I reckon Pastor William Weedon has been reading Peter Holmes’ story of how he sought and entered the Catholic Church.
Here is a snippet of a post he recently wrote:
A Lot of the Angst that seems to afflict folks nowadays is about where final confidence is reposed. I think that those who take their faith seriously are faced with two options: you can rest your final confidence in the outward communion of some Church (and hope that you happened to pick the right one!) or
you can rest your final confidence in the promises of God’s Word.
God’s Word says: “Whoever calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” God’s Word says: “Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved.” God’s Word says: “This is my body given for you, for the forgiveness of sins.” God’s Word says: “If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven; if you retain them, they are retained.” Are these promises of God’s Word reliable? Do they mean exactly what they say?, Or is there a hidden clause that runs behind them: PROVIDED you are in the communion of the one and only true Church of Christ, for only there do the promises of God’s Word hold true for you.
And here is my comment (which came in at number 31 on his blog–so I figured that unless I put it up here, no-one–maybe not even Pastor Weedon himself–would ever read it):
In your original post, Pastor, you gave two sorts of examples of God’s promises:
The first pair said: “Whoever calls on the name of the Lord will be saved” and “Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved.” The second pair said: “This is my body given for you, for the forgiveness of sins” and “If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven; if you retain them, they are retained.”
I know you didn’t make the distinction between the two sets of promises–that is my distinction and (I think) the Church’s also. The first set pertain to personal salvation. In this, there is no argument. ANYONE (no matter what heretical sect they normally belong to) who calls on the name of the Lord WILL be saved, and ANYONE (no matter what heretical sect they belong to) who believes in Christ and has been baptised (presumably in the manner instituted by Christ) WILL be saved.
But concerning the other two promises, it is important to
ask: What do these promises actually say? For they concern specifics: “This” and “You”. What is the “This”? and who are the “You”? In the former case the promise does not pertain to the bread and wine on my dinner table, nor, in the latter case, does the promise pertain to Joe Bloggs down in the pub. Obviously the “This” and the “You” about which these promises are made pertain to particular bread and wine and to particular persons.
It is therefore not unreasonable for individuals with full faith in these promises to seek that particular bread and wine and those particular persons to whom these promises pertain.
I liked your comment on his blog, I even added one myself. Like you, I couldn’t resist posting my response on my own blog :)
In particular I thought your
“What do these promises actually say? For they concern specifics: “This” and “You”. What is the “This”? and who are the “You”?”
Unfortunately WW has neglected to answer your question.
Had I? I didn’t mean to. The promises regarding the Supper were given to the Apostles, who stood there for both Church and the Holy Ministry. Since the “given for you and shed for you” indicate that the Eucharist is for the whole people of God, for whom the body was given and the blood shed, then the Eucharist properly speaking belongs to the whole people of God and not to the clerics alone.
Similarly regarding the Keys, which in John 20 are entrusted to the Apostles, in Matt 16 to Blessed Peter and in Matt 28 to the church herself.
NOT Matt 28. Where did that come from!!! IN Matt 18! Sorry for the mistype.
So, indeed, you are back at the point at which you began, Pastor, and for which you criticise us and those like us.
I do not believe that it is a correct interpretation to say that when Christ gave his promise to the apostles he was giving to “both Church and the Holy Ministry”–at least not as if one could be separated from the other. He gave it to the Church, yes, but by giving it to the Apostolic Ministry, which, even by Lutheran Confessional standards, alone have the duty to administer Word and Sacrament. So the Church cannot “take” the Word and Sacraments from the Apostolic Ministry and claim them apart from that ministry.
Which, as I said, lands us back at the point for which you criticise us: ie. looking for the Church and the Ministry which indeed is Apostolic, and to whom indeed these promises were given in the first place.
These promises do not, for instance, apply to the local Rotary club. And even if the local Rotary Club claimed to be “the Church”, these promises still would not belong to them. It is our conviction that not every community which calls itself “the Church of Christ” actually is so. And you would agree (eg. we would both agree that the Church of Jesus Christ and the Latter Day Saints is not “the Church” to whom Christ made these promises).
Therefore our search for “the Church” and “the apostolic ministry” is NOT as unfaithful as you made it to seem in your original post.
But David, does it not strike you that the Church resides her confidence in the Word of God which the Apostolic Ministry is indeed established to deliver to her; but it does not follow from that that whatever those in the Ministry hold forth IS necessarily that Word of God.
She (including each baptized Christian) has the task and the responsibility to judge what her shepherds hold forth.
St. Paul reminds that it is possible to build upon the foundation with wood, hay, and stubble and not just with gold, silver, and precious stones.
“Test everything” He told the Thessalonians. “Beware of false prophets” our Lord warned all his disciples. “I commend you to God and to the Word of His truth which is able to built you up and to give you an inheritance” the Apostle told the Ephesian elders after warning them that heresy would arise from their own teachers.
We remember the lesson of Honorarius. It is true that a pope can err, a council can err, and a simple pastor can err. Therefore the Baptized have recourse to that which does not err and which cannot lead them astray – the Spirit-inspired Scriptures in which is enshrined in the living and apostolic Gospel itself.
By the way, David, did you ever, as a Lutheran pastor, have the opportunity to read/critique your fellow Australian Marquart’s book *The Church*? I’d be curious of your impressions of it, if you had.
I’m sorry, I didn’t quite understand your first paragraph.
As to whether or not what the Apostolic Ministry teaches is the word of God, well, I simply believe the promises of Christ and his Word here: such as “on this rock I will build my Church and the gates of hell will not prevail against it” and “I will give you the Holy Spirit and he will lead you into all Truth” and “He who hears you hears me” etc. etc.
Yes, test the false prophets, but by what are you going to test them if not the Apostolic Word? — Which is not just preserved in the Scriptures, but also in the Church which “is the pillar of truth”?
Indeed Popes are human and can err. Infallibility applies to only very special circumstances. I do not believe that any pronouncement of Honorius actually applies to these circs, and I know from history that despite the erring of one man, the whole Church was not derailed (as indeed Christ promised).
Take a good look at Tertullian’s argumentation in “De praescriptione haereticorum” on the apostolic nature of the Church and on the need for continuity with origins. This is not new theology we are talking about.
No, unfortunately I never did read that book. Marquart was generally well received here, but in the end did not generate much of a following. Ecclesiology is not a strong point in the LCA. I will look the book up. Perhaps Fraser or some other LCA pastor could loan it to me?
Yep, I’ve got Marquart. And you may borrow it, old man.
I was given a copy of one of Marquart’s books by a pastor of a breakaway Lutheran group (apologies for the tautology) who also gave me Walther’s Law and Gospel. He seemed to think the seminary weren’t likely to use them.
Fraser may recall Marquart coming to the Lutheran seminary as a guest lecturer on liturgical music and hymnody. His points were valid, and he stood calmly and intelligently in the face of ‘Church Growthers’ who ranted about ‘musical relevence’. But I was dissapointed in his answers on authority.
He cited very good sources, ancient to modern, but in the end was forced to admit that others may read the same sources differently, and that his only answer to those different readings was that, in his personal opinion, they had misread the sources.
Back to square one.
I only heard him speak once, and that was not at his best. I think he was already sick by then. He tried to use, I think the analogy of the ship, and had no answer to those who asked what we were to do if the ship was taken over by others and was firing at the homeland. It was quite an uncomfortable moment, as I recall.
Did you have the chance to read the book, then? Fraser, what did you think of his argumentation?