Help me prepare a response to this Lutheran Minister


#1

Hi all!

A few months back I was looking into the Lutheran demonination.

Since then, I have been called back to the RCC by our Lord. Now, when I informed the pastor at the lutheran church I was speaking to of this, he said, and I quote his email to me here:

"I hope you can answer the question:
Why is there more than one (self-confessed) Catholic Church?

If you say “there isn’t…” that’s what I say.
But the Pope claims to see it… it’s his.
I don’t see it, I confess it, as fractured as it appears.

Pastor ----
A Catholic who follows Luther"

Now, I need some help preparing a good response to this here fellow. Anyone have any ideas?

Stephen


#2

Where the Bishop of Rome is, there is the Church. Not Luther, the Bishop of Rome.


#3

This man is in serious denial that he is, in fact, a Protestant and a material heretic. I can understand that, though. No one wants to think they are wrong, do they?

I think you are going to have to argue from history here. Everyone, even secular historians, admit that Luther broke with the Catholic Church to form his own communion. Luther may have wanted to believe he was the true Catholic, but history has proven him wrong. The Church went on, reformed itself without having to throw out indulgences or any other belief he had trouble with, and is still recognized by all (except those who are ignorant or those in denial) that the Church Christ founded is the visible Catholic Church headed by the pope in Rome.

This Lutheran minister wants to believe that all Christians can claim the title “Catholic” and in so far as their baptism makes them members of the Catholic Church he is right. But, at his and everyone else’s confirm or “acceptance of Christ” outside the sacrament of the one Church founded by Christ, they ignorantly and innocently separated themselves from full membership in the Church and are material heretics, except those who did know better and did it willing and with no coercion–they are formal heretics, both of whom need to be reconciled to Christ’s one, holy, catholic, and very visible Catholic Church.


#4

[quote=slewi]Pastor ----
A Catholic who follows Luther"

[/quote]

Need he say more?

We follow the church that Jesus Christ himself established. :thumbsup:


#5

[quote=slewi]"I hope you can answer the question:
Why is there more than one (self-confessed) Catholic Church?

[/quote]

First of all, ask him "Why is there more than one (self-confessed) Luteran church?http://forums.catholic.com/images/icons/icon12.gif

There is only one Catholic Church – the fact that others claim to be Catholics doesn’t change that.


#6

That pastor might want to see what Luther said when he wrote a letter to Pope Leo X. Here is the whole letter which will give a better look, this is just a small part:
Thus I come, most blessed Father [Pope Leo], and in all abasement beseech you to put to your hand, if it is possible, and impose a curb to those flatterers who are enemies of peace, while they pretend peace. But there is no reason, most blessed Father, why any one should assume that I am to utter a recantation, unless he prefers to involve the case in still greater confusion. Moreover, I cannot bear with laws for the interpretation of the word of God, since the word of God, which teaches liberty in all other things, ought not to be bound. Saving these two things, there is nothing which I am not able, and most heartily willing, to do or to suffer. I hate contention; I will challenge no one; in return I wish not to be challenged; but, being challenged, I will not be dumb in the cause of Christ my Master. For your Blessedness will be able by one short and easy word to call these controversies before you and suppress them, and to impose silence and peace on both sides–a word which I have ever longed to hear.

Therefore, Leo, my Father, beware of listening to those sirens who make you out to be not simply a man, but partly a god, so that you can command and require whatever you will. It will not happen so, nor will you prevail. You are the servant of servants, and more than any other man, in a most pitiable and perilous position. Let not those men deceive you who pretend that you are lord of the world; who will not allow any one to be a Christian without your authority; who babble of your having power over heaven, hell, and purgatory. These men are your enemies and are seeking your soul to destroy it, as Isaiah say, “My people, they that call thee blessed are themselves deceiving thee.” They are in error who raise you above councils and the universal Church; they are in error who attribute to you alone the right of interpreting Scripture. All these men are seeking to set up their own impieties in the Church under your name, and alas! Satan has gained much through them in the time of your predecessors.
Kind of interesting talk, Luther is mad at other people yet in the end he is guilty of “seeking to set up his own impieties in the Church”. He seems to recognize the authority of the pope, so where did that authority go?


#7

That’s the dumbest question I ever heard. And from a Lutheran pastor? That’s hard to believe. Lutherans are smart; they read Greek, study history. This guy is flailing.

Anyway: any “self-confessed” ‘catholic’ Church that rejects the Apostolic See has self-confessed itself right out of the Catholic Church if it rejects the Apostolic See.
*Ubi Petrus, ibi ecclesia. *


#8

“Let no one do anything of concern to the Church without the bishop. Let that be considered a valid Eucharist which is celebrated by the bishop or by one whom he ordains *. Wherever the bishop appears, let the people be there; just as wherever Jesus Christ is, there is the Catholic Church” (*Letter to the Smyrneans **8:2 [A.D. 110]).
Ignatius of Antioch, good ol’ chap.

I think St. Ignatius of Antioch, back in the early second century had the right idea about it. Ask him, what bishop does he submit to? Of course, this is not scripture, but I would imagine that most Christians claim they practice the beliefs of the early Christians.

And of course, the legitimacy of the bishop depends on his union with the Holy See.

Of course, in regard to his Catholic question, pose Augustine’s words:

[quote]
"We must hold to the Christian religion and to communication in her Church, which is catholic and which is called catholic not only by her own members but even by all her enemies

. For when heretics or the adherents of schisms talk about her, not among themselves but with strangers, willy-nilly they call her nothing else but Catholic. For they will not be understood unless they distinguish her by this name which the whole world employs in her regard" (The True Religion 7:12 [A.D. 390]).

Do the test. Go to a cop on the street corner and ask him “where’s the catholic church?” He’ll point you to a Catholic church, not a Lutheran one. Lutherans consider themselves catholic. Good for them. But Catholics consider themselves catholic, and so do all her enemies call her. Funny how it still holds true today. If you talk about the catholic church, everyone knows what you’re talking about.
[/quote]


#9

Thanks for the help everyone. Keep your ideas coming though, as I am composing my reply now. I will keep you all informed.

Stephen


#10

[quote=slewi]Hi all!

A few months back I was looking into the Lutheran demonination.

Since then, I have been called back to the RCC by our Lord. Now, when I informed the pastor at the lutheran church I was speaking to of this, he said, and I quote his email to me here:

"I hope you can answer the question:
Why is there more than one (self-confessed) Catholic Church?

If you say “there isn’t…” that’s what I say.
But the Pope claims to see it… it’s his.
I don’t see it, I confess it, as fractured as it appears.

Pastor ----
A Catholic who follows Luther"

Now, I need some help preparing a good response to this here fellow. Anyone have any ideas?

Stephen,

**You NEED to ask the Lutheran pastor to give you the list of those groups that he says are the fractured within Catholicism. Remember, the onus is on HIM not you!! If he can’t then he is barking up an empty tree, if he does then post them and I will gladly explain if those groups are “within” the Catholic Church or not. **

**Remember, Catholicism doesn’t have ANY denominations within it and is NOT a denomination itself; it is the Church Christ established, take it or leave it. A denomination has a differing authoritative structure and belief system. I’ve gotten this many times from email exchanges. Ask him that question, make him give you the list and if he can’t then he just proved himself as one who can make an acusation without backing it up which is not a Christ-like thing to do. **

If he gives you a list i.e., Maronite, Caldean, Byzantine then he’s mistaken, then aren’t denominations within Catholicism but “rites” and are all under the authority of the Pope. If he gives you groups that call themselves “Catholic” but don’t accept the dogmatic proclamations of the Magisterium and authority of the Pope, then they AREN’T “Catholic” but have in many cases self-excomminicated (latea sententiae) themselves, thus putting themselves outside the Catholic Church.

Keep us informed.:slight_smile:
[/quote]


#11

That was a cheap and superficial argument when St. Augustine used it, and it hasn’t gotten any better in 1600 years. If enough people call themselves something, people will accept that term. In some parts of the country, if you ask a cop on the street corner “where’s the Christian church,” he’ll point you to a church belonging to a 19th-century radical Protestant movement.

Edwin


#12

That was a cheap and superficial argument when St. Augustine used it, and it hasn’t gotten any better in 1600 years. If enough people call themselves something, people will accept that term. In some parts of the country, if you ask a cop on the street corner “where’s the Christian church,” he’ll point you to a church belonging to a 19th-century radical Protestant movement.

**It wasn’t “cheap and superficial” when St. Augstine used it since the Catholic Church has always distiguished herself from the heterodox from the earliest of times starting with the Gnositics, Donatists, Arians, Pelagians up to and beyond the reformation. **

I have Protestant early Church historian J.N.D. Kelly’s book “Early Christian Doctrines,” (p. 190-191) which says:

** “As regards ‘Catholic,’ its original meaning was ‘universal’ or ‘general.’ . . . in the latter half of the second century at latest, we find it conveying the suggestion that the Catholic is the true Church as distinct from heretical congregations (cf., e.g., Muratorian Canon). . . . What these early Fathers were envisaging was almost always the empirical, visible society; they had little or no inkling of the distinction which was later to become important between a visible and an invisible Church.”**


#13

[quote=Contarini]That was a cheap and superficial argument when St. Augustine used it, and it hasn’t gotten any better in 1600 years. If enough people call themselves something, people will accept that term. In some parts of the country, if you ask a cop on the street corner “where’s the Christian church,” he’ll point you to a church belonging to a 19th-century radical Protestant movement.

Edwin
[/quote]

I do agree that it is *somewhat *superficial, and, logically speaking, has no bearing on whether or not the theology is correct, but nevertheless, it’s an interesting experiment. And, this topic is about Catholic, not about Christian. Surely, Catholics recognize all those validly baptized as Christians. There is no contradiction there. Protestants are Christians too, so if I asked for the Christian church, I wouldn’t be in the least offended or surprised if he gave me the Lutheran, or Episcopalian, or Methodist church. However, since this topic is about a Lutheran who considers himself catholic, I figured it would be fun, for kicks and giggles, to pose this to him. And since catholicity is one of the marks of the (true) Church, it is at least a somewhat relevant to the dicussion. And of course, I quoted it because Augustine said it, not just anyone else.

In any case, it wasn’t my primary argument, it was just for fun. :wink: My primary argument was Ignatius’ quote about the bishops.


#14

Here was my letter to him:

Hi Pastor! First, let me begin by asking you why is there more than one self confessedLutheran Church? There is only ONE “…holy, Catholic, and apostolic church.”It was founded by Jesus Christ, not by Martin Luther. It was entrusted to Peter. Ubi Petrus, Ibi Ecclesia. As Peter, so the Church. The thing I’ve found about Luther is that he developed many of his beliefs onhis own without being taught them by Scripture, but then turned to theScriptures as a way of defending his beliefs. The biggest problem is thatalong with his pointing out the questionable usage of indulgences by certainmembers of the clergy, came the destructive idea that anyone could form abrand new version of Catholicism based on his own private interpretation ofScripture. The damage from indulgences has waned with time. The damage done by Luther andthose inspired by him grows worse every day. It is easy to say one doesn’tagree with something and chose not to believe in it, just as it is easier tosin than it is to be good. But in the end, there is only one way. We havebeen given the gift of the Roman Catholic Church to guide and teach us, it isup to us to thank God for this gift and follow it’s precepts. Also, I am curious as towhat groups you see as “fractured” within the catholic church? I am not sureof your meaning. Are you refering to the protestants who willingly left motherchurch and still claim to be catholic?

I will post his reply next.


#15

Dear Stephen,
Speaking as a former history teacher for over 20 years (church history
too)
I find your views of the Reformation & of the Roman Catholic Church
lacking in several respects.
Certainly it is not correct to say Luther left the Catholic faith.
Luther was disciplined for what Erasmus called “a great sin.
He separated the Pope from his pocket book.” Yes, I know, he also
questioned the infallibility of popes and councils… other catholics
had questioned those too. Yet he was excommunicated.

"The thing I’ve found about Luther is that he developed many of his
beliefs on
his own without being taught them by Scripture."
Ans. There was no better Biblical scholar in Germany and perhaps Europe
in Luther’s day.
Luther did not support “private interpretation.” He found ample warrant
in the church fathers
for his view of the Scriptures. It was Augustine’s exegesis of the Psalms
(not just Romans)
that convinced him that justification is by faith alone apart from
righteous works.
He opposed Zwingli for his symbolic view of the Lord’s Supper
(as Luther said, “At least the Pope has the sacrament.”) He also opposed
the
Anabaptists with great vigor because of their emphasis on direct
revelation
instead of the Scriptures, though most of them were not as extreme as the
Albigenses.

"Are you referring to the protestants who willingly left mother
church and still claim to be catholic?"
Ans. The Eastern Orthodox Church refers to the Roman Catholic Church as
"the first Protestant Church"
since Pope Leo IX excommunicated Patriarch Cerularius of Constantinople
in 1054AD.

There is only one infallible authority, the Word of God on which we must
rely.
If the church (pope, bishops, councils, etc) was infallible why did John
threaten whole
churches with discipline & excommunication from God (Revelation 2 & 3) ?

The souls that rely only on Jesus & His Word (the Bible) are Catholic.
God’s peace,
Pastor ----


#16

This pastor is, I’m afraid, confused on what Luther did and didn’t do, teach and create on his own and what was the reformation. Anyone can read or teach history from an a priori position. Martin Luther coined the phrase “sola scriptura” which is something neither the Church fathers nor anyone prior to the reformation had ever heard.

Luther’s view on “faith alone” (sola fide), justification was NOT that of St. Augustine’s nor the early Church fathers.
St. Augustine:

“We are commanded to live righteously, and the reward is set before us of our meriting to live happily in eternity. But who is able to live righteously and do good works unless he has been justified by faith?” (*Various Questions to Simplician *1:2:21 [A.D. 396]).

“He bestowed forgiveness; the crown he will pay out. Of forgiveness he is the donor; of the crown, he is the debtor. Why debtor? Did he receive something? . . . The Lord made himself a debtor not by receiving something but by promising something. One does not say to him, ‘Pay for what you received,’ but ‘Pay what you promised’” (*Explanations of the Psalms *83:16 [A.D. 405]).

“What merits of his own has the saved to boast of when, if he were dealt with according to his merits, he would be nothing if not damned? Have the just then no merits at all? Of course they do, for they are the just. But they had no merits by which they were made just” (*Letters *194:3:6 [A.D. 412]).

“What merit, then, does a man have before grace, by which he might receive grace, when our every good merit is produced in us only by grace and when God, crowning our merits, crowns nothing else but his own gifts to us?” (ibid., 194:5:19).

This quote sounds much like Matthew 25 where …those who do good [works (under Gods grace)] unto the least of these (the poor, weak outcast etc.) have done it to Me [Jesus]…
That’s why St. Augustine could say " when God crowning our merits, [reward] crowns nothing else but his own gifts to us?"
When we cooperate with Gods grace He crowns His own works in us.
All of our works are because of God’s grace, in fact, every good that we do is first because of His grace. Catholicism DOESN’T teach that we earn our way to heaven like the pastor is implictly saying; that was the heretical position of the pelagians and semi-pelagians who the council of Orange 529 condemned. Click here: The Council of Orange - 529 A.D.

Our own works in and of themselves do nothing and are nothing to God and only bring death, (Eph 2:8-10) only can we do good first by His grace which verse 10 in Ephesians concludes. In the Catholic theological sense, merit means reward not in the strict sense of earning (only Christ can earn any good in the strict sense, since He is God and always does perfect good).

However, we can do good under and by His grace as Matthew 25 mentions when God will separate those who have done good (under Gods grace Gal 5:6) and those who were doing their own works which aren’t worth a thing and only bring death.

Perhaps Luther should have considered St. Augustine’s position and submission to the Papacy:

“There are many other things which rightly keep me in the bosom of the Catholic Church. The consent of the people and nations keeps me, her authority keeps me, inaugurated by miracles, nourished in hope, enlarged by love, and established by age. The succession of priests keep me, from the very seat of the apostle Peter (to whom the Lord after his resurrection gave charge to feed his sheep) down to the present episcopate [of Pope Siricius]” (*Against the Letter of Mani Called “The Foundation” *5 [A.D. 397]).

“[On this matter of the Pelagians] two councils have already been sent to the Apostolic See [the bishop of Rome], and from there rescripts too have come. The matter is at an end; would that the error too might be at an end!” (*Sermons *131:10 [A.D. 411]).

This pastor says the Scriptures are the only authority?

You should ask him what is the pillar and foundation of truth?
Ask him to look up 1 Tim 3:15:

"But if I should be delayed, you should know how to behave in the household of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and foundation of truth."

christi simus non nostri


#17

[quote=Lutheran Pastor] Certainly it is not correct to say Luther left the Catholic faith.
[/quote]

So why do Lutherans call themself “Lutherans”? They named their church after a man.

Yes, I know, he also questioned the infallibility of popes and councils… other catholics had questioned those too. Yet he was excommunicated.

Im not sure what to say here, every major council up to Luther’s time held explicit anathemas against anyone who held to the heretical view each council was targeting. So I ask, despite how many other Catholics supposedly rejected the councils, how can Luther say he didnt leave the Church when he takes it upon himself to be the final authority in what a council can teach.

Ans. There was no better Biblical scholar in Germany and perhaps Europe in Luther’s day.

Silly talk. He would not have named one of his central doctrines “Faith Alone” when places like James2 explicitly say otherwise.

Luther did not support “private interpretation.” He found ample warrant in the church fathers for his view of the Scriptures. It was Augustine’s exegesis of the Psalms (not just Romans) that convinced him that justification is by faith alone apart fromrighteous works.

Sounds intimidating, yet hollow. In fact there was more ignoring and reading around what Augustine as well as other ECFs that Luther and Calvin did.

He opposed Zwingli for his symbolic view of the Lord’s Supper (as Luther said, “At least the Pope has the sacrament.”)

Is he aware that a valid Sacrament requires valid Apostolic Succession? If Im not mistaking Lutherans also ordain women, where is the support for that in Scripture and Fathers?

There is only one infallible authority, the Word of God on which we must rely. If the church (pope, bishops, councils, etc) was infallible why did John threaten wholechurches with discipline & excommunication from God (Revelation 2 & 3) ?

So why are so many Bible’s nowdays missing 7 books when 2Timothy3:15 says “All Scripture is inspired”? Also that quote from Rev is not talking about the Bible because the Bible didnt exist yet, in fact Revelation was not widely accepted in the early Church, many people didnt consider it Scripture.


#18

I think what concerns me most is that he hasn’t answered any of my questions, he just posed new ones based on things I didn’t say in my email to him…he is a true Lutheran! I’ll keep y’all posted!


#19

[quote=slewi]I think what concerns me most is that he hasn’t answered any of my questions, he just posed new ones based on things I didn’t say in my email to him…he is a true Lutheran! I’ll keep y’all posted!
[/quote]

This is a standard anti-Catholic tactic – when losing the argument, change the subject. Try to overwhelm the Catholic with a myriad of questions and issues and don’t allow him enough time to refute any one of them.

The counter-strategy is to hold his feet to the fire, “Since you’ve changed the subject, I will assume you concede I’m right on the former point.” When he comes back to that point, “But you already conceded that point.”


#20

Here’s the beginning of my tome:

Good afternoon Pastor!

I was surprised to see that you chose not to really answer the questions I posed to you, rather you answered statements you think I made. Since you changed the subject, I will assume you concede I’m right on the former points. Here is my reply to several points you made:

1. I find your views of the Reformation & of the Roman Catholic Church lacking in several respects. Certainly it is not correct to say Luther left the Catholic faith. * * I did not state that Martin Luther left the Catholic Church, but it is an historical fact widely agreed on by both religious and secular scholars that Luther made the decision not to recant his opposition to the Bull “Urgenitus” (1343) of Pope Clement, and further, that his position of not accepting the authority of the Papacy, and subsequently being named a heretic, and later after attempts at reconciliation by the Pope, his excommunication, are what caused him to become an outcast of the Church.

In this letter to Pope Leo X from Wittenberg, 6th September, 1520, Luther seems to recognize the authority of the Pope, where did that authority go?

Thus I come, most blessed Father [Pope Leo], and in all abasement beseech you to put to your hand, if it is possible, and impose a curb to those flatterers who are enemies of peace, while they pretend peace. But there is no reason, most blessed Father, why any one should assume that I am to utter a recantation, unless he prefers to involve the case in still greater confusion. Moreover*, I cannot bear with laws for the interpretation of the word of God**, since the word of God, which teaches liberty in all other things, ought not to be bound. Saving these two things, there is nothing which I am not able, and most heartily willing, to do or to suffer. I hate contention; I will challenge no one; in return I wish not to be challenged; but, being challenged, I will not be dumb in the cause of Christ my Master**. For your Blessedness will be able by one short and easy word to call these controversies before you and suppress them, and to impose silence and peace on both sides–a word which I have ever longed to hear.**

Therefore, Leo, my Father, beware of listening to those sirens who make you out to be not simply a man, but partly a god, so that you can command and require whatever you will. It will not happen so, nor will you prevail. You are the servant of servants, and more than any other man, in a most pitiable and perilous position. Let not those men deceive you who pretend that you are lord of the world; who will not allow any one to be a Christian without your authority; who babble of your having power over heaven, hell, and purgatory. These men are your enemies and are seeking your soul to destroy it, as Isaiah say, “My people, they that call thee blessed are themselves deceiving thee.” They are in error who raise you above councils and the universal Church; they are in error who attribute to you alone the right of interpreting Scripture. All these men are seeking to set up their own impieties in the Church under your name, and alas! Satan has gained much through them in the time of your predecessors.*


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