Monday, May 26, 2008

You really have to read that combox...

By which I mean this one at the end ofthis post.

It has elicited the most remarkable declaration from our good Lutheran correspondent, Pastor Weedon. To wit:
This Lutheran has NO intention of becoming Roman or Orthodox; I believe that the Lutheran Symbols express exactly the same faith articulated in the Sacred Scriptures. I know the comments are meant kindly "not far from the kingdom" or whatever, but know that they are really an insult to all of us who believe that the Church lives from the receiving end of God in the means of grace. When the Church is put at spot #1, it become an idol, and that's what I fear has happened to many who convert from Lutheranism to the Roman or Orthodox jurisdictions. I have no intention of doing so and I wish that folks would stop implying that that's where I'm headed. No way, no how. If I once thought along those lines, I no longer do and I'm rather glad that neither Rome nor the East hold any enticement to me in the least. I'll take the poverty of the Lutheran Church with her pure confession anyday.
Ah well. I can't say I ever set out with the intention to become Roman or Orthodox myself. I don't believe it works that way. Pastor Weedon is to be thanked for such a clear statement, but one would remind him of his own Catechism:
I believe that I cannot by my own reason or strength believe in Jesus Christ, my Lord, or come to Him; but the Holy Ghost has called me by the Gospel, enlightened me with His gifts, sanctified and kept me in the true faith; even as He calls, gathers, enlightens, and sanctifies the whole Christian Church on earth, and keeps it with Jesus Christ in the one true faith...
That's the way it works, old boy, and when it happens, God doesn't take your own intentions much into account. But of course, you must protest your innocence of any such nefarious intention on your part. Otherwise, how could you continue in your ministry?

14 Comments:

At Tuesday, May 27, 2008 2:07:00 am , Blogger William Weedon said...

Continue in my job. Have you come down to such disdain for the office you once held?

 
At Tuesday, May 27, 2008 6:23:00 am , Blogger Schütz said...

That probably was a bit "under the belt", even for me. And I do apologise. In fact, I am going to change the post right now.

True though. It is not so much disdain for the office I once did, as a recognition of the tenuous foundation of that office despite its great purpose and intent.

Consider how a woman who had been ordained as a Lutheran pastor might feel if she were to come to the conviction that the Scriptures really did forbid the conferal of the sacred office upon women.

Could she "continue her job"? Would she still be able to hold her office in high regard? To be sure, the work she did would be greatly honourable, and yet she would quickly become aware that she could not keep doing it. She would, in effect, have to find "another job"!

I couldn't keep being a Lutheran minister once I came to the conviction that I had to be a Catholic. I had given three months notice of resignation, but in the end I cut that time short because, once my intention was known (as much to myself as to anyone else) I simply couldn't keep doing it as "a job".

 
At Tuesday, May 27, 2008 6:45:00 am , Blogger William Weedon said...

In that we are no doubt different. Even when I was ready to abandon my office and the Lutheran parish I served, I did not have any doubt that that office truly was the office instituted by the Savior and that it truly gave the gifts Christ promised through it and that the people who received those gifts truly were a manifestation of one body of Christ in our locality. When the Orthodox would say they "knew where the Church was, not where it wasn't" I always took that to mean that they hadn't had the experience of the Word and Sacraments that I had in this place, because I knew it WAS and REMAINED here. A friend of mine later told me that if I truly believed that, I never really thought like an Orthodox. So be it, that is how I have truly believed.

As regards the woman pastor, David, I can understand somewhat of what you are saying, but to me as a confessional Lutheran a female pastor is an ontological impossibility; a pastor ordained in a canonically irregular manner by a fellow pastor is not an ontological impossibility.

 
At Tuesday, May 27, 2008 8:32:00 pm , Blogger Peter said...

but to me as a confessional Lutheran a female pastor is an ontological impossibility; a pastor ordained in a canonically irregular manner by a fellow pastor is not an ontological impossibility

I think this is an excellent distinction to make.

The next question, however, is what distinguishes you, Pastor, from a lay person with delusions of office?

Let us say a parishioner is deluded into believing they are 'ordained' to administer the sacraments in their own home and manner, and are supported in their delusion by a few others. What distinguishes a Lutheran minister from this poor deluded soul?

I don't mean in any way to be offensive, this is one of the questions I myself faced as I considered my own 'ordination'. What made me so sure I was ordained by Christ, ontologically different from the other poor deluded fellow? It cannot merely be that I had more people to support my delusion can it? It MUST be that there is some objective way of ensuring this ordination is by the authority of Christ himself.

I have no doubt, Pastor, that you would distinguish yourself from the poor deluded man (or woman) who is utterly convinced that Christ in His Word gave this authority to him/her. So what is it that distinguished you?

 
At Tuesday, May 27, 2008 10:00:00 pm , Blogger Schütz said...

Thanks, Peter. I agree with Pastor W's distinction, as you do, but I would also ask if indeed he is that beast he describes, namely "a pastor ordained in a canonically irregular manner by a fellow pastor". Is "canonically irregular" the way to describe Lutheran orders? It is the way we describe (for eg.) the bishops ordained by Archbishop Levebre. They were canonically irregular, but valid, bishops, and hence the priests they themselves ordained are also valid though irregularly ordained. The Catholic judgement on Lutheran orders (and no such thing officially exists as it does with Anglican Orders, but you can take it as read that this is the de facto judgement) is that Lutheran orders are not just irregular, but invalid. Ergo, Pastor William, you may be a pastor, but you are NOT a priest. That is why you would be re-ordained if you were to become a Catholic or Orthodox. A merely irregular ordination would simply be ratified.

However, as you yourself have said, when you came to the point of swimming the Tiber or the Hellespont (I didn't realise that you had once been so close but had drawn back - one is put in mind of George Herbert's poem "Love bade me welcome" etc), you "did not have any doubt that that office truly was the office instituted by the Savior and that it truly gave the gifts Christ promised through it and that the people who received those gifts truly were a manifestation of one body of Christ in our locality".

If, under these circs, you had taken the plunge, you would, I believe, have been committing a grave sin. For you would indeed have been "abandoning" (to use your words) an office that you regarded as perfectly valid and a community which you believed to be a true local Church.

Until you arrive at the position where you can no longer affirm either of these two beliefs, stay put. Do not move an inch. Keep your hand to the plough and do not look back. I retired from the Lutheran ministry when I no longer believed it to be a validly ordained ministry of God's word and sacraments and I left the Lutheran Church when I no longer believed it to be a "Church in the true sense". For me to have stayed would have been a grave sin.

Believe me, when it comes, you will know the time. But manifestly, the time is not yet.

 
At Tuesday, May 27, 2008 11:43:00 pm , Blogger William Weedon said...

Peter (and David),

I use the term "canonically irregular" in respect for the jurisdiction of the people I am here conversing with. As a Lutheran Christian I believe that the order of the ministry is unified and has the full authority to place into the office; similarly the local congregation has the full authority to call to that office and have the ministers place another into it. I was trying to suggest to you all, however, the thinking outlined by Piepkorn:

"I might be moved to ask if, on the basis (a) of 1 Tim 4:14, (b) of St. Jerome's Commentary on the Letter to Titus, I, v. 9-13, (c) of the bulls Sacrae religionis (Feb 1, 1400) and Apostolicae Sedis providentia (Feb 6, 1403) of Boniface IX, (d) of the bull Gerontes ad vos (Nov 16, 1427) of Marvin V, (e) of the bull Exposit (April 9, 1489) of Innocent VIII, (f) of the stipulations of Canon 951 of the 1917 Code of Canon Law, and (g) of the analogy with confirmation, it may not be true that at his ordination a priest receives the power to confer holy orders, and if it may not be remotely conceivable that Lutherans possess through an irregular presbyteral succession the power to confer orders and to confect valid sacraments." (The Church, p. 153)

I know of at least one RC dogmatician, Ludwig Ott, who seems to at least engage the question (without regard to Lutherans), and notes that authorization of presbyters to impart orders might be explained by the fact that "a simple priest is an extraordinary dispenser of the orders of diaconate and presbyterate, just as he is an extraordinary dispenser of confirmation." Ott, Fundamentals of Catholic Dogma, p. 459

 
At Tuesday, May 27, 2008 11:47:00 pm , Blogger William Weedon said...

I want to stress that Piepkorn in his arguments and I in citing them, are trying to suggest what seems plausible from within a Roman framework; a Lutheran framework is quite different. As to the ordination of a woman and what makes it ontologically impossible, the Lord's apostle has forbidden women to teach or have authority in the Church over men, and the entire history of the Church testifies that she has always understood those apostolic prohibitions and the fact that the Lord chose no women for the 12, and that the priest serves "in the person of Christ" to be grounds for denying that she has the authority to place a woman into the office.

 
At Wednesday, May 28, 2008 7:55:00 am , Blogger Schütz said...

Thank God you added that last bit, Weedon. For a moment there, I was thinking that every morning when you got up you had to read

(a) 1 Tim 4:14,
(b) St. Jerome's Commentary on the Letter to Titus, I, v. 9-13,
(c) the bulls Sacrae religionis (Feb 1, 1400) and Apostolicae Sedis providentia (Feb 6, 1403) of Boniface IX,
(d) the bull Gerontes ad vos (Nov 16, 1427) of Marvin V,
(e) the bull Exposit (April 9, 1489) of Innocent VIII,
(f) the stipulations of Canon 951 of the 1917 Code of Canon Law,
AND ponder
(g) the analogy with confirmation

before heading off to work in the full assurance that your ministry was indeed valid!

So much easier to remember the words from the ordination service "You are a priest forever in the order of Melchizedek".

 
At Wednesday, May 28, 2008 11:09:00 am , Blogger William Weedon said...

I can just remember when Pastor's hands were laid on me before the altar at St. Andrew and he said:

I ordain and consecrate you into the office of the holy ministry of the one, holy, catholic and apostolic church, in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.

It's an event I'm not likely to forget. :) Still, I hope you do look up the bulls!

 
At Wednesday, May 28, 2008 3:11:00 pm , Blogger Schütz said...

Aha! That's a good one. When I was ordained, it was not to the Lutheran Church of Australia, but to the "Evangelical Lutheran Church". If I remember back to the meetings in which we drew up that ordination rite, this was because I was being ordained as "a Lutheran Pastor", with my ordination intended to be viewed as valid in all Lutheran Churches wherever they existed in the world.

But we did not presume to think that the LCA had the authority to ordain a person to the "holy ministry of the one, holy, catholic and apostolic Church". I don't think they even discussed that possibility. I would have been interested to know what the reaction would have been if we had raised it as a possible formula.

It is a good question, which perhaps other Lutheran Pastors reading this blog could answer (I know you are out there lurking!). Were you ordained to the ministry of the "one holy catholic and apostolic Church" or of the "Evangelical Lutheran Church"? Or is it, in your view, a false distinction?

In answer to your second question, I will.

 
At Wednesday, May 28, 2008 6:46:00 pm , Blogger Schütz said...

Actually, having said that, it appears I will have to go the library to find the evidence you are looking for (and pray that it is there somewhere), because none of the bulls to which you refer are available on the net. Obviously pretty obscure stuff. Do you have links for this material? Or could you possibly post/email me the material to which you refer?

 
At Wednesday, May 28, 2008 10:55:00 pm , Blogger William Weedon said...

The Synod's original ordination formula (which was brought into the Saxon Agenda from Loehe's order BY Walther, no less!), read:

We hereby hand over to you through the laying on of our hands the holy office of the Word and the Sacraments of the Triune God, ordain and consecrate you to the ministry of the Holy Church in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost. Amen. Amen.

The TLH Agenda used this form:

I now commit unto thee the holy office of the Word and Sacraments; I ordain and consecrate thee a minister of the Church and install thee as pastor of this congregation in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost. The Lord pour out upon thee His Holy Spirit for the office and the work committed unto thee by the call, that thou mayest be a faithful dispenser of the means of grace. Amen.

Lutheran Worship Agenda, under which I was ordained (except that I asked Pastor to use the traditional "catholic" to which he consented):

N., I ordain and consecrate you to the holy office of the public ministry in the one, holy, Christian and apostolic Church, in the name of the Father and of + the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

And the current rite in Lutheran Service Book Agenda:

N., I ordain and consecrate you to the Office of the Holy Ministry of the Word and Sacraments in the one, holy, catholic [or Christian], and apostolic Church, in the name of the Father, and of the + Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen. The Lord Jesus pour out upon you His Holy Spirit for this office and work that you may faithfully preach the Gospel and administer the Sacraments. Amen.

As you can see, for Missouri throughout her liturgical heritage ordination is to an office of the Church catholic; it was never to the Evangelical Lutheran Church.

 
At Thursday, May 29, 2008 12:09:00 am , Blogger Schütz said...

Sehr interessantes, Herr Pastor! I am very intrigued. Yet, I wonder if this might not be connected to the fact that, as I think I recall reading somewhere, Walther was fairly well convinced that the Evangelical Lutheran Church WAS the "Holy Church" (as we would put it, that the one Church of God subsisted in the Evangelical Lutheran Church)--ie. you weren't being ordained to some entity that existed BEYOND the boundaries of the Lutheran Church, but to what was, to all effects and purposes, the Lutheran Church conceived of as the Holy Catholic Church.

Now, of course, the current formularies cannot mean that, since Missouri, as far as I can tell, doesn't mean that.

 
At Thursday, May 29, 2008 6:37:00 am , Blogger William Weedon said...

No, Walther carried a sharp distinction between the visible and invisible church (quite sadly, I might add!). He held that the Evangelical Lutheran Church (which he did not identify with the Missouri Synod) was the true VISIBLE Church of Christ on earth; but this was not coterminus with the Una Sancta.

I think the point of the Lutheran ordination rite as we have received it is precisely like the formula for Baptism: one is not baptized into a "Lutheran" Church but into the One Church; similarly with ordination. One is not ordained into an office that belongs to the Lutherans; it belongs to the whole of Christ's Church.

[By the bye, on the visible/invisible - tracing back of course to St. Augustine and his thinking over the donatist schism - Korby has suggested instead that the sensorum is wrong: not sight; but hearing. That a genuinely Lutheran ecclesiology begins not with seeing, but with hearing. He points to the SA where the Church is defined as the holy believers and sheep who hear their Shepherd's voice.

 

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