01 August 2009

Thoughts on a Compline Prayer

I very much appreciate the Akathist of Thanksgiving and have praised it numerous times on this blog over the years - it is a wonderful prayer and hymn of joy. It is, however, set in the Orthodox service of Compline. As I listened to it again the other day I was (as usual) deeply troubled by one particular part of Compline, a prayer the Orthodox offer in this service that closes out the day. During this prayer the priest goes and stands before the icon of the Mother of God and says:

O Lady, Bride of God, virginal, pure, immaculate, blameless, without stain and disgrace, who through your birthiving brought together our fallen state and the things of heaven: O you, only hope of the hopeless, help of the oppressed, ready protection of those who flee to you and refuge of all Christians: despise me not who am a wretched sinner, who have defiled myself with unclean thoughts, words, and deeds, and in my slothfulness have become a slave to the passions of life. Since you are the Mother of God, who is the Lover of Mankind, have mercy, have compassion on me a sinner and a prodigal son; accept this prayer from my impure lips, and, with the power of your maternity, beg your Son, my Lord and my God, to open to me the depths of his loving kindness, forgive my countless sins, convert me to true repentance, and make me faithful to his commands. O you who are compassionate, be my constant companion. In this present life, be with me as an intercessor, as a powerful help to turn away the assaults of my enemies and to guide me to salvation. At the hour of my death, be with me to embrace my poor soul and to keep away the dreadful sight of the wicked devils. On the terrible day of judgment, deliver me from eternal punishment and make me an heir of your Son's glory, through the grace and love for mankind of your Son, our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. To him and to his eternal Father and to his all-holy, good, and life-giving Spirit we send up all glory, honor, and adoration, now and always and forever and ever. Amen.

I couldn't help but think as I listened that precisely the things that are being asked of the Blessed Virgin in this prayer are the things that I would ask of our Lord. Remembering how the 16th century Lutherans did a similar rewrite to the Marian antiphons after Western Compline (which I posted a few weeks ago), I wondered if it were possible to do the same thing with this prayer, shifting the address to our Lord Jesus Christ, who (after all) has said: Come unto me all you who are weary and heavy laden and I will give you rest. And it is He who promised to be with us always, to the end of the age. It is He whom the Father has set forth to be the Propitiation of our sins and our eternal hope. It is He who ever lives to intercede for us at the Father's right hand.

O Lord Jesus Christ, Son of the Blessed Virgin and the Eternal Father, sinless and pure and blameless, who united in yourself things both earthly and heavenly: O you, only hope of the hopeless, help of the oppressed, ready protection of all who flee to you and refuge of all Christians: despise me not who am a wretched sinner, who have defiled myself with unclean thoughts, words, and deeds, and in my slothfulness have become a slave to the passions of life. Since you are the Lover of Mankind, have mercy, have compassion on me a sinner and a prodigal son; accept this prayer from my impure lips, and, as my Brother, my Lord and my God, open to me the depths of your loving kindness, forgive my countless sins, convert me to true repentance, and make me faithful to your commands. O you who are compassionate, be my constant companion. In this present life, be with me as an intercessor, as a powerful help to turn away the assaults of my enemies and to guide me to salvation. At the hour of my death, be with me to embrace my poor soul and to keep away the dreadful sight of the wicked devils. On the terrible day of judgment, deliver me from eternal punishment and make me an heir of your glory, through your grace and love for mankind, O Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. To you, O Virgin Born, and to your eternal Father and to his all-holy, good, and life-giving Spirit we send up all glory, honor, and adoration, now and always and forever and ever. Amen.

With apologies to my Orthodox friends, I think that is a VAST improvement and much more pleasing both to our Lord and to His holy mother. I wonder if the Ukrainian Lutherans have done something similar? I wouldn't be surprised.

186 comments:

Rev. Allen Yount said...

Pr. Weedon, I like your revision of that compline prayer very much. As a fellow Lutheran pastor, I find the original version very perturbing, especially the part that asks Mary "not to despise us."

Several years ago, I was seriously considering "swimming across the Bosporus" like a number of Lutherans have done. One Sunday I went to the service at a Greek Orthodox Church, and then spent time chatting with the priest afterwards. One thing that we discussed was the place of Mary. He told me that the reason Lutherans have such a problem with prayers to Mary is that they don't understand the place of the mother in Midddle Eastern households. He said something along the lines of that just as "mama" persuades (intercedes to) "papa" to give the children a treat even though they've been naughty and he doesn't want to give them anything, so Mary persuades Jesus to be gracious to us. My unspoken thought at the time was that this was the exact same thing that the medieval Roman church taught about Jesus and Mary: that Jesus was an angry judge, and that Mary's job was to turn Him from being angry to being gracious to sinners. That, among other things, kept me from leaving Lutheranism to become Eastern Orthodox.

Paul McCain said...

Very nice prayer indeed. Amazing how putting Christ at the center of a prayer improves it, every time!

Kudos.

Chris said...

Fr. Weedon,

First, you do not have the full version of this particular prayer. Could you tell me where you got this? I use the Holy Transfiguration Monastery prayerbook and it is much longer.

Secondly, contrary to what Pr. McCain says, Christ IS at the center. We are asking, begging her with motherly boldness to beseech in man-befriending wise the compassions of her man-befriending son (paraphrase of parts not included in your rendition). Nothing can be done by herself that has not been given to her by Christ.

Thirdly, you will note that the doxology ends the prayer as do all Orthodox prayers, especially prayers to the saints since, as I have already said, their intercessions are in vain without Christ.

To Rev. Yount, I don't know the priest to whom you spoke, but I'm surprised by how he couches his argument in typical Western juridical models. Mary's intercessions have been invoked for as long as there has been the church. And if you know anything about Christ in the Orthodox Church, we uphold him as Theanthropos, philianthropos, etc., all titles which reveal his compassion and His mercy which endure forever.

Furthermore, CAtacomb inscriptions PROVE that Mary's intercessions were invoked even for the dead and there was never, ever any debate at the Council of Ephesus whether Mary should be invoked or called up on for her intercessions. One would think that had this been a problem it would have been taken up along with all the other Christological/Mariological arguments going on. But there was none. Thus, the intercession to Mary belongs to the most ancient tradition of the Church and was never condemned until the Reformation decided to throw it all out because of the excesses of the Roman Church.

I'm suprised, Pr. McCain, you haven't excommunicated Sts. BAsil the Great, Gregory the Theologian, John Damascene, John Chrysostomos, etc. for their invocations of the Holy Theotokos.

I'm not sure why you would even use this prayer in the first place as it belongs to the Eastern Rite. The Western Rite Compline is much different. I do not understand why people mix and match rites. It is liturgical musical chairs.

We will never come to consensus on this. I hope we don't simply because the truth has already been explained ad nauseam.

Believe what you will.

-C said...

I agree with Chris - believe what you will. Change what you want to change in order that the church might be palatable to you if that is what you want to do.

But then do not be surprised or angry when others in your own denomination take what they don't like of your liturgies and turn it into something that THEY find palatable.

Rather, let it convict you.

William Weedon said...

Chris,

I drew the prayer from the Byzantine Service Book (which is actually Byzantine Catholic rather than Orthodox - but the prayer is substantially the same as what I heard on the Akathist recording).

My friend, I think even if you search long and hard through the catacomb inscriptions you will not find a prayer asking the Blessed Mother to grant us the things asked for in this particular prayer. I don't find it of a piece with "Mary, pray for us!"

-C,

Of course this is an area where our confession and practice are not in sync, and we all knew that without me writing the post. I didn't write it in order to irritate my Orthodox friends (and tried to avoid doing so because I know every time I mention the topic you all tend to get rather excitable! ;).

I wrote it to offer what I thought was over all a beautiful prayer in a context that Lutherans would be able to rejoice in and pray. You all obviously see no need for the changes, but can you understand why a Lutheran would?

William Weedon said...

Pr. Yount,

Yes, it remained one of the most disturbing aspects of Orthodoxy to me as I was preparing to take the plunge. Not the theory of the saintly invocation, mind you, but the actual practice of the prayers themselves. I kept telling myself: "Well, how can the Church be wrong?" But it always felt so utterly wrong deep down. I confess that when I heard the prayer the other day I just shook my head and said a prayer of thanks that I am a Lutheran.

-C said...

No, but I can see why a Lutheran would want to leave it alone if they could not pray it as is.

Do you not have beautiful prayers of your own? Pray THEM.

(My guess is that you would feel quite the same way if some creative Orthodox Christian took a prayer from your beloved Treasury and did the same thing. Am I wrong?)

William Weedon said...

-C,

If an Orthodox were to take a prayer from our beloved Treasury and attempt to focus it more clearly upon our blessed Lord and what He has done and continues to do for us than it was when originally composed, then no, I would take no offense at all.

-C said...

That's not what I said.
If an Orthodox Christian wanted to take a prayer out of your treasury - perhaps one which focused on our Lord - and change it instead to focus on the Theotokos, would you not have a problem with this?

This whole business of taking this or that thing from another faith tradition that we find nice or beautiful and borrowing or changing or using it to suit our own needs rather smacks of the whole Emerging Church movement.

This post is beneath you.

Past Elder said...

Sounds like a long-winded, ie typically Orthodox, Memorare to me.

Which is just ten short lines in Latin.

Maybe you Eastern guys need some rip roaring Calvinists. Story is St Francis de Sales, Bishop of Geneva, as a young man was tormented by the thought that he might have missed election to salvation and was elected to be damned, so to speak, praying that if he can't love God in eternity could he at least love him in this life, and finally thinking that being damned and all he couldn't turn to God so he turned to Mary for help, prayed the Memorare, and was relieved of the torment of Calvinism, Reformed theology, double predestination, and other associated nonsense.

Poor guy. Could have just become Lutheran, skipped all the drama, and been comforted by the pure Word and Sacrament.

Speaking of which, though, preserving an observance by pruning it of extra-Biblical accretions is quite another thing from rewriting one from stem to stern.

Mix and match, rewrite to suit, liturgical musical chairs, has become the order of the day in the West, even among us, putting it on a par with the historic liturgy, and indeed since we do it ourselves why should we be surprised when others simply do the same thing to suit them, getting all ablaze about their different rewrite or mix and match on a different liturgical chair or no chair at all.

-C said...

PE -
Exactly.
As I wrote in a recent post, "Sometimes it is helpful to remember that the rites of the church are the way they are not because of some lack of creativity on the part of God's people, but because they serve a higher purpose than simply being a creative outlet."

William Weedon said...

Dear -C,

I would hope that I would not judge an Orthodox for doing such a thing should they choose to do it. They have a Lord before whom they stand and fall and to whom they will give account; as do I. I would commend them to His mercy and ask them to pray for this wretched sinner.

I do confess that I fail to understand your reaction to what I wrote, for since I could pray such a prayer to Christ as I rewrote, obviously there is nothing beneath me - save for His forgiving mercy and love which graciously cover all my sins and for which I give Him glory.

William Weedon said...

PE,

From this bewildered Lutheran's standpoint, that's what I did: remove the unbiblical portions.

William Weedon said...

Oh, and PE, never did I come close to suggesting such a prayer for use in our own liturgy...

orthodoxy hunter said...

Good work. You cleaned it up real nice.

christl242 said...

My unspoken thought at the time was that this was the exact same thing that the medieval Roman church taught about Jesus and Mary: that Jesus was an angry judge, and that Mary's job was to turn Him from being angry to being gracious to sinners. That, among other things, kept me from leaving Lutheranism to become Eastern Orthodox.

I once asked my cradle Catholic husband what he was taught in the RC about why Catholics ask Mary to intercede for them. He said he was taught that Jesus never refuses a request from His mother.

Puzzled, I said, but there's so many instances in the New Testament where Mary is nowhere to be seen and Jesus, the merciful One who loves us, healed, taught, fed, and attended to all who came to Him. The thief on the cross certainly didn't need anyone to intercede for him with the Lord.

There is a strong push by a small faction of Catholics to declare Mary co-mediatrix with Jesus to which theologians protest that rightly understood it takes nothing away from the centrality of Christ. The problem is, it is not always "rightly understood" by the laity.

Marian devotion came to the Western church from the East and as it did there took on a life of its own in the Church of Rome.

Along with EO and RC Christians I honor Mary as Mother of God and acknowledge her unique privilege as the God-bearer.

As a Lutheran, beyond that I simply will not go.

Christine

christl242 said...

Oh, and in case I'm about to get accused of working with second hand information, my husband's version I found to be quite accurate when I was Catholic myself for ten years and attended both Western and Eastern liturgies.

PE is quite right. The Memorare would do it very nicely in a much shorter form.

Christine

Cranky said...

I myself as a Lutheran layperson loved the prayer! I also understand, but disagree, with the protests of our Eastern Orthodox brethen. Pastor Weedon offered the rewritten prayer for personal and private devotion and nothing more.

-C said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Past Elder said...

Compline in the West too has a distinct Marian emphasis. There are four antiphons that conclude it, used at various times: Alma Redemptoris Mater, Ave Regina Caelorum, Regina Caelie, Salve Regina.

It's one thing to retain Compline, but consider the Marian emphasis itself an unwarranted development and not include it, or to retain at Vespers the prayer of Mary herself, the Magnificat, which fulfills that of Hannah, whose focus is already the Lord and is from Scripture.

It's quite another to rewrite, whether for personal or public devotion, something that in its entirety is part of the unwarranted development.

The Ukrainian Lutheran liturgy is that of St John Chrysostom. Any self respecting EO would notice immediately though that the Mary and the saints stuff in it is diminished from what they have, yet it is in line the the aim proudly stated in the Confessions, not to come up with something new or rewritten but for the most part similar to the ceremonies already in use.

Even in our Common Service (unfortunately neither common nor our service in very many places now, living icognito as Divine Service III) where the canon is diminished to the point of not being there, it is still otherwise recognisably the Western Rite previously in use.

As distinct from, not removing but rewriting the accretions themselves, thereby no different than any other attempt to take something foreign to Lutheran thinking and the way it is because it lacks entirely Lutheran thinking, and infuse it with a Lutheran content, be it Marian devotions of this kind or "evangelical" services which are as they are precisely because they do not believe in a means of grace like the Eucharist.

I'll tell you this, you EO guys, somebody over there ought to write a new devotion of praise and thanksgiving that you didn't have a Vatican II, or more accurately, that the trends and forces of modernism and revisionism haven't, as yet anyway, come to-gether in a Vatican II like orgy infecting everything in its path, resulting on one-two-buckle-my-shoe calendars and lectionaries, three-four-shut-the-door "settings", ordinary and extraordinary forms, eucharistic prayers, etc, five-six-pick-up-sticks of whatever else somebody thinks is a good idea that didn't get included in the books.

Past Elder said...

Oh Judas, make that Regina Caeli. Sister Colleen my Latin teacher would barf in a bucket at such a typo and hand it back to me with a red mark that is not a rubric!

Past Elder said...

P bloody S: among the many things from Luther's 1520 essays that changed me was the comment in there somewhere that Marian devotions etc, however good they may or may not have been in intention and origin, nonetheless in practice have obscured the very thing they given the best construction on it were meant to serve, as if God, who has given us everything in Jesus, somehow has to be persuaded to act kindly on our behalf or will be so more inclined if this person prays rather than that.

Iggy said...

Getting back to the revision itself, the doxology is still skewed towards EO in that the Holy Spirit is connected only to the Father.

As long as we are tinkering with this, lets remember that the Holy Spirit "proceeds from the Father and the Son."

IggyAntiochus

PS: Thanks for tackling this. I will add this prayer to my personal devotion.

Iggy said...

Here is a rough rewording of the doxology. I welcome other suggestions.

To You, O Virgin-Born and to Your eternal Father and to the all-holy, good, and life-giving Spirit we send up all glory, honor, and adoration, now and always and forever and ever. Amen.

IggyAntiochus

William Weedon said...

Iggy,

I see it fine either way. The Scripture certainly speak of the Spirit of Him who raised Christ from the dead; they also speak of the Spirit of our Lord. So I don't see confessing the Spirit as "His" (in reference to the Father) as meaning "ONLY His." Still, I do like you suggested change.

christl242 said...

The most significant Marian theme in the whole New Testament:

"Do whatever he tells you."

Which I am sure would please her very much.

Marian devotion sometimes comes alarmingly close to the old Magna Mater of the ancient world.

Christine

Dixie said...

The Western Memorare remains one of my most favorite prayers. I still pray it every day as an Orthodox Christian and I didn't feel any need to change it to suit me! :P

Pastor Weedon, you go ahead and do what you need to get by but it is a curious thing that you felt compelled to repristinate an Eastern Orthodox prayer. Just one piece of advice...don't expect the Patriarch to come calling anytime soon to ask you to fix anything else!

William Weedon said...

Dixie,

Won't expect His holiness to ask me to him any favors any time soon! :)

What I particularly was drawn to in the original was the humility of the petitioner, and wished only to redirect the petitions to the Savior.

Jon Townsend said...

I was just reading a great Martin Luther quote this morning about how he once upon a time saw Jesus as a terrible angry judge who cared nothing for him, so he wrapped himself in the Blessed Virgin that she would convince her Son to show mercy.

As a Lutheran I have a more than average devotion to the Blessed Mother as Theotokos and Icon of the Church, but looking to Mary to convince her Son to be merciful flies in the face of what he does of his own and his Father's will. "Through Mary to Jesus", is a horrible twist. Through the fruit of her womb salvation, yes.

Chris said...

Fr. Weedon,

You wrote: "What I particularly was drawn to in the original was the humility of the petitioner, and wished only to redirect the petitions to the Savior."

You appear to be so on edge about the Theotokos that you turn a blind eye to the numerous petitions to Christ through the Theotokos. Mary can do nothing except that which Christ allows her to do.

The prayer does not need to be cleaned up. I have no problem using your own prayers for private devotion, but I would have a great problem if you used this at Compline at your church with your parishioners. The composer of this work, Joseph, I guarantee would not approve.

Past Elder said...

Well how about this, EO guys. Bishop Sheen used to say that God and Christ are like the Sun and Mary is like the Moon. The sun is where light comes from, the moon has no light of its own except that of the sun's it reflects; and, in the dark night, when we there seems to be no light from the sun itself, though in fact it is shining, we have the moon to light our way with that of the sun's light it reflects.

Interesting that the scenario Jon recounts from Luther is the same one Francis de Sales said of himself.

I think pastor was clear enough that he is making no liturgical proposal here.

Even so, while I am fully on board with reforming the liturgy of accretions and things contrary to Scripture, I am not on board with rewriting the accretions themselves or other ways of supplying Lutheran content to non-Lutheran forms, any more than with writing new liturgies either from scratch or cut and pasted from the past.

christl242 said...

Mary can do nothing except that which Christ allows her to do.

Which begs the question -- what's the point?

When the Lord ascended He said all power in heaven and earth had been given to Him and He is with us always.

Satis est.


Christine

Iggy said...

Pr. Weedon: Great discussion! I am with you on this one. Just another question, seeking your perspective here and not trying to be a pain.

The doxology is a confession of what we believe, so is the creed.

Would it be OK to confess in the Nicene Creed only "who proceeds from the Father" with the understanding that He also proceeds from the Son?

It appears the early Latin Rite added in "and the Son" in order to strengthen and clarify their confession.

Blessings,

Iggy

William Weedon said...

Iggy,

I think the addition of filioque to the Nicene Creed has been the source of needless controversy. I wish the Creed had never been altered in the West. It's not the filioque is a false teaching - I do not believe that for a minute - but that it was a canonical mistake of the first order for a region of Christ's Church to unilaterally augment the common possession of Christendom in the Creed.

It is always interesting to note that the Pope resisted for some time the addition of the filioque in the Creed - such a change went against the highly conservative nature of the Roman see in those days.

Iggy said...

Pr. Weedon,

Thanks for your clarification.

I am SUCH a Western Rite stickler when it comes to the Creed!

I appreciate your feedback.

Blessings,

IggyAntiochus

Paul McCain said...

I can't find anything that our Lord said that would lead me to pray to His mother, to put in a good word for me.

But I do read where the Dear Lady said, "Whatever He says, do."

And He said, "If you ask anything in my name..." and "Come to ME all you are weak and heavy laden"

Oh, well.

The mental gymnastics that converts to Orthodoxy go through are worth of Olympic medals for super-human contortions!

Rosko said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Rosko said...

Father Weedon, Pastor McCain, Rev. Yount, -C, Iggy, Chris, PastElder, Christine, Jon, please pray for me.


Oh living Mother of the Living God, oh Holy Saints alive in the Uncreated Light of Christ, oh Martyrs, confessors, patriarchs, ascetics, etc who have been made perfect in the Kingdom which to us here is yet to come, please pray for me.


(reposted to subscribe to follow-ups)

Iggy said...

Hey, Rosko,

I will gladly add you to my prayer list! I promise not to ask God to bring you back to Lutheranism (I clicked over to your profile and blog to find out a little about you).

Is there anything specific you would like me to pray about?

The difference between asking me to pray for you and asking the martyrs, confessors, patriarchs, etc. to pray for you is that you can be certain that I will pray for you.

If for some reason you are uncertain, you can ask about it and hold me accountable.

My hangup with the intercession of the saints is that I cannot KNOW that they are praying for me in the same way that I can know that my friends, relatives, pastor, etc., are praying for me.

This "certainty" is what keeps me a Lutheran. The certainty of eternal life, the certainty of Jesus' death and resurrection, the certainty of the Holy Scriptures, and the certainty of the Lutheran Confessions.

Blessings to you as you continue your journey in the Eastern Rite.

IggyAntiochus

Benjamin Harju said...

-C,

Lutherans usually don't leave others prayers alone, because Lutheranism is a revision and boxing in of catholic, orthodox Tradition. Hence, reformation and sola scriptura (which means in Orthodox terms, the breathing of the Spirit that was written down in the Scriptures, but not the continuous breathing and living of the Spirit in the Church). For a few different reasons, Lutherans don't believe or recognize the Life of the Holy Spirit on earth that the Orthodox know to be the Church. Hence they can only revise what the Spirit gives so that it fits into the particular confines of the Spirit's revelation that they accept. When I was Lutheran I revised a number of things so that my parishioners could benefit from the beauty and clarity of the early Fathers, but within the confines of Lutheranism. That's just the way it is.

Pastor Weedon et al,

Don't be surprised if the Orthodox get upset when you tweak their prayers. They have a zeal for the Truth, and a strong dislike of mutilating it. That's just the way it is.

Love in Christ,
Benjamin Harju

Benjamin Harju said...

Pastor Weedon,

I see the trouble coming from the combination of a number of things. For Lutherans:

1. The point of Christ's death is to satisfy legal demands.

2. His righteousness is imputed to sinners, giving them a new status.

3. The sacraments exist primarily (though not solely) to serve faith.

4. Sanctification is an off-shoot of imputed righteousness, not a central theme.

5. Salvation is neatly seen as Christ placing man in a new category, which gives him confidence against his sins and the surety of rest from his labors in heaven.


Given what Lutherans believe, why turn to the Theotokos? Isn't she just imputed with Christ's righteousness like us, now resting from her labors in heaven?

As a puny Orthodox catechumen, though, I would like to point out what I think is the crux. Lutherans have erred concerning justification, which disrupts their grasp on Christ's saving work and makes justification seem disproportionately important. It's like a dislocated shoulder wrenched and beaten, making the rest of the body think that life is about guarding that injured member.

Justification is not about mere imputation or obtaining a new status. It is about being drawn into communion with the righteousness of Jesus Christ Himself. This is not an infused grace (RC), but Christ Himself uniting Himself to the sinner, cleansing sin away by His blood in Baptism and Eucharist, and uniting to the person new life in the Spirit - a righteous life (justification) and a holy life (sanctification in the narrow sense). So the sinner becomes truly righteous - not merely in name, nor by some added infusion, but by communion with Christ in the Holy Spirit. This is justification. The righteousness of Christ alive in the sinner making him or her a saint. Imputation as used by Lutheran theology falls short and drives a wedge into the saving work of Christ, separating the sinner from what Christ does to save the individual.

The point I'm making is that the goal of Christ's and the Spirit's work is what you might know as sanctification (in the wide sense), not imputation. Sinners are forgiven, cleansed, and make communicants of the life of the Trinity. The outgrowth and manifestation of this sanctification (in the wide sense) is the spiritual life, which you can see in multitudinal ways in the life and various vocations of the saints. Prayer is a chief characterizing fruit of this sanctification, as is love and unity.

Praying to the Blessed Mother of God like above is received in view of this matrix of sanctification via communion. This prayer describes what the saving sanctification of Christ effects; it shows us how life in the kingdom is. And this is only a fraction of the inexhaustible gift of salvation.

Embedded in this, of course, is the issue of how to use the Scriptures and ecclesiology, but at this point I think praying like this to the Theotokos seems off because Lutherans are off on justification.

I'm not trying to attack Lutherans here. I'm trying to speak clearly and to the point, as best as I can (which isn't so good anymore). Pastor Weedon, if praying like this to the Mother of God is problematic, it is understandable, given the theology you have chosen to defend. Prayer to the Mother of God is the result of a sanctifying-growth-matrix instead of an imputational-static-matrix.

This is a long-winded post. I'm sorry. I don't get many chances to get online like I used to. I don't know if I will be able to get back to talk anymore, so if anyone feels like they want to fight about this, I won't be fighting. I'm just pointing out what I see is at the hub of the issue.

Love in Christ,
Benjamin Harju

Dixie said...

I hate to come in after such a beautiful explanation of the Orthodox position presented by Mr. Harju--I look forward to any meaningful exchange it brings--but I want to get back to something Iggy said...

The difference between asking me to pray for you and asking the martyrs, confessors, patriarchs, etc. to pray for you is that you can be certain that I will pray for you.

Your certainty could be my uncertainty. I can't be certain you pray for me. You can tell me you will...you can even say or type the words of prayer in a way that I hear or see them but I can't see into your heart to know that you are sincerely praying. There is no certainty that you will pray for me because you say so, because I can see you, because you breathe air in this mortal life. You could be a liar. (Please forgive me, I don't think you are a liar...I just say this to make a point.) Actually, because the scriptures say "the prayer of a righteous man availeth much"...I have more "certainty" in asking the Theotokos and the saints!

Now, to be honest, if I know you well, if I put the best construction on things, I may be reasonably certain that you pray for me as well...but I just wanted to point out the weakness in the logic behind 'not knowing' if the saints pray for us. Some things which seem like certainty are really a matter of faith.

William Weedon said...

Ben,

That is SO much hokum! I hardly know how to begin to reply. The need for the converts to falsify Lutheranism never ceases to amaze me!

It is the conviction of Lutherans that the Spirit - who very much lives and breathes through our Church and through the history of the whole Church (shoot YOU even confess that the Spirit fills all things in the Heavenly King prayer!), does so in complete harmony and continuity with the witness the self-same Spirit gave in the Sacred Scriptures. Do not ask us to recognize as of the Spirit that which cannot be made to harmonize with the Sacred Scriptures. Yes, that's where Lutherans put down their foot. Now, I'm on vacation and have no intention of having some sort of flame war going on with former Lutherans. Enough is enough. The prayer was offered to be a blessing to Lutherans and not to be a pain to Orthodox - you guys need to let it go.

Iggy said...

Hey, Dixie,

I certainly see your point. The intersession of the saints often comes down to a matter of faith rather than reason.

Still here on earth we can hold each other accountable for such things.

Perhaps that is difficult for an internet relationship, but if you know the person well, you can say, "Hey, friend, remember how I asked you to pray for me? How is that going..." or words to that effect.

I do know there are some who will pray for a day or two and then move on. These people need a gentle reminder that continual prayer is needed.

"You know that situation we talked about last week? It hasn't let up, and I am still struggling with the tension at work. My supervisor is so unbearable! Please keep praying for me as I deal with this stressful situation."

I sometimes say, "This situation is not going away. Will you pray me through this?" which indicates I will need not just today's prayer, but perhaps daily prayer until the situation has subsided.

Bottom line, my prayer partners and I have a strong enough relationship that we can confide in and hold each other accountable.

IggyAntiochus

William Weedon said...

"A zeal for truth and a strong dislike for mutilating it."

Exactly. Which is true also for Lutherans, and for whom the standard of judgment of truth differs from the Orthodox. "Thy Word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path."

orrologion said...

He certainly is. He - not it.

William Weedon said...

He through it - which "it" is alive with His Spirit's breath!

Paul said...

"The prayer was offered to be a blessing to Lutherans and not to be a pain to Orthodox - you guys need to let it go..."


Pr. Weedon, you offer your criticism of an Orthodox prayer on a public blog of which many Orthodox visit and then slap and stifle them when they offer they're comments and criticisms back.

I don't get it

William Weedon said...

Good gravy, Paul. I think the slapping is going quite in the other direction! I've even been likened unto Nestorius in an allusion this post on an Orthodox blog. I'm happy that Orthodox folk feel free to drop in from time to time here, and they are always welcome, but I do not at all feel obligated by their presence here to walk on egg-shells about areas that they KNOW we disagree on. I have not in the least misrepresented the Orthodox by posting the prayer; it's a prayer that, as I said, has great strength in the humility of the petitioner and yet what any Lutheran can only regard as a very sad ad tragic flaw in its address of these petitions to the Mother of God instead of to her Son, our Lord. Is there a single Orthodox who would not grasp that Lutherans would find such an address defective, and truthfully, offensive? Why would ANY Orthodox not expect such a critique on a Lutheran blog??? If Orthodox come here they know they'll get a Lutheran view of things.

Atychi said...

I really had no idea that there was such a temptation to "swim the Bosporus." Is it commonplace for Lutherans to be looking to either Rome or Constantinople? Is it wise to be using an Orthodox prayer in this manner; I mean, couldn't this just be the beginning of Eastern ruminations (or ruinations) for one of your parishioners? Why would you look to and change an Orthodox prayer when I'm sure your prayer books do everything you want them to do--that is, center their focus on Christ? Would Pastor McCain use an Orthodox prayer or simply use one from his Lutheran prayer book? But I doubt Pastor McCain has ever had Bosporian thoughts.

I'll bet a lot of converts started off this way--putting their toes in the Bosporus. But it could lead to a hearty swim. And then, at the half-way point across the Bosporus, the point of almost-no-return, where one stays Lutheran or keeps going East, the person starts to sink, to drown (not out of despair but of confusion), and lo-and-behold cries out with Saint John Chrysostom, "O, most Holy Theotokos, save me, a sinner."

Or not.

atychi said...

"Is there a single Orthodox who would not grasp that Lutherans would find such an address defective, and truthfully, offensive? Why would ANY Orthodox not expect such a critique on a Lutheran blog??? If Orthodox come here they know they'll get a Lutheran view of things."

Amen. And thank you for that, Pastor Weedon. I find it very informative and enlightening.

Tragically yours,
atychi

Dixie said...

Would Pastor McCain use an Orthodox prayer or simply use one from his Lutheran prayer book? But I doubt Pastor McCain has ever had Bosporian thoughts.

We have new competitor here with Past Elder. Atychi, your capcity for understandment had me reaching for paper towels to clean off my monitor screen! I suspect Pastor McCain is as solid a Lutheran as they come and is not tempted with Bosporian thoughts.

Benjamin Harju said...

Pastor Weedon,

I see I hit a nerve. I'm sorry about that. Just as you weren't trying to falsify Orthodoxy by modifying one of our prayers in a public setting (instead of behind the doors of Wittenberg Trail), so I've not set out to falsify Lutheranism. But I'm also not going to pull punches, nor pretend that the Lutheran position should be defended. That wouldn't help. Please don't impute malice here.

Yes, the Spirit fills all. But let's not presume that the Spirit fills error like He fills a convert in Baptism and Chrismation. The Spirit works upon error to convert it to Truth. Then He fills that which is converted and brings it into communion with the sanctification of Christ. When you, as a Lutheran, teach about how God is everywhere, don't you teach that the salvation He offers is not to be sought everywhere, but only in the Word and Sacraments? In similitude the Spirit may be everywhere, but that is not to presume He works everywhere in quite the same fashion. Among Protestants He works in one fashion (and only the Spirit can know how that is with any precision), but in the fullness of the Church He works in fullness to accomplish that fullness in men.

Look, Pastor Weedon, no one can make you or anyone else see what the Orthodox see. We can tell you what our eyes have seen and our ears have heard and so forth, but we can't convince anyone. That's going to be between you and the Holy Trinity. Now, instead of taking my previous comment as a personal attack against Lutheranism, I hope you will see it as a description (from someone who believes Orthodoxy is the Truth) of why the Orthodox have these sort of prayers, and why Lutherans don't and can't.

But, Pastor Weedon, you know the history of Christianity regarding combat with error. If you're going to continue to loot the pastures of Orthodoxy in order to reduce it to the narrow confines of Lutheran error, please expect further Orthodox commentators. A beautiful prayer to Christ is great. But publicly stripping away the Truth that Christ bestows (like you have done here) is only going to attract more defenders. Just so you know.

Love in Christ,
Benjamin Harju

P.S.
It's not that God's Word is your lamp and light but not ours. We both have God's Word. If imputed righteousness is like a dislocated shoulder in Lutheranism, the other dislocated shoulder is using Scripture outside the context of the Life of the Spirit (Tradition, the Church, etc.).

William Weedon said...

Atychi,

Check out this post:

http://cyberbrethren.com/2009/05/08/daily-prayers-you-may-find-helpful/

You see, Lutherans (to the chagrin of many, no doubt) see whatever is true as OURS for "all things are yours in Christ Jesus."

William Weedon said...

Ah, Ben. You've definitely drunk the kool-aide. Kyrie, eleison!

William Weedon said...

P.S. Ben, enough of the bull then about not knowing where the Church is not. You've proclaimed by your words that the Church is NOT among Lutherans for they are devoid of the Life of the Spirit in which the Church alone lives.

atychi said...

Thanks for the link, Pastor Weedon. Glad to see that you pass such gifts on to Pastor McCain.

"Be mindful, O Lord, of our Herbert, (your District President’s name)"

***I'm going to have to find out who my Orthodox District President is.

orrologion said...

Lutherans (to the chagrin of many, no doubt) see whatever is true as OURS...

St. Irenaeus had a little something to say about theological composites:

"Such, then, is their [the Valentinians'] system, which neither the prophets announced, nor the Lord taught, nor the apostles delivered, but of which they boast that beyond all others they have a perfect knowledge. They gather their views from other sources than the Scriptures; and, to use a common proverb, they strive to weave ropes of sand, while they endeavour to adapt with an air of probability to their own peculiar assertions the parables of the Lord, the sayings of the prophets, and the words of the apostles, in order that their scheme may not seem altogether without support. In doing so, however, they disregard the order and the connection of the Scriptures, and so far as in them lies, dismember and destroy the truth. By transferring passages, and dressing them up anew, and making one thing out of another, they succeed in deluding many through their wicked are in adapting the oracles of the Lord to their opinions. Their manner of acting is just as if one, when a beautiful image of aking has been constructed by some skilful artist out of precious jewels, should then take this likeness of the man all to pieces, should rearrange the gems, and so fit them together as to make them into the form of a dog or of afox, and even that but poorly executed; and should then maintain and declare that this was the beautiful image of the king which the skilful artist constructed, pointing to the jewels which had been admirably fitted together by the first artist to form the image of theking , but have been with bad effect transferred by the latter one to the shape of a dog, and by thus exhibiting the jewels, should deceive the ignorant who had no conception what aking's form was like, and persuade them that that miserable likeness of the fox was, in fact, the beautiful image of the king . In like manner do these persons patch together old wives' fables, and then endeavour, by violently drawing away from their proper connection, words, expressions, and parables whenever found, to adapt the oracles of God to their baseless fictions. We have already stated how far they proceed in this way with respect to the interior of the Pleroma.

In like manner he also who retains unchangeable in his heart the rule of the truth which he received by means of baptism, will doubtless recognise the names, the expressions, and the parables taken from the Scriptures, but will by no means acknowledge the blasphemous use which these men make of them. For, though he will acknowledge the gems, he will certainly not receive thefox instead of the likeness of the king . But when he has restored every one of the expressions quoted to its proper position, and has fitted it to the body of the truth, he will lay bare, and prove to be without any foundation, the figment of these heretics."

To clarify, Pr. Weedon's theology wasn't compared to the theology of Nestorius, simply their methods regarding lex orandi est lex credendi.

William Weedon said...

St. Irenaeus also had a little something to say about those who sought to teach doctrine not found in the Scriptures:

Since, therefore, the tradition from the apostles does exist in the church, and is permanent among us, let us revert to the demonstration from the Scriptures of the apostles who wrote the Gospel, in which they recorded the doctrine regarding God, pointing out that our Lord Jesus Christ is the truth and there is no lie in Him. Ad. Haer. 3.5.1

So let us follow his wise words here and revert to demonstration from the Scriptures of the apostles.

orrologion said...

P.S. Ben, enough of the bull then about not knowing where the Church is not. You've proclaimed by your words that the Church is NOT among Lutherans for they are devoid of the Life of the Spirit in which the Church alone lives.

Actually, Ben seems to have a good grasp still of both Lutheran and Orthodox theology, though the result of his analysis and comparison of them ends differently than does yours. You, however, seem to have forgotten a great deal of what you once knew about the facts of Orthodox theology (rather than in your analysis of its truth vis a vis Lutheranism) - purposefully or not, that would seem to point to a more likely location of any kool-aid dispensary (which is/was really an uncalled for response to a polite and thorough comment).

I agree with you, BTW, that Lutherans have every right to pick and choose and remake whatever of the Bible and the Fathers and the liturgical traditions of the world in whatever way they like. St. Justin Martyr talks about taking from the pagans whatever is good using the image of a bee.

The difference is in the identificaiton of the rule of faith or the image of the king assumed by the creator of Irenaeus's mosaic. One can use all the same materials and come up with a wildly different picture, e.g., that of a fox.

The other difference is in the Lutheran method regarding lex credendi and lex orandi, the exact opposite of the patristic understanding of the phrase. That isn't meant as a sleight, just a description: theology is stated as the rule of faith and then liturgy is built on and from it with whatever may be of use, new or old, Orthodox or Catholic or Lutheran or Anglican or Methodist or Evangelical or modern, etc. If lex orandi was the lex credendi, then ancient prayers would not be touched because they represent either ancient orthodoxy or ancient heresy. If ancient heresy, then new orthodox prayers would simply be written from the lex credendi so as not to rely on flawed orandi.

It's all tiresome because you know all this - and in its most positive light - but insist on forgetting it. At a certain point, such conversations seem to be more about you being able to prove your Lutheran street cred by jousting with those from liturgically traditional churches similar to the forms you prefer for Lutheranism. I'm not sure it's helpful to participate in that and enable it.

William Weedon said...

Christopher,

You're right the koolaide comment was over the top, and Ben, I do apologize for it. I should never write in frustration and know that, and still I fall into the temptation. Forgive me.

Christopher, why on earth would you think I had a need to prove my Lutheran street credentials, and how would rewriting that prayer (in the context of praising, by the way, the Akathist of Thanksgiving) accomplish such a thing even if that is what I was intending to do?

Can you tell me this about the original prayer: when was it composed? I'd be most interested in knowing that. It strikes me (from what I've read of them) that it goes much farther than any 4th century Father did, let alone those in prior centuries.

William Weedon said...

P.S. About the fox analogy - yes, of course. The question is whether the Lutherans read the Scriptures so as to get from them a picture of a fox or whether we receive from them the same picture Irenaeus got: that of the merciful Father who sends His Son to be the great King of all the world by offering His life in our place, forgiving our sin, destroying our death and granting us a welcome in His kingdom as we pray with the thief: "Remember me, Lord, when You come into Your kingdom."

atychi said...

"You see, Lutherans (to the chagrin of many, no doubt) see whatever is true as OURS for 'all things are yours in Christ Jesus.'"
***Except the prayer to the Theotokos wasn't quite true so you changed it to make it true. This is fine, but you're not technically using what is "true" but what is almost true. It seems by this logic (of course, this is only a hypothetical observation ad absurdum, and I would never expect a Lutheran to put such a thing into practice) that a Lutheran could use or recommend a Buddhist prayer, a Hindu prayer, a Zoroastrian prayer, a Muslim prayer, etc.? It just seems to be asking for trouble. Is there a more rigorous rule of thumb than "whatever is true is OURS"? Or maybe I'm reading all of this wrong and Lutheranism wouldn't mind appropriating prayers from other traditions?

Paul McCain said...

I pray only Lutheran prayers, and pray to God, that I think only Lutheran thoughts. Why?

Because "Lutheran" is simply a label I use to describe what is believed by all Christians, everywhere, at all times.

It's a helpful label because it helps distinguish between what is authentically one, holy, catholic and apostolic, from the errors found in other erring bodies.

So, whatever is true, whatever is noble, I think on those things. Some might be found in publications and practices, rites and rituals contained in the literature of the Orthodox Church.

I know full well that the truth of Christ is not contained wholly only in a church that has the name Lutheran on its building, but I do know that whatsoever is true, is not unique "Roman Catholic" or "Eastern Orthodox."

What's true, is true, no matter where it is found, or by whom it is spoken. I just choose to label such truth as "Lutheran" to distinguish it from any/all errors, but unlike the EO, I have no doubt where Christ is at work, for I know that happens wherever there are sheep who hear His voice. That's why you won't catch me denying that EO baptisms are real Baptisms, or that their Eucharist is not a real Eucharist, or that their ministers do not proclaim and declare the Gospel when it is read, spoken or heard among them.

atychi said...

Very nicely put, Pastor McCain. I can only guess this because you didn't answer it directly, but I'm going to assume that Hindu prayers would be out, yes? But when you write, "What's true, is true, no matter where it is found, or by whom it is spoken," man, I can only see mass syncretism knocking at the door. Again, maybe I'm misreading Lutheranism and the "true" would indeed extend even to these other ancient cultures/religions. The vagueness of your answers seems to leave the door open to these things. Again, I'm making a hypothetical point. If it hasn't happened in the past 500 years, then I'm sure it's simply a silly hypothetical point and that there are practical reasons such things haven't occurred. I'm simply ignorant of the Lutheran safeguards against Zoroastrian prayers.

Again, thanks for your insights. I always appreciate your straightforward manner of answering questions.

Iggy said...

We are talking about prayers from the Christian Tradition, here. Our Mass is definitely from the Latin Rite, yet it is stripped of things that are not found in Scripture.

Our Litany is from the Latin Rite, yet petitions for those in purgatory, appeals to the saints, etc, are not found in it.

Matins/Morning Prayer, Vespers/Evening Prayer, and Compline/Prayer at the Close of the Day are all derived from the Monastic Hours yet each has a distinct Lutheran twist.

Any hymnal (from any denomination) might list the credits like this:

Text: Bob Smith (alt.)

Meaning that while Bob Smith wrote the text, the hymnal committee altered it to provide the unique viewpoint of the denomination.

With each new hymnal, there are always a few changes, perhaps as simple as changing "Thee" to "You," or as complicated as a revised translation of the Liturgy and all new music and perhaps a place for a new rite.

This isn't anything new to Lutheranism, but perhaps drawing from the Eastern Rite instead of the Latin Rite is unique.

Not too unique, though, as the Kyrie and Nicene Creed in the Mass and the Phos Hilarion of Evening Prayer are all derived from the Eastern Rite. Each has been adapted first by the Latin Rite, and then again by the Lutheran Church.

orrologion said...

Can you tell me this about the original prayer: when was it composed? I'd be most interested in knowing that.

No idea.

...it goes much farther than any 4th century Father did, let alone those in prior centuries.

But here is the rub. We wouldn't know anything about the ante-Nicene period except for the 4th century Church and Fathers; we wouldn't know of the 4th without the 5th, the 5th without the 6th; etc. Such things were preserved and adhered to father to son, traditioned forward. If the language regarding the Theotokos was overboard by a post-Ephesus generation's standards there would have been a groundswell of dissent somewhere in Christendom as there was about more abstruse dotrines such as Mya- and Mono-phytism, Monenergism and Monotheletism, not to mention iconoclasm and Arianism. But, we see no such dissent. Anywhere. By anyone. Across terrible divisions in Christendom over every sort of doctrine and practice, across linguistic, ethnic, racial and political borders, under Christian and non-Christian rulers and in Christian and non-Christian societies. Silence. The only evidence we have is devotion and prayers to the Mother of God, and this has come to us through transmission generation to generation. Dissent came about only in 16th Century Germany - not in Jerusalem, Syria, Persia, Ethiopia, Egypt, North Africa, Asia Minor, Greece, Thrace, Illyria and the Balkans, Italy, Gaul, Spain, etc.

The same can obviously be said of any number of practices and traditions that came down through tradition - not the tradition of the Pope, but held in common by all Christendom, across a multitude of borders that would have revealed a fissure on a topic as central and high profile as the Mother of God, her veneration and intercession.

If we trust that the generation of Maximus and the Damascene were trustworthy enough to still identify and recognize true doctrine, then we have to accept that such well established practices as these were recognized as being authentic. We are either taught or teach. This is the Orthodox version of the argument the LCMS and others use against the historical-critical method and Scripture - we either stand above or below. This is the essence of tradition and the rule that the lex orandi est lex credendi.

William Weedon said...

Is there any blog reader who might know the date when the prayer entered Orthodox Compline?

Christopher, I can see how it would appear so to you from your perspective; from ours the difference is between deconstructing an inspired and infallible, God-breathed Scripture, and seeking to prayerful discern that what in liturgical tradition runs with the Scripture and so is authentic, and what runs counter to those Scriptures and thus cannot be regarded as authentic.

To us, the liturgy is not in itself incapable nor impervious to corruption since it always involves in addition to the God-inspired Words the human response to those Words, a response which has at times been guided by the Spirit who inspired the Scriptures, and sadly, at times, not.

Thus, you're quite right lex orandi, lex credendi in the sense that doctrine is to be subordinated to how the church's prayer develops we find to be untenable. It IS true that what a person prays, he comes to believe.

atychi said...

Hi Iggy,

"We are talking about prayers from the Christian Tradition, here."
***We are, but we're also talking about altering prayers that aren't going to make it into a formal prayer book proper but that could be used for private prayer. If I abide by Pastor McCain's helpful rule that "Lutheran" signifies "what is believed by all Christians, everywhere, at all times," and then I see that he approves of Pastor Weedon's adjustments, then it seems one can make the move from non-Lutheran to Lutheran pretty easily and with a few minor redactions. So while we may be talking about prayers from a Christian tradition, it seems that the original prayer from Compline would not have been Christian properly speaking--that is to say, in Pastor McCain's shorthand, "Lutheran" (or else why change it to fit Lutheran sensibilities?). It took a couple of tweaks to make it Christian, i.e., "Lutheran." My question then is where does one stop? Does a Lutheran use prayers from the Christian tradition only and then make those prayers authentically Christian ("Lutheran"). Or can one keep going? Are there Muslim, Zoroastrian, and Buddhist prayers vague enough to be made Christian, "Lutheran"?

I hope these are fair questions--perhaps silly, but fair.

William Weedon said...

Atychi,

Assuming that liturgiologists are correct, we have already an example of this in the transfer of "Kyrie eleison!" from the emperor cult into Christian worship, no? They had the petition right; they had the addressee wrong. Hmm. Sounds like...oh, never mind! ;)

Past Elder said...

God bless me sideways (a little known supplication from the Rite of Bayamon) what kind of meshugas is this?

I swam the Mississippi, and just as soon as we get what's ablaze put out and wannabe Vatican II over to the real thing, everything will be fine. Just fine.

Pastor McCain's comment dated 12:55 pm sums it up for me too.

I maintain again that, while apparently similar, the reform of the liturgy from accretions is not all the same as reforming the accretions themselves, and that efforts to do the latter only in fact cloud the nature of the former effort.

Therefore, I should no more expect a revised Memorare addressed to Our Lord than you, my august EO brethren, would expect similar revisions of prayers from your traditions. For exactly the same reason that I should not expect to show up in a Lutheran church and find the Tridentine Mass or the novus ordo in a Lutheraned-over version.

I beg pardon from any who may be offended by being deemed august, the term coming from Caesar Augustus, Roman Emperor for whom even this perfectly good month of Sextember has been renamed.

As to Olympic medals and swimming the Bosphoros, hell, the Olympics are Greek in origin anyway so why not, and please come, the swimming trials for the next Olympics are right here in Omaha!

orrologion said...

Thus, you're quite right lex orandi, lex credendi in the sense that doctrine is to be subordinated to how the church's prayer develops we find to be untenable. It IS true that what a person prays, he comes to believe.

This is an example of how a certain Patriarch approached the lex orandi of the Church. He wished to bring it in line with his lex credendi. Honest, but heretical.

Lex orandi est lex credendi is not a description of the fact that what we pray is what we believe, it was the method and rule of the Church teaching us what we do or should believe (lex credendi) through what is prayed (lex orandi). That is, it is inspired. Anything else is 'lex orandi est credendi - unless we know better'. This is placing oneself over and above the Church, the Spirit filled and led Body of Christ.

atychi said...

Pastor Weedon,

Curse you and your quick wit.

One doesn't need the liturgiologists; one need only read Scripture. Our Holy Apostles used the formula (and the Holy Prophet David in his Psalms and the Holy Prophet Isaiah).

What's good for the Apostles and the Saints isn't necessarily recommended for all monks, priests, and laymen.

This is why I was looking for a more rigorous definition beyond "whatever is true." I can see this line of inquiry is going to lead us back to discussions of what/Who is Church. And then I start to drool on my computer.

Thanks for your patience, Pastor Weedon.

christl242 said...

The same can obviously be said of any number of practices and traditions that came down through tradition - not the tradition of the Pope, but held in common by all Christendom,

Heard pretty much the same thing as a Catholic.

Seems to me that the main thrust of the Council of Ephesus was Christocentric, to strengthen the teaching that Jesus is true God and true Man, hence the title of Mother of God for Mary. Says John of Damascus:

Hence it is with justice and truth that we call Holy Mary Theotokos. For this name embraces the whole mystery of divine dispensation. . . . For if she who bore him is the Theotokos, assuredly he who was born of her is God and likewise also man. . . . The name [Theotokos] in truth signifies the one subsistence and the two natures and the two modes of generation of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Don't think any orthodox Christian would have a problem with that.

But . . . commenting on Pelikan’s “Mary Through the Centuries” a reviewer says:

Popular devotion to Mary as Mother of God did not require and probably did not entail great theological sophistication. As subsequent developments in the medieval church confirm, popular devotion could foreshadow and even shape official positions. The title Mother of God seems to have enjoyed considerable popular currency before the bishops consecrated it at Ephesus. Indeed, their having chosen Ephesus as the appropriate site for its consecration may well reflect their willingness to follow where popular sentiment led and, if possible, divert it into the channels that at once buttressed orthodoxy within and converted pagans from without.

I’ll stick to the Gospel mandate: “Do whatever HE tells you.”


Christine

Iggy said...

We might also mention the pagan festivals that are now Christ-centered celebrations.

William Weedon said...

Christopher,

Do you have any textual evidence that Nestorius' speaking of Christ-bearer was rejected *because* it altered the lex orandi? My impression (admittedly hazy from church history) is that it was rejected because he did so to avoid confessing the Blessed Virgin as the God-bearer, and the Church's lex credendi clearly confessed the Son of the Virgin to BE God.

christl242 said...

We might also mention the pagan festivals that are now Christ-centered celebrations.

Iggy, I see a bit of a difference between Advent wreaths, Christmas trees and other such cultural accretions that were given a Christian "baptism" so to speak (and with which I find nothing wrong) and the true theological implications of the title Theotokos.

My salvation doesn't rest on such externals.


Christine

William Weedon said...

Actually, from what I gather from reading this afternoon, it appears it was its use in a sermon by Proclus of Constantinople before Nestorius that set him off - not its use in the liturgy per se.

Paul McCain said...
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Paul McCain said...
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Benjamin Harju said...

Pastor Weedon,

My original comment was about justification as sanctifying communion as opposed to imputation. In that light, and because in your responses to me you seem concerned about ecclesiology, let me say this: ecclesiology is colored by your view of justification.

If justification is imputation of righteousness, and this is salvation, then the Church is the gathering of those who believe they have this imputed status. In that regard it matters not whether you are Orthodox or Roman or Lutheran or Methodist, so long as you believe in Jesus for this new status and you are not trying to earn this new status by your works.

If justification is sanctification (in the wide sense) due to communion, and this sanctifying communion (with all its concepts of growth and life) is salvation, then the Church is the gathering of those who are involved in this sanctification. This sanctification happens through faith in the word (not dead faith, ala St. James), through the sacraments, and the willing participation of the penitent (meaning God isn't forcing sanctification on anyone, and things are not all predetermined from eternity).

As an Orthodox catechumen, I believe that Orthodoxy contains the whole truth, the whole revelation of Christ, and is the natural result of the sanctifying work of Christ in the Spirit over the ages. When I look at other non-Orthodox church bodies I will say that I don't know how to regard them with any certainty. This is because I can recognize certain important sanctifying elements (if such an expression is allowable), but at the same time there are misunderstandings, denials of certain truths, and disconnections with what the Spirit has accomplished in Orthodoxy through His sanctifying work over the centuries. The sanctifying work of Christ in the Spirit becomes harder and harder to nail down among non-Orthodox the more the various components and aspects of that work are denied or not present in a church body. And because the Church is both unseen and seen, visible and invisible, findable and inscrutable, I can be sure the Orthodox Church is the Church, but not necessarily those apart from her.

Lutheran ecclesiology depends on having a certain status, not on a sanctification that has no limit of growth and maturity. Given this difference, I can see why you are having trouble with it. I've had trouble getting my head around it, too. Of course understanding is one thing. Believing it is something else.

I personally think that seeing salvation as sanctification (wide-sense) explains why pre-reformation, pre-schism Christianity developed the way it did, and why protestantism is so drastically different.

I hope this helps.

For those who are annoyed by Orthodox comments here: If Orthodox comments seem out of place, then perhaps the post should have been nailed to the inside of the door rather than the outside.

Love in Christ,
Benjamin Harju

William Weedon said...

Ben,

Salvation is not only imputation - imputation is an important and vital aspect of salvation. But don't you remember these words?

Throughout one's entire life, repentance contends with the sin remaining in the flesh. Paul testifies that he wars with the law in his members not by his own power, but by the gift of the Holy Spirit that follows the forgiveness of sins. This gift daily cleanses and sweeps out the remaining sins and works to make a person truly pure and holy.

William Weedon said...

Or these words:

God does not immediately cast from Himself this corrupt, perverted, sinful material into hellfire. No, He forms and makes the present human nature from it (which is sadly corrupted by sin) *in order that He may cleanse it from all sin, sanctify and save it by His dear Son.

Benjamin Harju said...

Pastor Weedon, you said:
Salvation is not only imputation - imputation is an important and vital aspect of salvation.

Response:
I beg to differ, Pastor Weedon. Lutheran theology is quite clear that salvation comes from the forgiveness of sins and the imputation of Christ's personal merit, which is justification, which places the sinner into a state of grace, meaning he is now assured of his salvation presently and finally. Look at Mueller p.320. In Lutheranism sanctification is the effect of imputational righteousness. Also look closely at FC Ep:III and IV. While speaking highly of sanctification and the sanctified life that follows justification, they very clearly exclude any inner transformation of the penitent in regards to justification/salvation.

Your last quote speaks of Lutheran justification, sanctification, and final redemption at the last day. It speaks in sequence, not as if all these are the same thing.

In Orthodoxy 'salvation' usually refers to what will happen when Christ returns. Justification refers to God making sinners righteous by bringing man into communion. Sanctification refers to God making the unholy into holy ones by bringing them into communion.

As for your first quote, I think I detect a little Romans 7-8 theology with a Lutheran bent. It might be helpful to point out that from an Orthodox perspective, Lutherans misread Romans 7. Rom. 7:7 introduces that St. Paul has returned to the topic of the law and what it means to be under the law (not under grace, justification, etc.). Rom. 7:13-25 explains what life under the law apart from grace is like. Romans 8:1ff explains that God remedies this by Christ in the Spirit. "There is now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh [ala Rom. 7:13-25,] but according to the Spirit."

The point being here, for Lutherans, salvation is about imputation. While that does not mean Lutherans don't believe in sanctification, it does mean that sanctification is an add-on to a primarily imputed salvation relationship. Because Lutherans do believe in sanctification, it makes it easy to find some common ground with the Orthodox. It's also why some Lutherans tend to like the Desert Fathers :-)

Love in Christ,
Benjamin Harju

William Weedon said...

Benjamin,

I think you simply misrepresent what Lutherans teach in this regard. Grace NEVER comes apart from the Gift IN grace - the Holy Spirit - who proceeds to "truly cleanse" the Christian by sweeping out the remaining sins - a process that is never finished until death. Lutherans do indeed rejoice in the certainty of the forgiveness of sins in Jesus Christ and His perfect righteousness; but we know that the Spirit by whom we alone can trust this righteousness is ever at work within us to enlighten, sanctify and keep us in the one true faith with Jesus Christ.

Anonymous said...

Pr. Weedon, your longsuffering hospitality continues to humble and amaze me. You are a walking, talking billboard putting on display the benefits of living outside of yourself. Bless you.

Pr. Tom Fast

William Weedon said...

On Romans 7, it might be worthwhile read St. Augustine's words in Against Two Letters of the Pelagians, Book 1:

But it is not so clear how what follows can be understood concerning Paul. For we know, says he, that the law is spiritual, but I am carnal. Romans 7:14 He does not say, I was, but, I am. Was, then, the apostle, when he wrote this, carnal? Or does he say this with respect to his body? For he was still in the body of this death, not yet made what he speaks of elsewhere: It is sown a natural body, it shall be raised a spiritual body. For then, of the whole of himself, that is, of both parts of which he consists, he shall be a spiritual man, when even the body shall be spiritual. For it is not absurd that in that life even the flesh should be spiritual, if in this life in those who still mind earthly things even the spirit itself may be carnal. Thus, then, he said, But I am carnal, because the apostle had not yet a spiritual body, as he might say, But I am mortal, which assuredly he could not be understood to have said except in respect of his body, which had not yet been clothed with immortality. Moreover, in reference to what he added, sold under sin, Romans 7:14 lest any one think that he was not yet redeemed by the blood of Christ, this also may be understood in respect of that which he says: And we ourselves, having the first-fruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting for the adoption, to wit, the redemption of our body. Romans 8:23 For if in this respect he says that he was sold under sin, that as yet his body has not been redeemed from corruption; or that he was sold once in the first transgression of the commandment so as to have a corruptible body which drags down the soul; Wisdom 9:15 what hinders the apostle here from being understood to say about himself that which he says in such wise that it may be understood also of himself, even if in his person he wishes not himself alone, but all, to be received who had known themselves as struggling, without consent, in spiritual delight with the affection of the flesh?

Chapter 18.— How the Apostle Said that He Did the Evil that He Would Not.

Or by chance do we fear what follows, For that which I do I know not, for what I will I do not, but what I hate that I do, Romans 7:15 lest perhaps from these words some one should suspect that the apostle is consenting to the evil works of the concupiscence of the flesh? But we must consider what he adds: But if I do that which I will not, I consent to the law that it is good. For he says that he rather consents to the law than to the concupiscence of the flesh. For this he calls by the name of sin. Therefore he said that he acted and laboured not with the desire of consenting and fulfilling, but from the impulse of lusting itself. Hence, then, he says, I consent to the law that it is good. I consent because I do not will what it does not will. Afterwards he says, Now, then, it is no more I that do it, but sin which dwells in me. Romans 7:17 What does he mean by now then, but, now at length, under the grace which has delivered the delight of my will from the consent of lust? For, it is not I that do it, cannot be better understood than that he does not consent to set forth his members as instruments of unrighteousness unto sin. For if he lusts and consents and acts, how can he be said not to do the thing himself, even although he may grieve that he does it, and deeply groan at being overcome?

Paul McCain said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
William Weedon said...

Fr. Fast,

You are entirely too kind - but I fear I'm nothing of the sort. Pray for me, a sinner, and let us both pray for former Lutherans who describe our faith in a way we have difficulty recognizing as our faith. I'm sure that it is not intended, but it makes me wonder if Lutheran's confession has itself been rejected or some caricature of it.

christl242 said...

For those who are annoyed by Orthodox comments here: If Orthodox comments seem out of place, then perhaps the post should have been nailed to the inside of the door rather than the outside.

Annoyed? Not quite. Mystified would be more like it.

Since leaving the Church of Rome I've been given the great grace to realize the riches I have as a Lutheran and have no desire to go back to Catholic blogs and natter the way some EO converts seem to need to do here.


Christine

William Weedon said...

True confession: it bemuses me that I still have many Orthodox visitors and yet almost everyone of them in the last year or so has removed this blog from their blog rolls (where many used to have it listed). Yet they manifestly continue to read. Go figure.

Not that I have any room to talk: I even don't HAVE a blog roll. I've never learned how to make one. I do keep track of a pile of blogs- mostly Lutheran with the odd Orthodox or Roman blog thrown in for good measure, mostly from Lutheran converts.

orrologion said...

My sources (Fr. Andrew Damick and Aaron Taylor) state the following about when this prayer was written, and by whom:

"According to Archbishop Chrysostomos in the Introduction to the Evergetinos, Monk Paul Evergetides died in 1054. I don't know if it's been corroborated, by Fr Ephrem (Lash) seems to feel confident enough to list Fr Paul as the author in his translation of the prayers."

"Paul of Amorium/Amoreon/Amorion was the founder of Evergetides Monastery. He reposed in 1054 and also provided the texts for some of the hymns of the Oktoechos."

This is 'late' for Protestants, of course, but I already discussed the chain of tradition. However, late it is, it's closer to the early Church than we are.

We all stop by periodically because we remember a man long gone it seems, which is why we are around less and less, if ever. It's actually quite sad for me.

William Weedon said...

Thanks for tracking it down, Christopher. 1054, yes quite late from our perspective. It's a time in the West when we saw certain theological speculations take hold that were most certainly in tension with the earlier tradition; perhaps it was so elsewhere also.

The sadness is there for me, too, Christopher, for it seems that if swimming is off the table, so is friendship for many. A pity, I can't but think. As I shared with an Orthodox friend the other day: those who are in earnest in their confession (be they Orthodox, Roman, Lutheran or Calvinist) are nearer by far to each other than they are to the nominal members of any of those confessions. I really believe that - and I believe that in the coming Apostasy, we'll need each other in a way that right now is difficult even to imagine.

Benjamin Harju said...

Pastor Weedon,

I'm sitting here looking through the Lutheran Confessions and J.T. Mueller. I'm not out to misrepresent anyone. If you wish to believe that it is Lutheran to mingle justification and sanctification, that's your concern. I don't doubt that the Holy Spirit does what He does. I'm just saying that, according to Lutheran theology, God imputes righteousness, and the gift of the Spirit within is a result of that. Again, if that's not to your liking, then please have your confessions and dogmatic books corrected.

Love in Christ,
Benjamin Harju

William Weedon said...

Ben,

I have no desire whatsoever to mingle the imputation of the Savior's righteousness with the gift of the Holy Spirit; I merely wish to point out that distinguishing them does not divide them. The Spirit, who first enables a person to believe the imputation, also works in that person (who cooperates with the new powers imparted by the same Spirit) to constantly sweep out and cleanse actual sin. Review SA III, III, 40-45. And the Symbols are clear that where this does not take place, there is no imputation at all - for saving faith cannot coexist with mortal sin (Ap. V:23 - "Such faith does not remain in those who obey their desires, neither does it dwell with mortal sin.")

Benjamin Harju said...

Pastor Weedon,

Your quote from St. Augustine doesn't really help me to see the quality of your argument. If you don't agree, that's fine, or like St. Augustine better on this point, fine. I'm just pointing out what I've read and had verified by many different Orthodox. And, unlike some Orthodox, I do think St. Augustine is properly that, a Saint, despite the caution one should take in reading him.

Love in Christ,
Benjamin Harju

Past Elder said...

Funny how it starts out on liturgy and ends up on theology, specifically justification and what it is and what it is not.

There's lex orandi lex credendi for you.

Which to me is the whole thing -- not that justification is lost in the EO or RCC, rather that it is in there but obscured by so much else.

That was my experience on becoming Lutheran -- not that this was some new or different faith, it was the same faith my previous church had stammered and stuttered to teach me, but here set out clearly and cleanly.

That, to borrow one of Luther's phrases, what should have been the most obvious thing about the church had become the most obscure, and we simply return it to its obvious place.

Perfectly? No. Hardly. And often with understandable but unwarranted over-reactions to elements of the former obscurity. But I am grateful for the grace of being able to hear the simple Gospel from pulpit and altar in what are called Lutheran churches and not clouded over with Roman legalism or Byzantine byzaninity.

Benjamin Harju said...

Pastor Weedon,

Point well taken. And my concern is to show that the driving force of Lutheran soteriology is an imputational righteousness, not a sanctifying communion relationship. While Lutheranism does express belief in the sanctifying work of the Spirit and communion, and finds them to be important, these are not the hub but the outgrowths of a legal status.

The hub in Orthodoxy is and has always been different, which is why we have the prayers we have to the saints. At least you're still defaulting to Orthodoxy for your material, Pastor Weedon, even if you have to reform it to match your beliefs.

Love in Christ,
Benjamin Harju

Iggy said...

My comments/questions are to assist in my own understanding of the issues. I welcome feedback that will help my comprehension.

Ben says:

This sanctification happens through faith in the word (not dead faith, ala St. James), through the sacraments, and the willing participation of the penitent (meaning God isn't forcing sanctification on anyone, and things are not all predetermined from eternity).

*Faith in the word: this is a gift of the Holy Spirit, who works sanctification in our life.

*The sacraments: also a gift of the Holy Spirit, aka the external word. As a lifelong Lutheran, the sacraments are a vital part of my sanctification. I am nothing without them!

*The willing participation of the penitent: another gift of the Holy Spirit! In Orthodox teaching, is this willingness not given by the Holy Spirit? If it is already in man, as though he has always had this power to participate, then does that fall into the catagory of Semi-pelagianism?

If the EO teaching is that the "willing participation" is a gift of the Holy Spirit, then I don't see any difference between the EO and Lutheran doctrines of sanctification.

Lutherans say, "Sanctification is a gift of the Holy Spirit, just like justification is."

Sanctification is not forced on us by the Holy Spirit, it is His gift to us. It's not simply an add-on, it is an outpouring of our justification.

We are not coerced or forced into it. This would be the teaching of the Holiness Movement and it's ilk, where perfection (or at least near-perfection) can be achieved through obedience and NOT through word and sacraments and the gift of participation given by the Holy Spirit.

IggyAntiochus

Benjamin Harju said...

Past Elder,

Hey, our justification is still free and through faith apart from works of the law. It just happens to do what it says, that's all: it makes you righteous. ;-)

I used to live near Omaha. It's a nice town. Too bad we never got together.

Love in Christ,
Benjamin Harju

Benjamin Harju said...

Iggy,

I know Pr. Weedon and Lutheran theology disagrees with this reading of Romans 7, but I'd like to use it as an illustration of the Orthodox view of man's will apart from salvation in Christ.

St. Paul says that the good he wills to do he cannot do, but the evil he doesn't will to do he does. O wretched man ... etc. Here the will desires to do good things, even the revealed will of God. However, the passions of the flesh override and rule. Only through Christ in the Spirit can man be freed from this bondage and proceed to grow in new life.

The desire for good and the ability to believe are qualities in man that remain from the original creation. However they are meaningless apart from the work of the Holy Spirit, for the desire cannot give birth properly, nor can faith attach without revelation.

Is this semi-pelagianism? Well, first, the Pelagians taught that Jesus was a man who became Christ after His baptism and God after His resurrection. They taught that any man could be without sin and obtain what our Lord obtained if they just tried hard enough.

A semi-Pelagian would be someone who cooperates with God to earn their way into communion with the Divinity.

Orthodoxy is not semi-Pelagian, becuase communion with the Trinity comes freely as a gift, as a result of the redemption of our nature in Christ, through faith and the sacraments. Synergy comes into play in the growth process of the individual person's sanctification.

The Orthodox resist calling the ability to believe a work, because the alternative is the need to be forced into faith or to have one's salvation predetermined (a Manichean idea flatly condemned).

I hope this helps.

Love in Christ,
Benjamin Harju

Past Elder said...

Herr Harju:

I don't think I would deny it makes you righteous. I would simply count on the righteousness of Christ, not myself. Or my "community".

There's those in Rome (figuratively) heading more in that direction -- what you say about justification including a "sanctifying communion relationship". Actually, Rome has always had that, just expressed in a little more characteristically Roman way, namely, terse and to the point. The right church, the true church, or, People of God, or believing community, or other phrases recently in use.

So we have Protestants saying Bible, Bible, Bible and RCC and EO saying Church, Church, Church. Each seeing a whole which includes both, but ultimately rests on one. I'm glad to be Lutheran.

I used to follow your blog. I hope Internet connectivity is better wherever you are now than in southwestern Iowa!

Boaz said...

Where can I go to check whether Mr. Harju is accurately describing EO beliefs? Is there some semi-authoritative source? I ask because I've read and heard other EO explanations that seem at odds.

Also, Mr. Harju, you seem to suggest that St. Paul would do the good he wills if he was "freed from this bondage through Christ in the Spirit." Am I understanding you correctly that Saint Paul could overcome the war between the law of his flesh and the law of his mind?

Also, so far as I can understand your description justification, the central doctrine of EO is justification by membership card. What am I missing here?

Past Elder said...

Ain't gonna happen, Boaz. Best I can tell you spend about 40 years being an unworthy catechumen before you say anything like you're really sure of it.

The EO argue all the time about who is really Orthodox, and over here, who is really Eastern too. Who's got it, who ain't, what it is, what it ain't. Now, we Lutherans do that too, but in a whole different way. Ain't nobody sayin LCMS is the true church, and if they are, they're nuts.

It's kind of like someone always talking to my wife, because I am (well, in my case, was) one with her, or asking my mom to speak to me about them, or a couple of my close friends, and thinking they know me and we're tight.

I didn't see it that way when I was RC. That's how you stay, or become, RC or the churches coming out of the Eastern Roman Empire.

BTW, are you the Boaz of the Boaz Blessings Mike Murdoch is always talking about on late night TV? I'm waiting on you, pal. If you want anything from me, just email Cwirla and he'll interecede for you with me.

Would you look at the time. I gotta quit waking up like this. At least as die Christine reminded me, now that we dumped Matins and got the Office of Readings, I'm all set to go back to sleep. And in a bed rather than a schola cantorum choir stall, though I've done that too. Looks absolutely spiritual if you do it right.

Iggy said...

Ben,

You note that the "desire for good and the ability to believe are qualities in man that remain from the original creation."

There are plenty of non-Christians who desire to do good. I would say they were born with this desire, but it is a meaningless, self-centered desire that will only glorify themselves and not God. I think that's where you were headed.

The Romans passage is about Paul as a Christian, not Paul as a Roman citizen and practicing Jew, so I do not see the connection between this text and a spiritually dead unbeliever.

It seems you are saying the unbeliever wants to participate, but cannot until the Holy Spirit works in them.

Please correct me if I am wrong.

IggyAntiochus

christl242 said...

those who are in earnest in their confession (be they Orthodox, Roman, Lutheran or Calvinist) are nearer by far to each other than they are to the nominal members of any of those confessions. I really believe that - and I believe that in the coming Apostasy, we'll need each other in a way that right now is difficult even to imagine.

Words of wisdom Pastor Weedon. The cradle Orthodox I know don't spend their time like the converts here do, going over and over, again and again, why they are now EO and no longer this or that.

Nor does looping "love in Christ" repeatedly while telling Lutherans on a Lutheran blog that they shouldn't be Lutheran is really the font of arrogance.

But I am grateful for the grace of being able to hear the simple Gospel from pulpit and altar in what are called Lutheran churches and not clouded over with Roman legalism or Byzantine byzaninity.

Amen to that, my friend!!

Christine

Anonymous said...

Fr. Weedon wrote: "Pray for me, a sinner, and let us both pray for former Lutherans who describe our faith in a way we have difficulty recognizing as our faith. I'm sure that it is not intended, but it makes me wonder if Lutheran's confession has itself been rejected or some caricature of it."

There are many Lutherans whose confession and practice is a caricature of Lutheranism, no doubt about that. In the same way there are many EO who, I am sure, practice the faith and articulate it in such a way as to misrepresent it. Is it any wonder each side is confused about the other?

Heck, I've been a Lutheran pastor for over twenty one years and I'm just learning to embrace the fullness of our catholic heritage. Fact is, I've just begun to scratch the surface. It's quite possible that those brothers and sisters of ours who left Lutheranism for EO, left a caricature of Lutheranism for EO and don't really have any better understanding of Lutheranism than do I. That appears to be the case indeed, if the thousands of critical comments made by EO converts on many threads in your blog is any indication.

Perhaps we should work more diligently at understanding each others confession before we do the beatdown thing.

And it is an outstanding point you make when you remind us all that we are near to each other and need each other.

Tom Fast

Paul said...

Pr. Elder said

"Ain't nobody sayin LCMS is the true church, and if they are, they're nuts."



I hear this alot, and this gets me to thinking...

"The Church exists where the Gospel is preached in it's purity and the Sacraments are administered according to Christ's command."

Is this not the Lutheran understanding?

The LCMS practices Close(d) Communion (and other partner churches included), then isnt this saying that they are the visible church by virtue of this practice according to the statement above?

I say this because if the visible Church existed elsewhere, the LCMS would be in communion with them. And if we ask about the invisible church, how can one know it exists if there is no inter-communion with its members since the Gospel (apparently) is not preached in its purity and the Sacrament administered according to Christ's command? I mean (e.g.) what really keeps the WELS and LCMS from not being in-communion...really?

So, with this statement above, and the practice of Close(d) communion, the LCMS is saying that this is where the Church becomes true/visible....correct?


Since many are not in-Communion with the LCMS, then the understanding would be that in these other faiths, the Gospel is not preached in its purity and the Sacrament is not rightly administered or they would be (in communion) and therefore they are not part of the true/visible Church...yes?


And if not, how could they be called part of the visible Church at all and then even more so how could they ever be known as part of the invisible Church? It cant be known either way.

Maybe many leave because many Lutheran Churches (one to another) do not look, act, sound, or resemble each other at all. The Communion practices are regrettable (lay admin)along with many other liturgical practices and so it would appear the theology and ecclesiology and so on must be defective to bring about such practices.

thoughts

orrologion said...

...it seems that if swimming is off the table, so is friendship for many.

If only that were it.

Regarding the supposed 'misrepresentation' of Lutheranism by those that have left, I would suggest that the facts of Lutheran theology and practice are accurate in their (our) representations. What is being objected to is the analysis of what those facts stem from and mean, and how that all relates to Orthodox Christianity, the Bible, patristic theology and Church history. There is no misrepresentation, there is a disagreement regarding how this constellation of facts is to be read and understood.

As we all know, the road to hell is paved with good intentions - but when that is the case, it is usually only seen by others not on that road. Disagreements can be had regarding who has the better reading of the facts and their meaning (and who is deluded), but I think it rather disingenuous to claim anything is being misrepresented - especially in light of the vast diversity even within Confessional Lutheranism (and even within the LCMS or WELS or ELS individually) as to what Lutheranism 'really is' on a given point, which is a point Pastor Fast made in a slightly different way.

Regarding Pastor Weedon's martyric patience with sheep-stealing former Lutherans, I think that too is rather out of bounds. Discussing something of Orthodoxy in the public square is bound to bring an Orthodox response - though less and less given the rather hostile response (e.g., Pastor McCain and the need for his comments to be deleted so often) to be had mixed in with saner, respectful discussion and disagreement.

christl242 said...

As long as Rome and Byzantium live as two separate bodies not in communion with each other neither of them have any room to point fingers at Christians of other traditions.

I don't care how started it, what the reasons are, that's what the world sees.

None of us can brag perfection.


Christine

Benjamin Harju said...

I apologize. I have not been as clear as I thought. When I say that in Orthodoxy justification comes from a communion relationship, that does not mean communion with the right club of people or community. That means communion with Christ. Justification is Christ's righteousness given to the penitent, just as sanctification is properly Christ's holiness given him (even though the term is often used in the wide sense of internal spiritual transformation). I'm talking about communion with Christ.

To be even more clear, in Orthodoxy, justification and sanctification - being an inner spiritual transformation through communion with Christ - involves the active participation of the penitent, rather than the passive reception. In Orthodoxy passive reception means leaving it to God to force Himself on you. It also means refusing to believe. It also means being disengaged from growth in sanctification (wide-sense).

In Lutheranism, though, one does nothing, because one is not being sanctified, but instead imputed with a status. Only once the status is given do other gifts come, including sanctification. But because this sanctification is not the chief thing, but an outgrowth of gaining a new status, preoccupation is with the status, and sanctification is rather low key in comparison, and especially so when compared to non-Protestants.

In Lutheranism it is true that justification and its fruits happen together, but Lutheran theology is insistent that the order I've outlined be maintained, so that salvation may only be attributed to imputed righteousness, not anything that follows it. If you don't believe me, read the FC III and IV and the LCMS dogmatic books (Pieper or Mueller).

But in Orthodoxy justification and sanctification are very similar to each other. The goal in Orthodoxy will then be sanctification in the wide sense, meaning the inner spiritual transformation of man to become evermore and unendingly in the image and likeness of Christ. This inner transformation is facilitated by God bringing the penitent into communion with His Son in the Holy Spirit.

Since the Lutherans read the Fall and its consequences differently, understand the destiny of man differently, understand what redemption was about differently, and even have a different explanation of how salvation actually works out than the Orthodox, it is no wonder that there is so much confusion despite all the wonderful similarities between Orthodoxy and Lutheranism.

Simply put: we've always prayed to the Theotokos and other saints because of what we believe (among other things) about salvation being ongoing sanctification through union with Christ; you will most likely not see the point since you depend on commands from Scripture alone (i.e. proof it is commanded from the get-go) and see salvation as certainty of imputation. That's not to leave out sanctification with you, but to point out that it is not what saves with you, but is the ongoing maintenance resulting from salvation.

I hope that clarifies what I've been saying a bit more.

Love in Christ,
Benjamin Harju

Benjamin Harju said...

Christl242,

I sign my posts "Love in Christ" because I mean it. Lutherans are the ones who taught me that it is loving to speak the truth in Christ. Plus, it's hard to convey sincerity and conviction and affection all together across the emotionless fields of text we read, and it's too easy to impute malice.

Love in Christ,
Benjamin Harju

christl242 said...

Mr. Harju,

Forgive me, but I've been told that when someone converts to "Holy Orthodoxy" they generally don't do much public theologizing until they've been "swimming in the waters" for a far longer time than you have.

Wouldn't that be the essence of a humble approach according ot the Orthodox way??

Also, your comment:

you will most likely not see the point since you depend on commands from Scripture alone (i.e. proof it is commanded from the get-go)

That's a Baptist approach, not a Lutheran one.

Christine

William Weedon said...

One quick post - I really am trying to take this vacation!!! - Ben, do you have *A Spiritual Psalter* - if so, read #10. Romans 7 seems to fit St. Ephraim - and it is what makes his words so compelling.

Past Elder said...

I hope it was just a quick oversight, but I'm not a pastor. I have no call. Even my dad used to say there is no call for what I am doing sometimes, but he was a Methodist who converted to RC so maybe he didn't mean it like that. I'm not even a German; I just play one on the Internet.

A visible practice is one thing, the "visible church" is another. Nor does the "visible church" wait upon a fellowship agreement by us and another church body. That is a recognition of something that already exists, it does not create it, any more than Communion creates communion.

It ought to not rocket science to disengage disputes over whether this or that denom's positions truly state the Gospel from whether this or that person's statements truly state this or that denom's positions.

I agree that confessional Lutherans have something in common with those in other denoms struggling to maintain the confessional positions of that denom. I'm all for the little parish here fighting the Episcopal diocese for its life rather than capitulate to what has become of that denom. Or the SSPX as it tries to maintain Catholicism against the modernist revisionist nouvelle theologie the RCC itself warned against right up until it started preaching it, including its new calendar, lectionary and worship orders that are now the common ground of all heterodox Western churches with a liturgical aspect, and even have been Lutheranised just as others seek to Lutheranise Willow Creek et al.

I'll even grant I can understand Orthodox consternation over messing with their liturgy. I used to feel the same way about RC stuff. Like "the Litany", a litany of the saints without the saints, or the sanctuary lamp without the presence that makes it a sanctuary. What is that, I'd think, but trying to be Catholic without being Catholic, maybe if they just understood what they reject they wouldn't reject it but embrace it like they're trying to but can't since they're cut off from the fulness of the church.

Which is what I hear here, just coming from the East, or rather, from the West gone East. Which is not the same thing as a discussion of Orthodoxy. But I gotta give you guys this, when you swim the Bosphorus, at least it's Orthodoxy on the other side, whereas when you swim the Tiber these days you get what you want but with certainty from stuff about the "visible" church.

Reminds me of the old joke around school -- poor Jesus, came proclaiming the kingdom of God and all he got was the church.

What is visible about the "visible" church comes from God, not from institutional externals borrowed from the kingdoms of men rather than the kingdom of God.

There. Maybe that'll draw enough fire off PW so he can relax or at least reload.

Benjamin Harju said...

Boaz wrote:
Am I understanding you correctly that Saint Paul could overcome the war between the law of his flesh and the law of his mind?

No. He cannot. In Christ he can. The point is that apart from Christ he is dominated and lost. In Christ he is not dominated from within his flesh anymore, but is attacked now from the outside. The sanctification he undergoes is understood not as 'now he's totally perfect' but as continuous growing into the likeness of Christ and a healing of the total person from the damage of sin, all the while combating the attacks (temptations) that assault from outside (this includes the unseen whisperings of the demons). Healing takes time; Rome wasn't built in a day. The passions flare up, but not because sin still dominates the flesh, but because healing (sanctification) is still ongoing.

This is different from saying that sin still dominates you from within. In Christ this is not the case. The flesh is still weak and being healed through sanctification (wide-sense), but the domination and rule of sin, death, and the devil has been removed and now the Trinity is within.

Love in Christ,
Benjamin Harju

Benjamin Harju said...

Christine,

If you don't think I know what I'm talking about, you can always ignore me.

If you wish to know about the Orthodox way, come and see :-)

As for this "Baptist approach" thing, I'm aware of that. In practice I've found Lutherans and Baptists often have that in common. Again, I'm describing what I see, not what you wish Lutheranism would live up to. Sorry to offend.

Love in Christ,
Benjamin Harju

Benjamin Harju said...

Pastor Weedon,

I don't have access to the book you mention. However, I can say that the perspective on Romans 7 I'm offering is something I've checked against various Orthodox clergy and laity for some time, including my priest, who comes with high regards from the Bishop as a very reliable man. That being said, it might be helpful to read this sermon from St. John Chrysostom:
http://www.ccel.org/ccel/schaff/npnf111.vii.xv.html

So what does that mean? It means that even if St. Augustine and St. Ephrem agree with the Lutheran perspective of Romans 7(I can't say about St. Ephrem), that does not mean that they believe otherwise about the rule of sin and the nature of sanctification in a person. We both know that people sometimes have one or two points out of place, yet still hold firm to the matrix that defines the whole. Consensus of the fathers is both learning from what they have to say and individuals being corrected by that same consensus.

Please try to enjoy your vacation, Pastor Weedon. They are very important for the health of those in the ministry.

Love in Christ,
Benjamin Harju

Paul said...

Past Elder said

A visible practice is one thing, the "visible church" is another. Nor does the "visible church" wait upon a fellowship agreement by us and another church body. That is a recognition of something that already exists, it does not create it, any more than Communion creates communion.


"The Church exists where the Gospel is preached in it's purity and the Sacraments are administered according to Christ's command."

What? Neither of the two above are visible practices that define the LCMS (in fact where the Church exits--visibly) which makes them a/the visible Church?

And so the LCMS is obviously the place, visible and true according to the above statement...which is Lutheran. Those not in communion are not the Church or where it exists, again according to the statement above.

seems rather simple...the Sacraments and pure Gospel preached are visible. The LCMS has it so they are the visible/true Church...and those they have/are agreed to be in-communion with.

christl242 said...

If you don't think I know what I'm talking about, you can always ignore me.

I didn't say that. What I said was that a newcomer to Orthodoxy generally doesn't speak publicly as much as you do (and on a Lutheran blog, yet). Nor do I generally make it a point to note that my Lutheran parish has members who were once Orthodox and Roman Catholic. By the way, if you don't mind my asking -- have you -- or are you about to be -- formally received into the Orthodox church yet?

If you wish to know about the Orthodox way, come and see :-)

Thank you most kindly. Orthodoxy holds no attraction for me.

As for this "Baptist approach" thing, I'm aware of that. In practice I've found Lutherans and Baptists often have that in common. Again, I'm describing what I see, not what you wish Lutheranism would live up to.

Yes, of course. Baptists and Lutherans have an identical view of Sola Scriptura. That's why Baptists also consider Holy Baptism and the Eucharist a Sacrament. Oh, wait -- they don't, do they?

You may describe it any way you wish. That doesn't mean it's true.

Sorry to offend. No offense taken. Ya just ain’t convincin’ me!

Christine

Past Elder said...

There's a place in Rabelais where the protagonist has his page go outside and curse for him for half an hour, so he can continue without losing the time. However, having neither page nor horse, I continue.

Of course neither of the statements you quote state practices. They refer to them, not state them.

And they say nothing whatever to be construed that LCMS is the "true church" and that churches not in fellowship with it aren't.

Actually, quite the opposite. Seems rather simple -- the Sacraments rightly administered and the Gospel rightly preached are visible, our particular synod recognises them in our member congregations and in some other denoms, which is in no way a statement of only where they are, just where we formally recognise them in each other.

You can find them within the RCC or the EO. Which has nothing to do with the name over the door or LCMS statements.

You are trying to find the kingdom of God in the way one finds a kingdom of men. Won't work, but happens when one's denom derives a good bit of its understanding of what church is from the kingdoms of men whose state church it was and in some cases still is, rather than the kingdom of God.

Benjamin Harju said...

Christine,

The last time I posted anything to the Internet outside an email was in April (I think). I'm here because I like Pastor Weedon, I remember when we were looking into Orthodoxy together, and someone said to me, "Look what Pastor Weedon's doing to this Orthodox prayer." I have ventured to comment because I hoped to add another cog of explanation as to why the Orthodox do what they do. This knowledge will probably not convert anyone, but it might help people connect some dots.

I noted earlier that I am just a puny Orthodox catechumen. My Chrismation (God-willing) is scheduled to come at the end of the catechesis series my family is involved in. No one involved is in any rush, as it should be in normal situations. In connection with your concerns, it is a matter of conscience for me to feel that what I say in public has been previously verified. What I'm doing here, though, is not so much plain regurgitation as an attempt at translation.

As for Baptists and Lutherans, if you compare doctrines on paper, then they don't have the same "doctrine" of Scripture. But when it comes to praying to the Saints, the Lutheran argument about this is similar to the argument Baptists give for not baptizing infants. There's a lot more that I could say, but I will keep it to myself.

Love in Christ,
Benjamin Harju

Past Elder said...

You know we have two parishes of the Antiochan Orthodox thing right here in Omaha. At the risk of egging you bloody on, I will say I find the whole phenomenon of Western Rite Orthodox interesting. Even toward the end of my days of being RC, over thirty years ago, there was a trend to Orthodoxy for those aghast at the devastation of Vatican II. I suspect in the years to come, as the Roman Rite descends further into a ridiculous caricature of even itself, that Western Orthodoxy, so zu sagen, will increase.

christl242 said...

Ben,

I have ventured to comment because I hoped to add another cog of explanation as to why the Orthodox do what they do. This knowledge will probably not convert anyone, but it might help people connect some dots.

I can certainly relate to that. The conversations I have had with the local Russian Orthodox priest in my community have been most edifying. He is a wonderful representative of the Orthodox way.

But when it comes to praying to the Saints, the Lutheran argument about this is similar to the argument Baptists give for not baptizing infants. There's a lot more that I could say, but I will keep it to myself.

Well, I understand the context of what you are saying here but of course see it from a different perspective.

May your journey into Orthodoxy be filled with every blessing and grace.

Christine

Daniel said...

Sorry I read this thread so late. Regarding The Blessed Virgin's role in our lives, St. John of Damascus says with respect to her after Her Falling Asleep,"And what shall we answer to the tomb ourselves? Your Grace is unceasing, ever-flowing: yet God's power is not limited to places, nor are the gracious actions of the Mother of God. If they were restricted to her sepulcher, after all, God's gift would inspire very few people? But in fact, it is given without measure in all corners of the world". (Homily II from On the Dormition of Mary, p.222.).

Again John of Damascus writes, "She bestows on these things unfailing peace, welcomes them with affection. She embraces the peaceful and gentle heart, she takes love and mercy and humility into her armes as her own children" (p. 223).

In his and many other patristic writings there are replete references to the Theotokos in "god-like" fashion. Their share in deification evokes such veneration. She is the Queen of the Universe. Only by seeing her and the entire church catholic in monarchial terms will such veneration make sense. But we are Americans; we venerate at best in guarded ways unless guided from within a hierarchical body, namely the Orthodox Church.

Without going on too much, my only thought is that Pastor Weedon is being true to his convictions; he does not accept such high (or in his mind "unscriptural")veneration. But Orthodox have received Scripture within the Paradosis. Accordingly, Mary is for us the "Queen who is robed in many colors".

Thus, I think that the next logical, consistent step would be for Confessional Lutherans to seek to remove such Saints as John of Damascus from the Lutheran Calendar. It is really inconsistent to esteem a man such as he who would have absolutly no chance of holding credentials as a ministers in the LCMS. I know that you agree with some of what he said, but his supposed "errrors" are so grave in your view, that to continue to retain him, and many if not most of the other Saints in your Calendar is duplicitous. How many have opened a Lutheran hymnal and perused its calendar, and have thereby been deceived into thinking that they were joining a church that would embrace these men and women into its fold?

"The wounds of a friend are faithful, but the kisses of the enemy are deceitful"

Fr. Daniel Hackney

William Weedon said...

Sigh.

Daniel, neither Lutherans nor Orthodox ascribe infallibility to ANY of the saints we honor in our respective calendars. Surely you know this?

Why do you honor St. Isaac the Syrian in your calendar when he was an avowed Nestorian?

Why honor St. Jerome when you disagree with his belief that presbyters and bishops differ by human custom and not divine decree?

Why honor St. Augustine when you reject his teaching of double-predestination?

Why honor St. Cyprian when he would never recognize a church not in fellowship with Rome as legitimate?

Why honor St. Irenaeus when you reject his teaching on millennialism?

No, my friend, the hypocrisy in this regard is manifested in those who PRETEND that they agree with everything the Fathers have written while others do not. It is a lie. I would heartily commend to your study the words of St. Augustine in his epistle to St. Jerome:

"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."

William Weedon said...

P.S. You might also find it of interest to compare St. John of Damascus' words with those of Martin Luther on the subject of the saints:

"For to everyone who believes through the word of the Apostles, the promise is given for Christ's sake and by the power of this prayer [John XVII], that he shall be one body and one loaf with all Christians; that what happens to him as a member for good or for ill, shall happen to the whole body for good or ill, and not only one or two saints, but all the prophets, martyrs, apostles, all Christians, both on earth and with God in Heaven, shall suffer and conquer with him, shall fight for him, help, protect, and save him, and shall undertake for him such a gracious exchange that they will all bear his sufferings, want, and afflictions and he partake of their blessings, comfort, and joy. What man could wish for a anything more blessed than to come into this fellowship or brotherhood and be made a member of this body, which is called Christendom? For who can harm or injure a man who has this confidence, who knows that heaven and earth, and all the angels and the saints will cry to God when the smallest suffering befall him?" Sermons on John xvi-xx, 1528

Past Elder said...

Good words from St Augustine. Too bad he wrote so many others.

If he were my guide to Christianity, I'd long ago have concluded that Nietzsche, the only philosopher worth reading, was right, that Christianity is just Platonism for the people.

Anonymous said...

When a Lutheran convert to Eastern Orthodoxy is catechized, is there a special effort made to inculcate rudeness?

Honestly, EO brothers and sisters---I don't think you realize how unfair and unkind some of your comments are. And not only on this particular post, but on many other posts, as well. I really do not understand why it always seems to be that way. It is especially perplexing when it occurs on the blog of a Lutheran pastor who is, himself, humble and quite charitable to everyone he converses with.

For Christians, you sure are an ornery bunch. Christ loves you. I love you. But you are prickly, indeed.

SubDn. Lucas said...

Anonymous (8:27pm),

"When a Lutheran convert to Eastern Orthodoxy is catechized, is there a special effort made to inculcate rudeness?"

No, and conscientious priests and catechists will do what they can to free catechumens from feelings of bitterness and anger. As might seem reasonable, a rude former-Lutheran, Baptist, Catholic, &c. often makes for a rude new Orthodox Christian.

I am happy to tell you that, although your contact with Orthodox Christians may be primarily (or exclusively?) via the Internet, the vast majority of Orthodox Christians are not online, participating in blog discussions. In other words, one sees a rather unrepresentative sample. Pray for us!

the sinner,
SubDn. Lucas

SubDn. Lucas said...

A general thought:

Inasmuch as this discussion has touched upon the Orthodox Christian relationship with the Theotokos, it has remained on the level of point-by-point argumentation. Maybe this is all one can do on a blog, but for the sake of what is meant to be a loving contribution, I would submit the following.

For Orthodox Christians, the Mother of God is referred to in all the ways this prayer indicates, because she actually has been all these things for us. It isn't [just] about doctrinal formulae and academic argumentation for us--rather, we have a living relationship with her. This same relationship has helped to foster a more profound relationship with her Son, Christ. In other words, we pray this way because we know firsthand that it is true.

Of course, there is no argumentation here (which may be why this point isn't already being made). We know Christ, we know His mother, and our Liturgy and prayers reflect that Personal (hypostatic) knowledge, and does not simply codify a body of intellectual presumptions about either of them.

the sinner,
SubDn. Lucas

christl242 said...

She is the Queen of the Universe. Only by seeing her and the entire church catholic in monarchial terms will such veneration make sense.

Oh yes, and not only in the Orthodox East but the Catholic West. All those images of Mary I saw in the churches in my native Europe, regal, crowned, sceptered. Monarchial is the right word.

That's the whole problem. It wasn't enough to honor her for her unique role as the God-Bearer and follow her example in pondering the Word of God in our hearts. The Church under Caesars and Popes had to go a step further and inculturate the Blessed Virgin into something that neither the early church nor Sacred Scripture ever assigns to her.

Blessed rather are those who hear the Word of God and keep it says Jesus when His mother is praised for her maternity, redirecting it to its proper focus.

I have too much respect for the Mother of God to turn her into a caricature of earthly kingdoms.

If that offends the Orthodox who are visiting here I am sorry. But this IS a Lutheran blog.

Christine

Dixie said...

Ben, do you have *A Spiritual Psalter* - if so, read #10. Romans 7 seems to fit St. Ephraim - and it is what makes his words so compelling.

Of course, St. Ephraim shows a fully Orthodox devotion to the Theotokos as well--which is where this all started. See #35 to the Theotokos.

O most holy Mother of God, O only Lady who art utterly pure in both soul and body, look upon me, abominable and unclean, who have blackened soul and body with the stains of my passionate and gluttonous life. Cleanse my passionate mind; set aright my blind and wandering thoughts and make them incorrupt; bring my senses to order and guide them; free from my evil and repulsive addiction to unclean prejudices and passions which torment me; stop every sin that works in me; grand my clouded and wretched mind the sobriety and discernment to correct any intentions and failings that, freed from the darkness of sin, I might be worthy to boldly glorify and praise thee, O only true Mother of the true Light, Christ our God; for all creation, visible and invisible, blesses and glorifies thee, both with Him and in Him.

orrologion said...

If that offends the Orthodox who are visiting here I am sorry. But this IS a Lutheran blog.

That's interesting. I once wrote a couple guidelines for Orthodox bloggers. One of them seems pertinent here:

"5. There is no such thing as an Orthodox blog.

There are only blogs by Orthodox Christians - let neither blogger nor reader think otherwise. Most bloggers are laymen, some are clergy, few are saints and saints are not perfect. Orthodoxy speaks for Orthodoxy, no one person or group of people, regardless of how eminent, is Orthodoxy or speaks for her - Nestorius was a Patriarch of Constantinople, Judas a disciple."

I don't think any Orthodox have been offended, they have merely spoken up on a topic directly related to their faith - and have been attacked for daring to do so 'on a Lutheran blog'.

Pastor Hall had some good thoughts on this general topic of internet hospitality, interfaith dialogue and friendship (not to mention friendliness).

orrologion said...

For Christians, you sure are an ornery bunch. Christ loves you. I love you. But you are prickly, indeed.

I think that such is in the eye of the beholder, unfortunately. We all see others as being 'worse' than we are. For every Orthodox firebrand, we could both point to similar Lutherans whose comments need to be regularly deleted for decorum's sake.

As to the Orthodox - whether convert or cradle - I would agree with the late Fr. John Meyendorff: "Right faith, wrong people".

However, I would also note that in rehab everyone's sober, and the Church is such, it is a hospital, etc. It is no surprise that people under out patient treatment are sick.

The Compline service we are discussing ends with a rite of forgiveness. The bishop, abbot or priest asks for the forgiveness of all present with a prostration to the floor, the people respond with forgiveness and a prostration; they then come forward for a blessing. Here is the exchange:

Priest: Bless, holy fathers (mothers, brothers and sisters) and forgive me a sinner, all wherein I have sinned this day in deed, word, and thought, and by all my senses.

And the brethren (sisters, congregation) reply:

May God forgive and have mercy on thee, holy father.

And they make a bow (or a prostration, depending on the typicon), asking this forgiveness:

Bless me, holy father, and forgive all wherein I have sinned this day in deed, word, and thought, and by all my senses, and pray for me a sinner.

Priest: Through His grace may God forgive and have mercy on us all.

When suggesting people attend such a service or perform such a rite of forgiveness regularly (some married couples and families do this each night or on the eves before communing) he has heard, 'but what if I don't have anything to be forgiven?' His response, 'Yes, you have. Ask your wife [children, friends, neighbors, coworkers, etc.]'

Forgive me, brother/sister, for any offense.

William Weedon said...

Dixie,

He has a number of other prayers to the Virgin along similar lines in *Spiritual Psalter* - but as I pointed out above, if my Orthodox brothers and sisters do not accept his confession of offending God from the womb and his very Romans 7ish meditations, it seems a tad inconsistent to fault a Lutheran for honoring him while not accepting his practice of praying to the Virgin.

christl242 said...

I don't believe I was making any reference to "Orthodox blogs" and you are getting into semantics with which I am not concerned.

Frankly, I think y'all, as converts to Orthodoxy, would have a lot more fun on Catholic blogs. There you can wade into the papacy, priestly celibacy, the errors of the Immaculate Conception and a whole host of other stuff that Lutherans don't believe or teach :)

But then, I don't visit Orthodox --or Catholic -- blogs.

Christine

William Weedon said...

Christopher,

Our Compline begins with such a confession:

Pastor: Let us confess our sins in the presence of God and of one another. (silence)

Pastor: I confess to God Almighty before the whole company of heaven, and to you, my brothers and sisters, that I have sinned in thought, word, and deed, by my fault, by my own fault, by my own most grievous fault. Wherefore I pray God almighty to have mercy on me, forgive me all my sins and bring me to everlasting life. Amen.

People: The almighty and merciful Lord grant you pardon, forgiveness, and remission of all your sins. Amen.

People: I confess to God Almighty before the whole company of heaven, and to you, my brothers and sisters, that I have sinned in thought, word, and deed, by my fault, by my own fault, by my own most grievous fault. Wherefore I pray God almighty to have mercy on me, forgive me all my sins and bring me to everlasting life. Amen.

Pastor: The almighty and merciful Lord grant you pardon, forgiveness, and remission of all your sins. Amen.

orrologion said...

...if my Orthodox brothers and sisters do not accept his confession of offending God from the womb...

Well, FROM the womb can mean once one is born, which would take the original sin angle out of it. But, that's semantics. 'Offense' even in the womb is different, too, than the doctrine of Original Sin as it has developed in the West, whether Anselmian or Calvinistic or Lutheran. No Orthodox would ever deny that we are not what we were meant to be, and that is an offense of a kind, a sin. A distinction between such a state of not-perfectness or mortality or tendency to sin is not held against someone as that is apart from any choice - in this sense we all sin, even the Lord Who assumed our fallen and mortal nature; personal sin is committed by each of us and this is the sort of sin that is held against us - but this sort of personal sin was not committed by the Lord (or by His mother). So, sinless is different than perfect, depending on how a lyre of the Spirit attempting to describe what he has seen (theoria) and experienced can speak one way or the other depending.

Again, there is also that practice in Eastern Christianity from its earliest days to confess to all sorts of shameful sins that were never committed by the person. This was to engender humility, but it was also a radical acknowledgment of sin. For instance, was SAINT Paul literally the chief of sinners? Each and every Orthodox Christian confesses the same thing in his/her prayers, but all of them can't, by definition, be the 'chief' of sinners, the one that has sinned the most.

Examples such as this are strong examples, to this reader, of how different languages and cultures understand and read, how they express what they mean. Literal, fact-oriented precision is one culture over and against poetic, hyperbolic, effusion in others - though examples of multiform and as different as any culture that has ever existed (and any individual in any culture). What a text 'so obviously means' is and has always been in the eye and understanding of the beholder - unless that beholder happens to be God.

Of course, this all also ignores the fact that it is the consensus of the Fathers, the mind, worship and practice of the Church that is followed, not the details of any given saint's writings, regardless of their sanctity. That's another eye of the beholder thing, and personal desire, familial need, employment, allegiances as well as understanding and holiness and vision (theoria) all affect it.

Past Elder said...

orrologion points to a very real fact, the cultural differences between the Eastern and Western Roman Empires.

I've heard EO say that the Reformation was a characteristically Western answer to a characteristically Western problem, so the answer and the problem are just flip sides of the same coin.

Yet to appeal to a consensus of the "Fathers", the mind or worship of practice of the Church is to appeal to something entirely theoretical.

The surviving state religions of the Eastern Roman Empire in reality evidence no consensus at all about anything except there is a consensus, then argue constantly about what it is and who really has it.

Well, there appears to be a consensus that we don't have it too.

Daniel said...

Wow!

As I reread my post, I honestly saw no "rudeness" or over the top comments that would be considered out of bounds in a healthy, virile disussion on this blog.

The only thing that I would like to clarify about my comments is that I did not mean to imply that Pastor Weedon or anyone Lutheran is personally attempting to, or knowingly practising "duplicity" with respect to the Lutheran calendar. Instead, I was simply calling the practise of including these Saints as duplicitous.

Futhermore, this is no more of a critique than claiming that a prayer in an Orthodox prayer office is "evil". Pastor Fast, what if a Lutheran pastor defended the small catechism from charges of it being "evil" on an Orthodox blog? Do you think that the Orthodox blogger should be lauded by another Orthodox for his patience at defending his stinging critique of the "ornery" Lutherans for defending their catechism?

As for Orthdox Catechists and Priests trying to work "baggage" out of converts, from what I have seen convert Priests have no more " bad baggage" than do cradle Priests. All of us have baggage, and will continue to possess it until the resurrection.

The thing that disappoints me is that we cannot have a good, healthy exchange of ideas without it descending into a judgement about one another's "feelings", supposed "intentions", and perceived judgements of "spiritual maturity" and the like. Why not just respond on the issues?

As for Pastor Weedon's response regarding the Saints place in the Lutheran Calendar, I thought that he gave an excellent and challenging comment. Why does the Orthodox Church include Irenaeus,Cyprian, Augustine, and Issac of Ninevah in its Calendar?

First of all, we agree that the writings of the Saints are not infallible; just as their lives were not deified to the same level as Christ, "who knew no sin".

Second, we do see in Orthodoxy a tendency to be a bit more forgiving of a Saint's errors if they were held before the issue had been clarified in a Council, or in Praxis for some time. Notice this does not imply development of doctrine, only that in time issues are more fully refined and hewn by circumstance and application.

So then, I now can completely understand a Lutheran thinking that such Saints as Chrysostom, Ambrose, and the like belong in their Calendar if the former thinks that these Saints if they were alive in the Reformation, or today, would repent of supposed errors such as asking intercession of Saints, and high veneration of Mary.

Continued below

Daniel said...

However, the challenge for the Lutheran still somewhat remains. Whereas the Orthodox Calendar embraces some Saints despite their individual errors, the Lutheran Calendar embraces many if not most of its Saints of the first millenium who embrace the supposed SAME ERRORS: High Veneration of Mary, Relics, and other Holy things; and asking intercession of the departed.

Whereas the Orthodox (and all who will read their history in the Canons and writings of the Church) have a history of what happended in resolving heresies with respect to Chiliasm, Roman primacy understood as power, double-predestination, etc; THERE IS NO RECORD OF MUCH OF AN ARGUEMENT, IF ANY, OVER INTERCESSION OF SAINTS AND HIGH VENERATION OF MARY BEFORE THE REFORMATION. NEITHER WAS THERE EVER A REACTION

For anyone who would at this point mistake my CAPS as "baggage" from an angry ex-Lutheran, was the Apostle Paul working out his anger when he "pleaded with" the Judaizers? Was Peter ornery when he boldy proclaimed to those whom he opposed that "salvation is found in no other Name"? There is a healthy passion full of love, care and concern; and there is an unhealthy passion of the flesh-"for him who has ears let him hear".

Finally, this thread began with an indictment against the Prayer to the Theotokos in Orthodox Compline. An assertion was made later in the comments that one will not find such language in the early Fathers; in other words this prayer was deemed to be a development, or even a deviation from good praxis.

In response I once again reprint the earliest prayer we have to the Theotokos from Egypt (c.250 AD). You will notice that it addresses her in "God-like" fashion, and it ascibes to her "God-like" attributes. This prayer also continues to be prayed in the Orthodox Church in one of her prayer offices as it was received/traditioned from this very early period of martrydom and confession. Once one reads and listens to its words, it is not incredulous to see the prayer that engendered this long discussion as consistent with this shorter, but equally powerful petition:

"Beneath thy tenderness of heart
we take refuge, O Theotokos,
disdain not our supplications in our necessity,
but deliver us from perils,
O only pure and blessed one."


Forgive me a sinner,

Fr. Daniel Hackney

christl242 said...

Which in the West morphed into:

Sub tuum praesidium confugimus, Sancta Dei Genetrix. Nostras deprecationes ne despicias in necessitatibus, sed a periculis cunctis libera nos semper, Virgo gloriosa et benedicta. Amen.

We fly to thy patronage, O holy Mother of God; despise not our petitions in our necessities, but deliver us always from all dangers, O glorious and blessed Virgin. Amen.

An ancient prayer to the Blessed Virgin Mary, the oldest known version of which is found on an Egyptian papyrus from the 3rd century. This prayer is used in Litanies to the Blessed Mother and as a concluding prayer to Compline. A partial indulgence is granted to the faithful who recite it.

More evidence of the progression of the popular piety that originated in the East.

Christine

Past Elder said...

There's Lutheran pastors mixing it up on Orthodox blogs about the Little Catechism or whatever?

Judas, must be a slow day for shut-in or hospital visits.

I must admit, I have repented in recent months of my habit of hanging out on this one RC blog, which I did not because it is or I was RC, but the blogger was once a Lutheran pastor and should bloody well know better than to fall for a load of revisionist crap that mutilates the very thing he thinks he now accepts.

I gotta say, when somebody swims the Bosphorus, he at least still finds Orthodoxy on the other side.

I can't imagine going to an RC blog just because I was RC to tell them they got this Lutheranism thing all wrong.

So while I cannot understand rewriting prayers that are what they are to something else, I also cannot understand bothering with blogs of one's former confession.

Most miserable of all Lutherans,
Pitiable failure of a Benedictine,
Least of all anywhere, at any time and in any place,
Not even an elder and wasn't one in the synod to which I belong,
Can't even bloody dive like the California Desert Father,

Past Elder

PS -- there is no truth whatever to the rumour that I started blogging when stopped in the van in a terrible storm I cried out "St Anne, I'll become a blogger!"

PPS -- Rock on Christinula!

orrologion said...

The surviving state religions of the Eastern Roman Empire...

I think I remember something about this in The DaVinci Code, or was it at the Amish-Mennonite Museum? Regardless, it's kind of hogwash considering the same beliefs that are at odds with Lutheranism were held by the churches outside of the bounds of the Roman Empire, too.

More evidence of the progression of the popular piety that originated in the East.

Along with the Christian Faith itself, which is 'eastern' in the same way. The Kyrie also and many a hymn to be found (still) in use by Lutherans.

I also cannot understand bothering with blogs of one's former confession.

I think you and others are not aware that many of us became acquainted with each other on the Orthodox-Lutheran Dialogue list, so our relationship has developed around the topic; others knew Pastor Weedon from before they became Orthodox. So, while this blog has become identified solely as 'A Lutheran Blog', many of us know it simply as Bill's blog. Many of his visitors seem to see it differently and are jealous of what is theirs.

William Weedon said...

Dear Fr. Daniel,

If you know of a writing in any fourth century father or earlier that approximates the prayer from Compline, I'd appreciate it if you could share it. Certainly the Memorare is an ancient expression of piety; whether it was common place among the fathers is rather an assumption.

Epiphanios seems to be reacting to such invocations in his rather strong words against deifying the Blessed Virgin.

Chemnitz cites Origen's commentary on Romans to the effect: "If indeed the saints who are outside the body and with Christ do and work anything in our behalf after the manner of the angels, who perform services for our salvation, let this be considered among the secret things of God, and mysteries not to be committed to paper." Note the if - he seems anything but certain. [Also note, I'm going on Chemnitz here, not having available to me at the moment a copy of Origen's work on Romans]

Finally, yes, I am indeed of the opinion that if the great fathers would have seen where such invocation finally led, they would concur with the Reformation that it was neither safe nor fitting. As a Lutheran Christian I rejoice in their intercession on my behalf and on behalf of all yet in the pilgrim Church; and entrust myself to it, without having to invoke it. See again Luther's words cited above.

Past Elder said...

Well since as you say the whole thing is Eastern then whozzat, Moscow, the "third Rome"? I suppose since most of them still are state churches, or in the case of the Third Rome trying like hell to regain the power and status of one, it's a lost point.

I think any regular readers of this blog are quite well aware of a lot of history among the blackbird community here. Not my point.

It would be a strange form of humility indeed to pervert the blessed means of personal assurance of forgiveness one did commit into a forum for confessing sins one didn't. Seems more prideful than humble.

The Memorare, btw, isn't ancient at all. It is a short form from the 1500s of a prayer from the 1400s, Ad sanctitatis tuae pedes O dulcissima Virgo Maria -- and didn't have bupkis to do with that reformed Benedictine Bernard (neither did O Sacred Head). It got going when a parish priest, Claude Bernard, who said he got it from his dad, claimed to be cured having said it. Since he made that claim to the Queen Consort of France, he probably was telling what he thought was true.

With humble supplications, I, miserable calamity of a would-be monk that I am, or as they said in that newest part of the West called with characteristic Westerninity the Old West, pardon me all to hell, remain the rag doggiest of rag doggers,
Past Elder.

christl242 said...

So, while this blog has become identified solely as 'A Lutheran Blog', many of us know it simply as Bill's blog. Many of his visitors seem to see it differently and are jealous of what is theirs.

Jealous? Nope. This is Pastor Weedon's blog. He is free to invite the Dalai Lama if he so chooses.

But, those of us who are Lutheran may have a wee suspicion that the burr under the Orthodox saddles is that you are former Lutherans who went East, but utimately Pastor Weedon did not.

As a Lutheran Christian I rejoice in their intercession on my behalf and on behalf of all yet in the pilgrim Church; and entrust myself to it, without having to invoke it. See again Luther's words cited above.

And a hearty amen!

Would also help if the Orthodox visitors understood that yes, Lutherans may use some Eastern spirituality but we are heirs to the Western catholic tradition.

Past Elder, would it help if I sent you some hair shirts for penance?

Christine

Past Elder said...

Christinula:

Only if they're Armani.

christl242 said...

Christinula:

Only if they're Armani.


Armani ??

Nah. Changed my mind.

In the spirit of this thread let's do something a little Eastern -- put ya up on that thar pillar like Symeon the Stylite!

Christine

Past Elder said...

Judas Priest, no, this can work.

I'd be the Stylin' Stylite.

I think the honourific "The Elder" is taken. But at least, my mom having gone on to her eternal reward, I won't have to turn her away.

She'd probably have been to embarrassed to come anyway.

And if you send die Katarina, hell, I'm down!

Past Elder said...

PS -- ya suppose Kieschnick will show up to see if I will come down to show I'm not maintenance minded up there?

Past Elder said...

Footnote: "die Katarina" is the incomparable Katarina Witt, from whose magnificent skating and statement in 1994 I have not dried my last tear of joy.

Sag mir wo die Blumen sind ...

And 1988, three words, O,M,G.

Ja dann bei Gott!

christl242 said...

Sag mir, wo die Blumen sind,
Mädchen pflückten sie geschwind.
Wann wird man je verstehn,
wann wird man je verstehn?


Come to think of it, PE, maybe I'll have the President of our Beloved Synod join you on that pillar -- might get some of that Ablaze affliction out of him.

Sheesh, gotta have a little jocularity now and then, nicht wahr?

Aside from any matters dealing with die Katarina, of course -- that is serious, serious business!

Christinula

Daniel said...

Pastor Weedon,

Thank you for your thoughtful response. Regarding what you called the "memorare", this prayer is a much later prayer that may or may not have morphed out the one I mentioned.

The "sub tuum praesidium" actually does give you the missing link you are looking for. Was it "accepted by the fathers?" This sung prayer was included in the ORTHODOX COPTIC CHRISTMAS LITURGY in the 3RD CENTURY. Thus it was (and still is) more than just something sung/prayed by pious folk in their private devotions. Its Greek text is as follows:

Ὑπὸ τὴν σὴν εὐσπλαγχνίαν,
καταφεύγομεν, Θεοτόκε.
Τὰς ἡμῶν ἱκεσίας,
μὴ παρίδῃς ἐν περιστάσει,
ἀλλ᾽ ἐκ κινδύνων λύτρωσαι ἡμᾶς,
μόνη Ἁγνή, μόνη εὐλογημένη.

Thus we have the ancient church invoking Mary in its Nativity Liturgy! Under her "bowel of compassion". She is asked to "rescue" those who invoke her, the "only pure and blessed one".

As for Origen, unfortunately history shows that his brilliant rational mind probed deeply and broadly; and at times outstide the canonical regula fidei. Possibly an analogy can be drawn between him and what was believed/practised in his apostolic Egyptian Church and the Seminex professors at Concordia Saint Louis in the 60's and 70's. While the the latter doubted the Virgin birth and could not mentally grasp Jonah and the whale-the pious faithful Lutherans held to their faith passed on to them by godly men and women before them.

As for Epiphanius, he came some one hundred years later than the prayer/hymn I noted. His concern was with the Kollyridians, an heretical sect that held to Mother Goddess beliefs. Their practises such as baking cakes unto Mary was rejected by the Church. No doubt this was seen as anti-Eucharistic (in the sense of a false Eucharist). There is but one communion meal; the Body of Christ.

However I do think you for referencing Epiphanius. I hope to get a hold of a copy of his Panarion. Do you know of a copy of it on the net?

William Weedon said...

Father,

That such a prayer was used in the Coptic Nativity liturgy, I would not dispute. My question, however, is whether there is evidence of the use of something along the lines of the Compline prayer referenced and advocated by the great fourth century Fathers or earlier that would indicate such prayers being wide-spread and employed across the Church.

I seem to recall somewhere - don't ask me where now! - that some scholars demonstrated the ancient nature of the Roman canon on the basis that it did NOT contain any invocation of Mary? Some argument along those lines.

About Origen, would it not be fair to say that the Church uses him with caution? Certainly Nyssa relied on him a great deal.

Epiphanius's work I've been hunting for online forever- I'd dearly love to get hold of it and read through it. The pieces cited in Chemnitz are tantalizing. I'm not sure that his concerns would not also be addressing the growing cult of Mary as it was establishing itself across the face of the Church in his days. From the citations I've read, he was very concerned that the idolatry which was thrown out the front door, not enter again by the rear door.

In any case, if you come across the Fathers specifically citing or addressing the matter of invocation of the Virgin, I'd be most grateful for any references. Pax Christi!

christl242 said...

I seem to recall somewhere - don't ask me where now! - that some scholars demonstrated the ancient nature of the Roman canon on the basis that it did NOT contain any invocation of Mary? Some argument along those lines.

Pastor Weedon,

Nor does the Roman Eucharistic canon invoke her now. During the Mass Mary's role in the Communion of Saints is acknowledged and the hope that the church will share eternal life with her is expressed but she is not called upon.

No Catholic is required to have a devotion to Mary or the Saints in order to remain a Catholic in good standing.


Christine

William Weedon said...

Interesting, Christine. Yet, it seems to me, that the mark of most converts is their Marian devotion. I sympathize, for as a Lutheran I have fought for years against those who would denigrate the Blessed Virgin as "the same as you and me" - for I believe Christ gives her to us to love as our Mother, as Luther preached so beautifully in one of his Christmas homilies from 1522:

O, this is the great joy of which the angel speaks. This is God's comfort and His surpassing goodness, that may (if he believeth) may glory in such a treasure, that Mary be his very Mother, Christ his Brother, and God his Father... Thus dost thou surely sit in the Virgin Mary's lap and art her darling child. But thou must learn to have such faith and to exercise it throughout thine earthly life, for it can never be strong enough.

orrologion said...

...that would indicate such prayers being wide-spread and employed across the Church.

Well, Alexandria was the second most prominent city and see in the Empire at the time, so it wasn't just some random Latin and/or Palestinian saint promoting an idiosyncratic reading of the tradition.

christl242 said...

Interesting, Christine. Yet, it seems to me, that the mark of most converts is their Marian devotion.

That's undoubtedly true for some, Pastor Weedon but I found that many converts, especially those from the more "free church" traditions came to the RC primarily because of the mystery of the Eucharist which they had never known in their evangelical/protestant churches and the belief in Petrine authority (the reality of which may be something entirely different, but that's a different post). When I entered the RC it was with a fairly large group of other converts and their reasons for becoming RC were interesting to hear.

The Latin Rite expresses its Marian devotion far more outside the liturgy whereas the East incorporates it INTO the liturgy. One reason why Catholics were so attached to the Rosary, devotion to Mary under her various titles/apparitions, etc. because reference to the Mother of God within the liturgy itself, at least since Vatican II, is rather spare.

I sympathize, for as a Lutheran I have fought for years against those who would denigrate the Blessed Virgin as "the same as you and me" - for I believe Christ gives her to us to love as our Mother, as Luther preached so beautifully in one of his Christmas homilies from 1522

No disagreement with you there, Pastor Weedon, none at all. Luther's writings on the Blessed Virgin are heartwarming and tender.

I will say that the more "educated", for lack of a better word, Catholics since VII are more attracted to the paradigm of Mary as Mother of the Church and first disciple of the Lord.

It's a fine line to avoid ignoring her very unique role in the Body of Christ and exaggerating it as some periods of Christian history have tended to do.

Christine

William Weedon said...

Dear Christopher,

Exactly, so it shouldn't be hard if it were widespread at the time to show it in other parts of the empire and in the writings of the chief theologians of the time, no?

orrologion said...

Not necessarily and for any number of reasons. Fr. Georges Florovsky has insightful comments on this, for instance, and there are many Fathers we have little to no to limited surviving writings. Besides, in the Church lex orandi is more authoritative and telling than any Father's writings on lex credendi.

William Weedon said...

But, of course, we also have EXTENSIVE writings from numerous of the Fathers and I do not think it is unreasonable to see, say, St. John Chrysostom, mention something along these lines were it a part of the Lex Crendendi that he were familiar with?

Past Elder said...

It was funnier than hell to see all the Catholics backpedalling from the Mary stuff like crazy and the Protestants "rediscovering" an "authentic" Marian devotion after Vatican II.

In my home parish, the former side altar dedicated to Mary ended up being the "altar of repose" for the Eucharist.

Notes: we were taught up till the Council our churches visibly showed the living presence of Christ, with the tabernacle on the main altar as the focus, and a side altar dedicated to the Mary on one side and Joseph on the other reflecting the Holy Family.

Suddenly that was all wrong, the church is the assembly place of the People of God, the tabernacle removed to another location, and all that mediaeval piety stuff removed.

It's quite true that a Catholic is not required to buy all the Mary stuff, but in practice, with it all around, if you don't it would be one of those things you don't pay much attention to and shut up about. There are lots of such things.

Honouring her as Christ honoured her is one thing, turning her into a Christianised Mother Goddess is something else.

Lex orandi is fine, when it's not whatever who's in charge says it is.

orrologion said...

'The only difference between dogma (δογμα) and kirigma (κηρυγμα) was in the manner of their transmission: dogma is kept "in silence" and kerygmata are "publicized".' (Fr. Georges Florovsky, 'The Function of Tradition in the Ancient Church')

The doctrines concerning the Mother of God were examples of dogma. They were revealed 'in mysteries', in the sacraments, of which the sub tuum praesidium is a surviving example - as is the consensus of all the ancient liturgies.

The consensus of the Church is pretty clear on the place of Mary and requests to her for her assistance - unless one believes in some form of a DaVinci Code theory of early, mass apostasy (or, least indelible taint) across the vast expanses and boundaries of Christendom from the true faith. It's OK to believe that, it's just that it is what it is.

Of course, if this is cherry picking, then so is referring St. Jerome for patristic verification of one's doctrine of Holy Orders. Then again, the consensus of the Church is pretty clear on that, too.

William Weedon said...

Christopher,

The point with St. Jerome is that he claims to present what is the teaching of the Apostles as witnessed from their writings. It's a worthwhile endeavor for all who claim to speak for the Church.

Past Elder said...

Holy Moly. I haven't heard Kerygma/Dogma distinctions since the last day of Historical Jesus and Christ of Faith class -- in which class one would have though dogma is what happens when the church messes around with the kerygma what we are now getting back to after all this dogma that has divided us for so long.

William Weedon said...

Terry,

The Russians are always a little behind the times... ;)

christl242 said...

Whoeeee, that became a rallying cry for feminists in the Episcopal Church --

CURB YOUR DOGMA !!

Yikes!


Christine

Past Elder said...

Judas Christine, I heard that in the RCC after the Revolution -- you know, once we shed all this repressive, oppressive, suppressive and depressive dogma churches come up with and get back to the kerygma and understand we are all one, just separated by all that dreck that we are now either shedding or reworking back to the proverbial early church!

christl242 said...

Judas Christine, I heard that in the RCC after the Revolution --

Sheesh, if I had only known!! They could have ordered some of those Episcopal feminist bumper stickers at the Abtei!


Christine

orrologion said...

Florovsky's piece describes the Kerygma/Dogma in a fashion rather different than the more modern (mis)uses mentioned.

orrologion said...

It's a worthwhile endeavor for all who claim to speak for the Church.

An endeavor whose success is not always directly related to one's intentions or the love one has of Scripture, the faith and/or Christ. I think we could all multiply examples ancient and modern of such endeavors crossing into heresy. Of course, 'they' could simply be stupid or evil since the right answer is SO obvious.

William Weedon said...

Chrysostom at least thought the answer was obvious, but it doesn't follow that those who disagree are stupid or evil:

There comes a heathen and says, "I wish to become a Christian, but I know not whom to join: there is much fighting and faction among you, much confusion: which doctrine am I to choose?" How shall we answer him? "Each of you" (says he) "asserts, 'I speak the truth.'"  No  doubt: this is in our favor. For if we told you to be persuaded by arguments, you might well be perplexed: but if we bid you believe the Scriptures, and these are simple and true, the decision is easy for you. If any agree with the Scriptures, he is the Christian; if any fight against them, he is far from this rule.  -- St. John Chrysostom, (Homily 33 in Acts of the Apostles [NPNF1,11:210-11; PG 60.243-44])

npmccallum said...

Looking back into history is like "looking through a glass darkly" (to borrow from St Paul). We can see a few important features, but mostly we see our own reflection...

This is especially true with liturgics, since most ancient writers simply take liturgics as a given knowledge. However, this is also why I would consider the inclusion of such a prayer into a liturgy to be something authoritative. Especially since the lex orandi is such a central argument for writers in this period against heresies, such as Irenaeus. In fact, one could make an argument that Irenaeus' mariology comes from the lex orandi of his time. Though, of course here is not the proper place to make such arguments.

William Weedon said...

But the lex orandi is not quite the fixed and unchanging thing that folks tend to make it out to be; Schmemann is helpful:

Liturgical life has developed, it has changed its forms. It would not be difficult to show that it is changing still. The absence of development would be a sign of a fatal sclerosis. (Liturgical Theology, p. 20)

He also cites Archbishop Filaret: "As a result of historical research it is clear and beyond doubt that the holy Church has acted with reasonable freedom in regard to the ceremonies of worship. She has adopted new orders of services for their beneficial effect upon people, and has replaced these by others when she saw that they were not altogether helpful or necessary. A theory of worship in the Church which does not rest on historical data is false, and is also harmful in its consequences." (p. 21)

William Weedon said...

P.S. On the Church's lex orandi, I also think *The LIving God* was quite correct when it noted:

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). (p. 265)

npmccallum said...

William,

I'm not sure who was arguing that lex orandi was unchangable... I'm not really sure why you are bringing this up at this point.

Regarding your Chrysostom quote, the issues of his day are not the issues of our day. Chrysostom is not arguing that we systematically reform the Church with the scriptures. He is arguing that there is a clear case in the scriptures for the Orthodox Christology.

npmccallum said...

It also seems to me that your quote from "The Living God" is entirely unrelated to our discussion.

William Weedon said...

I think the impression that some have given here of Lex ordandi (and I may be misreading them?), is that it is and has been unchangeable.

About Chrysostom, he's arguing that the Scriptures are both simple and true and that one who desires to know the truth can weigh any truth claims against their lucid guidance and by seeing how those claims stack up against the Scriptures know if they are true or not. In this he is entirely of a piece with numerous of the early fathers who repeatedly sought to ground all their teaching in the words of the divinely-inspired Scriptures and urged their hearers to evaluate all that they said by that same standard.

William Weedon said...

Well, it IS my discussion! ;)

Seriously, though, the reason for citing from The Living God was because I do think that the permanent element in the Church's lex orandi is precisely the Sacred Scriptures which she sings and prays back to God in great joy - though across the centuries in a multiplicity of forms.

William Weedon said...

And which then raises the question of whether the prayer as originally given in Compline is such a praying back of Scripture? Certainly the humility of the petitioner is Scriptural.

npmccallum said...

It was Lutherans that came up with "sitz em leben," no? I hardly think that Chrysostom's sitz em leben is using the scriptures as a reforming element for everything in the Church. His point that the scriptures are simply and truly "on our side" (as seen in "No doubt: this is in our favor.") in the Christological controversies of his day.

Regarding the quote from "The Living God": that is quite a late interpretation. I'm not sure that is how the early church viewed its liturgy. The Sursum Corda is fairly clear that it is ourselves that we are offering (though this not exclude the Holy Scriptures as well).

christl242 said...

It was Lutherans that came up with "sitz em leben," no?

Forgive me, please. I'm a Virgo, I can't help it -- Pastor Weedon is fully aware of my annoying tendency to correct the world.

Actually, Lutherans didn't come up with "sitz em leben" -- "Sitz im Leben", perhaps?

Christine

npmccallum said...

Christine, you can correct my spelling anytime :)

I'm so embarrassed that I typed it wrong not once but twice! :) Believe it or not, I actually do know how to spell it...

Lvka said...

Weedon,

after reading so many Fathers, and You still don't know that the difference between us and God lies NOT in what we DO [energies], BUT in what we ARE [essence] ? The energies are for all to share in: otherwise, since God is love, no-one would be (according to Your logic) permitted to love. -- which would make me a blasphemer, perhaps. Haven't You read the Fathers saying that men become like God (or 'gods') according to grace, but not according to nature. Or that God became man so that men might become gods, or like God?