The frustrations of ecumenical Protestants

Liberal Protestants, such as the members of the Lutheran World Federation, are strongly committed to ecumenism, and they have been pursuing talks with the Roman Catholics and the Orthodox.  But since the Protestant bodies have been ordaining women, accepting homosexuality, and advocating abortion, those talks have been going nowhere.  Surprise, surprise.  So now the ecumenical Protestants are all frustrated, as if their own projects of cutting themselves off from the historic church wouldn’t cut them off from historic churches.

This is another example of the overarching catholicity of the church over against innovations that turn former branches of the church into sects.  Mathew Block, whom I also quote in today’s post about “catholicity,” tells about a recent dialogue between the liberal Lutherans and the Orthodox, making the point that confessional Lutherans, such as those that belong to the International Lutheran Council, would be far better to talk with. [Read more…]

Australian Anglicans repeal the seal of confession

The Anglican Church of Australia has voted to amend the canon on confession, which traditionally has required ministers to observe total confidentiality when people confess their sins.  Now, if penitents confess a crime, the pastor will be expected to rat them out to the police. [Read more…]

Going to Church for rest

Another powerful, helpful sermon from our pastor,  Rev. James Douthwaite, St. Athanasius Lutheran Church: Pentecost 4 Sermon:

Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.

That’s sounds good. In fact, that’s sounding particularly good to me today, because I’m tired. Being away with our youth at the Higher Things conference in Gainesville, Florida was a great week, but it’s a long, tiring week. All the driving down and back, all the things going on there, teaching and preaching, and staying up past my usual early bedtime . . . yeah, I’m tired. I could use a little rest.

So . . . I came here. To church. To rest. [Read more…]

A liturgy for people offended to be called sinners

The Church of England is revising its baptism liturgy to accommodate contemporary people who are offended to be addressed as sinners.  Also missing, along with the rich language of the Book of Common Prayer, is mention of the devil and the charge to bring children to church and to teach them the Creed, the Lord’s Prayer, and the Ten Commandments. [Read more…]

Confessing the faith

Last Sunday was the feast day of Sts. Peter and Paul, two different and yet unified confessors of the Christian faith.  Also on that day, one of my former students joined our church by adult confirmation, a rite that includes the vow to suffer all, even death, rather than renounce the teachings of the evangelical Lutheran church.  I loved how our pastor not only explored what it means to “confess” the faith, but also how he tied Teresa’s confession to that of Peter and Paul. [Read more…]

The street and the altar

The Lutheran pastor, Christian Führer, whose prayer meetings became a catalyst for the protests that overthrew Communism in East Germany died Monday at age 71.

I was struck by this quotation from him:  “It is not the throne and the altar, but the street and the altar that belong together.”  That’s an interesting version of the doctrine of the Two Kingdoms.   That concept is often taken to refer just to the relation of the church to earthly governments.  That’s part of it, but I think it applies more broadly to society and culture as a whole, where God is also active in vocation and in caring for His creation. [Read more…]