Thursday, April 19, 2007

Lutheran Sola Scriptura

The Unknown Lutheran writes:

The true Lutheran understanding of Sola Scriptura is nothing more than this: Scripture testifies to Christ and Christ is what we need to look for in Scripture because Christ is what we need. Christ is in His Word and in His Sacraments and the whole of Scripture points us in this direction. Doctrine derived from Scripture will always point to Christ, because Christ is what Scripture is centered on. Doctrine derived from outside of Scripture leads to error, because experience, reason and history do not have Christ as their center, they have fallen man as their center.
I think this is exactly right, and it is why Lutherans don't usually "proof text" our theology. it is also why, as is the case with EWTN, RC/EO polemicists miss the mark in much of their critique of Sola Scriptura when they try and shoehorn us into pop-Evangelical versions of this doctrine. Just like Sola Fide, we often end up expending a lot of energy trying to explain the difference between what we actually believe and what others say we do.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Partial Birth Abortion

Psalm 139:13 (English Standard Version)

For you formed my inward parts;
you knitted me together in my mother's womb.

I think a more straight forward word, like infanticide, would be better.

I do wonder though, why it took 34 years for the courts to agree that crushing the skull of a baby half way out of the womb is a bridge too far, but only just.

In today's anti-Christian atmosphere we will take any victory we can, and this seems like an important one to me!

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Interesting Article on Luther and Calvin

I found this through Pontifications. The gist if the article is that the "Reformed" (as defined by Lutherans, i.e. Not EO, not RC, not Lutheran, but Chalcedonian Christians) "faith" as a reflection on the point in time at which one was saved, and then going on to prove that one is really saved. This is defined as the Protestant view. Lutheran faith, however, is a reflection on the promises of God, and that since God does not and cannot lie, we believe the promises and so we are justified by faith.

Cary, the author of the article (or I should say the speaker) goes on to say that the Book of Concord is more protestant than Luther. I am not sure I agree, but it is very interesting none the less. Check it out.

Monday, April 9, 2007

Annulments are a bit of Sophistry

Now that Lent is over, I can continue my scurrilous attacks on heresy. :-)

1629 For this reason (or for other reasons that render the marriage null and void) the Church, after an examination of the situation by the competent ecclesiastical tribunal, can declare the nullity of a marriage, i.e., that the marriage never existed.132 In this case the contracting parties are free to marry, provided the natural obligations of a previous union are discharged
Catechism of the Catholic Church

Yup, I got into another discussion with a follower of the esteemed Bishop of Rome, this time about indulgences. As the link says, an annulment states not that the marriage is dissolved, but that there was never a real marriage in the first place. If the Church declares a marriage a nullity, it never really happened. This is true even if the couple had children, were together for decades etc. So, because there was no marriage, there is no divorce. In this way, RCs who, marry into a sacramental union, can have conjugal relations with their second.., I mean spouse. The key to a real marriage is a sacramental union--no sacramental union, no marriage. No marriage, no divorce. In this way, the RCs believe they avoid the prohibitions against divorce from Jesus' own teachings. However, i believe this bit of sophistry has an unintended consequence,undermining the trust the husband and wife have in their marriage.

Now, to be fair, we too have "annulments"--we do not recognize polygamous unions, "marriages" between those of the same sex, incestuous marriages etc. This is true, and my interlocutor brought this up to point out that it is not only the RCC which annuls improper "marriages". As I said, this is a fair point. But it also obscures my point. No Christian church wants to recognize polgamous marriages, for example. The problem I see with RC annulments is the after-the-fact declaration that a normal marriage was nothing of the kind. As a Lutheran, I believe sacraments should have an objective character, and absent that they are much less practical. (I know we do not cosider marriage a sacrament in the same way as Holy Baptism and Holy Communion). So, if the Church can declare a marriage a nullity decades later, how can the ones exchanging vows have any real confidence they are in fact in a Sacramental Union, and hence are in a real marriage? No one can really know, because if one partner fulfills one of the "requirements" for annulment--e.g. he or she did not really realize what marriage is, then the marriage is nullified. It appears that more than a few RCs left the Church because of annulments--probably because they saw the sophistry too.

In any case, it is word games like " we don't have divorce, we really believe marriage is for life...but maybe you weren't really married in the first place..." that make me glad I am a Lutheran, even though the philosophers laugh at us. :-) We are definitely less prone to fancy word play on issues like this, and I thank God for that.