18 July 2006

Random Thoughts on the Church

With the celebration of Dr. Korby's personal Pascha, his completion of the passage from this age to the age to come, fulfilling his Baptism into Christ, I have been listening again to his series on the Private Confession and Absolution. This led to some ruminations on the Church. I throw them out for discussion. Just musings...

Going with Korby's big "it's the wrong sensorium" - you exchange visible/invisible (and is the stress on the "visible" church just the opposite error of the stress on the "invisible"?) for audible/aural. His whole insistence that the question is one of authority: does the Word preached and sacramentally enacted have the authority to keep the Church one, holy, catholic, and apostolic?

The "what about bishops" question perhaps misses the boat: a bishop is not there to be seen. He is there to be HEARD. And if he is worth being heard, he is delivering precisely what the presbyters are to be delivering. So there can be no essential difference because both are only worth what they deliver: the Word as it is proclaimed in Law and Gospel and sacramentally enacted. And both can betray the Church by not delivering the Word.

Now, the great joy of bishops originally is that they were put in place to see that such betrayal did not happen. That's their value as a separate office. When before the Reformation, they ceased to do this, instead becoming instruments to suppress the Word that alone creates and sustains the Church, then it was no question that they were not to be heeded. But the office of oversight was not a bad thing just because it could be abused. It was a good thing, even a great thing, when it fulfills its calling in the service of the Word. "The church cannot be better governed..." as Luther puts it in the Smalcald Articles.

There is only one Church. The Church created by the Word of God proclaimed and sacramentally given. That Church is the only Church the Symbols know. They don't know Roman Catholic Church or Lutheran Church or Anglican Church. They know Christ's Church. And they insist that this Church is kept one, holy, catholic, and apostolic not by obedience to the Roman see (because every institution can betray the Word, and the Roman see had), but by the Word itself.

The institutions of the Church (all of them) will either exist in the service of that Word of Christ being proclaimed, His gifts being delivered, thus rescuing people from the chains of idolatry and bringing them into the worship of the one true God; or the institutions of the Church will exist to thwart that Word, to keep it from being proclaimed. And this is where Satan aims his attacks upon the Church!

Each institution in the Church is capable of this betrayal. The ministry (in all its grades) is capable and has done so at various times. The parishes (in whatever location or jurisdiction) are capable and have done so at various times. All supporting structures have done so - and they so do precisely when they begin to exist *for themselves* instead of for the sake of that creating, sustaining Word of God.

When the ministry exists for itself instead of for the proclamation of the Word, we have clericalism.
When the parish exists for itself instead of for the proclamation of the Word, we have congregationalism.
When the liturgy exists for itself instead of for the proclamation of the Word, we have ritualism.
When the publishing house exists for itself instead for the proclamation of the Word, we have consumerism.

Back to Korby's assertion: It's the question of authority. Is the proclaimed and sacramentally enacted Word sufficient to sustain the Church's unity, holiness, catholicity and apostolicity? Or do we need some backups. In looking for backups, have we fallen into the self-same trap as those who look to church growth gimmickry? The Word cannot be trusted to do the job?

That then sheds whole new light on our task, if it is so. The task is then not to argue for the *position* that the Word can do the job. The urgent task is to SPEAK the Word that alone creates and sustains, that kills and raises from the dead, that breaks the chains of idolatry and bestows the gift of koinonia with Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
"Preach you the Word and plant it home..."

31 comments:

Chaz said...

Somebody's been reading the Confessions again (AC and SA).

You should really cut it out.

FatherDMJ said...

As Korby would teach us to do:

AMEN! AMEN and AMEN!

Now more than ever I rejoice in calling you my brother in Office and my friend.

A marvelous description of the Church catholic and the Office grafted to Her. One cannot have one without the other.

Chris Jones said...

Fr Weedon,

There is only one Church: the Church created by the Word of God proclaimed and sacramentally given.

There is something about this formulation that bothers me, or that I do not understand. What does it mean to say that "the Church is created"? Is the Church created anew when the Word is proclaimed? Or is not the Church something which came into being on the day of Pentecost and shall never pass away?

Sometimes Lutherans seem to speak as if the Church goes in and out of existence depending on whether a particular congregation is preaching the Word rightly, as if the only connection between a particular congregation and the Church of the Apostles is the Bible and that particular pastor's ability to expound it correctly. I hope that is not what is meant, but it often sounds like it.

Perhaps you can explain to me what you mean by saying that "the Church is created" (and a pointer to where the Bible teaches this would help, too).

stagiare said...

I may have missed the point, because I see this as only one aspect of God's Word. I believe the Word of God needs to be inclusio of our daily lives.

Do Korby's words project specificity?
Where is the Word proclaimed? When is the Word proclaimed? By whom is the Word proclaimed?

If I merely proclaim the Word, (knowing of course that it is living and active) do I attach other effort, i.e. is outreach/evangelism dead outside of the proclamation of the Word or is it enhanced because of it?

I believe it is incumbent upon us as His disciples to proclaim the Word always. Regardless of our stripe or activity, the proclamation of the Word is important so that life may be enhanced in preparation for the time of the trumpet blast.

Maybe I need to know to whom Korby was speaking and his intent to understand more fully.

Illumination?

Fr. Gregory Hogg said...

WW:
There is only one Church. The Church created by the Word of God proclaimed and sacramentally given.

Rx:
The delightful thing about passives is their ambiguity. I see nothing in what is written here that a lay minister could not affirm. The question is, proclaimed and given by WHOM? Even the Augustana saw this as an issue, in Article 14.

WW:
That Church is the only Church the Symbols know. They don't know Roman Catholic Church or Lutheran Church or Anglican Church. They know Christ's Church. And they insist that this Church is kept one, holy, catholic, and apostolic not by obedience to the Roman see (because every institution can betray the Word, and the Roman see had), but by the Word itself.

Rx:
The Word you're speaking of here, has no flesh.

WW:
The institutions of the Church (all of them) will either exist in the service of that Word of Christ being proclaimed, His gifts being delivered, thus rescuing people from the chains of idolatry and bringing them into the worship of the one true God; or the institutions of the Church will exist to thwart that Word, to keep it from being proclaimed. And this is where Satan aims his attacks upon the Church!

Rx:
When you speak this way, you use "Church" in a different way than did the Lord Jesus Christ and St. Paul. To speak of Church or its institutions thwarting the Word forgets that the gates of hell will not prevail--not against some abstract, unincarnate "word"--but precisely against THE CHURCH. And not some disembodied word, but the Church is the pillar and foundation of truth.

Fr. Gregory

stagiare said...

Phew! That was some discourse.

Thank you for sharing your knowledge. You are obviously a very learned man.

My 'passivity' makes me such a knave.

But your message is very clear.

Thank you again.

Pr. John A. Frahm said...

Fr. Gregory Hogg said...

WW:
There is only one Church. The Church created by the Word of God proclaimed and sacramentally given.

Rx:
The delightful thing about passives is their ambiguity. I see nothing in what is written here that a lay minister could not affirm. The question is, proclaimed and given by WHOM? Even the Augustana saw this as an issue, in Article 14.

Gnesio-Rx: Straw man argument here. The person does not give the Word its power. The accuracy of the message is whether it fits the rule of faith. The office is given to speak the Word for the sake of the church. You can only see what he said in connection to lay ministers if you take Pr. Weedon out of context.


WW:
That Church is the only Church the Symbols know. They don't know Roman Catholic Church or Lutheran Church or Anglican Church. They know Christ's Church. And they insist that this Church is kept one, holy, catholic, and apostolic not by obedience to the Roman see (because every institution can betray the Word, and the Roman see had), but by the Word itself.

Rx:
The Word you're speaking of here, has no flesh.


Gnesio-Rx: No, the church is brought forth by the Word, it is not the source of or creator of the Word, so also the office of the ministry. That people may be called church if it carries forth and cradles pure Gospel and Sacraments. Mere claims of continuity do not establish the Word, but rather the faithful teaching of the Word is what causes continuity. The Word that Pastor Weedon describes has flesh, but he shows the proper priority and authority.

WW:
The institutions of the Church (all of them) will either exist in the service of that Word of Christ being proclaimed, His gifts being delivered, thus rescuing people from the chains of idolatry and bringing them into the worship of the one true God; or the institutions of the Church will exist to thwart that Word, to keep it from being proclaimed. And this is where Satan aims his attacks upon the Church!

Rx:
When you speak this way, you use "Church" in a different way than did the Lord Jesus Christ and St. Paul. To speak of Church or its institutions thwarting the Word forgets that the gates of hell will not prevail--not against some abstract, unincarnate "word"--but precisely against THE CHURCH. And not some disembodied word, but the Church is the pillar and foundation of truth.

Gnesio-Rx: That the gates of hell will not prevail against the Church does not arise from anything within us. The institutions of the Church are comprised of people who are simul iustus et peccator. This requires and acknowledgement of original sin which your ecclesiology and anthropology no longer recognizes. The Word is rejectable in its nature of being a gift. It is not an irresistable grace that is implanted within individuals or institutions. The Church will continue to the end of time by Christ's promise, wherever the gospel is purely preached and the sacraments are rightly administered, but not because of attachment to the "right" bureaucracy.

The promise that the gates of hell will not prevail against the church is not some kind of trump card for whatever is argued to be "ancient and therefore correct" or "therefore of the essence of the church."

William Weedon said...

Christopher,

The Word as creative? Genesis 1. The Word as creative of the Church? Gal. 3:1,2; Acts 10:34-48; Mark 16:15,16; 1 Thess 1:2-10; 1 Thes 2:13-16; James 1:18; 1 Peter 1:22-24; 1 Peter 2:1-10. So many more.

"The Word of the Lord grew" is Luke's constant refrain, how he describes the progress of the Church itself.

Pax!

William Weedon said...

Fr. Gregory,

Rather than repeat, consult what Fr. Frahm wrote.

Fr Gregory Hogg said...

Pr. John A. Frahm said...

Gnesio-Rx: Straw man argument here. The person does not give the Word its power. The accuracy of the message is whether it fits the rule of faith. The office is given to speak the Word for the sake of the church. You can only see what he said in connection to lay ministers if you take Pr. Weedon out of context.

Paleo-Rx: Pr. Frahm, I did not say that the person gives the Word its power. I noted that the passives employed by Pr. Weedon omit any mention of the office in its officeholders, who according to St. Paul are co-workers (synergoi) of God.


Rx:
The Word you're speaking of here, has no flesh.


Gnesio-Rx: No, the church is brought forth by the Word, it is not the source of or creator of the Word, so also the office of the ministry. That people may be called church if it carries forth and cradles pure Gospel and Sacraments. Mere claims of continuity do not establish the Word, but rather the faithful teaching of the Word is what causes continuity. The Word that Pastor Weedon describes has flesh, but he shows the proper priority and authority.

Paleo-Rx: Faithful and pure according to whom? You and a few of your buddies?


WW:
The institutions of the Church (all of them) will either exist in the service of that Word of Christ being proclaimed, His gifts being delivered, thus rescuing people from the chains of idolatry and bringing them into the worship of the one true God; or the institutions of the Church will exist to thwart that Word, to keep it from being proclaimed. And this is where Satan aims his attacks upon the Church!

Rx:
When you speak this way, you use "Church" in a different way than did the Lord Jesus Christ and St. Paul. To speak of Church or its institutions thwarting the Word forgets that the gates of hell will not prevail--not against some abstract, unincarnate "word"--but precisely against THE CHURCH. And not some disembodied word, but the Church is the pillar and foundation of truth.

Gnesio-Rx: That the gates of hell will not prevail against the Church does not arise from anything within us.

Paleo-Rx: Nor did I say that it does. Is it really that hard to read what I wrote? Jesus says the gates of hell will not prevail against the C H U R C H. And this is true because the Church is a theanthropic reality. In her the Second Article of the Creed is extended into the Third Article.

Gnesio-Rx:
The institutions of the Church are comprised of people who are simul iustus et peccator.

Paleo-Rx:
Once again, you commit the fallacy of composition. Because a thing is comprised of x, it doesn't follow that it is x. An airplance comprised entirely of light parts is not therefore light.

Gnesio-Rx:
This requires and acknowledgement of original sin which your ecclesiology and anthropology no longer recognizes.

Paleo-Rx:
In its Augustinian and post-Augustinian form, neither those before Augustine nor many of those after Augustine recognized it either. That we are born corrupt is not disputed.

Gnesio-Rx:
The Word is rejectable in its nature of being a gift. It is not an irresistable grace that is implanted within individuals or institutions. The Church will continue to the end of time by Christ's promise, wherever the gospel is purely preached and the sacraments are rightly administered, but not because of attachment to the "right" bureaucracy.

Paleo-Rx:
Once again, a judicious use of passives allow you to miss the point. Surely you've read Strunk and White--I required it for my homiletics courses.

Gnesio-Rx:
The promise that the gates of hell will not prevail against the church is not some kind of trump card for whatever is argued to be "ancient and therefore correct" or "therefore of the essence of the church."

Paleo-Rx:
I have not said "ancient and therefore correct." I have said "Church and therefore correct." There are three elements in any act of speaking: the speaker, the message, and the audience. The communication as communication is only as successful as its weakest link. In the case of Holy Scripture, an infallible God speaks an infallble word to an infallible Church. All three stand or fall together.

Fr. Gregory Hogg

The Bible without the Church:
Acts 8:30-31 30 So Philip ran to him and heard him reading Isaiah the prophet and asked, "Do you understand what you are reading?" 31 And he said, "How can I, unless someone guides me?"

The Bible with the Church:
And he invited Philip to come up and sit with him. 32 Now the passage of the Scripture that he was reading was this: "Like a sheep he was led to the slaughter and like a lamb before its shearer is silent, so he opens not his mouth. 33 In his humiliation justice was denied him. Who can describe his generation? For his life is taken away from the earth." 34 And the eunuch said to Philip, "About whom, I ask you, does the prophet say this, about himself or about someone else?" 35 Then Philip opened his mouth, and beginning with this Scripture he told him the good news about Jesus.36 And as they were going along the road they came to some water, and the eunuch said, "See, here is water! What prevents me from being baptized?" 37 38 And he commanded the chariot to stop, and they both went down into the water, Philip and the eunuch, and he baptized him.

Fr Gregory Hogg said...

Pr. John A. Frahm said...

Gnesio-Rx: Straw man argument here. The person does not give the Word its power. The accuracy of the message is whether it fits the rule of faith. The office is given to speak the Word for the sake of the church. You can only see what he said in connection to lay ministers if you take Pr. Weedon out of context.

Paleo-Rx: Pr. Frahm, I did not say that the person gives the Word its power. I noted that the passives employed by Pr. Weedon omit any mention of the office in its officeholders, who according to St. Paul are co-workers (synergoi) of God.


Rx:
The Word you're speaking of here, has no flesh.


Gnesio-Rx: No, the church is brought forth by the Word, it is not the source of or creator of the Word, so also the office of the ministry. That people may be called church if it carries forth and cradles pure Gospel and Sacraments. Mere claims of continuity do not establish the Word, but rather the faithful teaching of the Word is what causes continuity. The Word that Pastor Weedon describes has flesh, but he shows the proper priority and authority.

Paleo-Rx: Faithful and pure according to whom? You and a few of your buddies?


WW:
The institutions of the Church (all of them) will either exist in the service of that Word of Christ being proclaimed, His gifts being delivered, thus rescuing people from the chains of idolatry and bringing them into the worship of the one true God; or the institutions of the Church will exist to thwart that Word, to keep it from being proclaimed. And this is where Satan aims his attacks upon the Church!

Rx:
When you speak this way, you use "Church" in a different way than did the Lord Jesus Christ and St. Paul. To speak of Church or its institutions thwarting the Word forgets that the gates of hell will not prevail--not against some abstract, unincarnate "word"--but precisely against THE CHURCH. And not some disembodied word, but the Church is the pillar and foundation of truth.

Gnesio-Rx: That the gates of hell will not prevail against the Church does not arise from anything within us.

Paleo-Rx: Nor did I say that it does. Is it really that hard to read what I wrote? Jesus says the gates of hell will not prevail against the C H U R C H. And this is true because the Church is a theanthropic reality. In her the Second Article of the Creed is extended into the Third Article.

Gnesio-Rx:
The institutions of the Church are comprised of people who are simul iustus et peccator.

Paleo-Rx:
Once again, you commit the fallacy of composition. Because a thing is comprised of x, it doesn't follow that it is x. An airplance comprised entirely of light parts is not therefore light.

Gnesio-Rx:
This requires and acknowledgement of original sin which your ecclesiology and anthropology no longer recognizes.

Paleo-Rx:
In its Augustinian and post-Augustinian form, neither those before Augustine nor many of those after Augustine recognized it either. That we are born corrupt is not disputed.

Gnesio-Rx:
The Word is rejectable in its nature of being a gift. It is not an irresistable grace that is implanted within individuals or institutions. The Church will continue to the end of time by Christ's promise, wherever the gospel is purely preached and the sacraments are rightly administered, but not because of attachment to the "right" bureaucracy.

Paleo-Rx:
Once again, a judicious use of passives allow you to miss the point. Surely you've read Strunk and White--I required it for my homiletics courses.

Gnesio-Rx:
The promise that the gates of hell will not prevail against the church is not some kind of trump card for whatever is argued to be "ancient and therefore correct" or "therefore of the essence of the church."

Paleo-Rx:
I have not said "ancient and therefore correct." I have said "Church and therefore correct." There are three elements in any act of speaking: the speaker, the message, and the audience. The communication as communication is only as successful as its weakest link. In the case of Holy Scripture, an infallible God speaks an infallble word to an infallible Church. All three stand or fall together.

Fr. Gregory Hogg

The Bible without the Church:
Acts 8:30-31 30 So Philip ran to him and heard him reading Isaiah the prophet and asked, "Do you understand what you are reading?" 31 And he said, "How can I, unless someone guides me?"

The Bible with the Church:
And he invited Philip to come up and sit with him. 32 Now the passage of the Scripture that he was reading was this: "Like a sheep he was led to the slaughter and like a lamb before its shearer is silent, so he opens not his mouth. 33 In his humiliation justice was denied him. Who can describe his generation? For his life is taken away from the earth." 34 And the eunuch said to Philip, "About whom, I ask you, does the prophet say this, about himself or about someone else?" 35 Then Philip opened his mouth, and beginning with this Scripture he told him the good news about Jesus.36 And as they were going along the road they came to some water, and the eunuch said, "See, here is water! What prevents me from being baptized?" 37 38 And he commanded the chariot to stop, and they both went down into the water, Philip and the eunuch, and he baptized him.

William Weedon said...

Not BIBLE, but proclaimed Word - the Word of Christ! And that is what Philip did. He opened the Scriptures and preached Christ to the Eunuch, and then the Eunuch asked for and received Holy Baptism and THAT working of proclaimed Word and sacramental Word is what brought the man into the Church. EXACTLY!

William Weedon said...

Oh, Chris and Stagiare, one more thing: no, I'm not speaking of Church as EVENT. I am speaking of the Word which calls into existence a real body. The Church goes on living, even when not gathered in liturgical assembly, but the members of the Church owe their existence AS members of the Church always to the Word. And that not to a one-time act of creation alone, but to the ongoing sustaining power of that Word as it is proclaimed and received in the Eucharist and Holy Absolution.

stagiare said...

This was a very shallow comment thread.....pun intended.

How about a great patristic quote to comfort the tortured soul...oratorio, meditatio, tentatio.

What say you Pastor Weedon?

Christopher Gillespie said...

Anyone know where I can get a copy of the tapes mentioned in the above post? Other Dr. Korby nuggets? It seems there isn't much in print and I have the CTS essay.

Tom Fast said...

Thanks for your "random thoughts," Bill. Your random thoughts are better than my organized and carefully crafted ones. This is a fascinating read.

BTW, I have some tapes of lectures Korby gave at my congregation in your neck of the woods back in '98. The topic? Holy Ministry. The good Pastor Gregory may well have them on mp3 files. You might enjoy listening to those lectures. They treat this topic at length!

William Weedon said...

Christopher,

Karl Gregory (former vicar, now pastor in Sturgis SD) provided me a nice copy of them on CD.

Tom,

You are too kind. As to the recording, well, I think that's the one I'm listening to. I must have misnamed it. He treats hugely of confession and absolution, but I think it's called "By Virtue of My Office" or some such. I can recognize your voice, Greg's voice, Andy's voice, and Michael's voice. That must be it, no?

William Weedon said...

Oh, and many of Korby's thoughts are gathered together in the essay that appears in the Festschrift for Dr. Feuerhahn (hat tip to Fr. Frahm). A fine summary indeed: Lord Jesus Christ, Will You Not Stay

Tom Fast said...

Yes, that's the one.

I'll have to get the Festschrift. Thanks for the heads up!

Pr. John A. Frahm said...

Fr Gregory Hogg said...

Pr. John A. Frahm said...

Gnesio-Rx: Straw man argument here. The person does not give the Word its power. The accuracy of the message is whether it fits the rule of faith. The office is given to speak the Word for the sake of the church. You can only see what he said in connection to lay ministers if you take Pr. Weedon out of context.

Paleo-Rx: Pr. Frahm, I did not say that the person gives the Word its power. I noted that the passives employed by Pr. Weedon omit any mention of the office in its officeholders, who according to St. Paul are co-workers (synergoi) of God.

Eternal-Rx: Oh, I see. He's supposed to quote the whole counsel of God everytime he talks about the power of the Word, etc.


Rx:
The Word you're speaking of here, has no flesh.


Gnesio-Rx: No, the church is brought forth by the Word, it is not the source of or creator of the Word, so also the office of the ministry. That people may be called church if it carries forth and cradles pure Gospel and Sacraments. Mere claims of continuity do not establish the Word, but rather the faithful teaching of the Word is what causes continuity. The Word that Pastor Weedon describes has flesh, but he shows the proper priority and authority.

Paleo-Rx: Faithful and pure according to whom? You and a few of your buddies?

Eternal-Rx: I'm not sure what you mean here. You seem to keep bringing up me and my buddies. I'm talking about Scripture. You seem to be rather anthropocentric and want the Bride of Christ to tell Christ what He means in His Word. That's rather feministic.

WW:
The institutions of the Church (all of them) will either exist in the service of that Word of Christ being proclaimed, His gifts being delivered, thus rescuing people from the chains of idolatry and bringing them into the worship of the one true God; or the institutions of the Church will exist to thwart that Word, to keep it from being proclaimed. And this is where Satan aims his attacks upon the Church!

Rx:
When you speak this way, you use "Church" in a different way than did the Lord Jesus Christ and St. Paul. To speak of Church or its institutions thwarting the Word forgets that the gates of hell will not prevail--not against some abstract, unincarnate "word"--but precisely against THE CHURCH. And not some disembodied word, but the Church is the pillar and foundation of truth.

Gnesio-Rx: That the gates of hell will not prevail against the Church does not arise from anything within us.

Paleo-Rx: Nor did I say that it does. Is it really that hard to read what I wrote? Jesus says the gates of hell will not prevail against the C H U R C H. And this is true because the Church is a theanthropic reality. In her the Second Article of the Creed is extended into the Third Article.

Eternal-Rx: What you write is very hard to read and sad. There is still a distinction between the Church in Christ. It is union and communion but it isn't some kind of Buddhist monism.


Gnesio-Rx:
The institutions of the Church are comprised of people who are simul iustus et peccator.

Paleo-Rx:
Once again, you commit the fallacy of composition. Because a thing is comprised of x, it doesn't follow that it is x. An airplance comprised entirely of light parts is not therefore light.

Eternal-Rx: You commit the fallacy of not distinguishing philosophy from theology. Interesting how you run to philosophy everytime you don't like a theological answer. The church is holy because of her union with Christ and this by grace. Therefore the promise that the gates of hell will not prevail is not some kind of endorsement or imprimatur for whatever the forgiven sinners of the church concoct or stumble into.

Gnesio-Rx:
This requires and acknowledgement of original sin which your ecclesiology and anthropology no longer recognizes.

Paleo-Rx:
In its Augustinian and post-Augustinian form, neither those before Augustine nor many of those after Augustine recognized it either. That we are born corrupt is not disputed.

Gnesio-Rx:
The Word is rejectable in its nature of being a gift. It is not an irresistable grace that is implanted within individuals or institutions. The Church will continue to the end of time by Christ's promise, wherever the gospel is purely preached and the sacraments are rightly administered, but not because of attachment to the "right" bureaucracy.

Paleo-Rx:
Once again, a judicious use of passives allow you to miss the point. Surely you've read Strunk and White--I required it for my homiletics courses.

Eternal-Rx:
Strunk and White or class notwithstanding, I am not missing the point. Strunk and White doesn't determine theology.

Gnesio-Rx:
The promise that the gates of hell will not prevail against the church is not some kind of trump card for whatever is argued to be "ancient and therefore correct" or "therefore of the essence of the church."


Paleo-Rx:
I have not said "ancient and therefore correct." I have said "Church and therefore correct." There are three elements in any act of speaking: the speaker, the message, and the audience. The communication as communication is only as successful as its weakest link. In the case of Holy Scripture, an infallible God speaks an infallble word to an infallible Church. All three stand or fall together.

Eternal-Rx: This is the same error you've been making a long time. The promise of Matthew 16 is not an endorsement for whatever practices the church engages in. The church is to pass on what she has received publicly in agreement with the canon. She has no mandate to add to or take away from what is given. Simply because "trans-parochial organization" posits an apostolic origin of a practice or teaching does not make it so. Let a man be careful how he builds upon Christ with the apostles and prophets.

Nathan said...

Fr. Gregory,

Are you a former Lutheran pastor and theology professor (at Concordia St. Catherine, ON?)

Thanks,
Nathan

William Weedon said...

Nathan,

Yes, Fr. Gregory is the name chosen by Dr. Hogg when he was ordained a priest of the Antiochian Archdiocese.

Nathan said...

Pastor Weedon,

Thanks for the note. I saw a sermon on the internet that mentioneed Dr. Robert Hogg's leaving his congregation in Michigan for the E. Orthodox Church.

I had a class with him there when I was attending seminary.

In Christ,
Nathan

Nathan said...

there= Concordia Sem in Canada.

Anonymous said...

Paleo-Rx:
Once again, you commit the fallacy of composition. Because a thing is comprised of x, it doesn't follow that it is x. An airplance comprised entirely of light parts is not therefore light.

Eternal-Rx: You commit the fallacy of not distinguishing philosophy from theology. Interesting how you run to philosophy everytime you don't like a theological answer. The church is holy because of her union with Christ and this by grace. Therefore the promise that the gates of hell will not prevail is not some kind of endorsement or imprimatur for whatever the forgiven sinners of the church concoct or stumble into.

Rev. Frahm,
This response and the one following distresses me. You made a logical error and then hide behind "theology." Sorry, it doesn't work that way. Logic is logic and making a coherent argument is no more philosophy than simple human communication and using the brains our God gave us. Strunk and White is a guide to English grammar, and since you speak English, yes, you must listen to them as well.

Fr. Gregory is simply pointing out your errors in thinking and your errors in English usage which make your arguments unclear or fallacious. Don't pretend he's a scholastic or heretic just because he's smarter than you.

William Weedon said...

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)

Fr. Gregory Hogg said...

Ok, let's try this again. Neither you nor Pr. Frahm have addressed some very crucial points.

1. You use passives in a way which is most disingenuous. When, for example, you say: "does the Word preached and sacramentally enacted have the authority to keep the Church one, holy, catholic, and apostolic?" it makes all the difference in the world who is preaching and sacramentally enacting that Word. For a lay minister within your communion fellowship can argue that he does preach and sacramentally enact that word no less than you do. And they *do* make that claim.

Other examples of these passives:

"The Church created by the Word of God proclaimed and sacramentally given."

"The institutions of the Church (all of them) will either exist in the service of that Word of Christ being proclaimed, His gifts being delivered..."

Now you could at least take Augustana 14 into consideration, though someone I once knew pointed out that Melanchthon began a job of fudging there ("rite vocatus") that ended with the kludge of the Treatise. I'm paraphrasing, and working from memory; I think you may have known the fellow and his work too.


2. You pit the visual and the auditory against each other--but why? The God who made the ear, also made the eye. If you exalt the ear over the eye, the end result is that your church walls are bare of art and statuary. You also do this with respect to the bishop whom, you say, is there to be heard and not to be seen. But Paul calls Timothy to be an example to believers *in conduct*. Now conduct is something we see. Hence the bishop is to be seen as well as heard. Thus my previous comment about Word needing to be made flesh.

3. It is one thing to say that a given bishop or presbyter might be bad. It is another thing altogether to infer that the episcopal office is therefore optional. One may as well argue from unfaithful husbands that marriage is an optional form of organizing the male-female relationship.

4. By focusing your attention on the so-called "institutions" of the Church and how they can deny Christ, you are falling prey to what one friend of mine referred to as "Nestorianizing" the doctrine of the Church--denying the divinizing energies impacting and transfiguring the "human" aspect of the Church.

5. Before the time of the Reformation, bishops went astray from time to time: hence the need for ecumenical councils. But it was never considered, even as an option, that the office of bishop be done away with. Lutheranism and the Reformation generally represents something new here.

6. All these points serve to underlie the deeper problems: where is the Church, and where are you in relation to her? If you seek to find her in a reductionist way, by pitting one sense against another, the office of bishop against the word, and in general one part for the whole as whole, that's a lie.

William Weedon said...

Father Gregory:

On point #1, AC XIV. I had indeed argued that the phrase was intentionally ambiguous and was designed to cover the fact that Lutherans had departed at this point from the historic practice. That was based upon the supposition that "rite vocatus" was a technical term from canon law, which I have since learned is not actually the case (at least, a friend who searched the canon law could not find any instance of the term's use). In which case, much of my earlier argument falls.

On point #2, the visual vs. the auditory: "We walk by faith, not by sight."

On point #3, what is said, rather, is that the New Testament does not know of a distinction between bishop and presbyter, but treats the two as a single office. And we all recognize that the Holy Spirit is the one who speaks in the pages of the Sacred Scripture.

On point #4, no that is not Nestorianizing, unless you want to apply that to our Lord in Revelation, chapters two and three, where, GASP, he calls the church and her bishops to repent!!!

On point #5, Lutherans do not believe that they have done away with the office of bishop, since there is not an essential difference between the presbyter and the episcopus: both are entrusted with the self-same Gospel by which to sustain the Church.

On point #6, the Church is my mother, she who begot me in the font, and she who feeds me with the Eucharist, and she who sends and calls men to preach the saving Gospel and absolve me and other sinners.

Pax Christi!

Fr. Gregory Hogg said...

Pastor Weedon,

WW:
On point #1, AC XIV. I had indeed argued that the phrase was intentionally ambiguous and was designed to cover the fact that Lutherans had departed at this point from the historic practice. That was based upon the supposition that "rite vocatus" was a technical term from canon law, which I have since learned is not actually the case (at least, a friend who searched the canon law could not find any instance of the term's use). In which case, much of my earlier argument falls.

Rx: But the LCMS praxis speaks louder than your words. For laymen *are* exercising the office _sine rite vocatus_, and they have the synodical ok--and have had it for 5 synodical conventions. And you are in communion fellowship with them, are you not?


On point #2, the visual vs. the auditory: "We walk by faith, not by sight."

Rx: And you're saying that Paul was talking about bishops there?

On point #3, what is said, rather, is that the New Testament does not know of a distinction between bishop and presbyter, but treats the two as a single office. And we all recognize that the Holy Spirit is the one who speaks in the pages of the Sacred Scripture.

Rx: The question is whether you recognize that the Spirit who speaks in the Scriptures also led and guided his church into the threefold office of bishop, presbyter and deacon: a structure whose antiquity and universality argue precisely for that fact.

On point #4, no that is not Nestorianizing, unless you want to apply that to our Lord in Revelation, chapters two and three, where, GASP, he calls the church and her bishops to repent!!!

Rx: No; he calls certain individual congregations and their shepherds to repent.

On point #5, Lutherans do not believe that they have done away with the office of bishop, since there is not an essential difference between the presbyter and the episcopus: both are entrusted with the self-same Gospel by which to sustain the Church.

Rx: Lutherans may believe this and many other things--but only by redefining terms in a way which almost constitutes a new language. For you, each local pastor is a bishop--and you wonder (or perhaps not, any more) about the disunity in faith and practice among clergy in Missouri! If you are in communion fellowship with the "bishop" in the next town who does creative worship, etc, why don't you demonstrate your unity by joint worship services? Or does each bishop constitute a "church of one"?

On point #6, the Church is my mother, she who begot me in the font, and she who feeds me with the Eucharist, and she who sends and calls men to preach the saving Gospel and absolve me and other sinners.

Rx: You did not answer my question. I did not say describe the Church. I asked, "Where is she?"

Fr. Gregory Hogg

"The reduction of the Church to 'doctrine' is not easily cured."

William Weedon said...

Dear Father Gregory,

On point #1, yes I am in communion fellowship with those who practice this, but such practice is and remains a violation of the Symbols, as you know. A very wise man once wrote that the difference between the Church and the sects is that the sects have to fix everything immediately because they have no future; the Church takes her time, because she always has a future.

On point #2, I am saying the Apostle is speaking about the Church herself as an article of faith. We do not SEE that we "have come to Mount Zion, to the city of the living God, to the heavenly Jerusalem..." We may salutarily depict this reality on our walls with icons, if you will, but the reality that the icons are expressing remains a hidden reality. Each Divine Service we join with the patriarchs, prophets, apostles and all the faithful, but this is believed, not seen.

On point #3, the history is perhaps not the open and shut case that you propose. Remember Piepkorn's research on that and how he showed that throughout much of the history of the Church there were presbyters who ordained presbyters. Was the Spirit not leading in that?

On point #4, the Spirit invites the Churches to hear His voice and repent. Do you find the plural to provide a different meaning than the singular? I would have taken it as short-hand for "the one Church in that place."

One point #5, the term is not being given a "new" meaning, but returned to the "old" meaning - the Spirit's meaning evident in the Sacred Scriptures, where presbyter and episcopus refer to the self-same office, as St. John Chrysostom among others freely admits.

William Weedon said...

Oops. Left off point #6, WHERE is the Church? She is where the Gospel is preached in its purity and the Sacraments administered according to the Gospel. Find the Word at work and you have found the Church. Or, in the longer answer from Luther:

where the holy word of God
where the sacrament of holy baptism
where the sacrament of the altar
where the public use of the keys
where the consecration of ministers
where prayer, public praise and thanksgiving to God
where the sacred cross

ibi ecclesia.

"My Word shall not return to me void..."