Is there a "mere Christianity"?

David Mills, editor of First Things, takes issue with the C. S. Lewis and his notion of “mere Christianity”; that is, that Christians of all traditions are in agreement on certain key teachings and that this constitutes a common orthodoxy for all Christians.  David is a Catholic, so of course he can’t accept that.  Here is part of his argument:

The problem is that image of the house with the rooms, illustrating what Lewis meant by “mere Christianity.” It appears in the preface to Mere Christianity. “I hope no reader will suppose that ‘mere’ Christianity is here put forward as an alternative to the creeds of the existing communions—as if a man could adopt it in preference to Congregationalism or Greek Orthodoxy or anything else,” Lewis writes.

“It is more like a hall out of which doors open into several rooms. . . . It is in the rooms, not in the hall, that there are fires and chairs and meals. The hall is a place to wait in, a place from which to try the various doors, not a place to live in. For that purpose the worst of the rooms (whichever that may be) is, I think, preferable.”

It sounds irenic and ecumenical, but it is a Protestant image for a Protestant doctrine. It makes the Catholic Church a room like any other room. It is a way of saying that the differences between Protestants and Catholics would be solved very easily . . . if Catholics became Protestants.

These Catholics have to think of the Church as a denomination like any other, and they should stop putting on airs. From the Protestant point of view, the Catholic who insists that his church is the Church is a lot like the old codger in 4B coming round demanding the rent or imposing a curfew on the other apartments. He may be the oldest and wealthiest and most learned person in the building, but still, he’s just the old codger in 4B.

A Catholic, however, can’t remove membership in the Catholic Church from the things that are essential to the definition of Christian. Lewis’s idea of Mere Christianity is ruined as an ecumenical proposal from the start by his making it a theology and moral life lived in fellowship with the like-minded rather than an incorporation into a Body manifest in history. For the Catholic unity comes from shared membership in the Catholic Church, not from agreement on some distilled essence of Christianity.

He looks at his Protestant brothers as brothers not because he shares with them some essence of Christianity but because they are partly Catholics whether they like it or not. As the Second Vatican Council’s Unitatis Redintegratio declared, “men who believe in Christ and have been truly baptized are in communion with the Catholic Church even though this communion is imperfect.” This includes even those who call the Church the whore of Babylon and the pope the antichrist.

The question is, what is the house? Lewis himself wrote of “the rules common to the whole house,” and therein raised the problem. For the Catholic, one of the house’s main rules is that you have to be a Catholic to live there. The Immaculate Conception of Mary is not a belief required in the Catholic room, while disbelief in it is required in the Protestant rooms; it is a belief required of all those who live under that roof. If someone doesn’t believe it, he can’t have a room in the house. He can set up a shelter in the yard (his communion is real but imperfect)—inside the pale, certainly, and not beyond it, but not in the house.

via No Mere Christianity | First Things.

It occurred to me that many Lutherans might have the same problem, with our insistence on agreement on all the articles of faith for full fellowship and our impatience with people who sort doctrines into essential and non-essential.  And yet, there are some things that all Christians agree on.  Furthermore, there is an ontological reality of all believers in the Gospel constituting the hidden Church as the Body of Christ.  So what do you think of this?  Is there a “mere Christianity,” and what are its possibilities and limitations?

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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.

  • Onlooker

    No, C.S. Louis was an Anglican. As Louis explains shortly afterwards in the same book you site, his version of Mere Christianity has to exclude theological distinctives of Justification. If there is a Mere Christianity, than Justification is not the doctrine by which the church stands or falls. That is fine for an Anglican, but not for a Lutheran.

  • Onlooker

    No, C.S. Louis was an Anglican. As Louis explains shortly afterwards in the same book you site, his version of Mere Christianity has to exclude theological distinctives of Justification. If there is a Mere Christianity, than Justification is not the doctrine by which the church stands or falls. That is fine for an Anglican, but not for a Lutheran.

  • Pete

    Would a bit of tweaking of Lewis’ metaphor help? What if the house was the visible church. People come in and out of the house and sometimes wander room to room. But not everyone wandering around the house is a participant in the invisible church. I think most denominations (certainly confessional Lutherans) would say that God and His Word is best expounded and understood in their room. But that is not to say that (as it sounds like the Catholics do) you have to be in this particular room to be in the invisible church and, similarly, to leave this room is to leave the invisible church. It’s my understanding that there are likely even some, unknown to us but known to God, who are “invisible churchers” and are not even in the house.

  • Pete

    Would a bit of tweaking of Lewis’ metaphor help? What if the house was the visible church. People come in and out of the house and sometimes wander room to room. But not everyone wandering around the house is a participant in the invisible church. I think most denominations (certainly confessional Lutherans) would say that God and His Word is best expounded and understood in their room. But that is not to say that (as it sounds like the Catholics do) you have to be in this particular room to be in the invisible church and, similarly, to leave this room is to leave the invisible church. It’s my understanding that there are likely even some, unknown to us but known to God, who are “invisible churchers” and are not even in the house.

  • Porcell

    Carl Piepkorn, a Lutheran theologian with a strong ecumenical interest spoke of a Christian catholic church and regarded the Lutheran church not as one denomination but the best exponent of the catholic church. He claimed that Luther’s reformation was in part a march to Rome with the real banner of a catholic church including a cross and a Bible that was strictly not gnostic or Pelagian.

    In the long run it would be wise for the Christian church to be united, with the Orthodox, Protestant, and Roman Catholic churches finding a way through the work of theologians to resolve their differences. C.S. Lewis in this sense is right that about a mere Christianity.

  • Porcell

    Carl Piepkorn, a Lutheran theologian with a strong ecumenical interest spoke of a Christian catholic church and regarded the Lutheran church not as one denomination but the best exponent of the catholic church. He claimed that Luther’s reformation was in part a march to Rome with the real banner of a catholic church including a cross and a Bible that was strictly not gnostic or Pelagian.

    In the long run it would be wise for the Christian church to be united, with the Orthodox, Protestant, and Roman Catholic churches finding a way through the work of theologians to resolve their differences. C.S. Lewis in this sense is right that about a mere Christianity.

  • Dan Kempin

    The Lutherans addressed this idea from the very beginning with the famous (or infamous) “Satis Est” of Article VII, Augsburg Confession: “To the true unity of the Church it is enough to agree concerning the doctrine of the gospel and the administration of the sacraments. Nor is it necessary that human traditions, that is, rites and ceremonies, instituted by men, should be everywhere alike.”

    This perspective, though, differs from the “Mere” perspective in that it precludes those who would deny the sacraments or the doctrine of the gospel, and it differs from the Papal perspective in that it defines the One Church (yes, as David Mills correctly observes–one church, not a collection of rooms) not according to the visible beauracracy and human doctrine of the papacy, but according to the attested apostolic doctrine and the Holy Scripture.

  • Dan Kempin

    The Lutherans addressed this idea from the very beginning with the famous (or infamous) “Satis Est” of Article VII, Augsburg Confession: “To the true unity of the Church it is enough to agree concerning the doctrine of the gospel and the administration of the sacraments. Nor is it necessary that human traditions, that is, rites and ceremonies, instituted by men, should be everywhere alike.”

    This perspective, though, differs from the “Mere” perspective in that it precludes those who would deny the sacraments or the doctrine of the gospel, and it differs from the Papal perspective in that it defines the One Church (yes, as David Mills correctly observes–one church, not a collection of rooms) not according to the visible beauracracy and human doctrine of the papacy, but according to the attested apostolic doctrine and the Holy Scripture.

  • Terry Culler

    Paul writes to the church in Rome and to us: 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. That sounds like “mere Christianity to me.”

  • Terry Culler

    Paul writes to the church in Rome and to us: 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. That sounds like “mere Christianity to me.”

  • Carl Vehse

    In addition to his Church and Ministry and The Proper Form of a Lutheran Free Church C.F.W. Walther also wrote “The Evangelical Lutheran Church the True Visible Church of God on Earth,” which was published by the Missouri Synod in 1866.

  • Carl Vehse

    In addition to his Church and Ministry and The Proper Form of a Lutheran Free Church C.F.W. Walther also wrote “The Evangelical Lutheran Church the True Visible Church of God on Earth,” which was published by the Missouri Synod in 1866.

  • Joe

    I think the better question is should we be satisfied with a mere Christianity. Terry is correct that salvation does not hinge on getting every single aspect of doctrine perfectly correct. But is that a reason to stop striving to get it right? I think not. Christ’s commission was to baptize and to teach everything he taught. He did not say, baptize and teach them the basics.

  • Joe

    I think the better question is should we be satisfied with a mere Christianity. Terry is correct that salvation does not hinge on getting every single aspect of doctrine perfectly correct. But is that a reason to stop striving to get it right? I think not. Christ’s commission was to baptize and to teach everything he taught. He did not say, baptize and teach them the basics.

  • Tom Hering

    Terry Culler @ 5, that would not – for example – exclude Mormons. So Romans 10:9 is an inadequate definition, when it’s understood in a way that doesn’t account for everything else Scripture says about Jesus, faith and salvation.

  • Tom Hering

    Terry Culler @ 5, that would not – for example – exclude Mormons. So Romans 10:9 is an inadequate definition, when it’s understood in a way that doesn’t account for everything else Scripture says about Jesus, faith and salvation.

  • Larry

    I don’t disagree with his argument in principle and I love CS Lewis, I think he got this entirely wrong. I agree that many visibly non-orthodox folks are Christians and our brothers and sisters and likewise that hypocrites are part and parcel even within the visible orthodoxy (which, as Pieper points out, is merely the visible external expression of the invisible true church). Thus, one does not “have” to be in orthodoxy to “be saved” but one does have to be in the true invisible church, which one can be but stuck due to lack of innocent knowledge of false teachings. I.e. I was really a Christian and saved even when I was a baptist, and then PCA, I didn’t “just get saved” when I joined the LCMS.

    But Luther was very clear on the issue of the Christian faith being a tapestry of which one mere alteration makes the whole worthless. That is not in conflict with the above. That speaks to doctrine (and the teachers of said doctrines) not persons, especially the laity (teachers will be judged more rigidly for what they teach, not believers for what they’ve been fooled by). This is why he reject Zwingli and Bucer as other spirits, and was Calvin later rejected due to the work of Westphal.

    Lewis’s effort reduces the “mere Christianity” or essence without which there is not below those things that are essential doctrines. E.g. when Luther said, this sacrament is the Gospel, he was not hyperbolic but quite literal, and thus any attack on that sacrament, altering the Words by explaining them away in some form or another was an immediate attack on the Gospel itself, which in turn defines Christianity. The commandments do not define Christianity, these are written on the hearts of all men without exception and overtly external false religions that build themselves up around some commandments do so because of this. What defines Christianity is the Gospel and any attack on that is an attack on the sine quo none that is the real “mere Christianity”.

    A true “mere Christianity” is not discovered by reducing to the lowest common denominator of all denominations, whereby a minimum is distilled. This is similar to the mistake Calvin makes with the sacraments when he look to find and stated concerning the sacraments to the OT one’s as well as the NT ones and distilled the lowest common denominator and said, “this a sacrament”. Which a logical extension makes sacraments B superfluous and redundant to sacrament A. Luther, rather, sets each sacrament apart and relies, not on mathematical logical reduction, but what God says “this is” in each case. This is the same kind of mathematical reduction.

    The biggest glaring difference can be found in all the other protestant doctrines that basically in some way or another prevent, doctrinally, the Gospel from being an action done “to the man”, pro me. And end up reducing the Gospel to a discussion about it, and make no mistake the issue of the sacraments reveal this (remember tapestry and altering a mere thread as Luther said).

    So on one hand, no you don’t have to be in or be a Lutheran to be a true Christian or be saved – which is an opinion of law. But it is more like this, “when you were married and the pastor said, ‘now you may kiss the bride’, you did not, I hope, say, “do I have to”.” Because the stunned reply would be, “Don’t you want to???” The same thing with orthodoxy, its not according to “law”, “do I have to be in an orthodox church with orthodox preaching and confession and teaching. Its more like, now that you are a baptized Christian “Don’t you want to be???” Don’t you want to hear “you are forgiven” every Sunday because all week long you and I are still sinning all the time? Don’t you want to know that GOD baptized you and forgave you in that baptism? Don’t you want to eat and drink the very body and blood that was given and shed for you, literally forgiveness handed and fed to you?

    To put it another way but similarly, is it not odd to reply, “do I have to hear I’m forgiven?” Don’t you want to??? Like after being married, “don’t you like to kiss your spouse” more than just on that day of marriage? Don’t you like to hear God forgives you, seeing we constantly sin and wander away all week long?
    The error Lewis makes is reducing it mathematically to distill “the essence of the faith”. Neither Scripture nor Luther did this. Rather it asserts itself as authority not a distilled essence. The logical extension of Lewis’s approach, and I realize he did mean to go there nor did he, but its logical extension would be to even go further and say, “we may distill the grace of God even from other religions and find the common denominator we can call salvation”.

    The essence of the church is not a distillation of common doctrines even within the denominations but concerning the Gospel and the administration of the sacraments according to Christ. It is that last part where many fall apart and away from, because the first part, the Gospel, is most potent there – i.e. it is DONE to you.

  • Larry

    I don’t disagree with his argument in principle and I love CS Lewis, I think he got this entirely wrong. I agree that many visibly non-orthodox folks are Christians and our brothers and sisters and likewise that hypocrites are part and parcel even within the visible orthodoxy (which, as Pieper points out, is merely the visible external expression of the invisible true church). Thus, one does not “have” to be in orthodoxy to “be saved” but one does have to be in the true invisible church, which one can be but stuck due to lack of innocent knowledge of false teachings. I.e. I was really a Christian and saved even when I was a baptist, and then PCA, I didn’t “just get saved” when I joined the LCMS.

    But Luther was very clear on the issue of the Christian faith being a tapestry of which one mere alteration makes the whole worthless. That is not in conflict with the above. That speaks to doctrine (and the teachers of said doctrines) not persons, especially the laity (teachers will be judged more rigidly for what they teach, not believers for what they’ve been fooled by). This is why he reject Zwingli and Bucer as other spirits, and was Calvin later rejected due to the work of Westphal.

    Lewis’s effort reduces the “mere Christianity” or essence without which there is not below those things that are essential doctrines. E.g. when Luther said, this sacrament is the Gospel, he was not hyperbolic but quite literal, and thus any attack on that sacrament, altering the Words by explaining them away in some form or another was an immediate attack on the Gospel itself, which in turn defines Christianity. The commandments do not define Christianity, these are written on the hearts of all men without exception and overtly external false religions that build themselves up around some commandments do so because of this. What defines Christianity is the Gospel and any attack on that is an attack on the sine quo none that is the real “mere Christianity”.

    A true “mere Christianity” is not discovered by reducing to the lowest common denominator of all denominations, whereby a minimum is distilled. This is similar to the mistake Calvin makes with the sacraments when he look to find and stated concerning the sacraments to the OT one’s as well as the NT ones and distilled the lowest common denominator and said, “this a sacrament”. Which a logical extension makes sacraments B superfluous and redundant to sacrament A. Luther, rather, sets each sacrament apart and relies, not on mathematical logical reduction, but what God says “this is” in each case. This is the same kind of mathematical reduction.

    The biggest glaring difference can be found in all the other protestant doctrines that basically in some way or another prevent, doctrinally, the Gospel from being an action done “to the man”, pro me. And end up reducing the Gospel to a discussion about it, and make no mistake the issue of the sacraments reveal this (remember tapestry and altering a mere thread as Luther said).

    So on one hand, no you don’t have to be in or be a Lutheran to be a true Christian or be saved – which is an opinion of law. But it is more like this, “when you were married and the pastor said, ‘now you may kiss the bride’, you did not, I hope, say, “do I have to”.” Because the stunned reply would be, “Don’t you want to???” The same thing with orthodoxy, its not according to “law”, “do I have to be in an orthodox church with orthodox preaching and confession and teaching. Its more like, now that you are a baptized Christian “Don’t you want to be???” Don’t you want to hear “you are forgiven” every Sunday because all week long you and I are still sinning all the time? Don’t you want to know that GOD baptized you and forgave you in that baptism? Don’t you want to eat and drink the very body and blood that was given and shed for you, literally forgiveness handed and fed to you?

    To put it another way but similarly, is it not odd to reply, “do I have to hear I’m forgiven?” Don’t you want to??? Like after being married, “don’t you like to kiss your spouse” more than just on that day of marriage? Don’t you like to hear God forgives you, seeing we constantly sin and wander away all week long?
    The error Lewis makes is reducing it mathematically to distill “the essence of the faith”. Neither Scripture nor Luther did this. Rather it asserts itself as authority not a distilled essence. The logical extension of Lewis’s approach, and I realize he did mean to go there nor did he, but its logical extension would be to even go further and say, “we may distill the grace of God even from other religions and find the common denominator we can call salvation”.

    The essence of the church is not a distillation of common doctrines even within the denominations but concerning the Gospel and the administration of the sacraments according to Christ. It is that last part where many fall apart and away from, because the first part, the Gospel, is most potent there – i.e. it is DONE to you.

  • http://www.brandywinebooks.net Lars Walker

    I think Lewis was simply talking about common ground, on which Christians of various confessions can meet, talk, dispute, and treat each other with respect and decency. My differences with a Catholic are different from my differences with a Mormon or a Unitarian. The distinction defines mere Christianity.

  • http://www.brandywinebooks.net Lars Walker

    I think Lewis was simply talking about common ground, on which Christians of various confessions can meet, talk, dispute, and treat each other with respect and decency. My differences with a Catholic are different from my differences with a Mormon or a Unitarian. The distinction defines mere Christianity.

  • http://lutherama.blogspot.com Dr. Luther in the 21st Century

    While there are good points to “Mere Christianity,” I have to disagree with Lewis’ premise. As mentioned in a comment above, theology is so interwoven that to change one teaching is going to effect another. Is that not one of the reasons we, Lutherans, trash Calvin’s position on the nature of communion, that “the finite cannot contain the infinite?” The logical end point of Calvin’s argument is that Jesus cannot be fully God.

    I think this video gives a good synopsis of the discussion.
    http://www.youtube.com/user/Revfiskj#p/u/11/X9JM6KSU3F0

  • http://lutherama.blogspot.com Dr. Luther in the 21st Century

    While there are good points to “Mere Christianity,” I have to disagree with Lewis’ premise. As mentioned in a comment above, theology is so interwoven that to change one teaching is going to effect another. Is that not one of the reasons we, Lutherans, trash Calvin’s position on the nature of communion, that “the finite cannot contain the infinite?” The logical end point of Calvin’s argument is that Jesus cannot be fully God.

    I think this video gives a good synopsis of the discussion.
    http://www.youtube.com/user/Revfiskj#p/u/11/X9JM6KSU3F0

  • S Bauer

    I agree with Lars. Lewis doesn’t say Christians can “settle” for a “mere Christianity” and go no further. He’s not offering “mere Christianity” as an alternative to denominationalism (or maybe better put, confessionalism). He says quite explicitly that one has to “live” in one of the rooms. And not one of the rooms can be identified with the Church in the narrow sense. You can live in any of the rooms, properly speaking, and be “in” The Church. And, conversely, you can find and live in the room which is the “true visible church on earth” and not be “in” The Church.

  • S Bauer

    I agree with Lars. Lewis doesn’t say Christians can “settle” for a “mere Christianity” and go no further. He’s not offering “mere Christianity” as an alternative to denominationalism (or maybe better put, confessionalism). He says quite explicitly that one has to “live” in one of the rooms. And not one of the rooms can be identified with the Church in the narrow sense. You can live in any of the rooms, properly speaking, and be “in” The Church. And, conversely, you can find and live in the room which is the “true visible church on earth” and not be “in” The Church.

  • WebMonk

    Mills is taking issue with the metaphor Lewis used, but not with the general principal. Mills’ metaphor is a house with a walkway up to it and people camped out on the yard – the house being the RCC, the path being Christians’ movement, and the camps the non-RCC Christians.

    That is a REALLY thin difference from Lewis’ picture. Mills could just have easily used Lewis’ image and have the house be the RCC and all the other Christians existing in the coat closet and mud room, or perhaps on the front porch.

    Meh. Whatever. Fiddling with the exact metaphor and saying it makes a big difference just doesn’t fly with me in this case.

    But, I can certainly see the article stir up lots of comments and discussions, and that’s a really big part of what a writer for an online publication like First Things tries to do. I just can’t get too excited about that sort of “disagreement” with Lewis.

  • WebMonk

    Mills is taking issue with the metaphor Lewis used, but not with the general principal. Mills’ metaphor is a house with a walkway up to it and people camped out on the yard – the house being the RCC, the path being Christians’ movement, and the camps the non-RCC Christians.

    That is a REALLY thin difference from Lewis’ picture. Mills could just have easily used Lewis’ image and have the house be the RCC and all the other Christians existing in the coat closet and mud room, or perhaps on the front porch.

    Meh. Whatever. Fiddling with the exact metaphor and saying it makes a big difference just doesn’t fly with me in this case.

    But, I can certainly see the article stir up lots of comments and discussions, and that’s a really big part of what a writer for an online publication like First Things tries to do. I just can’t get too excited about that sort of “disagreement” with Lewis.

  • SKPeterson

    Interestingly, Mills ignores the Orthodox. Although he is technically correct that Protestants are a part of the Western church.

  • SKPeterson

    Interestingly, Mills ignores the Orthodox. Although he is technically correct that Protestants are a part of the Western church.

  • http://www.bikebubba.blogspot.com Bike Bubba

    My thought is that, being an Anglican, Lewis more or less must walk a middle ground between the solas and the Council of Trent, no? “Mere Christianity” is a great book that has played a big role in bringing many people to Christ and encouraging many more, but thankfully none of us needs to speak of Lewis as a prophet. No quibble on my part with the author here.

  • http://www.bikebubba.blogspot.com Bike Bubba

    My thought is that, being an Anglican, Lewis more or less must walk a middle ground between the solas and the Council of Trent, no? “Mere Christianity” is a great book that has played a big role in bringing many people to Christ and encouraging many more, but thankfully none of us needs to speak of Lewis as a prophet. No quibble on my part with the author here.

  • Louis

    I think Lars has it right. I’m not losing any sleep over it, though, if pressed, I’d say the foundation for “Mere Christianity” are the Apostles’, Athanasian and Nicene Creeds, as well as the Definition of Chalcedon, and the Sacraments of the font and the Altar. Im purposefully not saying Scripture, as even the most extreme heretics tend to claim that it is on their side,

    To name three general heresies (nigh encompassing) thus exluded: Arianism, Nestorianism, Pelagianism.

    Unfortunately, there are many pseudo- and semi- version of the above. For instance, in there denail of the real Presence, one could make a case for calling (most) Calvinists pseudo-Nestorian, or most evangelicals today, semi-Pelagian. I’m loth to go and draw lines, however.

  • Louis

    I think Lars has it right. I’m not losing any sleep over it, though, if pressed, I’d say the foundation for “Mere Christianity” are the Apostles’, Athanasian and Nicene Creeds, as well as the Definition of Chalcedon, and the Sacraments of the font and the Altar. Im purposefully not saying Scripture, as even the most extreme heretics tend to claim that it is on their side,

    To name three general heresies (nigh encompassing) thus exluded: Arianism, Nestorianism, Pelagianism.

    Unfortunately, there are many pseudo- and semi- version of the above. For instance, in there denail of the real Presence, one could make a case for calling (most) Calvinists pseudo-Nestorian, or most evangelicals today, semi-Pelagian. I’m loth to go and draw lines, however.

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

    The problem that I have always had with this metaphor if you will is that it seems to assume doctrine doesn’t really matter, just pick a room.
    It isn’t that I can’t see my brothers and sisters in these “other rooms” as Christians. I can, at least on my more charitable days. But this metaphor was not the best of C.S. Lewis, but it has taken to become the operating metaphor for ecumenical dialogue since he wrote it, at least among protestant churches.
    And that is probably the rub of the matter, take out the cantankerous Lutherans with their Sacramental theology, and the rest of the protestant world can almost be looked at as one big house with many different rooms filled with different types of furniture but all offering the same thing. Which is why I think this metaphor means more, or seems to, to the “Non-Denoms” the Calvary Chapelites, the baptists, the Presbyterians, and Methodists, and various Anglicans. People get up set when Lutherans refer to Arminians and Calvinists alike as reformed, but that is the way we see it. We don’t see your differences as amounting to a hill of beans, and neither do most that find themselves in these camps.
    And I know Lewis didn’t mean for anybody to settle for this “mere Christianity” but that has been the upshot for the better part of a century now, is every one is now supposed to settle for this, and admit their distinctives don’t matter.
    But if I am going to confess Jesus Christ as Lord, then I ought to listen to him as if he was my Lord, and not be so flippant with his words as to think it doesn’t matter if he is truly present in communion or can’t give a baby faith. Because there the gospel is at stake.

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

    The problem that I have always had with this metaphor if you will is that it seems to assume doctrine doesn’t really matter, just pick a room.
    It isn’t that I can’t see my brothers and sisters in these “other rooms” as Christians. I can, at least on my more charitable days. But this metaphor was not the best of C.S. Lewis, but it has taken to become the operating metaphor for ecumenical dialogue since he wrote it, at least among protestant churches.
    And that is probably the rub of the matter, take out the cantankerous Lutherans with their Sacramental theology, and the rest of the protestant world can almost be looked at as one big house with many different rooms filled with different types of furniture but all offering the same thing. Which is why I think this metaphor means more, or seems to, to the “Non-Denoms” the Calvary Chapelites, the baptists, the Presbyterians, and Methodists, and various Anglicans. People get up set when Lutherans refer to Arminians and Calvinists alike as reformed, but that is the way we see it. We don’t see your differences as amounting to a hill of beans, and neither do most that find themselves in these camps.
    And I know Lewis didn’t mean for anybody to settle for this “mere Christianity” but that has been the upshot for the better part of a century now, is every one is now supposed to settle for this, and admit their distinctives don’t matter.
    But if I am going to confess Jesus Christ as Lord, then I ought to listen to him as if he was my Lord, and not be so flippant with his words as to think it doesn’t matter if he is truly present in communion or can’t give a baby faith. Because there the gospel is at stake.

  • Larry

    I think Lewis meant a well meaning approach in mere Christianity. As an analogy to invisible/visible heterodox/orthodox, the rooms, is not all that bad. Rather the concept that there is a “mere Christianity” that is the base essence without which it is not. One simply cannot arrive at a “mere Christianity” that way. A “mere Christianity”, or agreement, presupposes a common confession. But the doctrines are not linked up like that. A change in doctrine X cause a change in the entire tapestry of Christianity.

    First, he’s coming at it from a typical protestant approach that sees, for example, the Lord’s Supper as the means of unity and not the culmination of an all ready united confession. Thus there is this kind of reductionism, we disagree on the Lord’s Supper but we can gather around it anyway.

    Second, it’s a matter of confession and that is no small thing. God does not desire in no uncertain terms, mingled doctrines. All doctrines contrary to the true doctrine are antichristic by definition. That’s not “being mean” but simply the facts. Because all contrary doctrines at the end of the day oppose the Gospel and thus Christ. This is no small issue, it’s a matter of confession. Confession in principle is authoritative and not gathered around “things we agree on”. And in reality, because the Christian faith is that tapestry which cannot be altered and not be ruined, we really don’t agree on anything. E.g. there’s a reason there is no absolution in the baptist church, and absolution in the Reformed church is never really “pro me”, but is in the Lutheran confessions. And at the end of the day, absolution, is nothing less nor more than the Gospel. When we confess in the Nicene Creed, “and I affirm ONE baptism for the remission of sins”, we do not agree with baptist on that issue. One, there is one baptism. Two, it is that external baptism with real water and not some separate spiritual baptism divorced from the water and/or word. Three, it actually FORGIVES sin, the Gospel DONE to one. None of those points do we agree, neither with the Reformed even though, when I was PCA, we recited the Nicene Creed too.

    Fourth, the problem is that it, mere Christianity, also gets taken to the point of, “well if I’m saved anyway in a heterodox church, why worry about it”. This first of all says God’s Word in truth is really not that important and that in and of its self is false, the principle alone is false and puts hypnotizes men to sleep regarding the Word of God. Second of all since such is a sin against the first three commandments (or four depending on your enumeration of them) such is to say, “Let us sin that grace may abound”, which is to be rejected. It is no more, even less so since it is a direct sin against God in the first table of the Law, worse than an open sinner sinning against the second table and saying, “well I’ll just keep on in my open sin of adultery and theft so that grace may abound”. I.e. “well if I’m saved anyway in a heterodox church, why worry about it” is a worse version (a sin against the first table, idolatry) of “shall we sin that grace may abound”, than is “well I’ll just keep on in my open sin of adultery and theft so that grace may abound” (a sin against the second table, the neighbor). Yet we foist the later constantly against morality to the neglect of the former.

  • Larry

    I think Lewis meant a well meaning approach in mere Christianity. As an analogy to invisible/visible heterodox/orthodox, the rooms, is not all that bad. Rather the concept that there is a “mere Christianity” that is the base essence without which it is not. One simply cannot arrive at a “mere Christianity” that way. A “mere Christianity”, or agreement, presupposes a common confession. But the doctrines are not linked up like that. A change in doctrine X cause a change in the entire tapestry of Christianity.

    First, he’s coming at it from a typical protestant approach that sees, for example, the Lord’s Supper as the means of unity and not the culmination of an all ready united confession. Thus there is this kind of reductionism, we disagree on the Lord’s Supper but we can gather around it anyway.

    Second, it’s a matter of confession and that is no small thing. God does not desire in no uncertain terms, mingled doctrines. All doctrines contrary to the true doctrine are antichristic by definition. That’s not “being mean” but simply the facts. Because all contrary doctrines at the end of the day oppose the Gospel and thus Christ. This is no small issue, it’s a matter of confession. Confession in principle is authoritative and not gathered around “things we agree on”. And in reality, because the Christian faith is that tapestry which cannot be altered and not be ruined, we really don’t agree on anything. E.g. there’s a reason there is no absolution in the baptist church, and absolution in the Reformed church is never really “pro me”, but is in the Lutheran confessions. And at the end of the day, absolution, is nothing less nor more than the Gospel. When we confess in the Nicene Creed, “and I affirm ONE baptism for the remission of sins”, we do not agree with baptist on that issue. One, there is one baptism. Two, it is that external baptism with real water and not some separate spiritual baptism divorced from the water and/or word. Three, it actually FORGIVES sin, the Gospel DONE to one. None of those points do we agree, neither with the Reformed even though, when I was PCA, we recited the Nicene Creed too.

    Fourth, the problem is that it, mere Christianity, also gets taken to the point of, “well if I’m saved anyway in a heterodox church, why worry about it”. This first of all says God’s Word in truth is really not that important and that in and of its self is false, the principle alone is false and puts hypnotizes men to sleep regarding the Word of God. Second of all since such is a sin against the first three commandments (or four depending on your enumeration of them) such is to say, “Let us sin that grace may abound”, which is to be rejected. It is no more, even less so since it is a direct sin against God in the first table of the Law, worse than an open sinner sinning against the second table and saying, “well I’ll just keep on in my open sin of adultery and theft so that grace may abound”. I.e. “well if I’m saved anyway in a heterodox church, why worry about it” is a worse version (a sin against the first table, idolatry) of “shall we sin that grace may abound”, than is “well I’ll just keep on in my open sin of adultery and theft so that grace may abound” (a sin against the second table, the neighbor). Yet we foist the later constantly against morality to the neglect of the former.

  • Mary Jack

    Christian belief is when the Holy Spirit works faith. The Holy Spirit works through the Word. In which case, when we turn this around to focus this on ourselves, “mere Christianity” would be where the Word is present and not distorted beyond the Spirit’s tolerance. Wouldn’t it?

  • Mary Jack

    Christian belief is when the Holy Spirit works faith. The Holy Spirit works through the Word. In which case, when we turn this around to focus this on ourselves, “mere Christianity” would be where the Word is present and not distorted beyond the Spirit’s tolerance. Wouldn’t it?

  • Dust

    Skimmed the comments and didn’t see anything along these lines, so here goes my take….always thought that another interpretation of the choice of “Mere” in the title was a bit “tongue in cheek” as in something like (and forgive the bad example, but am so tired and it’s all I can think of right now) “What was that thing that just destroyed that entire city in less than a few seconds?” Answer: it was just a “mere” nuclear weapon! Or question: Wow, that is a beautiful statue of Mary and Jesus, who did that? Answer: that was “merely” a work of Michelangelo! In other words, there is nothing “mere” about Christianity. It is actually the most incredible and fantastic thing to ever come along and even the basic ideas of resurrection and creation and salvation and in no way “mere” events. If you believe them! To others they are just a bunch of fables and myths and have no real meaning to them, and they perhaps see them as “mere” stories, along the lines of Chronicles of Narnia (sp?) perhaps? So, if so, then Lewis was having a bit of fun with the title, perhaps even being a bit of an educator, and calling attention to the obvious with a bit of playfulness? Wasn’t he also a Professor somewhere? Oh yeah, “merely” Oxford or was it Cambridge :)

  • Dust

    Skimmed the comments and didn’t see anything along these lines, so here goes my take….always thought that another interpretation of the choice of “Mere” in the title was a bit “tongue in cheek” as in something like (and forgive the bad example, but am so tired and it’s all I can think of right now) “What was that thing that just destroyed that entire city in less than a few seconds?” Answer: it was just a “mere” nuclear weapon! Or question: Wow, that is a beautiful statue of Mary and Jesus, who did that? Answer: that was “merely” a work of Michelangelo! In other words, there is nothing “mere” about Christianity. It is actually the most incredible and fantastic thing to ever come along and even the basic ideas of resurrection and creation and salvation and in no way “mere” events. If you believe them! To others they are just a bunch of fables and myths and have no real meaning to them, and they perhaps see them as “mere” stories, along the lines of Chronicles of Narnia (sp?) perhaps? So, if so, then Lewis was having a bit of fun with the title, perhaps even being a bit of an educator, and calling attention to the obvious with a bit of playfulness? Wasn’t he also a Professor somewhere? Oh yeah, “merely” Oxford or was it Cambridge :)

  • DonS

    Lars @ 10 and Dust @ 20 both make excellent points.

  • DonS

    Lars @ 10 and Dust @ 20 both make excellent points.

  • Tom Hering

    “‘well if I’m saved anyway in a heterodox church, why worry about it’”. – Larry @ 18.

    At that point, you’re no longer ignorant of the heterodoxy. You can either leave that church, or stay in it. But if you do the latter, you’ll end up making peace with its heterodoxy. You will functionally accept it. Now, you might convince yourself the heterodoxy, and your functional acceptance of it, is no danger to your soul – if you hold to “once saved, always saved” (the Holy Spirit cannot be driven away by sin or error). Which would be compounding error with error.

  • Tom Hering

    “‘well if I’m saved anyway in a heterodox church, why worry about it’”. – Larry @ 18.

    At that point, you’re no longer ignorant of the heterodoxy. You can either leave that church, or stay in it. But if you do the latter, you’ll end up making peace with its heterodoxy. You will functionally accept it. Now, you might convince yourself the heterodoxy, and your functional acceptance of it, is no danger to your soul – if you hold to “once saved, always saved” (the Holy Spirit cannot be driven away by sin or error). Which would be compounding error with error.

  • Gary

    “For the Catholic unity comes from shared membership in the Catholic Church,..”

    I would hope that unity would come from membership in the body of Christ. Or, to put it another way:

    “To the true unity of the Church it is enough to agree concerning the doctrine of the gospel and the administration of the sacraments.”

    From the article:

    “The Immaculate Conception of Mary is not a belief required in the Catholic room, while disbelief in it is required in the Protestant rooms;..”

    False.

  • Gary

    “For the Catholic unity comes from shared membership in the Catholic Church,..”

    I would hope that unity would come from membership in the body of Christ. Or, to put it another way:

    “To the true unity of the Church it is enough to agree concerning the doctrine of the gospel and the administration of the sacraments.”

    From the article:

    “The Immaculate Conception of Mary is not a belief required in the Catholic room, while disbelief in it is required in the Protestant rooms;..”

    False.

  • bunnycatch3r

    @Terry Culler #5.
    I have to agree with Tom Hering on this one. Paul was incorrect.

  • bunnycatch3r

    @Terry Culler #5.
    I have to agree with Tom Hering on this one. Paul was incorrect.

  • http://www.gslcnm.com Pastor Spomer

    “Terry Culler @ 5, that would not – for example – exclude Mormons. So Romans 10:9 is an inadequate definition, when it’s understood in a way that doesn’t account for everything else Scripture says about Jesus, faith and salvation.”
    Actually Tom, I think it does exclude Mormons, but it’s not apparent because Mormons have such a slippery use of words. What they call Jesus is a finite thing that’s no more Almighty that you or I, Ditto with the word “god”. Granted there are Mormons that are crypto monotheists, but we can only hope that they never learn their own church’s doctrine.

  • http://www.gslcnm.com Pastor Spomer

    “Terry Culler @ 5, that would not – for example – exclude Mormons. So Romans 10:9 is an inadequate definition, when it’s understood in a way that doesn’t account for everything else Scripture says about Jesus, faith and salvation.”
    Actually Tom, I think it does exclude Mormons, but it’s not apparent because Mormons have such a slippery use of words. What they call Jesus is a finite thing that’s no more Almighty that you or I, Ditto with the word “god”. Granted there are Mormons that are crypto monotheists, but we can only hope that they never learn their own church’s doctrine.

  • http://enterthevein.wordpress.com J. Dean

    Perhaps the question we need to be asking (as Martin Lloyd-Jones had the boldness to do once) is this: What is a true Christian? And to add to that, we must ask this: By what criteria is one determined to be a Christian? With all due respect to Mr. Lews-an author I personally enjoy and overall endorse-I would suggest that C.S. Lewis is not the final authority on what consitutes “mere Christianity.” The final authority on this is not a man, nor a church, nor a denomination, but the Word of God.

  • http://enterthevein.wordpress.com J. Dean

    Perhaps the question we need to be asking (as Martin Lloyd-Jones had the boldness to do once) is this: What is a true Christian? And to add to that, we must ask this: By what criteria is one determined to be a Christian? With all due respect to Mr. Lews-an author I personally enjoy and overall endorse-I would suggest that C.S. Lewis is not the final authority on what consitutes “mere Christianity.” The final authority on this is not a man, nor a church, nor a denomination, but the Word of God.

  • Tom Hering

    “Paul was incorrect.” – bunnycatch3r @ 24.

    We’re not in agreement, bunnycatch3r, because Paul was correct. The ones who are incorrect are those who view doctrine as ultimately unimportant to faith.

    “… I think it does exclude Mormons, but it’s not apparent because Mormons have such a slippery use of words.” – Pastor Spomer @ 25.

    Yes, but that’s what I implied @ 8. ;-)

  • Tom Hering

    “Paul was incorrect.” – bunnycatch3r @ 24.

    We’re not in agreement, bunnycatch3r, because Paul was correct. The ones who are incorrect are those who view doctrine as ultimately unimportant to faith.

    “… I think it does exclude Mormons, but it’s not apparent because Mormons have such a slippery use of words.” – Pastor Spomer @ 25.

    Yes, but that’s what I implied @ 8. ;-)

  • Tom Hering

    “What is a true Christian?”

    Rather, who is Jesus Christ? When this is rightly answered by grace through faith, Christians’ questions about themselves and each other are answered.

  • Tom Hering

    “What is a true Christian?”

    Rather, who is Jesus Christ? When this is rightly answered by grace through faith, Christians’ questions about themselves and each other are answered.

  • Porcell

    While the early Luther and Melanchton wanted to reform the Roman Catholic church, their successors, the Gnesio Lutherans, claiming to be more loyal to Luther, hardened the Lutheran position and resisted any ecumenical movement towards reform. Later, the Pietist movement led to a further hardening and a plethora of evangelical churches.

    The result of all this is a cacophonous and weakened sectarian Christendom that has allowed secularism to become dominant in the West. The assorted sectarian groups delight in quibbling about fine points of doctrine and sometimes hurling anathema against one another.

    Meanwhile, few Christians take seriously the following from John regarding Christ’s statement in the Upper Room:

    Holy Father, protect them in your name that you have given me, so that they may be one, as we are one.

    It is an egregious shame that Christianity is so tragically divided.

  • Porcell

    While the early Luther and Melanchton wanted to reform the Roman Catholic church, their successors, the Gnesio Lutherans, claiming to be more loyal to Luther, hardened the Lutheran position and resisted any ecumenical movement towards reform. Later, the Pietist movement led to a further hardening and a plethora of evangelical churches.

    The result of all this is a cacophonous and weakened sectarian Christendom that has allowed secularism to become dominant in the West. The assorted sectarian groups delight in quibbling about fine points of doctrine and sometimes hurling anathema against one another.

    Meanwhile, few Christians take seriously the following from John regarding Christ’s statement in the Upper Room:

    Holy Father, protect them in your name that you have given me, so that they may be one, as we are one.

    It is an egregious shame that Christianity is so tragically divided.

  • Porcell

    Sorry, in the above it ought to have been Melanchthon.

  • Porcell

    Sorry, in the above it ought to have been Melanchthon.

  • Terry Culler

    Paul was incorrect!!!!! Surely that is a joke, right? If Scripture is inspired, inerrant and infallible, Paul can’t be incorrect. If he is, then who is to say what in Scripture is true? Now, I never said that doctrine wasn’t important. It most certainly is. What I said, or more exactly what the Apostle said, was that there is a place where there is simple Christian faith, saving faith implanted by the Holy Spirit in the heart of one of God’s children. This is what our Lord meant when He said we are to have faith as a child’s. BTW, Paul trumps Walther, Gerhard and, yes even on his birthday, Luther.

  • Terry Culler

    Paul was incorrect!!!!! Surely that is a joke, right? If Scripture is inspired, inerrant and infallible, Paul can’t be incorrect. If he is, then who is to say what in Scripture is true? Now, I never said that doctrine wasn’t important. It most certainly is. What I said, or more exactly what the Apostle said, was that there is a place where there is simple Christian faith, saving faith implanted by the Holy Spirit in the heart of one of God’s children. This is what our Lord meant when He said we are to have faith as a child’s. BTW, Paul trumps Walther, Gerhard and, yes even on his birthday, Luther.

  • Dust

    Tom above….who is Jesus Christ? Isn’t he the guy that “merely” changed water into wine? Or “merely” was born of a virgin? And wasn’t he the guy that “merely” rose from the dead ;)

  • Dust

    Tom above….who is Jesus Christ? Isn’t he the guy that “merely” changed water into wine? Or “merely” was born of a virgin? And wasn’t he the guy that “merely” rose from the dead ;)

  • Tom Hering

    “… who is Jesus Christ? Isn’t he …”

    … the only one in whom is found 100% free forgiveness for 100% of our sins.

    But we are always adding to, or subtracting from, that truth. In so many different ways. And that’s why there is no basic unity of faith – no mere Christianity.

  • Tom Hering

    “… who is Jesus Christ? Isn’t he …”

    … the only one in whom is found 100% free forgiveness for 100% of our sins.

    But we are always adding to, or subtracting from, that truth. In so many different ways. And that’s why there is no basic unity of faith – no mere Christianity.

  • kerner

    Porcell:

    I understand your laudable desire that the entire Christian Church might unite. I even understand your affinity to Pope John-Paul’s work and to the RCC.

    But can’t you tell from the tone of this article why that unity is very unlikely to ever come to be? What kind of dialog is it that won’t even concede that such as we can enter the metaphorical house? We’re building lean-tos in the yard (for goodness sake), and we should be grateful for that until we just forget every point of doctrine we believe to be true. The major stumbling block to unity is the Roman Catholic conceit that their organization is THE Church. It Isn’t. How do we get around that?

  • kerner

    Porcell:

    I understand your laudable desire that the entire Christian Church might unite. I even understand your affinity to Pope John-Paul’s work and to the RCC.

    But can’t you tell from the tone of this article why that unity is very unlikely to ever come to be? What kind of dialog is it that won’t even concede that such as we can enter the metaphorical house? We’re building lean-tos in the yard (for goodness sake), and we should be grateful for that until we just forget every point of doctrine we believe to be true. The major stumbling block to unity is the Roman Catholic conceit that their organization is THE Church. It Isn’t. How do we get around that?

  • Porcell

    Kerner, at 34, I question your assumption of a Roman Catholic conceit regarding ecumenism. While this did exist in the past, Vatican II and John Paul II’s encyclical Ut Unum Sint fundamentally changed the RC church’s ecumenical attitude. Serious Christians would do well to give, especially, Ut Unum Sint, a fair reading.

    I daresay that both Luther and Melanchthon would have lauded these documents and would have tried to resolve any remaining differences. Again, both the early Luther and Melanchthon wanted a reformation, mot a split, from Rome.

    As Arthur Schleesinger Sr. remarked, the deepest American prejudice is contra Roman Catholicism. The price for this is a divided Christianity that has allowed secularism to become a dominant power.

  • Porcell

    Kerner, at 34, I question your assumption of a Roman Catholic conceit regarding ecumenism. While this did exist in the past, Vatican II and John Paul II’s encyclical Ut Unum Sint fundamentally changed the RC church’s ecumenical attitude. Serious Christians would do well to give, especially, Ut Unum Sint, a fair reading.

    I daresay that both Luther and Melanchthon would have lauded these documents and would have tried to resolve any remaining differences. Again, both the early Luther and Melanchthon wanted a reformation, mot a split, from Rome.

    As Arthur Schleesinger Sr. remarked, the deepest American prejudice is contra Roman Catholicism. The price for this is a divided Christianity that has allowed secularism to become a dominant power.

  • http://Www.Toddstadler.com tODD

    Porcell, it strikes me as extremely odd that the only person that can be trusted, according to your argument, to truly explain the Catholic church’s position on ecumenism is … you.

    We can’t trust the ideas of the Catholic writer that Veith quotes. Why, we can’t even trust the words of the very encyclical you point us to! For when I quote from Ut Unum Sint, you tell me, without basis, that I’m reading it wrong!

    Why should I believe your word against those of actual Catholics?

  • http://Www.Toddstadler.com tODD

    Porcell, it strikes me as extremely odd that the only person that can be trusted, according to your argument, to truly explain the Catholic church’s position on ecumenism is … you.

    We can’t trust the ideas of the Catholic writer that Veith quotes. Why, we can’t even trust the words of the very encyclical you point us to! For when I quote from Ut Unum Sint, you tell me, without basis, that I’m reading it wrong!

    Why should I believe your word against those of actual Catholics?

  • http://Www.Toddstadler.com tODD

    I also can’t help but notice, Porcell, that your call for unity is always accompanied by a highly utilitarian, worldly justification: to reclaim (worldly) power from secularists, liberals, Muslims, or whomever is your bête noire du jour.

    I’m struggling to think of a less Christian reason to urge unity … Which, in case you’d forgotten, means complete unity in doctrine, and not just some facade of niceness.

  • http://Www.Toddstadler.com tODD

    I also can’t help but notice, Porcell, that your call for unity is always accompanied by a highly utilitarian, worldly justification: to reclaim (worldly) power from secularists, liberals, Muslims, or whomever is your bête noire du jour.

    I’m struggling to think of a less Christian reason to urge unity … Which, in case you’d forgotten, means complete unity in doctrine, and not just some facade of niceness.

  • Matthew

    Porcell @34:
    “While the early Luther and Melanchton wanted to reform the Roman Catholic church, their successors, the Gnesio Lutherans, claiming to be more loyal to Luther, hardened the Lutheran position and resisted any ecumenical movement towards reform.”

    Hardened? It couldn’t possibly be because at this point, Rome had already officially anathematized the gospel at the Council of Trent and, thus, the Lutherans who held to it? I am not quite sure how much more hardened you can get then that.

    What was there to reform at this point? Rome, again, at Trent, made any reforms of her false teachings impossible and there was now an evangelical church teaching God’s Word rightly. At best, Rome addressed some of the moral issues of the day (which the Reformation wasn’t directly about). To lay this at the feet of the second generation Lutherans is absurd.

    It’s amazing to me that when issues of ecumenical relations with Rome come up, it is always *us* who have to change our positions to move toward Rome’s doctrinal inventions du jour. Perhaps it is they that should unite Christendom by abandoning their false teachings. Of course, that’s never presented as an option.

    To fight off secularism in the West? I would dare say that the entire Western world could collapse into ruin if it meant the preservation of the gospel of Jesus Christ.

  • Matthew

    Porcell @34:
    “While the early Luther and Melanchton wanted to reform the Roman Catholic church, their successors, the Gnesio Lutherans, claiming to be more loyal to Luther, hardened the Lutheran position and resisted any ecumenical movement towards reform.”

    Hardened? It couldn’t possibly be because at this point, Rome had already officially anathematized the gospel at the Council of Trent and, thus, the Lutherans who held to it? I am not quite sure how much more hardened you can get then that.

    What was there to reform at this point? Rome, again, at Trent, made any reforms of her false teachings impossible and there was now an evangelical church teaching God’s Word rightly. At best, Rome addressed some of the moral issues of the day (which the Reformation wasn’t directly about). To lay this at the feet of the second generation Lutherans is absurd.

    It’s amazing to me that when issues of ecumenical relations with Rome come up, it is always *us* who have to change our positions to move toward Rome’s doctrinal inventions du jour. Perhaps it is they that should unite Christendom by abandoning their false teachings. Of course, that’s never presented as an option.

    To fight off secularism in the West? I would dare say that the entire Western world could collapse into ruin if it meant the preservation of the gospel of Jesus Christ.

  • Porcell

    Todd, exactly where have I stated that only my word can be trusted on the subject of ecumenism? As to the Catholic writer that Veith quotes, I happen to agree with his statement above. If anything is “odd” or, better, revealing, it would be your lack of serious engagement with my views as opposed to your typically gauzy ad hominem remark.

    The fact that divided Christianity is a major cause of dominant secularism, while not the only reason for Christian unity, is an important one. I, also, agree with Luther and Melanchthon, following Christ’s Ut Unum Sunt prayer, that as a matter of principle Christendom should be united.

  • Porcell

    Todd, exactly where have I stated that only my word can be trusted on the subject of ecumenism? As to the Catholic writer that Veith quotes, I happen to agree with his statement above. If anything is “odd” or, better, revealing, it would be your lack of serious engagement with my views as opposed to your typically gauzy ad hominem remark.

    The fact that divided Christianity is a major cause of dominant secularism, while not the only reason for Christian unity, is an important one. I, also, agree with Luther and Melanchthon, following Christ’s Ut Unum Sunt prayer, that as a matter of principle Christendom should be united.

  • kerner

    Porcell @39:

    As a matter of principle Christianity should be united. I guess so, but then, as a matter of principle we should all be loving our neighbors as ourselves and lions should be laying down with lambs. But it may take awhile.

    And can you support your assertion that divided Christianity is a major cause of dominant secularism? It seems to me that European countries where the Church has been the least divided are also the countries where secularism is most dominant. Whereas in the USA, where Christianity is most divided, secularism is less dominant.

  • kerner

    Porcell @39:

    As a matter of principle Christianity should be united. I guess so, but then, as a matter of principle we should all be loving our neighbors as ourselves and lions should be laying down with lambs. But it may take awhile.

    And can you support your assertion that divided Christianity is a major cause of dominant secularism? It seems to me that European countries where the Church has been the least divided are also the countries where secularism is most dominant. Whereas in the USA, where Christianity is most divided, secularism is less dominant.

  • Tom Hering

    Re: secularized Europe. Maybe the people there, having been through so many wars, are just tired of all causes of war – including religion.

  • Tom Hering

    Re: secularized Europe. Maybe the people there, having been through so many wars, are just tired of all causes of war – including religion.

  • Porcell

    Kerner, you’re right that some Catholic countries have caved to secularism, though I would argue that they were very much influenced by the Protestant movement in Europe that attempted to integrate secularism with Christianity and ended, as with mainline Protestantism in the U.S.,with a pablum form of Christianity.

    As to the U.S. , while some parts of the country have retained serious Christianity, the cultural heights are occupied by a secularism that regards divided Christianity at best as an irritant. Living in Massachusetts, as I do, one is well aware of this.

    As to ecumenism, a past generation of Lutheran theologians including Piepkorn, Braatner, and Neuhaus made a serious attempt to heal the breach, though they were defeated mostly by intransigent, fundamentalists who wished to be merely another sectarian Protestant denomination.

    This is why Neuhaus decided to cross the Tiber. He understood that the Council of Trent objection was a defensive canard and that after years of theological discussion he could find no compelling reason not to cross the Tiber.

  • Porcell

    Kerner, you’re right that some Catholic countries have caved to secularism, though I would argue that they were very much influenced by the Protestant movement in Europe that attempted to integrate secularism with Christianity and ended, as with mainline Protestantism in the U.S.,with a pablum form of Christianity.

    As to the U.S. , while some parts of the country have retained serious Christianity, the cultural heights are occupied by a secularism that regards divided Christianity at best as an irritant. Living in Massachusetts, as I do, one is well aware of this.

    As to ecumenism, a past generation of Lutheran theologians including Piepkorn, Braatner, and Neuhaus made a serious attempt to heal the breach, though they were defeated mostly by intransigent, fundamentalists who wished to be merely another sectarian Protestant denomination.

    This is why Neuhaus decided to cross the Tiber. He understood that the Council of Trent objection was a defensive canard and that after years of theological discussion he could find no compelling reason not to cross the Tiber.

  • trotk

    Porcell, evidently JPII’s encyclical hasn’t trickled down. The normal Catholic still believes that the RCC is The Church, still believes all other Christians are second-class (if they are Christians), and by-an-large, isn’t that ecumenical.
    Witness First Things. Until the death of the founder, it was highly ecumenical. It is becoming more Catholic (and anti-protestant) every month. This article is evidence (“you have to be Catholic to live there”).

  • trotk

    Porcell, evidently JPII’s encyclical hasn’t trickled down. The normal Catholic still believes that the RCC is The Church, still believes all other Christians are second-class (if they are Christians), and by-an-large, isn’t that ecumenical.
    Witness First Things. Until the death of the founder, it was highly ecumenical. It is becoming more Catholic (and anti-protestant) every month. This article is evidence (“you have to be Catholic to live there”).

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Porcell asked (@39), “Exactly where have I stated that only my word can be trusted on the subject of ecumenism?” Well, on this thread, for starters. There, I pointed out a quote from Ut Unum Sint that was in direct opposition to what you claimed the encyclical said. I’ll quote it for you, again:

    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.

    You then replied that “the statement that you quoted above is qualified by several others in this encyclical.” I asked you to back that up with evidence. You gave me a quote, but, as Trotk noted as well, your quote didn’t actually “qualify” the quote above. Basically, I have to take your word for it over and against what the document itself plainly says. “Oh, it doesn’t really mean that; trust me,” as it were. So there’s one.

    Now you tell us that you “happen to agree with” the First Things writer Veith quotes, but again, his statement says something entirely different than you claim to believe. It is not ecumenical. It is, in fact, defiantly Roman Catholic:

    For the Catholic unity comes from shared membership in the Catholic Church, not from agreement on some distilled essence of Christianity.

    This is the opposite of what you claim to believe. Kerner had replied to the author by saying (@34) that “The major stumbling block to unity is the Roman Catholic conceit that their organization is THE Church” (replying, succinctly, “It isn’t” — and I agree, of course. As do you.) But you disagreed with Kerner. Again, read the block-quote above. It agrees with Kerner.

    In fact, I would note that we (Confessional) Lutherans are more in agreement with the Catholics on the ideals presented in both quotes than you are with either of us. Both Confessional Lutherans and Roman Catholics realize a fake unity for the sake of some worldly political gain would be a pointless sham, and what’s more, harmful to the truth. We both desire unity, but unity in agreement on the truth, not in spite of our disagreements on it. So Lutherans and Catholics are agreed on this principle, but not on the doctrines that separate us. And to all this, you would have me believe, in spite of what I’m reading and hearing from Catholics — some of them quite authoritative! — that Catholics desire some mere agreement on “some distilled essence of Christianity”.

    And you keep telling us what “both Luther and Melanchthon would have lauded”, but you are notably short on citations or anything like evidence in this regard.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Porcell asked (@39), “Exactly where have I stated that only my word can be trusted on the subject of ecumenism?” Well, on this thread, for starters. There, I pointed out a quote from Ut Unum Sint that was in direct opposition to what you claimed the encyclical said. I’ll quote it for you, again:

    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.

    You then replied that “the statement that you quoted above is qualified by several others in this encyclical.” I asked you to back that up with evidence. You gave me a quote, but, as Trotk noted as well, your quote didn’t actually “qualify” the quote above. Basically, I have to take your word for it over and against what the document itself plainly says. “Oh, it doesn’t really mean that; trust me,” as it were. So there’s one.

    Now you tell us that you “happen to agree with” the First Things writer Veith quotes, but again, his statement says something entirely different than you claim to believe. It is not ecumenical. It is, in fact, defiantly Roman Catholic:

    For the Catholic unity comes from shared membership in the Catholic Church, not from agreement on some distilled essence of Christianity.

    This is the opposite of what you claim to believe. Kerner had replied to the author by saying (@34) that “The major stumbling block to unity is the Roman Catholic conceit that their organization is THE Church” (replying, succinctly, “It isn’t” — and I agree, of course. As do you.) But you disagreed with Kerner. Again, read the block-quote above. It agrees with Kerner.

    In fact, I would note that we (Confessional) Lutherans are more in agreement with the Catholics on the ideals presented in both quotes than you are with either of us. Both Confessional Lutherans and Roman Catholics realize a fake unity for the sake of some worldly political gain would be a pointless sham, and what’s more, harmful to the truth. We both desire unity, but unity in agreement on the truth, not in spite of our disagreements on it. So Lutherans and Catholics are agreed on this principle, but not on the doctrines that separate us. And to all this, you would have me believe, in spite of what I’m reading and hearing from Catholics — some of them quite authoritative! — that Catholics desire some mere agreement on “some distilled essence of Christianity”.

    And you keep telling us what “both Luther and Melanchthon would have lauded”, but you are notably short on citations or anything like evidence in this regard.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    “Some Catholic countries have caved to secularism, though I would argue that they were very much influenced by the Protestant movement in Europe” (@42). Porcell, what Catholic European countries haven’t “caved to secularism”? Italy? Spain? France?

    And I’d love for you to explain to me the mechanism by which Protestantism can be blamed for that.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    “Some Catholic countries have caved to secularism, though I would argue that they were very much influenced by the Protestant movement in Europe” (@42). Porcell, what Catholic European countries haven’t “caved to secularism”? Italy? Spain? France?

    And I’d love for you to explain to me the mechanism by which Protestantism can be blamed for that.

  • S Bauer

    Larry @18,

    Fourth, the problem is that it, mere Christianity, also gets taken to the point of, “well if I’m saved anyway in a heterodox church, why worry about it”.

    Yes, and the problem with confessionalism is that it gets taken to the point of, “if I’ve managed to land in the true visible church on earth, I’m home free.”

    Just because a concept is misunderstood or abused doesn’t mean it is necessary wrong or of no use. The nub of the problem is what Lewis meant exactly with the word “mere”. Should one take one’s own preferred definition of mere (“the minimum that you need to be a Christian”, for example) and then use that to drub his analogy, or should we use his analogy to help us understand what he means by “mere”.

  • S Bauer

    Larry @18,

    Fourth, the problem is that it, mere Christianity, also gets taken to the point of, “well if I’m saved anyway in a heterodox church, why worry about it”.

    Yes, and the problem with confessionalism is that it gets taken to the point of, “if I’ve managed to land in the true visible church on earth, I’m home free.”

    Just because a concept is misunderstood or abused doesn’t mean it is necessary wrong or of no use. The nub of the problem is what Lewis meant exactly with the word “mere”. Should one take one’s own preferred definition of mere (“the minimum that you need to be a Christian”, for example) and then use that to drub his analogy, or should we use his analogy to help us understand what he means by “mere”.

  • Porcell

    Todd, on that other thread, I hardly argued for merely the authority of my word. I suggested that rather than cherry picking one small part of <Ut Unum Sint you might carefully read all of it.

    As to both Catholics and Lutherans wanting to agreement on truth, from what I understand from reading Neuhaus, some serious Lutherans engaged in this sort of serious ecumenism, including Braaten and Piepkorn, though they were thwarted in the end by a fundamentalist attitude that accused them of not holding to the solas. That is why Neuhaus came to the conclusion that the Lutherans were merely satisfied to be another Protestant denomination. Sacramone writes:

    …Ecumenism was in his [Neuhaus'] blood, and when he became convinced that Lutherans were satisfied with being just another Protestant denomination, with no real desire for re-union with Rome (however that should come about), and what with the changes wrought by Vatican II (though not all salutary, as he would be the first to admit), not to mention the moral authority he believed Rome still brought to bear on the major life issues, he crossed the Tiber….

  • Porcell

    Todd, on that other thread, I hardly argued for merely the authority of my word. I suggested that rather than cherry picking one small part of <Ut Unum Sint you might carefully read all of it.

    As to both Catholics and Lutherans wanting to agreement on truth, from what I understand from reading Neuhaus, some serious Lutherans engaged in this sort of serious ecumenism, including Braaten and Piepkorn, though they were thwarted in the end by a fundamentalist attitude that accused them of not holding to the solas. That is why Neuhaus came to the conclusion that the Lutherans were merely satisfied to be another Protestant denomination. Sacramone writes:

    …Ecumenism was in his [Neuhaus'] blood, and when he became convinced that Lutherans were satisfied with being just another Protestant denomination, with no real desire for re-union with Rome (however that should come about), and what with the changes wrought by Vatican II (though not all salutary, as he would be the first to admit), not to mention the moral authority he believed Rome still brought to bear on the major life issues, he crossed the Tiber….

  • http://www.thirduse.com fww

    Lutheranism, Confessional Lutheranism, is a confessional movement within the one Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church.

    A confessional movement is a witness. We Lutherans witness, as a trust, the truth of God´s Word that is the rightful possession not of Lutherans, but of the entire church catholic.

    CP Krauth in his book “the Conservative Reformation” says this (I paraphrase from memory)….

    Lutherans believe that they are just one slice of that pie that is called the visible christian church on earth.
    And we believe that to our slice rightfully belongs the entire pie. If we did not believe that to be so, then we would lose our right to claim a separate existence and walk apart from those other slices.

    Lutherans believe that the real unity of the church catholic is in an invisible thing called faith alone, in Christ alone. And so we proclaim that unity for all to hear. And we freely acknowledge from that that the boundries of the church that confesses as we do is not also the boundary of the invisible church catholic or even of the visible church catholic.

    This Faith we confess in our Lutheran Confessions is not ours alone. But no one can be saved without it. And it is not ours. It is God´s.

    And we freely confess that we Lutherans administer that truth as both wheat and weed, sheep and goat. Our part in this witness is deeply flawed. But what it is that we witness is not ours to compromise. And so this also requires us , sadly, to walk apart.

    Consider the alternatives:

    Some churches claim that they are the ENTIRE pie. We know this by their names. THE Catholic Church, THE Orthodox Church, THE Christian Church. This is schism. Those in these groups don´t recognize the legitimacy of those outside it. And so they divide the witness. They tell the world that what is necessary for salvation can only be found with them.

    Other churchs say (as cs lewis did) that , at least within the church , all roads lead to Christ and so it doesn´t really matter which slice you are in. This is schism. In that case, rome and byzantium should immediately reunite, and we should all join to that one visible church. Churches who believe this lose their right to exist, for of they believe this truly, they are sinning by dividing the witness of the church.

    Still other churches say that it is the shape of the bottle that matters to hold the contents in. The contents are not so important. Lutherans say that it is the contents and the shape of the bottle at the same time matters because the shape is made by the contents in this strange bottle called church.

  • http://www.thirduse.com fww

    Lutheranism, Confessional Lutheranism, is a confessional movement within the one Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church.

    A confessional movement is a witness. We Lutherans witness, as a trust, the truth of God´s Word that is the rightful possession not of Lutherans, but of the entire church catholic.

    CP Krauth in his book “the Conservative Reformation” says this (I paraphrase from memory)….

    Lutherans believe that they are just one slice of that pie that is called the visible christian church on earth.
    And we believe that to our slice rightfully belongs the entire pie. If we did not believe that to be so, then we would lose our right to claim a separate existence and walk apart from those other slices.

    Lutherans believe that the real unity of the church catholic is in an invisible thing called faith alone, in Christ alone. And so we proclaim that unity for all to hear. And we freely acknowledge from that that the boundries of the church that confesses as we do is not also the boundary of the invisible church catholic or even of the visible church catholic.

    This Faith we confess in our Lutheran Confessions is not ours alone. But no one can be saved without it. And it is not ours. It is God´s.

    And we freely confess that we Lutherans administer that truth as both wheat and weed, sheep and goat. Our part in this witness is deeply flawed. But what it is that we witness is not ours to compromise. And so this also requires us , sadly, to walk apart.

    Consider the alternatives:

    Some churches claim that they are the ENTIRE pie. We know this by their names. THE Catholic Church, THE Orthodox Church, THE Christian Church. This is schism. Those in these groups don´t recognize the legitimacy of those outside it. And so they divide the witness. They tell the world that what is necessary for salvation can only be found with them.

    Other churchs say (as cs lewis did) that , at least within the church , all roads lead to Christ and so it doesn´t really matter which slice you are in. This is schism. In that case, rome and byzantium should immediately reunite, and we should all join to that one visible church. Churches who believe this lose their right to exist, for of they believe this truly, they are sinning by dividing the witness of the church.

    Still other churches say that it is the shape of the bottle that matters to hold the contents in. The contents are not so important. Lutherans say that it is the contents and the shape of the bottle at the same time matters because the shape is made by the contents in this strange bottle called church.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Porcell replied (@47), “Todd, on that other thread, I hardly argued for merely the authority of my word.” But I disagree. I cited a part of the encyclical that seemed rather key to understanding it, and which blatantly contradicted your claim for what its point was. You told me I was wrong to think that the sentence meant what it clearly said, but you have yet to show me from the document that your reading is true. Thus, I have only your word to go on to guide me in understanding what JPII really meant.

    I’m fairly convinced that the only position you’re really clear on is your own, which you attribute to others with regularity. I don’t think you know what the Catholics believe regarding ecumenism, and I’m inclined to believe their own statements on the matter, not yours.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Porcell replied (@47), “Todd, on that other thread, I hardly argued for merely the authority of my word.” But I disagree. I cited a part of the encyclical that seemed rather key to understanding it, and which blatantly contradicted your claim for what its point was. You told me I was wrong to think that the sentence meant what it clearly said, but you have yet to show me from the document that your reading is true. Thus, I have only your word to go on to guide me in understanding what JPII really meant.

    I’m fairly convinced that the only position you’re really clear on is your own, which you attribute to others with regularity. I don’t think you know what the Catholics believe regarding ecumenism, and I’m inclined to believe their own statements on the matter, not yours.

  • Porcell

    Todd, your full of manure. On that thread, my point was that one had to fully read and digest Ut Unum Sint before pontificating on it. Essentially you were arguing from cherry picked google knowledge, having admitte that you hadn’t read the encyclical.

    The truth is that you are among a group of narrow-minded and defensive Protestant Christians who are perfectly content to remain within your provincial sectarian cocoon. You lack both the spirit and knowledge of Christian ecumenism. You simply don’t address the substantive points that I raise and resort to blatant argumentum ad hominem. In the future I shall not respond to your scurrilous form of argument.

  • Porcell

    Todd, your full of manure. On that thread, my point was that one had to fully read and digest Ut Unum Sint before pontificating on it. Essentially you were arguing from cherry picked google knowledge, having admitte that you hadn’t read the encyclical.

    The truth is that you are among a group of narrow-minded and defensive Protestant Christians who are perfectly content to remain within your provincial sectarian cocoon. You lack both the spirit and knowledge of Christian ecumenism. You simply don’t address the substantive points that I raise and resort to blatant argumentum ad hominem. In the future I shall not respond to your scurrilous form of argument.

  • trotk

    Peter, I have to jump in. You are being ridiculous. tODD did respond to your claims about the encyclical by bringing up a passage that says the opposite of what you claimed. You responded by quoting another passage that had little to do with the issue at hand.

    And so you call him full of manure?

    You are the one claiming something that no Catholic I know agrees with. And the best part is that you use as your foundation a text that has as a fundamental claim the fact that there is no unity unless there is unity of doctrine. It disproves you!

  • trotk

    Peter, I have to jump in. You are being ridiculous. tODD did respond to your claims about the encyclical by bringing up a passage that says the opposite of what you claimed. You responded by quoting another passage that had little to do with the issue at hand.

    And so you call him full of manure?

    You are the one claiming something that no Catholic I know agrees with. And the best part is that you use as your foundation a text that has as a fundamental claim the fact that there is no unity unless there is unity of doctrine. It disproves you!

  • Porcell

    Trotk, Todd, with google type knowledge came up with the following excerpt from Ut Unum Sint:

    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.

    This was a general point that when it comes to unity compromise of the truth is not acceptable, though JP II makes clear in other parts of the encyclical that within reason he respects the point of view of other traditions and makes no claim that Rome contains the absolute truth. I quoted the following as an example of this:

    Along the way that leads to full unity, ecumenical dialogue works to awaken a reciprocal fraternal assistance, whereby Communities strive to give in mutual exchange what each one needs in order to grow towards definitive fullness in accordance with God’s plan (cf. Eph 4:11-13). I have said how we are aware, as the Catholic Church, that we have received much from the witness borne by other Churches and Ecclesial Communities to certain common Christian values, from their study of those values, and even from the way in which they have emphasized and experienced them. Among the achievements of the last thirty years, this reciprocal fraternal influence has had an important place. At the stage which we have now reached,144 this process of mutual enrichment must be taken seriously into account. Based on the communion which already exists as a result of the ecclesial elements present in the Christian communities, this process will certainly be a force impelling towards full and visible communion, the desired goal of the journey we are making. Here we have the ecumenical expression of the Gospel law of sharing. This leads me to state once more: “We must take every care to meet the legitimate desires and expectations of our Christian brethren, coming to know their way of thinking and their sensibilities … The talents of each must be developed for the utility and the advantage of all”.145

    Todd claimed that his quote proved an insuperable rigidity of Rome. The above provided suggested otherwise. You came in and claimed without specifics that Todd’s quote demonstrated an emphatic and universal stance could not be softened, along with some anecdotal comment on relatives who crossed the Tiber with insufficient understanding of doctrine.

    I know that Todd hasn’t read the encyclical and suspect the same of you. One can’t effectively address any Roman encyclical without a fair reading of the whole. Neither can one argue about ecumenism in a defensive mode, lacking the spirit of ecumenism, including that of such modern Lutheran ecumenical leaders as Piepkorn, Braaten, and Neuhaus.

    Todd claims that I am arguing from personal authority, which is quite mistaken. I have brought my interpretation from arguments from the literature of JP II and Neuhaus , none of which either Todd or you have addressed.

  • Porcell

    Trotk, Todd, with google type knowledge came up with the following excerpt from Ut Unum Sint:

    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.

    This was a general point that when it comes to unity compromise of the truth is not acceptable, though JP II makes clear in other parts of the encyclical that within reason he respects the point of view of other traditions and makes no claim that Rome contains the absolute truth. I quoted the following as an example of this:

    Along the way that leads to full unity, ecumenical dialogue works to awaken a reciprocal fraternal assistance, whereby Communities strive to give in mutual exchange what each one needs in order to grow towards definitive fullness in accordance with God’s plan (cf. Eph 4:11-13). I have said how we are aware, as the Catholic Church, that we have received much from the witness borne by other Churches and Ecclesial Communities to certain common Christian values, from their study of those values, and even from the way in which they have emphasized and experienced them. Among the achievements of the last thirty years, this reciprocal fraternal influence has had an important place. At the stage which we have now reached,144 this process of mutual enrichment must be taken seriously into account. Based on the communion which already exists as a result of the ecclesial elements present in the Christian communities, this process will certainly be a force impelling towards full and visible communion, the desired goal of the journey we are making. Here we have the ecumenical expression of the Gospel law of sharing. This leads me to state once more: “We must take every care to meet the legitimate desires and expectations of our Christian brethren, coming to know their way of thinking and their sensibilities … The talents of each must be developed for the utility and the advantage of all”.145

    Todd claimed that his quote proved an insuperable rigidity of Rome. The above provided suggested otherwise. You came in and claimed without specifics that Todd’s quote demonstrated an emphatic and universal stance could not be softened, along with some anecdotal comment on relatives who crossed the Tiber with insufficient understanding of doctrine.

    I know that Todd hasn’t read the encyclical and suspect the same of you. One can’t effectively address any Roman encyclical without a fair reading of the whole. Neither can one argue about ecumenism in a defensive mode, lacking the spirit of ecumenism, including that of such modern Lutheran ecumenical leaders as Piepkorn, Braaten, and Neuhaus.

    Todd claims that I am arguing from personal authority, which is quite mistaken. I have brought my interpretation from arguments from the literature of JP II and Neuhaus , none of which either Todd or you have addressed.

  • trotk

    Peter, the phrase that casts light on the passage you quote is “certain common Christian values”.

    Either JPII is referring to a “mere Christianity” or he is referring to cultural, moral, or liturgical values (or something like that). If the former, it definitely hasn’t trickled down, as I said before, because the knowledgeable Catholic is actually critical of this stance. See David Mills and First Things above. If the latter, it isn’t ecumenism of doctrine, but instead of a spirit of camaraderie, which seems to be what you are advocating.
    The difficulty with the latter is that it assumes we can commune together around the table when we disagree on what the table is. Catholic churches will not serve you or me the host. They won’t even practice this.
    A spirit of ecumenism, which you seek, seems misguided, because it assumes that we act as if the doctrinal differences are less important than they are.
    We should love, and be willing to praise Christ together. That is ecumenism that we all should practice.

  • trotk

    Peter, the phrase that casts light on the passage you quote is “certain common Christian values”.

    Either JPII is referring to a “mere Christianity” or he is referring to cultural, moral, or liturgical values (or something like that). If the former, it definitely hasn’t trickled down, as I said before, because the knowledgeable Catholic is actually critical of this stance. See David Mills and First Things above. If the latter, it isn’t ecumenism of doctrine, but instead of a spirit of camaraderie, which seems to be what you are advocating.
    The difficulty with the latter is that it assumes we can commune together around the table when we disagree on what the table is. Catholic churches will not serve you or me the host. They won’t even practice this.
    A spirit of ecumenism, which you seek, seems misguided, because it assumes that we act as if the doctrinal differences are less important than they are.
    We should love, and be willing to praise Christ together. That is ecumenism that we all should practice.

  • Porcell

    Trotk We should love, and be willing to praise Christ together.
    That is ecumenism that we all should practice.

    This is fine, sentimental piety that ignores the fact that committed ecumenical theologians are at work attempting to heal the differences among Christian sects. The toughest problem the ecumenists have is dealing with narrow-minded sectarians with deep prejudices against the Roman Catholic church.

  • Porcell

    Trotk We should love, and be willing to praise Christ together.
    That is ecumenism that we all should practice.

    This is fine, sentimental piety that ignores the fact that committed ecumenical theologians are at work attempting to heal the differences among Christian sects. The toughest problem the ecumenists have is dealing with narrow-minded sectarians with deep prejudices against the Roman Catholic church.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Peter (@50), you can insult me all you want (even while whining about “ad hominem” attacks), but you are asking me to ignore portions of the very document you are asking me to read. You can quote that passage (@52) all you want, but it does not contradict JPII’s saying that “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.”

    I don’t know what “google type knowledge” is to you, but I’m reading the document on the Vatican Web site. And while I have admitted that I have not read all of it, I have read some of it.

    Why, here’s more from Ut Unum Sint that agrees with me and not with what you claim it says:

    This unity bestowed by the Holy Spirit does not merely consist in the gathering of people as a collection of individuals. It is a unity constituted by the bonds of the profession of faith, the sacraments and hierarchical communion.

    And it is clear from that document that Catholics do not desire any other form of ecumenism than that which involves those outside the Catholic Church joining the Catholic Church, which they maintain is the only church:

    The Council states that the Church of Christ “subsists in the Catholic Church, which is governed by the Successor of Peter and by the Bishops in communion with him”, and at the same time acknowledges that “many elements of sanctification and of truth can be found outside her visible structure. These elements, however, as gifts properly belonging to the Church of Christ, possess an inner dynamism towards Catholic unity”.

    As for those outside the Catholic Church, ecumenical JPII writes of them in Ut Unum Sint: “we believe that they suffer from defects”. Any defects in the Catholic Church? Nope. The only criticism of the Catholic Church you’ll find is this: “the infidelity of some of her ministers, and the faults into which her members daily fall.” So you see how it goes. The Protestant “communities” (JPII will not stoop to calling us “churches”) are defective and need to become Catholics. This is your so-called ecumenism, Peter!

    I thank JPII for recognizing that the teaching of my “defective community” is capable of leading to salvation. But that is about as far as Catholic ecumenism goes, inasmuch as you understand the term.

    Reading through the document.

    It is not a matter of adding together all the riches scattered throughout the various Christian Communities in order to arrive at a Church which God has in mind for the future. … God has already manifested the Church in her eschatological reality. … The elements of this already-given Church exist, found in their fullness in the Catholic Church and, without this fullness, in the other Communities, where certain features of the Christian mystery have at times been more effectively emphasized. Ecumenism is directed precisely to making the partial communion existing between Christians grow towards full communion in truth and charity.

    Let me repeat that last part: “Ecumenism is directed precisely to making the partial communion existing between Christians grow towards full communion in truth and charity.” The Catholics claim they have the truth and charity in its “fullness”, while Protestants have truth “without this fullness”. They want all Christians to have the full truth that they alone possess fully.

    I could go on, but I can’t change your mind. The document clearly doesn’t say what you claim it does, but if you’ve read it many times and still believe as you do, my pointing out the glaring problems with your interpretation certainly won’t change anything.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Peter (@50), you can insult me all you want (even while whining about “ad hominem” attacks), but you are asking me to ignore portions of the very document you are asking me to read. You can quote that passage (@52) all you want, but it does not contradict JPII’s saying that “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.”

    I don’t know what “google type knowledge” is to you, but I’m reading the document on the Vatican Web site. And while I have admitted that I have not read all of it, I have read some of it.

    Why, here’s more from Ut Unum Sint that agrees with me and not with what you claim it says:

    This unity bestowed by the Holy Spirit does not merely consist in the gathering of people as a collection of individuals. It is a unity constituted by the bonds of the profession of faith, the sacraments and hierarchical communion.

    And it is clear from that document that Catholics do not desire any other form of ecumenism than that which involves those outside the Catholic Church joining the Catholic Church, which they maintain is the only church:

    The Council states that the Church of Christ “subsists in the Catholic Church, which is governed by the Successor of Peter and by the Bishops in communion with him”, and at the same time acknowledges that “many elements of sanctification and of truth can be found outside her visible structure. These elements, however, as gifts properly belonging to the Church of Christ, possess an inner dynamism towards Catholic unity”.

    As for those outside the Catholic Church, ecumenical JPII writes of them in Ut Unum Sint: “we believe that they suffer from defects”. Any defects in the Catholic Church? Nope. The only criticism of the Catholic Church you’ll find is this: “the infidelity of some of her ministers, and the faults into which her members daily fall.” So you see how it goes. The Protestant “communities” (JPII will not stoop to calling us “churches”) are defective and need to become Catholics. This is your so-called ecumenism, Peter!

    I thank JPII for recognizing that the teaching of my “defective community” is capable of leading to salvation. But that is about as far as Catholic ecumenism goes, inasmuch as you understand the term.

    Reading through the document.

    It is not a matter of adding together all the riches scattered throughout the various Christian Communities in order to arrive at a Church which God has in mind for the future. … God has already manifested the Church in her eschatological reality. … The elements of this already-given Church exist, found in their fullness in the Catholic Church and, without this fullness, in the other Communities, where certain features of the Christian mystery have at times been more effectively emphasized. Ecumenism is directed precisely to making the partial communion existing between Christians grow towards full communion in truth and charity.

    Let me repeat that last part: “Ecumenism is directed precisely to making the partial communion existing between Christians grow towards full communion in truth and charity.” The Catholics claim they have the truth and charity in its “fullness”, while Protestants have truth “without this fullness”. They want all Christians to have the full truth that they alone possess fully.

    I could go on, but I can’t change your mind. The document clearly doesn’t say what you claim it does, but if you’ve read it many times and still believe as you do, my pointing out the glaring problems with your interpretation certainly won’t change anything.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Oh, this is too easy.

    [As] to the actual practice of the ecumenical journey towards unity, the Second Vatican Council emphasizes above all the need for interior conversion. … “There can be no ecumenism worthy of the name without a change of heart”

    (Guess who’s going to be doing that heart-changing! Will it be the “defective community” that does not have the “fullness of truth”? Or the “Church of Christ” headed by the Pope with its “fullness of truth”. Go on, guess!)

    Communities [remember, that's the code word for Protestant churches] help one another to look at themselves together in the light of the Apostolic Tradition. This leads them to ask themselves whether they truly express in an adequate way all that the Holy Spirit has transmitted through the Apostles.

    Aaand JPII has already answered that for those “communities” by noting that they lack the “fullness” of truth.

    “The desire of every Christian Community for unity goes hand in hand with its fidelity to the Gospel.” What? “Fidelity to the Gospel”? Why, that sounds like “narrow-minded sectarianism”!

    With regard to other Christians, the principal documents of the Commission on Faith and Order and the statements of numerous bilateral dialogues have already provided Christian Communities with useful tools for discerning what is necessary to the ecumenical movement and to the conversion which it must inspire.

    Translation: The Catholic Church has already told other Christians how they must change.

    The increase of fellowship in a reform which is continuous and carried out in the light of the Apostolic Tradition is certainly, in the present circumstances of Christians, one of the distinctive and most important aspects of ecumenism.

    Huh, so “ecumenism” depends on everything being done in light of the “Apostolic Tradition” that Protestants reject with sola scriptura. How do you think that’ll work out, Porcell? Kinda looks like the Catholics aren’t ceding any ground when it comes to their “tradition”, doesn’t it?

    Really, are you sure you read this document?

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Oh, this is too easy.

    [As] to the actual practice of the ecumenical journey towards unity, the Second Vatican Council emphasizes above all the need for interior conversion. … “There can be no ecumenism worthy of the name without a change of heart”

    (Guess who’s going to be doing that heart-changing! Will it be the “defective community” that does not have the “fullness of truth”? Or the “Church of Christ” headed by the Pope with its “fullness of truth”. Go on, guess!)

    Communities [remember, that's the code word for Protestant churches] help one another to look at themselves together in the light of the Apostolic Tradition. This leads them to ask themselves whether they truly express in an adequate way all that the Holy Spirit has transmitted through the Apostles.

    Aaand JPII has already answered that for those “communities” by noting that they lack the “fullness” of truth.

    “The desire of every Christian Community for unity goes hand in hand with its fidelity to the Gospel.” What? “Fidelity to the Gospel”? Why, that sounds like “narrow-minded sectarianism”!

    With regard to other Christians, the principal documents of the Commission on Faith and Order and the statements of numerous bilateral dialogues have already provided Christian Communities with useful tools for discerning what is necessary to the ecumenical movement and to the conversion which it must inspire.

    Translation: The Catholic Church has already told other Christians how they must change.

    The increase of fellowship in a reform which is continuous and carried out in the light of the Apostolic Tradition is certainly, in the present circumstances of Christians, one of the distinctive and most important aspects of ecumenism.

    Huh, so “ecumenism” depends on everything being done in light of the “Apostolic Tradition” that Protestants reject with sola scriptura. How do you think that’ll work out, Porcell? Kinda looks like the Catholics aren’t ceding any ground when it comes to their “tradition”, doesn’t it?

    Really, are you sure you read this document?

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    I know I already quoted this in part, but it really is all the more obvious in its full context, so here goes (my emphasis):

    Here it is not a question of altering the deposit of faith, changing the meaning of dogmas, eliminating essential words from them, accommodating truth to the preferences of a particular age, or suppressing certain articles of the Creed under the false pretext that they are no longer understood today. 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? The Council’s Declaration on Religious Freedom Dignitatis Humanae attributes to human dignity the quest for truth, “especially in what concerns God and his Church”, and adherence to truth’s demands. A “being together” which betrayed the truth would thus be opposed both to the nature of God who offers his communion and to the need for truth found in the depths of every human heart.

    Black and white. Clear as day. Except to Porcell.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    I know I already quoted this in part, but it really is all the more obvious in its full context, so here goes (my emphasis):

    Here it is not a question of altering the deposit of faith, changing the meaning of dogmas, eliminating essential words from them, accommodating truth to the preferences of a particular age, or suppressing certain articles of the Creed under the false pretext that they are no longer understood today. 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? The Council’s Declaration on Religious Freedom Dignitatis Humanae attributes to human dignity the quest for truth, “especially in what concerns God and his Church”, and adherence to truth’s demands. A “being together” which betrayed the truth would thus be opposed both to the nature of God who offers his communion and to the need for truth found in the depths of every human heart.

    Black and white. Clear as day. Except to Porcell.

  • Porcell

    Forer Lutheran theologian ,John Richard Neuhaus from How I Became the Catholic I Was

    But the Lutheran chapter in the history of the Church did occasion schism, and for that unhappy fact there was blame enough to share all around. In my judgment, the division was tragic but not necessary. There was and is no truth that requires division from the pillar and bulwark of truth. The Catholic Church, as Chesterton observed, is ever so much larger from the inside than from the outside. And especially is that the case, I would add, for those whose identity as Protestants depends upon their being outside. And so it was that for thirty years as a Lutheran pastor, thinker, and writer, as editor of Una Sancta, an ecumenical journal of theology, and, later, Forum Letter, an independent Lutheran publication, I worked for what I incessantly called “the healing of the breach of the sixteenth century between Rome and the Reformation.” For a long time there seemed to be a believable, albeit painfully slow, movement toward that goal. Very hopeful was the reappropriation of the Lutheran tradition associated with the nineteenth-century “evangelical catholic,” Wilhelm Loehe, and the ressourcement—the going back to the sources—evident in the 1970s production and reception of the Lutheran Book of Worship. Then too, there were promising new levels of understanding and theological reconciliation achieved in the formal Lutheran-Roman Catholic theological dialogues. These hopeful signs, however, were not to last.

  • Porcell

    Forer Lutheran theologian ,John Richard Neuhaus from How I Became the Catholic I Was

    But the Lutheran chapter in the history of the Church did occasion schism, and for that unhappy fact there was blame enough to share all around. In my judgment, the division was tragic but not necessary. There was and is no truth that requires division from the pillar and bulwark of truth. The Catholic Church, as Chesterton observed, is ever so much larger from the inside than from the outside. And especially is that the case, I would add, for those whose identity as Protestants depends upon their being outside. And so it was that for thirty years as a Lutheran pastor, thinker, and writer, as editor of Una Sancta, an ecumenical journal of theology, and, later, Forum Letter, an independent Lutheran publication, I worked for what I incessantly called “the healing of the breach of the sixteenth century between Rome and the Reformation.” For a long time there seemed to be a believable, albeit painfully slow, movement toward that goal. Very hopeful was the reappropriation of the Lutheran tradition associated with the nineteenth-century “evangelical catholic,” Wilhelm Loehe, and the ressourcement—the going back to the sources—evident in the 1970s production and reception of the Lutheran Book of Worship. Then too, there were promising new levels of understanding and theological reconciliation achieved in the formal Lutheran-Roman Catholic theological dialogues. These hopeful signs, however, were not to last.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    After a section where the Pope urges people who are not in full communion to pray together anyhow and try to be nice when they talk to each other, we find this gem (my emphasis):

    The Decree on Ecumenism dwells in the first place on a description of the attitudes under which doctrinal discussions should take place: “Catholic theologians engaged in ecumenical dialogue, while standing fast by the teaching of the Church and searching together with separated brothers and sisters into the divine mysteries, should act with love for truth, with charity, and with humility”

    Ecumenism, ladies and gentlemen! “Let’s have an ecumenical dialog. Oh, and we’re not changing.”

    And once again, JPII makes my point for me, contrary to Peter’s claims:

    Full communion of course will have to come about through the acceptance of the whole truth into which the Holy Spirit guides Christ’s disciples. Hence all forms of reductionism or facile “agreement” must be absolutely avoided. Serious questions must be resolved, for if not, they will reappear at another time, either in the same terms or in a different guise.

    Again, I agree with what he says here. But where is Peter’s judgment against JPII’s “narrow-minded sectarianism”? Why, Peter, is that charge only leveled at Protestants?

    Section 38 is also rather fascinating, if you read it while keeping in mind the Joint Document on the Doctrine of Justification.

    And that’s just my analysis of Chapter I! Shall I continue, Peter?

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    After a section where the Pope urges people who are not in full communion to pray together anyhow and try to be nice when they talk to each other, we find this gem (my emphasis):

    The Decree on Ecumenism dwells in the first place on a description of the attitudes under which doctrinal discussions should take place: “Catholic theologians engaged in ecumenical dialogue, while standing fast by the teaching of the Church and searching together with separated brothers and sisters into the divine mysteries, should act with love for truth, with charity, and with humility”

    Ecumenism, ladies and gentlemen! “Let’s have an ecumenical dialog. Oh, and we’re not changing.”

    And once again, JPII makes my point for me, contrary to Peter’s claims:

    Full communion of course will have to come about through the acceptance of the whole truth into which the Holy Spirit guides Christ’s disciples. Hence all forms of reductionism or facile “agreement” must be absolutely avoided. Serious questions must be resolved, for if not, they will reappear at another time, either in the same terms or in a different guise.

    Again, I agree with what he says here. But where is Peter’s judgment against JPII’s “narrow-minded sectarianism”? Why, Peter, is that charge only leveled at Protestants?

    Section 38 is also rather fascinating, if you read it while keeping in mind the Joint Document on the Doctrine of Justification.

    And that’s just my analysis of Chapter I! Shall I continue, Peter?

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    And, then in Chapter II, JPII goes on to describe how Christians not in full communion should work together to do good in the world. Along the way, though, he is nice enough to admit that Protestants should be called “Christians” and that their baptisms do, in fact, count. So that’s nice. He also has this to say about Communion, with which Confessional Lutherans would be in agreement (though doubtless if a Lutheran said it, Porcell would accuse him of “narrow-minded sectarianism”):

    Certainly, due to disagreements in matters of faith, it is not yet possible to celebrate together the same Eucharistic Liturgy.

    Ponder what that means for those Protestant groups that have entered into agreements to celebrate the Eucharist with the Catholic Church.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    And, then in Chapter II, JPII goes on to describe how Christians not in full communion should work together to do good in the world. Along the way, though, he is nice enough to admit that Protestants should be called “Christians” and that their baptisms do, in fact, count. So that’s nice. He also has this to say about Communion, with which Confessional Lutherans would be in agreement (though doubtless if a Lutheran said it, Porcell would accuse him of “narrow-minded sectarianism”):

    Certainly, due to disagreements in matters of faith, it is not yet possible to celebrate together the same Eucharistic Liturgy.

    Ponder what that means for those Protestant groups that have entered into agreements to celebrate the Eucharist with the Catholic Church.

  • Porcell

    Neuhaus:

    From my boyhood intuitions as an ecclesial Christian, it seemed self-evident that, if God intended to reveal any definite truths for the benefit of humankind, and if Jesus intended a continuing community of discipleship, then some reliable means would be provided for the preservation and transmission of such truths through the centuries. Catholics believe that God did provide such reliable means by giving the apostles and their successors, the bishops, authority to teach in His name and by promising to be with them forever. The teaching of the apostles and of the apostolic churches, securely grounded in the biblical Word of God, continues to this day, and will continue to the end of time. Catholics believe that, under certain carefully prescribed circumstances, the pope and the whole body of bishops are able to teach with infallibility. That is a word that frightens many, but I don’t think it should. It means that the Church is indefectible, that we have God’s promise that He will never allow the Church to definitively defect from the truth, to fall into apostasy. Infallibility, Avery Cardinal Dulles writes, “is simply another way of saying that the Holy Spirit will preserve the Church against using its full authority to require its members to assent to what is false.” Without that assurance, he adds, “the truth of revelation would not be preserved in recognizable form.” And, I would add, to obey the truth we must be able to recognize the truth.

  • Porcell

    Neuhaus:

    From my boyhood intuitions as an ecclesial Christian, it seemed self-evident that, if God intended to reveal any definite truths for the benefit of humankind, and if Jesus intended a continuing community of discipleship, then some reliable means would be provided for the preservation and transmission of such truths through the centuries. Catholics believe that God did provide such reliable means by giving the apostles and their successors, the bishops, authority to teach in His name and by promising to be with them forever. The teaching of the apostles and of the apostolic churches, securely grounded in the biblical Word of God, continues to this day, and will continue to the end of time. Catholics believe that, under certain carefully prescribed circumstances, the pope and the whole body of bishops are able to teach with infallibility. That is a word that frightens many, but I don’t think it should. It means that the Church is indefectible, that we have God’s promise that He will never allow the Church to definitively defect from the truth, to fall into apostasy. Infallibility, Avery Cardinal Dulles writes, “is simply another way of saying that the Holy Spirit will preserve the Church against using its full authority to require its members to assent to what is false.” Without that assurance, he adds, “the truth of revelation would not be preserved in recognizable form.” And, I would add, to obey the truth we must be able to recognize the truth.

  • trotk

    This is hysterical. Peter claimed a particular document said something, and when it has been revealed that it did not (which explains why Peter’s interpretation hasn’t trickled down to local Catholics),he does not respond.

    Peter, I am utterly staggered that you called loving one another and praising Christ together “sentimental piety”. Really?

    I don’t care what your understanding of ecumenism is now. If you honestly think that loving other Christians and praising Christ with them is “sentimental piety”, I don’t really know what to think. I have lots of Catholic and Baptist friends, and the two things that we can do are to love each other and agree that Christ is all.

    You are a nut.

  • trotk

    This is hysterical. Peter claimed a particular document said something, and when it has been revealed that it did not (which explains why Peter’s interpretation hasn’t trickled down to local Catholics),he does not respond.

    Peter, I am utterly staggered that you called loving one another and praising Christ together “sentimental piety”. Really?

    I don’t care what your understanding of ecumenism is now. If you honestly think that loving other Christians and praising Christ with them is “sentimental piety”, I don’t really know what to think. I have lots of Catholic and Baptist friends, and the two things that we can do are to love each other and agree that Christ is all.

    You are a nut.

  • Stephen

    I’ve always wondered how Neuhaus could go from being an LCMS pastor who learned that the pope was the antichrist to bowing down to him. That’s quite a switch. But now it seems from the quote above that becoming a Catholic was sort of his boyhood religious “wet dream.” I think he left because Luther’s doctrine of the Two Kingdoms wasn’t satisfying enough for his political aspirations. That’s just a guess. I think he had a little bit of messiah complex.

    He was smart though. He could read Wolfhart Pannenberg. That guy puts me to sleep. His books are like iron.

    As for C.S. Lewis – also puts me to sleep but for a whole different reason. Merely boring.

  • Stephen

    I’ve always wondered how Neuhaus could go from being an LCMS pastor who learned that the pope was the antichrist to bowing down to him. That’s quite a switch. But now it seems from the quote above that becoming a Catholic was sort of his boyhood religious “wet dream.” I think he left because Luther’s doctrine of the Two Kingdoms wasn’t satisfying enough for his political aspirations. That’s just a guess. I think he had a little bit of messiah complex.

    He was smart though. He could read Wolfhart Pannenberg. That guy puts me to sleep. His books are like iron.

    As for C.S. Lewis – also puts me to sleep but for a whole different reason. Merely boring.

  • boaz

    Infallibility, Avery Cardinal Dulles writes, “is simply another way of saying that the Holy Spirit will preserve the Church against using its full authority to require its members to assent to what is false.”

    That’s a joke if you believe the church is the Roman church. So the Holy Spirit required the church to burn Hus, Tyndale, Cranmer, Savonarola, not to mention the Lutheran martyrs, Barnes, Voehs, Esch, etc…

    Defining the church as a corporation is a big problem when that corporation has such a brutal, bloody, and disgusting history. Not to mention the problem of trying to find any connection between church leadership and Rome in Scripture or history…

    I don’t see how the Roman doctrine of church has any persausiveness next to the beauty and Scriptural accuracy of defining the church as believers gathering to do what Christ taught.

  • boaz

    Infallibility, Avery Cardinal Dulles writes, “is simply another way of saying that the Holy Spirit will preserve the Church against using its full authority to require its members to assent to what is false.”

    That’s a joke if you believe the church is the Roman church. So the Holy Spirit required the church to burn Hus, Tyndale, Cranmer, Savonarola, not to mention the Lutheran martyrs, Barnes, Voehs, Esch, etc…

    Defining the church as a corporation is a big problem when that corporation has such a brutal, bloody, and disgusting history. Not to mention the problem of trying to find any connection between church leadership and Rome in Scripture or history…

    I don’t see how the Roman doctrine of church has any persausiveness next to the beauty and Scriptural accuracy of defining the church as believers gathering to do what Christ taught.

  • boaz

    Neuhaus liked attention, and Rome was a bigger stage than parochial Missouri.

    Besides, Rome doesn’t much care what you believe as long as you toe the line on Roman infability. You can’t say Rome got it wrong in Trent, but you can reinterpret it to mean pretty much whatever you want. Neuhaus was pretty good at saying something lutheran-sounding and then going on to say, oh of course that’s consistent with Roman doctrine.

  • boaz

    Neuhaus liked attention, and Rome was a bigger stage than parochial Missouri.

    Besides, Rome doesn’t much care what you believe as long as you toe the line on Roman infability. You can’t say Rome got it wrong in Trent, but you can reinterpret it to mean pretty much whatever you want. Neuhaus was pretty good at saying something lutheran-sounding and then going on to say, oh of course that’s consistent with Roman doctrine.

  • boaz

    I’m still in a Reformation mood. Is there a room in the church for those that curse everyone that believes “justifying faith is nothing else than confidence in the divine mercy pardoning sins for Christ’s sake, or that it is that confidence alone by which we are justified.”

    I say no. You can’t curse the Gospel without repenting and receive forgiveness.

  • boaz

    I’m still in a Reformation mood. Is there a room in the church for those that curse everyone that believes “justifying faith is nothing else than confidence in the divine mercy pardoning sins for Christ’s sake, or that it is that confidence alone by which we are justified.”

    I say no. You can’t curse the Gospel without repenting and receive forgiveness.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Well, there we have it, Porcell (@35). Kerner said (@34) that “The major stumbling block to unity is the Roman Catholic conceit that their organization is THE Church. It Isn’t. How do we get around that?” Your reply?

    Kerner, at 34, I question your assumption of a Roman Catholic conceit regarding ecumenism. While this did exist in the past, Vatican II and John Paul II’s encyclical Ut Unum Sint fundamentally changed the RC church’s ecumenical attitude. Serious Christians would do well to give, especially, Ut Unum Sint, a fair reading.

    But see, this serious Christian, at least, did give Ut Unum Sint a fair reading. I mean, I’m still reading through it, but even given my somewhat hasty once-over of the first chapter or so, it’s clear that you are simply incorrect about what the document says — and, moreover, what Catholics believe about ecumenism.

    It’s weird to me, Porcell. By Google’s count, you have urged us on this blog to read Ut Unum Sint no fewer than a dozen times. What I can’t understand how someone who claimed to have read it “several times” could have gotten its message so wrong. Kerner’s description above (@34) is clearly closer to the content of Ut Unum Sint than what you think is in that encyclical.

    And after all your whining about my “cherry picking”, decrying my not having read this important ecumenical document, saying I’m “full of manure”, accusing me of not “addressing the substantive points that [you] raise and resorting to blatant argumentum ad hominem”, after I went through pretty methodically and showed you, instance after instance, quote after quote, how you were quite simply dead wrong about the content of that document and the Catholic understanding of ecumenism in general … nothing. Nothing from you. You have nothing to say on the matter. Except to start tossing out Neuhaus quotes (@58, 61). I guess you’re just going to move on without admitting you were wrong. Maybe you never really cared about ecumenism except inasmuch as it allowed you to berate us Lutherans?

    I don’t blame you for not admitting you were wrong. It’s really hard to do that in public, Peter. Especially when you have been shown to be wrong by someone that you apparently disdain so much. And our fellow commenters don’t make it any easier, with their ad hominem attacks on Neuhaus.

    But I do hope you will look at Ut Unum Sint again and realize that it really doesn’t say what you apparently would like it to say. And I hope you now see the error in your saying that “JP II makes clear in other parts of the encyclical that …[he] makes no claim that Rome contains the absolute truth.” I mean, that’s just not true. He admits that our “defective” Protestant communities occasionally get some things right, but come on! He says “the Church of Christ ‘subsists in the Catholic Church’” and that “The elements of this already-given Church exist, found in their fullness in the Catholic Church and, without this fullness, in the other Communities”. If you think JPII thinks Catholic dogma is in error now or ever has been in error, you’re just fooling yourself.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Well, there we have it, Porcell (@35). Kerner said (@34) that “The major stumbling block to unity is the Roman Catholic conceit that their organization is THE Church. It Isn’t. How do we get around that?” Your reply?

    Kerner, at 34, I question your assumption of a Roman Catholic conceit regarding ecumenism. While this did exist in the past, Vatican II and John Paul II’s encyclical Ut Unum Sint fundamentally changed the RC church’s ecumenical attitude. Serious Christians would do well to give, especially, Ut Unum Sint, a fair reading.

    But see, this serious Christian, at least, did give Ut Unum Sint a fair reading. I mean, I’m still reading through it, but even given my somewhat hasty once-over of the first chapter or so, it’s clear that you are simply incorrect about what the document says — and, moreover, what Catholics believe about ecumenism.

    It’s weird to me, Porcell. By Google’s count, you have urged us on this blog to read Ut Unum Sint no fewer than a dozen times. What I can’t understand how someone who claimed to have read it “several times” could have gotten its message so wrong. Kerner’s description above (@34) is clearly closer to the content of Ut Unum Sint than what you think is in that encyclical.

    And after all your whining about my “cherry picking”, decrying my not having read this important ecumenical document, saying I’m “full of manure”, accusing me of not “addressing the substantive points that [you] raise and resorting to blatant argumentum ad hominem”, after I went through pretty methodically and showed you, instance after instance, quote after quote, how you were quite simply dead wrong about the content of that document and the Catholic understanding of ecumenism in general … nothing. Nothing from you. You have nothing to say on the matter. Except to start tossing out Neuhaus quotes (@58, 61). I guess you’re just going to move on without admitting you were wrong. Maybe you never really cared about ecumenism except inasmuch as it allowed you to berate us Lutherans?

    I don’t blame you for not admitting you were wrong. It’s really hard to do that in public, Peter. Especially when you have been shown to be wrong by someone that you apparently disdain so much. And our fellow commenters don’t make it any easier, with their ad hominem attacks on Neuhaus.

    But I do hope you will look at Ut Unum Sint again and realize that it really doesn’t say what you apparently would like it to say. And I hope you now see the error in your saying that “JP II makes clear in other parts of the encyclical that …[he] makes no claim that Rome contains the absolute truth.” I mean, that’s just not true. He admits that our “defective” Protestant communities occasionally get some things right, but come on! He says “the Church of Christ ‘subsists in the Catholic Church’” and that “The elements of this already-given Church exist, found in their fullness in the Catholic Church and, without this fullness, in the other Communities”. If you think JPII thinks Catholic dogma is in error now or ever has been in error, you’re just fooling yourself.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    And here’s the thing, Porcell: you consistely blame only Protestants for “narrow-minded sectarianism”, but the Catholic church is doing the very thing you decry, too! And I’ll go further: Confessional Lutherans and Catholics are more in agreement on what this encyclical actually says than either body is with what you wish it said! That is, I agree more with JPII on this topic than you do.

    Lutherans agree that “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.” You, on the other hand, feel that statement needs to be “qualified”. Lutherans agree that this unity “does not merely consist in the gathering of people as a collection of individuals; it is a unity constituted by the bonds of the profession of faith.” Lutherans agree with JPII that salvation can and will be found outside of our own denominations, that others deserve the title of “Christian”, that baptisms outside of our denomination do actually count, in spite of the doctrinal deficiencies found outside our denomination. Lutherans agree that different denominations understand God’s revealed truth to varying degrees, not equally. Lutherans agree that the goal of ecumenism is unity in truth, and that some will need to stand firm in their convictions, while others will need to change. Lutherans agree that ecumenism is not about “altering the deposit of faith, changing the meaning of dogmas, eliminating essential words from them, accommodating truth to the preferences of a particular age, or suppressing certain articles of the Creed under the false pretext that they are no longer understood today”. Lutherans ask, along with JPII, “who could consider legitimate a reconciliation brought about at the expense of the truth?” Lutherans agree that “all forms of reductionism or facile ‘agreement’ must be absolutely avoided.” It is you, Porcell, and whomever else has misled you, that appears to be in disagreement with Catholics and Confessional Lutherans on the matter of ecumenism.

    Make no mistake, Catholics and Lutherans share some major differences in their understanding of Scripture (or even on whether we should only be considering Scripture alone). We disagree in significant ways. But we are both concerned about the truth, and about preserving that truth, and not giving it up, not even a bit, for some perceived temporal gain.

    My question is: why isn’t that true for you? Because here, in your own words, is why ecumenism is important:

    * “to form a coherent and united whole … in opposition to dominant secular humanism.”
    * “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.”
    * “the scandal of a divided Christianity that is one of the main reasons that radical secularism has come to dominate in the modern West.”
    * “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.”
    * “A tribal Christianity is weakened in the face of modern paganism and secularism.”
    * “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.”

    Where, Porcell, is your concern for truth? For teaching Scripture in its purity? All I see above is fear. Fear of “threats”. And, in a nutshell, a Culture War. Ecumenism is, by your own words, merely a means to an end to defeat “paganism” or “secularism” or “radical Islam” or liberals or what-have-you.

    Porcell, do you care about truth? Do you care about what God says in the Scriptures? Or is it all so much “stiff-necked” squabbling that prevents us from joining together to fight your Culture War for you?

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    And here’s the thing, Porcell: you consistely blame only Protestants for “narrow-minded sectarianism”, but the Catholic church is doing the very thing you decry, too! And I’ll go further: Confessional Lutherans and Catholics are more in agreement on what this encyclical actually says than either body is with what you wish it said! That is, I agree more with JPII on this topic than you do.

    Lutherans agree that “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.” You, on the other hand, feel that statement needs to be “qualified”. Lutherans agree that this unity “does not merely consist in the gathering of people as a collection of individuals; it is a unity constituted by the bonds of the profession of faith.” Lutherans agree with JPII that salvation can and will be found outside of our own denominations, that others deserve the title of “Christian”, that baptisms outside of our denomination do actually count, in spite of the doctrinal deficiencies found outside our denomination. Lutherans agree that different denominations understand God’s revealed truth to varying degrees, not equally. Lutherans agree that the goal of ecumenism is unity in truth, and that some will need to stand firm in their convictions, while others will need to change. Lutherans agree that ecumenism is not about “altering the deposit of faith, changing the meaning of dogmas, eliminating essential words from them, accommodating truth to the preferences of a particular age, or suppressing certain articles of the Creed under the false pretext that they are no longer understood today”. Lutherans ask, along with JPII, “who could consider legitimate a reconciliation brought about at the expense of the truth?” Lutherans agree that “all forms of reductionism or facile ‘agreement’ must be absolutely avoided.” It is you, Porcell, and whomever else has misled you, that appears to be in disagreement with Catholics and Confessional Lutherans on the matter of ecumenism.

    Make no mistake, Catholics and Lutherans share some major differences in their understanding of Scripture (or even on whether we should only be considering Scripture alone). We disagree in significant ways. But we are both concerned about the truth, and about preserving that truth, and not giving it up, not even a bit, for some perceived temporal gain.

    My question is: why isn’t that true for you? Because here, in your own words, is why ecumenism is important:

    * “to form a coherent and united whole … in opposition to dominant secular humanism.”
    * “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.”
    * “the scandal of a divided Christianity that is one of the main reasons that radical secularism has come to dominate in the modern West.”
    * “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.”
    * “A tribal Christianity is weakened in the face of modern paganism and secularism.”
    * “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.”

    Where, Porcell, is your concern for truth? For teaching Scripture in its purity? All I see above is fear. Fear of “threats”. And, in a nutshell, a Culture War. Ecumenism is, by your own words, merely a means to an end to defeat “paganism” or “secularism” or “radical Islam” or liberals or what-have-you.

    Porcell, do you care about truth? Do you care about what God says in the Scriptures? Or is it all so much “stiff-necked” squabbling that prevents us from joining together to fight your Culture War for you?

  • Porcell

    Todd, I’m as interested in Christian truth as you claim to be. Just now, I am reading Pannenberg’s Jesus – God and Man, having recently finished, Melanchthon’s Loci Communes and Piepkorn’s Sacred Scriptures and Lutheran Confessions.

    I’m, also, interested in the strength of a united Christendom necessary to more effectively engage the dominant culture of paganism and secularism in the West. Your crude attempt to place me outside Christian truth is the product of a characteristically rather nasty and fevered imagination.

    At any rate, I’m glad that you’ve finally read at least some of Ut Unum Sint, though I doubt that you will be among those excellent Lutherans who are interested in serious ecumenism.

  • Porcell

    Todd, I’m as interested in Christian truth as you claim to be. Just now, I am reading Pannenberg’s Jesus – God and Man, having recently finished, Melanchthon’s Loci Communes and Piepkorn’s Sacred Scriptures and Lutheran Confessions.

    I’m, also, interested in the strength of a united Christendom necessary to more effectively engage the dominant culture of paganism and secularism in the West. Your crude attempt to place me outside Christian truth is the product of a characteristically rather nasty and fevered imagination.

    At any rate, I’m glad that you’ve finally read at least some of Ut Unum Sint, though I doubt that you will be among those excellent Lutherans who are interested in serious ecumenism.

  • Stephen

    Hey Porcell! Give us report on Pannenberg. I’d don’t think he’s interested in being Catholic.

  • Stephen

    Hey Porcell! Give us report on Pannenberg. I’d don’t think he’s interested in being Catholic.

  • http://www.thirduse.com fww

    Dear Porcell @ 69

    I would be really interested in your detailed comments on the Appology (defense) of the Augsburg Confessions on the topic of Good Works and the New Obedience.

    Would you please read through that and come back at me. I am working through it slowly, and I need to confess that it challenges alot of things that I thought that I knew about Lutheranism.

    http://www.bookofconcord.org/defense_5_love.php

    I would encourage you to read first the Augsburg confession on this section and then the Roman Catholic Response called the “confutation” that you can find on the same site…

    The Augsburg Confession On Good Works:

    Article VI: Of New Obedience.

    1] Also they teach that this faith is bound to bring forth good fruits, and that it is necessary to do good works commanded by God, because of God’s will,

    but that we should not rely on those works to merit justification 2] before God.

    For remission of sins and justification is apprehended by faith, as also the voice of Christ attests: When ye shall have done all these things, say: We are unprofitable servants. Luke 17:10.

    The same is also taught by 3] the Fathers. For Ambrose says: It is ordained of God that he who believes in Christ is saved, freely receiving remission of sins, without works, by faith alone.

    http://www.bookofconcord.org/augsburgconfession.php?setSidebar=max#article6

    Rome´s Response or Confutation to the Augsburg Confessions.

    To Article VI.
    Their Confession in the sixth article that faith should bring forth good fruits is acceptable and valid since “faith without works is dead,” James 2:17, and all Scripture invites us to works.

    For the wise man says: “Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might.” Eccles. 9:10.
    “And the Lord had respect to Abel and to his offering,” Gen. 4:4.
    He saw that Abraham would “command his Children and his household after him to keep the way of the Lord, and to do justice and judgment,” Gen. 18:19.
    And: “By myself have I sworn, saith the Lord, for because thou hast done this thing I will bless thee and multiply thy seed.” Gen 22:16. Thus he regarded the fast of the Ninevites, Jonah 3, and the lamentations and tears of King Hezekiah, 4:2; 2 Kings 20.
    For this cause all the faithful should follow the advice of St. Paul: “As we have therefore opportunity, let us do good unto all men, especially unto them who are of the household of faith,” Gal. 6:10.
    For Christ says: The night cometh when no man can work” John 9:4.

    But in the same article their ascription of justification to faith alone is diametrically opposite the truth of the Gospel by which works are not excluded; because glory, honor and peace to every man that worketh good,” Rom. 2:10. Why?
    Because David, Ps. 62:12; Christ, Matt. 16:27; and Paul, Rom. 2:6 testify that God will render to every one according to his works. Besides Christ says: “Not every one that saith unto me Lord, Lord shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father,” Matt. 7:21. 4.
    Hence however much one may believe, if he work not what is good, he is not a friend of God. “Ye are my friends,” says Christ, “if ye do whatsoever I command you,” John 15:14.

    On this account their frequent ascription of justification to faith is not admitted since it pertains to grace and love.
    For St. Paul says: “Though I have all faith so that I could remove mountains and have not charity, I am nothing.” 1 Cor. 13:2.
    Here St. Paul certifies to the princes and the entire Church that faith alone does not justify.

    Accordingly he teaches that love is the chief virtue, Col. 3:14: “Above all these things put on charity, which is the bond of perfectness.”
    Neither are they supported by the word of Christ: “When ye shall have done all these things, say We are unprofitable servants,” Luke 17:10.
    For if the doors ought to be called unprofitable, how much more fitting is it to say to those who only believe, When ye shall have believed all things say, We are unprofitable servants!

    This word of Christ, therefore, does not extol faith without works, but teaches that our works bring no profit to God; that no one can be puffed up by our works; that, when contrasted with the divine reward, our works are of no account and nothing.
    Thus St. Paul says: “I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared to the glory which shall be revealed in us,” Rom. 8:18.

    For faith and good works are gifts of God, whereby, through God’s mercy, eternal life is given.
    So, too, the citation at this point from Ambrose is in no way pertinent, since St. Ambrose is here expressly declaring his opinion concerning legal works.
    For he says: “Without the law,” but, “Without the law of the Sabbath, and of circumcision, and of revenge.”
    And this he declares the more clearly on Rom. 4, citing St. James concerning the justification of Abraham without legal works before circumcision.
    For how could Ambrose speak differently in his comments from St. Paul in the text when he says: “Therefore by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh he justified in his sight?”
    Therefore, finally, he does not exclude faith absolutely, but says: “We conclude that a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law.

    http://www.bookofconcord.org/confutatio.php

  • http://www.thirduse.com fww

    Dear Porcell @ 69

    I would be really interested in your detailed comments on the Appology (defense) of the Augsburg Confessions on the topic of Good Works and the New Obedience.

    Would you please read through that and come back at me. I am working through it slowly, and I need to confess that it challenges alot of things that I thought that I knew about Lutheranism.

    http://www.bookofconcord.org/defense_5_love.php

    I would encourage you to read first the Augsburg confession on this section and then the Roman Catholic Response called the “confutation” that you can find on the same site…

    The Augsburg Confession On Good Works:

    Article VI: Of New Obedience.

    1] Also they teach that this faith is bound to bring forth good fruits, and that it is necessary to do good works commanded by God, because of God’s will,

    but that we should not rely on those works to merit justification 2] before God.

    For remission of sins and justification is apprehended by faith, as also the voice of Christ attests: When ye shall have done all these things, say: We are unprofitable servants. Luke 17:10.

    The same is also taught by 3] the Fathers. For Ambrose says: It is ordained of God that he who believes in Christ is saved, freely receiving remission of sins, without works, by faith alone.

    http://www.bookofconcord.org/augsburgconfession.php?setSidebar=max#article6

    Rome´s Response or Confutation to the Augsburg Confessions.

    To Article VI.
    Their Confession in the sixth article that faith should bring forth good fruits is acceptable and valid since “faith without works is dead,” James 2:17, and all Scripture invites us to works.

    For the wise man says: “Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might.” Eccles. 9:10.
    “And the Lord had respect to Abel and to his offering,” Gen. 4:4.
    He saw that Abraham would “command his Children and his household after him to keep the way of the Lord, and to do justice and judgment,” Gen. 18:19.
    And: “By myself have I sworn, saith the Lord, for because thou hast done this thing I will bless thee and multiply thy seed.” Gen 22:16. Thus he regarded the fast of the Ninevites, Jonah 3, and the lamentations and tears of King Hezekiah, 4:2; 2 Kings 20.
    For this cause all the faithful should follow the advice of St. Paul: “As we have therefore opportunity, let us do good unto all men, especially unto them who are of the household of faith,” Gal. 6:10.
    For Christ says: The night cometh when no man can work” John 9:4.

    But in the same article their ascription of justification to faith alone is diametrically opposite the truth of the Gospel by which works are not excluded; because glory, honor and peace to every man that worketh good,” Rom. 2:10. Why?
    Because David, Ps. 62:12; Christ, Matt. 16:27; and Paul, Rom. 2:6 testify that God will render to every one according to his works. Besides Christ says: “Not every one that saith unto me Lord, Lord shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father,” Matt. 7:21. 4.
    Hence however much one may believe, if he work not what is good, he is not a friend of God. “Ye are my friends,” says Christ, “if ye do whatsoever I command you,” John 15:14.

    On this account their frequent ascription of justification to faith is not admitted since it pertains to grace and love.
    For St. Paul says: “Though I have all faith so that I could remove mountains and have not charity, I am nothing.” 1 Cor. 13:2.
    Here St. Paul certifies to the princes and the entire Church that faith alone does not justify.

    Accordingly he teaches that love is the chief virtue, Col. 3:14: “Above all these things put on charity, which is the bond of perfectness.”
    Neither are they supported by the word of Christ: “When ye shall have done all these things, say We are unprofitable servants,” Luke 17:10.
    For if the doors ought to be called unprofitable, how much more fitting is it to say to those who only believe, When ye shall have believed all things say, We are unprofitable servants!

    This word of Christ, therefore, does not extol faith without works, but teaches that our works bring no profit to God; that no one can be puffed up by our works; that, when contrasted with the divine reward, our works are of no account and nothing.
    Thus St. Paul says: “I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared to the glory which shall be revealed in us,” Rom. 8:18.

    For faith and good works are gifts of God, whereby, through God’s mercy, eternal life is given.
    So, too, the citation at this point from Ambrose is in no way pertinent, since St. Ambrose is here expressly declaring his opinion concerning legal works.
    For he says: “Without the law,” but, “Without the law of the Sabbath, and of circumcision, and of revenge.”
    And this he declares the more clearly on Rom. 4, citing St. James concerning the justification of Abraham without legal works before circumcision.
    For how could Ambrose speak differently in his comments from St. Paul in the text when he says: “Therefore by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh he justified in his sight?”
    Therefore, finally, he does not exclude faith absolutely, but says: “We conclude that a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law.

    http://www.bookofconcord.org/confutatio.php

  • Porcell

    Steve, I’m about half-way through Pannenberg’s book on Christ. It is rather dense German theology, though I find it rewarding, and the best criticism of Bultmann’s demythogilization and form criticism that I’ve read.

    You’re right that Pannnenberg hasn’t and probably won’t cross the Tiber, though he has been part of the Lutheran-Catholic ecumenical dialogue for some four decades. By the way, Pannenberg and Neuhaus were the best of friends.

  • Porcell

    Steve, I’m about half-way through Pannenberg’s book on Christ. It is rather dense German theology, though I find it rewarding, and the best criticism of Bultmann’s demythogilization and form criticism that I’ve read.

    You’re right that Pannnenberg hasn’t and probably won’t cross the Tiber, though he has been part of the Lutheran-Catholic ecumenical dialogue for some four decades. By the way, Pannenberg and Neuhaus were the best of friends.

  • Stephen

    Yeah, I kind of knew that about the two of them. I heard Pannenberg speak once. Pretty mind blowing.

    “Using the tools of the historian, we can say that there is as much evidence for the bodily resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth as there is for the existence of Socrates.”

    I think that’s a direct quote pretty much. I read him when I can’t sleep. I think he is still trying to wrap his mind around what happened to him as a young man, but that’s just me. He’s titanic. I wish him luck. Funny that he won’t let go of Luther and all that “hiddenness of God” stuff. Can’t get past it. I can’t either. I think we Lutherans would have to give that up to “cross the Tiber” as you put it. Can’t do it. Christ alone. It’s a stumbling block. Always will be.

    Read on brother. All the best.

  • Stephen

    Yeah, I kind of knew that about the two of them. I heard Pannenberg speak once. Pretty mind blowing.

    “Using the tools of the historian, we can say that there is as much evidence for the bodily resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth as there is for the existence of Socrates.”

    I think that’s a direct quote pretty much. I read him when I can’t sleep. I think he is still trying to wrap his mind around what happened to him as a young man, but that’s just me. He’s titanic. I wish him luck. Funny that he won’t let go of Luther and all that “hiddenness of God” stuff. Can’t get past it. I can’t either. I think we Lutherans would have to give that up to “cross the Tiber” as you put it. Can’t do it. Christ alone. It’s a stumbling block. Always will be.

    Read on brother. All the best.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Porcell replied (@69), “Todd, I’m as interested in Christian truth as you claim to be.” Great. Then do you want to discuss what Ut Unum Sint actually says? You kept asking me to read it. Obviously, I have (okay, I still haven’t finished all of it). And yet since then, you’ve had nothing to say.

    And I’d still like an answer for why you only ever attack Lutherans and Protestants for their “provincial” “narrow-minded sectarian” “quibbling”, given that both Lutherans and Catholics are very concerned about preserving the truth, and unwilling to cede any ground regarding it.

    At some point in all your chastizing, are you going to actually engage the disputed doctrines themselves? I don’t think I’ve ever seen you do that. You just chide us Lutherans for not being Catholic.

    “I doubt that you will be among those excellent Lutherans who are interested in serious ecumenism.” I’m every bit as interested in “serious ecumenism” as was JPII and the Catholic Church, as I have shown. I do not want there to be divisions among Christians. But, like JPII, neither I nor any Confessional Lutheran will make any compromises regarding the truth.

    Which is why I asked you if cared about truth. Because your definition of “serious ecumenism”, contra that of Ut Unum Sint, must involve compromise on doctrine. And, as JPII noted, doctrinal compromise is antithetical to truth.

    Christians can only be united in any meaningful sense if they agree. And true unity can only involve full agreement on all doctrinal matters. And these are not matters for only “theologians” to work out — these are matters that are (or should be) of great concern to all believers.

    One more thing. “I daresay that both Luther and Melanchthon would have lauded these documents and would have tried to resolve any remaining differences” (@35). Well, yes, you do have a habit of telling us what other people think (though it oddly always sounds like what you think). But I really think you’ve over-reached here. I mean, I’ve shown you how parts of the documents are in keeping with Lutherans’ taking doctrine very, very seriously. But the underlying doctrines that Ut Unum Sint hints at and seeks to preserve are the very ones Luther was trying to reform in the church.

    Yes, “both the early Luther and Melanchthon wanted a reformation, not a split, from Rome.” But I don’t think you’ve fully grasped how Rome received their message, and why they did split, and remained separate, from Rome. And why their theological descendents still remain separate from Rome. The problems Luther wanted to reform are still there, Porcell. They did not, contrary to your assertion, go away at any point.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Porcell replied (@69), “Todd, I’m as interested in Christian truth as you claim to be.” Great. Then do you want to discuss what Ut Unum Sint actually says? You kept asking me to read it. Obviously, I have (okay, I still haven’t finished all of it). And yet since then, you’ve had nothing to say.

    And I’d still like an answer for why you only ever attack Lutherans and Protestants for their “provincial” “narrow-minded sectarian” “quibbling”, given that both Lutherans and Catholics are very concerned about preserving the truth, and unwilling to cede any ground regarding it.

    At some point in all your chastizing, are you going to actually engage the disputed doctrines themselves? I don’t think I’ve ever seen you do that. You just chide us Lutherans for not being Catholic.

    “I doubt that you will be among those excellent Lutherans who are interested in serious ecumenism.” I’m every bit as interested in “serious ecumenism” as was JPII and the Catholic Church, as I have shown. I do not want there to be divisions among Christians. But, like JPII, neither I nor any Confessional Lutheran will make any compromises regarding the truth.

    Which is why I asked you if cared about truth. Because your definition of “serious ecumenism”, contra that of Ut Unum Sint, must involve compromise on doctrine. And, as JPII noted, doctrinal compromise is antithetical to truth.

    Christians can only be united in any meaningful sense if they agree. And true unity can only involve full agreement on all doctrinal matters. And these are not matters for only “theologians” to work out — these are matters that are (or should be) of great concern to all believers.

    One more thing. “I daresay that both Luther and Melanchthon would have lauded these documents and would have tried to resolve any remaining differences” (@35). Well, yes, you do have a habit of telling us what other people think (though it oddly always sounds like what you think). But I really think you’ve over-reached here. I mean, I’ve shown you how parts of the documents are in keeping with Lutherans’ taking doctrine very, very seriously. But the underlying doctrines that Ut Unum Sint hints at and seeks to preserve are the very ones Luther was trying to reform in the church.

    Yes, “both the early Luther and Melanchthon wanted a reformation, not a split, from Rome.” But I don’t think you’ve fully grasped how Rome received their message, and why they did split, and remained separate, from Rome. And why their theological descendents still remain separate from Rome. The problems Luther wanted to reform are still there, Porcell. They did not, contrary to your assertion, go away at any point.

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