I’m sure he didn’t mean it as it sounds, but this comment by the Rev. Dr David Stolz (recently retired long serving President/bishop of the Victorian District of the Lutheran Church of Australia) from a “scoop” interview in the February edition of The Lutheran) is really quite scandalous taken at face value:
Lutheran congregations with an empahsis on holy living are disloyal to Luther’s teaching, which holds law and gospel in creative tension.
Yes, Dr Stolz, Lutheranism does (or at least, Lutheran theologians do) hold law and gospel in creative tension, but not sin and holy living! Even in the Lutheran rite of confession and absolution, the penitent is asked “Do you intend, with the help of the Holy Spirit, to lead a holy life, even as Christ has made you holy?” In that sense, ALL LCA parishes should be emphasising “holy living”.
What Dr Stolz is attacking is what he calls “Baptocostalism” (what a wonderful word!), by which he means “the emphasis on holy living and personal piety that is a primary feature of the teaching and practice of the Reformed churches.” He is refering to terms like “purpose-driven life” or “living your life for God” or “wanting to follow Jesus.”
One knows what he means. Or does one? At least the last two of these three terms are core Christian ideals. One wonders what the good Doctor would make of Pope John Paul II’s insistence that “we are all called to be saints”? Of course, we are aware that Lutheranism has the doctrine of “simul justus et peccator”, but this doctrine is supposed to be comfort to sinners in distress, not to make complacent sinners comfortable!!!
In any case, the seriousness with which the Catholic Church takes holy living is one of the great differences I have noticed about life as a Catholic compared to life as a Lutheran.
Footnote: The same edition of the Lutheran has no less than five letters against evolution, several of them exhibiting what can only be a “young earth” theology. Issue was apparently taken with an article by Pastor John Pfitzner about global warming, in which he stated that “Whole ecosystems will be undermined [by global warming] with unknown impacts on food chains. In the past, plants and animals have had millions of years to adapt to changing climatic conditions.”
The issue is with the word “millions”. One letter states: “This comment seems to border on evolutionary thinking. Where does Pastor Pfitzner stand with death coming into the world only after the fall of Adam and Eve?” Another: “Flora and fauna have not had millions of years to adapt in the past, as Pastor Pfitzner asserts. The earth’s not that old.” And another: “Evolution is not an option for Christians!” And we thought Catholics were having difficulty coming to grips with science!