Wednesday, November 7, 2007

In the Place of Christ?

I heard a speaker on Ancient Faith Radio say that the difference between Lutheranism and Orthodoxy is their central article of faith: For Lutherans, it is justification. For the Orthodox, it is the Trinity. To this, I say "Baloney!".

The central article of the Christian faith has to be justification; and justification necessarily includes the doctrine of the Trinity -- Justification is the work of the Triune God: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Justification is not simply the Son substituting Himself for sinful man, but it is the Father sending His Son for this purpose, the Son willingly submitting, and the sending of the Holy Spirit. Indeed, the glory of the Holy Trinity is revealed in justification; only through justification can man approach the Triune God

Lutherans are indeed guilty of too narrowly defining justification, focusing almost exclusively on its forensic and imputative nature. Justification, more fully and richly understood, includes, indeed, depends upon, the essence and nature of the Holy Trinity: -- [warning: the record is about to skip again] -- love, selflessness, sacrifice, mercy, charity, etc.

I don't mean to sound alarmist, nor fundamentalist, but I am growing increasingly concerned about the aggressive proselytizing that the Orthodox communion is engaged in. They seem to be systematically going after protestants, and particularly, protestant clergy (not that "I" consider Lutherans to be protestants, but the Orthodox certainly do). They seem to have their sights set particularly on Lutherans and Anglicans, those who have a deep appreciation of and theology concerning the Liturgy. These are being wooed with silver tongue and circumlocutory arguments. Lutherans, who need little ammunition supplied by others to turn their guns on their own church, are being told that the center of their faith is wrong. Lutherans must supplant Christ "and Him crucified" with the Holy Trinity. An alternate doctrine sits in the place of Christ.

Hmmm.... someone recognized that in another communion about five hundred years ago.


Fr. J. Sollberger said...

If we see Christ's work in and for His Church) more "organically", we would be less prone to split the hairs of the Trinity, the crucifixion, justification, etc. They would, as you put forth, be seen as they are: a living whole, God rescuing man from sin and death, over to His life and love.

The proselytizing that you refer to is a more prominent thing in these latter days, with a growing younger population desiring more traditional and sacred things than their parents. Sadly, they are nonetheless still of a generation that is in slavery to image and presentation. As such, many trade Christ and Him crucified for reasons of style (a higher liturgical praictice, and a seeming higher view of the OHM). This is no less alarming than those abandoning the liturgy and the Office for so-called "contemorary" or praise-band generated "worship". It all comes down to style and taste for many, at both ends fo the spectrum.

Fr. Jon M. Ellingworth said...

Fr. Sollbrother, I think that what you, and I, and many other like-minded brothers are truly hungering for is a fuller, richer, more incarnational and sacramental Lutheranism. However, this is not found in some sort of repristination. What I mean is, there was no ideal state of Lutheran orthodoxy where Lutheranism looked, smelled, and sounded like the evangelical catholic church we desire. Luther, it appears to me more and more, was quite radical. I try to be charitable and consider that he was over-reacting in many ways to extreme abuses by the Roman hieracrchy. Three hundred years later C.P. Krauth wrote "The Conservative Reformation" -- a good tome -- but the damage was already done, the Lutheran church had established its schizmatic ecclessiology and narrow doctrines. I think that would-be evangelical catholics are really, unwittingly, enciting a new reformation. The question may be: Will they rise to the occassion, or flee to another communion?

Fr. J. Sollberger said...

Fr. Ellingoworth (not a very "Lutheran" name...):

Your last question is most interesting (and very key). It gives birth to a concept not heretofore posited in the hearts of evangelical catholics, let alone conventional wisdom "A New (Unwitting) Reforamtion". There are two questions I would ask in return (in all agreement), but not here. They will in short time be found posted on "The Weeping Prophet" (How's that for a shamelss plug?)