Lutherans Should Reconsider the Papacy

By Graham Glover

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Last year I tried to make the argument that “Protestants Need the Pope”. Among other things, I suggested that the papacy is critical to the theology of Protestant (and especially Lutheran) communions. I even said the papacy is key to our politics. My friend, and sometimes theological sparring partner, The Cantankerous Critic, replied with a very well-reasoned and impassioned article entitled “Lutherans Don’t Need a Pope!” The good Dr. reminded all of us who confess the Book of Concord to be true that Jesus Christ is the foundation of our faith and our salvation – not the papacy. Christ is all we need, he reminded The Jagged Word readers, and any “aesthetically pleasing earthly hierarchical figurehead” like the pope should never be a priority.

I respect The Cantankerous Critic a lot. I often wish he and I had the opportunity to debate theology in person on a more regular basis. Indeed, he makes a very valid point on the cornerstone of Christ in his argument against the papacy, especially as it relates to the article of justification by grace through faith (I made a similar argument earlier this year). But I still think Protestants, especially Lutherans, should reconsider the papacy. Why? Because the office of the Bishop of Rome is, in my opinion, the ideal means for unity within Christendom (something the church will need more and more in the years to come) and the only authority that can ebb the ever dangerous tide against theological error increasingly evident among the countless Christian communions.

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First, let’s be honest – the papacy is not the same institution the Lutheran reformers revolted against some 500 years ago. The institutional structures may be similar, but the manner in which the Bishop of Rome exercises his office most assuredly is not. This is especially true as it relates to the commingling of church and state, which I think was a root cause of the theological problems the reformers confronted. This is also true for some of Rome’s doctrinal positions. It’s not that Roman Catholics have capitulated to Lutherans, but they clearly have addressed many of the abuses the reformers railed against. And don’t ever forget that the reformer’s movement initially had nothing to do with the papacy itself, only the abuses of the church the pope led: a church to which they belonged.

Why, though, should Lutherans reconsider the papacy? Is this office not, as our Confessions clearly proclaim, the antichrist? In a word, no. Was it 500 years ago? Obviously the reformers thought so, and with the gross abuses occurring in the Western Church at the time, it’s no wonder they sought reform and wrote so passionately against the leader of those who disagreed with them. But on the eve of the 500th anniversary of the Protestant Reformation, I think our arguments against the papacy are dated and ripe for reconsideration.

Lutherans tend to get bent out of shape on whether or not the Pope is a divinely instituted office. One cannot deny the biblical basis for the office of the Holy Ministry, which includes the office of Bishop, the latter something American Lutherans abandoned when they swore allegiance to the United States. That the Bishop of Rome held a place of honor and even authority is equally evident during the first 1,500 years of church history. But because the pope in the 16th century refused to give in to a small group of dissenters from the German States about an issue (the abuse of a few bishops concerning the sale of indulgences), a revolution began that eventually became bigger than any reformer imagined and had ramifications far beyond anything they initially dreamed likely.

Pope Francis

But what do we Lutherans gain by continuing to rebel against the papacy? Is our revolution against this office still achieving its goals? If so, what are they and why do we not proclaim them as loudly and publicly as we do others? In retaliation against the papacy, have our Confessions kept the Gospel pure? If so, explain to me why so many Lutherans resemble nothing of the church catholic with respect to worship and sacramental practice, the very place and means that offer the faithful God’s saving grace. Don’t quote me the Book of Concord, show me examples in the pews. Since Lutherans believe the pope to be the antichrist – our clergy, our congregations, and our parishioners must be the pillars that keep Christendom intact, right? We know this is not the case. Lutheranism too often resembles the rest of Protestantism, consisting of those who care little for things outside the walls of their local parish and shirk at any sense of accountability to something or someone beyond their Board of Elders or Church Council: a most unbiblical and unfaithful apprehension.

The papacy, with all of its warts, carries with it the best means to unite our Lord’s Church until He does so to perfection when He returns.

The Bishop of Rome, more than any other office, has the authority to speak the truths of the faith to a world that denies the saving grace of the Lord Jesus and among a fractured church that becomes even more divided and more confused about its theology as each generation passes. The reformers knew the inherent value of this office and initially sought reform through it. As we Lutherans continue our reformation, I wonder why we no longer realize this value and make our theological claims not against the papacy, but as a movement that exists in support of and alongside this Bishop.

I doubt my argument will be accepted by many, if any, Lutherans. I’m certain that Dr. Keith will turn my argument upside down, inside out, then spit it out again and again. This is how Lutherans have responded to pleas for the papacy for 500 years. But if Lutherans are seriously committed to ecumenism and to theological integrity, then it’s high time for them to seriously reconsider the papacy.

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184 thoughts on “Lutherans Should Reconsider the Papacy

  1. Why should we reconsider the pope in Rome to be superior to any other historic patriarchate of the church? Jerusalem, maybe? The claims to both western supremacy in the church and to the papal office, as it evolved are spurious. You are suggesting a practical basis for unity but not a unity in truth. Unity in the church is not a matter of practical unity, it is one of truth and doctrine.

    I an address earlier this year, the pope voiced some disturbing Mariology which buries any hope of truth in Rome. I get that Christian freedom allows one to embrace, personally, the non-scriptural like assumption ad immaculate conception, but making theses things matters of doctrine is reprehensible.

    From my own experience, being married to a Catholic and having two children who went through CCD from kindergarten to age 16, I have been through not only the moralism without scripture that they teach as indoctrination but also the lies told by perhaps well-meaning priests and about what the church really teaches with respect to saints and Mary and how people’s practice may look, appear and seem different from that teaching but are not. My family is coming to church with me, now. It was only a matter of time.

    I’l say this, I know a few good nuns and do some great work with them out in the world, but the Catholic church is in no position to become the center of Christian truth. Even this pope, who has spoken better of Gospel than any of his predecessors in recent memory is a far cry from what would be needed.

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    1. hlewis, set aside your theological issues with Roman Catholicism and answer me this: Is there another Bishop other than Rome that has ever held a place of honor and authority? We Lutherans may not agree with Roman doctrine, but our claim that the papacy is unhistorical is simply wrong.

      Yes, I most certainly am looking for a practical unity. However, nowhere in this article (or in others) do I suggest we do so at the expense of truth. Please don’t misquote or misinterpret the point I am trying to make.

      So, if not the pope, then what or whom? Is the Book of Concord enough? The President of an American Lutheran Church? We Lutherans do a lot of complaining about the problems of the papacy, but never do much by way of offering another solution.

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      1. There is not universal assent to the primacy of Rome in the earliest churches. The Greeks never accepted it and they have as much credence as the earliest bishops in Rome. “Has another held…” is not to say anyone ought to have held or that what was held was good or ordained by God.

        Rome’s pursuit of unity has largely been confined to the mainline protestant churches, their accommodation of heterodoxy, ecumenical tendencies and sharing of “social Gospel”. Yes, it is practical. But it has no truth and no fidelity to even the pre-Reformation church.

        You are looking for another “solution”, but what is the problem? On that, I am not clear. A practical unity has no value to anyone if it is not fully grounded in truth. A good start for Rome would be to repudiate Trent, the council asked for and granted which later excluded the Lutheran clergy, after inclusion was promised, and was shifted from an earnest dialog and church council to a rubber stamp of blind papal allegiance over and above actual doctrine. Then, they can revisit the nullified portion of Council of Constance which placed the pope beneath a general council of the church. then, we can insist that they speak to those preserving the traditions of liturgy and the church and not the liberal theologians that tweak their gospel of worldly righteousness, their works-based salvation through social Gospel.

        Once that’s done, I’ll concede we should talk about the progress mad and the abuses corrected. In all honesty, I liked a lot of what Francis said in Evangellii Gaudium. I could have lived without the tacked on Mariology and his subsequent sucking up to sedevacantists and Mary worshipers (his brand of conciliation and inclusion, I guess). Some his statements were downright Lutheran.

        But, here’s a thought, if their the big old parent, and we’re the child, should they not come to us, lovingly and reasonably, showing us a path to conciliation? I think I’ve laid one out. Still not sure what value it has if all a real pope could do is agree with what we already know to be true.

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      2. The popes are historical enough and standing out enough, but that is the full measure of their value to any Christian that values the Scriptures. Graham, this doesn’t work as an argument for unity, either. You know very well that the truth is the only possible centerpiece of true unity. And frankly, the RC popes don’t have it. They keep undermining it with the same things that Luther fussed about. I don’t see anything there that could draw my attention toward unity.

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    2. If you truly hate the Catholic Church, was the real reason you married a Catholic so that they will leave the Church for your man made group?

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    3. “Why should we reconsider the pope in Rome to be superior to any other historic patriarchate of the church?”

      This is a very good question. The short answer is: because Jesus Christ established his priesthood when he established his Church, gave his priests special powers, guaranteed that the Church would not lapse into doctrinal error, and established Peter as his first vicar. There is an unbroken line of succession between Francis, and Peter. The writings of the early Church fathers indicated that they believed Peter and his successors to hold the “keys” (to be the vicar’s of Christ) and that the process they established for succession was an uncontroversial one.

      “The claims to both western supremacy in the church and to the papal office, as it evolved are spurious.”

      My reading of history and of the early Church Fathers brings me to a different conclusion. I would, however, quibble with your choice of words “supremacy”. The logical necessity for the priesthood, and of the Pope is clear, but this isn’t about power. It is about teaching the truth. It may help to think of the Pope as first among the servants of God, instead of as a kind of “King” who has some kind of “supremacy” over his flock.

      “You are suggesting a practical basis for unity but not a unity in truth. Unity in the church is not a matter of practical unity, it is one of truth and doctrine.”

      Just precisely so. The author has taken the first step, and recognized the necessity of the papacy, you take the next step and recognize one of the most important jobs of the papacy: the papacy is necessary to safeguard the deposit of faith, keep the truth’s of the faith from being distorted, changed, or lost altogether, and to be the leader of the Church God established while incarnate on earth.

      In short, this conversation proves, ipso facto, that we need the Holy Father, the rest of the magisterium, and the Church.

      And all this before we even begin to discuss the necessity for authority, the Bible, the fact that text is not self-interpreting (that the Bible serves the Church, the Church does not serve the Bible) and all kinds of other interesting points.

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      1. I don’t suppose it would matter that there was no bishop in Rome for awhile in Cyprian’s years. The Romans (Decian’s reign, c.250) kept killing them, so no one would stand up for it until things calmed down. Cyprian filled in from his side of the Med Sea, Carthage. I wrote a paper on Cyprian at the seminary awhile back from his memoirs at the hands of 19th c. historian. I can bring it up for those interested.

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  2. I don’t even think the papacy reflects Christian unity, or even enhances it. They insist on holding to all kinds of falsehood on the basis of tradition, not Scripture. They claim supremacy that does not exist. They claim apostolic succession that does not exist. Why would I want that? On the other hand, if legitimate Christian unity in the truth can be found somehow by real and fruitful discussion of the truth of Scripture, the papacy becomes a non-issue and all would be well. That would be real ecumenism, if anyone wants it. And we do have bishops, though we don’t call them that. Of course, the ELCA does call them that, and they’re doing so well since they kept the name. Oh wait a minute, maybe not so much. Or maybe our bishops/DPs don’t count because of the non-existent apostolic succession. You’ll have to do a lot better reasoning for me to begin any consideration of this, if it’s possible at all.

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    1. Don, I assume, based on your comments, that the church prior to the Reformation (all 1,500 years of it) that believed in the authority of tradition and scripture, as well as aposotlic succession, were wrong too?

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      1. Yes, absolutely and easily provably wrong by any honest history book. There were no popes until about 500AD. There was no successor to any apostle, let alone Peter or Paul that might have set that up. At one point there were 4 popes at a time. No one could possibly make that case without simply asserting it and hoping it is believed – or as the RC’s might suppose, “or else.” You just can’t make that one stick.

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      2. I forgot tradition. We have tradition, too. That’s all it is. It can be helpful to understand something of the truth by symbolism or some kind of order, but it has no authority to make anyone believe anything. And as it turns out, a good bit of RC tradition is not just not in the Bible, but contradictory.

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      3. Don. “There were no Popes until about 500A.D.”

        “If anyone disobey the things which have been said by him [God] through us [i.e., that you must reinstate your leaders], let them know that they will involve themselves in transgression and in no small danger. . . . You will afford us joy and gladness if being obedient to the things which we have written through the Holy Spirit, you will root out the wicked passion of jealousy” (Letter to the Corinthians 1, 58–59, 63 [A.D. 80]).

        “Therefore shall you [Hermas] write two little books and send one to Clement [Bishop of Rome] and one to Grapte. Clement shall then send it to the cities abroad, because that is his duty” (The Shepherd 2:4:3 [A.D. 80]).

        Both written during the time the Apostle John lived!

        Peter’s successor enjoys primacy while an apostle still lives! Where are you getting your 500 year number?

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      4. In neither case was there a pope in Rome, not until Gregory, circa 500AD. Sure there were bishops, but they had to superior authority until much later, coequal at first with Constantinople and Alexandria. I don’t suppose you know who ordained Clement…

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      5. Don. “In neither case was there a pope in Rome, not until Gregory, circa 500AD”

        Source please?

        Written by The Editors of Encyclopædia Britannica
        “First Letter of Clement, originally titled Letter To The Church Of Corinth; also called I Clement, a letter to the Christian Church in Corinth from the church of Rome, traditionally ascribed to and almost certainly written by St. Clement I of Rome, c. ad 96. …”

        The bishop of Rome asserted authority over the Church in Corinth here.

        “Accept our counsel and you will have nothing to regret. . . . If anyone disobey the things which have been said by him [God] through us [i.e., that you must reinstate your leaders], let them know that they will involve themselves in transgression and in no small danger.”

        There is a bishop in Rome asserting authority over other churches.

        Again I ask where do you get your 500 year till a Pope apears in Rome data?

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      6. I don’t have my history books here at home – the seminary ones that make this clear with authority, but you can look at Wikipedia under POPE and see that much in the 1st paragraph – actually it makes it much worse (with a zillion footnotes).

        Clement was a bishop with no papal authority, and all he offered was counsel in Corinth – and that was possibly within his see at the time. That counsel was from God, not Clement.

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      7. You gave me nothing that is evidence of what you’ve asserted. What I gave you is not much in the way of authority – although wiki’s list of authorities was impressive enough to me – but, my point is that it is common knowledge and extensive with authority from all over that you’re assertion is baseless.

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      8. Don,

        You said, “Yes, absolutely and easily provably wrong by any honest history book. There were no popes until about 500AD. There was no successor to any apostle, let alone Peter or Paul that might have set that up.”. Do you consider the Bible an “honest history book”, Don? Apostolic succession is clearly documented in Acts 2:15-26.

        Also, there has never been a time in history where there were “four popes”. There was a time when there was a pope and two anti-popes (false claimants to the office). But the two anti-popes were no more the pope than “Pope Michael” is today. (Do an Internet search if you don’t know who he is.)

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      9. Sean, please elaborate. You cite the events of that Pentecost as Apostolic succession being clearly documented? We have the gathered 12 going into the streets preaching to the Jews gathered for the holiday. The miracle is that the gathered foreigners heard the Word in their native languages and the holy Spirit came upon the crowd opening their eyes to their sin under the law so that they could receive the Gospel, in full.

        What about the earlier events of John 20 when Christ breathed on them the Holy Spirit and they were given the power to voice absolution or at the end of Matthew when the Church received its mission?

        We receive the Holy Spirit in baptism and we are part of the Church’s mission, we evangelize. Why? because we are heirs to the Apostles.

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      10. I picked that up already from someone – Acts 1, though. I take your word for the multiple popes, but their unity was lacking there and it confused me and a lot of other people because it looked well enough to be legitimate obfuscation. It draws additional doubt to the office’s succession.

        As for Judas’ replacement, that was a one-and-done, chosen by lot with the Eleven as witnesses. Nobody else was ever replaced because there are no more face-to-face witnesses to Jesus’ life and death, etc., appointed by Jesus personally as eyewitnesses. The Twelve are the Twelve. Except Paul. There are no apostles with that kind of authority anymore, popes included.

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      11. Pastor Glover, as you know we do not reject tradition as an authority if properly understood (Chemnitz would be an interesting read for our RC apologists here). Also, even Rome’s own scholars are begrudgingly dealing with the reality that Apostolic succession, as Jesse and Sean anachronistically imagine it when making their comments here, is simply a figment of Roman triumphalism. From Apostles to Bishops: The Development of the Episcopacy in the Early Church deals well with the diversity in the early Church, and it is written by a Roman Catholic priest. Couple that with a close reading of the New Testament texts, and I think the draw to Roman ecclesiology is more romantic than you are willing to admit.

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    2. Don. “There was no successor to any apostle, let alone Peter or Paul that might have set that up”

      Acts 2,“Lord, who knowest the hearts of all men, show which one of these two thou hast chosen to take the place in this ministry and apostleship from which Judas turned aside, to go to his own place.”

      The office of Judas needs a successor but not Peter?

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      1. That particular office was for the 12. There will never be another 12. Apostles with that kind of authority no longer exist. Jesus picked them, they witnessed his life and death and rising, etc. No one else has done that or been sent, except Paul (also by Jesus personally). No popes in the mix. On top of that the church in Rome precedes Peter and Paul to that city. They didn’t appoint pastors or bishops there at the start of the church there.

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    3. “They insist on holding to all kinds of falsehood on the basis of tradition, not Scripture.”

      Firstly, I would disagree with your assertion that Catholics hold “all kinds of falsehood based on tradition, not scripture.” The teachings of the Church almost always have a firm founding in scripture. There is only one teaching that, off the top of my head, that is pure oral tradition: The Assumption of Mary.

      Don, “Scripture” is nothing more than text. Text written, in part, by the Church (the letters of the New Testament were early Papal encyclicals). Also, the canon of the Bible is not present in the Bible itself, thus the existence of an authoritative canon and indeed scripture at all, rests on the authority of the Church to declare such a thing, to decide what is or is not scripture, and which version of that scripture is the inspired one.

      More to the point, text is not self-interpreting, nor is the process of reading a text independent from the context (the “tradition”), so to “read” a text requires both an authoritative teacher and an authoritative interpreter (the Church).

      For a Lutheran to deny the Papacy raises serious questions about their own religious traditions, as one must raise this question of authority. In other words, why did Luther have the authority to edit the Bible, change the canon, and reinterpret scripture? If he did these things validly, then he did so with the powers of a Pope. By his very acts, he admitted to the validity and necessity of the Papacy.

      In other words, we are already past arguing about the necessity of the Papacy, now we are simply arguing here whether or not Luther exercised those powers validly and in conformance with the will of God.

      Or, to put it another way, the Bible is part of the Tradition that you find distasteful. One wonders why you accept that part of the Tradition, but not the rest of it.

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      1. Like so much nonsense that has been written here, saying Scripture is papal encyclical is pretty crazy. There wasn’t even a bishop at Rome at all for most of the NT, and no popes for long after that. There can be no debate with that kind of assertion of nonsense as fact.

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  3. Graham, I cannot begin to list the reasons we must reject the office of the Papacy, and the erroneous doctrines and teachings of Catholicism, unchanged but slightly modified over the last thousand years, and as an intelligent man, I am sure you are well aware of the rational and biblical objections. Yet, you return to this idea, a discredited one, and manage to overcome your own best instincts and arguments to put this notion on the table. To unify the body of Christ requires adherence to the Gospel and Holy Writ, and the avoidance of heresies and carnal power done under the umbrella of Papal infallibility and the misguided doctrines of men. You need to abandon this idea completely, and return to the plain and life changing Gospel Our Lord taught us. Pray for wisdom, and I will surely pray that you come to your senses.

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    1. John, what is so offensive about the office of the papacy to you? Not the doctrine of the Roman Catholic Church, but the papal office itself?

      And you really don’t think the Roman Church has changed? You don’t think the papal office has changed? Even a cursory read of history illustrates this is not true.

      I guess the reformers, who so earnestly reached out to the pope were wrong too? At what point did we non-Roman Catholics become so enlightened that we knew without certainty that the papal office is not a good thing?

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  4. You haven’t enough hot air to reinflate this lead balloon of yours. Why should we continue to rebel against the papacy? Well, being the Antichrist/That Man of Sin (since when did it repudiate its previous claims and repent of its sins?), one can hardly expect orthodoxy and orthopraxy from it; there’s also its drunkenness with the blood of the saints, complete and utter lack of Scriptural warrant, dubious historical warrant (the East hasn’t suffered for lack of papacy); its unsupportable claim of infallibility – I could go on.

    So Mariology represents ecumenicity and theological integrity? I’m sure getting on the Holy Tradition bandwagon will smoothe out all of our doctrinal rough spots like the Solas and the Real Presence. You give me hope 😦

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    1. kirk, as with others, I ask, if not the papal office, what do suggest can bring unity to the Christian church and maintain theological integrity about her many differing communions?

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      1. The papacy’s pretensions are what fractured the western church and provoked 1054; where, then, are you getting this notion of the papacy as a rallying point for Christendom? How can something foreign to Holy Writ bring about the unity Holy Writ speaks of?

        Sorry, but I have no answer for you because there really isn’t one; the sin of disunity is part and parcel of the Fall, and will remain with us to some degree until the Parousia. Besides, is the RCC really unified, or is it merely a “big tent?” What kind of godly unity allows for impenitents like the Kennedys and Nancy Pelousy to remain in communicant status? We have enough problems with our own integrity.

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    2. “Well, being the Antichrist/That Man of Sin (since when did it repudiate its previous claims and repent of its sins?)”

      This question has two parts . . . you seem to have conflated bad action with bad teaching.

      That the Church was abusive in its exercise of indulgences, for example, does not have any bearing on whether or not the principle of indulgences is correct.

      For the first part, admissions of wrong doing and apologies were issued, and new rules instituted. A very, very long time ago. Those rules have prevented recurrence.

      “So Mariology represents ecumenicity and theological integrity?”

      I’m uncertain as to what you mean by “Mariology”, but just to short circuit the discussion: the Church does not teach the worship of Mary.

      But the Church has the authority to speak about Mary, based on the oral tradition and its knowledge about, and life of the Apostles.

      If the Church has the authority to write scripture and determine which writings are scripture, then it has the authority to pray, meditate, research and think deeply about what it has experienced, and then in the fullness of the faith and with the leading of the Spirit, authoritatively declare that the proper understanding of a thing is now dogma.

      Which is where the dogma of the Assumption of Mary comes from, if that was what you were referring to.

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      1. No conflation at all; the teaching of ecclesia supra mundus cost the wealth and live of many Jews and Amerindians, as well as the blood of may saints. Mariology and the cult of the saints, badly disguised Kybele worship that it is (both centered in Ephesus), has led people from depending upon and loving Christ to being practical henotheists; just look at the church in Haiti and Latin America. Bad teaching, bad action. BTW your distinction between hyperdulia and latreia has no merit, as Scripture knows nought of the former and referring to Mary as you folks do is de facto worship; your distinction impresses only those already wet in the Tiber.

        Your recourse to an oral tradition is warmed-over rabbinic device – was not “Karaite” an epithet hurled at Luther? – as nowhere does Scripture even hint that some complementary revelation is possible – let alone, exists. If you could prove that 1) such a law exists, b) present said law, and c) show where the RCC is given divine mandate to rule Christendom and the the word (that ecclesia supra mundus thing), I’d say you had a point.

        So the RCC is sorry for its inveterate antisemitism, the rape of the Amerindians, the slaughter of Protestants (St Bart’s Day is the only saint’s day I mark)? So are we all. When the church reforms and returns the booty, I’ll agree; until then, she ranks with Cain, Esau, and Judas, who were also sorry.

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  5. Um…I’m getting some popcorn.

    Just curious Graham, how do Protestants tend to explain the supernatural longevity of the Papacy?

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      1. Dave. Does sin, death and the devil explain every historical anomolies or just ones you don’t feel like addressing?

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    1. Jesse, I’m getting a beer!

      I’m not sure its longevity is an overly compelling argument. Not that its a false one, but not something that I think gives the papal office its best support.

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      1. Jesse,
        What the hell are “historical anomalies”?
        God did not institute that Papacy; the Devil did. Saint Paul addressed the Antichrist 2k years ago.

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      2. Just taking a different approach with this tactic.

        If the longevity of Israel is a credible argument for their covenant being from God (and it is) then the most peculiar office in human history that dates back to Christ’s first apostle should make anyone’s head spin who’s really looking at this.

        If you think this is a ho hum thing that happens all the time and not very convincing that’s where you are. I’m dazzled by Christ’s brilliance in creating this office for the world to see.

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      3. Jesse,

        The covenant made with Israel is now with the Church. We are Abraham’s heirs and the modern state of Israel and the Jewish faith are no longer a part of that covenant. Most of that was lost to them during the Judaizing of Israel and formation of the Talmud and Mishnah, the religion that supplanted the faith of Israel. Any statement to such longevity is misplaced.

        Only in Christ can the Jews return to the covenant made with Israel.

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  6. Council of Trent: “If anyone says that the substance of bread and wine remains in the holy sacrament of the Eucharist together with the body and blood of our Lord Jesus Christ, and denies that wonderful and extraordinary change of the whole substance of the bread into Christ’s body and the whole substance of the wine into his blood while only the species of bread and wine remain, a change which the Catholic Church has most fittingly called transubstantiation: let him be anathema.”

    Here is just one example of how the papacy continues, to this day, to bind consciences to the doctrine of men on pain of eternal damnation. How utterly demonic and sickening. And this is but one of many present-day examples of what the Antichrist continues to do in the church.

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    1. Farquad. Do Lutherans consider JW’s and Mormons outside of the Christian community because of their rejection of the Trinity?

      If yes, are you condemning them to hell?

      Excommunicating someone is not condemning them to hell. It’s simply letting someone they have left the Church.

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      1. Jesse, denial of the Trinity is exclusion from Christianity, period. They are outside the church.

        Neither we, nor the Church, nor popes condemn anyone to hell. That condemnation is merited under the law by all judged according to their original sin. In the end, we are either found in Christ, clothed in his righteousness, or condemned by our own merit.

        If we, by doctrine, are anathematized, we are automatically outside the communion of the papal church and, therefore, outside its unity. The question then becomes are we outside the Church? or simply outside the Roman Catholic faith? Because outside the Church, outside of Christ, there is no salvation. If the visible and established order of Rome is synonymous with Church, then being anathematized is being condemned. If it is only a visible manifestation of a larger whole that is the Church, then excommunication is not damning. I hold to the second, it allows that errors, such as Catholicism, are yet within Christ. To my knowledge, Rome does the same. Which leaves me to ask, what value have the judgments of Rome if those judgments are effective only on Earth?

        If you have access to a Book of Concord, you can search the references to the Kingdom of Antichrist and might better understand the accusation leveled by the reformers at the papacy.

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      2. Hlewis I don’t think we’re that far apart. I was addressing farquads lamentation over the canard of Popes “bind(ing) consciences to the doctrine of men on pain of eternal damnation. How utterly demonic and sickening”

        Just seems juvinal to say Lutherans cans decide who are real Christians but if a Pope does it it demonic.

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      3. Jesse, we, as Lutherans / the Lutheran Church/ Lutheran faith do not decide who is a real Christian. That is done by the Church Catholic – the Scriptures and the Creeds applied to the heresies at issue by the Church Fathers we all share. True practice and true adherence to proper doctrine is for our benefit – receiving the Means of Grace, receiving the Holy Spirit, receiving Christ’s body and blood, receiving absolution. The important difference is that Catholics defer to the pope to make these judgments rather than to the authority of the Church – they make the pope synonymous with the Creeds, Fathers, Scriptures, and Means of Grace because they allow that only he can tell them what these things mean and what they are and what traditions are important.

        I agree that he is not Satanic, that is not what Antichrist means in our confessions. In a nutshell, it means that the work of Christ is dishonored by the setting up of services that we perform to and for God as meriting justification (Ap XV 18). Free Grace and justification is replaced by meritorious service in and to the Church. Such an order can only serve the enemy of the Church.

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      4. jessej

        The Trinity is biblical. Transubstantiation is not.

        It is not juvenile of the pope to anathematize those who reject his man-made teachings, it is satanic for him to do so.

        Graham apparently has not considered this.

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    2. Farquad, you choose transubstantiation as the example to deny the usefulness of the papal office? I’m not sure why you went there? And you think this is demonic? Why exactly?

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    3. “Here is just one example of how the papacy continues, to this day, to bind consciences to the doctrine of men on pain of eternal damnation.”

      With respect, your interpretation of the Council of Trent is in error.

      Some Christians had stopped believing in what Christ said, and what the Bible says, about the Eucharist. Trent simply made it clear that Christ’s teaching on this matter was dogma, and that division on this issue was no longer allowed within the Christian community.

      Yes, Church teachings “bind the conscience of men”, as to do otherwise is to separate your conscience from right reason. The doctrine of transubstantiation is an answer to the question of “how can bread be the body of Christ?”

      Short answer: the form is different, but the substance is that of Christ, as he himself said it was. Modern science, in fact, is supportive of this belief, though of course only competent to talk about the matter, not the whole of the Eucharist.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. jessej,

    Yes.

    Yes.

    extra Ecclesiam nulla salus.

    Let the post-vatican ii “contextualization” (read; waffling and reinterpreting) begin.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Graham, the only unity that ought be sought is faith in the atoning work of Christ. Our confessions describe what atonement is better than any other writings. Why would we want to compromise any of that? You seem to think that unity is more desirable than faithfulness to the truth. Unity should be sought, but faithful understanding and teaching of God’s word trump all.
    Unity can be achieved by Rome repenting of its error and returning to the fold.

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    1. James, I’m not looking to put unity over truth. In fact, in my second to last paragraph, I even call for the Reformation to continue, albeit in conjunction with and alongside the pope.

      Do you have any issues with the papacy itself or just with the doctrines of the Roman Catholic Church? And, which error does Rome need to repent and to whose fold will she return?

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  9. Farquad, if transubstantiation is not biblical, and according to you, demonic, I assume you think all Protestants that do not confess the Real Presence are demonic too? That’s basically everybody but Lutherans.

    And, by the way, I think Luther would prefer transubstantiation to those who deny the real presence every day of the week.

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    1. Graham, on transubstantiation, you are correct. If anything: “Also they teach that one holy Church is to continue forever. The Church is the congregation of saints, in which the Gospel is rightly taught and the Sacraments are rightly administered.” (AC VII) should prove a suitable antidote to Protestant identity over Catholic identity.

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    2. You haven’t understood me. What I’m calling “satanic” is the papacy’s requirement that Christians must believe an unbiblical theory on pain of anathema.

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      1. Farquad. How many times does Matthew Mark and Luke have to say Jesus said “this in my body” Not like my body?

        Did you need a “really really my body” in there somewhere!

        You may not believe Jesus was using exact language and that’s fine but to believe bread becomes Jesus is by far, more biblical than not.

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      2. Farquad, ok, I hear your concern. But should the Church be silent to those who reject the physical presence of Christ in the Sacrament? Is this not tantamount to rejecting Christ Himself?

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      3. I apologize for not “getting” the formatting, thus the double post and hopefully its in the right place now:

        jessej,

        It seems like you may not understand me. It also seems that you may not fully grasp the doctrine of transubstantiation.

        With Matthew, Mark, and Luke I believe that we are receiving Christ’s true body and blood, by mouth, for the forgiveness of sins. This, however, is not identical to the theory of transubstantiation.

        The theory of transubstantiation borrows the aristotelean categories of “substance” and “accident” and bases itself on loosely on these, with the result that only the “accidents” of bread and wine remain, but not the bread and wine themselves (substances”).

        This theory is not a Biblical teaching, but I must believe it on pain of anathema! In fact this theory is contrary to what Paul teaches (1 Cor. 11:26), but I must believe it on pain of anathema!

        This is but one concrete example of the tyranny of the papacy and how it seeks to bind Christian consciences to itself and its teaching rather than the teachings of Christ and His apostles.

        Satanic.

        Wait, let me “reconsider” that.

        Yep, still satanic.

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      4. Graham,

        The church should confess what Matthew, Mark, and Luke do about the Supper. Yes, those who reject it put themselves outside.

        The papacy confesses something other than (or “in addition to”) what Matthew, Mark, and Luke confess about the Supper. The papacy then anathematizes people like me who don’t agree with their man-made theory.

        Though I agree completely with Matthew, Mark, and Luke, I’m anathematized by the papacy. How is that good, Christian leadership?

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      5. Faquad. “The papacy confesses something other than (or “in addition to”) what Matthew, Mark, and Luke confess about the Supper. The papacy then anathematizes people like me who don’t agree with their man-made theory”

        What does the Church confess about the Eucharist that was not understood by every Christian community for 1500 years until the “reformation”?

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      6. jessej,

        As explained above, the papacy confesses the theory of transubstantiation, which borrows the aristotelean categories of “substance” and “accident” and is based loosely on these, with the result that only the “accidents” of bread and wine remain, but not the bread and wine themselves (substances”).

        There is no evidence that the church confessed this theory for 1500 years. in fact, we hear nothing of it until the scholastics pick it up about a century before Aquinas.

        At Trent the papacy formally introduced this novelty into the church and anathematized any who would wish to simply hold to the words of Christ and His apostles.

        Some Vicar of Christ! We are anathema if we hold to the words of Christ!

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      7. So, is it right and proper to call yourself Christian, but then to deny the teachings of Christ?

        In other words: what is wrong with defining what it is that Christians believe?

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  10. jessej,

    It seems like you may not understand me. It also seems that you may not fully grasp the doctrine of transubstantiation.

    With Matthew, Mark, and Luke I believe that we are receiving Christ’s true body and blood, by mouth, for the forgiveness of sins. This, however, is not identical to the theory of transubstantiation.

    The theory of transubstantiation borrows the aristotelean categories of “substance” and “accident” and bases itself on loosely on these, with the result that only the “accidents” of bread and wine remain, but not the bread and wine themselves (substances”).

    This theory is not a Biblical teaching, but I must believe it on pain of anathema! In fact this theory is contrary to what Paul teaches (1 Cor. 11:26), but I must believe it on pain of anathema!

    This is but one concrete example of the tyranny of the papacy and how it seeks to bind Christian consciences to itself and its teaching rather than the teachings of Christ and His apostles.

    Satanic.

    Wait, let me “reconsider” that.

    Yep, still satanic.

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  11. David, at what point did Satan invent the papacy? Was Luther, until he burned his papal bull of excommunication, part of Satan’s church? Would you suggest that the Roman Catholic Church is Satan’s church today?

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    1. Rev. Glover,
      Those are odd questions coming from an ordained LCMS pastor. I am not going to teach you the doctrine of the church. You should already know what it is. You show that you do not.
      When you were ordained did you make a false oath when you subscribed unconditionally to the Lutheran Confessions? Or, are you repudiating that oath now?

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      1. Dave, odd, really? I’m asking for you to clarify your statement on when the papacy became the antichrist, and on whether or not the church to which our beloved Luther was baptized, confirmed, and ordained was the church of Satan? This, on a post about the office of the papacy (NOT the Roman Catholic Church). Is it not more odd that you have not offered such clarity?

        I fully acknowledge that the Lutheran Confessions, speaking about the papacy of the 16th century, are forthright in saying it has the marks of the antichrist. And I also think that label is dated and no longer applicable. Since you allude to know much of church history, I’m certain you must acknowledge that the Roman Church of the 16th century is not the same as 2015. Or would you suggest nothing has changed?

        I’ll leave aside your apparent insight into my vocation, to include my ordination vows and vocation as a pastor in the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod. Your comments are not worthy of any more response on that issue.

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  12. Don, who then possesses the Truth? Just Lutherans? Only LCMS Lutherans? Are those who do not hold to our Confessions part of the same satanic beast that most who are responding on this post claim the Roman Catholic Church to be?

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    1. The Bible possesses the truth. Everything else is subject to that truth, even the Book of Concord. I think Lutherans have it best (LCMS does well among them), yes, but I wouldn’t presume perfection on that. Truth in the church comes from discussion with Biblical truth as a goal for all parties unto unity. But the only truth I will consider is Scripture and clear reason. That doesn’t seem to be the standard for the RC church.

      I wouldn’t presume to condemn the church at Rome that way, either, not to call it Satanic. Antichrist, in the sense that it claims a higher authority than it has, even attempting to replace some things that belong to God alone, probably even after all these years. I just believe they hold to errors that are easily revealed by a basic look at the words of the Bible. And worse, they expect people to hold that with them on pain of excommunication.

      I don’t really understand why the truth that Lutherans profess from Scripture is not enough for you. That’s not right – I mean falling short in a way that demands allowance of the RC’s clearly errant stances on so many things. I don’t see how a pope would provide any unity in the truth that way. His standing in the world as a leader among Christians is no doubt helpful sometimes to many people, but the falsehood that is professed is misleading and even damaging to many others. A straight-forward understanding of such an authority in the church of normal human failings would make a big difference to me. More than that, I need a real discussion toward real Scriptural understanding to be underway and resolved before I could engage the rest of it.

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  13. kirk, do we then give up on seeking unity? I know we will never achieve a perfect church. That will come when our Lord returns. And I’m certainly not suggesting there are not apostates in the Roman Church. There clearly are, just as in the LCMS churches. I’m simply looking for the means – the office, by which unity might be achieved and I’m trying (unsuccessfully with most respondents on this post!) to suggest the papacy is the best thing going.

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    1. One cannot stop seeking unity, but unity does not equal lowest common denominator, gunpoint, or Einheit Ueber Alles. The only man who can unify the church is Christ himself. As for apostates, it’s one thing to say that all churches have their apostates, but the Roman system is itself apostasy, so why would you look to it? As for eventually bringing about unity, due to the Fall you willl only approach that goal asymptotically; any other belief is messianic pretension.

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  14. Farquad , for those of us who deny transubstantiation, being anathematized is obviously a problem! I got that. But I do think there is some goodness in a church discipline that says those who reject Christ in the Sacrament are in fact rejecting Him in His person.

    Not sure I’m solving much on this issue, but I’m not offended by the principle of what Rome is doing in this decree.

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    1. But you say “reconsider the papacy.” On what grounds? On the grounds that that the papacy errs theologically? On the grounds that the papacy binds consciences and demands obedience to its errors? On the grounds that the papacy anathematizes Christ’s people who hold to Christ’s word?

      As a “final authority” how is the papacy doing? As a force that unites Christ’s people in Christ’s in word, how s the papacy doing?

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      1. I sense anger in your tone, jessej, but you didn’t actually address any of my questions above. You simply said (paraphrase): “well, he has a lot of people who attend his mass.” That’s not adding much to the conversation. Islam has a lot of people too.

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      2. ” As a force that unites Christ’s people in Christ’s in word, how s the papacy doing?”

        Hindus, Muslims and Zoroastrians aside who unites Christians in the same manner as the Pope?

        What christian can travel the world and have millions come to see him?

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      3. Oh brother I just caught your sense of anger from me comment. Lol. Not.

        As far as the early Church goes. Here’s Augustine on the Eucharist.

        “Christ held Himself in His hands when He gave His Body to His disciples saying: ‘This is My Body.’ No one partakes of this Flesh before he has adored it.”

        We don’t adore (worship) bread unless God tells us it is Him.

        Really where do you get your history on this?

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      4. Transubstantion means the bread becomes Jesus so we can adore. Augustines quote makes no sense if he does not fully understand this.

        Why would Augustine worship bread otherwise?

        Who (with Augustine’s intellect) worships bread unless it’s God?

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      5. Jesse,

        Adoration is permissible in a Lutheran context, during distribution because the body and blood are present during distribution. We simply do not believe that the substance is changed or that the body and blood remain after the eucharist is over. We cannot give wafers to people to carry around as the body of Christ. – no God in a box. Pastors are required to commune the sick and shut ins. We take the sacrament quite seriously. Nor does it make sense not to also adore the wine but the over caution with wine that cropped up in the 13th century and created “lay communion” seems to have stuck in Catholicism. We retain communion as practiced by the early church, in both kinds for always, for all.

        After distribution, the consecrated hosts and remaining wine is either consumed, reserved for a second distribution, or properly disposed of – we are reverent with the elements that were set aside fr the sacrament even though we do not believe that their substance has changed because they were reserved for this purpose. Long before the Western Church formalized transubstantiation, these same practices obtained. Even the Eastern Church, a I understand it, is less formal than the Western with respect to transubstantiation.

        A Lutheran is in error if he claims that it is improper to adore Christ in the sacrament. One is free to do so, though nor required. Sometime during the 17th century, formal adorations, such as Corpus Cristi were largely eschewed as idolatrous – they promoted God in a box thinking and worship of the contained presence. They also drew people away from the corporate nature of the sacrament. One person contemplating a pyx is not worship or sacrament. The sacrament is for all gathered, while gathered, in worship.

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      6. Aw crud hlewis! If your going to worship something partially God you can’t find an aphid that’s not partially God.

        All or nothing at all for me sir.

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      7. Actually, the host and wine are not worshiped, God is. Both the host and the wine are, during the sacrament, both entirely the Body and Blood and entirely bread and wine. The bread and wine are not changed, just as Christ is wholly man and wholly God – his being one does not change the other.

        And there is no aphid that is part God. I was not aware that you were a Gnostic, believing God, divinity, is created into the world and His creatures. That is not Christian. It is one of the earliest heresies confronted and put down.

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      8. Transubstantiation is not necessary for Augustine to be correct. Nor does Augustine ever describe anything like transubstantiation in his writings.

        Because the bread is Christ’s body and Christ is therefore present – He is adored by all who commune.

        I agree with Augustine while rejecting transubstantiation (which Augustine knew nothing of – but please prove otherwise!).

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      9. Benny Hinn? If that’s your ace comparison I’ll bite. What’s Benny Hinn’s largest documented gathering reported by AP?

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      10. Jesse,

        Billy Graham packed them in. But that seems beside the point. It is more important to confess and be absolved, to receive the sacrament, to hear the Word read and preached than to watch a pope celebrate mass or give an address. One receives nothing more or less than if one tunes in on TV.

        Perhaps you can tell me why it is more laudable to pack a stadium instead of the pews? Why being in the presence of the pope, even at some distant loudspeaker range, has meaning?

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      11. “Perhaps you can tell me why it is more laudable to pack a stadium instead of the pews? Why being in the presence of the pope, even at some distant loudspeaker range, has meaning?”

        I couldn’t care less about stadium volume.

        You poo pooed the Pope unifying Christians. I mentioned he unnites them en mass regurally like no one on earth could without the sanction of God himself.

        You responded with some two bit hack to make your point.

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      12. Try to follow, jessej, this will be my last attempt with you today.

        ++++

        Here’s my comment to Graham (and btw, Graham, I’m still asking!):

        But you say “reconsider the papacy.” On what grounds? On the grounds that that the papacy errs theologically? On the grounds that the papacy binds consciences and demands obedience to its errors? On the grounds that the papacy anathematizes Christ’s people who hold to Christ’s word?

        As a “final authority” how is the papacy doing? As a force that unites Christ’s people in Christ’s in word, how s the papacy doing?

        ++++

        To which you responded (paraphrase): “well, the pope has a lot of people who attend his mass.” This doesn’t add anything to the conversation. False teachers inside and outside of Christianity draw large numbers. When you asked for an example within Christianity, I gave you Benny Hinn because I was trying to get you to see how silly the “we have lots of people” argument is.

        Then … you actually want to compare Benny Hinn’s numbers with the Pope’s … yeesh.

        I would still like to hear from Graham his thoughts on the questions above.

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  15. hlewis, what’s the problem? Really? Our divided Christian church is not a problem? In the midst of an ever hostile world, I don’t see why seeking a means for unity is not a worthy cause.

    I agree, there is not universal assent to the papacy. I think this is the question that Lutherans in particular, as well as other Protestants and the Orthodox, should reconsider. I’ve noted several times that nothing will be perfect until our Lord returns with respect to His Church, but it seems to me that the papacy offers the best route forward.

    Moreover, the vast disagreement across Christianity, I think, is a problem. Granted, there is much where we agree, but our inability to find common ground seems to me to be a direct result of our inability to find a common authority. Don’t read that last statement that I think the papacy supersedes the truths of our Lord, found in His Word and His Church, only that the papacy, more than other offices, has the unique ability to be the authoritative voice for our Lord’s Church.

    I know mine is a call that will be heard by very few, and endorsed by perhaps only me. I do like your last illustration with respect to the parent/child role. As Lutherans look to the papacy, Rome could go a long way in reaching out to Lutherans and specifically, our continued call for reform.

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    1. Graham,

      I don’t see the division that you do. There are sects which get baptized but do not believe that in so doing they receive forgiveness of sins. I believe God forgives them in baptism, anyway. There are legalists trying to earn their way to heaven or purchase from a storehouse of grace in the name of some saint. I believe God still freely justifies them despite what they think. Others do not receive the body and blood in the sacrament but such is not necessary to salvation and discerning the body is not something enforceable. If one does not by faith, no decree can correct that. But not receiving the sacrament does not exclude one from the Church.

      Divided in form is not divided in fact. No established church will ever be perfect in form and function and unity in error is not preferable. The world will see Christians dong god works and some will be touched by the Spirit to see the fruits of salvation, others will see it as attempts to merit God’s favor, others will see it as part of universal law, simply what non-Christians do, as well. The world’s perceptions of truth will often be mistaken. The world’s inability to see Christ’s Church because of our differences should not be our inspiration to compromise. No matter what the world sees or we see, there is now and always has been One Church.

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  16. Farquad, is it the papacy or the Roman Church that errs theologically? I think there is a difference and this is the point I have been trying to make. I do think the papacy is, as jessej notes, the authoritative voice for Christians throughout the world. Lutherans may not want to admit this, but when people think if the Christian Church, the pope is clearly the most common representative of our faith.

    I’ve tried to answer the question about the Roman Church anathematizing those who reject her teachings. We Lutherans many not use such strong language, but we clearly say that those outside our confessional walls do not teach the Gospel purely or administer the Lord’s sacraments properly. How is this any different than Rome?

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  17. Aside from Mt 16:18-19 , Jn 21:15-17, & Clement’s Letter to the Corinthians, there is a reference to the chair of the bishop of Rome, Pius I.

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  18. Graham,

    With Luther I view the papacy as an antichristian tyranny that has overcome the Roman Church, leading her into error. With Melanchthon my quibble isn’t with the theoretical idea of having a pope, rather it is with the specific abuses of the papal office in concrete. I have no quibble with declaring an error “anathema” – Scripture and the Lutheran Confessions do that.

    But the “authoritative voice for Christians around the world” (as you put it) anathematizes Christians for following Christ’s words.

    That is a problem. An antichristian problem.

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  19. Pastor Glover, first of all thank you for this article. It was sentiments like these these that lead me out of the LCMS into full communion with Rome. That and wanting to be able to get the Eucharist when I traveled out of LCMS dominated regions. But I held these opinions about the papacy for four years before I decided to regularize my relationship with the Church 🙂 I won’t refute your critics–you are doing fine on your own.

    But I wanted to invite you to visit an Anglican Ordinariate parish whenever you find yourself in such an area since there isn’t one in Fort Benning–technically the Personal Ordinariate of the Chair of St. Peter. There you will find Rome’s answer to certainly Anglicanism, and Protestantism more generally: I think it’s a good one. Through the ordinariate, Rome has preserved much that was distinctive and awesome of the Anglican patrimony: the hymns, the chant, the liturgy. Thus Rome encourages Anglicans and Episcopalians who have become disaffected in what those denominations stand for to seek full communion without forfeiting their history and tradition. The Church has also stated (through Benedict who established this structure and Francis who enlarged it) that the Church wishes to benefit from much of the 500 years of Anglican tradition as it has evolved. On a symbolic level, this is extremely important as gives physical form to what was meant in Lumen Gentium.

    Here’s hoping for a Lutheran Ordinariate 🙂

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    1. Eleanor is referring to Anglicans who have returned to full communion I believe hlewis

      Definition of ORDINARIATE. 1 : the administrative division of a particular Roman Catholic diocese or archdiocese. 2 : a group of members of an Eastern rite in communion with the Pope who are subject to the personal jurisdiction of an appointed prelate (as a titular bishop) of the same rite — see military ordinariate.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. jessej, as a complete aside, I am back in St. Augustine, and my family and I visited Mission De Dios & La Leche Shrine today.

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    2. Eleanor, thank you for your comments and participation in the dialogue.

      I like the idea of an ordinate. In many respects I think that’s what the Reformation was intended to be. The problem however is there remains some significant theological issues between Rome and Lutherans, namely, I think, the ever-discussed issue of justification. Figure that one out, and I think reconciliation could indeed occur.

      And you couldn’t be more right on the symbolic gestures that our respective communions make. I guess that’s what I was trying to do with this post…

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      1. Rev. Glover,

        Happy to join in dialogue.

        I pray for reconciliation on the justification issue constantly! Although truth to tell, it’s already resolved to my satisfaction. That said, there’s 500 years of muddy teaching on both sides, making the divide appear worse than it is. Such sadness.

        Pax Christi,

        Eleanor

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  20. Eleanor,

    “That and wanting to be able to get the Eucharist when I traveled out of LCMS dominated regions.” indicates you were never in agreement on the sacramental union and Real Presence in, with, and under the bread and wine. You were not led away but never in fellowship under the Lutheran confessions.

    Anglicans are not monolithic on the Real Presence and Rome’s accommodation has more to do with social Gospel. Now, take to Rome the ordination of women and practicing homosexual clergy as in the Episcopal Church and you’ll find no fellowship. You’ve simply moved to an all-but-Roman Catholic fringe, why not just walk into the Roman Catholic Church? Why stay in some Anglican outlier?

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    1. hlewis2962,

      I am in full communion with Rome. And it’s great. Until last year I was in full fellowship with the LCMS, under the confessions.

      I was raised to believe in Christ’s physical presence in the Sacrament of the Altar (that Luther himself termed the Mass). Indeed, I completely agreed with Luther who said he would rather drink pure blood with a papist than pure wine with a Zwinglian and it was on this principal that I attended Roman churches when I traveled–to spend time with Christ who was physically present in the mass (no, I did not receive). Eventually, I decided that while I believed beyond the shadow of a doubt that Christ’s body and blood were truly and physically present, that I neither knew nor cared whether the “substance” of the bread remained. My Eucharistic theology is adequately summarized in “Now, My Tongue the Mystery Telling” which appears in the LSB hymnal; I fell in love the first time I heard it–7 years before being confirmed as a Roman Catholic.

      The Anglican Ordinariate of which I spoke is not in communion with the Episcopal Church of the United States or with the world wide Anglican Communion–jessej was correct (but given that there are several other bodies using the terms “Anglican” and “Catholic” in their names, it’s all confusing!). The Anglican Ordinariate is liturgically distinct from the general Roman Catholic Church in the United States (like Eastern Rite Catholics) and tends to have married clergy. But the Anglican Ordinariate deviates in no way in its teaching of faith or morals from the Catholic Church. Our ordinary (the equivalent of a bishop in rights but not by ordination) is a voting member of the US Conference of Catholic Bishops. He is a former Episcopalian, now Catholic priest (after he resigned as an Episcopalian bishop, he was received into full communion and ordained a transitional deacon 1 year after his reception). Our members can receive communion in any Roman Catholic Parish; any Roman Catholic can receive communion from my priest; no Episcopalians can receive communion in my parish.

      All priests in the ordinariate have been ordained by Roman Catholic bishops (regardless of their former Episcopal/Presbyterian/Lutheran/etc. status) and since the Roman Church has spoken clearly and unequivocally on the issue of women clergy, I doubt very much that this rule will change. As a result, a former male Episcopal priest can receive Holy Orders through the Ordinariate and a former lady Episcopal priest cannot.

      Pax Christi,

      Eleanor

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  21. While the Joint Declaration was weak in areas and didn’t go over too well for many Lutherans and Catholics, the effort itself has, I think, set a precedent for two-way dialogue between Lutherans and Catholics. It is worth noting that no Protestant was condemned by name at Trent. While it’s clear that the council had Lutherans in mind the fact that Lutherans were never condemned by name is actually quite a blessing. This is because the council condemned many positions sometimes without a full understanding of the other’s position. Take justification for example. Most people don’t realize that we and Lutherans define faith differently. Also, it is only in the last 50 years that scholars have realized that Luther’s justification is an extension of the communication of attributes (cf. The marriage metaphor). As someone who keeps up with ecumenical dialogue between Lutherans and Catholics as well as Luther scholarship, I am pretty confident in my assessment of the current perseption of Lutherans by the Catholic Church. There are still issues to resolve (obviously on many theological points, not just justification) but Rome is more receptive to dialogue than in the 16th century. It helped that the last pope was German. The way to get around an anathema is to admit that there were misunderstandings and that the anathema covered the misunderstandings. Sounds like a stretch? I don’t think so. This sort of reasoning has happened before.

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    1. Fariba,

      The communication of attributes goes to the personal union in Christ and, therefore, to the sacramental union. It applies to the Real Presence in the sacrament, not justification. It is posited against the spiritual presence practiced by Calvin and insists on a substantial presence in the sacrament. The joint declaration was garbage by any standards outside the mainline churches of the LWF and ilk. While these churches please Rome with their works-driven social gospel, Rome seems to be ignoring their embracing female clergy and practicing homosexuality at the level of bishop (yes, the ELCA embraces Apostolic polity).

      The church in Rome will not come to traditional and confessional Lutherans because we would insist on substance in dialog.

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      1. Actually there are scholars who argue that it does apply to Luther’s justification. It has commonly been seen as forensic, but while Luther definitely thinks justification comes extra nos, calling Luther’s justification “forensic” is an over-simplification. I recommend Berndt Hamm’s Early Luther. Stephen Paulson in Lutheran Theology makes the same argument. The sinner gives her sins to Christ and Christ gives her his rightousness in a marital exchange more perfect than an earthly marriage but righteousness only truly belongs to Christ and sin only truly belongs to the sinner. Still, the consequence of the justification is that the person is sanctified. But this must be a controversial view, so I’m certainly not going to press it.

        I never said the Joint Declaration was acceptable. In fact, if you read my response, you will notice that I said the opposite. If confessional Lutherans want to get involved, I can’t imagine there’s anything stopping them. Do you belong to a federation of some sort? I am not aware that the LCMS is involved in any kind of ecumenical dialogue. Communication is a two-way street. And no, Rome is not ignoring the female clergy and homosexuality in the churches of the LWF.

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      2. Fariba,

        the LCMS does have a dialog but it is separate from this LWF dialog that produced the Joint Declaration. There is collegiality with catholic theologians and bishops. But certain fundamentals limit the discussion.

        Paulson reflects the ELCA (LWF) view and their ecumenism seeks to deal away the simplicity of forensic justification. but it was that simple comfort which Luther embraced, not a more nuanced view. Sanctification is the process that follows justification. Where God alone justifies and saves, through no merit of our own, in sanctification we are complicit in working with God, though not, as in the Catholic view, toward salvation. The whole process of sanctification is completed at our resurrection, our entry into heaven.

        The major sticking point in any dialog with confessional Lutherans is insistence on the Word, Scripture, as the sole source of doctrine. The LWF does not hold the Scriptures in this same light, nor does Rome. this makes their dialog far simpler. I just don’t see what would be accomplished since the truth cannot be compromised and the sides cannot even agree on the source of truth.

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      1. Infallibility is related to the Word of God. The Word of God is revealed in the Scriptures and the Tradition of the Church. The dogmas of collegiality, sensus fidelium, and papal infallibility are explanations for how God’s Word can be known in the Church. Infallibility is related to the teaching, but that does not exclude doctrinal development. Context has to also be taken into consideration. The Scriptures are Infallible but they can be misinterpreted and have seeming contradictions (although there is an overall consistency). Not all council teachings are Infallible. There were contradictions over Christology in the early councils. In short, Infallibility has to do with the ability of the Church at various levels to know the Word of God. I don’t do apologetics. There are people who do a much better job at that 🙂

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      2. Fariba,

        Seeing as infallibilty is related to the Word of God, perhaps you could explain the ex cathedra position of things entirely outside the Word:

        – beatific vision
        – Immaculate Conception
        – Assumption of Mary

        None of these are contained in or hinted at in scripture, nor are they universal traditions from the early/ ancient church. They are, however, dogmatized. Now, I would say that they do not necessarily contradict scripture (depending on your slant toward Immaculate Conception) but that places them outside the Word in in the realm of Christian freedom – things we may accept but are not required to accept because they do not have any effect on the Gospel and our salvation. If one accepts them, he must do so without allowing them to become part of or interfere with the free Grace of God.

        Clearly, in this regard, dogmatizing the non-scriptural and, thereby, insinuating it into teaching as truth (doctrine), the Roman church is not concerned at all with the Word of God but with it’s authority and ability to sift through various and contradicting doctrines and pick out the ones it deems are added to God Word as a separate revelation reserved, as a secret knowledge for the upper levels of the church. The glory of God’s saving Word is that it does not conceal from anyone that which is necessary and sufficient for salvation.

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      3. Those things you listed are not outside of the Word. Often, the explanation given for Tradition is that it is an unwritten part of the Word of God passed down by the early apostles. Certainly, Tradition is unwritten but it is not accurate to think of the Word of God as some “thing” that is passed on unchanged down the centuries. The Word of God is tied to the Church which is the Body of Christ. If the Church is the Body of Christ, it follows that the Word of God is received by and “dwells” in the Church. I think of Sacred Tradition as the historical dimension of the Word of God. The Church does not exist in isolation from the world. The Church exists in the world. The Word of God does not act over and above creation but operates in creation. It can be discerned by people at various stages of the Church (the laity, a mystic, theologians) but it is ultimately declared infallibility by a church council or the pope.

        The Scriptures were most certainly influenced in part by Greek philosophy. This is only a problem for people who separate God’s Revelation to the world from the world. But God operates through creation to reveal Himself. We are not Gnostics. The Word of God is concealed and revealed (I totally stole that from Luther 🙂 ). No one is held responsible for Truths that have not yet been dogmatically proclaimed (otherwise Thomas Aquinas would have been considered a heretic for denying the Immaculate Conception). This is not to say that these Truths don’t have their sources in the early Church or the Scriptures, but they haven’t been discerned yet. There is a consistency between Scripture and Tradition because they both have their source in the one Word of God. It took centuries for the Trinity to become dogma. You could read the Bible and deny the Trinity or have your own version of the Trinity. The term Homoousios is extra-Biblical but the alternative explanations for the relationship between the Father and the Son were declared unacceptable. Notice that there are churches from the early centuries that have differing Christologies (ie. the Oriental Orthodox and the Assyrian Church of the East). Biblical scholarship has assaulted the Scriptures in the past century. You can ignore the “outside” philosophies that have influenced the Scriptures or the historical contexts of the books, but I don’t think that’s a good idea. In the OT, God gave the Law to the Israelites, but there were developments in how the Law was understood by the Jews. God used the prophets to reveal to the Jews how to follow the Law. Jewish identity evolved over the centuries. It is interesting to note that Ignatius of Antioch was considered a prophet by his contemporaries. There are prophets in the Church, but they are not recognized as such and unfortunately, sometimes persecuted (because we are sinners like that). That’s the best explanation I can give. Like I said, I am not an apologist. This is the way that I explain it to myself. Ultimately, the question is one of ecclesiology. What is the Church and what role does it play? Clearly, Protestants, Catholics, and Orthodox differ in their response to this question.

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      4. Fariba,

        Here is where we can never agree. the Word of God does not change:

        “Having purified your souls by your obedience to the truth for a sincere brotherly love, love one another earnestly from a pure heart, since you have been born again, not of perishable seed but of imperishable, through the living and abiding word of God; for

        “All flesh is like grass
        and all its glory like the flower of grass.
        The grass withers,
        and the flower falls, but the word of the Lord remains forever.”

        And this word is the good news that was preached to you.” (1 Peter 1:22-25)

        From whence is Peter speaking, from Scripture (how dare a pope be so circular!):

        “A voice says, “Cry!”
        And I said, “What shall I cry?”
        All flesh is grass,
        and all its beauty is like the flower of the field.
        The grass withers, the flower fades
        when the breath of the Lord blows on it;
        surely the people are grass.
        The grass withers, the flower fades,
        but the word of our God will stand forever.” (Is 40:6-8)

        verbum domini manet in aeternum

        You are claiming that the scriptures contain the Word of God but that neither He nor the Church preserved them infallibly (“influenced in part by Greek philosophy”) – very scholastic, but not true. However, you did affirm my statement concerning a separate and special revelation. Let me ask, if the Apostles, prophets, and patriarchs inspired by the Holy Spirit were not capable of recording the infallible Word without the taint of Greek philosophy, how is the Holy Spirit any more effective in imparting the unwritten word to the infallible Church?

        You see, you are placing your faith in someone’s personal revelation, no different from believing Joseph Smith or Mary Baker Eddy or Muhammed. It is Gnostic to place value in secretly and/ or personally revealed knowledge. I recognize tat you do not accept their rejection of the material, you are in league with many charismatics on revelation.

        Unless you have something which is true by which to gauge the statements someone makes, you have only the faith in that person as a prophet, a speaker for God. Further, any reason for accepting the Gospel and Christ’s atonement must be, in your faith, tainted the contemporary philosophy or you’re making a judgement that, somehow, that’s all true but what the Apostles said about it is messed it up without passing down any of their screwed up doctrine in tradition or their Apostolic succession. What of the Law? from the Law we have conscience to know wrong, from the Law we see our sin and need for redemption, and from the Law the saved person is given a guide to a life of good works – sanctification. It was not given to the Israelites, exclusively, but to all mankind. The Trinity has always been in scripture and the earliest true Christians embraced it, from the start. The declaration of the Trinity as dogma is superfluous. It was truth and was required of faith before it was proclaimed dogma.

        The earliest writings we have from the fathers is bathed in scripture and commentary on scripture. No one reads the sermons of Chrysostom and says “Mary will help us.” No reads the Apostolic Constitutions and infers transubstantiation or communion in one kind. Tradition likes to argue about the shape of the cross, the number of nails, face imprints on veils, the color of garments in various visions, but the Word does not argue, it states what it is and what it does.

        While the Church is in the world, it is not of the world. Nor is scripture of the world. tradition is of the world. It changes, grows, is different in different cultures and even in the earliest Church was not everywhere alike. But, I highly recommend a reading of the Apostolic Constitutions in order to see the degree to which the Roman church dethroned the scriptures as the source of faith and doctrine. Go the earliest fathers and see.

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      5. “Let me ask, if the Apostles, prophets, and patriarchs inspired by the Holy Spirit were not capable of recording the infallible Word without the taint of Greek philosophy,” Is it a taint? Paul quotes positively the writings of the Greek philosophers in Acts. We do not believe in total depravity. So while Grace is necessary for salvation, it does not follow that nothing whatsoever can be known by fallen humanity. People have certain capacities but none of them alone can bring them to salvation. In Romans 1:18-25 Paul speaks about the tension that existed in the Greek world between the god of the philosophers and the gods of the Greek myths. Logos as a term finds its roots in Greek philosophy, but of course it has a new meaning in Christ. You assume that outside influence on the Scriptures is necessarily bad. But that’s just an assumption. Bultmann was horrified by the outside influence and made it his project to demythologize the Scriptures so as to discover the “unadulterated Word”? We don’t because we don’t believe the Word of God is adulterated. But we do acknowledge that the Scriptures were not written in a vacuum. The Scriptures are not of the world but are written by people in the world. The Church is not of the world but is occupied by people in the world.

        You say, “The declaration of the Trinity as dogma is superfluous. It was truth and was required of faith before it was proclaimed dogma.” That’s true. This is always the way it is. Something is already believed before it is declared as dogma. Dogmatic pronouncements are the final word. No one is creating dogma in Rome. Do we believe in private revelation? Yes, but they are never given dogmatic status. The shape of the cross or the color of garments are not dogma. We do believe that the forces at play in NT times are the same forces at play today. If there were healings and prophesies in the NT (as well as the OT) there are healing and prophesies today. This is the same Word of God. The Word of God does not change. It is given to the Church once and for all but the Church comes to know the fullness of God’s revelation over time. The early Fathers were great scripture scholars. Admittedly, the scriptures were not always given a prominent place by the neo-Scholastics. I think the ressourcement movement of the last 50 years has been of great value in the reform of the Church. The Fathers loved the Scriptures but they were also not afraid to engage with the philosophies of their day. The Scriptures are brought to life in the believer and in the worship of the Church. You never mention the East although you do mention John Chrysostom. The Fathers were great mystics. Many were desert monks and promoted ascetic and spiritual exercises. The East practices hesychasm to attain theosis.

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      6. Starting with the bottom of your comments and working up, Luther dispensed with scholasticism before 1517 and was kinder to mystics than scholastics. the theosis of the Eastern Church (which I refer to as the early/ ancient church – it’s rite and many practices are older) is akin to sanctification, as we believe it. I am a huge fan of Chrysostom, many Lutherans are. I also have a soft spot for some of Bernard’s works. I have no tolerance for Aquinas and I limited use for Augustine (I stop well short of the double-predestination thing.)

        The use of Aristotelian logic and classical rhetoric pervades Luther’s writing as these were taught and none of us saints is in a cultural vacuum. that is true.

        However, no human philosophy can be anything more than an expression of inborn Law, we are all created with the Law in our hearts (though original sin prevents comprehension of Law and fulfillment of Law). Because the Law does not have the power of life, only condemnation, it can only taint Gospel. In fact, we get to hell on our own power. The power of God is in the Gospel (Romans 1:16).

        I find your interpretation of Romans 1 odd in that Paul is speaking of man’s inability to know God or any truths of God from his state of nature. This is a prime anti-Pelagian/ anti-naturalist section of scripture and the opening of probably the greatest single book of Christian theology. I do not see the gods of philosopher vs. gods of myth. Rather I read here of the idols created by man’s natural religiosity and reason (v. 19-23) applied to the true God which their sinful natures cannot comprehend as God. Your reading purports to find a text within the text. For a confessional Lutheran answer to that, Google Seminex. I was child at the time, but it was fascinating to watch.

        Paul then leads through the scriptures of what we term the Old Testament (text) to the Gospel (not the text, but the testimony) of Christ as the letter progresses. The thing for us is, if we find a passage of scripture disturbing, we do not have the luxury of finding a subtext, we may have to remain troubled and pray over it. we can look over commentaries and see how it ties in to the whole and try to make sense of it but, in the end, we just have to accept it. It might be nice to see the Word as something more that grows and changes and abrogates the past, but God is faithful and just and unchanging, despite our changing world.

        Swift to its close ebbs out life’s little day,
        Earth’s joys grow dim, its glories pas away,
        Change and decay in all around I see;
        O Thou who changest not, abide with me.

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      7. “In fact, we get to hell on our own power.” Agreed. Incidentally, Luther did not like John Chrysostom. This may have been because of what was presented to him as Chrysostom (sources weren’t pure at that time) or because of Chrysostom’s belief in synergy. In fact, he has often been accused by the West of semi-Pelagianism. Luther preferred Hilary of Poitiers.

        I see we interpret the Romans passage differently. Romans was a letter written by St. Paul to the Jews in the diaspora. I’m going to have to stick with the interpretation I gave. In Acts, Paul quotes a Greek philosopher to convert the people in Athens (“in him we live and move and have our being”). Paul, who is “all things to all people”, begins at the level of the Athenians and then goes on to preach the Gospel by pointing out that the unknown God has been revealed in Jesus Christ. They don’t believe it. There was a real tension in Paul’s time not just between Jews and Gentile converts over circumcision but also between the Greek philosophers and the Greek religion. It’s clear that we read the Scriptures in different contexts, but I do strongly believe in reading the Scriptures over against myself. I don’t believe in reading them out of context. We will use the historical critical method but everything remains within the bounds of orthodoxy. This is why we have not gone in the direction of some of the mainline churches on certain moral issues (I belonged to the most liberal once so I am not unsympathetic to the conflicts you have with some of the other Lutheran churches). Many Catholics have gone in that direction but Church teaching has not changed. Also, Thanks for introducing me to a new hymn 🙂

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      8. Luther was not the end of all Lutheranism and I like Chrysostom. There is insight and truth, always have scripture for guidance. His sermons are not huge on heavy theology and rarely flirt with heresy, they are well-grounded. I read him meditatively, not scholastically.

        The passage you cite in Acts (17:28) links, in my study Bible to the areas of Romans I cite. the Holy Spirit is using these words to connect to the audience, not because the philosophy is espoused by Paul or by Christians. In fact, he goes on to illustrate the same point he made in Romans concerning natural religion and idolatry. The use of something is not the advocacy or espousal of something. As was written “as some of your own poets have said” to differentiate the words of man from the Word of God.

        Beginning of the letter, Romans 1:1-8 indicates clearly that he is writing to the Christians assembled in Rome, not the diaspora. would his letter reach Jews who were among the Jewish Christians there? you bet. Was it intended to be both a deeper exposition and an outreach? Absolutely.

        Not many Catholics read scripture, they read a lot of God-talk, but don’t devote much time. I hope you continue as the Word is the primary Means of Grace.

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      9. I know that Luther is not the end of Lutheranism but the reason why I only ever mention Luther is that I have only read his writings and the writings of a few other Lutherans. I don’t know the confessions so I have no right to say anything about the tradition.

        Pope Benedict wrote an apostolic exhortation on the Word of God. I thought it was a very important piece because many Catholics want to read the Scriptures but don’t know how or where to start. As with all of Ratzinger’s works, I got the impression that his exhortation could be of value to other Christians as well. http://w2.vatican.va/content/benedict-xvi/en/apost_exhortations/documents/hf_ben-xvi_exh_20100930_verbum-domini.html

        Peace.

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      10. I have really been meaning to read something by the Finnish school, but I’ve got too many unread books to get through.

        I can only imagine good things coming from a greater unity between East and West in the Catholic Church. There are aspects of Eastern piety that would really help the Latin church. It’s only a matter of time I think. Yay for globalization.

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      11. The Finnish stuff is interesting. I think it clarifies terms and helps a lot. We, Lutherans, can be very narrow-minded and cultish on Christ to the extent that we run from the Spirit and sanctification, fear the good works of faith. The Finnish church is not what I would consider a good example on all fronts but it represents a long overdue second attempt for Lutherans to reach to the East.
        I’ve been through some of it.

        Sometimes, it helps me understand more to have something contrast or be reworded.

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      12. I definitely learn a lot through dialogue and trying to understand opposing views. If only people had done that 500 years ago.

        Well, It was good talking to you. Hope everything goes well for you. God bless!

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  22. Graham,

    Here is part of your original post: “As we Lutherans continue our reformation, I wonder why we no longer realize this value and make our theological claims not against the papacy, but as a movement that exists in support of and alongside this Bishop.”

    Here is where you answer your own “wondering”: “The problem however is there remains some significant theological issues between Rome and Lutherans, namely, I think, the ever-discussed issue of justification. Figure that one out, and I think reconciliation could indeed occur.”

    This is precisely why we should not reconsider the pope … at least not until he un-anathematizes the gospel 🙂 but, you know, details.

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    1. Pastor Glover, Rome has demonstrated that she alone is incapable of safeguarding imputed righteousness from inchoate righteousness. If the sad reality that the priest notes is true, “many [RCs] might say they don’t believe in justification by faith,” and clearly it is, our role as reformers within Christ’s Church is far from done. Our own struggles to preserve the liturgical life of the Church, administer Church discipline, teach clearly about the reality of incipient righteousness, and respond to the growing pressures of antinomianism notwithstanding, we stand amidst the body of Christ crying out in the wilderness of this fallen world.

      I would implore you to stay right where you are, boldly confessing and stewarding the mysteries of God.

      BTW, are you by any chance a member of the Society of Saint Polycarp?

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      1. Paul, I assure you, despite what some on this and other threads think, that I have no intention of going anywhere. I may push the envelope from time to time and represent an inclination toward Rome that most within Lutheranism do not, but here I am, and Lord willing, here I will remain.

        Know of SSP, but not a member.

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    2. Graham,

      Interesting in that it does remind one of our confessions concerning the place of good works. However, I think the good Father should reread Trent.

      All it says to me is that the dialog which ought to have occurred never did and that our faith is not outside the true church and that we have held to our faith without papal support.

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  23. From the article: “It would be nice to think that, in some near future period, the differences of understanding about faith will seem like a dead issue from the past, diminished by the present reality of Christian belief.”

    This is precisely the kind of generational hubris that infects this whole post and thread. As if 500 years worth of brilliant minds (on the Roman side and on the Lutheran side) were simply “talking past each other,” or, “making much ado about nothing,” or, “lacking the proper framework with which to understand one another,” or “getting caught up in a polemical spirit that blinded each and every one of them.” But thank God, we today, know better than all of them!

    This is all rubbish, of course. Many brilliant men, many of good will, have been seeking reconciliation (in one form or another) for 500 years. We should continue, humbly, in their footsteps. But the reality is: light does not mix with darkness. The teachings of the Book of Concord and the teachings of Trent are as incompatible as light and darkness. People of intelligence and integrity have know this to be the case for 500 years.

    But let’s just dismiss all this as a “dead issue from the past,” for we are so much wiser than they were, and the “present reality of Christian belief” so much more enlightened.

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  24. Interesting read. I suggest that it might be “dangerous” for Lutherans to lean too hard on “sola scriptura” without the support of the “Tradition” of a hardline Lutheran interpretation of it. As a Lutheran, I took it at face value and by that I mean all of it including the parts the Protestant world has conveneintly tossed in the garbage in the last 150 years, parts whose words and message are cited many times by Christ and the Aposltes in the New Testament. That, along with the writings of the Fathers among other things, led me and now most of my adult family to convert to the Catholic Church.

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    1. Rod,

      No Lutheran has thrown anything in the garbage over the past 150 years, nor has any Calvinist. Looking at the American Religion you are citing as the culprit, you cannot say they owe anything to their being of the Reformation. In his critique, “The American Religion”, Harold Bloom has more accurately pointed out that the personal revelation and private interpretation of scripture amounts to a rediscovery of Gnosticism. Keep in mind, no Reformer was any friend to old heresies. The holiness churches, Adventists, Christian spin offs (JW’s, and Mormons), non-denom “Bible” churches are all pretty much mired in old heresies. Lumping them with us as “protestant” when they have desired to protest or reform nothing, disrespects our heritage.

      I might as well look at you and lump you with the sedevacantists in the little church down the road. You’re all Catholics, right?

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      1. Sir, your reply here borders on disingenuous. Of course you already know that no theologian spewed more rough language at nooks of the Bible than Luther. That such a man would claim to reverence the Scripture in toto is somewhat preposterous. That the Lutheran ecclesial groups are rediscovering the “Apocrypha” in recent years is evidence enough.

        As far as sedevacantists, well, ask them. Are they in communion with Rome? That will give you your answer.

        As for your niceties regarding the Calvinists, you need not explain how identical you are in doctrine and faith with them.

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      2. My differences the Calvinists are quite well delineated in the Lutheran Confessions and the Saxon Visitation Articles. My main objections go their disdain for the sacraments, they have none, have thrown them all out. As a Methodist, you would know that, as well.

        Knowing that the synergism and pietism (a serious error in Lutheran practice) in Methodism clicks well with Catholicism, you would also understand it is a shorter leap than for one of Lutheran extraction. Practical and legal is practical and legal.

        My question to your seeing no corruptions in scripture (I apologize for conflating you with another thread) is to ask where you see them deficient? What faith or practice essential to the Church is found outside them? If you are persuaded from scripture to be Catholic, then you have a found a sola scriptura path to Catholicism. I find that somewhat interesting but unconvincing as, here in NJ, Catholics are an overwhelming majority of Christians with absolutely no scriptural education and about 30% of my church’s current membership is formerly Catholic, another 10% or so has come from Methodist, Presbyterian, and evangelical.

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  25. I might add. I always find it interesting that condemnations of the liturgical actions of others trump the profession of faith of the accused. And thus we have some here stating that this or that repesents anti-Christian worship while those involved in it deny it. I might remind the Lutherans here that “Bible”-only {sola sola scriptura?} Christians may consider Lutherans idolators and guilty of blashemous worship practices, too. That some Catholic actually adores The Blessed Virgin or St Michael above the Risen Christ may be, but ask them before passing judgement. Last I checked it is considered bad form to deny the “god” you worship…

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    1. “sola scriptura”, as understood by the Reformation and the Church is that scripture provides the only certain access to God’s Word, what we know and believe is “by scripture”. Therefore, what is essential to be believed and taught is contained in scripture. To claim otherwise, that there is something essential outside of scripture, something without believing which, once cannot be saved, is believing that God lies.

      Nothing in “sola scriptura”, precludes the traditions of worship, the forms passed down through the church or reading the commentaries of the fathers on scripture.

      What you are referring t in terms of those “Bible believing” churches who speak of “sola scriptura” as excluding all those things which are not contained specifically in scripture is neither Protestant nor based in the Reformation of the church. It is a New World phenomenon born of a disbelief in the Church, the embracing of many churches and emphasis on personal knowledge.

      I have heard two more theologically astute terms “solo” and “nuda” scriptura. I can handle being branded by these people as anything their paltry, inept “theologies” can whip up. I am satisfied that we remain in the Church, share the fathers and a common heritage in the early councils. I am satisfied that the Reformation of the Church is precisely that, not the discovery of some reason to be separate, but a reason to demand truth in doctrine.

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      1. That is a pretty good summation, but I don’t need it. I have a degree in theology from a Protestant seminary. I think you know what I am actually referring to and that is simply that the arguments you guys present here against Catholic Tradition and teaching demand first and foremost adherence to the tradition you affirm. That you have a tradition to argue is easily understood. Establish doctrines. Search the Scriptures to find passages that affirm those doctrines. Discount all Scripture that disagrees or doesn’t affirm those tradtions. Cut out and throw away Scripture that disagrees or doesn’t prop up your doctrines if necessary. With what is left, {re-}interpret it to say what you want it to say. Call it “sola scriptura” and deny all comers. No wonder St Peter warned us to be careful of the difficult intepretations coming from the writings of St Paul.

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      2. What seminary? If I may ask…

        I have been through Augustana and the Confutatio, the Apology, and Trent. I do not find the selectivity in the Lutheran Confessions that I found in the Institutes or the wholesale reliance on tradition that inundates Trent. However, I am open to an example, rather than a charge.

        This and what you say of Paul point, instead, to the fundamental disagreement. You see the scriptures as corrupted by Paul’s pharisaism and, perhaps, John’s Greek philosophy, and Semitic hero legends and Baal stories. So, you say, this is to tainted, cut through it for me Holy Father.

        But that is not a theology born of the ancient and traditional Church, it is one that assumes a humanist, critical bias. I have faith that the canon of scripture and what it contains is apparent and sufficient for salvation, even without an understanding of everything. I also accept tat there are many things God has chosen not to share with us and there is no need to fill in those blanks because they are not essential to salvation, sanctification, or peace.

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      3. Is there is no authority for you that is outside of your decision to believe it? What you are saying allows for anyone to believe anything they want, and you’re saying they do that and no one can argue against it. And so you choose Catholicism. That’s a pretty hopeless place to hold, not only for yourself, but for anyone you might teach this nothingness to. I myself would rather hold to what God said he revealed. That much is enough to be confident about, without any tradition that exists outside of it, or contradicts it. If what I am saying is a tradition in your mind, I must disagree, and God’s revelation likewise.

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  26. Seminary? Asbury Theological Seminary, a Wesleyan school. I was raised Methodist. I wholeheartedly agree that there is not quite the selectivity in the Book of Concord and the Lutheran texts that there is in Institutes.

    Your assumptions of my personal beliefs are ludicrous. I see no corruptions in Scripture at all. None of it. In fact it was the reading of the Scriptures cover-to-cover, over-and-over that led me to the Catholic faith.

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  27. hlewis;

    You say “My question to your seeing no corruptions in scripture (I apologize for conflating you with another thread) is to ask where you see them deficient? What faith or practice essential to the Church is found outside them?”

    Again, I see no deficiency. None. Your question exposes your lack of understanding of the Church and Christ’s mission. Jesus did not come to write a book. He came to found a Church. If all we need is what is necessary to salvation then we would be fine with the single Gospel of St John who tells us quite frankly he has written what he has written that we might believe. What more then do we need? What deficiencies exist in the Gospel of St John that we need the rest of Scripture?

    I simply cannot take seriously any group whose leader spoke with derogatory terms about some Scripture, denies the authority of some Scripture, offers new and novel interpretations of other Scripture and then proclaims a doctrine like sola scriptura. What this really means is that HE has by HIS OWN authority gutted Scripture and declared himself a new Prophet. We are told…in Scripture…to beware such people.

    You say “…here in NJ, Catholics are an overwhelming majority of Christians with absolutely no scriptural education and about 30% of my church’s current membership is formerly Catholic, another 10% or so has come from Methodist, Presbyterian, and evangelical.”

    While your disparagement of Catholics is a broad-brushed and uncharitable, alas, it isn’t too far off in describing many in our current generation. It is a scandal. Naturally it says nothing about the truth of the doctrine they know nothing about. Even more, sadly, it supports my own position and proves my point; If you are a Catholic and know nothing about Scripture and are uneducated about the Christian faith you are a perfect candidate to become a Protestant…

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  28. Thank you for your great article and thoughts.

    To Don Moore: You clearly haven’t read the writings of the Early Church Fathers. Apostolic succession was a regular theme with them. So was the primacy of Rome. The real presence of Jesus in the bread and the wine are widely discussed.

    These writings are easily found online and many aren’t even Catholic in nature.

    You rant against “Maryology” but you call yourself a Lutheran. Have you ever read any of Martin Luther’s writings regarding Mary?

    “There can be no doubt that the Virgin Mary is in heaven. How it happened we do not know. And since the Holy Spirit has told us nothing about it, we can make of it no article of faith . . . It is enough to know that she lives in Christ.”
    (Sermon of August 15, 1522, the last time Martin Luther preached on the Feast of the Assumption)

    “The veneration of Mary is inscribed in the very depths of the human heart.”
    (Sermon, September 1, 1522)

    “[She is the] highest woman and the noblest gem in Christianity after Christ . . . She is nobility, wisdom, and holiness personified. We can never honor her enough. Still honor and praise must be given to her in such a way as to injure neither Christ nor the Scriptures.”
    (Sermon, Christmas, 1531)

    “No woman is like you. You are more than Eve or Sarah, blessed above all nobility, wisdom, and sanctity.”
    (Sermon, Feast of the Visitation, 1537)

    “One should honor Mary as she herself wished and as she expressed it in the Magnificat. She praised God for his deeds. How then can we praise her? The true honor of Mary is the honor of God, the praise of God’s grace . . . Mary is nothing for the sake of herself, but for the sake of Christ . . . Mary does not wish that we come to her, but through her to God.”
    (Explanation of the Magnificat, 1521)

    Luther gives the Blessed Virgin the exalted position of “Spiritual Mother” for Christians:

    “It is the consolation and the superabundant goodness of God, that man is able to exult in such a treasure. Mary is his true Mother ..”
    (Sermon, Christmas, 1522)

    “Mary is the Mother of Jesus and the Mother of all of us even though it was Christ alone who reposed on her knees . . . If he is ours, we ought to be in his situation; there where he is, we ought also to be and all that he has ought to be ours, and his mother is also our mother.”
    (Sermon, Christmas, 1529)

    “It is a sweet and pious belief that the infusion of Mary’s soul was effected without original sin; so that in the very infusion of her soul she was also purified from original sin and adorned with God’s gifts, receiving a pure soul infused by God; thus from the first moment she began to live she was free from all sin”
    (Sermon: “On the Day of the Conception of the Mother of God,” 1527)

    “She is full of grace, proclaimed to be entirely without sin- something exceedingly great. For God’s grace fills her with everything good and makes her devoid of all evil.”
    (Personal {“Little”} Prayer Book, 1522)

    Martin Luther on Mary’s Perpetual Virginity

    “Christ, our Savior, was the real and natural fruit of Mary’s virginal womb . . . This was without the cooperation of a man, and she remained a virgin after that. ”
    {Luther’s Works, eds. Jaroslav Pelikan (vols. 1-30) & Helmut T. Lehmann (vols. 31-55), St. Louis: Concordia Pub. House (vols. 1-30); Philadelphia: Fortress Press (vols. 31-55), 1955, v.22:23 / Sermons on John, chaps. 1-4 (1539)}

    “Christ . . . was the only Son of Mary, and the Virgin Mary bore no children besides Him . . . I am inclined to agree with those who declare that ‘brothers’ really mean ‘cousins’ here, for Holy Writ and the Jews always call cousins brothers.”

    {Pelikan, ibid., v.22:214-15 / Sermons on John, chaps. 1-4 (1539)}

    “A new lie about me is being circulated. I am supposed to have preached and written that Mary, the mother of God, was not a virgin either before or after the birth of Christ . . .”
    {Pelikan, ibid.,v.45:199 / That Jesus Christ was Born a Jew (1523)}

    “Scripture does not say or indicate that she later lost her virginity . . .
    When Matthew [1:25] says that Joseph did not know Mary carnally until she had brought forth her son, it does not follow that he knew her subsequently; on the contrary, it means that he never did know her . . . This babble . . . is without justification . . . he has neither noticed nor paid any attention to either Scripture or the common idiom.”

    {Pelikan, ibid., v.45:206,212-3 / That Jesus Christ was Born a Jew (1523) }

    “. . . she is full of grace, proclaimed to be entirely without sin. . . . God’s grace fills her with everything good and makes her devoid of all evil. . . . God is with her, meaning that all she did or left undone is divine and the action of God in her. Moreover, God guarded and protected her from all that might be hurtful to her.”

    (Luther’s Works, American edition, vol. 43, p. 40, ed. H. Lehmann, Fortress, 1968)

    “. . . she is rightly called not only the mother of the man, but also the Mother of God. . . . it is certain that Mary is the Mother of the real and true God.”
    {Sermon on John 14. 16: Luther’s Works (St. Louis, ed. Jaroslav, Pelican, Concordia. vol. 24. p. 107)}

    “Christ our Savior was the real and natural fruit of Mary’s virginal womb. . . . This was without the cooperation of a man, and she remained a virgin after that.”
    (On the Gospel of St. John: Luther’s Works, vol. 22. p. 23, ed. Jaroslav Pelican, Concordia, 1957)

    “Men have crowded all her glory into a single phrase: The Mother of God. No one can say anything greater of her, though he had as many tongues as there are leaves on the trees.”
    (From the Commentary on the Magnificat)

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    1. Very good material but you did misstate possibly by typo one thing.

      you stated “These writings are easily found online and many aren’t even Catholic in nature”.

      In fact, the documents you refer to are Catholic through and through and express both the position of the Early Church and the position of the Modern Church because both are one and the same; the Catholic Church.

      Liked by 1 person

    2. Luther didn’t even want to call anything Lutheran, I suppose. I am Lutheran because it is Christian and holds to the Bible as truth, and its Confessions reflect that truth – they don’t overrule it. Luther liked a lot of things in his youth that he didn’t like so much later. Luther himself would say he is not the point of the Church in any way, he does not write Scripture, and his authority is only to speak the truth God gave him. He is not infallible, nor did he claim it. These things make him wise, and so I consult with his words sometimes to help me understand things that are difficult for me. I do not venerate him, so far as I understand that word.

      Mary needed a savior by her own words in the Magnificat. Therefore she knew herself as a sinner. She had children apart from Jesus as the Bible reports clearly, along with some ancient historians – St. James of Jerusalem among them. She is certainly special, being chosen for motherhood in Christ’s life, and I honor her along with Scripture and the whole of Christianity. I don’t offer more than that, and I suspect she would be appalled if knew what people were doing in her name, a humble sinner.

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    1. Funny you should mention that Hans. The best I’ve gotten from this group is when Paul mentions that scripture is profitable to Timothy.

      Apparently we must infer from profitable, Paul really meant, all that is necessary.

      Paul must have also been referring to scripture that was to be written in the future, that is the NT

      Paul had to also have in mind the Catholic bishops who would compile the books of the Bible and that some of the books used in the Septuagint of his day, would of course be removed by some malcontent Saxon 1500 years later.

      That’s what Paul meant by “all scripture is profitable” :\

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    2. @Hans, what does sola Scriptura mean? You seem to be implying that it means all true propositions are contained in the Scriptures. This is not what is meant by the term, although certainly there are Biblicists who might abuse the principle. Can’t imagine you would find anyone on this site who would deny there were revelations not recorded in Holy Scripture. The solas were, and continue to be, about sufficiency and the binding of consciences to that which is not necessary and in some cases contrary to the faith.

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      1. Yes Hans, as Paul mentions scripture alone is not “scripture alone” on these threads. It must be unified with faith alone as well as tradition that can be Lutheran tradition alone….unless it’s veneration of Mary. Then you must break with the tradition of Luther who venerated Mary.

        It’s pretty simple Hans :/

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  29. Modern Confessional Lutheranism could definitely use a Bishopric system that actually prizes a fidelity to the Scripture and Confessions. I think the current synodical system we have is flawed and with to many diverse opinions. So if we are speaking of a presiding bishop this is something I could live with in an Episcopacy.
    However, Papal or Bishopric submission is not the answer either as many abuses have occurred in a supremacist situation. We need look no further than the Rev. Kieschnick administration and the damage he did.
    This office should always be subject to a recall if necessary(abuses and false doctrine) we all know that there were many bad popes and some good ones and unless I am mistaken the Bishop of Rome was beholden to the Scriptures prior to the Middle Ages.
    This is not the case now. We still cannot accept Ex Cathedra,Denial of Justification by faith ( Which I believe you said is what keeps you Lutheran that being Justification by faith by which the church stands or falls), Transubstantiation, the errors of Trent etc. The aforementioned errors Rome has not surrendered as a church body; I can’t speak for all of their theologians what thoughts they might have. Popes don’t have unity either and often disagree which Luther pointed out.
    A bishopric sure, the papacy no!

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    1. There are Lutheran bodies with episcopal polity, most of the ones in the world. In fact, we have even had (have) a bishop in Africa displaying the kind of corruption that can enter without oversight. Here, in NJ, we had the bishop of the Newark diocese build a lucrative fiefdom through a couple of popes before Francis took a look and did something. The ELCA is not congregational and they are the largest and least confessional body of Lutherans associated with the majority of churches holding to sketchy doctrine in the LWF.

      Episcopal polity does not solve problems. The church is on unified body of all those justified and saved – past, present, and future, into eternity. It has no denominational lines. Those exist temporally as the pursuit of truth in doctrine. No allegiance to a pope pusues truth and nothing we do can forge a unity beyond what is already there.

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      1. That is the reason there need to be checks and balances in this type of polity. I will concede to your points on fiefdoms and corruption and this has happened in ELCA. My thoughts are probably nothing more than a vision. I am not a fan of the District President system either.
        In the end, it is not about the denominational body as the invisible church is revealed in the end.

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  30. Graham; Just a note.

    I hope you come home to the Catholic Church. But truthfully, as some of your fellow Lutherans have made clear, it is all or nothing. There is no acceptance of “the Papacy” without the Church. They are right about that. You write here like other well-meaning Protestants I know, other Christian leaders and even Pastors, who deep down in have some affinity for the Catholic Church or in your case as you have said, the Papacy, or in others certain moral teaching or certain doctrines. Such things seem to eat at them in a sense and beckon but they are not by themselves sufficient to create a true satisfaction. They beckon but they are not in the end the “full meal”. THAT only comes in ceasing to protest and coming home to the Body of Christ.

    Is there sin in the Church? Are there bad people who act as stumbling blocks to conversion? Is there even rank evil at times? Has there been in history?

    The answer is YES to all of those questions, with the origin of the Church’s failures being cited and documented and lamented first…in the Bible the CHURCH gave to the world. Because tho Jesus did not write a book, His followers did and it took several centuries of Church Tradition to collect those writings and provide them for the world, and even for those it seems who now try to twist and use them against their Mother. But she keeps beckoning and she will keep beckoning you to come home.

    It has been a long time since I have had to deal with incest in the local parish. Yet it existed in the New Testament Church. It has been a long time since I have been led by a man I knew for a fact Jesus called a “Devil”. But it existed in the New Testament Church. It has been a long time since I’ve seen people struck dead by God Himself for sin in the face of God. Yet it happened in the New Testament Church. Indeed, 8% of the founding fathers of the Church of Christ was a devil! Try to beat that Pope Alexander!

    Graham; Come home to the Church.

    Come home to the Body of our Lord, sometimes appearing broken and Crucified, sometimes Triumphant.

    As it has always been.

    Rod

    Liked by 1 person

    1. This is the Catholic position that I, as Lutheran, have the most respect for. Rome and Augsburg are mutually exclusive, all-or-nothing alternatives. Anything less is dishonesty and games (probably a good dose of arrogance too).

      I’d rather have a beer with a Catholic who thinks I’m going to hell than a Lutheran who thinks we need a pope.

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      1. Well, then, you would not have a beer with me because I do not condemn you. I cannot condemn you. I have no idea what your knowledge of the teaching of Christ through His Church is or whether you have rejected or even can {if knowledge of that teaching is lacking} reject those teachings.

        Now, if you want to discuss that teaching over a beer, I’ll buy!

        Graham can join us. I’ll buy for him, too.

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  31. Part of the problem here, as hlewis brought up, is the confusion of sola- and nuda (solo)- Scriptura. I understand the former to mean that Scripture is the supreme judge, not excluding good and necessary consequences or adiaphora, rather than an exhaustive laundry list or how-to. The problem with so-called Tradition is that it also must be interpreted, and is so differently among the various Catholic churches (eg Eastern and Oriental Orthodox, Chruch of the East). These “apostolic” churches differ in terms of canon, sacraments, conciliar authority, etc, and so one can say that Tradition is no unifying force just as Catholics say of sola Scriptura among Protestants. The idea of a monolithic patristic consensus is also pure mythology, leaving one to exercise private judgment as to which father(s) one consults.

    As for polity, I’m with Larry Day provided he doesn’t mean a bishop in the monarchical sense; ie one held accountable.

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    1. Your post here includes a few simple factual errors common to such comments.

      As far as Tradition being a unifying factor, hardly.

      Christ Himself was clear. He said: “Do not think that I came to send peace upon earth: I came not to send peace, but the sword. For I came to set a man at variance against his father, and the daughter against her mother, and the daughter in law against her mother in law. And as a man’s enemies shall be they of his own household. He that loveth father or mother more than me, is not worthy of me; and he that loveth son or daughter more than me, is not worthy of me. And he that taketh not up his cross, and followeth me, is not worthy of me.
      He that findeth his life, shall lose it: and he that shall lose his life for me, shall find it.”

      For the sake of discussion let’s allow all those “sola-” AND “nuda scriptura” folks a pass to ignore that pesky use of the word “worthy” by Jesus Himself and let them “interpret” it any way they choose since it is not relevant to the specific issue at hand. They will, anyhow, they having thrown out Tradition along with books of that Bible {the Bible they say they reverence so greatly} and replaced it with a tradition of their own devices….

      You see, a “tradition” of cherry picking is no Tradition at all… You might say such a “tradition” is unworthy of the name…

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      1. Your Scripture citation is signally irrelevant, and can be turned on you as well; ie the unity of the church shattered by papish pretension. The catholic churches for their supposed love of Scripture can’t agree on the contents of the canon. Then they lamely attempt to force the concept of an oral tradition into the epistles by falsely applying paradosis to their agenda. Perhaps what was handed down to the NT church was the OT, or those epistles yet to have been written when Paul wrote thereon? You have no proof of any binding revelation apart from Scripture in either Testament, making your claim otherwise as lame as that of the Synagogue.

        While we’re at it, please review 2 Tim 3:16 and tell me how and where Scripture is deficient, if the latter verse states that “the man of God may perfect (ie, complete), throughly (ie, utterly) furnished unto all (ie, not just some) good works.”

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  32. Mr. Glover, Thank you so very much for your comments & insights. In 1980 after receiving a BA in “Religion” from a Lutheran college (& later seminary studies) the conflicts within Lutheranism began to be understood in earnest. One congregation accepting or proclaiming one idea & another congregation in the same community saying the exact opposite. Such disparities seemed to be lost on the majority. However, there was one consistency within all congregations. Any discussion of “spirituality” was immediately dismissed. What is the purpose of Christianity other than to bring people to Christ? Thirty-one years ago, I reluctantly began working within the Criminal Justice system – having now become somewhat aware of what psychologists term dysfunctional personality disorders, one can confidently state that Martin Luther was raised in an antisocial environment. That was the basis for his actions. We also now know that the pope at the time was no better. Conflict was inevitable. Jesus himself teaches us that humility is a necessary virtue – something Martin definitely lacked. All of this can be found within his Table Talks. The Catholic Church with all its bumps, bruises, warts and all, was founded by Christ himself. Lutheranism was not. Within the Catholic Church one can grow in Divine Intimacy which, is the goal of the faith. Everything else is just politics. It was for that reason that I entered the Catholic Church & have come to understand at least partially, an intimacy that Luther & other “reformers” seemed to have lacked. In the coming years, Christianity will face difficulties the “reformers” could hardly have imagined. Only the Papacy is equipped with the proper defense of the faith. Wishing you the deepest peace. Sincerely, Jeff Sharp

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    1. So who saves the organization or faith in Christ? I will agree that both sides have their bumps, bruises and sins. They also have good things. But for you to go and say the organization is what saves is false. We both agree that the Scripture speaks of the faith once and for all delivered to the saints and that Christ saves. All are sinners and saved through that faith in Christ regardless of the organization. It is Christ who judges not someone who believes that they are the Vicar in his place. Which is not mentioned either.
      I will agree though that the doctrinal conflicts and the dismissal of spirituality in many corners of Lutheranism are not helping our case either or the church for that matter. What is going on in these corners was not intended by many of our earlier theologians. The liturgy, confession and the Sacraments must always be maintained in purity. The believer in Christ truly does have a mystical union in Christ.

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    2. Jeff Sharp; An interesting testimonial, I enjoyed it, thank you. Please read if you have not, the biography of John Henry Newman by: Ian Ker, the biography of Ronald Knox by: Evelyn Waugh and last but not least a biography of Gilbert Keith Chesterton, I like the old one (1943) by: Maisie Ward. I think you would enjoy these and also the writings by these distinguished gentlemen. I found this article by Graham Glover full of insight and thought provoking and I thank him for taking the time to write it. By the comments I have read here, he was correct in saying “I doubt my argument will be accepted by many, if any, Lutherans.”

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  33. Graham Glover, this and other things you have posted on this blog run directly counter to the Book of Concord which you swore to believe and uphold without reservation during your ordination vows. This is cause for your defrocking and excommunication from the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod. And that is what will happen unless you either repent now or resign.

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  34. The papacy is something that every parent should know about in principle… When mom and dad go away, who will watch the kids? They will get a babysitter. Maybe grandma, or that young teenager from across the street. Either way, they won’t know exactly how the parents would do things in each and every scenario (unless they are very, very close with them). But, every time there is something really, truly important, they can call mom and dad on the emergency number they left and then honestly say, “Your parents said…..” And that’s the final word. Does that sound familiar? In any event, the kids need to listen to the babysitter. If they don’t, or there was not a babysitter, what would happen? The kids might try to “do what mom and dad want us to” based on past experiences, but there is not enough wisdom in children to know not to do some things, possibly because they have never had to be told not to… like putting a fork in an electrical socket. Or, because they will take liberties and think, “Surely, they didn’t mean don’t eat THESE cookies…” If only there were a babysitter to say, “Oh yes they did!”

    The connection with the papacy (and the entire hierarchy of the Catholic Church by extension) is simple: it’s post-Ascension babysitting (or stewardship). Stewards don’t always do a good job, just like babysitters. Look at Adam – and yet he retained a dignity even after the incident with the Tree because of the OFFICE he possessed (master over creation). Look at Aaron – and yet he retained a dignity even after the incident with the calf because of the OFFICE he possessed (high priest). The dignity and authority lies with the office. We could point to many examples in scripture of people chosen by God who do a crappy job. If you and I were with Christ the night He prayed on the mountain about who to choose as His closest disciples, we would tell Him to pick women and gentiles, “Because they’re the most faithful.” And we would be right. It seems God would prefer to manifest His perfection through using less worthy tools, in many cases at least. Judas really was given authority by Christ to preach and teach in His name, to cast out demons, etc., (and most importantly, to confect the Eucharist). The only real morally significant difference between Judas and Peter after Holy Thursday is that Judas got frustrated with what he had done and Peter repented of what he had done.

    So saying there are moral faults in popes always has been a bad argument (and was in fact settled in principle in the time of Augustine in the “ex opere operato” debate). How on earth do we explain the Reformation in light of that? Despite the obvious primacy that Peter held in the early Church, Paul still “opposed him to his face, for he was clearly in the wrong.” You will notice, though, that Peter was not acting publicly (yet) in that matter, just as when he privately rebuked Christ after publicly proclaiming Him as Messiah among his brothers, Christ corrected him. Public vs. private is an important distinction. The public statements are infallible (for flesh and blood has not revealed it), but private opinions (even when stated publicly, like a Wednesday audience) are not under the same protection. You will also notice a trace of more humility in 2 Peter than in 1 Peter, perhaps after having matured more in the spiritual life and recognizing his limits.

    After reading many of the comments in this thread (not all, I must confess,) it seems evident to me that:

    1. Lutherans do not generally know their own roots (just like most Catholics).
    2. Lutherans do not generally know Catholicism or Church history (…just like most Catholics).
    3. This debate will not ever be settled because
    a. Refer to 1 and 2
    b. There is no Lutheran pope to unify Lutherans in such an agreement

    Grace perfects nature. Natural children need a steward when the parents are away, so shouldn’t supernatural children need a steward when the Parent is away? It is a breathtakingly simple argument. You may say, “We shouldn’t interpret Scripture that way,” and that would just prove the point again. Who is in charge? Did the Word really just become more words, or did He become flesh and dwell among us? Can spiritual authority really not be given to men after the manner of a promise, especially in light of the Incarnation? How un-scriptural is that! Why not THIS particular kind of spiritual authority?

    Just some thoughts.

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  35. It is *because* of our theological integrity that we Lutherans will not be giving a reconsideration to the fraudulent and wicked office of the papacy. Roman Catholics have been given a false gospel and are thus a mission field.

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  36. Who decides what true doctrine is? Lutherans?

    If Lutherans can determine doctrinal integrity, well then, please show us where in the Blble is Luther’s “sola scriptura” doctrine to be found. Please cite the book, chapter, and verse.

    The Catholic Church is the “pillar and ground of truth” and the Council of Trent is one visible sign of Its steadfastness. When Lutherans are able to show that Luther’s “sola scriptura” is Biblical doctrine, we will consider ditching the teachings of Trent.

    For the last 500 years, Protestantism has nothing to show but disunity and divisions precisely because every inspired Protestant believes he alone knows what true doctrine is. There is not a single Protestant sect that can rightly be described as a “pillar and ground of truth”. Nope, not a single one. Everyone of them has been blown by every wind of doctrine that has come along from cunning and crafty men. That includes Lutherans.

    So next year, let Protestants celebrate the greatness of their disunity and divisions. That will really be something to laugh about.

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    1. Thanks for conceding the argument in your appeal to stulos (pillar) and hedraioma (underpropper), supporters of the thing in question (in this case truth) rather than the thing itself. The verse, then, means that the church is the supporting structure of the truth rather than the truth. The words have refernence to templar structures supporting statuary. The church, then, rather than displaying heathen idols, displays the truth – or so it has so been commissioned to do. How, then does this support your thesis?

      Remember too that people in glass hiuses should’t throw stones and should mind when they take showers: dissident clergy, feminist nuns, liturgical chaos, flirtation (nay, cohabitiation) with liberalism, backdoor Darwinism, and the whole 9 yards of of popery? ISTM you should br much more concerned with policing your own back yard than worrying about what’s going on in mine.

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    2. Try this for starters: Revelation 22:18-21. I couldn’t even count the number of times Scripture says it is truth, unbreakable truth, revealed truth from God’s own doing. Jesus claims that for himself (OT) and appointed the 12 to do likewise (NT). I don’t like this tradition stuff on equal lines with the truth, because God didn’t give it to me for my good. Somebody else did, who cannot claim that authority. It might be true, and it might be nonsense. Way too much of it is just wrong when you look at the Bible. If you don’t accept this assertion about the Bible, I can’t really suppose any authority will matter much in an argument, as this really long and nearly useless thread has come to be.

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  37. kirkskeptic; You say; “The catholic churches for their supposed love of Scripture can’t agree on the contents of the canon.”

    Mmm… Show us where you got that….

    There is no disagreement among Catholics on the canon of Scripture.

    You say: “While we’re at it, please review 2 Tim 3:16 and tell me how and where Scripture is deficient, if the latter verse states that ‘the man of God may perfect (ie, complete), throughly (ie, utterly) furnished unto all (ie, not just some) good works.’”

    I admit. I cannot. For the second time I will tell you I cannot state where Scripture is deficient because it is not deficient. It accomplishes everything it is supposed to accomplish.

    Tell me where the Gospel of St John is deficient when he tells us flatly that he writes what he writes so that we might believe? Why, according to the testimony of a man like Luther {maybe especially since he used disparaging language to describe various books of the Bible…} would we need anything more than the Gospel of St John?

    I am not certain that you are Lutheran {I don’t remember if you said} but your reasoning is flawed because you do not understand the relationship of the books of the Bible together or to the Tradition of the Church that gave us that list of books in the first place, a Tradition that preceded the canon of Scripture and indeed gave it to the whole world. You demonstrate a misunderstanding of both the Word and Tradition and thus you must demand before entering into a discussion all must accept your unsound premise, the premise that God only gave us Scripture to guide us to truth when in fact He gave us first the Church, then Tradition and finally the collection of books we now know as the Holy Scriptures.

    Indeed, since Luther had such disdain for Scripture that he by his own self-asserted authority condemned some books and and discounted others, he then went on to establish a set of norms by which all interpretation of what was left had to be compared. Thus he opened the door for others to do the same, and they have ad infinitum since the day he first rebelled. Now all and sundry set up their own personal standards for interpretation to their own condemnation which of course is the exact reason we are told in Scripture NOT to rely on simple personal interpretation of the Scriptures and why the Scriptures.

    Luther, and subsequent Protestants, established doctrine first, and sought the support of that false doctrine second. This was of course novel teaching, teaching with no prior tradition to back it up. And thus Luther {and lots of subsequent “leaders” of self-created religious groups} thereby set himself up as a New Prophet. Indeed, there are many similarities between Luther and Mohammed, Joseph Smith and others. That Islam is also known as Mohammedanism is not to be dismissed, as neither can be the fact that Luther’s new religion is HIS religion, and named aptly his, for it is not the religion of Christ who established the Church and neither is it fully Christian, but rather a self-creation of a troubled and disturbed man, a man so described by himself in his own writings, a man who by his own writings encouraged his followers to sin. So it is aptly named “Lutheranism”. And who believes Christ handed Luther the keys to the Kingdom? Some schismatics may argue against St Peter, but never have I ever read of one so much as suggesting that Christ handed them to Martin…

    If you want to know more about the proper interpretation of “good works”, please save my my hunting and pecking fingers and simply grab a Bible {preferably one in possession of all of its books…} and a copy of the Catechism of the Catholic Church. You will find plenty of sufficiency there.

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    1. My,my, you are as parochial as a Lutheran and that’s tough! Here’s a link to show you who recognizes what as Scripture: https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Books_of_the_Bible It’s clear that the Catholic side has not been united in its ecognition of what is and isn’t canonical; I thought Tradition was supposed to unify?

      As for the canon, the church no more gave it than sits over it; the OT church knew what the canon was and wasn’t, yet had neither pope nor council to tell it. How did that work? God gave his word through the church, but that word is over the church; in the Proddie world church assemblies are called courts becasue they interpret the law rather than make it – just the way our civil courts used to. I do understand your postion of the church over the word – I simply reject it outright as antiscriptural and self-serving hooey.

      Luther said some stupid stuff – rather habitually, I might add – but so did Peter. Luther never claimed direct revelation or inspiration, and was corrected on his crap about James etc. My faith is not in Luther, and I certainly don’t pray to him. As for my faith, I am a Lutheran as I subscribe tot he SC and am a member of a church affiliated with the LCMS.

      Per your bald assertion that Proddies are mere eisegetes, I trust you have proof to,support your claim. Well, let’s see it. Having been in the Reformed camp in days of yore, I have a pretty good grasp on their symbols (eg Westminster Vonfession, SC, LC, Sum of Saving Knowledge, etc; Belgic Confession, Heidelberg Catechism, Canons of Dort); I’m reviewing ours, and see no evidence of any eisegesis – certainly nothing topping the forcing of the semper virgo int Ezk 44:1-4. I look forward to reviewing your proof.

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  38. Concerning transustantiation and the real presence: I cite 1 Cor 11: 18 -29, especially 29, ” First of all, I hear that when you meet as a church there are divisions among you, and to a degree I believe it;

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    there have to be factions among you in order that (also) those who are approved among you may become known. 10

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    When you meet in one place, then, it is not to eat the Lord’s supper,

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    for in eating, each one goes ahead with his own supper, and one goes hungry while another gets drunk.

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    Do you not have houses in which you can eat and drink? Or do you show contempt for the church of God and make those who have nothing feel ashamed? What can I say to you? Shall I praise you? In this matter I do not praise you.

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    11 For I received from the Lord what I also handed on to you, that the Lord Jesus, on the night he was handed over, took bread,

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    and, after he had given thanks, broke it and said, “This is my body that is for you. Do this in remembrance of me.”

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    In the same way also the cup, after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.”

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    For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the death of the Lord until he comes.

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    Therefore whoever eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord unworthily will have to answer for the body and blood of the Lord. 12

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    A person should examine himself, 13 and so eat the bread and drink the cup.

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    For anyone who eats and drinks without discerning the body, eats and drinks judgment 14 on himself.”
    Question 1: With this as the inspired word of God, do you deny that St. Paul was saying, “For anyone who eats and drinks without discerning the body, eats and drinks judgment on himself.”?
    Question 2; Were the people supposed to discern the same Body as verse 23+24, “”This is my body that is for you. Do this in remembrance of me.”” above?
    Question 3: Did Jesus have the power to change bread and wine into His Body, Blood, soul and divinity and the power and authority to give priests the office to do so In Christ’s persona at Mass?

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  39. Nicholas. “Of course, I know why he is hesitant to make the jump. He has a nice cushy job as an LCMS Chaplain that he doesn’t want to give up. I’m sure he has benefits, including a retirement plan.”

    1. Just ugly

    2. You “know” why Graham is doing anything? Cool trick. You use that at parties? Do you have clairvoyant insight into Graham’s banking information you would like to share?

    3. AD hominem. So…basically a usless contribution.

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