“We can not celebrate sin”
#11
[Lutherans are converting -- seeing that the Catholic Church is the true Church after all--  but they are not coming in droves like the Anglicans.  The following is an article by a Lutheran pastor, Stanley Hauerwas, who paints a clear picture of disunity and the whys and wherefores of the protest of Lutheranism and how to look beyond them for better understanding.  This is not a wake up call to the majority of Lutherans who are intent to remain in their heresy.  But one thing is certain:  what Luther taught and what is taught today in this faith community are not one and the same.  Note on Stanley Hauerwas:  he had been a professor at Notre Dame, which sheds some light on his present Catholic views.  For some reason I see something in the article of that particular disunity of traditionalist Catholicism and the rest of the "other" members who also call themselves Catholic.]

This is about Reformation Day, a Lutheran holiday celebrated yearly on October which the author offers his thoughts.

I must begin by telling you that I do not like to preach on Reformation Sunday. Actually I have to put it more strongly than that. I do not like Reformation Sunday, period. I do not understand why it is part of the church year. Reformation Sunday does not name a happy event for the Church Catholic; on the contrary, it names failure. Of course, the church rightly names failure, or at least horror, as part of our church year. We do, after all, go through crucifixion as part of Holy Week. Certainly if the Reformation is to be narrated rightly, it is to be narrated as part of those dark days.

Reformation names the disunity in which we currently stand. We who remain in the Protestant tradition want to say that Reformation was a success. But when we make Reformation a success, it only ends up killing us. After all, the very name ‘Protestantism’ is meant to denote a reform movement of protest within the Church Catholic. When Protestantism becomes an end in itself, which it certainly has through the mainstream denominations in America, it becomes anathema. If we no longer have broken hearts at the church’s division, then we cannot help but unfaithfully celebrate Reformation Sunday.

For example, note what the Reformation has done for our reading texts like that which we hear from Luke this morning. We Protestants automatically assume that the Pharisees are the Catholics. They are the self-righteous people who have made Christianity a form of legalistic religion, thereby destroying the free grace of the Gospel. We Protestants are the tax collectors, knowing that we are sinners and that our lives depend upon God’s free grace. And therefore we are better than the Catholics because we know they are sinners. What an odd irony that the Reformation made such readings possible. As Protestants we now take pride in the acknowledgment of our sinfulness in order to distinguish ourselves from Catholics who allegedly believe in works-righteousness.

Unfortunately, the Catholics are right. Christian salvation consists in works. To be saved is to be made holy. To be saved requires our being made part of a people separated from the world so that we can be united in spite of — or perhaps better, because of — the world’s fragmentation and divisions. Unity, after all, is what God has given us through Christ’s death and resurrection. For in that death and resurrection we have been made part of God’s salvation for the world so that the world may know it has been freed from the powers that would compel us to kill one another in the name of false loyalties. All that is about the works necessary to save us.

For example, I often point out that at least Catholics have the magisterial office of the Bishop of Rome to remind them that disunity is a sin. You should not overlook the significance that in several important documents of late, John Paul II has confessed the Catholic sin for the Reformation. Where are the Protestants capable of doing likewise? We Protestants feel no sin for the disunity of the Reformation. We would not know how to confess our sin for the continuing disunity of the Reformation. We would not know how to do that because we have no experience of unity.

The magisterial office — we Protestants often forget — is not a matter of constraining or limiting diversity in the name of unity. The office of the Bishop of Rome is to ensure that when Christians move from Durham, North Carolina to Syracuse, New York, they have some confidence when they go to church that they will be worshiping the same God. Because Catholics have an office of unity, they do not need to restrain the gifts of the Spirit. As I oftentimes point out, it is extraordinary that Catholicism is able to keep the Irish and the Italians in the same church. What an achievement! Perhaps equally amazing is their ability to keep within the same church Jesuits, Dominicans, and Franciscans.

I think Catholics are able to do that because they know that their unity does not depend upon everyone agreeing. Indeed, they can celebrate their disagreements because they understand that our unity is founded upon the cross and resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth that makes the Eucharist possible. They do not presume, therefore, that unity requires that we all read Scripture the same way.

This creates a quite different attitude among Catholics about their relation to Christian tradition and the wider world. Protestants look over to Christian tradition and say, ‘How much of this do we have to believe in order to remain identifiably Christian?’ That’s the reason why Protestants are always tempted to rationalism: we think that Christianity is to be identified with sets of beliefs more than with the unity of the Spirit occasioned through sacrament.

Moreover, once Christianity becomes reduced to a matter of belief, as it clearly has for Protestants, we cannot resist questions of whether those beliefs are as true or useful as other beliefs we also entertain. Once such questions are raised, it does not matter what the answer turns out in a given case. As James Edwards observes, “Once religious beliefs start to compete with other beliefs, then religious believers are — and will know themselves to be — mongerers of values. They too are denizens of the mall, selling and shopping and buying along with the rest of us.”

In contrast, Catholics do not begin with the question of “How much do we need to believe?” but with the attitude “Look at all the wonderful stuff we get to believe!” Isn’t it wonderful to know that Mary was immaculately conceived in order to be the faithful servant of God’s new creation in Jesus Christ! She therefore becomes the firstborn of God’s new creation, our mother, the first member of God’s new community we call church. Isn’t it wonderful that God continued to act in the world through the appearances of Mary at Guadalupe! Mary must know something because she seems to always appear to peasants and, in particular, to peasant women who have the ability to see her. Most of us would not have the ability to see Mary because we’d be far too embarrassed by our vision.

Therefore Catholics understand the church’s unity as grounded in reality more determinative than our good feelings for one another. The office of Rome matters. For at least that office is a judgment on the church for our disunity. Surely it is the clear indication of the sin of the Reformation that we Protestants have not been able to resist nationalistic identifications. So we become German Lutherans, American Lutherans, Norwegian Lutherans. You are Dutch Calvinist, American Presbyterians, Church of Scotland. I am an American Methodist, which has precious little to do with my sisters and brothers in English Methodism. And so we Protestant Christians go to war killing one another in the name of being American, German, Japanese, and so on.

At least it becomes the sin of Rome when Italian Catholics think they can kill Irish Catholics in the name of being Italian. Such divisions distort the unity of the Gospel found in the Eucharist and, thus, become judgments against the church of Rome. Of course, the Papacy has often been unfaithful and corrupt, but at least Catholics preserved an office God can use to remind us that we have been and may yet prove unfaithful. In contrast, Protestants don’t even know we’re being judged for our disunity.

I realize that this perspective on Reformation Sunday is not the usual perspective. The usual perspective is to tell us what a wonderful thing happened at the Reformation. The Reformation struck a blow for freedom. No longer would we be held in medieval captivity to law and arbitrary authority. The Reformation was the beginning of enlightenment, of progressive civilizations, of democracy, that have come to fruition in this wonderful country called America. What a destructive story.

You can tell the destructive character of that narrative by what it has done to the Jews. The way we Protestants read history, and in particular our Bible, has been nothing but disastrous for the Jews. For we turned the Jews into Catholics by suggesting that the Jews had sunk into legalistic and sacramental religion after the prophets and had therefore become moribund and dead. In order to make Jesus explicable (in order to make Jesus look like Luther — at least the Luther of our democratic projections), we had to make Judaism look like our characterization of Catholicism. Yet Jesus did not free us from Israel; rather, he engrafted us into the promise of Israel so that we might be a people called to the same holiness of the law.

I realize that the suggestion that salvation is to be part of a holy people constituted by the law seems to deny the Reformation principle of justification by faith through grace. I do not believe that to be the case, particularly as Calvin understood that Reformation theme. After all, Calvin (and Luther) assumed that justification by faith through grace is a claim about God’s presence in Jesus of Nazareth. So justification by faith through grace is not some general truth about our need for acceptance; but rather justification by faith through grace is a claim about the salvation wrought by God through Jesus to make us a holy people capable of remembering that God’s salvation comes through the Jews. When the church loses that memory, we lose the source of our unity. For unity is finally a matter of memory, of how we tell the story of the Reformation. How can we tell this story of the church truthfully as Protestants and Catholics so that we might look forward to being in union with one another and thus share a common story of our mutual failure?

We know, after all, that the prophecy of Joel has been fulfilled. The portents of heaven, the blood and fire, the darkness of the sun, the bloody moon have come to pass in the cross of our Savior Jesus Christ. Now all who call on that name will be saved. We believe that we who stand in the Reformation churches are survivors. But to survive we need to recover the unity that God has given us as survivors. So on this Reformation Sunday long for, pray for, our ability to remember the Reformation – not as a celebratory moment, not as a blow for freedom, but as the sin of the church. Pray for God to heal our disunity, not the disunity simply between Protestant and Catholic, but the disunity in our midst between classes, between races, between nations. Pray that on Reformation Sunday we may as tax collectors confess our sin and ask God to make us a new people joined together in one might prayer that the world may be saved from its divisions.

(Stanley Hauerwas is the Gilbert T. Rowe Professor of Theological Ethics at Duke Divinity School.)

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#12
It's a relief to me. I've been uneasy about what the Church's reaction to this anniversary would be, given the climate.
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#13
The 500th anniversary of the Reformation on October 31, 2017 will be 18 days after the 100th anniversary of the miracle of the sun at Fatima on October 13, 2017.
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#14
(06-22-2012, 11:22 AM)Richard C Wrote: It's a relief to me. I've been uneasy about what the Church's reaction to this anniversary would be, given the climate.

Still though, the date for the celebration has yet to come to pass and as we have seen in these last 50 years anything can happen. Cardinal Koch could be concelebrating an invalid "Lord's Supper" and praising Martin Luther from the pulpit of a Lutheran church in 2017 while denying he ever said anything about the Reformation being sinful or claiming that those of us who call him on it are just stretching his words, taking them out of context or simply not fully in line with the radical new ecclesiological vistas opened up by Vatican II wherein Lutherans are actually somehow in "partial communion" with the Catholic Church anyway.
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#15
Too bad someone can't show the Lutherans and Anglicans how breaking from the Pope in the 1500s didn't help Christianity but the secular forces , maybe there ready to hear it, it broke up Western Civilization.
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#16
When you are a revolutionary like Luther who helped Masonic forces you are given a pass on everything, Luther was not a holy fellow.
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#17
Just a quick note on the Joint Statement of Justification.  Documents like that are not meant to stand alone or be definitive, they are working documents, that the Church must pass judgment on. As Pope Benedict noted a while back, "Nevertheless their proper significance should be recognized as a contribution offered to the competent Authority of the Church, which alone is called to judge them definitively. To ascribe to these texts a binding or as it were definitive solution to the thorny questions of the dialogues without the proper evaluation of the ecclesial Authority, would ultimately hinder the journey toward full unity in faith. "
http://www.vatican.va/holy_father/benedi...de_en.html

In regards to the Lutheran Joint Statement, while not intended to be definitive, an "official response" of the Church was published by the CDF under Ratzinger and can be found here:

http://www.vatican.va/roman_curia/pontif...ic_en.html

It explains where Lutheran doctrines on this matter and even certain sentences in the joint statement are not compatible with the anathemas of the Council of Trent.  For one example,

Quote:For Catholics, therefore, the formula "at the same time righteous and sinner", as it is explained at the beginning of n. 29 ("Believers are totally righteous, in that God forgives their sins through Word and Sacrament ...Looking at themselves ... however, they recognize that they remain also totally sinners. Sin still lives in them..."), is not acceptable.

This statement does not, in fact, seem compatible with the renewal and sanctification of the interior man of which the Council of Trent speaks (4). The expression "Opposition to God" (Gottwidrigkeit) that is used in nn. 28-30 is understood differently by Lutherans and by Catholics, and so becomes, in fact, equivocal. In this same sense, there can be ambiguity for a Catholic in the sentence of n. 22, "... God no longer imputes to them their sin and through the Holy Spirit effects in them an active love", because man's interior transformation is not clearly seen. So, for all these reasons, it remains difficult to see how, in the current state of the presentation, given in the Joint Declaration, we can say that this doctrine on "simul iustus et peccator" is not touched by the anathemas of the Tridentine decree on original sin and justification.

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#18
(06-22-2012, 06:18 PM)formerbuddhist Wrote:
(06-22-2012, 11:22 AM)Richard C Wrote: It's a relief to me. I've been uneasy about what the Church's reaction to this anniversary would be, given the climate.

Still though, the date for the celebration has yet to come to pass and as we have seen in these last 50 years anything can happen. Cardinal Koch could be concelebrating an invalid "Lord's Supper" and praising Martin Luther from the pulpit of a Lutheran church in 2017 while denying he ever said anything about the Reformation being sinful or claiming that those of us who call him on it are just stretching his words, taking them out of context or simply not fully in line with the radical new ecclesiological vistas opened up by Vatican II wherein Lutherans are actually somehow in "partial communion" with the Catholic Church anyway.

What you describe is just what I fear, but I have to give a prince of the Church the benefit of the doubt, especially when his words give reason to hope. Whatever happens that day, we can be in Church praying for conversions.
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#19
(06-22-2012, 06:13 PM)mikemac Wrote: The 500th anniversary of the Reformation on October 31, 2017 will be 18 days after the 100th anniversary of the miracle of the sun at Fatima on October 13, 2017.

I'm right there with ya.
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