Author Topic: Unity and the Means of Grace  (Read 30183 times)

Brian Stoffregen

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Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
« Reply #240 on: November 26, 2010, 10:41:52 AM »
There are no good reasons for not offering the Sacrament every Sunday, only poor excuses and bad reasons not to do it.

I agree with you, Paul!!! A related issue that comes up in congregations is who should make the decision to have weekly communion? Some argue that it is the pastors' prerogative. Other bring it to a congregational vote. Some may have the council or worship committee make the decision. In some places, it might the altar guild who determines the practice based on practical matters, e.g., who will wash the dishes, who will pay for the extra bread and wine (and disposable glasses if they are used)?
« Last Edit: November 26, 2010, 10:44:10 AM by Brian Stoffregen »
"The church 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]

ChrisG

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Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
« Reply #241 on: November 26, 2010, 10:49:00 AM »
We never force anyone to receive the Sacrament, but on the other hand, why are some pastors willing to deny it to those who desire it? Makes no sense, at all. None.

There are no good reasons for not offering the Sacrament every Sunday, only poor excuses and bad reasons not to do it.


I completely understand why Baptists might celebrate commmunion once per month or once per quarter.  If they see communion as a mere symbol, then communing less frequently might make the symbol feel more meaningful.  However, if you believe that Christ's body and blood are truly present in communion, and that communion brings forgiveness, life, and salvation, why would you not celebrate it every Sunday? 

FrPeters

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Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
« Reply #242 on: November 26, 2010, 10:55:42 AM »
As a Lutheran we presume that a Confessional discussion is a Scriptural discussion, that what the Scriptures teach is nothing different than what the Confessions confess... no?
Fr Larry Peters
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Michael Slusser

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Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
« Reply #243 on: November 26, 2010, 11:02:54 AM »
Simply put, there is an attitude that exists when a brother says he isn't a brother - when he goes to the extent of publicly treating other pastors like publicans and sinners. That attitude is not conducive to koinonia - in fact it denies it.

Reminds me of Augustine, discourse on Psalm 32, which is read in the RC Liturgy of the Hours for Tuesday, 14th week of ordinary time:

    The prophet refers to some men saying, When they say to you: You are not our brothers, you are to tell them: You are our brothers. Consider whom he intended by these words. Were they the pagans? Hardly; for nowhere either in Scripture or in our traditional manner of speaking do we find them called our brothers. Nor could it refer to the Jews, who did not believe in Christ. Read Saint Paul and you will see that when he speaks of "brothers" without any qualification, he refers always to Christians. For example, he says, Why do you judge your brother or why do you despise your brother? And again, You perform iniquity and commit fraud, and this against your brothers.
     Those then who tell us: You are not our brothers, are saying that we are pagans. That is why they want to baptize us again, claiming that we do not have what they can give. . . .
     And so dear brothers, we entreat you on their behalf, in the name of the very source of our love, by whose milk we are nourished, and whose bread is our strength, in the name of Christ our Lord and his gentle love. For it is time now for us to show them great love and abundant compassion by praying to God for them. May he one day give them a clear mind to repent and to realize that they have nothing whatever to say against the truth; they have nothing now but the sickness of their hatred, and the stronger they think they are, the weaker they become. We entreat you now to pray for them, for they are weak, given to the wisdom of the flesh, to fleshly and carnal things, but yet they are our brothers. They celebrate the same sacraments as we, not indeed with us, but still the same. They respond with the same Amen, not with us, but still the same. And so pour out your hearts for them in prayer to God.
 

Clearly Augustine is speaking of the Donatists, but what he says may have some application also where the causes of division are not so deep.

Peace,
Michael
Fr. Michael Slusser
Retired Roman Catholic priest and theologian

Scott6

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Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
« Reply #244 on: November 26, 2010, 11:08:39 AM »
Why is it that the article on the Mass is always a shrug and other articles in which adiaphora are mentioned merits attention?  If the presumption of the Mass is not mandatory then neither can those who violate the presumption and intent of this article claim the adiaphora privilege as mandatory... that's my two cents worth.  It is only centuries after the Confessions that any Lutheran ever conceived of much less practiced a non-Communion Sunday service as the regular Sunday offering...

FWIW, I think Communion should be offered every Sunday, and I won't attend a church that doesn't use the liturgy if I can help it (and if the liturgical setting changes from Sunday to Sunday -- e.g., DS I to DS III then DS II).  I think the reasons for not using the liturgy are paltry, and those churches that don't use it will foster folks more comfortable with Baptist theology than Lutheran.  So I don't consider it a "shrug," and as far as adiaphora goes, it's a particularly important one.

That said, the mention about retaining the mass in the Confessions is simply a description of a practice; it is not a mandate (if you can find where it is so mandated, please share it).  There is no "we believe, teach and confess that churches are to perform the mass weekly," for example.  So while I think that we should all agree and covenant together to have weekly communion and to perform the liturgy from the book every Sunday, a person cannot be considered to be in violation of their quia subscription if they don't -- more's the pity.  The way that language is operative in the LCMS is to bind us to particular doctrinal propositional statements in the Confessions, and to change that midstream such that it becomes an offense against the way the LCMS has articulated her understanding of doctrine isn't proper.
« Last Edit: November 26, 2010, 11:17:10 AM by Scott Yakimow »

Brian Stoffregen

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Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
« Reply #245 on: November 26, 2010, 11:09:33 AM »
As a Lutheran we presume that a Confessional discussion is a Scriptural discussion, that what the Scriptures teach is nothing different than what the Confessions confess... no?

While we confess that our Confessions are correct interpretations of scriptures, they are also not the only way scripture is interpreted. (Neither do all Lutherans interpret the Confessions the same way.)

I remember a wise lady in a congregation I served who asked, "Why do we so often study some book or curriculum that uses the Bible as a resource? Why don't we study the Bible, and if need be, use these other books as resources?" The writings of the Church Fathers and our Lutheran Confessors should be resources (as needed) for our study of Scriptures. If we are truly going to practice sola scripture, then we should be studying scripture alone. If indeed the Confessions proclaim the truth of Scriptures, we will find it in scriptures without relying on the Confessions.
"The church 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]

Matt Staneck

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Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
« Reply #246 on: November 26, 2010, 12:07:34 PM »
Why is it that the article on the Mass is always a shrug and other articles in which adiaphora are mentioned merits attention?  If the presumption of the Mass is not mandatory then neither can those who violate the presumption and intent of this article claim the adiaphora privilege as mandatory... that's my two cents worth.  It is only centuries after the Confessions that any Lutheran ever conceived of much less practiced a non-Communion Sunday service as the regular Sunday offering...

FWIW, I think Communion should be offered every Sunday, and I won't attend a church that doesn't use the liturgy if I can help it (and if the liturgical setting changes from Sunday to Sunday -- e.g., DS I to DS III then DS II).  I think the reasons for not using the liturgy are paltry, and those churches that don't use it will foster folks more comfortable with Baptist theology than Lutheran.  So I don't consider it a "shrug," and as far as adiaphora goes, it's a particularly important one.

That said, the mention about retaining the mass in the Confessions is simply a description of a practice; it is not a mandate (if you can find where it is so mandated, please share it).  There is no "we believe, teach and confess that churches are to perform the mass weekly," for example.  So while I think that we should all agree and covenant together to have weekly communion and to perform the liturgy from the book every Sunday, a person cannot be considered to be in violation of their quia subscription if they don't -- more's the pity.  The way that language is operative in the LCMS is to bind us to particular doctrinal propositional statements in the Confessions, and to change that midstream such that it becomes an offense against the way the LCMS has articulated her understanding of doctrine isn't proper.

Right.  But Fr. Peters' point is that the retention of the Mass is mentioned and strongly encouraged by name.  Whereas, things like who reads the lessons are not.  So wouldn't we deal with things the Confessions actually take time to discuss first before moving onto other things?

M. Staneck
Matt Staneck, Pastor
St. John's Evangelical Lutheran Church
Queens, NY

LCMS87

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Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
« Reply #247 on: November 26, 2010, 03:20:17 PM »
In the example that '87 gives, I take it that this pastor refrained from the supper as a matter of principle. It appears he went out of his way to explain ahead of time that he was not making a protest statement or expressing a beef with the host pastor or anyone else.

How is this going a step too far? If he doesn't want to commune, he doesn't commune. We respect this freedom in our congregations. This pastor goes out of his way to ensure that his action is not misinterpreted and does not give offense. That is certainly the right thing to do.

Mr. Jamison,

Please forgive me for the delay in my promised response.  

I don't believe the Reverend President was arguing (here) that the pastor ought not to have spoken to the hosting pastor.  Such communication is certainly good practice and avoids many unfortunate assumptions among us sinners who too often fail to put the best construction on the words and actions of our neighbors.

President Benke's point of concern is relates very much the one I raised in my initial post.  He wrote:  "[The Supper] is authorized among us at gatherings other than those in the parish setting."  I noted that I had been taught this was only authorized when a sponsoring congregation was involved.  President Benke indicated that's what he had in mind in saying such celebrations of the sacrament are authorized among us.  Thus he writes, "Holy Communion can be administered and received in trans-parish settings.  If and as the policy is to allow sponsoring congregations the right to sponsor the celebration of the Eucharist at the seminary or at a college or in other locations, what's the problem with that?"

The step too far President Benke is afraid the pastor may have taken is that in declining to commune at the pastors' conference he seemed to be rejecting the policy our synod has used.

Now come the details.  As I noted in the second-last paragraph of my initial post, I was taught that the Supper is not authorized among us at gatherings other than those in the parish setting "except with (the sometimes seeming fig-leaf of) a sponsoring congregation."  So who sponsored the Supper in question?  What does "sponsoring" mean and how is it done?  

Perhaps I'm just not as observant as I ought to be, but it's not clear to me that a congregation always sponsors the Supper at our district pastoral conferences.  The duty and privilege of planning and leading such Divine Services rotates among circuits of the district.  A congregation from the chosen circuit could sponsor the celebration of the Eucharist, but if they do I don't recall that an announcement regarding that always appears in the worship folder or is made verbally.  So perhaps the pastor in question may have been following our policy more precisely than those who led the service.

As I understand the issue of sponsoring, it is very much tied up with our understanding of the Church, the Ministry, and the Means of Grace.  (As you know, we've been discussing the nature of Church and Ministry from the founding of our synod, and many would say that discussion is not fully complete.  What follows will necessarily be brief and will probably raise lots of red flags from the brothers--many in the form of clarification or expansion.  I welcome correction should I go astray.)  

AC VII:  "The Church is the congregation of saints, in which the Gospel is rightly taught and the Sacraments are rightly administered."  The Synod is not, properly speaking, a church, nor is an individual pastor.  The Gospel and Sacraments don't belong to either to do with as they please.  Our Lord instituted the holy ministry to teach the Gospel and administer the Sacraments so that believers might be created and sustained in the faith.  But ministers of the Gospel are not free to exercise the ministry when and where they will.  "Our churches teach that no one should publicly teach in the Church, or administer the Sacraments, without a rightly ordered call" (AC XIV).  Add to this the concern our churches have with "private masses" and you see the foundation on which a policy of sponsoring is built.

The Reverend President has noted a number of times that sponsoring is often by a nearby congregation.  In this way it's more or less an extension of its ministry.  A congregation across the street from Concordia, Bronxville, if I understood correctly, has committed to sponsor the celebrations of the Lord's Supper at the university.  This seems fitting.  A congregation in a circuit sponsors a Divine Service when the circuit winkel meets, even inviting members of the congregation to join in this special (i.e. not regularly scheduled) celebration.  This, too, seems fitting.  

What if a congregation in a circuit at one extreme of a district sponsors a Divine Service at a pastors' conference at the far extreme,  a service no one from the local congregation can attend?  Some would wonder whether this sponsorship a bit of a "fig-leaf" sponsorship.  What if the pastor neglects to ask his congregation to sponsor that Eucharist, and yet is the celebrant?  These are the sort of details which trouble some of our brothers.  What does it mean to sponsor a Eucharist?  How is it rightly done?  Does our practice match up with what we teach and confess?  

As to the Reverend President's final questions, there have been numerous discussions at this site regarding the office.  Does it make any difference if shepherds have sheep under their care or if they have no sheep?  In some respects the topic, "How important would you say it is for a retired pastor to celebrate a weekly HC?" involves this same question.  I would only note that the pastor involved in the scenario I described does not say that a seminary professor, for instance, is outside the office of the holy ministry.
« Last Edit: November 26, 2010, 07:33:09 PM by LCMS87 »

Scott6

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Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
« Reply #248 on: November 26, 2010, 03:22:47 PM »
Why is it that the article on the Mass is always a shrug and other articles in which adiaphora are mentioned merits attention?  If the presumption of the Mass is not mandatory then neither can those who violate the presumption and intent of this article claim the adiaphora privilege as mandatory... that's my two cents worth.  It is only centuries after the Confessions that any Lutheran ever conceived of much less practiced a non-Communion Sunday service as the regular Sunday offering...

FWIW, I think Communion should be offered every Sunday, and I won't attend a church that doesn't use the liturgy if I can help it (and if the liturgical setting changes from Sunday to Sunday -- e.g., DS I to DS III then DS II).  I think the reasons for not using the liturgy are paltry, and those churches that don't use it will foster folks more comfortable with Baptist theology than Lutheran.  So I don't consider it a "shrug," and as far as adiaphora goes, it's a particularly important one.

That said, the mention about retaining the mass in the Confessions is simply a description of a practice; it is not a mandate (if you can find where it is so mandated, please share it).  There is no "we believe, teach and confess that churches are to perform the mass weekly," for example.  So while I think that we should all agree and covenant together to have weekly communion and to perform the liturgy from the book every Sunday, a person cannot be considered to be in violation of their quia subscription if they don't -- more's the pity.  The way that language is operative in the LCMS is to bind us to particular doctrinal propositional statements in the Confessions, and to change that midstream such that it becomes an offense against the way the LCMS has articulated her understanding of doctrine isn't proper.

Right.  But Fr. Peters' point is that the retention of the Mass is mentioned and strongly encouraged by name.  Whereas, things like who reads the lessons are not.  So wouldn't we deal with things the Confessions actually take time to discuss first before moving onto other things?

M. Staneck

Oh sure, I didn't have any ordering of discussion in mind.  But I do think that worship style is the major controversial issue in synod, and it needs to be addressed.  As is obvious, it wasn't an issue in the 16th century which is why the Confessions don't have much reflection on it as to whether or not it's a doctrinal issue.  They simply don't address it as such one way or another, even in the farsighted way that the Formula decided to deal with the doctrine of predestination even though there wasn't any public controversy over it at the time.

FWIW, I do think that it's a doctrinal issue -- just not one that's addressed by the Confessions nor one that is easily articulated in our normal, Pieperian discourse.

Dave Benke

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Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
« Reply #249 on: November 26, 2010, 04:33:02 PM »
Nice encapsulization, 87.  Scenarios I've been involved with through the decades:
1) the best - the local parish sponsors and the Divine Service is held away from the site of the conference at that parish.  That would be Fr. Peters in Cairo back in the day.
2) the local parish sponsors and leads the worship - Village Bronxville pastors lead the Pastoral Conference Divine Service at the Pastoral Conference at Concordia Bronxville across the street.
(we've done both by the way at our district conventions, and have often had our closing Eucharist at the church after the gavel sounded, and recessed/processed to the congregation)
3) the conference is off in the boonies (read Poconos) so the conference chair's parish sponsors. 
4) the conference is off in the boonies and the conference chair selects a parish to sponsor.
In those cases great care was taken NOT to get involved with the kitsch of the conference site, and substantial amounts of the local altar from back home were imported to the conference site, demonstrating the care needed in these efforts.
5) An inter-district conference committee plans the worship and coordinates with a local pastor/parish sponsor.  That's a distance away from #1 above, as you can see.

Dave Benke

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Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
« Reply #250 on: November 26, 2010, 04:45:38 PM »
Why is it that the article on the Mass is always a shrug and other articles in which adiaphora are mentioned merits attention?  If the presumption of the Mass is not mandatory then neither can those who violate the presumption and intent of this article claim the adiaphora privilege as mandatory... that's my two cents worth.  It is only centuries after the Confessions that any Lutheran ever conceived of much less practiced a non-Communion Sunday service as the regular Sunday offering...

FWIW, I think Communion should be offered every Sunday, and I won't attend a church that doesn't use the liturgy if I can help it (and if the liturgical setting changes from Sunday to Sunday -- e.g., DS I to DS III then DS II).  I think the reasons for not using the liturgy are paltry, and those churches that don't use it will foster folks more comfortable with Baptist theology than Lutheran.  So I don't consider it a "shrug," and as far as adiaphora goes, it's a particularly important one.

That said, the mention about retaining the mass in the Confessions is simply a description of a practice; it is not a mandate (if you can find where it is so mandated, please share it).  There is no "we believe, teach and confess that churches are to perform the mass weekly," for example.  So while I think that we should all agree and covenant together to have weekly communion and to perform the liturgy from the book every Sunday, a person cannot be considered to be in violation of their quia subscription if they don't -- more's the pity.  The way that language is operative in the LCMS is to bind us to particular doctrinal propositional statements in the Confessions, and to change that midstream such that it becomes an offense against the way the LCMS has articulated her understanding of doctrine isn't proper.

While there is not a mandate - there is a purpose - a chief purpose that extends out of the mass to our lives - that is to teach people what they need to know about Christ.

Again, the idea of Koinonia comes into play - for Koinonia is the same term for fellowship and communion/community is it not?

Can we really find such, apart from Word and Sacrament?  Apart from realizing that it is Christ's sacrifice that unites us because we are sinners counted righteous? 

Rev. Weedon, you can stipulate that you doesn't get this - yet your defense of the mass indicates that at some level you do.   What you don't get is how this relates to the gathering of the Brethren, and the establishment of unity in Koinonia/Fellowship/Communion.  That without the humiliation of realizing our need, and our dependence on God's grace, we cannot achieve any real semblance of unity. 

Let me put it another way.  You seem to desire corporate sanctification before celebrating corporate justification.  But unless we see that we are all justified sinners, how can we find the reality wherein we can deal with each others sin, and our own?

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Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
« Reply #251 on: November 26, 2010, 04:50:12 PM »
Like I said, J&S, I'm not getting how anything I said could be construed the way you have construed it.  I suggest you and I hold off trying to discuss this in this forum.  We're just spinning wheels at this point. 

FrPeters

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Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
« Reply #252 on: November 26, 2010, 06:01:40 PM »
Brian... is it that the Confessions' interpretation of Scripture are correct but other interpretations are also correct?  Do you intend to say that there is no real interpretation which is authoritative and Lutheranism offers only one version of a truth which has many versions or interpretations?  If that is indeed what you are saying, then there is a great gulf between the ELCA and Missouri
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ChrisG

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Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
« Reply #253 on: November 26, 2010, 07:43:34 PM »
2) the local parish sponsors and leads the worship - Village Bronxville pastors lead the Pastoral Conference Divine Service at the Pastoral Conference at Concordia Bronxville across the street.
Our congregation was asked to sponsor the divine service at the Higher Things Youth Gathering this past summer at Vanderbilt.  We were asked several months ahead of time, so our pastor approached the church council for approval and then announed it at the next quarterly voters' meeting.  All members of the church were invited to attend.  As there is no LCMS church in Nashville with a sanctuary large enough to hold that many people, the service was held at the auditorium at Vanderbilt.  We did provide the altar though, and our pastor presided over the sacrament.  He did not preach the sermon (if memory serves me correctly, he was approached but deferred to Pastor Cwirla).

Brian Stoffregen

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Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
« Reply #254 on: November 26, 2010, 10:02:47 PM »
Brian... is it that the Confessions' interpretation of Scripture are correct but other interpretations are also correct?  Do you intend to say that there is no real interpretation which is authoritative and Lutheranism offers only one version of a truth which has many versions or interpretations?  If that is indeed what you are saying, then there is a great gulf between the ELCA and Missouri

There is a great gulf between LCMS and ELCA. Part of that is the different way we approach the Confessions.

Even within the ELCA, I think that there are differences in regards to the Third Use of the Law. With eight different seminaries, there are different nuances of theological and confessional training.
"The church 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]