Wednesday, September 8, AD 2010

The Episcopal Church?

Cardinal’s Mahony or O’Malley’s Archdioceses?

If you guessed any of these you’re pretty darn close!

(Hat Tip:  Creative Minority Report)

Continue reading...

3 Responses to Progressive-Church.Com

The Debate is about Authority

Tuesday, December 1, AD 2009

Witnessing the continued implosion of the Anglicans and the ELCA over matters of Christian morality, I am intrigued by the way present circumstances have inspired renewed consideration of tradition, authority and obedience.

As I wrote a few months ago (“On the troubles within the ELCA” American Catholic September 7, 2009): “What is interesting, at least from this Catholic perspective, is the extent to which the critics of recent decisions recognize the seeds of their present troubles woven into the very fabric of their tradition.”

In a recent post to First Things‘ “On the Square”, Rusty Reno described the crisis of those experiencing “the agony of mainline Protestantism” thus:

One either recommits oneself to the troubled world of mainline Protestantism with articulate criticisms, but also with a spirit of sacrifice, as he so powerfully evokes. Or one stumbles forward-who can see in advance by what uncertain steps?-and abandons oneself, not to “orthodoxy” or “true doctrine” or “good theology,” but to the tender care of Mother Church.

As Joe Carter (First Things) noted, as with the Anglicans, so a faction of Lutherans have chosen a third route — forming a new Lutheran church body separate from the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.

Meanwhile, it appears that the homosexuality debate is fanning faculty and student protests at Calvin College — the furor instigated by a memo reminding faculty that they were bound to the confessional documents of the Christian Reformed Church:

Continue reading...

2 Responses to The Debate is about Authority

  • It has always been about authority. Seems the Protestant seeds planted 500 years ago are starting to mature and will eventually choke itself off. Not that there won’t be Protestant denominations with us unitl the end of time. They may even become the most numerous. But eventually they will not resemble anything like Christianity. Heck, some are already unrecognizable as Christian.

  • Unitarians come to mind. Latter Day Saints. Just two off the top of my head that barely resemble Christianity at all.

On the troubles within the ELCA

Monday, September 7, AD 2009

I attended a Lutheran (ELCA) college, where I majored in theology and philosophy. Much of my junior and senior year, however, were spent engaged in study of Catholic teaching (thanks to the fortunate discovery of Dorothy Day and Cardinal Ratzinger), culminating in my conversion.

In much the same manner as my familial background leads me, even as a convert, to take an interest in Mennonite affairs, I try to stay abreast of Lutheran matters and Lutheran-Catholic relations.

News of late has made for rather grim reading.

Continue reading...

12 Responses to On the troubles within the ELCA

  • Wonderfully put, Chris. Thank you for this.

  • I really feel for many Lutherans of the ELCA. I’ve met and known a few that would almost be indistinguishable from Catholics, yet seem embedded with their respective churches within the ELCA.

    It will be interesting to see the fall-out of this.

    You may be able to answer this for me, but isn’t the Missouri Synod the more orthodox of all the branches of Lutheranism in the United States?

  • I guess that would depend on who you asked! I’d give the distinction of being the most ‘orthodox’ Lutheran denomination to the Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Church (WELS). I’m sure someone from the LCMS would have a different opinion.

  • Pingback: The Petri Dish of Ecclesiology « Maude's Tavern
  • I was born and raised in the LCMS, and converted to the Catholic Church 6 yrs ago for all the reasons you talk about in your post. The LCMS has no more intrinsic resources to resist these issues than any other branch of Lutheranism, and will eventually succumb. As you point out, all this is a result of the very nature of protestantism.
    “The Catholic Church is the only thing which saves a man from the degrading slavery of being a child of his age”–G. K. Chesterton

  • Speaking of Lutherans, as someone posted on Free Republic:

    The formation of the ELCA is what nudged Fr. Richard John Neuhaus into the Catholic Church. At the time, he said that the merger was not based on theological principle or belief, but was merely a material merger for material reasons—like a merger of Wal-Mart and K-Mart.

    Neuhaus said he had always viewed the Lutheran “Church” as the Lutheran “Movement” within the universal Church. After the formation of the ELCA, he could not maintain that view—of Lutheranism as a principle-based movement within the Church.

    While the characterization of “communion” or, better, “movement” can be useful, I find it more productive to use the phrase “separated religious order” for such ecclesial structures.

  • Sad. I hope Lutherans come to peace and prayerfully consider full communion.

  • Daniel – I see we share a similar concern. Welcome, and thank you for commenting. (Thank you everybody else as well).

    Carl Braaten is among those who emphasize the ‘catholicity’ of the Reformation (see The Catholicity of the Reformation) and what we have in common. My former teachers were of the same mind; one of them, Bishop Michael McDaniel (RIP) founded the ongoing Aquinas-Luther conference. He was also a good friend of Fr. Neuhaus. His memoirs — “ELCA Journeys: Personal Reflections on the Last Forty Years” — is a chronicle of the organization’s decline. I expect if McDaniel were alive today he’d have a few choice words for what was happening. 😉

    As Carl Braaten also observed in 2005, the ELCA has experienced something of a ‘brain drain’ with the sheer number of distinguished Lutheran scholars moving either to Eastern Orthodoxy or the Catholic Church. His anguished ‘open letter’ to Bishop Mark Hanson on the current state of the ELCA in 2005 is heart-breaking:

    … All of these colleagues have given candid explanations of their decisions to their families, colleagues, and friends. While the individuals involved have provided a variety of reasons, there is one thread that runs throughout the stories they tell. It is not merely the pull of Orthodoxy or Catholicism that enchants them, but also the push from the ELCA, as they witness with alarm the drift of their church into the morass of what some have called Liberal Protestantism. They are convinced that the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America has become just another liberal protestant denomination. Hence, they have decided that they can no longer be a part of that. Especially, they say, they are not willing to raise their children in a church that they believe has lost its moorings in the great tradition of evangelical (small e) and catholic (small c) orthodoxy (small o), which was at the heart of Luther’s reformatory teaching and the Lutheran Confessional Writings. They are saying that the Roman Catholic Church is now more hospitable to confessional Lutheran teaching than the church in which they were baptized and confirmed. Can this possibly be true?

    As Bratten acknowledges, a number of theologians have answered that question in the affirmative.

  • This is truly one of those issues of where the theological and institutional rubber meets the road. As a lifelong Catholic, I have always seen the wisdom of not merely relying on one’s own interpretation of the Bible as the sole compass for moral decisions. As the author says, “it finally comes down to who who has the authority to interpret and apply them in changing times.”

    However there is also the other side of the coin. The opposite of relativism is absolutism. Truth is not always best served by only one end of the spectrum. The opposite of libertarianism is authoritarianism. Authority is not always best served if it is concentrated at either extreme. We may revel in the elegance found in the authority of the Magisterium, but that authority, I believe, has been corrupted at times in history. Lutherans lost the good, but they also lost some of the bad (paying indulgences) and I don’t think the Magisterium was very helpful to Galileo or moral when killing heretics, so we need to be honest. As much as it pains me to say this, I think our constitution might not have been nearly as revolutionary or democratic if it had been more influenced by the Magisterium of the day.

    I may be wrong about this, but modern capitalism and limited government comes more from Protestant than Catholic traditions.

    That said I see the limitations of the solas, moral relativism and I look forward to learning more from the links that Christopher supplied, thank you!

  • Pingback: Blog
  • Pingback: “The Debate is about Authority” « The American Catholic
  • Pingback: "The Debate is about Authority" « the other side of silence