Saints I have known

Happy All Saints’ Day!  The Augsburg Confession, one of the definitive Lutheran doctrinal statements, says this about saints:  “The memory of saints may be set before us, that we may follow their faith and good works, according to our calling.”

Note the vocational emphasis.  After the jump, see what else Phillip Melanchthon says on the subject.  (HT:  Mathew Block)

The term “saints,” in this sense, goes beyond those declared to be saints by the Roman Catholic Church.  Ordinary Christians, in their faith, are saints, though they are sinners too.  And some of these can serve as inspiring examples.  I have known Christians in my life who exemplify that kind of sanctity and who have shown me what Christianity lived out looks like.

What “memory” do you have of saints you have known?

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Happy Augsburg Confession day!

Today, June 25, is the anniversary of the Presentation of the Augsburg Confession, which happened in 1530.  Now it was not just one monk saying “Here I stand.”  The Reformation had become a movement.  Read it today.  (Non-Lutherans, what do you think?)

After the jump, background on the event and how this particular confession ties the Reformation to the church universal. [Read more…]

Happy Augsburg Confession Day!

On this day 482 years ago–June 25, 1530–the Reformation princes and free cities confessed their faith before Emperor Charles V at the Diet (the governing assembly of the Imperial states) held in Augsburg, Germany.  The 28 articles drawn up by Philipp Melanchthon (not Luther!) became known as the Augsburg Confession.  It was the first confession of faith of the Reformation and, to this day, it is perhaps the most succinct and definitive summaries of Lutheran theology.

Part of its genius is that it spells out what did NOT change in the Reformation churches–the continuity with historical Christianity that later protestants would throw out–as well as precisely what elements in the medieval church did need to be reformed.  The Augsburg Confession is still startlingly relevant to today’s controversies of theology and practice.

Honor the day by reading it:  Augsburg Confession – Book of Concord.

Gay ordination vs. women’s ordination

Which is more problematic, ordaining a homosexual man or ordaining a woman? To ordain someone who sins publicly and without repentance would be a scandalous failure of discipline and Biblical fidelity on the part of the church body. And yet, there have been homosexual pastors before. No one has denied that, whatever their sin, they are true pastors and that the sacraments they administer are valid.

To question that would be to fall into the heresy of Donatism. A Lutheran cannot hold that position. The Augsburg Confession, Article VIII, says of Lutherans that “They condemn the Donatists, and such like, who denied it to be lawful to use the ministry of evil men in the Church, and who thought the ministry of evil men to be unprofitable and of none effect.”

In the case of women, though, the question is whether they can be pastors at all. If not, their orders are illegitimate. That would seem to mean that the sacraments they administer–with the exception of Baptism, which can be performed by any layman–are invalid. (Question: Is that the position of those who reject women’s ordination? Or since the keys are held by the congregation, can the congregation have valid sacraments no matter who the pastor is?)

So wouldn’t women’s ordination be worse than gay ordination? Yes, both are wrong. The ELCA has both, and the new breakaway denomination will only have the former. But still, it keeps surprising me how this one issue keeps inspiring breaks in denominations, even though more serious transgressions that have taken place earlier are ignored. Am I missing something? I’m just asking.