24 April 2006

AC XIV Thoughts

[The following thoughts were shared with a friend a few months ago; I post them in full here as a fuller explanation of my thoughts on the subject as it was introduced by my friend David Juhl on his blog Uneasy Priest. They might provide some further good discussion.]

Such a short little article to cause so much trouble over the years! And at the heart of the controversy is the even littler Latin phrase: rite vocatus. “Our Churches teach that no one is to preach, teach or administer the Sacraments *nisi rite vocatus*” - without being called by rite, or regularly called, or orderly called.

The Augsburg Confession is very bold in its insistence: “As can be seen, there is nothing that varies from the Scriptures, or from the Church universal, or from the Church of Rome, as known from its writers.” (Conclusion of first half of the AC) “In doctrine and ceremonies we have received nothing contrary to Scriptures or the Church universal.” (Conclusion of the second half of the Augsburg Confession).

I would contend, however, that precisely at the point of AC XIV Melanchthon KNEW that something needed to be introduced that was new in both doctrine and in ceremony. But he was betting the farm that his opponent, Johann Eck, would NOT notice what he had done. And so what Melanchthon did was to scrounge up a term from canon law that might be a tad ambiguous – rite voctaus – and hope that Eck wouldn’t notice that the term was being used in a novel manner.

Fat chance. Eck was a careful student of the Lutheran movement and watched it with growing alarm. He did not let AC XIV slip by without telling commentary:

“When in the fourteenth article, they confess that no one ought to administer in the Church the Word of God and the sacraments unless he be rightly called, it ought to be understood that he is rightly called who is called in accordance with the form of law and the ecclesiastical ordinances and decrees hitherto observed everywhere in the Christian world, and not according to a Jerobitic (cf. 1 Kings 12:20) call, or a tumult or any other irregular intrusion of the people. Aaron was not thus called. Therefore, in this sense the Confession is received; nevertheless, they should be admonished to persevere therein, and to admit in their realms no one either as a pastor or as a preacher unless he be rightly called.” (Reu’s *A Collection of Sources for the Augsburg Confession*, p. 357)

Eck seems to have had in mind some of Luther's writings and deeds on the subject. See especially Babylonian Captivity (AE 36:116) and the fact that in 1525 Luther himself ordained Georg Rörer. [Notes: While it is certainly true (as Piepkorn has amply demonstrated) that there were exceptions to the rule of bishops only ordaining here and there in the medieval West, it appears that this practice was limited to the conditions obtaining in the mission field or to the privelege granted by certain popes for abbots in presbyteral orders to ordain to diaconate or presbyterate within their monasteries; but that a university professor should undertake this task was in all points a novelty that would have troubled Eck and other traditionalists among the "old believers".]

This means quite simply that Melanchthon’s bluff did not work. He was called to explain what he had apparently hoped to avoid: detailing what he meant by “rite vocatus.” If the meaning was not the old canonical meaning – priestly ordination in apostolic succession – then what DID it mean?

The Apology is not terribly helpful in answering that. It more or less admits the bluff, with a “well we WANTED to, but you guys were too mean to allow it!” But nowhere in this article does Melanchthon actually provide a positive definition of the term. I suspect he hadn’t worked one out yet. What could “rite vocatus” mean if not employed of “canonical ordination” (Ap XIV:24)?

After searching in vain through the Apology for an answer, a number of years later a possible answer emerged in the much-neglected Tractatus. The answer Melanchthon had been searching for was implied in his reading of St. Jerome, who pointed out that priests and bishops in Scripture hold the same rank (Tractatus 61-64) – an argument that Jerome no doubt relished, being himself a presbyter and never elevated to the Episcopal throne unlike the other three “doctors” of the Western Church. Melanchthon then made the argument that the distinction between bishop and presbyter was a matter of discipline rather than doctrine, and therefore not strictly speaking
something that could be considered divinely mandated. Thus, “it is clear that ordination administered by a pastor in his own church is valid by divine law. Therefore, when the regular bishops become enemies of the Church or are unwilling to administer ordination, the churches retain their own right to ordain their own ministers.” (Tractatus 65, 66) And in summary: “From this it is clear that the Church retains the right to elect and ordain ministers. Therefore, when the bishops are heretics or refuse to administer ordination, the churches are by divine right compelled to ordain pastors and ministers for themselves by having their pastors do it (Latin: adhibitis sui pastoribus).” (Tractatus 72)

The Churches are authorized here to do what the bishops are unwilling to do, and the Churches do so by using their own priests to get the job done. Thus, in this first “positive” definition of rite vocatus, we may define this as a case of presbyteral succession in case of necessity.

But the phrase rendered “by having their pastors do it” is soon lost from the Tractatus and does not even make it into the 1580 or 1584 Book of Concord (this is why it is absent in the Triglotta). The loss of this phrase meant that the Symbols, while mandating the rule “nisi rite vocatus” (without a call according to rite) never then
define what this phrase means. Each successive generation of Lutherans have squabbled over it – and it has been defined in accordance with the whims of each. All Lutherans agree that no one should preach, teach or administer the Word and Sacraments “nisi rite vocatus” but no group of Lutherans can come to agreement on what that
“rite vocatus” consists of!

To some it is a term for ordination (albeit, a non-canonical presbyteral ordination). To some it means that the congregation asks an elder to administer the Sacrament on a Sunday when the pastor is on vacation.
Each side may legitimately argue from Lutheran tradition – for it has come to mean all that and more! Just listen to the current Synodical president talk about it. He admitted in the 2006 convention of the Southern Illinois Convention that the seminary faculties can’t agree on its meaning! And of course they cannot. It HAS no definitive
meaning in the BOC of 1580 except this: it doesn’t mean what it always HAD meant, canonical ordination.

Thus the AC XIV is somewhat of a question mark behind the claim that the Lutherans did not introduce anything "new" in doctrine or in ceremonies. Here is something NEW – and it is new both in doctrine and in ceremony. The sad story of the Lutheran inability to speak with clarity about the Office of the Ministry is the result.

[Addendum: An area that I find fascinating and would like to explore further is the comment by Piepkorn that where the Symbols do not allege any support from the Word of God, it is questionable whether one is bound by what they teach. He uses as prime example the affirmation of the perpetual Virginity of the Holy Theotokos. But also note that the Symbols nowhere allege any Scriptural support for what is found in AC XIV! Does this explain the reason, perhaps, that growing sectors of Missouri feel free to dispense with it entirely?]


Anonymous said...

Some thoughts this morning on your essay:

“Rite” in “rite vocatus” doesn’t necessarily mean “by rite,” or “by means of a rite.” It could be an adverb instead of an ablative noun, meaning “validly.” The same word is used in Tr. 49; Ap. 28:3; and the intro to AC 22, para. 6. It or related forms are also used in the Latin version of the Bible: 2 Chr. 31:1; 35:16. “Irrita” is used in 1 Tim. 5:12.

Nevertheless, I find it to be likely that “rite vocatus” was a term used in canon law. (If you have some references of where the term appears, that would be helpful.) But I don’t see any evidence for claiming that the phrase per se implied the whole RC system of “canonical ordination” which would include apostolic succession of ordinations through bishops. In fact, I’m starting to think Melanchthon was not using it as a technical term. The RC Confutation recognized this, and that’s why they had to stipulate that the term be understood as referring to their system of “canonical ordination.”

You say that Melanchthon never gave a definition of “rite vocatus.” Perhaps this is because he wasn’t looking at “rite vocatus” as a technical term. In other parts of the confessions, however, the things required for a layman to become a pastor are indeed laid out. From Melanchthon’s own hand, one could look at Ap. 13, where ordination and even the imposition of hands are called sacraments, according to the definition where a sacrament is a ceremony to which is attached God’s promise. (Luther’s definition of “sacrament” differed, of course, as one can see in the SA. But since it’s an ecclesiastical term, not scriptural, there should be freedom here, as long as one is clear about that which he speaks.) The call or vocation of the Church is, of course, also necessary, as can be seen in other parts of the confessions. The fact that there’s confusion in the LCMS on what makes a layman into a pastor doesn’t mean that the confessions don't address the issue.

On the issue of Tr. 72, what you say is, in general, correct. The phrase “adhibitis suis pastoribus” was in the first edition of the Treatise, but was omitted by the time the Latin Book of Concord of 1584 was printed. What you may not have known is that at Smalcald, it was agreed that everyone would take the Treatise home, discuss it with their theologians, and send suggested changes to Wittenberg. Why this particular phrase was dropped is anyone’s guess. I personally don’t think it was because the Lutherans wanted to make way for non-pastors to perform ordinations. Paragraph 65 was retained in the Tr., and there it says that ordination performed by a pastor in his own church is valid by divine law.

As to episcopal ordination, Melanchthon says it’s preferable, but not required by divine law. I think this has always and consistently been the Lutheran position. Now, it seems that your main criticism is that this is a novelty (namely, that episcopal ordination would not be required), and thus it is in conflict with the AC’s “catholic principle” as stated in the conclusions to the two halves of the AC.

In response, I’d say Melanchthon believed that what he was putting forth in the AC was in agreement with the best early church and Roman writers. To claim that Melanchthon *knew* he was setting forth a novum is an uncharitable opinion, and it is probably impossible to prove.

So the question is really, What do you do when you find a part of the Lutheran Confessions that you don’t think the best early church writers held to? You can either hold to the Lutheran confessional position on the basis of a higher authority, or you can revise the Lutheran confessional position on the basis of some early church fathers.

It comes down to how this “catholic principle” is understood. Is it an a priori principle that must shape and norm how we do theology and our articles of faith? Or is it an a posteriori judgment made by Melanchthon on the basis of his extensive, though limited, knowledge of the early church and Roman writers? I think it’s the latter. And Melanchthon’s writings outside the Book of Concord tend to bear this out. (See:
What Melanchthon does very well is to revere the fathers as teachers. But he does not hold to them or their consensus as infallible.

William Weedon said...

Fr. Mayes,

Excellent and insightful, as is your wont. I AM being uncharitable to Melanchthon on this point (and it would be very hard to prove that he did it intentionally, but knowing how well he knew the Fathers and the canons, I assume he did). Being uncharitable to Melanchthon is in good gnesio tradition, eh?

Your last point is interesting given my morning reading: chapter 1 (the Authority of the Fathers) in Pelikan's *The Spirit of Eastern Christendom (600-1700).* Certainly, it was a given to the Fathers that the consensus patrem was infallible because it witnessed to the unchanging truth of the apostolic deposit. Not that that ever meant the infallibility of a given father on every point, but precisely in the consensus. Pelikan shows how this assumption was actually held by those on all sides of the Christological debates! In other words, the assumption is one of those things which can be learned from the "church universal and the Roman church, as known from its writers." Either this is held or one has introduced a novelty, no? Thus even St. Augustine willingly submitted all his writings to the judgment of the holy church.

William Weedon said...

Oh, one more thing, Fr. Mayes: I really would covet your thoughts on the addendum. AC XIV and XV are DOCTRINAL articles of the AC, and yet they allege zero Scripture. Thoughts on Piepkorn's words about such situtations in the Symbols (noting that Piepkorn only raised the question, he didn't give an answer)?

William Weedon said...

Oh, about the canon law, that is what Piepkorn wrote, but I do not know where he got it from. I've been hunting for several years, but you know what trying to find a phrase like that in canon law is like!

Chris Jones said...

Fr Mayes,

It comes down to how this “catholic principle” is understood. Is it an a priori principle that must shape and norm how we do theology and our articles of faith? Or is it an a posteriori judgment made by Melanchthon on the basis of his extensive, though limited, knowledge of the early church and Roman writers?

That is the $64,000 question, isn't it? As I wrote elsewhere on this question (and Fr Weedon will recognize where this is from):

This question, among many others, turns on how you interpret the Confessors' claim not to have departed from Catholic faith and order. Was this claim simply an allegation of fact, that the Confessions are the correct exposition of the Catholic faith, no matter what others might think? Or did this claim instead set the Confessions firmly in the context of the Apostolic Tradition, making the historic Catholic faith the interpretive lens through which the Confessions must be read? In short, do the Confessions judge the Tradition, or does the Tradition judge the Confessions? ... If we read the Confessions in the light of the Tradition, we can conclude that AC XIV refers, in principle, to canonical ordination, and that presbyteral ordination was a necessary but unfortunate expedient. If we read the Confessions as trumping the Tradition, we must read AC XIV in light of its historical context, and conclude that it is endorsing presbyteral ordination in principle. And then we are indeed in a heap o' trouble.

We may call these two views, in your terminology, the a priori view (the Tradition judges the Confessions) and the a posteriori view (the Confessions judge the Tradition). The problem I see with the a posteriori view is that it makes the "Catholic principle" neither Catholic nor truly a principle. It is only an incidental observation made by one man, carrying the authority only of that one man's opinion. The Confessions become, not the expression of the Catholic faith that we have received (in response to particular errors), but a theological system resulting from the Confessors' interpretation of Scripture, with the authority of the Confessions resting on the notion that the Confessors happen to have gotten it right. And Melanchthon's claim cannot be a principle to be applied to help understand Scripture and Confessions, but remains only an un-authoritative observation.

I think it’s the latter.

I respectfully disagree. If the Apostolic Tradition means anything, and if the Creeds, the Councils, and the Fathers are worthy of any credit at all as faithful witnesses to that Tradition, then it seems to me that we must see our Confessions as part of that tradition, and consistently read them in the context of that tradition. Otherwise how can we possibly claim to be the Catholic Church, rightly reformed? And if that leads us to the conclusion that our Lutheran fathers were mistaken about the necessity of episcopal ordination, then that ought to lead us not to put the "Catholic principle" out of court, but to repent of that error. If we have made a mistake, we ought to admit it -- not re-interpret Church history to make the mistake somehow not a mistake. After all, if one should never admit a mistake in doctrine or practice, there never could have been a Reformation.

If the "Catholic principle" is only an a posteriori judgement, not an actual embrace of the Apostolic Tradition, then it was no more than a rhetorical weapon against the Romanists, without substance. And that leaves us not as evangelical Catholics, but mere Protestants. That is not a position that I care to be in.

William Weedon said...


It is positively SPOOKY how much you and I think alike!

: )

Eric Phillips said...

How could it be one or the other? I'm sure for Melanchthon the claim was both a priori and a posteriori. He earnestly wanted it to be true, and as far as he could see, it was. And that's where I am, too.

Chris Jones said...


I'm sure we all want it to be true; but the question is, what if it's not? Something has to give. Is it our own interpretation and explication that has to give way, or is it our loyalty to the Apostolic Tradition that has to give way?

On the specific point at issue it seems to me that there is very little doubt that the "essential equality" of bishop and presbyter cannot be supported historically. St Jerome, upon whom the Reformers relied so heavily on this point, was very much an outlier on this issue. The question is, what do we do about it? Up to now the Lutheran answer has been to continue to rely on a reading of Church history that is more and more forced, so that we don't have to admit that the Reformers made a mistake -- an honest mistake, but a mistake all the same.

Anonymous said...

Fr. Weedon wrote:
Oh, one more thing, Fr. Mayes: I really would covet your thoughts on the addendum. AC XIV and XV are DOCTRINAL articles of the AC, and yet they allege zero Scripture. Thoughts on Piepkorn's words about such situtations in the Symbols (noting that Piepkorn only raised the question, he didn't give an answer)?

I'd say that all the doctrines (i.e. articles of faith) of the Book of Concord should be included in one's subscription, and that this has historically been expected of Lutheran ministers. (I hope it will always continue to be so.) AC 14 is explicitly stated to be a doctrine ("we teach"). The perpetual virginity of St. Mary, on the other hand, as intriguing and likely as it may be, I would not consider to be an article of faith, any more than the statement that Origen is a "holy father." The semper virgo is similar to questions such as whether Peter is buried in Rome, whether St. Paul made it to Spain, and whether St. Thomas really went to India. Likely, but not articles of faith. Since you asked, that's my answer.

William Weedon said...

Fr. Mayes,

Where those questions differ from the SV is that they are not stated in the Lutheran Confessions. But I really do not want to open that whole can of worms again.

I'm glad to hear you hold to what AC XIV and XV say without alleging Scriptural support. At a pastoral conference here in SID, I asked a brother pastor how he taught AC XV to his people (given he was arguing that we were free in the Gospel from anything that is not specifically mandated in Scripture) and his response was that AC XV is "descriptive not prescriptive." Fr. Gross, hearing of this, responded: "Yes, it is descriptive of what LUTHERANS believe, teach, and confess." : )

Eric Phillips said...


I certainly read the Lutheran Confessions in light of, and as a continuation of, the Catholic tradition. I don't find this to be incompatible with the recognition that those Confessions changed some practices that went back a lot further than the high Middle Ages.

For what it's worth, Theodore of Mopsuestia also believed that the distinction between bishops and presbyters was a post-Apostolic change that the Church made for practical reasons as it grew in size, and read St. Paul's words concerning bishops in I Timothy as applying equally to priests. Of course, Theodore is an outlier too, and on more issues than this, but it seems to me he has firm scriptural basis for his understanding on this point.

Chaz said...


The answer to the $64,000 question is "Yes." You can send the check to the church address in my name.


Rev. Paul Beisel said...

The way I see the Confessions is this--they set the wayward ship back on the right course. That is how they fit within the "catholic tradition."

Anonymous said...

pastor beisel wrote,

"The way I see the Confessions is this--they set the wayward ship back on the right course. That is how they fit within the "catholic tradition."

Right..."The way [you] see it"...
ok..."set the wayward ship back on the right course"...hmmm

But is that really what they did? Pr Weedon's criticism seems to demonstrate that Melachthon did *not* "set the wayward ship."

Besides, instead of the "way I see it, the way you see it, what about the way the Holy Church of all times and in all places sees it? This is why the concept of Sacred Tradition cannot be ignored.

I do believe that we mean to be honest when we say, "as I see it." We are simply offering our perspective. But in dogmatics, this way of speech always treads in the dirty waters "quatenus subscription."

Do the Lutheran Confessions clearly demonstrate to be nothing other than the continuation of Sacred Tradition? That is their claim. Rome did not think so. And as Pr. Weedon demonstrates, the consistent bickering over Art 14 demonstrates the Lutherans aren't sure either.


Anonymous said...

My Piepkorn class notes indicate that he considered presbyteral ordinations an in extremis situation and that AC's call for 'nothing new' trumped anything other than canonical ordinations in communion with the Church Catholic.
Pieps also noted that the Office of presbyter and bishop were one, following Ephesians. The three fold office he considered late and decadent,,,,,, though not without historical warrent.
Over half a millenium is certainly a long extremis isn't it ?
Fr Hank

Eric Phillips said...


I'm sorry, "the Holy Church of all times and in all places" could not be reached for comment on this blog. You'll have to be content with the opinions of your actual interlocutors.

Eric Phillips said...

Fr. Hank,

Can you explain why presbyteral ordinations would be an "in extremis" solution, if the office of bishop and the office of presbyter are the same office? How could Piepkorn hold both positions at the same time?

Chris Jones said...


If you want to reach "the Holy Church of all times and in all places" for comment, you can consult the major witnesses to the Apostolic Tradition:

* The Holy Scriptures ("the pre-eminent and normative expression of the Apostolic Tradition")

* The decrees of the ecumenical councils

* The Church's liturgy

* The writings of the holy Fathers

* The ecumenical canons

On this specific point, the canons are particularly eloquent. The Apostolic Tradition is not the vague and abstract notion that some Protestants take it for; it is a concrete reality which we experience in the Church's ministry of Word and Sacrament, and whose historical contours can be discerned in the specific witnesses listed above.

It is easy to observe that the offices of bishop and presbyter are not well-differentiated and well-defined in the Scriptures. But to conclude from that, that the two offices were and are essentially identical is a misreading of Scripture. That is because the New Testament is not, and never was intended to be, a constitution and by-laws for the Church. The New Testament documents were written not as the founding document of a new religious organization, but by, and for, the members of an already existing and ongoing community. It does not list the names, functions, and powers of all types of leadership for the Church. It simply refers to those leaders in general terms, expecting its readers already to be familiar with them. The ongoing life of the Church itself is the context in which the New Testament was written, and it is the context within which it is to be read, both for the original readers, and for us, who continue to participate in that "ongoing life of the Church" (aka Tradition).

In that same context of "the ongoing life of the Church", the other witnesses to the Tradition are to be read. And while those witnesses are clearly subordinate to the Scriptures, where they do not contradict the Scriptures they may be taken to clarify matters that the Scriptures deal with only in passing. The differentiation of the orders of ministry, and the specific role (the "assigned liturgy") of each minister is just such a matter.

Anonymous said...

Keep in mind that Pieps was a canonist in his understanding of the Confessions,,,,,, as well as keep in mind that Theodore of Mopsuestia was a major research interest when he was in Germany after the war.
From the Pastorals and Ephiseans, he saw that the Office of Presbyter/Bishop was one, with the Deaconate being a separate helping office to them, particularly to those consecrated to the fulness of the Office to serve as Bishops, as happened over time.
Piepkorn saw the threefold division of Bishop, Preist, Deacon as a later historical deveopment.
By in extremis, or emergency, he meant that the intent of the Augustana was to reform abuses and maintain the continuity, not to make permanent the irregularity of presbyteral ordinations, nor to abolish the Episcopate as it had been received in the Eastern and Western Church.
Hope that helps,
Fr Hank

William Weedon said...

Fr. Hank,

You need to type up those Peeps notes and share the goodies with the rest of us!!!

Eric Phillips said...

Fr. Hank,

Ok, so his position was that the Lutherans did not originally intend to collapse the presbyterate and episcopate into one office, but that doing so is actually a return to the biblical model?

Eric Phillips said...


I wasn't suggesting that the Apostolic Tradition is inscrutable. I was pointing out that "the Church of all times and places" is not an entity that can be asked to give an opinion re: Rev. Beisel's statement, and that every one of us in this conversation is speaking "as we see it." Tradition is one of the things we all see and evaluate. It is not a participant in the discussion.

Chris Jones said...


OK, fair enough. Just as we read the Scriptures differently, we can read the other witnesses to the Tradition differently.

But back to the point at issue: the purported equality (or rather, identity) of the offices of bishop and presbyter. I contend that the only way to say that "the Bible teaches that 'bishop' and 'presbyter' are two names for the same office" is by putting all of the other witnesses to the Tradition out of court. And to put the other witnesses out of court is to read the Bible out of context (in a very fundamental sense).

William Weedon said...

An important that Piepkorn makes is that over time a number of the competencies of the bishop have been given to the presbyters - presiding at the Eucharist, preaching, confirming (in the East at any rate), all eventually came to be the normal task of the presbyter though each started out as the regular task of the bishop. I think it would be fair to say that Piepkorn saw the move to allow presbyters to ordain as following along this trajectory.

To Piepkorn this is possible precisely because both are encumbants of the same office, with different divisions of duty for that one office. He bases this upon the identification of the offices that is apparent in some passages of the pastorals.

If one grants the legitimacy of the Ignatian epistles (I do), however, this posses a challenge right away to the conclusion that Piepkorn (following the Tractatus) has drawn. How is it possible for a disciple of St. John to teach that the three fold office belongs to the very essence of the church if the distinction between presbyter and bishop is merely one of human arrangement? And clearly, Ignatius' view prevailed across the entire face of the church and for a very long time (Jerome's epistles not withstanding). It established itself in the days when the guardians of the regula fidei were especially vigilant that "nothing new" creep into the doctrinal deposit.

As Poitroit would say: It gives one furiously to think.

Anonymous said...

Fr Weedon,,,,,,
I'm a more accomplished legalist than thou,,,,, (perk of olde age) I have been beating myself over the head for over forty years on the subject of getting my Pieps (note: not Peeps) notes either copied or off to the Piepkorn centre,,,,, alas, too many relocations, cruel time and sundry rodents have taken their toll. The lectures on the usus tertius (brilliant) in the Formula are near totally gone,,,,, have thought of getting the 'Gospel of Judas' folks to try to reclaim them. LOL
The Piepkorn Center might prove to be a good resource for you on this and other subjects.
Piepkorn is one of three prople I would follow to Hell and back, the other two being + Peter Akinola and Ratzinger.

Eric,,,,,, One thing we all learned was not to speak for The Pieps beyond what was in black and white. I think in some of his work published in both the CTM and by ALPB you can find the train of his thought.

Fr. Hank

Eric Phillips said...

Pr. Weedon,

Ignatius makes it clear that in his day there were three offices, that the bishop is the center of each local church, and that without the leadership--bishop, presbyters, and deacons--no church could exist. He doesn't say that bishops can be consecrated only by other bishops, or that they should preside over multiple local churches. I may be missing something, but it sounds to me as if he is describing the office we would call "senior pastor" today.

Anonymous said...

George Lindbeck wrote on the topic of AC XIV for some ecumenical conference with Papists. I've only glanced at it myself, but it seems to be very relevant to this discussion. There is a copy of this article at the St. Louis library.
-Sem. Shawn Barnett

Anonymous said...

The following is the title of the volume in which the Linbeck article occurs:
Confessio Augustana und Confutatio : der Augsburger Reichstag 1530 und die Einheit der Kirche : internationales Symposion der Gesellschaft zur Herausgabe des Corpus Catholicorum in Augsburg vom 3.-7. September 1979 / in Verbindung mit Barbara Hallensleben ; herausgegeben von ErwinIserloh.

Anonymous said...

I contend that the Melanchthon's "catholic principal" is a priori in that it is motivated by his irenicism and desire for continuity with the RC church even according to externals. There is a vorverstandnis (perhaps one that is difficult to dilineate) that shapes his read of the Fathers and even shapes the fact that he would regard them as such. If this desire is not obvious throughout the AC and the Ap then it is certainly obvious in his subscription to the SA. I hold that a subscription to the Confessions in rebus et in phrasibus should necessarily lead one toward a similar desire. The phrasings of the confession, indeed the very act of confessing out to engender in the confessor a hearty desire for unity, a true ecumenism.
Even if Melanchthon is trying to sneak one by Eck, at least he later quotes Jerome.
I think this has practical application. Say, the Synod (granted this is very abstract) wanted to really apply this adhibitis sui pastoribus to the content of rite vocatus. Does this mean that we would apply it legally and drop a bunch of rogue congregations that are doing weird stuff (LINC missions for example). Or would we whole heartedly seek to make things legitmate. Don't we want to confess with these people? Or are they outside the Church because of lack of agreement and thus it would be proselytizing to try to bring them back into agreement?
-Sem. Shawn Barnett

William Weedon said...

Dear Seminarist,

Thanks so much for the Linbeck reference; I will have to look that up and check it out!

As for the Synod's approach to irregular situations in our midst, yes, one would expect and hope to see the approach that seeks to bring them back into the "regula." But if such congregations refuse? Then we must be prepared to wish them repentance and yet to sever ties. I recently heard how a DP in LCC recently did this to a parish that had, well, ceased to be Lutheran. We don't fight them for the property and such. We regretfully let them go. But first and foremost we DO seek to gain repentance.

Thanks for the thoughts you shared, and apologies on taking so long to reply - it was a very old posting of mine! :)

Schütz said...

Dear Pastor Weedon and friends,

I am still working through this fascinating discussion string (I have to head off for morning mass now), but would simply point out that any time you like, we would be happy to supply you and all your pastors with the lacking episcopal ordination.

The only difficulty is that now, as then, such ordination implies full communion with those doing the ordaining. Tough one, that. But not insurmountable...