“In the language of the twentieth-century Paul Tillich, catholic substance was to be held in tension with Protestant principle, with Protestant principle having the corrective and final word. But a principle that is not part of the substance inevitably undermines the substance. And what is called the Protestant principle is, as we know from sad experience, so protean, so subject to variation, that it results either in the vitiation of doctrine itself or further schism in the defense of doctrinal novelty. Theology that is not in service to “the faith once delivered to the saints” (Jude 3) turns against the faith once delivered to the saints. Ideas that are not held accountable to “the Church of the living God, the pillar and bulwark of truth” (1 Timothy 3:15) will in time become the enemy of that truth.”
– Fr. Richard John Neuhaus,
“How I Became the Catholic I Was”
First Things, April 2002
Lutherans do well with principle. We are strong in our theology, which is deeply rooted in our confessions and the Scriptures. But are we strong in our substance? In other words, is our theology evident in our action, the substance of that which our churches, our clergy, and our parishioners believe, teach, and confess? The late Fr. Neuhaus would likely suggest, no. What say you?
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