Friday, December 11, 2015

A former Lutheran does not get it right. . .

Now that the Pope is talking about Lutherans and the Sacraments, some former Lutherans are trying to tell Roman Catholics what the Lutherans really believe. . .  Here is one such example:

Lutherans believe that anyone can celebrate the “Lord’s Supper” (some few Lutherans call it “Mass”) though some are called by the community to preside in the central role. Wrong.  Our Confessions insist that only those called and ordained may celebrate the Mass (as the Augsburg Confession calls it). The Lord’s Supper is not the Sacrifice renewed. No, Lutherans do not renew or re-present the once for all sacrifice but God makes present the once for all sacrifice so that we may eat and drink it and receive there as Jesus' own words confess the forgiveness of sins.  Lutherans do not believe that the substance of bread and wine change, transubstantiation. They think that Christ is present together with the bread and wine for as long as Christ is needed to be there, a kind of “consubstantiation”. (Some Lutherans don’t like that term, but I’m not getting into that fight.) Wrong again.  It is not as if bread remains bread alone and somewhere the flesh of Christ hangs in the same general space.  No, Lutherans confess that it is bread and the body (corporeal) of Christ at the same time -- sorta like Christ is God and Man at the same time and that this is no mere spiritual presence but the same flesh and blood incarnate to Mary, suffered and died on Calvary, and risen on Easter Sunday.  That is to say, that for Christ to be present, there must be institution, distribution and receptionWell, not exactly.  What we say is that the intention of Christ must be honored or we have failed to fulfill His testament so that Christ may and is to be adored within the Divine Service but not apart from the intention to offer the Sacrament to be received by the faithful.  We have said that adoration separate from the Mass (that includes the reception as Christ intended us to eat and drink) is not the Sacrament (though we have not ever said what it is or is not.  If it is not received, Christ isn’t present.  Once no longer needed there for reception, Christ is no longer present and there is left merely bread and wine.  Again, no, this is not correct.  We believe that the flesh and blood of Christ is present to be received by the faithful and that is that.  By our rubrics we either consume all the remains from the service or distribute this to the sick and shut in.  They believe Christ is truly present, when required for reception, but not in an enduring way. Luther used the image an iron that is heated and then it cools again: the iron and the heat are there together and then only the iron is there.  Except that Luther does not define what Lutherans believe, confess, and teach -- only the Lutheran Confessions do!  However, some Lutheran churches are starting to reserve their eucharistic species and even to adore what they reserve, even kneeling outside their eucharistic communion services.  An interesting development as they become more “sacramental”.  No, we are not becoming more sacramental but remembering the sacramental church we always were but, in the face of Protestantism, have sometimes been embarrassed to be.  Furthermore, the Lord’s Supper is a memorial merely. It does not renew the Sacrifice of Calvary or the Last Supper, but rather commemorates them. Lutherans believe in a priesthood of all believers.  But Lutherans do NOT equate this priesthood of all believers (which is in the Bible) which comes through baptism with the sacramental or ordained priesthood and office of the Holy Ministry.   There is no sacramental priesthood or consecration of the Eucharist or sacramental absolution of sins or conferral of confirmation. Ah, no, again, there is sacramental absolution and private confession as well; confirmation is a rite preserved but not equated with the same authority or status as baptism and the Eucharist and matrimony is also a sacred rite but one connected to the estate of creation and not redemption .Matrimony is not a sacrament, nor is anointing. Lutherans have two sacraments, Baptism and “Eucharist”. Their baptism is valid because water is poured on the skin while the Trinitarian form is pronounced. Their “Eucharist” is not the Eucharist. Well, it is true that the Eucharist of the Lutherans is not the sacrifice of the Mass of the Roman Church but we do believe in the Sacrament of the Altar and that the Word of Christ spoken through the mouth of the priest does indeed confect the sacramental presence in and with the bread and the wine as Christ promises. They do not believe it is a sacrament in the sense we do and there is no valid priesthood to confect it, etc. They do not believe, as Catholics do, that sacraments are outward signs instituted by Christ Himself that confer grace. For Lutherans, they are outward signs of realities that are taking place.  I guess that would mean that Lutherans hold a higher view of the Sacraments than Rome since we do indeed believe that they do confer grace to forgive sins, impart new life, and bestow salvation BUT because they are the reality of God at work doing what the Word says and turning water into the gate of heaven, bread and wine into the flesh and blood of Christ, and the absolution on earth into the voice of heaven that releases sins just as Christ says (John 20:23, Matthew 16, & 18).


Carl Vehse said...

"A former Lutheran does not get it right. . ."

No wonder this papish prig, Fr. John Zuhlsdorf, didn't get it right. As he noted in his article, "Some differences between Catholics and Lutherans on Baptism, Eucharist, Priesthood":

"Keep in mind that I am a former Lutheran convert to the Catholic Church. I was validly baptized as a Lutheran. I rejected the Lutheran catechism and instruction when I was 7 years old because I couldn’t square their message about corruption with the beauty of the music of Mozart."

Jason Kiefer said...

IF they are FORMER Lutherans, they either didn't learn, understand or 'get it', OR they have rejected it or didn't believe it. Since they left Lutheranism, they did not embrace our Confessions nor properly understood them. I would question the validity of their expertise. I do not doubt their experiences, but I would not consider them and authoritative source.

SKPeterson said...

I find it interesting - and telling - that the "former Lutheran" doesn't really seem to be open to the sort of response provided by Pr. Peters. This sort of misinformation regarding Lutheran theology and practice is rife within Romanism. The good father should be embarrassed by his lack of honesty or lack of insight.

Carl Vehse said...

In another recent article Roman Fr. John Zuhlsdorf, president of the Tridentine Mass Society in Madison, stated:

Years ago I was, for my sins, sent off to an ecumenical breakfast around Thanksgiving time. When I walked in a young man in black clerical clothing made a bee line for me. He was the pastor at the nearby Missouri Synod Lutheran church. Standing in my path, he asked me if I was the priest at the Catholic church nearby who told non-Catholics that they couldn’t come to Communion. “Yes”, I responded, “I am.” He thereupon stuck his hand out and said “Thank you! Many Catholic priests don’t know that not all Lutherans have inter-communion with each other much less with Catholics!” We wound up sitting together and having a cordial morning.

BTW, from some of the comments, it seems that LCMS Pastor Hans Fiene has some Romish fans of his "Lutheran Satire" videos.

Carl Vehse said...

In a Youtube video interview, Fr. John Zuhlsdorf explains how he left Lutheranism and became a Roman priest. Here's the text printed below the video with bracketed additions based on information from the video:

"Father Zuhlsdorf was raised in a nominal Lutheran family [by his divorced mother who was a police officer]. When he was seven his [Presbyterian] grandmother gave him two albums, one of classical music and another of Shakespeare's plays. About the same time his mother decided that he should go to Sunday school at the Lutheran church. He reacted negatively to being taught that man's will is totally depraved, wanting only evil. He thought, how could beautiful art be created by depraved people? In high school and college he drifted and was basically a pagan, but he still had a deep love of beauty. One Sunday he heard Gregorian chant on the radio. He visited the parish and was so moved that he was led by God to come to the Catholic Church. Later he was guided to the vocation of the priesthood and was ordained in St. Peter's Basilica by St. John Paul II, in 1991."

Anonymous said...

What's this talk about the superiority of Lutheran theology?

Happy Advent!

And yes - This is an LCMS congregation.

Carl Vehse said...

"And yes - This is an LCMS congregation."

But is it a Lutheran congregation and Lutheran pastor?