Monday, January 8, 2007

Roundtable 3: Reader response

Readers of this blog site are invited and encouraged to submit their comments here, in response to Roundtable 3.

6 comments:

Bryce P. Wandrey said...

In reference to believing without any doubting I think the intent of such a statement is captured in a comment by Hans Urs von Balthasar when he writes "...if the believer cannot at times penetrate the inner reasonableness of the free Word, nevertheless, from the sole fact that it is God speaking, he knows directly that his Word is Reason itself." Doubt is natural, but when it comes to dogma doubt takes a backseat to the "reasonableness" of God's self-revelation.

Paul T. McCain said...

Dwight P posted this comment on the Roundtable discussion itself. I'm just moving it here, per list guidelines. Thanks Dwight for your contribution, PTM

I think it important to de-psychologize the notion of "dobut": In the human condition, individuals will (and may be intended to) question. Perhaps free, willing assent can only be offered in the context of the possibility of doubt. What matters is that in actions churchly there be no equivocation of the essentials of the faith. At least in our era, such equivocation is regularly brought into the life of the church through sloppy liturgy. Thus, pastors and people alike should be vigilant that their liturgy give no sense that we "officially" "doubt" what has been believed in all places in all times by all.

I am reminded of the old story of the young monk and his abbot: The young monk confessed that he just "didn't believe" what the Creed said about the virgin birth. He asked his abbot (it was probably his father confessor, not the abbot, actually) what to do. The older man replied, "Continue to say the Creed until you do believe it."

That is the essence of not doubting, it seems to me.

Dwight

Steven G. said...

Dwight's comment reminded me of a Luther story. The stroy goes that Luther encountered a woman who stated that she could not be saved. Luther asked her if she believed the Creed to be true, and after she stated that she did, Luther told the woman, "Woman if you believe these you are already saved."

Back to the topic at hand. Again I agree with Dwight that the Church in her proclamation (This includes in my opinion the Confessions.) can not be wishy-washy. Pastors has spokesman for the Church must embrace this boldness (To a large extent they do i.e Absolution) when answering their parishioner's questions about the faith. Especially in times of Confessional confusion, our pastors and synodical leaders must stand firmly against the enemies of the faith, whether they are external or internal. This can include even forbidding things that are normally considered adiaphora according to the Formula of Concord: Solid Declaration Article X.

Steven G. said...

Dwight's comment reminded me of a Luther story. The stroy goes that Luther encountered a woman who stated that she could not be saved. Luther asked her if she believed the Creed to be true, and after she stated that she did, Luther told the woman, "Woman if you believe these you are already saved."

Back to the topic at hand. Again I agree with Dwight that the Church in her proclamation (This includes in my opinion the Confessions.) can not be wishy-washy. Pastors has spokesman for the Church must embrace this boldness (To a large extent they do i.e Absolution) when answering their parishioner's questions about the faith. Especially in times of Confessional confusion, our pastors and synodical leaders must stand firmly against the enemies of the faith, whether they are external or internal. This can include even forbidding things that are normally considered adiaphora according to the Formula of Concord: Solid Declaration Article X.

Aaron D. Wolf said...

Agreeing with what Fr. Weedon wrote, I think that the doubt is expressed doubt, rather than interior doubt per se. It is a public statement of what "our [territorial] churches confess. Hence, any and all "churches" who might claim to be part of "us" but express doubt or reservations about the historic Trinitarian dogma in the Nicene Creed are not part of "us."

It also contains the "Catholic principle," as in "we teach nothing new," because it confesses not a new formulation, based on a tabula rasa reading of the Bible, but the Church's teaching, expressed at Nicea. "They use as the Fathers used it . . . "

Dr. Mark D. Nispel said...

At the risk of turning Article I into Article VII, I will continue on the trajectory set by McCain, Weedon, and Peterson:

The objection made to

the notion of the autonomous, independent, "free agency" view of the Church that would regard each and every local congregation as free and independent of one another

is pointing, I believe, at the curious position held by some smaller American Lutheran bodies that there are only two legitimate uses of the word church: to designate a local congregation or the una sancta ecclesia , that is the mystical body of Christ made up of all believers. To designate a group of congregations (as in a region or territory) a "church" is, according to this confession, merely a human use of the word and conveys no theological meaning.

This actually became a church divisive issue to some Lutherans and is still purposefully confessed actively to this day even in the way certain ecclesiastical bodies are named: on the one hand: the Lutheran Churches of the Reformation (LCR), or Concordia Lutheran Conference (CLC). On the other hand, poking this position in the proverbial eye, is a body like the Church of the Lutheran Confession (CLC [or CoLC if you're a member of the other CLC!]) Each of these, maintain they are the true heir of the Synodical Conference against the others in this regard.

Interestingly, this position seems to have developed out of Missouri's /the Synodical Conference's position in regard to authority a larger body (e.g. a synod) might claim over a local congregation. The original answer to the original question was that a larger body had no greater authority than the local congregation, since it has the Gospel and the Sacraments and thus all of God's good gifts. Pastors could not be forced on them. They could not be denied the right to ordain their own ministers. These points were forcefully confessed by Walther & Missouri esp. against Grabau.

Somehow later, perhaps once German had been lost as the primary American Lutheran language of theology, this position became: "only a congregation is 'church" in a scriptural sense". Curious.