Friday, June 22, 2007

A Lutheran on the Sacrifice of the Mass

It is my great pleasure to recommend to all my readers (especially those interested in the Lutheran Catholic dialogue) an excellent short essay by Pastor William Weedon entitled "Revisiting the Sacrifice of the Mass". The rest of this blog will make no sense to you if you don't take the time to read his essay, so go away now if you are that lazy.

For the rest of you excellent people who are continuing to read this blog (and I gather from that that you have done your homework) here follows my engagement with the excellent Pastor Weedon's points.

First, let me congratulate, Pastor Weedon, on an excellent bit of work. It astounds me that the Lutheran Catholic Dialogue in Australia, which produced the excellent document "Sacrament and Sacrifice", did not see fit to include the references to the Fathers of Lutheran Orthodoxy to which you refer. For I see a distinct shift in understanding and emphasis between the Confessional attacks on "the Sacrifice of the Mass" and the possibilities for dialogue opened up by the reflections of Johann Gerhard and David Hollaz.

(May I just name drop here and note that one of the sources from which Pastor Weedon quotes is Gerhard's "Meditations on Divine Mercy", translated by Pastor Matt Harrison: Matt and his wife shared a house with us at Luther Seminary in North Adelaide when he did an exchange year here in Australia about 20 years ago--I can remember photocopying huge piles of Sasse manuscripts for him in the library. He has made a significant contribution to making the Lutheran fathers available in English--but not, I fear, to the world of banjo playing).

Back to business. When I read the condemnations of the Sacrifice of the Mass from the Lutheran Confessions quoted by Pastor Weedon, I was left with the impression that the Confessions condemn the notion that the Mass as a ceremony in itself, as an action of the priest distinct from the real presence of Christ's body and blood, is a sacrifice. I was not immediately left with the impression, as Pastor Weedon claims, that they opposed
1) the notion that we sinful human beings can participate in the salvific self-oblation of the Lamb of God;
2) that in the Mass the self-offering of the Lamb of God can be “ex opere operato” applied to those who do not even participate at the Holy Table.
Read them yourself and see:
In the third place, the sacrament was not instituted to provide a sacrifice for sinfor the sacrifice has already occurred – but to awaken our faith and comfort our consciences….the Mass is not a sacrifice for others, living or dead, to take away their sins… (AC XXIV:30-34.)

In point of fact there has been only one atoning sacrifice in the world, namely, the death of Christ, as the Letter to the Hebrews teaches… (Ap XXIV:22)

There is also a sacrifice, since one and the same action can have several purposes. Once a conscience has been uplifted by faith and realizes its freedom from terror, then it fervently gives thanks for the benefits of Christ and for his suffering. It uses the ceremony itself as praise to God, as a way of demonstrating its gratitude, and as a witness of its high esteem for the gifts of God. In this way the ceremony becomes a sacrifice of praise. (Ap XXIV:74-my emphasis)

For it held that the Mass (even when performed by a rotten scoundrel) delivers people from sin both here in this life and beyond in purgatory, even though the Lamb of God alone should and must do this, as mentioned above. Nothing is to be conceded or compromised in this article. (SA II:2:1-my emphasis)

[Condemned:] The papal sacrifice of the Mass for the sins of the living and the dead. (Ep. VII:2-my emphasis)
Do you get what I mean? There is no sign of any consciousness that the essential reality and action of the Sacrifice of the Mass is the same as the once for all sacrifice of Calvary, and that the two are identified because it is one and the same sacrifice that is truly present.

All of that is completely changed in the passages from Johann Gerhard quoted by Pastor Weedon. You will immediately see what I mean in the following passage:
In the celebration of the Eucharist ‘we proclaim the Lord’s death’ (1 Cor. 11:26) and pray that God would be merciful to us on account of that holy and immaculate sacrifice completed on the cross and on account of that holy Victim which is certainly present in the Eucharist…. That he would in kindness receive and grant a place to the rational and spiritual oblation of our prayer….In the Christian sacrifice there is no victim except the real and substantial body of Christ, and in the same way there is no true priest except Christ Himself. (Confessio Catholica, vol II, par II, arti xiv, cap. I, ekthesis 6, 1200-1201, 1204. Translated by A.C. Piepkorn in The Church, p. 135.)
You see here that we are in completely different territory. Here Gerhard concedes the basic point upon which the Catholic Church insists: The Mass is a propitiatory sacrifice BECAUSE the Mass is the body and blood of Christ. The Body and Blood of Christ are the only sacrifice that can be offered for the sin of all humankind, and this sacrifice was offered once for all on the Cross. It cannot be repeated, but can only be (and here language tends to fail us) re-presented, re-actualised, applied or "commemorated" through the Divine liturgy. Note that Gerhard insists that there is only one sacrifice (Christ's body and blood) and only one priest (Christ). For the moment we will simply note that Catholic theology does not dissent from this--it simply identifies the Eucharistic bread and wine with that body and blood and regards the celebrating priest as "in persona Christi".

But there is something odd in Gerhard's insistance that Christ's "commemoration" of his sacrifice takes place only in heaven. From the same passage quoted above, we read:
It is clear that the sacrifice takes place in heaven, not on earth, inasmuch as the death and passion of God’s beloved Son is offered to God the Father by way of commemoration…

Hence, this sacrifice once offered on the cross takes place continually in an unseen fashion in heaven by way of commemoration, when Christ offers to His Father on our behalf His sufferings of the past, especially when we are applying ourselves to the sacred mysteries, and this is the ‘unbloody sacrifice’ which is carried out in heaven.
Why "in heaven" but "not on earth"? This reminds me a little of the infamous "black rubric" in the Book of Common Prayer, which declared that
the natural body and Blood of our Saviour Christ are in Heaven, and not here [in the Eucharist]; it being against the truth of Christ's natural body to be at one time in more places than one.
Now we know that Lutherans do not hold to this doctrine (in fact, Luther was notorius for his doctrine of ubiquity). Therefore, if Christ indeed offers his body and blood to the Father as a continual plea for the forgiveness and salvation of human beings everywhere and at all times, and if this very same body and blood are present upon the altars of our Churches in the celebration of the Eucharist, WHY CAN'T WE SAY that the sacrifice is offered by Christ here on earth SIMULTANEOUSLY AS IT IS OFFERED IN HEAVEN? Isn't that what we say the Eucharist is? Heaven upon earth? When the Eucharist is celebrated, are we not lifted up into heaven by the very body of the Son of Man upon which the angels of God ascend and descend (John 1)?

And so, as long as these points are all finally connected up, we find nothing with which to disagree in the Lutheran Dogmatician David Hollaz's statement that:
If we view the matter from the material standpoint, the sacrifice in the Eucharist is numerically the same as the sacrifice that took place on the cross; put otherwise, one can say that the things itself and the substance is the same in each case, the victim or oblation is the same. If we view the matter formally, from the standpoint of the act of sacrifice, then even though the victim is numerically the same, the action is not; that is, the immolation in the Eucharist is different from the immolation carried out on the cross. For on the cross an offering was made by means of the passion and death of an immolated living thing, without which there can be no sacrifice in the narrow sense, but in the Eucharist the oblation takes place through the prayers and through the commemoration of the death or sacrifice offered on the cross. (Examen theologicum acroamaticum, II, 620 Translated by A.C. Piepkorn in The Church, p. 135.)
All that remains is to take into deep consideration what it means that "the Bread which we break is a participation in the Body of Christ". It is not simply as a result of the gift of eating and drinking the body of Christ present in the Eucharist that we "participate" with him, but the result of the grace of baptism that we are all "one body" with him, that we have been buried with him, and that we have risen with him, and that therefore we are united to his sacrifice in such a way that we, as Church, do what Christ does in heaven: namely (in Gerhard's words):
this sacrifice once offered on the cross takes place continually in an unseen way in heaven AND ON EARTH IN THE EUCHARIST by way of commemoration, when Christ offers to His Father on our behalf His sufferings of the past, especially when we are applying ourselves to the sacred mysteries, and this is the ‘unbloody sacrifice’ which is carried out in heaven AND ON EARTH IN THE EUCHARIST.
All that is required is the squaring off of this incredibly fruitful reflection upon the grace of the Sacrament of the Altar.

15 Comments:

At Saturday, June 23, 2007 6:44:00 am , Blogger Past Elder said...

Bless us and save us, Mrs O'Davis.

One example of that toward which Lutheran Eucharistic theology is getting -- in my humble opinion -- is the idea of offering Mass for an intention.

For example, walk into a Catholic funeral home, and you will find cards (envelopes actually, as a little money is put in there too) for Masses to be said for the repose of the deceased's soul. While this is an embarrasment to some of my liberal RC friends, the last time I went to an RC funeral it was still the practice. Or for example the statement you see sometimes that Mass is being offered for the intention of the pope (which is not stated, but being the pope's presumably it is good). When I was a kid the "intention" of the daily Masses was always published in the Sunday bulletin -- someone had paid for Mass to be offered for their intention, OK asked for it and offered a donation).

Which are examples of the same idea of a person at Mass itself. Is it in any way an action I am taking -- believing in Christ's Death and Resurrection for me, am I now doing something good in joining myself in faith to that sacrifice and offering it to God for my salvation and/or some particular intention? Let alone the more recent idea that the real action is in the community coming to-gether to celebrate its communityness or whatever.

Or to put it in terms of participation -- what is participation, that because of my faith this action is now my own too in union with him which I may offer not just for my salvation but more limited intentions too, or is participation receiving from him the pledge of my salvation in the body and blood he sacrificed, his last will and testament which he leaves me -- he acts, I receive.

We Lutherans often cite the words Take and eat, Take and Drink, not Take and Adore. The focus on eat and drink. Maybe we should also focus on the word Take. Not Join with Me, not Join with Each Other, not Let's Think Over What This Means, just Take.

FWIW.

 
At Saturday, June 23, 2007 8:04:00 pm , Blogger Schütz said...

The mass is an act of worship, and not simply a bare sacrament. (For that matter, all the sacraments take place in a ritual or liturgical context.)

From the apostolic age the words of institution were said by the presiding minister as a part of a prayer addressed to the Father, not as a proclamation addressed to the people.

For this reason it is impossible (and indeed artificial) to separate the aspects of sacrament (God toward us) and sacrifice (us toward God) definitively.

The Mass is a prayer--in fact the Supreme form of prayer in which we not only take the words of Jesus on our lips (as we do in the Our Father) but his body and blood. Since it is a prayer, it may rightly be offered for particular intentions, just as any other act of worship. It is, in fact, a far more efficacious form of prayer, however, precisely because of the intimate union between us and Christ in this sacramental sacrifice.

 
At Sunday, June 24, 2007 5:12:00 pm , Blogger Past Elder said...

Great Caesar's Ghost!

The mass as an act of worship contains all sorts of stuff not done at the Last Seder: it's a Christianised synagogue service followed by a Christianised seder, the mass of the catechumens and the mass of the faithful, or if memory serves of the revisionist terms, Liturgy of the Word and Liturgy of the Eucharist. So as a prayer in that sense of course it includes prayers for all sorts of things, including our intentions. You might remember the Prayer of the Church from Lutheran usage.

But absolutely all of that comes from Christian usage, not Christ's command or example. Which is not an objection, just a distinction. The mass at its core, the only part commanded by Jesus, is what Lutherans call the verba, the words of Christ at the institution. Venerable as our traditions are, and worthy as they are of our use, they add nothing to the essence of the mass, which is Christ's words.

We take the words of Jesus on our lips in the Our Father because he said, When you pray, pray like this. We take the words of Jesus on our lips in the Sacrament of the Altar because he said, Do this ..., and Take, eat, Take, drink. Entirely different.

The sacrifice here is not us toward God. We have nothing to sacrifice acceptable to him, unless one wants to hold the Messiah hasn't come and stick to the sacrifices commanded in the Law and pray daily for the restoration of the Temple and the sacrifices. The sacrifice here is God toward God and given to us as a promise, a testament, an inheritance given to heirs. There can be no obscuring this.

In fact our skirmishes on the Mass new and old and in general have motivated me to post on the matter on my own blog, which I'll mention rather than quote here.

Side thought: I notice you use the term Our Father rather than Lord's Prayer. I still use it too, not only because of the continuity with the Hebrew and Latin tradition of naming texts by their first word or two, but because Jesus did not write this prayer. There is essentially the same thing in evening prayer in my siddur. I suspect the prayer was quite familiar to his hearers. Which would underscore his point all the more -- when you pray don't go on and on and try to impress God with great new prayers, just stick to the simple prayers you have been taught, like this one ...

Holy Moly, you wanted me to post as a confessed and confessing Lutheran rather than an ex-Catholic, and I think I just did!

 
At Sunday, June 24, 2007 9:40:00 pm , Blogger Schütz said...

Well, we human beings DO have something to offer in sacrifice to God for our sins: ECCE HOMO.

Past Elder, you completely overlook the fact that St Anselm pointed out centuries ago in Cur Deus Homo?: God became a human being in Christ so that man might indeed have a sacrifice which he could offer to God for his sins, viz. the one and only perfect and sinless human being who ever lived. Christ, from the moment of his baptism onwards, carried out his ministry in solidarity with sinful human beings. When he gave himself as a sacrifice upon Calvary, he was offering himself to God on behalf of humanity. In other words, he is our sacrifice to God for our sins. Surely this is not hard to grasp?

Of course, Christ is God's gift to us--that is what is meant by the confession of his full divinity. But by confession of his full humanity, he is one with us and his offering is our offering.

Beyond all this, the Mass as an action is single and unified. You can divide it up into its various parts, but the Mass is only the Mass as a whole. As a whole, it is a prayer, even the readings, the homily, and the Eucharistic verba.

Incidentally, despite the characteristically Roman emphasis on the importance of the verba in Lutheran theology, none of the Agenda of the Lutheran Churches of the 16th or 17th Century ever had that type of communion celebration which is far too common among Lutherans today: namely, following the sermon and the prayers, the Verba alone are said and the bread and wine dished out. Always in the classical Lutheran liturgies, there was at least the Preface, the Sanctus and the Lord's Prayer. On many occasions there was a type of "Communion Prayer" also.

And a funny thing. When I was trained in the Lutheran liturgy, everyone was still using "east-oriented" altars. We were taught to "face the altar for the sacrificial parts" (ie. the prayers offered to God) and to "face the people for the sacramental parts" (ie. blessings, absolutions, readings of the word). Funny thing though, we always faced the altar for the entire section from the end of the Preface to the "Pax Vobiscum" or greeting of peace after the consecration. What would explain that, do you reckon? Nb. Lutherans never adopted the Anglican practice of consecrating on the "north" side of the altar, ie. side on to the Congregation.

 
At Monday, June 25, 2007 5:01:00 am , Blogger Past Elder said...

There are Lutheran visitors to this blog far more capable than I am of continuing this conversation. So unless or until one of them steps in or corrects me I will try in my home spun way.

You kind of remind me of me except that you buy the Vatican II crap. Some years ago, I attended meetings of a non religious group that were held in an LCMS church. I remember passing by the sanctuary and seeing the red candle, thinking you really have to admire these guys for trying to do it right, but there's no way to be Catholic unless you're Catholic -- in this case, keep the candle whose roots go back to the Temple as a sign of Christ's enduring presence in the host in the Tabernacle, but not have that presence, or tabernacle either.

No it is not hard to grasp that when Jesus offered himself on Calvary it was on behalf of humanity. On behalf. In place of. He is not humanity. He is not me. We did not offer this, I did not offer this. He did. And he leaves it to me and us as an inheritance, a promise to an heir. Even coming to believe the promise is not my work, but his through the Holy Spirit. I have absolutely no part of it as an agent; it is mine as an heir, something someone else did and left to me.

Sometimes this is called vicarious atonement. The rabbis I read and spoke with knew that too, and considered it prime evidence that it cannot be true, as each man dies for his own sins, there is no vicarious atonement, and the binding of Isaac shows that what God wants is absolutely not human sacrifice. The point here being, it is not mine in that sense; it is something he did that is mine as an heir, not something I did or do.

Facing the altar? Of course. You stand in persona Christi. In the Roman church it was put this way: the priest as a man stands facing the same as all the others present, towards God, but when speaking to the people faces them. (And facing them during Scripture readings would be entirely appropriate though it was not done in Roman usage but was in Lutheran.) Interesting that after the Revolution, er, Vatican II, I was taught in religion class that we are now done with those days when "the priest faced the wall and spoke in a foreign language" as my teacher put it, that we are now the People of God gathered in celebration around our community meal that he left us. A different concept indeed, one of those which I argue here makes the Catholic Church no longer the Catholic Church, but which as a Lutheran I now see as replacing one faulty idea of what is going on here and who is doing what with another.

In my parish there is a free standing altar and the minister faces the people during the Verba, but I notice some visiting pastors stand in front of the altar facing it, as they should. I have never seen a novus ordo "Mass" done in any way but the priest facing the people throughout, vacating any distinction whatever of him as another man and him in persona Christi, or what is our addressing God and God addressing us. In a Lutheran context, I often say that we have far more to lose from adopting the Vatican II novus ordo than from all the contemporary worship, Saddleback, Willow Creek emerging church stuff there is, becuase it will be for us as it has been for them, masquerading as historic liturgy as we call it when it dates from 1970 Rome.

Nor would I disagree that stripping things down to the Verba alone was not the best thing however understandable as a move toward eliminating what should be eliminated -- our new LSB, though unfortunately preserving the Vatican II for Lutherans junk that has contaminated us since the LSB, makes efforts at restoring a proper Eucharistic Prayer.

At the risk of sounding Clintonesque, it all depends on what you mean by "ours". By confessing his full humanity, we do not become able to do something we previously could not, but a human becomes able to do something we absolutely cannot, and leaves it to us as his promise, pledge and inheeritance. The righteousness is his, not mine, nor am I free to make of this inheritance other than what it is. It is mine in the sense that it is imputed to me. But his righteousness is no more mine than my sinfulness is his. He took on the one so that I may have the latter. Even the ability to believe this is not mine, but his, as a man can no more make a decision for Christ to believe this than he can decide to rise from the dead, as Walther put it.

That is why we are not Protestant, and not Catholic either. Both have gone aside from the real deal. I'm sorry to hear of the conversion in your newest post. I would suggest instead of a nice hearth a house buring down might better illustrate the situation. I'm just glad I got out. Which is not to proclaim everything perfect in my synod, or anywhere else for that matter. But I didn't profess concerning my synod; I professed concerning Scripture and their accurate exposition in the Confessions.

 
At Monday, June 25, 2007 10:05:00 am , Blogger Schütz said...

What, what, what, WHAT? Christ is not humanity? Christ is not me? Well then I don't know how either humanity as a whole, or I as an individual human being, may ever be saved. "On behalf of" does not simply mean "for the sake of". Christ did not simply take the place of a human being, he BECAME a human being. He did not simply take the place of humanity, he BECAME humanity.

Because of this radical identity with the human race (which was signaled at his baptism when he underwent the baptism of repentance in solidarity with sinful humanity) the sacrificial action of Christ cannot be reduced to the application of the benefits of the sacrifice in terms of an inheritance. But let us even follow through the theology of inheritance: The inheritance is eternal life, and it is given to us because we have been adopted as sons and co-heirs in with and through the Son and the Heir. We are sons and co-heirs because of our union with the Son. The Son is the one who offered himself and all humanity in solidarity with him.

In Christ, we are able to do something that we cannot. That is the whole point of redemption through grace in Christ. A new humanity is found in him, we become a new humanity in him, precisely in this one perfect human being.

So in terms of inheritance, what is Christ does become ours. His action does become our action. His death becomes our death. His resurrection becomes our resurrection. AND his redeeming love reaches into the world through us--for the Church is indeed a true Sacrament of Christ in the World.

This, I believe, is one of the greatest differences between the Catholic/Orthodox faith and Lutheran/Reformed traditions: We understand ourselves to have been drawn into a radical communion and identification with Christ. In this communion with Christ we (as individual believers and collectively as a Church) are continually being called toward holiness.

And yes, there is no way of being Catholic except by being Catholic.

 
At Monday, June 25, 2007 10:24:00 am , Blogger William Weedon said...

Ack, not enough time in the day to keep up with all the conversations. David, I'd love to chat with you and Terry face to face. You all come over to Hamel some day and we can drink some fine boxed wine and get things sorted out. ;)

Just some brief comments: first, thanks for the kind remarks and input on the paper. I'll never forget my delight in running across both citations in Piepkorn. I wish I could do Latin better than the mess I make of it; I'd love to read what ELSE these guys said about the sacrifice. The epilsis in the Gerhard quote are particularly tantalizing.

Second, I think you're 95% correct on the Lutheran Church orders. Truth is, that they would NEVER have had just the Verba or even the Verba and Our Father. But many times they did not use the Preface - they thought of the Preface as being tied to specific days, rather than seasons. So if there was a day for which one wasn't assigned, in many places the order would be the Exhortation, Our Father, and Verba.

Third, and tied to the above, I've often thought that quite a case could be made that the essential contents of the classic Eucharistic Prayers of the 4th century found their way INTO those exhortations - which, oddly enough, Chemnitz can call "prayer formulas according with our time." Additionally, I think the very nature of the Eucharistic sacrifice that the Church offers found expression among the Lutherans in the distribution hymns. "O Lord, we praise Thee, bless Thee, and adore Thee, in thanksgiving bow before Thee" etc.

Some time I want to get back to your earlier challenge too. What I found striking in the set up of the CCC is that it uses the same theological methodology that Lutherans are used to: Dogmatic statement followed by the weighty witnesses to this dogmatic truth usually listed in the order: Scripture, Liturgy, Fathers, and Conciliar decrees and such.

The hotspots for me in the CCC (which, by the way, is surely the greatest theological work of the whole 20th century) are located when we have a gap in that order and we don't have the Scripture or liturgy or early father upon which something is based. A subject for another day.

Oh, and sorry to hear that Matt subjected you to his banjo! I'm all for Matt being the President of the LCMS next go round (not this summer). Can't you just SEE it? :)

 
At Monday, June 25, 2007 1:12:00 pm , Blogger Past Elder said...

You can be saved in the way provided, by faith in the one he has sent, which faith is also a gift, yours, not by nature but as a gift along with the grace to accept it.

I remain unsure whether we are on different pages, or largely anyway on the same page but with radically different ways of expresing it. In this case, what does it mean when we say something is ours.

If what you laid out above were all I had heard about what Christianity is, I would wonder the following: are you saying that because Christ became humanity therefore all humanity is saved, that humanity has done in Christ what it could not do apart from him, that all humanity is saved but Christians have the benefit of knowing that in this world? I don't know if that is what you mean, but it sounds rather like it to me, a Greek mystery religion like its critics suggest.

Maybe I will offer one of the quotes from my post on my own blog. It is Luther's unpacking of Take and Eat, Take and Drink, from Babylonian Captivity. It's what I believe, and if I do not communicate it well the fault in it is entirely mine.

"Behold, O sinful and condemned man, out of the pure and unmerited love with which I love you, and by the will of the Father of mercies, apart from any merit or desire of yours, I promise you in these words the forgiveness of all your sins and life everlasting. And that you may be absolutely certain of this irrevocable promise of mine, I shall give my body and pour out my blood, confirming this promise by my very death, and leaving you my body and blood as a sign and memorial of this same promise. As often as you partake of them, remember me, proclaim and praise my love and bounty toward you, and give thanks."

Pastor, I am an Illinois native, granted that's Chicago and not "downstate", so rather than suggest a roadtrip on I80 how about we hop a Qantas flight and look der alte Schuetz up for tea? Leaping lizards, I was even baptised in Holy Name Cathedral!

 
At Monday, June 25, 2007 3:03:00 pm , Blogger Past Elder said...

Side note on the CCC --

It came out in 1992, well after I had left any association with the Roman church. Oddly enough, most of my opportunity to read it at length came because the pastor in my WELS congregation had a copy in the parish library, as an aid to "dialogue" with Catholics.

His take on it was similar to Pastor Weedon's yet different. He too found it disturbing that often there is no Scriptural warrant offered for what is said, similar to Pastor W, but by contrast was also disturbed that so much of the support for the arguments even when Scripture is cited comes from non Scriptural sources however venerable.

I on the other hand recognised it to be quite Catholic in this sense, that sola Scripture is simply not the norm for these guys so it is not surprising that Scripture is not always offered in support nor from their point of view would that necessarily be an objection, since to them sola Scriptura separates Scripture from the Apostolic Tradition of which it is a part.

What strikes me about it is that it is a thoroughgoing exposition of phenomenology with a Catholic veneer as opposed to a statement of Catholic Faith.

In its sheer magnitude it may well be the greatest theological production of C20, but in its abdication of the Catholic Faith under the guise of phenomenology and what the Catholic Church once condemned as Modernism, it is one of C20's greatest wastes of time too.

 
At Monday, June 25, 2007 5:11:00 pm , Blogger Schütz said...

Past Elder (Terry?) if what we are saying is the same thing from two different directions, why can our two positions not be reconciled? I believe that Gerhard and Hollaz show the way here.

I would love to sit down and have a glass of good Barrossa Red with both you and Pastor Weedon one day. But unfortunately that is unlikely to happen this side of heaven (where Barrossa Reds will be served in great abundance!).

At least with the Catechism you can be sure of what the Catholic Church teaches. No more guessing there.

RE methodology of the CCC, well yes, it is similar to Lutheran catechisms, but that is because Lutherans took the form of "catechism" from the Roman tradition. (one of the first courses I ever did at Luther Sem was on the history and development of catechisms).

RE not having a scriptural quote for everything, this is not always necessary.

First there are things that are true that are not in scripture (eg. the requirements for a legal marriage requiring free expression of consent, cf. CCC p. 1625). You wouldn't dispute these things, but you can't prove them from scripture either.

Secondly, there are some things that are so evidently in agreement with scripture that it would be superflouous to quote scripture to demonstrate this (eg. God calles man to seek him, to know him, to love him with all this strength--CCC p.1.) You could cite scripture to prove these passages, but is it necessary?).

On the other matter, yes I am saying that are you saying that because Christ became humanity therefore all humanity is saved--or at least all humanity is redeemed, although of course each individual has the freedom to reject that redemption. And I do emphatically affirm that humanity has done in Christ what it could not do apart from him. It is also true all humanity is saved (in the sense I have just given) but that only Christians have the benefit knowing it. Proclaiming the gospel--evangelisation--is precisely this: making known to all humanity the fact that in Christ they have been redeemed and are saved. The sacrifice has been offered for them and in their name. Theirs now is the choice of whether they wish to associate or disassociate themselves with that offering.

Finally, re the Luther quotation, man is indeed a miserable sinner, but he is also the redeemed image of God (see my Papa Benny and C.S. Lewis post). Our theology needs to take acount of both angles of an authentic anthropology.

 
At Monday, June 25, 2007 5:12:00 pm , Blogger Schütz said...

And Pastor Weedon, is it really on the cards for Matt to become LCMS president? Who'd have thought?

 
At Tuesday, June 26, 2007 12:11:00 pm , Blogger Past Elder said...

Otra vez: I am not saying our positions are the same thing from different directions. I am saying I am not sure if I am understanding your position clearly and am asking for clarification on what it is.

Please tell me if these statements contain what you are saying:

All humanity is redeemed -- not just offered redemption, not just with redemption as a possibility, but is in fact redeemed.

Man has accomplished this because Christ has accomplished this and Christ and humanity are one.

Non Christians are as much saved as Christians, already, and evangelisation is letting them know that they are already saved.

They may then reject this message, and it is only then that they are lost.

Have I stated what you say, or am I mistaken?

 
At Tuesday, June 26, 2007 12:48:00 pm , Blogger Past Elder said...

PS -- in 1967/8 I read a lot of Teilhard. Any of you guys still read that? Not sure if Lutherans are all that aware of him.

 
At Tuesday, June 26, 2007 9:11:00 pm , Blogger Schütz said...

On the T. de Ch. Yeah, I read a bit when I was a Lutheran Seminarian. Not impressed. Still not.

On clarifying my meaning, let me take your statements and rephrase them in a way with which I am comfortable:

"All humanity is redeemed -- not just offered redemption, not just with redemption as a possibility, but is in fact redeemed." Check. The price of their redemption has been paid.

"Man has accomplished this because Christ has accomplished this and Christ and humanity are one." Not quite so happy with this statement. Better to say: Christ has accomplished our redemption by his sacrifice, and because Christ and humanity are one, his sacrifice is also our sacrifice. You note that I stop short at saying that Man has accomplished his own salvation, because this is not true as a bald statement of fact without the qualification of "in Christ". The sacrifice of the mass is not "man's accomplishment" either, but the sacrifice of redeemed humanity in and through Christ. That probably doesn't make you any more happy.

"Non Christians are as much saved as Christians, already, and evangelisation is letting them know that they are already saved." Reword: Non Christians are as much redeemed as Christians, and evangelisation is letting them know that they are already redeemed so that they can attain the certainty of salvation in Christ.

"They may then reject this message, and it is only then that they are lost." Strictly speaking this is true. God does not and will not declare someone "lost" until they have definitively rejected God's offer of salvation in Christ. In the same way the certainty of anyone's salvation is in doubt until they definitively accept God's offer of salvation. The proclamation of the good news presents all who hear it with a "crisis"--to reject or accept.

 
At Wednesday, June 27, 2007 12:59:00 am , Anonymous Christine said...

Very well put, David. As St. Paul says, as all die in Adam all are made alive in Christ. Just as we are all united in the flesh to Adam so Jesus in His true humanity and divinity has redeemed the entire human race
and offers salvation to all. Does that mean everyone is automatically saved? Of course not.

As Holy Writ says, to whom much has been given, much will be required. Rather than worry about the status of those who have not heard or reject the Gospel, our job as the Church is to preach Christ crucified and allow the Holy Spirit to work through Word and Sacrament.

Catholics are not universalists and one thing is sure. All humanity will face the judgement seat of Christ. Let us preach Him in season and out so that all may come to the knowledge of the truth and be saved while it is still day, for the night will come when no man can work.

 

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