Another Lutheran swims the Tiber

My brothers and sisters in the Catholic Church are gaining a remarkable new member, Russ Saltzman. Those of you who read First Things will recognize him as a columnist there; he was also formerly the editor of the Lutheran Forum.

I expect to read more from him from your side of the Tiber in the future, but here is his announcement of his intentions to enter the Catholic Church in the ALPB Forum Online in a thread titled, " Is it Just Me: Does Evangelical Catholicism Lead to Roman Catholicism?"

He states:

*What I have always sought - since seminary on - is to be in a church that finally gives expression to the catholicity of the Augsburg Confession. There is no Lutheran expression doing that. Most of my 17 years as editor of Forum Letter was spent, so it seems, showing Lutherans how far we have fallen from the practice of parish life described in our own confession. *

I feel his pain; and pray that the Holy Spirit continues to animate his life as a servant of God.

He’s a good writer - I hope he’s able to build bridges between the two communions.

I think we’ll see a few more good Lutherans crossing the Tiber - especially those caught (and perhaps weary) from the ELCA breakdown and needing a good solid home for their last days here under the sun.

Another crypto-Lutheran has infiltrated the Roman Catholic Church – soon we’ll begin phase two and empty the Vatican Bank! Woohoo! :smiley:

:blush: In all seriousness, I’m disappointed that a seminary-educated convert from Atheism doesn’t appear to have looked very hard at other Lutheran communions that remain more steadfast in the Confessions than others. Regarding poor praxis within those Confessional communions, frankly, he answered his own objection:

There are evangelically catholic centers of Lutheran congregational life, and some that are deeply so, And there are evangelically catholic-minded pastors seeking parish renewal by Creed, Catechism, Confession, and praise God for it. The Church must continually struggle "against forces that always strike the Church and gospel: the fashions and fads of Gnosticisms ancient and new . . . the devaluation of the sacraments through neglect, the socially accommodating spirit of Church Growth excitements, and the gross appetite of a politicized bureaucracy.

The Church Militant is under constant attack. Duh. That’s why it’s the Church Militant. Seems like he just threw in the towel because the going is getting tougher. What else does he expect? Christ Himself told us it would be so (John 16:33)! Well, if he hadn’t already made up his mind, I’d remind him about the second portion of that verse and of Who’s on our side (Romans 8:31).

Perhaps he’ll join this thread and tell us more about his decision, because right now, his reasoning is weak.

All that said, I am grateful to God that Mr. Saltzman and his family remain in a body that can administer the Sacraments to them.

Don’t ya’ know? The LC-MS is filled with mean nasty grumpy people!

If I had to guess, his wife’s longing for her childhood faith probably figures heavily in this decision.

That said, I sure hope he’s prepared for more Marty Haugen and “On Eagles Wings.”

Deo Gratias! I am happy he found the way to the CC!

Me too :slight_smile:
To paraphrase Ben, a little leaven leavens the whole lump!

[note to Ben - the plan is working!!]

:rotfl:

His announcement, the comments there, and yours here were very gracious.

May the healing of the Body of Christ continue until we are all one.

AHHHH. Just choked on my soda and it is going up my nose laughing from Vatican bank comment.:rotfl:

You who dwell in the shelter…

There is another hymnist in the same vein as Marty that my church plays even more. I think it is David…somebody.

I am happy if this guy is happy, at peace and in a place where he feels is the true place for him. All the best! :thumbsup:

Probably David Haas.

My pastor told me to leave my pocket knife at home - the last time we sang “We are called”, I apparently got a bit stabby. :slight_smile:

Yes Haas

Yay! Another Lutheran convert!

There seems to be two parts (other than his wife), that Pr. Saltzman identifies. Perhaps for Lutherans, the first is the more disconcerting:

What I have always sought - since seminary on - is to be in a church that finally gives expression to the catholicity of the Augsburg Confession. There is no Lutheran expression doing that. Most of my 17 years as editor of Forum Letter was spent, so it seems, showing Lutherans how far we have fallen from the practice of parish life described in our own confession.

Assuming Pr. Saltzman was looking past some of the parochial animosities between some Lutheran synods, it concerns that he could not find an expression of the catholicity of the Augsburg Confession in any American Lutheran synod.
Catholics here have asked in the past what would drive me into the Tiber. One of my responses has always been, rather than a pull from Rome, a push from Lutheranism. He seems to have received that push.

Another comment:

Yet, this is not for ease nor is it out of mere unhappiness with the state of Lutheranism. It rises from true conviction that has grown in strength since Richard’s death, that the essence - more like fullness - of the Church of Christ is in found communion with churches in communion with the bishop of Rome. It is not safe to deny one’s conscience or renege on conviction.

Pr. Saltzman is not the first to be influenced by Fr. Richard, neither will he be the last.

I wish him well.

Jon

Hi Still,

The list of recent Lutheran Theologian converts grows constantly.

Richard John Neuhaus (1990)
Robert Walkin (1994)
Paul Quist (2005)
Richard Ballard (2006)
Paul Abe (2006),
Dr. Michael Root (2010)
Thomas McMichael
Mickey Mattox
David Fagerberg
Bruce Marshall
Reinhard Hutter
Philip Max Johnson

I’m sure I have missed a few.

One of the most interesting examples of this phenomenon is Dr. Michael Root, a Lutheran Theologian who represented Lutheranism at the Catholic/Lutheran Dialogue in 2009. Root converted in 2010 and is now a Professor at Catholic University. It appears that he was compelled to ‘swim’ after being introduced to Catholic theology in a way that forced him to actually think about it. I think that this phenomenon will continue as more people become familiar with what the Church actually teaches, rather than what they have heard or read from the its opponents.

Now we have another noted Lutheran, Russ Saltzman who has swum the Tiber. As I have noted in prior threads, it is extremely interesting that, proportionally, there are so many more Lutheran Theologians swimming the Tiber than Lutheran lay people.

It should be noted that in writing about his conversion, Saltzman writes:

**“I know as many priests as I do pastors, people I hang out with on email and the like, and I point out not a few of those priests were once Lutheran pastors. **Not to slight you or anyone you know, it has just happened in my life that my intellectual and best theological compatriots these days are largely Roman Catholic.”

It seems reasonable to say that Lutheran Theologians know Scripture, Theology, Christian history, etc., etc., better than, in general, Lutheran lay people. It would also seem reasonable to also suggest that Christian doctrine is more important to Theologians than it is to the general population. Yet, rather than converting as a lower rate than lay people, which would be expected, Lutheran Theologians seem to convert to Catholicism at a much higher rate. Rather than a reflexive criticizing, which we have seen, I think that Lutheran lay people should take notice of these conversions and consider the reasoning of so many of their (former) leaders, especially given the fact that they are having to turn their professional and likely their personal lives upside down in order to follow the Truth.

Personally I think these people are to be admired whether you agree with their conclusions or not.

God Bless You Still, Topper

I hope so too.

Praise be to God.

The actual text of Russell Staltzman’s announcement that he was converting to the Catholic Church is as follows:

*“Colleagues, friends

Before word gets out too far and you hear it not from me, my wife, Dianne, and I are transitioning to the Roman Catholic Church.

I’m told there’s a small announcement going in Forum Letter next month and some advance copies have gone out. I had private conversation with Bp. John Bradosky [North American Lutheran Church] morning of our Great Plains Mission District convocation early November and told him. For the record, he wasn’t surprised.

To say I am becoming Roman Catholic is about the fifth step with four preceding it, none of which in my mind are necessarily connected. I’ll take you through them. I did this about as honestly as I could, given circumstances.

  1. I was nominated for the NALC executive council. I decided if I were elected I’d resign as district dean; I was restless in that work and I don’t like two-fers, people holding two offices. Then, I saw Pr. Melinda Jones’ name on the ballot with 6,000 male pastors (I do exaggerate, slightly) also after the spot. The only question for me was whether I’d come in second or third to Melinda (I still got political instincts). I made second.

  2. Having become accustomed to the idea of surrendering the dean’s office, I found, maybe mid-August, despite losing to Melinda, the reasons for giving up dean were still all in place. We are a small district numerically. The work should be passed around as much as feasible. I had done it four years; time to let go.

  3. My wife. We were in Charleston, SC tending her father’s death bed as the NALC convocation was going on. Experiencing the death of her Roman Catholic father on the last day of the NALC convocation in July, my wife sensed a tug back to her childhood faith. She had issues with the RCs for many years, but never really examined them. When she began examining them last summer, most had faded. Her father was raised a Lutheran and became Roman Catholic; Dianne was Roman Catholic and became Lutheran. Life is darn strange.

  4. When she mentioned this to me, I had no objection at all. It was something Richard Neuhaus, famously a Lutheran gone Catholic, had urged on me for years. Our last correspondence before he died 2009 was on that subject. You might say his ghost has come 'round to whop me upside my head.

While certainly Neuhaus was - ****, still is - a tremendous influence on me, Dianne’s announcement set me to examining my Lutheran life, and in some ways it’s not as Lutheran as it once was. I write regularly for a Catholic magazine. Everybody senior on the staff at First Things is Catholic. I know as many priests as I do pastors, people I hang out with on email and the like, and I point out not a few of those priests were once Lutheran pastors. Not to slight you or anyone you know, it has just happened in my life that my intellectual and best theological compatriots these days are largely Roman Catholic.

What I have always sought - since seminary on - is to be in a church that finally gives expression to the catholicity of the Augsburg Confession. There is no Lutheran expression doing that. Most of my 17 years as editor of Forum Letter was spent, so it seems, showing Lutherans how far we have fallen from the practice of parish life described in our own confession.

There are evangelically catholic centers of Lutheran congregational life, and some that are deeply so, And there are evangelically catholic-minded pastors seeking parish renewal by Creed, Catechism, Confession, and praise God for it. The Church must continually struggle “against forces that always strike the Church and gospel: the fashions and fads of Gnosticisms ancient and new . . . the devaluation of the sacraments through neglect, the socially accommodating spirit of Church Growth excitements, and the gross appetite of a politicized bureaucracy.” (Forum Letter 19:9, September 1990). It may be, I’ll find out, the best field for the contestation in that struggle is with Rome.

  1. By the time I reasoned all that out, Step 5 was, like, why the hell not?

Yet, this is not for ease nor is it out of mere unhappiness with the state of Lutheranism. It rises from true conviction that has grown in strength since Richard’s death, that the essence - more like fullness - of the Church of Christ is in found communion with churches in communion with the bishop of Rome. It is not safe to deny one’s conscience or renege on conviction.

My future as a Roman Catholic may clarify more in the coming year. The possibility of joining Catholic orders has come up. But if nothing comes of it, well, thanks to First Things, I’m already a “catholic” voice here and there. If the Spirit is happy with that, and that only, so am I.

I guess there is a 6th step. I ever thank God that when I was struggling out of the well of agnosticism, and atheism about every third or fourth day, He placed in my path some challenging, passionate, authentic Lutheran pastors, and made a place for me in Lutheran congregational life. It was in a community founded in the Resurrection that I first believed there had even been a resurrection. It was there - St. Mark’s, Olathe KS; Our Savior’s, Topeka KS - that I found myself practicing what I did not believe and thereby came to believe what I was practicing.

We are each of us companions on the Way, and I will treasure the journey onward regardless of affiliations.

The Lord be with you.” *

Russell E Saltzman, former editor, Forum Letter

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