Thursday, July 18, 2013
Misreading of Luther. . .
I will grant you that a number of Lutherans speak as if Luther replaced the specific priesthood of the Word and Sacraments for the universal priesthood of the laity but they are wrong. I will grant you that Protestantism in general may be rightfully blamed for dismantling any nothing of the pastoral ministry as it had been known and for replacing it with a functionalism absent sacramental grace but this is wrong and not Lutheran. I will grant you that Luther has written things that out of context appear to say that there is no real office of the ministry but merely functions that may be assigned to whomever or, in absence of the Church, assumed by any but this is wrong when the whole context of Luther is read.
The basic statement of Lutherans on the sacramental priesthood (vs the universal priesthood which is certainly taught in Scripture but in conjunction with baptismal vocation and not to exclude or diminish the Office of the Ministry) is found in Augustana V and XIV. Interestingly enough, Rome seems not to have found much problem with either of these statements at the time of their presentation. The Confutation accords these in a positive light. For the Lutherans inclined to a minimalistic approach, it would do them well to remember that the Lutheran Confessions were not written in a vacuum but in the context of evangelical and catholic confession and practice that the Reformers claimed was both their intent and the appeal of their protest.
It is tiresome when some less informed lump Lutheranism together all of Protestantism. However, it is sadly understandable when Lutherans themselves are confused about who they are, what they believe, and therefore confess and practice a faith within a church decidedly less Lutheran than their Confessions and, therefore, less evangelical and catholic, and, by consequence, more sectarian.
I can understand (though not excuse) when an otherwise informed Roman Catholic misspeaks about what it is Lutherans believe. I cannot understand and most certainly do not excuse when Lutherans, ignorant or defiant of their Confessions, choose to speak and act in ways contrary to their identity. It would seem to me that the only polite thing for them to do would be to leave rather than gut Lutheranism of its confessional identity. Finally, there are some things about which Lutherans have not spoken dogmatically, certain open questions, if you will, about which disagreement does not hinder unity. These are few and far between and nothing betrays bias more than when Lutherans who disagree with their own Confessions attempt to turn settled doctrine into these open questions.
So, even though the Roman Catholic blogger should have known better and even thought some Lutherans delight in speaking and acting if this error were truthful, Lutherans did not abolish either the Mass or the sacramental priesthood through which the Mass is brought to the people to nurture, nourish, and sustain their faith.