Wednesday, January 14, 2009

That Krauth Quote

In the Combox to a blog below, Pastor Weedon gives us a quotation from a 19th Century American Lutheran theologian, C.P. Krauth. He gives the source of the quotation as an essay entitled "The Relations of the Lutheran Church to the Denominations Around Us", a rather obscure paper that was published in the published proceedings of "The First Free Lutheran Diet in America" (1878). That work can be found here on the internet - and I recommend the pdf version of the original as the scanned text file is very poor indeed.

This booklet actually contains some very interesting articles. The article in question is itself worth reflecting on, especially in the light of what is understood by the term "denomination" ("a class or collection of individuals called by the same name; a body of persons who have separated, or are separate from others, in virtue of their holding in common some special doctrine, or set of doctrines, or government, or usage, or discipline"), and the kind of ecclesiology that is envisaged in it. I am only mildly surprised to recognise in it something of the sort of ecclesiology I grew up with - which I learned from another American LCMS book entitled simply "Our Church and Others". The fact that this pre-Vatican II book is still in production and regularly used as a textbook by the LCMS speaks volumes in itself. Brought up on this stuff, you can perhaps understand why it was that the truths confessed in the document "Dominus Iesus" were so readily apparent to me. The way that Krauth uses the term "denomination" is oddly akin to the way the Catholic Church speaks of "ecclesial communities" (ie. not churches in the "proper sense").

But enough of the idle chit chat. Let's look at the quotation.
And this leads us to ask as preliminary to our just relations to them, on what grounds of principle do the denominations around us vindicate their right to exist? ... Yet this is a great question. It is THE question. The denomination which has not raised it is a self-convicted sect. The denomination which cannot return such an answer to it as at least shows sincere conviction that it has such reasons, should be shunned by all Christians who would not have the guilt of other men's sins. We draw a line then at once between those denominations which either give no reason for their rightful existence, or a reason so transparently false as to defy credulity; and those on the other hand which have reasons - reasons of such plausibility as to satisfy us that thoughtful men may sincerely hold them. [The Relation of the Lutheran Church to the Denominations Around Us]
In one respect, the question Krauth insists all sects should ask themselves is simply another version of the question I asked myself at the beginning of my journey into the Catholic Church, viz. "Why am I not Catholic?" For my right to exist as a Lutheran - a member of a denomination which "separated, or is separate from" the Catholic Church - depended to a large degree on the right of the Lutheran Church to exist. I believe every Lutheran (I do not speak for other denominations) should ask and answer this question if they are to go on living as Lutherans.

But let's get to the more interesting part of the quotation:
We must also look with different eyes on those bodies whose historical record and present acts are in accordance with their official principles on which they rest their right to exist; and those which desert the principles which gave them name, creeds, and position - these bodies which exist on one principle and act on another, which lengthen their lives by abandoning what they once considered sacred, ignoring their history, concealing their confessed doctrines, or evading the necessary consequences of them, and who make their name and their very right to existence a fraud, - and whose intensest hatred is inflicted on those who remind them of their history, and of the doctrines which gave them their original being. [The Relation of the Lutheran Church to the Denominations Around Us]
At this point, C.P. Krauth sounds remarkably like Past Elder in one of his milder and more rational moments. Krauth obviously has in mind the Lutheran denominations in America, which, at the time, were "deserting the principles which gave them name". The meeting at which this paper was delivered was intended to be precisely a "calling out" of faithful Lutherans into a new body which could and would justify its existence on the double ground that Krauth outlines in this essay. So the Lutheran Church "claims a right to exist because she is a Biblical Church", and the new Lutheran body they were forming (the "General Council of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America") would be consciously based upon the "doctrines which gave [Lutherans] their original being".

But could not the accusation be also applied to the Catholic Church, in the manner in which Past Elder argues? Is it not true that many Catholics today - bishops and priests, theologians and lay people - "exist on one principle and act on another", "abandon what they once considered sacred", "ignore their history", "conceal their confessed doctrines or evade the necessary consequences of them", and inflict their "intensest hatred...on those who remind them of their history, and of the doctrines which gave them their original being"?

Any sensible Catholic today - and I include Pope Benedict in this category - would have to (and in fact does) answer this accusation with the plea: "Guilty as charged".

Krauth's standard is a good standard. It is precisely NOT a double standard. I can use it equally to judge my Church and yours. You can do the same.

But I cannot agree with Krauth's conclusion. Although those individuals who live and teach and act in this way individually "make their name and their very right to existence" under that name "a fraud", they do not thereby invalidate the principles, sacred things, history, and confessed doctrines that gave the community after whom they are named its original being.

In other words, as Krauth well knew, the proper reaction in the face of such apostacy was not capitulation and renunciation of the original principles, doctrines, history, etc., but reformation and return to the original principles, doctrines, history, etc. The unfaithfulness of those now living does not invalidate the truth of the faith of those now past. The existence of unfaithful Lutherans does not, of itself, invalidate the Lutheran confession. Nor does the existence of unfaithful Catholics (something we have two millenia of experience at) invalidate the Catholic faith.

Krauth and his colleagues worked hard at reforming the Lutheran Church in America of his day to make it more like (what he conceived of as) Luther's original intention. The result was a Lutheran Church in America that bore very little resemblence to the European Lutheran Churches from which it had emerged.

The Catholic Church has a much longer history than the Lutheran Church. Just as the Lutherans believe in the principle "semper reformanda", so the Catholic Church believes in the principle of "semper purificanda" (just take a look at the number of times Benedict XVI uses the expression "to purify" in his teaching). The process of purification of the Church means that, in so far as it is successful, the Church of tomorrow will look different from the Church of yesterday. The Church will appear to have "changed her mind" on certain of her teachings - because she will have recongised (in accordance with her original divine mandate from Christ) where her teaching was deficient or required purification. Some might call this purification of doctrine a "development of doctrine" - although I think that might be putting to much of a "progressive" spin on it. Thus the doctrine of the Church's relation to the State has been purified in recent centuries - purified precisely in accordance with her founders declaration that one should "render unto Ceasar what is Ceasar's and unto God what is God's". Thus the Church's teaching on justification today is modulated - yes, horror of horrors, she has learnt something from the Lutherans in this regard.

I once encounted a clergyman of the Re-Organised Church of the Latter Day Saints, now known as the "Community of Christ". A Mormon sect, you might say. But in actual fact, this group was far closer to orthodox Christianity than it was to orthodox Mormonism. As such, despite the fact that it was unfaithful to the doctrines of Joseph Smith, it was more faithful to the doctrines of Jesus Christ and that of the rest of Christianity. Does this make this group a "fraud" or does it mean that it has less right to exist than the real "Latter Day Saints"? I think not.

Every historical ecclesial community will go through changes. What they are today will not necessarily be what they were yesterday. Change can happen in two directions - in the direction of greater faithfulness or the direction of greater unfaithfulness. When a community has been unfaithful, we thank God for the grace of his renewing Spirit by whom it is always possible for an errant ecclesial community to return to its roots in Jesus Christ.

Krauth is right. THE question is: "on what grounds of principle do the denominations around us vindicate their right to exist"? Although she has often been unfaithful to her original principle, yet the Catholic Church today confesses exactly the same original principle that she has always confessed, viz. that:
The sole Church of Christ [is that] which our Savior, after his Resurrection, entrusted to Peter's pastoral care, commissioning him and the other apostles to extend and rule it.... This Church, constituted and organized as a society in the present world, subsists in (subsistit in) the Catholic Church, which is governed by the successor of Peter and by the bishops in communion with him" [LG 8#2].


At Thursday, January 15, 2009 5:29:00 am , Blogger Fr. Timothy D. May, SSP said...

Pastor Weedon is more attune to C.P. Krauth and his writings. I have not read much from him since seminary days when I did some research on him. However, another aspect of Krauth that may be of interest to Catholics is his writings on the Lord's Supper. I am thinking here of the book for which he is probably best known, "The Conservative Reformation and It's Theology." This is a general plug. Refer any questions to Pastor Weedon. :-)

At Thursday, January 15, 2009 6:45:00 am , Anonymous Christine said...

My copy bears the 1986 Augsburg Publishing imprint.

A very lengthy but well worth reading tome arguing against the Americanization of the Lutheran Church.

At Thursday, January 15, 2009 7:01:00 am , Blogger William Weedon said...

Of course, David, my friend, both Krauth and Weedon would dispute the idea that the "Catholic" Church is older than the "Lutheran" Church for it is axiomatic for Lutherans that we ARE the catholic Church of the West, purified of certain medieval abuses. As a friend of mine likes to point out, the shocker of all shockers at Augsburg was that Rome disagreed with any of articles I-XXI. That was just plain, old solid catholic doctrine. Or, at least it was till Trent proscribed some of it. As Krauth put it our problem with Rome is that she isn't Catholic enough. :)

At Thursday, January 15, 2009 8:00:00 am , Blogger Schütz said...

Yes, I used to own a copy of the Conservative Reformation too. I still might – somewhere…

As for your comment, Pastor Weedon, that "it is axiomatic for Lutherans that we ARE the catholic Church of the West, purified of certain medieval abuses" - I know you mean it slightly tongue-in-cheek, but I'm really not so sure that it is a supportable claim. I mean, it might be "true for you", but I don't know to what degree your fellow Lutherans believe that it is “axiomatic”. Nor am I quite sure that this actually reflects a Lutheran confessional ecclesiology (in so far as such a thing exists).

For instance, I think our bete noir, Past Elder, is closer to the Lutheran mark in his take on the matter:

“the "evangelical Lutheran church", which is not WELS, not LCMS, but the only church there is, the catholic church of the creed, in such parishes where the Word is correctly taught and the Sacraments properly administered according to the church's own book.”

There does seem to be a bit of a difference here between your statement and his. He identifies anywhere that the Word is rightly preached and the Sacraments administered according to the Scriptures as belonging to the “evangelical Lutheran Church”. You state that “Lutherans” (ie. those who consciously belong to the Lutheran Confession) alone have the right to consider themselves the true Catholic Church of the West.

Past Elder’s ecclesiology is defined phenomenologically – ie. Where true Word and Sacrament happen (such as in confessional Lutheran parishes), there is the “catholic Church.” The problem with this is that it becomes an “event ecclesiology” – a “now you see it, now you don’t” sort of ecclesiology. Any given Christian community or parish may be part of the catholic Church one Sunday (when the liturgy is done right and the sermon preached well) and not the next (when it isn’t).

Nevertheless, his take does have the positive benefit of being able to recognise the “catholic church” beyond the visible boundaries of the Lutheran Confession. PE says as much in another comment when he says:

In fact, it is since becoming Lutheran that I have been able to see the post-conciliar Roman Church as part of the catholic church in which Word and Sacrament can be found, even if you may have to scout around a bit before there it is.

Your ecclesiology is slightly different. Your “axiom” is that any denomination calling itself “Lutheran” and any individual calling him or herself “Lutheran” is actually the continuation of the Catholic Church of the West. That really is very hard to swallow. For a start, it implies a claim of continuity between the Catholic Church prior to 1517 and the evangelical Churches post 1517, when most historians are pretty clear there was a radical break here. Second of all, it is an attempt to apply a Catholic/Orthodox ecclesiology (“of the West”) to the denomination called “Lutheran”. That isn’t a neat fit by any standard, especially because there isn’t really any such thing as a universal “Lutheran Church”. Such an ecclesiology would simply replace Rome with St Louis, Missouri. As I have said before, this stretches credulity a little.

On this point, even PE’s ecclesiology comes unstuck. He insists on something called the “Evangelical Lutheran Church” which is not WELS, or LCMS, but something else. He is correct in identifying this as an authentic Lutheran ecclesiology (for eg. when I was ordained a Lutheran pastor, I was ordained, not to the Lutheran Church of Australia, but to that very entity PE mentions: “The Evangelical Lutheran Church”).)

But there are two difficulties with this ecclesiology.

The first difficulty with this idea is that there is no universal, world-wide communion called “The Evangelical Lutheran Church”. It exists only as an idea, not as a reality. It is the platonic ideal (or “Confession”) from which every existing denomination calling itself “Lutheran” draws its reason for existence.

The second difficulty is that the claim that the “The Evangelical Lutheran Church” is the true catholic Church of the Creed implies the rather anachronistic idea that Jesus Christ established “The Evangelical Lutheran Church”. That really does go against the grain of common sense.

The only way of saving it as an idea is to define “the Evangelical Lutheran Church” so broadly that it includes all communities where the Word is preached rightly and the Sacraments administered properly – even if they do not call themselves Lutheran. Perhaps by that method you could reinterpret your own statement to mean that: “it is axiomatic for us Lutherans that all communities where the Word is preached rightly and the Sacraments administered properly ARE the Catholic Church of the West” (although why not of the East as well)?

And by that definition, is it not conceivable that a Lutheran, taking a good hard look at his own denomination, might conclude that the Word is preached MORE correctly and the Sacraments administered MORE properly in those Churches in communion with the Bishop of Rome than in those churches calling themselves “Lutheran”?

At Thursday, January 15, 2009 8:37:00 am , Blogger William Weedon said...

Dear David,

Oh, I think you quite misunderstood me. I by no means concede that any church calling itself "Lutheran" is the heir of the Western Catholic Church. It is the Church that adheres to the Augustana that such is true of. Even the extent to which my own Synod holds to this is problematic and painful for those of us who take the Confession on its face value and seek to BE that Church.

Yet I do not mean thereby to "unchurch" those who are not of that Confession, but to merely recognize that in them we (as Lutherans) see one of two problems: either adding to the Scriptural deposit (as opposed to developing from that deposit) or taking from it. Neither is an option for us. And so sadly, we do remain apart. Thus the Catholic Church to us is always the WHOLE of the baptized who have been joined in saving faith to the Son of God by the Holy Spirit's work. She's not in pieces, but the lot. This full assembly will be disclosed in glory only on the Day of our Lord's appearing. In the meantime, the Lutheran Church as legitimate heir of the Western Catholic Church means that in the various splinters of the Western Church, she remains "the pillar of the truth" because she maintains that truth which is revealed in the Sacred Scriptures, confessed in the Creeds, and does not allow this truth to be augmented with dogmas of men nor to be diminished by dismissing from it what is contrary to fallen reason's dictates.

To me as a Lutheran, Rome (and the East) have added to the deposit in such a way as to obscure the very Gospel itself. The Reformed of whatever stripe have taken away from it - and from the very heart of it, the Holy Eucharist.

At Thursday, January 15, 2009 9:43:00 am , Blogger William Weedon said...

P.S. Thus I totally concur with Krauth that "as earnest Evangelical Protestants, we may admit, that deep and vital as are the points where we differ from the Romanists, they are not so vital as those in which we agree with them, and the Evangelical Protestants are not so remote from Romanists as they are from false and heretical Protestants." (Conservative Reformation, p. 341,342) Said more simply: at least I know what the dickens you are talking about as a Roman Catholic Christian and often find myself on the same page with you.

At Thursday, January 15, 2009 10:57:00 am , Blogger Joshua said...


Your last comment is most heartening!

As a Catholic (albeit one who once acquired a secondhand copy of the Book of Concord, but soon after donated it to a theological library in an access of altruism), I'm not at all familiar with "articles I-XXI' that you mention - could you enlighten me?

At Thursday, January 15, 2009 11:31:00 am , Anonymous Anonymous said...

PW, I think Belloc said that just because the Church needed a reformation (which it did) doesn't mean it needed the Reformation.

At Thursday, January 15, 2009 1:08:00 pm , Blogger Past Elder said...

Nothing heartening about it. It's all fine and good, for example, that we both believe in the Real Presence, but who cares, what difference does it make, when if Rome is right we believe in something we do not have.

You speak of the East -- as if they have the same recognition of you that you do of them. Guess what, they don't, universally. For the most part, validity of ordination is not the sole criterion and is not sufficient when other criteria are lost, for example consensus of faith, which Rome lost in adding filioque to the Apostolic creed and faith, therefore voiding any succession.

The whole apostolic succession thing is itself an example of that which it does not produce, a single visible identifiable institution one in faith. Hell, the various churches that believe in apostolic succession don't even agree at all points on what it is, how it works, or who's got it. You're trying to indentify a church in this world but not of it as you do something of this world, which is easy enough when you're a state religion.

Ya wanna find the evangelical Lutheran church? Hop a flight to Omaha, tell the cabbie to take you to Lamb of God Lutheran Church at 72nd and I-80, get out and go in. Well, pay the cabbie too. Wanna find the catholic church, same deal.

That of course will only get you there in a physical earthly sense. It's not the same sort of criteria that will find you the evangelical Lutheran church or the catholic church, period, but if you keep insisting on finding it that way, all you'll get is old state religions that functioned that way.

At Thursday, January 15, 2009 2:34:00 pm , Blogger Schütz said...

Pastor, I appreciate your clarification - I didn't really think you meant your "tongue-in-cheek" comment the way it looked on the page!

However, the above comment from PE shows that you and he, at least, are as much on different pages in this score, as you and I, or he and I, are. Our ecclesiologies are very different.

My question remains: which one actually accords with reality? The claim that the true "heir of the Western Catholic Church" is that church which "adheres to the Augustana" seems just a little too anachronistic to me to make any sort of sense, ecclesiologically speaking.

That is not to deny that the Lutheran confessors (and their true heirs in the past - such as Krauth - and in this day and age - such as yourself) quite clearly meant to confess nothing other than what they took to be the true faith of the Catholic Church (and specifically - as instanced by the inclusion of the filioque - the Western Catholic Church).

Had the Augustana been accepted by that Western Catholic Church as a true statement of her faith, you would today be on very solid ground in that claim. However, she did not. Not only her magisterium but also her faithful (exercising the sensus fidelium) rejected it. Thus the Augustana has come to represent the confession of a sectarian schismatic group in the Western Catholic Church.

It is not necessary, however, that it should always be so. You will be aware, I assume, that Joseph Ratzinger spear headed an attempt during the 70's and 80's to get some sort of dialogue going on the degree to which the Catholic Church could recognise the Augustana as that which the Lutherans claim it to be: ie. AN authentic (if not THE authentic) representation of the faith - at least to the extent that it was held by the faithful at the time it was presented in 1530.

This is still not wholly out of the question, but would demand a great readiness on the part of both parties to understand exactly what the other was saying and why. In otherwords, it would need some "interpretation" for the present situation - the very sort of "interpretation" that occured to reach the agreement on the doctrine of justification and which Missouri (and the likes of PE) poured and continue to pour icey cold water.

In other words, it would be an agreement along the lines of "what was contained in the Augustana was not what Trent condemned" and vice versa. You get the drift.

And yes, attention would precisely need to be given to articles I-XXI, that is (for Josh's benefit), to the doctrinal issues addressed in the Augustana. It is fairly well conceded that the remaining articles (addressing abuses in the Western Church at the time of the Reformation) have all been answered in the affirmative by the Catholic Church - except for the discipline of celibacy (about which I think Lutherans and Catholics could still find some agreement - we do not, for instance, require celibacy of priests in our Eastern rites).

It is something worth considering and praying for.

At Thursday, January 15, 2009 2:37:00 pm , Blogger Schütz said...

And PE, I am quite aware of how the Eastern Churches (in general) regard the Roman Church and those in communion with her.

This general regard, however, varies from Orthodox Church to Orthodox Church. Consider the degree to which the Ecumenical Patriarch (one of a number of patriarchs) considers Rome to be a sister Church and is eager for the restoration of full communion. The recent participation of the Ecumenical Patriarch in our Synod of Bishops and his comments to the Syndod is an illustration of this.

At Thursday, January 15, 2009 2:49:00 pm , Blogger William Weedon said...


A quick rundown on matters that the Lutherans really expected no debate on:

I. Trinity
2. Original Sin
3. Person of Christ
4. Justification
5. Ministry
6. New Obedience
7. Church
8. Rejecting Donatism
9. Baptism
10. Eucharist
11. Repentance
12. Confession
13. Use of the Sacraments requiring faith
14. Church Order
15. Church Rites
16. Civil Government
17. Return of Christ
18. Free Will
19. Cause of Sin
20. Good Works
21. Cult of the Saints

On all these topics they expected agreement - basically a "we're on the same page with you." And I think this is the section that Ratzinger especially thought might have been acknowledged as catholic in its content (but not catholic - according to him - in its intent in justifying a separate ecclesiastical existence. But he seems to be forgetting that the plea of the Augustana was simply: "Don't kick us out! Don't judge us harshly as heretics!" and we WERE kicked out nonetheless).

Then the abuse articles that were corrected in our churches:

22. Both Kinds in the Sacrament
23. Marriage of Priests
24. The Mass (abolition of private masses and restoration of the single parochial mass)
25. Confession
26. Distinction of Meats
27. Monastic Vows
28. Church Authority (that the power of bishops is not secular rule but the authority of preaching the Gospel, administering the Sacraments, and exercising church discipline in regard to both doctrine and life)

At Thursday, January 15, 2009 2:49:00 pm , Blogger Schütz said...

Pastor Weedon, just a note re referring to the Churches of our communion.

It is common to call the communion to which I belong the "Roman Catholic Church", however this is inaccurate as our communion includes many non-Roman (ie. non-Latin) Catholic Churches, such as the Ukrainian Catholic Church, the Armenian Catholic Church, the Syrian Catholic Church etc. etc. You should get the drift.

It is also wrong to use the expression "Roman Church" of our communion, not only for the above reason, but because the Roman Church is the Diocese of Rome, whose bishop is Benedict XVI. I belong to the Melbourne Church. (Nb. There is no such thing as an Australian Catholic Church or American Catholic Church either, but only Catholic Churches in Australia, in America etc.)

We too regard all validly baptised Christians as members of the one Church of Jesus Christ. Because some are not in full communion with the Church of Rome we speak of them as being in "real but imperfect" communion with the Catholic Church. They are really in communion with the Catholic Church because they are baptised. They are imperfectly in communion with the Catholic Church because they remain out of communion with the Church of Rome.

So the most accurate way you could refer to us if you wish to avoid calling us what we call ourselves (which would be the polite thing to do without conceding anything - I call your church what you call it yourself, after all, and if there was a church which styled itself "The True Church of God" - as I am sure there is - I would call it that too - also without conceding anything) is "the Churches in Communion with Rome".

But that is a bit clumsy. So why not just use "Catholic Church" and be done with?

At Thursday, January 15, 2009 2:56:00 pm , Blogger Schütz said...

Pastor W, we seem to be on the net at the same time. Have you had your morning coffee yet? Or should you be in bed by now?

And I think this is the section that Ratzinger especially thought might have been acknowledged as catholic in its content (but not catholic - according to him - in its intent in justifying a separate ecclesiastical existence. But he seems to be forgetting that the plea of the Augustana was simply: "Don't kick us out! Don't judge us harshly as heretics!" and we WERE kicked out nonetheless).

You are right that the Augustana was not presented so much with the intent of "justifying a separate ecclesiastical existence" but with the intent of justifying a different ecclesiastical existence. It was this difference which, at the time, was judged to be incompatible with the Catholic faith - by the Diet of Augsburg. Now the Diet was not a part of the Church's magisterium, so Ratzinger's point was, I think, that the Augustana had never actually been addressed on its own terms by the Church herself. And he seemed to be saying it was high time that it was.

As for "kicked out" rather than "separated yourselves", well, I will leave it to Dr Tighe to give the factual historical details that put the kibosh on that legend.

At Thursday, January 15, 2009 3:22:00 pm , Blogger William Weedon said...


I should be in bed. Almost 10:30 and I'm getting to be an old man now and need my rest. :) But I have enjoyed the conversation a great deal. I know we don't interact all that much, but I do appreciate the tenor of your blog and the "maximally open" approach you take. God bless you for it. Remember us in your prayers - as I'm sure you do. By the bye, I like churches in communion with Rome very much. Is it offensive or wrong to speak about "under the Roman obedience"? I'm still feeling my way around how terms are heard. I'm guessing that Foul Papalist Swine is out of bounds! ;) Oh, you take all the FUN out of the ecumenical encounter! Signed: Foul Lutheran Heretic

At Thursday, January 15, 2009 3:37:00 pm , Blogger William Weedon said...


It's hard to get at the term "Reformation" because it comes to mean in the popular mind the Reforms also in Geneva, Canterbury, and the radical reformers such as Münzer. But if one restricts the term to the way it was intended in Luther's Wittenberg, then, I would respectfully insist that the Church DID need Reformation and that such is not alien to her (Augustine represented a Reformation of sorts against Pelagianism) but simply part of her ongoing battle for the truth of the Gospel and the acknowledgement that there's no part of the Church (parishes, priests or bishops) that cannot be corrupted, not merely morally, but even doctrinally.

At Thursday, January 15, 2009 4:20:00 pm , Blogger Past Elder said...

This isn't some sort of cupcake 1960s sensitivity group where we all go round the room and find something nice to say about the guy next to you.

Look, passing a joint declaration to mean different things by the same terms is an utter waste of time, and a fraud when presented as some sort of dialogue. The fact is, it is false to the faith of either party -- Catholics who don't pull Newmanian rabbits out of Catholic hats find it dangerously close to placing the Roman church under its own anathemae, and Lutheran bodies which haven't long since compromised their Lutheran faith anyway find it a betrayal of anything like the faith of the Lutheran confessions. It ain't cold water to call it what it is, a shameful, disgraceful betrayal of both faiths.

You're quite technically correct re church nomenclature. That's a Roman specialty, word play. The fact of the matter is not one damn thing of consequence happens in the churches in communion with Rome without the active or passive approval of the Roman pontifex maximus and his functionaries, so Roman Church is quite apt functionally though like CEOs of other questionable corporations they love to hide behind word play to excuse themselves for what happened under their lack of leadership.

At Thursday, January 15, 2009 4:34:00 pm , Blogger Schütz said...

This isn't some sort of cupcake 1960s sensitivity group where we all go round the room and find something nice to say about the guy next to you.

No, it isn't, PE. That would make the game too hard to play for many of our commentators! :-)

Is it offensive or wrong to speak about "under the Roman obedience"? I'm still feeling my way around how terms are heard. I'm guessing that Foul Papalist Swine is out of bounds! ;)

"Under the Roman obedience" is not how we describe ourselves, Pastor. We say "in communion with Rome". That's enough. As for "foul papalist swine", have I told the story about how once at a dialogue dinner with evangelicals and pentecostals I asked whether it would be inappropriate to serve wine, and one of the pentecostals said "Hell, if you're going to talk to the Whore of Babylon, you might as well have a drink!" That's the spirit!

The fact of the matter is not one damn thing of consequence happens in the churches in communion with Rome without the active or passive approval of the Roman pontifex maximus and his functionaries

That's what we call "being in communion", PE. It is sort of like "being in a family". You don't do anything without the active or passive approval of the head of the household (ie. the Mrs).

At Thursday, January 15, 2009 4:40:00 pm , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thankyou for your input, PW, I will chew on it.

David, slightly OT, but related to combox discussions here, I wonder if we could run a bit of an experiment?

Firstly, though, I would like to make a remark about PE's insistence about a priori views.

I had to check the dictionary definition, because I wan't sure that I knew exactly what PE means when he says this kind of thing.

I'm still not completely sure, given the variety of definitions, but obviously, PE will need to explain that himself.

I did wonder whether indeed most people (or all) hold their views priori when engaged in a debate.

I mean, I assume that others will be debating me precisely because they assume they are right and I'm wrong and vice versa. Maybe I have the wrong end of the stick here, but PE will be able to clarify what he means by these things.

Now, the experiment I propose is that we try to argue thus:

Which is to say, perhaps we can all try to argue from first principles (we can, of course assume the existence of God and the Divinity of Christ, since we are all Christians here) and

never deny: this principle presupposes charity in requiring the responder to take seriously the objections made to any answer he might give; that is, by never outright denying a conclusion, the Master presumes the good will of the objector and averts any attacks on the person

For me, at least, this will prove very difficult, but I wonder if we could give it a shot (please read the whole post at the link for a proper idea of what I'm on about).

At Thursday, January 15, 2009 4:49:00 pm , Blogger Past Elder said...

Yo Dave, what in the hell kind of conversations did you have with an RLDS clergyman that you didn't get it that "Mormonism" is the departure from the teachings of Joseph Smith and RLDS is the real Latter-Day Saints?

I damn near joined that church in the mid 70s, amid the self-immolation of the RCC and all these Protestant churches saying they got it right thinking let's look into the idea that God Himself stepped in to restore the true church directly.

Somewhere along the line I was shown the "Position Papers", basically the blueprint for its morphing into the Community of Christ, and thought these poor bleeders are heading down their own version of the same road Rome did!

Hell, you guys posted again. I'm up hosting Rant All Night, so see ya soon.

At Thursday, January 15, 2009 6:16:00 pm , Blogger Joshua said...


An amazing thing, the Internet - one google and I got the Augsburg Confession.

Hmmm, I doubt I'd accept all of articles I-XXI!

E.g. (based on a quick read and checking a few things in Ott):

art. II - depends on the exact understanding of concupiscence;
art. IV - justification is a most difficult topic;
art. VII - definition of church seems only partial and ambiguous;
art. XI - everyone knows you must confess mortal sins according to kind and number;
art. XV - don't like the anti-Catholic way of despising traditions that have grown up in the Church and, having been praised by holy men and lived and taught officially, must have been of the Holy Ghost;
art. XX - ditto for what is condemned as childish and needless, etc.;
art. XXI - the saints have been invoked since time immemorial: to claim otherwise is worse than being an iconoclast.

And as for the next articles - !

The specious argument against clerical celibacy is very poor: as was explained to me by a staff member at a seminary, it is God's will, manifested through His Church, to call only those who have a vocation both to the priesthood and to celibacy.

At Thursday, January 15, 2009 6:18:00 pm , Blogger Joshua said...

Or, rather, God gives to those whom He wills to be priests the vocation both to the ministry and to celibacy.

At Thursday, January 15, 2009 7:08:00 pm , Blogger Past Elder said...

Oh man, Dominicans! Friars! Quick, get the kids inside and lock the doors!

Well, what he's describing is pretty much the SOP of that magnificent Dominican, Thomas Aquinas, the greatest theologian who ever lived, except for Clint Eastwood.

What a bum deal he got. Here he was, nobility, related to the Hohenstaufen Holy Roman Emperors, all set from birth to career path following his uncle to be abbot of Monte Cassino, the monkatorium maximum of the best monks ever since the monking world monked its first monkery, the Benedictines, but the Holy Roman Emperor and the Holy Roman Pope were having a war so he gets packed off to bloody Naples where he meets a damn Dominican who ruins everything!

So the damn Dominicans kidnap him to Rome, but on the way his brothers kidnap him back, and the poor guy sits under lock and key to keep him from the damn Dominicans, until mom figures what the hell the kid is impossible and arranges it to look like an escape rather than a surrender, so off he goes. Hell, the Pope (Innocent, hell of a name, IV) was all set to make him abbot of a Benedictine monastery damn Dominican and all!

There's some being in communion for ya Dave. Too bad he just didn't go off with that nice girl his brothers lined up for him.

But what better place to move to the a priori thing. A priori is actually the flip side of one coin with a posteriori. The Latin means "from before" and "from after". Before and after what for Judas' sake? Before doing anything, which the think boys call "experience". A priori is the stuff you know not from experience, not proven by experience, true on the face of it because its contradiction is incoherent and/or false from the meaning of the statement itself, (hey Lito, got your Boghossian fired up?). Like "All pianists know how to play the piano". Hell, you know that's true even if you don't know a single pianist, and you can't falsify it by finding a pianist who doesn't know how to play the piano, because that is what a pianist is, someone who knows how to play the piano. But, "Lito (sorry mate) is a good pianist" is a posteriori: there's nothing about "Lito" that means bupkis about piano playing, you gotta go hear him play the piano to see if he plays it well, poorly, or even at all (experience), and, if you find he actually plays poorly or can't even play, you have falsified the statement, shown it to be false, something you could not have told from the statement itself by pure analytics.

So, "The unchanging church has not changed" is true on the face of it, hell no the unchanging church has not changed, it's the unchanging church for Judas Priest's sake. Therefore, anything in the realm of excperience which would seem to indicate the unchanging church has changed cannot show the church has really changed, it only seems to, it is experience incorrectly understood, it must have been incorrectly understood even if we cannot see how just now.

For which reason, popularly the phrase has come to mean whatever you take to be true before you look into anything and if you look into something and it seems to indicate what you take to be true is not true, it's still true, you just don't understand what or how you're looking at it in your experience.

It can't be true, therefore it isn't true, no matter how it looks. The church can't have changed in essence, therefore it hasn't even if it looks like it may have or did.

The problem is, when we take a priori in the popular sense to be a priori period. "All pianists know how to play the piano" is not quite the same as "The unchanging church has not changed". The one, like arithmetic, is pure analytics; the other is too, unchanging churches do not change. But, in the former you can be sure as hell that any one you experience who knows how to play the piano is a pianist and any one you experience saying he's a pianist but doesn't know how to play is messed up, however, in the latter, when you go out and experience churches, while THE unchanging church will not have changed, that this particular church is THE unchanging church is another matter.

So, your a priori maybe wasn't a priori after all, the unchanging churche DOES change, or maybe it is an a priori but you didn't see there was some a posteriori thrown in there, the unchanging church doesn't change but I never considered maybe this particular church is not THE church -- in which case, you were going along on the popular sense of a priori, namely, a good old axiom, which as distinct from a theorem is not deduced from anything else but considered self-evident, needing no confirming experience, hence we're back to the a priori a posteriori thing again.

In our examples above, all pianists know how to play the piano is a logical axiom, its truth is clear from the statement alone independent of experiential verification, whereas the unchanging church does not change, while looking like a logical axiom, wasn't really what we were saying, we were saying also "The Roman Church, the unchanging church, does not change" which is a non-logical (not at all to be confused with illogical) axiom since the identity of "Roman Church" and "unchanging church" is not self-evident from the terms alone, a priori in the popular sense of something true before any experience but not really a priori, just a non-logical axiom, popularly known as an assumption or postulate (which is not to be confused with postulant).

But, due to the way it functions for those who hold it as an a priori, it will not be disproven by any experience no matter what, and we'll go right on holding it though its falsifiablility is all around us.

Class dismissed. And check the windows to see if there are any friars out there.

At Thursday, January 15, 2009 9:15:00 pm , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thankyou PE. Although I think we need more Monks here, not fewer.

At Thursday, January 15, 2009 9:55:00 pm , Blogger Schütz said...

Is it safe to come out? Has PE gone to bed yet? (Pastor Weedon obviously has - hell, it's almost time for ME to go to bed!)

Josh, glad you found the CA on the internet. Next job, see if you can find the Roman Confutation, ie. the reply that was given to the CA at the Diet of Worms and which gave rise to the Apology to the CA.

I'd be interested to know what you think.

At Thursday, January 15, 2009 10:51:00 pm , Blogger Joshua said...


Thanks for your suggestion - I've just read the Pontifical Confutation, and have been much relieved to read something learned and Catholic after the sly and crafty ambiguities (doubtless fomented by the Enemy of mankind) of that heretical so-called Confession, or rather Perversion! Really, it was a sort of Lutheran 39 Articles!

I think it really shocking of PW to unblushingly claim the Augsburg Confession as a restatement of traditional Catholic doctrine - after all, no Catholic of any age would accept a document ruling out the invocation of the saints' intercessions for us, or denying (lyingly, I note, by setting up a straw man regarding original vs actual sin) the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. What kind of wickedness is this? Demonic.

As the Confutation points out again and again, all these mischievous errors had already long since been condemned down the ages.

I invite all interested to read the Pontifical Confutation, handily available at:

BTW, I particularly liked this amusing comment:

"experience teaches that among the Germans there has been greater devotion at mass in Christ's believers who do not understand the Latin language than in those who today hear the mass in German."

Too true, too true - and not just in German among the Germans!!!

At Friday, January 16, 2009 12:44:00 am , Blogger William Weedon said...


Interesting that the current pope seems not to share your disdain for the AC...

At Friday, January 16, 2009 1:29:00 am , Anonymous Christine said...

A few thoughts . . .

I damn near joined that church in the mid 70s, amid the self-immolation of the RCC and all these Protestant churches saying they got it right thinking let's look into the idea that God Himself stepped in to restore the true church directly.

I find that utterly fascinating! Again, I see how different my journey from Lutheran to Catholic was as opposed to PE's Catholic to Lutheran.

Yes, Benedict is very sympathetic to LCMS Lutherans because of their strong confessional stand. But even there the confessional position is not as uniform across the board as it was. It is informative to examine the information posted on various LCMS websites to discern how close or how far a particular LCMS congregation is from its confessional roots. For those still fighting the good fight, Deo Gratias!

I would also add that today both Lutherans and Catholics have far more to deal with from the Joel Osteens and Rick Warrens than they do from each other.

As regards the use of "Roman church" it really is very inappropriate. As David points out that specifically applies to the Diocese of Rome, for which the Pope is Bishop. All the Catholic churches in my area list themselves as "Catholic". The use of "Roman" became a perjorative in Europe after the Reformation just as the name "Lutheran" did on the other side. Luther did not want his name attached to the churches that adopted the Augsburg Confession.

I am very grateful to God for what Lutherans and Catholics continue to share as catholic Christians. Nevertheless, to be Catholic comes with certain expectations that are not negotiable.

At Friday, January 16, 2009 8:51:00 am , Blogger Joshua said...


You would hardly I think claim that the present Pope assents to claims I-XXI of the AC holus bolus: he simply is far more charitable than I, and knows that the AC is the least confronting and most irenic of the Lutheran confessions, hence it is the easiest one to discuss.

I stand by what I said - it was disingenuous of you to claim that art. I-XXI was "just plain old solid Catholic doctrine"; having read through them I find them quite uncatholic, for the reasons I gave and for the further reasons given in the Pontifical Confutation.

Really, PW!

At Friday, January 16, 2009 9:59:00 am , Blogger William Weedon said...

No, not disingenuous at all, my friend. It's what I honestly believe and I think it stands in the mainstream of catholic thought through the ages. It departs from scholastic thought a bit, granted, and how that scholastic thought was rather codified at Trent, but I think old Bernard of Clairvoux would have been nodding his head in agreement for the most part. He might have had a question or two about the matter of monastic vows, but recall it is the vows per se and treating them as equal to Baptism that is objected to, that and the notion that the monk by his deeds is in someway amassing surplus merit and such.

In any case, I find your reaction to the AC of great interest. It justifies, indeed, continuing apart as separate communions since the very understanding of the Gospel which undergirds the entirety of the AC is something you find to be "problematic."

Yet we do not cease to sing and pray:

Give Thy Church,
Lord, to see
Days of peace
And unity.
O Lord, have mercy!

At Friday, January 16, 2009 3:10:00 pm , Blogger Joshua said...

You seem quite unable to see that your vision of St Bernard - of all men! - nodding in agreement for the most part is unbelievable: as if he'd assent to some of the statements made! You should note that I didn't mention scholastic theology at all, but referred instead to the old positive doctors, who to a man would have been horrified at objections to invoking the saints, etc.

It seems to me to be setting up a straw man when you put all down to some imagined deviation of scholasticism enshrined at Trent, as opposed to seeing that the Fathers had bishops, priests and deacons, had the Mass a Sacrifice, invoked the saints, etc. They held the Gospel without having Luther to teach them their catechism: the very idea that the Faith was lost or obscured and then was rediscovered in the sixteenth century seems to me absurd, as contrary to the promise of Christ that the gates of hell would not prevail, and that He would be with us all days until the consummation of the world. And the real medieval development to be feared is nominalism...

Like most Catholics, to be frank, I can't see why Lutheranism is so obsessed with justification; as a certain Cardinal Ratzinger once pointed out, the doctrine by which the Church stands or falls is not justification, but the veracity of Christ's Resurrection, as the Apostle teaches (I Cor. xv, 13ff).

At Friday, January 16, 2009 5:17:00 pm , Blogger Past Elder said...

Yo Joshua, didn't you get the memo? What are you doing poking around in all those mediaeval blind alleys the Spirit of God has moved us beyond in the Council?

At Friday, January 16, 2009 7:22:00 pm , Blogger Joshua said...

I prefer the term "ressourcement".

All that nonsense about Spirit of VII is just that - barmy schmaltz for dilly nuns and fellow-travellers.

At Friday, January 16, 2009 8:19:00 pm , Blogger Schütz said...

it was a sort of Lutheran 39 Articles!

Well, yes, that is precisely what it is, except the relationship is the other way around. The Augustana was used by the Anglicans as a model for their own confession.

And incidentally (arguing Pastor Weedon's case here) Newman would have found the Augustana a whole lot easier to do a "Tract 90" on than the 39 Articles.

Nevertheless, I tried it, and found I couldn't do it. Believe me, Pastor Weedon, if I could have been a Catholic and remained a Lutheran WITHOUT actually joining the Catholic Church (instead of being a Catholic AND remaining a Lutheran BY joining the Catholic Church), I would have done it. I was actually challenged to do it and invited to do it by my district president at the time. The fact was (as Newman found with the 39 articles) it was a position that just didn't hold water in my conscience.

At Friday, January 16, 2009 8:22:00 pm , Blogger Schütz said...

That being said, I am far more able than Joshua to see the good points of the Augustana. You just have to know what you are looking for. For instance, Pastor Weedon said that your reaction shows we don't have the same understanding of "the Gospel". On the contrary, your reaction was not to what Pastor Weedon calls "the Gospel" in the Augustana, but to various true and valid points of Catholic tradition denied by the Augustana. The two are not unrelated, but a dialogical approach to the Augustana would mean making explicit the implicit relationship between the two.

At Friday, January 16, 2009 8:38:00 pm , Blogger Joshua said...

Yes, David, now I'm feeling all irenic again I get your meaning - of course (as did the compilers of the Pontifical Confutation) I rejoice in all the truths proclaimed in the Augustana, since this certainly differentiates Lutherans from Anabaptists and worse!

But I cannot accept a truncated Gospel; and that is what I object to.

Catholic "both/and", not Protestant (even Lutheran) "either/or"!

David, you've mentioned that magisterial book by the late great Louis Bouyer, The Spirit and Forms of Protestantism; PW, do you know it?

Bouyer argues what David's already oft mentioned - that to find the logical conclusions of the good found in Protestantism, one becomes a Catholic.

At Saturday, January 17, 2009 12:43:00 am , Blogger William Weedon said...


The central point is the resurrection of Christ indeed: for as the Apostle teaches us all, "He was put to death for our trespasses, but raised for our justification."

Bouyer I know only for his book on the liturgy; but since he was a Lutheran who turned to Rome, I'm not surprised he'd argue that way.

At Saturday, January 17, 2009 3:27:00 am , Blogger William Tighe said...

I think that Augustana is admirably clear, for the most part, and that it is very unfortunate to compare it in substance to the 39 Articles, which were deliberetely designed to be ambiguous on certain key issues, and which became more ambiguous still as regards the "latitude" of permissible interpretation due to (a) that Canon promulgated in 1571 which declares that they are to be interpreted in accordance with "the Catholic fathers and bishops" of the ancient church, and (b) the "Royal Declaration" prefixed to them in 1630 which insisted that thet be interpreted according to their "literal and grammatical sense" -- a declaration which was employed, in the 1630s and thereafter, to attenuate, undermine or even reject the "Reformed" reading of certain of the articles (e.g., 28 and 29 on the Eucharist) that had been the dominant view since the promulgation of the articles in 1563/1571.

Chris Jones wrote to me two or three years ago suggesting that the one such ambiguity in Augustana, perhaps a deliberate one, was the meaning to be given "rite vocatus" in Article XIV. Perhaps, if he reads this, he might wish to elaborate on it here.

At Saturday, January 17, 2009 7:37:00 am , Blogger William Weedon said...

I wonder if I picked it up from Chris, for I've thought about the same thing - whether Melanchthon were trying to find a term that could encompass what he clearly saw coming down the road: the need to ordain through presbyters. I wrote about it here:

There is no question to me that the term's ony honest meaning is the one hammered out in the original Tractatus. But it was ambiguous at Augsburg if we have to wait seven years for a definition to arrive!

At Saturday, January 17, 2009 2:34:00 pm , Blogger Chris Jones said...


The comments of mine on Augustana XIV that you refer to were in an e-mail from me to you a couple of years ago. The context was a comment thread we both had been in on, concerning the deliberate ambiguity of the Anglican 39 Articles. By way of contrast, you had averred that the Reformed and Lutheran confessions were not similarly ambiguous. You wrote "I know of nothing in any of the Lutheran or Reformed confessions that embraced deliberate ambiguity ..."; I replied:

I think you may be mistaken ... The phrase "rite vocatus" in article XIV of the Augustana is certainly ambiguous; its most likely meaning in its historical context is simply canonical ordination, but it has often been taken by Lutherans as referring to the local congregation's choice of its pastor. It is arguable that that ambiguity was intentional on Melanchthon's part.

His elaboration on this point in the Apology does little to disambiguate it. He notes that the Catholics are agreeable to Augustana XIV so long as it is made clear that *rite vocatus* does in fact refer to canonical ordination; but instead of candidly stating whether or not *rite vocatus* is to be so understood, he offers only excuses (valid or not, depending on your point of view) as to why the Lutherans have deviated from the canonical order.

The way I read this is that Melanchthon's ambiguity in Augustana XIV was indeed deliberate, the Catholics (Eck, presumably) called him on it, and Melanchthon in the Apology tried (rather unsuccessfully) to weasel out of it rather than forthrightly clear up the ambiguity. Lutherans have never cleared it up, even to our own satisfaction.

(I've redacted this somewhat to remove references to blog threads that none of us can probably remember anymore.)

I hope this is helpful. I haven't been following this thread so I don't know if these remarks of mine are relevant to it at all. But since you made reference to them I thought I would supply them.

The only thing that I would add is that, in contrast to the 39 Articles (which are rife with ambiguity), this phrase in AC XIV is one of the few, if not the only, unclear passages in the Augustana, which is generally a model of clarity and forthrightness.

At Saturday, January 17, 2009 5:20:00 pm , Blogger Joshua said...

Yes, that's the ambiguity that I wondered about when I read these articles the other day... "rightly called" could mean anything - it's like saying the Eucharist is "spiritual food", true enough but the words can mean anything and nothing.

At Sunday, January 18, 2009 12:35:00 pm , Blogger William Weedon said...


Piepkorn does argue, though, that to its original hearers it did clearly mean one thing: ordained. What it did not clearly indicate is: ordained how?

At Monday, January 19, 2009 12:29:00 am , Blogger Schütz said...

Pastor Weedon, you must read Louis Bouyer's Spirit and Forms of Protestantism. I only got around to it last Christmas, and it is a classic and beautiful work. It does not do it justice to judge it by its conclusion. One ought to read it and see what justice he does to the Protestant cause in the face of traditional Catholic opposition. It is precisely Bouyer's kind of dialogue that I think might save the Augustana.

Re ambiguities in the CA, what about Article XXVIII on the right of bishops? The Bishops have authority and are to be obeyed as long as they teach according to the Gospel. But who the heck is supposed to judge that? Doesn't that put those under the authority of the bishop in a position of judging the bishop - ie. in authority over him?

I don't know if this is a deliberate ambiguity, but it is at least a naive one.

At Monday, January 19, 2009 3:27:00 am , Blogger Past Elder said...

Ansolutely no-body "must read" Bouyer. Leaving aside the question of whether he understood the spirit and forms of Protestantism, he most certainly did not understand the spirit and forms of Catholicism, instead constructing a Protestant fantasy of Catholicism which allowed him to be Protestant and feel better about it -- which, along with others who did the same, Newman and Maritain to mention two, crystallised and was made offical at Vatican II.

At Monday, January 19, 2009 5:12:00 am , Blogger Chris Jones said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

At Monday, January 19, 2009 5:36:00 am , Blogger Chris Jones said...

[re-posting this to correct a typo or two]

Mr Schütz,

what about Article XXVIII on the right of bishops?

I have to presume that you are referring to this, from AC XXVII paragraph 23:

But when they [viz. the bishops] teach or ordain anything against the Gospel, then the congregations have a commandment of God prohibiting obedience (Mt 7.15, Gal 1.8, 2 Co 13.8).

I find no ambiguity in this at all. You ask who the heck is supposed to judge that?; but the Augustana is not unclear on that point. It is the congregation that has the duty to judge. St Paul, writing to the Galatians, is writing to the congregation when he tells them "if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you, let him be accursed." And he is even more clear in the following verse: "If anyone is preaching to you a gospel contrary to the one you received, let him be accursed."

St Paul is commanding the Galatians to judge the teachings that are taught to them, and he is giving them the standard by which to judge. The standard is the gospel that you received. He is not referring them to any other authority; he does not say "check with Peter," or "check back with me." To the contrary, he is even disclaiming his own authority to preach another gospel ("even if we ... should preach to you a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you ..."). He is simply saying, compare whatever someone offers you with the teaching that I delivered ("traditioned") to you. If it is the same, fine; if not, let him be anathema.

Thus St Paul teaches, and the Augustana in referring to him also teaches, that it is the responsibility of the congregation to hold fast to the tradition which it has received, and judge all teachers and teachings by it. As a Roman Catholic you will of course disagree with the Lutheran take on this (for all things are judged by the Pope, and "the highest See is judged by none"). But you cannot claim that it is ambiguous.

At Monday, January 19, 2009 6:37:00 am , Blogger William Weedon said...


As you are wont to do, you took the words right out of my mouth. Do you not find a parallel of sorts with the Orthodox teaching that a teaching of a council is not authoritative because a council decreed, but because the people of God accepted that council as representing the "faith once delivered" to the saints. An ecumenical council is one in retrospect, not one automatically from the get go.

At Monday, January 19, 2009 7:16:00 am , Blogger Past Elder said...

That's the confusion that allows them to accept a "different" Gospel than the one delivered, and then one different even from that (last time, VII), on and on and think it's "development of doctrine" or some such thing.

At Monday, January 19, 2009 9:02:00 am , Blogger Chris Jones said...

Fr Weedon,

Do you not find a parallel of sorts ...

Yes. Not exactly the same teaching, but the same principle, that the people of God as a whole are responsible for guarding the Tradition. Or, as you say "a parallel of sorts."

At Monday, January 19, 2009 10:06:00 am , Blogger William Weedon said...

Have you ever marveled at this crazy world we live in, where a Lutheran from Boston, another from Omaha, and another from lowly Hamel, IL are all conversing together on the blog of a Australian Catholic? I love it!

At Monday, January 19, 2009 12:51:00 pm , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Except, of course, that "the people of God as a whole" in the 16th Century sided with the pope rather than with the Lutherans, and in both cases it was no more "the congregation(s)" that chose to side with one side any more than with the other, but rather the princes, in Germany and elsewhere.

I am afraid that Chris Jones's "the congregation," insofar as it existed at all in thw 16th century, played no such role as he (and Augustana) ascribe to it; if he had written "some princes, with a coterie of professors urging them on" he would have been describing the circumstances more accurately.

William Tighe
In Sweden between 1528 and 1544 one finds repeated popular rebellions against King Gustav's imposition of religious changes on the Swedish people, and one finds similar popular resistance, at times violent, in both Norway and Iceland. The peasants and villagers of the Bernese oberland revolted en masse in 1528 against the newly-imposed Reformed Religion, and in england both the Pilgrimage of Grace (1536-7), the Cornish Revolt (1549) and the Revolt of the Northern Earls (1569) attracted widespread popular support. By contrast Protestant-led revolts such as Wyatt's Rebellion (1554) or the Dutch Revolt (1567-8, 1572 onwards) had either to conceal the religious aspirations of its leadership (in the former case) or else (in the latter) undermine and remove the Catholic element in the revolt before seizing power for themselves.

At Monday, January 19, 2009 12:52:00 pm , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sorry; in the last comment what should have been my middle paragraph somehow slipped to the bottom.


At Monday, January 19, 2009 3:46:00 pm , Blogger Past Elder said...

Who's from Boston? Do you go to the LCMS church in the Back Bay?

At Monday, January 19, 2009 3:55:00 pm , Blogger William Weedon said...

Christopher lives near Boston.

At Monday, January 19, 2009 4:20:00 pm , Blogger Past Elder said...

Oh yeah, just clicked on his name and saw that. Man, how do all these great confessional Lutheran listen to such crap music? Oh I forgot, you think what I listen to is crap music (that's Jazz and Blues, you guys). But at least he's a Red Sox man, baseball being as everyone knows the mind of God at sport and the Red Sox his home team. (I am a member of Red Sox Nation Living in the Diaspora.)

At Monday, January 19, 2009 5:15:00 pm , Blogger Chris Jones said...


Chris Jones's "the congregation"

"The congregation" was not my term, but Melanchthon's. I was not concerned to endorse the teaching of the AC in this instance, but to state what that teaching is, and in particular to clear it of the charge of ambiguity. I do find the typical Lutheran identification of "the Church" with the local congregation to be somewhat problematical.

And yet, the Apostolic warnings against false teachers are not directed simply to bishops. They are addressed to congregations and to all Christians. There is indeed a sense in which we are all commanded to judge the teachers and their teachings, and to reject those that are false -- even if those teachers are "canonical" bishops. More than one of the Fathers counseled that obedience is not due to a heretical bishop.

So the principle underlying AC XVIII is sound, even if the 16th-century Lutheran "congregations" did not fulfill the role Melanchthon ascribed to them.

At Monday, January 19, 2009 5:30:00 pm , Blogger Chris Jones said...


I am crestfallen that you don't care for my taste in music (though I would be curious to know which of the favourites I listed qualifies as "such crap music").

If it makes you feel any better, my taste in music is quite eclectic, and the list I gave in my profile is just a sampling. The sampling did not happen to include any jazz or blues, but it might just as well have included Bessie Smith, Robert Johnson, Thelonius Monk, Bill Evans, Stan Getz, Charles Mingus, and so forth.

It's great to be a jazz and blues fan, but if you can't also appreciate Alison Krauss (for example) you are the poorer for it.

At Monday, January 19, 2009 5:53:00 pm , Blogger Past Elder said...

Well, I don't care enough about it to get all wound out one way or the other. The only real basis was this -- Father Hollywood and Pastor Juhl, for example, list some stuff that I just would never think be in a pastor's platlist, coming from genres that are distinctly un- or non-Christian, yet they are magnificent pastors and Confessional Lutherans.

To me most music is entertainment, nice for a diversion here and there, after which the real business of life goes on. I can't imagine spening a dime on the stuff people drop tons of money on!

(BTW, I have three degrees in music and am a former AFofM member and professional musician.)

At Tuesday, January 20, 2009 12:54:00 am , Blogger William Weedon said...

Music just "entertainment" and "diversion"! Me genoito!!! Music is the greatest gift of God next to theology itself, for it accompanies and carries His revelation to us. A Church without music - unthinkable! Speaking of which, have you ordered your copy of Heirs of the REformation? Trust me, it is the very sort of music that is WORTH every dime. Even for an old music master like yourself.

At Tuesday, January 20, 2009 4:32:00 am , Blogger Past Elder said...

Now Pastor, you know the word "most" was in there too, most music, not music per se!

One hardly writes a damn dissertation on Boethius and Schenker not thinking the music of instruments cannot ascend to the music of the eternal truth and order, or that the divine harmony cannot be composed out in human harmony!

Hey, since David says they're full up at the EIC for interfaith dialougers -- well, he actually said don't call us, we'll call you -- you looking for a kapellmeister at St Paul's? Guaranteed, you'll have chant to put you six yards from the throne of God (Dante parody there, Nietzschean dance, but in triple time to reflect the perfection of the Trinity) and "Just As I Am" putting more hands in the air than an angry Voter's Meeting!

I mean, relocation is not out of the question now that I know there's a Red Robin nearby.


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