Friday, September 16, 2011
A question answered
As I perused The Catechism of the Catholic Church for contemporary documentation of positions of the Roman Catholic Church which come up in Walther’s book, and are the object of Lutheran polemics, I noted a number of places where there is a remarkable convergence of Lutheran and Roman Catholic doctrine on the office of the ministry. While we must reject what is false, we can also joyously note what is right about Roman Catholic teaching on the office. It would be a worthwhile study to evaluate Kirche und Amt from the perspective of Lutheran – Catholic dialogue.
Lutherans do not see themselves as an island apart. We do not bury our heads in our own sand. We do not believe that the Church began on October 31, 1517. We do not believe that the evangelical and catholic faith we hold in our Confessions is exclusive to Lutherans. Indeed, we joyfully affirm that there are Lutherans among people who do not call themselves Lutherans. Call it a felicitous inconsistency as Pieper did or merely rejoice that despite all things to the contrary, there are those who are not "Lutheran" in membership but are indeed Lutheran in faith, whatever. We ARE interested in the teaching and confession of those who do not wear the Lutheran brand. We rejoice when we find commonality and we reject what is false.
As I have often said, my time at Concordia Theological Seminary in Fort Wayne was filled with the richest of dialogs with folks from the broad spectrum of confessions and church bodies, most of whom spoke with us on many issues and some of whom challenged us to consider what it is we believe, teach, and confess. Sometimes the greatest clarity of confession comes not from inter-Lutheran discussions but dialog with those outside the Lutheran circle. The Lutheran - Catholic Dialogs produced some of the most profound and succinct clarifications of Lutheran confession and faith. So I do not think we lose by reading those outside our own circle nor do I think that we guard the faithful deposit of faith when we ignore those outside our Lutheran circle. The point of our Confessions is that they represent the evangelical and catholic faith and teaching -- for Rome and all Christians! In this sense, they are the most ecumenical aspect of our Lutheran identity!