Lucian–another of our favourites

While we are on about favourite visitors to this blog, Lucian gets a gong. In his usual style he has gone off on a real tangent in the combox of my “Welcome home Past Elder” blog. Pastor Weedon falls for it and takes the bait…

But I do agree with this:

1) The art of interpreting the extremely complex thoughts of Martin Luther is severely stifled (if not trampled upon) by Lutheran theology and theologians. Always has been and always will be. In that sense, Lucian is right when he asserts that “Lutheranism is Lutheranism and Luther is Luther”. They are not the same thing.

2) Pastor Weedon asserts (quoting my old teacher Henry Hamann in support) that “What is Lutheran is the faith confessed in the Book of Concord; Lutheranism these days is at all points of tension with that”. He is certainly right with regard to the second thesis, but there are and have been many who call themselves “Lutheran” who would debate the prior thesis. In this context, Herman Sasses’s famous “Was Heisst Lutherisch?” is probably the equivalent of Pilate’s “What is truth?”.

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3 Responses to Lucian–another of our favourites

  1. William Weedon says:

    Oh, I’ll take your bait to.

    On point #1, I think you’re all wet. Lutherans have never canonized Luther. We’re free to hear whatever he teaches – shoot, it was Lutherans who taught me to see the growth in his thinking as he matured in years. The more you read Luther, the more you realize that he cannot be boxed in by anyone. Those who think they’ve got him figured out as a nominalist haven’t the first clue. He’s more complex than that by far.

    On point #2, I’m a Missouri Synod Lutheran. And whatever else the Missouri Synod has stood for, it has stood for this: a Lutheran who claims the names, but disavows the Symbols ain’t what they say. It’s like your “good Catholics” who approach the Church’s dogma like a smorgasbord and pick and choose what they will. You’d admit: that person is not truly a Catholic Christian. In the same way, for us in the Missouri Synod, a Lutheran who picks and chooses in the Symbols is no Lutheran.

  2. Schütz says:

    Not even everything a canonised saint says is to be taken by the Church as gospel, William. And I know that Lutherans have never canonised Luther. That’s not the point. You and I actually agree. The point is that what is “Lutheran” is not exactly the same thing as what Luther said or thought or taught. And on the latter point, from a purely historical-academic-philosophical-theological perspective, Lutheran Systematics are actually a hinderance to the proper hermeneutic of Luther himself.

    The difficulty with your position in identifying true Lutheranism as Confessional Lutheranism (ie. teaching that adheres to the writings of the Book of Concord) is that it can be historically shown that this was never universally accepted by the churches which called themselves “Lutheran”. (The Scandinavians, for instance, never accepted the Formula of Concord, and assert that true Lutheranism is on the basis of the Augsburg Confession and Small Catechism alone.)

    On the other hand the Catholic faith has always taught and Catholics have universally accepted that the magisterium of the bishops in communion with the pope is the living teaching authority in the Church. This still doesn’t stop a goodly number of people from trying to claim to be “catholic” without the pope, although I have come to realise such catholicism as impossible, just as you have come to realise that there is no Lutheranism worthy of the name that doesn’t hold to all the Symbols.

  3. Lucian says:

    Pilate’s ‘what is Truth’ is easily answerable, and Christ answered it without even uttering a single word: He was the Word, and His presence alone answered Pilate’s question: He is the Way, the Truth, and the Life. But as regards to what is or is not Lutheranism, … Your guess is as good as mine … :-? :-\ Good luck figuring THAT one out! :) :p My hunch is: You’re gonna need it. :D

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