Monday, April 23, 2018

A company of do-gooders. . . the German bishops ready to commune non-Roman Catholics and against the backdrop of those who see the Church as primarily a community of do-gooders, German Cardinal Brandmüller had a response.  You can read him in his own words.  Thankfully not everyone in Germany is ready to exchange the soul of Christianity for some good feelings in the moment.  There is a great deal of dishonesty going on that must be pointed out. 

Cardinal Brandmüller first states that it is important to discern what is meant when we speak about the “Church.” Is this “a company to help make better the world? An NGO for aiding people in life?” Answering these questions himself, he says that “the ‘Church’ is a reality” which does not think in these terms. “The Church is a work of God, she is the visible, experienced form in which the Risen Christ continues His salvific work in the world.”
I like the questions he raised.  Is the Church a company to help make a better world?  Is the Church an NGO for aiding people in life?  But that is entirely the issue.  Liberal Christianity has, in effect, abandoned the Gospel rooted in the incarnation, obedient life, life-giving death, and triumphant resurrection of Christ for the redemption of the world and has put in its place a community of do-gooders who aid the down-trodden, herald the cause of the oppressed, advocate for those whose cause is not in favor, and protect the environment against the onslaught of humanity.  None of those are necessarily bad things, of course.  We ought to help the poor.  We ought to advocate for the child in the womb and the aged in their frailty.  We ought to cry out against the injustice of war, violence, and oppression.  We ought to call for faithful management of God's creation.  But none of these are the Gospel and none of these are the specific reason for which God has established His Church (it is HIS Church last time I checked).

The reality is that it is hard to keep our focus on Christ, to keep preaching Christ crucified, and to keep raising up the goal and shape of our lives here, in preparation for the real and eternal life to come, AND do all these things.  Somehow or other, it is easier to put off saving the soul in favor of saving the earth, to confuse helping people to a better life and proclaiming to them the gift of eternal life, and to exchange the cross for whatever cause happens to be in fashion in our culture today.

The danger is not that the poor will be ignored or injustice forgotten or the earth raped.  The danger is that we will do everything in our power to make a better today only so that the people will not be prepared for the Day of Judgment and therefore deprived of God's desire to give them everlasting life.  We do good works because Christ lives in us and He seeks to live in all who hear His voice and, by the Spirit's power, believe.  We do not do good works because there is something more important or urgent than this salvation by grace through faith. 

I will admit that sometimes we forget to feed the belly while we are feeding the soul.  But what good is it to feed the belly while the soul remains empty?  We can do everything in our power to make the Church more acceptable, hospitable, and friendly to those not yet of the Kingdom but we dare not abandon the very Gospel itself for this cause.  That is what liberal Christianity has done.  Whether it comes from the educated elite who find the Scriptures no longer credible or the evangelical star preacher who finds it no longer relevant to the wants of people in the moment, we exist to proclaim Jesus Christ in whom there is life and salvation and in no other name under heaven and on earth. 

I am sure that there are many things the good cardinal and I disagree on but when it comes to the Gospel of Christ as that which defines the Church and shapes her purpose in the world, we are probably not so far apart.


Anonymous said...

The liberal mainline protestant denominations are proclaiming the
need for social justice in our society. They no longer have the
priority of proclaiming Jesus Christ as our Savior from sin.

Liberal denominations have priorities like global warming, sanctuary
cities, pro-abortion, gay marriage, bashing the NRA, more government
handouts to illegal immigrants. and the list goes on.

John Joseph Flanagan said...

It is essentially a matter of right thinking: Where the priority is the Gospel preached, good works should follow. Why? Because the Lord commands us to share the word of God, and ALSO to show kindness to others as the fruit of the spirit.

Padre Dave Poedel said...

The genesis of the proposed inter-communion is the marriage of a Roman and non-Roman catholic. This is not for general consumption or an intercommunion between Churches. I have had several such couples in parishes I have served over the past 30 years and there was an agreed upon “understanding” between the pastors of the Roman and Lutheran parishes inviting each of the spouses to commune at each other’s parishes. The agreement was known in both parishes and was not controversial, dating back to the mid-80’s.

Both pastors regarded this under the rubric of compassion and discretion for the sake of the marriage. In both cases of my memory, both spouses were active in both parishes, singing in each other’s choirs, working at fellowship events. No one in either parishes expressed any scandal or offense in either parish, and in fact most folks were’t even aware of it. Both marriages’ spouses expressed thanksgiving and both expressed that it removed a potential for conflict in their marriages. Oh, it was understood by all of the spouses that this was only for the two congregations, not a “right” to commune in any other parish not of their own confession.

Carl Vehse said...

Rev. Poedel: "I have had several such couples in parishes I have served over the past 30 years and there was an agreed upon “understanding” between the pastors of the Roman and Lutheran parishes inviting each of the spouses to commune at each other’s parishes."

That is simply open communion, especially evident with the use of scare quotes around "understanding."

doofus said...

Amen Pastor, well said. I am a Catholic and read your blog from time to time. Let's face it, differences aside, in the face of what is going on in this world and in the churches, we have to stand together for the truth. God bless you.


Anonymous said...

Padre Dave,
There is no Scriptural basis for your action. It is a modern church idea that a local pastor can go rogue and do what is right in their own mind. Communion is personal but never private. You condoned, supported the hypocrisy of the Communicate whom is publicly confessing doctrine contrary to the very Altar they are communing! How does any true Lutheran support that? You taught unity of doctrine of the Lord's Supper did not matter. Rome and Lutheran confess key differences in the Supper. So the communicate is confessing 2 different things as both being true? It was disruptive to the fellowship of the congregation whether the people realize it or not. Acting in compassion is not an excuse for dismissing public doctrine. I think you'll find that if you don't upset people to repent of false teaching they will remain happy, active parishioners.

Anonymous said...


Exactly. As a Catholic I would not present myself for communion at a Lutheran Divine Service because receiving communion, I think you would agree, doesn't just mean believing in the real presence but believing and following all that a particular Church believes and teaches. The priest in question was going completely rogue as it is not condoned to give holy communion to Lutherans. Unfortunately that priest is not a single case. There are many like him.

God bless.