And another one bites the dust…

There can’t be terribly many Lutheran pastors left in the US these days. They’ve all either gone to Rome or Constantinople. The latest one to go down this road (or, to be specific, the latter road) is “Fr Fenton” at the Conversi ad Dominum blogsite.

I wish him and his family all the best, as they undoubtably face the same struggle that all converts do.

But my mate Peter Holmes in Sydney has a saying with which seems to apply in this case: “ABC: Anything But Catholic”.

When I realised I could no longer remain as a member of the Lutheran Church, one pastor said to me, “What about Orthodoxy?”. But it was never really an option, for two simple reasons:

1) I am a western Christian, and (even if the Pope doesn’t use this title anymore) the Bishop of Rome is the Patriarch of the West and it was with him that I had to seek communion

2) In the end, there is only one meaning of Catholic that cuts the ice, and that is “in communion with the Pope”. Any other meaning and you’re simply making it up as you go along.

Fr Fenton says in his resignation letter that he is glad to be entering “the true visible Church of Christ on earth”. Well, yes he is, in that the Orthodox Church is acknowledge by all to be an authentic part of the “true visible Church”, by virtue of their valid bishops and sacraments. He is certainly more closely in communion with me now than he was as a Lutheran. But to talk of “THE Orthodox Church”, seems a little naive, when there are so many Orthodox Churches, and they are for ever in and out of communion with one another. The Orthodox Churches are consigned hopelessly to being ethnic churches.

If I may add a 3rd point to the two above, there is another thing about the Catholic Church. It has to be catholic, ie. universal. “The Orthodox Church” is a communion (more or less) of true visible local churches, but can they really claim to be “THE true visible Church of Christ on earth”?

I respect Fr Fenton’s decision. It just wasn’t mine, for the reasons stated. But because the Orthodox Churches are true Churches (if not THE true Church), I am sure that he and his family will find the peace they seek.

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31 Responses to And another one bites the dust…

  1. Anonymous says:

    “Well, yes he is, in that the Orthodox Church is acknowledge by all to be an authentic part of the “true visible Church”, by virtue of their valid bishops and sacraments.”

    Sir, If I may…would you mind listing what you believe (and why) to be all the “authentic parts” of the true visible church?

    I ask because I consider both the Catholic Church and Orthodoxy

  2. john w fenton says:

    Hi David,

    Thanks for the kind and pointed words. For the record, I seriously considered the Roman Church for the very reasons you listed. In the end I was not persuaded by the ABC method. Rather, I was persuaded against Rome due to some serious theological (i.e., historical & doctrinal) issues which are well known; but chiefly by a key liturgical issue, namely the adoption of the Novus Ordo. Now, if it were 1962… :)

  3. Schütz says:

    I would not have expected anything less of you, Father — or should I now say (for a little while at least–I presume and pray you will be ordained again soon?) “Mr” Fenton.

    Yes, things with the Novus Ordo mass can be a little dreary at times–at least in the way in which it is carried out in many circumstances. But there is no question of Novus Ordo mass being a true and valid form of the Western rite. And it can (or could?) be very beautiful when done in Latin with all the attendant ceremonies.

    I have just finished reading a book about primacy that arose from the 2003 Catholic Orthodox symposium hosted by the PCPCU (Kasper’s mob). You might enjoy it, as it is very clarifying as to Catholic and Orthodox positions on that score at least. It is called “The Petrine Ministry”, edited by Walter Kasper and published by The Newman Press.

  4. Christopher Orr says:

    Nice comments on Fr. Fenton’s journey.

    I probably fell into the category of ABC when I converted to Orthodoxy from the Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod (WELS), but I very much appreciated how Orthodoxy simply bypassed the scholastic back and forth between Protestants and Catholics. Khomiakov’s axiom that they are simply the two sides of the same coin resonated with me. Orthodoxy seemed to cut to a deeper core of the faith, even in all its ‘development’, than did Roman Catholicism.

    A couple of questions.

    1. Was the Church ‘catholic’ when it was primarily an eastern Mediterranean Church? How about on Pentecost when it was located totally in Jerusalem? What about prior to Christian missionaries arriving in southern African and east Asia, or the New World, or Australia? It seems as if ‘catholic’ must mean something other than universal ‘geographic coverage’ if the Church was Catholic at these times.

    2. What Orthodox Churches being in and out of communion with each other are you talking about? The various Orthodox Churches are simply the autonomous synods of bishops in various regions. They are all in communion with each other – much more so than were the five ancient patriarchates during much of the first millenium, in fact. Their autonomy from each other should not be construed as a breach of communion – the Orthodox Church’s head is Christ, and not a particular see or bishop.

    (The closest to schism that one could point to would be ROCOR, which was a break resulting from the Bolshevik Revolution and that is being healed in the next month or so. The Old Calendarist groups are really a very small example of the Orthodox faithful. Pointing to them would be like pointing to LeFebvre in a RC context).

    I look forward to checking in periodically.

  5. Schütz says:

    Dear Anonymous,

    I think your suggestion is a very good idea, and I will blog on that very issue in the near future. It is an important question. Suffice it to say at the moment that what must be considered is partly the relationship between the Universal and the Local Church. Every true Local Church (eg. the local diocese or Eparchy) is “Church” in the fullest sense, but it bears an essential relation to the Church as a universal whole that must be considered.

  6. Schütz says:

    Dear Christopher,

    Just quickly, as I think I will deal with your questions in the same blog that I deal with “Anon’s”.

    1) The question of the Universal and Local churches was dealt with very well in the exchange between Ratzinger and Kasper a few years back in America Magazine, which raises what it means to be “Catholic” when the Church was just the Church in Jerusalem on the day of Pentecost. I will see if I can find copies of the material on the web. By the time the Church was “primarily an Eastern and Mediterranean church” it was also established in Rome, the centre of the Empire, so there has always been a “western” church. Even St Paul spoke of going to visit the Church in Spain!

    2) The relationship between the Moscow Patriarchate and the Ecumenical Patriarchate is one case that comes to mind (evidenced in the current stoush going on in England where the Russian Orthodox bishop shifted his allegiance from Moscow to the Ecumenical Patriarchate, with the result that Moscow replaced him with a new bishop–I’m not sure of the details, but I would be surprised if that didn’t cause some break down in “communion”). Another would be the relationship between the Greek Orthodox Church and the Macedonion Orthodox. Again, I am not sure of the details, but it gets messy. And then (at least locally here) there is tension between the Antiochians and the Greeks. And then at the recent meeting of Catholics and Orthodox there was a dispute between Moscow and the Constinopolitans over the authority of the Ecumenical Patriarch…

  7. FredricJEinstein says:

    Dear David,
    As a student of John Fenton’s and a sometimes teacher of his, I too am following John in leaving the “warm embrace” of Lutheranism. However, like you, I am being catechized (God willing) to join the Roman Church, hopefully on this coming Easter.

    Your statements of “being a westerner” are what caused me to depart from the path that my teacher John Fenton took and to seek the “true visible catholic Church” by seeking entry into the Roman Catholic Church.

    Being somewhat knowledgable in Hebraic (Talmudic and Midrashic studies — having attended an ultra-orthodox Jewish yeshiva in my youth), my reasonings for “going to Rome” was seeing the fulfillment of the division of the 12 tribes in the regional autocephalous Churches of our age (Rome for the Western Christian, Greek for the Eastern Christian).

    The school of R Yannai (which flourished about 130 years before the Messiah) taught that priests of each of the 12 tribes performed different liturgies peculiar to their tribe in their service in the Holy Temple. All of these liturgies were valid and beloved by God when done rightly with the correct intent. (see Talmudic tractate Menachos daf 48B). However, the priests from a tribe were NOT ALLOWED to perform the liturgy (called a “nu’sach” in Hebrew) of another tribe.

    Extending this into our day, when the Temple service has been fulfilled by the coming of Messiah, since God made me a westerner of German-Jewish descent, that I belong with the “order” of the Western Church, not the east. In this we are in agreement.

    However, I MUST disagree with your defense of the liturgy of Buginini used by the Roman Church today as their liturgy. I have been to “beautiful” Novus Ordo Masses in Latin and with proper Gregorian chant. However, BEAUTY is unfortunatly NOT the deciding factor of what God wants from our service. What God commanded in Exodus, Leviticus, and Numbers MUST BE FULFILLED by the Mass. The St. Gregory Mass fulfills the Temple Service perfectly. The Buginini “Mass” does not.

    The various insundry Buginini liturgies (the Novus Ordo let’s you “choose” the liturgy that you want) are NOT the liturgy passed down by St. Peter to St. Gregory! This Novus Ordo liturgy was made up by a bunch of hacks who proclaimed the “perfection of the modern man” (see Buginini’s writings where he waxes prolific about the wondrous perfection of modern man) as the basis for their “Mass’s” intentions.

    In contrast, The St. Gregory Mass (as typified in the Holy Tridentine Mass), like the St. John Chrysostom/St. Basil Divine Liturgies, are perfect fullfillments of the liturgy of the Holy Temple. All the elements that were present in the Temple service find fruition in the Holy Mass of St. Gregory — the elevation from one “Temple gate to the next” (see Dovid HaMelech’s Te’hi’llim — Shir Ha’maalos — that is “A Song of Ascents”), the inner courtyard of the Holy of Holies finds absolute fruition when the priest enters the “secret” inner gates of the sanctuary to consecrate Christ’s Body and Blood etc etc etc. Contrast this “ascent to the Holy of Holies” to the Novus Ordo crap of “serving the fellowship Communion meal” at a “table” (NOT an altar!!!) and putting the priest on an equal spiritual level with the laity….

    Thus, John Fenton’s decision to NOT go to Rome is justified by Rome’s tragic mistakes in our generation (may they correct the error of their ways soon thropriest in the Orthodox Church — God willing). Thus, as a layman, I can choose to attend the Tridentine Mass here in Detroit and pray that Rome’s errors will be corrected by the Holy Father Benedict in our day. I will have performed my duty at the Tridentine Mass that I attend and will be rightly communed at Christ’s sacred altar.

    In John’s case, had he become a Roman Catholic priest, he would have been FORCED to serve the heretical Novus Ordo Mass. This was intolerable to him as a Christian and as a God-fearing priest. Thus, his decision to enter the Orthodox priesthood, where he is free to administer Holy Communion in the way taught to the Church by the Holy Spirit, is the right one.

    Sorry to be so long-winded, but as a close friend of John’s, I had to “jump in” and clarify. Again, BEAUTY DOTH NOT MAKE A LITURGY VALID!!!!


    Fredric J. Einstein

  8. FredricJEinstein says:

    I apologize for the poor grammer in my preceding post. The blog software kind of lost some of my text. What I meant to say was…

    …tragic mistakes in our generation (may they correct the error of their ways soon through the God-given wisdom of our Holy Father Benedict– God willing).

    Sorry bout that….

  9. Schütz says:

    Um, ah, well… golly. There’s a hell of a lot in that, Frederic, which needs some comment. I guess we agree on two things: 1) The Church of Rome, and 2) that Beauty is not what makes a valid mass (equally ugliness does not make a mass invalid!), but there are just so many other issues mixed up here that I am not quite sure what to say.

    Perhaps email me and we will have a longer chat about these things.

    The only thing I will say is, don’t become a Roman if you can’t submit to Rome. Rule no. 1. That’s what becoming a Catholic is about. You give up your protestant private judgment (although not, of course, your conscience). And the Roman Church is a Roomy Church. There’s a wide, wide range of opinions out there among your brothers and sisters which don’t accord with the teaching of magisterium, but you have to live with them and love them, and worship with them on Sunday.

    Just like the Lutheran Church really…

  10. Fr John Boyle says:

    My message to John Fenton:

    I would like to wish you God’s blessing as you journey closer to the full communion of the faith of the apostles. The Orthodox Churches are held as true apostolic Churches by the Catholic Church. We honour them as true ‘sister’ Churches. I note two reasons for not going to Rome which you posted at Sentire cum ecclesia (not being convinced by the ABC method, and reservations about the Novus Ordo.

    I did think that ABC referred to the the method of AIDS prevention that has been adopted in some countries. Of course the Catholic Church does not endorse this, only the AB part. However, I have since found it does not refer to this at all but to ‘anything but Catholic’.

    As regards the Novus Ordo, many might say it has its faults, but as one who celebrates it daily, I can testify that when it is celebrated in accord with the norms and with a true liturgical and traditional mind, it is very beautiful. And of course a key thing which acceptance of the Novus Ordo implies is the acceptance of the authority of the Church (Pope, as Vicar of Christ, and Bishops in communion with him) over matters liturgical. Should the Church reform the liturgy so as to reintroduce some of the things lost since 1962, I would welcome some of these. But, in the meantime, I observe faithfully what Holy Mother Church directs. I have no doubt that what the Catholic Church preaches and practises is the faith and practice of the apostles.

    Having said that, you are seeking reception into a true Church, and I rejoice in that. I pray for the eventual full communion between the Catholic Church and the Orthodox Churches, as was the intense desire of our late Holy Father Pope John Paul II, and is today the desire of Pope Benedict.

    Please pray for your Catholic brothers and sisters.

  11. Schütz says:

    Father Boyle, thank you for saying so beautifully what I fully feel myself.

    And Frederic, I hope you also find some wisdom in Fr Boyle’s words!

  12. Fraser Pearce says:

    Does anyone (including Fr Fenton!) want to comment on Fr Fenton’s considering as a deficency the view that Jesus died to appease the Father’s wrath?

    I’m all ears; I’d be happy to receive links to papers that give a critique of the B of C on this point.

    In Christ,


  13. Birkholz says:


    Pr. Fenton addresses this in a prior blog entry here:


  14. Ken Welsh says:

    Mr. Einstein

    You said…

    “This Novus Ordo liturgy was made up by a bunch of hacks who proclaimed the “perfection of the modern man”


    “to the Novus Ordo crap”

    I have to ask, if the Tridentine Mass was not available in your area or not at all…would you still be seeking communion with Rome??

  15. Ken says:

    Fredric Eistein said…

    “In John’s case, had he become a Roman Catholic priest, he would have been FORCED to serve the heretical Novus Ordo Mass.”

    This makes no sense. You are seeking communion with Rome and in the same breath call them heretics by calling their Mass heretical.

    Is this not the same argument you used concerning the Lutheran church?


    Are you prepared to submit to Rome or not?

  16. FredricJEinstein says:

    Thanks for all of your criticisms of my prior comments and I guess that according to you all, I am not a good candidate for entry into the Roman Church. Luckily you guys “caught me in time”!!

    I guess that maybe I’m not prepared to “submit to Rome” (if being served a Buganini “mass” is a requirement for “submitting to Rome”) in terms of fulfilling the “sacrifice of the Mass” at a Novus Ordo Mass. Luckily though, as a layman, I have the opportunity to have the St. Gregory Mass celebrated for me. Maybe I should just attend the local St. Gregory Mass and not seek admission into the Roman Church.

    If I did NOT have the opportunity to have the Tridentine Mass celebrated for me, I would have NEVER considered being catechized into the Roman Catholic Church because of the reasons that I wrote in my initial posting (that most of you have not the slightest inkling of understanding).

    I feel most sorry for you priests whose bishops discourage the Holy St. Gregory Mass as ours in Detroit does. Luckily, I can escape the clutches of your unrighteous bishops in time!

    Thanks for your hateful and ignorant comments and good riddance to the dying (if not already dead) Roman Catholic Church.

  17. Ken says:

    Frederic Einstein said…

    “Maybe I should just attend the local St. Gregory Mass and not seek admission into the Roman Church.”

    Mr. Einstein, Are you implying that if the local Anglican or Methodist or Baptist church happened to celebrate the Gregorian Mass, then they to would be on your list of possibles and you would consider them to be the “Church” also?

    “If I did NOT have the opportunity to have the Tridentine Mass celebrated for me, I would have NEVER considered being catechized into the Roman Catholic Church”

    One must submit to the Church…not in part but completely. You can not decide for the Church which Mass is valid or not, which Mass has valid-licit sacraments and so forth.

    This sounds like the Protestant way and if I may say…”every man a pope”

    “Thanks for your hateful and ignorant comments and good riddance to the dying (if not already dead) Roman Catholic Church.”

    Hate was not my intention and I have expressed only that one submits, and not to their own whims but to the Church. There is no ignorance in this. Have you spoke to your local Bishop and told him you are seeking communion with Rome and that you also consider the Novus Ordo to be heretical?

    I apologize for the offense…non was ment.


  18. Anonymous says:

    I wanted to know, if any of you had heard of the Western Rite in the Antiochian Orthodox Church in North America. Now I have been Orthodox for my whole life and I consider myself an “Eastern Riter”, if you will, in the Antiochian Archdiocese, but I have gone to many Western Rite services. I have always felt a strong draw towards the Tridentine Mass and towards the Western Rite expression of the Eastern Orthodox faith, I don’t think of it as a type of “foriegn” thing but one that is inherently Orthodox, if you accept the few revisions made by the Holy Synod of Moscow in the early 1900’s. What do you think of the Western Rite? I also open this question to all other readers of this blog. Here’s the link to the Archdiocese page on the history of the Western Rite:


    p.s. I realy enjoy your blog David, keep up the good work.

  19. Schütz says:

    Good God, a man goes away for the weekend and discovers that all hell has broken loose on his blogsite!

    I’m glad to see such energetic discussion of a truly worthy topic. I wonder what Fr Fenton is making of all this!?

    I must say, Frederic, that I am rather with Ken on this discussion. Please do not call people “hateful” or “ignorant” on my site. It isn’t nice. “Niceness” isn’t the most important value in the world, but it is a little sad when we give it up for no good purpose.

    Please take to heart Ken’s admonitions. They are well meant. When I became a Catholic I did so for three reasons: Authenticity, Continuity, and Authority. All three apply to the Church in relation to the Novus Ordo.

    It is authentic in that it is a valid celebration of the Eucharist; it is continuous with the ancient Western Rite (although the mode of its introduction lacked pastoral care and true organic development); and it has the full authority of the Holy Father, who, acting within the Church, has the right to promulgate changes to the liturgy.

    And this authority/authenticity/continuity, as far as I see it, is the only really valid reason for giving up Protestantism for Catholicism. If you cannot recognise this authority/authenticy/continuity in the Church of Rome, then I strongly advise you, for the sake of your conscience, not to commit yourself to it in any form. You might in fact be perjuring yourself on the day of your reception. A thing that would lead more surely to your condemnation than to your salvation.

  20. Schütz says:

    And, no, I haven’t heard of the Western Rite in the Antiochian Church, Anonymous. Do tell us more.

    I had heard, some time ago, of some Orthodox who had come into communion with some Lutherans and developed an “Eastern Lutheran Rite”!

    Interestingly too, the only attempt to establish an “Australian Orthodox Church” was made by a group here in Melbourne who were in communion with the Antiochians (but not the Greeks).

    I have a lot of respect for the Antiochian Church. The local variety are very good to get along with.

  21. Tony Bartel says:

    Re: The Tridentine Mass

    I sometimes in my more malicious moments do wish that Pope Benedict would require every parihs to have a Tridentine Mass every week.

    At the moment the Tridentine Mass is celebrated by priests who are very eager to celebrate it well and you have supportive laity who understand this form of the Mass.

    If every parish had to do this at least once a week, you would have not a few priests celebrating it in a sloppy and undiginified manner and laity not engaging with what was happening.

    In other words, a great deal of the so called beauty of the Tridentine Mass is the careful attention and preparation that is given to it by the clergy and laity. Take that away, and the Tridentine Mass would become once again what it was in so many places before Vatican II.

    So I agree with Herr Schutz. The Missal of Paul VI can be a thing of great beauty which it is carefully prepared and celebrated with love and devotion. I would add that it can even be so in the vernacular!

  22. Schütz says:

    Good point, Tony.

  23. William Weedon says:


    If you write me ( I can share a paper with you that probably explains a bit of former Father Fenton’s concern with the reconciliation of the Father language of AC III and other places. But do bear in mind the following patristic citations which an Orthodox brother very kindly gathered together:

    Patristic Citations Regarding Divine Justice, Substitution and Propitiation
    as Aspects of the Atonement
    Compiled by Ephrem Hugh Bensusan, L.Th.
    Blogger’s Note: I find these quotations interesting because they question the popular understanding of the differences between Eastern and Western soteriology. Theosis is not the whole salvation picture for the East, as Vladimir Lossky has pointed out. How do Orthodox square language- as found in the Eastern and Western patristic heritage- that can imply ideas such as the appeasing of Divine Justice, substitution, and propitiation in a way different than the family of Western doctrines stemming from Anselm of Canterbury’s doctrine of the Atonement?
    St. Athanasios the Great, Contra Arianos I.41,60
    “[T]he Word, being the Image of the Father and immortal, took the form of the servant, and as man underwent for us death in His flesh, that thereby He might offer Himself for us through death to the Father…Formerly the world, as guilty, was under judgment from the Law; but now the Word has taken on Himself the judgment, and having suffered in the body for all, has bestowed salvation to all”.
    St. Athanasios the Great, De Incarnatione, 20
    “But beyond all this, there was a debt owing which must needs be paid; for, as I said before, all men were due to die. Here, then, is the second reason why the Word dwelt among us, namely that having proved His Godhead by His works, He might offer the sacrifice on behalf of all, surrendering His own temple to death in place of all, to settle man’s account with death and free him from the primal transgression. In the same act also He showed Himself mightier than death, displaying His own body incorruptible as the first-fruits of the resurrection.”
    St. Athanasios the Great, De Decretis, 14
    “Now as to the season spoken of, he will find for certain that, whereas the Lord always is, at length in fulness of the ages He became man; and whereas He is Son of God, He became Son of man also. And as to the object he will understand, that, wishing to annul our death, He took on Himself a body from the Virgin Mary; that by offering this unto the Father a sacrifice for all, He might deliver us all, who by fear of death were all our life through subject to bondage.”
    St. Cyril of Jerusalem, Catechetical Lectures, XIII

    “If Phinees, when he waxed zealous and slew the evil-doer, staved the wrath of God, shall not Jesus, who slew not another, but gave up Himself for a ransom, put away the wrath which is against mankind?…Further; if the lamb under Moses drove the destroyer far away, did not much rather the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world, deliver us from our sins? The blood of a silly sheep gave salvation; and shall not the Blood of the Only-begotten much rather save?…Jesus then really suffered for all men; for the Cross was no illusion, otherwise our redemption is an illusion also…These things the Saviour endured, and made peace through the Blood of His Cross, for things in heaven, and things in earth. For we were enemies of God through sin, and God had appointed the sinner to die. There must needs therefore have happened one of two things; either that God, in His truth, should destroy all men, or that in His loving-kindness He should cancel the sentence. But behold the wisdom of God; He preserved both the truth of His sentence, and the exercise of His loving-kindness. Christ took our sins in His body on the tree, that we by His death might die to sin, and live unto righteousness.”

    “Note carefully in the above the words, “I gave to you upon the altar to make atonement for your souls; for the blood shall make atonement for the soul.” He [Moses] says clearly that the blood of the victims slain is a propitiation in the place of human life. And the law about sacrifices suggests that it should be so regarded, if it is carefully considered. For it requires him who is sacrificing always to lay his hands on the head of the victim, and to bear the animal to the priest held by its head, as one offering a sacrifice on behalf of himself. Thus he says in each case: “He shall bring it before the Lord. And he shall lay his hands on the head of the gift.” Such is the ritual in every case, no sacrifice is ever brought up otherwise. And so the argument holds that the victims are brought in place of the lives of them who bring them…While then the better, the great and worthy and divine sacrifice was not yet available for men, it was necessary for them by the offering of animals to pay a ransom for their own life, and this was fitly a life that represented their own nature. Thus did the holy men of old, anticipating by the Holy Spirit that a holy victim, dear to God and great, would one day come for men, as the offering for the sins of the world, believing that as prophets they must perform in symbol his sacrifice, and shew forth in type what was yet to be. But when that which was perfect was come, in accordance with the predictions of the prophets, the former sacrifices ceased at once because of the better and true Sacrifice.

    “This Sacrifice was the Christ of God, from far distant times foretold as coming to men, to be sacrificed like a sheep for the whole human race. As Isaiah the prophet says of him: “As a sheep he was led to slaughter, and as a lamb dumb before her shearers.” And he adds: “He bears our sins and is pained for us; yet we accounted him to be in trouble, and in suffering and in affliction. But he was wounded on account of our sins, and he was made sick on account of our iniquities, the chastisement of our peace was upon him, and with his stripe we are healed. …And the Lord hath given him up for our iniquities …for he did no sin himself, nor was guile found in his mouth.’’ Jeremiah, another Hebrew prophet, speaks similarly in the person of Christ: “I was led as a lamb to the slaughter.” John Baptist sets the seal on their predictions at the appearance of our Saviour. For beholding Him, and pointing Him out to those present as the one foretold by the prophets, he cried: “Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world.’’

    “Since then according to the witness of the prophets the great and precious ransom has been found for Jews and Greeks alike, the propitiation for the whole world, the life given for the life of all men, the pure offering for every stain and sin, the Lamb of God, the holy sheep dear to God, the Lamb that was foretold, by Whose inspired and mystic teaching all we Gentiles have procured the forgiveness of our former sins, and such Jews as hope in Him are freed from the curse of Moses, daily celebrating His memorial, the remembrance of His Body and Blood, and are admitted to a greater sacrifice than that of the ancient law, we do not reckon it right to fall back upon the first beggarly elements, which are symbols and likenesses but do not contain the truth itself. And any Jews, of course, who have taken refuge in Christ, even if they attend no longer to the ordinances of Moses, but live according to the new covenant, are free from the curse ordained by Moses, for the Lamb of God has surely not only taken on Himself the sin of the world, but also the curse involved in the breach of the commandments of Moses as well. The Lamb of God is made thus both sin and curse—sin for the sinners in the world, and curse for those remaining in all the things written in Moses’ law. And so the Apostle says: “Christ has redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us”; and “Him that knew no sin, for our sakes he made sin.”For what is there that the Offering for the whole world could not effect, the Life given for the life of sinners, Who wa
    s led as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a lamb to the sacrifice, and all this for us and on our behalf? And this was why those ancient men of God, as they had not yet the reality, held fast to their symbols.

    Eusebius of Caesarea, Demonstratio Evangelica, I.10

    “He then that was alone of those who ever existed, the Word of God, before all worlds, and High Priest of every creature that has mind and reason, separated One of like passions with us, as a sheep or lamb from the human flock, branded on Him all our sins, and fastened on Hirn as well the curse that was adjudged by Moses’ law, as Moses foretells: “Cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree.” This He suffered “being made a curse for us; and making himself sin for our sakes.”And then “He made him sin for our sakes who knew no sin,”and laid on Him all the punishments due to us for our sins, bonds, insults, contumelies, scourging, and shameful blows, and the crowning trophy of the Cross. And after all this when He had offered such a wondrous offering and choice victim to the Father, and sacrificed for the salvation of us all, He delivered a memorial to us to offer to God continually instead of a sacrifice.”

    Eusebius of Caesarea, Demonstratio Evangelica, X.1

    “And the Lamb of God not only did this, but was chastised on our behalf, and suffered a penalty He did not owe, but which we owed because of the multitude of our sins; and so He became the cause of the forgiveness of our sins, because He received death for us, and transferred to Himself the scourging, the insults, and the dishonour, which were due to us, and drew down on Himself the apportioned curse, being made a curse for us. And what is that but the price of our souls? And so the oracle says in our person: “By his stripes we were healed,” and “The Lord delivered him for our sins,” with the result that uniting Himself to us and us to Himself, and appropriating our sufferings, He can say, “I said, Lord, have mercy on me, heal my soul, for I have sinned against thee.”

    St. Gregory Palamas, Homily 16, 21, 24, 31

    “A sacrifice was needed to reconcile the Father on high with us and to sanctify us, since we had been soiled by fellowship with the evil one. There had to be a sacrifice which both cleansed and was clean, and a purified, sinless priest…. God overturned the devil through suffering and His Flesh which He offered as a sacrifice to God the Father, as a pure and altogether holy victim – how great is His gift! – and reconciled God to the human race…Since He gave His Blood, which was sinless and therefore guiltless, as a ransom for us who were liable to punishment because of our sins, He redeemed us from our guilt. He forgave us our sins, tore up the record of them on the Cross and delivered us from the devil’s tyranny. The devil was caught by the bait. It was as if he opened his mouth and hastened to pour out for himself our ransom, the Master’s Blood, which was not only guiltless but full of divine power. Then instead of being enriched by it he was strongly bound and made an example in the Cross of Christ. So we were rescued from his slavery and transformed into the kingdom of the Son of God. Before we had been vessels of wrath, but we were made vessels of mercy by Him Who bound the one who was strong compared to us, and seized his goods.”

  24. Lucian says:

    With regard to the following question, posted above : “Does anyone (including Fr Fenton!) want to comment on Fr Fenton’s considering as a deficency the view that Jesus died to appease the Father’s wrath?”

    For an answer, try reading Dr. Alexandros Kalomiros’ essay, entitled THE RIVER OF FIRE. (the 1st 2 chapters are a little bit tough [polemical against Catholic doctrine], so You can jump over those, but [with all its defects] this is the only thing I found on the web which gives a complete and beautifully expressed answer to that question).

    Hope this helps.

    Craciun Lucian

  25. Anonymous says:


    It seems to me that some people say they converted to the RC because it was “western” and then say they didn’t join the EOC because it was too ethnic.

    Seems a little contradictory to me.

    BTW, the Pope as Western Patriarch never had jurisdiction in Oceania, so I don’t think the stricly geographical argument holds water.

    Reader Patrick (Brian)

  26. Lucian says:

    “The Pope as Western Patriarch never had jurisdiction in Oceania, so I don’t think the stricly geographical argument holds water.”

    I’m a little hard-headed, so I can’t help myself, but ask: was this supposed to be a pun? [still, I think it’s funny anyway, so..]


  27. Anonymous says:


    It came to me after I read it…:)

    Reader Patrick (Brian)

  28. Schütz says:

    Dear Lucian,

    I do not think of “Western” as an “ethnic” term, but as a designation over against “Eastern”. “Eastern” isn’t an ethnic term either, but “Greek”, “Russian”, “Macedonian”, etc. is. My difficulty with many expressions of Eastern Orthodoxy is that they are “ethnic” rather than “catholic”. Because it has not been bounded by ethnicity, Western Christianity in general has tended to conduct missions across cultural borders more easily than Eastern Christianity, which has not shown itself to be very capable of adapting to new cultures. Had the papal primacy not been a central issue for me, and had my conscience been more persuaded by the teachings of Eastern rather than Western Christianity, I would still have had the difficulty of chosing which ethnic manifestation of Orthodoxy to join, given that there is no such thing as a “German” Orthodox Church. I would have had to have become Greek, or Antiochian, or Russian, or some such nonsense in order to become Orthodox. I would have had to learn to pray in one of those ethnic languages rather than in my own or in one of the other languages that forms something of my heritage such as Latin or German. Why, for instance, did Jaroslav Pelikan become a Russian Orthodox rather than Greek? Why is Fr Fenton joining the Greek Orthodox Church rather than the Russian? Any explanations? I haven’t joined a Roman or Italian Church, I have joined the Catholic Church of Melbourne, which is fair enough, since that’s the community in which I live. It is in communion with the Italian Church, and the German Church, and the Spanish Church and the Irish Church, and the Filipino Church, but it is an Australian Church. In so far as the question of which ecclesiastical territory Oceania belongs to, surely that can be solved most easily by asking which canonical local church was first established there under the jurisdiction of a canonical bishop?

  29. Anonymous says:


    Pardon me for being a little persistent. But you said in your original post:

    1) I am a western Christian, and (even if the Pope doesn’t use this title anymore) the Bishop of Rome is the Patriarch of the West and it was with him that I had to seek communion.

    But what do you mean by “western” Christian if not a certain liturgical practice that is “western?” But yet you decry the Orthodox for being “ethnic?” You can’t have it both ways.

    As far as ethnicity is concerned, the various national Orthodox Churches are all in communion with one another. I belong to the OCA but can take communion in any Greek, Antiochian, Bulgarian, etc. Church. It is the same Church, the same mysteries, the same faith.

    I would go so far as to say that the Orthodox Churches are more united internally than the RC. The RC has a unity of hierarchy but is very divided on a number of issues. In Orthodoxy, there is no one “hierarchy” but close unity in doctrine and practice.

    If you want to see the difference among Roman Catholics, I would urge you and your readers to go to Amy Wellborn’s blog and read about the recent “Holloween Mass” held in the diocese of Orange County, California. You can see the video on YouTube at:

    Her comments are at:

    I will say that there is a infinitely closer realtionship between the Divine Liturgy as celebrated in Greek, Slavonic, and English versus the differences between the “Halloween Mass” and a more traditional Mass celebrated in numerious parishes.

    Reader Patrick (Brian)

  30. Schütz says:

    Dear Patrick,

    I, with Amy, acknowledge and deplore the fact that such things as the “Halloween Mass” (and even sillier things) have been known to be done by Catholics and in Catholic parishes. However, there has not been (to my knowledge) any such liturgy released and authorised by the Church or any of her bishops. If the Orthodox Churches don’t have priests who do silly things like this, well that is something to be very thankful for.

    There is perhaps something to be said for the fact that the liturgy celebrated in an ancient language tends to retain its aura of mystique, and thus is less likely to be “adapted” to the local culture around it.

    But this is true not only for bad, deviant and silly adaptions such as “Halloween Masses”, but also for good, profitable adaptions, such as liturgies that acknowledge national holidays (eg. we have propers for Australia Day in our missal) or special occasions (eg. School valedictory Masses) or special causes (eg. Pro-life Masses). By having the liturgy in contemporary vernacular, both the good and the bad becomes possible.

    But you also use this example as a way of showing that the Catholic Church is more disunified than the Orthodox. You seem to suggest that communion is established by celebrating the “right rite”.

    All Catholic priests have the responsibility to celebrate the liturgy with respect to the ecclesiastical laws of the Catholic Church because precisely because they are in communion with the whole Catholic Church. Failure to respect these laws creates tension within the communion, but just following the “right rite” (so to speak) does not in itself create communion.

    Fr X in my parish and Fr Y in the neighbouring parish are in communion because they both serve Bishop Z in the same local Church. Bishop Z is in communion with Bishops A, B and C because they are all in communion with the Bishop of Rome. Even if Fr X and Fr Y violently disagree with eachother on the teachings of the Church and on the way the liturgy should be celebrated, they are still in communion with eachother as long as they are officially in communion with their Bishop and with the Pope.

    The Pope thus acts as a point of universal unity in the Catholic Church. The Catholic Church will always be one and always be united because there is only one Pope. Not until a particular priest or bishop actually steps outside of (or is placed outside of by excommunication) this canonical communion with the Pope does a break in communion occur. And since, by definition, to be Catholic is to be in communion with the pope, such an action would not actually “split” the Catholic Church. The Catholic Church remains united. The one who has been excommunicated is outside the Church.

    In the meantime, we have to face the human situation of the occasions when the liturgy of the Church is abused. It can take a good deal of Christian charity to accept that those who are guilty of such abuse are still my brother or sister in Christ.

    [Nb. I should also point out that there are degrees of abuse. Some silly things that are done in the liturgy are just not liturgically “worthy” or “dignified”–the mass remains valid because none of the essentials (eg. validly ordained priest, use of proper Eucharistic material, use of the proper prayers of consecration) have been altered. I would put the Halloween Mass in this category. But there are other cases where the silliness extends to actually invalidating the Sacrament (eg. using grape juice instead of wine, or getting the people to say the word of consecration). The latter is a very serious situation indeed.)

  31. Lucian says:

    Lieber Herr Schuetz,

    I’m very glad to see You answering me a question I didn’t even ask.
    It’s äußerst refreshing, I’ll have to admit that.

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