18 October 2007

A Von Schenk Joy

"They had three speakers: Gustave Wiegel of Woodstock, Rome's great theologian in America, Alexander Schmemann (whom I consider the most brilliant of all the theologians I have met) representing the Russian Orthodox Church, and I. Gustave Wiegel and I got into a little hassle. There was a question and answer period after the three lectures, and the question directed at me was: 'What is the Church?' I answered: 'According to St. Paul it is the Eucharistic community, under the direction of the ordained minister of the church, to manifest the total presence of Christ.' This was not original with me; St. Paul would agree with that definition, so would the ancient Church Fathers. But Wiegel protested, 'It is the Kahal Yisrael' ('Congregation of Israel'). Dr. Walther would have answered, 'It is the Missouri Synod, because they preach and teach pure doctrine.'" - *Lively Stones* pp. 117, 118

21 comments:

Christine said...

Oh, please forgive me but it's WEIGEL, not WIEGEL. A much respected Jesuit in ecumenical circles.

Sigh. I know, I know, I'm just too too picky.

William Weedon said...

I'm glad of the correction!

Christine said...

Danke !!

Brian P Westgate said...

This post begs the questios: What are we to make of the quotations in "The Lively Stone" copied in "Christian News" many times this year?

William Weedon said...

Well, I confess to paying virtually no attention to CN, so I don't know what's been published there. What do YOU make of them? :)

Anonymous said...

In CN Von Shenk is quoted as having strong modernistic tendencies in his aproach to Scripture along with hostility to Missouri synod icons such as Walther, Pieper, J.T. Mueller and WAM. The quote you have chosen shows an attempt to distance himself from Walther. Von Shenk's definition of the Church is similar to but ultimately divergent from the confessional marks of the church as the pure preaching of the Gospel and the right administration of the Sacraments. Greg

Christopher Orr said...

Unless "the ordained minister of the church" is required as a presupposition for "the right administration of the Sacraments" and how "ordained" is defined can have a major impact on whether one meets that standard or not, i.e., properly called, canonically ordained by a canonical bishop in apostolic succession (or in communion with Rome), etc.

It is always dangerous to identify one's group as de facto pure or correct. This is the danger in the infallibility of the Pope speaking ex cathedra with or without the College of Bishops.

William Weedon said...

Christopher,

As Greg points out, Von Schenk is mocking Walther's approach. The thing about Von Schenk is that - as my good friend Heath Curtis pointed out yesterday - he shares all the greatness and the weakness of a man of his age. He had astonishing insight and depth, and he also had some huge (and I mean HUGE) problems. He was an ecumenist of the liberal sort; an advocate of open communion; and that's just for starters. But none of those things detract from his great insights into Bethlehem and Calvary, which he knew touched him and his parishioners directly in the Sacrament of the Altar.

William Weedon said...

If I could put it this way: the man thought Eucharistically. He thought out from the Supper. That shaped everything about the way he taught, administered the parish, and loved his people.

Anonymous said...

He thought unionistically, not eucharistically.

William Weedon said...

He thought "unionistically" only because he disregarded the sad state of the Church, which is a contradiction of the Eucharist itself. The idea of the divided table he found intolerable. I hope all Christians agree. What I hope they don't agree with him on is that we can just ignore that which divides us and be united by the Eucharist. He - again typical to his generation - saw the Eucharist as a means toward that end, rather that sharing the Eucharist together as the goal achieved by unity of confession.

Anonymous said...

Huh?

Unionism = not eucharistic?

Bad logic. It is possible to be wrong on unionism and yet right on the importance of the eucharist to the Christian.

That's an example of the kind of LCMS silliness and hysterical "theology" the good father was so good at mocking.

Brian P Westgate said...

There are quotes there where he speaks of the Scriptures as "myth." Maybe he was using a different meaning, but if anyone would know, it would be Rev. Otten. Since he is from the Bronx, he does know a thing or two about von Schenk.

saxoniae said...

CN scanned several pages of Lively Stones into a recent issue. If the comments from Von Schenk about the LCMS, Walther and Luther were accurate then I'm astounded that so many LCMS pastors revere his so much (aside from the ALPB and Seminex crowd, of course). Von Schenk's own words make him out as a false teacher and hypocrite.

Tim Schenks (thinking about changing my last name)

William Weedon said...

Oh, I think he's more complicated than Herman may be giving credit for. I'd encourage anyone to read the book. It will outrage, delight, and astound you at times. He was very much a jar of clay, as are we all, and yet at times that jar of clay is holding the elixir of eternal life!

Paul T. McCain said...

Von Schenk was, frankly, more than a little bit, a loon!

And anyone who thinks Walther would have answered that question, that way, is positively certifiable.

Pastor Beisel said...

I thought he did: "The True Visible Church on Earth."

Rev. Timothy D. May said...

"'What is the Church?' I answered: 'According to St. Paul it is the Eucharistic community, under the direction of the ordained minister of the church, to manifest the total presence of Christ.' This was not original with me; St. Paul would agree with that definition, so would the ancient Church Fathers."

Great answer to a great question.

William Weedon said...

Well, that's the funny thing. I don't think Walther ever labeled Missouri, but "the Evangelical Lutheran Church" as the true visible Church. In other words, the "true visible Church" is still kinda invisible! ;)

So, Pastor McCain is right that Walther never actually said that about Missouri. But Von Schenk's little swipe implies that that's what many people were taught that Walther meant.

William Weedon said...

Pastor May,

You noted exactly why I thought the snippet worth posting. It was and is a great answer to a great question.

Anonymous said...

I finally ordered my copy of this book yesterday. I can't wait to read this.

Fr. Matthew Uttenreither SSP