Saturday, February 28, 2009

"the Catholic Church, the Catholic Church, the Catholic Church"

There is a classic scene in "Life of Brian" where they say: "Why do you keep going on about women, Stan?" and Stan (after a moment's hesitation) says: "I want to be one."

PE wants to know why, in conversation with Protestants, we keep on going on about "the Catholic Church, the Catholic Church, the Catholic Church." He says that this tendancy proves we Catholics make a "God" out of the Church. It all ends up with "sola ecclesia".

Why DO we keep going on about the Catholic Church? The reason is very simple. Let's try an analogy.

Imagine a Lutheran in conversation with a Calvinist. The Calvinist and the Lutheran will both agree on many things. They will certainly agree that justification is by faith alone and that the bible is the sole source and norm of all Christian doctrine. They might even agree on infant baptism. But they will part company on a crucial issue--the same crucial issue that Zwingli and Luther parted company on back in 1529, namely: the Lord's Supper.

As Martin Luther did then, so today. In dispute with a Calvinist (or any other species of Reformed Christian) the real presence of Christ in the Lord's Supper, that is, the insistance that when Christ said "This is my body" he meant that the bread of the Lord's Supper is his true body born of the Virgin Mary etc., will be the crucial issue. Unless the Reformed/Calvinist can assent to this, they cannot be in communion with the Lutherans.

As Zwingli did then, the Calvinist/Reformed Christian will today say to the Lutheran: Why do you keep going on about the Real Presence? "The Real Presence, the Real Presence, the Real Presence." Don't you think that you might not be making a "God" out of the Real Presence? Aren't you making this "sola the Real Presence"?

To which, in reply, the Lutheran can only shake his head and say "My Calvinist friend doesn't get it. How can he say that I am "making a god" out of the Real Presence when the Real Presence IS my God in flesh and blood? How can I conceive of a Christianity without the Lord's Supper? Without the Real Presence of Christ's body and blood in the Lord's Supper there is no church."

So you see? In the Lutheran view (Catholic too, but that is irrelevant here), the Real Presence is essential to the Christian faith. But the Calvinist/Reformed Christian denies this essential element. Therefore, in the dialogue with one another, this will be the chief issue between Reformed and Lutheran Christians.

The analogy is this: in the dialogue between Catholic and Protestant Christians, the necessity of the Catholic Church per se is the point of contention. We go on and on about "the Catholic Church, the Catholic Church, the Catholic Church" because it is the point on which we differ. We could go on about "The Holy Trinity, the Holy Trinity, the Holy Trinity", or "Baptism, baptism, baptism", or "faith, faith, faith", or "Christ, Christ, Christ", but the essential necessity of these for our faith is not in dispute between us.

The essential neccesity of the Church IS. And that is why we keep banging on about it.


At Sunday, March 01, 2009 2:13:00 am , Blogger Past Elder said...

No my friend, it doesn't fit, "it" being the analogy. Then again, nothing is ever what it is in Catholicism, it is always analogy on top of analogy on top of doctrinal development on top of ressoucement on top of ... well, whatever.

The church is an essential necessity. We do not go on about "the Missouri Synod, the Missouri Synod, the Missouri Synod".

You have elevated your church body to an article of faith itself. We don't.

At Sunday, March 01, 2009 6:14:00 am , Anonymous Christine said...

Very simple answer to this.

The Reformed have taken away from the deposit of faith.

Catholics have added to it what should not be there.

There, you see? Very simple.

At Sunday, March 01, 2009 7:33:00 am , Anonymous Tony Bartel said...


I have lent somebody my copy of Kallistos Ware, The Orthodox Church, but in the preface he talks about how from an Orthodox perspective Western Christianity can be represented by the alegabraic formula "b". Roman Catholicism might be "b+" and Protestantism might be "b-". But the common denominator for theological reflection is "b". Orthodoxy on the other hand has a different common denominator "a". In other words, it is not a debate about this doctrine or that doctrine which divides East and West, but a different "mind" (for want of a better word) by which the faith is confessed and lived.

For the Orthodox "a" is an inheritance from apostolic church, a gift preserved in Tradition (which includes the Scriptures). Which reminds me of the old joke:

A Roman Catholic priest, a Lutheran minister and an Orthodox priest were debating which of their churches Jesus would join today.

The Roman Catholic was sure that he would join the Roman Catholic Church. The Lutheran was sure that he would join the Lutheran Church. The Orthodox priest was confused: "Why would he change?"

At Sunday, March 01, 2009 8:12:00 am , Blogger Vicci said...

Simplicity indeed!
Succinctly put, Christine..and right to the Key of this issue.

(always beware of someone who says "it's simple" and then runs straight to analogy.)

erakin Family mistakes

At Sunday, March 01, 2009 8:51:00 am , Blogger Fr. Timothy D. May, SSP said...

I agree that the question of ecclesiology is the key issue between Protestants and Catholics. I can also see where Protestants may disagree with this being the key issue since it is not particularly an issue that Protestants tend to focus on (unless, of course, the focus is on protesting against the Church). Yet, for most Protestants, it may not even be a matter of "protest" but knowing on the one hand, that we are supposed to be anti-Catholic, and on the other hand, not knowing or appreciating many of the ecclesiological questions involved. Thus the protest of today, unlike that of the 16th century, is that there is no one issue that everyone would agree on or rally behind but simply a aspect here and there that Protestants do not like about the Catholic Church. So the Protestant protest today may be complex and multi-faceted but it fails to appreciate the underlying ecclesiological unity that a Catholic could see and accept. In short, by its nature Protestantism cannot appreciate "Church", and the Roman Catholic Church in particular. Yet neither is anti-Catholicism acceptable. But I still end up with ecclesiology being the central difference even if I, as a Lutheran, am not supposed to understand and appreciate this. I appreciate your well-stated analogy.

At Sunday, March 01, 2009 9:23:00 am , Blogger Past Elder said...

I disagree. Did not the Catholic Church teach and do, at the point in time of the Reformation and still today since Vatican II with even greater spiritual violence, both add to and subtract from the apostolic faith of the catholic church, there would be no question of ecclesiology. IOW, the dispute re ecclesiology is an effect of the matters under dispute, Rome and not we making it an ecclesiastical dispute by placing outside of "the church", ie themselves, all who do not submit to its additions and omissions, especially regarding itself.

That is why liberals will be tolerated forever while those who teach what "the church" once taught are immediately stomped on, or lately, in the most outrageous lie of the new century, allowed to exist as a museum piece as long as they ackowledge that what "the church" now teaches is true too -- the former insist they are Catholic and in the Catholic Church, which is the ONLY thing that matters to the Catholic Church, that the Catholic Church must matter and you must be in it.

It is a religion about itself, nothing more than spiritual autism.

At Sunday, March 01, 2009 10:35:00 am , Blogger Fr. Timothy D. May, SSP said...

What you describe, a divide between liberalism and the apostolic faith, is true and visible in all churches and communions. In this sense, singling out the Catholic Church, in general terms, is somewhat counter-productive. Any Church, in their official teachings, that claims to be "the Church" has the right and freedom to make such a claim (ie, witness the writings of the first Missouri Synod president and those of Loehe.) Yes, the burden then lies with defending such a claim. Still, "additions" and "omissions" are found everywhere and do not, in themselve, prove or disprove any church's official teaching.

At Sunday, March 01, 2009 10:50:00 am , Blogger Past Elder said...

I don't think the divide between liberalism and the apostolic faith is what I describe. The divide is between the Catholic Church's official teaching and the apostolic faith. The presence in any church body of those who hold to neither that body's teaching nor the apostolic faith, whether they are the same or not aside, I completely agree is found in all church bodies, including our own, and is a separate issue from whether that body's official teachings and the apostolic faith are the same.

I may have misunderstood, but I do not think at any point it would be argued that our synod is the "true church" in the sense the RCC claims to be, or that the true church cannot be found within the RCC.

At Sunday, March 01, 2009 11:38:00 am , Blogger Fr. Timothy D. May, SSP said...

The first president of the synod wrote an essay called "The Evangelical Lutheran Church: The True Visible Church of God Upon Earth." (October 31, 1866, St. Louis, MO) This president would agree that the true church may be found "within" the Catholic Church but that the Evangelical Lutheran Church is the "True Visible Church" on earth. I do not know the status of this essay in terms of "official teaching" but even throughout the 20th c. this thinking was alive and well (and still is). What I find interesting is that with the emphasis we hear on "invisible" and "hidden" that the essay speaks of a true "visible" church "on earth." I defer to the synod's scholars and historians since this is only an observation on my part.

At Sunday, March 01, 2009 11:43:00 am , Blogger Fr. Timothy D. May, SSP said...

One more thing. It is no mistake that the liberal wing of Lutheranism chose the name "Evangelical Lutheran Church" in the latter years of the 20th c.

At Sunday, March 01, 2009 12:34:00 pm , Blogger William Weedon said...

To state the obvious (from a Lutheran perspective): Lutherans do not at all dispute with Rome the essential necessity of the church; we dispute that Rome alone (or the East alone) constitutes that Church of which no man can call God Father of which she is not the Mother.

At Sunday, March 01, 2009 1:00:00 pm , Blogger Fr. Timothy D. May, SSP said...

This is fair coming from the Lutheran perspective just as each Church's claim (West, East or other) to be the Church is fair. The specifics of such claims are more difficult to decipher and hash out. These questions will be disputed till the end of time (as they should be). Still, as a Lutheran, I think it is possible to agree with a Catholic that the key question between the Lutherans (or even the Protestants) and the Catholic Church is an ecclesiological question. (This is definitely not an assertion that all Lutherans or Protestants would agree with me as that is not likely here. It is simply a conclusion I have reached based on my reading and study in recent years.)

At Sunday, March 01, 2009 1:22:00 pm , Blogger William Weedon said...

What is of interest though, Fr. Timothy, is that it doesn't seem to have been THE question at the start of the Reformation between the old believers and the Reformers, does it?

By the bye, David, a fine Lutheran analysis of the compulsion to throw yourself into a body of water and swim somewhere was offered by Dr. Hein some while back. I posted it on my blog here, and you might find it of interest (or not):


At Sunday, March 01, 2009 1:55:00 pm , Blogger Fr. Timothy D. May, SSP said...

Yes, that was not the question then.

At Sunday, March 01, 2009 2:43:00 pm , Blogger Vicci said...

Fr Timothy:
Yet, for most Protestants, it may not even be a matter of "protest" but knowing on the one hand, that we are supposed to be anti-Catholic, and on the other hand, not knowing or appreciating many of the ecclesiological questions involved.

What a strange presumption.
Most Protestants I talk with wouldn't spend a Moment a Month considering their position vis a vis the Catholic Church. They live their faith within the confines of thier particular denomination -all members of the creedal(?) catholic Church. As and when the Catholic Church (members therof) live as members of the same Church, said Protestants would be heartily PRO, not anti.

At Sunday, March 01, 2009 3:49:00 pm , Blogger Fr. Timothy D. May, SSP said...

This is certainly a protestant position and understanding today ("they live their faith within the confines of their particular denomination - all members of the creedal(?) catholic Church") However, not all protestants are "creedal" and would attack the creeds as Catholic. Also, the reality of the splintering since the Reformation has created thousands of "denominations" so that some have reacted by beginning "non-denominational" groups. This reality, arising out of the Reformation, reflects and raises ecclesiological questions and concerns. However, while Protestants may "be heartily PRO" and not anti (something we can applaud) this is not the same as being a member of the Catholic Church. In other words, one may be pro-Catholic from a protestant perspective but that does not make one an actual member of the Catholic Church. My words above are another way of saying that talking with Catholics or Orthodox does not make one Catholic or Orthodox nor should being "Protestant" have to equate with being "anti-Catholic." Still, as much as I mention the word "Protestant" my understanding of where I am as a Lutheran would not really fit me in any popular understanding of that nomenclature. Hope this is somewhat clearer (?)

At Sunday, March 01, 2009 8:44:00 pm , Blogger Past Elder said...

I don't think it is so much as we (Lutherans) deny visibility in the church as that we deny visibility as Rome defines it, namely, itself.

For example, "The Learned Opinion of Dr William Tighe", nailed on the door, so to speak, of this blog as a final refutation of me, is an instance of an argument I have heard many times before and once would have advanced myself, which then became the sort of thing my Catholic professors at a Catholic university described as mediaeval triumphalism, the sort of thing from which the church (of course meaning the Roman Catholic Church) has "moved on" into a "different place", to use our host's terms, with Vatican II.

"Protestant" to-day has a meaning quite different than when the term was first used. Originally it meant a protest not against the Catholic Church but the Second Diet of Speyer, a function of the Holy Roman Empire, which decreed in 1529 contra earlier indications in 1526 that Roman Catholicism was to be the religion followed in all the churches of all the states of the Holy Roman Empire.

Point being, "Protestant" was a term applied to a protest against an action of the state, not the Catholic Church, whose state church it was. It was not the intent of the Lutheran Reformers to found another church but reform the church that was, which at the time existed as a state religion.

Not at all the situation now, which resulted from Rome's and the state's refusal to allow the reform, and when reform came at Trent, to allow any reform but that.

Another way to put what I have "protesting" for -- the prefix in the word being pro, not anti -- is that the kind of visibility Christ intended for his church does not correspond to the visibility it attained over centuries of its existence as a state religion, first in the Roman Empire East and West and then in the Holy Roman Empire in the West, which the church then dogmatised along with other accretions to the apostolic faith, all of which the Roman Catholic Church and the Eastern Orthodox churches seek to maintain in the modern world minus the states in which they arose.

The beef then is not with or about "the church" so much as the faith which "the church" had seriously modified to suit its interests and to which it refused, and refuses, to be recalled.

At Sunday, March 01, 2009 10:18:00 pm , Anonymous Anonymous said...

PE continues to believe in a catholic church which doesn't really eist anywhere in particular. It seems not to be visible anywhere, because somehow the Holy Spirit wasn't powerful enough to ensure that it remain visible.

And "pro" isn't good *if* it happens to be in favour of error. Which I only mention because "pro" is not inherently good. So protest all you like, but I won't see it as inherently positive.

At Sunday, March 01, 2009 10:20:00 pm , Anonymous Anonymous said...

eist = exist (I'm having trouble with some of my keys atm).

stoutgal: depressing when even the word verification starts insulting me!

At Sunday, March 01, 2009 10:31:00 pm , Blogger Past Elder said...

Not at all. The catholic church exists quite well at 7033 L Street, Omaha NE 68127.

Have I been understood? (Nietzschean dance: he used to say this all the time after a non-prosaic type of statement.)

At Sunday, March 01, 2009 10:46:00 pm , Anonymous Anonymous said...

The catholic church exists quite well at 7033 L Street, Omaha NE 68127.

Who says?

E.g. does it exist at the Salvation Army down the road, when they don't even believe in baptism?

Have I been understood?

At Sunday, March 01, 2009 10:55:00 pm , Blogger Past Elder said...

Who says who says?

Point is, you are trying to find the catholic church in the same way one would find 7033 L Street, Omaha NE 68127.

At Monday, March 02, 2009 12:16:00 am , Blogger Past Elder said...

To anticipate:

I would have said at one time that "who says" is who always has said -- one finds a parish of a local church headed by a bishop in succession from the apostles in communion with the successor of Peter the apostle. IOW, one finds the nearest Catholic church.

Problem is, that church began to do and say things in many ways substantially different than what it had taught me to do and say, things expressed in theologians many of whom before it began to do and say as it does now were forbidden to teach such things as Catholic, and if one continues to do and say what one was formerly taught one will be harrassed no end by the very church that taught you to do and say so, and if you are a bishop of that church trying to do that the plug will not be pulled since you are an old man and will die soon, but ordain bishops to continue to do and say what the church taught you instead of what they teach you to do and say now and it excommunicates you.

So when you show up at your neighbourhood Catholic Church you do not find what the Catholic Church taught you, and are lucky if you find what the Catholic Church says now. All you find for sure is a church with the name Catholic over the door in which you will not find what used to be there. And if such a double talking farce of a lying church is proven to be the authentic church of Jesus, then he was not the Christ, as Christ did not found a lying double talking farce for a church.

At Monday, March 02, 2009 12:21:00 am , Anonymous Christine said...


If I may, a little example. A coworker of mine was raised Eastern Orthodox. She married a Roman Catholic guy (the usual, attended parochial schools all his life).

Her Eastern Orthodox mother matained "Oh the Catholics are always changing everything." After my coworker converted to Catholicism after her marriage she would ask her husband "Why do Catholics do this or that?" He would reply "Gee, I don't know,"

They have two daughters who were uncomfortable with EO services because they seemed so "frozen" -- of course, they've been raised in the novus ordo and know nothing else.

I investigated EO before becoming Catholic. Pretty much the same thing with an eastern flair except for issues such as the papacy, etc.

Here's one of the problems with the RC. Even after ten years I was never comfortable with many of the Marian doctrines. On the books the RC teaches that they are "private" revelations not binding on the faithful. But when an RC parish is named for "Our Lady" of Fatima, Lourdes, whatever, and statuary and icons are plopped in the church building and out front it pretty much removes the "private" schema and makes it seem very mainstream.

To deny that the Lutheran Church doesn't accept a visible church is ludicrous. When my mother's Lutheran ancestors were kicked out of Salzburg, Austria centuries ago because the RC Archbishop told them "Convert or leave" they were very much aware of being part of a visible, continuing community of Christians.

What we deny is that the Catholic church is the sum of the catholic church.

I have also had ten years of experience of exactly what PE descibes. Dissent in the Catholic church is not addressed while those struggling to remain authentically Catholic are given a hard way to go.

The noxious organization FutureChurch operated with impunity out of a parish property for over ten years in Cleveland and the bishop at the time did absolutely nothing about it. Instead of taking the position that this heterodox organization could not occupy space on any parish property he kept silent.

But the social justice crowd were his darlings.

Man, am I glad to be away from that.

At Monday, March 02, 2009 12:26:00 am , Anonymous Christine said...

I would also add that the Catholic church from the inside is different from the Catholic church one sees from the outside.

One of my motivations in converting was to try to get my cradle Catholic husband back into the Catholic church. I'm a bit dense sometimes and took a while to realize that his insistence that he wants no part of it was just what he meant.

At Monday, March 02, 2009 12:59:00 am , Blogger Past Elder said...

Qui tacet consentit.

At Monday, March 02, 2009 3:00:00 am , Anonymous Anonymous said...

The Evangelical Lutheran Church: The True Visible Church of God Upon Earth.


Look, the analogy is interesting but entirely pointless. The only reason Catholics refer to "the Catholic Church" is that there are now so many other "churches" and all of them (along with the Catholic Church, of which they are the wounded and separated smithereens) are sometimes loosely thrown together in popular discourse as "the Church." So there is a need for specificity in conversation etc. Sadly, we have to speak of what "the Catholic Church" believes and teaches because it's by no means guaranteed that certain constituent "churches" of "the Church" even believe in the divinity of Christ or the Resurrection.

Catholics hope and pray for the day when a reference to "the Church" is understood to mean what it already does mean, has always meant and always will mean: the Catholic Church under the successor of Pope Peter which is the same Catholic Church of the Creed established by Christ Himself.

At Monday, March 02, 2009 3:49:00 am , Blogger Past Elder said...

Yeah, right, I bought that line for years myself. Until the "Catholic Church" ran afoul of Galatians 1:6-9 in the 1960s.

And I kept buying that line right into unbelief. Until I found out it was actually ran afoul of Scripture in the 1960s, again!

At Monday, March 02, 2009 4:30:00 am , Blogger William Weedon said...

One of the sad things that is patently obvious to those of us who look on Rome from the outside, is that the manner in which Rome has come to treat the primacy of Peter is probably the biggest single cause of division with Christendom. That which was to be an expression of unity, when it came to be abused, brought about the fracturing of the visible Church which we all deplore.

At Monday, March 02, 2009 6:28:00 am , Anonymous Christine said...

C.L., that's a lovely thought in theory. Doesn't work in practice.

I'm so glad that at Divine Service this morning I heard the clear word of Scripture about salvation in Christ Jesus.

As a Catholic I heard a lot about canon law, the teachings of the magisterium and what the pope says.

Not all of which necessarily correspond with the teachings of Christ.

The disunity in faith and practice, even with the supposed "unity" of the papacy, is all too obvious to anyone who has spent any length of time under Rome's umbrella.

At Monday, March 02, 2009 9:51:00 am , Anonymous matthias said...

I am reading this discussion and understand that all of you are defending the historic Christian faith. Never having grown up with a formal ecclesiology-pastors were the nearest we got to ,and elders and deacons were elected from the congregation- we believed in the priesthood of all believers and the position was the same as Christine's Divine Service experience " the clear word of Scripture about salvation in Christ Jesus." Life is short,eternity is long and heaven and hell are realities .No matter which Church we attend ,which ecclesiology in place,as long as the Gospel of Jesus Christ is preached faithfully -obviously not in the ELCA or UCA as a whole- these are the things that unite us.

At Monday, March 02, 2009 10:17:00 am , Anonymous Anonymous said...

And if such a double talking farce of a lying church is proven to be the authentic church of Jesus, then he was not the Christ, as Christ did not found a lying double talking farce for a church.

For some reason I am reminded of the Corinthians.

At Monday, March 02, 2009 10:20:00 am , Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm so glad that at Divine Service this morning I heard the clear word of Scripture about salvation in Christ Jesus.

That's nice. I heard a dreadful, heretical, secularist piece of agitprop for the homily, which was devoid of both scripture and tradition and even common sense.

However, God turned up as usual.

At Monday, March 02, 2009 10:21:00 am , Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm still left wondering who decides which baptisms are valid.

At Monday, March 02, 2009 10:23:00 am , Anonymous Anonymous said...

And I repeat, I respect everyone here, but you would all be hopeless in a real crisis.


St Athanasius, pray for us.

At Monday, March 02, 2009 10:40:00 am , Anonymous matthias said...

Not really Louise, faith in Christ is the thing.Being washed in His Blood ie realising that we are all sinners and need a Saviour not a bishop or parson but the Great Prophet ,Priest and King."The Son of God Who loved me and gave HImself for me" . With that as the old hymn says 'we have an Anchor that keeps our soul,grounded and firm whilst the sea billows role"

At Monday, March 02, 2009 11:26:00 am , Blogger William Weedon said...

I think, Louise, even according to your jurisdiction our baptisms are judged valid. And that's the very point we're making: joined to Christ through the washing of rebirth, given the gift of His Spirit, and living in His forgiveness, we are "church" as the NT understands and speaks of it.

At Monday, March 02, 2009 11:36:00 am , Anonymous Anonymous said...

even according to your jurisdiction our baptisms are judged valid.

Certainly they are. I don't dispute this. But how do some Christians come to the conclusion that my baptism is not valid, because I was an infant at the time? They are reading Scripture too, aren't they?

At Monday, March 02, 2009 11:38:00 am , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Being washed in His Blood ie realising that we are all sinners and need a Saviour not a bishop or parson but the Great Prophet ,Priest and King.

Of course we need Christ, but the Arians claimed He was only a man and not God.

Athanaius "alone" stood for the truth that He is God and Man.

At Monday, March 02, 2009 11:47:00 am , Blogger William Weedon said...


They apparently AREN'T reading where St. Peter exhorted: "Repent and be baptized everyone of you in the name of the Lord Jesus for the forgiveness of sins and you will receive the gift of the Spirit. The promise is for you AND YOUR CHILDREN..."

At Monday, March 02, 2009 11:51:00 am , Blogger William Weedon said...

P.S. Although it is the habit of some Roman Catholics to lump all Protestants together, it is probably worth noting that there is a significant divide between the Reformed and the Lutherans, the Lutherans insisting that Scripture is chiefly the rule and norm, so that what is CONTRARY to Scripture must be reformed; the Reformed insisting that Scripture is sole source, so that whatever is not explicit in the Scripture must be given up. You can readily see where the two - both saying "sola Scriptura!" - would then end up on two entirely different pages...

At Monday, March 02, 2009 12:08:00 pm , Blogger Past Elder said...

That's a very important point Pastor makes, and one which, coming from Roman Catholicism, struck me right away.

I too thought all "Protestants" were more or less the same really, the earlier ones keeping more of the smells and bells than the later ones.

It amazed me when reading the Book of Concord, the collection of the doctrinal confessions of Lutheranism, that they equally reject the errors of most of what now travels under the name Protestant as the do the errors of Rome.

At Monday, March 02, 2009 12:24:00 pm , Anonymous matthias said...

Not just Athanasius Louise ,who's declaration on why he believd in God was explained with great clarity by my Religious Studies lecturer in first year-he was a Hindu.
Pastor Weedon and PE you have summed up for me the differences between those who adhere to the Augsburg Confession and those who adhere to the Reformed's Westminister Confession of Faith ,the Canons of Dort,and the Belgic Confession-take your pick in the latter. Alexander Sutherland Neill -founder of Summerhill School -once said that Calvinism turned Scotland from a nation of God Lovers into a nation of God fearers.
Rather Luther and his lord Catie than a dour Calvinist parson saying 'though cannst not kick yonder football on the Sabbath have you porridge"

At Monday, March 02, 2009 1:49:00 pm , Blogger Kiran said...

In reference to Christine's comment about what she heard at the Lutheran homily versus what she would hear in a Catholic homily, I think one important point is that the Church (sans qualification) is the Church is the Church and can be shown to be such, precisely because she is broad enough to contain such corrupt members, however transitorily. I am yet to meet a perfect worshipping community, and if I do I would look at it with a great deal of suspicion before I accept that it is the Church of our Lord Jesus Christ, who is One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic.

copper: Just what it says.

At Monday, March 02, 2009 1:56:00 pm , Blogger William Weedon said...

Although I am Lutheran and not Orthodox, I very much appreciated what the orthodox catechism (*The Living God*) had to say about the Church:

It is the same with the Church: its true nature is defined by what
God calls it to be. The pettiness and sins of the Christian people
pass away in the course of history, but the Word of God remains and
never ceases to be heard in the sermons and the church services. The
Word of God is the permanent element in the life of the Church,
defining its form and directing its development, despite the
mediocrity of its members. God Himself expresses this idea through
the mouth of the prophet Isaiah (Isaiah 55:10-11 is cited). To know
what the Church really is, we should not describe the way it appears
in some particular parish, diocese, or country, or at some particular
time in history; rather, we must study the way in which its Creator
describes it. Through the constant action of the Holy Spirit, the
Word of God continues to be creative in spite of the obstacles raised
by man's sinfulness which delay the realization of God's plan.
(The Living God: A Catechism: vol. 2, pp. 265, 266)

At Monday, March 02, 2009 2:22:00 pm , Anonymous Christine said...

Perfect church, Kiran?

Not this side of eternity while it is made up of imperfect human beings like me.

But how ironic that the historic Lutheran liturgy is more "catholic" than the novus ordo now used by Rome.

I am edified at the Lutheran Divine Service that the pastor and people both face God together during various parts of the liturgy.

Our collects are still structured using the reverent language that is owed when addressing the Holy.

Our hymns speak of the glory of the Holy Trinity and the fathomless mercy of the One who died so that we would live.

It's more than just the sermon, although that is very important also.

The catholic Church can still be found in the Catholic Church. But sometimes one must peel away several layers.

At Monday, March 02, 2009 3:52:00 pm , Blogger Kiran said...

The point Christine is that the Catholic Church cannot be found anywhere else. If you search the Fathers, the Church is visible, united and whole. If Lutherans are Catholic, then the obvious conclusion is not just that Catholics aren't, but that no one else is, even the orthodox. The Church, whatever else she may possibly be, is not a coalition of those of good-will. She is whole and entire. To cite Newman (keeping in mind that he is using "protestant" here to include such as the High Anglicans):

My stronghold was Antiquity; now here, in the middle of the fifth century, I found, as it seemed to me, Christendom of the sixteenth and the nineteenth centuries reflected. I saw my face in that mirror, and I was a Monophysite. The Church of the Via Media was in the position of the Oriental communion, Rome was where she now is; and the Protestants were the Eutychians. Of all passages of history, since history has been, who would have thought of going to the sayings and doings of old Eutyches, that delirus senex, as (I think) Petavius calls {115} him, and to the enormities of the unprincipled Dioscorus, in order to be converted to Rome!

Now let it be simply understood that I am not writing controversially, but with the one object of relating things as they happened to me in the course of my conversion. With this view I will quote a passage from the account, which I gave in 1850, of my reasonings and feelings in 1839:

"It was difficult to make out how the Eutychians or Monophysites were heretics, unless Protestants and Anglicans were heretics also; difficult to find arguments against the Tridentine Fathers, which did not tell against the Fathers of Chalcedon; difficult to condemn the Popes of the sixteenth century, without condemning the Popes of the fifth. The drama of religion, and the combat of truth and error, were ever one and the same. The principles and proceedings of the Church now, were those of the Church then; the principles and proceedings of heretics then, were those of Protestants now. I found it so,—almost fearfully; there was an awful similitude, more awful, because so silent and unimpassioned, between the dead records of the past and the feverish chronicle of the present. The shadow of the fifth century was on the sixteenth. It was like a spirit rising from the troubled waters of the old world, with the shape and lineaments of the new. The Church then, as now, might be called peremptory and stern, resolute, overbearing, and relentless; and heretics were shifting, changeable, reserved, and deceitful, ever courting civil power, and never agreeing together, except by its aid; and the civil power was ever aiming at comprehensions, trying to put the invisible out of view, and substituting expediency for faith. What was the use of continuing the controversy, or defending my position, if, after all, I was forging arguments for Arius or Eutyches, and turning devil's advocate against the much-enduring {116} Athanasius and the majestic Leo? Be my soul with the Saints! and shall I lift up my hand against them? Sooner may my right hand forget her cunning, and wither outright, as his who once stretched it out against a prophet of God! anathema to a whole tribe of Cranmers, Ridleys, Latimers, and Jewels! perish the names of Bramhall, Ussher, Taylor, Stillingfleet, and Barrow from the face of the earth, ere I should do aught but fall at their feet in love and in worship, whose image was continually before my eyes, and whose musical words were ever in my ears and on my tongue!"

The Donatist controversy was known to me for some years, as has appeared already. The case was not parallel to that of the Anglican Church. St. Augustine in Africa wrote against the Donatists in Africa. They were a furious party who made a schism within the African Church, and not beyond its limits. It was a case of Altar against Altar, of two occupants of the same See, as that between the Non-jurors in England and the Established Church; not the case of one Church against another, as of Rome against the Oriental Monophysites. But my friend, an anxiously religious man, now, as then, very dear to me, a Protestant still, pointed out the palmary words of St. Augustine, which were contained in one of the extracts made in the Review, and which had escaped my observation. "Securus judicat orbis terrarum." He repeated these words again and again, and, when he was gone, they kept ringing in my ears. "Securus judicat orbis {117} terrarum;" they were words which went beyond the occasion of the Donatists: they applied to that of the Monophysites. They gave a cogency to the Article, which had escaped me at first. They decided ecclesiastical questions on a simpler rule than that of Antiquity; nay, St. Augustine was one of the prime oracles of Antiquity; here then Antiquity was deciding against itself.
(Apologia, Ch. 3)

blater: One who bleats mistakenly.

At Monday, March 02, 2009 3:57:00 pm , Blogger Past Elder said...

What Christine said -- except when we're imitating Willow Creek or Vatican II instead.

If I hear doctrinal error glossed over as moral lapse another time I will imperfectly puke in the imperfect aisle of the imperfect church then be imperfectly helped to the imperfect men's room to imperfectly hurl again.

Great Judas converting 30 pieces of silver to USD, I once heard the entire Reformation explained as a doctrinal over-reaction to moral lapse.

God bless me sideways, if a perfectly behaving communion of perfect people is the characteristic of the church, my synod will not make it out the starting gate, and on any given day the reason may be me.

The point at issue is what Pastor May above referred to as "official teaching" of a church, not whether one finds perfect instancing of that teaching in this or that location of it.

Flying Judas in the forum, the preconciliar Catholic Church was as filled with moral lapse as the conciliar -- there was as much a "spirit of Trent" in somewhere between excess and contradiction to Trent itself as there is now a "spirit of Vatican II" in the same relation to Vatican II.

Judas leaping to Lebanon, it isn't only or even mainly the distance between what a church officially teaches and does as distinct from what it actually teaches and does, it's what it officially teaches and does.

Great Judas in the chancel.

uptois: the patois of the upscale.

At Monday, March 02, 2009 5:03:00 pm , Blogger Past Elder said...

OMG Newman. More sola historia.

One of the earliest whose desire to be Protestant and feel better about it by being Catholic led to the Catholic Church becoming just that at Vatican II instead of remaining the Catholic Church.

Like we said during the Council, a whole lot of time and ink could have been saved by promulgating three words, Luther Was Right, and going home. Except, except of course it still must be the Catholic Church, the Catholic Church, the Catholic Church -- "dialogue partners", take note, there is no partnership, you will be assimilated.

What an utter scam.

At Monday, March 02, 2009 5:13:00 pm , Blogger Kiran said...

PE, do you have an argument to make? Then make it. Don't hide behind feeble attempts at humour and smokescreens about Vatican II What official teaching?

At any rate, you are reacting not against Newman, but against Augustine and Cyprian, and the fathers prior to them (leaving the medievals aside).

At Monday, March 02, 2009 6:03:00 pm , Blogger Schütz said...

Time for me to jump in.

My main reaction to everything that has gone before has been posted in the form of a list of questions in a new post. You might like to continue this discussion here.

A few comments:

Pastor Weedon, I read your post by Dr Hein - and just about screamed with laughter when someone suggested that Dr Ed Schroeder was a good example of someone who upheld the doctrine of justification as the "chief article". I found it so funny, because from what I hear of the bloke from people who had him for a teacher over here, he was a classic "gospel reductionist"!

PE, how do you cope with the fact that for the vast majority of its history and for the vast majority of its members today, the Evangelical Lutheran Church is A STATE CHURCH??? Right from the very beginning, it would not have had a snowflake's chance in Hades if Elector Frederick and King Henry and King Gustav and all their ilk hadn't got behind it with the sword!

And Tony (Bartel): how does one tell if "a" or "b" is right in the first place?

And Pastor William and Father Timothy, I think the Church WAS the issue at the time of the reformation, only it was cloaked in the discussion of AUTHORITY. But you can't really divorce the question of authority from ecclesiology. Still today, ecclesiology and authority remain the only real ecumenical questions.

And to all Missouri Lutherans reading this blog: How, and by what authority, do you judge your fellow Lutherans in the ELCA not to be "real Lutherans" when it is they, and not you, who are in communion with the majority of Lutherans the world over? (Hey, I just ask this: personally, I would endorse your version of Lutheranism over those guys any day!)

PE, did not Ignatius of Antioch say "Where the bishop is, there let the people gather, just as where Jesus Christ is, there is the catholic Church"? If the bishop, therefore, was at 70333 L Street, Omaha NE 68127, I assume that that is where the people should gather, just as if Jesus Christ were there, and that the Catholic Church would be there too?Of course, then, the next question is "Which Bishop?"

Christine, The Marian apparitions are indeed "private revelations", but some (such as Fatima) have Church approval for those who wish to attach themselves to them devotionally. Thus, no doctrine can be based upon them - but devotional practices such as the naming of churches is allowed.

And, by the way, we also deny that the Catholic Church is the "sum total" of the Catholic Church.

Pastor Weedon, I guess that Bible believing Baptists must have some quibble about either the age of the the "teknon" referred to Acts 2:39, or claim that the "promise" refered to is something other than baptism. Who can say? Either way, they interpret this passage differently from you. (I reckon you're right, but again, who's to say?)

Anyway, this could go on forever. That's my ten bob's worth.

At Monday, March 02, 2009 7:02:00 pm , Anonymous Anonymous said...

It isn't a theory, Christine. It's the reality. Not only can "the catholic Church be found in the Catholic Church". The Catholic Church is, in fact, the catholic church - which is not to say the other ecclesial communities are not themselves the mystical beneficiaries of God's grace and love, albeit in a way that lacks the fullness of Catholicity. This is really the purpose - for want of a less utilitarian word - of 'subsistit in' (LG of Vatican II). It brings rigour (not flimsiness) to the Catholic Church's traditional self-identification while also shedding light on how the particular churches and ecclesial communities stand in relation to the credal catholic church (which subsists fully only in the Catholic Church). There are great opportunities for eirenic advancement created by this. Luther certainly wouldn't have approved but, thankfully, neither he nor his malodorous cathedra were as present in the aula of Vatican II as protestant triumphalists and Catholic catastrophists imagine.

At Monday, March 02, 2009 8:44:00 pm , Blogger Joshua said...


PE's statement above (which I reproduce below) is I fully agree the really most serious objection against the Catholic Church:

"Problem is, that church began to do and say things in many ways substantially different [THIS is the real issue - are the official teachings now substantially different? if so, then game over, Catholicism is untrue] than what it had taught me to do and say, things expressed in theologians many of whom before it began to do and say as it does now were forbidden to teach such things as Catholic, and if one continues to do and say what one was formerly taught one will be harrassed no end by the very church that taught you to do and say so, and if you are a bishop of that church trying to do that the plug will not be pulled since you are an old man and will die soon, but ordain bishops to continue to do and say what the church taught you instead of what they teach you to do and say now and it excommunicates you [PE alludes of course to Lefebvre; amusingly, these excommunications have just been lifted].

"So when you show up at your neighbourhood Catholic Church you do not find what the Catholic Church taught you [NOT true - try a Latin Mass parish amongst others], and are lucky if you find what the Catholic Church says now [all too true, alas]. All you find for sure is a church with the name Catholic over the door in which you will not find what used to be there. And if such a double talking farce of a lying church is proven to be the authentic church of Jesus, then he was not the Christ, as Christ did not found a lying double talking farce for a church."

I accept much of this analysis - but I do disagree that the official teachings of the Catholic Church, her dogmas and doctrines, have substantially changed. It is easy to see that in the minds of many if not most of the laity, of clergy and even of bishops, this is true: but I don't see this in the official teachings - there is none I can detect which directly contradict a previous teaching (the best candidates are well-known, I won't list them here). I would argue that there has been a de facto apostasy from the Faith (which is still taught and held, but by many derided and denied), but as yet no formal schism.

At Tuesday, March 03, 2009 12:59:00 am , Anonymous Christine said...

Not only can "the catholic Church be found in the Catholic Church". The Catholic Church is, in fact, the catholic church -

Ah yes, a beautiful summation of sola ecclesia. Again, I'm aware of the "official" teaching of the Catholic church. I've yet to find many Catholics who understand Luther as well as I understand the Catholic church.

David, I know as well as you do what the "official" position of the Catholic church is on private revelation. Again, the reality plays out differently. It blurs the distinction between the "official" prayer of the church and "devotional" prayer. There are Catholics that really, really do believe that they can't get to heaven unless Mary clears the path and you and I know that is utterly wrong.

And state churches? Oh, you mean like the Holy Roman Empire under Charlemagne? Catholics had it long before Lutherans did. And in the new world it plays no part.

And this:

And to all Missouri Lutherans reading this blog: How, and by what authority, do you judge your fellow Lutherans in the ELCA not to be "real Lutherans" when it is they, and not you, who are in communion with the majority of Lutherans the world over? (Hey, I just ask this: personally, I would endorse your version of Lutheranism over those guys any day!)

Very simple, David. They had their own "Vatican II." Since I have worshipped at both I can clearly and unequivocally state that Missouri clings to the Confessions which uphold the Word of God while the ELCA no longer does. My LCMS parish does not support women's ordination, abortion, same sex unions and a host of other divergences from historic Christian teaching.

And please, again, don't try to impress me with numbers. God often works through remnants in order to reinvigorate the whole.

I'll never forget when Benedict went to visit Brazil. There he was, with a host of people all droning the Rosary with about as much enthusiasm as a frog on a lily pad. Do I sound angry? You bet I am. Holy Mother Church disappointed me big time and I now know I should have headed to Missouri when I left the ELCA. It's good to be catholic again.

Joshua, please reconcile the teachings of Pius X with those of John Paul II, especially on ecumenism. Can't do it.

At Tuesday, March 03, 2009 1:41:00 am , Anonymous Christine said...

Right from the very beginning, it would not have had a snowflake's chance in Hades if Elector Frederick and King Henry and King Gustav and all their ilk hadn't got behind it with the sword!

Speaking again of Charlemagne, ever read about how he converted the Saxons, David?

At Tuesday, March 03, 2009 1:48:00 am , Anonymous Christine said...

And to Kiran:

If Lutherans are Catholic,

I didn't say Lutherans are [C]atholic, I said they are [c]atholic.

It's s distinction very few [C]atholics understand (but of which I saw plenty growing up with one Lutheran and one Catholic parent).

At Tuesday, March 03, 2009 2:01:00 am , Blogger Past Elder said...

Re recent posts on this thread:

- do I have an argument to make? If by that you mean that the documents and liturgy which result from Vatican II are utterly false to Catholicism, both the ways in which this is so and the analysis of that are so extensive as to be betrayed by reducing it to a few paragraphs in a combox, for which reason I have repeatedly urged those interested to refer to appropriate treatments, and for starters, offered a few by way of links on an element in the sidebar of my blog.

- have I not said repeatedly that one of the tragedies of the Reformation was the coming to be of state churches under the Lutheran and other banners as miserable as the ones they replaced?

- no, the quesstion is not Which bishop?, it is What is a bishop?

- a Latin Mass parish or a Latin Mass said under the motu is as much a repudiation of Catholicism as the new faith and new order of Vatican II, since, as with the Roman Empire before it, it simply allows local observance of whatever as long as one does not deny the validity of the official religion. If the religion of Vatican II were Catholic, there would be no need for "traditionalism".

- how interesting that all that appears to have happened is that the Brave New Catholic Church, having created a faith and worship drawn from the modern era to market to it, has created from phenomenology and sociology modern era reasons why, absent the force of state and "Christendom", it is still, first, last, and always, about the Catholic Church, the Catholic Church, the Catholic Church, the only thing about which it cares or in which it believes, and whose "dialogue" and "ecumenism" is simply the softer exterior of You Will Be Assimilated.

At Tuesday, March 03, 2009 7:28:00 am , Blogger Joshua said...

As I was asked - Pius X forbade all ecumenical contacts for the prudential reason that it could encourage indifferentism and other forms of misbelief. JP II encouraged it, thinking it would lead to a diminution of bigotry and eventually to the reunion of all Christians with the Successor of St Peter. Let's be honest, the diminution of bigotry has happened - but so has the increase in indifferentism! Most of the changes effected post-Vatican II have been of this nature: well-intentioned, not of their essence against the Faith, but all too often leading to bad results.

I think it mischievous to trumpet one's resumed Lutheranism as catholic (yeah, what a wondrous continuity Lutheranism expresses with the Church of the Fathers and the Doctors, not!), while admitting that while a Catholic one didn't even adhere to all the Catholic Church's teachings: I suppose it is better to be an honest Lutheran than a dissenter in the Church.

At Tuesday, March 03, 2009 8:15:00 am , Blogger William Weedon said...


Lutheranism represents a significant continuity with the fathers. Might I inquire if you've read much in them? I ask that not to be snotty, but because you strike me as a most honest fellow, and I can't understand how one can read them and not see some grounds for Lutheran concerns. I mean, as a Lutheran I have absolutely NO problem with the statement of Pope Gelasius: "Certainly the sacraments of the body and blood of Christ are a divine thing, through which we are made partakers of the divine nature; and yet the substance or nature of bread and wine does not cease to be." – De duabis nature. In Chr. Adv. Eutych. Et Nestor. Patrology IV, 1:422 I would suspect a modern Roman Catholic, however, might take exception with him?

At Tuesday, March 03, 2009 8:26:00 am , Blogger William Weedon said...

Similarly, have you pondered these teachings of St. John Chrysostom?

“We need none of those legal observances, he says; faith suffices to obtain for us the Spirit, and by Him righteousness, and many and great benefits.” - Chrysostom, Homilies on Galatians 4

“And he well said, "a righteousness of mine own," not that which I gained by labor and toil, but that which I found from grace. If then he who was so excellent is saved by grace, much more are you. For since it was likely they would say that the righteousness which comes from toil is the greater, he shows that it is dung in comparison with the other. For otherwise I, who was so excellent in it, would not have cast it away, and run to the other. But what is that other? That which is from the faith of God, i.e. it too is given by God. This is the righteousness of God; this is altogether a gift. And the gifts of God far exceed those worthless good deeds, which are due to our own diligence.” Chrysostom, Homily on Philippians 3

Suppose someone should be caught in the act of adultery and the foulest crimes and then be thrown into prison. Suppose, next, that judgment was going to be passed against him and that he would be condemned.

Suppose that just at that moment a letter should come from the Emperor setting free from any accounting or examination all those detained in prison. If the prisoner should refuse to take advantage of the pardon, remain obstinate and choose to be brought to trial, to give an account, and to undergo
punishment, he will not be able thereafter to avail himself of the Emperor's favor. For when he made himself accountable to the court, examination, and sentence, he chose of his own accord to deprive himself of the imperial gift.

This is what happened in the case of the Jews. Look how it is. All human nature was taken in the foulest evils. "All have sinned," says Paul. They were locked, as it were, in a prison by the curse of their transgression of the Law. The sentence of the judge was going to be passed against them. A letter from the King came down from heaven. Rather, the King himself came. Without examination, without exacting an account, he set all men free from the chains of their sins.

All, then, who run to Christ are saved by his grace and profit from his gift. But those who wish to find justification from the Law will also fall from grace. They will not be able to enjoy the King's loving-kindness because they are striving to gain salvation by their own efforts; they will draw down on themselves the curse of the Law because by the works of the Law no flesh will find justification.

What does this mean? That he has justified our race not by right actions, not by toils, not by barter and exchange, but by grace alone. Paul, too, made this clear when he said: “But now the justice of God has been made manifest apart from the Law.” But the justice of God comes through faith in Jesus Christ and not through any labor and suffering. Chrysostom on Justification, Discourses Against Judaizing Christians. Discourse I:6-II:1

“God does not wait for time to elapse after repentance. You state your sin, you are justified. You repented, you have been shown mercy.” – St. John Chrysostom, Homily 7 On Repentance and Compunction, p. 95 in FOTC, vol. 96.

“But what is the 'law of faith?' It is, being saved by grace. Here he shows God's power, in that He has not only saved, but has even justified, and led them to boasting, and this too without needing works, but looking for faith only. St. John Chrysostom, Homilies on Romans 3

At Tuesday, March 03, 2009 8:28:00 am , Blogger William Weedon said...

Or these:

“Here he shows God's power, in that He has not only saved, but has even justified, and led them to boasting, and this too without needing works, but looking for faith only.” Homily 7 on Romans – St. John Chrysostom

"For you believe the faith; why then do you add other things, as if faith were not sufficient to justify? You make yourselves captive, and you subject yourself to the law." - St. John Chrysostom (Epistle to Titus, Homily 3, PG 62.651)

At Tuesday, March 03, 2009 8:49:00 am , Anonymous Christine said...

No, Joshua. When Pius X was still around the official teaching was STILL that outside the Catholic church there is no salvation. Do you think for one minute he would have invited non-Christians to participate at a "prayer meeting" at Assisi?

And yes, Lutherans are very much in continuity with the Fathers while recognizing that the Fathers were not always of one mind on various issues and sometimes erred.

As far as my "dissent" as a Catholic goes, my private thoughts were my own, exactly that. In the meantime for ten years I went faithfully to Mass on Sundays and weekdays, supported the church financially and kept telling myself that at some point the Catholic church I thought I had joined would emerge.

Unfortunately it didn't and I realized that the catholicy I sought had been mine as a Lutheran all along.

Again, ask yourself why the priesthood and religious orders emptied so rapidly after Vatican II.

At Tuesday, March 03, 2009 9:01:00 am , Anonymous Christine said...

Oh, one other very important point that I forgot to mention -- when I left the ECLA in the mid-nineties it seemed very logical for me to head to Rome because liturgically the ELCA had experienced its own "Vatican II" and except for some parts of the canon the liturgies were very similiar. I hadn't worshipped in the Missouri Synod for a long, long time and had forgotten how historically catholic LCMS worship was.

If I had thought to investigate further when I left the ELCA I never would have gone to Rome to begin with. The Joint Declaration, a total fiasco, should have been my earliest warning.

As one lady gushed at my old Catholic parish, "Oh, I go to communion at my Lutheran (ELCA) friend's church because there's almost no difference!"

There ya have it, the fruits of aggiornamento.

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At Tuesday, March 03, 2009 3:37:00 pm , Blogger Kiran said...

Christine, lutherans are not, in my opinion, catholic, or Catholic, the two last of those being equivalent terms. If lutherans are catholic, then the Catholic Church ain't.

And whatever an individual Pope might do, or an individual Bishop, the official teaching is the official teaching. Assisi was silly. I have hardly met an orthodox Catholic who doesn't think that, but if you were to abandon a communion because in a moment of bad judgement, one particular Bishop (however significant he may be) made a bad choice, then you will be left nowehere to go but toward an increasingly smaller remnant, which (whatever else it is) isn't the Catholic (or catholic) Church. The Church has never been wary of saying that Popes can and have made mistakes, not just moral mistakes, but mistakes which can give scandal and promote false teaching: Peter appeared to Judaise, and Liberius to Arianise, and so on. Nothing protects, as far as I can see, the Pope from heresy, only from publicly professing the said heresy. But this doesn't detract from the fact that when the Pope speaks ex cathedra, he speaks infallibly, nor from the fact that "ubi Petrus, ibi Ecclesia" is a good rule to finding which of the several bodies that claim to be the Church catholic actually is so. To believe anything else seems to drive me towards myself as judge, and I know that left to myself, Iam a bad judge. Conscience takes me (or ought to) outward. I cannot be a lone Christian.

emillac: a type of car fuelled by emetics.

At Tuesday, March 03, 2009 3:41:00 pm , Blogger Kiran said...

I should add that I fully expect that lutherans in consistency should think that Catholics aren't catholic, noting also that the High Anglican Newman, as well as Hurrell Froude and others, quite strongly opposed the Catholic Church.

unfulact: Do things by halves.

At Tuesday, March 03, 2009 4:14:00 pm , Blogger Fr. Timothy D. May, SSP said...


". . . I think the Church WAS the issue at the time of the reformation, only it was cloaked in the discussion of AUTHORITY. But you can't really divorce the question of authority from ecclesiology. Still today, ecclesiology and authority remain the only real ecumenical questions."

Thank you for your response. I agree that ecclesiology is united with the question of authority (and cannot be divorced), and what better place to find the two together than in Christology ("all authority in heaven and on earth" has been given to Him.) So it is in no way insignificant as to what it means when Jesus gives the keys to Peter or that the blessed Virgin Mary gives birth to Jesus. But back to the reformation and the Church. I think you are right that ultimately the Church was the issue. Even though Lutherans do not officially recognize it as the issue it could certainly be defended. And what other issue is debated most among Lutherans today? I would probably need to defend my agreement with you on this before my fellow Lutherans but this would mean writing a book or two and it or they would likely not see publication.

At Tuesday, March 03, 2009 4:57:00 pm , Blogger Past Elder said...

The only reason ecclesiology is an issue is because at the time of the Reformation, the only ecclesia around to have an ology was seen to have departed from the catholic faith. And the Catholic Church's continued departure from the catholic faith remains the only reason for ecclesiology to be an issue now.

If the Catholic Church were to proclaim the catholic faith of the catholic church it says it is, I would be the first to join up.

Instead, the Catholic Church continues to maintain that since it is the true church whatever it teaches is the true faith, then proves it is the true church from its own faith. The Catholic Church is the true church because the true church, the Catholic Church, says so, so whatever else it says is the true faith.

Sola ecclesia.

patershi: sushi for dads.

At Tuesday, March 03, 2009 5:14:00 pm , Blogger Kiran said...

PE, what is this faith you speak of?

triffsfe: Trifles described in German by someone who doesn't know the language.

At Tuesday, March 03, 2009 6:15:00 pm , Blogger Past Elder said...

OMG, it must be the one I wouldn't know what the hell it is except for the Catholic Church, the Catholic Church, the Catholic Church!

At Tuesday, March 03, 2009 9:08:00 pm , Blogger Joshua said...

Sorry, PW, I've been rather busy...

I have only a B.Theol, and hope to finish my M.Theol. sometime, but I'm no expert in patristics: you obviously read the Fathers more than I. Sometime I hope to study them under Dr Adam Cooper, late a pastor of the Lutheran Church of Australia, who I notice is the latest convert clergyman from that denomination to join the Catholic Church.

Of course among the Fathers all manner of views can be ferreted out; one wouldn't want to believe too much of Origen for example! But surely it is evident that the views held concerning the Holy Eucharist have gradually crystallized; St Irenæus can be read as teaching impanation in Adv.Hær. 5,2,2 for instance. The process of development whereby transsubstantiation came to be acknowledged as the truth about the Sacrament of the Altar was long.

Amusingly enough, yesterday's Matins lessons were from St Augustine, energetically pointing out that faith without good works is dead, as the Apostle teaches, and that those who claim to be saved by faith alone shall burn in that fire which hath no end!

S. Augustinus Episcopus, Liber de fide et operibus, cap. 15 tom. 4, circa medium:

"If it be possible to enter into life without keeping the commandments, that is, by faith alone (albeit faith without works is dead), how can those words be true which the Lord will speak on the last day? For at that time he will say unto them which he hath placed on his left hand: Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels. Not because they have not believed on him, doth he thus rebuke them, but because they have not done good works. In sooth, lest a man should promise himself eternal life by reason of that dead faith which is without works, the Lord hath declared that he will separate all nations one from another, as a shepherd divideth his sheep from the goats, even though aforetime the same had mingled together, and fed in the same pastures. That these same had believed on him, is evident from their saying, to wit: Lord, when saw we thee suffering such and such things, and did not minister unto thee? Thus will they speak, as if they had hoped by their dead faith to attain unto life eternal.

"What then? If these who have omitted to do works of mercy be destined to go into everlasting fire, will not those also have a like destiny who have taken away other men's goods? or who have been unmerciful toward themselves in that they have destroyed the temple of God within themselves? For all such do think that works of mercy are profitable without love, whereas the Apostle saith: Though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and have not charity, it profiteth me nothing. Can any man who loveth not himself love his neighbour as himself? For whoso loveth iniquity hateth his own soul.

"Neither in this connection can there be allowed that interpretation whereby some others deceive themselves, to wit, that the fire, but not the punishment, is everlasting. These folk be of the opinion that the souls of them whose faith is dead will indeed pass through the everlasting fire, but that by virtue of this dead faith these same are recipients of the promised that they shall be saved; yet so as by fire. Forsooth, the fire itself is everlasting, but the burning therein of these same, that is, the operation of the fire upon them, is not everlasting. As though the Lord would give answer to this beforehand, he endeth his words, saying: And these shall go away into everlasting punishment; but the righteous into life eternal. For which reason, like as the fire is everlasting, so also shall the burning be. Yea, the Truth himself hath said who they be that shall burn therein, to wit, those whom he findeth lacking, not in faith, but in the sacrifice of good works."

What continuity is there between St John Chrysostom, who celebrated the dread Sacrifice of the Body and Blood of Christ, offering up that Holy Mystery in the Sacred Liturgy that came to bear his name, who prayed to the saints, who heard confessions, who as a bishop ruled and ordained priests and deacons - and those who are not in the apostolic succession, having no true threefold ministry, who pray not to the saints, who persist in regarding the Lord's Supper as but a bare commemoration?

If Chrysostom materialized to-day, he'd commune with the Greeks, till he noted that the majority were in schism from Rome, and thereupon hie himself to the Greek Catholics; he'd not follow Cyril Lucaris in making peace by compromise with Lutherans.

At Wednesday, March 04, 2009 12:09:00 am , Blogger William Weedon said...


Do you think a Lutheran would disagree with Augustine's clear teaching that a faith that is alone (with no good works) saves no one? Certainly not! A faith that exists without good works IS a dead faith.

It's very problematic to tell what an historical figure would do if they were confronted with the Church situation as it is today; it just become a fantasy game. What we know for certain about a father is what he wrote down; and I think that's where we should begin at understanding him (rather than reading into him our assumptions about his belief and practice).

I know that you do not regard Lutheran orders as valid (an argument I understand, but do not grant), but why on earth would you say that we "persist in regarding the Lord's Supper as but a bare commemoration"? I'm not sure how you can say that. We confess that in the Eucharist that which was offered upon Calvary, the very Body and Blood of the Savior, is made present to be our forgiveness, life, and salvation. This is bare commemoration?

At Wednesday, March 04, 2009 1:25:00 am , Anonymous Christine said...


I fully expect that you do not accept the catholicity of the Lutheran Church but with all due respect we'll just have to agree to disagree here. Catholic and catholic are NOT equivalent.

As far as Assisi goes, that in and of itself, even the bad judgments of Bishops, were far from being the main reason for my departure. I am simply tired of seeing that what the Catholic "officially teaches" and what I encountered at the parish level didn't always mesh and I DO see a break in continuity with what went before.

It was John Paul II himself who lamented that the Catholic church still has too many baptized pagans in her midst who need to be evangelized. Do Protestants have problems? Of course. Mainstream Protestant churches are always skirting on the edge of rationalism, as is evident in the Calvinist Netherlands, and Catholicism always runs the danger of syncretism.

Lutherans are a worldwide communion, as are the Eastern Orthodox. Catholics hardly have the lock on that. I in no way see myself as returning to a "remnant" but to the historic catholic faith unencumbered by the errors that entered in over the centuries.

Here's the problem in a nutshell:

by the authority of our Lord Jesus Christ, of the Blessed Apostles Peter and Paul, and by our own authority, we pronounce, declare, and define

And so was birthed the dogma of the Assumption. I don't accept the teaching that any pope was granted the privilege of infallibility and neither do the churches of the East; it flies against the truth of the Word of God, through which the Holy Spirit works and the early centuries of Christianity.

Nor do I accept that the Lord Christ, who at His ascension said all power in heaven and on earth had been given to Him, needs to keep sending His mother, blessed as she is, to keep coming back to run interference for Him. He is still very much with us in Word and Sacrament. As Mary said, "Do whatever HE tells you."

I once again take my stand on the Lutheran Confessions and the Word of God.

At Wednesday, March 04, 2009 1:53:00 am , Blogger William Weedon said...

Lutherans. Reformed. Roman Catholics. Orthodox. Evangelicals. Pentecostals.

Is there a single one that is not broken and suffering? I can tell you why I'm a Lutheran and why I intend to persist as one; but that is not to excuse the mess my own jurisdiction is in.

Folks, I think we're on the cusp of the great apostasy and the weakness and at times blasphemy we see taking place within any of our jurisdictions should wake us up. The time for vigilance and prayer is upon us now more than ever. Sorry to sound apocalyptic, but I think O'Brien's *Father Elijah* is closer to us than we'd like to admit.

At Wednesday, March 04, 2009 2:28:00 am , Blogger Past Elder said...

Pastor Weedon has inspired me -- perhaps I can put my meagre cyberskills to-gether enough to create a new game, "Dream Team Church", fantasy football applied to ecclesiology. I'll test market it with my kids!

Seriously, that's what a lot of this is -- assembling a dream team of what would be to-day on the performance of players of the past.

Good God, when I was a Catholic we were never, ever, taught that Lutherans don't believe in the Eucharist, the Real Presence etc like Protestants. We were taught the tragedy is they believe in it but don't, and can't, have it due to their rupture from the Church where it is found. Same for the Anglican Communion btw.

As to Faith Alone. It does not mean faith alone. In fact, "faith alone" does not even translate the original phrase sola fide.

To expand on what Pastor has pointed out: faith alone does not mean only faith. It does not mean that having faith, one need not concern oneself with works, church, or anything else but only faith.

Sola fide is a construction in Latin called an ablative of means: it is a way of declinging a noun to indicate the means by which an agent accomplishes an action. Sola fide means "by faith alone".

I am convinced that a good deal of our problems re sola fide is the persistent mistranslation of this term into something which appears to say "only faith", rather than identify the means by which something is done.

Works are essential. So is the church. We do not differ with Catholics on that. We differ in how that is.

In the classic statement, and I know no better one: we do good works not to be saved, but because we are saved.

At Wednesday, March 04, 2009 3:07:00 am , Anonymous Christine said...

Lutherans. Reformed. Roman Catholics. Orthodox. Evangelicals. Pentecostals.

And there we have it. The Church catholic.

"I know my own, my own know me," said the Lord. On that last day it will be manifest to all.

At Wednesday, March 04, 2009 7:33:00 am , Blogger Joshua said...

LOL, not that silly Branch Theory!

At Wednesday, March 04, 2009 7:34:00 am , Blogger Joshua said...

The Assumption - which all but a small minority of all Christians believe in and have believed in.

At Wednesday, March 04, 2009 8:05:00 am , Blogger William Weedon said...


Not a branch theory. That presupposes the legitimacy of each of the major confessions and is a typically Anglican way of looking at Church history. Lutherans teach instead that the Spirit at work through the truth of the Gospel preached and sacramentally lived keeps people connected in saving faith to the Lamb of God in a variety of jurisdictions. He does this despite errors that have established themselves in those jurisdictions, which nevertheless do not overthrow the foundation:

"There are also many weak persons, who build upon the foundation stubble that will perish, holding certain harmful opinions. Nevertheless, because the weak do not overthrow the foundation, they are both forgiven and corrected."

To us, Rome and the Orthodox and many of our Protestant brothers and sisters do not overthrow the foundation of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, so they are certainly our beloved brothers and sisters in Christ through our common Baptism. Through their saving faith in the Redeemer they hold to the same Savior of sinners, yet they hold opinions and practices which we hold are dangerous in that they becloud this foundation that is Christ alone.

Krauth once said so beautifully: "It is enough for her [the Lutheran Church] to know that she is a genuine part of it [the catholic church], and she can rejoice and does rejoice, that the Savior she loves has his own true followers in every part of Christendom. 'The Catholic Church consists of men scattered throughout the world, from the rising of the sun to the going down thereof.' She unchurches none of other names, even though they may be unsound. It is not her business to do this. They have their own Master before whom they stand or fall. She protests against error; she removes it by spiritual means from her own midst; but she judges not those who are without. God is her judge and theirs, and to Him she commits herself and them." Conservative Reformation, p. 142

I hope this clarifies the difference for us between the branch theory and what we actually hold to. They are really two different things; and our teaching on it came along long before the Anglicans pushed the branch theory into prominence.

At Wednesday, March 04, 2009 8:26:00 am , Anonymous Christine said...

The Assumption - which all but a small minority of all Christians believe in and have believed in.

Pious opinion raised to the level of dogma. No Scriptural or apostolic warrant whatsoever.

I love this part:

According to one tradition, Mary was warned of her approaching end by Saint Michael the Archangel, who conducts souls to Heaven, and was surrounded on her death-bed by the apostles, who were miraculously transported to her bedside from their various mission-fields. It was said that Jesus appeared, bore away her soul, and returned three days after her burial, when angels carried her body to Paradise where it was reunited with her soul under the Tree of Life.M

Just like the "Holy House of Loreto" which was flown by angels to Italy. Well, at least that was never raised to the level of dogma.

At Wednesday, March 04, 2009 10:12:00 am , Blogger Kiran said...

Christine, good. I enjoy disagreements. :-) I was just concerned that I not be read as being uncharitable, only (as best I can be) truthful.

The Assumption as a feast is quite old, and predates the definition of it by a long time. If you read the documents which define the dogmas, you will find Scriptural and traditional warrant aplenty.

In the second instance, I think the problem with sola, even as you define it is the basic point about humanity, which Lutherans should be (I would think) in a peculiarly good place to appreciate if they are indeed Augustinians: its capacity when turned in upon itself to decieve itself. It is the society of the faithful that is the curative to this tendency. This being the case, salvation is by belonging to the Body of Christ - the Church, which is why ecclesiology is always the basic question. This is why we can't agree to disagree. As far as I can see, PE and yourself are insisting on something which doesn't exist and isn't clear.

Pastor Weedon (and I am not saying this contemptuously) doesn't make it clear how one is supposed to tell truth from falsehood, the faith from approximations or outright falsehoods. Extra Ecclesia nulla salus has always been the case, but surely it has a significance: It is not a tautology. Therefore, there must be a visible Church. Without Her, there is not only no salvation, but no consistent faith, no scriptures, only limited human reason.

My set of questions remain therefore: Without the Church, how can we know the letter to the Hebrews are in the Scriptures and the Protogospel of James not in there, when to take Tertullian and Origen seriously, what Augustine means by perseverance and how to reconcile it with Catholic teaching, how to go about interpreting the first few chapters of Genesis?

worso: not so bad it couldn't be better.

mocent: lucent mauve, or mauvely lucent.

At Wednesday, March 04, 2009 10:57:00 am , Blogger William Weedon said...


Lutherans freely and joyfully admit that we receive the Holy Scriptures from the Church through Tradition. Dr. Chemnitz expounds this in detail in his monumental Examination of the Council of Trent; but the same Church that hands us the Scriptures also teaches us that by them we are to recognize truth and error. See the citations above from the Fathers on Sacred Scripture.

At Wednesday, March 04, 2009 12:32:00 pm , Blogger William Tighe said...

"Lutherans. Reformed. Roman Catholics. Orthodox. Evangelicals. Pentecostals.

And there we have it. The Church catholic."

Who ever heard of, spoke of, acknowledged the existence of such a fictitious non-ens as "the church catholic" throughout the first 1500 years of Chrisianity? But say instead,

"Novatianists. Donatists. Meletians. Catholics. Arians. Macedonians. Montanists.

And there we have it. The Church catholic."

If the first is true in 2009, the second must have been equally true in 409. But what Father ever dreamed of such a thing -- and what Father who addressed himself to ecclesiological issues does not, implicitly or explicitly, reject the idea of any such invisible Church catholic? One need but glance at Cyprian on the Novatianists, Optatus and Augustine on the Donatists, Athanasius on both the Arians and the Meletians, Cyril of Jerusalem on thwe word "Catholic" and Epiphanius on sects and schisms, to see that the thought of a "Church catholic" never once entered their heads. (I did note with interest, though, that the Lutheran Werner Elert, in an aside in his *Eucharist and Church Fellowship in the First Four Centuries* does say that as a Lutheran he has to regard the Novatianists and Donatists as being as much a part of "the Catholic Church" as "the Catholics.")

I have many friends who have becomne Orthodox out of the sense that the Catholic Church cannot credibly claim to be what it had alwats claimed to be, and so found holy Orthodoxy's cliaim to be more compelling and plausible. Indeed, some 25 or 30 years I was rather strongly inclining in that direction myself, although in the end I came to conclude that if the Catholic claim was mistaken, that of the Orientals (the Copts, Armenians etc.) seemed more compelling than that of the Chalcedonians. But never in my wildest imaginations would I have embraced a johnny-come-lately ecclesiology and consoled myself with the notion that I was a member of a "Church catholic" of which the Fathers make no mention and the early Christians were wholly unaware.

At Wednesday, March 04, 2009 12:43:00 pm , Blogger William Tighe said...

I might also mention here the useful book *Schism in the Early Church* by S. L. Greenslade (1953):

of which cheap copies are readily availalbe.

Greenslade, a liberal-ish English Anglican Evangelical church historian who became Regius Professor of Divinity at Oxford, openly admits, and fully documents, in his little book the futility of seeking any recognition of an invisible "Church catholic" among the Fathers generally, or for that matter anywhere among Christians before the Reformation. Rather, he acknowledges that (apart from the Gnostics) orthodox and "classical heretics" all alike confessed that the "Catholic Church" was one visible and indivisible body, and each asserted that his own church was, alone, that same Catholic Church. But (as one might expect) Greenslade concludes that the Fathers were mistaken in their ecclesiology, and that all "Christian denominations" must be regarded as "parts" of "the Church catholic."

At Wednesday, March 04, 2009 1:14:00 pm , Blogger William Weedon said...

Dear Dr. Tighe,

I find it interesting that St. Cyril's catechesis on the Church Catholic of the Creed (he was there in 381, no?) says nothing that could not apply to the Lutheran Church:

"It is called Catholic then because it extends over all the world, from one end of the earth to the other; and because it teaches universally and completely one and all the doctrines which ought to come to men's knowledge, concerning things both visible and invisible, heavenly and earthly; and because it brings into subjection to godliness the whole race of mankind, governors and governed, learned and unlearned; and because it universally treats and heals the whole class of sins, which are committed by soul or body, and possesses in itself every form of virtue which is named, both in deeds and words, and in every kind of spiritual gifts." (Catechetical Lectures 18:23)


At Wednesday, March 04, 2009 2:40:00 pm , Blogger William Weedon said...

P.S. Your analogy fails particularly in that Lutherans specifically REJECT as contrary to the Catholic faith: Novatianists. Donatists. Arians. The others too, but not as explicitly:

Against, Novatian: "The Novatians are also condemned, who would not absolve those who had fallen after Baptism, though they returned to repentance."

Against Donatism: "Our churches condemn the Donatists and others like them, who deny that it is lawful to use the ministry of evil men in the Church, and who think that the ministry of evil men is not useful and is ineffective."

Against Arians: "They also condemn the Valentinians, Arians, Eunomians, Muslims and all heresies such as these."

We claim to be of a piece with the Christians that have specifically rejected these heresies.

At Wednesday, March 04, 2009 3:30:00 pm , Blogger William Tighe said...

I agree, Pastor Weedon, with your last, just as I do not doubt that orthodox Lutherans would reprobate the errors of the Reformed ... Evangelicals ... Pentecostalists. Nevertheless, Christine's seeming lumping together of thse various groups into a "The Church catholic" seems to justify my parody of her list, insofar as it is not obvious that the errors of the Novatianists were more grievous than those of the Reformed, or those of the Donatists than those of the Pentecostalists. I would not hold all Lutherans to her peculiar formulation, in which the conclusion seems to precede the arguments designed to uphold it.

At Wednesday, March 04, 2009 5:08:00 pm , Blogger Past Elder said...


A conclusion seems to precede the arguments designed to uphold it.

Better known as begging the question in mi barrio. Lesser known as petitio principii, Latin for the Greek in which Aristotle defined the error in Prior Analytics (II:xvi). Universal in constructing the ecclesiology of the Catholic Church, which is the true church, because the true church, the Catholic Church, says so.

emody: cyberhymnody

Bless us and save us, Mrs O'Davis.

At Wednesday, March 04, 2009 8:06:00 pm , Blogger Joshua said...

William Tighe has said what I've mused on: that if one's doubts about the Church since the post-Conciliar disaster really did persuade one that Rome had failed, one would have to go East, where after all nothing has changed... there's absolutely no chance I'd ever have (or would even now) consider Lutheranism or any such Protestant group. I still don't get why PE didn't go East.

At Wednesday, March 04, 2009 8:07:00 pm , Blogger Joshua said...

And I really think that Christine ought speak more respectfully of the Most Holy Mother of God. It is so very offensive to pious ears to have a heretic proudly railing against the Blessed Virgin.

At Thursday, March 05, 2009 12:34:00 am , Blogger William Weedon said...

Might I suggest, Joshua, that the Holy Mother might find it more offensive to hear your designation of Christine as "heretic"? What did Christine say that in any way attacked the Holy Virgin? You know Christine by now! She wouldn't speak impiously against her.

If I might, I'd refer you to this rather fine article by one of your priests that I think is really outstanding:

At Thursday, March 05, 2009 1:14:00 am , Anonymous Christine said...

Joshua, where did I speak impiously of the Blessed Virgin? Along with Luther and the early Church I honor her as the Mother of God and always will. But Jesus clearly placed ties on the basis of the Kingdom of God ahead of biolgical ones. I think the Blessed Virgin would shrink in dismay at the overexaggerated role she's been given in some quarters.

What I posted on was the DOGMA of the Assumption for which there is no proof but pious speculation. "God willed it, it was reasonable, so God did it." Basta. That's how we got the dogma of the Assumption.

But if you want to label me a heretic, have at it. I've in some glorious company!

The fact that nothing has "changed" in Orthodoxy doesn't change that it is the remnant of Empire in the East just as Rome is the remnant of Empire in the West.

At Thursday, March 05, 2009 1:48:00 am , Blogger Past Elder said...

I thought about it indeed, Joshua -- going East. And if my thinking had gone no further than the rupture with Catholicism that was Vatican II, that is where I would have gone. And had I stayed there, I would now be with what some call Western Orthodoxy, such as that to which Pastor Fenton went. IOW, Orthodoxy, period, not Eastern Orthodoxy only, as the "true church" now at the point in its history taking on a Western face with the collapse of Roman Catholicism and the rise of Orthodox churches with a Western liturgy.

At Thursday, March 05, 2009 6:15:00 am , Anonymous Christine said...

Nevertheless, Christine's seeming lumping together of thse various groups into a "The Church catholic" seems to justify my parody of her list, insofar as it is not obvious that the errors of the Novatianists were more grievous than those of the Reformed, or those of the Donatists than those of the Pentecostalists. I would not hold all Lutherans to her peculiar formulation, in which the conclusion seems to precede the arguments designed to uphold it.

You are taking my "peculiar" comments out of context. Just as there will be Catholics who don't make it past the pearly gates simply because of the label, so there will be Christians in many traditions who WILL be there because they are connected to Christ and are part of the Church catholic.

You and I don't get to make that judgment, by the way.

What I find even more interesting is the idea of an "orthodox" Catholic employed by an ELCA-affiliated institution.

At Thursday, March 05, 2009 7:28:00 am , Blogger Joshua said...

Sorry to be grumpy.

Of course, technically, to deny the dogma of the Assumption is to fall under the anathema...

I do find slighting remarks about Our Lady upsetting, but may have perceived them to be such when they were not.

Apologies for bad manners.

At Thursday, March 05, 2009 7:55:00 am , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Aw, Joshua, I still think you're a pretty cool dude (-:

No offense taken!


At Thursday, March 05, 2009 8:06:00 am , Blogger Past Elder said...

You might look at the "Gregorian Rite" of the Western Orthodox churches by comparison to the novus ordo of the post-conciliar "Catholic" church for a different window into the same thing I have been saying re the novus ordo as vacating the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.

At Thursday, March 05, 2009 8:18:00 am , Anonymous Anonymous said...

And even the beautiful Sarum Rite. The novus ordo pales in comparison.


At Thursday, March 05, 2009 9:53:00 am , Blogger William Weedon said...

And don't leave out our Common Service!

David, Christine and I have decided that you should thank us talkative Lutheran types for sending your responses up so high!!!

Seriously, may the joy of Lenten repentance be yours on this ember day. "Have mercy on me, O God, have mercy on me!"

At Thursday, March 05, 2009 1:45:00 pm , Anonymous Anonymous said...

And don't leave out our Common Service!

The most beloved of all!

I rejoice in the beauty of our worship!


At Thursday, March 05, 2009 1:56:00 pm , Blogger Kiran said...

WW, at the risk of being offensive (which I do not intend), it seems rather arbitrary to pick one thing from the Church and then use that to judge the rest. As Chesterton argues (I cite him, not because I think you haven't read him, because he says it much better than I could, and I would be interested to know how you would respond to him):

The ordinary sensible sceptic or pagan is standing in the street (in the supreme character of the man in the street) and he sees a procession go by of the priests of some strange cult, carrying their object of worship under a canopy, some of them wearing high head-dresses and carrying symbolical staffs, others carrying scrolls and sacred records, others carrying sacred images and lighted candles before them, others sacred relics in caskets or cases, and so on. I can understand the spectator saying, “This is all hocus-pocus”; I can even understand him, in moments of irritation, breaking up the procession, throwing down the images, tearing up the scrolls, dancing on the priests and anything else that might express that general view. I can understand his saying, “Your croziers are bosh, your candles are bosh, your statues and scrolls and relics and all the rest of it are bosh.” But in what conceivable frame of mind does he rush in to select one particular scroll of the scriptures of this one particular group (a scroll which had always belonged to them and been a part of their hocus-pocus, if it was hocus-pocus); why in the world should the man in the street say that one particular scroll was not bosh, but was the one and only truth by which all the other things were to be condemned? Why should it not be as superstitious to worship the scrolls as the statues, of that one particular procession? Why should it not be as reasonable to preserve the statues as the scrolls, by the tenets of that particular creed? To say to the priests, “Your statues and scrolls are condemned by our common sense,” is sensible. To say, “Your statues are condemned by your scrolls, and we are going to worship one part of your procession and wreck the rest,” is not sensible from any standpoint, least of all that of the man in the street.

melenes: Things I dream of throwing at PE

At Thursday, March 05, 2009 2:05:00 pm , Blogger William Weedon said...

Dear Kirion,

It is not *I* who speak this way, but the holy Fathers of the Church. As I've often said, we learn to value tradition from the Sacred Scriptures; we learn to value the "by Scripture alone" criterion from tradition.

Who speaks this way? Consider the words (I thought I cited them before) of our holy fathers:

“Regarding the things I say, I should supply even the proofs, so I will not seem to rely on my own opinions, but rather, prove them with Scripture, so that the matter will remain certain and steadfast.” St. John Chrysostom (Homily 8 On Repentance and the Church, p. 118, vol. 96 TFOTC)

"Let the inspired Scriptures then be our umpire, and the vote of truth will be given to those whose dogmas are found to agree with the Divine words." St. Gregory of Nyssa (On the Holy Trinity, NPNF, p. 327).

"We are not entitled to such license, I mean that of affirming what we please; we make the Holy Scriptures the rule and the measure of every tenet; we necessarily fix our eyes upon that, and approve that alone which may be made to harmonize with the intention of those writings." St. Gregory of Nyssa (On the Soul and the Resurrection NPNF II, V:439)

“What is the mark of a faithful soul? To be in these dispositions of full acceptance on the authority of the words of Scripture, not venturing to reject anything nor making additions. For, if ‘all that is not of faith is sin’ as the Apostle says, and ‘faith cometh by hearing and hearing by the Word of God,’ everything outside Holy Scripture, not being of faith, is sin.” Basil the Great (The Morals, p. 204, vol 9 TFOTC).

“For concerning the divine and holy mysteries of the Faith, not even a casual statement must be delivered without the Holy Scriptures; nor must we be drawn aside by mere plausibility and artifices of speech. Even to me, who tell you these things, give not absolute credence, unless you receive the proof of the things which I announce from the Divine Scriptures. For this salvation which we believe depends not on ingenious reasoning, but on demonstration of the Holy Scriptures.” St. Cyril of Jerusalem (Catechetical Lectures, IV:17, in NPNF, Volume VII, p. 23.)

"It is impossible either to say or fully to understand anything about God beyond what has been divinely proclaimed to us, whether told or revealed, by the sacred declarations of the Old and New Testaments." St. John of Damascus, On the Orthodox Faith, Book I, Chapter 2

"Nevertheless, sacred doctrine makes use of these authorities as extrinsic and probable arguments; but properly uses the authority of the canonical Scriptures as an incontrovertible proof, and the authority of the doctors of the Church as one that may properly be used, yet merely as probable. For our faith rests upon the revelation made to the apostles and prophets who wrote the canonical books, and not on the revelations (if any such there are) made to other doctors. Hence Augustine says (Epis. ad Hieron. xix, 1): "Only those books of Scripture which are called canonical have I learned to hold in such honor as to believe their authors have not erred in any way in writing them. But other authors I so read as not to deem everything in their works to be true, merely on account of their having so thought and written, whatever may have been their holiness and learning."--St. Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologia, Part 1, Question 1, Article 8

WHO takes the sacred scrolls and subjects to them all teaching in the Church? THE FATHERS!


At Thursday, March 05, 2009 5:32:00 pm , Blogger Joshua said...

Of course, as one who whenever possible attends the Traditional Latin Mass (aka - sorry, PE, please don't go into another diatribe - the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite), and as one who actually prefers the Dominican Rite (very similar to the Sarum, BTW), I prefer these over the Novus Ordo (tho' the latter celebrated in Latin ad orientem would be nice). Likewise, worshipping in the Byzantine Rite with the Russian Catholics in their Melbourne chapel of St Nicholas was heaven on earth (see my blog for late January if you wish).

I do, however, as a person keenly interested in and with no small knowledge of liturgy (do bear with a little foolishness, as the Apostle would say), find wierdly hybridized rites unpleasant. For instance, the devout and earnest TAC remnant that I visited a few weeks back had celebrated for them by their bishop a rite that was basically the traditional Roman Missal in English, but with the modern Lectionary's readings, and sundry nice bits from the BCP inserted hither and thither - most notably, the Roman Canon wasn't used, but the "Interim Rite" of their 1662 Prayers of Consecration and Oblation back-to-back with the 1549 Anamnesis stuck in the middle: which made, I say without wishing to offend, a real dog's-breakfast of a liturgy. Similarly, albeit on a rather better (and a certainly valid level), the "Western Orthodox" typically have some version of the Latin Mass - but put into the vernacular, which is the Eastern practice sort-of, but which is far from the common Western tradition - yet they "ruin" it liturgically by inserting into the Roman Canon an Eastern-style epiclesis, which the Easterners never required of Rome in the first millennium, and which is an utter bastardization of the most venerable and holy Canon of the Mass.

As for the Common Service - to the extent that Luther and his descendants simply took the Western Mass and dropped the bits they thought improper (so no Offertory prayers, and no Canon, except for the Verba), they were "conservative"; but huge doses of (granted very fine) hymn-singing is in fact foreign to the Roman Rite (though in mediæval Germany some hymns were sung, just not very many and not all through the service: the Bet-sing-Messe came much later), and the rearrangement of the liturgy that all this deletion, insertion of hymns and a prefatory Protestant formula of confession and absolution and a later long formula of intercession (again paralleling the German mediæval custom), and above all putting the Lord's Prayer before, not after the Canon now reduced to the Verba Domini, produced comes across overall as producing a service profoundly different to the Catholic Mass. (I grant that it obviously has its own self-consistent logic and beauty, else of course it would satisfy no one - but it is certainly further - again, hush, PE! - from the Roman Mass than the Novus Ordo is: for after all the new form of the Mass still has lengthy Eucharistic Prayers that contain an explicit oblation of the Body and Blood of Christ (e.g. E.P.'s IV and III), and many prayers and chants between the Consecration and the Communion, as do all the classical liturgies. Only Protestant liturgies strive for the shortest interval between Consecration and Communion, that any suggestion of adoration or oblation be removed (though of course a good Lutheran does adore the Christ he believes to be present "in, with and under").

At Thursday, March 05, 2009 10:17:00 pm , Blogger Vicci said...

Only Protestant liturgies strive for the shortest interval between Consecration and Communion, ......(though of course a good Lutheran does adore the Christ he believes to be present "in, with and under").

An interesting observation, Joshua. Maybe it's because they want to get on with it!
( ..receive the Gift..and understand that God is doing the giving.)
So, chants et al (words, words, words) are simply delaying the Wonder.
Did you open your Christmas presents on Boxing Day, perchance?

At Friday, March 06, 2009 12:27:00 am , Blogger William Weedon said...

Dear Joshua,

The original Common Service allowed for the Our Father to come in either spot - before or after the Verba. And I, at any rate, would argue that the final and fullest and most legitimate form of the Common Service was reached in the developments of the Service Book and Hymnal. Here the Sanctus was followed with this Prayer:

Holy art Thou, Almighty and Merciful God. Holy art Thou, and great is the majesty of Thy glory.

Thou didst so love the world as to give Thine only-begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life; Who, having coming into the world to fulfill for us Thy holy will and to accomplish all things for our salvation, IN THE NIGHT IN WHICH HE WAS BETRAYED...

Remembering, therefore, His salutary precept, His life-giving Passion and Death, His glorious resurrection and ascension, and the promise of His coming again, we give thanks to Thee, O Lord God Almighty, not as we ought, but as are able; and we beseech Thee mercifully to accept our praise and thanksgiving, and with Thy Word and Holy Spirit to bless us, Thy servants, and these Thine own gifts of bread and wine, so that we and all who partake thereof may be filled with heavenly benediction and grace, and, receiving the remission of sins, be sanctified in soul and body, and have our portion with all Thy saints.

And unto Thee, O God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, be all glory and honor in Thy holy Church, world without end. Amen.

Sadly, though Missouri authorized a slight adaptation of this prayer in Worship Supplement (and thus it may still be used in our Churches), the LSB chose not to further it - though I did urge them to seriously consider it.

At Friday, March 06, 2009 12:46:00 am , Blogger Past Elder said...

You criticise other Western liturgies for introducing elements or approaches foreign to the Roman rite, then defend the novus ordo, which among other things sought to extend the Roman rite beyond its parametres, most particularly in incorporating elements of the Eastern rites and, in good nouvelle theologie fashion, back to a supposed long lost patristic purity?

I did not say our Common Service -- now unfortunately not our common service amid a variety of Vatican II wannabe services -- was faithful to the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. Hell no. That's because we believe any "Holy Sacrifice of the Mass" is not mass. What I said was, the novus ordo is not the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.

The question of whether Lutherans have what mass is right or a proper liturgy for it is not my point, at least here. The issue is that the Catholic Church has resourced itself right out of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, now having neither the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass nor in its cut and paste hodge-podge from other rites and its own rite in the novus ordo, though lately you can celebrate the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass as a museum piece as long as you swear fealty to the new regime thereby obliterting why one stands by what one stands in the first place as a Catholic.

One thing about Roman gag orders -- you have to have a certain standing to issue them, which, as nother thread on why blog mentions, none of us has.

At Friday, March 06, 2009 1:11:00 am , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Shortest liturgies? The novus ordo mass at most of my neighborhood Catholic parishes lasts anywhere between 50 minutes to barely an hour, and that's not counting the people who slip out right after receiving Communion.

Oh, I take that back -- the Saturday vigil at the closest parish lasts a little longer now that they have a "praise band" in place.

By contrast, the liturgy at my Lutheran parish goes well over an hour.

It also delights me that the congregation and Pastor worship ad orientem during various parts of the liturgy. And our hymns? Yes, they are glorious, giving praise and adoration to Christ who comes to us in His Holy Supper to renew His Testament in His Body and Blood.

Just as there were no "priests" in the New Testament (show me please, Joshua, where the terms sacerdos or hiereus are used of any Christian pastor in the New Testament).

Presbuteros won't do, it is not a sacerdotal term. The Sacrifice has been made. We don't need to make Calvary present again in the sense that Rome does. That one Sacrifice is all sufficient to continually cleanse us from sin until we are at home with the Lord.


At Friday, March 06, 2009 1:35:00 am , Blogger William Weedon said...

Well, Christine, we would say that our one High Priest in the holy mass continually offers to His people the one sacrifice which He once offered to secure their eternal redemption. Calvary is being dished out at the Eucharist, on that both we and Rome agree. What we disagree on is whether Calvary is being presented by the priest or pastor to God. It reminds me much of the question about invocation of the saints; we don't do it, not only because it has neither command, promise or example in the Sacred Scriptures, but above all because we needn't do it: they intercede for us anyway! Thus with the offering of the Eucharist to the Father. Christ has done the offering - fully, completely, and for all time. Now He commands the offering to be dished out that the benefits of the offering may come to live in the communicants and that their lives may become sacrifices to God in union with Him. Wouldn't you agree?

At Friday, March 06, 2009 1:59:00 am , Anonymous Anonymous said...

What we disagree on is whether Calvary is being presented by the priest or pastor to God.M

Absolutely, Pastor Weedon. Just as we don't need to invoke the saints to pray for us because they already ARE praying for us it IS Christ alone who is our High Priest. As the classic Lutheran teaching states, where there is forgiveness of sins (that we receive in the Sacrament of the Altar) there is salvation.

The fact that Rome has a different understanding is plainly evident in the doctrine of purgatory. If after receiving absolution one is still required to make satisfaction for one's sins, we have a different understanding of what the Sacrifice accomplished and accomplishes.

It is very convenient to ask for prayers and masses for the suffering souls in purgatory and it is also convenient to teach that since purgatory is outside of time no one really know how long the soul suffers in purgatory so the masses on their behalf could theoretically go on forever and requires a priestly caste to offer sacrifice on their behalf. This doesn't reflect the all sufficient, once for all Sacrifice that is continually renewed and re-presented in the Lutheran understanding of the mass.


At Friday, March 06, 2009 7:37:00 am , Blogger Joshua said...

Methinks the lady doth protest too much.

At Friday, March 06, 2009 11:54:00 am , Blogger Kiran said...

Dear Pastor Weedon, I do not disagree that the Faith is to be submitted to the Scriptures (and Tradition, I add but this is another discussion). All I am saying is that the Scriptures are mediated to us by the Church. Without the Church, I wouldn't know what the Scriptures are, or what they say.

Also, by your logic, why pray at all? God knows what He has in mind for us. Our telling him won't change that. So, why pray? (And if you come back with "Jesus told us to," likewise, He told us to represent His Sacrifice, and Paul reiterated the same command)

coider: An Australian drink on the wagon.

At Friday, March 06, 2009 11:58:00 am , Blogger Kiran said...

Christine, what about working our our salvation in fear and trembling?

bugessi: An Italian buggy

At Friday, March 06, 2009 11:59:00 am , Blogger Kiran said...

Did someone note the Nelson, by the way (with apologies {? Are these necessary? Are there Nelsons in the US} to our American friends)?

At Friday, March 06, 2009 1:28:00 pm , Blogger William Weedon said...


Where did our Lord tell us to "represent" His sacrifice? Where did the Apostle urge such a thing?

We pray to the Blessed Trinity because it is indeed something our Lord has commanded; something to which He has added particularly great and wonderful promises; and something that we have numerous examples of, not only in our Lord's own life, but also in the Church he founded. Ecclesia orans. But her orans - at least in the Sacred Scriptures, is directed always and only to the Blessed Trinity. "Call upon me in the day of trouble, I will deliver you and you shall glorify me!"

I would still maintain the point that the fathers teach us to regard Scripture as the rule and norm of the Church's teaching.

At Friday, March 06, 2009 1:32:00 pm , Blogger William Weedon said...


Not to answer for Christine, but I'll take the question as addressed to me as well. I seek to work out my salvation in fear and trembling through praying the daily office with the whole Church, through faithful reception of the Eucharist, through private confession and absolution, through fasting and self-denial and through acts of service and love. What this all amounts to is seeking to grow into the holiness which has been given to me whole and entire at my Baptism so that my Savior's life, becomes ever more my own; His joy, my joy; His peace, my peace; His love, my love. I seek to die to my fleshly passions and rise anew in union with Him through my Baptism.

At Friday, March 06, 2009 1:38:00 pm , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Also, by your logic, why pray at all? God knows what He has in mind for us. Our telling him won't change that.

God also knew beforehand that Mary would consent to become the Mother of God, but Mary did'nt know it until she was asked.

As for working out our salvation in fear and trembling, same thing as St. Paul saying he had to run the race faithfully too lest in preaching to others he fell himself. In other words, Lutherans do NOT believe in "once saved, always saved." We can reject God and in the end lose our salvation.

But, too, Scripture assures us that God is working in us to His good pleasure. Even if we are unfaithful God is always faithful and will continue to call us back to Himself.

Long before the Church officially canonized the Scriptures (and even then there was the Greek canon and the Palestinian canon of the Rabbis which rejected the Apocryphal books) the various letters of the New Testament were being read and circulated in the nascent Christian communities. The Bereans search the Scriptures daily to see if Jesus was indeed the Messiah.

Nevertheless, the tradition of the Church is secure in the way that the books which were officially canonized were handed down. One need only compare the orthodox canon to some of the spurious writings floating around in the early centuries to see which were and weren't fantastic fables that couldn't hold up to the books inspired by the Holy Spirit.

One of the great gifts of Lutherans to the wider church is the Lutheran emphasis on an educated laity that knows Holy Writ (the second being our glorious hymns).


Yikes Pastor Weedon, seems we posted almost simultaneously (:

At Friday, March 06, 2009 1:41:00 pm , Anonymous Anonymous said...

And I certainly second what Pastor Weedon wrote. Holy Baptism is treasured by Lutherans as something we return to daily.

At Friday, March 06, 2009 1:48:00 pm , Blogger Kiran said...

Pastor Weedon, I might begin facetously by noting you spell my name differently each time. Not to register pique, only amusement. Thank you for your answers.

All of this, by the way, in a friendly rather than a rancorous spirit. I will respond to your second answer first. Ah yes. As do I, but then again, I presume that these works which represent your growth in sanctification at some level acknowledge that what was done at Calvary does forgive sin, but it has to be made my own (I abstain from certain words because I am not exactly certain as to their use in "protestant" - i.e. originating from the reformation -circles). In some sense, something additional is required from me when I sin (hence private confession and absolution). What is the problem then with purgatory, and the notion that when I sin, I need somehow not just to be forgiven for it, but to make an effort (only possible because I am moved by Grace) to reestablish in a relationship that which was there before, but which I by my sin destroyed?

And now to your first argument, I don't follow. What is wrong with 1:Corinthians, or any of the different institution narratives?

At Friday, March 06, 2009 1:52:00 pm , Blogger Kiran said...

Christine, (I think Pastor Weedon already has responded to this, and I am satisfied with his answer, though I still maintain what I do regarding interpretation: How do I know, for instance, how to interpret, say, Genesis 1-3, or the institution narratives) my question remains however: Why accept things which are in one set of books and not others?

Actually, I might append a supplementary question for my own knowledge: Do you (plural. the PNG pidgin yupella) accept 1 and 2:Maccabees?

At Friday, March 06, 2009 3:00:00 pm , Blogger William Weedon said...


My apologies about the spelling!!! I do tend to get irritated when my name is misspelled.

What is required of you when you sin is repentance and absolution - both of which Scripture describes as gifts from God. Just as faith is also a gift of God and yet YOU truly do believe, even so with repentance.

Purgatory I have no truck with; purgation is another matter. Our God IS a consuming fire. And the way St. Paul speaks in 1 Cor. 3 suggests that purgation is order for all of us. The Lutheran Symbols note - without censure - that St. Augustine apparently so understood it. So not a place, but the final purification that burns out of us all that is not love - and that we rejoice in. An ouch before the "ah" as a friend used to put it. But an ouch to which we cry: Burn, baby! Burn! Destroy in me all that is not the love of God!

Such purgation, I might note, begins long before our death. It is to start at the moment of our Baptism and will be complete when our Baptism is completed in passing through death.

Lutherans read and accept 1 and 2 Macc. and all the Apocrypha as good to read, but not on the same level as canonical Scripture. We'd rather agree with St. Gregory of Nazianzus as he lists out the authentic Biblical books. Historically, Lutheran Bibles always included them.

At Friday, March 06, 2009 3:15:00 pm , Blogger William Weedon said...

Oh, and what do you find in the institution narratives or 1 Corinthians that speak of representation of the sacrifice?

At Friday, March 06, 2009 3:46:00 pm , Blogger Kiran said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

At Friday, March 06, 2009 3:55:00 pm , Blogger Kiran said...

Request to Schutz: This seems to be developing in a very interesting direction, but is getting rather long. Would you start a new thread, please? I can blink my eyes rapidly if that will make a difference....

At Friday, March 06, 2009 4:22:00 pm , Blogger Kiran said...

Pastor Weedon, no, I was being serious (Do I contradict myself. Very well. I contradict myself. I contain multitudes...) when I said I found it amusing. I am used to my name being misspelt, since it is an unusual spelling of a common name.

I don't see anything in what you say though with which I disagree. What do you (yupella again) think Catholics believe?

"Do this in memory of me." Cf. Trent on this (Again not that you haven't read it already). How would you regard Trent on the Eucharist as sacrifice?

stsundsq: A holy person of obscure European origin.

At Friday, March 06, 2009 5:41:00 pm , Blogger Joshua said...

Christine - that old canard about purgatory being a money-grubbing invention of the church to support a priestly caste is an example of prejudice.

Also, just because sacerdos and hiereus aren't terms used of Christian ministers in the New Testament doesn't mean that they can't be: we believe it to be entirely consonant with Scripture that, as Christ is the One Priest, and His ministers are ordained to act in His Name and His Person in celebrating the Eucharist, in absolving, etc., so they are sacramental icons of Christ the High Priest, and are named priests.

PW - yes, as I recall Bouyer commented favourably upon that eucharistic prayer, which is indeed well-phrased insofar as it goes, though of course a Catholic theologian would regard it as missing certain elements such as oblation and intercession.

Furthermore, if, as you so rightly say, the saints are always praying for us, and if, as I'm sure you'd agree, we Christians should likewise be ever praying for each other (as we do every time we repeat the Lord's Prayer or any other prayer in the plural), yet why is it good to nonetheless ask each other here on earth to pray for us, despite our obvious belief that our fellows are praying for us, while it is wrong to ask the saints to pray for us - as they are not dead, but very much alive in Christ, and in Him (through Whom alone we are able to pray) are aware of us weak members of His Body?

I don't see why Lutherans can't accept the invocation of saints.

On this feast of SS Perpetua and Felicity, why not celebrate their memory by humbly asking their prayers, just as I humbly ask your prayers, PW, when I reflect upon your kindliness and goodness, and my own wretched sinfulness?

After all, it is not contrary to Scripture, but in fact consonant with it: as you have noted, the saints do in fact intercede for us. So why not ask them jointly or severally to intercede for us? In Christ, they will hear us, and in Him they will pray for us.

At Friday, March 06, 2009 9:43:00 pm , Blogger Past Elder said...

So we gonna do that on 6 March or 7 March? These two holy martyrs have had a hell of a time of it. The feast is 7 March. Was for centuries. Then, Aquinas inconveniently dies on 7 March, so when he got put in Rome's calendar coming out of Trent the good women got booted, ain't even in the calendar, though they remained commemorated in the Commemoration of the Dead in the Roman Canon. Then Pius X sticks them back in in 1908 on the day before, 6 March.

Comes the Revolution, Thomas gets booted out of 7 March to 28 January, the day they moved his remains to Toulouse damn near 100 years after he died and the holy martyrs get moved back to 7 March.

Sort of. Now, in marvellous harmony with the liturgical history of the church, there is both an ordinary and an extraordinary form of the same thing, so it's 6 March in the latter and 7 March in the former -- but in the former, they are among the now parenthetical dead to be mentioned, or not, in the Commemoration of the Dead at Mass.

A long long way from "humbly ask".

At Friday, March 06, 2009 9:53:00 pm , Blogger Joshua said...


Your memory is playing tricks on you.

The memento defunctorum occurs directly before the "Nobis quoque peccatoribus", and it is in the latter that Perpetua and Felicity are listed as among those saints named with whom we beg God to grant us some part and fellowship, not weighing our just deserts, but pardoning our offences. Of course, if Eucharistic Prayer III is used then they can be named as well; in most of the other Eucharistic Prayers only the Blessed Virgin is mentioned by name, then the Apostles, Martyrs, and all the saints in general. It is evident in all the prayers that the saints, whom we venerate and commemorate, whose examples we would follow and whose prayers we implore, are in a different category than the faithful departed, who, their sins being forgiven, we pray may rest in peace.


Fingxght - a placename in the Netherlands (just hack up a blob of mucus and you'll pronounce the second syllable perfectly).

At Friday, March 06, 2009 9:54:00 pm , Blogger Joshua said...

And it goes without saying that moving the feasts and commemorations of saints about is fairly common practice, and is an accidental not an essential feature - I seem to note that the LCMS has rejigged its own calendar of commemorations...

At Friday, March 06, 2009 11:26:00 pm , Blogger Past Elder said...

Sorry pal, the nobis quoque is part of the commemoration of the dead, corresponing to the commemoration of the living on the other side of the consecration, and ending before the minor elevation.

Did I say they were listed in an imploration for prayers? No. I said they were listed in the commemoration of the dead, named, well used to be named, as among those with whom we hope to enjoy heaven. Oh well, happens all the time here.

Yeah right, wholesale revisions of the calendar happen every few decades or so along with wholesale revisions of theology, no different than the isolated relocations in an organic growth of the same calendar. Right.

You are right, however, that LCMS has descended into one of its fits of Vatican II wannabeism with two calendars, one "historic" (the real one) and one revisionist. At least we didn't have to wait for the synod's president to say it's OK after 40 years of suppressing it.

As to praying that those whose sins are firgiven may rest in peace -- that's what it is to rest in peace, having your sins forgiven. Oh well.

At Saturday, March 07, 2009 2:52:00 am , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Gott hilf mir, 130 entries !! Unmoeglich!! Sorry, my decidely Prussian and Bavarian (not Barossa) German roots kick in early in the morning.

Pastor Weedon, I might begin facetously by noting you spell my name differently each time. Not to register pique, only amusement. Thank you for your answers.

Just as it took you a while to address Pastor using his proper title.

Heh, Trent on sacrifice. Lutherans don't consider Trent, Vatican I or Vatican II to accurately represent what happened at that first Eucharist.

I don't see why Lutherans can't accept the invocation of saints.

Very simple Joshua. The saints now live in eternity and outside of time. But we are still CREATURES of God and do not have omniscience, even in the glorified state of heaven. In order for any saint to hear the simultaneous prayers of millions of people at one time they would need the attributes of divinity. There is absolutely no encouragement to invoke the saints in the New Testament. Nichts, nada, none. Jesus alone is the author and perfecter of our faith. The "surplus merits" of the saints (whom one wag once quipped are often holier than any human being has a right to be) is pure fiction.

Christine - that old canard about purgatory being a money-grubbing invention of the church to support a priestly caste is an example of prejudice.

I said not one word about "money grubbing." What I said was the erroneous teaching of purgatory keeps people in a constant state of uncertainty in that they never have the assurance of Christ's full and complete forgiveness in this life and the next and thereby requires a priestly caste to keep the doctrine going by offering "sacrifice" to release them from their intermediate state.

I believe that when Jesus said from the cross "It is finished" and the temple curtain was torn in two the old way of approaching God was done forever. For those who live trusting (and that is far more then intellectual "assent") in Christ and what he has done for us, connected to Him in the Word which every Christian needs to grow into the fullness and stature of Christ and the Holy Sacrament, given as assurance of our forgiveness, there is no need for purgatory. His holiness becomes ours and gives us entrance to life eternal.

Also, just because sacerdos and hiereus aren't terms used of Christian ministers in the New Testament doesn't mean that they can't be: we believe it to be entirely consonant with Scripture that, as Christ is the One Priest, and His ministers are ordained to act in His Name and His Person in celebrating the Eucharist, in absolving, etc., so they are sacramental icons of Christ the High Priest, and are named priests.

If I remember correctly, in the Greek New Testament "hiereus" is used to refer to the Old Testament priesthood. If it were to apply in the New Testament period there is no reason it should not have been used. But then, Rome has always found a way to proclaim something and then backtrack to make it fit.

At Saturday, March 07, 2009 3:37:00 am , Blogger Past Elder said...

Gott hilf mir auch -- my Bavarian roots wound up in Minnesota to avoid those Prussian roots!

First 48ers and then to avoid being sent to take French bullets for the Prussians in the Franco-Prussian War.

At Saturday, March 07, 2009 4:28:00 am , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hah! Your Bavarian roots will be assimilated my friend! Resistance is futile! Prussian efficiency rules!

At Saturday, March 07, 2009 8:10:00 am , Blogger Past Elder said...

Well, they sure knew when to dump Chrysler -- which I always thought they should have renamed Kreisler when they bought it.

No more commercials with Dieter, though. Drag.

At Saturday, March 07, 2009 8:21:00 am , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yeah, I miss Dieter too. He made some rockin' commercials!


At Saturday, March 07, 2009 9:03:00 am , Blogger Joshua said...

PE, I'd not ever read that the Nobis quoque is considered part of the memento defunctorum - normally, that name is restricted to the Memento etiam, which early manuscripts shew to have been an optional insert only read at Masses for the dead (and so only on weekdays, not on Sundays). And of course, as the Memento etiam ends with Per Christum Dominum nostrum, all the mediæval commentators took it that the Canon of the Mass consisted of five prayers, of which this was the fourth, and the Nobis quoque down to the end was the fifth.

But I do thank you for elucidating this point: of course, the two do neatly flow into one another, and illustrate the truth that, once purgation is past, the saints who have died in Christ do indeed enter a paradise of light, rest and peace (cf. the vision of heaven recorded in the account of the martyrdom of SS Perpetua and Felicity). The whole two prayers are so beautiful, and, I would hope, so acceptable to Lutherans and others as well as to Catholics, that they may be worthy of use even in private devotion:

Meménto étiam, Dómine, famulórum famularúmque tuárum N. et N. qui nos præcessérunt cum signo fídei, et dórmiunt in somno pacis. Ipsis, Dómine, et ómnibus in Christo quiescéntibus, locum refrigérii, lucis et pacis, ut indúlgeas, deprecámur. Per eúmdem Christum Dóminum nostrum. Amen.

(Be mindful, O Lord, of thy servants and handmaids N. and N., who are gone before us, with the sign of faith, and sleep in the sleep of peace. To these, O Lord, and to all that rest in Christ, we beseech thee, grant a place of refreshment, light, and peace. Through the same Christ our Lord. Amen.)

Nobis quoque peccatóribus, fámulis tuis, de multitúdine miseratiónum tuárum sperántibus, partem áliquam et societátem donáre dignéris, cum tuis sanctis Apóstolis et Martyribus: cum Joánne, Stéphano, Mathía, Bárnaba, Ignátio, Alexándro, Marcellíno, Petro, Felicitáte, Perpétua, Ágatha, Lúcia, Agnéte, Cæcília, Anastásia, et ómnibus sanctis tuis; intra quorum nos consórtium, non æstimátor mériti, sed véniæ, quæsumus, largítor admítte. Per Christum Dóminum nostrum.

(To us sinners, also, thy servants, hoping in the multitude of thy mercies, vouchsafe to grant some part and fellowship with thy holy apostles and martyrs: with John, Stephen, Matthias, Barnabas, Ignatius, Alexander, Marcellinus, Peter, Felicity, Perpetua, Agatha, Lucy, Agnes, Cecily, Anastasia, and with all thy saints, into whose company we pray thee admit us, not considering our merit, but of thine own free pardon. Through Christ our Lord.)

At Saturday, March 07, 2009 10:15:00 am , Blogger Vicci said...

The saints now live in eternity and outside of time. But we are still CREATURES of God and do not have omniscience, even in the glorified state of heaven. In order for any saint to hear the simultaneous prayers of millions of people at one time they would need the attributes of divinity.

I am not interested in conditional Christianity. The concept of purgatory flies in the face of the Gospel message, and I'm amazed that the CC , in claiming to be The church, could have it on the books.
The parable of the rich man and Lasuras (spelling?) seems to be a strong indicator that there's no communication 'back and forwards' as it were. The 'good'? thief went straight to paradise, on no more than a statement of faith, and a request.
I wonder about the motivation to 'invoke Saints'. They are not divine. Why not accept the promise that 'the Spirit intercedes for us with sighs......too deep to understand.
Jesus has given us direct access to the Father (Abba).
Invoking saints seems a bit like having one of your children asking a neighbour to speak to your dad on their behalf.

At Saturday, March 07, 2009 10:35:00 am , Blogger Joshua said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

At Saturday, March 07, 2009 11:18:00 am , Blogger Joshua said...

A thousand apologies for posting an angry comment (which I have will delete); and I'd only just been to confession too!

These were the only parts I wish to repost:

The Holy Catholic Church teaches the communion of saints, which means that, as we on earth can and do pray for each other, so can those in heaven hear our prayers and pray for us.

And have you not read that there are some sins which shall not be forgiven either in this age nor in the age to come - implying that some sins are forgiven in the age to come, after death? and that "you shall not get out until you have paid the last farthing"? and that we shall pass through fire, which shall burn away all dross?

At Saturday, March 07, 2009 11:22:00 am , Blogger Joshua said...

Since I believe that Revelation is not solely mediated to us through Scripture, but also through the Tradition of the Church (oral, then later written down and practised - e.g. prayers to the saints and for the dead, the sacrifice of the Mass, etc. etc.), then I can't really argue with those who are sola scriptura. I hold to a hermeneutic of continuity - that the Church down all the ages has in fact and must conserve the essential truths of the Faith, else Christ's promise was in vain. I do not exercise a hermeneutic of suspicion toward the official teachings of the Catholic Church down the ages, but read them in continuity with tradition.

At Saturday, March 07, 2009 12:17:00 pm , Blogger Past Elder said...

Good Lord, Joshua, there is almost no end of analyses of the Roman Canon, with subdivisions spawning all sorts of mystical, or numerological, interpretation.

Pastor Weedon may be interested to know that the origin of saying the Canon silently comes from one such analysis: that whereas the earlier part of the Mass participates in Christ's teaching with its Scripture, preaching, and prayer, the Canon participates in his suffering and death, which he endured silently, not teaching or even speaking in his own defence, therefore it is said inaudibly. The idea was not to onscure Christ but imitate him.

The classic division is in four parts of three prayers each -- giving the mystics, numerologists, mystical numerologistsm numerological mystics, whatever, their favourite numbers of 3,4 and 3x4 or 12. Benedict XIV is associated with this. Memento defunctorum, nobis quoque and per quem are the three prayers of the fourth section.

That is no doubt why the two missals I maintain -- one from 1950 and having the holy women on 6 March and the other from 1889 and not having them at all, btw -- place all three prayers under the editorial heading "Commemoration of the Dead".

That said, I'm with Vicci. The saints provide us with great examples and may indeed pray for us, however, no matter how well intended or even OK in itself, in practice it so easily obscures rather than magnifies Christ, as if he had to be persuaded to act beneficially on our behalf, as if in giving us himself he had not already given us everything.

At Saturday, March 07, 2009 12:27:00 pm , Blogger Past Elder said...

An aside -- the 1950 missal is the one I had as a boy, from which I learned the Mass, both how to hear it, as we used to say, and to serve as an altar boy; the 1889 one was given, in a later printing, to my dad on his conversion to Catholicism in 1941.

Both before Bugman 62.

At Saturday, March 07, 2009 1:40:00 pm , Anonymous Anonymous said...


You are spot on as is PE. The whole notion of purgatory completely flies in the face of the finished work of Christ and is another example that while "on the books" she claims to be the servant of Scripture her tradition often trumps it. Its another example of something is true because the Catholic church says so and the Catholic church is the Catholic church because it is true.


At Saturday, March 07, 2009 1:54:00 pm , Anonymous Anonymous said...

And have you not read that there are some sins which shall not be forgiven either in this age nor in the age to come - implying that some sins are forgiven in the age to come, after death? and that "you shall not get out until you have paid the last farthing"? and that we shall pass through fire, which shall burn away all dross?

Nothing to do with purgatory at all. Jesus is speaking about the sin of disbelief in the work of the Holy Spirit. 1 John tells us that if we confess our sins God is faithful and just and will cleanse us from ALL unrighteousness, here and now. No "stain" of sin to carry over into the next life. If a person chooses not to avail himself of the mercy of Christ in this life then he will indeed have no recourse.

Hebrews tells us that it is appointed for men ONCE to die and then the judgment which we will all face when we die or at the parousia. I'm staking my life on the merits of Jesus Christ alone.


At Saturday, March 07, 2009 3:06:00 pm , Blogger William Weedon said...


I too advocate a hermeneutic of continuity, but I still recognize that there are eras of more fruitful work in theology and eras of less fruitful work. By all accounts the patristic flowering was a phenomenally fruitful time, and after the Sacred Scriptures themselves, I pay special attention to those writings from Athanasius to Augustine. Certainly the Lord gave us other fathers across the centuries too, but these men in the 4th century laid down a foundation approach to Scripture which I think the Church, in her better moments, always seeks to preserve - allowing Scripture itself to be the Rule and Norm for all she teaches and seeking to ground her every dogma in the divine words.

Sola Scriptura as a hermeneutic of suspicion might more characterize the classic approach of the Reformed communions: "If it's not in Scripture, we don't believe or do it!" But the Lutherans really did operate with a different approach: "we drop only what Scripture expressly forbids."

Yes, that led to recognition of the invocation of the saints as problematic. The problem, as I understand it, was never so much the simple asking of St. so and so to pray for you (as is done ad nauseam in the litany of all saints at the Great Vigil), but with where the practice itself tended to go. There are Western examples of its abuse, but the one that has stuck in my craw from the East for sometime is a post-communion prayer that asks Mary to grant me tears of repentance and to enable to receive worthily the Eucharist all my days. Now, my Orthodox friends hasten to explain that this means she PRAYS for these things for us. But I merely note that's not how the prayer reads, and I suspect many an Orthodox person assumes that Mary grants such things. When Lutheranism looked at what seemed the inevitable outcome, the decision to rejoice in the saints invocation without having US invoke them seems - to me at any rate - quite wise.

At Monday, March 09, 2009 1:44:00 pm , Blogger Kiran said...

Christine, I don't know why you make a point of reading querulously a comment made as a joke. People address each other in various ways online. As far as I am aware I never adressed anybody disrespectfully.

My question also was not as to whether Lutherans accept Trent, but as to what Pastor Weedon thinks of the Trent on Eucharist as Sacrifice. The reason I ask is because I was wondering what exactly it is that he believes Catholics believe, and that he disagrees with. My question still remains.

As to the invocation of the saints, why shouldn't it be the case that Mary grants us these things. God does it through Mary, but Mary is not a mindless instrument. So, in some sense she might be spoken of as granting it. We specifically invoke specific saints no differently to specifically addressing specific people for certain good things. Having God for a Father doesn't deprive us of the necessity to ask one's real father for particular things. Why should our interactions with the saints be any different?

At Monday, March 09, 2009 5:37:00 pm , Blogger Past Elder said...

What Mary granted was, Be it done unto me according to thy word.

What she said was, Do whatever he tells you.

At Monday, March 09, 2009 6:21:00 pm , Blogger Joshua said...

Yet another practice on which for the present we will continue to differ.

I do note, however, that in principle the practice is not per se wicked, only considered by you and yours to be susceptible of abuse; and of course one must recall the axiom "Abusus non tollit usum"...

I was consulting with Pastor Fraser on this and related, and he pointed out that (1) prayer for the dead is not forbidden as heretical to Lutherans in the BoC, but is left for private devotion as a tolerable practice; and that (2) a collect in which some such phrase as "may St N. pray for us" occurs is not how he is accustomed to pray, but it would not for that be intolerable, since obviously the saints do in fact pray for us, as we've discussed.

(Pardon, Fraser, if I've misrepresented you!)

At Monday, March 09, 2009 6:58:00 pm , Blogger Fraser Pearce said...

No, you represent my take on it well!

Is this record of number of comments, David?

At Tuesday, March 10, 2009 12:52:00 am , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Having God for a Father doesn't deprive us of the necessity to ask one's real father for particular things. Why should our interactions with the saints be any different?

First of all, what PE said.

Second of all, I reiterate, even in eternity we are still creatures of God, who alone possesses divinity. Yes, we will be glorified creatures with glorified bodies but creatures none the less. In order for the saints to hear the millions of prayers expressed simultaneously they would need the attributes of divinity.

Mary would shudder at how she's been turned into a near goddess in some quarters instead of the humble handmaiden of the Lord.

It's just another example of Rome instituting something and then backtracking to make it fit. Your "Why shouldn't it be" is the usual Roman answer, "God willed it, it was fitting, so God did it."

At Tuesday, March 10, 2009 7:31:00 am , Blogger Joshua said...

As to the objection about how on earth a saint could hear and respond to millions of prayers a day - you forget that the saints in heaven are not in time, but in aeviternity (the same continuum as the angels), where time is not measured against external measures (the movement of the planets, etc.) but for each individual according to the succession of their acts: so what for us is a day, in heaven can be much longer or shorter for each person there. And of course in heaven we are all deified and divinized by the Divine splendour, the Beatific Vision, so that (while remaining in essence men), we are lifted up and supernaturalized to an unspeakable glory as befits the children of God.

We aren't dunghills covered with snow.

At Tuesday, March 10, 2009 7:51:00 am , Blogger Past Elder said...

Damn. Somebody tore the pages with detailed descriptions of the properties of aeviternity clean out of my Bible. Or was it editorial bias on the ESV.

At Tuesday, March 10, 2009 9:33:00 am , Blogger Kiran said...

Christine, yes. What our parents said was "I do" as well. Doesn't change the necessity of future interaction. I don't know why you would think that the saints need the attributes of divinity. I don't at all see that God can't will it, nor that it isn't not only fitting, but like the Real Presence, almost necessary. And lastly, the saints hear and grant (at the risk of offending your ears) because God gives them the power to hear and grant. The point is that we are human and interact with other human beings, many of them. The fact of some human beings being in heaven doesn't change that. We interact with them, and in a sense, it is a very good thing.

At Wednesday, March 11, 2009 12:14:00 am , Anonymous Anonymous said...

And of course in heaven we are all deified and divinized by the Divine splendour, the Beatific Vision, so that (while remaining in essence men), we are lifted up and supernaturalized to an unspeakable glory as befits the children of God.

I have no problem with theosis properly understood. That still gives no evidence whatsoever that the saints are given the ability to hear the prayers of millions of human beings simultaneously.

I don't at all see that God can't will it, nor that it isn't not only fitting, but like the Real Presence, almost necessary. And lastly, the saints hear and grant (at the risk of offending your ears) because God gives them the power to hear and grant).

Once again, the classic Roman approach to make something "fit" on a philosophical basis. Pure speculation. I would also disagree with you that the intercession of the saints is "necessary." That they intercede for us is beyond doubt. That we are required to invoke them is not.

Here's an interesting little response from a priest at St. Barnabas Catholic Church in Northfield, Ohio:

How do you explain why Catholics pray to the saints?

We don't...... If we want, we can ask the saints to pray with us or for us, but prayer itself is directed to God. From the earliest times of Christian history, our community has believed that at death, life is changed, but not ended. Soooooo..... people whom we love and respect as good people are still there/here to help us. It's called the "Communion of Saints." Just as they helped us on earth, we believe that they still love us and want to help us from heaven, just as a good friend would here and now. It's like I believe my dad, who died almost 13 years ago now, is a saint. I talk to him everyday and ask him to continue to help me live life, as he did when he was physically here with me.... Does a Catholic HAVE to talk with the saints? No. Only if it helps you to deepen your relationship with God. - Father Bob
(emphasis mine)

I attended Mass at this parish a few times while I was Catholic. Nothing formally heterodox about it, just your classic "Spirit of Vatican II" parish.


At Wednesday, March 11, 2009 2:10:00 am , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Christine said...

Lutherans. Reformed. Roman Catholics. Orthodox. Evangelicals. Pentecostals.

And there we have it. The Church catholic."

And William Tighe responded...

Who ever heard of, spoke of, acknowledged the existence of such a fictitious non-ens as "the church catholic" throughout the first 1500 years of Chrisianity? But say instead,

"Novatianists. Donatists. Meletians. Catholics. Arians. Macedonians. Montanists.

And there we have it. The Church catholic."

If the first is true in 2009, the second must have been equally true in 409. (Endquote)

No, even the magisterium of the Catholic church makes a distinction. Unitatis Redintegratio states that "what is wrought by the Holy Spirit in the hearts of our separated brethren can contribute to our own edification..." Did the Catholic Church of Augustine's day say anything remotely similar about the Donatists? Also, specifically regarding the reformation, the Catechism of the Catholic Church notes that (1) "Men of both sides were to blame," and (2) "One cannot charge with the sin of separation those who at present are born into these communities and in them are brought up in the faith of Christ... they therefore have a right to be called Christians..."

Why such different language with respect to groups (say, Donatists and Lutherans) who would logically be similarly situated according to Catholic ecclesiology? Does any of our resident church history experts know how long the Donatists persisted as an identifiable community? If only for a generation, then virtually all of them would have been in a position of consciously rejecting the Catholic Church, as opposed to those who have been born into and nurtured "in the faith of Christ" by a Church (or ecclesial community, if you insist) which even the Catholic church acknowledges conveys "elements of sanctification and truth"?

In other words, although some Protestants may define themselves primarily by opposition to Rome, in many cases we are where we are primarily out of gratitude and affection for the people and institutions that have nurtured and continued to nurture our faith, and yearn for the day when we are not compelled to make a choice which, either way, leaves us out of communion with beloved brothers and sisters. I realize that the Catholic Church still says we are called to "the fullness of unity" or something like that, but I think she also acknowledges that we are related to her in a different and closer way than were the Donatists.

Jon Edwards

At Wednesday, March 11, 2009 4:31:00 am , Blogger William Tighe said...

According to the late W. H. C. Frend, in his book on the Donatists, there were still Donatists in North Africa at the time of the Muslim Conquest of the Maghreb in the 690s, nearly 400 years after the split -- just as there were Montanists in their old homeland of Phrygia until well into the Seventh Century. There were Novatianist and Arian bishops in (or "of") Constantinople until at least the beginning of the Sixth Century -- and, of course, there was a Visigothic Arian Church right down to 589, when King Reccared turned Catholic, and went on to suppress the Arians.

The traditions of these groups was as "venerable" (in terms of age) as those stemming from the Reformation, and in terms of Church Order the Novatianists (particularly) and the Donatists, as well as the Arians, were as close to that as the Catholics, if not far closer, than any Reformation denomination or confession.

At Wednesday, March 11, 2009 7:36:00 am , Blogger Joshua said...

And when the Visigoths under King Reccared abjured Arianism, all their bishops and clergy (likewise converting) were allowed to keep their sees and churches, providing a good early model for corporate reunion.

At Wednesday, March 11, 2009 9:42:00 am , Blogger Past Elder said...

Well, given that "Church Order" was not the question in the Donatist matter but who may occupy its offices, of course "Church Order" was similar, and given that Donatism itself is not at issue here, what is the point ... oh, I forgot, you will be assimilated, that is always the point here.

At Wednesday, March 11, 2009 1:15:00 pm , Blogger William Tighe said...


The "assimilation" (heh, heh) of the Visigothic Arians may have been asissted by the fact that (if an article that I read in the *Journal of Ecclesiastical History* some years ago is correct) they had very few bishops even at their heyday in Spain, the Arian Church seemingly being, in effect, an ethnic church of the Gothic elite (rather like the situation in Ostrogothic Italy, and unlike that in Vandal Africa, where the Vandals attempted to coerce Catholics and Donatists alike into accepting Arianism).

If the Lombards (who ruled much of Italy from 569 to 773, and parts of the Mezzogiorno for another 250 years) were Arians, then perhaps there was an Arian Church among the Lombards for a century after 569, but in recent years it has been strongly argued that the Lombards may have been pagans when they came to Italy.

At Wednesday, March 11, 2009 1:24:00 pm , Blogger Kiran said...

Christine, you don't need to talk to your parents either. In some cases it is even a bad thing to do so. But under normal circumstances, one ought to. In some circumstances, not to do so would also be presumptuous. Likewise with asking for the intercession of the saints.

At Wednesday, March 11, 2009 1:36:00 pm , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Kiran, when I talked to my parents they were in the same room with me.

You, as a former Anglican have your own reasons for swimming the Tiber.

My ten years as a Roman Catholic gave me all I needed to know about why I no longer need to be one.


At Wednesday, March 11, 2009 5:27:00 pm , Blogger Kiran said...

Christine, I am sure you talk to your parents on the phone as well. In some cases, as I can attest, this is almost a necessity, and one would be unreasonable to quibble at the necessity.

stishes: Humorous stoushes

At Wednesday, March 11, 2009 7:14:00 pm , Blogger Joshua said...

Please no disrespect, Christine, but you have admitted that (1) you did not accept and hold all Roman doctrine and (2) you attended the sort of deadly mediocre parishes that are in fact the bastard children of a hermeneutic of discontinuity that de facto has taken over, but which is not a true representation of what the Catholic Church seeks to be.

Against PE, who argues (as I surmise you accept) that this practical apostasy proves that Catholicism is false else it would not have so blatantly lapsed into "infantile claptrap" (to quote BXVI), I assert that it is vital for those wishing to be Catholics to fight against these misinterpretations and heteropraxies, which in any case will soon enough perish of inanition.

If I had simply gone along with the usual miasmatic parish life, I'd by now be hell knows where, completely confused doctrinally and morally! - "up a kangaroo track" as a bishop of my acquaintance put it. I've followed his advice (including his observation from bitter experience that "being ultramontane isn't enough" - since, to use a Wild West image, if you wait for the cavalry to come over the hill, well, there are no cavalry - and that therefore one must be a traditionalist), and found that "the old is better".

Unlike PE, whom I do respect for his incisive if difficult-to-follow satire and evident pursuit of truth, I continue - with reason, I believe - to think that there has been no essential discontinuity between Christ's commissioning of St Peter and the current ministry of Pope Benedict XVI; and I certainly do not countenance the doctrinal deviations of the Reformation, the Enlightenment, or the post-Conciliar desert wanderings of the benighted faithful.

At Friday, March 13, 2009 5:21:00 am , Blogger Past Elder said...

The benighted faithful's post-Conciliar desert wanderings are only the natural result of the desert wandering that was the Council itself.

As new threads open up and this one is about to head for archives, I refer to my comment, number 54 I think, on the "email from a reader" comment thread.

At Friday, March 13, 2009 11:00:00 am , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Please no disrespect, Christine, but you have admitted that (1) you did not accept and hold all Roman doctrine and (2) you attended the sort of deadly mediocre parishes that are in fact the bastard children of a hermeneutic of discontinuity that de facto has taken over, but which is not a true representation of what the Catholic Church seeks to be.

Joshua, let me make very clear that in the initial phase of my membership as a Catholic I did accept what the church teaches. It was a long process of discernment that the catholic Church still is to be found in the Catholic Church but not as I knew it as a child. It wasn't just a matter of attending a "bastardized" parish here and there. Truth be told none of the parishes I attended could have beebn accused of heterodoxy in and of itself although the banality of the liturgy and music was hard to bear. It was subtle things. For example, as an LCMS Lutheran I still celebrate the Circumcision of Jesus. As a Catholic it was Mary, Mother of God which has now morphed into "World Peace Day."

The last time I attended Mass I looked around and saw how few people genuflected before the tabernacle anymore.

Many times I heard older parishioners lament that so much had changed since the council. And it has. "On the books" it may look like process and liberation theology are gone but they are not and it has infected how the church sees herself since the council and what she believes her mission to be.

My views will never make sense to you and that's okay. I have Catholic family that I cherish and I've known many fine individual Catholics who are dedicated Christians. The catholic Church can still be found in the Catholic Church.

But for me it is no longer home.

At Saturday, March 14, 2009 10:35:00 am , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh, one more thing. A little vindication of my earlier thesis above from Professor Paul Meyendorff of St. Vladimir's Orthodox Seminary:

Liturgy is the work of the entire people of God (the laos tou theou), and not, as was the case in both pagan and Jewish antiquity, the task of a clerical caste. In the New Testament, the concept of "priesthood" is applied in two ways. First, Christ is presented as the only highpriest; this is the main theme of the Epistle to the Hebrews. Christ is the one who intercedes for us before the throne of the Father, who offers up a sacrifice once for all. By this act, the Old Testament priesthood is finished, or rather, it is perfectly fulfilled in the person of Christ, who remains our highpriest for all eternity. Second, the New Testament extends the concept of priesthood to all Christians: "You are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God's own people" (1 Pt 2:9). This is an extension of Christ's own priesthood, for the Church is nothing less than the Body of Christ, charged with carrying out Christ's own priestly ministry in the world. When a person is baptized, he or she "puts on Christ" (Gal 3:27), becomes a member of the Body of Christ, and therefore a sharer in Christ's priesthood. It is significant that the term "priest" (hiereus) is never used in the New Testament for either bishop (episkopos = overseer) or presbyter (presbyteros = elder).

A much better understanding of the priesthood of the laity than sometimes seen in Rome.


At Saturday, March 14, 2009 2:33:00 pm , Blogger Joshua said...

How facile: you are imagining things if you don't realize that Catholics would agree with every word quoted.

At Sunday, March 15, 2009 11:25:00 am , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh really, Joshua?

Here's what the New Advent Catholic Encyclopedia says:

The bishop is truly a priest (sacerdos), and even a high-priest; he has chief control of the Divine worship (sacrorum antistes), is the president of liturgical meetings; he has the fullness of the priesthood, and administers all the sacraments. The second degree belongs to the priest (presbyter), who is also a sacerdos, but of the second rank ("secundi sacerdotes" Innocent I ad Eugub.); by his priestly ordination he receives the power to offer sacrifice (i.e. to celebrate the Eucharist), to forgive sins, to bless, to preach, to sanctify, and in a word to fulfil the non-reserved liturgical duties or priestly functions.

The sacerdotal language has been written back into what the New Testament says. Again, the Catholic church making her presuppositions "fit" the text. This language speaks more in the mode of the OT that the New.

Jesus didn't ordain anyone as a "priest" at the Last Supper. But Roman state religion had plenty of priests.


At Sunday, March 15, 2009 3:07:00 pm , Blogger Joshua said...

What a bitter little comment, Christine.

Feeling Anti-Catholic today?

At Sunday, March 15, 2009 9:36:00 pm , Blogger Vicci said...

Christine 1 - 0 Joshua

Back to the books for you, young man!

At Sunday, March 15, 2009 11:31:00 pm , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Anti-Catholic? With a Catholic father, husband, and a horde of Catholic in-laws?

Hardly. It wasn't me who wrote the text for the New Advent Catholic Encyclopedia.

Just stating the facts, sir.

If anything, I feel compassion for the Catholics who remain in the church and are being sold a bill of goods.


At Monday, March 16, 2009 7:30:00 am , Blogger Joshua said...

You missed the whole point - of course the NT doesn't use the term you quoted; but neither does it use the word "Trinity" or "homoousios", both of which I assume even Lutherans assert to be dogmatically necessary terms for expressing our belief in the mystery of God as Three-in-One and of Christ being consubstantial with His Father. The use of sacerdos or whatnot is in the same category: a word not used in Scripture that is appropriated to best express the fact that, though all Christians are priests, sharing the common priesthood of the faithful, their ministers are true priests of the New Testament (and yes, "Do this in memory of me" was the phrase whereby Christ ordained the Apostles), and their ministerial priesthood differs in kind not merely in degree from the priesthood of all believers. It is obvious from the Apostolic Fathers down the ages that the Fathers of the Church saw bishops, priests and deacons as ordained ministers. Let us reduce this to absurdity: if there is no distinct grade of clergy, one has the Calvinistic madness of "lay presidency" as promoted by the Sydney Anglicans; and the ancient liturgies of the Church, Orthodox and other Eastern Christian, testify abundantly to the truth that the priest at the altar is truly offering sacrifice. I hold firm to the Vincentian Canon in this: what has been believed always, everywhere and by everyone must be true; and none but a few mediæval heretics ever doubted the Mass was a sacrifice till a certain Dr Luther came along.

Vicci, as a holder of a Bachelor's degree in Theology, I rather resent being told what you presumed to write. Manners, girl, manners!

At Monday, March 16, 2009 5:39:00 pm , Blogger Schütz said...

Good grief, guys, give it a rest! I've only just discovered where you have all been lately. I've put up some new posts, how about addressing those and letting this marathon come to an end?

(P.S. I have just printed off all these comments to read at bedtime, and it has taken up 40 pages!)

At Tuesday, March 17, 2009 8:35:00 pm , Blogger Vicci said...

David, David, David...
(for a Catholic) may I say:
'what a poor sense of History!'

173 post locked in, a chance to set a record THAT MAY NEVER BE BETTERED..and you want to pull the plug? !!

( is this some sort of Lenten thing...?)

shading (true!)
What the Lutherans are doing to the Catholics -debate wise- on this blog!! ;>


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