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Topics - Michael Slusser

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Your Turn / Angels (and the authority of the Bible)
« on: September 29, 2009, 11:04:51 AM »
Celebrating today the feast of Saint Michael and the Archangels, I would be interested to hear from my Lutheran companions in this Forum what the place of angels is in their belief and practice. Kolb-Wengert gives very few references in its index, but the Bible, on the other hand, is full of angels.

One could easily make the case, I think, that the biblical authority for angels and their relevance to our Christian lives is stronger than the biblical authority for some other matters that occasion vigorous advocacy. Not in the five books of Moses, of course--perhaps this thread continues the one on Sadducees (no angels) and Pharisees (angels, yes!).


Your Turn / Ecumenism the Hard Way: Saints Pontian and Hippolytus
« on: August 13, 2009, 10:36:35 AM »
Today, August 13, is one of my favorite feasts of ecumenism, the feast of Saints Pontian and Hippolytus.

Pontian was bishop of Rome, Hippolytus was another claimant to that title, who had been in a state of mutual excommunication with Pontian and Pontian's predecessors going back to the martyr, St. Callistus.

The rebel emperor Maximinus Thrax had them both killed. The RCC celebrates them both as saints, and on the same day! Who could despair that some day, somehow, God may find a way to replace our mutual excommunications with mutual recognition of our true unity in Jesus Christ?


Your Turn / Ecumenism as Pan-heresy
« on: July 15, 2009, 02:11:03 PM »
A number of Orthodox have recently denounced ecumenism and urged that their churches not be involved in it. For example,
8.  We believe and confess that only in Christ is there a possibility for salvation. The religions of the world and the heresies all lead to perdition.  The Orthodox Church is not merely the true Church; She is the only Church.  She alone has remained faithful to the Gospel, the Synods and the Fathers, and consequently She alone represents the true catholic Church of Christ.  According to the blessed Elder Justin Popovitch, Ecumenism is a common name for the pseudo-churches of Western Europe; their common name is actually "pan-heresy" [xix].
Full statement and signatories at

On this forum various versions of a "slippery slope" argument have often been used against proposed changes in our churches. I thought it might be good to look at what a complete avoidance of such slopes looks like.


Your Turn / Anglicans and Lutherans on Diakonia
« on: May 27, 2009, 02:38:07 PM »
Anglican - Lutheran International Commission: Communiqué
Lilleskog, Sweden, 20 - 27 April 2009
  "The third Anglican – Lutheran International Commission (ALIC) held its fourth meeting in Lilleskog, Sweden, between 20 and 27 May 2009, ....
 "The meeting was hosted by The Lutheran World Federation (LWF), in cooperation with the Church of Sweden and the Diocese of Skara.
  "Sweden was chosen as the venue for this meeting in order to allow sustained engagement and deepening theological reflection on the theme of diakonia, which has been emerging as the central theme on which this commission wants to make its contribution. The discussion discovered strong links between the “six marks of mission,” which provide a framework for Anglican engagement in God’s mission, and developments in Lutheran understandings of diakonia, as seen in the Diakonia in Context handbook which Kjell Nordstokke from the LWF introduced to the group."
Link to full article:

Your Turn / "Paul the Pastor"
« on: February 12, 2009, 12:21:41 PM »
This morning I ran across an article by Jerome Murphy-O'Connor, "Paul the Pastor," that originally appeared in The Pastoral Review and now can be read online courtesy of the British Jesuits at

A couple of quoted phrases may kindle interest in reading and discussing this brief article (4 pp.), which starts,

"There can be no question in a brief article of a complete treatment of how Paul functioned as a pastor. It must suffice to draw attention to a number of aspects, which have particular importance in that they serve as challenging correctives to much of contemporary practice."
"Paul believed very strongly in the autonomy of the local church. It was the incarnation of the church of God, ... and as such responsible for itself. It did not come under the orders of any external authority."
"The keystone of Paul's pastoral practice was his conviction that he could not impose a moral decision on his converts by means of a direct command."
[quoting Thomas Aquinas] "'...He who avoids evil simply because a precept of the Lord forbids it is not free' (Commentary on 2 Cor 3:17)."


Your Turn / Feast of Timothy and Titus
« on: January 26, 2009, 11:32:14 AM »
Today is the feast of Saints Timothy and Titus in the Roman Catholic Church. It occurred to me for the first time that Paul's behavior in these two cases was strikingly different: he circumcised Timothy himself (Acts 16.3) but not Titus--nor did the Jerusalem brethren insist on it (Gal 2.3). Probably others on this Forum have long noticed that this falls a bit short of the "straightforward" consistency about the Gospel that Paul requires from others (Gal 2.14).

Does Paul's understanding of Gospel evolve? Does he consider some concessions to varied human expectations OK, others (in other circumstances) worthy of condemnation?

Does the example of Timothy and Titus offer any guidance or encouragement in our churches' attempts to deal with doctrinal difference?


Your Turn / Dealing with an unusual parish
« on: September 05, 2008, 11:32:18 AM »
From time to time on this forum parishes have been mentioned that are either atypical, unruly, unorthodox, uncanonical in their actions or leadership, acting in ways that threaten communion. We've had Lutheran and Episcopalian examples. Perhaps an example from a Roman Catholic setting will enable discussion of the issues involved.

St. Mary's Parish in South Brisbane, Queensland, Australia has been in the news the last couple of weeks because of the attempt of Archbishop Bathersby to get their parish practices into line with official Roman rules. He has received directions to do so from three different Roman congregations (agencies of the papal church government). Those directions, in turn, were elicited by an unknown number of letters from unnamed private parties complaining about Saint Mary's. He wrote a letter to the parish at the end of August, and the congregation met over the matter.

Australian Broadcasting Company interviewed two parishioners and the Archbishop on the story after the parish meeting; I think that you may find it profitable to listen to the audio, if only for the great Aussie accents, but also for the affect revealed in the voices; there are also links to the transcript and to the Archbishop's letter as well.


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