Daily Archives: March 3, 2008

More on Raztinger as a "Theologian of the Cross"

Here’s some more proof, from his recent encyclical “Spe Salvi”:

In him who was crucified, the denial of false images of God is taken to an extreme. God now reveals his true face in the figure of the sufferer who shares man’s God-forsaken condition by taking it upon himself. This innocent sufferer has attained the certitude of hope: there is a God, and God can create justice in a way that we cannot conceive, yet we can begin to grasp it through faith.

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Sacrifice of the Mass in the Book of Concord

Some time ago, Pastor Weedon asked me to outline what articles of faith in the Book of Concord I don’t have any truck with any more. Off the top of my head, I said their rejection of the Petrine Ministry of the Bishop of Rome and the rejection of 4 or 5 of the seven Sacraments. I forgot the big one, of course, the Sacrifice of the Mass. Thanks to Christine and PE slogging it away in the combox of a previous post for mentioning this one. Here it is from the Epitome:

On the other hand, we unanimously reject and condemn all the following erroneous articles, which are opposed and contrary to the doctrine presented above, the simple faith, and the [pure] confession concerning the Lord’s Supper;…2. The papistic sacrifice of the Mass for the sins of the living and the dead.

I guess the Sacrificial aspect of the Mass isn’t upper most in my thinking when I contrast Lutheran and Catholic theologies–and I am not quite sure why that is. Perhaps because the whole doctrine of the Sacrifice is so much better integrated into current liturgical theology than it was at the time of the Reformation. Both Lutheran and Catholic theology has advanced many degrees toward a common understanding in the last 100 years or so. I will cite the example of the Australian Catholic Lutheran common statement “Sacrament and Sacrifice” as an example.

Nevertheless, the difference is there. And it is one area of Luther’s theology which I cannot in any sense share. Here I stand with Ratzinger (pun intended) as his position is described in Tracey Rowland’s new book, “Ratzinger’s Faith”:

While Martin Luther said that to speak of sacrifice in the context of the Mass was ‘the greatest and most appalling horror’ and a ‘damnable impiety’, Ratzinger has quipped: “I certainly do not need to say that I am not one of those who consider it the most appalling horror and a damnable impiety to speak of the sacrifice of the Mass.” (p136)

Of course, the whole question of the sacrifice of the mass is intimately related to the faith and works question. To the degree that Catholics and Lutherans agree or disagree on the latter, it seems to me that we agree or disagree on the former.


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