Who split the Church?

I’ve been reading some Reformation Day reflections by Roman Catholics, some of whom have expressed a little grudging appreciation for Luther, while blaming him for splitting the Church.  (You can find some here.)

But Luther was excommunicated.  Why?  Because he criticized the sale of indulgences.  In the case that precipitated his nailing the theses to the door, a salesman named Tetzel was participating in a manifestly corrupt venture–having to do ecclesiastical bribery and simony–that was theologically untenable.

Here is an excerpt from Tetzel’s sermon “On Indulgences” (1517):

Consider that for each and every mortal sin it is necessary to undergo seven years of penitence after confession and contrition, either in this life or in Purgatory. How many mortal sins are committed in a day, how many in a week, how many in a month, how many in a year, how many in the whole extent of life! They are nearly numberless, and those that commit them must suffer endless punishment in the burning pains of Purgatory.  (via Primary Sources.)

This was no Purgatory as “taking a shower” before entering Heaven, as in some contemporary Catholic apologetics.  Nor was it ascending Dante’s mountain.  It was penal fire that people were taught might last hundreds, even thousands of years.  (7 years per sin; do the math.)  And this was for sins that were forgiven!  Sins that were repented, confessed, and absolved STILL had to be punished.

Luther believed this teaching and this practice obscured the Gospel.  He just wanted to debate it! His attempts at reform were repudiated.

The Church of Rome, meanwhile, upped the ante.  Luther said that these teachings could not be supported by Scripture.   The reply was that they rested on the authority of the Church and of the Pope, which, in practice, trumped Scripture.  Luther, still thinking of the obvious distortions in the indulgence traffic, could not accept that.

So Luther was cast out of the Church, which refused to even consider his concerns, and things escalated after that.   Luther was given a death sentence, and many who agreed with Luther were burned at the stake.  Then new ecclesiastical orders were set up, now that Rome cut the ties.

(The Church, in effect, later conceded many of Luther’s points.  Exchanging indulgences for money was later forbidden.  The duration of Purgatorial punishment has since been softened, saying that no one knows how long it will last and that time doesn’t exist in the afterlife as it does on earth.  The number of years each indulgence remits–some were for tens of thousands or even millions of years–has been reinterpreted to mean that it is the equivalent of that period of time devoted to earthly penance.

Still, the doctrine of Purgatory remains, along with the need to be punished for each forgiven transgression, as does the doctrine of Indulgences, including the notion of the Treasury of Merits, that the Church administers all of the surplus good works of the saints, which can be credited to the account of those in Purgatory.  Also, much of Roman Catholic devotional practice–such as the repetition of specific prayers, each of which earns an indulgence–is tied to this theology.)

At any rate, isn’t it clear that the Church of Rome at that time, in the way it handled the controversy, split the Church?  Not Luther, who never intended such a thing, though his protest was certainly a catalyst for what happened?   And since, for Roman Catholics, the church doesn’t err, shouldn’t they consider Protestantism one of its good creations?

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.

  • http://www.roundunvarnishedtale.blogspot.com Cheryl

    I have been Lutheran for almost 25 years (ever since I got married), but I was Roman Catholic from age 12-22, having become RC when my mom converted (I was baptized but we didn’t go to church before that). I grew up hearing from my mom that Luther shouldn’t have left the Church–that he should have stayed and reformed it. It wasn’t until I became Lutheran that I was set straight on that score. He tried to reform it. They kicked him out.

    My mom is still RC and is 80 years old. She is depressed and afraid of death. Little wonder. :-(

  • http://www.roundunvarnishedtale.blogspot.com Cheryl

    I have been Lutheran for almost 25 years (ever since I got married), but I was Roman Catholic from age 12-22, having become RC when my mom converted (I was baptized but we didn’t go to church before that). I grew up hearing from my mom that Luther shouldn’t have left the Church–that he should have stayed and reformed it. It wasn’t until I became Lutheran that I was set straight on that score. He tried to reform it. They kicked him out.

    My mom is still RC and is 80 years old. She is depressed and afraid of death. Little wonder. :-(

  • http://plauer.net Paul

    The Papacy split the Church in 1054 and in 1530. Their uncatholic ‘councils’ ratified what they were told to ratify. It’s simple history. Pride continues to split churches and congregations when we fail to listen to the Word of God and put ourselves and our own agendas ahead of Truth. “Did God really say…?” It’s that same desire to be the judge between Good and Evil rather than to stand upon God’s Word. Today our desire to be inclusive, to be tolerant under the banner of love, is splitting us again, across denominational lines, between those who wish to reinterpret God’s Word according to their own desires rather than relying upon the Word of God as our guide. Consider the ELCA which has “unsinned sin” by vote of a Convention. Sounds like an erring Council to me. It does tend to go in a 500 year cycle, it seems.

  • http://plauer.net Paul

    The Papacy split the Church in 1054 and in 1530. Their uncatholic ‘councils’ ratified what they were told to ratify. It’s simple history. Pride continues to split churches and congregations when we fail to listen to the Word of God and put ourselves and our own agendas ahead of Truth. “Did God really say…?” It’s that same desire to be the judge between Good and Evil rather than to stand upon God’s Word. Today our desire to be inclusive, to be tolerant under the banner of love, is splitting us again, across denominational lines, between those who wish to reinterpret God’s Word according to their own desires rather than relying upon the Word of God as our guide. Consider the ELCA which has “unsinned sin” by vote of a Convention. Sounds like an erring Council to me. It does tend to go in a 500 year cycle, it seems.

  • Pete

    I was listening to NPR this morning (that’s my confession – anyone offering absolution?) and they were highlighting the “pedophile priest” scandal that is rocking the Roman Catholic world. It struck me that, in retrospect, one of the most worthwhile reforms enacted by Martin Luther was his elimination of celibacy as a requirement for the priesthood.

  • Pete

    I was listening to NPR this morning (that’s my confession – anyone offering absolution?) and they were highlighting the “pedophile priest” scandal that is rocking the Roman Catholic world. It struck me that, in retrospect, one of the most worthwhile reforms enacted by Martin Luther was his elimination of celibacy as a requirement for the priesthood.

  • Tom Hering

    Celibacy as the cause of pedophilia? I don’t think there’s a shred of evidence out there that would support such a link. Honestly, for all my opposition to Roman doctrine and practice, I don’t think there’s anything about the Roman church that could cause pedophilia. Rather, we ought ask why so many pedophiles are attracted to the Roman priesthood. Maybe pedophiles just know a good opportunity when they see one, i.e., a church that lets them get away with being active pedophiles. Because priests will cover up for other priests no matter what.

  • Tom Hering

    Celibacy as the cause of pedophilia? I don’t think there’s a shred of evidence out there that would support such a link. Honestly, for all my opposition to Roman doctrine and practice, I don’t think there’s anything about the Roman church that could cause pedophilia. Rather, we ought ask why so many pedophiles are attracted to the Roman priesthood. Maybe pedophiles just know a good opportunity when they see one, i.e., a church that lets them get away with being active pedophiles. Because priests will cover up for other priests no matter what.

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

    Rome can take full responsibility for the split, thank you very much. The Reformer was willing to tolerate quite a bit in the church if it could just suffer him to preach and teach the gospel. Melanchthon made this abundantly clear in both the Augsburg Confession, and the apology to the same. But legalists of any stripe cannot suffer the gospel.

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

    Rome can take full responsibility for the split, thank you very much. The Reformer was willing to tolerate quite a bit in the church if it could just suffer him to preach and teach the gospel. Melanchthon made this abundantly clear in both the Augsburg Confession, and the apology to the same. But legalists of any stripe cannot suffer the gospel.

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

    Tom @ 4,
    I think you are right. We need to be careful on making the argument Kirk made. As quite frankly there are quite a few married pedophiles. And Pedophilia is not a problem in the RC alone, It happens across denominations.
    The celibacy thing is an evil in itself and does not need to be linked to pedophilia to be condemned.
    I do think that if the RC opened the priesthood up to married men as was its practice for the majority of its history, that one would find that many more qualified men join the ranks of the priesthood. And this might actually take away some of that incentive for pedophiles to join the priesthood.

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

    Tom @ 4,
    I think you are right. We need to be careful on making the argument Kirk made. As quite frankly there are quite a few married pedophiles. And Pedophilia is not a problem in the RC alone, It happens across denominations.
    The celibacy thing is an evil in itself and does not need to be linked to pedophilia to be condemned.
    I do think that if the RC opened the priesthood up to married men as was its practice for the majority of its history, that one would find that many more qualified men join the ranks of the priesthood. And this might actually take away some of that incentive for pedophiles to join the priesthood.

  • Joe

    Tom & Pete – I have no idea what causes pedophilia (well okay – its sin, I get that and I get the role of the fall, but “cause” in the specific sense). But, I have wondered if some of the instances of molestation are not the result of repressing an otherwise healthy sex drive. When you dam a creek the water will follow the easiest path around the dam.

  • Joe

    Tom & Pete – I have no idea what causes pedophilia (well okay – its sin, I get that and I get the role of the fall, but “cause” in the specific sense). But, I have wondered if some of the instances of molestation are not the result of repressing an otherwise healthy sex drive. When you dam a creek the water will follow the easiest path around the dam.

  • Tom Hering

    Joe, why wouldn’t they take advantage of the women (or men) in their congregations? Every congregation has a few individuals willing to seduce, or be seduced, by a power figure. No, I think pedophiles come to the priesthood with their orientation. The presumption of celibacy in that position offers the advantage of a public mask.

  • Tom Hering

    Joe, why wouldn’t they take advantage of the women (or men) in their congregations? Every congregation has a few individuals willing to seduce, or be seduced, by a power figure. No, I think pedophiles come to the priesthood with their orientation. The presumption of celibacy in that position offers the advantage of a public mask.

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

    The RCC never was one to own up to its mistakes. Luther tried time and time again to have the powers that be call a council, confident that if the reformers could plead their case the church would accept the veracity of their position. He wanted reform, the ecclesiastical leadership wanted status quo. When they finally called a council after Luther’s death it was only for show. Catholics need to remember that it was the Council of Trent that officially split the church.

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

    The RCC never was one to own up to its mistakes. Luther tried time and time again to have the powers that be call a council, confident that if the reformers could plead their case the church would accept the veracity of their position. He wanted reform, the ecclesiastical leadership wanted status quo. When they finally called a council after Luther’s death it was only for show. Catholics need to remember that it was the Council of Trent that officially split the church.

  • Joe

    Tom – “why wouldn’t they take advantage of the women (or men) in their congregations?” Some do. But, in general I think the answer is because adult men and women are a heck of a lot harder to control via intimidation and shame than a 10 year old kid. When you are engaged in something you know is wrong (i.e. breaking the vow of celibacy), you generally don’t look for victims/accomplices that you can’t control.

    Anyway, I was just sort of wondering out laud and this is getting to be a distraction from the point of this post. So, I’ll drop it.

  • Joe

    Tom – “why wouldn’t they take advantage of the women (or men) in their congregations?” Some do. But, in general I think the answer is because adult men and women are a heck of a lot harder to control via intimidation and shame than a 10 year old kid. When you are engaged in something you know is wrong (i.e. breaking the vow of celibacy), you generally don’t look for victims/accomplices that you can’t control.

    Anyway, I was just sort of wondering out laud and this is getting to be a distraction from the point of this post. So, I’ll drop it.

  • Tom Hering

    Me too. :-)

  • Tom Hering

    Me too. :-)

  • Dan Kempin

    Paul, #2,

    A salient point. I shall attempt to put my compliment in the vernacular to increase your street cred:

    They was all like, “luther divided the church,” and people were like, “What?” And then my man went all “great schism” on ‘em like: “Boom! 1054. Put that in your thurible and smoke it, Trent!” And I’m like, “Yeah, punk. It’s on you. Nobody gonna call you ‘Big Papa.’” It was awesome.

    Word.

  • Dan Kempin

    Paul, #2,

    A salient point. I shall attempt to put my compliment in the vernacular to increase your street cred:

    They was all like, “luther divided the church,” and people were like, “What?” And then my man went all “great schism” on ‘em like: “Boom! 1054. Put that in your thurible and smoke it, Trent!” And I’m like, “Yeah, punk. It’s on you. Nobody gonna call you ‘Big Papa.’” It was awesome.

    Word.

  • Pete

    Tom & Joe. Chicken or egg? Machts nichts. Luther was right either way.

  • Pete

    Tom & Joe. Chicken or egg? Machts nichts. Luther was right either way.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    I don’t have a lot to add, other than that I agree with Veith’s thesis. A bit surprising the Catholic apologists haven’t shown up yet, really.

    But can I say that, while I have no idea why Dan Kempin (@12) wrote what he did, yet I have to concede that never ever would I have expected to see apparent references to both the Notorious B.I.G. or Austin Powers. Not sure if those were intentional, but I’d really like to think so.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    I don’t have a lot to add, other than that I agree with Veith’s thesis. A bit surprising the Catholic apologists haven’t shown up yet, really.

    But can I say that, while I have no idea why Dan Kempin (@12) wrote what he did, yet I have to concede that never ever would I have expected to see apparent references to both the Notorious B.I.G. or Austin Powers. Not sure if those were intentional, but I’d really like to think so.

  • Porcell

    While the corrupt Italian Renaissance popes of the 16th Century clearly were the main causes of the split of western Christendom, the question in the 21st century is how to heal the split.

    John Paul II in his encyclical That They May Be One [Ut Unum Sint] reminded us of Christ’s wish stated in John that they may all be one; even as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me.

    JPII, also, during the Jubilee at the beginning of the Third Millennium confessed an repented of the Catholic church’s sins that had broken Christian unity.

    It’s rather easy and righteous to hammer Rome’s, or for that matter any denomination’s sins, and a hard thing to repair and rebuild the damage. The Lutheran Church has contributed great ecumenical leaders including Carl Bratten and Arthur Piepkorn, though sad to say they were defeated by intransigent Lutheran fundamentalists who couldn’t bring themselves to a serious discussion of ecumenical issues.

    Perhaps the most impressive Lutheran ecumenist was Richard John Neuhaus, a Lutheran theologian, who came to the conclusion that the remaining issues between the churches were insignificant, causing him to become a Catholic priest. He thought that both Luther and Melanchthon, who deep down wished to reform not split from the Catholic Church, would have, accepted the reforms of Vatican II, which among other things fully accepted the freedom of individuals to choose their religion. Other great Protestants, especially the Anglican, Newman. thought it essential to cross the Tiber.

    Serious Christians ought to be deeply saddened by the disunity of Christendom.

  • Porcell

    While the corrupt Italian Renaissance popes of the 16th Century clearly were the main causes of the split of western Christendom, the question in the 21st century is how to heal the split.

    John Paul II in his encyclical That They May Be One [Ut Unum Sint] reminded us of Christ’s wish stated in John that they may all be one; even as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me.

    JPII, also, during the Jubilee at the beginning of the Third Millennium confessed an repented of the Catholic church’s sins that had broken Christian unity.

    It’s rather easy and righteous to hammer Rome’s, or for that matter any denomination’s sins, and a hard thing to repair and rebuild the damage. The Lutheran Church has contributed great ecumenical leaders including Carl Bratten and Arthur Piepkorn, though sad to say they were defeated by intransigent Lutheran fundamentalists who couldn’t bring themselves to a serious discussion of ecumenical issues.

    Perhaps the most impressive Lutheran ecumenist was Richard John Neuhaus, a Lutheran theologian, who came to the conclusion that the remaining issues between the churches were insignificant, causing him to become a Catholic priest. He thought that both Luther and Melanchthon, who deep down wished to reform not split from the Catholic Church, would have, accepted the reforms of Vatican II, which among other things fully accepted the freedom of individuals to choose their religion. Other great Protestants, especially the Anglican, Newman. thought it essential to cross the Tiber.

    Serious Christians ought to be deeply saddened by the disunity of Christendom.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    The question, Porcell (@15), is if doctrine has anything to do with unity.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    The question, Porcell (@15), is if doctrine has anything to do with unity.

  • Tom Hering

    “… who came to the conclusion that the remaining issues between the churches were insignificant …”

    It’s going to take some hard Googling, but let’s see if I can dig one of those up.

    [45 minutes pass.]

    Okay, here we go: justification by grace through faith alone. Huh! Never heard of it.

  • Tom Hering

    “… who came to the conclusion that the remaining issues between the churches were insignificant …”

    It’s going to take some hard Googling, but let’s see if I can dig one of those up.

    [45 minutes pass.]

    Okay, here we go: justification by grace through faith alone. Huh! Never heard of it.

  • Porcell

    Todd, doctrine is important. In Ut Unum Sint John Paul II made clear that the Catholic Church understands the depth of doctrinal view of sectarian churches and would accept within reason differences of churches that returned to communion with the Catholic Church.

    The truth is that with the Orthodox Uniate Church and other churches around the world, the Catholic Church maintains to some degree an open tent. The idea that the Catholic Church requires a rigid unity is a myth. In fact the Catholic is quite sophisticated in tolerating degrees of difference within dioceses around the world.

  • Porcell

    Todd, doctrine is important. In Ut Unum Sint John Paul II made clear that the Catholic Church understands the depth of doctrinal view of sectarian churches and would accept within reason differences of churches that returned to communion with the Catholic Church.

    The truth is that with the Orthodox Uniate Church and other churches around the world, the Catholic Church maintains to some degree an open tent. The idea that the Catholic Church requires a rigid unity is a myth. In fact the Catholic is quite sophisticated in tolerating degrees of difference within dioceses around the world.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Porcell (@18), at this point, I have to ask if you’ve honestly read Ut Unum Sint. I haven’t read much of it, but it’s not hard to search through it and find statements that disagree with what you say it’s about:

    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.

    See, here Confessional Lutherans and the Pope are in agreement! But we disagree about that Truth, that faith.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Porcell (@18), at this point, I have to ask if you’ve honestly read Ut Unum Sint. I haven’t read much of it, but it’s not hard to search through it and find statements that disagree with what you say it’s about:

    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.

    See, here Confessional Lutherans and the Pope are in agreement! But we disagree about that Truth, that faith.

  • Porcell

    Todd, I’ve read Ut Unum Sint several times. I’ve, also, read George Weigel’s Witness to Hope that explicates John Paul’s ecumenical views. Until you read this encyclical carefully, I should suggest that you reserve judgment on it. The statement that you quoted above is qualified by several others in this encyclical.

    Tom, your snide remark at 17 is unworthy of a response.

  • Porcell

    Todd, I’ve read Ut Unum Sint several times. I’ve, also, read George Weigel’s Witness to Hope that explicates John Paul’s ecumenical views. Until you read this encyclical carefully, I should suggest that you reserve judgment on it. The statement that you quoted above is qualified by several others in this encyclical.

    Tom, your snide remark at 17 is unworthy of a response.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    ” The statement that you quoted above is qualified by several others in this encyclical” (@20). Quote me some. How is the statement I quoted deficient in representing the views of Roman Catholics and/or the Pope?

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    ” The statement that you quoted above is qualified by several others in this encyclical” (@20). Quote me some. How is the statement I quoted deficient in representing the views of Roman Catholics and/or the Pope?

  • Tom Hering

    “Tom, your snide remark at 17 is unworthy of a response.”

    Which is another way of saying you don’t have a response. But I’ll ask for one politely, anyways.

    Mr. Porcell, does Rome reject the doctrine of justification by grace alone through faith alone – a doctrine of justification that excludes all works and their supposed merits?

  • Tom Hering

    “Tom, your snide remark at 17 is unworthy of a response.”

    Which is another way of saying you don’t have a response. But I’ll ask for one politely, anyways.

    Mr. Porcell, does Rome reject the doctrine of justification by grace alone through faith alone – a doctrine of justification that excludes all works and their supposed merits?

  • Porcell

    Todd. at 21, Ut Unum Sunt is a lengthy encyclical, not easily understood by small sections. However, one section that you might find of interest would be a paragraph from #87 as follows:

    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

    What the Pope is saying here is that the Catholic Church has much to learn from the theology and practice of various denominations and that this needs to be incorporated in serious ecumenical discussion.

  • Porcell

    Todd. at 21, Ut Unum Sunt is a lengthy encyclical, not easily understood by small sections. However, one section that you might find of interest would be a paragraph from #87 as follows:

    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

    What the Pope is saying here is that the Catholic Church has much to learn from the theology and practice of various denominations and that this needs to be incorporated in serious ecumenical discussion.

  • trotk

    Porcell, this statement doesn’t at all soften the quote tODD found. In fact, the statement tODD quotes is so emphatic and universal in scope that I don’t know how you could soften it. What you have quoted is referring to, in JPII’s words, “certain common Christian values”, which is not at all the same as doctrinal unity.

    In watching the conversion to the Catholic Church of a number of those close to me (two close friends and a sister and brother-in-law), what I have seen is not them believing that the theological differences are inconsequential (as supposedly Neuhaus did). Instead, they have grown convinced that because the Catholic Church was there from the beginning, its authority is more to be trusted than anyone else. When they make this leap, they swallow all sorts of doctrine that previously repulsed them.

    On a different note, under the Catholic tent are many varieties. You are correct there. You get the impression though, that it is out of necessity, because the whole thing is too big to be controlled anyway. Some of the differences are large, but at the end of the day, they all accept the authority of the pope, and thus accept the doctrine he represents.

    Porcell, in spite of Tom’s snideness (or humor, as others may see it), the question needs to be answered.

  • trotk

    Porcell, this statement doesn’t at all soften the quote tODD found. In fact, the statement tODD quotes is so emphatic and universal in scope that I don’t know how you could soften it. What you have quoted is referring to, in JPII’s words, “certain common Christian values”, which is not at all the same as doctrinal unity.

    In watching the conversion to the Catholic Church of a number of those close to me (two close friends and a sister and brother-in-law), what I have seen is not them believing that the theological differences are inconsequential (as supposedly Neuhaus did). Instead, they have grown convinced that because the Catholic Church was there from the beginning, its authority is more to be trusted than anyone else. When they make this leap, they swallow all sorts of doctrine that previously repulsed them.

    On a different note, under the Catholic tent are many varieties. You are correct there. You get the impression though, that it is out of necessity, because the whole thing is too big to be controlled anyway. Some of the differences are large, but at the end of the day, they all accept the authority of the pope, and thus accept the doctrine he represents.

    Porcell, in spite of Tom’s snideness (or humor, as others may see it), the question needs to be answered.

  • Tom Hering

    “… 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 …”

    “The talents of each must be developed for the utility and the advantage of all …”

    “Common Christian values.” “The talents of each.” It’s earthly righteousness that’s being spoken of, and that’s excellent. Christians from different churches can come together to practice love of neighbor, just as Christians and non-Christians can. And God is pleased in all cases.

    But what’s not being spoken of is Truth. There can’t be unity in Truth unless one of the two sides accepts the other side’s teaching, or at least compromises their own teaching to a degree that’s acceptable to the other side (as happened with The Joint Declaration On the Doctrine of Justification, 1999).

  • Tom Hering

    “… 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 …”

    “The talents of each must be developed for the utility and the advantage of all …”

    “Common Christian values.” “The talents of each.” It’s earthly righteousness that’s being spoken of, and that’s excellent. Christians from different churches can come together to practice love of neighbor, just as Christians and non-Christians can. And God is pleased in all cases.

    But what’s not being spoken of is Truth. There can’t be unity in Truth unless one of the two sides accepts the other side’s teaching, or at least compromises their own teaching to a degree that’s acceptable to the other side (as happened with The Joint Declaration On the Doctrine of Justification, 1999).

  • trotk

    I am not a theologian by any stretch, but it seems to me that all the pleas to unity in the New Testament (I think particularly about John 17 and the entire book of Philippians) are not about agreeing to be okay with each other’s doctrine, and they are not about communing together as if the doctrinal differences don’t matter, but instead are about being willing to share the gospel side-by-side and loving each other in all circumstances.

    Loving each other is the easy one to understand, although perhaps hard to practice. Sharing the gospel side-by-side with someone is difficult if you fundamentally disagree with their understanding of the gospel, especially when you believe that theirs is full of serious error.

    The question then is whether they preach Christ, and Him crucified, as the only thing. Do they boast in Christ alone? If they do that, perhaps it is possible for us to labor with them and in that we have some sort of unity. If Christ is not all in their preaching, I believe we cannot labor along side them, lest we create the impression that Christ is less than the only thing and become guilty of propagating heresy.

  • trotk

    I am not a theologian by any stretch, but it seems to me that all the pleas to unity in the New Testament (I think particularly about John 17 and the entire book of Philippians) are not about agreeing to be okay with each other’s doctrine, and they are not about communing together as if the doctrinal differences don’t matter, but instead are about being willing to share the gospel side-by-side and loving each other in all circumstances.

    Loving each other is the easy one to understand, although perhaps hard to practice. Sharing the gospel side-by-side with someone is difficult if you fundamentally disagree with their understanding of the gospel, especially when you believe that theirs is full of serious error.

    The question then is whether they preach Christ, and Him crucified, as the only thing. Do they boast in Christ alone? If they do that, perhaps it is possible for us to labor with them and in that we have some sort of unity. If Christ is not all in their preaching, I believe we cannot labor along side them, lest we create the impression that Christ is less than the only thing and become guilty of propagating heresy.

  • Joanne

    Well, I say that Albrecht of Brandenburg, Archbishop of Magdeburg, Administrator of the Diocese of Halberstadt, Elector Archbishop of Mainz, great debtor client of the House of Fugger, Cardinal, and employer of the Dominican monk, Tetzel, he Albrecht split the church. Poor Tetzel was doing just fine until Albrecht got his greedy little hands on him. As soon as Albrecht got his copy of the 95 Theses from Luther, he sent it straight to Rome with a note, “I think these might be heretical.”

    He was a Brandenburg Hohenzollern, and the Saxon Wettins, Frederick the Wise and them all, had declined to participate in the sale of Albrecht’s indulgences because they could. They were not subject to any of his ecclesiastical thrones, many as they were. Wittenberg actually had no local bishop at all. The churches in Wittenberg had a special arrangement whereby they were governed directly from Rome. Which is why you didn’t have the normal hierarchy of bishops, archbisops and such in the disciplining of Luther. Everything went direct to Rome and back. Luther’s only direct ecclesiastical supervisor in Germany was Johann von Staupitz of the Augustinian Order, and he is more often seen as advancing Luther into areas that were bound to upset the status quo. He drops out of the equation by 1520.

    Of interest to me is that, of all the geographical places mentioned in Albrecht’s many titles, the place of his residenze is not among them. So it comes as a surprise to learn that his main home is the town of Halle (Saale), just 25 miles south, southwest of Wittenberg. He had a huge palace there and really made up the cathedral and other churches there. He died just one year before Luther, so the 2 largest players on the ecclesiastial field in Germany were right there in Saxony close by during all this time and makes Luther’s casual run-ins with Albrecht from time to time more understandable. There are even accounts of some cordiality between them as time went on.

    Aside: Poor Tetzel. He died in 1519 only 2 years after the 95 Theses flap turned his name into Mudd in Germany. He retired to the Dominican monastary in Leipzig, died there and was buried in the Paulikirche. Yes, as you may remember, that very same Paulikirche that Walter Ulbricht dynomited in 1968 in the then DDR. Poor Tetzel. Do you suppose they moved the bodies before they blew the place up?

    So, I say Albrecht split the church. But, if you won’t buy that, howz about Pope Alexander VI, that awful Borgia pope?

  • Joanne

    Well, I say that Albrecht of Brandenburg, Archbishop of Magdeburg, Administrator of the Diocese of Halberstadt, Elector Archbishop of Mainz, great debtor client of the House of Fugger, Cardinal, and employer of the Dominican monk, Tetzel, he Albrecht split the church. Poor Tetzel was doing just fine until Albrecht got his greedy little hands on him. As soon as Albrecht got his copy of the 95 Theses from Luther, he sent it straight to Rome with a note, “I think these might be heretical.”

    He was a Brandenburg Hohenzollern, and the Saxon Wettins, Frederick the Wise and them all, had declined to participate in the sale of Albrecht’s indulgences because they could. They were not subject to any of his ecclesiastical thrones, many as they were. Wittenberg actually had no local bishop at all. The churches in Wittenberg had a special arrangement whereby they were governed directly from Rome. Which is why you didn’t have the normal hierarchy of bishops, archbisops and such in the disciplining of Luther. Everything went direct to Rome and back. Luther’s only direct ecclesiastical supervisor in Germany was Johann von Staupitz of the Augustinian Order, and he is more often seen as advancing Luther into areas that were bound to upset the status quo. He drops out of the equation by 1520.

    Of interest to me is that, of all the geographical places mentioned in Albrecht’s many titles, the place of his residenze is not among them. So it comes as a surprise to learn that his main home is the town of Halle (Saale), just 25 miles south, southwest of Wittenberg. He had a huge palace there and really made up the cathedral and other churches there. He died just one year before Luther, so the 2 largest players on the ecclesiastial field in Germany were right there in Saxony close by during all this time and makes Luther’s casual run-ins with Albrecht from time to time more understandable. There are even accounts of some cordiality between them as time went on.

    Aside: Poor Tetzel. He died in 1519 only 2 years after the 95 Theses flap turned his name into Mudd in Germany. He retired to the Dominican monastary in Leipzig, died there and was buried in the Paulikirche. Yes, as you may remember, that very same Paulikirche that Walter Ulbricht dynomited in 1968 in the then DDR. Poor Tetzel. Do you suppose they moved the bodies before they blew the place up?

    So, I say Albrecht split the church. But, if you won’t buy that, howz about Pope Alexander VI, that awful Borgia pope?

  • Grace

    “The question then is whether they preach Christ, and Him crucified, as the only thing. Do they boast in Christ alone? If they do that, perhaps it is possible for us to labor with them and in that we have some sort of unity. If Christ is not all in their preaching, I believe we cannot labor along side them, lest we create the impression that Christ is less than the only thing and become guilty of propagating heresy.”

    “AS THE ONLY THING” ? -

    That is the problem, it has always been. If you are taking this tack, then lets get it on. Both John Calvin and Martin Luther had a deep seated hatred of those who wouldn’t believe as they did.

    John Calvin wanted those who didn’t believe in the Trinity or infant baptism to be burned at the stake. Martin Luther hated the Jews to the extent that he wanted their Synagogues and homes burned, their Holy books taken from them, and literally driven from their towns.

    No amount of excuses on either side have made any impact on those who have studied history. After all, it is only 500 years ago, not easily discarded into the bin of a common fireplace.

    How can any true Believer in Jesus Christ want another person either burned, killed, or their homes destroyed, they and their families driven from their town? – understanding that this was 1500 years from the death and resurrection of the LORD Jesus Christ.

    Both men had access to Scripture, both men understood Jesus had been born from a Jewish family, Mary as the Messiah’s mother. Both men knew Jesus continued until HIS last breath – “forgive them for they know not what they do” Who was Christ speaking to, …. who is it that missed this statement from the Savior?

    There are a lot of churches that preach Christ, but their past doesn’t match up with their so called exclusive rights to the Word of God, or the manuscripts or the Bible. Their leaders have been put on a pedestal, — their doctrine has more volumes than the Bible. ………. think about!

  • Grace

    “The question then is whether they preach Christ, and Him crucified, as the only thing. Do they boast in Christ alone? If they do that, perhaps it is possible for us to labor with them and in that we have some sort of unity. If Christ is not all in their preaching, I believe we cannot labor along side them, lest we create the impression that Christ is less than the only thing and become guilty of propagating heresy.”

    “AS THE ONLY THING” ? -

    That is the problem, it has always been. If you are taking this tack, then lets get it on. Both John Calvin and Martin Luther had a deep seated hatred of those who wouldn’t believe as they did.

    John Calvin wanted those who didn’t believe in the Trinity or infant baptism to be burned at the stake. Martin Luther hated the Jews to the extent that he wanted their Synagogues and homes burned, their Holy books taken from them, and literally driven from their towns.

    No amount of excuses on either side have made any impact on those who have studied history. After all, it is only 500 years ago, not easily discarded into the bin of a common fireplace.

    How can any true Believer in Jesus Christ want another person either burned, killed, or their homes destroyed, they and their families driven from their town? – understanding that this was 1500 years from the death and resurrection of the LORD Jesus Christ.

    Both men had access to Scripture, both men understood Jesus had been born from a Jewish family, Mary as the Messiah’s mother. Both men knew Jesus continued until HIS last breath – “forgive them for they know not what they do” Who was Christ speaking to, …. who is it that missed this statement from the Savior?

    There are a lot of churches that preach Christ, but their past doesn’t match up with their so called exclusive rights to the Word of God, or the manuscripts or the Bible. Their leaders have been put on a pedestal, — their doctrine has more volumes than the Bible. ………. think about!

  • Grace

    “the question in the 21st century is how to heal the split”

    The healing can only take place when the church examines itself, when it looks beyond it’s ‘traditions’ its founders, and looks ONLY to the Savior, the LORD Jesus Christ. Then and only then will it be healed.

    Breathing volumes of books by any church founder will not expound the truth, it is nothing but puffery, … I do not mean commentaries which have been broken down to explain beliefs verse by verse,… but instead a new complete work, to be used instead of the Gospel, as in the case of Calvin and Luther, and the Roman Catholic Church …. volumes upon volumes, exceeding what GOD Almighty gave mankind, as if it were, … by many words and books more important, more insightful to understanding. Instead what we have is books …… which war against the Biblical texts of Scripture.

    Christ laid down the foundation, it is little man who believes he can translate that which is divine, to mean something else…. oh how little we trust the LORD to give us His Word, through His Word, and not through those who have erred so grievously

    Holy Scriptures were written, inerrant and inspired by God through his chosen vessels. The wise will study these Scriptures, they will pray for wisdom, and look to the LORD for wisdom, ….. not to be turned

    <blockquote 12 For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ:

    13 Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ:

    14 That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive;

    15 But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ:

    16 From whom the whole body fitly joined together and compacted by that which every joint supplieth, according to the effectual working in the measure of every part, maketh increase of the body unto the edifying of itself in love. Ephesians 4

    Who my friends, can speak the Word of GOD more clearly, divine, and with love than Christ our LORD?

  • Grace

    “the question in the 21st century is how to heal the split”

    The healing can only take place when the church examines itself, when it looks beyond it’s ‘traditions’ its founders, and looks ONLY to the Savior, the LORD Jesus Christ. Then and only then will it be healed.

    Breathing volumes of books by any church founder will not expound the truth, it is nothing but puffery, … I do not mean commentaries which have been broken down to explain beliefs verse by verse,… but instead a new complete work, to be used instead of the Gospel, as in the case of Calvin and Luther, and the Roman Catholic Church …. volumes upon volumes, exceeding what GOD Almighty gave mankind, as if it were, … by many words and books more important, more insightful to understanding. Instead what we have is books …… which war against the Biblical texts of Scripture.

    Christ laid down the foundation, it is little man who believes he can translate that which is divine, to mean something else…. oh how little we trust the LORD to give us His Word, through His Word, and not through those who have erred so grievously

    Holy Scriptures were written, inerrant and inspired by God through his chosen vessels. The wise will study these Scriptures, they will pray for wisdom, and look to the LORD for wisdom, ….. not to be turned

    <blockquote 12 For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ:

    13 Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ:

    14 That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive;

    15 But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ:

    16 From whom the whole body fitly joined together and compacted by that which every joint supplieth, according to the effectual working in the measure of every part, maketh increase of the body unto the edifying of itself in love. Ephesians 4

    Who my friends, can speak the Word of GOD more clearly, divine, and with love than Christ our LORD?

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Once again, Grace (@28), you show that you are incapable of distinguishing between Martin Luther and the Lutheran church. Your hatred for the man and inability to forgive him is no more Christian than were his anti-Semitic writings.

    That is all I will say to you on this thread. Feel free to have the last word.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Once again, Grace (@28), you show that you are incapable of distinguishing between Martin Luther and the Lutheran church. Your hatred for the man and inability to forgive him is no more Christian than were his anti-Semitic writings.

    That is all I will say to you on this thread. Feel free to have the last word.

  • Grace

    tODD – 30

    “you show that you are incapable of distinguishing between Martin Luther and the Lutheran church. Your hatred for the man and inability to forgive him is no more Christian than were his anti-Semitic writings.”

    The word “question” is used a few times, long before I posted. Look back at the posts. You, . . . . . . always looking for “hatred” which isn’t there, doesn’t serve you well. I mentioned Calvin and Luther in both of my previous posts, and from that you derive ‘hatred’….. no my friend, I am making a point, and that is exactly what my posts 28 and 29 state.

    You are doing nothing but TRYING to derail what I posted, rather than reading.

    Oh… and it isn’t “the last word” that is important, it is what is left behind, that others might benefit from.

    It is not winning tODD, it is what is TRUTH -

  • Grace

    tODD – 30

    “you show that you are incapable of distinguishing between Martin Luther and the Lutheran church. Your hatred for the man and inability to forgive him is no more Christian than were his anti-Semitic writings.”

    The word “question” is used a few times, long before I posted. Look back at the posts. You, . . . . . . always looking for “hatred” which isn’t there, doesn’t serve you well. I mentioned Calvin and Luther in both of my previous posts, and from that you derive ‘hatred’….. no my friend, I am making a point, and that is exactly what my posts 28 and 29 state.

    You are doing nothing but TRYING to derail what I posted, rather than reading.

    Oh… and it isn’t “the last word” that is important, it is what is left behind, that others might benefit from.

    It is not winning tODD, it is what is TRUTH -

  • Grace

    This is what I posted #29 – however there was a mistake in quote.

    “the question in the 21st century is how to heal the split”

    The healing can only take place when the church examines itself, when it looks beyond it’s ‘traditions’ its founders, and looks ONLY to the Savior, the LORD Jesus Christ. Then and only then will it be healed.

    Breathing volumes of books by any church founder will not expound the truth, it is nothing but puffery, … I do not mean commentaries which have been broken down to explain beliefs verse by verse,… but instead a new complete work, to be used instead of the Gospel, as in the case of Calvin and Luther, and the Roman Catholic Church …. volumes upon volumes, exceeding what GOD Almighty gave mankind, as if it were, … by many words and books more important, more insightful to understanding. Instead what we have is books …… which war against the Biblical texts of Scripture.

    Christ laid down the foundation, it is little man who believes he can translate that which is divine, to mean something else…. oh how little we trust the LORD to give us His Word, through His Word, and not through those who have erred so grievously

    Holy Scriptures were written, inerrant and inspired by God through his chosen vessels. The wise will study these Scriptures, they will pray for wisdom, and look to the LORD for wisdom, ….. not to be turned

    12 For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ:

    13 Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ:

    14 That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive;

    15 But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ:

    16 From whom the whole body fitly joined together and compacted by that which every joint supplieth, according to the effectual working in the measure of every part, maketh increase of the body unto the edifying of itself in love. Ephesians 4

    Who my friends, can speak the Word of GOD more clearly, divine, and with love than Christ our LORD?

  • Grace

    This is what I posted #29 – however there was a mistake in quote.

    “the question in the 21st century is how to heal the split”

    The healing can only take place when the church examines itself, when it looks beyond it’s ‘traditions’ its founders, and looks ONLY to the Savior, the LORD Jesus Christ. Then and only then will it be healed.

    Breathing volumes of books by any church founder will not expound the truth, it is nothing but puffery, … I do not mean commentaries which have been broken down to explain beliefs verse by verse,… but instead a new complete work, to be used instead of the Gospel, as in the case of Calvin and Luther, and the Roman Catholic Church …. volumes upon volumes, exceeding what GOD Almighty gave mankind, as if it were, … by many words and books more important, more insightful to understanding. Instead what we have is books …… which war against the Biblical texts of Scripture.

    Christ laid down the foundation, it is little man who believes he can translate that which is divine, to mean something else…. oh how little we trust the LORD to give us His Word, through His Word, and not through those who have erred so grievously

    Holy Scriptures were written, inerrant and inspired by God through his chosen vessels. The wise will study these Scriptures, they will pray for wisdom, and look to the LORD for wisdom, ….. not to be turned

    12 For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ:

    13 Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ:

    14 That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive;

    15 But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ:

    16 From whom the whole body fitly joined together and compacted by that which every joint supplieth, according to the effectual working in the measure of every part, maketh increase of the body unto the edifying of itself in love. Ephesians 4

    Who my friends, can speak the Word of GOD more clearly, divine, and with love than Christ our LORD?

  • SKPeterson

    Well, Grace, since you present the tautology, only Christ can as Christ IS the Word. You’ve made a fine case for the Lutheran understanding of sola Christe. Now you can move on to the Great Lutheran Paradox: How can there be 4 solas? Almost as great a mystery as the Trinity.

    Now, what else are you trying to prove? What in the Concordia is in discrepancy with the clear Word of God? There may be something, but I challenge you to find it – it was written by sinful men, but much of what is contained in the Confessions is basic Christian dogma, much of the Church Fathers, and objections to abuses by the See of Rome. What within either the Augsburg or Heidelberg confessions do you object to? The Creeds? And, why do you think that either Confession replaces the Word of God? I have never been in a Lutheran or Presbyterian church in which either Confession has been presented or read from as Scripture. Both documents are confessions, nothing more. The Holy Scriptures are set forth in the Book of Concord to be the sole, divine source and norm of all Christian doctrine.

  • SKPeterson

    Well, Grace, since you present the tautology, only Christ can as Christ IS the Word. You’ve made a fine case for the Lutheran understanding of sola Christe. Now you can move on to the Great Lutheran Paradox: How can there be 4 solas? Almost as great a mystery as the Trinity.

    Now, what else are you trying to prove? What in the Concordia is in discrepancy with the clear Word of God? There may be something, but I challenge you to find it – it was written by sinful men, but much of what is contained in the Confessions is basic Christian dogma, much of the Church Fathers, and objections to abuses by the See of Rome. What within either the Augsburg or Heidelberg confessions do you object to? The Creeds? And, why do you think that either Confession replaces the Word of God? I have never been in a Lutheran or Presbyterian church in which either Confession has been presented or read from as Scripture. Both documents are confessions, nothing more. The Holy Scriptures are set forth in the Book of Concord to be the sole, divine source and norm of all Christian doctrine.

  • SKPeterson

    Also, the “Luther hated the Jews” argument is a canard. To say that anyone who doesn’t act in a Christian manner, even if they are a Christian, is not a true Christian, is to condemn everyone who has ever proclaimed Christ as savior from Peter and the rest of the 11 down to the present day.

  • SKPeterson

    Also, the “Luther hated the Jews” argument is a canard. To say that anyone who doesn’t act in a Christian manner, even if they are a Christian, is not a true Christian, is to condemn everyone who has ever proclaimed Christ as savior from Peter and the rest of the 11 down to the present day.

  • Stephen

    Luther said somewhere, probably in the Table Talks, that the Word reformed the church while he and Philip were busy drinking good German ale.

    I’m sure you can have fun despising old Luther with that one Grace!

  • Stephen

    Luther said somewhere, probably in the Table Talks, that the Word reformed the church while he and Philip were busy drinking good German ale.

    I’m sure you can have fun despising old Luther with that one Grace!

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  • trotk

    Grace, tODD is exactly correct in his response.

    I wrote in #26 about loving and preaching the gospel with others.

    Your response in #28 (“If you are taking this tack, then lets get it on.”) was to accuse Luther and Calvin. You took an opportunity which was never presented, because you consistently delight in dragging Luther’s sins before this crowd, in spite of the fact that they all know the sins, and disagree with them just as vehemently as you. You are the only one dwelling on them. This is not about truth, as you told tODD. It is about an agenda of pride.

    Your response couldn’t have had less to do with what you were responding to. You did anything but examine the question of whether we can co-labor with those with whom we disagree. Instead, you plastered the sins of a man dead nearly half a millennium on the wall. What?

    Oh yeah, an agenda of pride. The Pharisee complex (At least I’m not like him…)

  • trotk

    Grace, tODD is exactly correct in his response.

    I wrote in #26 about loving and preaching the gospel with others.

    Your response in #28 (“If you are taking this tack, then lets get it on.”) was to accuse Luther and Calvin. You took an opportunity which was never presented, because you consistently delight in dragging Luther’s sins before this crowd, in spite of the fact that they all know the sins, and disagree with them just as vehemently as you. You are the only one dwelling on them. This is not about truth, as you told tODD. It is about an agenda of pride.

    Your response couldn’t have had less to do with what you were responding to. You did anything but examine the question of whether we can co-labor with those with whom we disagree. Instead, you plastered the sins of a man dead nearly half a millennium on the wall. What?

    Oh yeah, an agenda of pride. The Pharisee complex (At least I’m not like him…)

  • Larry

    It seems that the Roman church was at the time and for some time not nearly as ubiquitous as it portrayed itself. There was the “official doctrine” on paper, then there was the practice of the differing factions and monk houses and their local influences. There were numerous factions of monks whose doctrines varied greatly, a lot heterodoxy within the Roman church. Zwingli for example came from one of these camps, Calvin more indirectly. It seems that the Roman church was more an assemblage of factions with a “pope” capping the whole bit. Then during the reformation, Luther with the orthodoxy was expelled and this loosened the hands of the pope on the other factions. The other factions, not all but many of them, ultimately separated too (perhaps due to some unfounded boldness to do so)

    A remark Zwingli made at the Marburg C. seems revealing. He basically said that many RCs did not really believe the official churches doctrine on the LS, that it was the real body and blood of Christ. It shows, I think, a predisposition of some within Rome for their sectarian tendency. Add some boldness to break with Rome then you have Zwingli and Calvin and the other radical enthusiasts of their time (including the Anabaptist). It would do good, for example, for baptist and reformed who hold to a more or less Zwinglian doctrine on this to know their real roots. Those roots ultimately from heretical factions within the RC system of church government that more or less unfettered themselves from Rome during a time of “boldness” due to other things going on.

    The interesting thing about Luther and the reformation he sparked which yielded ultimately the Augsburg confession, is that for him and the Lutherans that the reformation centered around what to reform that was obscuring the Gospel that Rome had concreted ONTO otherwise fine things. Not just “against anything looking roman catholic” to the eye ball. E.g. When my wife and I first came to a liturgical Lutheran worship, I had been a few weeks earlier by myself, I told her, don’t react with baptist eyes toward roman looking or sounding things. Rather, HEAR what they say about them (e.g. infant baptism with the upfront exorcism, even though we’d been PCA for a few years, admittedly took some explaining. Infant baptism we’d come to, exorcism was a bit new to us – teaching is often a slow process!). Never the less, we both observed this one thing: That many things in what is now our Lutheran church indeed “looks Roman Catholic” to the eye and sounds such to the ear, the external visuals and statements. And by comparison in our baptist churches NOTHING looked nor sounded roman catholic at all, it is all eschewed. Yet, doctrinally our baptist churches were in line with the Roman church just under different externals (e.g. a good friend of mine that was baptist who had been RC was the ONLY person wearing out the aisle during the alter call nearly every Sunday to rededicate or consider rebaptism = de facto purgatory). And the Lutheran church visually looked more RC but its doctrine could not have been more opposing to Rome (and Baptist and Reformed). That’s tough to get and see sometimes though because of one’s ‘gut reaction’ coming out of other heterodoxies. Ironically, her baptism family members, who visited, saw it too. There’s that “gut” baptist/reformed” reaction to the sites and sounds that “look and sound” roman – which begets a faulty “what really was the reformation about?” E.g. my wife and I noted how out of sorts one would feel mentioning “the Father, the Son and Holy Spirit” in a baptist worship as part of the more or less liturgy (other than at baptism), because that “sounds” roman catholic. It’s that bad in many baptist circumstances that THAT would sound “RC”. Try it next few times at your baptist worship and you will hear the reaction, don’t take my word for it!

    I say all that for a reason, if anything, Luther was unifying under the true orthodox doctrine. But Rome and the separate factions that ultimately house themselves under the names of Zwingli, Calvin and Anabaptist and all the variants in between continued the disunity away from the Gospel in various ways and by varying degrees.

    I’ve often wonder, as an intellectual exercise (and hope), what would happen if a “Luther” would rise up among say the Baptist and tried to unite all under the Gospel and repair the false doctrines that hide Christ there within? Because today in American Protestantism we have the same “heterodoxy everywhere” that M. Rome had, you just don’t have that single top of the heap Pope leadership, its more like a union amalgamation of the factions and sects. One sees hints of a “Luther” in these heterodoxies. E.g. my best friend, Christian friend is a baptist pastor and he is very Law Gospel and has a strong Gospel, yet he is held back due to the other doctrines. When he has seen for example the Gospel in baptism and implemented it in the baptismal ceremony. Every time he baptizes he says God does something in that baptism, God actually works in it. The baptist congregants and elders at his church call him on it and say, “That’s not baptist” (I’ve told him they are right you know, your are Lutheran becoming and don’t realize it). But see, he’s got that ‘something is wrong here and fixing it per the gospel’ and catching flak for it.

    Luther didn’t split the church, he was called by God to call the people of God out of Babylon and a church that had long gone apostate and become officially (false). Luther attempted to restore the church, and ultimately did, just not the way he planned initially I suppose. We see the same dynamic today in Protestantism, the true doctrines of grace are calling people out of the heterodoxies and great apostacies unto the Gospel and its orthodoxy. The true invisible church expresses herself in her external orthodoxy, that over time has the appearance that it moves. E.g. at one time Rome was truly the champion of orthodoxy’s expression and confession. One’s duty as a Christian, is to find the orthodoxy, the external expression of the true invisible church.

  • Larry

    It seems that the Roman church was at the time and for some time not nearly as ubiquitous as it portrayed itself. There was the “official doctrine” on paper, then there was the practice of the differing factions and monk houses and their local influences. There were numerous factions of monks whose doctrines varied greatly, a lot heterodoxy within the Roman church. Zwingli for example came from one of these camps, Calvin more indirectly. It seems that the Roman church was more an assemblage of factions with a “pope” capping the whole bit. Then during the reformation, Luther with the orthodoxy was expelled and this loosened the hands of the pope on the other factions. The other factions, not all but many of them, ultimately separated too (perhaps due to some unfounded boldness to do so)

    A remark Zwingli made at the Marburg C. seems revealing. He basically said that many RCs did not really believe the official churches doctrine on the LS, that it was the real body and blood of Christ. It shows, I think, a predisposition of some within Rome for their sectarian tendency. Add some boldness to break with Rome then you have Zwingli and Calvin and the other radical enthusiasts of their time (including the Anabaptist). It would do good, for example, for baptist and reformed who hold to a more or less Zwinglian doctrine on this to know their real roots. Those roots ultimately from heretical factions within the RC system of church government that more or less unfettered themselves from Rome during a time of “boldness” due to other things going on.

    The interesting thing about Luther and the reformation he sparked which yielded ultimately the Augsburg confession, is that for him and the Lutherans that the reformation centered around what to reform that was obscuring the Gospel that Rome had concreted ONTO otherwise fine things. Not just “against anything looking roman catholic” to the eye ball. E.g. When my wife and I first came to a liturgical Lutheran worship, I had been a few weeks earlier by myself, I told her, don’t react with baptist eyes toward roman looking or sounding things. Rather, HEAR what they say about them (e.g. infant baptism with the upfront exorcism, even though we’d been PCA for a few years, admittedly took some explaining. Infant baptism we’d come to, exorcism was a bit new to us – teaching is often a slow process!). Never the less, we both observed this one thing: That many things in what is now our Lutheran church indeed “looks Roman Catholic” to the eye and sounds such to the ear, the external visuals and statements. And by comparison in our baptist churches NOTHING looked nor sounded roman catholic at all, it is all eschewed. Yet, doctrinally our baptist churches were in line with the Roman church just under different externals (e.g. a good friend of mine that was baptist who had been RC was the ONLY person wearing out the aisle during the alter call nearly every Sunday to rededicate or consider rebaptism = de facto purgatory). And the Lutheran church visually looked more RC but its doctrine could not have been more opposing to Rome (and Baptist and Reformed). That’s tough to get and see sometimes though because of one’s ‘gut reaction’ coming out of other heterodoxies. Ironically, her baptism family members, who visited, saw it too. There’s that “gut” baptist/reformed” reaction to the sites and sounds that “look and sound” roman – which begets a faulty “what really was the reformation about?” E.g. my wife and I noted how out of sorts one would feel mentioning “the Father, the Son and Holy Spirit” in a baptist worship as part of the more or less liturgy (other than at baptism), because that “sounds” roman catholic. It’s that bad in many baptist circumstances that THAT would sound “RC”. Try it next few times at your baptist worship and you will hear the reaction, don’t take my word for it!

    I say all that for a reason, if anything, Luther was unifying under the true orthodox doctrine. But Rome and the separate factions that ultimately house themselves under the names of Zwingli, Calvin and Anabaptist and all the variants in between continued the disunity away from the Gospel in various ways and by varying degrees.

    I’ve often wonder, as an intellectual exercise (and hope), what would happen if a “Luther” would rise up among say the Baptist and tried to unite all under the Gospel and repair the false doctrines that hide Christ there within? Because today in American Protestantism we have the same “heterodoxy everywhere” that M. Rome had, you just don’t have that single top of the heap Pope leadership, its more like a union amalgamation of the factions and sects. One sees hints of a “Luther” in these heterodoxies. E.g. my best friend, Christian friend is a baptist pastor and he is very Law Gospel and has a strong Gospel, yet he is held back due to the other doctrines. When he has seen for example the Gospel in baptism and implemented it in the baptismal ceremony. Every time he baptizes he says God does something in that baptism, God actually works in it. The baptist congregants and elders at his church call him on it and say, “That’s not baptist” (I’ve told him they are right you know, your are Lutheran becoming and don’t realize it). But see, he’s got that ‘something is wrong here and fixing it per the gospel’ and catching flak for it.

    Luther didn’t split the church, he was called by God to call the people of God out of Babylon and a church that had long gone apostate and become officially (false). Luther attempted to restore the church, and ultimately did, just not the way he planned initially I suppose. We see the same dynamic today in Protestantism, the true doctrines of grace are calling people out of the heterodoxies and great apostacies unto the Gospel and its orthodoxy. The true invisible church expresses herself in her external orthodoxy, that over time has the appearance that it moves. E.g. at one time Rome was truly the champion of orthodoxy’s expression and confession. One’s duty as a Christian, is to find the orthodoxy, the external expression of the true invisible church.

  • Tom Hering

    In topic after topic, Grace, you keep bringing up Luther and the Jews. Do you think you might be off-topic in every case? Way off-topic?

    You’re perilously close to being a troll. To interjecting the same thing over and over again for the sole purpose of jabbing at the regular participants on this blog – at least those who are Lutheran. I honestly can’t see how it’s meant to further any of our discussions. But it’s painfully obvious how it degrades the atmosphere here.

    At this point, when you’ve been answered again and again with reasonable responses, and have even received apologies for Luther’s rotten little book, I have to request that Dr. Veith ban you – at least temporarily – if you bring the matter up again in an off-topic way.

  • Tom Hering

    In topic after topic, Grace, you keep bringing up Luther and the Jews. Do you think you might be off-topic in every case? Way off-topic?

    You’re perilously close to being a troll. To interjecting the same thing over and over again for the sole purpose of jabbing at the regular participants on this blog – at least those who are Lutheran. I honestly can’t see how it’s meant to further any of our discussions. But it’s painfully obvious how it degrades the atmosphere here.

    At this point, when you’ve been answered again and again with reasonable responses, and have even received apologies for Luther’s rotten little book, I have to request that Dr. Veith ban you – at least temporarily – if you bring the matter up again in an off-topic way.

  • JonSLC

    Larry @ 37: “Yet, doctrinally our baptist churches were in line with the Roman church just under different externals.”

    That’s a keen insight, Larry. It seems to me that Arminians and Roman Catholics are peas in a pod in many ways. For Roman Catholics, it’s “Faith plus works of charity” (fides caritate formata, faith given its essence by love). For Arminians, it’s “Faith plus your decision.”

  • JonSLC

    Larry @ 37: “Yet, doctrinally our baptist churches were in line with the Roman church just under different externals.”

    That’s a keen insight, Larry. It seems to me that Arminians and Roman Catholics are peas in a pod in many ways. For Roman Catholics, it’s “Faith plus works of charity” (fides caritate formata, faith given its essence by love). For Arminians, it’s “Faith plus your decision.”

  • Grace

    Tom Hering – 38

    “Do you think you might be off-topic in every case? Way off-topic?”

    No I don’t!

    “At this point, when you’ve been answered again and again with reasonable responses, and have even received apologies for Luther’s rotten little book, I have to request that Dr. Veith ban you – at least temporarily – if you bring the matter up again in an off-topic way.”

    Go and tattle Tom, …. Dr. Veith most likely reads some of these posts anyway. Banning is an interesting effect, especially when it has nothing to do with being untruthful, or foul language. Interesting…………. think about banning, in every form!! I think you get the idea.

    The point of this thread is “Who split the Church” – I believe that the split comes from many areas. The Roman Church, those who are under the umbrellas of both Calvin and Luther….. for just the reasons I gave earlier in posts #22, #29 and #31.

    I outlined my belief regarding “Who split the Church” – and yes it does mean the Roman Church, Calvin and Luther, and a few others in the past few hundred years. Good grief Tom, whether you realize it or not, the subject at hand is discussed on many occasions, even though it is not within ear shot of you or those who agree with, or attend your church.

    “You’re perilously close to being a troll. To interjecting the same thing over and over again for the sole purpose of jabbing at the regular participants on this blog – at least those who are Lutheran.”

    As far as “jabbing” goes, you do your fair share most every single time you post to me, FOR ANY comment you disagree… for that reason I avoid posting to you. Calling me a “troll” time after time is nothing but harassment, … I have never called you names.

  • Grace

    Tom Hering – 38

    “Do you think you might be off-topic in every case? Way off-topic?”

    No I don’t!

    “At this point, when you’ve been answered again and again with reasonable responses, and have even received apologies for Luther’s rotten little book, I have to request that Dr. Veith ban you – at least temporarily – if you bring the matter up again in an off-topic way.”

    Go and tattle Tom, …. Dr. Veith most likely reads some of these posts anyway. Banning is an interesting effect, especially when it has nothing to do with being untruthful, or foul language. Interesting…………. think about banning, in every form!! I think you get the idea.

    The point of this thread is “Who split the Church” – I believe that the split comes from many areas. The Roman Church, those who are under the umbrellas of both Calvin and Luther….. for just the reasons I gave earlier in posts #22, #29 and #31.

    I outlined my belief regarding “Who split the Church” – and yes it does mean the Roman Church, Calvin and Luther, and a few others in the past few hundred years. Good grief Tom, whether you realize it or not, the subject at hand is discussed on many occasions, even though it is not within ear shot of you or those who agree with, or attend your church.

    “You’re perilously close to being a troll. To interjecting the same thing over and over again for the sole purpose of jabbing at the regular participants on this blog – at least those who are Lutheran.”

    As far as “jabbing” goes, you do your fair share most every single time you post to me, FOR ANY comment you disagree… for that reason I avoid posting to you. Calling me a “troll” time after time is nothing but harassment, … I have never called you names.

  • Grace

    Post 40 should read:
    #28, #29 and #31.

  • Grace

    Post 40 should read:
    #28, #29 and #31.

  • Grace

    trotk – 26

    Your response in #28 (“If you are taking this tack, then lets get it on.”) was to accuse Luther and Calvin. You took an opportunity which was never presented, because you consistently delight in dragging Luther’s sins before this crowd, in spite of the fact that they all know the sins, and disagree with them just as vehemently as you. You are the only one dwelling on them. This is not about truth, as you told tODD. It is about an agenda of pride.”

    Trotk, whether you understand or not, the point is, that those who disagree, with the RCC, Calvin and Luther, to name one church and two much later in history …. do so – not just because of their obvious willful sin, but because they are put on a pedestal, even calling themselves by their founders names. That is unfathomable to the rest of the Christian body.

    Let me put it another way, the Apostles believed Christ, yet after they came to a full knowledge did not blatantly sin, wishing harm, etc., on another individual. The LORD will judge those without (For what have I to do to judge them also that are without? do not ye judge them that are within? 1 Corinthians 5) this passage applies, both then and now within the body of Christ. Those who don’t agree with us, or turn their back on Christ,…. it is God who will judge.

    I don’t think you understand the harm that is caused, or the repercussions. Another point – I don’t “delight” in sin, it is grievous and painful. I don’t believe we can cure the ills of the church, it has been an on-going occurrence for centuries. Christ saw it first hand when his teachings were mocked, or when they tried to seize Him during his ministry. He never wished them harm, He did warn them of the consequences of their un-belief.

  • Grace

    trotk – 26

    Your response in #28 (“If you are taking this tack, then lets get it on.”) was to accuse Luther and Calvin. You took an opportunity which was never presented, because you consistently delight in dragging Luther’s sins before this crowd, in spite of the fact that they all know the sins, and disagree with them just as vehemently as you. You are the only one dwelling on them. This is not about truth, as you told tODD. It is about an agenda of pride.”

    Trotk, whether you understand or not, the point is, that those who disagree, with the RCC, Calvin and Luther, to name one church and two much later in history …. do so – not just because of their obvious willful sin, but because they are put on a pedestal, even calling themselves by their founders names. That is unfathomable to the rest of the Christian body.

    Let me put it another way, the Apostles believed Christ, yet after they came to a full knowledge did not blatantly sin, wishing harm, etc., on another individual. The LORD will judge those without (For what have I to do to judge them also that are without? do not ye judge them that are within? 1 Corinthians 5) this passage applies, both then and now within the body of Christ. Those who don’t agree with us, or turn their back on Christ,…. it is God who will judge.

    I don’t think you understand the harm that is caused, or the repercussions. Another point – I don’t “delight” in sin, it is grievous and painful. I don’t believe we can cure the ills of the church, it has been an on-going occurrence for centuries. Christ saw it first hand when his teachings were mocked, or when they tried to seize Him during his ministry. He never wished them harm, He did warn them of the consequences of their un-belief.

  • trotk

    Grace, the part that you miss is that it isn’t a response at all to what you were ostensibly addressing. You quoted my statement about co-laboring and the need for a common presentation (Christ only) of the gospel, and then went back to your familiar stomping grounds of “Luther was evil”.

    Again, your agenda has driven you off-topic. If you don’t delight in sin, you need to be aware that you appear to do so on this blog.

  • trotk

    Grace, the part that you miss is that it isn’t a response at all to what you were ostensibly addressing. You quoted my statement about co-laboring and the need for a common presentation (Christ only) of the gospel, and then went back to your familiar stomping grounds of “Luther was evil”.

    Again, your agenda has driven you off-topic. If you don’t delight in sin, you need to be aware that you appear to do so on this blog.

  • Grace

    trokt – 43

    “Grace, the part that you miss is that it isn’t a response at all to what you were ostensibly addressing. You quoted my statement about co-laboring and the need for a common presentation (Christ only) of the gospel, and then went back to your familiar stomping grounds of “Luther was evil”.

    Trokt – you again stick your foot in it……. and then you even use QUOTE marks – ” – there are three instances on this thread when the word “evil” has been used.

    1. Paul #2
    2. Bror #6
    3. YOU # 43

    Where did I use the word evil?

  • Grace

    trokt – 43

    “Grace, the part that you miss is that it isn’t a response at all to what you were ostensibly addressing. You quoted my statement about co-laboring and the need for a common presentation (Christ only) of the gospel, and then went back to your familiar stomping grounds of “Luther was evil”.

    Trokt – you again stick your foot in it……. and then you even use QUOTE marks – ” – there are three instances on this thread when the word “evil” has been used.

    1. Paul #2
    2. Bror #6
    3. YOU # 43

    Where did I use the word evil?

  • SKPeterson

    Well, it’s not like we’re the Popular Front of Judea.

  • SKPeterson

    Well, it’s not like we’re the Popular Front of Judea.

  • trotk

    Grace -

    At #44.

    You are master of straining the gnat and swallowing the camel.

  • trotk

    Grace -

    At #44.

    You are master of straining the gnat and swallowing the camel.

  • Grace

    trotk

    It’s not mastering anything special trotk, you either understand when to use quote marks, or YOU use them to make a point you don’t have – case in point!

    You my friend, are the one eating gnats and chocking on the camel.

  • Grace

    trotk

    It’s not mastering anything special trotk, you either understand when to use quote marks, or YOU use them to make a point you don’t have – case in point!

    You my friend, are the one eating gnats and chocking on the camel.

  • trotk

    chocking? As in putting wheel chocks behind it so it won’t roll backward?

  • trotk

    chocking? As in putting wheel chocks behind it so it won’t roll backward?

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

    sk Peterson, @45
    Well I certainly hope no one would confuse us with those collaborators! No, we are the Judean Front for Popularity! I think…

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

    sk Peterson, @45
    Well I certainly hope no one would confuse us with those collaborators! No, we are the Judean Front for Popularity! I think…

  • trotk

    Grace, I’ve been trying to digest this statement:

    “you either understand when to use quote marks, or YOU use them to make a point you don’t have”

    I can’t really grasp the either/or here. Are these the only two options?

    The logical “or” seems to be “…or you don’t understand when to use quote marks.”
    The logical either seems to be “You use them to make a point you do have, or…”

    It seems like you have combined two, unrelated thoughts.

    Perhaps then we should say, either you know how to present a mutually exclusive choice, or you have steak for dinner!

    Back to reality:

    Do you actually think that a statement about Luther’s sins logically follows from a question about co-laboring in the gospel with Christians from other denominations?

  • trotk

    Grace, I’ve been trying to digest this statement:

    “you either understand when to use quote marks, or YOU use them to make a point you don’t have”

    I can’t really grasp the either/or here. Are these the only two options?

    The logical “or” seems to be “…or you don’t understand when to use quote marks.”
    The logical either seems to be “You use them to make a point you do have, or…”

    It seems like you have combined two, unrelated thoughts.

    Perhaps then we should say, either you know how to present a mutually exclusive choice, or you have steak for dinner!

    Back to reality:

    Do you actually think that a statement about Luther’s sins logically follows from a question about co-laboring in the gospel with Christians from other denominations?

  • bob

    “Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they keep watch over your souls as those who will give an account.” Hebrews 13:17. Question: Is it ever OK in light of Hebrews 13:17 to leave an “evangelical church” and join a Luthern church?

  • bob

    “Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they keep watch over your souls as those who will give an account.” Hebrews 13:17. Question: Is it ever OK in light of Hebrews 13:17 to leave an “evangelical church” and join a Luthern church?

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

    Bob,
    I’ll try to take that that question is serious. And I’ll just say that yes, it most certainly is OK in light of Hebrews 13:17 to leave an “evangelical” church and join the Evangelical Lutheran Church. As Jesus worns us to flee from wolves in sheep’s clothing etc. If you become convinced that what you are being taught at your “evangelical” church is wrong you have every right to leave. If the leaders are not caring for your souls, you should leave.

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

    Bob,
    I’ll try to take that that question is serious. And I’ll just say that yes, it most certainly is OK in light of Hebrews 13:17 to leave an “evangelical” church and join the Evangelical Lutheran Church. As Jesus worns us to flee from wolves in sheep’s clothing etc. If you become convinced that what you are being taught at your “evangelical” church is wrong you have every right to leave. If the leaders are not caring for your souls, you should leave.

  • Larry

    Bob,

    Perhaps this might help. Hebrews 13:17 presupposes orthodoxy in the first place, not heterodoxy. But in our day and age because that is perceived as a “harsh line to draw” we get confused on what Scripture instructs of us.

    Helpful excerpts from F. Pieper’s Third Thesis on the issue:

    It is, therefore, not a matter of indifference which church group a Christian joins; but he has God’s earnest command strictly to distinguish between orthodox and heterodox churches, and, avoiding all church fellowship with the heterodox, to adhere only to the orthodox Church.
    If, as we have seen in the Second Thesis, it is true that God wants only orthodox churches, and if the existence of heterodox churches is to be traced back to Divine permission only, then, as stated now in the Third Thesis, it is “not a matter of indifference which church group a Christian joins.”
    Many Christians suppose that it makes no difference which church group a Christian joins, and they act accordingly. When they come to a place where any kind of Protestant church is found, they join it as members. There are people who were successively Reformed, Baptists, Methodists, Presbyterians, Congregationalists, depending upon the place where they lived. And we should not be surprised when this happens among the sects, for they are not certain about their distinctive doctrines, because they are not grounded in God’s Word.
    But even such who want to be Lutherans, and who confess that the doctrine which they have learned from the Lutheran Catechism is the correct one, often have few misgivings about joining heterodox congregations. They, therefore, also act accordingly, as though it makes little difference to which church group a Christian belongs. But this is altogether wrong. Only then would this be a matter of indifference if, before God, there were no difference between orthodox and heterodox churches. But, now, there is a great difference, as we have seen in our Second Thesis, — a difference so great that God wants only the orthodox Church, and, on the other hand, in His Word clearly condemns heterodox churches. Therefore, it is the duty of every Christian who wants to be guided by God’s Word alone to distinguish strictly between orthodox and heterodox churches. Before he joins a church group, he must answer the question: Is this church orthodox or not?
    God also expressly requires that of Christians. “Beloved,” we read in I John 4:1, “believe not every spirit, but try the spirits; whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world.” And the Lord Jesus exhorts all Christians (Matt. 7:15): “Beware of false prophets.” So, those Christians who do not want to distinguish between true and false prophets, and, consequently, also not between orthodox and heterodox churches, are disobedient to an express command of God.
    In our day, people either do not make this distinction at all, or at least not in the right manner. They not only fail to declare it the Christian’s duty to distinguish between orthodox and heterodox church bodies, but they even declare it to be a Christian virtue when people pay no attention to the doctrinal differences. Yes, they call it presumptuous when a church body maintains that in all articles of Christian faith it has the revealed truth of God’s Word…

    … If you therefore ask on what basis a Christian must distinguish between heterodox and orthodox churches, the answer is: On the basis of beliefs, on the basis of doctrine. Only on that basis can a true judgment be reached; not on the basis that outwardly a Christian life appears to prevail in a congregation or that the minister gives the impression of being a pious man. That can all be sheep’s clothing which conceals the errorist, as Christ the Lord says in Matt. 7:15: “Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep’s clothing.” Moreover, you cannot judge on the basis that a man appeals to Scripture and quotes Scripture; but Christians must examine whether the doctrine of Scripture is really also being taught. The devil, too, in the temptation of Christ, quoted Scripture.
    Yes, Christians should not even be influenced by signs and wonders, for those wonders may likewise be only seeming wonders, deception, and Satanic delusion. Already in the Old Testament, God called the attention of His believers to this. In the passage already quoted, Deut. 13:1-3, it is stated: “If there arise among you a prophet, or a dreamer of dreams, and giveth thee a sign or wonder, and the sign or wonder come to pass, whereof he spake unto thee saying, Let us go after other gods, which thou hast not known, and let us serve them; Thou shalt not hearken unto the words of that prophet, or that dreamer of dreams; for the Lord your God proveth you, to know whether ye love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul.” This is a very powerful passage to show that in judging church bodies and teachers we should look alone at the doctrine to see whether they teach God’s Word purely and clearly. Even signs and wonders are not infallible distinguishing marks. These can look outwardly like wonders, but in reality be deception, or an effect produced by the devil. Signs and wonders should influence us only then when they are accompanied by the correct doctrine. If false doctrine is present, we should call him who presents it a false prophet, even if he would show us things that are ever so astounding. The Pope’s coming, according to 2 Thessalonians 2, is after the working of Satan with all kinds of lying power and signs and wonders. Of the Last Times, Christ the Lord says, Mat.24:24: “There shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall show great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect.” Accordingly, the Christians have the duty on the basis of doctrine to distinguish between orthodox and heterodox churches.
    But can they do this? Certainly! For Christ the Lord tells them to do this, and this at the same time implies that by God’s grace they can do it. Many suppose that only pastors are in a position to distinguish between orthodox and heterodox churches. But this is altogether wrong. Precisely all Christians, and not only the pastors, are exhorted by Christ the Lord, in Matt. 7:15: “Beware of false prophets.” And John says: “Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world” (1 John 4:1); this passage is likewise addressed to all Christians alike. Christ the Lord has so arranged it, that all His dear Christians, the unlearned as well as the learned, can distinguish between truth and falsehood in spiritual things. He has revealed all doctrines in perfectly clear passages, in passages which can be understood by the unlearned as well as the learned. The Holy Scriptures are such a testimony, that makes wise also the simple (Psalm 19:7). When, therefore, a Christian simply holds to the Word of Scripture, then he can very well distinguish between truth and error.
    That the Christians sometimes are confused and imagine that they do not know which is the true doctrine, is due to the fact, that they lose sight of the Word of Scripture, that they want to judge this matter with their blind reason, and not with God’s Word, which refutes all errors as soon as it is brought into the discussion….

    Therefore a Christian can and should distinguish between orthodox and heterodox churches. He should then also act according to this knowledge. While avoiding all fellowship with the heterodox, he should adhere only to the orthodox Church. This God’s Word declares in all passages which admonish the Christian not to listen to false prophets, but to flee from them. For by belonging to heterodox congregations you listen to their preachers, the false prophets, and thus do the very opposite of that which Christ has commanded regarding false teachers. The passages already quoted, therefore, belong here: Matt.7:15: “Beware of false prophets”; and 2 John 10,11: “If there come any unto you, and bring not this doctrine” – the doctrine revealed in God’s Word, the doctrine of Christ – “Receive him not into your house, neither bid him Godspeed,” namely, as a brother in the faith. That you should not become a member of a heterodox fellowship is set forth also in Acts 20:30,31. Here the Apostle says: “Also of your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them.” And for that time he gives the warning: “Therefore watch and remember that by the space of three years, I ceased not to warn everyone night and day with tears,” that is to say, abide in the true doctrine which in the last three years I have taught you with such great labor and care, and do not adhere to those who speak “perverse things.”

  • Larry

    Bob,

    Perhaps this might help. Hebrews 13:17 presupposes orthodoxy in the first place, not heterodoxy. But in our day and age because that is perceived as a “harsh line to draw” we get confused on what Scripture instructs of us.

    Helpful excerpts from F. Pieper’s Third Thesis on the issue:

    It is, therefore, not a matter of indifference which church group a Christian joins; but he has God’s earnest command strictly to distinguish between orthodox and heterodox churches, and, avoiding all church fellowship with the heterodox, to adhere only to the orthodox Church.
    If, as we have seen in the Second Thesis, it is true that God wants only orthodox churches, and if the existence of heterodox churches is to be traced back to Divine permission only, then, as stated now in the Third Thesis, it is “not a matter of indifference which church group a Christian joins.”
    Many Christians suppose that it makes no difference which church group a Christian joins, and they act accordingly. When they come to a place where any kind of Protestant church is found, they join it as members. There are people who were successively Reformed, Baptists, Methodists, Presbyterians, Congregationalists, depending upon the place where they lived. And we should not be surprised when this happens among the sects, for they are not certain about their distinctive doctrines, because they are not grounded in God’s Word.
    But even such who want to be Lutherans, and who confess that the doctrine which they have learned from the Lutheran Catechism is the correct one, often have few misgivings about joining heterodox congregations. They, therefore, also act accordingly, as though it makes little difference to which church group a Christian belongs. But this is altogether wrong. Only then would this be a matter of indifference if, before God, there were no difference between orthodox and heterodox churches. But, now, there is a great difference, as we have seen in our Second Thesis, — a difference so great that God wants only the orthodox Church, and, on the other hand, in His Word clearly condemns heterodox churches. Therefore, it is the duty of every Christian who wants to be guided by God’s Word alone to distinguish strictly between orthodox and heterodox churches. Before he joins a church group, he must answer the question: Is this church orthodox or not?
    God also expressly requires that of Christians. “Beloved,” we read in I John 4:1, “believe not every spirit, but try the spirits; whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world.” And the Lord Jesus exhorts all Christians (Matt. 7:15): “Beware of false prophets.” So, those Christians who do not want to distinguish between true and false prophets, and, consequently, also not between orthodox and heterodox churches, are disobedient to an express command of God.
    In our day, people either do not make this distinction at all, or at least not in the right manner. They not only fail to declare it the Christian’s duty to distinguish between orthodox and heterodox church bodies, but they even declare it to be a Christian virtue when people pay no attention to the doctrinal differences. Yes, they call it presumptuous when a church body maintains that in all articles of Christian faith it has the revealed truth of God’s Word…

    … If you therefore ask on what basis a Christian must distinguish between heterodox and orthodox churches, the answer is: On the basis of beliefs, on the basis of doctrine. Only on that basis can a true judgment be reached; not on the basis that outwardly a Christian life appears to prevail in a congregation or that the minister gives the impression of being a pious man. That can all be sheep’s clothing which conceals the errorist, as Christ the Lord says in Matt. 7:15: “Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep’s clothing.” Moreover, you cannot judge on the basis that a man appeals to Scripture and quotes Scripture; but Christians must examine whether the doctrine of Scripture is really also being taught. The devil, too, in the temptation of Christ, quoted Scripture.
    Yes, Christians should not even be influenced by signs and wonders, for those wonders may likewise be only seeming wonders, deception, and Satanic delusion. Already in the Old Testament, God called the attention of His believers to this. In the passage already quoted, Deut. 13:1-3, it is stated: “If there arise among you a prophet, or a dreamer of dreams, and giveth thee a sign or wonder, and the sign or wonder come to pass, whereof he spake unto thee saying, Let us go after other gods, which thou hast not known, and let us serve them; Thou shalt not hearken unto the words of that prophet, or that dreamer of dreams; for the Lord your God proveth you, to know whether ye love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul.” This is a very powerful passage to show that in judging church bodies and teachers we should look alone at the doctrine to see whether they teach God’s Word purely and clearly. Even signs and wonders are not infallible distinguishing marks. These can look outwardly like wonders, but in reality be deception, or an effect produced by the devil. Signs and wonders should influence us only then when they are accompanied by the correct doctrine. If false doctrine is present, we should call him who presents it a false prophet, even if he would show us things that are ever so astounding. The Pope’s coming, according to 2 Thessalonians 2, is after the working of Satan with all kinds of lying power and signs and wonders. Of the Last Times, Christ the Lord says, Mat.24:24: “There shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall show great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect.” Accordingly, the Christians have the duty on the basis of doctrine to distinguish between orthodox and heterodox churches.
    But can they do this? Certainly! For Christ the Lord tells them to do this, and this at the same time implies that by God’s grace they can do it. Many suppose that only pastors are in a position to distinguish between orthodox and heterodox churches. But this is altogether wrong. Precisely all Christians, and not only the pastors, are exhorted by Christ the Lord, in Matt. 7:15: “Beware of false prophets.” And John says: “Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world” (1 John 4:1); this passage is likewise addressed to all Christians alike. Christ the Lord has so arranged it, that all His dear Christians, the unlearned as well as the learned, can distinguish between truth and falsehood in spiritual things. He has revealed all doctrines in perfectly clear passages, in passages which can be understood by the unlearned as well as the learned. The Holy Scriptures are such a testimony, that makes wise also the simple (Psalm 19:7). When, therefore, a Christian simply holds to the Word of Scripture, then he can very well distinguish between truth and error.
    That the Christians sometimes are confused and imagine that they do not know which is the true doctrine, is due to the fact, that they lose sight of the Word of Scripture, that they want to judge this matter with their blind reason, and not with God’s Word, which refutes all errors as soon as it is brought into the discussion….

    Therefore a Christian can and should distinguish between orthodox and heterodox churches. He should then also act according to this knowledge. While avoiding all fellowship with the heterodox, he should adhere only to the orthodox Church. This God’s Word declares in all passages which admonish the Christian not to listen to false prophets, but to flee from them. For by belonging to heterodox congregations you listen to their preachers, the false prophets, and thus do the very opposite of that which Christ has commanded regarding false teachers. The passages already quoted, therefore, belong here: Matt.7:15: “Beware of false prophets”; and 2 John 10,11: “If there come any unto you, and bring not this doctrine” – the doctrine revealed in God’s Word, the doctrine of Christ – “Receive him not into your house, neither bid him Godspeed,” namely, as a brother in the faith. That you should not become a member of a heterodox fellowship is set forth also in Acts 20:30,31. Here the Apostle says: “Also of your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them.” And for that time he gives the warning: “Therefore watch and remember that by the space of three years, I ceased not to warn everyone night and day with tears,” that is to say, abide in the true doctrine which in the last three years I have taught you with such great labor and care, and do not adhere to those who speak “perverse things.”

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

    Wow Larry, I normally don’t read posts that long, much less comments. :)
    Brevity man, it’s the way of the future. Let the guy get a comment in edge wise, and have the conversation with him.
    But yeah, it does surprise me somewhat, and then not at all, that people hop from denomination to denomination like they do. It frustrates me though that they hop into a Lutheran church, and hop out faster than if it was a bed of hot coals, because the pastor actually wants to talk doctrine with them before they become members. I try to be winsome but it isn’t always my strong point.

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

    Wow Larry, I normally don’t read posts that long, much less comments. :)
    Brevity man, it’s the way of the future. Let the guy get a comment in edge wise, and have the conversation with him.
    But yeah, it does surprise me somewhat, and then not at all, that people hop from denomination to denomination like they do. It frustrates me though that they hop into a Lutheran church, and hop out faster than if it was a bed of hot coals, because the pastor actually wants to talk doctrine with them before they become members. I try to be winsome but it isn’t always my strong point.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Bob (@51) asked, “Is it ever OK in light of Hebrews 13:17 to leave an ‘evangelical church’ and join a Luthern church?”

    I don’t really understand the question. Are you interpreting that verse’s command to “obey” and “submit” as somehow meaning “never leave”? This would imply that your church leaders are commanding you to not leave. Is that so?

    Remember also that all of 8 verses earlier, the author of Hebrews urged his listeners, “Do not be led away by diverse and strange teachings, for it is good for the heart to be strengthened by grace.” It would be odd for that same author to have intended that you “obey” by staying in a church where you were convinced you were being led away by strange and diverse teachings, would it not?

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Bob (@51) asked, “Is it ever OK in light of Hebrews 13:17 to leave an ‘evangelical church’ and join a Luthern church?”

    I don’t really understand the question. Are you interpreting that verse’s command to “obey” and “submit” as somehow meaning “never leave”? This would imply that your church leaders are commanding you to not leave. Is that so?

    Remember also that all of 8 verses earlier, the author of Hebrews urged his listeners, “Do not be led away by diverse and strange teachings, for it is good for the heart to be strengthened by grace.” It would be odd for that same author to have intended that you “obey” by staying in a church where you were convinced you were being led away by strange and diverse teachings, would it not?

  • Larry

    Bror,

    I understand what you are saying. But, I actually did pare it down quite a bit, the quote that is. My hope was with a little more content, background and detail in Pieper’s explanation it helped and not hindered. I always do hope for conversation especially when it’s lengthy. It’s never my intention to not have a conversation with anyone, just the opposite in fact.

    Having come from the “evangelical realm” (both baptist and reformed) the hopping around is various. The largest percentage hop around because they intuitively know something is amiss but don’t know enough to “put their finger on it”. So they hop from church to church (which can be as confessionaly differing within a denomination as can denomination to denomination) or denomination to denomination based on some need they don’t really 100% know, they just know something is wrong. Then there are those looking for the Gospel in the wasteland evangelicalism (a lesser percentage). Most, especially the later group, do honestly put themselves under the full authority of the pastor and eldership, BECAUSE they do honestly believed them to be looking out for their souls. The more one, however, looses Christ by these same heterodoxies, the more cautious one becomes the next time in relinquishing full authoritative reign in a newer denomination (you kind of “feel the doctrine out” and listen more closely each time).

    That Hebrews passage to the new in the faith or under taught or ill taught can lock a man or woman into some gospeless terror because one does adhere to it, maybe to an innocent ignorant fault. Those same (false/heterodox) teachers usually make that verse high and visible to the people and make low or invisible all the “check out the doctrine” passages. In that way they lock authority onto one almost effortlessly.

    That’s coming from the heterodoxy side of the equation, I can’t speak experience wise concerning life long Lutherans doing this, it’s a bit foreign to me (and surprising).

  • Larry

    Bror,

    I understand what you are saying. But, I actually did pare it down quite a bit, the quote that is. My hope was with a little more content, background and detail in Pieper’s explanation it helped and not hindered. I always do hope for conversation especially when it’s lengthy. It’s never my intention to not have a conversation with anyone, just the opposite in fact.

    Having come from the “evangelical realm” (both baptist and reformed) the hopping around is various. The largest percentage hop around because they intuitively know something is amiss but don’t know enough to “put their finger on it”. So they hop from church to church (which can be as confessionaly differing within a denomination as can denomination to denomination) or denomination to denomination based on some need they don’t really 100% know, they just know something is wrong. Then there are those looking for the Gospel in the wasteland evangelicalism (a lesser percentage). Most, especially the later group, do honestly put themselves under the full authority of the pastor and eldership, BECAUSE they do honestly believed them to be looking out for their souls. The more one, however, looses Christ by these same heterodoxies, the more cautious one becomes the next time in relinquishing full authoritative reign in a newer denomination (you kind of “feel the doctrine out” and listen more closely each time).

    That Hebrews passage to the new in the faith or under taught or ill taught can lock a man or woman into some gospeless terror because one does adhere to it, maybe to an innocent ignorant fault. Those same (false/heterodox) teachers usually make that verse high and visible to the people and make low or invisible all the “check out the doctrine” passages. In that way they lock authority onto one almost effortlessly.

    That’s coming from the heterodoxy side of the equation, I can’t speak experience wise concerning life long Lutherans doing this, it’s a bit foreign to me (and surprising).

  • Joanne

    I thought we were the People’s Front of Judea, the Suicide Squad. Am I at the wrong meeting?

  • Joanne

    I thought we were the People’s Front of Judea, the Suicide Squad. Am I at the wrong meeting?

  • http://cathapol.blogspot.com CathApol

    I have posted a response to Mr. Veith’s article:

    http://cathapol.blogspot.com/2010/11/who-split-church.html

    Scott<<<

  • http://cathapol.blogspot.com CathApol

    I have posted a response to Mr. Veith’s article:

    http://cathapol.blogspot.com/2010/11/who-split-church.html

    Scott<<<

  • Pingback: Did Luther Split the Church? | CathApol’s Blog

  • Pingback: Did Luther Split the Church? | CathApol’s Blog

  • bob

    Sunday afternoon pouring through the responses to my question above about leaving an “evangelical” church for a liturgical luthern church. Thanks Larry and others for your thoughtful responses. The orthodox -heterodox conversation was helpful as it gives something concrete to focus on.. .i.e. doctrine versus style and other issues. This has been an ongoing issue for me for about 10 years. I read Dr. Veith’s book Spirituality of the cross. I hesitate to call the pastor in the “evangelical” church I have attended a long time a false prophet or wolf in sheep’s clothing. I think the gospel is there but there is so much distraction with drama and texting and video, etc. that I get lost in it all and gravitate to the sacraments. Finally the emphasis there always seems to be on new and more novel methodologies that may attract the unchurched. Thanks again. bob

  • bob

    Sunday afternoon pouring through the responses to my question above about leaving an “evangelical” church for a liturgical luthern church. Thanks Larry and others for your thoughtful responses. The orthodox -heterodox conversation was helpful as it gives something concrete to focus on.. .i.e. doctrine versus style and other issues. This has been an ongoing issue for me for about 10 years. I read Dr. Veith’s book Spirituality of the cross. I hesitate to call the pastor in the “evangelical” church I have attended a long time a false prophet or wolf in sheep’s clothing. I think the gospel is there but there is so much distraction with drama and texting and video, etc. that I get lost in it all and gravitate to the sacraments. Finally the emphasis there always seems to be on new and more novel methodologies that may attract the unchurched. Thanks again. bob

  • Larry

    Bob,

    I apologize for the length in advance on this one, but I was really moved by your reply. I’ve though much about it for a few days. So forgive my length and I hope I’m not wearing you out with too many words.

    You are a very kind man and I’m honored to know you. I don’t want to “read into” your words but I’m also torn about just not saying or offering advice (because I’ve been in your situation and I know what it feels like, if I’m not misunderstanding). Also, I don’t want to “scare” you or anyone into Lutheranism. The Gospel preached, taught and confessed (for real) should be more like the situation when a starving man or woman have been walking for a long time in the desert, and suddenly they catch this whiff of a savory luscious banquet that is coming from a distance. An odor of not just food but luscious food they’ve either not smelled for a long time or maybe never smells and thus had because their belly’s are growling with hunger because all they’ve been fed the last many years by otherwise very nice well meaning folks and pastors has been overly baked husks with a very thin sauce of religion to make it go down.

    When you stated “I think there’s gospel” (paraphrase), that got my attention. A Christian should not have more or less work to extract what might be gospel from their pastors or elders. A pastor should be lavishing the Gospel upon you. That’s what it means to be a minister, a servant of Christ. He should love forgiving your sins by the office he’s been called to, he should love feeding you, you who are merely receiving, the body and blood of Christ that was given/shed for your particular sins (and mine, and anyone in eyeshot who reads this).

    I think, again if I’m not misunderstanding, having been there, I know what you mean when you state something like “I think there’s gospel”. I did that for years, because I always loved my pastor whomever he was. So I’d kind of apologize to myself and others about him, whoever he was at the time and say, “I think he gives the Gospel or its there somewhere”. But the effects of his preaching were undeniable, as nice and lovable as every single one of them were, many very good friends of mine. And the effects begot what the real message was.

    Even if a preacher understand in terms of a definition of what the Gospel is, he may not be giving you the Gospel. The Gospel, good news, must be more than just a discussion about it, or definition of it but it must come to you in particular so that you, Bob, and me, Larry, and Bror and Frank and others hear just like the woman caught in adultery heard, “I Christ forgive YOUR sins, though they are many”. Oh how dear and sweet and priceless that is. A man could walk right into death boldly holding onto that!

    E.g. if I say, “Running is the act in which one hastens their pace by moving their legs faster and faster”, or, “running is what a runner does”, or “running is this (and I show you a picture)”, etc… Those define and display running, but NONE of those ARE running. Running would be, not this sentence even, but me actually running…doing the act of running.

    And so it is with the Gospel and “for you” part so that it is GOSPEL, i.e. GOOD NEWS INDEED (we might expand in English), to and for YOU. The Gospel is really the Gospel when it is not defined or explained or talked about to you, but DONE/DID to you (like actually running). It is not just “news”, though it contains news, but it is news that is DONE/DID to you in the particular, the forgiveness of sin given to you Bob in particular. And it comes in its means, Word and Sacraments. That’s how the Gospel that is actually Gospel is DONE/DID to you.

    Personal e.g. a week ago I had a particularly bad week, though truth be known, my sins plague me constantly. Both bad sins of thought, word and deed and my internal self righteousness, the later is infinitely worse than the former. But anyway, by Sunday I hardly felt like I was even worthy of darkening the doors of church let alone attending. But at the beginning of the service we confess our sins and the pastor in the stead of and as Christ, due to his office, says something like, “God forgives you all your sins and I by my office as an ordained servant of Christ in His stead forgive you all your sins, in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit (that last part connects our baptism again to this forgiveness)”. I cannot explain to you the relief and release that causes. I never knew what the “washing of the Word” meant, not just intellectually but experientially, until I began to have the Gospel DONE to me and not just talked about and explained to me.

    So, even the BEST of the heterodox pastors and confessions can very well define the Gospel, very sweetly, A LOT of them can do this, but they never really DO the Gospel to one. I’m a former Calvinist and am reminded of a work of Jonathan Edward’s in which he goes to great length (which he always does, exhaustively like no other I know) to describe the difference in receiving grace and not likening it to the difference of hearing about the taste of honey and actually tasting honey. Ironically he was guilty, due to his Calvinism of the former as a minister. Nonetheless, the analogy is useful. A LOT of very well learned theologians and pastors can exquisitely in great detail and with great poetry and rhetoric describe the taste of honey to you, i.e. tell you what the Gospel is. In this way they make your mouth water for it. But what they cannot do, due to their doctrinal chains, is actually GIVE you some honey, the Gospel, so you can taste it for yourself. Luther doesn’t waste time waxing eloquently and exhaustively about describing the “taste of honey”, to do so is to sit and describe to a man whose belly is growling with hunger the satisfying nature of food but never actually feed the man (“FEED My sheep, said Christ if you love Me”). Rather Luther serves that honey so you can taste for yourself. And that’s a big difference. It’s the difference between true Christianity and a façade of Christianity when all is summed, said and done.

    Bob, my advice (as your brother in Christ), no matter how nice a pastor is (all mine were very nice fine friends I loved in general), find where they give you the honey….DO the Gospel to you. And that will be, to be honest and to not “hide the ball” from you, found in the Lutheran churches that do actually still preach, teach and confess (not just have it on paper somewhere) the Book of Concord.

    I don’t know your area, but I’d look around for such a pastor at a confessional Lutheran church and at least talk and visit with them. Don’t let yourself be tormented by not receiving pasture, you are not bound nor required in any way to do that.

    Your brother in our Christ,

    Larry

  • Larry

    Bob,

    I apologize for the length in advance on this one, but I was really moved by your reply. I’ve though much about it for a few days. So forgive my length and I hope I’m not wearing you out with too many words.

    You are a very kind man and I’m honored to know you. I don’t want to “read into” your words but I’m also torn about just not saying or offering advice (because I’ve been in your situation and I know what it feels like, if I’m not misunderstanding). Also, I don’t want to “scare” you or anyone into Lutheranism. The Gospel preached, taught and confessed (for real) should be more like the situation when a starving man or woman have been walking for a long time in the desert, and suddenly they catch this whiff of a savory luscious banquet that is coming from a distance. An odor of not just food but luscious food they’ve either not smelled for a long time or maybe never smells and thus had because their belly’s are growling with hunger because all they’ve been fed the last many years by otherwise very nice well meaning folks and pastors has been overly baked husks with a very thin sauce of religion to make it go down.

    When you stated “I think there’s gospel” (paraphrase), that got my attention. A Christian should not have more or less work to extract what might be gospel from their pastors or elders. A pastor should be lavishing the Gospel upon you. That’s what it means to be a minister, a servant of Christ. He should love forgiving your sins by the office he’s been called to, he should love feeding you, you who are merely receiving, the body and blood of Christ that was given/shed for your particular sins (and mine, and anyone in eyeshot who reads this).

    I think, again if I’m not misunderstanding, having been there, I know what you mean when you state something like “I think there’s gospel”. I did that for years, because I always loved my pastor whomever he was. So I’d kind of apologize to myself and others about him, whoever he was at the time and say, “I think he gives the Gospel or its there somewhere”. But the effects of his preaching were undeniable, as nice and lovable as every single one of them were, many very good friends of mine. And the effects begot what the real message was.

    Even if a preacher understand in terms of a definition of what the Gospel is, he may not be giving you the Gospel. The Gospel, good news, must be more than just a discussion about it, or definition of it but it must come to you in particular so that you, Bob, and me, Larry, and Bror and Frank and others hear just like the woman caught in adultery heard, “I Christ forgive YOUR sins, though they are many”. Oh how dear and sweet and priceless that is. A man could walk right into death boldly holding onto that!

    E.g. if I say, “Running is the act in which one hastens their pace by moving their legs faster and faster”, or, “running is what a runner does”, or “running is this (and I show you a picture)”, etc… Those define and display running, but NONE of those ARE running. Running would be, not this sentence even, but me actually running…doing the act of running.

    And so it is with the Gospel and “for you” part so that it is GOSPEL, i.e. GOOD NEWS INDEED (we might expand in English), to and for YOU. The Gospel is really the Gospel when it is not defined or explained or talked about to you, but DONE/DID to you (like actually running). It is not just “news”, though it contains news, but it is news that is DONE/DID to you in the particular, the forgiveness of sin given to you Bob in particular. And it comes in its means, Word and Sacraments. That’s how the Gospel that is actually Gospel is DONE/DID to you.

    Personal e.g. a week ago I had a particularly bad week, though truth be known, my sins plague me constantly. Both bad sins of thought, word and deed and my internal self righteousness, the later is infinitely worse than the former. But anyway, by Sunday I hardly felt like I was even worthy of darkening the doors of church let alone attending. But at the beginning of the service we confess our sins and the pastor in the stead of and as Christ, due to his office, says something like, “God forgives you all your sins and I by my office as an ordained servant of Christ in His stead forgive you all your sins, in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit (that last part connects our baptism again to this forgiveness)”. I cannot explain to you the relief and release that causes. I never knew what the “washing of the Word” meant, not just intellectually but experientially, until I began to have the Gospel DONE to me and not just talked about and explained to me.

    So, even the BEST of the heterodox pastors and confessions can very well define the Gospel, very sweetly, A LOT of them can do this, but they never really DO the Gospel to one. I’m a former Calvinist and am reminded of a work of Jonathan Edward’s in which he goes to great length (which he always does, exhaustively like no other I know) to describe the difference in receiving grace and not likening it to the difference of hearing about the taste of honey and actually tasting honey. Ironically he was guilty, due to his Calvinism of the former as a minister. Nonetheless, the analogy is useful. A LOT of very well learned theologians and pastors can exquisitely in great detail and with great poetry and rhetoric describe the taste of honey to you, i.e. tell you what the Gospel is. In this way they make your mouth water for it. But what they cannot do, due to their doctrinal chains, is actually GIVE you some honey, the Gospel, so you can taste it for yourself. Luther doesn’t waste time waxing eloquently and exhaustively about describing the “taste of honey”, to do so is to sit and describe to a man whose belly is growling with hunger the satisfying nature of food but never actually feed the man (“FEED My sheep, said Christ if you love Me”). Rather Luther serves that honey so you can taste for yourself. And that’s a big difference. It’s the difference between true Christianity and a façade of Christianity when all is summed, said and done.

    Bob, my advice (as your brother in Christ), no matter how nice a pastor is (all mine were very nice fine friends I loved in general), find where they give you the honey….DO the Gospel to you. And that will be, to be honest and to not “hide the ball” from you, found in the Lutheran churches that do actually still preach, teach and confess (not just have it on paper somewhere) the Book of Concord.

    I don’t know your area, but I’d look around for such a pastor at a confessional Lutheran church and at least talk and visit with them. Don’t let yourself be tormented by not receiving pasture, you are not bound nor required in any way to do that.

    Your brother in our Christ,

    Larry


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