Friday, 26 February 2010

For Anne...

This post is for Anne, who, in a thread over at Sentire Cum Ecclesia, asked what I meant when I said that Lutherans would permit the Pope to be head of the college of bishops (of a united Western church) if only he would allow the Gospel to have free course in the Church.

Anne, this is the basic Lutheran confession of what the Gospel or Good News is:

It is also taught among us that we cannot obtain forgiveness of sin and rightousness before God by our own merits, works, or satisfactions, but that we receive forgiveness of sin and become righetous before God by grace, for Christ's sake, through faith, when we believe that Christ suffered for us and that for his sake our sin is forgiven and righteousness and eternal life are given to us. For God will regard and reckon this faith as righteousness. Romans 3:21-26 and 4:5.

From the Augsburg Confession of 1530, which can be found in the on-line version of the Book of Concord, the collection of Lutheran confessions of faith,
here: (or click on the post title).

Lutherans prayerfully hope that the Pope will one day fully accept this Gospel and reform the Roman church in accordance with it, removing from her life all that is inconsistent with this Good News, which God himself has given to us through Christ for the sake of our salvation. If and when the Pope does this, Lutherans will consider their separation from Rome no longer justifiable, and will gladly enter into communion with the Pope, his bishops, and the Roman faithful. But until such time, we must persist in our separate existence, for the sake of the Gospel.


Matthias said...

This reform, has to surely include the removal of Indulgences,Mariolatory and prayers to the Saints,as well as some thinkling around the substance of the Eucharist.

acroamaticus said...

Yes indeed, Wayne.
Departed human beings as intercessors and Marian dogmas and piety certainly reveal synergism.
The eucharistic substance was never as much of a problem for Luther as these other matters, and in particular he was more concerne with the notion of eucharistic sacrifice. Of course, Lutherans reject transubstantiation as a human rather than a divine doctrine, and maintain, following Paul, that bread and wine remain the vehicles or means by which we commune with or share in Christ's body and blood given and shed for us. The eucharistic sacrifice, as well as the accompanying offertory processions and the like, are really a great offence against sola gratia.

David Schutz said...

Do you know, Mark, that I have no difficulty with tid quotation from the Confessions. But the speak of how we "obtain" an d"receive" salvation, and do not address the very real question of how, by our way of life and by our prayer and worship, we actually participate in this salvation. What I am saying is that we receive God's salvation apart from our "works" but that by our "works" we do actually participate in our salvation. Thus, for eg., we receive salvation in the Eucharist, but at the same time by means of the liturgical act, we also actively participate in it.

acroamaticus said...

If I understand you aright, I don't think I disagree with you. This is where a knowledge of the fathers of Lutheran orthodoxy comes in handy - they made a distinction between the transitive and intransitive aspects of God's work of redemption, the objective and subjective aspects of it if you like, and I think that could and should be extended to the Christian life of sanctification and understood in an orthodox way. It preserves monergism yet also accounts for our subjective experience of the Christian life.

David Cochrane said...

Mark 10:42 And Jesus called them to him and said to them, “You know that those who are considered rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones exercise authority over them. 43 But it shall not be so among you. But whoever would be great among you must be your servant, 44 and whoever would be first among you must be slave of all. 45 For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” ESV

Back when I was seriously considering taking steps to go to the Roman Church the above passage haunted me. The sons of Zebedee wanted to have control over the rest of the disciples. This was the answer Jesus gave.

Unless I am totally misunderstanding Jesus he does not allow a pope type figure. Now the pope does not have the corner of elevating himself as controller however, that does not make him any more correct. It is in each sinner to fall upwards and try to be another Christ.

God's peace. †

acroamaticus said...

Thanks for your comment, David. I must say that passage has haunted me too in relation to Roman claims. A re-discovery of the Gospel in Rome would certainly result in a re-shaping of the Papacy, and not just in symbolism but in dogma.

joel in ga said...

In my own discussions with thoughtful Roman Catholics, including one time on the now dormant Pontifications blog, it was never clearly explained to me why specifically Augsburg Confession Article IV on Justification was unacceptable to Roman Catholics. But the Roman Catholic interlocutors basically refrained from agreeing with it rather than positively disagreed with it.

acroamaticus said...

Joel, good to hear from you!

I have had the same or similar experiencesw with well-read RCs who know their doctrine - the moderate sort, not the Sungenis types.

They can possibly even accept CAIV, in a Catholic sense of course, but then there is always a "but" or an "and". I put it down to a fundamental difference of approach, and I think it centres on how we see the relationship between God and man after the fall. RCs still posit an 'analogy of being', whereas for Lutherans there has been radical disconnect.

So, I think, it all comes down to the fact that you can't agree on CAIV without agreeing on CAII first.