is the Gospel that divides ultimately, which is the point of confession and “I believe” also means “I reject or do not believe” the antithesis!

    As Luther said “this sacrament IS the Gospel”, in this case he specifically meant the eating of the true and real flesh and blood of Christ. What did Luther mean? He meant this that to alter those words that institute or speak that sacrament – since it IS the Gospel – by doctrine, preaching and teaching is be at war, even by ignorance, with the very Gospel itself and at the end of the day declaring another “good news”. Thus to say, “I don’t consider them to be essential”, is to really say (even unknowingly), “I don’t consider the Gospel to be essential”. For there is no such Word that says, “This is NOT My body/blood…” that’s another gospel and thus a damned message when all is said and done.

    Similar can be said of the sacrament of Baptism, e.g. Lutherans do not believe, teach or confess that baptism is based upon faith or comes into being due to faith, thus rebaptism. In fact Luther points out that to base baptism on faith is shear idolatry…remember confession affirms and denies a thing.

    Luther rightly recognized, this is often missed, that the looking at predestination and God’s foreknowledge (whether God has elected me or not) via faith or secondary works that may or may not be assessed as “coming from said ‘true saving’ faith as an outright denial of Christ. How so? Because God, the hidden God, sent His Son as revelation of this, not via reason or other such. Thus looking to these other things is to attempt to see God in the nude, original sin, and not the revelation where God spoke the Word and the Word was quite literally incarnate before us.

    I use to be Reformed, WCF, I simply was amazed to find that we opened “communion” up to Baptist (which I also use to be) when in the WCF itself says to not baptize one’s infant children was not “just a sin” but a “GREAT sin”. So much for that confession. But heterodoxy eventually allows for this because it leads to “I don’t consider them to be essential”, and reality eventually proves itself in a confession eventually.

    It’s not as if unity is “not” desired, it is but it cannot be at the expense of the Word. The logical extension of “I don’t consider them to be essential” is an utter denial of Christ alone. We saw this in extended Baptist circles in which while there we noted that over time increasingly Baptist congregations language is utterly anti-Trinitarian and Christ is hardly ever mentioned though “grace” is. It’s always the “grace of God”, which is not bad but eventually Christ’s name get eschewed and the idea becomes increasingly a “grace” from “a god” who happens to “just be gracious”. This leads to the essential nature of the sacraments as to what Sasse said and another thing he said that eventually without the sacraments the Gospel slowly disappears, and the church, like a dying echo. The Word and the Sacrament (as Christ instituted them) in balance are utterly essential and NOT “I don’t consider them to be essential”.

    Also along with Sasse on the sacraments, merely echoing Luther, if you loose infant baptism you loose the Gospel in that sacrament. That’s another way of saying that you are at war in “believers baptism” (for example), again even if out of ignorance, with the very Gospel itself. Much like the LS this goes to the issue of what the Gospel is and the critical particular “for me” that the sacraments give, AND to the very nature of the GIVING of the gifts that are the Gospel (GOOD news to/for me), which in turn goes to the very essence of what faith is and is NOT and why Luther and Lutherans confess “I cannot by my own power of will believe in my faithful Savior Jesus Christ but am called by the Gospel by the Holy Spirit”. THAT confession CANNOT be understood in a baptist nor Calvinistic paradigm correctly AT ALL, even though they can grab it and use it. A lot of times the devil’s greatest trick is to not change the words confessed but simply invert them so that they can be confessed exactly as written but be in antithesis in meaning and a demonic confession behind them. Another gospel need not nor rarely if at all says of itself, “Hey, I’m another gospel…”.

    Another, baptistic and reformed, ultimately divide the Spirit from the Word itself. This is shown of course in the Word-Sacraments but also in “conversion” and has its outcome in their theories of “regeneration/rebirth/born again”. The Spirit only sometimes operates effectively in the Word and other times not, baptism does not regenerate they say, the body and blood are not really there. Ultimately this divorce of the Holy Spirit from the Word is to tear asunder the Trinity. Similarly to not have the real body and blood of Christ in the sacrament is to create the deity of the Son apart from the incarnation and Luther ALSO saw this as it is, tearing asunder the Incarnate Word.

    Lest we forget also that Luther rightly identified (opposite of CS Lewis) that Christianity is a tapestry of which if one alters but one thread the entire tapestry is lost. All articles of faith are connected, all articles of faith demand reason, affections and experiences be subdued to faith which is fixed on Christ alone in all articles of faith…even to the offense of these three things. When the Word says, it matters little that reason, affections or experience can handle what the Word says or not.

    Ultimately to not confess the sacraments as essential and/or differently has implications to the confession of the Trinity and two natures of Christ, Luther, Chemnitz, et. Ali saw this against Zwingli, Bucer and Calvin. Thus, we do not even confess the ecumenical creeds the same, the meanings behind them under the various paradigms (Reformed or Lutheran for example) are completely different. It was over the Nicene Creed that the east and the west ultimately divided. As said before the more overt examples might be in “I affirm ONE baptism FOR THE FORGIVENESS OF SINS”. Not two baptisms as in rebaptism with water (Baptist), not two baptisms one with water and another “spiritual” (Baptist and most Calvinist, especially of the Owenian/puritan derivatives).

    So as one may see, one may not like it, but they must honestly be seen for what they are and they ARE essential and not “I don’t consider them to be essential”. Granted these are tough things that take time to grasp, I’ve been there and still do study. But that simply SCREAMS of the need to be under a confession and pastor who teaches, preaches and confesses them rightly or in true orthodoxy (right teaching and right praise) and not mixed (heterodoxy teaching and false teaching/false praise). As an individual Christian one should shed as it were “denominational” (i.e. confessional/confession) moorings and seek these things out, and play the Ethiopian Eunuch on this and not be afraid to seek help and guidance from more learned.

    Larry

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

    Peter @43,
    Seriously? I suppose in some circles Braaten is considered conservative, though I haven’t heard that in the circles where I run. I do believe I remember reading somewhere in the Systematics he edited a questioning of the resurrection.
    As far as reasons for not being Roman Catholic?
    There is still this bit about Justification. At least in the local RC church they regularly hear sermons concerning purgatory. And I really don’t like how they slander Mary with that perpetual virginity bit, as if she was that much a slouch in her wifely attendance to Joseph.

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

    Peter @43,
    Seriously? I suppose in some circles Braaten is considered conservative, though I haven’t heard that in the circles where I run. I do believe I remember reading somewhere in the Systematics he edited a questioning of the resurrection.
    As far as reasons for not being Roman Catholic?
    There is still this bit about Justification. At least in the local RC church they regularly hear sermons concerning purgatory. And I really don’t like how they slander Mary with that perpetual virginity bit, as if she was that much a slouch in her wifely attendance to Joseph.

  • kerner

    tODD @33:

    I don’t think anybody addressed your question (why try to do this at all?), so I’ll give it a shot.

    I think the 3 eccumenical creeds are attempts to do just what you say, i.e. define what is, and is not, a Christian. Many of the early heresies went to the essentials of Christianity. For example, any belief system claiming to be Chrisitanity MUST recognise the Holy Trinity, or it isn’t Christianity. Likewise the dual nature of Christ. If you don’t believe that Jesus Christ was true God AND true man, you’re not a Christian. The Athanasian Creed, with its continual repitition: “You have to believe A, ,not B, not C, not D, but A, that’s right…A! Ya got it? A! A! A!” (ok, so I’m paraphrasing, but if you’ve read the Athanasian Creed, which I assume you do on Trinity Sunday, you know what I mean) is the most obvious example of what I mean.

    But, as you point out, these attempts to define the “essentials” of Christianity, are, in fact, “disappointingly short”.

    I think the primary reason the early Church developed these definitions of the “essentials” of Christianity was to preserve the true doctrine so that Early Christians would not be confused and fall away. But I’m willing to bet that identifying some basis for fellowship within, and between, individual congregations was a strong secondary purpose. My understanding of Church history is that theologians who wouldn’t sign onto the eccumenical creeds were excommunicated, or slapped, for false doctrine (St. Nicholas slapping Arius at the counsel of Nicea).

    Nowadays, we (at least we Lutherans) have decided that almost ANY doctrinal difference is a sufficient reason for excommunication (although we don’t slap heretics very often any more). Personally, I think Lutherans’ list of reasons not to give other Christians communion is now “disappointingly” long. I think that communion ought to be limited by the “essentials” of Christianity, rather than secondary (although admittedly still important) doctrines, but that’s just me. The majority view among Confessional Lutherans is that all our doctrines are essential enough to limit communion fellowship. And so it goes.

  • kerner

    tODD @33:

    I don’t think anybody addressed your question (why try to do this at all?), so I’ll give it a shot.

    I think the 3 eccumenical creeds are attempts to do just what you say, i.e. define what is, and is not, a Christian. Many of the early heresies went to the essentials of Christianity. For example, any belief system claiming to be Chrisitanity MUST recognise the Holy Trinity, or it isn’t Christianity. Likewise the dual nature of Christ. If you don’t believe that Jesus Christ was true God AND true man, you’re not a Christian. The Athanasian Creed, with its continual repitition: “You have to believe A, ,not B, not C, not D, but A, that’s right…A! Ya got it? A! A! A!” (ok, so I’m paraphrasing, but if you’ve read the Athanasian Creed, which I assume you do on Trinity Sunday, you know what I mean) is the most obvious example of what I mean.

    But, as you point out, these attempts to define the “essentials” of Christianity, are, in fact, “disappointingly short”.

    I think the primary reason the early Church developed these definitions of the “essentials” of Christianity was to preserve the true doctrine so that Early Christians would not be confused and fall away. But I’m willing to bet that identifying some basis for fellowship within, and between, individual congregations was a strong secondary purpose. My understanding of Church history is that theologians who wouldn’t sign onto the eccumenical creeds were excommunicated, or slapped, for false doctrine (St. Nicholas slapping Arius at the counsel of Nicea).

    Nowadays, we (at least we Lutherans) have decided that almost ANY doctrinal difference is a sufficient reason for excommunication (although we don’t slap heretics very often any more). Personally, I think Lutherans’ list of reasons not to give other Christians communion is now “disappointingly” long. I think that communion ought to be limited by the “essentials” of Christianity, rather than secondary (although admittedly still important) doctrines, but that’s just me. The majority view among Confessional Lutherans is that all our doctrines are essential enough to limit communion fellowship. And so it goes.

  • Peter Leavitt

    Bror, in a recent letter to Chilstrom of ELCA, in which Braaten severely criticizes their liberal position on homosexuality, he makes the following reference to the Resurrection:

    Their [the liberals] idea of the “offense of the gospel” is not what the apostle Paul had in mind. Nor do they mean the same thing as the New Testament as a whole when they talk about “the crucifixion and resurrection.” For them these words are metaphors that refer to the kind of social praxis they are calling for in our historical period rather than to the salvific occurrence of what God has already accomplished through the once-for-all death and resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth. It has always been the tactic of liberal Protestant theology to co-opt the language of the Bible and the Christian tradition and pour utterly different meanings into them.

    You need to do better than making such a vague suggestion that Braaten in his Systematics questioned the Resurrection.

    Those hidebound circles you run with might just be wrong on the subject of ecumenism.

  • Peter Leavitt

    Bror, in a recent letter to Chilstrom of ELCA, in which Braaten severely criticizes their liberal position on homosexuality, he makes the following reference to the Resurrection:

    Their [the liberals] idea of the “offense of the gospel” is not what the apostle Paul had in mind. Nor do they mean the same thing as the New Testament as a whole when they talk about “the crucifixion and resurrection.” For them these words are metaphors that refer to the kind of social praxis they are calling for in our historical period rather than to the salvific occurrence of what God has already accomplished through the once-for-all death and resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth. It has always been the tactic of liberal Protestant theology to co-opt the language of the Bible and the Christian tradition and pour utterly different meanings into them.

    You need to do better than making such a vague suggestion that Braaten in his Systematics questioned the Resurrection.

    Those hidebound circles you run with might just be wrong on the subject of ecumenism.

  • Peter Leavitt

    Sorry, the Braaten letter is Here.

  • Peter Leavitt

    Sorry, the Braaten letter is Here.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Peter, have you really thought this through? In your attempt (@48) to bolster Braaten’s cred, you cite how he upbraids the ELCA. Hello? ELCA? The very same church that signed on to the Joint Declaration you hold in such high regard. ELCA, who, as Braaten notes, regard “the salvific occurrence of what God has already accomplished through the once-for-all death and resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth” as mere “metaphor”? ELCA, who “co-opt the language of the Bible and the Christian tradition and pour utterly different meanings into them”? These are the people you would have us look to as those who truly understand “ecumenism”? Your argument is incoherent! And you think Bror (and I, though notably, you won’t reply to my comments of late) is the one who “might just be wrong on the subject”?! Good grief!

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Peter, have you really thought this through? In your attempt (@48) to bolster Braaten’s cred, you cite how he upbraids the ELCA. Hello? ELCA? The very same church that signed on to the Joint Declaration you hold in such high regard. ELCA, who, as Braaten notes, regard “the salvific occurrence of what God has already accomplished through the once-for-all death and resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth” as mere “metaphor”? ELCA, who “co-opt the language of the Bible and the Christian tradition and pour utterly different meanings into them”? These are the people you would have us look to as those who truly understand “ecumenism”? Your argument is incoherent! And you think Bror (and I, though notably, you won’t reply to my comments of late) is the one who “might just be wrong on the subject”?! Good grief!

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

    Peter, Peter, Peter,
    I read the letter. Listen I commend Braaten for doing some rethinking on where he stands. But I still could not put him into the “concervative, or even Confessional camp” of Lutheranism.
    CORE and LCMC as conservative only insofar as the stand for what the ELCA was twenty years ago when the LCMS warned them against the path they were then taking. But they so far seem unwilling to give up the positions that led them down that road. Positions that were reinforced then by Braaten’s own Systematics and the gospel reductionism found therein.
    And you would be surprised how far I go to open dialogue with these folks in my neck of the woods, But quoting Karl Barth as a conservative isn’t going to convince me of your credentials. Defending the ordination of women, while fending off the ordination of Homosexuals, just puts one in an untenable position.
    So he is a conservative only so far as an out and out communist makes a democrat look like a republican.

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

    Peter, Peter, Peter,
    I read the letter. Listen I commend Braaten for doing some rethinking on where he stands. But I still could not put him into the “concervative, or even Confessional camp” of Lutheranism.
    CORE and LCMC as conservative only insofar as the stand for what the ELCA was twenty years ago when the LCMS warned them against the path they were then taking. But they so far seem unwilling to give up the positions that led them down that road. Positions that were reinforced then by Braaten’s own Systematics and the gospel reductionism found therein.
    And you would be surprised how far I go to open dialogue with these folks in my neck of the woods, But quoting Karl Barth as a conservative isn’t going to convince me of your credentials. Defending the ordination of women, while fending off the ordination of Homosexuals, just puts one in an untenable position.
    So he is a conservative only so far as an out and out communist makes a democrat look like a republican.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Kerner (@47), interesting points, but, but … No offense, but I feel your comment refutes itself.

    We’re talking about an ecumenical catechism, right? Something that would cover common ground, right? Unite, not divide?

    And you point to the ecumenical creeds, but … well, for one thing, discussions on this page have already demonstrated how even these would not suffice for the task at hand. “One baptism for the remission of sins” would not pass muster for many Christians — or, at least, if it did, it would be with radically different understandings. So we’d have to make these already short documents (if you will) even shorter!

    But even your own comment points out that the ecumenical creeds were not written in a spirit of “what’s the most things we can all agree on”, but rather to divide! They were meant to say “This is the true Christian faith, and that is not.” In this sense, they ran exactly counter to what we seem to be talking about here. They said to the gnostics: you may call yourselves “Christians”, but what you preach is not the truth, it is not Biblical.

    And yet, you seem to criticize Lutherans for doing the very same thing. I mean, think of it: the end of these ecumenical creeds was either agreement or excommunication! Not exactly ecumenism as we understand it today!

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Kerner (@47), interesting points, but, but … No offense, but I feel your comment refutes itself.

    We’re talking about an ecumenical catechism, right? Something that would cover common ground, right? Unite, not divide?

    And you point to the ecumenical creeds, but … well, for one thing, discussions on this page have already demonstrated how even these would not suffice for the task at hand. “One baptism for the remission of sins” would not pass muster for many Christians — or, at least, if it did, it would be with radically different understandings. So we’d have to make these already short documents (if you will) even shorter!

    But even your own comment points out that the ecumenical creeds were not written in a spirit of “what’s the most things we can all agree on”, but rather to divide! They were meant to say “This is the true Christian faith, and that is not.” In this sense, they ran exactly counter to what we seem to be talking about here. They said to the gnostics: you may call yourselves “Christians”, but what you preach is not the truth, it is not Biblical.

    And yet, you seem to criticize Lutherans for doing the very same thing. I mean, think of it: the end of these ecumenical creeds was either agreement or excommunication! Not exactly ecumenism as we understand it today!

  • Peter Leavitt

    Todd, there are two things you need to get clear.

    First, one can stay loyal to his cradle faith, though critical of part of its theology and interested in serious ecumenism with the Catholic church. I cited Braaten; there are countless others. Not everyone, like Neuhaus, needs to jump the Tiber.

    Second I am rather well aware of both the Catholic and Lutheran criticisms of the Joint Declaration, though these need not be dispositive regarding the issue. With ecumenism a lot depends on one’s inclination or lack thereof. Men like Braaten and Neuhaus take a serious interest in the subject with a view to overcoming difficulties. Men like you and Bror, with apparently little or no serious interest in healing the terrible breach, reject serious ecumenism out of hand in the interests of protecting your narrow Lutheran turf.

    Prof. Peter Brunner, the eminent U. of Heidelburg Lutheran theologian had it right with his view that a Lutheran who doesn’t daily ask why he is not a Roman Catholic doesn’t know why he is a Lutheran.

  • Peter Leavitt

    Todd, there are two things you need to get clear.

    First, one can stay loyal to his cradle faith, though critical of part of its theology and interested in serious ecumenism with the Catholic church. I cited Braaten; there are countless others. Not everyone, like Neuhaus, needs to jump the Tiber.

    Second I am rather well aware of both the Catholic and Lutheran criticisms of the Joint Declaration, though these need not be dispositive regarding the issue. With ecumenism a lot depends on one’s inclination or lack thereof. Men like Braaten and Neuhaus take a serious interest in the subject with a view to overcoming difficulties. Men like you and Bror, with apparently little or no serious interest in healing the terrible breach, reject serious ecumenism out of hand in the interests of protecting your narrow Lutheran turf.

    Prof. Peter Brunner, the eminent U. of Heidelburg Lutheran theologian had it right with his view that a Lutheran who doesn’t daily ask why he is not a Roman Catholic doesn’t know why he is a Lutheran.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Peter (@53), I know exactly why I’m not a Roman Catholic: because of the theology they teach, the errors in which are counter to the Bible’s plain teaching. I would love to have the divisions between my church and theirs healed, but I will not ignore the Word of God to do so. However, at such point at which they renounce their errors, then of course it will be easy to work towards reconciliation. And, if they need reminders of these errors, I would be happy to help. But, again, I will not embrace error just so we can sing (however disingenuously) “Kumbayah” here on earth.

    I also know <a href="http://www.geneveith.com/michelangelo-as-secret-lutheran/_2283/#comment-62104"why you're not a Roman Catholic:

    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.

    Now, which one of us is serious here? The person interested in what the Bible says, or the person who is concerned with family history?

    I see no sign that you actually understand the serious theological rifts between Catholics and Lutherans, as you always dismiss them as mere sectarian quibbles. But even if you do understand the differences, why is it that you only upbraid the Protestants for not being interested in healing the divisions? Why do you never suggest that it is Rome that needs to make some concessions?

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Peter (@53), I know exactly why I’m not a Roman Catholic: because of the theology they teach, the errors in which are counter to the Bible’s plain teaching. I would love to have the divisions between my church and theirs healed, but I will not ignore the Word of God to do so. However, at such point at which they renounce their errors, then of course it will be easy to work towards reconciliation. And, if they need reminders of these errors, I would be happy to help. But, again, I will not embrace error just so we can sing (however disingenuously) “Kumbayah” here on earth.

    I also know <a href="http://www.geneveith.com/michelangelo-as-secret-lutheran/_2283/#comment-62104"why you're not a Roman Catholic:

    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.

    Now, which one of us is serious here? The person interested in what the Bible says, or the person who is concerned with family history?

    I see no sign that you actually understand the serious theological rifts between Catholics and Lutherans, as you always dismiss them as mere sectarian quibbles. But even if you do understand the differences, why is it that you only upbraid the Protestants for not being interested in healing the divisions? Why do you never suggest that it is Rome that needs to make some concessions?

  • John

    I don’t think that we can go from ecumenical creeds and dogmas to an ecumenical catechism. The councils were setting boundaries. But there is a lot of room within the boundaries of orthodoxy. Luther’s Small Catechism on the surface seems like it could be a very good and widely accepted catechism. But when exploring it within the church it emerges as just the tip of the iceberg of a very particular and specific doctrinal system.

    The careful and deliberate setting of scriptural boundaries built upon the foundation that was laid by the Apostles served the church well through the first six councils. But the process was subject to corruption as subsequent councils have demonstrated. The challenge now may lie in repairing faulty boundaries and removing boundaries that were constructed unnecessarily.

  • John

    I don’t think that we can go from ecumenical creeds and dogmas to an ecumenical catechism. The councils were setting boundaries. But there is a lot of room within the boundaries of orthodoxy. Luther’s Small Catechism on the surface seems like it could be a very good and widely accepted catechism. But when exploring it within the church it emerges as just the tip of the iceberg of a very particular and specific doctrinal system.

    The careful and deliberate setting of scriptural boundaries built upon the foundation that was laid by the Apostles served the church well through the first six councils. But the process was subject to corruption as subsequent councils have demonstrated. The challenge now may lie in repairing faulty boundaries and removing boundaries that were constructed unnecessarily.

  • Peter Leavitt

    I see, you care about the Bible; I care only about family. Another example of your insidious, though usually risible, tendency to create straw-men.

    I once had a talk with Father Neuhaus on my reasons for staying within the Congregational fold, which, broad-gauge man that he was, he fully respected. He had quite a struggle within himself to part from Lutheranism and kept a portrait of Luther at home and in his office. He was a single man. He understood that it was rather important for orthodox Protestants to stay within the fold and work toward reform of their denominations, though he came to disagree with the conventional view that the Reformation was a tragic necessity. He viewed it simply as a tragedy. Neuhaus was well aware that a large cause of the Reformation had to do with nationalism and especially local German interests, as well as theology.

  • Peter Leavitt

    I see, you care about the Bible; I care only about family. Another example of your insidious, though usually risible, tendency to create straw-men.

    I once had a talk with Father Neuhaus on my reasons for staying within the Congregational fold, which, broad-gauge man that he was, he fully respected. He had quite a struggle within himself to part from Lutheranism and kept a portrait of Luther at home and in his office. He was a single man. He understood that it was rather important for orthodox Protestants to stay within the fold and work toward reform of their denominations, though he came to disagree with the conventional view that the Reformation was a tragic necessity. He viewed it simply as a tragedy. Neuhaus was well aware that a large cause of the Reformation had to do with nationalism and especially local German interests, as well as theology.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Peter (@56), I’m not sure you know what a strawman is. On many occasions, I have expressed Biblical arguments for why I am not a Catholic. You, on the other hand, have presented only one argument for why you are not a Catholic, and it is not Biblical. It has to do with your family’s history. Explain how saying that is a strawman.

    And while I cannot speak to the individual selfish interests that may have been concurrant in those who led the Reformation, you seem to have missed that, while the national and local interests you mention have obviously fallen away, the theological concerns remain. And yet you continue to ignore them.

    Again, where is talk of reforming Rome? I do not hear it from you. Nor do I expect to. As usual, the demand is on us to concede to Rome’s positions and ignore their errors. Do you even know what those errors are, Peter?

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Peter (@56), I’m not sure you know what a strawman is. On many occasions, I have expressed Biblical arguments for why I am not a Catholic. You, on the other hand, have presented only one argument for why you are not a Catholic, and it is not Biblical. It has to do with your family’s history. Explain how saying that is a strawman.

    And while I cannot speak to the individual selfish interests that may have been concurrant in those who led the Reformation, you seem to have missed that, while the national and local interests you mention have obviously fallen away, the theological concerns remain. And yet you continue to ignore them.

    Again, where is talk of reforming Rome? I do not hear it from you. Nor do I expect to. As usual, the demand is on us to concede to Rome’s positions and ignore their errors. Do you even know what those errors are, Peter?

  • Peter Leavitt

    Todd, the Catholic church has undergone reform since the Reformation and has continued to do so with John Paul II and Benedict XVI. A careful reading of John Paul II’s Ut Unum Sint [That They May Be One] actually concedes much to churches interesting in rejoining the Mother church and, also, apologizes for past Catholic church error. Your view of the Catholic church is ill informed and yet another of your strawmen. Have you read Ut Unum Sint?

  • Peter Leavitt

    Todd, the Catholic church has undergone reform since the Reformation and has continued to do so with John Paul II and Benedict XVI. A careful reading of John Paul II’s Ut Unum Sint [That They May Be One] actually concedes much to churches interesting in rejoining the Mother church and, also, apologizes for past Catholic church error. Your view of the Catholic church is ill informed and yet another of your strawmen. Have you read Ut Unum Sint?

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Peter, you asked (@58), “Have you read Ut Unum Sint?” Well, you know, you’d never mentioned it before, so how could I have known about it? ;) Anyhow, I’ve skimmed it. And, having done so, I have to ask: have you read it?

    Indeed, I agree with the Catholics on this point, which I’m not sure if you agree on:

    The unity willed by God can be attained only by the adherence of all to the content of revealed faith in its entirety. In matters of faith, compromise is in contradiction with God who is Truth. In the Body of Christ, “the way, and the truth, and the life” (Jn 14:6), who could consider legitimate a reconciliation brought about at the expense of the truth?

    Because, see, every time I talk about how important to me the importance of the faith revealed in Scriptures is, you mock me as “stiff-necked”, “cacaphonous”, “sectarian”, not “serious”, and so on. It’s not that the Catholics or Lutherans* disagree on the need for unity — they do. But they disagree on what that unity should profess. You don’t seem very interested in that question. I am. And so are the Catholics. Which is why neither of us have budged, because very deep, very serious divisions remain between our understandings of Christianity.

    To turn it around, have you read the Augsburg Confession? Do you know about the Council of Trent? What makes you think that Ut Unum Sint, or any other Catholic document, makes all that a matter of mere history?

    *Confessional Lutherans, of course, not the liberal ones you occasionally cheer with, when it’s convenient.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Peter, you asked (@58), “Have you read Ut Unum Sint?” Well, you know, you’d never mentioned it before, so how could I have known about it? ;) Anyhow, I’ve skimmed it. And, having done so, I have to ask: have you read it?

    Indeed, I agree with the Catholics on this point, which I’m not sure if you agree on:

    The unity willed by God can be attained only by the adherence of all to the content of revealed faith in its entirety. In matters of faith, compromise is in contradiction with God who is Truth. In the Body of Christ, “the way, and the truth, and the life” (Jn 14:6), who could consider legitimate a reconciliation brought about at the expense of the truth?

    Because, see, every time I talk about how important to me the importance of the faith revealed in Scriptures is, you mock me as “stiff-necked”, “cacaphonous”, “sectarian”, not “serious”, and so on. It’s not that the Catholics or Lutherans* disagree on the need for unity — they do. But they disagree on what that unity should profess. You don’t seem very interested in that question. I am. And so are the Catholics. Which is why neither of us have budged, because very deep, very serious divisions remain between our understandings of Christianity.

    To turn it around, have you read the Augsburg Confession? Do you know about the Council of Trent? What makes you think that Ut Unum Sint, or any other Catholic document, makes all that a matter of mere history?

    *Confessional Lutherans, of course, not the liberal ones you occasionally cheer with, when it’s convenient.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    The sentence (@59) that ends “– they do” should have been written “– they agree on that”.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    The sentence (@59) that ends “– they do” should have been written “– they agree on that”.

  • Peter Leavitt

    Todd, I’ve read and reread Ut Unum Sint and, after being involved with this blogsite, have read the Augsburg Confession including the concluding passage in which the signers declare:

    Only those things have been recounted which it seemed necessary to say in order that it may be understood that nothing has been received among us, in doctrine or in ceremonies, that is contrary to Scripture or to the church catholic. For it is manifest that we have guarded diligently against the introduction into our churches of any new and ungodly doctrines.

    The early Lutherans including Luther wanted to reform the Catholic church not to start a revolutionary new religion. Unfortunately, Luther and some of his followers in the heat of some moment declared the Pope and the church to be the AntiChrist and provided rich proof texts for those who adamantly opposed the holy, apostolic, catholic church that Luther upheld.

  • Peter Leavitt

    Todd, I’ve read and reread Ut Unum Sint and, after being involved with this blogsite, have read the Augsburg Confession including the concluding passage in which the signers declare:

    Only those things have been recounted which it seemed necessary to say in order that it may be understood that nothing has been received among us, in doctrine or in ceremonies, that is contrary to Scripture or to the church catholic. For it is manifest that we have guarded diligently against the introduction into our churches of any new and ungodly doctrines.

    The early Lutherans including Luther wanted to reform the Catholic church not to start a revolutionary new religion. Unfortunately, Luther and some of his followers in the heat of some moment declared the Pope and the church to be the AntiChrist and provided rich proof texts for those who adamantly opposed the holy, apostolic, catholic church that Luther upheld.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Peter (@61), I’m glad you’ve read both. So here’s the question: do you agree with that paragraph in the Augsburg Confession (and, by extension, the Confession itself)? Because the Catholic Church has yet to agree with the Augsburg Confession. In fact, in partial response to it, it dug itself into a further hole of theological error with the Council of Trent.

    Yes, Luther “wanted to reform the Catholic church” — and Lutherans still desire that, not only for the Catholics, but also now for the other churches with doctrinal error (including some that go by the name of “Lutheran”). But for that to happen, the Catholic church must necessarily own up to its own errors, as outlined, in part, in the Augsburg Confession. And, as I have noted, they haven’t.

    “Unfortunately, Luther and some of his followers in the heat of some moment declared the Pope and the church to be the AntiChrist.” Wow, that’s a fascinating, if incorrect, take on it, Peter. I don’t really feel like getting into it, but you might want to actually read why Luther said that, and what “antichrist” means.

    Anyhow, again, where is talk of reforming Rome today from you? I still do not hear it from you. Will I ever?

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Peter (@61), I’m glad you’ve read both. So here’s the question: do you agree with that paragraph in the Augsburg Confession (and, by extension, the Confession itself)? Because the Catholic Church has yet to agree with the Augsburg Confession. In fact, in partial response to it, it dug itself into a further hole of theological error with the Council of Trent.

    Yes, Luther “wanted to reform the Catholic church” — and Lutherans still desire that, not only for the Catholics, but also now for the other churches with doctrinal error (including some that go by the name of “Lutheran”). But for that to happen, the Catholic church must necessarily own up to its own errors, as outlined, in part, in the Augsburg Confession. And, as I have noted, they haven’t.

    “Unfortunately, Luther and some of his followers in the heat of some moment declared the Pope and the church to be the AntiChrist.” Wow, that’s a fascinating, if incorrect, take on it, Peter. I don’t really feel like getting into it, but you might want to actually read why Luther said that, and what “antichrist” means.

    Anyhow, again, where is talk of reforming Rome today from you? I still do not hear it from you. Will I ever?

  • kerner

    tODD @52:

    You’re right, of course. I was kind of rambling and perhaps refuting myself. I suppose the Athanasian creed, which confines itself almost entirely to the nature of the Trinity and Christ as true God and true man might approach the “short” list of agreed upon Christian characteristics. But I am forced to concede John’s point @55 that the creeds don’t really amount ot a catachism. John also points out that Luther’s Small Catechism is “the tip of an iceberg of a very particular and specific doctrinal system”. And Larry @44 reminds us of Luther’s analogy comparing Christianity to a tapestry, in which altering a thread or 2 unravels the whole thing.

    But yet, In this long discussion about the so-called essentials of Christianity, I run into a problem I have not quite solved. The tapestry analogy, pushed to an extreme logical conclusion, would seem to hold that if you alter one thread and have thereby ruined the whole, you are no Christian. By this logic, any doctrinal error puts you in Hell. There have been times when that logic was widely accepted. The pre-Vatican II RCC taught that anyone outside the RCC was damned. In these more tolerant times, few people will say that anymore. Although I think the Eastern Orthodox will say they don’t know whether people in churches “not in fellowship” with Orthodoxy are Christians.

    But regardless of the tolerance of this age, I think that it is wrong to believe that any doctrinal error, no matter how small, puts its adherant outside the body of Christ. I think most people here would agree with me on that. But then we have to face the question: which errors are so serious as to render someone who believes them outside the Church? And, which errors are “non-essential” enough to not keep you out of Heaven?

    While I agree with you that a catechism of any length or detail is likely to not really be eccumenical, I still think some statement of what the boundaries/essentials of Christiality are is worth discussing. And worth teaching if we ever are able to agree on something.

  • kerner

    tODD @52:

    You’re right, of course. I was kind of rambling and perhaps refuting myself. I suppose the Athanasian creed, which confines itself almost entirely to the nature of the Trinity and Christ as true God and true man might approach the “short” list of agreed upon Christian characteristics. But I am forced to concede John’s point @55 that the creeds don’t really amount ot a catachism. John also points out that Luther’s Small Catechism is “the tip of an iceberg of a very particular and specific doctrinal system”. And Larry @44 reminds us of Luther’s analogy comparing Christianity to a tapestry, in which altering a thread or 2 unravels the whole thing.

    But yet, In this long discussion about the so-called essentials of Christianity, I run into a problem I have not quite solved. The tapestry analogy, pushed to an extreme logical conclusion, would seem to hold that if you alter one thread and have thereby ruined the whole, you are no Christian. By this logic, any doctrinal error puts you in Hell. There have been times when that logic was widely accepted. The pre-Vatican II RCC taught that anyone outside the RCC was damned. In these more tolerant times, few people will say that anymore. Although I think the Eastern Orthodox will say they don’t know whether people in churches “not in fellowship” with Orthodoxy are Christians.

    But regardless of the tolerance of this age, I think that it is wrong to believe that any doctrinal error, no matter how small, puts its adherant outside the body of Christ. I think most people here would agree with me on that. But then we have to face the question: which errors are so serious as to render someone who believes them outside the Church? And, which errors are “non-essential” enough to not keep you out of Heaven?

    While I agree with you that a catechism of any length or detail is likely to not really be eccumenical, I still think some statement of what the boundaries/essentials of Christiality are is worth discussing. And worth teaching if we ever are able to agree on something.

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

    tODD,
    I don’t think we have to ask Peter to reform Rome. But I’d like to see him, and would find him more credible, if he made a concerted effort to introduce Mariolotry to his congregationalist church since he finds nothing doctrinally wrong with Rome.

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

    tODD,
    I don’t think we have to ask Peter to reform Rome. But I’d like to see him, and would find him more credible, if he made a concerted effort to introduce Mariolotry to his congregationalist church since he finds nothing doctrinally wrong with Rome.

  • kerner

    Peter:

    I have to substantially agree with tODD. Neuhaus’ statement that the Reformation was not a tragic necessity, but simply a tragedy, is correct, but not for the reasons he thought.

    The fact is that the Roman church began to deviate from the truth during the early middle ages, probably due to its involvement in mediaeval politics. By the 16th Century, it was as though the Roman church had taken this long gradual left turn such that it was way off course. This was not the result of superficial corruption among certain leaders. The underlying belief system had incorporated errors and developed them over centuries.

    Luther and other reformers tried to pull the Roman church back on course, but they were rebuked and excommunicated. The Calvinist reformers, and Anabaptists over-corrected and went off on a wrong course in a different direction.

    When you call for unity under the auspises of the RCC, you require us all to admit that a) the good ship RCC is on the right course, and b) the Pope is the legitimate admiral of the whole fleet. I know that the idea of a unified chain of command for all Christians is attractive to some. But the unity of the body of Christ is not the same thing as a unified human chain of command. Christ’s kingdom really is NOT of this world. There is no human “head of the Church”. Christ is the head of the body. The Lutheran doctrine naming the Pope as antichrist is based on the papal claim to authority and honor that is Christ’s alone.

    Add this to the fact that the RCC remains off course. So, on what basis do we a) submit ourselves to the authority to one who does not legitimately have any authority, and b) sail off with him in the wrong direction?

    To carry this analogy another step, the reality of our situation is that our Admiral ascended into Heaven and left us with written orders and a chart by which to set our course. We have to try to follow our orders according to our charts. But we in our weakness, wish for more clarity than we have. Some of us wish that God would make more miracles or send us more prophets so we could see the signs better and know what to do. Others wish we had a unified chain of command so could take comfort in receiving new specific orders every time we face a new problem. But it is rebellion against God to think we can improve on the system He actually left us. And that is He left wrtten orders and a chart to numerous and diverse crews and told us to trust Him to guide us on our way. We may not like it, but there it is.

  • kerner

    Peter:

    I have to substantially agree with tODD. Neuhaus’ statement that the Reformation was not a tragic necessity, but simply a tragedy, is correct, but not for the reasons he thought.

    The fact is that the Roman church began to deviate from the truth during the early middle ages, probably due to its involvement in mediaeval politics. By the 16th Century, it was as though the Roman church had taken this long gradual left turn such that it was way off course. This was not the result of superficial corruption among certain leaders. The underlying belief system had incorporated errors and developed them over centuries.

    Luther and other reformers tried to pull the Roman church back on course, but they were rebuked and excommunicated. The Calvinist reformers, and Anabaptists over-corrected and went off on a wrong course in a different direction.

    When you call for unity under the auspises of the RCC, you require us all to admit that a) the good ship RCC is on the right course, and b) the Pope is the legitimate admiral of the whole fleet. I know that the idea of a unified chain of command for all Christians is attractive to some. But the unity of the body of Christ is not the same thing as a unified human chain of command. Christ’s kingdom really is NOT of this world. There is no human “head of the Church”. Christ is the head of the body. The Lutheran doctrine naming the Pope as antichrist is based on the papal claim to authority and honor that is Christ’s alone.

    Add this to the fact that the RCC remains off course. So, on what basis do we a) submit ourselves to the authority to one who does not legitimately have any authority, and b) sail off with him in the wrong direction?

    To carry this analogy another step, the reality of our situation is that our Admiral ascended into Heaven and left us with written orders and a chart by which to set our course. We have to try to follow our orders according to our charts. But we in our weakness, wish for more clarity than we have. Some of us wish that God would make more miracles or send us more prophets so we could see the signs better and know what to do. Others wish we had a unified chain of command so could take comfort in receiving new specific orders every time we face a new problem. But it is rebellion against God to think we can improve on the system He actually left us. And that is He left wrtten orders and a chart to numerous and diverse crews and told us to trust Him to guide us on our way. We may not like it, but there it is.

  • Peter Leavitt

    Todd, you and Bror are amusing with your begrudging and whining antipathy to Rome. C. S, Lewis remarked in Mere Christianity that ecumenical matters need to be dealt with by dispassionate theologians. The civil diplomatic discussions between Lutheran and Catholic theologians yielded a carefully wrought Declaration on the subject of Justification between the two churches that eventually failed due to the animosity of the intransigents on both sides.

    In the long run the breach will be healed, though not apparently in our time. The Catholic church over millennia has learned how to be patient. The German Reformation that had a lot to do with politics will be seen, as Father Neuhaus remarked, as a tragedy that over time was properly healed in order to serve the foundational Christian necessity of a holy, apostolic, and catholic church that as John wrote, quoting Christ, all Christians may be one. [Ut Unum Sint]

  • Peter Leavitt

    Todd, you and Bror are amusing with your begrudging and whining antipathy to Rome. C. S, Lewis remarked in Mere Christianity that ecumenical matters need to be dealt with by dispassionate theologians. The civil diplomatic discussions between Lutheran and Catholic theologians yielded a carefully wrought Declaration on the subject of Justification between the two churches that eventually failed due to the animosity of the intransigents on both sides.

    In the long run the breach will be healed, though not apparently in our time. The Catholic church over millennia has learned how to be patient. The German Reformation that had a lot to do with politics will be seen, as Father Neuhaus remarked, as a tragedy that over time was properly healed in order to serve the foundational Christian necessity of a holy, apostolic, and catholic church that as John wrote, quoting Christ, all Christians may be one. [Ut Unum Sint]

  • kerner

    Peter:

    All Christians ARE one. Rome has nothing to do with that.

  • kerner

    Peter:

    All Christians ARE one. Rome has nothing to do with that.

  • Peter Leavitt

    Kerner, I wish that that were so, though in truth Christians are tragically divided. In time both the Orthodox and Protestant sects will see their way through to repair this.

  • Peter Leavitt

    Kerner, I wish that that were so, though in truth Christians are tragically divided. In time both the Orthodox and Protestant sects will see their way through to repair this.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Kerner (@63), while I admit I do not know the provenance of the tapestry analogy, I think we need to step back a bit and look at it at a high level.

    Why would it be true that altering one or two “threads” in Christianity’s tapestry would cause it to unravel? Did God really say that we have to be doctrinally pure to get into Heaven?

    Perhaps the way I phrased that last question, with the familiar refrain of “Did God really say …” gives the answer to the previous question. Because we know that we don’t go to Heaven because we are doctrinally pure — that puts the focus on us and not Christ, after all.

    But when we find ourselves saying that “these are the truly important doctrines” (and, by extension, “these other doctrines are not very important”, or even, “the Bible doesn’t mean it when it says that”), we began to dabble in doubt. Doubt of God and what he says in his Word. After all, if God didn’t think it was important, why did he put it in the Bible? And if we can safely ignore or gloss over these portions of the Bible, what’s to stop us from glossing over other portions, even if some people think they’re still important?

    The reason all these things are so dangerous is that they drive a wedge between us and God, they cause us to question the very way in which he reveals Himself to us — through his Word. Of course, that may seem dramatic, but, again, consider how subtle Satan was in his first deception. All he had to do was make Eve think that maybe God was being a little overexacting, and ask if God was really all that concerned about what he’d said he was.

    Of course, Lutherans confess that the universal Church is not to be found merely among Lutherans. We can say this because it is Christ who justifies, not our doctrinal purity (which is, of course, as subject to sin as our own good works). And yet, to tolerate doctrinal error is the same as tolerating sin in the church. A little leaven works through the whole dough. We never have to worry about “doctrinal error, no matter how small” for long, because all too soon, that little amount of error gives way to an onslought of error. Every time.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Kerner (@63), while I admit I do not know the provenance of the tapestry analogy, I think we need to step back a bit and look at it at a high level.

    Why would it be true that altering one or two “threads” in Christianity’s tapestry would cause it to unravel? Did God really say that we have to be doctrinally pure to get into Heaven?

    Perhaps the way I phrased that last question, with the familiar refrain of “Did God really say …” gives the answer to the previous question. Because we know that we don’t go to Heaven because we are doctrinally pure — that puts the focus on us and not Christ, after all.

    But when we find ourselves saying that “these are the truly important doctrines” (and, by extension, “these other doctrines are not very important”, or even, “the Bible doesn’t mean it when it says that”), we began to dabble in doubt. Doubt of God and what he says in his Word. After all, if God didn’t think it was important, why did he put it in the Bible? And if we can safely ignore or gloss over these portions of the Bible, what’s to stop us from glossing over other portions, even if some people think they’re still important?

    The reason all these things are so dangerous is that they drive a wedge between us and God, they cause us to question the very way in which he reveals Himself to us — through his Word. Of course, that may seem dramatic, but, again, consider how subtle Satan was in his first deception. All he had to do was make Eve think that maybe God was being a little overexacting, and ask if God was really all that concerned about what he’d said he was.

    Of course, Lutherans confess that the universal Church is not to be found merely among Lutherans. We can say this because it is Christ who justifies, not our doctrinal purity (which is, of course, as subject to sin as our own good works). And yet, to tolerate doctrinal error is the same as tolerating sin in the church. A little leaven works through the whole dough. We never have to worry about “doctrinal error, no matter how small” for long, because all too soon, that little amount of error gives way to an onslought of error. Every time.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Having written all that (@69), I find myself wondering if it isn’t true that it is better to have two denominations that sharply disagree with each other (even if those disagreements are themselves a sign that something has gone wrong) than two denominations attempting to resolve their differences. Let me explain.

    After all, at least that I can think of, when two Christian denominations disagree sharply with each other, it is because they both think the Bible is important — all of it — and they believe that how you understand the Bible is important. On the other hand — again, as I have observed — when two Christian denominations have attempted to make ecumenical strides, at least one of the parties has as much as admitted that not all of the Bible matters, nor their understanding of it.

    I would much rather have two denominations agree that the Bible is important and note their disagreements over certain parts of it (even though they would almost certainly agree on most of it) than have a situation in which at least one denomination does not take the Bible as seriously, and so considers compromise possible.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Having written all that (@69), I find myself wondering if it isn’t true that it is better to have two denominations that sharply disagree with each other (even if those disagreements are themselves a sign that something has gone wrong) than two denominations attempting to resolve their differences. Let me explain.

    After all, at least that I can think of, when two Christian denominations disagree sharply with each other, it is because they both think the Bible is important — all of it — and they believe that how you understand the Bible is important. On the other hand — again, as I have observed — when two Christian denominations have attempted to make ecumenical strides, at least one of the parties has as much as admitted that not all of the Bible matters, nor their understanding of it.

    I would much rather have two denominations agree that the Bible is important and note their disagreements over certain parts of it (even though they would almost certainly agree on most of it) than have a situation in which at least one denomination does not take the Bible as seriously, and so considers compromise possible.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Peter (@66), I don’t suppose you could give me the actual quote from Mere Christianity, since I don’t remember reading anything like his saying that “ecumenical matters need to be dealt with by dispassionate theologians.”

    And, once again (and possibly forever), I will note that the Lutherans you hold in such high esteem here (as to the Joint Declaration) are the same ones condoning homosexual activity and ordaining women and in general ignoring Biblical truths. It is their same attitude towards the Bible in these latter matters that made it possible for them to sign the Joint Declaration. But you don’t seem to understand this at all.

    As to the “carefully wrought Declaration”, if it was so “carefully wrought”, then why did the Catholic church — which, you know, was one of the parties that created the document — need to issue its own clarifying statement on the Joint Declaration (that would be the bizarrely titled “Response of the Catholic Church to the Joint Declaration of the Catholic Church and the Lutheran World Federation on the Doctrine of Justification” — have you read that document)?

    Anyhow, you continue to refuse to answer my questions as to how, exactly, Rome needs to reform. You are doing little more than parroting Rome’s line that ecumenism means agreeing with Rome, it would seem. Even if you yourself aren’t taking your own admonitions seriously, special dispensations from your pal Neuhaus or no.

    “The German Reformation that had a lot to do with politics will be seen …” Yeah, you seem to have fallen back on that line, which is sad, if predictable. Again, it is trivial to prove that the Reformation was and remains about far more than politics, which is why it remains in force today. But if you’d rather paint one side of it with a broad brush than come to understand the true reasons behind it, go ahead. Just don’t tell me you’re simultaneously interested in true ecumenism, with actions like that.

    And, once again (and also possibly forever), I will advise you to consider what it truly means to be one (as in “ut unum sint”). Jesus and the Father are one in complete agreement, one in purpose. They do not gloss over their disagreements for the sake of putting on some fake, united front. They have never been in disagreemnent. Some day you will understand that this — not some error-tolerating “Kumbayah”-singing club — is what unity is about.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Peter (@66), I don’t suppose you could give me the actual quote from Mere Christianity, since I don’t remember reading anything like his saying that “ecumenical matters need to be dealt with by dispassionate theologians.”

    And, once again (and possibly forever), I will note that the Lutherans you hold in such high esteem here (as to the Joint Declaration) are the same ones condoning homosexual activity and ordaining women and in general ignoring Biblical truths. It is their same attitude towards the Bible in these latter matters that made it possible for them to sign the Joint Declaration. But you don’t seem to understand this at all.

    As to the “carefully wrought Declaration”, if it was so “carefully wrought”, then why did the Catholic church — which, you know, was one of the parties that created the document — need to issue its own clarifying statement on the Joint Declaration (that would be the bizarrely titled “Response of the Catholic Church to the Joint Declaration of the Catholic Church and the Lutheran World Federation on the Doctrine of Justification” — have you read that document)?

    Anyhow, you continue to refuse to answer my questions as to how, exactly, Rome needs to reform. You are doing little more than parroting Rome’s line that ecumenism means agreeing with Rome, it would seem. Even if you yourself aren’t taking your own admonitions seriously, special dispensations from your pal Neuhaus or no.

    “The German Reformation that had a lot to do with politics will be seen …” Yeah, you seem to have fallen back on that line, which is sad, if predictable. Again, it is trivial to prove that the Reformation was and remains about far more than politics, which is why it remains in force today. But if you’d rather paint one side of it with a broad brush than come to understand the true reasons behind it, go ahead. Just don’t tell me you’re simultaneously interested in true ecumenism, with actions like that.

    And, once again (and also possibly forever), I will advise you to consider what it truly means to be one (as in “ut unum sint”). Jesus and the Father are one in complete agreement, one in purpose. They do not gloss over their disagreements for the sake of putting on some fake, united front. They have never been in disagreemnent. Some day you will understand that this — not some error-tolerating “Kumbayah”-singing club — is what unity is about.

  • John

    Although many adherents to the different traditions within the church express much conviction in the fullness of the knowledge of their respective communions, it was not so with Paul the Apostle. He described his own knowledge as partial and dim, and placed his hope in the fullness of the beatific vision when Christ returns (1 Corinthians 13).

    Christ Jesus, the only begotten Son of God, became man, was crucified, is risen, and has ascended to heaven. He did all this so that by God’s grace we might be conformed to his likeness, so as to reflect his glory. We now enjoy fellowship with the Father, through the Son, in the Holy Spirit, who joins us together in his calling and gathering of the church.

    Paul proclaims the gospel of salvation to all without distinction. The word has come near to us, “because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.” (Romans 10:9)

  • John

    Although many adherents to the different traditions within the church express much conviction in the fullness of the knowledge of their respective communions, it was not so with Paul the Apostle. He described his own knowledge as partial and dim, and placed his hope in the fullness of the beatific vision when Christ returns (1 Corinthians 13).

    Christ Jesus, the only begotten Son of God, became man, was crucified, is risen, and has ascended to heaven. He did all this so that by God’s grace we might be conformed to his likeness, so as to reflect his glory. We now enjoy fellowship with the Father, through the Son, in the Holy Spirit, who joins us together in his calling and gathering of the church.

    Paul proclaims the gospel of salvation to all without distinction. The word has come near to us, “because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.” (Romans 10:9)

  • Peter Leavitt

    Todd, C.S. Lewis in his preface to Mere Christianity writes:

    …In the first place the questions which divide Christians from one another involve points of high Theology or even of ecclesiastical history which ought never to be treated except by real experts. I should have been out of my depth in such waters: more in need of help myself than able to help others. And secondly we must admit that the discussion of these disputed points has no tendency to bring an outsider into the Christian fold.

    This discussion was in context of Lewis’s stated intention to speak about a generic “mere Christianity” and leave the points of dispute between the assorted communions to experts capable of handling them dispassionately.

  • Peter Leavitt

    Todd, C.S. Lewis in his preface to Mere Christianity writes:

    …In the first place the questions which divide Christians from one another involve points of high Theology or even of ecclesiastical history which ought never to be treated except by real experts. I should have been out of my depth in such waters: more in need of help myself than able to help others. And secondly we must admit that the discussion of these disputed points has no tendency to bring an outsider into the Christian fold.

    This discussion was in context of Lewis’s stated intention to speak about a generic “mere Christianity” and leave the points of dispute between the assorted communions to experts capable of handling them dispassionately.

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

    Peter,
    Being dispassionate when it comes to theology is never a good thing, no matter what forum. I think Christ said something about that in Revelation, being lukewarm and all.
    C.S. Lewis didn’t say dispassionate did he? Experts tend to have a passion that drives them to be experts.
    But yes, Peter, tODD is right here. You decry these people as liberal when it comes to homosexuality, and conservative voices that should be listened to when it comes to Ecumenism.
    tODD and I do know why we aren’t Roman Catholic, and quite frankly we have better reasons than family. And beleive you me, my family has a long history in Lutheranism.

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

    Peter,
    Being dispassionate when it comes to theology is never a good thing, no matter what forum. I think Christ said something about that in Revelation, being lukewarm and all.
    C.S. Lewis didn’t say dispassionate did he? Experts tend to have a passion that drives them to be experts.
    But yes, Peter, tODD is right here. You decry these people as liberal when it comes to homosexuality, and conservative voices that should be listened to when it comes to Ecumenism.
    tODD and I do know why we aren’t Roman Catholic, and quite frankly we have better reasons than family. And beleive you me, my family has a long history in Lutheranism.

  • Peter Leavitt

    Bror, when it comes to discussing controversial issues, especially religious ones, it is best for the participants to be dispassionate. That doesn’t mean that they abandon their principles; rather that they be knowledgeable and respectful when discussing complex issues in a civil, reasonable way with an emphasis on truth rather than polemics.

    I’m sure you and Todd know why you’re not Roman Catholic, though both of you seriously lack the spirit and good will that are required for ecumenical discussion. Fortunately the Lutheran church has such people including Carl Braaten.

  • Peter Leavitt

    Bror, when it comes to discussing controversial issues, especially religious ones, it is best for the participants to be dispassionate. That doesn’t mean that they abandon their principles; rather that they be knowledgeable and respectful when discussing complex issues in a civil, reasonable way with an emphasis on truth rather than polemics.

    I’m sure you and Todd know why you’re not Roman Catholic, though both of you seriously lack the spirit and good will that are required for ecumenical discussion. Fortunately the Lutheran church has such people including Carl Braaten.

  • kerner

    Peter:

    I have just read Ut Unum Sint, but it seems long on abstract exhortation and short on concrete suggestions about how this is all supposed to work. I have some additional problems with it, too.

    Perhaps I am being cynical, but Ut Unum Sint reminds me of the current urging we hear in the USA from President Obama to be “bi-partisan”. To be fair to our current president, I must say that I recently read an article that, quoting from their speeches, pointed out that every president since Jimmy Carter called for bi-partisanship. But, without exception, they all meant the same thing thing: “Do things MY way.” Ut Unum Sint recalls, with some serious historical inaccuracy, the golden first millenium of Christianity, during which all Christians walked together in unified brotherhood with the Bishop of Rome as “moderator”. Some Moderator! In fact, the history of the papacy during that period was one of the draconian consolidation of power made possible by the sometimes violent subjugation of smaller bodies and by the fact that three of the other four patriarchates of Christianity were overrun by the Muslim military machine. During the 11th century, the Bishop of Rome tried to subjugate his last remaining major competitor, the Bishop of Constantinople. When this didn’t work, the Bishop of Rome excommunicated the entire Eastern church (which, in turn, excommunicated the entire western church). There followed 500 years of worldly corruption, power politics, torture, civil war, and many other evils which finally produced the Reformation, which Rome emphatically rejected. And THESE are the “good old days” to which Ut Unum Sint directs our nostalgia? So I guess my first question for you, is why should we trust the Bishop of Rome now? Why should we believe that his pleas for unity are anything more that an invitation to adopt his remaining errors wholesale, and simply do things his way?

    The other major concern is that the unity advocated in the abstract by Ut Unum Sint could only come at the expense of important principles for all parties concerned. Ut Unum Sint seems to direct our attention to the World Counsel of Churches as an example of protestant eccumenism, and so they are. But the WCC is also a prime example of the sacrafice of principle to unity. Any actual doctrine is subject to the WCC’s “I’m ok, you’re ok” universalist attitude to the point at which all kinds of apalling things are accepted. You yourself complain loudly at the deterioration of our culture, Peter. Others above have pointed out how loudly you criticize the liberal ELCA that tolerates similar things. It seems to me that the naive and abstract ideals of Ut Unum Sint with their inaccurate, “sunshine and rainbows” view of papal history are far more likely to destroy the Church by watering it down to nothing than they are to produce a strong united front against the World. So question No.2 is, How can we expect a Christian unity that embodies any strength against the unbelieving World when eccumenism has only produced weakness so far?

    Whether the Pope is being crafty or sincere, I don’t see how Ut Unum Sint is a lose-lose proposition.

  • kerner

    Peter:

    I have just read Ut Unum Sint, but it seems long on abstract exhortation and short on concrete suggestions about how this is all supposed to work. I have some additional problems with it, too.

    Perhaps I am being cynical, but Ut Unum Sint reminds me of the current urging we hear in the USA from President Obama to be “bi-partisan”. To be fair to our current president, I must say that I recently read an article that, quoting from their speeches, pointed out that every president since Jimmy Carter called for bi-partisanship. But, without exception, they all meant the same thing thing: “Do things MY way.” Ut Unum Sint recalls, with some serious historical inaccuracy, the golden first millenium of Christianity, during which all Christians walked together in unified brotherhood with the Bishop of Rome as “moderator”. Some Moderator! In fact, the history of the papacy during that period was one of the draconian consolidation of power made possible by the sometimes violent subjugation of smaller bodies and by the fact that three of the other four patriarchates of Christianity were overrun by the Muslim military machine. During the 11th century, the Bishop of Rome tried to subjugate his last remaining major competitor, the Bishop of Constantinople. When this didn’t work, the Bishop of Rome excommunicated the entire Eastern church (which, in turn, excommunicated the entire western church). There followed 500 years of worldly corruption, power politics, torture, civil war, and many other evils which finally produced the Reformation, which Rome emphatically rejected. And THESE are the “good old days” to which Ut Unum Sint directs our nostalgia? So I guess my first question for you, is why should we trust the Bishop of Rome now? Why should we believe that his pleas for unity are anything more that an invitation to adopt his remaining errors wholesale, and simply do things his way?

    The other major concern is that the unity advocated in the abstract by Ut Unum Sint could only come at the expense of important principles for all parties concerned. Ut Unum Sint seems to direct our attention to the World Counsel of Churches as an example of protestant eccumenism, and so they are. But the WCC is also a prime example of the sacrafice of principle to unity. Any actual doctrine is subject to the WCC’s “I’m ok, you’re ok” universalist attitude to the point at which all kinds of apalling things are accepted. You yourself complain loudly at the deterioration of our culture, Peter. Others above have pointed out how loudly you criticize the liberal ELCA that tolerates similar things. It seems to me that the naive and abstract ideals of Ut Unum Sint with their inaccurate, “sunshine and rainbows” view of papal history are far more likely to destroy the Church by watering it down to nothing than they are to produce a strong united front against the World. So question No.2 is, How can we expect a Christian unity that embodies any strength against the unbelieving World when eccumenism has only produced weakness so far?

    Whether the Pope is being crafty or sincere, I don’t see how Ut Unum Sint is a lose-lose proposition.

  • kerner

    Oops. That last phrase should be, “I don’t see how Ut Unum Sint can be anything but a lose-lose proposition.”

  • kerner

    Oops. That last phrase should be, “I don’t see how Ut Unum Sint can be anything but a lose-lose proposition.”

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

    Peter,
    Braaten hardly speaks for Lutheranism, and may as well be the architect of the ELCA, which you repudiate as liberal. Lets not forget that it was his systematics on which nearly every pastor in the ELCA cut his theological teeth, and as far as the ELCA is concerned her teeth also, speaking of the queens also.

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

    Peter,
    Braaten hardly speaks for Lutheranism, and may as well be the architect of the ELCA, which you repudiate as liberal. Lets not forget that it was his systematics on which nearly every pastor in the ELCA cut his theological teeth, and as far as the ELCA is concerned her teeth also, speaking of the queens also.

  • Peter Leavitt

    Kerner, one can easily find egregious fault with the Catholic church over the years, as JP II makes clear in Ut Unum Sint. The biggest mistake it made was essentially aligning itself with the aristocratic and monarchic power structure during the Medieval period and acquiring its own states in Italy, to say nothing of the theology behind such excrescences as the sale of indulgences. In my view over the years the Church has dealt effectively with these issues and is presently well worth serious ecumenical consideration.

    The trouble is that the conventional wisdom among many Protestants is still guilty of past sins; they are unwilling to fairly make a true assessment of this church that Luther at first recognized as the one true church, whatever its human faults.

    Since the ReformationChristendom has evolved into a rather tribal group of faiths, each proudly proclaiming the virtue of its views; this has had the overall effect of weakening western Christendom to the point that it is now seriously threatened by a combination of militant secularism and Islamic extremism.

    Another point is that if you read the best of modern Catholic thinkers closely, they are well aware of their own church’s faults and of the virtues of other churches. Richard John Neuhaus summarizes this nicely with the following remark in his last FT article, The One True Church.

    The second and related stipulation is that we are not comparing an ideal depiction of the state of Catholicism with less flattering depictions of other communities—or vice versa. It is not a matter of what we like or dislike in this community or that. I have decided views on certain Orthodox and Protestant virtues that Catholics might well emulate. As Malloy writes, in reflecting on the uniqueness of the Catholic Church “one can affirm both the essential fullness of the ecclesial reality of the Catholic Church and the concrete poverty and woundedness of her lived life, together with her practical need of the expressive ecclesial riches found outside her visible boundaries.” Not only can one affirm both, one must affirm both.

    The important point is that Christians of good will need to be concerned about the serious divisions among their churches and work toward healing them. Personally, while I’m a great believer in economic freedom with competitive entities, when it comes to religion unity is far more important than tribalism.

  • Peter Leavitt

    Kerner, one can easily find egregious fault with the Catholic church over the years, as JP II makes clear in Ut Unum Sint. The biggest mistake it made was essentially aligning itself with the aristocratic and monarchic power structure during the Medieval period and acquiring its own states in Italy, to say nothing of the theology behind such excrescences as the sale of indulgences. In my view over the years the Church has dealt effectively with these issues and is presently well worth serious ecumenical consideration.

    The trouble is that the conventional wisdom among many Protestants is still guilty of past sins; they are unwilling to fairly make a true assessment of this church that Luther at first recognized as the one true church, whatever its human faults.

    Since the ReformationChristendom has evolved into a rather tribal group of faiths, each proudly proclaiming the virtue of its views; this has had the overall effect of weakening western Christendom to the point that it is now seriously threatened by a combination of militant secularism and Islamic extremism.

    Another point is that if you read the best of modern Catholic thinkers closely, they are well aware of their own church’s faults and of the virtues of other churches. Richard John Neuhaus summarizes this nicely with the following remark in his last FT article, The One True Church.

    The second and related stipulation is that we are not comparing an ideal depiction of the state of Catholicism with less flattering depictions of other communities—or vice versa. It is not a matter of what we like or dislike in this community or that. I have decided views on certain Orthodox and Protestant virtues that Catholics might well emulate. As Malloy writes, in reflecting on the uniqueness of the Catholic Church “one can affirm both the essential fullness of the ecclesial reality of the Catholic Church and the concrete poverty and woundedness of her lived life, together with her practical need of the expressive ecclesial riches found outside her visible boundaries.” Not only can one affirm both, one must affirm both.

    The important point is that Christians of good will need to be concerned about the serious divisions among their churches and work toward healing them. Personally, while I’m a great believer in economic freedom with competitive entities, when it comes to religion unity is far more important than tribalism.

  • http://aliengoodnews.wordpress.com/ Larry

    Hermann Sasse deals with the issue of “what is the true church” at length very nicely in a letter entitled “Where Christ Is, There Is The Church” – a part of a collection of great letters from the two volume set “The Lonely Way”. Before this letter the back cover captures the issue reading:

    “As Luther once went the lonely way between Rome and Spiritualism, so the Lutheran Church today stands alone between the world powers of Roman Catholicism on the one hand and modern Protestantism on the other. Her doctrine which teaches that the Spirit is bound to the means of grace is as inconceivable to modern people in the twentieth century as it was to their predecessors in the sixteenth.”

    In the letter Where Christ Is, There Is The Church Sasse deals with this idea, not unlike CS Lewis’s error, of attempting to more or less distill what is the “true” church through historical analysis of Christendom (not to be confused with the church) on the one hand, and attaching it to a body of so called “true or truly regenerate” Christians. The question is ‘what is the church’. Many would like to survey the “church historic” and via historical analysis (a good scientific approach for most earthly things) distil what is the ‘essence’ of Christianity and thus the church which is common to all and thus confessable as “this is Christianity. Similar to observing all men in particular to distill in general the essence of man. But that never reveals the church.

    The other way is the more usual way of the enthusiast in the Reformed and Baptist traditions that look for the “true church” as the body of “truly regenerate (variously “elect”, “predestined”, “truly born again/converted”) people or congregation. When I was a Baptist the single big thing Baptist liked to do, it was constant refrain, was to “return to body of truly regenerate believers” (ala believers baptism and all the heart reading for whose in and whose out in various forms differing from church to church even within the Baptist realm). When we moved to Reformed it didn’t change much except that we happen to baptize infants and the “true church” is usually known as the “truly elect”, so one goes seeking that out. That’s the short of it. But here to is not the true church.

    Both of these definitions and ways of “finding the essence of the true church” and thus the “true church” are false from the beginning. Not only in how they go about it but the very base definitions; (1) the attempt to distil the essence from common historical practice and confessions and (2) the body of the variously assessed “truly” regenerate/reborn/elect/predestined/converted/those possessing true saving faith versus mere historical faith, etc, ad infinitum, ad nausem. As Sasse points out the church is a reality dawning into time and space (history) and not some ideal, not some “Platonic city on the hill”.

    The title of Sasse’s letter betrays the answer for the church is the body of Christ and Where Christ Is, There Is The Church. This ends up being where we suspect it will where the Gospel is preached purely and where the sacraments are administered according to Christ’s institution. Sasse concludes:

    “Where the Word and Sacraments are, there people are called to salvation, there faith is awakened. Where the evocation, or calling, has happened, there is ecclesia, or church…The church is a concrete, empirical societas, comprising concrete, living people, not an idea or an invisible reality…wherever on earth today a congregation has been called by the Gospel, there this congregation may in justifying faith call itself a “congregation of saints”; there is the church of Christ. This character of the congregation called by the Word and Sacrament is not lost because it is weak in faith, because some in it are beginners in the faith, or even ‘false Christians and hypocrites, so long as it yet possesses the pure Word and the pure Sacraments. All the baptized, the children, those growing in the faith, those who have been called and have not yet come to the full faith, even the fallen belong. The church cannot be the congregation vere credentium, the assembly of those who truly believe, as long as it is a church in the becoming. Only in the state of completeness which we humans cannot bring about will the church be “glorious, without spot or wrinkle” (Eph. 5:27). Thus the one church is NOT constituted by our faith, NOT by the holiness of our life, rather BY CHRIST, who through his Word and his Sacrament calls people to repentance and faith. And this church is present wherever in Christendom, in all congregations and all denominations, where the Gospel is not so obscured and the Sacraments are not so disfigured that Christ the Lord is no longer present in them…The unity of the church, the fact of the one church, is a reality which we know by faith. The one church is present as truly as Jesus is with us every day until the end of the world. It is not identical with one of the denominations nor with the sum total of the same. It is within them as a reality. It is present everywhere the PURE Word of God and the PURE Sacraments are present. “For the true unity of the church the agreement in the doctrine of the Gospel and the administration of the Sacraments suffices” (Augustana VII). Because the Gospel is not purely taught, because it is darkened and falsified, the unity of the church is HIDDEN. This obfuscation of the Gospel is found not only in this or that church, rather it is the continuing danger to all of all ecclesiastical proclamation. A church can have the most beautiful confessional writings, in which the Gospel is presented in the purest conceivable form, and yet stand in danger of losing the Gospel. No church can say, “I possess the pure Gospel”. For the Gospel cannot be possessed by people like they possess a book. Thus “the call to unity,” that is, to the one church of God, is the call to repentance, the call to Christ and His Gospel. The more earnestly this call is heard, the more earnestly the Christians of all confessions wrestle for the one truth of the Gospel, so much more will the hidden unity of the church of Christ come into view. Thus the concern of the Ecumenical Movement – the World Conference on Faith and Order has ever and again emphasized this is for the truth! Some are caught in the modern error of relativism, according to which there is no objective “truth”, but rather only subjective “truths”. Others view the message of the NT not as the redeeming truth of divine revelation, but as beautiful religious experience, pious sentiment, and useful ethics. Such persons will not understand this quest for the one truth. But he who believes in the One who is the truth and whose Holy Spirit shall lead the church into all truth will see in the events of our time a portion of the history which the Lord has allowed his church to experience so that she who is “becoming” might be prepared for completion.” –End Quote

    Larry

  • http://aliengoodnews.wordpress.com/ Larry

    Hermann Sasse deals with the issue of “what is the true church” at length very nicely in a letter entitled “Where Christ Is, There Is The Church” – a part of a collection of great letters from the two volume set “The Lonely Way”. Before this letter the back cover captures the issue reading:

    “As Luther once went the lonely way between Rome and Spiritualism, so the Lutheran Church today stands alone between the world powers of Roman Catholicism on the one hand and modern Protestantism on the other. Her doctrine which teaches that the Spirit is bound to the means of grace is as inconceivable to modern people in the twentieth century as it was to their predecessors in the sixteenth.”

    In the letter Where Christ Is, There Is The Church Sasse deals with this idea, not unlike CS Lewis’s error, of attempting to more or less distill what is the “true” church through historical analysis of Christendom (not to be confused with the church) on the one hand, and attaching it to a body of so called “true or truly regenerate” Christians. The question is ‘what is the church’. Many would like to survey the “church historic” and via historical analysis (a good scientific approach for most earthly things) distil what is the ‘essence’ of Christianity and thus the church which is common to all and thus confessable as “this is Christianity. Similar to observing all men in particular to distill in general the essence of man. But that never reveals the church.

    The other way is the more usual way of the enthusiast in the Reformed and Baptist traditions that look for the “true church” as the body of “truly regenerate (variously “elect”, “predestined”, “truly born again/converted”) people or congregation. When I was a Baptist the single big thing Baptist liked to do, it was constant refrain, was to “return to body of truly regenerate believers” (ala believers baptism and all the heart reading for whose in and whose out in various forms differing from church to church even within the Baptist realm). When we moved to Reformed it didn’t change much except that we happen to baptize infants and the “true church” is usually known as the “truly elect”, so one goes seeking that out. That’s the short of it. But here to is not the true church.

    Both of these definitions and ways of “finding the essence of the true church” and thus the “true church” are false from the beginning. Not only in how they go about it but the very base definitions; (1) the attempt to distil the essence from common historical practice and confessions and (2) the body of the variously assessed “truly” regenerate/reborn/elect/predestined/converted/those possessing true saving faith versus mere historical faith, etc, ad infinitum, ad nausem. As Sasse points out the church is a reality dawning into time and space (history) and not some ideal, not some “Platonic city on the hill”.

    The title of Sasse’s letter betrays the answer for the church is the body of Christ and Where Christ Is, There Is The Church. This ends up being where we suspect it will where the Gospel is preached purely and where the sacraments are administered according to Christ’s institution. Sasse concludes:

    “Where the Word and Sacraments are, there people are called to salvation, there faith is awakened. Where the evocation, or calling, has happened, there is ecclesia, or church…The church is a concrete, empirical societas, comprising concrete, living people, not an idea or an invisible reality…wherever on earth today a congregation has been called by the Gospel, there this congregation may in justifying faith call itself a “congregation of saints”; there is the church of Christ. This character of the congregation called by the Word and Sacrament is not lost because it is weak in faith, because some in it are beginners in the faith, or even ‘false Christians and hypocrites, so long as it yet possesses the pure Word and the pure Sacraments. All the baptized, the children, those growing in the faith, those who have been called and have not yet come to the full faith, even the fallen belong. The church cannot be the congregation vere credentium, the assembly of those who truly believe, as long as it is a church in the becoming. Only in the state of completeness which we humans cannot bring about will the church be “glorious, without spot or wrinkle” (Eph. 5:27). Thus the one church is NOT constituted by our faith, NOT by the holiness of our life, rather BY CHRIST, who through his Word and his Sacrament calls people to repentance and faith. And this church is present wherever in Christendom, in all congregations and all denominations, where the Gospel is not so obscured and the Sacraments are not so disfigured that Christ the Lord is no longer present in them…The unity of the church, the fact of the one church, is a reality which we know by faith. The one church is present as truly as Jesus is with us every day until the end of the world. It is not identical with one of the denominations nor with the sum total of the same. It is within them as a reality. It is present everywhere the PURE Word of God and the PURE Sacraments are present. “For the true unity of the church the agreement in the doctrine of the Gospel and the administration of the Sacraments suffices” (Augustana VII). Because the Gospel is not purely taught, because it is darkened and falsified, the unity of the church is HIDDEN. This obfuscation of the Gospel is found not only in this or that church, rather it is the continuing danger to all of all ecclesiastical proclamation. A church can have the most beautiful confessional writings, in which the Gospel is presented in the purest conceivable form, and yet stand in danger of losing the Gospel. No church can say, “I possess the pure Gospel”. For the Gospel cannot be possessed by people like they possess a book. Thus “the call to unity,” that is, to the one church of God, is the call to repentance, the call to Christ and His Gospel. The more earnestly this call is heard, the more earnestly the Christians of all confessions wrestle for the one truth of the Gospel, so much more will the hidden unity of the church of Christ come into view. Thus the concern of the Ecumenical Movement – the World Conference on Faith and Order has ever and again emphasized this is for the truth! Some are caught in the modern error of relativism, according to which there is no objective “truth”, but rather only subjective “truths”. Others view the message of the NT not as the redeeming truth of divine revelation, but as beautiful religious experience, pious sentiment, and useful ethics. Such persons will not understand this quest for the one truth. But he who believes in the One who is the truth and whose Holy Spirit shall lead the church into all truth will see in the events of our time a portion of the history which the Lord has allowed his church to experience so that she who is “becoming” might be prepared for completion.” –End Quote

    Larry

  • ryan

    Ultimately, how do we know what is true? Do we appeal to the Regenerate I? Prayerfully read the Bible? Defer to the Pope? Defer to a church council? Scripture alone? Read according to which hermeneutic? Why have The Book of Concord? And, with such an interpretive book, we are still left with the task of interpreting it. Not all do it the same way (LCMS v. WELS). Luther feared putting his theology on paper because he knew that as soon as it was published it would be twisted and perverted by some. But who are those perverting it in our time? There must be true answers to these questions. I’ll continue to pray for unity in pure doctrine and forgiveness for my poor understanding. But, in the mean time I expect people to propose different answers to my questions above for as long as I live.

  • ryan

    Ultimately, how do we know what is true? Do we appeal to the Regenerate I? Prayerfully read the Bible? Defer to the Pope? Defer to a church council? Scripture alone? Read according to which hermeneutic? Why have The Book of Concord? And, with such an interpretive book, we are still left with the task of interpreting it. Not all do it the same way (LCMS v. WELS). Luther feared putting his theology on paper because he knew that as soon as it was published it would be twisted and perverted by some. But who are those perverting it in our time? There must be true answers to these questions. I’ll continue to pray for unity in pure doctrine and forgiveness for my poor understanding. But, in the mean time I expect people to propose different answers to my questions above for as long as I live.

  • Peter Leavitt

    Ultimately, how do we know what is true? Ultimately this is a cop-out. While discerning the truth is difficult, one has to search for it, come to firm conclusions, and govern one’s life by it. Otherwise one could move to L.A. and enjoy LA LA life, which figuratively Post Modernists do.

  • Peter Leavitt

    Ultimately, how do we know what is true? Ultimately this is a cop-out. While discerning the truth is difficult, one has to search for it, come to firm conclusions, and govern one’s life by it. Otherwise one could move to L.A. and enjoy LA LA life, which figuratively Post Modernists do.

  • http://aliengoodnews.wordpress.com/ Larry

    Ryan,

    In a sense I have and do feel your pain, I myself came all the way from atheism/agnosticism through SB, to strains of charismatic Baptist, to Calvinistic/reformed Baptist, through reformed to confessional Lutheranism.

    One thing note at the beginning is we have to accept the fact that an enemy, the enemy is actively battling against the truth. Once we realize that it frames the reality, like it or not we live in. Similarly we must realize its EASY to introduce falsehood as it has to not be true, truth and true is singular, falsehood can be for all intensive purposes infinite. 2+2 is 4, truth, but 2+2 = 5, 2+2 = 6, 2+2 = 7, ad infinitum (falsehood) is infinite, subtle and some “closer to the truth” than others (e.g. 2+2 = 10,000 is further from the truth than 2+2 = 5). Thus, the devil in a sense is never more deceptive when he’s “close” to imitating Christ, a false Christ, than a rank false Christ. E.g. David Koresh (and his teachings) is more obviously false (a 2+2=10,000) than Benny Hinn (a 2+2=1000) than is a Joel Olstean (a 2+2=100) than is a Rick Warren (a 2+2=10) than is a John Calvin or Zwingli (a 2+2=5) or a Lutheran who is a crypto-calvinist (a 2+2=4.5). This is of course a relative magnitude scale I’m showing for the sake of illustration.

    None the less the closer to the truth a falsehood is the more dangerous it is because it deceives more folks, ala the “white devil” versus the “black devil”. In this analysis we see the need and why the confessions grow over time in size and verbage. The Apostles Creed is only a small paragraph, the Nicene Creed nearly doubles, Calcendon and Athenasius nearly doubles that and by the time we finish the Reformation the Book of Concord is, well, a book in length. This is necessary, again, for two reasons, falsehood can be infinite on one hand and increasingly subtle on the other hand and thus any true orthodox confession must labor more intensely to confess the truth and curse the falsehood. Thus, the “white devil” or the closer to the truth falsehood is more deadly, more insidious, more crypto and hidden. This is why confessional Lutherans of all time since the reformation have seen as more deadly to the truth, for example, Calvinism and cryptocalvinism than say Mormonism or Islam.

    We see this principle in life, the closer to right and true or “safe” a thing is the more explanation it needs to be avoided. A brightly colored and obvious deadly poisonous snake opposite color and visual design laying on a concrete slab is more easily identified (the confession what is true versus false) and thus more easily avoided. However, a deadly poisonous snake in the woods among the leaves which looks nearly indistinguishable from the surrounding otherwise harmless nature takes much explanation as to what to look and listen for in order to be avoided. We experience this all the time teaching our children what is harmful and what is not. E.g. Don’t touch fire is easier to explain and identify than, beware of all strangers, versus even beware of those “friendly faces” that draw you out to harm you. Even as adults we must exercise such discernment. I once had to have a course series in my profession on basically reading people, base lining them, in order to get their true or false confession and be able to discern this. The expert teaching the class told us how dangerous true psychotics are. They are a kind of perfect perfection in and of themselves, perfect at deception (the Ted Bundies of the world). That’s why they so easily ensnare people, they are so convincing and believable. He even told a story when he was interrogating one they caught, he knew the guy was a psychotic killer. But he even found himself beginning to believe the guy’s story, even though he knew the truth. He took a break from the interrogation and shook his head saying to himself, “Bob you KNOW this guys a psychotic killer and YOU’RE an expert in this, yet you are beginning to believe him.” Point being deception is always an ever present danger and the closer to the truth it is the more deadly it is because it becomes BELIEVABLE! The devil is no idiot bafooning general, he knows how to cloak himself in another Christ, another gospel, another spirit that parades itself around as “Christ”, “gospel” and “spirit”; and he often does so in the BEST of teachers and preachers.

    Thus, for example the “subtle” differences on the sacraments (and pure Gospel) are in the end NOT just non-essentials. A trap, subtle, is set for example in one view of baptism versus another (without right here saying which and staying in a “neutral” analysis mode). The same thing with the Lord’s Supper. Is Christ ACTUALLY and TRULY being GIVEN to you, in spite of your faith yea or nea, or is He being withheld from you subtly. This is no small thing nor neutral endeavor. It’s the difference between heaven and the Word from the Kingdom, and hell and the word from hell under the guise of the former. Are you actually being GIVEN Christ really and truly, especially when you are suffering anfechtungen or are you being driven to look inward to your “good works” as proofs or even faith to know “you are elect”? Do you see how those very things turn you AWAY from Christ at the critical trial moment? And how such things in reality a denial of Christ, the revelation of God, the Word Himself. Luther saw this with all such things that were not “extra nos”. When he told Melancthon “…the entire Gospel is outside of us…”, he meant it 200%, not just “in parts”.

    In another way in principle its simple, the old enemy draws us out not at all different from the fall, “…hath God really SAID…”. He pulls us out of the Word, Christ, and into the hidden things. E.g. the search for divine election at the critical trial of “am I elect” by asking, “do you believe these things?” (calling on the WORK of faith). Here the Word, the Incarnate Word, Jesus Christ, is being denied and pointed away from. No longer are you pointed to Christ but to your faith, one is effectually and really being drawn OUT OF THE WORD, outside of Christ, and thus outside of salvation. It’s very very very subtle. That’s different than being pointed to your baptism where you where baptized BY Christ, given HIS name and where you have His name you have HIM and HAVE the salvation you so desperately desire to have and hear, “YOU _____ are baptized…that is forgiven”. Same with absolution, same the Lord’s Supper in having the real and true body and blood of Christ.

    It’s very easy to be so subtly drawn out of the Word and away from Christ, especially, ESPECIALLY, by the best of false teachers as opposed to the worst of false teachers. It’s easier to be drawn out, for example by Calvin for many than it is to be drawn out by Joel Olstean, its easier to be drawn out for some by Joel Olstean than say a David Koresh. Again, the closer to the truth the more subtle and the more deadly.

    But we should also take heart because revelation tells us this will happen that the deception near the end of all end, near the unknown time of the return of Christ the deception will become so bad, so subtle, so near the truth that it might even deceive the very elect (none Calvinistic use here, because Calvin’s deception is part of that subtle deception Revelation speaks of) if that were possible.

    Also scripture says that false teachers must necessarily rise up from amongst us. Why? So that we will KNOW who is approved.

    I hope that helps.

    Yours,

    Larry

  • http://aliengoodnews.wordpress.com/ Larry

    Ryan,

    In a sense I have and do feel your pain, I myself came all the way from atheism/agnosticism through SB, to strains of charismatic Baptist, to Calvinistic/reformed Baptist, through reformed to confessional Lutheranism.

    One thing note at the beginning is we have to accept the fact that an enemy, the enemy is actively battling against the truth. Once we realize that it frames the reality, like it or not we live in. Similarly we must realize its EASY to introduce falsehood as it has to not be true, truth and true is singular, falsehood can be for all intensive purposes infinite. 2+2 is 4, truth, but 2+2 = 5, 2+2 = 6, 2+2 = 7, ad infinitum (falsehood) is infinite, subtle and some “closer to the truth” than others (e.g. 2+2 = 10,000 is further from the truth than 2+2 = 5). Thus, the devil in a sense is never more deceptive when he’s “close” to imitating Christ, a false Christ, than a rank false Christ. E.g. David Koresh (and his teachings) is more obviously false (a 2+2=10,000) than Benny Hinn (a 2+2=1000) than is a Joel Olstean (a 2+2=100) than is a Rick Warren (a 2+2=10) than is a John Calvin or Zwingli (a 2+2=5) or a Lutheran who is a crypto-calvinist (a 2+2=4.5). This is of course a relative magnitude scale I’m showing for the sake of illustration.

    None the less the closer to the truth a falsehood is the more dangerous it is because it deceives more folks, ala the “white devil” versus the “black devil”. In this analysis we see the need and why the confessions grow over time in size and verbage. The Apostles Creed is only a small paragraph, the Nicene Creed nearly doubles, Calcendon and Athenasius nearly doubles that and by the time we finish the Reformation the Book of Concord is, well, a book in length. This is necessary, again, for two reasons, falsehood can be infinite on one hand and increasingly subtle on the other hand and thus any true orthodox confession must labor more intensely to confess the truth and curse the falsehood. Thus, the “white devil” or the closer to the truth falsehood is more deadly, more insidious, more crypto and hidden. This is why confessional Lutherans of all time since the reformation have seen as more deadly to the truth, for example, Calvinism and cryptocalvinism than say Mormonism or Islam.

    We see this principle in life, the closer to right and true or “safe” a thing is the more explanation it needs to be avoided. A brightly colored and obvious deadly poisonous snake opposite color and visual design laying on a concrete slab is more easily identified (the confession what is true versus false) and thus more easily avoided. However, a deadly poisonous snake in the woods among the leaves which looks nearly indistinguishable from the surrounding otherwise harmless nature takes much explanation as to what to look and listen for in order to be avoided. We experience this all the time teaching our children what is harmful and what is not. E.g. Don’t touch fire is easier to explain and identify than, beware of all strangers, versus even beware of those “friendly faces” that draw you out to harm you. Even as adults we must exercise such discernment. I once had to have a course series in my profession on basically reading people, base lining them, in order to get their true or false confession and be able to discern this. The expert teaching the class told us how dangerous true psychotics are. They are a kind of perfect perfection in and of themselves, perfect at deception (the Ted Bundies of the world). That’s why they so easily ensnare people, they are so convincing and believable. He even told a story when he was interrogating one they caught, he knew the guy was a psychotic killer. But he even found himself beginning to believe the guy’s story, even though he knew the truth. He took a break from the interrogation and shook his head saying to himself, “Bob you KNOW this guys a psychotic killer and YOU’RE an expert in this, yet you are beginning to believe him.” Point being deception is always an ever present danger and the closer to the truth it is the more deadly it is because it becomes BELIEVABLE! The devil is no idiot bafooning general, he knows how to cloak himself in another Christ, another gospel, another spirit that parades itself around as “Christ”, “gospel” and “spirit”; and he often does so in the BEST of teachers and preachers.

    Thus, for example the “subtle” differences on the sacraments (and pure Gospel) are in the end NOT just non-essentials. A trap, subtle, is set for example in one view of baptism versus another (without right here saying which and staying in a “neutral” analysis mode). The same thing with the Lord’s Supper. Is Christ ACTUALLY and TRULY being GIVEN to you, in spite of your faith yea or nea, or is He being withheld from you subtly. This is no small thing nor neutral endeavor. It’s the difference between heaven and the Word from the Kingdom, and hell and the word from hell under the guise of the former. Are you actually being GIVEN Christ really and truly, especially when you are suffering anfechtungen or are you being driven to look inward to your “good works” as proofs or even faith to know “you are elect”? Do you see how those very things turn you AWAY from Christ at the critical trial moment? And how such things in reality a denial of Christ, the revelation of God, the Word Himself. Luther saw this with all such things that were not “extra nos”. When he told Melancthon “…the entire Gospel is outside of us…”, he meant it 200%, not just “in parts”.

    In another way in principle its simple, the old enemy draws us out not at all different from the fall, “…hath God really SAID…”. He pulls us out of the Word, Christ, and into the hidden things. E.g. the search for divine election at the critical trial of “am I elect” by asking, “do you believe these things?” (calling on the WORK of faith). Here the Word, the Incarnate Word, Jesus Christ, is being denied and pointed away from. No longer are you pointed to Christ but to your faith, one is effectually and really being drawn OUT OF THE WORD, outside of Christ, and thus outside of salvation. It’s very very very subtle. That’s different than being pointed to your baptism where you where baptized BY Christ, given HIS name and where you have His name you have HIM and HAVE the salvation you so desperately desire to have and hear, “YOU _____ are baptized…that is forgiven”. Same with absolution, same the Lord’s Supper in having the real and true body and blood of Christ.

    It’s very easy to be so subtly drawn out of the Word and away from Christ, especially, ESPECIALLY, by the best of false teachers as opposed to the worst of false teachers. It’s easier to be drawn out, for example by Calvin for many than it is to be drawn out by Joel Olstean, its easier to be drawn out for some by Joel Olstean than say a David Koresh. Again, the closer to the truth the more subtle and the more deadly.

    But we should also take heart because revelation tells us this will happen that the deception near the end of all end, near the unknown time of the return of Christ the deception will become so bad, so subtle, so near the truth that it might even deceive the very elect (none Calvinistic use here, because Calvin’s deception is part of that subtle deception Revelation speaks of) if that were possible.

    Also scripture says that false teachers must necessarily rise up from amongst us. Why? So that we will KNOW who is approved.

    I hope that helps.

    Yours,

    Larry

  • John

    The Apostle Paul tells us that church unity is a possibility for us (1 Corinthians 1:10). His appeal seems implausible if we view the church in terms of a variety of confessions and denominations. But Paul saw the church differently. He describes it as the gathering of God’s people by the Spirit (Ephesians 2:22); into one body (4:4).

    In recognizing the divisions in Corinth, Paul suggests that the various factions, which were organized around individual leaders, claimed superiority for themselves over other church members. Each faction adding its own trademark extra to the gospel and thereby dividing the body of Christ. Christ’s death has the power to overcome all differences within his church. But if we add to the gospel we allow for the cross of Christ to be emptied of its power (1 Corinthians 1:17).

    While the gospel is God’s power that unites the church, it’s also his wisdom that divides mankind as he accomplishes his purposes for the salvation of the world (1:18-21). The gospel of the cross that divides the world also creates divisions within the visible church.

    In the church God is creating a new humanity out of the fallen world. Christ has reconciled us to the Father and unites us to each other in the church by the power of the Holy Spirit.

    When Peter confessed Jesus as the Christ and the Son of God, Jesus proclaimed his mission that “I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.” (Matthew 16:18) Because of our bond with Christ, through faith, that has been wrought in us by the Holy Spirit, our unity in the church, just as our resurrection, is an eternal spiritual reality. Paul tells us that we “are all one in Christ Jesus” (Galatians 3:28). But he also urges us to remain “eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.” (Ephesians 4:3)

    Until Christ returns the people of God continue to confess “one holy catholic and apostolic Church”.

  • John

    The Apostle Paul tells us that church unity is a possibility for us (1 Corinthians 1:10). His appeal seems implausible if we view the church in terms of a variety of confessions and denominations. But Paul saw the church differently. He describes it as the gathering of God’s people by the Spirit (Ephesians 2:22); into one body (4:4).

    In recognizing the divisions in Corinth, Paul suggests that the various factions, which were organized around individual leaders, claimed superiority for themselves over other church members. Each faction adding its own trademark extra to the gospel and thereby dividing the body of Christ. Christ’s death has the power to overcome all differences within his church. But if we add to the gospel we allow for the cross of Christ to be emptied of its power (1 Corinthians 1:17).

    While the gospel is God’s power that unites the church, it’s also his wisdom that divides mankind as he accomplishes his purposes for the salvation of the world (1:18-21). The gospel of the cross that divides the world also creates divisions within the visible church.

    In the church God is creating a new humanity out of the fallen world. Christ has reconciled us to the Father and unites us to each other in the church by the power of the Holy Spirit.

    When Peter confessed Jesus as the Christ and the Son of God, Jesus proclaimed his mission that “I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.” (Matthew 16:18) Because of our bond with Christ, through faith, that has been wrought in us by the Holy Spirit, our unity in the church, just as our resurrection, is an eternal spiritual reality. Paul tells us that we “are all one in Christ Jesus” (Galatians 3:28). But he also urges us to remain “eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.” (Ephesians 4:3)

    Until Christ returns the people of God continue to confess “one holy catholic and apostolic Church”.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    After doing one of those Google searches that Peter hates so much, I’ve begun to wonder if Peter is as much interested in Biblical truths as he is in something else. Here’s what I’m talking about:

    “The Christian church faces the hard realities of paganism and post modernism.” [1] (January 15, 2009)

    “A tribal Christianity is weakened in the face of modern paganism and secularism.” [2] (January 15, 2009)

    “Meanwhile the Christian Church in the face of a serious threat from both the liberal secularists and Muslim fanatics is deeply divided. If Christian Civilization wishes to face these threats, we would do well to to faithfully reconcile Christian differences.” [3] (October 21, 2009)

    “The sad reality is that Christianity faces a serious challenge from the considerable forces of doctrinaire secularism and radical Islam; we would do well to rigorously pursue Christian reconciliation in order to come together and defeat these forces.” [4] (October 28, 2009)

    “Since the Reformation Christendom has evolved into a rather tribal group of faiths, each proudly proclaiming the virtue of its views; this has had the overall effect of weakening western Christendom to the point that it is now seriously threatened by a combination of militant secularism and Islamic extremism.” [5] (February 20, 2010)

    Seems to me, Peter, that your main interest in ecumenism (other than apologizing for Rome) is in some temporal, cultural battle, not a spiritual one. And it seems that you are mainly motivated by fear of losing this battle.

    Of course, if you were interested in the spiritual battle (not, say, the one against flesh and blood), you wouldn’t be advising us to ignore Biblical truths in favor of a false unified front. Embracing error is no way to win a spiritual war, though it might win some cultural battles for a time.

    However, if you do believe that the Church is threatened by external forces, I advise you to read the book of Revelation (spoiler alert: the Church is victorious). In fact, I advise you read it anyhow. It has a thing or two to say about those who didn’t care so much about remaining true to God’s Word.

    [1] geneveith.com/calvinist-cool/_1302/#comment-46864
    [2] geneveith.com/calvinist-cool/_1302/#comment-46898
    [3] geneveith.com/rome-recruits-conservative-anglicans-makes-them-a-deal/_3608/#comment-69865
    [4] geneveith.com/why-conservative-anglicans-cant-just-go-to-rome/_3652/#comment-70271
    [5] geneveith.com/an-ecumenical-catechism/_4807/#comment-77211

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    After doing one of those Google searches that Peter hates so much, I’ve begun to wonder if Peter is as much interested in Biblical truths as he is in something else. Here’s what I’m talking about:

    “The Christian church faces the hard realities of paganism and post modernism.” [1] (January 15, 2009)

    “A tribal Christianity is weakened in the face of modern paganism and secularism.” [2] (January 15, 2009)

    “Meanwhile the Christian Church in the face of a serious threat from both the liberal secularists and Muslim fanatics is deeply divided. If Christian Civilization wishes to face these threats, we would do well to to faithfully reconcile Christian differences.” [3] (October 21, 2009)

    “The sad reality is that Christianity faces a serious challenge from the considerable forces of doctrinaire secularism and radical Islam; we would do well to rigorously pursue Christian reconciliation in order to come together and defeat these forces.” [4] (October 28, 2009)

    “Since the Reformation Christendom has evolved into a rather tribal group of faiths, each proudly proclaiming the virtue of its views; this has had the overall effect of weakening western Christendom to the point that it is now seriously threatened by a combination of militant secularism and Islamic extremism.” [5] (February 20, 2010)

    Seems to me, Peter, that your main interest in ecumenism (other than apologizing for Rome) is in some temporal, cultural battle, not a spiritual one. And it seems that you are mainly motivated by fear of losing this battle.

    Of course, if you were interested in the spiritual battle (not, say, the one against flesh and blood), you wouldn’t be advising us to ignore Biblical truths in favor of a false unified front. Embracing error is no way to win a spiritual war, though it might win some cultural battles for a time.

    However, if you do believe that the Church is threatened by external forces, I advise you to read the book of Revelation (spoiler alert: the Church is victorious). In fact, I advise you read it anyhow. It has a thing or two to say about those who didn’t care so much about remaining true to God’s Word.

    [1] geneveith.com/calvinist-cool/_1302/#comment-46864
    [2] geneveith.com/calvinist-cool/_1302/#comment-46898
    [3] geneveith.com/rome-recruits-conservative-anglicans-makes-them-a-deal/_3608/#comment-69865
    [4] geneveith.com/why-conservative-anglicans-cant-just-go-to-rome/_3652/#comment-70271
    [5] geneveith.com/an-ecumenical-catechism/_4807/#comment-77211

  • fws

    “However, if you do believe that the Church is threatened by external forces, I advise you to read the book of Revelation (spoiler alert: the Church is victorious). ”

    What Todd says!

    THIS is what we need to remember always with the islamic wars, culture wars, and whatever we think threatens holy mother church. Nothing we can say is true outside of this perspective.

    The phrase “We must do something or the church and the truth is imperiled!” is always a lie of satan.

    “The battle is over, the victory is won” (The Lutheran Liturgy).

  • fws

    “However, if you do believe that the Church is threatened by external forces, I advise you to read the book of Revelation (spoiler alert: the Church is victorious). ”

    What Todd says!

    THIS is what we need to remember always with the islamic wars, culture wars, and whatever we think threatens holy mother church. Nothing we can say is true outside of this perspective.

    The phrase “We must do something or the church and the truth is imperiled!” is always a lie of satan.

    “The battle is over, the victory is won” (The Lutheran Liturgy).

  • Peter Leavitt

    Well, Todd, I appreciate the insight of Revelation, though when it comes to earthly battles, it would be far better to have a unified holy, apostolic catholic church. It would, also, be better regarding spiritual issues, as compared to the present cacophonous scene.

    Your obsessive interest in my posts does give one the pleasure of noting their consistency as well as perhaps their felicitous phrasing. Now see if you can come up with some serious argument, as opposed to proof texting from Revelations.

  • Peter Leavitt

    Well, Todd, I appreciate the insight of Revelation, though when it comes to earthly battles, it would be far better to have a unified holy, apostolic catholic church. It would, also, be better regarding spiritual issues, as compared to the present cacophonous scene.

    Your obsessive interest in my posts does give one the pleasure of noting their consistency as well as perhaps their felicitous phrasing. Now see if you can come up with some serious argument, as opposed to proof texting from Revelations.

  • fws

    Hmmm. We have seen several times in history how a unified monolithic visible church organization has worked out.

    Could it be that God actually wants his church to be weak and powerless and seemingly irrelevant and dying to the watching world?

    What should the body of Christ look like? Shouldn´t it look like the Blessed Incarnation of our Lord Jesus?

    And what did that look like?

    Our Lord, was unattractive/ugly (Isaiah “there was nothing about him that man should want him). Jesus was comfortingly human just like us.

    Our Lord was completely unremarkable and blended into his society as an ordinary “Joe blow”. Note that he always had to be pointed out in a crowd and even in his betrayal he had to be marked with a kiss. This should threaten all our ideas of what “righteousness ” should look like.

    Our Lord had a reputation as a winebibber and glutton. He usually chose to intimately socialized with the unrespectable fringe of society. The righteous of his time usually only would socialize with him in secret so as not to be identified with him. This is a comfort for sinners who do not think they are good enough to be in a church.

    Our Lord said that the poor would be with us always, and that one needed to hate one´s father and mother to be a part of the kingdom. This doesn´t fit any “liberal” social justice model or “conservative” family values model that people try to shove Jesus into. We need to listen to him here. This is a rest from the social activism of gore, limbaugh, et at. We can rest in Jesus and trust that the victory has been won.

    Jesus was not into church growth. Everyone left him. When he asked his disciples if they would go too, their response was that they would stick around only because there were no other options. This is a great comfort for those who have been broken down to come to a similar point of choicelessness.

    Jesus said to cast a net, not to throw in a hook with bait designed to catch only the fish of choice. There is a place in the church for every single kind of human. This is a great comfort for those of us who fit in nowhere.

    Most importantly, Jesus didn´t do anything because he was in need of doing something. He had no where to lay his head but trusted his Father for everything. He came to die for others. He came to serve others. He came to serve you by name even as he comes to you and bestows his holy and blessed name upon you, personally and individually in your Holy Baptism.

    Peter. You are misssing the glorious richness of Holy Mother Church. It does not look like Rome or even Lutherans . It looks like an abandoned jew dying on the cross betweeen two criminals.

    God bless you in your journey to know this incarnate Jesus of Nazareth who loves you so very deeply Peter.

  • fws

    Hmmm. We have seen several times in history how a unified monolithic visible church organization has worked out.

    Could it be that God actually wants his church to be weak and powerless and seemingly irrelevant and dying to the watching world?

    What should the body of Christ look like? Shouldn´t it look like the Blessed Incarnation of our Lord Jesus?

    And what did that look like?

    Our Lord, was unattractive/ugly (Isaiah “there was nothing about him that man should want him). Jesus was comfortingly human just like us.

    Our Lord was completely unremarkable and blended into his society as an ordinary “Joe blow”. Note that he always had to be pointed out in a crowd and even in his betrayal he had to be marked with a kiss. This should threaten all our ideas of what “righteousness ” should look like.

    Our Lord had a reputation as a winebibber and glutton. He usually chose to intimately socialized with the unrespectable fringe of society. The righteous of his time usually only would socialize with him in secret so as not to be identified with him. This is a comfort for sinners who do not think they are good enough to be in a church.

    Our Lord said that the poor would be with us always, and that one needed to hate one´s father and mother to be a part of the kingdom. This doesn´t fit any “liberal” social justice model or “conservative” family values model that people try to shove Jesus into. We need to listen to him here. This is a rest from the social activism of gore, limbaugh, et at. We can rest in Jesus and trust that the victory has been won.

    Jesus was not into church growth. Everyone left him. When he asked his disciples if they would go too, their response was that they would stick around only because there were no other options. This is a great comfort for those who have been broken down to come to a similar point of choicelessness.

    Jesus said to cast a net, not to throw in a hook with bait designed to catch only the fish of choice. There is a place in the church for every single kind of human. This is a great comfort for those of us who fit in nowhere.

    Most importantly, Jesus didn´t do anything because he was in need of doing something. He had no where to lay his head but trusted his Father for everything. He came to die for others. He came to serve others. He came to serve you by name even as he comes to you and bestows his holy and blessed name upon you, personally and individually in your Holy Baptism.

    Peter. You are misssing the glorious richness of Holy Mother Church. It does not look like Rome or even Lutherans . It looks like an abandoned jew dying on the cross betweeen two criminals.

    God bless you in your journey to know this incarnate Jesus of Nazareth who loves you so very deeply Peter.

  • CRB

    fws,
    That last post was simply “right on!”

  • CRB

    fws,
    That last post was simply “right on!”

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Peter (@87), you said, “when it comes to earthly battles, it would be far better to have a unified holy, apostolic catholic church.” That is exactly wrong.

    The Church does not fight earthly battles. The state does. The Church fights spiritual battles. You’ll never guess what doctrine of Luther’s addresses this topic (hint: I may have referred to it before).

    As it happens, when the church has tried to fight earthly battles, it has led to serious, horrible abuses within the church. The Catholic church in which the Reformation began was also convinced it needed to fight earthly battles. In so doing, it almost lost sight completely of the spiritual battle it was supposed to be waging. So it always goes.

    Also, I do not think “proof texting” means what you think it does. Prooftexting is the practice of using decontextualised quotations from a document to establish a proposition. I referred you to the entirety of Revelation. That is the opposite of prooftexting.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Peter (@87), you said, “when it comes to earthly battles, it would be far better to have a unified holy, apostolic catholic church.” That is exactly wrong.

    The Church does not fight earthly battles. The state does. The Church fights spiritual battles. You’ll never guess what doctrine of Luther’s addresses this topic (hint: I may have referred to it before).

    As it happens, when the church has tried to fight earthly battles, it has led to serious, horrible abuses within the church. The Catholic church in which the Reformation began was also convinced it needed to fight earthly battles. In so doing, it almost lost sight completely of the spiritual battle it was supposed to be waging. So it always goes.

    Also, I do not think “proof texting” means what you think it does. Prooftexting is the practice of using decontextualised quotations from a document to establish a proposition. I referred you to the entirety of Revelation. That is the opposite of prooftexting.

  • fws

    todd @ 90

    To pile onto what Todd says:

    Christians confess the present and very real existence of One, Holy, Catholic (universal/united), and Apostolic Church in the Nicean creed and the Apostle´s Creed.

    I would hope that no one here believes that that holy catholic and apostolic church that is confessed is about a particular sect of roman catholics, orthodox, lutherans, or any other one visible sect.

    Peace.

    This one holy church that hears the voice of our Lord is present wherever the word of Jesus Christ is preached. The gates of hell will not prevail against it.

    Jesus Christ IS the light of the world, the light the darkness could not overcome.

    I

  • fws

    todd @ 90

    To pile onto what Todd says:

    Christians confess the present and very real existence of One, Holy, Catholic (universal/united), and Apostolic Church in the Nicean creed and the Apostle´s Creed.

    I would hope that no one here believes that that holy catholic and apostolic church that is confessed is about a particular sect of roman catholics, orthodox, lutherans, or any other one visible sect.

    Peace.

    This one holy church that hears the voice of our Lord is present wherever the word of Jesus Christ is preached. The gates of hell will not prevail against it.

    Jesus Christ IS the light of the world, the light the darkness could not overcome.

    I

  • Larry

    A couple of points:

    One point should to be made clear, Paul in 1 Cor. Sees church unity around the body and blood of Christ, not first and foremost the gathering “of a people” to be unified. Hence the difference in the confessions whereby the Lutheran confession sees the Holy Supper and confesses it that way it is the GOAL of unity. Heterodoxy has a tendency to see the Holy Supper as the MEANS of unity. The disunity is DUE to the fact they don’t recognize the body and blood of Christ or are refusing to do so which Paul states clearly.

    Sasse’s point about the pure Gospel not being possessed like a book by any denomination simply means that it’s not “Lutheran” nor any confessed bodies possession “like a book” to be doled out (Rome’s way of business). But it does mean there is ONE SINGLE truth and all of it IS essential. So hypothetically a church could arise “cold turkey” out of some area disconnected from modernity, that YET, confesses the pure Gospel and sacraments as Christ instituted them. They are not “Lutheran” but they would confess the same orthodoxy. Orthodoxy is not “Lutheran” but the Lutheran confessions confess true orthodoxy. Orthodoxy is not “owned by” Lutherans but Lutherans confess as a denomination that real orthodoxy, as it were. Mix confessions, heterodoxy (e.g. Baptist confessions, reformed, etc…) have a mingled and mixed teaching and praise, hence “hetero” “doxy”. A denomination X could confess orthodoxy OR heterodoxy and yet not HAVE ownership of either one, that is to say “orthodoxy” or “heterodoxy” does not belong to them like a possession. E.g. I read once of a Baptist churches entire congregation eventually casting off its heterodoxy confession to its Baptist creed and became an orthodox confessing church, that is in short for the sake of discussion infant/regenerate baptism, real and true body/blood of Christ, pure Gospel and thus rather than “reinvent the orthodox wheel” CONCURRED with the Book of Concord as being orthodox.

    It’s a tough way to have to speak but you get caught between a rock and a hard place when you say THE orthodoxy confessed by the BoC is in fact orthodox. You either get blamed with “Oh so Lutherans are the only church” or if you clarify and say, “no that confessed in the BoC is truly Christian you blamed with, “So you mean to say I’m not a true Christian”. Paul struggled with the same in Corinth, it was not that one should say, “I am of Paul (or Appolos) BUT YET the Gospel and sacraments Paul taught where the orthodoxy as opposed to the proto-gnostics in the area, the judiazers and the ‘supper apostles’ (heterodoxy). Heterodoxy (denominations that are such), the Gnostics, Judiazers, supper Apostles, Nicolatians, have ALWAYS been around we just name them differently and identify their heterodoxy by their own confessed confessions. When heterodoxy asks orthodoxy to “confess with us” in whatever form it must be roundly rejected, Scripture demands it. Even if that heterodoxy is very close to orthodoxy (e.g. Calvin).

    Any individual Christian MUST learn and discern for the truth and NOT fall into the trap of “my team” denominationalism. As an atheist “looking in” that was my first question, “which is true”. Most real atheist even recognize that truth cannot be plastic, even though the truth they confess is false, a consistent atheist will at least recognize either God is or is not entirely and there is no “half way” house. The same with orthodoxy versus heterodoxy and essentials.

    Larry

  • Larry

    A couple of points:

    One point should to be made clear, Paul in 1 Cor. Sees church unity around the body and blood of Christ, not first and foremost the gathering “of a people” to be unified. Hence the difference in the confessions whereby the Lutheran confession sees the Holy Supper and confesses it that way it is the GOAL of unity. Heterodoxy has a tendency to see the Holy Supper as the MEANS of unity. The disunity is DUE to the fact they don’t recognize the body and blood of Christ or are refusing to do so which Paul states clearly.

    Sasse’s point about the pure Gospel not being possessed like a book by any denomination simply means that it’s not “Lutheran” nor any confessed bodies possession “like a book” to be doled out (Rome’s way of business). But it does mean there is ONE SINGLE truth and all of it IS essential. So hypothetically a church could arise “cold turkey” out of some area disconnected from modernity, that YET, confesses the pure Gospel and sacraments as Christ instituted them. They are not “Lutheran” but they would confess the same orthodoxy. Orthodoxy is not “Lutheran” but the Lutheran confessions confess true orthodoxy. Orthodoxy is not “owned by” Lutherans but Lutherans confess as a denomination that real orthodoxy, as it were. Mix confessions, heterodoxy (e.g. Baptist confessions, reformed, etc…) have a mingled and mixed teaching and praise, hence “hetero” “doxy”. A denomination X could confess orthodoxy OR heterodoxy and yet not HAVE ownership of either one, that is to say “orthodoxy” or “heterodoxy” does not belong to them like a possession. E.g. I read once of a Baptist churches entire congregation eventually casting off its heterodoxy confession to its Baptist creed and became an orthodox confessing church, that is in short for the sake of discussion infant/regenerate baptism, real and true body/blood of Christ, pure Gospel and thus rather than “reinvent the orthodox wheel” CONCURRED with the Book of Concord as being orthodox.

    It’s a tough way to have to speak but you get caught between a rock and a hard place when you say THE orthodoxy confessed by the BoC is in fact orthodox. You either get blamed with “Oh so Lutherans are the only church” or if you clarify and say, “no that confessed in the BoC is truly Christian you blamed with, “So you mean to say I’m not a true Christian”. Paul struggled with the same in Corinth, it was not that one should say, “I am of Paul (or Appolos) BUT YET the Gospel and sacraments Paul taught where the orthodoxy as opposed to the proto-gnostics in the area, the judiazers and the ‘supper apostles’ (heterodoxy). Heterodoxy (denominations that are such), the Gnostics, Judiazers, supper Apostles, Nicolatians, have ALWAYS been around we just name them differently and identify their heterodoxy by their own confessed confessions. When heterodoxy asks orthodoxy to “confess with us” in whatever form it must be roundly rejected, Scripture demands it. Even if that heterodoxy is very close to orthodoxy (e.g. Calvin).

    Any individual Christian MUST learn and discern for the truth and NOT fall into the trap of “my team” denominationalism. As an atheist “looking in” that was my first question, “which is true”. Most real atheist even recognize that truth cannot be plastic, even though the truth they confess is false, a consistent atheist will at least recognize either God is or is not entirely and there is no “half way” house. The same with orthodoxy versus heterodoxy and essentials.

    Larry

  • Larry

    E.g. in my own life. When I first read of Luther I both LOVED the Gospel he gave, suffering the tyranny of Calvin and Baptist theology to finally have Christ for you again was truly a “tower experience”. And the baptism issue on the Gospel that Luther gave I saw pretty quick because I’d been struggling particularly with that sacrament. On the supper, however, I was not so quick because it ‘just didn’t make sense’. It took me a long time and much reading to realize the trap I was in.

    One of the traps was reason. Being a scientist I place a very high value on reason, it’s my bread and butter, what I was educated under and my profession, not to mention I was thoroughly Reformed, Reformed, particularly Calvin and the Puritans appealed to my strong love of reason over affections. When I first heard Luther call reason the “devil’s whore” I thought, “Whooaaa there, what’s the difference in that and strict fideism?” It wasn’t not until much later I began to see what he meant and that the battle over the LS was indeed a battle for the Word period. I had to analyze my own thinking, why did I now as a Reformed person not believe it was the body and blood of Christ? This was especially true since initially years ago when I converted at an adult age I with nearly zero doctrine under my belt and reverted back to my families SB church simply because it seemed “safe” within the broad Christian landscape – within that I easily believed the true and real body and blood, albeit informally, was there? I.e. I had to be taught ‘out of that thinking by other doctrine’ in the two denominations I ended up passing through (Baptist then Reformed). Because at first the words were plain, “This is…” and even an ex-atheist can realize God CAN even if we don’t understand ‘how’. None the less, it was through much Indoctrination via the Baptist then Calvin that I came to believe the whole memorial, sign/seal concept, and it was via an appeal to my fallen reason that could not answer the ‘how’ does it happen question rather than simply taking the Word as IS. From that rationalism in both sacraments I lost Christ and the Gospel and despaired for a LONG time.

    It donned on me while reading deeper into Luther what Luther was saying when he distilled doctrine from the Word and no further, neither left nor right of it, up or down of it, in back or in front of it. Because even as a Baptist and later Reformed confessor I BELIEVED in the Trinity, we constantly built arguments around it in our ‘mission’ work to Utah and in discussions with Mormons, yet I cannot explain the ‘how’ of the Trinity it is an article of faith. And that’s where it clicked for me in Luther’s debate with Zwingli, the later who said that the Scriptures do not ask us to believe anything incomprehensible, Luther’s reply was earth shattering, yet obvious once pointed out and simple, YES IT DOES. In fact EVERY ARTICLE OF FAITH is incomprehensible, folly and weakness to the wisdom of this world. In fact every single article of faith is designed to directly OFFEND reason for it is by reason that the serpent tempted us to original sin in a simple “…hath God really said…”. No reason of the ‘how/why’ is given concerning the tree of knowledge of good and evil, simply the Word is given. The “fall” is in reason’s usurping ascent to ‘see God in the nude’ (as Luther put it), the “fall” is a RISE as the Satan said he would ascend above the most High, and the rise comes from reason usurping (and affections, and experiences) by leaving the Word and looking INSIDE for the ‘how/why’ (you shall know good and evil, be like God). This same action is what goes on regarding ALL articles of faith, be it the Trinity or the Lord’s Supper or Baptism, the Gospel, the Incarnation, the two natures, the resurrection, etc…ALL articles of faith offend reason (affections and experiences) necessarily and its not “fideism” because we have the Word and not just a Tinker Bell “just believe”. Jesus actually SAYS, “THIS IS…My body/blood…”. It’s an article of faith spoken, literally, by the lips of the Word incarnate. If one notes carefully in arguments with say Mormons or others who argue against the Trinity that at the end of the day their argument boils down to an issue of reason not being able to apprehend what only faith can have, just like Zwingli and Calvin in the Lord’s Supper, just like issues over “believers baptism”. At the end of the day no answer is given to the ‘how’ and it boils down simply to an article of faith, a childlike faith in the Word.

    Once that is understood and one understands one’s real enemy is “ME” (my reason, my affections, my experiences) the Word can for the first time be HEARD, “This is…” just like “Let there be…”. ALL defenses of other views of the LS rest on MASSIVE philosophical basis and not Scripture, or “getting into the psychology of the deity” (original sin) “Jesus MEANT…represents” as opposed to “said”. Sasse once pointed out rightly that we must admit that our first aversion to the Words of institution are that it actually as spoken asks us to believe in an absurdity. He’s was right. Once we recognize that’s where we begin to construct our defenses we can analyze honestly our selves. Until then we will simply refuse to do so and thus defend our house of straw we think is a house of rock. It takes an honest personal and dutiful look at for at the end of the day no denomination “died for you or me”, only Christ did, and one must throw away the “denomination” temporarily and ask, “Is this what they say true”. In a sense when wrestling with these things one has to say to one’s self, “to hell with denomination X in which I belong and have long affirmed and defended, what is the truth only Christ died for me”, in order to BREAK the denominational strangle hold. This is in what in part is meant when Christ said we must be willing to even forsake family and friends for His sake. Not that we hate them, but at some point ‘what is the truth’ in spite of my present loyalties and moorings to X.

    I confess it is not easy and it takes time.

    I hope this helps more than hinders,

    Larry

  • Larry

    E.g. in my own life. When I first read of Luther I both LOVED the Gospel he gave, suffering the tyranny of Calvin and Baptist theology to finally have Christ for you again was truly a “tower experience”. And the baptism issue on the Gospel that Luther gave I saw pretty quick because I’d been struggling particularly with that sacrament. On the supper, however, I was not so quick because it ‘just didn’t make sense’. It took me a long time and much reading to realize the trap I was in.

    One of the traps was reason. Being a scientist I place a very high value on reason, it’s my bread and butter, what I was educated under and my profession, not to mention I was thoroughly Reformed, Reformed, particularly Calvin and the Puritans appealed to my strong love of reason over affections. When I first heard Luther call reason the “devil’s whore” I thought, “Whooaaa there, what’s the difference in that and strict fideism?” It wasn’t not until much later I began to see what he meant and that the battle over the LS was indeed a battle for the Word period. I had to analyze my own thinking, why did I now as a Reformed person not believe it was the body and blood of Christ? This was especially true since initially years ago when I converted at an adult age I with nearly zero doctrine under my belt and reverted back to my families SB church simply because it seemed “safe” within the broad Christian landscape – within that I easily believed the true and real body and blood, albeit informally, was there? I.e. I had to be taught ‘out of that thinking by other doctrine’ in the two denominations I ended up passing through (Baptist then Reformed). Because at first the words were plain, “This is…” and even an ex-atheist can realize God CAN even if we don’t understand ‘how’. None the less, it was through much Indoctrination via the Baptist then Calvin that I came to believe the whole memorial, sign/seal concept, and it was via an appeal to my fallen reason that could not answer the ‘how’ does it happen question rather than simply taking the Word as IS. From that rationalism in both sacraments I lost Christ and the Gospel and despaired for a LONG time.

    It donned on me while reading deeper into Luther what Luther was saying when he distilled doctrine from the Word and no further, neither left nor right of it, up or down of it, in back or in front of it. Because even as a Baptist and later Reformed confessor I BELIEVED in the Trinity, we constantly built arguments around it in our ‘mission’ work to Utah and in discussions with Mormons, yet I cannot explain the ‘how’ of the Trinity it is an article of faith. And that’s where it clicked for me in Luther’s debate with Zwingli, the later who said that the Scriptures do not ask us to believe anything incomprehensible, Luther’s reply was earth shattering, yet obvious once pointed out and simple, YES IT DOES. In fact EVERY ARTICLE OF FAITH is incomprehensible, folly and weakness to the wisdom of this world. In fact every single article of faith is designed to directly OFFEND reason for it is by reason that the serpent tempted us to original sin in a simple “…hath God really said…”. No reason of the ‘how/why’ is given concerning the tree of knowledge of good and evil, simply the Word is given. The “fall” is in reason’s usurping ascent to ‘see God in the nude’ (as Luther put it), the “fall” is a RISE as the Satan said he would ascend above the most High, and the rise comes from reason usurping (and affections, and experiences) by leaving the Word and looking INSIDE for the ‘how/why’ (you shall know good and evil, be like God). This same action is what goes on regarding ALL articles of faith, be it the Trinity or the Lord’s Supper or Baptism, the Gospel, the Incarnation, the two natures, the resurrection, etc…ALL articles of faith offend reason (affections and experiences) necessarily and its not “fideism” because we have the Word and not just a Tinker Bell “just believe”. Jesus actually SAYS, “THIS IS…My body/blood…”. It’s an article of faith spoken, literally, by the lips of the Word incarnate. If one notes carefully in arguments with say Mormons or others who argue against the Trinity that at the end of the day their argument boils down to an issue of reason not being able to apprehend what only faith can have, just like Zwingli and Calvin in the Lord’s Supper, just like issues over “believers baptism”. At the end of the day no answer is given to the ‘how’ and it boils down simply to an article of faith, a childlike faith in the Word.

    Once that is understood and one understands one’s real enemy is “ME” (my reason, my affections, my experiences) the Word can for the first time be HEARD, “This is…” just like “Let there be…”. ALL defenses of other views of the LS rest on MASSIVE philosophical basis and not Scripture, or “getting into the psychology of the deity” (original sin) “Jesus MEANT…represents” as opposed to “said”. Sasse once pointed out rightly that we must admit that our first aversion to the Words of institution are that it actually as spoken asks us to believe in an absurdity. He’s was right. Once we recognize that’s where we begin to construct our defenses we can analyze honestly our selves. Until then we will simply refuse to do so and thus defend our house of straw we think is a house of rock. It takes an honest personal and dutiful look at for at the end of the day no denomination “died for you or me”, only Christ did, and one must throw away the “denomination” temporarily and ask, “Is this what they say true”. In a sense when wrestling with these things one has to say to one’s self, “to hell with denomination X in which I belong and have long affirmed and defended, what is the truth only Christ died for me”, in order to BREAK the denominational strangle hold. This is in what in part is meant when Christ said we must be willing to even forsake family and friends for His sake. Not that we hate them, but at some point ‘what is the truth’ in spite of my present loyalties and moorings to X.

    I confess it is not easy and it takes time.

    I hope this helps more than hinders,

    Larry

  • http://johnbriggs.reachby.com/ John B

    fws @ 88

    Amen! Such a beautiful portrait of Jesus, our Lord! He is transforming his body to his likeness; a living icon to magnify Christ.

    Thank you for this message of encouragement!

    “Taste and see that the Lord is good!”

  • http://johnbriggs.reachby.com/ John B

    fws @ 88

    Amen! Such a beautiful portrait of Jesus, our Lord! He is transforming his body to his likeness; a living icon to magnify Christ.

    Thank you for this message of encouragement!

    “Taste and see that the Lord is good!”


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