Thursday, April 4, 2019

The limits of infallibility. . .

Papal infallibility is something Rome counts on as the cornerstone holding up their house and Lutheran blood boils at the prospect while most of the world laughs.  A while back a Roman Catholic blogger put out a one sentence post that I found rather interesting.

"Certainly the Pope is not infallible beyond the Deposit of Faith originally given."
It sounds profound and it is certainly true but it is not true in any way that it is not also true of anyone who holds to the Deposit of Faith originally given.  This is not a controversial statement at all but one Lutherans not only hold but hold joyfully.  This is what we confess in our Symbols.  The issue here is not infallibility regarding the Deposit of Faith but what is the Deposit of Faith.
Rome would insist that this statement does not equate with Scripture and that there is revelation beyond Scripture which must be held as part of the Sacred Deposit.  Here is where we part waters.  For Lutherans, the norming norm is Scripture alone.  That we all know.  But that the Word of God is also source and norm.  In other words, there is no binding revelation beyond that Word of God that is yesterday, today, and forever the same.  It is this Word that IS the Deposit of Faith.  It is not that we can believe that which does not conflict with Scripture but we cannot bind the conscience to anything about which Scripture is silent.  That is our issue with infallibility and with the definition of Deposit of Faith as defined by Rome.
The Creeds do not supplement the Word but summarize its teaching.  The Symbols do not add to the Word but confess that Word before the world.  The Liturgy does not compete with the Word but is that Word prayed.  When we begin to get this again, we will find unity among the traditions and renewal for a faith that seems strained under the weight of opinion and the conflict over what was always and everywhere believed, confessed, and taught.  
Larry Peters is not infallible beyond the Deposit of Faith originally given.  Go ahead and insert your name.  This is not a trivial statement but a profound one and one that points us right back to the Word of God that endures forever. 


Anonymous said...

"...we cannot bind the conscience to anything about which Scripture is silent."
Then why do Lutherans forbid the invocation of the saints?

Joseph Bragg said...

There is no such thing as Scripture Alone - it is always Scripture plus each one's tradition or interpretation - It has given us the absurd situation of thousands of divided and contradicting denominations and individuals, all claiming to go by the Bible alone, lead by the same Holy Spirit.

Chris Jones said...

Anonymous @7:31 AM:

Is it that "Lutherans forbid the invocation of the saints," or that "Lutherans decline to require the invocation of the saints"?

It is true that Lutherans do not invoke the saints in the public worship of the Church, but I have been Lutheran for more than 20 years and no one has ever "forbidden" me to ask the prayers of the saints. I haven't taken the time to search the Book of Concord, and there may be language in it that in effect forbids invocation. If so, perhaps someone could refer us to it. There may be an answer to your question ("why?") in the Lutheran Confessions.

Anonymous said...

The Invocation of saints is nowhere found in Scripture. But Scripture does say a pastor may have a wife. Oops.

Scripture alone does not mean what Rome/others usually think it means. There is not individual interpretation. Lutheran have: Scripture interprets Scripture. Rome have: Pope interprets Scripture. For Lutherans, tradition and man's interpretation do not add or take away from doctrinal teachings. Scripture is alone our norm and rule and source of ALL doctrine. What doctrine do Lutherans hold to that involves traditions of man? We do not ignore Tradition or else there is no Canon. Rome holds to many doctrines that originated with a Pope or a Council. They can create and even un-invent doctrine like Limbo. Invent doctrine like Purgatory, prayers to Mary (again, nowhere in Scripture, why did not Paul, Peter, or John tells us to do it?), a system of Indulgences (still used today), place conditions (Penance) on Jesus works of forgiveness or just change Jesus command and withhold the Chalice. Perhaps a Pope should have taught silly Jesus to just used bread/body and skip the wine/blood part. But you see, a Pope can change Scripture with that. Rome slaughtered their pastors as heretics if they did not abandon their wife and children when the Pope created the doctrine of Celibacy. Can you feel the love with that? Lutherans are kicked out under penalty of death for having Bibles in a language they can actually read; and there is no salvation for Lutherans unless they worship according to a Pope and hold to what the Pope says. Of course then Vacation II saved "good" Lutherans (which was rather kind of Rome to make that change). True Lutherans desire to believe, teach, confess, practice the faith as the Church always has; without making things up, taking this out. And in this way, true Lutherans are more catholic than Rome.

Carl Vehse said...

Scripture is not silent about Christians praying to anyone (e.g., dead saints) other than the true God (1 Kings 18:24-40; Philippians 4:6; 1 Timothy 2:5).

For a Lutheran, praying to the saints is utterly futile, and worse (see AC.XXI; Ap.XXI; Ap.XXVII; SA, Part II, Article III).

Especially clear are the statements in the Apology, Article XXI, "But all these marvelous tales about statutes and pictures do not even compare with the fairy tales about the saints which are being taught in public on the highest authority" and in the Smalcald Articles, "The invocation of the saints is also one of the abuses of the Antichrist. It is in conflict with the first chief article and undermines knowledge of Christ... This is idolatry. Such honor belongs to God alone."

Carl Vehse said...

Also, in its explanation of the Lord's Prayer, the 1943 version of a Short Explanation of Dr. Martin Luther's Small Catechism addressed the issue of praying to the saints (or specifically asking them to pray for you) by noting, "the saints cannot hear prayer (Is. 63:16)".

In this passage, Isaiah is praying to God to deliver the people of Judah from their enemies. Neither Abraham nor Israel (Jacob), patriarchs long dead, are able to see the plight of Judah, hear Isaiah's cries, and rescue them. Isaiah pleads that only God is capable of saving them, as He alone has done in the past.

If you do not see the verse in this light, then look at the myriad of Bible passages discussing prayer, how we are to pray, to whom we are to pray, the need for prayer, who listens to our prayer, who answers our prayer, and so on. Nowhere are there instructions from our Lord or from the apostles that the departed saints are to be employed as conduits for prayer.

Moreover, God promises that I and fellow believers have a DIRECT uninterruptible connection to Him through prayer and that He DOES listen and act on our prayers. No one intercedes for us except the Holy Spirit himself (Rom. 8:27)! Even Isaiah assures us that before we call, God answers, and while we are yet praying, God hears (Is. 65:24). So, even if the dead were able to hear us and pass on prayer requests, how would this improve one iota upon what God has already provided and guaranteed to us in His Word?

Finally, consider reason. When a person dies, his bodily functions cease; that includes the ability to hear. Unless God, through Scripture, reveals a superior truth, we maintain the rational conclusion that the dead do not hear our prayers.

Joseph Bragg said...

Notice all the debates, arguments, claims to being right, condemnation of other views and lack of resolution etc, etc, I rest my case on the futility and absurdity of Scripture alone. All of these issues were decided by the Church centuries ago.

Carl Vehse said...

Scripture alone condemns Romanist and EO errors and heresies, as noted in the Lutheran Confessions.

AC.XII.2-4: "But the Scripture teaches not the invocation of saints or to ask help of saints, since it sets before us the one Christ as the Mediator, Propitiation, High Priest, and Intercessor. 3] He is to be prayed to, and has promised that He will hear our prayer; and this worship He approves above all, to wit, that in all afflictions He be called upon, 1 John 2:1: 4] If any man sin, we have an Advocate with the Father, etc.

Ap.XXI.10: "... our Confession affirms only this, that Scripture does not teach the invocation of the saints, or that we are to ask the saints for aid. But since neither a command, nor a promise, nor an example can be produced from the Scriptures concerning the invocation of saints, it follows that conscience can have nothing concerning this invocation that is certain. And since prayer ought to be made from faith, how do we know that God approves this invocation? Whence do we know without the testimony of Scripture that the saints perceive the prayers of each one?"

Ap.XXI.14: "Again, the adversaries not only require invocation in the worship of the saints, but also apply the merits of the saints to others, and make of the saints not only intercessors, but also propitiators. This is in no way to be endured."

Anonymous said...

Okay, the confessions don't recommend invocation but they don't forbid it. Thanks Carl!

Carl Vehse said...

Unless, Anony @ 7:42 PM, you're a closet-Romanist Lufauxran holding a quatenus subscription to the BOC, so that you can conveniently ignore SA.II.II.26...

... oh, and also SA.II.II.29.

Anonymous said...

Since when, in the context of Ephesians chapter 5, does the Bride have authority over the Bridegroom in matters of doctrine?

Of all the gifts and authority (including the Keys) Christ bequeathed to the Church, I don’t recall Him making it into a doctrine mill.

The Church needs to stay in its own lane.

Joanne said...

"Larry Peters is not infallible beyond the Deposit of Faith originally given."
Larry Peters is fallible beyond the Deposit of Faith originally given.
Larry Peters is infallible within the Deposit of Faith originally given.
Oh where is a well developed system of hermeneutics when we need one?

Lutheran Lurker said...

The Citations from the Apology neither prohibit nor recommend the Invocation of Saints but note the connection in Rome between the practice and other practices abhorrent to Scripture and the faith. So, Vehse is wrong when he says that the the BOC condemns and forbids Invocation of Saints. Furthermore, nowhere in the BOC is the practice of Invocation explicated to distinguish the call upon the saints to intercede before the throne of grace and the prayers for the saints to act upon their own authority to answer prayers and do what the supplicant petitions.

Carl Vehse said...

"Lutheran" Lurker has been wrong again and again, and now yet again about the BOC condemning the invoking of saints. It may be from not reading the Smalcald Articles.II.II. Of the Invocation of Saints.

"The invocation of saints is also one of the abuses of Antichrist conflicting with the chief article, and destroys the knowledge of Christ... it is a most harmful thing... For this is idolatry."