Author Topic: Home to Rome?  (Read 3635 times)

Jim_Krauser

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Home to Rome?
« on: June 03, 2013, 02:49:08 AM »
"Going home to Rome." 

I find the oft used expression and image of the Roman church as "home" (for all western Christians) to be both overly romantic and errant. 

As Lutheran Christians we descend from the western branch of the family tree, this is true.  However, as is true with any branch there is a point of departure which naturally separates it from other branches even while all the branches are nourished via the same root system.
The Lutheran Church(es) and the Roman Church share a common point of divergence in the mid-second millenium.  Neither of these (or for that matter any others) exist exactly the same as the church which existed at the time of separation (nor as that of any other previous point), that is to say none of us own an exclusive claim upon any point in the trunk.  What is more, all of us have reformed (been pruned) in some measure and all of us have grown in new directions. 

There is no "home" to return to. 

Such an expression suggests that one branch has a greater claim upon the roots than another.  I believe that if necessary (and it isn't) we can make a pretty persuasive case, that the Lutheran Church has as great a claim if not a better one to the family "home" as any other descendants--even that body which claims the family surname of Catholic as its own.  Going "home" to Rome, speaks a language that recognizes only patrilineal descent, as if the modern Roman Church is descended from an only elder son, while the rest of us from younger daughters with lesser inheritances. 

Certainly we all have our notions of what represents "health" in any particular branch, but these judgments are best made in humility, with an eye primarily toward our own health, and prayers that the vinedresser will be as gentle with the others as we trust he will be with us.   

I prefer the image of the family tree that I have drawn upon which maintains that there are divergences in the life of the Church, but not true separations.   

The "home" image is based more on the notion of family and households, but in using this we should be clear that in this model, we should not confuse structure with relationships.  While Jesus does us the image of a house of many rooms, scripture also gives us the images of a city, or even an entire kingdom as the nature of the dwelling place of people of God.

If compelled to speak in the language of households, I would point out that no family maintains a single home over many generations, let alone millenia.  What descendants share is a heritage, not a home.  In our divergent expressions, not all aspects of the heritage are preserved, nor should they be.  Some aspects were unhealthy; not all are well-suited to all times and all places.  We may from time to time enjoy family reunions, share well-wishes, engage in common endeavors, but we are not and cannot be of one home. 

Once we leave the botanical image we may move into the animal kingdom of living people as a more apt image but there the image is not homes, but heritage (DNA and traits), passed on and shared, but there is no "going home" in that construct.  In the world of homes (families), each generation establishes for itself a new home, an idea present in scripture.  The child must leave father and mother, carrying with it much to be sure, but taking on much from other families and sources as well.  If the goal of our life of faith is to go "home" we must be careful lest we find ourselves taking up residence, living in the past, with our forebears in the cemetery, for that is where they now dwell, not in the family home.

Thus in the image of "home" understood as family, we can hope and pray for continued relationships and even in the long line of generations expect that there would be eventual intermarriages of the descendants and reintegration of many part of the original family genome, but we must also understand that we cannot go home again, even while we may treasure much that we were given there.
I still own our family home, but when I go there it is very much changed.  Many of the artfacts are still there, all of the memories are still there, but it is a lonely place--for the family that lived there lives there no more.   My home is elsewhere, as it should be.  Eventhough I live alone, where I live now is a living home, that other place, in spite of all of my sentimental attachment to it, is just a house.
« Last Edit: June 03, 2013, 03:05:45 AM by Jim_Krauser »
Jim Krauser

Pastor-Grace Evang. Lutheran Church, North Bellmore, NY

John Mundinger

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Re: Home to Rome?
« Reply #1 on: June 03, 2013, 07:28:43 AM »
There is no "home" to return to. 

au contraire!

As Lutheran Christians we know that we have a home to return to - it is built on a sure foundation at the foot of the cross.  Our problem is that we have become too comfortable with the homes that we have built for ourselves on the distal ends of the branches and, in the process, have too little regard for all the other branches in the vine.
Lifelong Evangelical Lutheran layman

Whoever, then, thinks that he understands the Holy Scriptures, or any part of them, but puts such an interpretation upon them as does not tend to build up this twofold love of God and our neighbour, does not yet understand them as he ought.  St. Augustine

Weedon

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Re: Home to Rome?
« Reply #2 on: June 03, 2013, 08:58:15 AM »
Jim,

Very well stated. We've both continued to grow; we do grow from a common stem, but there is no returning to that stem because as you pointed out already: those who once lived it have gone to the true and lasting home already. And that's the only "home" that we should worry about returning to. The faith community that provides the necessaries for the journey to that home can never pose as the final destination.

"For here we have no lasting city, but we seek the city that is to come." Hebrews 13:14
« Last Edit: June 03, 2013, 09:00:46 AM by Weedon »

Jim_Krauser

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Re: Home to Rome?
« Reply #3 on: June 03, 2013, 09:54:14 AM »
Jim,

Very well stated. We've both continued to grow; we do grow from a common stem, but there is no returning to that stem because as you pointed out already: those who once lived it have gone to the true and lasting home already. And that's the only "home" that we should worry about returning to. The faith community that provides the necessaries for the journey to that home can never pose as the final destination.

"For here we have no lasting city, but we seek the city that is to come." Hebrews 13:14
As usual, far more elegantly said.
Jim Krauser

Pastor-Grace Evang. Lutheran Church, North Bellmore, NY

Charles_Austin

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Re: Home to Rome?
« Reply #4 on: June 03, 2013, 09:56:43 AM »
Agreed. We can no more go "home to Rome" than we could to Jerusalem or Antioch or Alexandria. Even using the terminology buys into Rome's self-proclaimed superiority.

Terry W Culler

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Re: Home to Rome?
« Reply #5 on: June 03, 2013, 10:24:44 AM »
Wow, we all seem to agree about something!
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George Erdner

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Re: Home to Rome?
« Reply #6 on: June 03, 2013, 11:34:55 AM »
There is no "home" to return to. 

au contraire!

As Lutheran Christians we know that we have a home to return to - it is built on a sure foundation at the foot of the cross.  Our problem is that we have become too comfortable with the homes that we have built for ourselves on the distal ends of the branches and, in the process, have too little regard for all the other branches in the vine.


What your out of context quote ignores is that he is speaking of home in the sense of a particular church body, not in the sense of the one catholic and apostolic church. The Roman Catholic Church is NOT home for a Lutheran.
« Last Edit: June 03, 2013, 03:19:57 PM by George Erdner »

Charles_Austin

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Re: Home to Rome?
« Reply #7 on: June 03, 2013, 12:03:44 PM »
Mr. Erdner writes:
The Roman Catholic Church is NOT home for a Lutheran.

I comment:
Someone tell Mr. Erdner not to worry. Those who become Roman Catholics are no longer Lutheran.
Doh!

John Mundinger

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Re: Home to Rome?
« Reply #8 on: June 03, 2013, 12:19:20 PM »
There is no "home" to return to. 

au contraire!

As Lutheran Christians we know that we have a home to return to - it is built on a sure foundation at the foot of the cross.  Our problem is that we have become too comfortable with the homes that we have built for ourselves on the distal ends of the branches and, in the process, have too little regard for all the other branches in the vine.


What your out of on text quote ignores is that he is speaking of home in the sense of a particular church body, not in the sense of the one catholic and apostolic church. The Roman Catholic Church is NOT home for a Lutheran.

Actually, I didn't ignore it at all.  I just expressed the opinion that Christians do not nor have they ever really had a "home" in any church body.  And, if we are looking for "home" within a denomination, we are looking in the wrong place.
Lifelong Evangelical Lutheran layman

Whoever, then, thinks that he understands the Holy Scriptures, or any part of them, but puts such an interpretation upon them as does not tend to build up this twofold love of God and our neighbour, does not yet understand them as he ought.  St. Augustine

David Garner

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Re: Home to Rome?
« Reply #9 on: June 03, 2013, 01:38:51 PM »
Given that the phrase is used typically by Roman Catholics, I'd suggest the bias inherent in it should not be surprising.

Yes it implies that one did not diverge from the common branch. It is intended to so imply. Registering disagreement with the sentiment is fine I suppose, but I doubt Roman Catholics are going to concede the point ion that basis alone.
Orthodox Reader and former Lutheran (LCMS and WELS).

Weedon

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Re: Home to Rome?
« Reply #10 on: June 03, 2013, 02:06:47 PM »
What certain Roman apologists at times seems to have trouble grasping is that the Roman Church also has changed since we were together before the Reformation. I've linked to this article before, but it simply is a fine treatment (and I think YOU might have first put me onto it, David???):

http://www.firstthings.com/onthesquare/2007/12/who-are-you-calling-a-heretic

David Garner

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Re: Home to Rome?
« Reply #11 on: June 03, 2013, 03:00:14 PM »
I don't think it was me, but it was a fine article.

I'm not suggesting we should all go back to anathematizing each other. I'm simply saying Rome doesn't agree she has moved. She is begging the question, of course, but the approach that says "she shouldn't say that because she did move" is only begging it in the other direction. What I think is more helpful is simply talking to each other about the differences.
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George Erdner

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Re: Home to Rome?
« Reply #12 on: June 03, 2013, 03:22:33 PM »
There is no "home" to return to. 

au contraire!

As Lutheran Christians we know that we have a home to return to - it is built on a sure foundation at the foot of the cross.  Our problem is that we have become too comfortable with the homes that we have built for ourselves on the distal ends of the branches and, in the process, have too little regard for all the other branches in the vine.


What your out of on text quote ignores is that he is speaking of home in the sense of a particular church body, not in the sense of the one catholic and apostolic church. The Roman Catholic Church is NOT home for a Lutheran.

Actually, I didn't ignore it at all.  I just expressed the opinion that Christians do not nor have they ever really had a "home" in any church body.  And, if we are looking for "home" within a denomination, we are looking in the wrong place.


I suppose if you take the narrowest possible meaning of home, to an extreme level beyond what normal people think of as home, you might have a nitpicking point,


Jim_Krauser

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Re: Home to Rome?
« Reply #13 on: June 03, 2013, 06:17:58 PM »
There is no "home" to return to. 

au contraire!

As Lutheran Christians we know that we have a home to return to - it is built on a sure foundation at the foot of the cross.  Our problem is that we have become too comfortable with the homes that we have built for ourselves on the distal ends of the branches and, in the process, have too little regard for all the other branches in the vine.

I accept your caveat.  My point is of course that we have here no abiding city.  What Jesus told his followers in his farewell discourse was that he goes to prepare a place for us in his house.  In the meanwhile, through the Holy Spirit, God continues to make his home with us, in whatever ends of the earth we might be, with us gathered around his Word and Sacraments:  he is there. 

The sent nature of the Church implies that our home is at best a mobile one or one which is shared in hospitality with other members of the body.    Paul and the Apocalypse speak of the time when Christ comes to make all things new and bring to the new earth, the new and eternal city.  You are quite right, if there is a home for us to pine for...it is that one--not nostalgia but fulfillment.

Rome is not home for all of its descendants (even those who have great affinity for its heritage).   Even meant metaphorically, Rome is not the be-all-end-all-most perfect expression of the Christian life and faith and to my mind it is nearly idolatrous to think so--also a word of caution if we begin to think that of ourselves.  Rome can be in many ways a source of inspiration and renewal.  It can also be an example of worst case scenario.  True of them, true of us.  Simul justus et peccator.

The Lord has been (and continues to be) our dwelling place.
« Last Edit: June 03, 2013, 06:32:46 PM by Jim_Krauser »
Jim Krauser

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George Erdner

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Re: Home to Rome?
« Reply #14 on: June 03, 2013, 08:35:44 PM »
"Home" is where you live. My home is a rented half duplex in Duluth, GA. Before that it was a rented half duplex in Pittsburgh, and before that a rented house in Castle Shannon, PA. "Home" is a place where you live. You can make any place where you live your home.