"Was heisst Lutherisch", Pastor McCain?

Over on Pastor Weedon’s Blog, Paul T. McCain makes the following comment:

Lutheranism is the pure and true confession of the one, holy, catholic and apostolic faith. We name this confession “Lutheranism” to hold it in contradistinction from every other confession, but Lutheranism is nothing more, nor anything less, than the one true faith. And all those confessions that, to whatever extent, also contain or exhibit this same one true faith, to that extent, are Church, in spite of their particular confession’s error.

Oh. Well. I’m glad we got that clear. Now all we need to know is (in Sasse’s words) “Was heisst Lutherisch”?

This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

44 Responses to "Was heisst Lutherisch", Pastor McCain?

  1. Peter says:

    This was the position espoused in Pieper’s dogmatics text and probably more honest a position than the whole ‘invisible Church’ cop out which so many Lutherans used to dismiss attempt to discuss ecclesiology.

  2. Schütz says:

    Yes, I agree, as the post below points out. Its still rather breath-taking. I mean–its a bit of a mind twister to think that having abandoned the ancient and apostolic see of Rome, the Truth should now be holding out in the Missouri Synod of the Lutheran Church in the United States.

  3. William Weedon says:

    Note, though, that Pastor McCain is not making this claim about the LCMS per se, but about the Lutheran Confessions. Whatever churches and pastors hold to, teach, and practice according to these confessions were what he had in mind and that is bigger by far than the LCMS.

    (If this shows up twice, apologies. Tried to post it before and it vanished!)

  4. Paul T. McCain says:

    Dave, come now, you know what I said, and what I didn’t say. I never said, and have never said, nor do I believe, that the truth is coterminus with The Lutheran Church–Missouri Synod or with Lutheranism. But I do firmly believe that Lutheranism is the true and pure confession of the one, holy, catholic and apostolic faith. I assume you believe this to be true in the case of Roman Catholicism. If I didn’t believe this, I would not be a Lutheran pastor, and I assume if you did not believe this to be the case with Roman Catholicism you would not have left your ministry and become a Roman Catholic.

  5. Lucian says:

    Allways knew there had to be something fishy ’bout Your conversion from Protestantism to Catholicism, just wasn’t sure what … but now, when I saw You with the pipe nippered and pincered in Your tight fist, as if it were an extension of it, I kinda think I know what it was …

  6. Past Elder says:

    Well gee whiz Bruder Schuetz, here you wanted me to post as a confessed and confessional Lutheran and not as an ex-Catholic, so now you’ve got Pastors Weedon and McCain!

    I’ll leave the confessed and confessional Lutheran apologetics to their much more capable hands, and stick to the ex-Catholic role I have always tried to stick to on this blog.

    Which is to say, in addition to what is put forth re Lutheran positions by the pastors, may I say that if you quote the “Catechism of the Catholic Church” and Lumen Gentium as authoritative, as you did on the related post, re Catholic positions you are quoting sources at points of considerable variance from the traditional faith of Roman Catholics prior to the last forty years or so. You can find them identified and contrasted with authentic Catholic teaching at sspx.org.

    I like the new picture though. You could have been the professor in my Historical Jesus and Christ of Faith class!

  7. Schütz says:

    Of course, as I said to Peter, the position that Lutheranism is the pure interpretation of the gospel is the only possible position that any self-respecting Lutheran pastor could hold. The moment he or she ceases to hold this point of view is the moment he or she should be asking him- or herself why he or she is still a Lutheran pastor.

    I’m sorry, did you notice something in that last sentence? Yes, there are many (or at least some) Lutheran pastorinnen and supporters of the ordination of pastorinnen out there who would totally agree with your statement that Lutheranism is the one true faith.

    And the fact is that the Lutheran confessions say nothing about the ordination of women.

    I had many friends who professed their total committment to Scripture and to the Lutheran Confessions–but they had a completely different interpretation of these than I did.

    As you know, there are many different stripes of Lutheranism and each stripe claims to be authentic. So as a Lutheran pastor I had to make a choice. Sure, the Confessions were definitive–not because I had any particular philosophical basis for regarding them as objectively true, mind you, but because they were the earliest agreed statements of the Lutheran movement. Even then, I was aware that several of the documents in the Book of Concord (eg. the Treatise and the Formula) were not considered by all Lutherans to belong to the “canon” of confessional books (eg. the Swedes).

    But then the same problem still came up. Having decided that Confessional Lutheranism was true Lutheranism, how was one to interpret the confessions? Over against those who took a rather more reformed hermeneutic (what Papa Benny would have called an “hermeneutic of discontinuity”) I adopted (again to use BXVI’s terminology) an “hermeneutic of continuity”. That is, I adopted Evangelical-Catholic Lutheranism. As such, I rejected women’s ordination. But by this stage, I was already far beyond the position of my confessional Lutheran mates who held an hermeneutic of discontinuity and still claimed to be “confessional Lutherans”.

    Which brings me right back to my original question, Pastors McCain and Weedon: Was heisst Lutherisch? What is true Lutheranism and on what basis do you claim it to be such?

  8. Schütz says:

    Oh, and yes, Lucian, pipe smoking is one of my more pleasant/nasty habits. Depending on your point of view.

  9. William Weedon says:


    You, as did Sasse before you, point to our great shame. I acknowledge it. What text is there without an interpretation of some sort? Being, as you once fancied yourself I suspect, an evangelical catholic I interpret the Confessions along the lines explicated by Piepkorn: whatever in the tradition is not in conflict with the saving Gospel is kept and rejoiced in; whatever is in conflict has to go.

    Women’s ordination is simply ruled out by the Sacred Scriptures: “I do not suffer a woman to teach…” For us that’s not even on the table – and I thank God for Rome’s stand on the issue which is indeed a case of Peter strengthening his brothers.

  10. Schütz says:

    I intend to blog at some stage on an excellent book you might enjoy reading, Pastor Weedon, by Sarah Butler on the matter. She points out the distinction between the REASON why we do not ordain women (because Christ chose only 12 males as his apostles) and the EXPLANATION of that reason–among which latter she identifies the Church’s use of the Pauline passages. I think this would be helpful for Lutherans in their own search for authentic Lutheranism.

  11. Past Elder says:

    And there are not many different stripes of Catholicism, each one claiming to be authentic?

    As a Catholic layman, I had to make a choice.

    According to one stripe of Catholicism claiming to be authentic, which I heard quite often since the Council, I’m doing just fine now as a Lutheran, as Catholicism is one of many cultural expressions of Christianity all equally valid per se.

  12. Schütz says:

    Individual Catholics believe many wildy divergent things, Past Elder, but I would challenge you to find any authoritative interpretation of the Catholic faith that would teach along these lines.

  13. Paul T. McCain says:

    Rome’s positions are in a continuing state of flux as well, so before anyone gets too starry-eyed over the great “monolithic magisterium” of Rome, one need only spend time studying the controversy in Rome over conciliarism, which is still very much alive and well.

  14. Schütz says:

    “Controversy over conciliarism”? Really? I hadn’t noticed. And I read all the news out of Rome every day with a magnifying glass. Do tell me more, Pastor. I guess I should be paying more attention, but then I have all those stars in my eyes!

    And for the record: Of course the teaching of the Catholic Church changes. We invented the concept of the development of dogma, remember. Unlike the Orthodox Church we do not believe that our dogmatic understanding ceased to develope with the 7th Ecumenical Council. “To live is to change and to be perfect is to change often”, as Newman said somewhere or other. The crucial matter is the manner of the change. Newman also outlined this quite satisfactorily. Changes, for eg., that negate the unbroken tradition of the Church are not authentic developments.

    And as with Popes Honorius I and Pelagius II–there are many avenues still open to the speculation of theologians. Defintion of doctrine only sets the boundaries.

    Come on, Pastor McCain. 1.1 billion people can’t be all as nutty as you must think we are.

  15. Schütz says:

    “Controversy over conciliarism”? Really? I hadn’t noticed. And I read all the news out of Rome every day with a magnifying glass. Do tell me more, Pastor. I guess I should be paying more attention, but then I have all those stars in my eyes!

    And for the record: Of course the teaching of the Catholic Church changes. We invented the concept of the development of dogma, remember. Unlike the Orthodox Church we do not believe that our dogmatic understanding ceased to develope with the 7th Ecumenical Council. “To live is to change and to be perfect is to change often”, as Newman said somewhere or other. The crucial matter is the manner of the change. Newman also outlined this quite satisfactorily. Changes, for eg., that negate the unbroken tradition of the Church are not authentic developments.

    And as with Popes Honorius I and Pelagius II–there are many avenues still open to the speculation of theologians. Defintion of doctrine only sets the boundaries.

    Come on, Pastor McCain. 1.1 billion people can’t be all as nutty as you must think we are.

  16. Schütz says:

    And hold on a minute, Paul, I just re-read an earlier comment you made when you protested that I was misconstruing your remarks. You protested that “I never said, and have never said, nor do I believe, that the truth is coterminus with The Lutheran Church–Missouri Synod or with Lutheranism.”Well, no, you didn’t say that about the LCMS, but you DID imply that about “Lutheranism” when you said: “Lutheranism is nothing more, nor anything less, than the one true faith.”If Lutheranism is neither more nor less than the one true faith, then surely that implies that it is “co-terminus” with the true faith. Or have I missed something here?

  17. Past Elder says:

    Individual Catholics?

    Guess what. Most people aren’t like us — or rather like you and like I used to be, with the opportunity, time and means to pore through two millennia of sources and “interpretations” to arrive at a conclusion as to what is authentic. There’s way too much to do by way of raising kids and earning a living, for which reason Aquinas pointed out in contra gentiles that faith does not rest upon theology otherwise faith would come to few and then only after years of study, and that things which reason and natural religion could figure out are also proposed as articles of faith.

    You know what they do instead? They go to Catholic schools, send their kids to Catholic schools, and show up on Sundays (or now Saturday night if Sunday is inconvenient) and holy days of obligation for mass at their parish. Why is that? Because there they expect to find the Catholic faith taught and preached. And what one finds there IS the Catholic faith in their experience, whether it is or is not in reality.

    So I am not talking here about individual Catholics expressing viewpoints over steaks or a beer, I am talking about what has been taught and preached to me by Catholic teachers and Catholic priests both publically at the podium and pulpit and personally when seeking their cousel, all in their capacity as teachers and preachers of the Church.

    Yes there is heterodoxy in all denominations including my own synod. Hardly the point. The point is, when one consistently over years finds the Church’s teachers and priests expressing “interpretations” consistent neither with each other nor with what one gathers from books and articles and now blogs, one enters the living reality of your 1.1 billion of whom I was once one, a staggering abyss that makes the problems of my synod look like a walk in the park.

    What am I afraid of, to answer a question on another post here? Ever going back to the living hell that being an RC was. And to answer yet another question on another post here, no, I would not in any way assume that communion with the “Bishop of Rome” would be part of restoration (as if it ever existed) of the visible unity of Christians if it could be done without compromise to the Gospel since communion with the “Bishop of Rome” is itself compromise of the Gospel. We can hold our differences charitably, but visible communion will come with, well, visible communion — when the Bishop of Rome or anyone else makes the same profession I did. Not because I did, but because it’s true.

  18. Christine says:

    for which reason Aquinas pointed out in contra gentiles that faith does not rest upon theology otherwise faith would come to few and then only after years of study, and that things which reason and natural religion could figure out are also proposed as articles of faith.

    But Past Elder, to be fair, faith is a gift given in Baptism for Catholics just as much as it is for Lutherans. You are quite correct that most people don’t have the time nor inclination to pore over centuries of theological minutiae (and I would argue that that applies to my Lutheran and Catholic family equally) and the lives of some of the most faithful Christians the world has ever known show that it is not a requirement.

    But then I am in the unenviable position of having feet in both worlds.

  19. Paul T. McCain says:

    Dave, what I meant to say was simply that it would be wrong for me, or any Lutheran, ever to claim that truth is only found within Lutheranism. Co-terminus with the truth…that’s what I meant when I said that. Happy to clarify.

  20. Past Elder says:

    Christine — I’m thinking you’re the same Christine I have run into on other blogs — I agree with all your points: Catholic Baptism and Lutheran Baptism is Baptism; Lutheran and Catholic faithful alike have neither the time nor onclination to pore over volumnes of theology and history (though I hope the Reader’s Edition BOC will help with the time and inclination we can all find) and indeed a scholar’s grasp of theology and history is not a requirement for faithful Christian living. In fact I would add I have observed that the scholar’s grasp can be had in the utter absence of Christian faith and living. And I too understand the unenviability of having feet in both worlds, so zu sagen, aber what has happened for me is that both of mine are in the Lutheran world, and with one exception the feet of the others I once stood next to are in the heavenly world (the exception being my cousin doubling as a sister, a convert to the Vatican II church from United Methodism but with content largely suppled by Robert Schuller).

    Reminds me of a joke that went round after Vatican II: don’t know what the Catholics and Lutherans argue about anyway, the first thing either one of them does when they land somewhere is set up a brewery.

    My main point to our host was, I do not believe that what is taught and preached by those in an offical Church capacity to teach and preach can be passed off as simply an undividual opinion, and that there are authors and books of whom the vast majority of Catholics, or Lutherans for that matter, will never hear is no answer in response to the Babel they will.

    The Preface to the Little Catechism reads to me like it was written yesterday rather than several hundred years ago, except the situation is even worse than it was then, which was bad enough!

  21. Schütz says:

    Thank you Christine for your input from St Thomas. We do not take theologians or knowledge of theology as the basis for faith, but the teaching of Christ, the apostles and their successors. Indeed, there are dissenters in every church body, but for there to be dissent there has to be clear teaching in the first place. The existence of Catholic dissent in a bizzare way proves the existence of the Catholic Magisterium.

  22. Past Elder says:

    Geez, I thought I mentioned St Thomas. Then again, things do get blurry in a Catholic environment.

    So unblurrify me this: why is it that in another religion (referencing your new post) it is not enough for some to protest that it isn’t what we do and isn’t what we teach but the real problem us that it IS being done by people who ARE calling themselves by the religion’s name (emphasis yours), but in your own that things are being done by people who call themselves by the religion’s name is simply “individual opinion” and it is enough to say it isn’t what we do and isn’t what we teach?

  23. Schütz says:

    What matters is the publically defined belief of a religious group.

    Does the group in question have a publically defined body of religious dogma and opinion?

    Does the group have mechanism by which definitive statements of their public doctrine can be promulgated?

    Are such statements of dogma and opinion within the group considered “final”, that is, unable to be revoked or altered in their essential intention?

    Does the group in question have a means by which such statements made in the past can be authoritatively interpreted for the present?

    I can answer “yes” to each of these questions in regard to the Catholic Church. There are indeed other religious groups which can also do so. As far as I know, though, no Lutheran body can answer yes to all of these questions. I do not know of any mainstream non-Catholic groups which can (including the Orthodox).

    I believe that in order to differentiate between private opinions of group members (even widely held and disseminated private opinions) and the public doctrine of any given group, one must first have in place a sure mechanism by which one can authoritatively identify what the public doctrine is.

    I hope that is as unblurred as I can possibly be.

  24. Christine says:

    Hi Past Elder,

    Yes, it’s “me”, Christine and I appreciate very much your acknowledgement that beer is truly one of the firm overlaps between Lutherans and Catholics that in the end may be the answer to the unity we seek !!

    I think our bloghost was addressing my comment that one need not be a theological expert in order to live as a faithful Christian, so perhaps he was in that connection referencing the Angelic Doctor.

    I don’t know how long you have been Lutheran, Past Elder, but at least at the parish level I would submit that there have been some definite changes in the Catholic world. From my ten years as a Catholic I don’t recognize much of what you describe (although my Catholic husband no doubt would, having attended parochial schools “back in the day”) but I am in no way challenging your experience of Catholic life as you knew it.

    As far as whether or not it makes a “difference” what one’s affiliation is, yes, during the “silly season” of the Church one often heard from those who should have known better that it doesn’t “matter” anymore whether one is Catholic or Protestant, but I think that Dominus Iesus pretty much clarified that the Catholic Church still proclaims that she holds the fullness of the faith.

    If it sound like I am beginning to reassess my return to the Lutheran Church I must regrettably admit that it is so. There are a few weighty matters I cannot seem to resolve. A wise priest once stated that Catholics believe that the Presence remains in the bread, once consecrated, because “God does not take back His gifts.” I find that I agree.

    I also miss the Eucharistic prayers of the Church and am not sure I agree that the Verba should “stand alone”, as it were.

    I also must be brutally honest with myself and realize that I have become more “Catholic” than I realized over the past ten years.

    Too, one should judge a Church by what it officially claims and teaches what should be true. I wish that all the Solas of the Reformation had been sufficient to keep the ELCA from sliding into further and further heterodoxy but alas it is not so. I am very grateful that the LCMS continues to uphold the Biblical standards of issues such as abortion, etc., that much of the Protestant mainstream has abandoned.

    And so it goes.

  25. Past Elder says:

    Meine Schwester Christine!! Gluecklich zu sehen — oder lesen, ich will Cabaret singen!

    I have been Lutheran since 1996. I know of experience that indeed ordinary Catholic life at the parish level has changed, and someone who has been Catholic in only the last ten years absolutely would not experience the Catholic Church in very much of anything like I did — which is my whole point on this blog, it is not by the wildest stretch of the imagination the same church.

    Dominus Jesus (old school here, they don’t even use I and J the same!) doesn’t really say anything new: the fulness of the Christian faith and church subsists in the Catholic Church, however even in the “day” it was always acknowledged that in the heretical churches (upgraded now to ecclesial unions) enough of the Catholic Faith was uncontested to allow for salvation and to be, however imperfectly, therefore not outside the Church outside of which there is no salvation. It is exactly on that basis though, that the idea that it really makes no difference fundamentally which church you go to seeks support. I’ve heard it said many, many times. By those acting in their positions as teachers and preachers of the Catholic Faith.

    As to the usus issue, for me it is less how long does it remain than is it there in the first place. From an aithentic Catholic viewpoint, it is silly for Lutherans to be concerned about lay administration of the Eucharist since all Lutheran Eucharists are done by laymen, Lutheran clergy and laity alike lacking Holy Orders. I believe it is there, and how long it lasts is not a big concern. I think we (Lutherans) back away from the issue fearing that otherwise we’ll start holding Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament services!

    As to praying Eucharistically, you might enjoy the discussion on that on Pastor Weedon’s blog. To me, the present four Eucharistic Prayers of the bogus, er, novus ordo create no nostalgia at all, the first one being a de-Romanised version of the Roman canon, and the other three build on disctinctly and intentionally unRoman models. Which does not address the issue of Lutheran Eucharistic praying, just to say that within a Catholic context the current Eucharistic Prayers for me are just one more sign that I’m not in anything I recognise as the Catholic Church.

    If you are in the ELCA, my suggest is leave it. Other than trying to be Episcopalian in the Episcopal Church USA, I cannot imagine anything more like the unremitting hell it was to me trying to be faithful to what I was taught in a Church that rejects it yet says it’s the same thing than trying to be Lutheran in the ELCA. God knows, and so do a good many people, that LCMS has its problems, but from where I’m coming from it’s a walk in the park!

    Dein Bruder,

  26. Schütz says:

    Dominus Iesus (I’ll use the ‘I’) was the final crack that allowed the dam to burst for me. At one point, I was challenged by a Lutheran Professor: “How can you accept Rome–it is universalist!” Dominus Iesus came out the next day.

    Come home, little sister. All that is good and true in Lutheranism–the wonderful Christocentricity and Spirituality of Grace and the Theology of the Cross–they can all be had in full communion with the See of Peter. I am living proof that you can be a Lutheran in communion with Rome. It is “fullness” in every sense.

    (PS. Get thee behind us, Past Elder!)

  27. Christine says:

    Lieber Bruder Past Elder (always a delight to converse with you!) I realize that the Catholic Church you grew up in is not the same since Vatican II, which is exactly why I joined. As Schutz (darn, I forgot the Umlaut!!) points out it does now seem possible to be Lutheran in communion with Rome.

    It’s true that I didn’t have the exact experience of the pre-Vat II Church that you did, Past Elder, but here’s a little secret! When I was still a very young child growing up in a small Bavarian town (there’s that darn connection with Benedict XVI again, dang it anyway!!) the kids received either Lutheran or Catholic instruction in school. Because the Lutheran Kindergarten was full my devoutly Lutheran mother permitted me to attend the Catholic Kindergarten (there, you see? It was destiny from the start!). The young sisters were kind, gracious and I was permitted to play the part of the Virgin Mary at the Christmas play.

    My Catholic Dad from time to time took me to Mass at the local Catholic parish. Through my Catholic relatives I was given a taste of the European Catholic life of the time.

    Although I was formally brought up Lutheran I’ve always felt a strong connection to both sides of the family, spiritually speaking and I became Catholic in 1997.

    My recent investigation into the LCMS was, I’m afraid, partly a venture into nostaliga. My beloved mother is afflicted with Alzheimer’s and I felt a strong yearning to connect with something we had both shared in years past.
    In attending an LCMS congregation I was able, for a time, to reconnect to her through a world we once shared but as they say, you can’t always go home again.

    I will most likely return to the parish where I am registered (staffed by some nifty Benedictines) with a new appreciation for all the good that I was given in my Lutheran upbringing. I very much consider myself an evangelical catholic in the Catholic tradition.

    By the way, Past Elder, the new translation of the Roman Missal which is forthcoming will address and correct some of the awful ICEL language that was foisted upon the English speaking Catholic world during the 70’s and 80’s. It will much more mirror the integrity of what is found in LCMS texts than the ELW now in use by the ELCA.

    As far as those heterodox teachers and preachers in the Catholic Church who still don’t “get it”, I sense a change coming. The silly season is winding down and no matter what they may proclaim individually it does still make a difference as to how different church bodies define themselves.

    Catholics still receive Holy Communion under the authority of their local bishop (I’ve had a heck of a time trying to explain that concept to my Lutheran sister who still doesn’t understand why Catholics don’t practice open communion like her ELCA congregation) which is, of course, why the Catholic Church does not practice intercommunion, aside from the fact that not all churches share the belief in the Real Presence.

    So with apologies for this long, rambling post I am utterly fascinated at how our two faith journeys intersect and diverge. I guess we’ll never know the mysteries of it all until we see clearly on the other side of the veil.

    Dear Schütz, thank you for your kind words. Small world — when we left Europe my family sojourned for a couple of years first in Adelaide and then Melbourne before we headed for the States. If the airfares ever come down, maybe some day I’ll make it back to Aussieland for a visit !

  28. Schütz says:

    Dear Christine,

    ‘On ya, girl!’ (as we say here in Oz). Boldly go where no Lutheran has ever gone before.

    Hold on, actually, lots of Lutherans are going there today and you’ve been there before…

    You might have gathered that my wife and children are still Lutheran. The Lutheran Church is still my dearly loved “Church-in-law” and I enjoy going to their parish for a good sing.

    One day we will all be one again. Melanchthon said on his death bed “In the heavenly academy there will be no such disputes.” I pray we don’t have to wait till then to see that there really is no issue which should keep Lutherans apart from full communion with the Catholic Church.

  29. Christine says:

    Dear Schütz,

    Yes, I have noted on your posts that you wife and children are still Lutherans, may the Lord richly bless them!

    What Christian could not enjoy the music of the Lutheran Church? It is a gift that needs to be shared with all. I have learned to appreciate Palestrina and Victoria as a Catholic but I will surely never give up my beloved J.S. Bach!

    May God grant that we shall again be one, in the One who is the Way, the Truth and the Life for us all.

  30. Past Elder says:

    Perhaps I may be permitted one more commnication with Christine before I get behind you.

    One of the ways in which our paths are not alike is that for you both Lutheran and Catholic have been part of your immediate experience and family from the start. For me, though I grew up in Minnesota where every other corner has a Lutheran church and about everyone I knew other than from church and school was Lutheran, my family was entirely Catholic at the core with United Methodists in the extended. I would be in my 40s before I saw Lutheranism as anything other than a well intended effort to be Catholic without being Catholic. The point being, my becoming Lutheran had nothing to do with Catholicism nor was it a choice between the two, and my rejection of Catholicism was not on Lutheran grounds, which I was years from accepting, but on Catholic grounds alone: this was manifestly not the Catholic Church and in its lying and hellish efforts to represent itself as such is the greatest enemy the Catholic Church and Faith has had, ever. My parents, Mom a cradle Catholic and Dad a convert in the 1940s from Methodism, stayed on with the Brave New Church thinking, as has been said for decades now, the season of silliness will be over soon. They were of course sorry over my course, but as I put it at the time, we are now in the position of Germans after the Nazis came to power, facing a decision to stay in spite of it because this is Germany after all and sooner or later sanity will win out, or precisely because of what is truly German, leave.

    By the time each of them died, I was Lutheran. Their funerals, besides being what one’s parents’ funerals will be in any faith, were a defining moment for me. Novus ordo funerals, as distinct from the many Catholic funerals I had chanted as a kid, (we schoolkids being the choir too for parish funerals, I probably can still do the Dies irae!) and now as distinct from mass as celebrated rightly in the evangelical Lutheran church and the funeral of my own wife and mother of my kids, where the Gospel rang out in utter clarity and purity such as I have never heard anywhere, anytime else. You could not possibly have left that service not hearing the message that the only dead people present is not the one in the coffin but the ones not alive in Christ through faith in his merits.

    So I would offer this: there really is no issue which should keep a Catholic from professing belief in the true and accurate presentation of the Gospel in the Book of Concord; all that is good and true in Catholicism — and there is good and true in Catholicism, both the real thing and even the false thing that now holds itself out as the real thing — can be had in full profession of the Christian Faith as correctly taught in the BOC and in fellowship where the Word is rightly preached and the Sacraments rightly administered.

    Since you are alreay the custodian of one of secrets (die Abtie) I’ll tell you another: I have been instrumental in the conversion to the church of Vatican II of at least two people, something for which, if there is indeed a Purgatory, I will spend many days. You seem aware of something that was also clear in material in the blogosphere about a recent LCMS high level apostacy — that Rome is now something different, and it is to that Rome that one is coverting.

    I read through all the comments on that blog (and by a miracle of God managed to keep lunch down). I think one thing is beyond any possible dispute: The Roman Church is now a different church, and the argument is not at all whether that is the case, but whether it remains the same church too.

    Let me take the gloves completely off, dear sister – the Prince of Darkness can appear as an Angel of Light, and that is no less than what you see in Rome to-day, which bears the marks of Anti-Christ more clearly than ever. And they will lead many, even the Elect if that were possible, astray. They already have. This will get worse, not better. I watched carefully the proceedings from the death of JPII to the election of BXVI. It is clear that the “spirit” of Vatican II, the silliness, will more and more conform to the Church — but it will be the Church of Vatican II, not the Roman Catholic Church, which in turn will partner with those falsifying their religions until the work of Anti-Christ is complete.

    Parenthetically, I am glad you have “nifty” Benedictines. In my experience the characteristics of the Benedictine order (it’s not technically an order) are drunkenness and homosexuality, into both of which I was invited. (Invitation was declined, btw.)

    Yes, on the other side of the veil there will be no such disputes, but on this side of it I pray that you will find your way to be catholic, as distinct from anything that uses the proper adjective Catholic. Regardless of the outcome, you will always be welcome on my blog, and I will continue to look forward to seeing you on the other blogs we visit, and will continue to regard you as Schwester because I hear clearly that your motivation is to remain true to the Gospel as you heard it rightly proclaimed in the evangelical Lutheran church.

  31. Christine says:

    Beliebter Bruder Past Elder (I think our bloghost will surely permit you to communicate again!) I certainly hope that we can continue to share our thoughts here and elsewhere. There is absolutely nothing you could write, even if we disagree, that could change my desire to do that.

    I was taught as a child (in the Lutheran Church) that Lutherans look to the first four centuries of the church as she developed for much of their theology and praxis. Because I don’t have the “baggage”, so to speak (unlike my husband, who grew up entirely in the pre-Vatican II Church) of a prior era I find that when I attend Mass today there is a much stronger connection with that early time. Having pruned back much of the excess ritual, etc. of the Tridentine era the Mass as celebrated, at least in my parish (and as far as I know the Benedictines there are neither drunk nor gay but if I ever find that not to be the case I will not hesitate to call down the fire of heaven upon them!) mirrors much of what I experienced in Lutheran worship.

    Then, too, my ethnic connection is something I simply cannot cast aside. German Christians, both Lutheran and Catholic have such beautiful traditions that I have been very much formed in them both. Once in a great while I attend a parish that was founded by German Catholics and is pastored by a German-speaking priest. I feel like I’ve made a trip back home again when I come out of there.

    By the way, are you familiar with Father Alfred Delp, a German priest who was born to a Catholic mother and Lutheran father (sort of my situation but reverse). He was raised Lutheran and joined the Jesuits as a young man. He was eventually accused and convicted by Hitler’s henchmen of being a part of the plot to kill Hilter, although the charges were false, and he was hanged in Berlin shortly before the end of the war, much like his Lutheran counterpart Dietrich Bonhoeffer.

    And of course you are familiar with the great Bishop Clemens August Graf von Galen, who publicly thundered against the Nazi regime and its persecutions and eugenics schemes.

    Rome the Antichrist? No, I don’t think so. I have to confess that the Communion of Saints as it is lived in the Catholic tradition is much more edifying to me. I really feel a strong sense of connection with that great cloud of witnesses that springs forth from the early Roman Martyrs to the ends of the earth.

    Nevertheless, in my daily Scripture reading as well as Mass attendance I don’t forget for a moment that my beloved Lutheran grandparents are a part of that cloud as much as those on my Catholic side.

  32. Christine says:

    Oh, one more thing if I may —

    You seem aware of something that was also clear in material in the blogosphere about a recent LCMS high level apostacy — that Rome is now something different, and it is to that Rome that one is coverting.

    It is now very public knowledge and forgive me but my curiosity is getting the better of me — are you referring to Robert Koons?

  33. Past Elder says:

    Meine Schwester — to answer you curiosity and questions: yes I refer to Koons, yes I know of the two Roman clergy you mention.

    I suppose it’s an only in America thing — a kid of English descent (that would be me) gets adopted by people of Irish descent, raised RC in a state where the older people who aren’t speaking German are speaking Norwegian, goes to a school with deep Bavarian roots, and ends up Lutheran in a synod of German origin. My first pastor, in WELS, used to joke that this was God preparing me to be Lutheran, so I could lapse into German when ranting! I should mention too my cultural adoption by the Puerto Rican contingent at university. So I speak a German that is modified by its few generations in America with a Bavarian accent, Spanish with a distinct Puerto Rican accent (which our Mexican “bilingual” reps kid me about!), and in English a Midwestern accent and no-one has EVER said to me “You’re from Minnesota, aren’t you?”

    The one thing I did not assimilate is “German” Latin with its peculiar pronunciation!

    I would be at pains to point out that my rejection of the religion of Vatican II, both in itself and as in any way the Roman Catholic faith, was and is entirely on Catholic grounds, and becoming Lutheran for me had nothing to do with it and has added nothing to it. Were I not Lutheran, I would, as I did, still see the religion of Vatican II as a complete falsification of the Roman Catholic faith.

    The many ways in which this is so in all aspects of the life of the Church is put forth in great detail on the site of the Society of St Pius X. I do not differ with them in anything — how could I since they hold and teach nothing other than what was taught to me by the Roman church — with two huge exceptions: what to do about it, and what it means for the validity of what went before that was so hideously mutilated at Vatican II and then foisted on the faithful afterward with Cromwellian viciousness.

    I can not back down from this. I saw it. I was there. Some of them who did it were my teachers, who made it clear precisely and exactly what it was all about, the pious nostrums offered publicly notwithstanding. And this would remain so regardless of what belief later came, which by the grace of God was the true and correct exposition of the Christian faith in the Book of Concord, and should, God forbid, I ever abandon the confession which his Spirit has enabled me to believe, I would never be able to deny what I saw with my own eyes and heard with my own ears and then “come home”.

    As I watched the thoroughly Vatican II correct installation of the current Pope, and funeral of the last one, my first big deal events from Rome since being Lutheran, my overwhelming feeling was gratitude to God that I now know what I am and no longer have to watch such things grasping at what straws remain.

    As I put it once to our host, I don’t at all begrudge you your conversion to Catholicism, I just wish it were Catholicism to which you indeed converted. Which is not your fault. And as to those whose fault it is, how much more to them than to those to whom it was originally addressed is the question in the Preface to the Little Catechism — how will you ever answer to Christ?

  34. Christine says:

    Past Elder, I truly do understand that your becoming Lutheran was a thing completely apart from your Catholic background.

    Since you have raised the SSPX I now understand a bit better what you are saying. My husband was raised in the pre-Vatican II era, attended parochial schools from kindergarten through high school and saw the same things you did but came away with an entirely different perspective on Vatican II than you have.

    I have no wish to enter into SSPX Catholicism. I know you will vigorously disagree with me, but I find that the “Catholic” church has become much more “catholic” since the Second Vatican Council. It is to that church I am drawn.

    As I muse on the fact that the ELCA has appointed a second female bishop and the fact that the emininent Lutheran church historian Jaroslav Pelikan, at the last, entered the Eastern Orthodox communion once again I see the weaknesses that the “solas” of the Reformation sometimes produce.

    I do wish you every spiritual blessing as a Lutheran.

  35. Past Elder says:

    Hi Christine — your husband’s reaction is much more typical than mine, in my experience. In fact, I would say that among those old enough to have experienced both churches, so to speak, it’s pretty common to not only think the new church is good, but didn’t go far enough!

    As I said before, no-one contends that the “Church” isn’t different. The question is, is it the same church or not, is the difference in fundamentals or essentials, or not. And I’m actually glad for the clarity that you and Koons demonstrate, that the church you are joining is because of its difference since the council.

    Obviously, my answer is different as to is it the same church or is the difference one of essentials. And, given that my answer is yes, I also differ from SSPX as to what to do about it.

    What the ELCA or LWF does has no significance whatever to me for Lutheranism. They, like the post conciliar Roman church, call themselves by the name of a faith they no longer maintain, so what they say or do in its name is meaningless. Likewise any “Joint Declarations” between them. Apostates agree in apostacy — who cares?

    All of which underscores where I stand: that the post Conciliar church is nothing to which I as a Catholic could belong, and now nothing to which I as a Lutheran could belong either. My language may become “intemperate” as our host calls it, but that is not directed at the faithful but at the apostates who have created this situation, to whom St Paul directs the word anathema!

  36. Christine says:

    The question is, is it the same church or not, is the difference in fundamentals or essentials, or not.

    Well, Past Elder, from my point of view the essentials are still there. Being an immigrant myself I guess I have a better sense of why the culture of the Church was more restrictive in the immigrant era, having to put down roots in a sometimes hostile Protestant culture.

    My husband, a bit of a rebellious sort from birth and raised in a closed-off, immigrant Polish-American community, found that restrictive atmosphere chafing and it is that “loosening of the ties” that has occurred since Vatican II that he appreciates, i.e., the Church no longer has a “ghetto mentality.” But he definitely was attached to the smells, bells, and numinous atmosphere of the Tridentine era.

    I appreciate your honesty and take no offense whatsoever.

  37. Christine says:

    Being an immigrant myself I guess I have a better sense

    Oops, that wasn’t directed at Past Elder, I was thinking of my husband’s roots in relation to my own.

  38. Past Elder says:

    I think it’s important to distinguish between the American experience and the church universal. Here in America, it’s quite common to find in older areas what are now close to-gether parishes, but in an earlier day were the “Polish parish”, “Irish parish”, “Italian parish” etc. At the abbey school, around the time of WWI, the slogan was bei uns drausen, we would not submit to assimilation as a response to anti-German rage. All these things, I submit, would have lessened if not disappeared simply as a result of social change, and was happening already before the Revolution, er, Vatican II.

    Doctrine and praxis is another matter, all so bound up with culture indeed, but a different matter nonetheless.

  39. Christine says:

    Past Elder,

    I agree with you that the winds of social change were blowing prior to Vatican II. As Catholics (and other immigrants) became better educated and mobile it was inevitable that there would be an effect in the ethnic neighborhood my husband grew up in.

    I also agree that doctrine and praxis are indeed another matter. That’s why Catholics (and some Lutherans) organized parochial schools

  40. Past Elder says:

    What’s interesting is to see this happen all over again, but with more recent ethnic groups. For example, where I live parishes that were once, say, Polish or Lithuanian parishes are now Mexican, Laotian, or other more recently immigrated groups.

    Two points about that. This phenomenon existed before Vatican II and continues after it, I submit unrelated to it, but to the assimilation process of Americanisation.

    We Lutherans are not exempt from this either. Most synods had a nationality reference, my own (either one of them) German, in fact at one time it was part of the LCMS constitution that conventions be held in German. My own parish was originally (no surprise) German, but to-day you can see all sorts of people there, and we recently helped start a Sudanese Lutheran parish here in town.

  41. Christine says:

    We Lutherans are not exempt from this either. Most synods had a nationality reference

    Indeed. German, Swedish, Norwegian, Danish, Finnish, etc. filled the parish halls of early Lutherans in the U.S. We have a lovely Lutheran Church in the area that still holds German services on Sundays and at high points of the liturgical year.

    One of the greatest shifts in both Lutheran and Catholic populations has been, of course, the move to the suburbs. Here in Northeast Ohio where I live one can still find the “ethnic” presence in urban churches but the churches of the suburbs are truly “catholic” in their ethnic makeup. This, of course, has brought much more interaction between Lutherans and Catholics.

    I hope mein Bruder Past Elder will not sling flaming arrows at me :) but I have met many Lutherans who are far more comfortable around Catholics since Vatican II than they are around the UCC, Methodists, Presbyterians and, saints preserve us, Episcopalians !!

  42. Past Elder says:

    No flaming arrows! We Lutherans share more with the Roman Church than any of those denominations, which nonetheless contain many fine Christian believers, struggling against their own denomination’s faithlessness to their own confession. Unfortunately the Roman Church is now in the same boat, Rome having led the way in institutional spiritual hara kiri.

    I predict you will see, as the apostates of all faiths come to-gether in “interfaith dialogue” to effect an “ecumenical” universalist apostacy — precisely the opposite of what ecumenical means — a similar motion among those who, while we do not and cannot agree, nonetheless understand that we face a common enemy.

  43. Past Elder says:

    Not to mention, meine Schwester, in addition to the nationality identity, those who originate in one of the national state churches and those who originate from the free church movement.

    I think another way to express what is happening in our time is that we are creating a state religion without the force or backing of the state.

  44. Christine says:

    Ah, mein Bruder, in that context here are some interesting comments made by Cardinal Biffi in Rome:

    Christianity cannot be reduced to a set of values. At the center of being a Christian is, in fact, the personal encounter with Jesus Christ.”

    Quoting the work “Three Dialogues on War, Progress and the End of History,” Cardinal Biffi told his listeners that “the Antichrist presents himself as pacifist, ecologist and ecumenist.”

    “He will convoke an ecumenical council and will seek the consensus of all the Christian confessions, granting something to each one. The masses will follow him, with the exception of small groups of Catholics, Orthodox and Protestants,” he said.

    “Days will come in Christianity in which they will try to reduce the salvific event to a mere series of values.”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *