Pope Benedict has been continuing his series of weekday audiences on the Fathers of the Church, this time with St Jerome. In this, he stressed (in regard to the message of scripture) that:
Despite the fact that it is always a personal word, it is also a word that builds community, and that builds the Church itself. Therefore, we should read it in communion with the living Church.
That reminds me of something Orthodox blogger Dixie wrote recently about Kallistos Ware’s conversion to the Orthodox Church:I thought to myself:
Yes, indeed, as an Anglican I am at liberty to hold the Apostolic Tradition of Orthodoxy as my own private opinion. But can I honestly say that this Apostolic Tradition is taught unanimously by the Anglican bishops with whom I am in communion? Orthodoxy, so I recognized in a sudden flash of insight, is not merely a matter of personal belief; it also presupposes outward and visible communion in the sacraments with the bishops who are the divinely-commissioned witnesses to the truth. The question could not be avoided: If Orthodoxy means communion, was it possible for me to be truly Orthodox so long as I still remained an Anglican?
That statement could be ditto for me if you substitute the word Catholic for Orthodox and Lutheran for Anglican. Which in turn puts me in mind of something Marco wrote some time ago about the funny Lutheran idea of “in statu confessionis”. He says:
My understanding of the concept is that one can remain within an ecclesial structure while theologically disagreeing with it. The point is that unity is more important than the finer points of theology. The reasoning is something like this: God has called the individual into a particular ecclesial context and they are called to proclaim his Truth within that context. One can withdraw from the life of the community while still remaining within it in some sense. In other words, one need not participate in activities which are against ones conscience. (NB: I never really understood the whole idea so I am only going by my limited knowledge and reasoning.)
Funny enough, I was myself challenged by this very idea before I made the final decision to become a Catholic. My district president at the time suggested that I invoke this time-honoured Lutheran strategy to enable me to remain in the Lutheran Church as a Lutheran pastor while personally holding to Catholic ideas (see these blogs). I considered it for a while and finally gave it up as an idea that was not only unworkable but also dishonest.
Which makes me wonder how many of my Lutheran readers are still knocking around the Lutheran Church, recognising how out-of-joint their ideas are with mainstream majority modern Lutheran opinion, justifying their situation by holding to a (defacto) “in status confessionis” position.
To return to the Holy Father’s audience, does the idea of “sola Scriptura” tend toward a “solus Christianus” existence?