Monday, December 1, 2008

Random Question of the Day

Formula of Concord, Solid Declaration VIII.24:

On account of this personal union and communion of the natures, Mary, the most blessed Virgin, bore not a mere man, but, as the angel [Gabriel] testifies, such a man as is truly the Son of the most high God, who showed His divine majesty even in His mother's womb, inasmuch as He was born of a virgin, with her virginity inviolate. Therefore she is truly the mother of God, and nevertheless remained a virgin.
Why is August 15 in the Lutheran Service Book called "Mary the Mother of our Lord" and not "Mary the Mother of God"?

Did the Commission on Worship harbor crypto-Nestorians?


  1. orrologion said...

    The real reason is that it probably sounded 'too Catholic', but if one were to put the best construction on it, I would say that 'Lord' is a synonym for God in modern church English as it was in the Septuagint (Kyrios) and for the early Christians, so no Nestorianism need necessarily be assumed.

    It is a shame since 'of God' is an 'scandalous' moniker that opens up discussion on the church's Christology. But, while orthodox Christology is assumed and taught, it is not the doctrine by which the church stands or falls, so... :)

  2. William Weedon said...

    Actually, the real reason on this one is that despite a strong push to refer to Mary on this day as Mother of God, it was pointed out that the Holy Spirit inspired the Blessed Elizabeth to refer to her "the mother of my Lord" and the Bible won the day. At least this is what I have been told. But rejoice! If you've not read the Writing for Christmas Day in Treasury, take a sneak peak. It will not disappoint - starts on p. 1053 and refers to her as "Mary the holy and ever-virgin one, the mother of God." Leave it to St. John of Damascus... :)

  3. Paul McCain said...

    What was Elizabeth thinking? Good grief. She must have been one of those low church pietist types, afraid of Roman Catholicism.

  4. Father Hollywood said...

    Dear Christopher:

    I think you raise a good point. The LCMS often shies away from universal terminology (such as the word "catholic" in the creeds) in favor of more provincial terminology.

    Some examples include the BVM being referred to as "Mother of our Lord" and, for example, Clement of Rome being styled simply as "pastor" in LSB - instead of using either "pope" or "bishop" as the entire rest of historic Christendom.

    I think it is a shame that we try so hard to do everything our own way instead of submitting to universal usages which not only jibe with our confessions, but are truly "adiaphora." Since these things are adiaphora, why not simply use the same terms as our forbears in the faith?

    Personally, I think it reflects an anti-traditionalism rooted in anti-Roman hysteria. It's odd how Presbyterians and Methodists can handle a lot of traditional churchly terminology, but we can't seem to.

  5. Christopher D. Hall said...

    Paul, Last I checked, the Church and Confessions clearly call her a slightly different title.

    Since you invoked St. Elizabeth, perhaps we should also regularly include (somewhere??) the rest of her words about Mary. But those Biblical words are too much aren't they?

  6. William Weedon said...

    I, too, Fr. Beane, wished the traditional terminology had been employed, but I can understand the pastoral concern that led to terminology more familiar to our own people. It helps, I think, if you consider LSB and its accompanying volumes such as TDP as solid steps toward the recovery of a fuller appropriation of our own catholic heritage.

  7. Paul McCain said...

    Father Weedon, there you go again, being all "pastoral" again and spouting your so-called "common sense."

  8. Father Hollywood said...

    Dear "Wil" (what happened to the other "L" on Issues, Etc.?):

    I think we sell our people short too often and call it being "pastoral." Like the issue of using the word "catholic." It will be too confusing/scandalous/hard to explain/offensive yada yada. But walk into any Methodist or Presbyterian church, and they are smart enough to handle it and emotionally able to deal with it.

    The LBW (and obviously, the ELCA is hardly the example of all things Lutheran, but they are an American institution with, at least, a Lutheran heritage) not only uses the word "catholic" in the creeds, but also retains the traditional churchly terminology in their calendar. And this has been since the late 70s/early 80s.

    Though they are not cut of the same cloth as we are theologically, they certainly are in the cultural sense of American Lutheranism.

    But you are right that we're moving in the right direction. With some things, however, the "seventy five year catechesis plan" is just a clever way of saying "never." Sometime the best way to quit smoking is "cold turkey" and the best way to learn to speak a language is immersion.

    When I was a layman, I remember a pastor who was "working up" over many years to wearing a crucifix. He wrung his hands over it, and approached the whole thing like a teenager who wanted to ask a girl out on a date, but was terrified. But then, while he was on vacation, a visiting pastor showed up wearing one, and nobody batted an eye. No-one was scandalized, or even asked any questions. When the pastor returned from his vacation, I told him about it. He was still fearful, and for the rest of his tenure at that parish, wore a plain cross. He was warned by the seminary that such "radical" actions would "destroy the parish" - and so he was afraid to be the shepherd even with such a small matter. Though I think they mean well, I do think seminary profs urge way too much fear of being genuinely Lutheran upon pastors.

    Sometimes I think the folks at Nike may be onto something when it comes to their slogan...

  9. Rev. Eric J Brown said...

    I haven't run into much flack over the idea of Mary being the "mother of God" - and it's one of the things we point out and celebrate every Christmas season. That Kid who has to wait on His mother to feed Him is GOD ALMIGHTY. Yeah - Mary is the mother of God - unless you want to say that Jesus isn't God.

    Most people see the logic of that very quickly. And it is proper to refer to Mary and the mother of my LORD, for she is.

    When in doubt - preach on it!

  10. William Weedon said...

    Dear Fr. Beane,

    Amen! The 75 year plan can be a bit silly. But I think with LSB the idea of introducing the greater sanctoral calendar itself was regarded as a big step for us (remembering that the calendar in LBW was one of the things that led to sinking that hymnal for official use in the Synod), and so they erred on the side of caution. My take is usually to celebrate the good and try to remedy it where I can. I teach my congregation the proper names by simply using them - and no one has batted an eye.

    The blessed Mother of God is certainly a title that I try to throw in whenever I can - because I do believe that Nestorianism is not a problem of the past.

  11. Father Hollywood said...

    Here is how I know that Nestorius was a heretic: Dr. Stuckwisch does not have a child with that name.

    And this is only one of the many benefits that readers of "Thinking Out Loud" enjoy.