Over at “Always Yes”, Tom Pietsch has been making predictions and scorning them. I guess the new year is a good time for predictions. I note that Fr Neuhaus (in the December edition of First Things) has been talking about predictions too. Here is one from Andrew Greely in 1987:
The power of the pope definitely will shrink. Today we are experiencing the last gasp of a dying order, and in 20 years it will be gone.
. Fr Neuhaus comments: “Which helps explain why we try to keep out of the prediction business.”
Ah, but does he follow his own advice? No, for only a few paragraphs later we find him endorsing Robert Jenson’s cautious prediction (based largely on Philip Jenkins’ theory upon which Tom has also blogged):
If present trends continue, the ecumene of the century now beginning will comprise Orthodoxy, Pentecostalist groups and predominantly the Roman Catholic Church; the Protestant denominations and territorial churches will have sunk into insignificance-but again, present trends of course do not always continue.
The context of this endorsement appears to be Fr Neuhaus’ own belief that in the future sometime soon, Robert Jenson will follow the many other Lutheran theologians who have swum the Tiber:
Jens, as he is known, is still a Lutheran. (Why won’t my delete key delete that still?)
I’m not so sure. But I do know that one Sunday on his visit to Melbourne a year or two back, Pastor/Dr Jenson was found worshipping–not in Holy Trinity Lutheran Church–but across the road in St Patrick’s Cathedral…
Neuhaus is quoting Jenson from an interview for the Christian Century, in which Jenson also says of ex-Lutheran clergy converts and the Catholic Church:
I think one thing is common to all or most of them: they intend to inhabit the one, historically real church confessed by the creeds, and could no longer recognize this in their Protestant denominations. And indeed, if the church of the creeds does not, as the Second Vatican Council put it, ’subsist in’ the Roman Catholic Church, it is hard to think where it could.
I would be tempted to say that there is a guy on the shores of the Tiber with his toes in the water, if it were not for the fact that I have known others (or at least one other) who has gotten that far and yet never taken the plunge (and does not seem to be likely to take the plunge in the near future).
For those of you who are interested, in the same First Things column, Father Neuhaus deconstructs Pastor/Dr Frank Senn’s open letter to members of the Society of the Holy Trinity. At least some Lutheran pastors remained convinced that the Church of the Creeds “subsists” in the Lutheran Church–as well they should if they intend to remain there.