Friday, May 3, 2019
Guardians but not inventors. . .
Apostolic succession is supposed to be a guard against heresy and apostasy but in reality there has been no guarantee that bishops as a structure or office are themselves any guarantee of orthodoxy of doctrine and practice. Anglicans have certainly preserved the office and all its ceremony but that has not done much to preserve catholicity and orthodoxy within Anglicanism. Rome has found its own failures and failings in the sexual abuse scandal, in the Cardinal Danneels and hia own failure in Belgium and the German bishops and the shell of a church they have passed on to those who follow them. Even Orthodoxy has had some clingers and the episcopal structure has not prevented a Western oriented Orthodoxy among some or the confusion of a Western Rite that lives side by side the Eastern Rite.
Lutherans have had the same problem. There are those who are ordained to preserve the faith by their faithful exercise of the ministry of the Word and the Sacraments who have, for all intents and purposes, set aside the means of grace in view of man-made programs that essentially bypass the instruments by which the Lord establishes and preserves the faith for questionable pursuits that tend to elevate culture and preference over the Word of the Lord that endures forever. Certainly we saw this unfold in the ELCA when, by their own admission, they set aside Lutheran and catholic belief and practice to embrace the GLBTQ agenda. Less obvious but still as pernicious is when adiaphora becomes the cover for abandoning the Divine Service and when the pursuit of relevance is placed above the liturgical identity that more completely reflects the doctrine believed and confessed.