Wengert: Wrong on the priesthood of all believers

Is Luther’s one priesthood of all believers much ado about nothing? Read more here.


What will be the big celebration for Catholics in October 2017?

The 500th anniversary of the Reformation? Not so much.

The 100th anniversary of the Marian apparitions to three children in Fatima, Portugal. Yes!

In the News

A Call to Courage in the Hour of Evil – Armstrong Williams

Don’t Let Our Real Enemy Win – Steve Deace

Islam Through The Looking Glass – Bruce Thornton

War is Not Hell – Marc Livecche

How Belgium went down the slippery slope of assisted suicide – Michael Brendan Dougherty

Laudato Si': Well Intentioned, Economically Flawed – Samuel Greg

In the News

‘Why Grow Up?’ – Claire Fallon

Should Christians Encourage Resistance to Police? – Derryck Green

Why Bonhoeffer made the sign of the cross – Joel J. Miller

The situation with US Catholic youth actually is grim – Christian Smit

Christianity’s Revolutionary Recognition of Women as Equals – David Theroux

One danger in rising nondenominational numbers - Joel Miller

Are All Sins Really the Same? – Michael Hildago

Flannery O’Connor: Stamped but not Cancelled – Ralph Wood

The Explosive Growth Of Evangelical Belief In Latinos Has Big Political Implications – Jack Jenkins

In the News

Mesmerized By Magnitude – Roger Salter

Calvinism Is Not New to Baptists – Thomas Kidd

Why gay marriage wouldn’t surprise Paul – David Roach

The Accountability of Bishops – Michael Sean Winters

Dignitatis Humanae at 50 – Daniel Philpott

Environmental manifesto may confirm Pope Francis as ‘Benedict 2.0′ – John L. Allen, Jr

What Do You Really Pray For? – Rick Marschall

Creamy Theology Soup!


Multispiritual: Adoration of the Sacrament/Communing the Unbaptized

ELCA Press Release: The adoration of the sacrament will help us grow spiritually.

Presiding Bishop Elizabeth Eaton and a delegation of ELCA leaders recently returned from what they describe as an “ecumenical pilgrimage” to London, Geneva, and Rome.

In a meeting with the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, the ELCAers asked him to recommend “a spiritual practice to ELCA members to help us grow in our faith lives.”

He answered: “Start where people are, not where you think they should be….And, if they are interested in contemplative prayer or adoration of the sacrament, encourage them to explore this devotion which will help them grow.”

Most Lutherans are familiar with side altars in Catholic churches where the reserved sacrament is kept for adoration.

Lutherans, however, have historically – and recently – rejected this practice because it implies the elements are transubstantiated, that they contain Christ’s presence apart from their use in the communion service.

The national Lutheran/Catholic Dialogue III found an “increasing convergence” between Lutherans and Catholics on the real presence of Christ in communion. But the convergence fell apart on the issue of the reservation of the sacrament:

“Lutherans speak of the whole liturgical action as usus: the consecration, distribution and reception (sumptio) of the sacrament … Lutherans do not speak of Christ being present before or apart from ‘use.’” [1]

Lutherans teach that Christ is present in, with, and under the elements, but, apart from their use in the sacrament, they remain bread and wine.

Lutherans, of course, treat the unused elements respectfully, but reservation and adoration of the sacrament is not Lutheran practice – for gospel reasons.[2]

On the one hand, taking a look at the adoration of the sacrament, Anglo-Catholic spirituality. On the other hand, taking a look (at the request of the 2013 Churchwide Assembly) in the opposite direction from Anglo-Catholicism, at changing The Use of the Means of Grace to commune the unbaptized so they feel welcome.[3]

Whatever “spiritual practice” helps “us grow in our faith lives.” Multispiritual, multicultural. Whatever.

[1] The Eucharist as Sacrifice. Lutherans and Catholics in Dialogue III, ed. Paul C. Empie and T. Austin Murphy (Minneapolis: Augsburg, [1967]) 191-97; here 193, footnote 24.

[2] How the Lutheran Confessions write about the Lord’s Supper:

1. Christ is truly present in doing what He commanded, in the use, the action. (Formula of Concord VII, ¶¶85-87; Book of Concord [Tappert], pp. 584-85. Also ¶73, pp. 582-83.)

2. Christ is not truly present apart from doing what He commanded, apart from the use, the action—in the so-called reservation of the host or otherwise.[6] (FC VII ¶108, p.588; ¶¶126-27, p. 591.

[3] “Discuss why a congregation might welcome all people to the Lord’s table. What does that invitation say about one’s understanding of Communion?” From the ELCA Study Guide, “Table and font: Who is welcome?” p. 12, question #3, available at www.elca.org/worship. When the Episcopalians took up this issue at their 2012 General Convention, the reaction from the Roman Catholic and the Orthodox churches was unanimously negative.

So the Holy Spirit is tied to a chain of hands after all?

On January 26, 2015, the first female bishop in the Church of England, the Right Rev. Libby Lane, was consecrated.

A week later, Feb 2, 2015, again in the Church of England, a traditionalist bishop, the Right Rev. Phillip North, was consecrated. Who laid hands on him? Only bishops free of the defect of ordaining women, that is, only bishops who had never laid hands on the heads of female deacons, female priests, or participated in the consecration of the first female bishop a week earlier.

Within the one Church of England there are now two distinct lines, two episcopal pedigrees – one with women deacons, priests, and bishops, and the other, a line of male bishops free of that defect. Both lines valid because they possess the one thing that cannot be tampered with – episcopal ordination by three bishops with proper pedigrees, the unbroken chain of hands.

Both sides are fuming, yet muddling through by “respecting their differences….”   Decisive is the fact that the chain of hands is unbroken.

ELCA Lutherans may chuckle at this contorted waltz, but remember that in 1999 the ELCA changed its constitution[1] to require three bishops, at least one of whom is from the US Episcopal Church, to consecrate new ELCA bishops – until full communion has been achieved. Since then ELCA Lutherans, like Episcopalians, insist on the proper pedigree for their bishops.

This 1999 constitutional change effected a seismic shift in how the Gospel works. Gone is the Lutheran confession “where and when it pleases”[2] God in those who hear the Gospel “purely preached”[3] and the sacraments celebrated according to that Gospel. Now what is non-negotiable law is the proper episcopal pedigree of ELCA bishops, the unbroken chain of hands.

[1] ELCA Constitution 10.81.01.

[2] Augsburg Confession V; Tappert, 31.

[3] Augsburg Confession VII; Tappert 32.

Clergy Fight! Does the Pope need two-thirds to win…..?

Is Pope Francis going to be able to change the Roman Catholic Church’s doctrines on divorce, contraception, and even homosexuality?

Is “Heaven Is For Real” real?

How real? What kind of real? What about Near Death Experiences (NDEs)?

Especially over the past fifty years millions of NDEs have been reported. Most have a similar pattern–of a kind of tunnel, of light, of serenity.

What kind of real is this? What is the source, the cause, the explanation, the meaning?

1. Oxygen deprivation, as during a heart attack, can produce such experiences.
2. LSD can produce such experiences.
3. Most significantly, such experiences are found in other religions than Christianity.
4. Very, very few report a bad experience.

1. Oxygen deprivation, as during a heart attack, can produce such experiences.

2. LSD can produce such experiences.

3. Most significantly, such experiences are found in other religions than Christianity.

4. Very, very few report a bad experience.

Luther spoke of a vision of Christ that appeared to him on Good Friday:

“Christ once appeared visible here on earth . . . and according to the divine purpose of God finished the work of redemption. . . . I do not desire that he should come again in the same manner, nor that he would send an angel to me. No, even if an angel would appear before my eyes, it would not add to my belief; for I have my Savior, bond and seal; I have his Word, Spirit, and sacrament; on these I depend, and desire no new revelations. And the more steadfastly to confirm me in this resolution to hold solely by God’s Word and not to give credit to any visions or revelations, I tell you what happened to me: On Good Friday last, I was in my room in fervent prayer when suddenly appeared upon the wall a bright vision of our Savior Christ, with the five wounds, steadfastly looking upon me, as if it had been Christ himself corporally. At first sight, I thought it was some celestial revelation, but I reflected that it must be an illusion and juggling of the devil, for Christ appeared to us in his Word, and in a meaner more humble form; therefore I spoke to the vision: Away with you, confounded devil: I know no other Christ than he who was crucified, and who in his Word is pictured and presented to me. Whereupon the image vanished, clearly showing of whom it came” (WATR 1:287, 8-27; emphasis added).

Luther often cited 2 Corinthians 11:14: “… even the devil disguises himself as an angel of light.”

But, we ask: Doesn’t God still do miracles? To be sure, He does. The only problem is to sort out where. Begin here: A team of medical professionals is resident at Lourdes to guarantee that there are no natural causes for the Marian “miracles” still occurring at Lourdes. And recall Luke 16:31, the point of this parable: “If they do not hear Moses and the prophets, they will not be convinced if some one should rise from the dead.”

Again we ask: But NDEs comfort, help—how can you object? The answer: The cross and resurrection are more than enough; here is true comfort. How can we risk a supplement, a diversion (2 Corinthians 11: 14)? And life as co-heirs with Him is simply far more than all our imaginings, all NDEs (1 Corinthians 2:9; Ephesians 3:20 KJV).

Is there not, then, we ask finally, some kind of new revelation, extra revelation, something extra just for you and me? As Raymond E. Brown points out in his famous commentary on the Gospel of John: John 16:13 must not be taken out of its context in John 16:14-15. As in John 14:26 and 15:26, the Holy Spirit does not bring new revelation. His job is merely to re-present Christ. The cross and resurrection of Christ are enough.