Home > Uncategorized > Why Do Some Leave? Root Cause Analysis on Why Some Pastors Leave the Lutheran Church

Why Do Some Leave? Root Cause Analysis on Why Some Pastors Leave the Lutheran Church

July 26th, 2011
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My good friend, Pastor William Weedon, and I, were recently lamenting the loss of yet another fine pastor to another communion. He put some thoughts down in an e-mail and I thought they were so spot-on that I asked him if I could share them on my blog, if he was not going to post them. He said, ok, so here you go:

Such is life in the Church militant. We’re not in the Church triumphant yet, and so the battle goes on. We lose good men, men who perhaps came to loved Lutheranism for the trappings that Lutheranism itself identifies as fitting, but absolutely nonessential. To make of the nonessential the essential, to delight first and foremost in that which is of man and not divinely mandated, is to move outside of Lutheranism in one’s heart. Always remember Loehe’s solemn protest against an overestimation of externals – better to have no liturgy and pure gospel than the most resplendent service and falsification of the truth. Of course, the best of all is to have neither such overestimation nor such falsification!

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  1. Pastor Rhode
    July 26th, 2011 at 12:14 | #1

    Would you be willing to say who left and to where? If not publicly, would you consider emailing me individually?

    Thanks, Jeremy Rhode

    • July 26th, 2011 at 12:20 | #2

      Hi Jeremy, no, sorry, but Pastor Weedon and I agreed not to name the person. It is irrelevant to this post.

  2. Daniel Baker
    July 26th, 2011 at 12:19 | #3

    Words of wisdom.

  3. Jeff K
    July 26th, 2011 at 14:29 | #4

    Perhaps you could say whether they are leaving for denominations with more liturgical flourish or less. My own observation is that for those (pastors or laity) who leave for more liturgical traditions (Orthodox or Catholic), they are looking for more historical rootedness in either liturgy or authority (apostolic succession). For them, the Lutheran church has come represent something of a halfway house, and they are looking for the Real Thing. For those who leave for less liturgy (any of the evangelical/baptistic varieties), they are looking for an uplifting feeling in worship and a sense that God is changing the lives of the people they worship with.

  4. Ken
    July 26th, 2011 at 20:35 | #5

    I am always disturbed by the fact that those who go east or south always present themselves, right up to the day before they swim the Bosphorus or Tiber, as “confessional”. They will almost uniformly speak of their love of the liturgy; yet they are not really more liturgical than thousands of other Lutherans. What they share, in almost every case, is a level of Marian devotion that goes far beyond honoring and commemorating the great thing that happened through Mary. Every true Lutheran honors Mary; that isn’t the point.

    The threshold issue seems to be the perpetual virginity of Mary. This is something that can neither be found nor deduced from Scripture, but is the subject of a long tradition so deeply ingrained that the Reformers (not only the Lutherans but the Calvinists as well) also believed it; the first Lutheran writer of any substance to call it into question was Chemnitz. The boundary line is when one holds that it is doctrine of the church, something that one cannot disbelieve without sinning thereby.

    Once they have crossed that boundary, they have walked away from the Formula of Concord’s statement on Scripture as sole rule and norm of doctrine and the Augsburg Confession’s statement on traditions. With that fundamental dogmatic principle abandoned, then all the traditions come in, and if they all come in, there’s no reason to remain a Lutheran.

  5. July 26th, 2011 at 21:47 | #6

    I think Pr Weedon has hit the nail right on the head – beautifully put too.

    Essentially it comes down to one’s understanding and grasp of the Gospel and how the Gospel orders the priorities of the church. Loehe’s ‘Three Books About the Church’ is just about the best and most succinct statement of the Lutheran understanding of this that I’ve read. Any chance of CPH getting the copyright for James Schaaf’s translation from Fortress and putting out a new edition, Pr McCain?

  6. July 26th, 2011 at 22:09 | #7

    A theme I have read and heard from others in the Orthodox church whether the Pastor has gone East or to Rome is the Pastor has a lack of belief in their calling. So if they come to believe that their call in invalid because they believe the Lutheran church has no true Apostolic succession and Lutheranism is more of a thought process then they have little choice but to leave.

    They come to believe that the LCMS is heterodox because of the false teachings that exist in some sectors of the LCMS.

    They come the believe that with the loss of the liturgy there is a loss of faith.

    They can not longer subscribe to the Book of Concord fully because they believe their are errors in it, especially the Formula.

  7. Terry Maher (Past Elder)
    July 27th, 2011 at 01:08 | #8

    I think all the commenters are on to what are really different aspects of the same thing. What is the desire to make things that are fitting but not essential, to extend to them a divine mandate via the church if not via Scripture, to find one’s way out of a halfway house “home” (to Rome), to find doctrine as well as liturgy extended a divine mandate vie the church if not via Scripture, — what is all of that but to seek a solution to problems of faith by what I like to call deus-ex-ecclesia, God from the Church, where as in the dramas of old the resolution came from a deus-ex-machina or god from a theatrical machine, here they come by finding a church that will offer what appears to be an objective grounding to and resolution of their yearnings.

    It’s argumentum ad vercundiam writ large, in which the bashfulness or shame toward oneself is resolved by appeal to an exterior authority they find sufficiently compelling. Most fully developed, this results in what that magnificent idiot John Henry Cardinal Newman said, that really there are only two options, atheism or Roman Catholicism.

    Understandable to one who started out there, but also a sad mistake to one who, as it were, swam the Mississippi, or should I say die Elbe.

  8. Terry Maher (Past Elder)
    July 27th, 2011 at 01:13 | #9

    No doubt the future editors of Gesammelte Werke Past Elders will correct “vercundiam” to “verecundiam”, overcoming the stress of working late and with neither staff nor boof button on WordPress.

  9. Bob Gruener
    July 27th, 2011 at 10:16 | #10

    RE: “I am always disturbed by the fact that those who go east or south always present themselves, right up to the day before they swim the Bosphorus or Tiber, as ‘confessional.’”

    On the other hand, public equivocation could be even more disturbing. That misgivings about church affiliation may be contemplated privately for a time before a conclusion is reached and a public announcement is made is to be expected, I should think.

    What else would you suggest?

  10. July 27th, 2011 at 10:27 | #12

    People who depart from Lutheranism for Orthodoxy or Catholicism are usually on a quest for the “catholicity” of the church. This is a noble quest. But what often happens, when such folks are still within Lutheranism, is that they embrace the Catholic or Orthodox way of defining and identifying “catholicity,” rather than the distinctly Lutheran way of defining and identifying it. When that happens, it is only a matter of time before they leave Lutheranism. The Lutheran (and Biblical) way of being “catholic” knows that throughout the church’s history on earth, there has been an ongoing interplay between continuity and reformation, governed always by the supreme authority of Holy Scripture. The church of Jesus Christ itself is eternal and unchanging, even as Jesus is eternal and unchanging. But the church in its historical, instititional life exists under the cross, and under much human weakness. The true church, with its pure catholicity, exists “in, with, and under” the various institutional expressions of the church, but it is not to be equated with those institutional expressions as a whole, or with a particular one. In this world, the church’s catholicity is more a matter of the pathway we are on, than of the destination we have reached. The church in its institutional life grows into its catholicity, insofar as the marks of the church are present and pure. This gives Lutherans an optimism regarding our catholicity and ultimate ecclesial destiny in Christ that remains firm, even when what we see with our eyes contradicts what we know by faith. Claus Harms, who lived and worked during a time of great institutional struggle for the Lutheran Church, reflected this optimism when he wrote in his Theses 92-95: “The Evangelical Catholic is a glorious Church; it holds and conforms itself chiefly to the Sacraments. The Evangelical Reformed is a glorious Church; it holds and conforms itself chiefly to the Word of God. More glorious than both is the Evangelical Lutheran Church; it holds and conforms itself both to the Sacraments and the Word of God. Into this Lutheran Church both the others are developing, even without the intentional aid of men. But the way of the ungodly shall perish, says David (Ps. 1:6).”

  11. Pr. Tom Fast
    July 27th, 2011 at 15:00 | #13

    When a Lutheran pastor leaves Lutheranism we are provided an excellent opportunity for some self reflection. It would be nice if there was an official “exit interview” of sorts, that we might learn a little more about ourselves or at least about how our practice of Lutheranism is perceived by those who once vowed to teach in accordance with the Lutheran Confessions and are in the process of leaving. Perhaps such interviews have been ongoing and I am simply ignorant of the fact.

    Same could be said about those pastors who find their status changed to CRM. Those men might be in a good position to teach us a great deal about ourselves.

    And, more uncomfortable for guys like me, we probably ought to do the same with laity who leave our congregations.

    This would be in keeping with the “semper reformanda” to which Pr. Webber rightly alludes.

    Otherwise, this kind of thing is just a loss for our synod/Lutheranism. No other way to spin it.

  12. Christine
    July 27th, 2011 at 19:42 | #14

    They come the believe that with the loss of the liturgy there is a loss of faith.

    And what a tragedy and comedy of errors.

    My ten plus years spent in the Roman church taught me very succinctly that liturgy is no guarantee of living faith, none at all. It is so very easy to become hooked on the “objective externals” of liturgical worship that a living relationship with Jesus Christ soon fades into the background.

    Lutherans are blessed with an authentic catholic spirituality that is fed by both the Sacraments and the Word of God. What we need to do is to reclaim and live that spirituality.

    Claus Harms had it exactly right.


  13. Terry Maher (Past Elder)
    July 27th, 2011 at 23:37 | #15

    The most by the book, no screens, no praise band, no nuttin fully vested Lutheran liturgy I have ever seen is on our local cable Sunday mornings — presided over by the ELCA female pastor.

    I love the externals, but they are just that, and unless connected to and flowing from the internals, so zu sagen, that produced them, it’s just a show to be produced.

  14. Weedon
    July 28th, 2011 at 10:06 | #16


    I am one who believes in the perpetual virginity, but I’ll never be a Roman Catholic. Just to note that Luther, Chemnitz, Gerhard, and Walther all believed it without “tipping” toward Rome or the East. So I think your tipping point is off. :)

  15. Christopher
    July 28th, 2011 at 17:02 | #17

    Some pastors metaphorically “throw out the baby” along with the bathwater. Sadly, I believe that many grow weary of “fighting the good fight” when they believe themselves to be in a synod that doesn’t enforce a certain standard when it comes to teaching or practice- especially (as Rev. Weedon explains) when it comes to the challenging and tearing down of cherished (even if nonessential) traditions.

    • July 28th, 2011 at 17:11 | #18

      And, ironically, when they run off to Rome, they are joining a communion with horrendous internal doctrinal and moral problems.

  16. Christopher
    July 28th, 2011 at 18:33 | #19

    Indeed, Pastor McCain. In searching for “purity” in doctrine AND practice, we need to avoid the ancient error of the Cathari and all who would follow their example of schism and false teaching in the name of purity. While no perfect church body (denomination) currently exists, we should earnestly hold to God’s revealed Word and the explanation of it that we have received as our most excellent heritage of Christian faith. Sola Gratia , Sola Fide!

  17. Terry Maher (Past Elder)
    July 29th, 2011 at 00:32 | #20

    That’s what gets me the most, Pastor McCain, having come from there originally. And the further irony is, despite the horrendous internal doctrinal and moral problems, not to mentions practice problems too, those same problematic factors that led to discontent in one church body will not do so in Rome or Constantinople.

    The problems may be recognised by the convert, but, due to the appearance of continuity and authority mentioned in earlier comments, that recognition doesn’t make a dent, the convert sure that here no matter how messy the present, that authority will eventually win out and that continuity will be preserved. That’s the deus ex ecclesia, and that’s what allows them to leave a denomination with problems yet join another with bigger ones; they don’t get that sense of deus ex ecclesia with us

    As a swimmer of the Tiber but in the other direction — OUT — that same factor is also what kept me for years from investigating any other Christian church body; none could offer that same appearance of continuity and authority that I thought came from Christ. So the deus ex ecclesia factor, as I like to call it, is very real, both for those attracted by it and those already under it.

  18. Trent Sebits
    July 29th, 2011 at 10:15 | #21

    As someone who was a life long member of the LCMS and left and someone who counts Pastor Weedon as a friend and very wise man, I can say that I think his statement is off base. I really don’t think its that complicated. You have Scripture and you have the interpretation of Scripture and I came to believe in a different interpretation of Scripture than found in the BOC on a whole host of issues. Period, end of story. I’m not looking to argue a specific issue, but as only an example, I became convinced (by reading early Church Fathers) of the practice of infant communion. I certainly see the merits of the Lutheran argument on this issue, its well reasoned and thought out, but over time, I became convinced that it was a wrong understanding of Scripture. Same goes for Sola Fide. Again, well reasoned and thought out, with many “Biblical proofs” and I certainly understand how the Reformers came to that position (because of the corrupt teaching on the issue of merits / treasury of merits they encountered), but in the end, I came to believe that this was not the correct understanding of Scripture with regard to faith.
    Thank you for your blog, Pastor McCain, I enjoy reading it.
    In Christ,
    Trent Sebits

  19. Christine
    July 29th, 2011 at 17:01 | #22

    Trent, the bottom line is that although the Catholic church teaches that she has only “one” source of authority, she in fact has two, [T]radition, which interprets Scripture and not to be confused with [t]radtion, which is something that developed over the centuries and informed Catholic devotional life and practice.

    The fact is that [T]radition usually trumps Scripture. The Bereans mentioned in the New Testament searched the Scriptures diligently to confirm the truth of what the apostles taught, and did so quite well without a Roman “magisterium”.

    The reasoning in the Catholic church is very simple: something is true in the Catholic church because the Catholic church says it is true because it is the Catholic church.

    Almost every convert to the RC I have met has been bedazzled by the “authority” of Rome. The divisions in the Catholic church today are legion, but like ancient Rome, which only required that one burn a pinch of incense to the emperor and then one could believe what one wished, modern Rome is the inheritor of that tradition as long as one maintains “unity” with the Bishop of Rome.

    Thank God I realized I became Catholic for all the wrong reasons and returned to the Lutheran teachings of my upbringing.

    As for Orthodoxy, it’s a great vehicle for those who are overattached to monastic spirituality. The Church fathers often contradict one another.


  20. Terry Maher (Past Elder)
    July 29th, 2011 at 20:12 | #23

    EO arguments contra Lutheranism in particular and Protestantism in general sound much more convincing to me when they back up a step and include Rome. There’s a hint of that in the above comment. In my early days of being boofed out at post Vatican II Rome, the EO was an option and some RCs took it. As I remember, any form of Western non-Roman Christianity was characterised as flawed by the same thing that flaws Rome, and were therefore not a reform back to the Gospel but rather Western reactions (Protestantism) to Western problems (Rome) and not applicable to EO where these problems did not arise in the first place and thus neither the reactions to them.

    But it was an option I did not take, as the vaunted “consensus” turned out to be no consensus at all except that there is a consensus, but as to what it is and who has it, oy, worse than all the Roman intramural wrestling!

    The fact is the Church Father, early, late, or right on time, are no basis for understanding Scripture at all. They are themselves subject to Scripture and like anyone else helpful to the extent that they are consistent with it. They are not Revelation, nor is Scripture some sort of message from Apollo to the Delphic Pythia whose ethylene intoxicated messages need priests to bring them into intelligible hexametre.

  21. Gabriel Emanuel Borlean
    August 2nd, 2011 at 04:24 | #24

    @Jeff K
    … great observations. “more liturgical traditions (Orthodox or Catholic), they are looking for more historical rootedness in either liturgy or authority (apostolic succession).”

    “historical rootedness” … I was surprised when a Roman-Catholic philosophy professor told me that the Lutheran liturgy is more authentic to the Middle Ages traditional liturgy than the current RCC liturgy.

    “authority (apostolic succession)” … as a new lutheran (last 8 years) I understand that “apostolic succession” is considered as a theory … also .. Jerome writes something to the effect that this was not existant in his region / time. An American Evangelical priest who had switched to the Eastern Orthodox church said in the phone conversation, is that he will only talk to me in order to convert me to Orthodoxy. When I explained that I believe I am part of the Orthodox Faith, the faith of Christ and the Apostles (and the early Church), but also a member of a confessional lutheran congregation, … he walked me thru a list of questions … about what we believe or hold as true. And of course … low and behold … comes the question “Do lutherans believe in Apostolic Succession”?

    I would love to hear or read a serious critique of the RCC or OC doctrine/understanding of APOSTOLIC SUCCESSION. Maybe Rev. McCain will indulge us with a new post?!?

  22. Gabriel Emanuel Borlean
    August 2nd, 2011 at 04:54 | #25

    I have read some of the posts here 2 or more times. A lot of great issues and reflections. Some reasons for leaving the Lutheran fold, as listed, were older liturgical/historical traditions, perpetual virginity of Theotokos, communing infants/children, contra Sola Fide, skewed understanding of “catholicity”, “church authority.”

    To me all these questions/topics are excellent areas to understand what and why Lutherans teach what they teach, confess, and believe.

    As a newby to Lutheranism (just 8 years, from fundamentalist Baptist), my question is not what are the issues, but why ?

    As Pr. Tom Fast wisely wrote, these events of leaving the Lutheran communion provide opportunities for self-reflection. Are we doing that in a holistic way ?

    What avenues, resources, pastoral care exists for lutheran clergy who have deep questions, doubts, or attachments to RCC/EO/AmericanEvangelicalism doctrines or practices ? Is there a forum/platform where these pastors (or parishoners) can voice their concerns & doubts without being ostricized or punished ?

    As much as I love the EO church, I know that I will never swim the Bosphorus. As much as I respect Jaroslav Pelikan, I will never understand why he did it. It is easy to have/form a mentality of “grass is greener on the other side” … until one looks at the whole picture “good, bad, and ugly.”

  23. christine
    August 2nd, 2011 at 08:51 | #26

    “historical rootedness” … I was surprised when a Roman-Catholic philosophy professor told me that the Lutheran liturgy is more authentic to the Middle Ages traditional liturgy than the current RCC liturgy.

    Gabriel, no surprise there, none at all. The novus ordo mass is a blend of Catholic and Protestant forms that my Catholic father who was raised in the preconciliar church would not have recognized. My ten years as a Catholic taught me the error of my misconceptions that the RC is still worshipping according to the old norms and even if she were, I would not have stayed as I no longer believe what the Catholic church believes.

    The LCMS parish where I now am a member (deo gratias!) uses the old “Common Service” where we still recite the Nicene Creed that was used prior to Vatican II and which Rome now ironically is restoring to its novus ordo liturgy, we still kneel at the Communion rail, sing our beautiful liturgy and use the traditional Introits, Graduals and other liturgical texts that Catholics once knew. Many times I heard the comment by Catholics who had attended Lutheran worship about how reverent our services are.

    As for Pelikan, his is an interesting story. His own description of his EO conversion was that “he became what he had always been”, althought I find it odd that, scholar and historian that he was, it took him so long to get there. I used to have a great admiration for him until I discovered his connections with some of the more dubious members of “The Liturgical Movement” as it played out in Roman Catholic institutions such as St. John’s University/Abbey in Collegeville, a hotbed of liturgical liberalism post-Vatican II.

    As for Orthodoxy, I wouldn’t worry about the challenges raised by American Evangelicals who convert to the EO. The Orthodox have enough to do with trying to unify as a body here in the U.S. and in keeping their own people in church, despite their claims of having true “apostolic succession”, etc. etc. Both Orthodoxy and Roman Catholicism are remnants of the old Roman/Byzantine Empires and much of what they practice is rooted in that.


  24. Pr. Mark Schroeder
    August 2nd, 2011 at 11:01 | #27

    In uncertain times, and denominations that are uncertain, or certain about false doctrine, I think the men who want to become priests in either Orthodoxy or Catholicism are seeking certainty. One only has to look around and see the shipwreck called Protestantism. Going on board the ‘right’ ship, will be the ticket to security and safe travels to the eternal shores. Joining the right visible church is in and of itself considered to be saving, and so a denial of sola fide/gratia/Scriptura. Walther correctly critiqued the joining of the visible church as saving in Theses XX of Law and Gospel. Justification is not mast that holds the mainsail, but just one of the sails along with, the aforementioned, and good works, invocation of the saints etc. The profound sadness is they left us because they never were really part of us. If they had been part of us, they would not have left. We can pray they with us cling to Jesus Christ whenever we all hear that us sinners are forgiven for Christ Jesus’ sake alone. As part of the ELCA for two decades and seriously contemplating ‘going East’, it was the doctrine of synergy and not monergy taught and preached in Orthodoxy that kept us from swimming the treacherous waters of the Bosporous. And for my wife, the organist, it was Justification sung in the hymnody of the Reformation.

  25. Terry Maher (Past Elder)
    August 2nd, 2011 at 11:29 | #28

    Was? Die Abtei “dubious”? Ich bin erstaunt!

    Pelikan and Godfrey were regularly seen walking on water on the Sag. (For the uninitiated, the Sag is Lake Sagatan, one of the two “10,000 lakes” on monastic ground, the other being Lake Watab.)

    We warn’t doing nuttin but removing from the liturgy and the church itself all those mediaeval, triumphalist and paternalistic accretions that have been oppressing, suppressing, depressing and repressing the church starting with Constantine, without which there’s have been no Reformation or Schism and we’ll all be one again just like Christ said, with a new order, Greeked up liturgy, calendar and lectionary and all to prove it!

  26. christine
    August 2nd, 2011 at 13:26 | #29

    It is astounding to me that Pelikan embraced Orthodoxy while hobnobbing with Father Godfrey Diekmann OSB of whom it was written, after his transitus (yeah, yeah, I know he wasn’t a Franciscan!):

    As editor of Worship (formerly Orate Fratres) beginning in 1938, Father Godfrey strongly influenced the reform of the liturgy for decades. He also taught theology at St. John’s University, Collegeville, and retired in 1995.

    Father Diekmann was a peritus (expert) at the Second Vatican Council along with Monsignor Frederick McManus, long time professor of Canon Law at Catholic University and first executive secretary of the Bishops’ Committee on the Liturgy [BCL]. Both men were also founding members of the International Commission on English in the Liturgy, and both exerted unparalleled influence on the post-conciliar reform of the Liturgy.

    As reported in his obituary in the Minneapolis Star Tribune, Diekmann “helped move the Catholic Church” to celebrate Mass in English, and “helped usher in new ways of Catholic worship”.

    He was also an ardent supporter of inclusive language in the liturgy, women’ s ordination and a married clergy – the latter two positions denounced and resisted for centuries by the Catholic Church. Catholic University in Washington, D.C., banned him from its summer faculty in 1962. Later, however, he accepted an honorary degree from the school.

    (“Prominent St. John’s monk dies at 93″, Minneapolis Star Tribune, February 23, 2002)

    So typical of the Catholic church today. First they ban Diekmann then he gets an honorary degree. Same happened with a number of other Catholic theologians who were at first banned and subsequently embraced, heterodoxy and all.

  27. Gabriel Borlean
    August 2nd, 2011 at 23:22 | #30

    I do not why reading your lines, brings up Hans Kueng to mind. … been kicked out as a Catholic theologian and professor, had an “inquisition” files started on him (all this before the 80s) and recently has had private audience with his former colleague – Ratzinger (now Pope Benedict XVI).

  28. Terry Maher (Past Elder)
    August 3rd, 2011 at 01:07 | #31

    The many, many theologians who not by name but school of thought were condemned in then new or recent encyclicals of my younger days who wound up periti at Vatican II and cardinals afterward is to long to list here and I already have at Past Elder, for the benefit of Lutherans under the “ecumenical” sway of Vatican II who do not understand it is rooted entirely in intramural RC concerns and not at all in those of the Lutheran Reformation, making them irrelevant to us.

    Pelikan was a charter member of the board of directors of die Abtei’s Institute for Ecumenical and Cultural Research (IECR) and his famous “Jesus Through the Centuries” is dedicated to the monks at die Abtei. Godfrey worked for decades on the ICEL, the International Commission on English in the Liturgy — or as some put it, the International Conspiracy Against English in the Liturgy — which produced the RC English version of the novus ordo liturgy and lectionary whose Protestant grandchild is the Revised Common Lectionary which even LCMS eventually fell for (how I remember the days when everyone at die Abtei wondered when “Missouri” would pull its head out of its late-Mediaeval butt and act like all the other Lutherans down at the IECR).

    Godfrey and I disagreed on damn near everything. Unparalleled influence is, if anything, an understatement, both of him personally and the Liturgical Renewal Movement — which he himself called “The Cause” — every one of whose leading lights were before our eyes, either personally or in their students or writings.

    Yet, for all that he represented the dismantling of the RCC in which I believed, Godfrey is among the great treasures of my experience — his faith in what he believed was genuine and passionate, a patristic scholar of impeccable academic rigour, a teacher of unbounded enthusiasm for both his subjects and his students, with a kindness and humanity that extended to many behind the scenes and out of the spotlight, and an impish Bavarian humour usually preceded by a twinkle in the eye.

    Plus, the stuff he sent me, presumably to straighten my sorry butt out, meant I never had to spend a damn dime at The Liturgical Press.

    Oddly enough, the date of his transitus was 22 February, once the Feast of the Chair of St Peter in Antioch, but in the calendar he helped create the Feast of the Chair of St Peter.

  29. Christine
    August 3rd, 2011 at 08:19 | #32

    I do not why reading your lines, brings up Hans Kueng to mind. … been kicked out as a Catholic theologian and professor, had an “inquisition” files started on him (all this before the 80s) and recently has had private audience with his former colleague – Ratzinger (now Pope Benedict XVI).

    Hi Gabriel! Ah yes, the arch-heretic himself! No longer permitted to teach but remains “a Catholic in good standing.” Not to worry, the word heretic really isn’t a bad one. I know it conjures up all sorts of bad images of the Inquisition, etc. but it actually comes from a Greek word that simply means “to choose” and Kueng has certainly chosen to construct a Christianity of his own making.

    As to Kueng’s meeting with Benedict, what I wanna know is if, both of them being of German stock, did they share a Stein of good German Bier!


  30. Terry Maher (Past Elder)
    August 3rd, 2011 at 09:49 | #33

    Gabriel, all these guys are buddies and are all on basically the same page. During the Council, there was a rift between the more liberal and less liberal, which is not to say conservative, aspects of the movement and even now a tension remains among the surviving members and their proteges, the former seeing the latter as brothers, but brothers who backed down from the fulness of The Cause. The latter now run the RCC. It is, when viewed from within, not surprising at all that what may seem as opponents in the larger world co-exist within the same church. It’s a family squabble, and the one thing that endures is the family (the RCC), which much like the Roman Empire that created it, allows all sorts of stuff effectively as long as one does not bolt the family so zu sagen.

    Love each other, hate each other, whatever, it’s always each other.

    Godfrey, though American, grew up at a time in Stearns County MN (where die Abtei is) when German was the language spoken at home — or at least the Bavarian version of it called Stearns County Dutch — and classes were taught in German except theology which was taught in Latin, he studied out of Abtei Laach — which I absolutely will not call by its damn Jesuit renaming Abtei Maria Laach — and even in my time while that had passed one heard German regularly spoken among people younger than I am now, and texts in religion classes were all Bultmann, Moltmann, Jedermann, Hootmann, Everyothermann (OK I’m having a little fun here, I am Past Elder after all and they made a Bavarian out of me).

    To the extent that the whole “reform” of Vatican II was characterised by its opponents as “the Rhine has polluted the Tiber”.

  31. Dietrich T
    August 7th, 2011 at 00:07 | #34

    I am not a clergy, but I am a Lutheran who ended up Byzantine Catholic. To this day, I deeply admire Luther till, and as an organist, Bach remains my absolute favorite composer. I find things in Luther’s theology that very consistent with the Greek Fathers.

    I am scared by the unspeakably uncharitable and outright unchristian debate about sexuality that occurred primarily in the ELCA (and no doubt in other Lutheran synods as well) during the previous decade, that cumulated in the ELCA’s fundamentally flawed sexuality statement of 2009.

    Lord Jesus defined marriage as between a man and woman, and theologians have no right to change what Lord Jesus taught. The ELCA has no more right to consecrate same-sex unions than the arch-heretic Calvin does in denying Real Presence or teaching that God predestines His creation to eternal hellfire!

    Homosexual acts are inherently sinful, but there are worse sins than this. Defrauding workers of their wages cries out to God for vengeance (James 5)- this was the normal practice of tax collectors in Lord Jesus’ days, because they taxed much more than was decreed by Caesar. Lord Jesus did not rain fire and brimstone on the tax collectors of His day- he ate with them. There is no excuse for the excessive demagoguery and bigotry than the conservative wing of the ELCA showed to LGBT Lutherans (and LGBT Christians generally). Gays are human too- just like us!

    Do not think that Catholic and Orthodox Faithful failed to notice the tragic sexuality debates in the ELCA during this time- there was mutual horror at this debate! This was discussed in monasteries and seminaries of both Churches, with sadness and disgust. I do not believe that Luther today could even recognize the Church he accidentally established. Luther would not change the sexual theology of the Church (and was the reason he rejected Henry VIII!), and he would encourage the gays to repent to the best of their abilities and carry their cross.

    These sexuality debates made me feel like I had to choose between orthodoxy and mercy. There should NEVER be a choice between orthodoxy and mercy. Since modern Lutheranism feels the need to force a choice between the two, I decided to swim the Tiber half-way and the Bosporus the other half. Lutheranism, it seems to me, is falling apart just for this reason, and it grieves me. You cannot be Christian and choose orthodoxy or mercy; the Lord commanded both orthodoxy and mercy!

  32. Terry Maher (Past Elder)
    August 8th, 2011 at 00:26 | #35

    Do I stay I LCMS because I think it always and everywhere, at synod, district, parish and individual (including myself) levels, is true to the Confessions? No. I stay, and joined, because it is the worst synod in the world, except for all the others. Do I stay Lutheran because of what happens in other church bodies with the word “Lutheran” in their name? No. I already think they in this or that area have departed from the Confessions, so what possible difference does one more area make?

    I am Lutheran in general and LCMS in particular because I believe the Lutheran Confessions accurately teach the faith of Christ revealed in Scripture. So, no matter how appalling I may find the lapses from the Confessions in a Lutheran church body, division thereof, group of people, or people individually, including myself, the Confessions are orthodoxy.

    The Confessions teach the orthodox faith; the Confessions teach the catholic faith; the Confessions are, strictly speaking, and as they themselves say, not “Lutheran” at all but simply Christian. There is no Orthodox body that says that; there is no Catholic body, Latin or otherwise, that says that. But I believe that, therefore, to choose a body that does not, whatever else may be admirable about them, is to choose that whatever else, mercy or otherwise, over orthodoxy.

  33. Christine
    August 8th, 2011 at 08:28 | #36

    Since modern Lutheranism feels the need to force a choice between the two, I decided to swim the Tiber half-way and the Bosporus the other half.

    With all due respect, that doesn’t make sense. You are an Eastern rite Catholic in communion with the bishop of Rome, a situation not recognized by the Orthodox. The Lutherans of the Ukraine also use a Byzantine rite.

    As for the “sexuality” debates I hardly think the Catholic church is in much of a position to judge Lutherans, having done and still doing her own housecleaning after the pedophile scandals.

    Nor do I accept your premise that “modern Lutheranism” is forcing a choice between orthodoxy and mercy. I won’t presume to speak for the ELCA nor do I expect the ELCA to speak for the LCMS.

    As for the church that Luther “accidentally founded”, I don’t think so. The Lutheran Reformation was a conservative one, retaining all that was historically good and true in an evangelical and catholic sense. Luther was quite intentional in separating the wheat from the chaff that had begun to infest the Church of Rome in his day.


  34. Rev. James W. Rice
    August 8th, 2011 at 21:50 | #37

    Sorry, but this is the same old stuff. Sagas affected by sin, fatalities and mistakes which still try to birth idealistic schemas of heaven on earth. Seemingly proficient defenses and apologia, accomplish as much as a strike of fist in the sea. It is not here I stand because it can make you wise or efficient or rich or even joined with the praise of men and angels, it is here I stand and beg for His Body and Blood because I can do no other.

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