05 November 2006

You Go, Urbanus!

Gotta love Urbanus Rhegius. He's just the sort of person I'd love to have for my own pastor. He wrote a great little book on preaching the Reformation in which he chews up and spits out the blockheaded attempts of some preachers in preaching totally inaccurately about various subjects in the Church. One such subject he goes after is "ceremonies." He writes:

"On this basis we discern easily how one should think and speak carefully about ceremonies and festivals. The church militant in the flesh is not able to exist without ceremonies. If they are not plainly against the Word of God, therefore, and observed for the sake of good order without any impious notion of acquiring righteousness through them, they should definitely not be rejected but kept for the sake of peace, lest ordinary people be offended. Changing such ceremonies can produce great turmoil and scandals without end...."

Yup. Same thing we read in AC XV. And boy, don't we see it around us today! Kyrie, eleison.

9 comments:

Randy K. Asburry said...

Yes, go Urbanus!

BTW, I also checked out a quote you gave from Rhegius last week on the saints, about them not being gone, but gone ahead. It spurred me on to read the whole section that he has on the saints. I'm wondering what you make of this little quote on p. 91:

"We ask people who are alive to pray for us, but we do not invoke them, and we do not trust in their merits as if they could save us themselves or so that we might be helped by their merits, but we ask them because of the merits of Christ." Then a footnote to the phrase "we do not invoke them" says: "That is, ask them directly for help."

My question is this: what exactly is Rhegius and/or the editor trying to distinguish here? Does "invoke" necessarily imply or entail "ask them directly for help" or "ask them for their merits" (my addition) as distinct from simply asking someone to pray for us? Does this help us properly read the Augustana and Apology when they talk of "invoking the saints," namely that "invoke" has a specific meaning or connotation?

Just curious.

Randy

William Weedon said...

Randy,

It certainly sounds as though Urbanus is making a distinction between "asking for help" and "invoking," doesn't it? I suspect his point is that the prayers to the saints which were popular in the Roman communion of his day went far, far beyond asking for their prayers. Chemnitz provides some instances that are truly, well, horrific.

At almost every point, Urbanus represents a form of Lutheranism that took the catholic principal with utmost seriousness. Cf. for example his words on fasting or prayers for the dead.

Randy K. Asburry said...

"I suspect his point is that the prayers to the saints which were popular in the Roman communion of his day went far, far beyond asking for their prayers."

So, then (to push the envelope, perhaps ;-), would Rhegius approve of prayers to the saints that simply ask for their prayers, but not prayers that go beyond that and invoke their merits? Or is that reading too much into Rhegius?

William Weedon said...

Randy,

I think it is certainly possible, but before we could say definitively it would be nice to have more of his writings!

ptmccain said...

Ap. XXI would speak against asking the saints in heaven for their prayers, since there is no command, example or promise of such prayers in Holy Scripture, therefore, such prayers have no sure confidence and therefore do not proceed from faith.

I think the Ap. XXI discussion on this is a wonderfully truly evangelical way of approaching the subject. Also, the SA rules out such prayers entirely. So, it seems we can't really look to Urbanus as any sort of normative authority on what the Church confesses about prayers to saints. It also seems that to "invoke" is to ... well, "invoke" them, to call on them by name, no matter what we are saying to them. My .02 worth.

ptmccain said...

Also wanted to say that Urbanus' book is marvelous. We are bringing it into stock at CPH.

Jimbo said...

back to the quote at hand, one of my "ordinary" members informed me how greatly she was offended this week when the location of the baptism she attended was not at church (or home like they often did around here in the olden days), but "changed" to a St. Louis area coffee house. She does not doubt the validity of the water and Word, but it still in her it "produced great turmoil and scandal." As she said, it just was not right. (and yes, it was one of our SID pastors.)

William Weedon said...

Jimbo,

Don't get me going on that whole coffee house fiasco!!! There is but one word of God that needs to be heeded in this regard: "What? Do you not have HOUSES to eat and drink in? Or you do shame the Church of God?"

Pax!

Jimbo said...

There I go again, stepping into larger fiascos I know nothing about - something like when I asked the tour guide at Westminster Abbey where the Archbishop of Canterbury's chair was located. He gave me a look that told me I stumbled into revealing an embarassing reality in this day of everybody getting along. Turns out the Archbishop has no authority in that place - the Crown does. The Archbishop can only go and come to Westminster when invited.