Why Lutherans can’t take Catholic Communion

Russell E. Saltzman, a pastor in the North American Lutheran Church (the relatively conservative off shoot of ELCA), wrote a post at the First Things blog plaintively asking, “Why Can’t Lutherans Take Catholic Communion?”  After all, he says, Lutherans and Catholics are agreed on justification–as of that Joint Declaration on the subject–and we are pretty much OK about other things, properly conceived.

Rev. Saltzman exhibits the annoying quality of speaking for “Lutherans” while ignoring those millions of us in that tradition who are conservative theologically and don’t go along with the Joint Declaration and other ecumenical overtures.   The mostly Catholic commenters tried to explain why he can’t commune at a Catholic altar, and in this case we conservative Lutherans do agree with conservative Catholics that this would be highly inappropriate.

You’ve got to read Anthony Sacramone’s discussion of this issue, which concludes with a vivid account of the differences between Rome and Lutherans, especially when it comes to the Gospel:

Let’s cut to the chase: would the Roman Catholic Church today accept as doctrinally true the Lutheran teaching of the alien righteousness of Christ, of the great exchange of His righteousness for our sin, of our sanctification as being in Him, even though we are called to good works — but for the sake of our neighbor and not in aid of increasing our justification? If not, again, who are these Lutherans Reverend Saltzman is talking about whose differences with Rome are now of little significance?

Do these Lutherans now accept the existence of a Treasury of Merits? Or has Rome admitted that this was a bankrupt medieval invention and is now, in the interest of ecumenicity, disposable? Have indulgences, the flashpoint of the Reformation, also become irrelevant?

I ask this honestly: what is the true nonnegotiable here?

Let’s discuss the papal office for a moment: Was Pope Urban II Infallible, “evangelically understood,” when he declared, in regard to the First Crusade:  “If anyone who sets out should lose his life either on the way, by land or by sea, or in battle against the infidels, his sins shall be pardoned from that moment. This I grant by right of the gift of God’s power to me.”

Did the bishop of Rome have this authority? Urban II is addressing men who are off, he hopes, to kill the enemies of the Faith and to retrieve stolen property. Is this the true nature of the power of the keys as described in the Gospel of Matthew? Does this notion of dying in a holy war and going straight to Paradise sound familiar?

Here’s another question: Does the pope have this same authority today—to proactively forgive the temporal punishment for sins that would otherwise send someone to Purgatory (or to a purgative state), thus promising them a straight ticket to heaven in the event they died trying to kill someone else? I’m not interested in whether or not it is likely to be exercised in this day and age, nor whether the Muslims in the 12th century invited this response for overrunning the “Holy Land.” I’m only interested in whether Benedict XVI, by virtue of his office, has this authority, given him from Christ.

Whether the pope is infallible in matters of faith and morals is inextricably tied to how justification is construed. The same can be said for the nature of the Eucharist, and the priesthood.

What is the wedding garment without which no one enters the wedding feast of the King? Is it something of our own, dry-cleaned, purified, and bleached? Or is it the gift of Someone else? Is it something we do to ourselves, by aid of grace? Something we endure, in the sense of suffer? Or is it something we receive, like the Eucharist, from Another?

For some, the alien, imputed righteousness of Christ is a legal fiction, and Luther’s image of the dunghill covered with snow is usually cited as evidence. And yet these same Christians have no problem with the transfer of the supererogatory merits of the saints to the accounts of the properly disposed.

The merits of Christ’s sacrifice transferred to the sinner, as a sinner, is a fiction, but the merits of Josemaria Escriva transferred by dint of papal proclamation — that’s real.

Really?

The issue remains the same today as on October 31, 1517.

via Reformation Day: Lutherans vs. Alien Righteousness « Strange Herring.

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.

  • Carl Vehse

    “Why Lutherans can’t take Catholic Communion”

    The correct title should be, “Why Lutherans can’t take Romanist Communion”

    The Roman Church is not the Catholic Church in the Lutheran sense of the word.

  • Carl Vehse

    “Why Lutherans can’t take Catholic Communion”

    The correct title should be, “Why Lutherans can’t take Romanist Communion”

    The Roman Church is not the Catholic Church in the Lutheran sense of the word.

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

    This begs a question: why would a Lutheran (or any other Protestant) want to take Roman Catholic Communion?

    Rome flat out denies the gospel. It has a false and fatal doctrine regarding salvation and the mass. It seriously and egregiously errs on the matters of purgatory, indulgences, supererogation, the veneration of Mary and the saints in an unscriptural sense. It is antichrist in virtually every conceivable sense of the word.

    Only a person oblivious to the necessity of truth would participate in such a heinous sin by fellowship with those who champion known and vital doctrinal error. It is a betrayal of the gospel, of the Reformation, and of Christ Himself.

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

    This begs a question: why would a Lutheran (or any other Protestant) want to take Roman Catholic Communion?

    Rome flat out denies the gospel. It has a false and fatal doctrine regarding salvation and the mass. It seriously and egregiously errs on the matters of purgatory, indulgences, supererogation, the veneration of Mary and the saints in an unscriptural sense. It is antichrist in virtually every conceivable sense of the word.

    Only a person oblivious to the necessity of truth would participate in such a heinous sin by fellowship with those who champion known and vital doctrinal error. It is a betrayal of the gospel, of the Reformation, and of Christ Himself.

  • SKPeterson

    What is ironic is that many Lutherans may look aghast at taking communion at a Roman church, but won’t bat an eye taking communion with their Methodist in-laws.

  • SKPeterson

    What is ironic is that many Lutherans may look aghast at taking communion at a Roman church, but won’t bat an eye taking communion with their Methodist in-laws.

  • Andrew

    “Rev. Saltzman exhibits the annoying quality of speaking for ‘Lutherans’ while ignoring those millions of us in that tradition who are conservative theologically…”

    Almost as annoying as conservative Lutherans who claim to speak for “Christians” while ignoring those billions of us in that faith who differ theologically…

  • Andrew

    “Rev. Saltzman exhibits the annoying quality of speaking for ‘Lutherans’ while ignoring those millions of us in that tradition who are conservative theologically…”

    Almost as annoying as conservative Lutherans who claim to speak for “Christians” while ignoring those billions of us in that faith who differ theologically…

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

    Conservative Christians are merely being proactive when we call ourselves Christians. It’s only a matter of time until liberal churches realize how offensive the very word “Christian” is to people of other religions, and ban its use altogether.

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

    Conservative Christians are merely being proactive when we call ourselves Christians. It’s only a matter of time until liberal churches realize how offensive the very word “Christian” is to people of other religions, and ban its use altogether.

  • http://www.cyberbrethren.com Rev. Paul T. McCain

    I tried to submit this to the First Things site, not sure if it went through:

    My friend, Russ, bless his heart, is just so very wrong from the very start when he begins his checklist of agreement by asserting that Lutherans and Rome have agreed on justification by grace.

    Rome knows this is not true, which is why it was quick to issue a “clarification” after the Joint Declaration on the Doctrine of Justification was announced, making clear that it had not retracted any of its positions on this issue, as set in stone at the Council of Trent.

    Further, the Lutheran World Federation “spun” the event to make it seem as though most/many Lutherans agreed, but that “spin” was flatly a lie. Many LWF member churches never signed on to the agreement.

    Further, most of the most prominent Lutheran scholars in Germany and other countries issued a public statement saying, “Wait a minute….” and explained why the JDDJ was not some sort of marvelous break through.

    And of course, those Lutheran church in the world that self-identify as Confessional Lutheran Churches, those that, unlike the ELCA and its sister churches in Scandinavia and elsewhere, still actually insists that Lutherans should confession that is in the Lutheran Confessions (I know, crazy, huh?) came out very loudly, clearly and publically asserting all the reasons why the JDDJ was not a breakthrough, but merely and only a liberal mainline Lutheran sell out, as usual, on this, the key teaching of Holy Scripture.

    I’m sad to see that my friend Russ played right into the hands of the First Thing pro-Roman agenda by offering this piece on Reformation Day. I recall a year ago we had another such anemic effort by a young man wringing his hands over the fact that the Church was reformed. No surprise that the young man has left the Lutheran Church and “Poped.”

    So, let the record show that the assertion that Rome and Lutheranism are in agreement on the doctrine of justification by grace through faith alone is simply not true. NOT. TRUE.

    Happy Reformation Day!!

    Here we stand, still.

  • http://www.cyberbrethren.com Rev. Paul T. McCain

    I tried to submit this to the First Things site, not sure if it went through:

    My friend, Russ, bless his heart, is just so very wrong from the very start when he begins his checklist of agreement by asserting that Lutherans and Rome have agreed on justification by grace.

    Rome knows this is not true, which is why it was quick to issue a “clarification” after the Joint Declaration on the Doctrine of Justification was announced, making clear that it had not retracted any of its positions on this issue, as set in stone at the Council of Trent.

    Further, the Lutheran World Federation “spun” the event to make it seem as though most/many Lutherans agreed, but that “spin” was flatly a lie. Many LWF member churches never signed on to the agreement.

    Further, most of the most prominent Lutheran scholars in Germany and other countries issued a public statement saying, “Wait a minute….” and explained why the JDDJ was not some sort of marvelous break through.

    And of course, those Lutheran church in the world that self-identify as Confessional Lutheran Churches, those that, unlike the ELCA and its sister churches in Scandinavia and elsewhere, still actually insists that Lutherans should confession that is in the Lutheran Confessions (I know, crazy, huh?) came out very loudly, clearly and publically asserting all the reasons why the JDDJ was not a breakthrough, but merely and only a liberal mainline Lutheran sell out, as usual, on this, the key teaching of Holy Scripture.

    I’m sad to see that my friend Russ played right into the hands of the First Thing pro-Roman agenda by offering this piece on Reformation Day. I recall a year ago we had another such anemic effort by a young man wringing his hands over the fact that the Church was reformed. No surprise that the young man has left the Lutheran Church and “Poped.”

    So, let the record show that the assertion that Rome and Lutheranism are in agreement on the doctrine of justification by grace through faith alone is simply not true. NOT. TRUE.

    Happy Reformation Day!!

    Here we stand, still.

  • Carl Vehse

    Andrew @4: “Almost as annoying as conservative Lutherans who claim to speak for “Christians” while ignoring those billions of us in that faith who differ theologically…”

    Unlax. Lutherans happen to belong to The Evangelical Lutheran Church the True Visible Church of God on Earth.

  • Carl Vehse

    Andrew @4: “Almost as annoying as conservative Lutherans who claim to speak for “Christians” while ignoring those billions of us in that faith who differ theologically…”

    Unlax. Lutherans happen to belong to The Evangelical Lutheran Church the True Visible Church of God on Earth.

  • Jon

    Sounds to me like Rev. Saltzman hasn’t really been able to jettison the ELCA.

  • Jon

    Sounds to me like Rev. Saltzman hasn’t really been able to jettison the ELCA.

  • Carl Vehse

    “the North American Lutheran Church (the relatively conservative off shoot of ELCA)”

    Actually, the NALC is a liberal Lufauxran religious organization one can accurately describe as “XXXA-lite.”

    However at a time when the LCMS is finally cutting its cooperative ties with the XXXA, it is puzzling that a lot of girlish giggles have been coming from the Purple Palace over the new NALC boy in town just because the NALC won’t allow any of its ordained female pastorettes to be sexually active lesbians.

  • Carl Vehse

    “the North American Lutheran Church (the relatively conservative off shoot of ELCA)”

    Actually, the NALC is a liberal Lufauxran religious organization one can accurately describe as “XXXA-lite.”

    However at a time when the LCMS is finally cutting its cooperative ties with the XXXA, it is puzzling that a lot of girlish giggles have been coming from the Purple Palace over the new NALC boy in town just because the NALC won’t allow any of its ordained female pastorettes to be sexually active lesbians.

  • http://www.bikebubba.blogspot.com bike bubba

    If Lutherans and Catholics (as opposed to catholics) agree on justification, whatever happened to sola fide and sola gratia?

    Sometimes it takes an amazing rhetoritician to argue around the obvious, doesn’t it?

  • http://www.bikebubba.blogspot.com bike bubba

    If Lutherans and Catholics (as opposed to catholics) agree on justification, whatever happened to sola fide and sola gratia?

    Sometimes it takes an amazing rhetoritician to argue around the obvious, doesn’t it?

  • SKPeterson

    Andrew @ 4 – Your statement does not compute. What do you mean? Lutherans who claim to speak for Christianity? To whom, exactly? If they are non-Christians then I suppose we do. We say: This is Jesus Christ. This is what He has done. If that is speaking for other Christians, I’d like to know where you take exception to that message.

    If we are speaking with other Christians, we then tell them what the Christian faith entails as it is made clear in Scripture, and why they should turn away from their Popish or Arminian dogma, or may be even actually take the Eucharist and Baptism seriously. Again, I don’t (somewhat facetiously) understand the problem.

  • SKPeterson

    Andrew @ 4 – Your statement does not compute. What do you mean? Lutherans who claim to speak for Christianity? To whom, exactly? If they are non-Christians then I suppose we do. We say: This is Jesus Christ. This is what He has done. If that is speaking for other Christians, I’d like to know where you take exception to that message.

    If we are speaking with other Christians, we then tell them what the Christian faith entails as it is made clear in Scripture, and why they should turn away from their Popish or Arminian dogma, or may be even actually take the Eucharist and Baptism seriously. Again, I don’t (somewhat facetiously) understand the problem.

  • Jon H.

    Hard to cast stones at the NALC when Wisconsin Lutherans can’t take communion in a Missouri synod church and vice versa.

  • Jon H.

    Hard to cast stones at the NALC when Wisconsin Lutherans can’t take communion in a Missouri synod church and vice versa.

  • Joe

    Well I can think of a few reasons we can’t commune withe Catholics:

    CANON 9: “If any one saith, that by faith alone the impious is justified; in such wise as to mean, that nothing else is required to co-operate in order to the obtaining the grace of Justification, and that it is not in any way necessary, that he be prepared and disposed by the movement of his own will; let him be anathema.”

    CANON 12: “If any one shall say that justifying faith is nothing else than confidence in the divine mercy pardoning sins for Christ’s sake, or that it is that confidence alone by which we are justified … let him be accursed”

    Canon 24: “If any one saith, that the justice received is not preserved and also increased before God through good works; but that the said works are merely the fruits and signs of Justification obtained, but not a cause of the increase thereof; let him be anathema.”

  • Joe

    Well I can think of a few reasons we can’t commune withe Catholics:

    CANON 9: “If any one saith, that by faith alone the impious is justified; in such wise as to mean, that nothing else is required to co-operate in order to the obtaining the grace of Justification, and that it is not in any way necessary, that he be prepared and disposed by the movement of his own will; let him be anathema.”

    CANON 12: “If any one shall say that justifying faith is nothing else than confidence in the divine mercy pardoning sins for Christ’s sake, or that it is that confidence alone by which we are justified … let him be accursed”

    Canon 24: “If any one saith, that the justice received is not preserved and also increased before God through good works; but that the said works are merely the fruits and signs of Justification obtained, but not a cause of the increase thereof; let him be anathema.”

  • Joe

    Jon H. I’m not sure I follow your point. How does the fact that the WELS and LCMS take doctrine serious enough to recognize that we ought not commune at each other’s alters undercut our displeasure with a NALC pastor suggesting that we should discount doctrine so greatly that we could commune even with Catholics, who have declared any who hold the Lutheran doctrine on justification to be anathema?

    The two actions seem very consistent to me

  • Joe

    Jon H. I’m not sure I follow your point. How does the fact that the WELS and LCMS take doctrine serious enough to recognize that we ought not commune at each other’s alters undercut our displeasure with a NALC pastor suggesting that we should discount doctrine so greatly that we could commune even with Catholics, who have declared any who hold the Lutheran doctrine on justification to be anathema?

    The two actions seem very consistent to me

  • larry

    SK @ 3, precisely.

    We just had this in our reformation day sermon. Pastor made a good point that Lutherans/and –ism, has tendency to only be able to and seem to aim its guns in the direction of Rome. He made an analogy to a famous war I cannot recall right now. But the analogy was that in this battle the one army aimed its guns at “the enemy” they knew best, but the enemy strategically out witted them and come around from behind and the defending army lost. Similarly, Lutherans/and Lutheranism has a tendency, especially in this country (the country of sects) tends to level all its massive guns at Rome and is not nearly nimble enough to turn about to defend against the back door attacking sects (Zwingli, et. al.). The sermon was directly about the sacrament of the altar. But he pointed out this was not so with Luther, he was able to turn about at the enemy from all directions, thus Wittenberg and Marburg were the same anti-gospel, antichristic battle and level his guns at both Rome and the sacramentarians. Even more, when hypothetically faced with “two evils” of “whom might I commune with if “I had to”, to make the point, Luther said he’d rather drink blood with the Pope than wine with Zwingli (and this would of course extend to Calvin, et. ali.)

    Then he went on to spell out what we have in the sacraments to sew it all up.

  • larry

    SK @ 3, precisely.

    We just had this in our reformation day sermon. Pastor made a good point that Lutherans/and –ism, has tendency to only be able to and seem to aim its guns in the direction of Rome. He made an analogy to a famous war I cannot recall right now. But the analogy was that in this battle the one army aimed its guns at “the enemy” they knew best, but the enemy strategically out witted them and come around from behind and the defending army lost. Similarly, Lutherans/and Lutheranism has a tendency, especially in this country (the country of sects) tends to level all its massive guns at Rome and is not nearly nimble enough to turn about to defend against the back door attacking sects (Zwingli, et. al.). The sermon was directly about the sacrament of the altar. But he pointed out this was not so with Luther, he was able to turn about at the enemy from all directions, thus Wittenberg and Marburg were the same anti-gospel, antichristic battle and level his guns at both Rome and the sacramentarians. Even more, when hypothetically faced with “two evils” of “whom might I commune with if “I had to”, to make the point, Luther said he’d rather drink blood with the Pope than wine with Zwingli (and this would of course extend to Calvin, et. ali.)

    Then he went on to spell out what we have in the sacraments to sew it all up.

  • larry

    Another way to look at this that the body and blood of Christ are in fact given in the Roman church even though their canons deny the Gospel that they are, it is the body and blood of the Lord. It is not in the sacramentarian churches by their own admission – it just wine (and just grape juice most of the time at that). So though the setting is religious in nature, in a church, it differs little from dinner wine at a restaurant or grape juice my kids drink. Roman Catholics, though their dogmas deny it elsewhere, are eating and drinking the Gospel (this sacrament IS the Gospel), the sacramentarians are only eating and drinking, well just crackers and juice when all the huff and puff is said and done.

  • larry

    Another way to look at this that the body and blood of Christ are in fact given in the Roman church even though their canons deny the Gospel that they are, it is the body and blood of the Lord. It is not in the sacramentarian churches by their own admission – it just wine (and just grape juice most of the time at that). So though the setting is religious in nature, in a church, it differs little from dinner wine at a restaurant or grape juice my kids drink. Roman Catholics, though their dogmas deny it elsewhere, are eating and drinking the Gospel (this sacrament IS the Gospel), the sacramentarians are only eating and drinking, well just crackers and juice when all the huff and puff is said and done.

  • Jon H.

    @14, My point was, it’s a scandal that the synods that most loudly yell, Here we stand!, stand so far apart from each other.

  • Jon H.

    @14, My point was, it’s a scandal that the synods that most loudly yell, Here we stand!, stand so far apart from each other.

  • http://www.biblegateway.com/versions/Contemporary-English-Version-CEV-Bible/ sg

    @ 17

    If one man is a liar and another is not, but both claim to be telling the truth, how do you decide which one is actually telling the truth?

  • http://www.biblegateway.com/versions/Contemporary-English-Version-CEV-Bible/ sg

    @ 17

    If one man is a liar and another is not, but both claim to be telling the truth, how do you decide which one is actually telling the truth?

  • larry

    SG,

    You are correct this is not easy.

    If it is speaking of an absolute truth, then one must look at the objective and compare the two – who then is speaking the truth if you will.

    The problem is never really the facts. The problem lay in that many lies are not “simple lies” but very highly constructed lies, and thus work is required to untangle the knot. If one is given over to sloth, then of course the slothful position is “the truth cannot be known here seeing both men are on the surface credible”.

    How the deceptive knot is weaved abound from normalizing all Scripture with equal weight on subjects to making metaphores and symbols of words.

    Take the Bereans for example that Paul lauds. He lauds them for looking into these things in the Scriptures. This lauding is that they searched these things out, they didn’t just look it up in a table or chart and say, “Oh there it is row 10 column 3.

    It depends on where one is at any given moment on an issue or doctrine, justification, sacraments, etc…the unweaving in principle takes time whatever the subject matter is at any given subject.

    Sometimes one is in the middle of something at any given time, it doesn’t mean one doesn’t believe their is not a real objective truth and the opposite if false (false meaning more than the opposite of truth but “not real or in reality”).

    Let’s take for example one I wrestle with just within Lutheranism between LCMS and WELS about prayer with other confessions. At least as I understand it. As I understand it WELS in short says “no” and LCMS says “yes”, presently without going into all the detail, I see points on both sides. That doesn’t mean I believe “truth is relative here”, I know only one is correct here but it hard to land on a decision on this – so I continue to look into this one. The same thing happened back in the day when I was vetting baptism between Baptist versus Reformed.

  • larry

    SG,

    You are correct this is not easy.

    If it is speaking of an absolute truth, then one must look at the objective and compare the two – who then is speaking the truth if you will.

    The problem is never really the facts. The problem lay in that many lies are not “simple lies” but very highly constructed lies, and thus work is required to untangle the knot. If one is given over to sloth, then of course the slothful position is “the truth cannot be known here seeing both men are on the surface credible”.

    How the deceptive knot is weaved abound from normalizing all Scripture with equal weight on subjects to making metaphores and symbols of words.

    Take the Bereans for example that Paul lauds. He lauds them for looking into these things in the Scriptures. This lauding is that they searched these things out, they didn’t just look it up in a table or chart and say, “Oh there it is row 10 column 3.

    It depends on where one is at any given moment on an issue or doctrine, justification, sacraments, etc…the unweaving in principle takes time whatever the subject matter is at any given subject.

    Sometimes one is in the middle of something at any given time, it doesn’t mean one doesn’t believe their is not a real objective truth and the opposite if false (false meaning more than the opposite of truth but “not real or in reality”).

    Let’s take for example one I wrestle with just within Lutheranism between LCMS and WELS about prayer with other confessions. At least as I understand it. As I understand it WELS in short says “no” and LCMS says “yes”, presently without going into all the detail, I see points on both sides. That doesn’t mean I believe “truth is relative here”, I know only one is correct here but it hard to land on a decision on this – so I continue to look into this one. The same thing happened back in the day when I was vetting baptism between Baptist versus Reformed.

  • http://theoldadam.com/ Steve Martin

    The Catholic Church is always talking about unity and how we (Protestants) have the fold.

    If they REALLY desire unity, then why don’t they open their communion rails to us?

    They want unity alright, but only if THEIR point of view prevails.

  • http://theoldadam.com/ Steve Martin

    The Catholic Church is always talking about unity and how we (Protestants) have the fold.

    If they REALLY desire unity, then why don’t they open their communion rails to us?

    They want unity alright, but only if THEIR point of view prevails.

  • kerner

    I have a confession to make. Last time I was in a Roman Catholic Church, my wife and I took Communion. Under other circumstances I would not have done it, but this time I did.

    I was at the wedding of a Roman Catholic colleague. One of the ushers was another colleague, a Muslim; his wife was there as well. I have presented both the law and the Gospel to my Muslim colleague (and friend) multiple times, so he knows where I stand. He also knew he couldn’t take Communion because he is not a Christian. He once asked me and my Roman Catholic friend, why we think we should be eating and drinking the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ. I said because it unites us with God and with each other. My Catholic friend agreed. I also said that is is one of the ways that we receive forgiveness of our sins. My Catholic friend was less sure of that.

    The presence of my Muslim friend in a Christian church of any kind is a rare event, and when it came right down to it, at that moment, demonstrating the unity Christians share as opposed to unbelievers was more important than demonstrating the divisions among the Church as between ourselves. It just seemed that, at that moment, there were only two sides and my Catholic friend and I were on the same one.

    If the Muslims had not been there, I probably would not have done as I did. But they were there.

  • kerner

    I have a confession to make. Last time I was in a Roman Catholic Church, my wife and I took Communion. Under other circumstances I would not have done it, but this time I did.

    I was at the wedding of a Roman Catholic colleague. One of the ushers was another colleague, a Muslim; his wife was there as well. I have presented both the law and the Gospel to my Muslim colleague (and friend) multiple times, so he knows where I stand. He also knew he couldn’t take Communion because he is not a Christian. He once asked me and my Roman Catholic friend, why we think we should be eating and drinking the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ. I said because it unites us with God and with each other. My Catholic friend agreed. I also said that is is one of the ways that we receive forgiveness of our sins. My Catholic friend was less sure of that.

    The presence of my Muslim friend in a Christian church of any kind is a rare event, and when it came right down to it, at that moment, demonstrating the unity Christians share as opposed to unbelievers was more important than demonstrating the divisions among the Church as between ourselves. It just seemed that, at that moment, there were only two sides and my Catholic friend and I were on the same one.

    If the Muslims had not been there, I probably would not have done as I did. But they were there.

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

    kerner @ 21,

    I understand where you’re going, but even on the Sacrament there is difference-significant difference-between Rome and Lutheranism. And Rome DOES preach a different gospel, period. While there are Roman Catholics whom I believe are truly saved despite official Roman dogma (as may be the case with your friend), Rome as a system denies justification by faith alone. And affiliation with Rome could give your Muslim friend the wrong impression, intentionally or not.

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

    kerner @ 21,

    I understand where you’re going, but even on the Sacrament there is difference-significant difference-between Rome and Lutheranism. And Rome DOES preach a different gospel, period. While there are Roman Catholics whom I believe are truly saved despite official Roman dogma (as may be the case with your friend), Rome as a system denies justification by faith alone. And affiliation with Rome could give your Muslim friend the wrong impression, intentionally or not.

  • http://www.biblegateway.com/versions/Contemporary-English-Version-CEV-Bible/ sg

    @20

    Well, God wants unity, and He wants it His way. Basically Roman Catholic policy is of very high integrity. It just has problems with accuracy. Imagine the comfort of contemplating purgatory on your deathbed and not being assured of your salvation. I mean, really.

  • http://www.biblegateway.com/versions/Contemporary-English-Version-CEV-Bible/ sg

    @20

    Well, God wants unity, and He wants it His way. Basically Roman Catholic policy is of very high integrity. It just has problems with accuracy. Imagine the comfort of contemplating purgatory on your deathbed and not being assured of your salvation. I mean, really.

  • Carl Vehse

    “Conciliarity, reconciled diversity, and selective fellowship all violate at least some of the principles of fellowship and cannot therefore be regarded as viable models for interchurch relations at the church-body level today.

    “Of those models for external unity in the church which have been examined in this report, only ecclesiastical declarations of altar and pulpit fellowship offer at least the possibility for being able to take into account all of what the Scriptures have to say about the nature of fellowship.”

    - Excerpted from “The Nature and Implications of the Concept of Fellowship,” A Report of the Commission on Theology and Church Relations of the Lutheran Church–Missouri Synod, April 1981.

  • Carl Vehse

    “Conciliarity, reconciled diversity, and selective fellowship all violate at least some of the principles of fellowship and cannot therefore be regarded as viable models for interchurch relations at the church-body level today.

    “Of those models for external unity in the church which have been examined in this report, only ecclesiastical declarations of altar and pulpit fellowship offer at least the possibility for being able to take into account all of what the Scriptures have to say about the nature of fellowship.”

    - Excerpted from “The Nature and Implications of the Concept of Fellowship,” A Report of the Commission on Theology and Church Relations of the Lutheran Church–Missouri Synod, April 1981.

  • kerner

    J. Dean:

    Maybe. I have another friend, a calvinist/baptist (one of those protestants who believes in Calvinist doctrine re election, but also believes strongly in believers’ baptism and does not believe in sacraments at all) who solved the problem by not attending the ceremony, but going to the reception. This friend is a former Roman Catholic, and he does not regard Roman Catholic churches as Christian churches at all. As far as I am able to undestand, we LCMS Lutherans do not teach that. Rather, we teach that Rmoman Churches are in fact Christian, however erroneous and confused their doctrines may be.

    I understand that the differences between us are very important. But, if Catholics are Christians, then the differences between us both, and non-Christians, are even more important. I am not saying that I am certain that my decision was the correct one. I’m saying that I thought it was at the time, and I still believe so. But I could be convinced otherwise perhaps.

  • kerner

    J. Dean:

    Maybe. I have another friend, a calvinist/baptist (one of those protestants who believes in Calvinist doctrine re election, but also believes strongly in believers’ baptism and does not believe in sacraments at all) who solved the problem by not attending the ceremony, but going to the reception. This friend is a former Roman Catholic, and he does not regard Roman Catholic churches as Christian churches at all. As far as I am able to undestand, we LCMS Lutherans do not teach that. Rather, we teach that Rmoman Churches are in fact Christian, however erroneous and confused their doctrines may be.

    I understand that the differences between us are very important. But, if Catholics are Christians, then the differences between us both, and non-Christians, are even more important. I am not saying that I am certain that my decision was the correct one. I’m saying that I thought it was at the time, and I still believe so. But I could be convinced otherwise perhaps.

  • Klasie Kraalogies

    Kerner, I do not think you did the wrong thing. Sure there are (BIG) theological differences. But in these things, our responses to such situations reveal much of our view of salvation. Of you veer towards the belief that we are saved by grace through faith, you’d be ok with what you decided. If you veer towards the view that we are saved by believing the correct doctrine about salvation, then you shrink back in horror….

    Of course, this also says volumes about view of God….

  • Klasie Kraalogies

    Kerner, I do not think you did the wrong thing. Sure there are (BIG) theological differences. But in these things, our responses to such situations reveal much of our view of salvation. Of you veer towards the belief that we are saved by grace through faith, you’d be ok with what you decided. If you veer towards the view that we are saved by believing the correct doctrine about salvation, then you shrink back in horror….

    Of course, this also says volumes about view of God….

  • Joe

    Larry — I two wrestle with the unit concept v. alter and pulpit fellowship. A friend of mine who is WELS and I decided to look at each other’s teaching on the subject. WELS has a very nice synopsis of their teaching written for a lay audience in their People’s Bible series: http://online.nph.net/p-11683-church-fellowship-ebook-edition.aspx

    I could not find anything comparable to this from CPH. If you know of anything (or Pastor McCain if your reading this) please let me know. I would like to continue to work through this issue with my friend.

  • Joe

    Larry — I two wrestle with the unit concept v. alter and pulpit fellowship. A friend of mine who is WELS and I decided to look at each other’s teaching on the subject. WELS has a very nice synopsis of their teaching written for a lay audience in their People’s Bible series: http://online.nph.net/p-11683-church-fellowship-ebook-edition.aspx

    I could not find anything comparable to this from CPH. If you know of anything (or Pastor McCain if your reading this) please let me know. I would like to continue to work through this issue with my friend.

  • helen

    larry @ 15
    He was referring to the fall of Singapore at the beginning of WW II.
    The British had extensive defenses for a war from the sea, with large guns permanently placed. The Japanese came down the Malay peninsula at Singapore’s back door, captured the reservoirs which supplied water for the city and forced surrender.

    Subsequently the men there were put to work on the Burma Railway. It is said that a white man died for every sleeper laid. The best known movie about this is probably The Bridge on the River Kwai.
    [I knew a Dutchman and his wife who survived, he the railway, she the Japanese prison camps in Indonesia. Since (unlike Viet Nam and the French) we supported the liberation of Indonesia (from the Dutch) after the war, the people I knew ended up in New Jersey.]

    TMI, probably!

  • helen

    larry @ 15
    He was referring to the fall of Singapore at the beginning of WW II.
    The British had extensive defenses for a war from the sea, with large guns permanently placed. The Japanese came down the Malay peninsula at Singapore’s back door, captured the reservoirs which supplied water for the city and forced surrender.

    Subsequently the men there were put to work on the Burma Railway. It is said that a white man died for every sleeper laid. The best known movie about this is probably The Bridge on the River Kwai.
    [I knew a Dutchman and his wife who survived, he the railway, she the Japanese prison camps in Indonesia. Since (unlike Viet Nam and the French) we supported the liberation of Indonesia (from the Dutch) after the war, the people I knew ended up in New Jersey.]

    TMI, probably!

  • larry

    That’s was it Helen, you have much better mind than I do. Thanks!

  • larry

    That’s was it Helen, you have much better mind than I do. Thanks!

  • Joanne

    Theologies usually exist in a system and theologians study systematic theology, which basically means that all the parts of the theology fit together with all the other parts. Sometimes people have used our old friend Procrustes to solve any problems making certain particular doctrines fit into the system. We Lutherans don’t do that, of course. The 4 volume set of Christliche Dogmatics by Franz Pieper (late 19th century) is the sytemazation of Lutheran theology that I know best. But I believe that Gerhard’s Theologica Loci (17th century) is probably the best work of Evangelical Lutheran theology set down in a systematic way. Concordia PH and Pastor McCain are making this work available in very good American English, under title “Theological Commonplaces.” It’s multivolume in paper.

    Dogmatics (teachings) is when you go through the system slowly on a part by part basis with the secondary emphasis on it’s connectivity to the system. (i.e, We are studying Baptism dogma in this class.)

    Now, I said all that in preface to saying that our doctrines are all connected and cannot be invalidatd in one part and leave the rest as is. Many of you are pointing to this obvious fact. If you change your doctrinal understanding of Justification, then you have to go through you whole system to see all the other parts that connect to that and must now be changed as well.

    We’ve all seen this work in computers that we say have an integrated system or app. A change of the date on page 1, will automatically change the date on all the pages. Our doctrine is integrated. When you change justification, you must also change conversion and penance and the work of the Holy Spirit, and the sacraments. We watch those Lutherans, who have cut their ties to all systems of theology and natural law, drift further and further out to sea as they realize the changes required throughout their whole systematic former selves. And usually the first sin is always the same from the Garden of Eden right up to now, “Yes but has God really said (put your favorite doctrine here)?

    When you hear that the Missouri Synod had a battle of the Bible in the early 70s, this was the crux of the matter, “has God really said?” And those who lost that battle went away to agitate for the formation of the ELCA and a slippery system of theology not based on the simple meaning of God’s word, but on better, more complete information, a modern revelation of the power of compassion, and “whatever is happinin’ now.” We see their fruits over at the XXXA, and silently pray to God that he not take his Word also from us, and give also us up to such confusion. Our sins certainly would warrant his departure from us as well.

    Well, I guess I’ve danced completely around the subject here of communing at strange altars, a constant problem in the OT. For what it’s worth, the altar you worship upon is the theology you publicly confess. Both you and I got snookerd into taking RC communion and felt miserable about it, because we do not believe we even received a real communion there. And, our incidental taking of the RC wafer did and does not mean that we are one in teaching, doctrine, dogma with the RC.

    Apart from that one poorly handled, suprise situational taking of the RC wafer, I have never been tempted to commune at an RC altar because I don’t believe they even offer the sacrament to the plebs. The only person receiving communion in an RC church is the celebrating priest. (I know that sometimes now you’ll see parishioners (lay persons) then offering a sip of wine. Benedict is going to be shuting down that spigot soon.)

    And, I’ll go you one better. The Greek Christians have the concept of the “andidoron” which means the “instead of the gifts.” Whenever you leave an Eastern Orthodox church when the liturgy is over, you file to the front and receive a square cube of leavened bread that was close to the communion bread when the Holy Spirit entered it and in sympathy the andidoron was splashed with some of the mystery of the Holy Spirit, so it’s good to take it for some shadow of the Holy Spirit, but it’s not really the gift, the consecrated loaf, so they can hand it out even to misbelieving Franks like me (to Greeks, all Europeans are Franks).

    Well, I’m going to suggest that the RC church doesn’t even give their parishioners the bread of communion that contains the mystery. I think they might only be handing out the andidoron. At RC communion, hundreds come forward. Did you have any trouble getting the wafer from the RC priest. No. Because it is only the andidoron, so they don’t even try to limit who gets communion in RC churches, now do they? Only the priests receive the true mystery and they do take it in both kinds. So, in view of that idea, neither of us communed at an RC altar. We shadow boxed with the mystery.

  • Joanne

    Theologies usually exist in a system and theologians study systematic theology, which basically means that all the parts of the theology fit together with all the other parts. Sometimes people have used our old friend Procrustes to solve any problems making certain particular doctrines fit into the system. We Lutherans don’t do that, of course. The 4 volume set of Christliche Dogmatics by Franz Pieper (late 19th century) is the sytemazation of Lutheran theology that I know best. But I believe that Gerhard’s Theologica Loci (17th century) is probably the best work of Evangelical Lutheran theology set down in a systematic way. Concordia PH and Pastor McCain are making this work available in very good American English, under title “Theological Commonplaces.” It’s multivolume in paper.

    Dogmatics (teachings) is when you go through the system slowly on a part by part basis with the secondary emphasis on it’s connectivity to the system. (i.e, We are studying Baptism dogma in this class.)

    Now, I said all that in preface to saying that our doctrines are all connected and cannot be invalidatd in one part and leave the rest as is. Many of you are pointing to this obvious fact. If you change your doctrinal understanding of Justification, then you have to go through you whole system to see all the other parts that connect to that and must now be changed as well.

    We’ve all seen this work in computers that we say have an integrated system or app. A change of the date on page 1, will automatically change the date on all the pages. Our doctrine is integrated. When you change justification, you must also change conversion and penance and the work of the Holy Spirit, and the sacraments. We watch those Lutherans, who have cut their ties to all systems of theology and natural law, drift further and further out to sea as they realize the changes required throughout their whole systematic former selves. And usually the first sin is always the same from the Garden of Eden right up to now, “Yes but has God really said (put your favorite doctrine here)?

    When you hear that the Missouri Synod had a battle of the Bible in the early 70s, this was the crux of the matter, “has God really said?” And those who lost that battle went away to agitate for the formation of the ELCA and a slippery system of theology not based on the simple meaning of God’s word, but on better, more complete information, a modern revelation of the power of compassion, and “whatever is happinin’ now.” We see their fruits over at the XXXA, and silently pray to God that he not take his Word also from us, and give also us up to such confusion. Our sins certainly would warrant his departure from us as well.

    Well, I guess I’ve danced completely around the subject here of communing at strange altars, a constant problem in the OT. For what it’s worth, the altar you worship upon is the theology you publicly confess. Both you and I got snookerd into taking RC communion and felt miserable about it, because we do not believe we even received a real communion there. And, our incidental taking of the RC wafer did and does not mean that we are one in teaching, doctrine, dogma with the RC.

    Apart from that one poorly handled, suprise situational taking of the RC wafer, I have never been tempted to commune at an RC altar because I don’t believe they even offer the sacrament to the plebs. The only person receiving communion in an RC church is the celebrating priest. (I know that sometimes now you’ll see parishioners (lay persons) then offering a sip of wine. Benedict is going to be shuting down that spigot soon.)

    And, I’ll go you one better. The Greek Christians have the concept of the “andidoron” which means the “instead of the gifts.” Whenever you leave an Eastern Orthodox church when the liturgy is over, you file to the front and receive a square cube of leavened bread that was close to the communion bread when the Holy Spirit entered it and in sympathy the andidoron was splashed with some of the mystery of the Holy Spirit, so it’s good to take it for some shadow of the Holy Spirit, but it’s not really the gift, the consecrated loaf, so they can hand it out even to misbelieving Franks like me (to Greeks, all Europeans are Franks).

    Well, I’m going to suggest that the RC church doesn’t even give their parishioners the bread of communion that contains the mystery. I think they might only be handing out the andidoron. At RC communion, hundreds come forward. Did you have any trouble getting the wafer from the RC priest. No. Because it is only the andidoron, so they don’t even try to limit who gets communion in RC churches, now do they? Only the priests receive the true mystery and they do take it in both kinds. So, in view of that idea, neither of us communed at an RC altar. We shadow boxed with the mystery.

  • Larry

    Joanne very nicely stated.

    I think part of the problem today concerning a doctrinal issue is that many have forgotten, or even likely never really known why a doctrine is important to be true and pure. Yes there is “it should be sufficient because God said” but that tends to abound more toward law and reason if you will. And folks start slinging out there “you are not saved by correct doctrine…etc…”. True enough.

    But I know for myself and many who eventually left other confessions for Lutheranism didn’t come that way, i.e. just to get the i’s dotted and t’s crossed right. Rather, for example, why couldn’t we just settle on a Calvinistic view of the sacrament versus Lutheran? In other words, and this is catechistic type Q and A, what is its benefits or even let’s say one could say, “I’m in a wonderful good law and gospel chopping church, the pastor is uber on the gospel, and so forth, why leave just to move on the sacrament?”

    Most are wrestling THAT way, not “get the test question right”. Now from the point of view of the Lutheran he/she sees the malnourishment & even very subtle poisoning going on, but the challenge is, “how do you tell them that especially when they ‘feel’ they are being fed and to some degree they are relative to what they may have come from”. E.g. many of us who came the way of the ex-baptist train from ping ponging between arminian and calvistic flavored Baptist theology remember quite well the first book or time we heard Dr. Michael Horton giving this strange alien gospel. Point being relative to where we had been, and having been starving to death under others, Dr. Horton had a fairly nourishing and much needed Gospel substance. And so one feels fed well, and indeed it is an improvement relatively speaking. So one gets into that conundrum, what’s the big deal, then, on the sacraments.

    Let’s look at it from another angle that we all in theory agree on, the incarnation and two natures. There’s not one denomination in so many words disagree on this, at least not formerly nor very superficially understood. We form our apologetics against the Mormons and JWs and so forth but why? I think this apologetic has lost its Lord over time and become mostly, “That’s the right answer to the test question and ‘because the bible says so’”. Well yes it is, but that doesn’t really help you does it, not unto the Gospel, not unto one’s hope and life. That in and of itself is not even worth dying for. Luther, probably to the surprise of even many Lutherans, points this out. Even an atheist in theory could structure the doctrine correctly and say, “the system its self stands correct”. It’s all Law and reason at this point. But we all would agree on that doctrine and would all correct a Mormon on this. But why is it important, more to the point what’s in it for you, why is it life giving, life hoping, worth, yes, dying for! Because at this point, such apologetic approach, will never once convert the Mormon and it just gets into an intellectual battle of reason and law. Nobody converts on that, not really. And even if they did ‘change over’ they are likely still unbelievers who’ve adopted another “correct system and set of question and test answers” – that kind of knowledge faith which is of no use whatsoever.

    But when the how it is for you enters this realm, then you have eternal life, the hope you give an answer for, how is it that Christ’s incarnation is for you, etc…and at that point we find out who actually agrees with the sine quo non of the doctrine itself and not just the “right test answer…yes, two natures I agree”. It’s when one begins to realize that the two nature communicate and Christ actually became sin (of the world) and resurrected proves HE was absolved and thus we are absolved, and that as His humanity was raised to incorruption so too is ours, that GOD suffered and died FOR YOU and the world without exception. And as this is the revelation of God, His acts in Christ beget His essence and not our speculation first to interpret in the reverse direction we find that, “So THIS is what God is like and not that God of bossing us around”. That God is most like God when He is GIVING to and for us and we are most like creatures when we are receiving from Him, and THIS is what the glory of God is meant not His “bigness” or “overwhelmingness” or some such but that He is my Giver and He loves THAT MUCH (His act in Christ = His essence). One begins to KNOW God and as Scripture states then one is in possession, now, of eternal life.

    That’s very different than “the right answer to the test question on the two natures”, and it allows one to examine one’s own confession that one communes with, what ever it is. “They say ‘two natures’ but do we really mean that to this fullness”. Because the answer “two natures, I concur” is not really always saying yes to the two natures. Doctrines are concepts and concepts (true or false) may be expressed in many ways, and a concept may be there that is in opposition to another concept EVEN when the same exact words are being expressed such that on the surface, “the (short) answer to the test question of both seem to be the same”, but in fact they are not.

    The same applies to the sacraments. And by this one can begin to find out that there is still a hunger and need and that one needs more of these gifts, even when/if what one has under a given denomination is MUCH improved over what one was in before hand. Some of us here have had this experience, moving from MacArthur/Piper to Ken Jones and Michael Horton is a life giving breath of air – I’ve had many “testimonies” online and in person locally speak of this without any prompting on my part. Then the question becomes for us, ‘this food is good’, why cannot we just stay and not move onto the sacraments or other?

    Here I recall the great advice of a great friend of mine who knew I was reaching the point of all the intellectual arguments. Lutheranism by its nature is sacramental, and thus there is only so much one can communicate by it with dogmatic arguments and apologetics alone. One can begin to see, “Yes within itself it makes since, just as does Calvin and others”. But one has to begin to attend its service to begin to “get it”, because its not just “news” but rather ontologically (I think that’s correct) given, its sacramental. I.e. I can talk about how wonderful my wife is all day long, but unless you experience her person, its at some point only information and news to you personally. It’s kind of the same thing.

  • Larry

    Joanne very nicely stated.

    I think part of the problem today concerning a doctrinal issue is that many have forgotten, or even likely never really known why a doctrine is important to be true and pure. Yes there is “it should be sufficient because God said” but that tends to abound more toward law and reason if you will. And folks start slinging out there “you are not saved by correct doctrine…etc…”. True enough.

    But I know for myself and many who eventually left other confessions for Lutheranism didn’t come that way, i.e. just to get the i’s dotted and t’s crossed right. Rather, for example, why couldn’t we just settle on a Calvinistic view of the sacrament versus Lutheran? In other words, and this is catechistic type Q and A, what is its benefits or even let’s say one could say, “I’m in a wonderful good law and gospel chopping church, the pastor is uber on the gospel, and so forth, why leave just to move on the sacrament?”

    Most are wrestling THAT way, not “get the test question right”. Now from the point of view of the Lutheran he/she sees the malnourishment & even very subtle poisoning going on, but the challenge is, “how do you tell them that especially when they ‘feel’ they are being fed and to some degree they are relative to what they may have come from”. E.g. many of us who came the way of the ex-baptist train from ping ponging between arminian and calvistic flavored Baptist theology remember quite well the first book or time we heard Dr. Michael Horton giving this strange alien gospel. Point being relative to where we had been, and having been starving to death under others, Dr. Horton had a fairly nourishing and much needed Gospel substance. And so one feels fed well, and indeed it is an improvement relatively speaking. So one gets into that conundrum, what’s the big deal, then, on the sacraments.

    Let’s look at it from another angle that we all in theory agree on, the incarnation and two natures. There’s not one denomination in so many words disagree on this, at least not formerly nor very superficially understood. We form our apologetics against the Mormons and JWs and so forth but why? I think this apologetic has lost its Lord over time and become mostly, “That’s the right answer to the test question and ‘because the bible says so’”. Well yes it is, but that doesn’t really help you does it, not unto the Gospel, not unto one’s hope and life. That in and of itself is not even worth dying for. Luther, probably to the surprise of even many Lutherans, points this out. Even an atheist in theory could structure the doctrine correctly and say, “the system its self stands correct”. It’s all Law and reason at this point. But we all would agree on that doctrine and would all correct a Mormon on this. But why is it important, more to the point what’s in it for you, why is it life giving, life hoping, worth, yes, dying for! Because at this point, such apologetic approach, will never once convert the Mormon and it just gets into an intellectual battle of reason and law. Nobody converts on that, not really. And even if they did ‘change over’ they are likely still unbelievers who’ve adopted another “correct system and set of question and test answers” – that kind of knowledge faith which is of no use whatsoever.

    But when the how it is for you enters this realm, then you have eternal life, the hope you give an answer for, how is it that Christ’s incarnation is for you, etc…and at that point we find out who actually agrees with the sine quo non of the doctrine itself and not just the “right test answer…yes, two natures I agree”. It’s when one begins to realize that the two nature communicate and Christ actually became sin (of the world) and resurrected proves HE was absolved and thus we are absolved, and that as His humanity was raised to incorruption so too is ours, that GOD suffered and died FOR YOU and the world without exception. And as this is the revelation of God, His acts in Christ beget His essence and not our speculation first to interpret in the reverse direction we find that, “So THIS is what God is like and not that God of bossing us around”. That God is most like God when He is GIVING to and for us and we are most like creatures when we are receiving from Him, and THIS is what the glory of God is meant not His “bigness” or “overwhelmingness” or some such but that He is my Giver and He loves THAT MUCH (His act in Christ = His essence). One begins to KNOW God and as Scripture states then one is in possession, now, of eternal life.

    That’s very different than “the right answer to the test question on the two natures”, and it allows one to examine one’s own confession that one communes with, what ever it is. “They say ‘two natures’ but do we really mean that to this fullness”. Because the answer “two natures, I concur” is not really always saying yes to the two natures. Doctrines are concepts and concepts (true or false) may be expressed in many ways, and a concept may be there that is in opposition to another concept EVEN when the same exact words are being expressed such that on the surface, “the (short) answer to the test question of both seem to be the same”, but in fact they are not.

    The same applies to the sacraments. And by this one can begin to find out that there is still a hunger and need and that one needs more of these gifts, even when/if what one has under a given denomination is MUCH improved over what one was in before hand. Some of us here have had this experience, moving from MacArthur/Piper to Ken Jones and Michael Horton is a life giving breath of air – I’ve had many “testimonies” online and in person locally speak of this without any prompting on my part. Then the question becomes for us, ‘this food is good’, why cannot we just stay and not move onto the sacraments or other?

    Here I recall the great advice of a great friend of mine who knew I was reaching the point of all the intellectual arguments. Lutheranism by its nature is sacramental, and thus there is only so much one can communicate by it with dogmatic arguments and apologetics alone. One can begin to see, “Yes within itself it makes since, just as does Calvin and others”. But one has to begin to attend its service to begin to “get it”, because its not just “news” but rather ontologically (I think that’s correct) given, its sacramental. I.e. I can talk about how wonderful my wife is all day long, but unless you experience her person, its at some point only information and news to you personally. It’s kind of the same thing.


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