The historical Luther (trying to get the facts right)


#86

Yes, Lutheranism teaches we must repent sin. Lutherans do not believe in double predestination. They do not believe in irresistible grace.


#87

OK… help me understand, then.

I thought Luther taught that there is no such thing as ‘free will’, and that, in the economy of salvation, it’s 100% God’s initiative.

So, then, how does he explain that some are saved and some are not? I mean, on one hand, the Catholic stance that “there is free will, and although we rely on God’s initiative for the acceptance of justification, the individual human must choose to accept grace” makes sense. And, on the other hand, Calvin stakes out the other end of the spectrum: “God predetermines the elect and the damned alike”. How does Luther claim the middle ground, with not only “no free will” for choosing the grace but also “no irresistable grace”?


#88

Sure. In short, no one is capable of coming to God, seeking Him. This is one area where Lutherans would agree with Calvinism. But beyond that, Lutherans recognize that God’s plan is that all be saved, but no one is forced. While we cannot initiate, we can certainly reject grace.


#89

So… we can’t say ‘yes’, but we can say ‘no’?

Isn’t that at least some form of free will, then?


#90

That’s my point. Grace brings us to faith, not our own actions but we can reject grace. We receive grace, as a gift. One doesn’t ask for a gift, though one can reject it.

If one defines “yes” as simply not saying "no, then I guess the views agree.


#91

Not with respect to supernatural goods. Because it would be like answering an unasked question. Why walk around saying yes or no when no one has invited you to the party?

It is only after the predisposing grace of God is offered, that one has the freedom to say, “Yes or no”.

Psalm 34:9 Taste and see that the Lord is good; blessed is the stalwart one who takes refuge in him.

The way I understand the predisposing grace of God, is like a man who is up early in the morning and begins to work. Then, his wife puts on the bacon. And the coffee. He smells the aroma of breakfast and hears his wife’s call. But he feels that he is too busy to stop. He doesn’t want to leave stuff undone. So he resists. But then his stomach begins to rumble and he says, “Here I am!”


#92

For the infant, that starts with Baptism. For adult, it may start with hearing hearing the word. Lutherans would call it the means of grace


#93

Romans 10:14 How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? and how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher?


#94

You mean the purging of the historical record of anything that could hinder the progress of almighty “ecumenism”. Fake unity at all costs!


#95

Nothing “fake” about the unity. It is from the Holy Spirit, as Saint John Paul II wrote in Ut Unum Sint of "the deep communion — linked to the baptismal character — which the Spirit fosters in spite of historical and canonical divisions among all th ebaptised – Catholic and non-Catholic alike.

As he went on to say, “This broadening of vocabulary is indicative of a significant change in attitudes. There is an increased awareness that we all belong to Christ.”


#96

Sure, we are united by our baptismal character. Just like you and I are united to the the Lefebrvists by the same character. But what does that baptismal character avail if the one who possesses it remains severed from the Catholic Church? To acknowledge the unity of our baptismal character isn’t anything new. It was never denied. It alone, however, is not sufficient for salvation, according to the teachings of the Church. Real unity can exist in only one way: the return of the Protestants to the Catholic Church outside of which there is no salvation.


#97

True unity was defined in the encyclical Ut Unum Sint:

In effect, this unity bestowed by the Holy Spirit does not merely consist in the gathering of people as a collection of individuals. It is a unity constituted by the bonds of the profession of faith, the sacraments and hierarchical communion.

and

The unity willed by God can be attained only by the adherence of all to the content of revealed faith in its entirety. In matters of faith, compromise is in contradiction with God who is Truth. In the Body of Christ, “the way, and the truth, and the life” (Jn 14:6), who could consider legitimate a reconciliation brought about at the expense of the truth? The Council’s Declaration on Religious Freedom Dignitatis Humanae attributes to human dignity the quest for truth, “especially in what concerns God and his Church”,33 and adherence to truth’s demands. A “being together” which betrayed the truth would thus be opposed both to the nature of God who offers his communion and to the need for truth found in the depths of every human heart.

http://w2.vatican.va/content/john-paul-ii/en/encyclicals/documents/hf_jp-ii_enc_25051995_ut-unum-sint.html


#98

I am reminded to give thanks to the Holy Spirit for His work of illumination at Vatican II through the College of Bishops

First, they are very far from being “severed” from the Catholic Church – they are in a state of imperfect communion with the Catholic Church but nevertheless belonging to the Body of Christ

Thus, with Unitatis Redintegratio, we confess:

  • Even very many of the significant elements and endowments which together go to build up and give life to the Church itself, can exist outside the visible boundaries of the Catholic Church:

  • That indeed outside the Catholic Church exist many liturgical actions of the Christian religion. These most certainly can truly engender a life of grace in ways that vary according to the condition of each Church or Community. These liturgical actions must be regarded as capable of giving access to the community of salvation.

  • The separated Churches and Communities as such, though we believe them to be deficient in some respects, have been by no means deprived of significance and importance in the mystery of salvation.

  • The Spirit of Christ has not refrained from using them as means of salvation which derive their efficacy from the very fullness of grace and truth entrusted to the Church.

Indeed, I had occasion to underscore each of these points in my reflections when I co-presided with a Lutheran Cleric at the Liturgy of Common Prayer for the Commemoration of the 500th anniversary of the Reformation.

Moreover, some and even very many of the significant elements and endowments which together go to build up and give life to the Church itself, can exist outside the visible boundaries of the Catholic Church: the written word of God; the life of grace; faith, hope and charity, with the other interior gifts of the Holy Spirit, and visible elements too. All of these, which come from Christ and lead back to Christ, belong by right to the one Church of Christ.

The brethren divided from us also use many liturgical actions of the Christian religion. These most certainly can truly engender a life of grace in ways that vary according to the condition of each Church or Community. These liturgical actions must be regarded as capable of giving access to the community of salvation.

It follows that the separated Churches and Communities as such, though we believe them to be deficient in some respects, have been by no means deprived of significance and importance in the mystery of salvation. For the Spirit of Christ has not refrained from using them as means of salvation which derive their efficacy from the very fullness of grace and truth entrusted to the Church.


#99

Which is of course why we cannot – yet – celebrate together the Eucharist.

What is of extreme importance is to be sure that our nonCatholic sisters and brothers know that we appreciate that we have so much to learn from them and that their gifts are an enrichment to us, as Saint John Paul II articulated also in Ut Unum Sint:

  1. The relationships which the members of the Catholic Church have established with other Christians since the Council have enabled us to discover what God is bringing about in the members of other Churches and Ecclesial Communities. This direct contact, at a variety of levels, with pastors and with the members of these Communities has made us aware of the witness which other Christians bear to God and to Christ. A vast new field has thus opened up for the whole ecumenical experience, which at the same time is the great challenge of our time. Is not the twentieth century a time of great witness, which extends “even to the shedding of blood”? And does not this witness also involve the various Churches and Ecclesial Communities which take their name from Christ, Crucified and Risen?

Such a joint witness of holiness, as fidelity to the one Lord, has an ecumenical potential extraordinarily rich in grace. The Second Vatican Council made it clear that elements present among other Christians can contribute to the edification of Catholics: “Nor should we forget that whatever is wrought by the grace of the Holy Spirit in the hearts of our separated brothers and sisters can contribute to our own edification. Whatever is truly Christian never conflicts with the genuine interests of the faith; indeed, it can always result in a more ample realization of the very mystery of Christ and the Church”. Ecumenical dialogue, as a true dialogue of salvation, will certainly encourage this process, which has already begun well, to advance towards true and full Communion.

Indeed. Moving forward, it is important that they know that we look upon them as a gift and an enrichment to us.


#100

The Council of Florence declared:

[The Catholic Church] firmly believes, professes, and proclaims that those not living within the Catholic Church, not only pagans, but also Jews and heretics and schismatics cannot become participants in eternal life, but will depart “into everlasting fire which was prepared for the devil and his angels” [Matt. 25:41], unless before the end of life the same have been added to the flock…

Either Unitatis Redintegratio contradicts the Council of Florence, or it must be read, along with all of the other Vatican II documents, in light of Sacred Tradition. How the latter is to be done is beyond me. Unitatis Redintegratio is perhaps the most troubling of the Vatican II documents in that its contradictions of past teachings are so bold it appears impossible to reconcile it with Tradition. Thankfully, this one document is the shaky ground upon which the entire “new ecumenism” rests. When fresh eyes free of any emotional attachment to Vatican II examine it in years to come and authentic Tradition is reasserted, its greatest service to the Church will be to serve as a warning of what can happen when a spirit of appeasement and compromise supersedes a true zeal for the salvation of souls.


#101

Very far from it. The past is interpreted by the living Magisterium of the Church.


#102

which the Spirit fosters in spite of historical and canonical divisions

He didn’t say to change history in order to accomplish this unity. He respected and accepted history. Yet he still believed that we could have a unity of the Baptized.


#103

True. Has the living Magisterium removed the anathemas of Trent?


#104

The issue I think is the Church’s handling of the faithful on judicial grounds, and is the stasis for the reasons that the same questions reappear time and again and do not satisfy. This response to the lack of clarity is evidence Sensus Fidelium is certainly working.

We have in one case the leader of a breakaway sect who blasphemes his way through life, having it on with a nun, and everything any decent Catholic would avoid,etc then suddenly through decades of Church sanctioned ostrization instructed by scripture gets the white glove treatment, as compared to a Holy Archbishop who disobeys an order for a valid reason to protect his Church, and receives excommunication for it!?.

Luther was judged and he received the right justice for what he had done, the case is done, and he now receives the compounding effects of what he caused, the separation of thousands and their generations. He, as well as we were warned about that. This is not suddenly our cause for shame, nor reason to revisit. This one is valid leave it alone. The “We’re Open For Business” sign can still be left hung on Church doors as it always was
for 2000 years, successfully I might add.

I also thank the Holy Spirit for retaining through the generations the usual means for these misinformed people to receive the truth, and making avail to them the RCIA process.

The handling of these sects at the sect level is wrong, as the old sects of the scripture era were well established and fairly consistent in belief or lack thereof among their congregation. Today it is rare to find a consensus of belief among themselves, at least enough stability to be assured the group representing at these dialogues is the majority believers. This creates a mess later for the Church, only to have us covering the same ground because some representative was deemed by their own to be unqualified.

The Church is not making judicial sense, there is no judicial balance. It set the standard as to the degree and form of error it is prepared to look aside and dig up to gain new converts. So now we know and have the measuring tape. If this case represents the chasm that can be filled through ecumenism, then in that spirit we can start with our own and repair minor cracks in our own House.

Pardon LeFebvre(while we’re at it a commemorative stamp, with the statement “Defender of the Faith” would be fitting.), and lets get the SSPX back on firm ground.


#105

Florence’s declaration is qualified of course: “unless before the end of life the same have been added to the flock” or as more commonly translated: “unless they are joined to the catholic church before the end of their lives;”

A heretic is not salvificly joined to the Catholic Church when he has sufficient obstinacy/guilt. Believing error in good faith does not exclude from salvation and that is how those in those communities may possibly be saved. It’s like the picture in the Baltimore Catechism that showed people hanging onto the ark by ropes. Furthermore, in the decree on ecumenism the Council was working from the explicit presumption that those born centuries later into those communities be given the presumption of good faith, rather than a presumption of guilt (obviously neither presumption will be 100% accurate).

The concept of partial communion comes straight out of St. Augustine’s “On Baptism” and the Church’s sacramental and legal tradition (the baptismal link remains, thus why we don’t re-baptize and why even heretics and schismatics remain subject to the jurisdiction of the Church).

There was really nothing new in UR other than the greater emphasis on seeking corporate reunion through certain means (Pius XII had already cautiously permitted those means). Even the Vatican II decree says these means need to be balanced against the potential for scandal or giving the wrong idea about our doctrine on the Church–personally I think a lot of the means taken all over the world have not been very prudent in this regard and that’s what shocks the sensus catholicus of many.


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