Pastor Weedon sent me this link to a post on his blog about a pastors conference he attended with a couple of very good speakers, Rev. William Cwirla (“The Art of Dying”) and Prof. Jeff Gibbs (“Resurrection”). The topic certainly gets to the heart of the matter.
In his email to me, Pastor William rightly noted my fondness for N.T. Wright (mind you, I don’t think Wright fully grasps what Ratzinger was saying in his book “Eschatology” on a number of points). He writes:
I remember in a Wrightish way you objected to the line “mount triumphant to the skies.” [In the German funeral hymn “This body in the grave we lay”] After this presentation, checked out the German and it is not there. Rather, simply raised again in incorruption! Wright would likely be happy with that, no?
Indeed! Schütz too!
There are a number of issues that Pastor Weedon reports on that some may find suprising, for instance, prayer for the dead in Lutheranism.
The substitution of the meta-narrative that has prevailed through so much of Christianity – where “heaven” is the goal and death is just the gateway to heaven, and can stop the story without reckoning with the Appearing of our Lord and the joy of resurrection on that day – is perhaps the main culprit in the loss of prayer for the dead among us. We forget that the dead await the Resurrection – and the martyrs under the altar impatiently! “How long, O Lord?”
One of the strengths of Lutheran theology (and Anglican also, as in the case of Tom Wright), is that its best practicioners are strongly aware of the necessity of constantly callibrating their theology with the New Testament. Catholic theologians also, at their best, are aware of this necessity. As Tom Wright so brilliantly demonstrates, there are always new possibilities, fresh insights, thrown up by this process. Catholic theologians have the additional task of calibrating their theology to the ongoing tradition as well. This is a challenge all of its own, but no less capable of fruitful outcomes. Hence my comment earlier about Wright not being as successful as Ratzinger in grasping some of the authentic New Testament perspectives that actually were preserved in the on-going tradition.
Thanks, in any case, for this report, Pastor Weedon.