Thursday, July 17, 2014

Non-Catholics acting Catholic

  • Lutherans acting Catholic: Our conservative Lutheran cousins explain themselves. Far closer to us than their place in history suggests. But they're not Catholic wannabes. They begrudgingly acknowledge they're related to us but no contradictory branch theory for these Christians. They think we're in grave error (that faith vs. works is a real issue) and that they are the true church, that being defined as where "the pure word of God is preached and the sacraments duly administered," such as the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod and the few other Lutherans in communion with them. The old Anglican high churchmen were and are like that too: "Cranmer's and Hooker's godly reformed Catholic doctrine," not "papism, Modernism's cousin." They were accused of being Catholic wannabes as far back as the Puritans, but they weren't and, including the Tractarians, didn't care about ceremonial beyond a minimalist interpretation of the Prayer Book. (Old-school Lutherans looked like us.) Catholic emulation came with the second generation of Anglo-Catholics, and took either an independent ("better than Rome, thank you") or would-be Catholic (Anglo-Papalist - arguably no longer Anglican so not A-C?) approach. Some other cousins of ours, liberal high church today, the New Anglo-Catholics (still hard for me to say), are the successors to the former. Anyway, sorry for that long Anglican detour. Thanks for the explanation, Pastor! Some of them go by Father; the episcopate is optional in Lutheran doctrine because the Middle Ages weren't clear on the distinction between bishops and priests, and Luther was reacting to "gangster" clergy (so do you get Donatism in Lutheranism: grace depends on the minister's worthiness?), but somehow Lutheran pastors believe they are priests, at least in the sense that pastoring is just an orderly functioning of the laity's priesthood. (Protestant ministers reading the church fathers often see themselves as bishops.) To fight medieval clericalism, in Lutheranism a pastor without a "call" can't exist; he's not a pastor. But in practice they recognize indelible character. Retired pastors are still pastors.
  • Pastor Peters is referring to American Lutherans' high-church/low-church war, the longstanding tension between Lutheranism's semi-Catholic original form and fitting in with American Protestantism. By the '50s they took on the forms of the mainline of the time, "an outward facade of Calvinism," the faith of our British host culture (SWPL vs. NASCAR, blue-state vs. red-state, North vs. South = English vs. Scottish); now in the LCMS it's between the high churchmen and those who want to copy unliturgical megachurch evangelicalism. ELCA's Lutheran liberal high church like in Scandinavia.
  • Fr. Z's usual conservative Catholic observations about Anglicans. Yeah but I don't care anymore, to the point that I can wish them well. Their liberal high-church people believe the same creed and, unlike Catholic liberals, have almost the same Mass as me. "Join me in spreading the gospel" as Pope Francis likely would say to them.
  • In anti-religious Sweden, some conservative Christians stick together and in this case are high-church. You can look at such ecumenism as either the Holy Spirit gradually moving these Protestants closer to us or as keeping them from coming into the church. I prefer to think it's the Holy Spirit.

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