Skip to comments.The Crisis of Authority in the Reformation
Posted on 04/01/2008 4:32:20 PM PDT by annalex
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As I understand it, this differs somewhat from other Protestant denominations; but, then again, Lutherans don't consider themselves Protestant any more than they consider themselves Roman Catholic.
Again, to quote my own denomination's Augsburg Confession:
"...our churches dissent in no article of the faith from the Church Catholic, but only omit some abuses which are new..."
The orientation to the “Church Catholic” is, no doubt, a tremendous asset of Lutheranism.
What happens if an issue comes up that is not in the Book of Concord and not expressly stated in the Scripture?
For example, did anyone a short century ago foresee the gay “marriage”?
Is contraception treated in any way? I know that prior to 1930 every Christian community of faith considered contraception sinful. Now none in the Protestant (using the term loosely) world does.
Not in my experience in these ecumenical brawls on FR. Each time I quote something particularly Catholic from Ignatius or Irenaeus to our evangelical brethren and I get a resounding "So what?".
Do you think it could be that since your records of Ignatius' multiple copies of his writings do not agree with each other and many scholars suspect and condemn your religion with seriously altering Ignatius' written record???
There's a real credibility problem...
There is no Lutheran confession I'm aware of addressing birth control in the context of a marriage, but it is recognized that marriage is an institution ordained by God for the mutiplication of His people (Genesis 1:28).
I was listening to Hank Hanegraaf one day on a discussion of Calvinism, with two guests, one pro and one con. The discussion was rather heated, and periodically Hank jumped in and reminded the listeners that this was an "in-house debate".
I thought about that for a bit, wondering how he came to that notion. My best guess is that he knows that within the communities that grew out of the Reformation, both streams of thought were present since the very beginning. You had good solid Christian thinkers and theologians on both sides. Therefore, the issue was more open than, say, an issue like the Trinity, Sola Scriptura, and Sola Fide that all the Reformers believed.
So I'm inclined agree with you about there being an overarching orthodoxy of Protestantism: which can perhaps be defined as the basic beliefs that all (or almost all) Reformed denominations share.
And I actually think Hank's methodology is a sound one: did Christians all agree on this, or did they have a range of opinions? But my question is...why stop with the Reformation? In other words, why do we not extend his methodology back past 1500 into the 1200s, the 800s, the 500s, and all the way back?
Calvin invented the “credibility problem” out of whole cloth. Copies of St. Ignatius letters are no more diverse than of any contemporary document, including the inspired scripture. At any rate, this is not the reaction I usually get. The typical reaction is dismissing the content on its merits and changing the subject.
I think scripture is clear enough on Sola Fide (no such thing) and on baptism, confession and Eucharist (Catholic ones). Believe it or not, I had a discussion with someone who defended gay “marriage” on scriptural grounds. The Old Testament prohibitions were, he said, in line with other unduly harsh prohibitions such as stoning adulterers, which Christ condemned. The abhorrence of homosexuality in Romans, he said, really condemns homosexual adultery in the context of a heterosexual marriage (the “wide stance” phenomenon), because the scripture clearly says “lie with a man as with a woman”. On the other hand, — he went on offensive — Christ taught us charity to even sinners and so, bingo, homosexual marriage is biblical.
"...men cannot be justified before God by their own strength, merits or works, but are freely justified through Christ's sake, through faith, when they believe they are received into faith and that their sins are forgiven for Christ's sake, who, by His death, has made satisfaction for our sins."
That this doctrine has ample support in Scripture (Galatians 2:15-16; Romans 3:28, for instance), can be viewed as creating a conflict with James 2:24 or it can be read in concert to say that neither the ritualistic proclamation of faith nor the performance of work according to the law justifies man to God, which is what Jesus Himself is recorded to have taught at Matthew 8:22-23.
I share your puzzelment has to how any Christian, Catholc, Evangelical, or otherwise, could claim to find support in Scripture or the tradition of the church fathers to justify sodomy.
Yes, this “soft” version of sola fide, as we know, can be harmonized both with the scripture and with the Catholic teaching, but not the more strident doctrine that excludes works of love or any huiman cooperation with grace, adopted in the name of Luther by other Protestant denominations.
Regarding justifications for sodomy, here you have it. Puzzled as we both are, that man argued strictly from scripture. The point is not that sodomy is justified, but that Sola Scriptura has limitations.
In all fairness, the authority of the Magisterium has had its own difficulty with those who would attempt to blend a claimed Christianity with a lust for sodomy. The fact remains that Scripture tells us that it’s an abomination in the eyes of the Lord.
We had, and still have to an extent, a severe problem with homosexual clergy, but the magisterial teaching has never changed on that. Perhaps the tolerance level was not low enough but there was no doctrinal hanky-panky here.
Also, nothing in the sex scandals was unique to Catholicism. A similar level of abuse is estimated in other religious settings, far worse in the public schools; the Catholic Church is just easier to sue.
I agree and a traditional Catholic priest makes a symbolic target for someone seeking to tarnish the faith.
The trouble is that during WWI, much of what the American Synods did was dictated to by the government. My grandfather remembered when they were forced to use the Anglican liturgy (which became the basis for the liturgy in the Red Hymnal). There remained some cross pollination for decades.
When contraception first hit the scene, the LCMS and many other synods were dead set against it. In fact, that was never officially changed, but it was allowed to be forgotten. Recently, there have been some pastors who have been quietly trying to bring it back to the forefront, but with the current PDL nuttiness that probably won't happen.
As to the doctrine of the Real Presence, take a look at Pelikin’s “History of Doctrine” series, specifically the book number 4 that was about the Medieval Catholic Church. Transubsitution as it is currently defined was not the consensus for all time (that Christ is truly in the bread and wine was, but not the details). Look at the Orthodox, they believe in the Real Presence, but do not define it like the Western Catholic do (don't know the Eastern Catholics view). The Lutheran view was basically that we believe Jesus’s body and blood is really there, but we don't really know how (it is a miracle).
As to the crisis of authority, I agree. The Roman Catholic Church as quite the crisis of authority right now :) What I mean is that while you can point out to all the paper dogmas about it, but it is rarely (if ever) used. Case in point, my wife is a Catholic and we live in eastern Iowa right by the Illinois border. The Davenport diocese is quite frankly whacked. When we first moved here, my wife looked into many local parishes, and heard many a sermon about gay rights, how horrible the war is, and that unwed mothers were really all right. Not to mention you rarely saw a cross or crucifix.
Now in the Peoria diocese across the river, you do have a lot of happy clappy praise songs (which annoys me), but I have never heard anything like what you hear in Davenport. A few to many Life Teen services, but that is that.
If you were to take someone and drop them into the two dioceses, they would swear it was two different denominations, if not religions. One is fairly orthodox, and one is trying to take the sex abuse title from Boston (and they are close!). Both claim the same "Unchangeable" authority, but both teach radically different things. Both claim to hold to the teaching of the Catholic church, but they contradict each other.
In my synod, if I go from district to district, the differences are a lot smaller. When I was on the road, the little church I went to in New Mexico had the same teaching as the church in Nebraska I belonged to. The differences between the two Catholic dioceses that are right next to each other are a lot greater.
Nothing I disagree with as far as our own crisis of authority goes. The American Catholic Church is in real crisis of orthodoxy. I am hopeful though — orthodoxy attracts: the more conservative seminaries and parishes are full, the liberal ones — I don’t really care what they do. I don’t think it would be bad for the Church to be less in numbers and more in orthodoxy. Of course, the reason for my hope is precisely that: that the structure of authority exists, I just wish it were exercised more. See, you made a papist argument, and immediately, I agreed.
You are also correct that transsubstantiation is one explanation of the Real Presence, so in principle there could be others, or none at all. What troubles me in consubstantiation is the idea that the faith of the communicant makes it Body Blood and Divinity of Christ. That is not patristic, nor is it Real Presence then.
“The trouble is that during WWI, much of what the American Synods did was dictated to by the government. My grandfather remembered when they were forced to use the Anglican liturgy (which became the basis for the liturgy in the Red Hymnal). There remained some cross pollination for decades.”
Could you elaborate on this point? Are you saying that the US federal government dictated religious policy and practice to some US ecclesial bodies? I'd appreciate any further explanation and details.
In the lead up to WWI, the federal and state governments basically told the various German speaking synods (and a few German Catholic churches) to speak in English, or else. That “or else” meant your church got burnt down, or you ended up in jail, or some locals came in the middle of the night and made sure you understood your “duty” as an American. My grandfather was a 10 year old boy in 1918, and remembered when they suddenly had to speak in English at church, put the US flag on the altar steps, and other things to prove that their loyalty wasn't to Germany. Never mind that most of them left Germany because of the religious madness that the Prussians were imposing at the time.
Pres. Wilson would not accept anyone who didn't tow the party line. There were people who were jailed for not saluting the flag (because of religious reasons they could not). Anytime I hear someone talking of “repression of freedoms” during the war on terror, I just point them to a few history books on WWI to give them a little perspective.
Things were a bit tense in WWII, but by that time most of the German immigrants had assimilated very well.
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