Revisiting the Summit II

On the 9th of March, 2001, I and two other pastors of the Lutheran Church of Australia were summoned to St Paul’s Lutheran Church in Box Hill by the President of the Victoria District to give an account of our Roman ideas to 18 other specially invited pastors.

You will find my complete submission here, on my Year of Grace Blog, along with the reply that was given by Pastor Peter Kriewaldt, a senior and well-respected pastor.

In this series of posts, I am “revisiting the Summit” almost a decade later to see what, if anything, I have learnt since. This post deals with the second question in my submission and Pastor Kriewaldt’s response. Click here for “Revisiting the Summit I”.

My Second Question:

2) The Lutheran Church holds that the true church is present wherever the Word and Sacraments (the liturgy of the church) are celebrated. If the church does not have an organic reality apart from the event of the celebration of the liturgy, what happens when it abandons on a large scale the very liturgy that is supposed to bring it into existence?

Pastor Peter Kriewaldt’s reply:

2) The Sacraments and liturgy are not synonymous. Nor is the reality of the church based on the historic liturgy. The liturgy does not bring the church into existence; that is the task of the word and Sacraments (Eph 2, R 10:14-15; Titus 3). Scripture does not restrict the church to one historic liturgy; it simply gives us a skeletal sketch of the liturgy (Cf Col 3). The early church did not have the ecumenical creeds, for example. David, however, rightly warns the church not to abandon the historic liturgy.

I remind the reader first of all that I was limited in the space I was allocated in which to summarise my “questions” at the Summit: one side of one A4 piece of paper. It was an almost impossible task, so I had to abbreviate and be concise. Here, however, I can expand on what was behind “Question II”.

The Augsburg Confession states in Article 7 that:

The Church is the assembly of saints, in which the Gospel is rightly taught and the Sacraments are rightly administered. For the true unity of the Church it is enough to agree concerning the doctrine of the Gospel and the administration of the Sacraments. Nor is it necessary that human traditions, that is, rites or ceremonies, instituted by men, should be everywhere alike.

As an “evangelical catholic” Lutheran, I had always interpreted references in the confessional books of the Lutheran Church to “the Gospel/Word and Sacraments” to refer to the liturgical life of the Church. As I read it, Article 7 was speaking of an “assembly” in which and action took place, namely the reading of the word/proclamation of the Gospel and the celebration of the Sacraments. The pre-eminent “Word & Sacrament” action around which “the congregation” assembled was, of course, the Eucharistic liturgy. Given the fact that the Word does not preach itself “rightly” nor do the sacraments administer themselves “rightly”, I presumed that implicit in Article 7 of the CA was a reference also to the sacred ministry. I therefore came to see, in the ecclesiology of the Augsburg Confession, the ecclesiology of St Ignatius of Antioch, who said: “Let that be considered a certain eucharist which is under the leadership of the Bishop, or one to whom he has entrusted it” and “Wherever the Bishop appears, there let the multitude of the people be; just as where Christ Jesus is, there is the catholic church”.

Now I was also at this time concerned about what I called the “event ecclesiology” of the Lutheran Church (it has since been explained to me that this is an inaccurate notion, but I still think it is true as far as it goes): namely, that since the true Church is an “assembly” or “congregation” among which the Word is preached and the Sacraments are administered (“rightly”, mind you), and since these very Word and Sacraments are in fact to be taken as the “marks of the Church”, it seemed logical to me to conclude that in Lutheran theology the Church is exists and is present when this action of preaching and administration is taking place. But the problem this raises is: what if this is not done? Does that mean that the Church does NOT exist, is NOT present, even if the Church in which this is not done is a Lutheran Church?

Because at the time, I regularly experienced (and indeed have since experienced) Sunday “liturgies” in Lutheran parishes in which the Sacrament of the Eucharist was either celebrated in a questionable manner or not even celebrated at all. There was such experimentation going on that I could never be certain, if I attended a Lutheran parish other than my own, that I would actually receive the “word rightly preached” and “the sacrament rightly administered” on any given Sunday. If the Lutheran Church indeed had an “event ecclesiology” rather than an “ecclesiology of hierarchical communion”, what happened to “the Church” when the Eucharistic liturgy was no longer celebrated?

In his response, Peter “nails me” (as Pastor Henderson put it) in the very first sentence: “The Sacraments and liturgy are not synonymous.” Well, that is true. Even Catholics would agree. A quick glance at the second part of the Catechism of the Catholic Church will show you that sacraments are to liturgy as water is to rain (or to a river). That is, the seven sacraments are the core divinely given constituant of a broader divine gift to the Church, namely the Church’s liturgical life. Yet Peter is answering from a Lutheran perspective, in which there are “the sacraments rightly administered” – which are instituted by Christ himself – and the Liturgy – which is a matter of “human traditions, that is, rites or ceremonies, instituted by men”.

The “not so subtle” difference is brought out by Peter’s next couple of sentences: “Nor is the reality of the church based on the historic liturgy. The liturgy does not bring the church into existence; that is the task of the word and Sacraments (Eph 2, R 10:14-15; Titus 3).” I ask the reader to compare this to the title of Pope John Paul II’s very last encyclical “Ecclesia de Eucharistia”: the Church from the Eucharist. Now, of course, there is a wonderful ambiguity in the word “Eucharist”. It is BOTH the Sacrament of the Altar, the Lord’s Supper, the “Sacrament” proper, AND the Liturgy in which this Sacrament is celebrated and administered (in proper order following the proclamation of the Word!). In this Encyclical, the Holy Father wrote:

48. Like the woman who anointed Jesus in Bethany, the Church has feared no “extravagance”, devoting the best of her resources to expressing her wonder and adoration before the unsurpassable gift of the Eucharist. No less than the first disciples charged with preparing the “large upper room”, she has felt the need, down the centuries and in her encounters with different cultures, to celebrate the Eucharist in a setting worthy of so great a mystery. In the wake of Jesus’ own words and actions, and building upon the ritual heritage of Judaism, the Christian liturgy was born…

49. With this heightened sense of mystery, we understand how the faith of the Church in the mystery of the Eucharist has found historical expression not only in the demand for an interior disposition of devotion, but also in outward forms meant to evoke and emphasize the grandeur of the event being celebrated. This led progressively to the development of a particular form of regulating the Eucharistic liturgy, with due respect for the various legitimately constituted ecclesial traditions.

In actual fact, I have never been able to accept the idea that what Pastor Kriewaldt called “the historic liturgy” was a “human invention”. Pastor Kriewaldt was right to say that “Scripture does not restrict the church to one historic liturgy; it simply gives us a skeletal sketch of the liturgy (Cf Col 3)” – I could have added “cf. Luke 24 and Acts 2:42 et aliter”. But Pastor K. was thinking in terms of particular “rites” – the Liturgy of the Church is something that in fact transcends any particular “rite” in which it might be expressed. The Liturgical Ordo is in fact witnessed to in scripture itself: the reading of the word and its explication, followed by the celebration of the Sacrament of the Lord’s Supper. There are many different “rites” by which this is legitimately done, but it is not done legitimately by subverting these rites, abandoning these rites, or attempting to “administer the Sacraments” apart from any rites at all.

Perhaps the Catechism of the Catholic Church gets it best when it talks of the Liturgy in terms of the “Mystery” and the “mysteries” of the Paschal Event. The sheer fact of the Mystery in itself should give us pause when we come to tampering and messing around with the form in which the Mystery/mysteries are expressed in our liturgical lives. The Eastern Churches have always had what they called a “Eucharistic Ecclesiology”, ie., one which is profoundly Eucharistically based (again, in line with both St Ignatius of Antioch and – interpreted in a particular light – Augsburg Confession Art. 7).

Nor was Pastor Kriewaldt without some sympathy for this case, as he at least acknowledged that “David, however, rightly warns the church not to abandon the historic liturgy”. The question which I still ask myself today is “Why would my warning be ‘right’? Why would this matter, if the liturgy is not commanded by Scripture or if it is merely the invention of men?” I believe that many Lutheran pastors – like Pastor Kriewaldt – in fact can see quite clearly that the Church “stands or falls” (as they like to put it) on the basis of the “historic liturgy”, because they know that it is in the faithful celebration of the liturgy alone that the Word and Sacraments are preserved “rightly”, and that it is precisely from such faithful celebration of the Eucharistic liturgy that the Church draws her very existence.

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54 responses to “Revisiting the Summit II

  1. David,

    Lutheran ecclesiology is not an ‘event ecclesiology’, as you put it. ‘Have you not read’ the first line of CAVII? The church ‘is to continue forever’!

    I believe the primary intent of the Reformers in CAVII was twofold: to define the church, over against Rome’s overly materialising concept of it, as the communio sanctorum or assembly of saints -i.e. all true believers in Christ, who is head of the church and not the Pope; and secondly over against Enthusiasm, which overly spiritualised the church, the Lutheran teaching is that the church is a real body in space & time which is certainly present wherever (not ‘whenever’!) the pure Word is proclaimed and the sacraments administered rightly. As is most often the case in Lutheran doctrine, it is a matter of defining teaching over against deviations on the right (Rome) and the left (Enthusiasts who wish to separate the Spirit from the Word).

    So, it is important to read the confessional documents in light of their historical context. Luther’s ‘Confession’ of 1528 is fundamental to understanding this article.

    The matter of liturgy is a complex one and I am no expert. However, let me say this: in this matter the concern of the Reformers was to distinguish what in worship has divine command and what is of purely human origin, and much of this concern was a response to the papacy’s investing of human traditions with divine command. Behind this concern was the preservation of conscience and assurance – a good conscience could be preserved by adhering to what God had commanded and avoiding what is forbidden, and regarding what is neither commanded nor forbidden appropriately; and people were urged to look for assurance of salvation to God’s Gospel and not the observance of ‘rites and ceremonies’ of human origin.

    That is not to say that liturgy is not important – heaven forbid! – as you know the Lutheran Reformation was the conservative Reformation when it came to liturgical matters, and there are theological principles which can be used to judge whether liturgy is good or bad (and some of what we see in Lutheran congregations today is bad, but one hopes at least that it is not false worship).

    But there was no liturgy handed down to us by the Holy Apostles, David, neither the Roman ordo nor the DL of St John Chrysostom nor the Liturgy of Basil the Great nor even the Common Service of Lutheran tradition. The most we can say here, I think, is that the basic pattern of the liturgy of the Word and of the Lord’s Supper that is hinted at in the NT has been used by the church since its inception and provides us with the pattern or template upon which various rites have grown with their accompanying ceremonies.
    The church is free to revise those rites and ceremonies according to need, as even Rome has done from time to time, but there are proper ways and means of going about this. (As you know, in the LCA, any departure from the approved worship services is meant to have the approval of the District President.)
    The bottom line, I think, is that Lutherans have confidence that a true faith will lead to true forms, and vice versa. But we are not revolutionaries (although I’ll concede some of the brethren are confused about this ;0) ), we treasure what has been handed down and sanctified, if you will, by the usage of previous generations of saints, but because liturgy is the expression of a living body of saints, it will change from time to time.

    So, I don’t think it is correct to say that the church ‘stands or falls on the historic liturgy’, and I don’t think there are many Lutherans who would say that. Rather, the church stand or falls on the Gospel, and the liturgy is to serve as a proper vehicle for the Gospel. That is, I think, the way a Lutheran would look at it.

    This is just my commentary on what you have written, David – for what it is worth. I find it very helpful to have your original thoughts ‘fleshed out’ like this. I hope you have the strength to see it through to the end.

    • Lutheran ecclesiology is not an ‘event ecclesiology’, as you put it. ‘Have you not read’ the first line of CAVII? The church ‘is to continue forever’!

      I know, you – and others – have told me this before. I’m not quite convinced of it, however. I don’t think the CAVII quite contradicts what I am saying. That “the church is to continue forever” seems to me to say that “there will always been an assembly among which the Gospel is rightly preached and the sacraments rightly administered.” It takes the “communio sanctorum” to mean “the Gemeinde/congregation of the saints” gathered around the word and sacraments – which is fine as far as it goes, but it lacks a deeper explication of what the Church is when it isn’t “gathering”. I have always missed in Lutheranism a deeper reflection on what the Church actually is: who are these “saints” that are “in communio”.

      You answer this in part by this next statement:

      I believe the primary intent of the Reformers in CAVII was twofold: to define the church, over against Rome’s overly materialising concept of it, as the communio sanctorum or assembly of saints -i.e. all true believers in Christ, who is head of the church and not the Pope;

      “Rome’s overly materialising concept of [the church]”? I don’t know about “materialist”, just realist. I think too that there is a problem with saying that the sum “all true believers in Christ” equals the Church. I guess I find that just a little too “black and white”. My general experience of human beings – indeed my general experience of myself – is that “true believer” is a difficult concept. “Lord, I believe, help thou my unbelief,” as the man told Jesus. There is something about the Catholic Church that it is somewhat more concessional to the frailty of human beings, and which (wonder of wonders) tends to lay less stress on personal faith, and more stress on the objective promises of God.

      and secondly over against Enthusiasm, which overly spiritualised the church

      I wonder if the Lutherans actually managed to walk this tight-rope. After all, you tend to forget Lutheran pietism…

      the concern of the Reformers was to distinguish what in worship has divine command and what is of purely human origin, and much of this concern was a response to the papacy’s investing of human traditions with divine command.

      Well, yes, this is indeed the perennial concern of Lutheranism. And, may I say, a misguided one, for a Church that believes in the person of Jesus Christ, the divine and human natures were in full Christological union, as confessed at Chalcedon. Because it seems to me that ever since the incarnation, it is not so easy to divide that which is solely divine from that which is merely human. For instance, it is not possible for anyone to baptise without using “liturgy”. It is not possible to celebrate the Lord’s Supper without using “liturgy”. Divine Authority was given to Dominus Iesus, and he passed this Dominical Authority on to the Apostles, who exercised their authority to establish the Church and the Apostolic Traditions (including the written Scriptures). There is no diminishing of authority here. Jesus said that he sent the Apostles precisely as he was sent by the Father. So how is it possible to distinguish quite so surely between that which is by “divine authority” and that which is by “human authority”. And indeed how is it possible to know such things with any certainty? This was always a weakness of the Lutheran position, and it is indicated liturgically by the fact that Lutherans don’t know what to do with the uncomfortable truth that in every historical anaphora, the Eucharistic Verba of our Lord are encapsulated in a prayer to the Father by the consecrating priest. Is the consecration therefore an act of proclamation of God’s Word to the people, or a sacrificial prayer offered to God? Lutherans thus divide and separate in the liturgy that which cannot be divided or separated: the action of God and the action of man. (I know this is heresy to Lutheran ears!).

      That is not to say that liturgy is not important – heaven forbid! – as you know the Lutheran Reformation was the conservative Reformation when it came to liturgical matters, and there are theological principles which can be used to judge whether liturgy is good or bad (and some of what we see in Lutheran congregations today is bad, but one hopes at least that it is not false worship).

      But why should they have preserved the traditional liturgy? I mean, I am glad they did, but, besides a matter of good order (which concern appears to me to have been paramount) why should the traditional order of the Mass have recommended itself to them? What theological reasons are there, as far as Lutherans are concerned, for keeping the “historical” liturgy? I know that many good Lutheran scholars can answer these questions, but the answers they give are not those of the reformers.

      But there was no liturgy handed down to us by the Holy Apostles, David, neither the Roman ordo nor the DL of St John Chrysostom nor the Liturgy of Basil the Great nor even the Common Service of Lutheran tradition.

      You are confusing a particular “rite” with the liturgy itself. The same liturgy is celebrated in the Roman Rite, the Liturgy of St John Chrysostom, the Liturgy of St Basil, and – at least recognisable – in the Lutheran Common Service. It is this liturgy which is indeed “apostolic”, for this is the liturgy of the New Testament in Christ’s Blood which has been celebrated by the Church since even before the written New Testament was finally compiled. This Liturgical Tradition is more than a “pattern or template” – it is the seed from which all the rites have grown. Indeed “The church is free to revise those rites and ceremonies according to need” – with a given meaning of the word “Church”, for even in the Catholic Church, only highest authority can make changes to rites and ceremonies of the liturgy (which is the patrimony of the whole Church).

      The bottom line, I think, is that Lutherans have confidence that a true faith will lead to true forms, and vice versa.

      Ho, ho. ROTFL! That is just what every “reformer” has always claimed!

      So, I don’t think it is correct to say that the church ‘stands or falls on the historic liturgy’, and I don’t think there are many Lutherans who would say that.

      No, you are right, they wouldn’t put it that way. But many are aware of the important role that preserving the liturgy (and indeed, reviving the liturgy, in some cases) is absolutely essential of the Word is to be rightly preached and the Sacraments rightly administered. The relationship between the Word and Sacraments and the Liturgy is not quite so incidental as you seem to think. The Liturgy is not just a “vehicle” or a “vessel” for the Gospel. It is the very incarnation of the Gospel in our midst.

      I hope you have the strength to see it through to the end.

      Me too, Mark! Me too!

      • Peter

        “I wonder if the Lutherans actually managed to walk this tight-rope. After all, you tend to forget Lutheran pietism…”

        In fairness to Mark, I think in pointing to the Confessional statements of the Lutheran Church he can hardly be held accountable for an extreme Lutheran view which is cannot be said to properly represent those statements.

        Some might argue that pietism finds some roots in the LC but they do not represent the documents as a whole faithfuly.

        My response to Mark and others attempting a kind of ‘Tract 90’ exercise is that, leaving aside my disagreement with the argument that Lutheran *is* catholic, the the church he describes exists only in the minds of a scattered few, wheras the reality of the Protestant communions is being revealed with ever increasing clarity.

        • The point of reminding Mark about pietism is that (as he should know having been in Western Districts Victoria for a stage) this is one movement that has had a marked effect on the Lutheran Church as it is today. Today’s Lutheran Church – let’s be specific, the Lutheran Church of Australia – is no more an invention of the Book of Concord than the early church was an invention of the New Testament. It is a body with a long history of many different movements: Orthodoxy + Pietism + Confessionalism in the main, with a dash of Revivalism + State Church + Fundamentalism + Moravian Brethren + Wendish + Evangelicalism + + + etc. It is true that the LCA has committed itself confessionally to the Book of Concord, but it is also true that the Book of Concord is but one factor among many in making up what is the Australian Lutheran Church today – and not, I would suggest, even the most dominant factor.

          • Peter,
            I’m not attempting to do a ‘Tract 90’ on the Lutheran Confessions…Heavens, I still haven’t forgiven Newman for doing that to the 39 Articles!

            David,
            I haven’t had time to read your response thoroughly yet. I’m on rec leave next week so maybe then. I’d like to repond to your comments on Pietism. In the meantime, I’ve posted a reflection on Systematics or Dogmatics on my new look ‘Glosses…’ today. Fwiw, it was promted by your previous comments on your experience at Luther in the ’80s.

      • “You are confusing a particular “rite” with the liturgy itself. The same liturgy is celebrated in the Roman Rite, the Liturgy of St John Chrysostom, the Liturgy of St Basil, and – at least recognisable – in the Lutheran Common Service.”

        Um…no David, I’m using “liturgy” in the comkonly accepted sense of referring to a particular church’s eucharistic service, a usage which even the Catholic Encyclopedia acknowledges.
        So, I think my point stands, none of these particular ‘liturgies’ was handed down to us by the holy apostles, David, so none can be made normative for Christian worship as though they had a divine imprimatur; again, historically, the best we have is a template which derives from the worship of the synagogue and to which is added the Lord’s Supper.

        But, I’m curious about this ‘Ur-liturgy’ you speak of David, and perhaps not entirely in diagreement with the notion either – but what does it consist of?

        • Fr John Fleming

          Well Mark, you are partly right and, I believe, partly wrong. Yes liturgy refers to a Eucharistic service. But … The point is that the liturgy has developed from the time of Christ and the Apostles such that certain elements of it are ‘fixed’ so to speak. Indeed the various elements are there in both Western Liturgies and Eastern Liturgies. The Lutheran liturgical account, like the Reformed (including Anglican) accounts are serious aberrations from the Liturgy of the Church and necessarily so since they were introducing novel Eucharistic doctrines. The Liturgy expresses the received doctrine and practice of the Church. While there may be some variations in Rites they reflect the Liturgy. Protestant services are seriously defective and so do not count as expressions of the Liturgy which developed directly from the teaching and the practice of the Apostles. This is Catholic liturgical organic development expressing true Eucharistic doctrine. The Reformation rites, where they exist, represent rupture from traditional Catholic teaching and practice.

          • “aberrations from the Liturgy of the Church”

            A thought came to mind about what constitutes the proper Liturgy of the Church: this probably includes the necessary ministry of one properly ordained. Could an ordinary man (not Jesus Christ) have stood in his stead as redeemer? Even if such a man were to have done and said and undergone everything as with Christ, that man would not be redeemer. It is perhaps at least agreed that whomever ministers the sacraments, particularly in the Eucharist, must likewise be properly ordained to it — but what does that mean. To my mind, ordination is not simply a matter of appointment, but appointed by one who was ordained to do so, i.e., a bishop. And this bishop would not be a bishop without likewise having been appointed in the same way, going back to the Apostles and ultimately back to Christ, our high priest and head of the Church. And because this body of Christ is so.. embodied, then the ordination requires physical (laying of) hands.

            It probably makes sense (a sad one) that this incarnated hierarchy (as against a symbolic or otherwise disembodied line of ordination) is absent among the Protestants, since there is already the wrenching of ecclesiology from its moorings in the Apostolic succession, as there is the same in the case of other Christian matters, e.g., teaching authority.

            BTW I am not trying to be offensive here, just sharing some thoughts at 1 am…

            • Fr John Fleming

              Well, a proper Liturgy is one which reflects the teaching of the Church, is celebrated by a truly ordained Western Catholic or Eastern Orthodox priest, and which enables Believers to participate in the Liturgy of Heaven. Any Rite which does not reflect the Faith of the Church is not apt for the job. Any Minister who does not participate in the priesthood of Christ at the Presbyteral level cannot preside at the Liturgy since the ministerial priest alone acts in persona Christi and has the authority to celebrate the Sacred Mysteries.

  2. Fr John Fleming

    Dear David
    This is very helpful. For my own part I hold that Sacraments and Liturgy are so interconnected that we in the Catholic Church call other “liturgies” “para liturgies”. The Epistle to the Hebrews and the Book of Revelation contain so much about the Liturgy celebrated in the Heavenly Sanctuary in which Liturgy we participate in the Eucharistic Liturgy. he Church is most fully herself in the Liturgy which may be celebrated according to various rites by a validly ordained priest together with the People of God. I did not see the Pastor’s “knock-down argument” as anything of the kind. He confuses, as you remark, “liturgy” with “a particular rite”. Nevertheless, it is also the case that the fundamental elements of the Liturgy, agree in both East and West, are not mere guidelines. They have become part of the Church’s essential self-understanding in the light of the Gospel. So, again, we end up back with the Constitution of the Church and the matter of who has, or where is located, the teaching authority of the Church.

  3. Fr John Fleming

    Ooops. I said “Nevertheless, it is also the case that the fundamental elements of the Liturgy, agree in both East and West, ” but should have said “Nevertheless, it is also the case that the fundamental elements of any rite used for the Liturgy, are agreed on in both East and West,

  4. Past Elder / Terry Maher

    There you go. In the end, ecclesia ex machina as a solution to one’s dificulties, and the ecclesia is — The Catholic Church The Catholic Church The Catholic Church.

    This pious sounding nonsense, a disgrace to Christ, his Word and his Sacraments, is a religion about nothing but itself, and it only recognises Christ or his Word or his Sacraments insofar as it recognises itself, outside of which there are only ecclesial unions and paraliturgies.

    • What on earth are you talking about Terry? This sounds like a knee jerk response to something. But to what?

      • Fr John, are you not familiar with our court jester? We keep him here simply for his contrariness. For more information, see just about every other comment he has ever made to anything I have ever posted. PE has set it as his own personal mission to “disabuse” a one-time Lutheran pastor of the foolish idea that he has found “the Catholic Church”. Thus far, he has been singularly unsuccessful – I don’t think any of us have even yet managed to get our heads around what passes for “logical reasoning” in Terry’s world. Nevertheless, he can always be relied upon for consistency in his theme.

        • Fr John Fleming

          Aha. I see. No point trying to find a logical argument where there is none eh!

          • Past Elder / Terry Maher

            The mantra The Catholic Church The Catholic Church The Catholic Church is not a logical argument. Vide infra (oh, sorry about using Latin).

    • Actually PE, ecclesia ex machina makes perfect sense from the perspective of the Church not simply as a body of Christians but the body of Christ himself.

      Anything weaker than that makes it possible to be *a* sign to the nations, but that does not allow this body to be truly sacramental to such a degree as to compare with the Incarnation (God *really* with us). It’s like.. something is missing or held back. Someone looking from outside might say “Christ is in the Bible” — as he is written about — but cannot say that Christ is bodily with us right here on earth, still working and teaching with authority from the Father.

  5. Christine

    The Epistle to the Hebrews and the Book of Revelation contain so much about the Liturgy celebrated in the Heavenly Sanctuary in which Liturgy we participate in the Eucharistic Liturgy Exactly right, Father, and if Sacred Scripture is inspired by the Holy Spirit, as all orthodox Christians pretty much believe, then the worship described therein is also the fruit of the Spirit.

    A “worship service” is not the Mass.

    Christine

    • A “worship service” is not the Mass.

      Never was a truer word spoken. I have always felt quite comfortable at a traditional Lutheran divine service, which is, as Pastor Mark points out, more or less the Western Mass with “purgings” – but I have many times been at a Lutheran “worship service” which did not observe this the ancient form, and have felt decidedly uncomfortable – often because in one way or another I have felt manipulated. There’s no other word for it: that is really how I have felt. “Services of meditation” are not so bad, usually – eg. a Taize service, or a Lenten meditation or even perhaps a dramatic/choral Passion etc. – but when non-liturgical services replace Sunday Eucharist, I find that the word “manipulated” is the only word that describes how I feel.

  6. Past Elder / Terry Maher

    “The Liturgy is not just a “vehicle” or a “vessel” for the Gospel. It is the very incarnation of the Gospel in our midst.”

    “So, again, we end up back with the Constitution of the Church and the matter of who has, or where is located, the teaching authority of the Church.”

    “The Epistle to the Hebrews and the Book of Revelation contain so much about the Liturgy celebrated in the Heavenly Sanctuary in which Liturgy we participate in the Eucharistic Liturgy.”

    There are three examples of what I am talking about. Pious sounding, in that they reference Christ, his sacrifice for our sins, and heaven, but nonsense in that these are completely twisted in their meaning to support a claim for an authority to the Roman Catholic Church and its worship services and a denial of same to anyone else, therefore a disgrace to Christ, his Word and Sacraments, instead being only and entirely about the Roman Catholic Church.

    The Incarnation is the Incarnation, not a theological principle by which the Roman Catholic Church is known as the true church, or its Holy Sacrifice of the Mass as true worship.

    The worship in the heavenly sanctuary described in Hebrews and Apocalypse (as it was called before you adopted the Protestant way of calling it) is the worship in the heavenly sanctuary described in Hebrews an Apocalypse, not a theological principle by which the Roman Catholic Church’s Holy Sacrifice of the Mass becomes a participation therein.

    And in the end we are not left with Lumen gentium, a putrid piece of trash not worthy to line a bird cage, which is a disgrace, not only to Christ, his Gospel and his Church, but, if there ever were the slightest validity to the claims of the Roman Catholic Church, to the Roman Catholic Church itself, in which its once clean and clear teaching, expressed in and symbolised by a single word “est” is tromped on (this is a pun, and a word-dance after the manner of the only philosopher worth reading, Nietzsche, but for those in the paralytic state induced by the Roman Catholic Church and dance only with canes, walkers, and indeed some in wheel-chairs, let me supply a hint — Sebastiaan Tromp SJ) and morphed into the tortured expression “subsistit in”, which nobody knows what in the hell it means and apply no end of existentialism and phenomenology to make it be the same as “est” (Ratzinger is particularly good at such paralytic word games).

    Which is both a crystalisation and type of the way the postconciliar church puts a damn mitre on existentialism and phenomenology and makes of them the Gospel of Christ, false to Christ and false to his church, and the latter particularly so if the Roman Catholic Church were ever true to it.

    Thus is the Sabbath rest slapped in the face, thus does a foretaste here become a participation there, thus does the testament of a testator to his heirs, at which thought of such a Saviour who could not but nearly faint for joy (if I may borrow Martin’s phrase from Babylonian Captivity) become a solution ecclesia ex machina (another word play, an application of deus-ex-machina to the theatre the RCC creates instead of worship in Spirit and Truth) wherein one ends up not with Christ, his Church, his Divine Service to Man in Word and Sacrament, but the “teaching authority” of The Catholic Church, The Catholic Church, The Catholic Church which is all it is about.

  7. Past Elder / Terry Maher

    Speaking of Apocalypse, I say again to those made drunk by and still captive to Mystery, Babylon the Great, the mother of harlots and the abominations of the Earth, Come out of her, God’s people, lest you share in her sins, lest you receive of her plagues, which plagues will come in one day and her judgement in one hour, that you may be with the heavenly rejoicing with the Apostles and Prophets as God avenges himself upon her, judged the great harlot, whose wife has made herself ready and then comes the marriage supper of the Lamb. Well even as it says, Amen, Alleluia — somebody oughta shout!

  8. William Tighe

    Yawn.

  9. Past Elder / Terry Maher

    It’s already over, you just won’t wake up.

    Nor will you while listen to the siren call of the Roman/Holy Roman Imperial state church, which, having lost the state that spawned it, struggles to find a new reason drawn from more recent philosophy to continue its existence, there being none whatever in the Gospel.

    Nor, even had I not been blessed to discover Lutheranism later in life, would anything reconcile ideas condemned in one decade proclaimed in Council in the next, authors banned from teaching and/or publishing in one decade preiti and cardinals in the next, as any continuity even with itself whatever, nor any hermeneutic thereof except a fawning idolatry that knows nothing but The Catholic Church, The Catholic Church, The Catholic Church.

    • Fr John Fleming

      I repeat: “What on earth are you talking about Terry? This sounds like a knee jerk response to something. But to what?” On the other hand, please don’t reply. You are putting me off my lunch!

      • Peter Golding

        I am not sure what substances Terry is imbibing,but it is a safe bet that they are not legal.

        • Past Elder / Terry Maher

          Yeah that’s it, address the issue rather than the person.

          OTOH, I guess if one wants to defend postconciliar “Catholicism”, which has no basis in either the Gospel or Catholicism, there isn’t much left to use.

  10. Matthias

    Struth Tezza, you are sounding like Baptist/pentecostal/revivalist than one who joined the Lutherans. Can i clarify that you joined LCMS as a result of Vatican II,which is the impression I have gained over time? Bu then the only impressions i am good at are Mr bEAN and Churchill
    Father John I can say here how much i enjoyed your book many years ago WAKE UP AUSTRALIA,that you co-wrote with ?Barry Overduin. I always get that wrong ,and i bet i did this time to.

    • Past Elder / Terry Maher

      No Matthias, I did not join LCMS as a result of Vatican II. I would not have even considered it, Lutheranism, or anything but Catholicism, which I believed was the true faith of the true church — until Vatican II, when the ideas we were warned against in one decade became the Catholicism of the next, when the authors banned in one decade became the periti (theological experts advising bishops) and Cardinals of the next, and an entirely new faith emerged, connected to what preceded it only by ownership of real estate and bank accounts. There being only one true church and faith, which now was repudiated, there was no place else to go; Christianity itself was false, but if the NT failed that didn’t mean the OT had, so I was a Righteous of the Nations in Orthodox Judaism for over twenty years, no thought whatever of Lutheranism or anything else Christian, all of which, the Catholic Church gone, a hideous parody of itself, was manifestly false.

      • Fr John Fleming

        So Terry, I now get it: “I would not have even considered it, Lutheranism, or anything but Catholicism, which I believed was the true faith of the true church — until Vatican II, when the ideas we were warned against in one decade became the Catholicism of the next, when the authors banned in one decade became the periti (theological experts advising bishops) and Cardinals of the next, and an entirely new faith emerged, connected to what preceded it only by ownership of real estate and bank accounts. There being only one true church and faith, which now was repudiated, there was no place else to go; Christianity itself was false, but if the NT failed that didn’t mean the OT had …” Can you explain further. When you say, “when the ideas we were warned against in one decade became the Catholicism of the next”, what doctrines did you have in mind? What change was it that occurred in Catholic teaching. This is an honest question from one who wants to know more about what happened to you.

        • Past Elder / Terry Maher

          No, I cannot and will not explain further.

          For one thing, such explanation within the limits of a combox would necessarily be reductive, to the point of creating my own straw man for a postconciliar “Catholic” to easily knock down, especially given that “oh nothing REALLY changed” has been the mantra of those who changed everything since Day One. Much like the lunacy, false to both Lutheranism and Catholicism, of the JDDJ, these such arguments, which I have heard for some decades now, manifestly mislead souls by retaining similar language but with different meanings creating the appearance of sameness, or a development of doctrine, to borrow the phrase of that pure idiot Newman, himself one of the early examples of such that accomplished the palace coup at Vatican II.

          For another, what happened to me is much better answered by removing me entirely, and simply looking at what happened period. For which reason, I consistently point to that. While hardly an exclusive list, I would point particularly to Mystici corporis and Humani generis, possibly Mediator Dei as well, then to the proverbial Documents of Vatican II and that most miserable waste of paper since the invention of printing, The Catechism of the Catholic Church, and finally to the novus ordo in its typical Latin text. I have rehearsed elsewhere on this blog the long list of once banned as Catholic theologians who became periti and Cardinals normative of the postconciliar RCC.

          What happened to me is not about me, it is about what happened.

          You may notice the absence of liberal theologians and the “spirit” of Vatican II excesses from this list. While I certainly saw and continue to see all manner of such, these had absolutely nothing to do with it. The Documents of Vatican II and The Catechism of the Catholic Church are more violently anti- and un-Catholic than the most liberal of theologians, and all the more dangerous for their insidious revisionism by which the present themselves as the same. The novus ordo, even by the book, is more violently anti- and un-Catholic in its rejection of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass than the most excessive of the excesses of the “spirit” of Vatican II, all the more so for its superficial resemblance.

          The Church of Vatican II is nothing but a murderer going about in its victim’s clothing and claiming its identity. Its victim was nothing like it, any more than Esau’s clothes and goatskins made Jacob Esau.

          • Fr John Fleming

            OK Terry. You are incapable of giving any kind of sensible answer to a fair question. Rant is not the same as intellectual debate. So let’s just leave it there.

            • Past Elder / Terry Maher

              How utterly typical. But how foolish of me to have momentarily expected otherwise. Postconciliar “Catholicism”, true child of existentialism and phenomenology, always makes it about me, either literally me or me as a personal reference to anyone’s self.

              I am not incapable in the least; to put in a combox what a combox cannot contain is nonsense, particularly when it has been laid out at some length in the references cited. For which reason I am unwilling to do so.

              Which becomes my incapacity to do so and the rest dismissed as rant.

              Well here’s a little more Latin for you –ad fontes. To the sources; I am not a source. Who cares what I say?

          • No, I cannot and will not explain further

            Awh… please, PE?

            Maybe if not here how about on your own blog and give us a link to it?

            Fr F.’s question is more than a fair one. Without any substance to your complaint, you are just a clanging cymbal and a noisy gong.

            • Past Elder / Terry Maher

              Interesting, David, that my blog stats indicate (I like to post the results on the sidebar as “Who Reads Past Elder?) that the country, region, and city which typically always places at least second or third in each is Australia, Victoria, Melbourne.

              No, the question is not fair at all. It is entirely loaded. To attempt to reduce to a combox, for example, the effective repeal of Mystici corporis by Lumer gentium, is absolutely pointless. For forty years now, the Vatican word-spinners and those conned by them have droned on about how nothing REALLY changed, finding black an aggiornamento of white, and white a doctrinal development of white.

              Ironically, re that particular issue, Ratzinger among the best of them (along with the once banned turned peritus AND Cardinal miserable de Lubac). But despite their self-serving word-play to support their a priori that nothing can have changed therefore nothing did and guess what we find nothing changed (now there’s your clanging cymbal and noisy gong not to mention foul fart), the texts remain the text open to anyone.

              Really, what is to be accomplished for me to recap Pius XII (the last pope worth a turd on the wave) only to be countered by recaps of Ratzinger and de Lubac (I would hope, theirs are the best)?

              Nothing. It’s all been said before and better. Ad fontes — to the sources.

              I will not do that on my blog, which is Lutheran. The intramural nonsense of the RCC has no place there. I bring it up there only, having had a ringside seat throughout the palace coup that was Vatican II, only to warn against the infection that deadly virus has caused in other churches through the “ecumenical movement” leaving them as adrift from their historical confession and reasons for being as the RCC is now from its. Unfortunately LCMS has not been exempt from this.

              • Peter

                I don’t claim to be an expert on preconciliar Catholicism, but I did start (apart from Scripture and a few scattered early Fathers) by reading the Lutheran response to Trent, then Trent (to see what the fuss was about), then Vatican II (since a priest told me it had all changed there) and plenty of authors from before and after VII commenting (negatively and positively) on the changes.

                I haven’t seen any author attempt to pretend that there were no negative outcomes, nor that it was all peaches and cream. In fact plenty of scholars today insist that poorly and loosely worded documents and pathetic disciplinary practices following the council contributed to the spiritual devestation which created the wasteland we are stuck with today.

                It is one thing to note the errors and evil effects of attempting to ride a tidal wave of cultural pressure, even with the best of intentions. It is quite another thing to suggest that Christ was not able to fulfill his promises (except in a small sheltered enclave in [insert remnant believer’s location here])

                Just as well Athanasius and others like him did not throw their hands into the air and run off to join a small group of similarly disgusted protesters when almost the entire Church was overrun by Arianism. If the pope and a majority of theologians promoting dodgy theology is the criterea for judging the Church a failure then Vatican II isn’t where it started. Even before Athenasius, perhaps even in the Scriptures, we find the Church under similar pressure. Thank God the apostles believed Christ when he promised to never leave them, and that His Church would stand. Stand, that is. Not run off and hide someplace.

    • Fr John Fleming

      Thanks Matthias. The name of the great man was Daniel Ch. Overduin, Pastor and Theologian of the LCA. He was also a very true and loyal friend to me.

  11. Fr John Fleming

    Oh, and Matthias, the name of the book is “Wake up! Lucky Country”

  12. Christine

    Most Lutherans of the past thirty or forty years don’t have the theological acumen to engage a former preconciliar Catholic who keeps looping over and over on a Catholic blog to inform postconciliar Catholics that even though he now knows that all forms of Catholicism are false the false preconciliar Catholicism he once embraced is the only true Catholicism that there is. Same old, same old.

    That’s why the arguments keep getting kicked around here, there’s really no other place to keep rehashing them. I was truly shocked during the year I attended an LCMS church at the errors the Pastor kept making about what Catholicism teaches. One time he published something in the church bulletin that was demonstrably false about one of the popes. It wasn’t done with malice, he truly believed it was a factual account. Had he done his research he would have known better.

    It is also the reason that Terry won’t go into these discussions on Lutheran blogs. For the most part they are ignored. People haven’t got the foggiest idea of what he is talking about.

    I will not do that on my blog, which is Lutheran. The intramural nonsense of the RCC has no place there. But your personal invectives against Catholicism do have a place here? What arrogance.

    I bring it up there only, having had a ringside seat throughout the palace coup that was Vatican II, I, I, I. Ho hum.

    Christine

    • Good point, Christine. I think you are right about why this blog is such an attraction to Terry that he just can’t resist it! Well, there is a kind of flattery involved in that, and so I think we can cut the poor fellow a bit of slack, don’t you? Remember to be nice! 🙂

      • Past Elder / Terry Maher

        I think that about cuts it.

        Maybe at some point you can confront how it is that banned theologians become normative theologians and Cardinals.

        Maybe at some point you can read for yourself, instead of what the Roman Oracle of Delphi tells you to read into them, documents from a supposed teaching authority that warn against ideas at one time then proclaim them as Catholic at a later time and confront how these can emanate from a source in any kind of continuity.

        Maybe that point will be better served if you do not have me to, instead of that, analyse and focus on me and my supposed motivations, cutting this “poor fellow” some slack.

        Or not. It is interesting that the Protestant fantasies in Catholic garb seem not to wear well with either a postconciliar conservative or liberal who come visiting here.

        Since you refuse to make anything I say anything but a matter of me and my experiences and supposed states of being, I really have no more time for that.

        Adios, literally.

  13. Past Elder / Terry Maher

    How typically postconciliar. I am asked for “my” argument, if not here on my blog, then am criticised as arrogant for responding in the first person.

    Right up there with being dismissed as having anything to say on music because I have four specifically musical degrees.

    Right up there with citing sources and examples rather than contributing yet more to the stream of secondary material, which should be checked against those same primary sources, becoming an incapacity.

    A church in one decade teaches me one thing, including warnings against some other things, then in another decade teaches those other things, theologians it bans in one decade become periti and Cardinals in the next, but object to it, try to point that out to someone who fell for it, and it is dismissed as “personal invective”.

    Since nothing makes a dent in the fawning idolatry to The Catholic Church, The Catholic Church, The Catholic Church instanced on this blog, I suppose it would make no difference to say yet again that never, ever, have I claimed that post-Trent, post-Vatican I Catholicism of the period of my earlier life is the “only true Catholicism”, or to say yet again that change is constant and not the issue, but rather change into what.

    Too many Is? Maybe there is a language in which something addressed to or about a person can be responded to by that person in other than the first person.

    But, I suppose it serves it purpose — were I ever to experience a moment of delirium in which I might just possibly wonder if there was the slightest credence, either Christian or Catholic, to the postconciliar RCC, I need only come here to remember otherwise.

    I would rather a thousand “praise services” passing themselves off as Lutheran worship than one novus ordo “mass” passing itself off as the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.

    • Past Elder / Terry Maher

      Mea culpa (look it up, it doesn’t mean “my fault” btw, it’s an ablative of means). Should have been “if there were” rather than “if there was”.

  14. Christine

    I would rather a thousand “praise services” passing themselves off as Lutheran worship than one novus ordo “mass” passing itself off as the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.

    There’s that “I” again — quite a bit of ego showing.

    The point — which you seem to keep missing — is that people have the right to make their own spiritual choices, whether you approve of them or not. You have made yours. Have the decency to respect the choices of others. And it might not hurt to keep in mind that some of us here were Lutheran long before the word ever tripped off your lips and really don’t need a reeducation diatribe.

    There’s plenty of Presbyterians, Methodists, Baptists, Anglicans, nondenoms and a host of others who also have become Catholic. Perhaps you ought to focus on them for a while.

    Right up there with being dismissed as having anything to say on music because I have four specifically musical degrees. More self-aggrandizing. You choose to come here and posit your own agenda and then get upset because you aren’t taken seriously?

    I stand by what I wrote above. You don’t get these discussions going on Lutheran blogs (including yours) because Lutherans don’t have the same referents and they haven’t got a clue as to what you are talking about. And frankly, I don’t think they much care. They are Lutherans.

  15. Christine

    But, I suppose it serves it purpose — were I ever to experience a moment of delirium in which I might just possibly wonder if there was the slightest credence, either Christian or Catholic, to the postconciliar RCC, I need only come here to remember otherwise.

    Begs the question — just how many times do you need to keep coming here to “remember otherwise” — permanently? For most former Catholics the disassociation process doesn’t take quite so long.

  16. Past Elder / Terry Maher

    It certainly didn’t take long to fall right back into it — since God, which is to say The Roman Catholic Church, cannot be wrong, anyone who says it’s wrong a priori has nothing to say therefore there must be something else wrong with him, psychologically, spiritually, or emotionally, so focus on what you think that is.

    The patently clear difference, examples of which I have recommended above, between Then and Now become “my agenda” and a matter of “my approval”, because of course that difference couldn’t be, therefore it wasn’t, and someone who thinks it was, is having other problems.

    Who has ego? Who has a personal agenda?

    Perhaps saying people who were Lutheran longer than I would be more convincing if not attached to dismissing something for which I was there as “my” this or that, particularly when I explicitly do not state “my” arguments my encourage looking to sources external to me.

    Since I was not Presbyterian, nor Anglican, etc, there is no reason for me to take your suggestion. I can see what has become of those churches, but the analogue would be those who have since converted to them, not the RCC.

    You might consult something of pre-1960s origin before going on about what the RCC says a person has a “right” to do re religious decisions.

    The mood in what you quote in the last comment is subjunctive, not indicative. Oh well, it fits “thinking with the church”, which being god cannot be wrong, to dismiss that too as part of a personal process of dissociation.

    I wish Brian would show up more often. You guys are more Trent than Trent in what you have made of Vatican II.

  17. Christine

    You might consult something of pre-1960s origin before going on about what the RCC says a person has a “right” to do re religious decisions.

    Oh yes, I have some personal experience with that rotten fruit in my Catholic grandmother who, in the good old preconciliar days used to hound my Lutheran mother that she was going straight to hell if she didn’t convert.

    I’ve have never implied that there is anything spiritiually, emotionally, etc. etc wrong with you. I’m simply saying that anyone who has made a defnitive break with Catholicism as you claim to have made wouldn’t be wasting his time here.

    But then, my Catholic grandmother also used to repeat the old maxim, “once a Catholic, always a Catholic . . .”

    Again . . . ho hum.

  18. Christine

    Oh dear me, I almost forgot!

    The “pre-1960’s RCC” is not my guide as to what constitutes religious freedom. Dignitatis Humanae is.

  19. Christine

    Since you refuse to make anything I say anything but a matter of me and my experiences and supposed states of being, I really have no more time for that.

    Adios, literally.

    Isn’t this getting a bit old? Not to mention repetitive?

  20. Christine

    Remember to be nice

    Gulp 🙂