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Messages - Michael Slusser

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5011
Your Turn / Re: Full Communion Partner?
« on: April 25, 2008, 10:25:10 PM »
Oh, Pastor Bliss, you put the issue so pointedly!

Peace,
Michael

5012
Your Turn / Re: Quincenetta Ceremony ???
« on: April 25, 2008, 10:00:32 PM »
I had no idea that my church had a formal ritual for a Quinceanera. Hallelujah!

As for the Blessed Virgin Mary, she is held in honor as the mother of our Lord Jesus Christ. Not a danger to Christian faith--rather close to its root.

Peace,
Michael

5013
Your Turn / Re: Full Communion Partner?
« on: April 25, 2008, 06:39:20 PM »
It is important to keep in mind that the foundation for modern "ecumenical agreements" on the Lord's Supper is the higher critical view of Scripture, which casts various degrees of doubt on whether, or not, Christ even ever said, "This is my body" and "This is my blood." Once that is no longer accepted as factual reality, then it really does not matter what those words may have meant, or mean today.

I'm not so sure of that. The relegation of philosophical theories such as transubstantiation and concomitance to their role as useful but not necessary tools for talking about what "real" means in a shared faith in the real presence of Jesus in the sacrament seems to me to have been more influential.

As an outsider, I can't help wondering why the ecumenical approach to the Wesleyan tradition did not begin with the AME and AME Zion. Lack of interest on their part?

Peace,
Michael

5014
Your Turn / Re: Pastors or the Lord's Supper?
« on: April 24, 2008, 09:31:05 AM »
(I posted this on another thread awhile ago, but it may meet Rev. Klak's desideratum that a NT model be considered.)

Several years ago I heard from Bishop Tom Ray of the Episcopal Diocese of Northern Michigan about their plans to do something that would probably fit the description "ordination in place" that has come up on this thread recently (and may also be relevant to another thread started by pr. Tibbetts). Northern Michigan had struggling small parishes who could neither afford the salaray or provide the quantity of pastoral work to be done for a full-time seminary-trained priest. The current evolution of this plan seems to be reflected in what the diocese is now calling Mutual Ministry (http://www.upepiscopal.org/frames/mutualframe.html). It may be of interest to members of this and the other thread who are wondering how to combine full sacramental life in very small congregations with the limited resourced that those congregations enjoy.

Peace,
Michael

5015
Forum Blogs / Re: Clean Your Room
« on: April 22, 2008, 06:42:04 PM »
One of my favorite, though flawed, theological writers is Robert Farrar Capon. here in Hunting the Divine Fox, 147:
 "If any sacrament has ever looked, felt, and acted like a transaction, it is the bit of business involved in making one's confession to a priest. There you kneel, with a conscience full of sins--with three trash cans labeled Thought, Word and Deed, full of the garbage you allowed to accumulate since your last visit to the holy disposal pit. For a fee (the bother of going, the embarrassment of confessing, and the doing of your penance) the custodian of the dump knocks out your trash cans, puts in new, snow-white liners and send you out with the advice to live a neater life.
"The exercise is transactional in the extreme--and on two fronts. On the one hand, a long-standing tradition held that the confessional was the only dump where you could get rid of really messy garbage, so you had to go there in order not to be caught dead with a rat-infested house. But you were also taught that it had another purpose: Even if you were basically neat, so neat that your trash cans never contained much more that lightly soiled Kleenex and neatly rinsed-out tomato cans, you were urged to go in order that by constantly practicing the act of emptying them, you would eventually become so fastidious that you just wouldn't make garbage anymore. Your trash cans would turn into planters, and you would grow geraniums in them.




5016
Your Turn / Re: Core, LC3, and Wordalone
« on: April 22, 2008, 04:35:09 PM »
Christian divisions contribute to this problem so there are practical consequences to disunity. tb

I could not agree more.

Peace,
Michael

5017
Your Turn / Re: Absolutely Hilarious!!!
« on: April 22, 2008, 02:19:14 PM »
Then there's the apocryphal story of the new parents who told their pastor that they had cosen a name from the Bible for their child: Genuine Morocco Leather.

Peace,
Michael

5018
Your Turn / Re: Core, LC3, and Wordalone
« on: April 22, 2008, 01:36:10 PM »
On the other thread the debate goes on--can you have a sacrament without the 'right elements'?  Historically, of course, even presbyters did not pre-side at the Eucharist though deacons did carry the sacrament to outlying congregations I believe.  tb

Several years ago I heard from Bishop Tom Ray of the Episcopal Diocese of Northern Michigan about their plans to do something that would probably fit the description "ordination in place" that has come up on this thread recently (and may also be relevant to another thread started by pr. Tibbetts). Northern Michigan had struggling small parishes who could neither afford the salaray or provide the quantity of pastoral work to be done for a full-time seminary-trained priest. The current evolution of this plan seems to be reflected in what the diocese is now calling Mutual Ministry (http://www.upepiscopal.org/frames/mutualframe.html). It may be of interest to members of this and the other thread who are wondering how to combine full sacramental life in very small congregations with the limited resourced that those congregations enjoy.

Peace,
Michael

5019
Your Turn / Re: The Fate of Ecumenicity
« on: April 19, 2008, 01:45:02 PM »
Pope Benedict XVI in his 2007 encyclical Spe salvi--"On Christian hope"--addresses the issue of purgation in the following way (and without using the word "purgatory"):

"46. Yet we know from experience that neither case is normal in human life. For the great majority of people—we may suppose—there remains in the depths of their being an ultimate interior openness to truth, to love, to God. In the concrete choices of life, however, it is covered over by ever new compromises with evil —much filth covers purity, but the thirst for purity remains and it still constantly re-emerges from all that is base and remains present in the soul. What happens to such individuals when they appear before the Judge? Will all the impurity they have amassed through life suddenly cease to matter? What else might occur? Saint Paul, in his First Letter to the Corinthians, gives us an idea of the differing impact of God's judgement according to each person's particular circumstances. He does this using images which in some way try to express the invisible, without it being possible for us to conceptualize these images—simply because we can neither see into the world beyond death nor do we have any experience of it. Paul begins by saying that Christian life is built upon a common foundation: Jesus Christ. This foundation endures. If we have stood firm on this foundation and built our life upon it, we know that it cannot be taken away from us even in death. Then Paul continues: “Now if any one builds on the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw—each man's work will become manifest; for the Day will disclose it, because it will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test what sort of work each one has done. If the work which any man has built on the foundation survives, he will receive a reward. If any man's work is burned up, he will suffer loss, though he himself will be saved, but only as through fire” (1 Cor 3:12-15). In this text, it is in any case evident that our salvation can take different forms, that some of what is built may be burned down, that in order to be saved we personally have to pass through “fire” so as to become fully open to receiving God and able to take our place at the table of the eternal marriage-feast.

"47. Some recent theologians are of the opinion that the fire which both burns and saves is Christ himself, the Judge and Saviour. The encounter with him is the decisive act of judgement. Before his gaze all falsehood melts away. This encounter with him, as it burns us, transforms and frees us, allowing us to become truly ourselves. All that we build during our lives can prove to be mere straw, pure bluster, and it collapses. Yet in the pain of this encounter, when the impurity and sickness of our lives become evident to us, there lies salvation. His gaze, the touch of his heart heals us through an undeniably painful transformation “as through fire”. But it is a blessed pain, in which the holy power of his love sears through us like a flame, enabling us to become totally ourselves and thus totally of God. In this way the inter-relation between justice and grace also becomes clear: the way we live our lives is not immaterial, but our defilement does not stain us for ever if we have at least continued to reach out towards Christ, towards truth and towards love. Indeed, it has already been burned away through Christ's Passion. At the moment of judgement we experience and we absorb the overwhelming power of his love over all the evil in the world and in ourselves. The pain of love becomes our salvation and our joy. It is clear that we cannot calculate the “duration” of this transforming burning in terms of the chronological measurements of this world. The transforming “moment” of this encounter eludes earthly time-reckoning—it is the heart's time, it is the time of “passage” to communion with God in the Body of Christ.39 The judgement of God is hope, both because it is justice and because it is grace. If it were merely grace, making all earthly things cease to matter, God would still owe us an answer to the question about justice—the crucial question that we ask of history and of God. If it were merely justice, in the end it could bring only fear to us all. The incarnation of God in Christ has so closely linked the two together—judgement and grace—that justice is firmly established: we all work out our salvation “with fear and trembling” (Phil 2:12). Nevertheless grace allows us all to hope, and to go trustfully to meet the Judge whom we know as our “advocate”, or parakletos (cf. 1 Jn 2:1)."

I don't know whether this helps the current thread on this matter, but it does give a sense of the range of flexibility in catechesis that is open to Catholics on this topic.

Peace,
Michael

5020
Your Turn / Re: Yes, I'm a Christian, but why am I a Lutheran?
« on: April 19, 2008, 01:17:31 PM »
Glen Piper writes (about my comment on the creed being found by looking at scripture a certain way):
But, if one approaches it in another certain way, it does not? Is that a fair reading of what you wrote above?

I respond:
Others have looked at scripture and do not find the essentials of what we have in the Creeds. I am not among those people; though I know they exist.

Cyril of Jerusalem, in his baptismal catecheses, lecture 5, says that scripture is in the creed, not the other way around:

12. But in learning the Faith and in professing it, acquire and keep that only, which is now delivered to thee by the Church, and which has been built up strongly out of all the Scriptures. For since all cannot read the Scriptures, some being hindered as to the knowledge of them by want of learning, and others by a want of leisure, in order that the soul may not perish from ignorance, we comprise the whole doctrine of the Faith in a few lines. This summary I wish you both to commit to memory when I recite it, and to rehearse it with all diligence among yourselves, not writing it out on paper, but engraving it by the memory upon your heart, taking care while you rehearse it that no Catechumen chance to overhear the things which have been delivered to you. I wish you also to keep this as a provision through the whole course of your life, and beside this to receive no other, neither if we ourselves should change and contradict our present teaching, nor if an adverse angel, transformed into an angel of light should wish to lead you astray. For though we or an angel from heaven preach to you any other gospel than that ye have received, let him be to you anathema. So for the present listen while I simply say the Creed, and commit it to memory; but at the proper season expect the confirmation out of Holy Scripture of each part of the contents. For the articles of the Faith were not composed as seemed good to men; but the most important points collected out of all the Scripture make up one complete teaching of the Faith. And just as the mustard seed in one small grain contains many branches, so also this Faith has embraced in few words all the knowledge of godliness in the Old and New Testaments. Take heed then, brethren, and hold fast the traditions which ye now receive, and write them an the table of your heart.

Peace,
Michael

5021
Your Turn / Re: The Catholic Luther
« on: April 19, 2008, 11:54:33 AM »
The fact about the JDDJ I was point out is simply that it was not anything close to a LWF decision, or supported by even the majority of LWF theologians.

Specifically, the Lutheran Churches of Denmark and Madagascar, both members of the LWF, did not approve the JDDJ.

A large number of German Lutheran theologians protested the proposed text and the action to approve it, but it is hard to say whether they constituted "the majority of LWF theologians," especially IMHO given the varying relationships of several Lutheran churches (notably VELKD churches)  in German Laender to the LWF.

Peace,
Michael

5022
Your Turn / Re: The Catholic Luther
« on: April 19, 2008, 11:40:05 AM »
Again, the documents of the Council of Trent are within the Sacred Magisterium which Rome considers to be infallible.

Irl, this doesn't convey the Catholic view accurately. While Catholics believe that God preserves the faithful in true belief by the assistance of the Holy Spirit, and understands this assistance as involving assistance to the Magisterium (teaching authority) of the Church to the point where it cannot lead the faithful into error, this doesn't have as a consequence that most declarations by church Councils or Popes are irreformable or incapable of restatement that better serves the Gospel and the faithful themselves.

Specifically, while it is safe to say that Catholics regard the decrees of the Council of Trent as true and respect them as such, they are not seen as expressions of the special gift of the Holy Spirit that would entitle them to be described as "infallibly" taught. The Spirit's assistance is in any case to the living church on earth, as led by her pastors, not to a kind of sedimentary rock (or Rock) built up over the millennia; it is the faith of believers today that the Spirit is working to confirm in truth, whatever that requires.

Peace,
Michael

5023
Your Turn / Re: The Fate of Ecumenicity
« on: April 19, 2008, 11:18:39 AM »
More recently, Purgatory has even now become the object of speculation as a literal part of heaven, not merely a place of wiating but a place of joy. 
That is my church's official position:  that Purgatory is a place within Heaven itself which is a place of spiritual growth and joy.  The Roman Catholic Bishops and other clergy I associate have no problem with that and they run the gamut from among the most liberal to the most conservative.

Round XI of the ELCA/RC Dialogue in the U.S. is devoted to discussion of this complex of topics. From the ELCA site http://www.elca.org/ecumenical/ecumenicaldialogue/romancatholic/index.html :

"Round eleven (XI) of the Lutheran-Roman Catholic Dialogue began on December 1, 2005, with a meeting in Chicago, Illinois.

"The topic for round XI is The Hope for Eternal Life.  Discussions addressed will be classical differences over issues relating to the Christian's life beyond death, including the common affirmation of justification with respect to the life and glory of the Trinity.  An understanding of the Christian hope for salvation is being discussed at the outset both as a statement of common faith and as a context for the more detailed discussions of specific topics further in the round."

I look forward to reading the results of the discussion.

Peace,
Michael


5024
Your Turn / Re: The Catholic Luther
« on: April 19, 2008, 10:36:17 AM »


Hence the (perhaps premature) discussion around Benedict XVI "rehabilitating" Luther...  He cannot, as I said in that other thread, "lift" or "revoke" Leo X's ban of excommunication

"Lifting" or "revoking" a censure can't undo the events of the past, of course, but it can express the considered judgment of the present that, had all the facts been known and understood, a perceptive Pope would have not felt it necessary to impose the censure. Similar rehabilitation takes place in the civil realm, where even deserters who have been shot can be restored to innocence if not honor in retrospect. So yes, a censure of excommunication can be lifted or revoked (even long) after the event.

In connection with the Joint Declaration on the Doctrine of Justification, the theological discussions were accompanied by discussion of revoking the mutual condemnations from the 16th century; I wish I knew what came of that.

Peace,
Michael

5025
Your Turn / Re: The Catholic Luther
« on: April 19, 2008, 10:26:25 AM »
Another book for deaconbob: Luther, A Reformer For The Churches : An Ecumenical Study Guide / Mark Edwards And George Tavard. Philadelphia : Fortress Press ; New York : Paulist Press, c1983.

On the excommunication question, deaconbob's professor has it right, as against Pr. Jerry Kliner's and j&s's dark suspicions. CCC #1463 applies to the living; excommunication is a medicinal penalty, intended to bring an obstinate heretic or sinner to a better mind. (Whether it is an effective "medicine" in today's open society, or indeed in Luther's time where he wasn't being cut off from the Christians that he most respected, is another matter.) In any case, it has no post mortem force, despite what one might think from Matt 16.19 and 18.18.

Peace,
Michael

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