26 September 2011

Old Lutheran Quote of the Day

Yet it must follow that the truth of teaching, not antiquity of time, is a mark of the church and that the truth of a church must be evaluated on the basis of the truth of its teaching, which is something like the "soul" of antiquity, without which antiquity is a corpse lacking a soul.  The true antiquity is that which has to do with the "Ancient of Days", which has a divine origin, and which has truth of teaching connected to it.  -- Blessed Johann Gerhard, On the Church, p. 301.


Fr. Gregory Hogg said...

An interesting quote, Pr. Weedon. Gerhard here says "A and not B," where "A" = truth of teaching annd "B" = antiquity of time.

How does this relate to the Confessions' claim that in doctrine and in ceremonies, the Lutherans have introduced nothing new?

That line from the confessional writings would seem to suggest that it's not an (exclusive) either-or, as Gerhard seems to say here, but a both-and. In other words, antiquity of time is a necessary but not sufficient basis to assert that a given body is the church.

Or, to put it in terms of Gerhard's analogy, while a body without the soul is a corpse, it's also true that the soul without the body is a ghost.

And because this medium is subject to misunderstanding, I don't mean to stir up old controversies...merely to understand how you would relate Gerhard here to the confessional writings. Forgive me if I offend; I don't intend to.

William Weedon said...

Fr. Gregory,

I think he's just making the same point that St. Cyprian made about the antiquity of error. A Jehovah Witness can point to the antiquity of the Arianism they hold to be true. That doesn't make the Arianism true; error is ancient - but it is not as ancient as the truth which the Church upholds from the Ancient of Day's own word. He certainly in this very section upholds the claims of the Confessions. The paragraph before I cited noted that the Jesuits are busy at work founding "new churches." Gerhard asks are these not "true churches"? He assumes they will say: "Yes, but they are ancient because of their consensus with the ancient catholic church." Then he insists, but this can be said - and much more accurately - about our churches. FWIW.

Fr. Gregory Hogg said...