Monday, July 7, 2008

Aphorisms on Lutheranism

I really do think that the adiaphora issue, when paired together with solas is the Achilles' heel of Lutheranism.

Lutherans have no legislative power and it is our undoing.

In this interpretation of the Confessions, Lutheranism is almost Quakerism in allowing freedom of conscience.

We should always distinguish three things: 1) What the Confessors wrote; 2) What the situation actually was among the Lutherans at the time; 3) What our interpretation is now, as colored by our sitz-im-leben (place in life/history).

For true Lutheranism, one needs to forget every modern incarnation of groups calling themselves "Lutheran" or "Synod" or "Church" and weigh the claims of the Confessors against themselves, against the Christian West and Christian East, and against history.

Each Lutheran Confession is "a" confession of what some "believed, taught, and practiced." Insofar as people calling themselves Lutheran today, we do not practice as much, teach as clearly or, believe as strongly.


  1. Rev. Eric J Brown said...

    Is it that we have no legislative procedure or that we de facto have no functioning judicial procedure?

    The problem practically is that a person is a Lutheran if they call themselves Lutheran. We don't have any judges who say, "No, you are not Lutheran, for you are not in conformity with Scripture and the Confessions." Even within the Synod, we allow way to much and fear to remove anyone who goes beyond bounds.

    We have no judges. Pastors cannot judge parishioners (especially if said parishioner is related to people), pastors are not judged on what they teach, congregations as a whole are not judged on what they expect or wish to be taught - and all becomes a mess.

    We are like an unruly child that just needs a good spanking.

  2. Fr. Gregory Hogg said...

    I think Rev. Brown is on to something here, when he says, "We have no judges." This "Achilles Heel" is in fact the lack of _iure divino_ bishops. I used to ask, "What is the difference between a town with no laws, and a town with laws but no sheriff?" The answer is, practically speaking, "No difference at all."

  3. William Weedon said...

    Study Tractatus 51 and apply what's good for the goose to the gander.

  4. Fr. Gregory Hogg said...

    Pr. Weedon:

    (Feeble attempt at humor mode on)
    I assume that by Tractatus you don't mean Wittgenstein's Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus, the 51st proposition of which reads:

    "A picture presents a situation in logical space, the existence and non-existence of states of affairs,"
    (Feeble attempt at humor mode off)

    but rather, the Treatise on the Power and Primacy of the Pope, which says:

    "51] The Pope exercises a twofold tyranny: he defends his errors by force and by murders, and forbids judicial examination. The latter does even more injury than any executions because, when the true judgment of the Church is removed, godless dogmas and godless services cannot be removed, and for many ages they destroy innumerable souls."

    You ask that what's good for the goose be applied to the gander. If you mean in this way to speak against Rome, I have no dog in that fight and someone else, like Daniel Woodring, can address it.

    The Orthodox hierarchy neither defends errors by force, nor does it forbid judicial examination. Rather, it continues to teach exactly what it received from the beginning, and in time of dispute, councils of bishops assemble to practice the same thing as did the Council in Jerusalem.

    The unworthy priest,

    Fr. Gregory Hogg

  5. William Weedon said...

    Fr. Gregory,

    I meant that if that critique at the time of the Reformation applied to Rome; today it applies to the Lutheran Church--Missouri Synod doubly so. We have utterly lost the ability of judicial review.

  6. Fr. Gregory Hogg said...

    Thanks, Pr. Weedon. Now I understand...