I found this rather interesting, Pastor Weedon is one of the Lutherans I listen closely to. Yes, there are others. This is a series of videos that we will share with you. I am Lutheran, and even for me as an ELCA Lutheran, it highlights the differences. In any case, I think you will see parallels and differences with your church, whichever one it may be. My guess? The LCMS is probably closest to the Anglo-Catholics, as one of the original Protestant Churches.
Many of us have considered swimming the Tiber, some have swum the Bosporus, some, including one of our founders here, have swum both, looking for an authentic presentation of our Faith. Tom Raabe at Real Clear Religion has some thoughts on another aquatic journey. He thinks, perhaps, some Evangelicals [and perhaps others] might want to consider swimming the Mississippi.
Reasons for their aquatic activities vary. Some like the art and architecture associated with the ancient faiths. Some like the ceremonial aspects–the liturgies, the veneration of icons, the Eucharist. Some like the history that oozes from Catholicism and Orthodoxy, a history that travels through great saints of yesteryear–through Augustine, Ambrose, Chrysostom, and Gregory of Nazianzus–but goes largely forgotten in contemporary evangelicalism.
Church-switching among evangelicals has always been popular. It’s become even more so now that so much of the conservative Protestant world has fled so purposely from symbolic architecture and time-honored aesthetics, and has chosen to worship in big boxy rooms with giant worship screens, all-enveloping sound systems, and Chris Tomlin-wannabes singing from the stage. Catholicism and Orthodoxy certainly offer something different from what goes on in that environment.
But evangelicals interested in “swimming” to a different tradition should consider traversing a body of water much closer to home: the Mississippi River, on which is located St. Louis, Missouri, and the headquarters of the premier conservative Lutheran church body in America, the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod.
He has a point, several in fact, one thing he says, and I want to emphasize is that when we do this we are not changing teams, at worst we are changing positions.
Go ahead and read his article linked above, in many ways, I think he’s got some very good reasoning on his side, especially as the world looks now.
In another although related matter, have you been listening to what Kanye West has been saying? What he is saying, and singing, I guess, not having heard his new album (or any others), sounds better than what many of our priests, pastors, bishops, archbishops, and sundry other Faith leaders are saying. Does he mean it, or is he trying to revive his career? Who knows, but we are the people who believe in redemption, so I think it incumbent to welcome him. One thing that struck Kylee Zempel at The Federalist, and it does me too, is that he is confessing, no he is proclaiming that Jesus is King, and we need to obey him.
I don’t know about you, but for me, that is one of the hardest things about Christianity. Obeying the Lord. If he actually lives that, or even tries, and so far he seems to be, that is a very long step to Salvation.
In Closed on Sunday (Too bad you British let your LGBTQWERTY folks run out the best American fast food and a Christian company) he sings:
Raise our sons, train them in the faith
Through temptations, make sure they’re wide awake
Follow Jesus, listen and obey
No more livin’ for the culture, we nobody’s slave
Stand up for my home
Even if I take this walk alone
I bow down to the King upon the throne
My life is His, I’m no longer my own.
How many of us manage to live that way? If he can, then God is indeed working in him. And so, while I doubt I become a fan of his, I certainly hope we can welcome him to our fellowship. We’re due some representation in cultural matters.
Praise God in all you do.
My dear friend Kathleen and I had a short discussion the other night on her blog, Catholicism Pure & Simple. It was as such things are both productive and friendly. One of the things we touched on was whether it is appropriate for a specifically Catholic or even a Christian blog to touch on things like Brexit and President Trump.
It becomes almost impossible to shirk the debate when our governments intrude on religious beliefs and practices, such as marriage, abortion, freedom of worship and practice.
And so while CP&S has touched on these matters, I seem lately to write of little else, my self imposed remit is political with an American, and Lutheran foundation. That is part of why I’m rarely writing here lately, while congruent if feels just a bit unseemly, and a fair number of you read my blog as well. And there is no point in dragging my friends into the line of fire to no purpose, and that is pretty easy, as our friend Caroline Farrow‘s current problems with the British legal system indicate.
In any case, imagine my surprise as I’m looking around this morning to seeing Dr. Gene Veith of the Cranach blog working on exactly what Kathleen and I were discussing. He excerpted an article by British author Will Jones entitled: Progressives vs conservatives: This is why we can’t just all get along. British, American, British, American, British, Catholic, Lutheran, who says our problems are different. In any case here’s Gene, with Dr. Veith in bold:
. . .The divide [is] between those who believe the world has a given order that ought to be respected because it makes things go best in the long run, and those who do not believe this and think invoking such order is little more than a tool of oppression wielded by the powerful against those they exploit.
The social order, says Jones, expresses itself in institutions such as the family and the nation-state, along with the ideas and practices that support them, such as sexual morality and the rule of law. Conservatives support them–with religious conservatives seeing them as facets of God’s creation–while progressives find them oppressive.
This conservative respect for natural and social order contrasts sharply with the progressive outlook which is typically hostile to claims of inherent order in nature and society. Progressives tend to follow Marx in regarding such ideas as devices created by the powerful (in Marx’s case, the owners of capital, these days, more likely straight white men) to perpetuate inequalities and restrict people’s freedom of action.
Progressives and conservatives both say they want people to be happy, but they understand very differently what this involves. Whereas conservatives see happiness as emerging from respect for the natural and social order, for progressives almost the opposite is the case: the individual’s pursuit of happiness must as far as possible be achieved by not conforming to the social order. This is because to do so is to become complicit in oppression and to succumb to the ‘false consciousness’ of being happy when enslaved. . . .
Conservatives and progressives differ also in their visions of freedom. Conservatives seek the freedom that comes from respecting the boundaries inherent in the created order. Progressives, on the other hand, aim for freedom from the created order – from biology, from the family, from the nation, from God. As a consequence, progressive freedom has a strong authoritarian bent. This might seem paradoxical, but in fact it follows directly from the progressives’ need to oppose by force the outworking of the order of nature, and to silence those who attempt to point out the problems with this.
So how does Christianity fit with this?
Yes, Christians do believe that God has ordained the family. The “nation-state” is a relatively modern invention, unknown in the Middle Ages, classical antiquity, and tribal societies, but the “state” as some sort of social organization with earthly authorities that restrain evil and protect the good is indeed one of the God-given “estates” for human flourishing (Romans 13; 1 Peter 2:13-14). Also, Christians believe that moral truths are part of a reality built into creation and human nature (Romans 1-2). So by these definitions, Christians will tend to be conservative.
No one will be surprised that I heartily concur with them both, and with Kathleen as well. Here is part of one of my comments to her, which sums up my view pretty well.
As a Lutheran, I would point out that the Kingdom of the Left Hand (secular government) is also of God, although not as directly as the Kingdom of the Right hand. And so our governments on earth are also of concern to us. But while I straddle that fence, you, here, are more focussed. And, in truth, I don’t write much on the other blog for that reason as well, since I find my well pretty dry lately on church topics.
And Dr. Veith ends with this, which is certainly appropriate for us to discuss as well.
[…] The Christian’s hope is fixed not so much on this world, which will soon pass away, but on the world to come–on Christ who has atoned for the sins of the world and who will reign as King over the New Heaven and the New Earth.
Is this right? Am I missing something? How does this accord with Two Kingdoms theology?
I do think Jones’s analysis explains a lot, from our current political polarization to the behavior of people that we know. But does it follow that such extreme polarization is inevitable, that there can be no common basis for consensus and social unity? Is it impossible, in these terms, to have a “center”? How did we as a nation function in years past? Were there different ideologies at work? If so, might we bring some of those back?
We’re coming up on the 500th anniversary of the start of the Reformation, and like the author of this article, I have many Catholic friends (here and elsewhere). What do I want them to know? In this article from The Federalist, Anna Mussmann does a pretty good job of explaining.
[…]In their eyes, our admiration for Martin Luther is as misguided as holding a big party in honor of one’s divorce. They argue the Reformation ushered in a world where each individual’s personal taste in interpretation became supreme, leading to the moral chaos and postmodernism that riddles the cultural landscape today. At best, they see Protestants as limping along without the spiritual blessings God bestows through their church yet, like anorexics, rejoicing in this near-starvation.
I readily concede that the Reformation brought costs as well as benefits. Yet as a Lutheran, I am profoundly grateful for the sixteenth-century return to Scripture that reminded us of Sola Scriptura, Sola Fide, Sola Gratia, and Solus Christus. I deeply appreciate the Lutheran determination, demonstrated in the “Book of Concord, “to find and cling to biblical truth. That is why I want my Catholic friends to know three things about the event I will be celebrating on October 31.
1. It’s Not about Individualism
Secular historians, like secular journalists writing about Pope Francis, often misunderstand religion. Mainstream history textbooks portray Luther as someone who struck a blow for the individual by rejecting the authority of people who wanted to tell others what to believe. As long as these historians don’t peruse his actual writing, they see Luther as a pretty progressive guy by the standards of 1517. My Catholic friends read this stuff and, quite naturally, pick up the idea that Luther’s teachings led to hyper-individualism.
Yet Luther’s actual theological legacy is not conducive to extreme individualism. He intended to participate in a conversation about reforming errors that were harming the Catholic Church. That is because he wanted to point out where individuals were going wrong by failing to submit themselves to the authority of scripture. […]
It’s true, we are just about as hidebound to what Christians have always believed everywhere as the most traditional Catholic. We don’t do novelty (well some of us do). The Rev Dr Luther was essentially what we would call today a whistleblower. I too have taken Catholic friends to church with me, and especially in the LCMS, they are surprised, if anything we are more liturgical than many Catholic parishes. What Old Luther tried to do was to go back to our roots, in the early church. To be sure there are places we disagree.
The Lutheran Reformation was not about making up new traditions from scratch, but about identifying the parts of the historic liturgy that convey the gospel well. One reason it’s so much fun to talk about philosophy and literature with my Catholic friends is that we share a rich sense of history and see ourselves as taking part in a conversation that has been going on for centuries.
However, we Lutherans disagree with Catholics in a highly significant area. They say church tradition is as reliable a guide as scripture, and that one can safely construct theological dogmas on promises and statements that aren’t found in scripture. Thus they accept concepts like the bodily assumption of Mary as doctrine even though the Bible says nothing on that subject.
Now, Lutherans respect church tradition. The Lutheran reformers frequently referenced the writings of the early church fathers. We, too, are grateful for the history that ties us to the church universal throughout time, and we, too, commemorate the faithful saints who have gone before us (although we don’t ask anyone dead to pray for us—the Bible offers no promise that we will be heard that way).
There is considerably more. Do follow the link above.
I do note that Luther believed in the bodily assumption, but it was something that he took on faith, because, well it isn’t mentioned in scripture. We do, some of us anyway, following Luther’s practice, venerate Our Lady, though.
One of the main points that I always make though is that (so does Anna) without Luther, there is no Trent. He was causal in the reform that the Catholic Church needed badly.
In truth, many Lutherans do as she said, refer to our Reformation as a conservative one, in keeping with the traditional definition, keeping the good and reforming the bad. Some of those that followed had different goals, such as being as not-Catholic as they could be. We (and perhaps the Anglo-Catholics) sit firmly in the middle, Catholic but not Roman, Evangelical but traditional.
Occasionally it’s an uncomfortable spot, as we have neither the Pope nor do we get to make it up as we go. For me, it’s the right spot, as it is for many of us.
Phillip mentioned yesterday that Lutherans have a very clear doctrine of the Eucharist, which is certainly true, and that the controversy between Luther and Zwingli highlighted the differences. That too is true. I didn’t want to go into it on his post, it is a bit far off topic. It is interesting, though, and last night I found a concise summary of the differences by Trevin Wax. It also highlights how it differed from Luther’s contemporary Catholic experience.
In the medieval period before the Reformation, the mass formed the centerpiece of Christian worship and devotion. Three centuries before Luther began teaching in Wittenberg, the fourth Lateran council of 1215 established the doctrine of transubstantiation, which holds that upon the priest’s consecration of the bread and wine, the accidents (according to the senses) remain the same, but the substance (the internal “essence”) is miraculously transformed into the physical body and blood of Christ.
The implications of this doctrine were widespread. Laypeople began to adore the bread and wine from afar or superstitiously carry pieces of bread back home to plant in the garden for good crops or to give to an ailing animal for good health. To avoid an accidental spilling of the wine, the priests began giving only the bread to parishioners, keeping the cup for themselves. By the 1500’s, even the bread was withheld in most churches.
The mass had turned into a show instead of a sacrament. Some parishioners feverishly hurried from church to church to obtain the blessing of seeing more than one host in a given day.
Luther objected to the extreme practices brought by medieval superstition, but he continued to regard the “images, bells, Eucharistic vestments, church ornaments, altar lights and the like” as “indifferent.”
Two things in particular bothered Luther about the Roman Catholic view of the Lord’s Supper. First, he disagreed sharply with the practice of withholding the cup from the laity. So strongly did Luther believe in the laity’s participation in the mass that he condemned the Roman Catholic practice as one way that “Babylon” holds the church “captive.” (It should be noted however that Luther did not believe that withholding the cup necessarily invalidated the sacrament or that the Christians who were denied the cup during the previous centuries had not received sacramental benefits.)
Secondly, Luther believed that the Roman Catholic understanding of the sacrament as a “good work and a sacrifice” was the “most wicked abuse of all.” Luther argued forcefully that the mass must be seen as a testament – something to receive, not a good work to perform. The only sacrifice at the Lord’s Table is the sacrifice of ourselves. The idea that a priest could sacrifice the body and blood of the Lord was especially appalling to Luther and he considered this belief the most abominable of Roman errors. […]
Another area in which Luther remained close to Roman doctrine is in the doctrine of the “real presence.” Up until 1519, it appears Luther agreed with the official doctrine of transubstantiation. In 1520, he criticized the idea quite forcefully, painting it as needless speculation based on Aristotelian thought.
A popular misconception among Reformation students is that Luther affirmed and promoted “consubstantiation,” but neither Luther nor the Lutheran church ever accepted that term. Luther simply refused to speculate on how Christ is present and instead settled for affirming that he is there. The presence of Christ in the Supper is miraculous and thus defies explanation.
Roman Catholic theologians strongly emphasized the moment of consecration, when the priest would lift the bread and say “Hoc est corpus meum.” At that moment, bells would be rung and all eyes would be on the elevated host, which had magically been transformed into Christ’s body.
Luther similarly emphasized the words of institution, but only because Christ’s command leads to the change, not because the priest has made a special utterance. In this and other practices, Luther was content to alter the understanding behind Roman Catholic practice without feeling the need to actually change the tradition itself.
Luther believed that the fruit of the Lord’s Supper is the forgiveness of sins. Roman doctrine held that Communion was for the righteous, those who have confessed their sins to the priest. Luther believed Communion was for sinners, those who needed Christ’s incarnation the most.
Zwingli did not see the need for a “sacramental union” in the Lord’s Supper because of his modified understanding of sacraments.
According to Zwingli, the sacraments serve as a public testimony of a previous grace. Therefore, the sacrament is “a sign of a sacred thing, i.e. of a grace that has been given.” For Zwingli, the idea that the sacraments carry any salvific efficacy in themselves is a return to Judaism’s ceremonial washings that lead to the purchase of salvation.
Whereas Luther sought to prune the bad branches off the tree of Roman Catholic sacramentalism, Zwingli believed the problem to be rooted at least partly in sacramentalism itself. […]
What Zwingli could not accept was a “real presence” that claimed Christ was present in his physical body with no visible bodily boundaries.
“I have no use for that notion of a real and true body that does not exist physically, definitely and distinctly in some place, and that sort of nonsense got up by word triflers.”
Zwingli’s theology of the Lord’s Supper should not be viewed as an innovation without precedent in church history. Zwingli claimed that his doubts about transubstantiation were shared by many of his day, leading him to claim that priests did not ever believe such a thing, even though “most all have taught this or at least pretended to believe it.”
Had Zwingli’s modified doctrine of the “real presence” been an innovation, it would probably not have been so eagerly accepted by his parishioners. The symbolic view spread rapidly because Zwingli had given voice and legitimacy to an opinion that was already widespread.
In Zurich, the mass was abolished in 1525. The Lord’s Supper was celebrated with a new liturgy that replaced the altar with a table and tablecloth.
The striking feature of the Zwinglian observance of the sacrament was its simplicity. Because the bread and wine were not physically transformed into Christ’s body and blood, there was no need for spurious ceremonies and pompous rituals. The occasion was marked by simplicity and reverence, with an emphasis on its nature as a memorial.
Zwingli’s denial of the “real presence” did not result in the neglecting of the sacrament that would characterize many of his followers in centuries to come. He saw seven virtues in the Lord’s Supper that proved its importance for the Christian life.
Do read the articles linked above. While what he says on Lutheran doctrine is in accordance with what I know and believe, and what I know of how it was derived, and I am sort of assuming that as an Evangelical he knows a fair amount about Zwingli, I don’t know enough to comment intelligently about it. My original church had a fair amount of Reformed in it, but it was long ago, and I’ve long since come to believe in The Real Presence myself, actually before I became a Lutheran. It is just more consonant with the Lord’s words and the disciples’ reaction to them.
Ps, the short form
Time for me to post something here, I reckon, and I think might do. The other day a document called “Correctio filialis de haeresibus propagatis“ (if your Latin is as bad as mine that translates as “A filial correction concerning the propagation of heresies”) was served on the Pope. What that document does is accuse him of teaching seven heresies. Not the kind of stuff that usually happens in the Catholic Church. In fact, the last time it happened was in 1333 to Pope John XXII. He later recanted his errors. I can’t really say that I see Francis doing that. I’m rather glad I’m not the recipient of that 25-page letter though.
Gene Veith over at Cranach spells out some of it, no doubt some of you know more than I do. He talks about the charges (for lack of a better description) and there is a link to the English translation of the document, I’ve only read the summary, so far. It’s copyrighted so I can’t give you much, but it concerns mostly this, “It lists the passages of Amoris laetitia in which heretical positions are insinuated or encouraged, and then it lists words, deeds, and omissions of Pope Francis which make it clear beyond reasonable doubt that he wishes Catholics to interpret these passages in a way that is, in fact, heretical.”
[Emphasis in the original]
Lots of this has to do, I gather, with giving communion to the divorced and remarried, and beyond that I’m not prepared to go. We’ve discussed this at great length. Search for COMMUNION FOR THE REMARRIED in the search box above if you don’t already know what most of us think. It always leads to much heat and some hurt feelings, so let’s not overly rehash it still again.
The one count that Dr. Veith and I both found a bit amusing is that they are accusing him of being Lutheran, or at least under Luther’s influence. Part of the reason I find that a bit amusing is that so few Lutherans could actually be convicted of that. Dr. Veith adds this,
I tend to have sympathy with the conservative side of theological controversies, though not on this issue. The sacrament is given specifically to sinners for the forgiveness of their sins (Matthew 26:28), and is not to be reserved only for those in a state of moral perfection. But that is one of the “Lutheran” teachings that Pope Francis has approximated and which the signers consider heretical.
But I still have sympathy for those who wrote and signed this letter. Conservative Catholics, almost by definition, revere and obey the papacy. To come to the conviction that the Pope is teaching heresy must be agonizing.
To believe that the Pope has violated the teachings of the Church Universal, that the papacy is not the protector of orthodoxy as has been assumed but a means of introducing innovative and problematic doctrines into the Church, can be a traumatic realization. And to take a stand on this conviction shows great integrity and courage.
The signers may consider Luther to be a heretic. But at least they know now how he felt.
Good thing it’s mostly bishops and academics signing this though. Henry VIII burned a few folks for that very thing, before he married one, of course. It was far from the longest marriage of his.
Indeed it must be a horrendous nightmare for any churchman to come to that feeling about any of his bishops, but the Pope! I don’t envy them, but I too admire them greatly. It must take great courage to put your name on that document.
They (whoever they may be) say that “May you live in interesting times” is a Chinese curse. I suspect we all understand why.
In the United States, today is Labor Day. A day given aside presumably to honor those who work, even though like most summer holidays it is mostly used to recreate, grill, and watch sports. Well, that’s the American way, we don’t take all that much seriously.
But Luther, the great theologian of vocation is an apt source for the day, so here are a couple of extracts from him on the day, courtesy of Gene Veith.
If you are a manual laborer, you find that the Bible has been put into your workshop, into your hand, into your heart. It teaches and preaches how you should treat your neighbor. Just look at your tools—at your needle or thimble, your beer barrel, your goods, your scales or yardstick or measure—and you will read this statement inscribed on them. Everywhere you look, it stares at you. Nothing that you handle every day is so tiny that it does not continually tell you this, if you will only listen. . . .All this is continually crying out to you: “Friend, use me in your relations with your neighbor just as you would want your neighbor to use his property in his relations with you.”
Martin Luther, “Commentary on the Sermon on the Mount” (Luther’s Works 21:237)
Interestingly, as an electrical worker, my main supplier of hand tools is M. Klein and Sons. It got its start because he was a blacksmith and a Western Union lineman came in to get his pliers repaired, so Klein forged a replacement half for him – a couple weeks later he came back to get the other half, now broken replaced. Thus started one of the legends of American quality, to the point that by the time my dad started work in the 1920s those pliers were (and are) simply referred to as Kleins. The apropos point here is that one of the phrases that Klein’s publicizes for hand tool safety is,
“Take care of your tools, or they will take care of you”
How much more appropriate is that to us in our relations with our neighbors, and how much more important.
Although the Christian is thus free from all works, he ought in this liberty to empty himself, take upon himself the form of a servant, be made in the likeness of men, be found in human form, and to serve, help, and in every way deal with his neighbor as he sees that God through Christ has dealt and still deals with him. This he should do freely, having regard for nothing but divine approval. He ought to think: . . . . “I will therefore give myself as a Christ to my neighbor, just as Christ offered himself to me.”[i]. . .Just as our neighbor is in need and lacks that in which we abound, so we were in need before God and lacked his mercy. Hence, as our heavenly Father has in Christ freely come to our aid, we also ought freely to help our neighbor through our body and its works, and each one should become as it were a Christ to the other that we may be Christs to one another and Christ may be the same in all, that is, that we may be truly Christians. . . .We conclude, therefore, that a Christian lives not in himself, but in Christ and in his neighbor. Otherwise he is not a Christian. .He lives in Christ through faith, in his neighbor through love. By faith he is caught up beyond himself into God. By love he descends beneath himself into his neighbor. Yet he always remains in God and in his love.”[i]
Martin Luther, Freedom of the Christian, LW 31: 366-67, 371.
Well, we’ve seen that put into practice the last fortnight in Texas, haven’t we? One thing that struck me in reading an article by a British woman who got caught in Houston was how amazed she was by such things as this…
The hotel manager, a Syrian Christian, said we stood only a 50/50 chance of getting to the airport as most of the roads had been closed during the night due to flooding. He told me I must trust God’s will. The freedom to mention God and pray without being mocked was comforting.
How remarkable it seemed to this flyover American to be amazed at this. It just the way we do business, especially when things go wrong. It is perhaps why the US is what it is.
Truly did Dame Julian say,
“all shall be well, and all shall be well, and all manner of thing shall be well.”
Webster’s defines Eugenics as, “a science that deals with the improvement (as by control of human mating) of hereditary qualities of a race or breed”. Pretty innocuous, isn’t it? It merely means that as we have children we should be aware that our characteristics; looks, intelligence, and such, will likely carry on. In other words, we should find smart, attractive, whatever matters to you, partners. I think we all knew that even before 1883 when the term was coined.
But what about this, Iceland has all but eradicated Down’s Syndrome. Sounds pretty good, doesn’t it? A real victory for eugenics. Or is it? Iceland has done this by aborting just about every unborn baby that shows a possibility of Down’s. Rather a different sort of thing, I think.
The worst part is that they seem proud of it. David Harsanyi writing in The Federalist (and you really should read it) tells us:
Now, the word “eradication” typically implies that an ailment is being cured or beaten by some technological advancement. Not so in this case. Nearly 100 percent of women who receive positive tests for Down syndrome in that small nation end up eradicatingtheir pregnancies. Iceland averages only one or two Down syndrome children per year, and this seems mostly a result of parents receiving inaccurate test results.
It’s just a matter of time until the rest of the world catches up. In the United States around 67 percent of women who find out their child will be born with Down syndrome opt to have an abortion. In the United Kingdom it’s around 90 percent. More and more women are taking these prenatal tests, and the tests are becoming increasingly accurate.
For now, however, Iceland has completed one of the most successful eugenics programs in the contemporary world. If you think that’s overstated, consider that eugenics — the word itself derived from Greek, meaning “well born” — is nothing more than an effort to control breeding to increase desirable heritable characteristics within a population. This can be done through “positive” selection, as in breeding the “right” kinds of people with each other, or in “negative” selection, which is stopping the wrong kinds of people from having children.
The latter was the hallmark of the progressive movement of the 1900s. It was the rationalization behind the coerced sterilization of thousands of mentally ill, poor, and minorities here in America. It is why real-life Nazis required doctors to register all newborns born with Down syndrome. And the first humans they gassed were children under three years old with “serious hereditary diseases” like Down syndrome.
Now, as a general rule Down’s Syndrome is not inheritable, and this story “reflects a relatively heavy-handed genetic counseling,” as geneticist Kari Stefansson admits in a video. One is led to ask, what else can we control for in our kids? Want one son and maybe a daughter later? That can certainly be done. Why not, it’s the mother’s body, after all. Isn’t it?
But what about that child, essentially murdered even before he or she had a chance at life?
Over at Landspitali University Hospital, Helga Sol Olafsdottir counsels women who have a pregnancy with a chromosomal abnormality. They speak to her when deciding whether to continue or end their pregnancies. Olafsdottir tells women who are wrestling with the decision or feelings of guilt: ‘This is your life — you have the right to choose how your life will look like.’
Marie Stopes and Margeret Sanger must be so proud of her.
You know, back in the day, when Christianity was known as ‘The Way’, one of the markers of Christians was the way they loved each other, no matter the station, and more to our point, they did not leave unwanted children to die of exposure. As just about every other culture in antiquity did
Seems to me that for all our prattling about human rights, we’re doing a really terrible job of practicing what we preach.
Vladimir Putin continues to crackdown on religions that are “non-traditional” to Russia, persecuting people because of their religious beliefs on a scale unknown since Soviet days. Interestingly, Lutheranism is considered one of the “traditional” religions (as are Baptists), so that some Protestant church work is still legal. In fact, Lutheran Christianity, as an alternative to both Orthodoxy and other kinds of Protestantism, is reportedly showing special appeal to Russians, particularly to intellectuals and scientists.
I stumbled upon an article entitled Russian Lutheranism: Between Protestantism, Orthodoxy, and Catholicism. in the East-West Church & Ministry Report (Vol. 11, No. 2, Spring 2003), a journal about Christian work in the former Soviet Union and Central and Eastern Europe. The authors are an Orthodox scholar and his assistant, Sergei B. Filatov and Aleksandra Styopina.
They survey the various Lutheran groups in Russia–which owe their “traditional” bona fides to the German immigrants Catherine the Great and other Czars moved in to help modernist the country, to the strongly Lutheran Ingrian ethnic group, and to Lutherans in the Baltic regions.
They say that Lutheranism appeals to Russians because its sacramentalism and liturgical worship preserves the sense of “mystery” that they value in the Orthodox Church. Lutherans also affirm the ecumenical creeds and thus much of what Orthodoxy teaches.
But Lutheranism is said to be more “intellectual” and to promote more “freedom.” Russians like the emphasis on the Gospel and on the Bible. But they think Lutherans are less “extreme” in their theology than other Protestants. (Whatever that means.) They appreciate how Lutherans teach that salvation is by grace alone, and yet avoid the predestinarianism of Calvinists.
Also the Lutheran theology of culture–the doctrine of the Two Kingdoms–allows them to affirm Russian culture in a way that other kinds of Protestantism can’t or won’t.
Though there have been some liberal Lutherans, most Russian Lutherans have avoided the liberalism of so much of Western Christianity. That too is a plus for Russians.
Dr. Veith also quotes a pastor of the Bible Lutheran Church in Irkutsk. He says something I find quite remarkable, perhaps astonishing.
There are two major religions in Russia, Orthodoxy and Lutheranism. Since the sixteenth century Lutheranism together with Orthodoxy has formed a part of Russian culture, science, and politics. Without the Lutheran tradition in Russia, only half of Russia would be left and the Lutheran part is not the worst half. You will become tired if you start counting everything that Lutherans have given to Russia. The regeneration of Russian Lutheranism is the restoration of the natural order of things.”
There’s considerably more at the link (and its linked article) but what I find interesting is that in Russia vis a vis the Orthodox Church, as with many of us in the west with our more hierarchical churches, there is a sense that the more decentralized Lutheran church, while still offering the mystery and sacramentalism of liturgical worship appears to be more honest because of its lack of ties to the government.
Seems to me something that most of us can relate to.
What is it about purgatory that divides Catholics from Protestants? Does it actually have to do with justification? At first, I think it’s important to state that there is only so much that we can possibly know about purgatory—like Heaven or hell.
My post here will be mostly informal and written from my observations having spent a great deal of time and having a magnificent opportunity listening to confessional Lutherans. I’ve heard told in many circles that Martin Luther, a pious Christian, had been using the sacrament of confession; however, after each time of reconciliation, the Augustinian monk, would hesitate a bit while walking back to his theological studies as he just remembered sins that he forgot to confess. Luther, then, thought something of the nature, “I must still be damned.” The term for this is called scrupulosity, in fact, I was having a discussion on Justification and purgatory one night, I said, “I believe that at best, I will no doubt have to be purified in purgatory, I then used the term, scrupulosity, in response to being told, “I just want you to have peace.” I looked very puzzled at the reply, “peace?” The individual thought that there was no possible way that I could be confident in my salvation if I had to continue to worry about my sins and practice the sacrament of confession. However, my response, “I already have peace. I can be confident in both my state of grace and the mercy of God; however, If I do deserve damnation, I have faith in God’s true justice.”
So, why do I have confidence in the doctrine of purgatory, as opposed to this individual and Luther? There are various proofs in Scripture that Catholics point to in regards to Purgatory such as 1 Cor. 3:11-15, Jn. 14:2, Mt. 12:32.
However, my confidence rests on the words of Jesus Christ in Matthew Ch. 5:23-26
23 Therefore, if you bring your gift to the altar, and there recall that your brother has anything against you, 24 leave your gift there at the altar, go first and be reconciled with your brother, and then come and offer your gift. 25 Settle with your opponent quickly while on the way to court with him. Otherwise your opponent will hand you over to the judge, and the judge will hand you over to the guard, and you will be thrown into prison. 26 Amen, I say to you, you will not be released until you have paid the last penny. 
The great accuser—The opponent– that we will all have at our judgment is Satan. So, here are two topics that many Christians fail to speak about in this day and age, Satan and Sin, mainly because most no longer believe in either. So, if most do not believe that there are Satan and Sin, is it fair to say that it would be difficult to believe in a purification of Sin? Could one make the argument that our failure to acknowledge such is founded in Sola Fide? Perhaps not, after all, many Catholics no longer believe that Satan or Sin exists. In regards to on the way to court, of course, this means our life on the way to the beatific vision, and our way to settle our debt of sin is with confession and penance.
It’s important to note that Christ then says, “you will not be released until you have paid the last penny.” Christ couldn’t be talking about hell as the verdict from the Judge by this statement because if the judgment is hell, the judgment is final; however, purgatory is not a final state, but rather a purifying state, in which one will be “released;” therefore, their judgment of salvation has been assured.
One of the best pieces of Western Literature is Dante’s Divine Comedy, one of the great attributes of the text is that it speaks to us today of the Christian worldview of a faithful Catholic in the 13th century before the Reformation.
Notice, even in both Canto III’s of the Inferno and Purgatory the difference of the fates of those souls:
Here sighs, with lamentations and loud moans,
Resounded through the air pierced by no star,
That e’en I wept at entering. Various tongues,
Horrible languages, outcries of woe,
Accents of anger, voices deep and hoarse,
With hands together smote that swell’d the sounds,
Made up a tumult, that forever whirls
Round through that air with solid darkness stain’d,
Like to the sand that in the whirlwind flies.
I then, with horror yet encompast, cried:
“O master! what is this I hear? what race
Are these, who seem so overcome with woe?”
“O spirits perfect! O already chosen!”
Virgil to them began: “by that blest peace,
Which, as I deem, is for you all prepared,
Instruct us where the mountain low declines,
So that attempt to mount it be not vain.
For who knows most, him loss of time most grieves.”
In Dante’s Hell, those souls, as with every circle of hell, are continuously moved in endless unending circles, but notice, that in purgatory, as Virgil says as the souls approach him and Dante, “O already Chosen!” those spirits are beginning to move forward as pilgrims to the reward they’re already assured as they can not move back.
The Book of Concord reads in regards to penance in indulgence:
They add further that satisfactions ought to be works of supererogation. These consist of the most stupid observances, like pilgrimages, rosaries, and similar observations, none of which have the command of God.  Then, just as they buy off purgatory with satisfactions, so they also devised a way to buy off satisfactions, which turned out to be very profitable. For they sell indulgences, which they interpret as the remission of satisfactions. They collect this revenue not only from the living but even more from the dead. They buy off the satisfactions for the dead not only with indulgences but also with the sacrifice of the Mass.
As I read the above text, I hear the “voice” of the writer, in respect, to being angry at the selling for profit of indulgences in regards to removing penance. I fully admit that those in the Church, and yes even leaders, are sinners and did egregious actions. Regardless, Catholics and Protestants differ on how God conducts commands. Protestants claim Sola Scriptura while Catholics claim that Church tradition can also produce theological truths. However, after applying Christ words using scripture, can it truly be claimed there is no command from God? Furthermore, is it “works” to simply pray for souls in purgatory? It’s well noted in the historical record that Luther edited books from the canon that displayed prayers for the dead, as it opposed to his prospective theology. It’s clear from Catholic theology that souls who receive no prayers will still be purified and receive their reward, in this regard, no action from anyone is meriting salvation, as salvation is assured. God initiates by a free gift salvation. I implore my Protestant brothers and sisters to see that “works” is not a bad word. If salvation is granted to us Prima Gratia, Christ still speaks time and time again about “storing treasures in Heaven” by actions on earth.
 New American Bible, Revised Edition (Washington, DC: The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, 2011), Mt 5:22–26.
 Dante Alighieri, The Harvard Classics 20: The Divine Comedy by Dante, ed. Charles W. Eliot (New York: P. F. Collier & Son, 1909), 13–14.
 Dante Alighieri, The Harvard Classics 20: The Divine Comedy by Dante, ed. Charles W. Eliot (New York: P. F. Collier & Son, 1909), 157.
Robert Kolb, Timothy J. Wengert, and Charles P. Arand, The Book of Concord: The Confessions of the Evangelical Lutheran Church (Minneapolis, MN: Fortress Press, 2000), 190.