Author Topic: Lutheran, Catholics "on the way" to greater unity  (Read 8129 times)

Brian Stoffregen

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Re: Lutheran, Catholics "on the way" to greater unity
« Reply #75 on: November 04, 2015, 10:48:25 AM »
United we can to more than we each do individually or congregationally.





This is the part that frightens me the most--the idea "we can do more". Historically when we "unite to do more" it has translated into more death and destruction, including when "the church" has been more united. The Roman Church in its unified days of hegemony unleashed some awful things against the neighbor. Likewise, the Eastern Church does not have a sterling reputation among its neighbors for actions taken during times of its hegemony. None of us think "bigness" is particularly a good thing in most facets of life. Our nation went through a "trust-buster" period against "big business". Some believe today that Wall street has gotten way too big. Others are of a mind Big Labor is a problem. Monsanto is believed to be much too big. One party rule has meant problems for many countries. Too much concentration of power and authority in fallen human institutions peopled by fallen individuals has not meant good things for the greater populace. It is simple hubris to believe these facets of human nature do not apply to the very human institution we call the "visible church." I think one of the reasons God has allowed the disunity to predominate is because it is safer for His people. If we could actually be unified as one as the father and Jesus are one it would be a different story but until God actually does that by raising us to new life, it best remain our prayer rather than become our agenda.


When the church was united with itself - the first 300 years. It was an effective witness in a world of heathens. When the church became united with Empire. Then death and destruction came. As the saying goes: "Power tends to corrupt." The church gained power. A quote I read, but can't remember where, is that the Christianity changed from being a religion we were willing to die for, to one we were willing to kill for. Another author suggested, and I agree, that Constantine's conversion was more about changing Christianity than about changing Constantine.


Thank you for supporting my contention. We live in the post-Constantinian age. Pandora's box was opened. The cat is out of the bag. People think in terms and categories consistent with that age. Some in the church think all would be well if we all were united, but the only unity we know is the unity of Rome we embraced so many  centuries ago. Rome was not christianized so much as christianity was Romanized. We have all returned to being creatures of law, attempting to force, coerce, negotiate, and compromise our way to some sense of a visible unity rather than soaking in the unity provided by the Lord and radiating that same unity out into the world.


Nope, we know the unity in the Spirit expressed in scriptures - before Constantine converted the church. Some experts say that we need to get back to the pre-christendom mindset if we are to be effective in our non-Christian world.


A few years ago I heard Diana Butler Bass speak. She made reference to The Future of Faith by Harvey Cox. He presents these different understandings about the Christian faith:

0-400 CE – faith IN Jesus – people trusted Jesus
 
400-1900 CE – faith ABOUT Jesus – fights occur over right theology
 
1900 CE – experience of Jesus – this began with the modern Pentecostal experience

Ironically, in recent discussions, how often were "liberals" criticized for talking about "experiences"?

I believe that it was Bass who mentioned in exact date in the 400 when the church changed. The date was when a Christian killed another Christian for not having quite the right doctrine of Christianity. The faith had become one adherents were willing to kill for rather than one they were willing to die for - as it was in earlier generations.

In those early years, Christians didn't have time or energy to be fighting one another, because they were at war with the world. They were united in their simple confession: "Jesus is Lord." (In some places they might have added, "and Caesar is not.") We have a model of a united church that was not Rome based.
"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]

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Re: Lutheran, Catholics "on the way" to greater unity
« Reply #76 on: November 04, 2015, 11:00:54 AM »
United we can to more than we each do individually or congregationally.





This is the part that frightens me the most--the idea "we can do more". Historically when we "unite to do more" it has translated into more death and destruction, including when "the church" has been more united. The Roman Church in its unified days of hegemony unleashed some awful things against the neighbor. Likewise, the Eastern Church does not have a sterling reputation among its neighbors for actions taken during times of its hegemony. None of us think "bigness" is particularly a good thing in most facets of life. Our nation went through a "trust-buster" period against "big business". Some believe today that Wall street has gotten way too big. Others are of a mind Big Labor is a problem. Monsanto is believed to be much too big. One party rule has meant problems for many countries. Too much concentration of power and authority in fallen human institutions peopled by fallen individuals has not meant good things for the greater populace. It is simple hubris to believe these facets of human nature do not apply to the very human institution we call the "visible church." I think one of the reasons God has allowed the disunity to predominate is because it is safer for His people. If we could actually be unified as one as the father and Jesus are one it would be a different story but until God actually does that by raising us to new life, it best remain our prayer rather than become our agenda.


When the church was united with itself - the first 300 years. It was an effective witness in a world of heathens. When the church became united with Empire. Then death and destruction came. As the saying goes: "Power tends to corrupt." The church gained power. A quote I read, but can't remember where, is that the Christianity changed from being a religion we were willing to die for, to one we were willing to kill for. Another author suggested, and I agree, that Constantine's conversion was more about changing Christianity than about changing Constantine.


Thank you for supporting my contention. We live in the post-Constantinian age. Pandora's box was opened. The cat is out of the bag. People think in terms and categories consistent with that age. Some in the church think all would be well if we all were united, but the only unity we know is the unity of Rome we embraced so many  centuries ago. Rome was not christianized so much as christianity was Romanized. We have all returned to being creatures of law, attempting to force, coerce, negotiate, and compromise our way to some sense of a visible unity rather than soaking in the unity provided by the Lord and radiating that same unity out into the world.


Nope, we know the unity in the Spirit expressed in scriptures - before Constantine converted the church. Some experts say that we need to get back to the pre-christendom mindset if we are to be effective in our non-Christian world.


A few years ago I heard Diana Butler Bass speak. She made reference to The Future of Faith by Harvey Cox. He presents these different understandings about the Christian faith:

0-400 CE – faith IN Jesus – people trusted Jesus
 
400-1900 CE – faith ABOUT Jesus – fights occur over right theology
 
1900 CE – experience of Jesus – this began with the modern Pentecostal experience

Ironically, in recent discussions, how often were "liberals" criticized for talking about "experiences"?

I believe that it was Bass who mentioned in exact date in the 400 when the church changed. The date was when a Christian killed another Christian for not having quite the right doctrine of Christianity. The faith had become one adherents were willing to kill for rather than one they were willing to die for - as it was in earlier generations.

In those early years, Christians didn't have time or energy to be fighting one another, because they were at war with the world. They were united in their simple confession: "Jesus is Lord." (In some places they might have added, "and Caesar is not.") We have a model of a united church that was not Rome based.


Nope, when you speak of "getting more done" by being united you are working with a visible outcome based model entirely consistent with Constantine's stated desire for a unified outcome from Nicea so the Empire could flourish rather than spending time, talents, and treasure in meaningless (to many) discourse about the nature of the Trinity. You are also adopting the ethic of Charles V at Augsburg who needed Christian unity in the face of the threat of the Turks. You are adopting the stance of Pope Urban who hoped Christendom would unite to expel the infidel from the Holy Land rather than spending their blood and treasure in the countless wars of the petty christian states. All good and valid reasons in their own way, having nothing to do with discipleing the nations.


Lou

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Re: Lutheran, Catholics "on the way" to greater unity
« Reply #77 on: November 04, 2015, 11:03:23 AM »

Nope, we know the unity in the Spirit expressed in scriptures - before Constantine converted the church.


We tend not to know as much as we think we know....."A man ought not think too highly of himself"


Lou

Brian Stoffregen

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Re: Lutheran, Catholics "on the way" to greater unity
« Reply #78 on: November 04, 2015, 01:23:15 PM »

Nope, we know the unity in the Spirit expressed in scriptures - before Constantine converted the church.


We tend not to know as much as we think we know....."A man ought not think too highly of himself"


Some of us believe that God is revealing his will in scriptures - and the unity of God's people is God's will.
"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]

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Re: Lutheran, Catholics "on the way" to greater unity
« Reply #79 on: November 04, 2015, 01:39:49 PM »

Nope, we know the unity in the Spirit expressed in scriptures - before Constantine converted the church.


We tend not to know as much as we think we know....."A man ought not think too highly of himself"


Some of us believe that God is revealing his will in scriptures - and the unity of God's people is God's will.


And so you are going out to do God's will. And some think I am a Pietist.... ::)


Lou

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Re: Lutheran, Catholics "on the way" to greater unity
« Reply #80 on: November 04, 2015, 02:59:49 PM »

Nope, we know the unity in the Spirit expressed in scriptures - before Constantine converted the church.


We tend not to know as much as we think we know....."A man ought not think too highly of himself"


Some of us believe that God is revealing his will in scriptures - and the unity of God's people is God's will.


And so you are going out to do God's will. And some think I am a Pietist.... ::)


Lou


Those "some of us" are the winners and not the losers.  Jesus said, "..deny yourself and take up your cross..."   The problem with the visible unity agenda is that it does not have the mark of Jesus' cross on it, as far as I can tell.  Visible unity is only in Christ and hidden.

Brian Stoffregen

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Re: Lutheran, Catholics "on the way" to greater unity
« Reply #81 on: November 04, 2015, 04:01:31 PM »

Nope, we know the unity in the Spirit expressed in scriptures - before Constantine converted the church.


We tend not to know as much as we think we know....."A man ought not think too highly of himself"


Some of us believe that God is revealing his will in scriptures - and the unity of God's people is God's will.


And so you are going out to do God's will. And some think I am a Pietist.... ::)


Lou


Those "some of us" are the winners and not the losers.  Jesus said, "..deny yourself and take up your cross..."   The problem with the visible unity agenda is that it does not have the mark of Jesus' cross on it, as far as I can tell.  Visible unity is only in Christ and hidden.


"Visible unity" as you put it, not I, is seen when clergy gather together for study and fellowship, when congregations come together for ecumenical worship services, when pastors exchange pulpits, when we, as separate congregations and denominations, work together rather than fight with one another. "Visible unity" does not have to be the merger of denominations. It is more about attitude than institutional structures. (I write this just after getting back to the office after lunch with a Methodist colleague - where we discussed to some extent, our ecumenical Thanksgiving Eve Worship service.
"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: Lutheran, Catholics "on the way" to greater unity
« Reply #82 on: November 04, 2015, 04:07:43 PM »
Why is everything all or nothing with ecumenism? I read the document and found several positives, but I also found some things that I think were charitably naive. Obviously as a Missouri Synod member the document and its intentions do not necessarily speak for me, but I still find value in it. I also think there are things in there that can be a springboard for conversation between Rome and the ILC (which are due to begin soon). No matter the perspective one comes from I just don't understand the "ALL IN" approach or the "dumpster fire" approach to ecumenism. Let ecumenism be what it is: An honest effort to foster dialogue that prayerfully leads to cooperation and if, in God's time, it leads to unity then ring the bells and never let the Alleluias cease. Just don't force it, and don't blast it either.

My 0.02.

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Fletch

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Re: Lutheran, Catholics "on the way" to greater unity
« Reply #83 on: November 04, 2015, 04:13:58 PM »
Why is everything all or nothing with ecumenism? I read the document and found several positives, but I also found some things that I think were charitably naive. Obviously as a Missouri Synod member the document and its intentions do not necessarily speak for me, but I still find value in it. I also think there are things in there that can be a springboard for conversation between Rome and the ILC (which are due to begin soon). No matter the perspective one comes from I just don't understand the "ALL IN" approach or the "dumpster fire" approach to ecumenism. Let ecumenism be what it is: An honest effort to foster dialogue that prayerfully leads to cooperation and if, in God's time, it leads to unity then ring the bells and never let the Alleluias cease. Just don't force it, and don't blast it either.

My 0.02.

M. Staneck

Several good points there.  My view would be ecumenism AS CURRENTLY PRACTICED tends to be a race to the bottom.  Said another way, "truth" is thrown out with the bathwater in the name of glad-handing (with the devil?) and succumbing to the siren call of wanting to play nice with secularist movements so as to fit in.  My 0.02. 

... Fletch

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Re: Lutheran, Catholics "on the way" to greater unity
« Reply #84 on: November 04, 2015, 04:26:30 PM »
Why is everything all or nothing with ecumenism? I read the document and found several positives, but I also found some things that I think were charitably naive. Obviously as a Missouri Synod member the document and its intentions do not necessarily speak for me, but I still find value in it. I also think there are things in there that can be a springboard for conversation between Rome and the ILC (which are due to begin soon). No matter the perspective one comes from I just don't understand the "ALL IN" approach or the "dumpster fire" approach to ecumenism. Let ecumenism be what it is: An honest effort to foster dialogue that prayerfully leads to cooperation and if, in God's time, it leads to unity then ring the bells and never let the Alleluias cease. Just don't force it, and don't blast it either.

My 0.02.

M. Staneck

Well said.  My personal experience is that ecumenism works best when it is bottom-up.  When it is approached from a top-down perspective (think big ecumenical councils of the national and world levels), agendas get set and things get a little dicey.

Randy Bosch

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Re: Lutheran, Catholics "on the way" to greater unity
« Reply #85 on: November 04, 2015, 04:40:51 PM »
Musing about Christian unity.  Some who abhor their perception of "Constantine style" (my air quotes) unity are all on board with the new ecumenism's dogma and practices.  First, old Constantine gets more blame/credit than is likely his due.  Whoever would be the new Constantine (run and hide!) is up for more credit/blame than is likely his/her due.  Any spin probably has more to do with the perceiver's preferences or biases than with what actually occurred/is occurring.  To badly mix metaphors, as with newscast teasers, "Whose ox is being gored?  Film at 11".
« Last Edit: November 04, 2015, 05:20:37 PM by Randy Bosch »

Dave Likeness

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Re: Lutheran, Catholics "on the way" to greater unity
« Reply #86 on: November 04, 2015, 05:18:22 PM »
There is something that the Lutheran laity and the Roman Catholic
laity already understand.   Despite our doctrinal differences we are
still brothers and sisters in Christ.  Many 21st century RC laity do not
stand in awe of the Pope or his pronouncements. They do not buy into
purgatory.  RC laity actually admire Lutheranism for following Martin
Luther's example of being a married pastor.   They respect the fact of
a husband and wife and children in the parsonage.

Bottom Line:  At this time in history, the Lutheran laity and the Roman
Catholic laity accept Jesus Christ as their Savior from sin who died and
rose again to gain our forgiveness and eternal life.

P.S.  These comments about the laity apply in particular to the
United States of America.
« Last Edit: November 04, 2015, 05:20:25 PM by Dave Likeness »

Charles Austin

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Re: Lutheran, Catholics "on the way" to greater unity
« Reply #87 on: November 04, 2015, 05:32:06 PM »
 Please tell me, Fletch, what "secularist movement" we are involved with ecumenically.  Please tell me what "truth" has been thrown out.
Retired ELCA Pastor. Iowa native. Oh, my. How close we were to a situation where many people with guns could’ve killed many members of Congress. The possible result? Martial law and/or Civil War. Thank God some people are still coming forward to tell the truth.

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Re: Lutheran, Catholics "on the way" to greater unity
« Reply #88 on: November 04, 2015, 05:42:01 PM »
0-400 CE – faith IN Jesus – people trusted Jesus
400-1900 CE – faith ABOUT Jesus – fights occur over right theology
1900 CE – experience of Jesus – this began with the modern Pentecostal experience

Actually, the "fights over right theology" go back at least as far as the early second century - e.g Marcion, - and could even go back to the writing of the New Testament.

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Re: Lutheran, Catholics "on the way" to greater unity
« Reply #89 on: November 04, 2015, 05:47:45 PM »
United we can to more than we each do individually or congregationally.





This is the part that frightens me the most--the idea "we can do more". Historically when we "unite to do more" it has translated into more death and destruction, including when "the church" has been more united. The Roman Church in its unified days of hegemony unleashed some awful things against the neighbor. Likewise, the Eastern Church does not have a sterling reputation among its neighbors for actions taken during times of its hegemony. None of us think "bigness" is particularly a good thing in most facets of life. Our nation went through a "trust-buster" period against "big business". Some believe today that Wall street has gotten way too big. Others are of a mind Big Labor is a problem. Monsanto is believed to be much too big. One party rule has meant problems for many countries. Too much concentration of power and authority in fallen human institutions peopled by fallen individuals has not meant good things for the greater populace. It is simple hubris to believe these facets of human nature do not apply to the very human institution we call the "visible church." I think one of the reasons God has allowed the disunity to predominate is because it is safer for His people. If we could actually be unified as one as the father and Jesus are one it would be a different story but until God actually does that by raising us to new life, it best remain our prayer rather than become our agenda.


When the church was united with itself - the first 300 years. It was an effective witness in a world of heathens. When the church became united with Empire. Then death and destruction came. As the saying goes: "Power tends to corrupt." The church gained power. A quote I read, but can't remember where, is that the Christianity changed from being a religion we were willing to die for, to one we were willing to kill for. Another author suggested, and I agree, that Constantine's conversion was more about changing Christianity than about changing Constantine.


Thank you for supporting my contention. We live in the post-Constantinian age. Pandora's box was opened. The cat is out of the bag. People think in terms and categories consistent with that age. Some in the church think all would be well if we all were united, but the only unity we know is the unity of Rome we embraced so many  centuries ago. Rome was not christianized so much as christianity was Romanized. We have all returned to being creatures of law, attempting to force, coerce, negotiate, and compromise our way to some sense of a visible unity rather than soaking in the unity provided by the Lord and radiating that same unity out into the world.


Lou

I like what you're saying in theory, Lou.  At the same time, the Pre-Constantinian Church was not without flaws and its unity was compromised as well.  There is no perfect time and place in the history of Christianity.  And all the human systems meant to quantify the Lord's Church are going to fall short in some way.  But those of us who choose to remain in, let's say, a Protestant denomination in the US, are not wrong for so doing automatically, or wrong for seeking greater operating and theological unity among the various denominations and faith groupings.  "Negotiate" is just another way to say there are people representing more than one point of view trying to figure out whether they can come to a substantial agreement.  That doesn't pend whether we're Post-Constantinian or Pre-Constantinian, does it?  Sometimes it can get a little hot, that negotiating.  From my personal perspective, I was asked to leave my denomination, and chose to say No, and was welcomed back with open arms, or something approximating open arms.  Maybe a raised digit.  It's hard to remember it exactly.

Dave Benke