Author Topic: Unity and the Means of Grace  (Read 30086 times)

pr dtp

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Unity and the Means of Grace
« on: November 19, 2010, 11:50:31 PM »
In many discussions herein, I have made the comment that I do not see the possibility of a discussion of the differences between Christian brothers in the LCMS occuring without it being centered around the means of grace.

I will stipulate, as I have many times, that this is never forced - nor is it simply a sign of unity.  That's the baptist game - and I would have no part of it. 

Yet our catholic background has said that as we pray so we believe, and that correct worship must precede correct teaching.  My take on it is simple - as simple as my nom de plume - we have to come to the discussion realizing that we deserve death for our sins, yet through word and sacrament, God declares us justified and gives us the gift of the Holy Spirit.

It is from that place - from the brokenness of dieing with Christ in our baptism, of facing the fact that all of our sin resulted in His crucifixion (which should be on our mind during the Feast) that we can humbly deal with each other - knowing that Christ died for the person we are talking with, for their errors and for ours.

It also stops us from parading around with that 4 by 6 in our own eye - while trying to rout out the dust speck.

I would also indicate that denying that our unity starts in receiving God's grace in word and sacrament is akin to the Nazarene concept that sanctification must precede justification.  Should the concern be so grave that the fellowship of our baptism and communion be broken, then why hasn't Matthew 18 been followed prior to breakng the communion?

Some don't agree with me, I realize that - and that I can't get 40 years of war and that this is the third generation of leaders since seminex.   Yeah - the pain is intense - the doubt of each other to strong.  But our faith cannot be in each other - it must be in Christ Jesus.

But if Christ's body and blood, broken for us cannot unite us, what can?

RDPreus

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Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
« Reply #1 on: November 20, 2010, 09:12:47 AM »
I wholeheartedly agree that our unity begins in receiving Godís grace in word and sacrament.  Considering church fellowship apart from our justification before God will inevitably render it a legalistic caricature of what it truly is.

On the other hand, I cannot agree that correct worship must precede correct teaching.  Perhaps this is a chicken and egg kind of discussion, but consider that Luther found the righteousness that availed before God in the Holy Scriptures (Romans 1:17) and from learning the true teaching of the gospel proceeded to rid the liturgy of the Sacrifice of the Mass.  In this case was it not the correct teaching that led to the correct worship?

Thank you for your post.




Brian Stoffregen

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Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
« Reply #2 on: November 20, 2010, 10:59:09 AM »
It strikes me as ironic that "This is Ö" in the Verba makes it happen: the bread is the body of Christ; the cup is the blood of Christ. (Note that the biblical text never use the word "wine"!) But there seems to be a denial of the power of God's Word when scriptures proclaim: "Because there is one bread, we who are many are one body, for we all partake of the one bread" (1 Cor 10:17). Why shouldn't these words be understand as God doing what the words declare: namely, makes us one body through the eating from the one loaf?

The idea that communion becomes a sign or symbol of our unity seems to be more of a Zwinglian understanding of the verb "to be". If God is making the bread, the body; and the cup, the blood of the new covenant; why shouldn't we believe that God is uniting the communicants into one body?
"The church Ö had made us like ill-taught piano students; we play our songs, but we never really hear them, because our main concern is not to make music, but but to avoid some flub that will get us in dutch." [Robert Capon, _Between Noon and Three_, p. 148]

Harvey_Mozolak

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Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
« Reply #3 on: November 20, 2010, 11:10:16 AM »

But had not Luther received from the Mass and its Law and Gospel readings all his life until the reformation began to bubble forth... or do you subscribe to a theology that Luther did not have the Eucharist until he first celebrated it as a Lutheran or first stripped away its "excesses?"?  (sorry a bit tongue in cheek but the thought does have some bite to it)  What do you think?  Harvey Mozolak

On the other hand, I cannot agree that correct worship must precede correct teaching.  Perhaps this is a chicken and egg kind of discussion, but consider that Luther found the righteousness that availed before God in the Holy Scriptures (Romans 1:17) and from learning the true teaching of the gospel proceeded to rid the liturgy of the Sacrifice of the Mass.  In this case was it not the correct teaching that led to the correct worship?





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pr dtp

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Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
« Reply #4 on: November 20, 2010, 12:57:37 PM »
I wholeheartedly agree that our unity begins in receiving Godís grace in word and sacrament.  Considering church fellowship apart from our justification before God will inevitably render it a legalistic caricature of what it truly is.

On the other hand, I cannot agree that correct worship must precede correct teaching.  Perhaps this is a chicken and egg kind of discussion, but consider that Luther found the righteousness that availed before God in the Holy Scriptures (Romans 1:17) and from learning the true teaching of the gospel proceeded to rid the liturgy of the Sacrifice of the Mass.  In this case was it not the correct teaching that led to the correct worship?

Thank you for your post.



Rev. Preus - thanks for your post.

I think the arguement in a nutshell is found in the word Orthodoxy - which means right praise - rather than a description of correct doctrine - as is a more common assumption.

My point about worship is this - when we are quickened in faith - our first reaction is worship - for we realize what God has done - truly done and we praise Him.  Similarly - if one's worship is askew - we are praising Him for something other than His work in creation, justification, and sanctification - our doctrine will follow that line of being skewed.  I am talking about worship in its simplest form- Isaiah's vision in Chapter 6, or those who Jesus healed and delivered.  I am not talking about worship as in the mass - though I believe that would follow as well.  It is why the worship wars are fought - at least in theory - it is because doctrine gets skewed even in the best settings - but it gets really skewed when the worship service is out of balance. 

Think of it this way - how many of us have 70 percent or more of our people in Sunday School or constant catachesis? 

Precht's Lutheran Worship : Theory and Practice discusses this on page 25 in Dr. Just's article.  Orthodoxy forms orthodidaskalia.


@Harvey - at what point did the Eucharist become a comfort to Luther?   It's efficacy was not in doubt - but was it efficacious to drive him further into guilt, shame and despair, rather than to comfort, hope and trust?

When such a transformation occurs - or to use my favored word - quickened - worship comes forth.  The rest of his life began a journey of correcting what he believed to match that which the One he trusted in revealed.

RDPreus

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Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
« Reply #5 on: November 20, 2010, 01:46:31 PM »
Yes, Luther had received the Law and Gospel readings and the Lordís Supper in the Mass all his life.  But it was by subjecting the Mass to the normative authority of the Holy Scriptures (from which he had discovered the pure gospel that reveals the righteousness of faith) that he was able to rid it of its objectionable features.

There is an intimate connection between right teaching and right worship.  We cannot disconnect the one from the other.  When considering which precedes which, perhaps it would be helpful to distinguish between experience and norm.  Experientially, the right worship establishes for our faith the right doctrine.  But the norm for right worship must be the Holy Scriptures.  I think we all agree that as we pray, so we believe.  My question is: What norms our prayers?  Or are the prayers the norm?

To apply this to todayís worship wars, Iíd like to offer a suggestion for thought.  Is it possible that the reason Lutherans adopt revivalistic forms of worship is because they have already embraced the theological tenets of revivalism?  Folks choose the worship they choose on account of what they believe. 

Well, it moves both ways, doesn't it?  Consider the great Lutheran chorales.  They teach the faith and they pray the faith and do both beautifully.

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Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
« Reply #6 on: November 20, 2010, 02:16:47 PM »
not sure what this means:

@Harvey - at what point did the Eucharist become a comfort to Luther?   It's efficacy was not in doubt - but was it efficacious to drive him further into guilt, shame and despair, rather than to comfort, hope and trust?

Is not comfort efficacy also?  Would we call the Eucharist, especially the Table aspect more Law or Gospel, I think I might Waltherize on the Gospel side.

Did the strength and comfort of the Meal give the strength to do other reforming things?

Did Luther ever say that the Mass was, per se, of no comfort to him prior to whatever you take to be the pivotal time in his life?

Baptism seems always to have been an OK or better thing for him, not so?

I wonder if the turmoil came from outside the Mass and intruded into his worship or rather than vice versa.  Even things like his great nervousness at his early celebrations may have been things to which he later applied theology rather than sufffering from some theological causation.  Many are nervous with certain public acts and when they are done in the face of God, all the more so.  Harvey Mozolak



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pr dtp

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Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
« Reply #7 on: November 20, 2010, 02:23:05 PM »
Yes, Luther had received the Law and Gospel readings and the Lordís Supper in the Mass all his life.  But it was by subjecting the Mass to the normative authority of the Holy Scriptures (from which he had discovered the pure gospel that reveals the righteousness of faith) that he was able to rid it of its objectionable features.

There is an intimate connection between right teaching and right worship.  We cannot disconnect the one from the other.  When considering which precedes which, perhaps it would be helpful to distinguish between experience and norm.  Experientially, the right worship establishes for our faith the right doctrine.  But the norm for right worship must be the Holy Scriptures.  I think we all agree that as we pray, so we believe.  My question is: What norms our prayers?  Or are the prayers the norm?

To apply this to todayís worship wars, Iíd like to offer a suggestion for thought.  Is it possible that the reason Lutherans adopt revivalistic forms of worship is because they have already embraced the theological tenets of revivalism?  Folks choose the worship they choose on account of what they believe. 

Well, it moves both ways, doesn't it?  Consider the great Lutheran chorales.  They teach the faith and they pray the faith and do both beautifully.

I agree - correct payer/correct belief and orthodoxy/orthodidaskalia are inseperable.  Yet - it wasn't until Luther realized grace that he realized the need to let scripture norm the mass, and doctrine.  The 95 thesis are a great example - they don't match the grace given and so must

Again - I am talking about worship not just as the service - but as the reaction to the grace of being quickened.  It is the awe of Isaiah at God's majesty and the fact he wasn't dead.  Wisdom does begin with the fear of the Lord.. It is Moses standing before the bush - it is that which occurs in the upper room, and at Pentecost.  As God gathers us together as His people and continues to pour out His grace upon us - and the worship serves as part of the conduit as it is focused through word and sacrament.

The result is a need and desire to conform our knowledge to that quickening. The combination of orthodoxy and orthodidaskalia strengthens our trust in God and His work.

Realizing this brings about my concern.  Simply put, the discussion of the unity we need to have growing in orthodidaskalia/right doctrine-teaching cannot occur if we divorce it from orthodoxy/right praise.






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Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
« Reply #8 on: November 20, 2010, 02:29:19 PM »

Realizing this brings about my concern.  Simply put, the discussion of the unity we need to have growing in orthodidaskalia/right doctrine-teaching cannot occur if we divorce it from orthodoxy/right praise.

That connects perfectly with what you wrote earlier, and with which I also agreed. The notion I think I've heard here sometimes, that refusal of communion fellowship may take place between peers within the same church, makes me shiver with  the sense that a schismatic spirit has taken possession. It must be fought, with the grace of God.

Peace,
Michael
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Charles_Austin

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Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
« Reply #9 on: November 20, 2010, 03:16:52 PM »
I don't know if the phrase is still around, but a long time ago, the Roman Catholic guidelines on the eucharist said that the sacrament "should not be used indiscriminately to create unity" or words to that effect.
Some of us eager Lutheran and Roman Catholic ecumenists then tried to argue: "O.K., then let us use the sacrament discriminately, that is, with discrimination, to create unity." For me, that meant that Lutherans and Roman Catholics could find, carefully parsing their eucharistic theology, reasons to commune together.
If our views even reached the highest echelons of our ecclesiastical bodies, they were not embraced and turned into policy.  ;)
« Last Edit: November 20, 2010, 03:19:40 PM by Charles_Austin »

pr dtp

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Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
« Reply #10 on: November 20, 2010, 03:25:49 PM »
I don't know if the phrase is still around, but a long time ago, the Roman Catholic guidelines on the eucharist said that the sacrament "should not be used indiscriminately to create unity" or words to that effect.
Some of us eager Lutheran and Roman Catholic ecumenists then tried to argue: "O.K., then let us use the sacrament discriminately, that is, with discrimination, to create unity." For me, that meant that Lutherans and Roman Catholics could find, carefully parsing their eucharistic theology, reasons to commune together.
If our views even reached the highest echelons of our ecclesiastical bodies, they were not embraced and turned into policy.  ;)

"let us use... to create unity"

'nough said.


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Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
« Reply #11 on: November 20, 2010, 03:30:42 PM »
I don't know if the phrase is still around, but a long time ago, the Roman Catholic guidelines on the eucharist said that the sacrament "should not be used indiscriminately to create unity" or words to that effect.
Some of us eager Lutheran and Roman Catholic ecumenists then tried to argue: "O.K., then let us use the sacrament discriminately, that is, with discrimination, to create unity." For me, that meant that Lutherans and Roman Catholics could find, carefully parsing their eucharistic theology, reasons to commune together.
If our views even reached the highest echelons of our ecclesiastical bodies, they were not embraced and turned into policy.  ;)

"let us use... to create unity"

'nough said.

Although I responded rather briskly to Pr. Weedon a while back about the Sacrament as a tool to foster unity, I would swing his way (I think) by urging that it is a tool the God uses to foster unity, not a tool in our own toolbox.

Peace,
Michael.
Fr. Michael Slusser
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pr dtp

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Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
« Reply #12 on: November 20, 2010, 03:33:55 PM »
I don't know if the phrase is still around, but a long time ago, the Roman Catholic guidelines on the eucharist said that the sacrament "should not be used indiscriminately to create unity" or words to that effect.
Some of us eager Lutheran and Roman Catholic ecumenists then tried to argue: "O.K., then let us use the sacrament discriminately, that is, with discrimination, to create unity." For me, that meant that Lutherans and Roman Catholics could find, carefully parsing their eucharistic theology, reasons to commune together.
If our views even reached the highest echelons of our ecclesiastical bodies, they were not embraced and turned into policy.  ;)

"let us use... to create unity"

'nough said.

Although I responded rather briskly to Pr. Weedon a while back about the Sacrament as a tool to foster unity, I would swing his way (I think) by urging that it is a tool the God uses to foster unity, not a tool in our own toolbox.

Peace,
Michael.

That is my point as well. 

But it can be used by man to create disunity or the illusion of it - which is equally problematic.

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Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
« Reply #13 on: November 20, 2010, 03:47:50 PM »
And then of course there is always Judas there whom we should have stopped at the door except he did bring the purse.   Harvey Mozolak
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Matt

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Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
« Reply #14 on: November 20, 2010, 04:07:15 PM »
The first Lord's Supper should certainly be the model for our communion practice.

At that supper, Jesus was clearly in charge. He was preaching and teaching; the disciples spoke only in response to Jesus. Jesus, by his own authority, chose those who communed with him. Clearly, he had followers and disciples who were not invited to the last supper (including his own mother!) When Jesus fed his listeners with loaves and fishes, he fed all comers. The apostles at the Last Supper were specifically called by Christ. Jesus was following the liturgy of Passover at the last supper but departing from it in important ways.

All those who communed at the last supper did so in obedience to Christ's command, and under the authority of His teaching. Jesus, fully aware of Judas' treachery, chose to commune him. In fact, Jesus specifically pronounces a curse on His betrayer without identifying him to the others, and then communes him. It seems clear to me that Judas is taking communion to his own condemnation.

We would be reading too much into this if we decided that communion was only for males, or only for the apostles or only for the ordained. From the earliest church, the sacrament was served to all baptized and catechized believers by a celebrant who was in some sense ordained.

I think it would also be false to say that Judas' communion serves as an example that we should admit the unrepentant or unbaptized or uncatechized to the table.