Sunday, May 31, 2015
Romance and Reality. . .
The Romance of Protestantism, not lost on Lutherans, is that the laity are well catechized and well trained to know, to understand, and to defend the church's faith against any and all attacker and enemies. The reality is that our people, if they were once well catechized, have traded in the catechism for the latest and greatest pop psychobabble from the more recent face to hit the stage. They consume the generally doctrine free sentiment and the doctrinally suspect works from those whose names and faces have turned religious publishing into a lucrative business.
The Romance of Protestantism, not lost on Lutherans, is that Sunday morning does not matter much as long as the faith is faithfully preached. The reality is that faithful preaching is not exactly a hallmark of our age and people like story telling, jokes, and inspirational life coaching from the pulpit more than they desire an exegesis of the text, a doctrinal application of the lection of the day, or a call to repentance. The idea that Sunday morning can get by with practices at odds with what we say we believe is old and deeply embedded in the psyche of modern Christianity of all stripes. The hard truth is that what we regularly pray soon defines what we regularly pray. That is the lex of truth unpopular and unpleasant to people who do whatever is right in their own eyes on Sunday mornings.
The Romance of Protestantism, not lost on Lutherans, is catechesis does not necessarily need to happen on Sunday morning. The reality is that if it does not happen IN the Divine Service, it probably will not happen at all. In every congregation, including Lutheran, the majority of our people are not involved in any real Bible study through the week, read popular Christian literature more than catechetical or apologetic Christian works, and listen to the sound of generic preaching, teaching, and music as the soundtrack of their daily lives (if they listen to anything religious).
Nope, for Lutherans, as well as Roman Catholics and most other Christians, the Divine Service is the most significant catechesis they experience in their Christian lives. So what happens on Sunday morning has deep impact on the content of their faith as well as the practice. It is high time we woke up to the fact that if the Divine Service (the liturgy with its rhythmic order of propers and ordinary within the framework of the church year) IS and will always be the primary place where the faith is formed and shaped. Pastors who dismiss this reality are also dismissing their people from the means of grace where faith is formed, nurtured, nourished, and strengthened.
The Romance of Protestantism, not lost on Lutherans, is that our people are being fully formed by a rich and profound devotional life and that Sunday morning is an important part of this piety but not an overly significant part. It is just the opposite. The Divine Service (liturgy, mass, whatever you want to call it) is the source and summit of our lives of faith as the people of God. It is by God's design that the content of this Divine Service is not human choice but the Divine Word and Sacraments designated and endowed by Christ with His Spirit and promise.
It is high time for us Lutherans to dispense with the romance and deal with the reality. If our people do not encounter the faith within the Divine Service on Sunday morning, there is no certainty that they will meet it anywhere else throughout the rest of the week. I know this is not how it should be but this is how it is. Before we can begin to turn the reality into the romance, we must acknowledge and maintain the Divine Service and its rich accompaniment of faithful hymnody, the lectionary, and the church year to speak the Gospel, deliver Christ, and bestow His rich gifts upon His people. The most important time of the week for our people is the time they spend together on Sunday morning. We cannot short cut this in terms of content or time. If we do anything less, we will most certainly consign our people to the predators who come with enticing words and sentiment but steal from God's people the truth that is forever sure.
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"The Romance of Protestantism, not lost on Lutherans, is the idea of a laity so thoroughly versed in the Scriptures and doctrinal teaching of the faith that they are well equipped to judge the preaching and teaching of the ministers and hold them accountable."
One might better call that the Romance of the Bereans.
You know many of these assertions seem comforting but in my life the reality is that it was an unashamed Protestant that taught me the centrality of public corporate worship and the value of the liturgy. It was an unashamed Protestant that taught me to value the means of grace in Word and Sacrament. It was an unashamed Protestant that taught me to bring my children forward, shortly after birth, for baptism where I was taught that God would truly confer what was promised. It was an unashamed Protestant that summoned me to the Lord's Table where I was taught I would receive the body and blood of my Lord.
In addition to David Gray's description, "Romance of the Bereans," the following is from the Missouri Synod's official (since 1851) position and understanding of the doctrine of church and ministry under the Scriptures and Lutheran Confessions, which members of the Missouri Synod have promised to honor, uphold, and teach in accordance with such official position.
Thesis X, on the Ministry: "Zu dem Predigtamt gehört zwar nach göttlichem Rechte auch das Amt, Lehre zu urteilen, doch haben das Recht hierzu auch die Laien; daher dieselben auch in den Kirchengerichten und Konzilien mit den Predigern Siss und Stimme haben." (According to divine right the function of passing judgment on doctrine belongs indeed to the ministry of preaching. However, also the laymen have this right, and for this reason they also have a seat and vote with the preachers in church courts and councils.)
C.F.W. Walther writes: “The fact that it is the duty of the ministers to judge doctrine requires no proof, for the ministerial office could not be administered without judging doctrine. However, according to God’s Word, the right to judge doctrine has not been taken way from the laymen by the establishment of the ministry. On the contrary, this is their most sacred duty, as in the first place all those passages of Holy Scripture that command laymen to judge doctrine incontestably declare.” (Church and Ministry, p. 332)
Included are proofs from Scripture, and witnesses from the Lutheran Confessions, and the writings of Martin Luther and other Lutheran teachers (Church and Ministry, pp. 332-351; pp. 356-357).
"It belongs to each and every Christian to know and judge doctrine, indeed so much so that anyone who weakens this right even in the least is condemned. For Christ Himself has commanded this right in many irrefutable passages, as, for example, Matt. 7:15... This admonition he certainly addresses to the people against the teachers, commanding them to avoid their false doctrine. But how can they avoid it if they do not recognize it? And what good does it do to recognize it if they do not have the right to judge it? He not only gives them the right to judge but also commands them to judge....
"Accordingly, we believe as an incontrovertible truth that the right to recognize, judge, or test doctrine is ours and not that of the councils, popes, fathers, and teachers. But from this it does not follow that we have the power to make laws. That authority belongs only to God, but to us belongs the right to recognize, prove, and judge His Law and Word and to separate that from all other enactments. But we have no right to enact laws or to command anything." (Martin Luther, "Against Henry, King of England," 1522, St. Louis, edition, 19:341 ff.)
Quoted from Church and Ministry, p. 333-335.
"Bellarmine objects that since the people are ignorant they cannot judge the doctrine of the pastor in any other way than by comparing it with that of his predecessors or the regular pastors. I reply: That this is false is obvious from the example of the Christians at Berea, who daily searched the Scriptures to find out whether things were as Paul and Barnabas presented them (Acts 17:11). They did not regard the teaching of the regular pastors as the norm by which to judge, but the Scriptures, which were entrusted to them for this purpose by the Holy Spirit....
"‘But,’ Bellarmine might say, ‘if the people themselves could judge the doctrine of their pastor, then no ministers would be necessary.’ I reply: What logic [Zusammenhang] is there in this inference? God has commanded both, namely, that the people should judge the teaching of the pastor, and that there should nevertheless be appointed and regular ministers in the church, for not all are teachers (1Cor. 12:29; Eph. 4:11). It is something else to judge doctrine and distinguish between heresies and true doctrine and between false prophets and true teachers, which is a general calling pertaining to all Christians, than publicly to teach in the church, which is a special calling." (John Gerhard, Loci theologici, “De min. eccl.”, par. 88).”
Quoted from Church and Ministry, pp. 343-344.
Note: Robert Bellarmine (1542–1621) was a nephew of Pope Marcellus II, Jesuit professor, and an apologist for the Roman position.
Apparently I am writing obtusely since both Rick and David have failed to get my point. The Romance is that assume that this is the case but the reality is that we have not equipped our lay people for the reality. This is NOT a dispute over whether lay folks should be adequately prepared to recognize heresy and combat apostasy but the fact that catechesis has declined to the point that we have left our people unprepared to judge and to hold steadfast to the catholic and apostolic faith. We have chosen to believe the Romance while failing to act to make it real. THAT was my point, fellows.
Rev. Peters, my comments addressed your statement, "It is high time for us Lutherans to dispense with the romance and deal with the reality,", as it included your claim, "The Romance of Protestantism, not lost on Lutherans, is the idea of a laity so thoroughly versed in the Scriptures and doctrinal teaching of the faith that they are well equipped to judge the preaching and teaching of the ministers and hold them accountable."
As my previous comments presented in various excerpts, such dispensing of what you refer to as a "romance" or an "idea," is actually dispensing of a right of each and every Christian, according to Scripture, the Lutheran Confessions, the writings of Lutheran theologians, and the official position of the Missouri Synod.
In addition to any obtuseness, the presentation of the romance v. reality appeared overly generalized. There are congregations in which pastors do teach laymen doctrine from Scripture and the Lutheran Confessions. (Of course there are plenty of examples of LCMS congregations in which that is not being done.)
The reality is that it is the duty of each called pastor and the duty of the Synod to its member pastors and congregations (especially in its visitation responsibilities) to help and make sure that pastors teach members of their congregations to become thoroughly versed in the Scriptures and doctrinal teaching of the faith, according to their individual capabilities, so that laymen are well equipped to judge the preaching and teaching of the ministers and hold them accountable.
Lufauxran pastors who refuse to so teach or lufauxran congregations who refuse to be so taught should be removed from membership in the Missouri Synod.
"dispense with the romance and deal with the reality..." does not mean dispensing with the "right of each and every Christian, according to Scripture, the Lutheran Confessions, the writings of Lutheran theologians, and the official position of the Missouri Synod" -- far from it. It means dispensing with the presumption that these Christian people know and are capable of such discernment based upon the Word of God and making sure that they have been taught faithfully and have been given the tools to do this. It is the same thing as dispensing with the romance of a lottery ticket to fix financial problems and taking up the reality with honest work and honest solutions. The romance is an ideal or perhaps an idea that bears no real resemblance to reality. It is this that we must dispense with so that we make sure that the reality is that no Lutheran people will led astray by those who want to trade the Word for myth, the Sacraments for feelings, and the absolution for sentiment.
I used to enjoy reading the comments here. I would always learn something and gain new insights. Now it seems this Carl Vehse creature, like a troll under the proverbial bridge, jumps out screaming and scolding at everyone, esp. Pastor Peters.
I do so tire of reading an excellent, though-provoking article by Pastor Peters only to have it picked apart by Vehse having a hissy fit.
If you are reading this Vehse, stop ruining Peter's blog! Get a life and start your own.
Br. Boris, I agree. I suppose I could be accused of being a Fr. Peters sycophant if someone should look back over my past comments. It does not mean I agree with all said here. I am only a laywoman. I comment here with fear and trembling: 1/ I am nowhere near as educated or intelligent as most of the commentors ( I speak no German, and only know enough Greek and Latin to make me dangerous). 2. The lack of education extends to my grammer, syntax, etc. and typos come even though I am not keying at the breakneck spees necessitated by the busy calling of pastor. 3.I read here to learn and be edified. I greatly dislike skimming when reading something of content, but some of the comments here are a great temptation to learn.
I have not here (in this blog) read anything of false doctrine, which SHOULD receive harsh comments.
Also, Br. Boris, you suggest Mr. Vehse, "get a life and start your own," Are you suggesting he get a life nd start his own blog, or simply start his own life? : )
Words mean something!
To "dispense with the romance" is to dispense with, in Rev. Peters' words, "the idea of a laity so thoroughly versed in the Scriptures and doctrinal teaching of the faith that they are well equipped to judge the preaching and teaching of the ministers and hold them accountable."
That idea IS "the right of each and every Christian, according to Scripture, the Lutheran Confessions, the writings of Lutheran theologians, and the official position of the Missouri Synod."
As for the reality of how much that idea is fulfilled throughout the congregations of the Missouri Synod can be discussed and debated. It is certainly not fulfilled in lufauxran churches, nor in other heterodox church bodies.
Thus the reality we Lutherans should deal with is not the dispensing with the idea, but in teaching the laity to work toward that idea, for the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ.
As for the nonLutheran's comments, they are, to no surprise, unsubstantiated since they are false. And again, it can be said, as with his earlier rants:
Ahhhhh. Now the ad hominems are flung out, a sure sign the bottom of the sophistry slop pail has been reached.
"ut the fact that catechesis has declined to the point that we have left our people unprepared to judge and to hold steadfast to the catholic and apostolic faith"
My LCMS pastor runs two weekly Bible studies which are well attended and he often brings in the Augsburg Confession into the discussion. I don't think the statement above is true of our church although I would not try to argue that we are necessarily typical.
The grass is no greener beside the other septic tanks of Protestanism and Catholicism of various stripes. The problem is endemic in Christendom, exacerbated by pastors who can't teach teaching laymen who won't learn, making Sunday mornings all too often the difficukty of feeding sheep while amusing goats.
"... exacerbated by pastors who can't teach teaching laymen who won't learn, making Sunday mornings all too often the difficukty of feeding sheep while amusing goats."
LOL. A humorous, but often true description.
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