"Over against all that reason suggests or would measure and fathom, yes, all that our senses feel and perceive, we must learn to cling to the Word and simply judge according to it."


- Martin Luther




Luther's Rose


I wish most importantly to state a case for Christ and His Cross for the unbeliever, but I also wish to make the case for both the unbeliever and the "blessedly inconsistent" towards the true apostolic and catholic teachings of the blessed and orthodox Lutheran Church.



SOLI DEO GLORIA



If you read an article and wish to comment, then please do.


Do not worry about the date it was written.

I promise that I or the articles author will answer.



The Conservative Reformation and Its Theology, by Charles Porterfield Krauth is a Lutheran Classic, and a must read for all Christians.

Pretty much all of the evangelical hodge-podge that is American Christianity and it's various forms ultimately finds its root in one place: Episcopalianism.

In the founding of our country the New Englander Congregationalists were worried that Virginia, the largest and most wealthy colony by far, would impose Anglicanism on the Union as a National Church as it was the state Church in Virginia. Now, there are some who may recoil at the thought of a state Church, and I share their sentiments, but all of the colonies had state Churches at the time. And, as a matter of fact most colonies were not founded for conquest, but to set up religious utopias contrary to popular thought. However, Pennsylvania, founded by Quaker, William Penn, was the first, and I think only colony (I could be wrong on that fact) to endorse religious pluralism as a part of its state charter. New England saw this as the safest way for our country to tread, and in the end, this constitutional protection was conceded by the Virginians.

Let us thank those Puritanical New Englanders for this gift, for if religious pluralism was never allowed, I would have perhaps never become a Lutheran. However, Lutheranism hasn't gone unscathed. Even now all the branches of the Evangelicals, whose root is firmly entrenched in Episcopalianism of one form or another, are influencing and sadly winning over American Lutheranism. They have been winning for some time, and the American Lutheran Church is resembling something that is...well...not Lutheran. It is true, Satan never sleeps, and where the Word of Truth is preached correctly, you can be sure the Devil is present to distort and destroy its efficacy.

If you're interested by what you read hereafter, then please do yourself a favor and read this book! It might change the way you practice your faith; after all, It did for me.

This passage is taken from the preface. Enjoy!

The Church of England is that part of the Reformed Church for which most affinity with the conservatism of Lutheranism is usually claimed. That Church occupies a position in some respects unique. First, under Henry VIII., ceasing to be Popish without ceasing to be Romish; then passing under the influences of genuine reformation into the positively Lutheran type; then influenced by the mediating position of the school of Bucer, and of the later era of Melancthon, a school which claimed the ability practically to co-ordinate the Lutheran and Calvinistic positions; and finally settling into a system of compromise, in which is revealed the influence of the Roman Catholic views of Orders in the ministry, and, to some extent, of the Ritual; of the Lutheran tone of reformatory conservatism, in the general structure of the Liturgy, in the larger part of the Articles, and especially in the doctrine of Baptism; of the mediating theology in the doctrine of predestination; and of Calvinism in particular changes in the Book of Common Prayer, and, most of all, in the doctrine of the Lord's Supper. The Conservatism of the Church of England, even in the later shape of its reform, in many respects is indubitable, and hence it has often been called a Lutheranizing Church. But the pressure of the radicalism to which it deferred, perhaps too much in the essence and too little in the form, brought it to that eclecticism which is its most marked feature. Lutheranizing, in its conservative sobriety of modes, the Church of England is very un-Lutheran in its judgment of ends. The conservatism of the Lutheran Reformation exalted, over all, pure doctrine as the divine presupposition of a pure life, and this led to an ample and explicit statement of faith. While the Church of England stated doctrines so that men understood its utterances in different ways, the Lutheran Church tried so to state them that men could accept them in but one sense. If one expression was found inadequate for this, she gave another. The Lutheran Church has her Book of Concord, the most explicit Confession ever made in Christendom; the Church of England has her Thirty-nine Articles, the least explicit among the official utterances of the Churches of the Reformation.

The Eclectic Reformation is like the Eclectic Philosophy,- it accepts the common affirmation of the different systems, and refuses their negations. Like the English language, the English Church is a miracle of compositeness. In the wonderful tessellation of their structure is the strength of both, and their weakness. The English language is two languages inseparably conjoined. It has the strength and affluence of the two, and something of the awkwardness necessitated by their union. The Church of England has two great elements; but they are not perfectly preserved in their distinctive character, but, to some extent, are confounded in the union. With more uniformity than any other great Protestant body, it has less unity than any. Partly in virtue of its doctrinal indeterminateness, it has been the home of men of the most opposite opinions: no Calvinism is intenser, no Arminianism lower, than the Calvinism and Arminianism which have been found in the Church of England. It has furnished able defenders of Augustine, and no less able defenders of Pelagius. Its Articles, Homilies, and Liturgy have been a great bulwark of Protestantism; and yet, seemingly, out of the very stones of that bulwark has been framed, in our day, a bridge on which many have passed over into Rome. It has a long array of names dear to our common Christendom as the masterly vindicators of her common faith, and yet has given high place to men who denied the fundamental verities confessed in the general creeds. It harbors a skepticism which takes infidelity by the hand, and a revised mediaevalism which longs to throw itself, with tears, on the neck of the Pope and the Patriarch, to beseech them to be gentle, and not to make the terms of restored fellowship too difficult. The doctrinal indeterminateness which has won has also repelled, and made it an object of suspicion not only to great men of the most opposite opinions, but also to great bodies of Christians. It has a doctrinal laxity which excuses, and, indeed, invites, innovation, conjoined with an organic fixedness which prevents the free play of the novelty. Hence the Church of England has been more depleted than any other, by secessions. Either the Anglican Church must come to more fixedness in doctrine or to more pliableness in form, or it will go on, through cycle after cycle of disintegration, toward ruin. In this land, which seems the natural heritage of that Church which claims the Church of England as its mother, the Protestant Episcopal Church is numerically smallest among the influential denominations. Its great social strength and large influence in every direction only render more striking the fact that there is scarcely a Church, scarcely a sect, having in common with it an English original, which is not far in advance of it in statistical strength. Some of the largest communions have its rigidity in form, some of the largest have its looseness in doctrine; but no other large communion attempts to combine both. The numbers of those whom the Church of England has lost are millions. It has lost to Independency, lost to Presbyterianism, lost to Quakerism, lost to Methodism, lost to Romanism, and lost to the countless forms of Sectarianism of which England and America, England's daughter, have been, beyond all nations, the nurses. The Church of England has been so careful of the rigid old bottle of the form, yet so careless or so helpless as to what the bottle might be made to hold, that the new wine which went into it has been attended in every case by the same history, —the fermenting burst the bottle, and the wine was spilled. Every great religious movement in the Church of England has been attended ultimately by in irreparable loss in its membership. To this rule there has been no exception in the past. Whether the present movement which convulses the Church of England and the Protestant Episcopal Church in America, is to have the same issue, belongs, perhaps, rather to the prophet's eye than to the historian's pen. Yet to those who, though they stand without, look on with profound sympathy, the internal difficulties which now agitate those Churches seem incapable of a real, abiding harmonizing. True compromise can only sacrifice preferences to secure-principles. The only compromise which seems possible in the Anglican Churches would be one which would sacrifice principles to secure preferences, and nothing can be less certain of permanence than preferences thus secured. These present difficulties in the Anglican Churches proceed not from contradiction of its principles, but from development of them. These two classes of seeds were sown by the husbandmen themselves,-that was the compromise. The tares may grow till the harvest, side by side with the wheat, with which they mingle, but which they do not destroy, but the thorns which choke the seed must be plucked up, or the seed will perish. Tares are men; thorns are moral forces of doctrine or of life. The agitation in the Anglican Churches can end only in the victory of the one tendency and the silencing of the other, or in the sundering of the two. In Protestantism nothing is harder than to silence, nothing easier than to sunder.

If the past history of the Anglican Church, hitherto unvaried in the ultimate result, repeat itself here, the new movement will end in a formal division, as it already has in a moral one. The trials of a Church which has taken a part in our modern civilization and Christianity which entitles it to the veneration and gratitude of mankind, can be regarded with indifference only by the sluggish and selfish, and with malicious joy only by the radically bad.

5 comments:

And yet, the LCMS is thoroughly schizophrenic in its adoption of Calvinistic polity. Before Walther's adoption of "Lay-elders", it was commonly understood both here and in the old world that the only "elders" in the church are Presbyters=Pastors.

This adoption of "lay-elders" is one of the trojan horses within the LCMS. At first these men only helped keep order in worship services (much like ushers)and the like. But as time went on they were innovatively allowed to assist the pastor by distributing the Lord's Supper (never before allowed in the Lutheran church, and certainly not allowed in the Orthodox Church). Rome would later catch up in the 60's with its "lay eucharistic ministers".

Kyrie Eleison!

Fr. Daniel Hackney

August 15, 2009 at 11:22 PM  

Fr. Hackney,

Nice to hear from you again. I pray all is well with you and yours.

"And yet, the LCMS is thoroughly schizophrenic in its adoption of Calvinistic polity."

Do you offer any proof to this claim? That is, did the LCMS actually adopt the idea from Calvinism?

Also, for the sake of argument, if they did, then is such a thing counter-scriptural?

Drew

August 17, 2009 at 2:55 PM  

Drew,

Try to find an excellent article done by Dr Allan Colver in the Concordia Journal. Unfortunately I can only give you an approximate time frame of around 2007-8 for its publication. He does an excellent job of detailing the novelty of "lay elders" in Lutheranism.

As for your second question, what does Scripture teach? That Presbyters are (in English) Pastors. Also, your own Lutheran Confessions teach that the power of Excommunication/Church Discipline is given to BISHOPS by DIVINE RIGHT.

As for the family, all is well. I pray the kindness to your and yours as well.

Fr Daniel Hackney

August 23, 2009 at 4:35 PM  

I found it, and I also found a few more articles in favor and against for some more background:

http://www.csl.edu/Img/Publications/cjjan06.pdf

I have to tell you Fr. Hackney, my background is entrenched in Presbyterianism. So, upon seeing lay elders and the like involved with worship never really phased me.

Now, after reading this article and the others I can see no circumstance for this to be acceptable practice. It seems Walther made this up out of whole cloth just to make peace in the synod!

Thank you for enlightening me. I believe this passage from Collvers article tells the story accurately, and it seems Krauth (my original cited source) was well aware of this Calvinistic influence:

"Rev. Dr. Krauth spoke of the orders in the Church. That there was no Scriptural recognition of the office of Elder as distinct from that of the Pastor. That Elder Bishop and Pastor referred to one and the same office in the Church. That there are but two offices of divine right in the Church, viz: Elders and Deacons. That there is no warrant in the Word of God for the appointment of Lay Elders, nor are there any traces in the history of the Church of their appointment.
Among the early Christians, “Lay Elder” was a fallacious term. The word lay is non-official. A Lay Elder, therefore,would be a non official official. The passage in the New Testament on which authority is claimed for a distinction between ruling and
teaching elders is First Tim. v. 17. This passage, correctly understood,makes no distinction. You find the emphasis is on the word “well,” and shows a distinction between those of the same class,who diligently labor, and those who do not labor in the exercise of their offices."

Here Krauth is simply presenting what was held for much of the church’s history. Before Calvin, the commentaries on 1 Timothy 5:17 simply considered “elder” to be one and the same as the pastor. Krauth, being an English speaking Lutheran, gives some insight into the term “lay elder” by defining it as a “non official official.” He states that this is a fallacious
term. Krauth’s explanation concerning the elder who labors “well” is exactly the same as Luther’s. This does not describe a different type of elder, rather it describes an elder who performs his duties well, who is faithful to his calling. From this Krauth concludes there was no office of
lay elder in the New Testament.

"The prevailing opinion was that the office of lay elder was unknown
in the New Testament church. The only passage (1 Tim. v. 17) upon which its advocates laid much stress, they had misconceived.
The office of lay elder was unknown to the earlier fathers,
and the earlier theologians of the Lutheran church. Its introduction
into the Lutheran church had its origin in Calvinizing tendencies."

Krauth can find no evidence for lay elders before Calvin. He diagnoses the source of the lay elder in Lutheran churches as coming from Calvin, whose interpretation was adopted by various Lutherans and finally put into practice in America. Because of Krauth’s belief that lay elders originated with Calvin, he had to disagree with the position of the Missouri Synod.

"Dr. Krauth stated that he regretted very much that he had to differ in regard to lay elderships from an authority, which he held in
the highest esteem, viz: Prof. Walther, of the Missouri Synod. Prof. Walther had failed to quote in support of his position any of the earlier fathers or earlier theologians of the Lutheran church. If there was any passage in these authors favoring this position, they would most certainly have been quoted; for Prof. Walther has these
authorities at his fingers’ end. He gives a passage, indeed, from
Chemnitz, but that does not apply to the case in point."

Although Krauth greatly respects Walther, he cannot agree with him concerning lay elders

August 24, 2009 at 1:30 AM  

Drew,

Thanks for your response. Regarding the Diaconate, it is interesting that in all of the major Traditions: RC, Orthodox, Anglican, Lutheran- a permanent Diaconate had all but disappeared until the last century. Much of this was do to rivalry between Pastors and Deacons in the Liturgy (for example in the E.O Liturgy the Deacons do a lion's share of the work), and in all other areas of Church Life.

The first three traditions have gone a long way in restoring a permanent diaconate (in contrast to just ordaining one into the diaconate as a short-term prelude to the office of the presbyterate); however, the Lutheran Tradition has yet to recapture this.

I am aware though that catholic minded Lutherans in the LCMS are doing a noble work trying to bring this valuable office back into their parishes.

May continue to bring us all into a greater participation in His sufferings and joy.


Eirene,

Fr. Daniel Hackney

August 28, 2009 at 4:48 PM