31 October 2007

New Bishops for Lutheran Latvia

His Grace, Archbishop Vanags (the youngest looking archbishop!) with several assisting bishops consecrates two new bishops for the Lutheran Church in Latvia. My own Synod, the LCMS, is in full fellowship with the Latvian Church.

Bishops

54 comments:

David said...

I find it most interesting that in the last photo of the bishops there is one man not wearing a miter.

That man is CID DP Rev. David Bueltmann.

No malice intended. Just an interesting observation.

Lutheran Lucciola said...

Hey, cool....I didn't know we were in the brotherhood thing with the Latvian Lutheran church.

Confused said...

William,
I do wonder what conclusion is implied in your statement that the LCMS is in full fellowship with the Latvian Lutherans. Not that this means the LCMS has apostolic succession, right?

Secondly, I am sure you also realize that the Latvians are in full fellowship with the Church of England and (I think) the LWF as well. So, would this not also imply that the LCMS is in someway in full, institutional fellowship with the LWF and CofE?

Confused

William Weedon said...

Dear Confused,

What is implied is nothing more than what was stated. The LCMS is in full communion with the Church of Latvia - and that Church with us. True Lutherans do not regard episcopal polity as being of the essence of the Church, as I suspect you know.

About Latvia's continued fellowship with the other Churches, the point was raised on the floor of the convention when fellowship was declared, and (my memory is poor, it was almost a decade ago) I believe we were assured that the situation was "in flux" and that Latvia's theological alignment with the LCMS put her in tension with these other bodies. For example, Archbishop Vanags immediately upon taking office suspended all ordination of women and sought to move those who had been ordained out of the parish setting. This did not enamor him to the CoE or to the CoS (from which his succession came).

But it is a point of irregularity (best construction) that the LCMS is in fellowship with a Church that is also in fellowship with the Church of Sweden and even more so, with the ELCA! Nevertheless, such is the case.

Confused said...

"True Lutherans do not regard episcopal polity as being of the essence of the Church..."

I doubt you will find any communion which has and maintains the apostolic succession via the episcopacy arguing that it is simply a matter of polity. There is much, much more at stake than simply a mode of governance, "as I suspect you know."

Confused

William Weedon said...

Dear Confused,

The Lutherans have always enjoyed fellowship among themselves despite disparate polities. That which binds Lutherans together is the confession of the faith. Where we recognize that same confession, we rejoice that we are at one, and thus there are Churches with full apostolic succession who join together with those without this, and see no barrier to fellowship in the lack of it. Might drive other Christians batty, but that's how it is held among Lutherans.

Confused said...

Please allow me to develop the "much, much more" of my previous post by quoting from an exposition of the importance of the apostolic succession via the episcopacy.

"In the New Testament writings we see the future orders of the Church beginning to emerge: bishops, presbyters (...) and deacons are all mentioned, but as yet there is little clear definition of their distinctiveness....

"Early on it came to be thought that bishops, presbyters and deacons had to be ordained by the laying on of hands. There are signs of this already in the New Testament, but as with most aspects of the primitive Church, contemporary documents reveal to us a vortex of variety: order was only gradually established, as Christians worked out the consequences of realizing they were the Body of Christ. ...Eventually, however, hand-laying became obligatory. By the fourth century at the very latest the traditional understanding of the threefold ministry and apostolic succession had become established. The guarantors of this were seen to be various things: faithfulness to the apostolic tradition, as it evolved out of the New Testament in the succeeding centuries by the general consensus of the Church; the foundation of the Christian communities from 'apostolic' churches in a chain which can be traced back to the apostles themselves (i.e. founded by missionaries, not be reading a book, or setting up 'freelance'); the faithfulness of each particular community in its living out of the gospel within the apostolic tradition; and a 'tactile' succession of the ordained ministry through episcopal laying on of hands.

"...The 'bridge' between the apostolic age and the establishment of universally accepted order in the Church can be compared to a prism. In the apostolic period the whole gospel mystery was, as it were, a bright, white light, a diffuse and totally encompassing experience, with little differentiation of its constituent elements. This could not continue - it had to pass through the prism of sorting-and-ordering to emerge separated out in the various colours of doctrine, orders, sacraments and so on. This does not give us the freedom to see the tactile succession as optional. If we decide to dismantle one of these elements, then we must recognize we are dismantling the whole spectrum, and will need to start all over again with the unique bright light of the apostolic experience. There is, however, no going back, as all attempts to reproduce the New Testament Church have shown."


I know there is a lot here. But I would appreciate a response that takes all of it into consideration.

Chris Jones said...

A point of clarification:

While it is still true that the Church of Latvia is a member body of the LWF, it is not true that the Latvian Church is in communion with the Church of England. A number of Scandinavian and Baltic Lutheran bodies are in communion with the C of E, as signers of the so-called Porvoo Agreement. But while the Church of Latvia was involved in the negotiations leading up to the Porvoo Agreement, in the end they did not sign the agreement nor enter into full communion with the Anglican Churches.

Perhaps "Confused" is confusing the situation in Latvia with the situation in neighbouring Lithuania. The Lithuanian Church is also a member of the LWF and a signer of the Porvoo Agreement (and thus is in communion with the Church of England).

The Lithuanian Church is also (inexplicably) in communion with the LCMS.

wm cwirla said...

I wish our guys wore funny hats too.

Anonymous said...

I'm curious. Has a Latvian bishop been invited by the LCMS to participate in an "installation" of a DP or an ordination of a candidate?
I remember reading somewhere that when the ELCA was formed and its PB was installed, a Swedish bishop was invited to attend but not allowed to lay hands on Chilstrom. It had been quipped that even though American Lutherans always contended that polity didn't matter, they never allowed a bishop in AS to touch one of her clergy.
dan p

William Weedon said...

Dear Confused,

Remember what St. Jerome wrote on this topic. He'd disagree with the historical assessment that the distinction was already implicit in the NT. He did not see the origin of the distinction between presbyter and episcopus as something from our Lord, but something arranged by the Church to prevent schism.

For myself, I 100% agree with the Smalcald Articles that "the Church can never be better governed than if we all live under one head, Christ. All the bishops should be equal in office (though they may be unequal in gifts). They should be diligently joined in unity of doctrine, faith, sacraments, prayer, works of love and such." I would much rather have the episcopal polity that my fellow Lutherans in Latvia enjoy. Who knows? Maybe they'll have some influence on this side of the pond?

Confused said...

William,
Based upon your responses may I simply repeat my previous statement and expect a response: I doubt you will find any communion which has and maintains the apostolic succession via the episcopacy arguing that it is simply a matter of polity. There is much, much more at stake than simply a mode of governance, "as I suspect you know."

Thank you,
Confused

William Weedon said...

Dear Confused,

I am confused. I gave you a response. The Lutheran Symbols express a preference for episcopal (canonical) polity, but freely confess that such is not necessary for the Church's existence. What is at stake is making merely human institutions (the distinction between presbyter and bishop) constitutive of the Church. As a Lutheran I don't buy it. Obviously neither does the Church of Latvia. Neither has any Lutheran Church that retained apostolic succession. It was retained as a venerable adiaphoron. It can be nothing more; it lacks dominical institution.

Chris Jones said...

Fr Weedon,

It was retained as a venerable adiaphoron. It can be nothing more; it lacks dominical institution.

It is not that it lacks dominical institution, but that it lacks an explicit Scriptural witness to a dominical institution. But the New Testament is not, and cannot be used as, a code of canons or a manual of polity -- particularly based on what it does not say.

While the episcopal polity may not have dominical institution, it does have apostolic institution. That apostolic institution does not have specific Scriptural witness, but it does have ample witness from the apostolic fathers (especially Clement and Irenaeus) and in the ecumenical canons. Historically, it is quite clear that the episcopal polity was instituted by the Apostles, and theologically it is clear that they had the authority to do so from our Lord Jesus Christ.

Given that, I cannot agree that it is in any way an adiaphoron. Lutherans have always relied on St Jerome to defend our position on this, but St Jerome was almost alone in his opinion on this, and his isolated opinion is rather a thin reed on which to base a Church's polity. This is a point on which our Lutheran fathers were mistaken -- honestly and understandably mistaken, but mistaken all the same -- and it is long past time that we repent of it and restore the office of bishop as the Apostles established it.

William Weedon said...

Dear Christopher,

First, I agree it is long since time it is restored. But I do not believe that it should be restored as an apostolic institution, for the very writings of the holy apostles bear witness to the synonymity of presbyter and bishop - the fact that Jerome notes and others.

You mention Clement and Ireanaeus. But consider that in 1 Clement 44, presbyter appears to be a synonym for bishop. And Irenaeus in Against Heresies 3,2,2 ("succession of prebyters") and 4, 26,5 clearly uses presbyter as synonym for bishop.

Additionally, it should be noted that Polycarp addresses and speaks only of presbyters in his epistle.

A little latter in 2 Clement 17,3 the presbyters are the ruling officers.

The evidence simply is not there that even those who immediately followed the apostles distinguished by apostolic injunction the offices of presbyter from that of bishop.

Pax!

Confused said...

William,
So, I assume the fact that Lutherans decide to discard one "non-Scriptural" (and yet not non-dominical) aspect of apostolic succession would logically mean that they would be willing to discard, let's say, one "non-Scriptural" (and yet not non-dominical) aspect of the Trinity and Christology (let us say, the hypostatic union (and the use of the word homouisious) or the equality of all 3 "persons" of the Trinity)?

I truly love how Protestants pick and choose their bits of Tradition in opposition to the "Scriptures".

Confused

William Weedon said...

Dear Confused,

What on earth are you talking about? The Lutherans - as did the Fathers - confess the homoousious because it IS Scriptural. It's a non-Scriptural term for a very Scriptural teaching: that the Eternal Word of the Father IS God and was in the beginning WITH God.

I can honestly say that in my reading of the Fathers there's not one jurisdiction on the face of the earth that doesn't "pick and choose."

May I ask you though to write me off the blog? You can reach me at weedon@mac.com. You sound very upset and I wonder if we could talk privately.

Pax Christi!

Confused said...

William,
No need to talk in private. I am quite alright.

So, the issue of the "non-Scriptural" terms which illuminate the doctrine of the Trinity have nothing to do with the Scriptural terms which (according to you and the Lutherans) describe the apostolic ministry (episkopos, presbyteros, diakonos) and yet nothing to do with the dominical statutes (Paul must have been out of his mind describing one thing using 3 terms) nor the development of the 3-fold office?

Confused

William Weedon said...

Indeed, the Sacred Scriptures use more than three terms to describe the Office of the Ministry, do they not? What of the whole matter of steward? But beyond dispute the Scriptures identify presbyter and episcopus and steward in Titus 1:5-7.

William Weedon said...

Or said more forcefully, the Holy Spirit in Titus 1:5-7 reveals to us that presbyter, episcopus and oikonomos are all the same.

Confused said...

Gosh, this is impossible. Go up and read the argument stated above. This is latent in the NT Scriptures and obviously from tradition we can see it develop. All you are trying to do is disregard the development and claim to go back to the NT. Hence, once again read further in the quote above. And then actually respond to issues raised.

This is tiresome.

Confused

William Weedon said...

I did read the text you cited, but was not persuaded by it. Newman's approach has never been that persuasive for me (and whoever that author is, he is using Newman's way of thinking). The fact remains that the NT identifies that which latter generations tried to distinguish. If the NT is normative for one's theology, then one cannot make a fundamental distinction in terminology here that is alien to the NT text.

Note that is not at all an argument against episcopacy as a wise and good form of Church governance; I simply do not concede it to be a dominically mandated form.

Confused said...

Ah, I see. In the end, you have decided that inspiration and hence, anything "of the Lord" ceased with the canon of the NT. Hence, nothing latent in the NT can be developed and hence be demanded of the Church.

Thanks, that has cleared it up.

Confused

William Weedon said...

I'd rather put it the way St. Thomas Aquinas did in his Summa in the post I cited yesterday:

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."--Summa Theologia, Part 1, Question 1, Article 8

Confused said...

Another consistent use of the Church Fathers. Quote him hear to support a convoluted sense of the Bible (which you assume supports your point) but then ridicule him for using to much "philosophy" elsewhere (transubstantiation, as if I needed to fill in that blank).

Wonderful!

Confused

Confused said...

William,
I mean come on, get with it! You set a position (ie. the Scriptures are inerrant) and then quote people to support your already, a priori conclusion. And then when they speak of things like "natural theology" (which Aquinas does in abundance) you disregard it. This is ludicrous.

Confused

p.s. Who do you think you are convincing with this line of argument? Surely not me.

William Weedon said...

Confused,

Sigh. You may believe the worst about me and the Lutheran Church as you seem to need to do. The fact is St. Thomas said what he said. Neither he nor any Church Father would ever wish you to accept whatever they say on the basis of their own words. Not a single one would disagree with St. Cyril of Jerusalem: "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." (Catechetical Lectures, IV:17) I believe he meant that. Do you?

William Weedon said...

P.S. Why do you think I would disagree with St. Thomas on natural theology?

William Weedon said...

Dear Confused,

One last thought and I am through with this "discussion" - for I do not believe it is spiritually profitable for your soul or mine - and that is a plea for you to actually hear the fathers say what they say without any need to fit them into a preconceived grid, whether that grid is of Anglican, Lutheran, EO or RC making. The fact is that there is much in their exposition of the Sacred Scriptures to call every jurisdiction today to repentance and to help us find together the one Gospel of the one Christ who alone is the salvation of the world.

I do wish you every good thing in Him, and I know that if you pray for His good and gracious will to be done in your life, He will not leave or abandon you, for you are precious in His sight.

In Him!

Confused said...

Yes, who would disagree with that?

But, first of all, where do any Fathers speak of the episcopacy as based upon their own words? I am sure they use Scripture as well, right?

Secondly, I could quote all of the St. Ignatius' letters to support the identity of the episcopacy with the essentials of the priesthood. But, you would tell me either that St. Ignatius didn't mean Bishop when he said "bishop" or that was "too early" and not fully developed.

Or, on the other hand, Lutherans will quote Origen or Tertullian to support some doctrine in the Confessions but then say they were too Platonic in some sense or too this or that in another sense. Gosh, it is endless and circular.

In the end, this is it: Lutheranism has set their own a priori conclusions and hence they will quote from the Scriptures and the Fathers whatever they want to support their points. But this is an um-symbiotic use of Tradition and Scripture. If I could write a thesis on it I would but this doesn't seem to be the place.

Sigh!

Confused

Confused said...

I agree. It is easier to bow out "in Christian charity" then to respond.

Matthew N. Petersen said...

I was curious,

Do LCMS Lutherans have apostolic succecssion through priests, but not bishops, or not at all?

Anonymous said...

Not at all.

William Weedon said...

Matthew,

My answer would be that they have an irregular succession through the presbyters, not the bishops.

Soo... Confused said...

William,
Your response confuses me for 2 reasons. 1) What are the implications of having an irregular succession, especially since most LCMS dogmaticians (Pieper and Marquart to name at least two) claim that proper apostolic succession is via doctrine only?

And 2) I thought that Lutheranism claimed there was no distinction between bishop and presbyter (at least the LMCS'ers I know claim this); hence how can succession be irregular if it be through a presbyter who would actually, for Lutherans, also be a bishop since the LCMS has abandoned the 3-fold distinction of the office?

So... Confused

William Weedon said...

Confused,

Irregular in the sense that it is not the order of canonical polity that the Lutherans wished to, but were unable to, preserve in Germany, and which irregular arrangement we in the LCMS have inherited. Thus, even though the distinction between bishop and priest is not of divine origin, that does not mean that Lutherans automatically wiped out the office that superintends, even though it is an ecclesial and not a divine arrangement. If you've not consulted Piepkorn's fine essay, "The Sacred Ministry and Holy Ordination in the Symbolical Books of the Lutheran Church" I'd encourage you to do so. It may clear up much confusion.

Confused said...

William,
It appears to me that you have not directly responded to my quetions. So please allow me to restate as...

1) Do LCMS Lutherans teach that apostolic succession is via "apostolic doctrine" only?

2) Do LCMS Lutherans maintain the 3-fold ordering of the office of the Holy Ministry?

Confused

Confused said...

William,
Just as a way of introducing what I am talking about, please allow me to offer some thoughts and quotations from the 3 works that LCMS Lutherans find to be quite auhoritative in their understanding of the Confessional explication of apostolicity of the Holy Ministry.

The confessions also never speak of the “apostolicity” of the church as they do speak of its oneness, catholicity and holiness. Herman Sasse, "We Confess Jesus Christ"

Francis Pieper states that the attempt by the Roman Catholics and Anglicans to derive their apostolicity from the “Apostolic Succession” is correctly termed as being “childish folly”. This is because Scripture makes no distinction between the offices of bishop and teaching elders, or pastors. Francis Pieper, "Christian Dogmatics, Volume III (411-12)

Sasse also states that the Lutheran fathers never felt that they were establishing a new church but that they were renewing Christ’s one church with the pure apostolic doctrine in contrast to Rome. Consequently, the doctrine of the church is what ensures its apostolicity. Sasse encapsulates this belief in these comments: “As the church of the One who truly became man, was actually crucified, and truly rose again, the church is called apostolic. It is the apostolic church because it is the church of Jesus Christ.” Herman Sasse, "We Confess the Church" (87) & "Jesus Christ" (99)

Sasse maintains that the “apostolicity” of the church’s doctrine is its true mark as being the church of Jesus Christ and that to argue from historical proofs is problematic. The apostolicity of origin, a major claim of the Roman Catholic Church, claiming that the church is the church of the apostles, must be a matter of faith. Sasse, "Jesus Christ" (86)

The Lutheran claim of apostolicity stands or falls upon the claim of the true doctrine of the New Testament and its continued purity and preservation. Sasse, "Church" (87)

Authentic apostolic succession, then, is always and only the succession of doctrine. Sasse, "Church" (94)

Pieper claims that ordination by the laying on of hands and prayers is not a divine ordinance. It is merely a church custom because, even though it is mentioned in Scripture, it is not commanded. Due to this it is to be considered an adiaphorous practice. Peiper, "Dogmatics III" (454)

Kurt Marquart affirms that there is true apostolic succession but that it has little to do with external connections to privileged places, persons or hands. The true succession of the church has everything to do with the faithful transmission of the Gospel and sacramental substance. Mere form or appearances ensure nothing while apostolicity is found in content, substance and truth. An outward connection to ancient Christian sees or links to an unbroken chain of hands are irrelevant attempts at maintaining apostolicity. Ancient customs may be valuable symbols and reminders of continuity with the apostolic truth but they must never be allowed to bear their own independent weight. Kurt Marquart "The Church and Her Fellowship...Confessional Lutheran Dogmatics" (28-29)

Confused

William Weedon said...

Yes, I am familiar with those writers and that theory. It is certainly true that a succession of doctrine must have priority - and that without it the other is absolutely worthless - witness the situations of certain churches that boast of their succession and gladly ordain women! But I disagree with Marquart, Sasse, and Pieper and agree with Piepkorn about the following:

"Without discussing the necessity of a succession of ministers, the Symbolical Books operate explicitly with the concept of a de facto succession of ordained ministers (SA III, 10; Tr. 72, adhibitus suis pastoribus, 'using their own pastors for this purpose.'). It is noteworthy in this connection that Saint Jerome regards all presbyters as well as all bishops as "successors of the apostle" (Letter 146:85). The bishops - that is, the pastors of town-dioceses - are the successors of the apostles in the government of the church (SA II, 4, 9)

The political situation of the 16th century throughout northern Europe - the domains of the King of Sweden excepted - made it a practical impossibility for the adherents of the Augsburg Confession to perpetuate the historic episcopate with apostolic succession."

Thus, when it was a choice between succession of bishops' hands versus succession of the true doctrine of the Gospel, there was no choice: they went with the true doctrine of the Gospel, and employed the hands of their presbyters to place men into that office that is a succession of the Apostles.

Hope that answers the question.

Fr. Gregory Hogg said...

"{W}hen it was a choice between succession of bishops' hands versus succession of the true doctrine of the Gospel, there was no choice"

...but there was a sign, for such choices are a sign--just as the choice, "Shall I give the child up for adoption or abort it" is a sign of previous brokenness. It was a sign that the corrupt seed sown by the bishop of Rome when he separated himself from his brethren had now borne its first fruit. To abjure episcopal ordination was to confess that the body comprised of such bishops was hopelessly fallen and corrupt.

And how is it that one citation from St. Jerome--against the unbroken consensus of the rest of the Church, east and west--has managed to carry so much weight for 500 years now? How do you swallow this gnat, but strain out the camel of the universal consensus of the fathers on things like the intercession of the saints?

William Weedon said...

Dear Father Gregory,

Yes, it was a sign of brokenness, about that there is no dispute. But does St. Jerome really stand alone on this point? Again, I direct you (and anyone who is still reading this long thread) to the essay by Piepkorn and especially the excurses that follow. He provides historical evidence that what became the *usual* was not regarded as *the only* way.

Lutheran Lucciola said...

I am reading this thread, and think I am finally getting more about this apostolic succession subject. Thank you for all this discussion, Pastor Weedon (and the others here).

William Tighe said...

The idea that the reformers faced such a "choice" is pure moonshine, historically speaking. About a dozen German bishops adhered to the Reformation between Matthias von Jagow, Bishop of Brandenburg from 1526 to his death in 1544, in 1539, and Eberhard von Hoelle, Bishop of Lubeck, in 1568. The two diocesan bishops of East Prussia went along with the Reformation when it was introduced there in 1555.

Luther ignored von Jagow when he presonally acted as "consecrator" of Nicholas von Amsdorf as "Evangelical Bishop" of Naumburg in 1542 (after the Elector of Saxony had driven out the Catholic whom the cathedral chapter had elected), and he went on to fulfill the same role in 1545 when he consecrated Georg von Anhalt as "Evangelical Bishop" of Merseberg (after the Saxon Elector had lilkewise overridden the choice of the cathedral chapter). Von Jagow had been available in 1542, and the Evangelical Archbishop of Cologne, Hermann von Wied, was available in 1545 (although I don't know whether he had openly declared himself by 1545). So were the two bishops in East Prussia -- one of the two who embraced Lutheranism in 1525 had died in 1528, but the other one had consecrated a successor. (The two bishops died in 1550 and 1551, and the Duke of Prussia attempted at that point to abolish episcopacy and to confiscate the bishops' property. He failed, but when he was forced to appoint two new "bishops" some years later, they were simply "installed" by pastors and not consecrated by other bishops -- and a later Duke did succeed in abolishing bishops there in 1587.

Even in Brandenburg, where von Jagow was instrumental in introducing and shaping that most conservative of reformations, no attempt, either in his lifetime or after his death, was made to perpetuate the episcopate. When he died in 1544, a clergyman named Joachim von Muensterberg was appointed (by the cathedral chapter acting at the behest of the elector) titular "Bishop of Brandenburg" (but not consecrated), and ecclesiastical authoritry was transferred to a General Consistory, appointed by the Elector, in which Muensterberg played no role -- and when Muensterberg resigned in 1560 the title was conferred on the eight-year-old grandson of the Elector, who himself became elector in 1598. (The other two bishops whose sees were in Brandenburgish territory remained Catholics -- one was an absentee [who died in 1548] a nd the other a zealous Catholic [who died in 1555], and when they died their "titles" were conferred on younger sons of the elector, and eventually on that same grandson who himself became Elector in 1598.)

Had there been even the slightest desire to perpetuate the episcopal order in an Evangelical form, it could have been effected without any great difficulty, even if it would have been difficult or impossible for such bishops to have obtained legal recognition as such, due to the requirement of both imperial and papal confirmation of their appointments.

William Tighe said...

The date for East Prussia embracing the Reformation should be 1525, not 1555. (East Prussia, Electoral Saxony and Hesse, in that order, were the first three princely states in Germany to embrace the Reformation and implement it, all in 1525 -- and Nuremberg was the first Free City to do so, in that same year. [Zurich, however, had embraced and implemented Zwingli's "reformation" in 1524.])

William Weedon said...

Dr. Tighe,

I'm not so sure it's moonshine. :)

Luther was having to deal with the monster he unleashed by appealing to the princes for aid. That "emergency bishop" thing bit him in the butt big time. And on the bishops' side there was the tangled involvement of many of them being "princes" of territories as well - or at least holders of significant properties that the secular princes thought were rather ripe for the picking. The resultant struggle and upheaval is probably what Piepkorn was referring to when he said that it was practically impossible for the adherents of the AC to perpetuate the canonical polity that their Confession professed a desire to maintain. Note too, the late date for the ordinations you mention. Luther's rite for ordination came out in 1539, I believe, some nine years after the AC and initial copy of Ap. But even as late as 1537, Luther's own words (which became part of the Confession of the Lutheran Church) stated:

"If the bishops would be true bishops and would devote themselves to the Church and the Gospel, we might grant them to ordain and confirm us and our preachers. This would be for the sake of love and unity, but not because of necessity."

The struggle was against folks like Albrecht of Mainz!

Schütz said...

I am not quite sure, Pastor Weedon, how you can ignore Dr Tighe's research in this area. It is fairly clear from what he has written here (and in what he wrote to me at http://cumecclesia.blogspot.com/2007/10/what-happened-to-bishops-under-luther.html that there were plenty of opportunities for the Lutherans in Germany as well as in Sweden to receive and continue the apostolic succession of bishops but that they intentionally decided not to. There was a real and intended rupture.

I am also convinced that while, in the NT, Episkopoi and Presbyters seem to be describing the same office, and while the situation was fairly fluid for the first century and a half at least, it is evident that the office we today call "priest/presbyter" is in fact derived from the office of episcopus--which has the fulness of the priesthood--rather than the other way around (as Jerome and Luther contended).

Accordingly Lutherans (LCMS and LCA) imagine that a bishop in the Catholic Church equals a President in their church, when in fact the equivalent to a Catholic bishop in Lutheran ecclesiology is the ordained congregational pastor. The Catholic says that the Bishop has the fullness of the priesthood just as the Lutheran says the Pastor has the fullness of the ministry.

William Weedon said...

David,

About the esteemed Dr.'s research, I merely remark that it is notoriously difficult to step back into history and sort out "what was possible" - because the way things look to us now and the way they appeared then to the people living through the events are two different things.

For me, I do not believe that the Confessors lied when they say they'd have preferred to avoid the "rupture" in canonical polity - even as they begged Rome not to cast them out.

I think, though, you misapprehend what the LCMS thinks of her President or District Presidents. While we acknowledge, to borrow a phrase, a primacy of honor, we do not believe or pretend that the fullness of the priesthood resides in them in any way other than that they are ordained pastors. We'd even say the same thing about the pope: he has the fullness of ministry imparted to him via his ordination to the ministry. Didn't Rome even used to sort of imply this by using the term "consecrate" rather than "ordain" for bishops? His great commission from Christ is the same as every pastor's: to proclaim the alone-saving Gospel and to serve out to Christ's people the waters of baptism, use the keys to forgive and retain sin, and offer the Holy Eucharist.

In New Orleans, a pastor friend of mine went to a meeting at Tulane University. He wore his pectoral cross. A Roman priest noted this with slight displeasure and told him: "In my tradition, only a bishop wears a pectoral cross." My friend, without missing a beat, came back with: "Yes, but in MY tradition, I AM a bishop." Reginald Fuller is reported to have said in the Episcopal-Lutheran dialog: "The problem with you Lutherans is not that you don't have bishops, but that you have too many of them."

The big question always ends up circling around authority and specifically whether the Sacred Scriptures provide a complete revelation of the will of God to man. If so, then the three-fold office is of necessity of human origin - venerable and perhaps the very best form the office can take - but this human ordering of the office ought not be confused with the one divine office instituted by Christ Himself: to preach the saving Gospel and administer the Sacraments.

Chris Jones said...

the Sacred Scriptures provide a complete revelation of the will of God to man

Is that really what our Confessions say?

It is one thing to say that the Scriptures are the pure source of doctrine, and the standard by which all teachers are to be judged (which our Confessions do say, FC SD Rule and Norm); it is quite another to say that Scripture is the only means by which the Apostolic deposit of faith comes to us. It is true that the Smalcald Articles say the Word of God shall establish articles of faith, and no one else, not even an angel; but strictly speaking the threefold ministry is not an "article of faith" as such, but an element of praxis. No Creed says "whosoever will be saved, it is necessary to believe in bishops, priests, and deacons."

Nonetheless it does come to us from the Apostles -- by tradition rather than by Scripture -- and is to be respected and, yes, obeyed. I don't think you want to establish the principle of complete revelation of the will of God, because it divides Scripture from tradition (which is its proper context) and will lead you to some very un-Lutheran places.

William Weedon said...

Chris,

I didn't say that they were the only means by which the Apostolic deposit has come down to us. I said the Sacred Scriptures are a complete revelation of the will of God to man; they are that. And that's the force of what you cite from SA. And in the Sacred Scriptures, given us by the Holy Spirit and to be received with all reverence, there is no distinction between bishop and presbyter - they are synonyms for that office of stewardship of the divine mysteries.

Chris Jones said...

Also, I think you seriously misunderstood what Mr Schütz said. He did not say that "the fullness of the priesthood resides in them [District Presidents]"; he said, just as you did, that for Lutherans the Pastor has the fullness of the ministry.

I think we all understand that the Lutheran pastor corresponds to the Orthodox or Catholic bishop. In a sense, the disagreement is less about the status of the Lutheran pastor than it is about the status of the Orthodox or Catholic presbyter. As Lutherans, we would say that the Catholic presbyter is, like our pastors, in no way fundamentally different from his bishop, and that the authority that the bishop exercises over him is ultimately of human origin.

Mr Schütz put his finger on the heart of the disagreement when he said it is evident that the office we today call "priest/presbyter" is in fact derived from the office of episcopus--which has the fulness of the priesthood--rather than the other way around (as Jerome and Luther contended).

You are right that the New Testament and the earliest Fathers use the terms episkopos and presbyteros interchangeably, to refer to a single office. But it is also true that, very early on, these two terms came to designate two different offices in the Church. The question is, what happened to the single office of episkopos/presbyteros? and where did the multiple offices come from?

Jerome's answer was that the single office called episkopos/presbyteros in the New Testament, and the single office known in his day as presbyteros, were one and the same; and that the office known in his day as episkopos was only an administrative distinction of human origin. Unfortunately, Jerome was wrong. The single NT office of episkopos/presbyteros continues to exist, and from the late 2d/early 3d century on has been referred to exclusively by the term episkopos.

In Jerome's model the origin of the episcopate is the raising up of an administrator from among the (ontologically equal) presbyters in a given area. But historically it is clear instead that the origin of the presbyterate is the delegation of sacramental and liturgical duties from the one bishop in a city to his subordinate ministers. So if you are right that "the threefold ministry" is not of divine origin, it is the presbyterate, not the episcopate, that is of human origin.

Confused said...

William,
In an earlier post you claimed that you found the 4-fold "Newmanian" approach to understanding the development of the 3-fold office and signs of guaranteeing the apostolic to be unpersuasive. The points were the following:

faithfulness to the apostolic tradition, as it evolved out of the New Testament in the succeeding centuries by the general consensus of the Church; the foundation of the Christian communities from 'apostolic' churches in a chain which can be traced back to the apostles themselves (i.e. founded by missionaries, not be reading a book, or setting up 'freelance'); the faithfulness of each particular community in its living out of the gospel within the apostolic tradition; and a 'tactile' succession of the ordained ministry through episcopal laying on of hands.

Which of these do you find out of place, objectionable, inappropriate, etc.?

Confused

Confused said...

William,
What do you make of what Tertullian says in his "On Prescription Against Heretics"?

They (the apostles) then in like manner founded churches in every city, from which all the other churches, one after another, derived the tradition of the faith, and the seeds of doctrine, and are every day deriving them, that they may become churches. Indeed, it is on this account only that they will be able to deem themselves apostolic, as being the offspring of apostolic churches…In this way all are primitive, and all are apostolic whilst they are all proved to be one, in (unbroken) unity, by their peaceful communion, and title of brotherhood, and bond of hospitality,—privileges which no other rule directs than the one tradition of the selfsame mystery.

Chris Jones said...

Dear Confused,

I hope my friend Fr Weedon will forgive me for answering a question addressed to him.

Which of these do you find out of place, objectionable, inappropriate, etc.?

The difficult points in your four-fold scheme are these: first, the phrase as it evolved out of the New Testament in the succeeding centuries as a qualifier to "faithfulness to the apostolic tradition"; and second, the setting of the "tactile succession" on a par with the other three elements.

If the Apostolic Tradition can "evolve" then it is no longer reliably "apostolic". It is not the result of the Apostolic proclamation, but the result of "evolution." Fr John Behr puts it well:

If tradition is essentially the right interpretation of Scripture, then it cannot change -- and this means, it can neither grow nor develop. A tradition with a potential for growth ultimately undermines the Gospel itself -- it leaves open the possibility for further revelation, and therefore the Gospel would no longer be sure and certain. If our faith is one and the same as that of the apostles, then, as Irenaeus claimed, it is equally immune from improvement by articulate or speculative thinkers as well as from diminution by inarticulate believers (Against the Heresies, 1.10.2) ... From an Orthodox perspective [as well as from a Lutheran perspective], there simply is, therefore, no such thing as dogmatic development.

As to "tactile succession," this is a juridical emphasis that is a relatively late development in the Latin West. In St Irenaeus and the other early witnesses to apostolic succession, the notion of tactile succession -- of "valid" ordination -- is simply absent from the discussion. The important thing for St Irenaeus is the continuity of the local Churches of Apostolic origin and the fact that the bishops occupied the same office in orderly succession. The "succession lists" in the early Fathers only state who succeeded whom, never who ordained whom.

That is not to say that proper, valid ordination is not important. But "tactile succession" is a point of canonical order, not a bit of sacramental "magic" as it came later to be understood. It is simply not to be found in the earliest Fathers.

William Weedon said...

Confused,

What Chris said.

Chris,

Thanks for jumping in on the Newman thingy.

Thanks also for the helpful comments on David's post, though I think you and I are going to have disagree on Jalland's assessment of the data. I think Piepkorn's (Luther's, Jerome's, and I'd say Irenaeus' - see the citation from Ad Haer. given earlier) read does more justice to the facts we have: the division between bishop and priest is the human divvying up of various tasks to which any incumbent of the office of the Holy Ministry is competent.

One more thing to add: without doubt, even once the distinction between bishop and priest came into existence, the line between the two has been in constant flux, and most often in the directionality of "from the bishop to the presbyter." First, the bishop was the usual preacher and presider in the local Eucharistic assembly, then that passed to presbyters; first, the bishop alone confirmed, but in time in the East that passed to presbyters and I think sometimes even now in Rome; first, the bishop alone absolved penitents and welcomed them back, but in time the presbyters came to share this. Rome historically certainly entrusted certain abbots in presbyteral order the right to ordain to both diaconate and presbyterate in their monasteries. And canon 951 of the Code of Canon Law of 1917 says "sacrae ordinationis minister ORDINARIUS est Episcopus consecratus" and goes on to admit exceptions if the bishop and pope grant permission. Taken together I think the data only makes sense if the presbyter by ordination and placing into office receives the fullness of the ministry, though he may indeed be restricted as the church sees fit in her canon law or local arrangements to what he ordinarily exercises of that office.