Ziegler-Hemingway Takes on the Media Frenzy Over Bachmann, the Pope and Lutheranism: Wall Street Journal Article
I’m a bit late to this party, but last Friday there was a wonderful editorial in the Wall Street Journal, written by that Lutheran maven of media, Mollie Ziegler-Hemingway. I thought it pretty much drove the nails into the coffin and put away the media nonsense over the non-story that Michelle Bachmann used to belong to a Lutheran congregation that is part of a church body that is Lutheran and actually teaches what Lutherans have always taught about the power and authority of the papacy. And, yes, yours truly was quoted in the article, but in spite of that it is a very fine piece of writing, don’t you think?
Here’s a bit of the article, with the rest available via the read more link at the bottom.
American political reporters aren’t known for their vocal support of Roman Catholic teachings. But when they discovered recently that Minnesota Congresswoman and Republican presidential candidate Michele Bachmann was once a Lutheran, they began defending the papacy as if they were the Vatican’s own Swiss Guard. They asked with concern, could Catholics even vote for a former Lutheran?
Ms. Bachmann’s former church, the Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod, hasn’t followed the mainline Protestant church practice of regularly revising its doctrines. The Lutheran confessions, or statements of faith, are found in the Book of Concord, first published in 1580. They explain the doctrine of justification by grace alone, through faith alone, on account of Christ alone. Accordingly, they don’t believe the pope’s authority comes from God.This shouldn’t be surprising to anyone familiar with the Reformation, but it hit the press hard.
“Michele Bachmann leaves church accused of anti-Catholic bias,” the Los Angeles Times reported. The Atlantic Monthly: “Michele Bachmann’s Church Says the Pope Is the Antichrist.” From the Washington Post, we learned that the Lutheran Confessions use “unfortunate wording.” To be sure, the “antichrist” rhetoric is strong. Found in Martin Luther’s Smalcald Articles, such language is part of a tradition that reaches back into the 10th century.
As a National Council of Churches Committee has written, “Not only dissidents and heretics but even saints had called the bishop of Rome the ‘antichrist’ when they wished to castigate his abuse of power. During the Reformation, Catholic statements against Lutheran beliefs were similarly strong. The Council of Trent’s canons declared that anyone who believed in justification by faith alone was to be “anathema,” or cut off from the church. These words shock modern ears. But in the Reformation era “there was a much greater degree of rough and tumble in the way Christians addressed issues and those with whom they disagreed,” explained the Rev. Paul McCain, publisher of a 2005 reader’s edition of the Book of Concord.