Catholics and LWF Lutherans have released a common liturgy to be used for joint services, with both a Catholic and a Lutheran celebrant, to commemorate the 500th anniversary of the Reformation in 1517. (Both conservative Lutherans and conservative Catholics will find unity in the response of being appalled.) [Read more…]
As we blogged about, Pope Francis recently visited a Lutheran church in Rome, where, in answer to a question, he expressed openness to allowing Roman Catholics and Lutherans to commune together. An article on the subject and an interview with the pastor of the Roman Lutheran congregation have been published in the National Catholic Register. The interview is excerpted here after the jump.
We conservative Lutherans agree with conservative Catholics in being opposed to any kind of intercommunion between the churches. We both agree that communion requires full doctrinal agreement. The pastor here is of the Lutheran World Fellowship/ELCA variety, which believes otherwise and that ecumenical unity trumps just about every other consideration.
But I found two things interesting in this discussion. First, the interviewer does not have a clue about what Lutherans believe about Holy Communion. He uses “the Real Presence” to describe the Catholic view, assuming that Lutherans don’t believe in that, even though the term is a Lutheran concept!
More significantly, though, the Pope is acknowledging that Lutherans have the true Body and Blood of Christ in the Lord’s Supper, that the Lutheran sacrament is valid. I don’t know that a pope has ever acknowledged that before. And if the Sacrament is valid, that means the Lutheran pastoral office is valid, which, as the pastor says, has long been a key issue. [Read more…]
Nearly 500 years after the 95 Theses, Roman Catholics still believe in indulgences that will free you or someone else from the punishments of Purgatory. A big one is offered in this Jubilee Year of Mercy, as initiated by the Pope when he opened the Holy Door in St. Peter’s basilica last Tuesday.
If you go through this door or one of other designated doors in churches throughout the world and fulfilled some other conditions (not paying money–the Counter Reformation accepted Luther’s arguments about that), you will be given a plenary indulgence that will give you complete remission of punishment for your sins up to that point. You may receive one plenary indulgence per day for subsequent sins or to release others from Purgatory. (But I thought souls want to be purged from their sins in Purgatory, according to modern Catholic and even some evangelical apologists for the doctrine! And if you can pay for others’ sins, why can’t Christ pay for all?)
Anyway, see how the plenary indulgence works, from a Catholic website, after the jump. [Read more…]
The Pope began his Jubilee Year of Mercy by ceremonially opening the Holy Door at St. Peter’s basilica. (More on that and the indulgences going through a door like that will get you in a later post.) In the accompanying address, Pope Francis reversed what Lutherans say about preaching the Law (to awaken hearers to their sinful condition), then the Gospel (the message of free salvation won by Christ on the Cross). He said to first preach God’s mercy and THEN preach God’s judgement. [Read more…]
More from Terry Mattingly’s column about the new Protestant-like role of “conscience” in liberal Catholicism: He quotes Blase Cupich, the Archbishop of Chicago, on how he counsels the divorced and remarried, gays, and others in what the Church officially considers to be a sinful lifestyle. [Read more…]
There are three branches of Judaism: Reform, Conservative, and Orthodox. A similar breakdown is evident in other religious traditions: a liberal version, a conservative version, and an arch-conservative version.*
Thus, among Lutherans, we have the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (liberal), the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod (conservative), and the Wisconsin Evangelical Synod (arch-conservative).** Presbyterians have the Presbyterian Church United States of America (liberal), the Presbyterian Church in America (conservative), and the Orthodox Presbyterian Church (arch-conservative). Baptists have the American Baptists (liberal), Southern Baptists (conservative), and Fundamental Baptists (arch-conservatives). Campbellites have the Disciples of Christ (liberal), First Christian (conservative), Church of Christ (arch-conservative). We could go on.
Roman Catholics, on the other hand, have always claimed to be unified. But liberal Catholic theologian Daniel Maguire says that Catholicism too is dividing into three similar streams. This has arguably already happened, even though all three are contained in one institution, as many converts have discovered when they become Catholics because of medieval theologians and 19th century acts of devotion, only to find themselves in a parish with feminist nuns and priests who sound just like mainline liberal Protestants.
Terry Mattingly discusses the phenomenon–including the growing authority of “conscience” in Catholic circles–in a column excerpted and linked after the jump.
*This taxonomy did not originate with me. Scholars tend to use the terms “liberal,” “conservative,” and “fundamentalist,” but that last term is too loaded except for groups, such as some Baptists, that embrace the term. One would expect a “moderate” category, but that faction seems to be distributed among the others.
**I suspect some of us in the LCMS would maintain that they are as conservative as it is possible to be in adherence to Scripture and to its exposition in the Book of Concord. They would say that the difference with WELS and ELS is over theology, such as the doctrines of the ministry and church fellowship, and that in regards to these issues and others, such as liturgical practice, the LCMS is more conservative than the other confessional bodies.