Archive for April, 2008

Is it Sinful to Use Copyright Laws?

April 27th, 2008 14 comments

The other day I received a Google Alert on the Concordia edition of the Book of Concord. A pastor had referred to it in a blog post. I went to the blog site and read the following:

   One of my tasks is to develop and make available new ways of catechesis and
discipleship. For this reason, I
was thrilled when a compatriot of mine
suggested the development of the entire Book of Concord (Concordia, the
Lutheran Confessions,) be made available (for free) in mp3 and on CD
audio, so that those who desired to grow in the mind of Christ might,
say, listen to the Formula for Harmony on the way to work.

A wonderfully good idea, to be sure! There is just one problem. The project represents a violation of copyright law. I posted a comment on the blog site that the Concordia edition of the Book of Concord is copyrighted and thus can not be done without permission of the copyright holder. I also indicated that Concordia Publishing House would probably not grant permission because we have plans to do audio recordings of it ourselves. I suggested that he make use of the English translation of the Book of Concord that is in the public domain.

The pastor responded by saying that he believes it is sinful for Concordia Publishing House to use copyright laws, and that the laws are themselves sinful. He proceeded to indicate that he believes CPH is doing a disservice to the Gospel in copyrighting the Concordia edition of the Book of Concord.

Is it sinful for Christians to use copyright laws? In this post, I’d like to address a common misunderstanding that circulates around the church about copyright laws and their use. I hope I can do this in such a way as not to give the impression that I am being defensive. It is a challenge to address these issues without people receiving that impression, particularly when they have a firm opinion about the issue. But, I’ll give it a go.

Read more…

Categories: Culture

Mr. Really, Really Bad Preacher

April 26th, 2008 Comments off

Categories: Uncategorized

Lucas Cranach: A Master of Irony and Ambiguity

April 26th, 2008 Comments off

By Souren Melikian

Friday, April 25, 2008

Five hundred years ago, Europe lost its innocence and discovered
ambiguity. From north to south, its painters gave their female sitters
expressions of laughing irony. In Germany, Lucas Cranach the Elder was
the first to break with the past by portraying lovely princesses and
saints with the same indescribable glint of amusement.

Smiling skepticism may have come naturally to Leonardo, a man of
science, but Cranach’s laughter that comes across some of his most
admirable pictures in the retrospective on view at the Royal Academy
until June 8 is more intriguing.

What little is known about his early years sheds no light on the
matter. Bodo Brinkmann, the curator from the Städel Museum in Frankfurt
who masterminded the show, found little to say apart from the fact that
the artist, born Hans Maler in Kronach around 1472 was apparently the
son of a painter, as indicated by the noun following the name Hans. No
work by the artist can be dated prior to the early 1500s, by which time
he was living in Vienna. In 1505, he moved to Wittenberg and became
court artist to the Saxon Electors under three successive rulers. This
would appear to suggest a smooth character nimbly working his way
through the difficult times of the Reformation and Counter-Reformation,
an assumption borne out by his oeuvre.

Read more…

Categories: Art

Concordia Hexaglot: How to Use Libronix to Research and Study the Lutheran Confessions

April 25th, 2008 3 comments

Libronix library users: if you have the Triglotta in Libronix, from Northwestern Publishing House, and the Concordia digital edition from Concordia Publishing House, you can link the two resources in such a way that you can have the German and Latin original language.

Note: This is a huge "wow" factor! I have, for example, six windows open now as I read/study the Confessions: The older Concordia Triglotta English, the Concordia edition, the Tappert edition, the Kolb edition, then the German and the Latin of the BOC. Awesome!

Note II: This feature only works in the PC version of Libronix at this point. The native Macintosh version is still in Alpha stage and does not yet offer this functionality.

Again, thanks to Pr. Jeremiah Gumm for these instructions:

Here’s the "How to" guide that I sent out
to the "Logos for Lutherans" Group today:

To create a digital "Triglotta", here’s what you do:

1. Open Libronix. Click on "My Library" and open the follow books:

    * Concordia Triglotta (Latin)
    * Concordia Triglotta (German)
    * Your Favorite English Translation of the Bible
    * Concordia: The Lutheran Confessions

For further comparison, you could also open the older, more literal translation of Concordia Triglotta (English).

2. Once you have these open, arrange your workspace, so you have the four texts displayed.

3. Look closely right below the titles of each of the books and you
will find a chain link icon for "Links". (If you are new to Logos, that
little link is very helpful, especially for exegetical work.) Click on
that icon and a menu will drop down. In the menu, click on "Set A".
Make sure to do that with each of the four books (though you may not
have to do that for your English translation of the Bible). Now a chain
link icon with an A underneath it should appear where there was just a
chain link before.

4. Save your workspace! Be sure to save your new workspace so you can come back to it later. Go to the "File" command and choose "Save Workspace" and then give it a name, for instance, "Lutheran Confessions" and hit save.

5. Once you’ve done that, scroll down in Concordia and click on any
one of the confessions. The German and Latin equivalents will
automatically jump to that confession…and there you have it–A
Digital Triglotta! Now it’s your turn to keep searching.

For those in the Logos for Lutherans Group, I’ve also uploaded an example of this workspace in the "Files" section.

Need proof it can be done?

Here you go….a screen shot of my iMac’s screen, with Libronix up and running with six windows, which are, right to left, top to bottom: Triglotta English, Concordia edition, Tappert, Kolb, Latin, German.


Categories: Digital Resources

Concordia: The Digital Edition with a BIG bonus feature

April 24th, 2008 Comments off

A friend recently pointed something out to me which I was aware of but rather stupidly had not connected the dots with. The Libronix digital edition of Concordia: The Lutheran Confessions comes not only with the Book of Concord, but includes along with it the Libronix edition of the English Standard Version, which Crossway kindly permitted us to include on the CD, for free. That’s a $39.99 value, the going price for the English Standard Version in Libronix! So, when you buy the Concordia Edition, you receive not only the BOC, but the English Standard Version translation as well. Resources with a total price of $70 for only $29.99 or even less if you are a rostered church worker. Cool deal, huh? Want one?

And one more thing: if you do not already have the Libronix software on your computer, this product will install it for you, and install the Book of Concord and the Bible.

Categories: CPH Resources

Be Ye Notified! The Hymnal Price is Going Up

April 23rd, 2008 3 comments

I want to make sure that readers of this blog know that the price of Lutheran Service Book is going up on May 12. May 11 is the last day to purchase the hymnal at the introductory price of $18.50, for at 12:01 a.m., May 12th, the price goes to $23.00.

If your congregation has not purchased the LSB, and is thinking it will be purchasing it in the next couple of years, I would say, "Delay not."

A word to the wise is sufficient. A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush. Strike while the iron is hot. Don’t take wooden nickels Look both ways before crossing the street. Always eat your vegetables. Etc.

Call 800-325-3040.

Categories: Uncategorized

Review of the Libronix Edition of Concordia: The Lutheran Confessions

April 23rd, 2008 4 comments

Pastor Jermiah Gumm
posted this review of the Libronix edition of Concordia: The Lutheran Confessions on his blog site, and I’m passing it along here. I asked him to consider posting the precise "how to" on linking the Concordia edition to the Triglotta edition, so you can have the original languages up at the same time for comparison and study. Here are Pastor Gumm’s comments:

It finally arrived!

After weeks of waiting and then dealing with a shipping snag, this
afternoon a new Lutheran addition to my Libronix Digital Library System
arrived at my doorstep. I finally got my copy of Concordia: The Lutheran Confessions on CD-ROM (The 2nd Edition)!

Earlier this month, Concordia Publishing House (CPH) released the
Libronix version of their new Reader’s Edition of the Book of Concord.
Since I just got it today, I’ve only been able to check out a few of
its amazing tools, but personally, I’m blown away by what you’re
capable of doing. Some highlights I’ve discovered already:

  • A Book of Concord Reading Guide: The daily reading
    guide from the print edition can also be found in the digital edition
    AND can be easily used on your computer for your own daily confessional
    readings! The easy readability of this edition of the Book of Concord
    will, God-willing, make the Lutheran Confessions more accessible to
    called workers and laymen alike!
  • Links to Luther’s Works: Back in late 2001, I was able to purchase Luther’s Works on CD-ROM,
    which tied right into Libronix. Besides saving me a ton of bookshelf
    space, it has proven time and again to be a fantastic resource to
    search the works of Luther in a quick fashion. In CPH’s Concordia
    Digital Edition you can find easy links between the Book of Concord AND
    Luther’s Works! Very cool!
  • Woodcuts: One of the neatest aspects of the print
    edition of Concordia was the variety of appropriate woodcuts and
    artwork from the era of the Lutheran Reformation up through the 1580
    publication of the Book of Concord. In the digital edition, CPH did
    include all the woodcuts that were in the text of the print edition, a
    fact I appreciate as these woodcuts were often included in printings of
    the Book of Concord centuries ago.
  • Triglotta and Concordia Together: One of the desires expressed in our circles, including in the Wisconsin Lutheran Quarterly and even in comments
    on this blog, was that the new Reader’s Edition might eventually
    replace the old, wooden English translation of Bente & Dau
    alongside the Latin and German in an updated Concordia Triglotta. Though such an update does not exist in print, if you own the Concordia Reader’s Edition and the Logos edition of the Concordia Triglotta from Northwestern Publishing House (now being updated and upgraded to mesh better with Libronix and soon to be part of The Northwestern Publishing House Electronic Library),
    you can actually link up the new English translation with the Latin and
    German editions from the Triglotta (as well as the more literal English
    translation of Bente & Dau, if one so desires!). It makes for a
    very cool setup for the study of the Lutheran Confessions.

As I said, these are just a few of the amazing tools I’ve discovered
for myself. There’s plenty more I’m sure I’ll uncover in the future. If
you use Libronix or even if you don’t have it (you can install the
Reader’s Edition independently onto your computer), I would definitely
recommend getting your hands on the digital edition of Concordia: The Lutheran Confessions on CD-ROM.

One other reminder/encouragement/note: If you’ve used Libronix for a while or are just getting into it, I recommend joining the Logos for Lutherans
group. Pr. Aaron Frey, who teaches Winterim courses on the use of
Libronix for the pastoral ministry at Wisconsin Lutheran Seminary,
started the group back in January and since then, the group has grown
to nearly 100 members. The group was created to help confessional
Lutherans, especially confessional Lutheran pastors and seminary
students, in learning how to use Libronix for the study of the original
languages. Besides joining in the discussions amongst the group, you’ll
also find helpful links, various resources and great ideas as you use
Libronix to study the Word of God and share its treasures with your
flock. I’ve included the group site under my links.

Categories: Digital Resources

Not a Bad Lutheran, Just a Bad Person

April 20th, 2008 8 comments

On another Lutheran blog site, a blogger posted his confession that he does not much like the writings of Martin Luther, the paintings of Lucas Cranach, or the music of J.S. Bach. He asked, "Does this make me a bad Lutheran?" A person responded by saying, "No, it doesn’t make you a bad Lutheran, just a bad person." I thought this was one of the funniest quips I’ve read on a Lutheran blog site in a long time.

Categories: Lutheranism

Worst Ever Vestments? You be the judge

April 19th, 2008 18 comments

FunnykateCatherine Schori, the presiding bishop of the EpiscopalSchori Church USA, has taken to wearing vestments that can only be described, in my opinion, with one word: hideous. Here are a couple cases in point. I was reading an article just now about how Pope Benedict XVI is reviving classic vestments, with all sorts of speculation about the meaning of that. One can only but assume Schori, a well known advocate of gay and lesbian "rights" in the church knows she is making a statement by wearing a mitre that is in the gay rights "rainbow" colors. I think this outfit tops this other one. But, to be fair, let’s also have some photos of 55379295_708b597821_bmen wearing hideously ugly vestments. Do you have examples that  compare, or beat, these? Send them on in and I’ll post them.










Categories: Uncategorized

Pope’s Remarks at Ecumenical Prayer Gathering

April 19th, 2008 2 comments

Following is the prepared text of Pope Benedict XVI’s
remarks at an ecumenical prayer service with Christian leaders at the
Church of St. Joseph in Yorkville, Manhattan, on April 18, as supplied
by the Vatican. I would note that the event was not what some would consider "ecumenical" in the sense that everyone is given equal time on a platform to represent his or her particular beliefs. It was a simple service, with an invocation, a couple of prayers, the Lord’s Prayer chanted together, a hymn sung, a reading from Eph. 4:1-6, and a concluding prayer and blessing. The pope was wearing his ordinary garb, not worship vestments. Only Roman Catholics were in the chancel and leading the event. Here are the pope’s remarks:

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ, My heart abounds with gratitude
to Almighty God — “the Father of all, who is over all and through all
and in all" (Eph 4:6) — for this blessed opportunity to gather with
you this evening in prayer. I thank Bishop Dennis Sullivan for his
cordial welcome, and I warmly greet all those in attendance
representing Christian communities throughout the United States. May
the peace of our Lord and Savior be with you all!

Through you, I express my sincere appreciation for the invaluable
work of all those engaged in ecumenism: the National Council of
Churches, Christian Churches Together, the Catholic Bishops’
Secretariat for Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs, and many others.
The contribution of Christians in the United States to the ecumenical
movement is felt throughout the world. I encourage all of you to
persevere, always relying on the grace of the risen Christ whom we
strive to serve by bringing about "the obedience of faith for the sake
of his name" (Rom 1:5).

Read more…

Categories: Roman Catholicism

Luther Before the Diet of Worms

April 19th, 2008 Comments off

Yesterday, on April 18 1521, Martin Luther took his stand against both Pope and Emperor. Here is a modern depiction of these events:

Here is a transcript of his remarks:

The World’s Famous Orations.
Continental Europe (380–1906).  1906.
Before the Diet of Worms
Martin Luther (1483–1546)
in 1483, died in 1546; became a Monk at Erfurt in 1505; published, at
Wittenberg in 1517, his thesis against indulgences; excommunicated and
his writings burned in 1520; proscribed at Worms in 1521; published a
translation of the Bible in 1534.
this day appear before you in all humility, according to your command,
and I implore your majesty and your august highnesses, by the mercies
of God, to listen with favor to the defense of a cause which I am well
assured is just and right. I ask pardon, if by reason of my ignorance,
I am wanting in the manners that befit a court; for I have not been
brought up in king’s palaces, but in the seclusion of a cloister.
  Two questions were yesterday put to me by his imperial
majesty; the first, whether I was the author of the books whose titles
were read; the second, whether I wished to revoke or defend the
doctrine I have taught. I answered the first, and I adhere to that
  As to the second, I have composed writings on very different
subjects. In some I have discussed Faith and Good Works, in a spirit at
once so pure, clear, and Christian, that even my adversaries
themselves, far from finding anything to censure, confess that these
writings are profitable, and deserve to be perused by devout persons.
The pope’s bull, violent as it is, acknowledges this. What, then,
should I be doing if I were now to retract these writings? Wretched
man! I alone, of all men living, should be abandoning truths approved
by the unanimous voice of friends and enemies, and opposing doctrines
that the whole world glories in confessing!
  I have composed, secondly, certain works against popery,
wherein I have attacked such as by false doctrines, irregular lives,
and scandalous examples, afflict the Christian world, and ruin the
bodies and souls of men. And is not this confirmed by the grief of all
who fear God? Is it not manifest that the laws and human doctrines of
the popes entangle, vex, and distress the consciences of the faithful,
while the crying and endless extortions of Rome engulf the property and
wealth of Christendom, and more particularly of this illustrious nation?
  If I were to revoke what I have written on that subject, what
should I do…. but strengthen this tyranny, and open a wider door to so
many and flagrant impieties? Bearing down all resistance with fresh
fury, we should behold these proud men swell, foam, and rage more than
ever! And not merely would the yoke which now weighs down Christians be
made more grinding by my retractation—it would thereby become, so to
speak, lawful,—for, by my retractation, it would receive confirmation
from your most serene majesty, and all the States of the Empire. Great
God! I should thus be like to an infamous cloak, used to hid and cover
over every kind of malice and tyranny.
  In the third and last place, I have written some books
against private individuals, who had undertaken to defend the tyranny
of Rome by destroying the faith. I freely confess that I may have
attacked such persons with more violence than was consistent with my
profession as an ecclesiastic: I do not think of myself as a saint; but
neither can I retract these books. because I should, by so doing,
sanction the impieties of my opponents, and they would thence take
occasion to crush God’s people with still more cruelty.
  Yet, as I am a mere man, and not God, I will defend myself
after the example of Jesus Christ, who said: “If I have spoken evil,
bear witness against me” (John xviii:23).
How much more should I, who am but dust and ashes, and so prone to
error, desire that every one should bring forward what he can against
my doctrine.
  Therefore, most serene emperor, and you illustrious princes,
and all, whether high or low, who hear me, I implore you by the mercies
of God to prove to me by the writings of the prophets and apostles that
I am in error. As soon as I shall be convinced, I will instantly
retract all my errors, and will myself be the first to seize my
writings, and commit them to the flames.
  What I have just said I think will clearly show that I have
well considered and weighed the dangers to which I am exposing myself;
but far from being dismayed by them, I rejoice exceedingly to see the
Gospel this day, as of old, a cause of disturbance and disagreement. It
is the character and destiny of God’s word. “I came not to send peace
unto the earth, but a sword,” said Jesus Christ. God is wonderful and
awful in His counsels. Let us have a care, lest in our endeavors to
arrest discords, we be bound to fight against the holy word of God and
bring down upon our heads a frightful deluge of inextricable dangers,
present disaster, and everlasting desolations…. Let us have a care lest
the reign of the young and noble prince, the Emperor Charles, on whom,
next to God, we build so many hopes, should not only commence, but
continue and terminate its course under the most fatal auspices. I
might cite examples drawn from the oracles of God. I might speak of
Pharaohs, of kings of Babylon, or of Israel, who were never more
contributing to their own ruin than when, by measures in appearances
most prudent, they thought to establish their authority! “God removeth
the mountains and they know not” (Job ix:5).
  In speaking thus, I do not suppose that such noble princes
have need of my poor judgment; but I wish to acquit myself of a duty
that Germany has a right to expect from her children. And so commending
myself to your august majesty, and your most serene highnesses, I
beseech you in all humility, not to permit the hatred of my enemies to
rain upon me an indignation I have not deserved. 2
  Since your most serene majesty and your high mightinesses
require of me a simple, clear and direct answer, I will give one, and
it is this: I can not submit my faith either to the pope or to the
council, because it is as clear as noonday that they have fallen into
error and even into glaring inconsistency with themselves. If, then, I
am not convinced by proof from Holy Scripture, or by cogent reasons, if
I am not satisfied by the very text I have cited, and if my judgment is
not in this way brought into subjection to God’s word, I neither can
nor will retract anything; for it can not be right for a Christian to
speak against his country. I stand here and can say no more. God help
me. Amen. 3
Note 1. From
the version given in D’Aubigny’s “History of the Reformation”—the
American edition of 1845. This speech was delivered at Worms on April
18, 1520, in response to a summons from the emperor, Charles V., who
had assured Luther of a safe conduct to and from Worms. When the
chancellor had demanded of Luther, “Are you prepared to defend all that
your writings contain, or do you wish to retract any part of them?” it
is stated in the “Acts of Worms,” that Luther “made answer in a low and
humble voice, without any vehemence or violence, but with gentleness
and mildness and in a manner full of respect and diffidence, yet with
much joy and Christian firmness.” D’Aubigny says he took this speech,
word for word, from an authentic document. [back]
Note 2. D’Aubigny says that
after Luther had pronounced these words in German, “with modesty, yet
with much earnestness and resolution he was desired to repeat them in
Latin,” the emperor being not fond of German. The splendid assembly
which surrounded Luther, its noise and excitement, had exhausted him.
(“I was bathed in sweat,” said he, “and standing in the center of the
princes.”) But having taken a moment’s breathing time. Luther began
again “and repeated his address in Latin, with undiminished power.” The
chancellor spokesman of the Diet, then said, “You have not given any
answer to the inquiry put to you. You are not to question the decisions
of the councils—you are required to return a clear and distinct answer.
Will you or will you not retract?” Luther then proceeded with the
answer given in the final paragraph. [back]
Note 3. A detailed report of
this memorable scene describes how, at this point, Luther, after going
out of the room, was again summoned, and asked whether he actually
meant to say that councils had erred, to which he answered, they had
erred many times, mentioning the Council of Constance. Luther was then
told if he did not retract, the emperor and the States of the Empire
would proceed “to consider how to deal with an obstinate heretic,” to
which he answered, “May God be my helper, but I can retract nothing.”
Pressed once more, and reminded that he had not spoken “with that
humility which befitted his condition,” he said, “I have no other
answer to give than that I have already given.” The emperor then made a
sign to end the matter, rose from his seat, and the whole assembly
followed his example. [back]
Categories: Lutheranism

Record Setting Cranach

April 19th, 2008 Comments off

Do you remember a month ago when I mentioned that this Cranach painting was going up for auction? Well, it did and it sold for … ready for this? … over $7.6 million dollars. Here’s the story.

Categories: Art

Early African Chrisianity — A New Web Site

April 16th, 2008 1 comment

I was made aware today of an interesting new web site, from the publishers of the Ancient Christian Commentary series: Early African Christianity. I think you will find it interesting.


Categories: Internet Resource

Helvetica: A Documentary for Type Geeks and Interested Bystanders

April 13th, 2008 11 comments

I’m a typography geek. Always have been. Always will be. I love not only words, but the way words are put onto a page. And I discovered an abolute delight of a documentary: Helvetica. Yes, a documentary devoted to a typeface. Sounds boring, I know. But, it is not.

If you enjoy the art of typography, then you must see this documentary on the world’s most ubiquitous typeface: Helvetica. It is one of the most legible typefaces ever created, arguably the most legible. You probably don’t even notice it, but it is everywhere. Some find its ominipresence distressing, others regard it as comforting.

This documentary tells the story of the typeface and how it has been received, used, and either accepted or rejected. I’ve decided to switch this blog site over to Helvetica, and I like what I see.

Years ago I chose two main faces for as much of my work as possible: Optima and Minion. They are still two of my favorites, but press me on my favorite typeface of all time and it will always be Helvetica. I never knew why. Now I do. And, if you watch this documentary, just count how many times a certain brand of computer appears.

Categories: Art

Why Separation from Rome is Still a Tragic Necessity

April 13th, 2008 Comments off

A month or so ago, word went out that the Papacy might be considering lifting the charge of heretic against Martin Luther. This rumor was squelched. In the course of talking about it with a friend, we were going back and forth about our feelings about Rome and the Papacy. I offered him these more personal reflections on my experiences with Rome and what a truly painful thing it is to recognize that Lutheranism and Romanism must be, and remain, separate. In light of the Pope’s coming trip to the USA, I thought I would share these thoughts, with a few modifications, more openly here:

The reason I have such strong feelings of frustration and, yes, anger,
with the errors of Romanism is precisely because there is so much in the Roman Catholic Church that
I love and cherish. "Tragic necessity" is no mere polite soundbite to me, nor to many other faithful Lutheran Christians. We cherish the Gospel that is read and heard in Roman Catholic Churches whenever and wherever it is read, or preached. We cherish the Blessed Sacrament of the Altar which is given and distributed in Roman Catholic Churches. We love and cherish these things in spite of the errors that obscure the glory and grace of God in the mercy of Christ.

I developed
close friendships with many Roman Catholics growing up in the Deep
South where Lutheran and Roman Catholics were but two sides of the same
coin in the view of Baptists, Pentecostals, etc. There was a shared history and experience of liturgy and church history that was unknown to many, if not all, Bible fundamentalists.

I attended a
Roman Catholic High School and was so deeply moved and impressed by the nuns and priests there who taught us everything from typing (thank you Sister
Mary Jean!) and drilled us to death in English and grammar (thank you
Sister Mary Margaret!). I loved Latin class when Father Pine, S.J.,
would wander in and engage in Latin with our teacher, and when he
actually corrected my writing one day, walking up and down the rows of
desks, "Ah, excuse me, Mr. McCain, but you seem to have a certain
fondness leaving your "t’s" uncrossed and your i’s undotted." As my face grew red, I was able only but to agree and say "Yes, Father. You are right."

And I recall Father
Foley regaling us with tales of youthful episodes with a
certain "fair lass" in Ireland, where he hailed from, and I recall listening to him
and Sister Mary Ellen rattle away back and forth in Gaelic, their mother tongue, the mother tongue of my ancestors as well.

And they even gave a Lutheran kid best religion student of the year award, twice in a row! And I have the warmest memories of all of the many kind notes and remembrances from the priests, sisters and brothers
who, in their own dear ways, encouraged me to become a Lutheran pastor, with quiet conversations, even whispered in some cases. We shared a love for Christ!

But as for the institution and public doctrine of the Roman Catholic Church, here is where the tragic necessity of separation becomes a reality.

I sat seething through four years of Masses where the Gospel was
terribly obscured with all manner of nonsense that one can only imagine that would be possible in the mid-seventies, with people trying to impress teenagers
attending Mass. (It became so bad the Bishop announced he would no longer
conduct mass at our high school until the behavior in Mass got better!).

For these very personal reasons, in addition to my passion for theology, I’ve been deeply concerned and interested in Roman
Catholicism for years and feel such a kindred spirit with the Roman
Church, but also at the same time, such a heart-wrenching separation
when I watch the Gospel not really proclaimed sweetly and clearly.

Tragic necessity, indeed. Lord, have mercy.

And so, in light of the visit of the Pope to the USA, lest anyone get too caught up in the moment, or forget precisely why we continue to reject the Papacy and its claims, we need to remember that the Roman Catholic
Church still insists that it is the one, true church on earth and that all
other Christian communities are either defective (the East) or not
church at all (all us Reformation types).

I am not at all bothered by
the Pope’s pronouncement, actually quite pleased by such refreshing
clarity and integrity in the expression of Rome’s position: open and
honest. Too bad liberal Lutherans can’t be as forthcoming at times. It
is troubling that there are groups about that stand for one thing, but
hide their positions so as to try to deceive and mislead people.

So, big news! The Pope is a Roman Catholic!
Here is the official statment from the vatican. Click through to the
extended version to read it. And then, when you are finished reading
the document, read the Smalcald Articles
and the Treatise on the Power and Primacy of the Pope for a sound,
Biblical and Gospel-centered refutation of these false claims.


Bold italic portions are emphases added by PTM.



The Second Vatican Council, with its Dogmatic Constitution Lumen
gentium, and its Decrees on Ecumenism (Unitatis redintegratio) and the
Oriental Churches (Orientalium Ecclesiarum), has contributed in a
decisive way to the renewal of Catholic ecclesiolgy. The Supreme
Pontiffs have also contributed to this renewal by offering their own
insights and orientations for praxis: Paul VI in his Encyclical Letter
Ecclesiam suam (1964) and John Paul II in his Encyclical Letter Ut unum
sint (1995).

The consequent duty of theologians to expound with greater clarity
the diverse aspects of ecclesiology has resulted in a flowering of
writing in this field. In fact it has become evident that this theme is
a most fruitful one which, however, has also at times required
clarification by way of precise definition and correction, for instance
in the declaration Mysterium Ecclesiae (1973), the Letter addressed to
the Bishops of the Catholic Church Communionis notio (1992), and the
declaration Dominus Iesus (2000), all published by the Congregation for
the Doctrine of the Faith.

The vastness of the subject matter and the novelty of many of the
themes involved continue to provoke theological reflection. Among the
many new contributions to the field, some are not immune from erroneous
interpretation which in turn give rise to confusion and doubt. A number
of these interpretations have been referred to the attention of the
Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. Given the universality of
Catholic doctrine on the Church, the Congregation wishes to respond to
these questions by clarifying the authentic meaning of some
ecclesiological expressions used by the magisterium which are open to
misunderstanding in the theological debate.


First Question: Did the Second Vatican Council change the Catholic doctrine on the Church?

Response: The Second Vatican Council neither changed nor intended to
change this doctrine, rather it developed, deepened and more fully
explained it.

This was exactly what John XXIII said at the beginning of the
Council[1]. Paul VI affirmed it[2] and commented in the act of
promulgating the Constitution Lumen gentium: "There is no better
comment to make than to say that this promulgation really changes
nothing of the traditional doctrine. What Christ willed, we also will.
What was, still is. What the Church has taught down through the
centuries, we also teach. In simple terms that which was assumed, is
now explicit; that which was uncertain, is now clarified; that which
was meditated upon, discussed and sometimes argued over, is now put
together in one clear formulation"[3]. The Bishops repeatedly expressed
and fulfilled this intention[4].

Second Question: What is the meaning of the affirmation that the Church of Christ subsists in the Catholic Church?

Response: Christ "established here on earth" only one Church and
instituted it as a "visible and spiritual community"[5], that from its
beginning and throughout the centuries has always existed and will
always exist, and in which alone are found all the elements that Christ
himself instituted.[6] "This one Church of Christ, which we confess in
the Creed as one, holy, catholic and apostolic […]. This Church,
constituted and organised in this world as a society, subsists in the
Catholic Church, governed by the successor of Peter and the Bishops in
communion with him"[7].

In number 8 of the Dogmatic Constitution Lumen gentium ‘subsistence’
means this perduring, historical continuity and the permanence of all
the elements instituted by Christ in the Catholic Church[8], in which
the Church of Christ is concretely found on this earth.

It is possible, according to Catholic doctrine, to affirm correctly
that the Church of Christ is present and operative in the churches and
ecclesial Communities not yet fully in communion with the Catholic
Church, on account of the elements of sanctification and truth that are
present in them.[9] Nevertheless, the word "subsists" can only be
attributed to the Catholic Church alone precisely because it refers to
the mark of unity that we profess in the symbols of the faith (I
believe… in the "one" Church); and this "one" Church subsists in the
Catholic Church.[10]

Third Question: Why was the expression "subsists in" adopted instead of the simple word "is"?

Response: The use of this expression, which indicates the full
identity of the Church of Christ with the Catholic Church, does not
change the doctrine on the Church. Rather, it comes from and brings out
more clearly the fact that there are "numerous elements of
sanctification and of truth" which are found outside her structure, but
which "as gifts properly belonging to the Church of Christ, impel
towards Catholic Unity"[11].

"It follows that these separated churches and Communities, though we
believe they suffer from defects, are deprived neither of significance
nor importance in the mystery of salvation. In fact the Spirit of
Christ has not refrained from using them as instruments of salvation,
whose value derives from that fullness of grace and of truth which has
been entrusted to the Catholic Church"[12].

Fourth Question: Why does the Second Vatican Council use the term
"Church" in reference to the oriental Churches separated from full
communion with the Catholic Church?

Response: The Council wanted to adopt the traditional use of the
term. "Because these Churches, although separated, have true sacraments
and above all – because of the apostolic succession – the priesthood
and the Eucharist, by means of which they remain linked to us by very
close bonds"[13], they merit the title of "particular or local
Churches"[14], and are called sister Churches of the particular
Catholic Churches[15].

"It is through the celebration of the Eucharist of the Lord in each
of these Churches that the Church of God is built up and grows in
stature"[16]. However, since communion with the Catholic
Church, the visible head of which is the Bishop of Rome and the
Successor of Peter, is not some external complement to a particular
Church but rather one of its internal constitutive principles, these
venerable Christian communities lack something in their condition as
particular churches

On the other hand, because of the division between Christians, the
fullness of universality, which is proper to the Church governed by the
Successor of Peter and the Bishops in communion with him, is not fully
realised in history[18].

Fifth Question: Why do the texts of the Council and those of the
Magisterium since the Council not use the title of "Church" with regard
to those Christian Communities born out of the Reformation of the
sixteenth century?

Response: According to Catholic doctrine, these
Communities do not enjoy apostolic succession in the sacrament of
Orders, and are, therefore, deprived of a constitutive element of the
Church. These ecclesial Communities which, specifically because of the
absence of the sacramental priesthood, have not preserved the genuine
and integral substance of the Eucharistic Mystery[19] cannot, according
to Catholic doctrine, be called "Churches" in the proper sense[

The Supreme Pontiff Benedict XVI, at the Audience granted to the
undersigned Cardinal Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of
the Faith, ratified and confirmed these Responses, adopted in the
Plenary Session of the Congregation, and ordered their publication.

Rome, from the Offices of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the
Faith, June 29, 2007, the Solemnity of the Holy Apostles Peter and Paul.

William Cardinal Levada

Angelo Amato, S.D.B.
Titular Archbishop of Sila

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Categories: Roman Catholicism