Friday, June 06, 2008

Use it or lose it - Stealing a conversation back from Pastor Weedon!

One difficulty with the blog format is that blogs cannot easily hold conversations with one another. Comboxs flow on from a particular thread, and if you have a blog, you want that thread to be on YOUR blog, not your dialogue partners! Perhaps Pastor Weedon and I ought to start a joint blog where we can hammer these things out...

Anyway, Pastor Weedon posted a comment from Chris Jones in one of my comboxes on his blog, and an interesting discussion ensued. There was very interesting quote from Luther who seemed to deny the "desert island" theory that a congregation could appoint a pastor to celebrate the Eucharist for them -- Luther used the example of stranded Christians in Ottoman Turkey without a priest and said that they would just have to do without the Eucharist. Telling.

But even more telling is this exchange between Pastor Eric Brown and Dixie. Since it was about my blog, I am claiming the thread back here (with my commentary)!

Rev. Eric J Brown said...
I think too often we make this discussion about power or ability - do I have the power to do this, do I have the ability to do this?

That's not quite the proper question....Pastors aren't dealing with a special power or ability that they have - rather this. They are fulfilling an office they have been placed into - and unless you have been placed into that office, you shouldn't take it upon yourself [An interesting use of the passive voice - begs the question of who placed the pastor in this office]. You would in no wise suddenly announce one day, "I am now the town mayor - listen to me." Nor would you suddenly say, "I'm now a policeman." You might have the abilities to do all these things - but if you aren't placed there, you shouldn't be trying to do the things that pertain to those offices.

The Pastoral office is the same way. Our God is a God of order - He is a God of authority and who uses authority ["I am a man under authority and of authority" (Luke 7:8)]. When people try to buck that order or avoid proper authority - bad things happen [Ah, but there's the rub -- and it hit me like a sledge hammer when I was wavering between Lutheranism and Catholicism. Wasn't this just what happened at the time of the Reformation? Didn't Luther, by claiming authority in 1536 that was proper only to a bishop and ordaining a man to the presbyterate, "buck" the established order and "avoid proper authority"?]. Thus, it is best to simply do things as God provides for them to be done.

8:55 AM
Dixie said...
Pastors aren't dealing with a special power or ability that they have - rather this. They are fulfilling an office they have been placed into - and unless you have been placed into that office, you shouldn't take it upon yourself. ...

The Pastoral office is the same way. Our God is a God of order - He is a God of authority and who uses authority. When people try to buck that order or avoid proper authority - bad things happen. Thus, it is best to simply do things as God provides for them to be done.

Pastor Brown,

I honestly don't think Herr Schutz (David, if you are reading, chime in. [Coming through loud and clear, Dixie!]) would disagree with you at all, in principle, with this.

The disagreement would come at doing things as God provides for them to be done. Some Lutherans say the Holy Spirit calls through the congregation. The Catholics (and some Lutherans) say the Holy Spirit works through the Bishop and some other Lutherans say it could be either way. That is the real crux of the discussion because if the starting point ain't right then everything done after that becomes dicey [My point exactly, Dixie, and for Lutherans the "starting point" was when they stepped outside the line of episcopal authority to ordain to the office of the ministry, claiming that, as the true Church of God, they had the right to do so].

11:51 AM
Rev. Eric J Brown said...
Dixie ...

I haven't looked at Herr Schultz's [oh dear, oh dear, oh dear] post at all. . . my comment was based simply on the thread as put here.

Now, just with what you have introduced, I would point out what both a congregational based call and what a Bishop based call have in common - they are extra nos - they are where the pastor is given that duty by someone other than himself - he is placed into office - and in both cases, congregation or bishop, with the understanding that God is working His will in the calling/placement [so it doesn't matter who gives the authority, I just can't authorise myself? That sounds dicey. It means that any breakaway group in the Church can ordain whoever they like and claim that he has been ordained to the ministry of the one, holy, catholic and apostolic Church? Odd. That doesn't seem to have been the official position of any Lutheran Church I have ever known--especially not the one to which I once belonged!].

I guess I'd fall into the either camp of Lutherans - I think it is folly to demand one over the other - and I don't think you can demand one over the other from the example of the early church (where bishops appointed clergy, and yet bishops were elected by the congregation - ack! [Elected, yes, sometimes true (although I don't think St Timothy was elected by his congregation -- St Paul appointed him and then insisted that he not listen to any objections from his flock to the contrary), but the congregation did not "ordain" their own clergy. That remained the responsibility of those to whom the office had already been committed.]) But I hadn't seen that as the context of Jones' quote or the discussion here.

2:11 PM
Dixie said...
Pastor Brown,

...Regarding the relationship of your comments to Herr Schutz's [thank you for getting the name right, Dixie!] post...actually your comments just added clarity in my mind as to where the real issue was...at the start of a sequence of events that begins long before the words "This is My Body" are spoken. [Indeed. And in the Lutheran case that "sequence of events" goes right back to the Reformation when they first tried "to buck that order or avoid proper authority".]

2:40 PM
kjslutherisch said...
For anyone interested, I had a moment and tracked down Jack Bauer's Luther quote about the situation in Turkey.

The Private Mass and the Consecration of Priests (1533) American Edition, Volume 38, pg. 207. [Thanks for the reference, kjs]

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