25 June 2009

Soul Searching Words

in today's Writing from the Treasury. From the Augustana:

"In doctrine and ceremonies we have received nothing contrary to Scripture or the Church universal. It is clear that we have been very careful to make sure that no new ungodly doctrine creeps into our churches."

Note the "received." Gifts delivered in doctrine and ceremonies, received from those who went before, and the only things ruled out are what would be contrary to Scripture or what is contrary to the Church universal.

Can we possibly make this confession today with a straight face - this not being your grandfather's Synod and all? Do these words not invite us as Lutheran Christians to repentance for the way we have dishonored our parents in the faith by carelessly and thoughtlessly tossing what they were willing to DIE for in order to deliver into our hands?


Anonymous said...

Them's what the fancy-boys call "rhetorical questions."

Tom Fast

christl242 said...

Do these words not invite us as Lutheran Christians to repentance for the way we have dishonored our parents in the faith by carelessly and thoughtlessly tossing what they were willing to DIE for in order to deliver into our hands?

Pastor Weedon, yup. My Lutheran ancestors were given a choice by a Roman Archbishop in Salzburg, Austria: Convert or leave.

They packed what they had and left rather than renounce the Lutheran Confessions.

Lutherans from every land and nationality could tell similar stories.


Rev. Eric J Brown said...

Maybe it is just that I am younger, or that I was born post-bronze age, but I see two streams. There is the one stream that seeks to abandon all and rather recreate the "church" into something of their own imagination. However, there is also the stream that seeks to pick up again what the previous generations had cast aside, to reclaim that which not our grandfathers, but our great-great-grandfathers and the Fathers had cherished so.

Sorrow mingled with hope - same as it ever was - from Genesis through the Prophets into the time of the Apostles and the reformation. Same as it ever was.

Jon said...

Re: the term Grandfather's Church:

I wish we could have it + communion every Sunday + private C&A. I'd be all for it then :)

I wonder what it would be like if the Bronze Age included these two things?


Cranky said...

Well said Pastor Weedon! I've purchased Moving Frontiers (1847-1962) and Heritage In Motion (1962-1995) to educate myself more in the history of our synod so I won't forget our Synod fathers who came before! Thanks again for a great post!

Fr. Timothy D. May, SSP said...

The Treasury rightly translates the German in saying "Church universal." By way of friendly addendum, the Latin text says "contra Scripturam aut ecclesiam catholicam." So here is a little plug for the Latin and the word "catholic."

JekyllHyde said...

I know exactly why those happily sailing up the Elbe aboard the good ship Martinus Lutherus decide suddenly to abandon ship and secure passage aboard Pope Benedict’s cruise liner the Vaticanus, only to jump aboard the Martinus Lutherus again once they discover that sailing up the Tiber has become treacherous. Been doing this for years. I go to the Lutheran Church—great as far as it goes (hear about justification by faith)—but am confronted with a life of no daily mass, can’t count on Eucharist every Sunday, no one makes sign of cross, am told that it’s not really all that important to obey commandments (we’re saved by grace through faith, right?). Sooooo…hop back into the Catholic Church where there’s daily mass, Eucharist every Sunday, everyone makes sign of cross, but become disgusted when justification by faith is never mentioned, am told that we can’t be sure of our salvation, that there’s a place called “purgatory,” and am forced to receive communion in one kind (funny, isn’t it, that the “one kind” they always offer is the Body but never the Precious Blood, by which we are saved!), etc., etc. Sooooo….head back to the Lutheran Church, only to start the whole cycle over again. I’ve thought of becoming Anglican, but they don’t seem to want to make a definite stand about much . . .

Father Hollywood said...

Dear JH:

The tragic part is that this is all so unnecessary. If we in the Church of the Augsburg Confession simply practiced what we confess in the Augsburg Confession, all of these issues would disappear.

Let us pray for a renewal of our confessional tradition, for the sake of weary souls seeking the balm of the Gospel and the authenticity of the Catholic tradition.

It should never have to be an either/or dilemma.

christl242 said...

JekyllHyde, I had to chuckle a bit about your post because I know exactly what you are talking about.

Having a Lutheran mother and Catholic father I've straddled both sides of the fence, although thanks be to God my Lutheran mom stuck to her heritage in the face of heavy pressure from the Catholic side of the fence to convert.

I grew up Lutheran, attended various Lutheran bodies including the LCMS as a kid. I ended up in an ELCA congregation as an adult and in the beginning it was fine, but eventually the ELCA began to morph into a Lutheran body in name but not substance.

My memories of the LCMS were very distant at that point so I figured hey, I'm a liturgical Christian to the core and what could be more liturgical than the Church of Rome? After all, half my family, including my dad, were members.

Well -- after eleven years of the Novus Ordo (which can be but too often is not celebrated well), mediocre preaching and lousy music I finally woke up from my stupor and said what am I doing here? Yes, there's Eucharist every Sunday and daily mass but without the fullness of the Word it can become very routine. In the Catholic parishes I knew both the Body and Blood were offered but many parishioners still chose not to receive the Blood.

So, yes, it can certainly become a revolving door. But I'm back in the Lutheran fold now and here, God willing, is where I will stay. I've have a new appreciation for the Lutheran Confessions and how they define our faith and it is something that every generation of Lutherans must make their own.


William Weedon said...

Exactly, Fr. Beane. The key is how on earth one wakes up Lutherans to be what they are and to live from the richness of God's Word within the catholic tradition to which they are heirs! As Fr. Petersen has noted on more than one occasion, there are hopeful signs out there - it's just that they exist side by side with silliness almost not to be believed.

Christine, it's a joy to have you back on the Lutheran side of your heritage!

Anonymous said...

Thanks to a young Pastor, more recently graduated from seminary, I learned to use the sign of the cross [X] decades after I learned Luther's Morning and Evening Prayers in confirmation.

Now our church is going to have communion at every Divine Service.
(We've had it every Sunday, if you didn't mind alternating services.) It will be interesting to see who applauds and who protests the change.

William Weedon said...


Wonderful - on both accounts! Counting down the days now til I get to meet face to face a friend I've enjoyed for a long time. :)

JekyllHyde said...


I’m glad to see you’ve reentered the Lutheran fold. I suppose I should do the same. Every time I read from the confessions, I’m on the side of the reformers. The closest confessional church is probably at least 50 miles away. 

Since you were in the Novus Ordo for so long, I wonder if you ever felt you should remain in the Roman fold because of its claim of miracles and saints. I confess, this has been something I’ve struggled with. The Roman church can claim the likes of John Vianney, Padre Pio, Teresa, Therese of Lisieux, etc. Where are the Lutherans who have performed miracles? And what about Eucharistic miracles, stigmata, etc.?

I admit this has given me pause as to whether I should be Lutheran or Catholic. However, I know that Vianney, Pio, etc. were pre-Vatican II Catholics, not of the Novus Ordo breed. Past Elder, feel free to chime in here, too, about Vatican II! ;-)

christl242 said...

Christine, it's a joy to have you back on the Lutheran side of your heritage!

Pastor Weedon, it was the faithful witness of Confessional Pastors like yourself and Pastors McCain, Beane, Rasburry and so many others
who helped me to find my way back.

Since you were in the Novus Ordo for so long, I wonder if you ever felt you should remain in the Roman fold because of its claim of miracles and saints. I confess, this has been something I’ve struggled with.

JekyllHyde, I know what a thorny issue this can be for non-Catholics. A very wise wag once quipped that the saints in Catholicism were often holier than any human being had a right to be. By that I mean there's a danger in the heavy emphasis of the saints in the RC. Scripture tells us that we walk by faith, not by sight and that does not mean I don't believe miracles can occur, they can and have.

But the hagiography of Catholicism sometimes seemed to have roots in something much older than the Church of Rome. By keeping the laity in constant expectation of miracles here, apparitions there they are deprived of the sure witness and comfort of the Scriptures that tell us that Christ alone is our hope for eternal life and his finished work becomes overshadowed by a liturgical calendar that is often way too full with feasts of the saints. Then, too, I'm sure you remember a few years ago the Church of Rome did some "housecleaning", removing the feast days of saints that are now declared probably not to have existed.

That the Saints and the Mother of God pray for us is beyond doubt and they serve as wonderful models of lives lived in and for Christ but the living have no command in Scripture to ask for their intercession. Even granting that eternal life is outside of time as we know it only God is omniscient and capable of hearing the prayers of millions of believers at any one time. Yet that does not impair the baptismal bond that binds us all together in the Communion of Saints.

The last time I was in Europe I toured some of the oldest churches and cathedrals. I can only imagine how important a place relics and holy objects held in the life of the medieval Christian who often could not read.

No, I don't miss that part of the Catholic tradition at all and am very glad to be back at Divine Service with all its gifts.


Past Elder said...

Well J/H I just chimed in, about both the real nature of Vatican II and why it's no different when we make over our worship to look like that than when we go "evangelical" or Willow Creek, on my blog for 25 June.

FH has it exactly right in his comment above.

JekyllHyde said...

Past Elder: Thank you for chiming in, though I really wasn't expecting you to. From your blogging, I see that you were a "Past Elder" in WELS. Did you leave that august body because it was too pietistic?

Christine: I'm with you in what you say about the overemphasis on hagiography in the Roman communion. I guess, though, that I'm just puzzled why I've never heard of any eucharistic miracles, incorruptibles (I guess Lutherans generally don't dig up corpses, do they?...), etc. in the Lutheran church. I have heard of some miracles and of one incorruptible in the Anglican church. Not trying to defend the RC church in any way...as I said, my sympathies lie with the Lutherans. But I have read, for instance, a biography of Jean Vianney, and it's simply amazing how the devil attacked him for 25 years because of all the conversions that were taking place in his ministry. I mean, thousands of people would come long distances to go to confession. Vianney was given the ability to know what sins people had committed and details about their lives that could not have been known by him except by God revealing it to him. So, you see what I'm getting at? I'm not thinking of going back to Rome--I'm just puzzled.

christl242 said...


I always took that stuff with a huge grain of salt.

"Officially" the RC teaches that devotion to the saints is not required to be Catholic, and that includes Marian devotion. But because of her long history and centuries of Biblical illiteracy on the part of the laity it is not surprising that so many extrabiblical practices sprang up in the RC. Not that the RC suppressed the Bible but until the invention of mass printing Bibles were copied by hand and much too expensive to circulate publicly.

Sooooo -- not having access to the Bible popular piety came up with all sorts of things.

Nor am I impressed by "incorruptibles" or "bleeding hosts." To me it cheapens the precious gifts that Christ gives us in Holy Communion.

The thing that always strikes me about Sacred Scripture is how honest and sober it is in relating even the miraculous. Some of the stuff that crept into RC piety defies credulity. I don't mean to be disrespectful of the RC but really, I just can't believe that the "Holy House of Nazareth" in which Jesus, Mary and Joseph dwelt was transported by angels to Italy.

Nor can I accept that as Mary lay dying some of the apostles were miraculously transported back to Jerusalem to keep vigil with her.

This kind of bad theology has roots in something older that the Church of Rome. One can find the same kinds of fantastic legends in Hinduism and Buddhism.

And I really think Scripture warns against it.

I am so very glad to be back home where I belong.

Oh, by the way, I have to drive to my Confesional congregation too. There's 2 ELCA churches within 5 and 15 minutes of my house, but I ain't a goin' there!


Past Elder said...

WELS has come a long way re Pietism, though not as far as it thinks.

There were a number of things that struck me as a little off from the BOC there, which the more I learned and studied all seemed to relate to what is the OHM and what is church.