An entertaining comment string on Weedon’s Blog

Dr Tighe sent me the link to this post on Weedon’s Blog: A Few Gems from Ratzinger on Liturgy. The Ratzinger quotes are indeed “gems”, but the real entertainment is in the comments string, starting right off with this comment from a WELS pastor:

I appreciate much of what you share on your blog, Fr. Weedon, but this one gives me great pause.

The demons were “bang on right” when they confessed that Jesus was the Son of God, too. But Jesus shut them up because he didn’t want that kind of publicity.

Do you really want to be quoting Antichrist as the author of “gems”?

What follows is simply hilarious. Or sad. Or both.

I am, however, in total agreement with Pastor Weedon that his selection of Ratzinger quotes on the liturgy are “gems”. They are precisely the sort of “gems” that led me into the Catholic Church. I was reflecting on what first prompted my transition the other day (due to the fact that this month is the 10th anniversary of the beginnings of my twinges of conscience regarding the Catholic Church) and realised that it was as much a question of the liturgy as anything that started me down that path. This time 10 years ago, I was travelling a little bit, and was dismayed to find that it was difficult to find a Lutheran Church that had the Lord’s Supper every Sunday and even more difficult to find one that did the Lutheran liturgy faithfully. The 1990’s were a decade of liturgical experimentation in the LCA, and, I guess, in Lutheranism in the States too, especially with the rise of Church Growth ideology and methodology. It was this frustration that led me to reflect on the Augsburg Confession’s definition of the “true Church”, namely the one where the Gospel is rightly preached an the sacraments rightly administered. I came to question what that would mean if the church I belonged to did not actually administer the sacrament every Lord’s day. It was only a start, but it got me thinking.

Travelling around a bit again this Christmas, and attending several Lutheran services, I am also amazed to find that a practice has crept into the local Australian Lutheran Church to the Eucharistic Liturgy even in the most conservative Lutheran congregations. I generally find that the Eucharistic liturgy looks like this:

1) Preface
2) Sanctus/Benedictus
3) Lord’s Prayer (SAID BY THE WHOLE CONGREGATION)
4) Words of Institution
5) Pax Domini (ending with “Amen” rather than “And also with you”)

Now, there is nothing really odd about this from a Lutheran point of view EXCEPT that point 3 “said by the whole Congregation”. Luther justified his cutting out of the Eucharistic Canon by saying that the Lord himself had given a better prayer for consecration, namely the “Our Father”, which he then used instead of the Canon. (There are examples in other early Lutheran service orders that have the “Our Father” after the Verba). But the “Our Father” was always said by the pastor, as it was understood to be a prayer of consecration. I seriously wonder what having the Lord’s Prayer said at this point by all the congregation means. I usually like to join in with the Lord’s Prayer with the rest of my family, but I do have some qualms of conscience at this point about praying what is effectively a prayer of “lay consecration”!

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36 responses to “An entertaining comment string on Weedon’s Blog

  1. Peregrinus

    I know next to nothing about Lutheran liturgy (or indeed about Lutheranism) and the placement which you describe for the Lord’s Prayer comes as complete news to me. But if it was understood as a prayer of consecration, what was the function of the words of institution immediately following?

    Park for a moment the thought that the Lord’s Prayer is a prayer of consecration. That it should be said by the whole congregation seems natural to me, not only because that is the Catholic tradition, but because the language of the prayer itself points to its collective and communal nature (“our Father . . . our daily bread . . . our trespasses” and so forth).

    Now, to the extent that the celebrant of a Lutheran eucharist acts [i]in persona Christi[/i] (and I’ve no idea to what extent Lutheran theology accommodates that idea) then he should be inviting the faithful to make this prayer. To the extent that he represents the people before God, then he says it on the people’s behalf and, it would seem, there could be no objection to the people saying it on their own behalf. Either way, it seems not unfitting for the people to say it.

    Of course, if we understand it as a prayer of consecration, and we see the minister as the agent, so to speak, of consecration, then he alone should say it. But, for me, this just points up the oddness of seeing it as a prayer of consecration, while at the same time holding to a theology which sees a priest or minister as the agent of consecration.

    It seems to me that you could read the shift towards congregational recital of the Lord’s prayer in two ways:

    – It’s a shift towards a more Catholic understanding, in which the prayer of consecration is unambiguously the words of institution. The role of the Lord’s prayer then becomes one of formation of the assembly for the miracle of the eucharist – a liturgical advent, so to speak, for the nativity of consecration. Hence communal recitation.

    – Or, it’s a shift towards a less Catholic understanding, in which as you suggest the assembly becomes the agent of consecration. But that raises the question I started with. Why, if that is the understanding, is it followed with the words of institution?

    • Okay, Perry, this comment was really directed towards the Lutherans reading this blog rather than the Catholics who can’t be expected to understand what this is all about. Of course, Lutherans would want, just as Catholics do, to recite the whole prayer of Our Lord together.

      But the first thing to note is that (as even in the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite and indeed many of the Eastern liturgies) in the Lutheran rite the Our Father has always been said by the pastor.

      The second thing to note is that when he shifted the Our Father from a pre-communion prayer and put it between the Sanctus and the Verba, Luther was quite explicit in declaring that the Lord’s Prayer together with the Verba was the prayer of consecration. This seems not to be appreciated by most modern Lutherans.

      The third thing to note is that, although you will see it around sometimes today, no Lutheran service book ever had simply the Words of Institution as the consecration prayer, but always coupled it with the Lord’s Prayer either before or after, before the Pax, which ended with an “Amen”, thus concluding the “Lutheran Canon”.

      My contention is that many modern Lutherans do not understand how their own liturgy works.

  2. Tom

    That blog chain was a mix between funny, sad, and just disastrous. How did a reference to Benedict’s work end up with all that?

    Like, really? What happened there? It was equitable and calm for the first few posts then all of a sudden it’s anti-Christ this, Blessed Reformer that, St. Zwingli something else. Wheedon tried to keep on top of it, but I think he needs to moderate like you Schutz 🙂

    • Yes, it really was quite bizarre. You have to admire how Pastor Weedon manages to walk the tight-rope between the Papacy as Anti-Christ (which all good Missourians have to uphold) and Ratzinger as good theologian worthy of being read!

  3. Christine

    As I recall, Luther defined the sacramental action as starting with the “Oratio domini” — the Verba, not the Pater Noster.

    The ELCA, which has adopted a Vatican II wannabe liturgy complete with the obligatory excessive gladhanding at the pax, responds with “and also with you.”

    The peace is spoken by the Pastor in my LCMS parish to the people who respond “Amen,” at which point we sing the Agnus Dei. In no way do we consider the Pater Noster consecratory.

    Christine

  4. Dear David,

    Strictly speaking, Lutherans have not regarded as consecratory the Our Father. The pastor speaking the Our Father, however, is completely consonant with the fact that the Pastor speaks ALL the prayers of the Divine Service. The rubrics in our rite permit it either way now (and they did also in the prior book); though the historic Lutheran manner was exactly as you note: the Pastor chants both Our Father and Verba. St. Gregory the Great, in his letter the bishop of Syracuse, notes that unlike the Greek Liturgy, at Rome, the priest alone says the Pater Noster in the Mass. It is a most curious passage, on whose interpretation Dr. Tighe and I disagree, but it is beyond dispute that at the Reformation it was understood to say that the Apostles consecrated the host of oblation only with the Our Father. Hence, Lutherans oddly enough appealed to Pope St. Gregory for the legitimacy of their practice of not including the “rest” of the canon. Chemnitz does so explicitly in Examen and Luther does so a couple places in his writing as well.

    Luther’s own words from the Wolferinus correspondence to which Christine alluded above, all hinge on how to translate “oratio Domini” – is it the Lord’s prayer or the Lord’s speaking. Given what he wrote elsewhere, I have always favored the later. Consider how he wrote in The Sacrament of the Body and Blood of Christ Against the Fanatics (AE 36:341):

    “For as soon as Christ says, ‘This is My Body,’ His body is present through the Word and the power of the Holy Spirit. If the Word is not there, it is mere bread; but as soon as the words are added they bring with them that of which they speak.”

    FWIW.

    • I believe you are wrong on this, Pastor Weedon. Certainly my own teachers at Luther Seminary in North Adelaide all agreed that “oratio Domini” meant the Lord’s Prayer. The Catechisms of Luther (in latin) follow the usual practice of calling the Our Father the “Oratio Dominica” (The Dominical Prayer). The Words of Institution were normally called the Verba Dominica. Granted “oratio Domini” (The Prayer of the Dominus) is not quite the usual form for refering to the Our Father, but in Luther’s answer to Wolferinus it makes perfect sense if interpreted in this way. This post on the “Gottesdienst Online” blog gives the full quotation, and references, which will, I think, fully bear out the interpretation I and my teachers have held: http://gottesdienstonline.blogspot.com/2009/08/duration-of-presence-luthers-wolferinus.html

      What you are confusing is two parallel doctrines of consecration that exist in the Catholic Church as it does in Lutheranism. Both Catholics and Lutherans have always seen the Words of the Lord as the crucial recitation that effects the Real Presence, but parallel to this has always been the understanding that the full anaphora/canon/eucharistc prayer is a prayer of consecration (perhaps a more eastern emphasis, but always present in the western Catholic faith also). Luther simply replaced the canon with the “oratio Domini”. His own warning to Wolferinus is against “defining the sacramental action much too hastily and abruptly” – something you appear in danger of doing!

      • Oh, and just another note in case anyone is heading off to check out their Luther’s Works on this, the Wolferinus correspondence was in 1543. Luther had prepared his Formula Missae et Communionis twenty years earlier in 1523 and his Deutsche Messe three years later in 1526. For a comparison of both see here: http://luthersliturgicalreforms.wordpress.com

        Going from memory, none of the early Agendas of the Lutheran state churches ever followed either of these masses as such, prefering to go with the outline I provided in this post – the only distinction being that a few had the Lord’s Prayer after the Verba rather than before. I don’t have the documentation in front of me, but I would not be surprised if in fact by 1543 it was this later form, and not his earlier suggestions from twenty years earlier, that had come to dominate and to which Luther is himself referring in his letter.

        The odd thing about the 1523 order is the placement of the Verba Dominica in the Preface, and the Lord’s Prayer after the Benedictus. I get the impression that things were rather fluid as people were trying to sort out what order a consecration spoken out loud should have in relation to a choral/congregational Sanctus.

        • David,

          My thinking on the subject has been shaped by Dr. Teigen’s work here:

          http://web.archive.org/web/20021009184841/members.aol.com/SemperRef/lost.html

          • Thanks for the link to the article – I was not aware that it was online.

            Dr Tiegen and others presume that Luther is refering to either of his earlier published masses, but my thinking is (as born out by later evidence) that Luther’s earlier masses were only models and not actually forms of worship published in the Agendas (I don’t know of any Agendas that use Luther’s masses as he wrote them – do you?). There is no way to make sense of Luther’s statement in his letter to Wolferinus in respect to either form of the Mass.

            • It is absolutely true that the definitive forms of the Lutheran Mass were those prescribed in the Church Orders, all of which are heavily influenced by his two versions, but also clearly no slavishly dependent on them.

        • On the placement of the Our Father, and the matter of the Preface, are you familiar with the Petri Swedish Mass (1531)? This was standard in Sweden from the 16th through the early 20th century. Here is how it ran:

          Verily it is meet right and blessed that we should in all places give thanks and praise to thee, holy lord, almighty father, everlasting god for all thy benefits, and especially for that one that thou didst unto us, when we all by reason of sins were in so bad a case that nought but damnation and eternal death awaited us, and no creature in heaven or earth could help us, then thou didst send forth thine only-begotten son Jesus Christ, who was of the same divine nature as thyself, didst suffer him to become a man for our sake, didst lay our sins upon him, and didst suffer him to undergo death instead of our all dying eternally, and as he hath overcome death and risen again into life, and now dieth nevermore, so likewise shall all they who put their trust therein overcome sins and death and through him attain to everlasting life, and for our admonition that we should bear in mind and never forget such his benefit, in the night that he was betrayed celebrated a supper, in which he took the bread in his holy hands, gave thanks to his heavenly father, blessed it, brake it, and gave to his disciples, and said : Take ye and eat, this is my body which is given for you, do this in remembrance of me.

          Then the priest lifts it up, lays it down again, and takes the cup, saying :—

          Likewise also he took the cup in his holy hands, gave thanks to his heavenly father, blessed it and gave to his disciples and said : Take and drink ye all of this, this is the cup of the new testament in my blood, which for you and for many is shed for the remission of sins ; as oft as ye do this, do this in remembrance of me.

          Then he lifts it up and sets it down again.

          Afterwards is read or sung.

          Holy, holy, holy, lord god of Sabaoth, heaven and earth are full of thy glory, hosanna in the highest, Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the lord, hosanna in the highest.

          <7. THE LORD'S PRAYER.)

          • Okay, I wasn’t really familiar with the Swedish practice – that seems to follow the Formula Missae. I don’t think any of the Germans did this.

            Have you ever been to a traditional latin mass with choir? In my limited experience, it is not uncommon for the priest to continue to pray the canon as the choir continues singing the Sanctus – thus both take place at the same time. This might have led Luther and the other reformers to some vagueness about the order to put things when the canon was said out loud.

  5. Terry Maher (Past Elder)

    Well David, since I was a small part of that thread — the only evidence I see is not that you have found the RCC the “true church” or whatever but that you have converted not to the RCC but an impostor that has existed since the last council, and not to the RC faith but the new modernist version promulgated at the last council.

    Conversion stories to novus ordo “Catholicism” always reinforce to me that whatever it is to which they have converted it is not the church and faith taught to me by the RCC before novus ordo “Catholicism” (poor Neuhaus actually got that but failed to see the consequences), and pre-conciliar conversion stories always reinforce to me that that to which they converted is gone.

    But keep thinking, the line of thought you are following may then lead you from the barge of bilge holding itself out as the barque of Peter to, if you must preserve the feeling of being “Catholic”, the SSPX or some sort. Or just maybe, if you get over that “If it ain’t Catholic it can’t be right” delusion from which I suffered for years, maybe back to being Lutheran!

    In the real Mass, the pater noster is said by the priest alone, period, as you note. The sorry fact is, the Whore of Babylon, to perpetuate its masquerade as the Bride of Christ, now maintains an ordinary and extraordinary form of not just its liturgy but its whole thing, the latter to be allowed to exist and trotted out as needed to support its new faith.

    • But keep thinking, the line of thought you are following may then lead you from the barge of bilge holding itself out as the barque of Peter to, if you must preserve the feeling of being “Catholic”, the SSPX or some sort. Or just maybe, if you get over that “If it ain’t Catholic it can’t be right” delusion from which I suffered for years, maybe back to being Lutheran!

      Not a chance, PE, of any of these “non-options”. If the Church to which I belong isn’t the Catholic Church (as you contend), then Christ got it wrong, and the gates of hell have indeed prevailed against the Church he established. In which case, the Catholic Church does not exist, period. But I will stick with Peter who said “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life.”

  6. What a splendid answer: go to CHRIST; HE has the WORDS of eternal life. Find Christ and His eternal life Words and there you have the Church. I couldn’t agree more. 🙂

    • Yep, and he said he would build his Church on Peter. 🙂 🙂

      • Yep, and the Holy Fathers clarified that our Lord meant on the ministry of Peter’s *confession* not his person. Hence, on this PETRA not on you, PETROS. But you already knew that, no?

        • I already knew that this is an old argument that can go on for ever pitting fathers against fathers, and that the Lutherans made their choice! Some holy Fathers said this, not all, and not all who said it with the polemical intention of disputing that Peter was the Rock. But the ancients had their axes to grind just as much as the moderns (the classic case is Cyprian of Carthage who was happy to go along with the Papal stuff when it suited him and not when it didn’t!), hence the lack of agreement on this issue, and the lack of probability that it will ever be decided in this world on the basis of the Tradition as such. But the Scripture is fairly clear. Exegetically, you have to twist Christ’s words and read them in an unnatural way to make it refer to anything or anyone else other than Peter himself.

          But seriously, I take what you mean about going to Christ, and where Christ is you will find his Church. Equally, however, the opposite applies. One cannot find Christ without going to his Church. Unless it is possible for me to have an unmediated experience of Christ – ie. apart from the external Word and Sacrament – it is essential that I find the community in which that Word and Sacrament are authentically held and proclaimed. Since authenticity has a lot to do with continuity and authority, I have no choice but to accept that Church which is continuous with the Church of the Apostles and the Fathers, that is, the Catholic Church.

          • BTW, I notice that even the Catechism of the Catholic Church (p. 424) says that

            “On the rock of this faith confessed by St. Peter, Christ built his Church [cf. Mt 16:18; St. Leo the Great, Sermo 4, 3].”

            At the same time, in p. 552, the same Catechism says

            “Our Lord then declared to him: “You are Peter, and on this rock I will build my Church, and the gates of Hades will not prevail against it” [Mt 16:18]. Christ, the “living Stone” [I Pt 2:4], thus assures his Church, built on Peter, of victory over the powers of death. Because of the faith he confessed Peter will remain the unshakeable rock of the Church. His mission will be to keep this faith from every lapse and to strengthen his brothers in it [cf. Lk 22:32].”

            So there is a perfect example of how the Church affirms both “the Rock” qua the confession of faith and qua the person of Peter himself as not being in contradiction but in supporting each aspect of Christ’s promise to Peter.

  7. Terry Maher (Past Elder)

    I bought all that too once, from a very different RCC than you have. And concluded yes, the gates of hell have indeed prevailed against the Church he established, so he wasn’t the Christ anyway.

    Christ, turns out, got nothing wrong. The missing term is the assumption that the church he established is the Catholic Church, and the rest follows from that, not the other way round.

    It’s the Catholic Church which got it wrong, lately in not even being the Catholic Church, and first in thinking it was the catholic church.

    Peter, btw, was speaking of Christ, not himself.

    • We’ve been through all this before, I think. Dare I start it again by saying that if the Church Christ established was not the Catholic Church, which Church DID he establish? Because unless the gates of hell have prevailed against it, it must still exist today. And unless you take a completely platonic view of the word “Church” which deprives it of any concrete meaning in terms of “assembly”, the question which of the many “Churches” that exist today is the Church which Christ established is a valid one and deserving of an answer.

      • Yes, and probably would be silly to have the argument again, no? Neither Terry nor I are convinced by your argument; nor you by ours. Still I offer these two citations for pondering (though I know that being Orthodoxy they are not seeking to express a Lutheran ecclesiology, the thoughts come very close to that):

        It is the same with the Church: its true nature is defined by what God calls it to be. The pettiness and sins of the Christian people pass away in the course of history, but the Word of God remains and never ceases to be heard in the sermons and the church services. The Word of God is the permanent element in the life of the Church, defining its form and directing its development, despite the mediocrity of its members. God Himself expresses this idea through the mouth of the prophet Isaiah (Isaiah 55:10-11 is cited). To know what the Church really is, we should not describe the way it appears
        in some particular parish, diocese, or country, or at some particular time in history; rather, we must study the way in which its Creator describes it. Through the constant action of the Holy Spirit, the Word of God continues to be creative in spite of the obstacles raised by man’s sinfulness which delay the realization of God’s plan.
        (The Living God: A Catechism: vol. 2, pp. 265, 266)

        “For Christians, baptism is the foundation of the Church, because the Church, i.e., the community of those who believe in Christ, is not simply an organization to disseminate Christ’s teaching and to provide mutual help and support. It is the union in Christ of all those who have received from Him the gift of new life and the forgiveness of sins.” – Schmemann, Celebration of Faith, vol. 1, p. 121

        • Okay, but Pastor W, are you convinced by Terry’s argument? Have you been able to make sense of it? Because the rest of us on this blog never have been.

          As for the Orthodox, do you think that the folk who wrote these two comments would recognise your Church as a “true Church” in the proper sense? I think not. It is always well and good to use an Orthodox ecclesiology when it suits you, but you can’t forget that their theology, like ours, declares that that the true Church is where the true Eucharist is, and that a valid Eucharist depends upon a valid priesthood.

          • Terry’s argument regarding a change of nature in the Roman Communion? I’m not really able to see how I can render a judgment on that per se; I was never inside to experience it as he did. I don’t doubt that it was a shocker and half. Whether it fundamentally changed Rome is something I suspect we’re all a bit too close to the events to see. I will say that I am not one who totally bashes Vatican II. There was some good indeed (from a Lutheran perspective) that resulted from it. There was also much that was less than good – and it afflicted us as well as you. (When Rome catches a cold…)

          • P.S. On the second point, no, of course they wouldn’t. Though I cannot see WHY they wouldn’t if they actually believed what was stated in those quotes (unless you go the route of those who insist that outside of the Orthodox Church there IS no Baptism – and there are some who say that). As to the true Eucharist, indeed, it depends entirely upon a valid priesthood: the Priesthood of Christ who institutes it and who continues as its Priest.

            • Ah, and herein lies the whole matter of the way you (and another Australia Lutheran pastor who regularly comments here) use patristic quotations: you interpret them within the context of your own theology, and not within the context of the theology in which they were originally written. Which, to put it another way, means: are you actually hearing what they say or are you just using them as supports for your own preconcieved ideas?

              [BTW, I plead guilty to doing this too – it is a constant temptation! 🙂 ]

              • It is always a danger. But consider the point in the quotes: the WORD OF GOD is the permanent element. Surely that is true beyond Orthodoxy? It is a feature of Roman Catholic and Lutheran liturgy as well. God speaks and His voice calls forth a people for Himself. This people is united to Him through the gift of faith in the waters of Holy Baptism. This is CHURCH in the primary sense – beyond all structural or organizational considerations. What neither the authors of the Living God Catechism nor Schmemann would do is draw from the above the conclusions that Lutherans have drawn, but we share together the grounding on which those assertions were made.

                My thoughts on the general topic of the implications of the way you are doing ecclesiology here is reflected in this blogpost:

                http://weedon.blogspot.com/2007/05/lot-of-angst.html#comments

            • It should be noted that both Schmemann and Olivier Clement represent a very particular, Russian, emigre and ‘modernist’ position within the Orthodox Church. They are far from official spokespersons for the Orthodox Church or Orthodoxy, though they have made significant (but not always uncontroversial) contributions to the anglo- and franco-phone Orthodox worlds. Their greatest influence was to be found prior to the fall of the USSR and the reflowering of Mt. Athos, and they were regularly at odds with other Russian emigres and other, more ‘traditional’ Orthodox. That ‘at odds’ has only increased over time.

              It took a good 150+ years to finalize a formulation of the theology of images and its relation to christology and worship. I would expect a similar amount of time (or more) for the formulation of Orthodoxy’s view of the non-Orthodox and the nature of their churches and sacraments. This interaction only began in earnest following the Bolshevik Revolution and subsequent Civil War (1917; 1922), and perhaps the entry of Greece into NATO (1952, politically; 1980, militarily) and the European Economic Community (1981), so we have a long way to go, yet, for an authoritative statement. Until then, we are in the realm of tradition and theologoumena akin to the stumblings after Orthodoxy of more or less, otherwise Orthodox saints and hierarchs prior to a dogmatic promulgation such as Nicea II.

  8. Terry Maher (Past Elder)

    I’m bowing out David. I never was able to distinguish here my stand against the “Catholic Church” on Catholic grounds from my present stand against it as a Lutheran, even by pointing that the former came before the latter by twenty some years, or by pointing out that I never came here to tell you the Lutheran Church, the LC-S, LCMS or any other body is the “true” church.

    The fact is, your question is circular: which church is the true church as the Catholic church says the true church is. There will only be one answer, ever — the Catholic Church. The problem is not in the answer but in the loaded question designed to produce the answer. The RCC may offer these days more variations on the question, but the answer is always the only thing the RC faith is about — the RC church.

    Which is also why the “valid priesthood” thing is bogus too. The RCC has always recognised the EO as valid, in the sense that it has what the RCC has that makes it valid, but the EO do not determine valid in just that same way, therefore the reciprocal answer in Yes, No or Maybe, depending on which EO you ask.

    The only consensus is there is a consensus, but as to what that consensus is and who has it, there is no consensus. Thus do imperial religions gyrate, wildly irrelevant in a world long since devoid of their empires, and totally irrelevant to the church of Christ.

    You insist on knowing whether you have found the true church by the same kind of criteria one might use to determine if one has landed in Australia or somewhere else. The church of Christ has no such criteria, nor does its head.

  9. Terry Maher (Past Elder)

    When Rome catches a cold, anybody with a lick of sense needs to stay away, stock up on cold medicine, and tell them to cover their cough, dammit, lest everybody else get sick too.

    And LC-S is LC-A when not a typo.

  10. Well, if the Catholic Church is not the real church that Christ founded, then I fail to see why Rome catching a cold can have any effect upon “the church,” wherever that is.

  11. christine

    I wouldn’t want to argue too much from history. The “Catholic” church also existed in North Africa until it was wiped out by the Muslim conquest.

    Yes, Jesus did say that the gates of hell will not prevail, but there’s no guarantee that any particular individual body will remain.

    When I read in Scripture the humility of Peter,”Silver and gold I have none but what I have I give you” which he gave freely in the name of Christ and look down the corridors of history at what the papal office has become, I can hardly find any resemblance.

    The cold legalism of the Church of Rome still rules.

    You are absolutely right, David, the true church exists — in visible form — where the Word is rightly preached and the Sacraments are rightly administered.

    That does not exclusively equal the Church of Rome. The outside influences, such as the barbarian invasions and how they shaped the worship of the Catholic church are there for anyone to trace. So many layers of nonBiblical praxis have been added on to the Catholic church it defies description.

    To be in the position of believing that if the Catholic church doesn’t have it all then Christianity is a lie is truly sad.

  12. christine

    You certainly are correct about the “naughty Catholic” paradigm, though, David. Even though I have informed my former Catholic parish several times that I no longer attend and do not identify as a Catholic good Father Justin keeps right on sending envelopes and cheery notes.

    Those Benedictines, ya gotta love them!

  13. Told ya, Christine! I know how this works!

    On the other matter the problem with your Lutheran definition of “chuirch” is twofold

    1. It is an ‘event’ based ecclesiology without communal continuity.

    2. It begs the question about the ‘rightly’ bit.

    • Christine

      Interesting that you should bring up “communal continuity” which has been decidedly ruptured by Vatican II. The preconciliar church and the church since Vatican II are two different animals.

      At my Lutheran parish I hear the Word rightly preached and the Sacraments rightly administered. I am not burdened as you are with correctly defining the “communal” aspect that the Catholic Church requires. We certainly do live out our lives of faith in “community” but on that last day we will face the Lord as individuals.

      For me it is the Word that calls the Church into being. Word and Sacrament are what the Holy Spirit uses to create and sustain faith, not a paradigm of “apostolic succession” as Rome understands it.

      Perhaps if the Orthodox ever take the papal claims seriously I might give it another thought.

      Yes, I know you know how it works, David, as do I 🙂 Nevertheless, I am still charmed by your nomenclature of the “naughty Catholic” — it has a cheeky ring to it!

      Back in my husband’s day when he stopped going to Mass no one ever contacted him. Now, there’s a push because the RC has lost so many members in the U.S. that it’s creating a financial crunch.