Applying different standards

Sadly, last night, I read the very last word of the very last “Public Square” column by RJN in the January 2009 eition of First Things. A tear came to the eye…

Anyway, on with business. There is an odd story that Fr Neuhaus tells about Rod Dreher of the Dallas Morning News (and “Crunchy Con” blog on Here’s the guts of it:

Some years ago he was giving major attention to the sex-abuse crisis in the Catholic Church, and a priest warned him that “I was going to find places darker than I realized existed.” He did, and he left the Catholic Church. “After I converted to Eastern Orthodox Christianity,” he writes, “I made a deliberate decision not to investigate the scandals in my own church. And there are scandals there. My family needs me to be spiritually healthy. My family needs to have a church. And there’s nowhere left to go. So I can stand on the sidelines and watch journalists commenting about scandals in the Orthodox Church, and I can cheer them on to see justice done, but I cannot be involved in that. If that makes me less of a journalist, then that’s something I have to live with, but at least now I know my weakness.”

Fr Neuhaus defends Dreher’s decision in this regard – comparing it to First Things refusal to promote a book that “among other things, went into salacious detail about what some bad priests did to young boys”. Yet he concludes – logically enough – that if Dreher “had made the same decision for the same reasons some years ago, I suppose he would still be a Catholic”. Quite. And as for “no where left to go” – well, “quite” to that too.

Dreher’s illogical position – whereby having judged it impossible to continue to belong to the Catholic Church because of the sins of some of her members he yet remains in the Orthodox Church despite sins of some of her members – is not unusual. I have found that there are others who apply different standards of judgement to the ecclesial bodies to which they have belonged.

Our own case in point is our friend Past Elder. He himself has used the phrase “no place else to go” – but he has gone somewhere. He has said that he no longer judges the Faith by the Church who teaches it, but judges the Church by the Faith it teaches. Yet while he accepts the new version of “the Faith” he has been taught by his Lutheran Church, yet he continues to judge his old ecclesial community by the standard of “the Faith” which he rejected – or (as he is wont to say) which “it rejected”.

By judging the Church by the standards of her own Faith, he wishes to “disillusion” us from the idea that the Catholic Church is the true Church. Dreher did much the same thing – by judging the Church according to the standards of her own morality. Both decided that the Catholic Church must be false because she failed to live up to her own standards.

Yet, just as Dreher is not prepared to judge his new ecclesial community by the same standard he used to judge the Catholic Church, PE is also unwilling to do this. PE does not judge the Lutheran Church by the same standards he uses to judge the Catholic Church.

The fact is that there is only one standard by which the Faith of any ecclesial community might be judged – the standard of Truth. And this standard is to be applied equally to all Christian communities: Catholic, Orthodox, Lutheran, whatever. The question PE should be asking himself (and indeed the question he should be asking us to ask ourselves – and which, I assure you, I do ask) is whether the teachings of the Catholic Church/Lutheran Church/Orthodox Church are TRUE.

If PE had asked himself this question instead of giving in to the disillusionment of the post-Vatican II liberal assault upon the Church, I suppose (as Fr Neuhaus supposed of Dreher) “he would still be a Catholic”.

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0 Responses to Applying different standards

  1. Victoria says:

    The Orthodox church is not nearly as strict as the Catholic Church in matters such as divorce, contraception and abortion.

  2. William Weedon says:

    Silly David! He IS still Catholic. The question of engaging the truth is precisely what led him to where he is.

    Although I will admit that your essential point is a sound one – and I have observed it in numerous “converts” – the failure to judge their current jurisdiction by the standards used to reject their old one.

  3. William Weedon says:

    P.S. If you’ll pardon the length of the quote, I think Krauth is quite helpful in nailing this down:

    And this leads us to ask as preliminary to our just relations to them, on what grounds of principle do the denominations around us vindicate their right to exist? … Yet this is a great question. It is THE question. The denomination which has not raised it is a self-convicted sect. The denomination which cannot return such an answer to it as at least shows sincere conviction that it has such reasons, should be shunned by all Christians who would not have the guilt of other men’s sins. We draw a line then at once between those denominations which either give no reason for their rightful existence, or a reason so transparently false as to defy credulity; and those on the other hand which have reasons – reasons of such plausibility as to satisfy us that thoughtful men may sincerely hold them. … We must also look with different eyes on those bodies whose historical record and present acts are in accordance with their official principles on which they rest their right to exist; and those which desert the principles which gave them name, creeds, and position – these bodies which exist on one principle and act on another, which lengthen their lives by abandoning what they once considered sacred, ignoring their history, concealing their confessed doctrines, or evading the necessary consequences of them, and who make their name and their very right to existence a fraud, – and whose intensest hatred is inflicted on those who remind them of their history, and of the doctrines which gave them their original being. [The Relation of the Lutheran Church to the Denominations Around Us]

  4. Past Elder says:

    Judas H Priest jumping in the rectory. The sins of some of her memebers had absolutely nothing to do with leaving the Roman Catholic Church for me. And I’d wager that I’ve seen, not to mention been in, more of those dark places than anyone posting here, except the fellow who did some months back then never posted again. Matter of fact, I’ve counselled a family member NOT to leave the RCC over scandals, because anywhere you go there will be sinners and where there’s sinners, there’s scandals. If I’m looking for a church where there are no sinners, there really is no place to go, because as soon as I join one, there will be a sinner in it — me. So the analogy between a person who leaves a church over moral scandals to one who leaves but not on moral scandals fails on the face of it.

    As to why I did leave, this is consistently missed here. So again, I did not leave because I came to believe something else, I left because what I was taught to believe by the RCC was no longer what was taught by the RCC, and nowhere more evident in its new liturgy, which supresses where it does not outright deny the faith it taught me. So no, it’s not a matter of different standards on my part, it’s a matter of the same standard, the one they taught me, being applied and found lacking. The different standard was their invention, not mine. If you can’t get that, put it this way: judging a church by its own standard is not applying a different standard.

    Judas at synod, what you now take because the Roman Church now teaches it was once “liberal dissent” in Catholicism. The version that won. The ways in which its liturgy, conciliar documents, and the disgraceful catechism it has produced since, are false to the Catholic faith are well documented, well beyond what it is possible to do in a combox, so don’t expect me to convince you of it in a bloody combox.

    Finally, of course I do not judge LCMS by the standards I judge the RCC. It doesn’t have the same standards for jumping Judas’ sake, and that’s another way to put the problem, without loading the deck so the RCC wins. What are the standards? If you think the Catholic standards are the correct standards, then the post-conciliar RCC fails miserably — and, those standards being the only correct ones, you will have no place to go indeed, because no place else will meet them. The thing is, those standards were false, an admixture of Christian and pagan elements, as I twenty years later found out.

    PW got it exactly right — I am where I am precisely from asking whether the teachings of the Catholic, Lutheran and Orthodox churches are TRUE. My answer is, wrt to the Lutheran church, yes, and wrt to the Catholic and Orthodox churches, no, though there is some overlap with the Truth, with the addendum that the teachings of the current RCC aren’t even Catholic, though there is some overlap, so that church fails twice over.

  5. Diane says:

    Thank you for this perceptive post, with which I completely concur.

  6. Past Elder says:

    PS — no, I would not still be Catholic. Same as above, what you don’t get is, the “post-Vatican II liberal assault upon the Church” had nothing to do with it. The “church”, however understood, is always under assault. The particular assault in question is not post-Vatican II, it’s Vatican II itself. THAT was the liberal assault on the Roman Catholic Churh, and it won. The most liberally dissenting excesses of the novus ordo combined are not the offence to the Catholic Mass that one properly said novus ordo is. The post-Vatican II liberal assault on the Church — by which of course you mean the Roman church — are as nothing compared to the Vatican II liberal assault on the (Roman) church. It is simply the form of liberal dissent which won and now tries to suppess all other forms of liberal dissent. “Roman Catholicism” is foreign to both parties.

    The motu is another Roman Imperial decree, allowing the locals their own observances so long as they do not deny the official religion. A total joke at best, a miserable betrayal of why one would stick to the “old” rite to begin with.

    So I would not still be Catholic, and that twice over:

    1) to be a faithful Vatican II Catholic is to not be Catholic;

    2) even if a switch were thrown and everything went back to the way it was, I would not go back, because now I now Catholic is not catholic post or pre Vatican II.

    Actually, quite the opposite, because had there never been Vatican II, I might never have seen Number Two! So thanks be to God for Vatican II, because though it took a while I was finally able to find and profess the catholic faith publicly on my admission to the “evangelical Lutheran church”, which is not WELS, not LCMS, but the only church there is, the catholic church of the creed, in such parishes where the Word is correctly taught and the Sacraments properly administered according to the church’s own book.

  7. Dixie says:

    I think that is true of most conversions. I certainly judge(d) Lutheranism more strictly than Orthodoxy.

    Once someone finds what they are looking for there is no need to tear down what they have in the searching…or to tear down others. (Which is something that I found most appealing with the Orthodox…not so much tearing down of what others believe but, more often than not, simply laying out what the Orthodox believe. Your Internet experience may very–this isn’t so obvious online because we converts mess things up…but I note this to be the case in my real life encounters.)

    One thing that is problematic is the continued tearing down of one’s former confession after one has left it. I still catch myself going there at times. It is a way of venting my anger at having been betrayed and maybe even at times a way of justifying the path I have taken. Neither is a healthy way (spiritually or physically) to go forward. But…it is something I am aware of and I try to resist even if I am not so successful sometimes.

    As far as Dreher is concerned I think it is impossible to say that he would have remained Roman Catholic if it hadn’t been for the sex scandals. For all we know it could have been something else. He is where he is and as far as the Catholics are concerned…2nd best place to Rome, right? So not so bad.

  8. eulogos says:

    I think Dreher’s move was an understandable emotional reaction, not really an intellectual conversion. Because of what he knew about some Catholic priests and bishops, Catholicism as an institution had become repugnant to him. He knew intellectually that this wasn’t the first scandal in the Church, that there had been many before he joined it, and that if those did not deter him, neither should this one, but he couldn’t get his emotions to go along with his intellect. He needed out. And it is not as if the arguments for Orthodoxy have no weight at all. If you have strong reason to do so, it isn’t difficult to decide that the development of the current office of the Pope was illegitimate. And the beauty of Orthodox liturgy makes it easy to conclude that this is true worship. In Dreher’s case there was also the fact that he had available to him a strong Orthodox church community, something his family had missed in Catholicism.
    At least at the time of his converstion, the more liberal rules about contraception etc were not a part of his converstion and he didn’t have plans to make any changes in that part of his life.

    Sometimes for some people there are things which eclipse absolute truth claims. Or which sway the will to assent to one side or the other of competing absolute truth claims. In this particular instance of that situation, I find it very understandable. Only God knows the heart and I won’t presume to usurp His judgment of this situation.
    Susan Peterson

  9. Past Elder says:

    Hey Dixie! After the shipwreck of Vatican II — never summarised better than by an Orthodox friend, “very sad” — a lot of RCs “headed East” as a lifeboat. For a time I thought of being one of them.

    What didn’t exist them, or if it did was way less visible than now, is what some call Western Othodoxy — the Gregory the Great mass, etc, like Fenton went to. We’ve got two of those “Antiochan” parishes here in Omaha.

    That’s an interesting phenomenon, and I think the best “2nd best” for RCs, which from that belief isn’t second best at all but a better “best”.

    Of course while now I think my former confession was wrong, I didn’t think so when I left, I thought it was no longer my former confession!

    In my present confession as you know there are those who “head East”, and while I of course don’t agree with that, unlike the Tiber swimmers here I have no further issue, as at least what they found in becoming Orthodox was indeed Orthodoxy!

  10. Christine says:

    Scandals will come and scandals will go.

    The Orthodox Church in America, the body that Dreher joined, was recently hit by a huge financial scandal.

    The motives for conversion are sometimes very simple — and sometimes very complex.

  11. Diane says:

    Christine: It was more than just a financial scandal. It also involved (you guessed it) sex abuse and episcopal coverups, not to mention widespread homosexuality in the hierarchy plus some other stuff that would make your hair curl. (And yes, I am acquainted with the facts of the case.) In fact, there is far less accountability in the OCA (and in the GOA for that matter) than there currently is in the Catholic Church. But those bodies fly below the radar screen, so very few people know the facts.

    That is precisely why Dreher’s continuing double standard is so objectionable. It has been two years since he left the Catholic Church. It is high time he left us Catholics the heck alone. If he wants to move on, let him move on then, for goodness sakes. Relentlessly revisiting the Catholic scandal does not qualify as “moving on.” If he does not want to investigate his own communion’s scandals, fine. But then he should stop obsessing about the sins and foibles of his old communion. Fair is fair.

  12. Anonymous says:

    The “huge financial scandal” that hit the presses some time ago concerning the OCA (it began to emerge between 15 and 18 months ago) is in reality a scandal in which sexual misconduct (and favoritism) of a homosexual nature (from the top of the OCA on downwards in the clergy) was thoroughly bound up with its financial aspects, and the sustained efforts to hush up the homosexual (and alcoholic) scandalous conduct over a period of many years is what allowed the scandal’s financial aspects to become so widespread and ruinous.

    William Tighe

  13. Christine says:

    Diane and Dr. Tighe, I had heard some intimations of what you both describe but not the extent you are both obviously aware of. Diane, I think you’re right. The Orthodox Church still hasn’t got a really “high” profile in America, she’s considered somewhat exotic and unknown by the Protestant mainstream so it would be easier to “pass under the radar” on these issues.

    In my locale there’s been a lot of sexual abuse coming out about schoolteachers and coaches and a couple of Protestant clergy thrown in.

    It was the best of times and the worst of times . . .

  14. Fr. Timothy D. May, SSP says:

    These comments are mainly for PE,

    It is easier to use one’s place in one church or ecclesial community to undermine another church or ecclesial community than to speak reasonably about that which likely ails all churches and ecclesial communities. Within Lutheranism there is a theological maxim of the “theology of the cross” (in contrast with the “theology of glory”). When applied to the Christian life it draws appreciation for what we have received without our deserving it because we see that God indeed works through the cross and suffering for His greater purpose. One does not seek or desire the cross and suffering, it is simply there. Confusion abounds when one applies this maxim to oneself as an individual but goes in the opposite direction in terms of church and ecclesial communities. Then it appears that the theology of the cross must apply to that church or ecclesial community with which I disagree and which is so full of faults and the theology of glory allows no reality check in terms of honest assessment of one’s own church or ecclesial community. Hence confusion reigns.

    It is unnecessary for Lutherans to blast those who are non-“Lutheran” for your presence within the thing called “Lutheranism” already gives witness to the fact that you have rejected that which is non-Lutheran. The theology of the cross is not about someone else’s faults but our own and the theology of glory is not about what we deserve but about that which we will receive.

    Pious thoughts, maybe but you get the point.

  15. Past Elder says:

    Yes, I get the point.

    I do not blast “Catholics” for not being Lutheran, nor am I seeking to bring the particular ex-Lutheran who hosts this blog back to his senses. In fact, it is since becoming Lutheran that I have been able to see the post-conciliar Roman Church as part of the catholic church in which Word and Sacrament can be found, even if you may have to scout around a bit before there it is.

    Nor is my objection to post-conciliar “Catholicism” based in the ills that bother us all, and bothered the pre-council Roman church no less than the post-. Nor is my membership in LCMS based on finding in it what I did not find in the post-conciliar church. Indeed, it is based on a change in what one expects to find! And even in terms of those changed expectations, it is not based on finding LCMS a paradise of same. To borrow a phrase from one of our pastors, it’s the worst synod in the world, except for all the others.

    What bothers me about the post-conciliar RCC is precisely this: it is not the RCC, not even close except in some remaining superficialities, yet it claims to be the same when in fact it is not, which is no longer a bother personally as I am no longer trying to deny the obvious to myself, but I do hate to see Lutherans think they are converting to Catholicism when what they get from the RCC now is manifestly something else, whereas those of us who go Orthodox at least get Orthodoxy when they get there.

    Put it more simply, if Herr Schuetz had converted to Catholicism I wouldn’t be here at all. But pretty much the whole drift of this blog, as of the church with which it wants to think, is quite un-Catholic to me, but quite in line with that form of liberal dissent from Catholicism that became Catholicism at Vatican II, and proves my experience to me yet again, that if this is Catholic, Catholic isn’t Catholic any more, and a real Catholic will leave it for the fraud it is in claiming to be Catholic.

  16. matthias says:

    I had a friend who’s daughter was sexually abused by an Elder in the church that they attended. This was a protestant church.
    There was in the christian media ,the now defunct “On being” magazine ,some years ago the news that the senior pastor at Hillsong had sacked his father -another pastor- for sexually abusing young women. But when the matter was reported to the Church there was a prayer request for the family of the Senior pastor,not also for the victims.
    It happens not only in the RCC .When it does occur,it is sin,short and simple,and it is sin that has occurred by those who profess the Name of God

  17. William Weedon says:

    Fr. Tim,

    That was profoundly helpful. NOT applying the theology of the cross to one’s own jurisdiction thereby circumventing any needed jurisdictional repentance. Thank you.

  18. Mike says:

    Unlike Dreher’s conversion, which is understandable but does not appear logical, I think I could understand PE’s logic, if I understand him correctly. Essentially the Catholic Church bites off a lot more than protestant denominations, in terms of infallibility and indefectibility. If (and I say, IF) such a dramatic overhaul of doctrine and practice occurred around Vatican II that today’s Church could no longer be identified with the Church of the past, then you would have to re-think any previous ideas you had about ideas such as infallibility, indefectibility and perhaps the heirarchy.

    Of course, if I believed this, I think Orthodoxy might be on the cards, but Lutheranism seems to have a lot more doctrinal leaps. However, I would presume that the above perceived mess just got PE looking into what else was out there, and he found other reasons to be Lutheran.

    Not trying to speak for you here, PE, but there’s just been a lot of pixels spilt on this and it doesn’t seem to be getting less muddy.

    Meanwhile, I think PE does “come here “to “disillusion” us from the idea that the Catholic Church is the true Church”, using Catholic standards – though I don’t think that’s unfair. Much as I would try to disillusion a protestant about the idea of Sola Scriptura by its own inconsistencies.

    However, I can’t say that I agree with his conclusions, or that I always enjoy the tone, and the sense of infallibility with which he sets forth for us what he sees as the stark, obvious and clearly irreconcilable differences between 1950s and 1970s Catholicism, as though we must be stupid, blind, deluded, obstinate or just totally depraved to see it differently.

    Still, it’s arguable that whether I enjoy it or not, it has a place in a combox – within limits – and that flak has been seen to fly both ways.

  19. Louise says:

    It has been two years since he left the Catholic Church. It is high time he left us Catholics the heck alone. If he wants to move on, let him move on then, for goodness sakes. Relentlessly revisiting the Catholic scandal does not qualify as “moving on.” If he does not want to investigate his own communion’s scandals, fine. But then he should stop obsessing about the sins and foibles of his old communion. Fair is fair.

    Quite right, Diane.

  20. Past Elder says:

    Well Mike, if you think I intend any sense of anyone being “stupid, blind, deluded, obstinate or just totally depraved to see it differently”, that is your read, not my intent.

    The fact is, I’ve lived through seeing what was once a form of dissent from Catholicism becoming normative Catholicism, and what was once normative Catholicism becoming a form of dissent. If you weren’t there, that’s OK, but I saw what I saw. There’s quite a few who were there that don’t see it, because since a priori it couldn’t have happened, therefore it didn’t. There’s also quite a few now who have never known anything else but post-conciliar Catholicism as Catholicism, for whom pre-Vatican II is as much the stuff of history books as pre-Trent.

    My jurisdiction has plenty of its own baggage needing repentance, to be sure. I no more joined it ignoring that than I left my prior one because of its. Neither jurisdiction’s moral baggage is an issue with me — if I’m there, there’s sinners, at least one, there. I’m not surprised that there’s others too.

    When we lose people to Orthodoxy, that’s too bad, but at least they get Orthodoxy. My issue here is, when we lose people to Catholicism, they don’t even get that. It’s not their fault.

    That is why Scripture says Come out from her, my people. They are still “my people”, which is precisely why he pleads Come out!

  21. matthias says:

    Hey PE . My fair dinkum protestant interpretation of “Come out from her my people’ would be applied to ANY church or denomination,where the Gospel is not preached ,where Christ’s Deity and Atonement is denied. I do not see that in the RCC or the LCA -yet .I see it in the Uniting Church of Australia. I see it in some elements of the Anglican church-not sydney anglicans thankfully. But as a denomination,the RCC holds to the truth more than others. Yep i know your motto-nil tolertaum idioatus but i am thinking you have a bit of a fixation on the structure of the RCC . Catholic guilt. try Calvinist guilt,it is worse.
    So to quote your well used noun ” Judas in the henhouse ‘ lay off for a while

  22. Schütz says:

    I’m listening, folks, to this great discussion – I just can’t get to do a proper response right now. Suffice it to say that I think Pastor Weedon’s Krauth quotation will give such a basis for a reply, and I’m working on that.

    As for the rest:

    Mike said: there’s just been a lot of pixels spilt on this and it doesn’t seem to be getting less muddy.

    That’s for sure. Some may think that I am obsessive about this, but I remain convinced that there is a huge error somewhere in PE’s logic, and I won’t really rest until we have clarified exactly what it is – in such a way that is so clear that even PE himself will have to admit it.

    For the rest of it, I should make clear that, while I have often said that I joined the Catholic Church because I wished to be truly “Catholic”, you would misunderstand that if you took it to mean that I joined the Catholic Church for any other reason than that I wished to belong to that ecclesial communion which was most authentically Christian.

    For the same reason, I left the Lutheran Church of Australia: not because it was not authentically “Lutheran”, but because I came to believe it was not authentically Christian.

    And I judge both the Catholic Church to which I belong and the Lutheran Church to which I belonged according to the standard of Truth – or, more specifically, true Christianity.

    So whether or not the Catholic Church as she exists today is or is not the same thing as the Catholic Church immediately prior to Vatican II (which PE calls authentic “Catholicism”), I am and remain a Catholic because I am convinced that it is and remains (in my estimation) authentic Christianity.

  23. Son of Trypho says:

    “There’s also quite a few now who have never known anything else but post-conciliar Catholicism as Catholicism, for whom pre-Vatican II is as much the stuff of history books as pre-Trent.”

    -but doesn’t this militate against your views? Why didn’t people leave the Church after Trent? If the Church was Catholic after Trent and before Vatican II, doesn’t this put the Protestant’s in a questionable position?

  24. Mike says:

    There’s quite a few who were there that don’t see it, because since a priori it couldn’t have happened, therefore it didn’t.

    I kind of read this as describing people as blind and obstinate – maybe even stupid – but then, that’s just my reading.

  25. Past Elder says:

    No. St Peter wouldn’t make it through the “Tridentine Rite” without a squad of altar boys telling him what to do. Trent happened 3/4 of the way through the elapsed history, so far, of the church, whether one means by “the church” the catholic church of the creed or the Catholic Church of the belief of the Catholic Church.

    Change isn’t the issue. In fact, Trent, one could say, was exactly about change. A change that would both correct the legitimate moral complaints of the Reformers without caving on their doctrinal errors. Well, so we were taught before we were taught that Trent was a mediaeval blind alley “the church” went into from which thank God Vatican II is finally get us out of. One RCC taught me the one, another RCC taught me the other. The point being, change is constant in the church, RCC or otherwise. The issue is, change into what, and what changed.

    Matthias, relax. I’m not saying the RCC isn’t Christian. I’m saying it’s not Catholic. For a non-Catholic Christian, no big deal. For a Catholic Christian, big deal, not that Christian elements cannot exist outside what is Catholic because they do and Catholics have always said they do, but that Catholic IS Christian in its fulness, or that in which its fulness subsists as they like to put it now, so to not be Catholic is to not be Christian, at least not fully.

    And David, thanks for making my point. You are Catholic because of YOUR estimation, you became Catholic because YOU came to believe Catholic as it is now is authentic Christianity, true Christianity. Which you somehow knew before becoming Catholic. So your faith is not based on what is Catholic at all, but on what YOU think is authentic true Christianity and find in post-conciliar Catholicism.

    I don’t have a problem with that. I don’t agree with it, but I don’t have a problem with it.

    I have a problem with calling it Catholic, because it isn’t, and if the Catholic Church now so validates itself, that’s exactly my point demonstrated, this is no longer the Catholic Church.

  26. Schütz says:

    I knew someone would jump on that issue, and I guess it had to be you, PE. All converts, who claim to have abandoned Protestant private judgement in order to embrace the authority of the Church, are accused that their reasoning is self-defeating. Did they not, after all, exercise private judgement in order to get where they were?

    Well, the best answer that I can give to that is the one that Cardinal Newman (the “only convert worth reading”) gave: he said that he found his way to the Catholic Church with a candle, and once inside found it to be so full of light he could put the candle aside (or something like that).

    I did use private judgement to get to where I am today. In this place I have found a greater and more reliable light.

  27. Past Elder says:

    I like that “only convert worth reading” thing. That’s good!

    Unfortunately, Newman isn’t worth reading at all. Wonder what would happen if one of those bishops in the news asked to be buried with his “friend”.

    What the hell good is that greater and more reliable light of you can’t find it except by another light. A lighthouse like that isn’t worth jack.

    For that matter, what makes you think that something you found with an inferior light is what you think it is?

    It’s all private judgement. That’s why the creed as a conciliar statement of belief is in the plural, but prayed liturgically is in the singular.

    Oh I forgot, credo turned into credimus and that got Newmanised too.

  28. Past Elder says:

    Yo Mike, saying something is an a priori belief is saying something is an a priori belief.

    A priori beliefs are either legitimate or not as beliefs, and if legitimate then correct or not.

    Blindness, obstinacy and stupidity have nothing to do with it. You can be all of those things and still be right, you can be none of those things and still be wrong.

    Oh for the good old days, when statements said what they said and were debated accordingly, not What I heard you saying about me.

  29. Schütz says:

    The light shines in the darkness, PE, but the darkness does not comprehend it…

    The “inferior light” with which I found the “true light” was in fact a reflection of that “true light” itself. While outside the Catholic Church, I still had access to the means of Grace – God’s Word and Sacrament of Baptism.

  30. Past Elder says:

    False. The light you had before coming into the Catholic Church YOU now understand as a reflexion of the light you found inside it based on YOUR belief that it is so.

    Light is a tricky metaphor. Scripture warns lots of stuff can appear as light besides light.

    However, the good news is, while inside the Catholic Church you still have access to God’s Word and Baptism, and still have access to the sacrament of the altar too. Just like before.

  31. Christine says:

    I’m so glad I had Catholic family before my conversion.

    My Catholic dad lived through the same era that PE did, but continued to attend Mass even after Vatican II.

    Jolly sporting of PE to tell us Catholics we “still have access to God’s Word and Baptism, and still have access to the sacrament of the altar too. Just like before.”

    Oh I forgot, credo turned into credimus and that got Newmanised too. Get with the program, PE. It’s back to credo in the new missal.

    I love reading Newman, and I especially love some of the beautiful prayers he wrote. Too bad he’s no longer among the living, or PE could write to him too and tell him that the Catholic Church is no longer the Catholic Church :-)

  32. Past Elder says:

    Jolly sporting? Like Rome telling us we DON’T have access to the sacrament of the altar and aren’t churches in the proper sense? It ain’t about what’s sporting.

    Who cares if credo is back? Why should it have to be back? It was all that was ever there — in the creed, but not the Catholic Church, which being its own god, is in charge of creeds and everything though I guess and never changes even if it does.

  33. William Weedon says:

    Now, PE, looking at the Roman Church from the Lutheran perspective, I can definitely see much to thank God for in the “reform of the reform” – none other than Sasse, good friend of Cardinal Bea, was horrified by what happened liturgically in Rome in the name of V-2 and said that it looked like St. Zwingli presided over the reform of the liturgy. I applaud B-XVI’s restoration of the Latin Mass and seeking to curb the more, well, unfortunate excesses that flourished under the guise of following V-2’s reforms.

    I know it goes against David’s grain (so pardon), but I see such a huge commonality of lived experience in the Western Church that we can’t pretend that what happens to one part will not and does not affect the other. My Synod has been enormously impacted by V-2 and not all in good ways. I’m hopeful for the pendulum to swing a bit more toward the traditional rites of the West – for both Romans and Lutherans. [And Roman, for what it’s worth, is never a pejorative term when I use it – it simply describes someone under the Roman obedience; I can’t use Catholic for those submissive to the pope as though the term belonged to them alone. I don’t believe it does.]

  34. Schütz says:

    It doesn’t go against my grain at all, Pastor. In fact, it is PE’s assertion that there is NO commonality that goes against my grain. What I am really looking for from PE is less of the abuse and invective against the “Roman” church (as you call it – although I am directly under the Melburnian obedience) and some recognition (as you give) that something good is happening under the present and previous pontificates, that our Church is not the cess-pool of all error that he makes it out to be.

    One thing, please don’t refer to the POST-Vatican II liturgical reforms as “Vatican II reforms” – 95% of what was done had no mandate in the decrees of the Council. This is part of the genius of the current pontificate – he reminds us to distinguish between the Council itself and what was done “in its name”.

  35. William Weedon says:


    That’s why I said “in the name of Vatican II” – and “under the guise of following.”

    I think PE’s writings on the Rome show the shell-shock that that movie about the Irish priests who were forced to change the Mass (what was that thing called) portrayed so well. Isn’t it interesting that at the time of the Reformation, folks could end up in a Lutheran liturgy who were RC and saw the big difference only in the homily. [Of course, not being used to hearing any of the Canon, its absence would hardly be obvious, and the Lutherans in Saxony kept on ringing the sacring bells and numerous other ceremonies for some time (even into the late 1700’s). ] The Lutheran reform of the liturgy in the 16th century was probably LESS of a change overall than the difference between pre and post Vatican II Mass. Shoot, for centuries the Lutherans still sang the Latin ordinary to the traditional tones!

  36. Past Elder says:

    Bea? Holy crap, Bea was right up there with Frings — and his peritus, a certain Father Josef Ratzinger — in shouting down, literally, about the last man standing for Catholicism, Cardinal Ottaviani!

    There wouldn’t be a reform of the reform had the reform been a reform. That’s just Roman word play.

    Who published the novus ordo, the Jehovah’s Witnesses? Who allowed translations to stand for a generation that my high school Latin class would have failed if they turned in, Jimmy Swaggart?

    Well did they say back then, the Rhine has polluted the Tiber.

    We should leave Vatican II to what it was, an intramural event for that church body, rather than running panting after it like other heterodox churches do.

    Bea indeed.

  37. Christine says:

    The Lutheran reform of the liturgy in the 16th century was probably LESS of a change overall than the difference between pre and post Vatican II Mass. Shoot, for centuries the Lutherans still sang the Latin ordinary to the traditional tones!

    That’s quite true, Pastor Weedon but by the time my mother’s ancestors left Salzburg and settled in East Prussia the Lutheran worship she grew up on was considerably simplified. And has become even more so in the U.S.

    I’m glad that Pope Benedict is on a corrective course but I simply don’t feel the disconnect that traditionalist Catholics do. There’s certainly no evidence of “Zwingli” at my parish.

    As for the Vatican’s position on what she considers churches and ecclesial communities, there simply isn’t the same sacramental history as there is with the Orthodox.

  38. Past Elder says:

    David, I realise that a thing meaning what it means, the opposite, and whatever else in between may suggest itself is standard operating procedure for Rome, so let me make it as clear as I can — never, ever, did I nor do I maintain there is NO commonality between us and Rome.

    Let’s see, we say the catholic church can be found in the RCC because it has Scripture and Sacrament, including the Eucharist; you say we are not proper churches because we stand outside of the apostolic authority instituted by Christ himself as a result of which we have no true Eucharist, and YOU bitch about commonality?

    Anybody who things the “spirit” of Vatican II just exploded fully formed simply doesn’t know what happened — it is simply the farther left of the dissent that IS Vatican II.

    Oh my God, reform of the reform, look at all that, that’s not what they meant, holy crap, how did that happen?

    Who do you think let all of it of whatever shade, except observance of what came before, continue for a generation from parish, pulpit and podium, the Assemblies of God?

    What? Gas chambers? No way, never smelt a thing!

    Exactly, out beef with Rome is that it is not Catholic enough. And with Vatican II, it is even less so. Which is its only importance for us to recognise.

    The only thing Roman we need at this point is a good old Roman damnatio memoriae of the whole VII thing and get back to zealously guarding and defending the mass instead of slobbering around in early and late Bugnini.

  39. Schütz says:

    Wouldn’t you be happier though, PE, if the Churches in communion with Rome simply gave up trying to be “Catholic” and decided to live according to the Augustana?

  40. William Weedon says:

    It does bring the interesting question: from one who’s sat on both sides of this question (that would be both PE and David), what do you see as irreconcilable between “Catholic” and the Augustana?

  41. Christine says:

    We should leave Vatican II to what it was, an intramural event for that church body,

    Well, if PE is part of the “we” he doesn’t seem to be able to take his own advice. :-) The very fact that the presence of Catholic converts here riles him so much proves to me that he has not made peace with his Catholic past.

    Your beef is not only with Catholics, PE. The Orthodox don’t recognize Lutherans in an ecclesial way either.

  42. Past Elder says:

    The we is us Lutherans, who instead of leaving Vatican II for the massive fart in the Roman church that it was, go panting after its new worship when we’re not panting after Willow Creek and Rick Warren, either way resulting in a “comtemporary worship” quite apart from the catholic goals of our reformation.

    I don’t have a beef with Catholics. I have a beef with Lutherans who inhale this fart so deeply they go ad fontes, so to speak, to the orifice that produced it and think they’ve become Catholic.

    I don’t give a crap what the EO thinks of us. But at least Lutherans who go EO get Orthodoxy when they get there.

  43. Christine says:

    I don’t give a crap what the EO thinks of us.

    Not the point. The point being, again, that the Orthodox also don’t recognize the ecclesial status of Lutherans.

    But please do continue to point out to us that the Catholic Church is not the Catholic Church. We’ll just go right on acting like it is :-)

    As far as Lutherans who pant after Rome, which ones, even in the LCMS? I don’t think Jerry Kieschnick, who is all “ablaze”, is panting after Rome. Willow Creek might be his preferred paradigm, or maybe Water’s Edge, or “The Community of Hope” LCMS that is employing nonordained personnel to preach and teach?

  44. Past Elder says:

    Hell no Jerruh’s not panting after Rome, though he knows how to pack a decision making body as well as any pope (not being a pastor, I can say this stuff and not land in some DP’s office), I mean how for example a magnificent, stunningly magnificent, version of our Common Service and Western lectionary and calendar can turn up right alongside the latest version of Vatican II For Lutherans with its novus ordo rites, lectionary and calendar, all of it as “liturgy” when part of it is the historic liturgy and part of it Rome’s new replacement of it — the latter being different than cutting and pasting from Willow Creek’s site in the sources from which it is cut and pasted. But that’s a Lutheran issue, not really relevant here, except you ask which Lutherans. Those ones, infected by the post-conciliar virus but not fatally to where they jump in the Tiber, where Rome always threw the bodies of its victims.

  45. Christine says:

    I mean how for example a magnificent, stunningly magnificent, version of our Common Service and Western lectionary and calendar can turn up right alongside the latest version of Vatican II For Lutherans

    Oh, stop your kvetching :-) In the E?CA’s (patent pending)new worship book they have 7 or 8 worship settings! But on point, that seems to go all the way back to the pan-Lutheran effort that resulted in the LBW. Seems to have carried over. But I could be completely wrong on that, I haven’t traveled in those circles in a long time.

    where Rome always threw the bodies of its victims.

    Yessir, especially that long list of confessors and martyrs that are honored in the Roman liturgy!

  46. Past Elder says:

    Yes it is the LBW, you’re quite right on that. First time I saw it, it was a copy given to me by one of the now-E?CA’s liturgists (I was years from being Lutheran at the time) and I thought, if this is all they got it’s just warmed-over novus ordo and if I wanted that I’d stick with the original instead of some wannabe.

  47. Christine says:

    I’m going to go home and review my old copy of the LBW. I really don’t see it as a “Vatican II” for Lutherans as you do, PE. The Eucharistic prayers alone fall short of that, the commemorations of the saints are taken almost word for word from the Book of Common Prayer and reflect the later Anglican rejection of the Mass as sacrifice, as are many of the collects, and the liturgical structure still feels very “Lutheran” to me as it was when I was growing up.

    I don’t buy it.

  48. Christine says:

    Further, the next time you hear Lutherans chanting the Litany of the Saints at a baptism then I’ll concede that the LBW was the “Vatican II” for Lutherans.

  49. Past Elder says:

    I didn’t say it was Vatican II, for Judas falling down the stairs sake. I said it was Vatican II For Lutherans.

  50. William Weedon says:

    I’d dearly love to see you two having a conversation face to face – I’ll bet it would be a hoot and a half!

    We can say that LBW was certainly influenced in large part by the same theology that influenced the reform of the Mass in V2, can we not? Granted, it was Lutheran theologians filtering their understanding of the Roman reforms, but it was still pretty clear. Dr. Tim Quill has done a marvelous work tracing the influences in his *The Impact of the Liturgical Movement on American Lutheranism.*

    What I don’t understand is my dear friend PE’s attitude that to be V2 automatically renders a development problematic. There were things that came from V2 that have been a blessing indeed: the first reading from the Old Testament (or Acts in Easter); the praying aloud of the Canon (you’ll grant, Christine, that as a Lutheran that weighs heavy) so that the Verba are heard; the use of vernacular; the restoration of the intercessions of the people. In each case, there was a “going back” to an older tradition than what was the immediate practice of the Pre-V2 Church, and each had about it a very pastoral concern.

    So though I wish that the Reform had been a more literal translating of the Latin Mass into English and not playing with the Kyrie and such, yet as I use our Lutheran version of the pre-V2 liturgies: Divine Service, Setting Three, I am thankful for an Old Testament reading, for a prayer of the Church that is not invariably fixed, and for a version of the Scriptures to read that is intelligible, yet dignified, modern English.

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