The case against the papacy

In honor of Pope Francis’s visit to the United States and in recognition of the papal envy being expressed by many Protestants, we offer Melanchthon’s case against the papacy, as stated in A Treatise on the Power and Primacy of the Pope, one of the Lutheran confessions:

1] The Roman Pontiff claims for himself [in the first place] that by divine right he is [supreme] above all bishops and pastors [in all Christendom].

2] Secondly, he adds also that by divine right he has both swords, i.e., the authority also of bestowing kingdoms [enthroning and deposing kings, regulating secular dominions etc.].

3] And thirdly, he says that to believe this is necessary for salvation. And for these reasons the Roman bishop calls himself [and boasts that he is] the vicar of Christ on earth.

4] These three articles we hold to be false, godless, tyrannical, and [quite] pernicious to the Church. [Read more...]

What’s the difference between pastors and laypeople?

Rev. Adam Roe, in his series on vocation at Mission: Work, observes that Philip Melanchthon, author of the Augsburg Confession and other key texts in the Book of Concord, was a layman.  Pastor Roe uses this fact as an example of “the priesthood of all believers,” going on to show how the doctrine of vocation shows how God is graciously active and present  in all of life.

Now Rev. Roe is a pastor in the Lutheran Congregations in Mission for Christ (LCMC).  I’m in the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod (LCMS).  There are, indeed, different strains of Lutheranism.  I get the feeling that we Missouri Synod Lutherans have a higher view of the pastoral office than the LCMC.  Rev. Roe emphasizes God’s real presence in lay vocations, such as farming and parenthood, but he seems to have more of a functionalist view of the pastoral office.  My impression is that neither kind of calling is just a function, but that both are genuine channels for God’s workings, though in different ways.  Then again, I’m aware that within the LCMS are some differences in the theology of the pastoral office.  Then again, I, like Melanchthon, am a humble layman, but unlike Melanchthon, I’m not up on all of the theological nuances. Read what Rev. Roe has to say, excerpted and linked after the jump, and help me out here. [Read more...]

Beauty and Difficulty

Thanks to Prof. Scott Ashmon of Concordia University Irvine for alerting me to this quotation from Philip Melanchthon:

“What is beautiful may be difficult.”

(“On Correcting the Studies of Youth” in A Melanchthon Reader, ed. Ralph Keen [New York: Peter Lang, 1988], 54, 56.)

Where is this evident?  How might this principle be applied?

Melanchton on Fables

 Philipp Melanchthon was the great Renaissance scholar of the humanities who became Luther’s right hand man and a major Lutheran theologian, being the author of the Augsburg Confession and its Apology.  Melanchthon also more or less invented the Reformation schools, giving them a curriculum grounded in the classical liberal arts.  He also championed the use of imaginative literature, which was neglected in scholastic institutions.  SZ at Mockingbird quotes from Philipp Melanchthon’s  On the Usefulness of Fables:

‘There is altogether nothing more beautiful and pleasant than the truth, but it is too far removed from the sight and eyes of men for it to be beheld and known fortuitously. The minds of children need to be guided and attracted to it step by step by various enticements, so that they may then contemplate more closely the thing which is the most beautiful of all, but, alas, all too unclear and unknown to mortals… Therefore, extremely sagacious men have devised some tales which first rouse by wonder the children’s minds that are sleeping as if in lethargy. For what seems more unusual to us than that a wolf speak with a horse, a lion with a little fox or an oak with a gourd, all in the manner of men?…

‘I believe that fables were first invented with that intention, because it appeared that the indolent minds of children could not be roused more quickly by any other way of speaking… For we see that the most serious and wisest of men have used this kind of teaching, and I cannot say easily what a great public evil it is that it is now banished from the schools. The learned admire the sagaciousness of the poet Homer so greatly that they place him beyond the common condition of mortals and clearly think that his mind was roused by some divine power. Yet he wrote about the war between frogs and mice…

‘[Finally,] there are so many fables in the Holy Scriptures that it is sufficiently clear that the heavenly God Himself considered this kind of speech most powerful for bending the minds of men. I ask you, what greater praise can fall to fables than that the heavenly God also approves of them?‘

via Melanchton on the Usefulness of Fables | Mockingbird.

“Rouse by wonder the children’s minds.”  Good pedagogy.