Monday, August 20, 2018

Disordered attachments. . .

By now it is well known that one of the Pope's defenders has described him in the most glowing terms and that Rome finally has a free spirit as a leader.
Pope Francis breaks Catholic traditions whenever he wants, because he is "free from disordered attachments." Our Church has indeed entered a new phase: with the advent of this first Jesuit pope, it is openly ruled by an individual rather than by the authority of Scripture alone or even its own dictates of tradition plus Scripture.
For Lutherans, the idea that church leaders find themselves constrained by Scripture or the catholic tradition should be shocking and abhorrent.  Yet, the sad reality is that for all our posturing and gloating against this Pope, this is a serious issue for us as well.  We say that we stand upon Scripture and we claim in our Confessions that we have not departed from catholic doctrine and practice.  Yet we wrestle with Scripture and we depart from our Confessions when we find Scripture's truths too difficult for our reason to accept or our catholic doctrine and practice out of step with modernity.  We may not have a pope but the great temptation is to be popes -- each one of us -- in the same way we find this claim about Pope Francis to be terrible.

Scripture is not given to us as a puzzle to solve but as the living voice of God speaking salvation and life to us.  The catholic tradition is not some straight jacket for us from which we are to wriggle out but the sacred deposit which is our duty to preserve and our privilege to pass on whole and undefiled to our children.  Truth is not the judgment of the individual but the revelation of God.  Our reason is a precious gift and it finds its blessed fulfillment in the fear of God -- not as judge and jury over what it says or what it means or whether it is real or myth.  Reason is God's gift indeed but it is utterly dependent upon the Holy Spirit or it will lead us astray.  The individual is created by God in His image and though sin has distorted that image beyond recognition, the individual is not without worth or value or dignity as God's creation.  Yet the individual is not sovereign, not over God nor over the community of His Church and manifold nations of those whom He has also created.  To pit the individual and his reason against Scripture and the living tradition is foolishness and will lead to failure, to be sure.

If we will condemn the Pope for finding Scripture and tradition a difficult burden, one to be cast off in pursuit of freedom, then we must also condemn ourselves when we do exactly the same thing.  Whether we wear the name Lutheran or any other confession, when we are guilty casting aside Scripture because we find its words implausible to us or because we are inflated without own inestimable wisdom, we should also be called to repentance.  When we surrender the faithful worship of God's Word and Sacrament for what we find meaningful or relevant, should we not also be called to repentance?  When we abandon the morality of God's Word and exchange His created order with one of our own fabrication, should we be exempt from the call to repentance?  Survey the landscape of Christianity and of each tradition and you will hear the voices of those who believe they are wiser than the Spirit when it comes to truth, morality, and life.  Stick your finger in the air and sense the winds of change who find Scripture at most a starting point and Christ merely the means to greater self-fulfillment.

Christianity will never be wounded by those hear and heed His Word and who follow in His way but it will bleed in every generation from the wounds of those who think His Word and His ways need to be adjusted to fit the moment.  Pope or not, it is the most common malady of all Christendom.  Cast off the disordered attachments of Scripture and tradition and the real disorder rules us to death for sure.


Carl Vehse said...

SA.II.IV.14: "... Therefore, just as little as we can worship the devil himself as Lord and God, we can endure his apostle, the Pope, or Antichrist, in his rule as head or lord. For to lie and to kill, and to destroy body and soul eternally, that is wherein his papal government really consists, as I have very clearly shown in many books."

Tr.41: "This being the case, all Christians ought to beware of becoming partakers of the godless doctrine, blasphemies, and unjust cruelty of the Pope. On this account they ought to desert and execrate the Pope with his adherents as the kingdom of Antichrist; just as Christ has commanded, Matt. 7:15: Beware of false prophets. And Paul commands that godless teachers should be avoided and execrated as cursed, Gal. 1:8; Titus 3:10. And he says, 2 Cor. 6:14: Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers; for what communion hath light with darkness?"

LMMV (Lufauxran mileage may vary)

Cliff said...

It is a fine line between the guidance of the Holy Spirit and human reason. If, and I say if, the H.S. is truly guiding us we do need move forward in our understanding of holy scripture. Over the centuries we have dealt with many issues and moved on to a clearer understanding of holy scripture and developed sound and clear theology.

The conundrum of today is the world has taken over our mind and compromised our thinking. Let's let the Holy Spirit be our true guide and follow the path of both tradition and holy scripture.

But then again, scripture has warned us that in the latter days "many will have itching ears...........". So really should we be surprised?