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Messages - JEdwards

Quote from: Priest Robert K. McMeekin on March 21, 2007, 12:25:32 PM
I beg to differ. The only orders in Apostolic Succession that are recognized among the canonical Orthodox churches are those of Rome and the Oriental Orthodox (Non-Chalcedonians, i.e. the Copts, Ethiopians, Armenians, etc.). Clergy  received from those churches would normally be received into the Orthodox Church by a single anointing and re-vesting. Swedish Lutherans, just like Anglicans, would be received by full Chrismation as laypersons.


For us, Apostolic Succession is exactly as it was put forth by St. Iranaeus in the Second Century--it is a succession of Apostolic "teaching and fellowship" (Acts 2:42). Any departure from the teaching, nullifies the fellowship. To quote, once again, Fr. Alexander Schmemann (of blessed memory) to a certain Swedish Archbishop of yore, "Your Eminence, I don't care who you're in succession with, if you're a heretic you're a heretic."

What, from the Orthodox perspective, makes someone a heretic?  Is papal infallibility a heresy?  Is the non-acceptance of Chalcedon?  Rome, the Oriental Orthodox, and the Swedish Lutherans all claim a tactile succession, and all seem to differ with Orthodoxy on some point of doctrine.  Why are the differences with the Swedes, but not with Rome or the Oriental Orthodox, seen as destructive of apostolic succession?

Please understand, I'm not writing to encourage divisions.  I'm just trying to get a better handle on what you view as the sine qua non of apostolic succession.

Jon Edwards
Your Turn / Re: divorce as adultery?
March 22, 2007, 12:25:16 PM
Quote from: Brian Stoffregen on March 22, 2007, 11:44:51 AM
Quote from: JEdwards on March 22, 2007, 10:34:05 AM
But our Roman Catholic brethren would argue (and I tend to agree) that this begs the question by assuming that the relationship is in fact a marriage blessed by God.

Whether or not it is a marriage blessed by God, if there is sexual intercourse, the two have become one flesh -- that's what Paul declares in 1 Cor 6:16. If one has sex with a prostitute, it is a one-flesh making act. Unless there was no sexual intercourse, which is a legitimate reason to declare that a marriage never existed; but if there was sexual intercourse, the Roman Catholics are changing the biblical definition of what makes a couple one-flesh. It is not the marriage rite, it is not a blessing by the church, it is sex.

True, but I'm not convinced that this is relevant.  Although "becoming one flesh" ought only to happen within a marriage, it has always been recognized that these are distinct events.  Exodus 22:16-17 explicitly contemplates a situation in which premarital sex does not lead to a marriage relationship.  I see Paul's reference to the "one flesh" relationship with a prostitute as emphasizing the sinfulness of the act, not suggesting that one who does so is henceforth married to her.  Having intercourse outside the marriage relationship is wrong, but the remedy to this wrong does not necessarily require establishing a marriage relationship.  As I understand Roman Catholic teaching, the existence of a previous valid marriage renders a subsequent marriage impossible.  Although they have become one flesh, they are not married.  That a couple sincerely but mistakenly believe that they have a valid marriage may mitigate the guilt of engaging in adultery, but it does not change the objective fact.

Jon Edwards
Your Turn / Re: divorce as adultery?
March 22, 2007, 10:34:05 AM
Quote from: Scott Yakimow on March 22, 2007, 12:25:28 AM
I don't think that remarriage is something that should be blessed by the church.  However, if I encounter people who have been (wrongly) remarried by the church, I wouldn't, as a matter of pastoral practice, ask for a divorce because it is a lesser of two evils situation.  Rather, I would teach them to acknowledge the sin.  Upon confession, I would happily forgive them and not recommend divorce -- because heterosexual marriage (unlike all homosexual activity) is God-blessed, and keeping them married as opposed to asking them to divorce is choosing the lesser of two evils.  If they then, after they acknowledged their sin of remarriage which is, of itself, an honorable and respectable estate, divorced, I would push for excommunication.

But our Roman Catholic brethren would argue (and I tend to agree) that this begs the question by assuming that the relationship is in fact a marriage blessed by God.  Also, Roman Catholic teaching would not necessarily insist on a civil divorce; rather the couple are asked to fulfill all their just obligations to each other and to their children, with the understanding that they will no longer have a sexual relationship.

If a homosexual couple entered a "marriage" with the sincere belief that such unions can be God-pleasing, I suspect your pastoral advice might be something like this:  "You sincerely but mistakenly believed that your relationship was a marriage.  It is not.  Some aspects of your relationship are commendable and should continue.  Sexual intercourse should not."  This is in fact the Roman Catholic approach both to homosexual unions and remarriages.  It has the virtue of being perfectly consistent.

Jon Edwards
Your Turn / Re: divorce as adultery?
March 21, 2007, 10:17:38 AM
Quote from: Deb_H. on March 19, 2007, 02:34:53 PM
Nearly all Christians that I know who have gone through divorce and remarriage do, of course, cringe at the thought that it could be considered adultery -- they don't want to think that of themselves and society says it's only adultery if you do it while still legally married -- but when push comes to shove, they will admit that that IS what scripture says, and yes, they probably DID sin in doing so; they have regrets and plan/hope to never do it gain, and they then fall on the mercy of God and the assurance that their sin is forgiven.  Then they go on with their lives, making the best of their situation, which sometimes includes a remarriage, yes, a church blessing of their marriage.  But by this time, the sin of divorce has been confessed and forgiven and so it is as if it didn't happen -- in the memory of God at least, right?  And so I would not deny a church wedding for a divorced person, neither would I deny a divorced pastor a place in the pulpit once a sense of true repentance is recognized by the community.

In his book Integrity, Stephen Carter asks about the not-uncommon situation where one partner sincerely desired to continue the marriage, work on problems, etc., etc.  The other partner, with sincere regret, concludes that either the marriage was ill-advised from the start, or has been damaged beyond hope of repair.  If the church accepts that the marriage has ended because one party wishes it to be so, what does that say to the one who wishes to continue in the difficult but biblically-mandated task of lifelong fidelity?  Would not the blessing of a remarriage be the blessing of an ongoing sin against the one who sincerely wishes to maintain faithfulness both to the estranged spouse and to the divine command?

Jon Edwards
Your Turn / Re: Sacramentum Caritatis
March 16, 2007, 09:23:19 AM
Quote from: Irl Gladfelter on March 14, 2007, 07:08:51 PM
The ECCL has officially accepted the "Catechism of the Catholic Church" and the various documents included in the Magisterium of the Catholic Church as its ultimate doctrinal standards.  It has accepted the Pontifical Biblical Commission's "Interpretation of the Bible in the Church" as its official statement of the nature and authority of Scripture, and worships using the rites of the Roman Catholic Church exclusively, without the editing of those rites.  The ECCL has officially accepted Papal Primacy and Infallibility though we are not under Papal Authority as yet; and they accept our Orders and Sacraments with the same caveat on the Sacraments of Holy Matrimony and Reconciliation they have placed on the Society of St. Pius X (the SSPX.)  We now operate under Roman Catholic Canon Law in areas not covered by our own Canons, which have been revised extensively to line up with theirs as much as practical at this time.

Forgive me for asking an indelicate question, but in light of the above, why put your salvation at risk over relatively minor matters like what type of episcopal jurisdiction you will have?  The Catechism of the Catholic Church, quoting Gaudium et Spes, teaches:

   [T]hey could not be saved who, knowing that the Catholic Church was founded as necessary by God through Christ, would refuse either to enter it or to remain in it.

This is essentially the doctrine that non-Catholics are only saved if they are in invincible ignorance, formulated in more politically correct terms.  In the post-Vatican II era, the Roman Church appears to make liberal use of the presumption of invincible ignorance.  However, if you accept without reservation all the Roman Catholic ecumenical councils, it seems the above citation applies to you.  If you have no real doctrinal differences with Rome, why bet your soul on the likelihood of all the appropriate negotiations being concluded during your lifetime?

Jon Edwards
Your Turn / Re: Sacramentum Caritatis
March 14, 2007, 12:07:40 PM
Quote from: Dave Poedel on March 13, 2007, 12:49:54 PM
I just finished reading/scanning this letter from Benedict XVI on the Eucharist.  I surmise that this is a letter at the close of a Synod of Bishops.

I find it sad that, while there is much beautiful language here about the Eucharistic mysteries, there is also a reiteration of the neuralgic issues like:  no sacraments for divorced persons, a recommendation that where a funeral, wedding or other Liturgy where significant number of non-Roman Catholics are likely to be present that a Liturgy of the Word be utilized rather than the Mass, an increased emphasis on Eucharistic adoration outside the Mass including Corpus Christi processions, the importance of priestly celibacy in relationship to the Eucharist, Mary's role in the Eucharist and the importance of prayers to her.

Many of the issues listed as "abuses" in our Confessions seem to be receiving more encouragement.

This letter adds to my sadness and realization that B16, in spite of his familiarity with and supposed appreciation for Lutheranism, is doing nothing that would encourage any movement toward reconciliation or movement that would even encourage more dialogue except "let's not say bad things about each other, but let's not get too close either".


I share your sadness.  My wife is Roman Catholic.  We have 4 kids and have celebrated Baptisms in both Roman Catholic and Lutheran churches (don't worry -- only 1 per kid, though  :).  As our oldest hits First Communion age, and as the local priest has less ecumenical sensitivity than his predecessor, our struggle intensifies.

I understand the dangers of minimizing or obscuring real differences.  I would argue that there are dangers of equal or greater magnitude in failing to celebrate such unity as already exists.  Yes, we have differences, but when we describe ourselves as fundamentally different (I'm sure you've heard discussions of the difference between "the Lutheran religion" and "the Catholic religion") our witness is immeasurably weakened.

Keep on praying... Ut unum sint!

Jon Edwards
Quote from: Brian Stoffregen on March 09, 2007, 12:30:43 PM
Quote from: Scott Yakimow on March 08, 2007, 11:28:13 PM
You're right, but the point here is that there is and are perfectly acceptable and God-pleasing exercises of heterosexual behavior in the context of marriage.

Psalm 51:5 has been interpreted to say that all acts of conception are sinful: "Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, And in sin my mother conceived me" (NASB). Thus the Roman doctrine of the Immaculate Conception for Mary. The only conception that wasn't a sinful act. I doubt that many of us have engaged in sexual intercourse without some degree of selfishness and/or self-pleasure being involved.

It is likely that you and I are using different definitions of sin. I tend to not look at particular acts as being sinful. I center sin on acting selfishly, being self-centered, not being turned towards God in our motivations and actions. As such, all sexual behaviors are likely to be sinful.

I see this as a both/and, not an either/or.  The idea of sin as "not being turned toward God" reminds us all of our utter dependence on God regardless of how well we might perform on any given checklist of good behavior.  But CA XX states:

     Furthermore, it is taught on our part that it is necessary to do good works, not that we should trust to merit grace by them, but because
     it is the will of God.

The whole idea of doing good works is rendered meaningless if we simply state that any given action is "likely to be sinful" without further differentiation.  It is the actor, not the act, that is reliably sinful.  When I sing the "Exultet" at the Easter Vigil, I'm sure that a (hopefully small) part of my motivation is to show off my singing voice.  It follows that Jon Edwards is sinful; it does not follow that singing God's praises is sinful.  This side of the parousia, we will all be sinful, but by the grace of God sinful people are capable of doing good works. 

Regarding the Immaculate Conception, the teaching of the Roman Church is that original sin is transmitted at the time of conception, and that the conception of Mary was an exception to this general rule.  But stating that original sin is transmitted at conception is not the same as saying that the sexual act which led to conception was a sinful act.

Jon Edwards
Your Turn / Re: modern martyrdom
March 06, 2007, 08:56:31 AM
Quote from: Brian Stoffregen on March 05, 2007, 06:33:21 PM
At times, when we are asked, "Are you a Christian?" Perhaps we should say, "You'll have to ask my neighbors."

I understand and appreciate the sentiment -- it is far easier to give a verbal profession of faith than to live a profession of faith.  But I am reminded of C.S. Lewis' warning about letting the word "Christian" become a generic term of approbation.  If "Christian" means "pretty good person", it is a hopelessly subjective term, and none of Christ's disciples (certainly no Lutheran!) should be so arrogant as to call himself "Christian."

Jon Edwards
Your Turn / Re: lex orandi, lex credendi
February 26, 2007, 02:17:33 PM
Quote from: Scott Yakimow on February 26, 2007, 12:16:26 PM
Quote from: pastorgary on February 26, 2007, 12:03:19 PM
NOTE: There was much argument at the time of the schism between the western church and the eastern church over the filioque.    It is fascinating indeed that seemingly without much theological thought, we have made it an option.  Surely more thought needed to be give to it than just to make it an option.  For the early western church, it was not an option, and for the eastern church, its inclusion was not an option.  Would it not have been better to have made this an item for discussion with both the Roman Church and the Orthodox Church?  Or maybe for Lutherans this issue is not important?  Or what does it say about our doing of theology?

I think your post asks some great questions.  I would add: Was it really done without much theological thought?  Introducing an option as radical as this one into a hymnal seems to me to betray considerable theological thinking.  So what was it (the thinking, that is)?

From the Catechism of the Catholic Church:

248 At the outset the Eastern tradition expresses the Father's character as first origin of the Spirit. By confessing the Spirit as he "who proceeds from the Father", it affirms that he comes from the Father through the Son. The Western tradition expresses first the consubstantial communion between Father and Son, by saying that the Spirit proceeds from the Father and the Son (filioque). It says this, "legitimately and with good reason", for the eternal order of the divine persons in their consubstantial communion implies that the Father, as "the principle without principle", is the first origin of the Spirit, but also that as Father of the only Son, he is, with the Son, the single principle from which the Holy Spirit proceeds. This legitimate complementarity, provided it does not become rigid, does not affect the identity of faith in the reality of the same mystery confessed.
(Emphasis added).

In writing the declaration "Dominus Iesus", then-Cardinal Ratzinger included the Nicene Creed without the filioque.  Thus, insofar as authoritative Roman Catholic teaching represents the "Western Church", the inclusion of the filioque is indeed optional.

Jon Edwards
Forum Blogs / Re: Episcopalians in Free Fall
February 26, 2007, 12:25:12 PM
Quote from: Fr. Robert K. McMeekin on February 23, 2007, 03:56:44 PM
The radical secularism in Europe is bringing about an unprecedented ecumenical reproachment between East and West. As far as Rome is concerned it is a short step to unity: they regard our orders and sacraments as valid and they have unilaterally removed the impediments to full communion on their part. For our part it will be more difficult since any union with the East would demand a union with Orthodox churches and their respective hierarchs and not merely a church body with a central Patriarch like Rome. Benedict XVI has already defined Rome's position regarding the East as a restored communion based upon mutual recognition and respect for each other's traditions and magisterium. For him it would not be a "union" per se as much as a "restored communion" (that is, a restoration of eucharistic comunion) among the churches of the East and Rome. This may be the best and most workable solution yet and one whose wider ecumenical implications toward the Protestant world are palpable.

What has always puzzled me about Rome's approach to Orthodoxy is that it ignores the elephant in the room; namely, the First Vatican Council.  Rome seems to assume that the East is primarily concerned with maintaining its liturgy and discipline, and that there is no substantive doctrinal disagreement.  It seems to me that if one affirms Vatican I in any meaningful sense, one has no choice but to swim the Tiber immediately; therefore, it is safe to say that Vatican I remains an area of doctrinal disagreement between Roman Catholics and all other Christians.  Does Rome think this issue can be finessed, or is she not currently addressing it because the time is not yet ripe?

Jon Edwards
Quote from: Brian Stoffregen on January 10, 2007, 12:09:49 PM
Quote from: Eric_Swensson on January 10, 2007, 12:01:08 PM
When exactly and which were the Lutherans that thought they were the only ones in heaven?

When we didn't think any other believers were worthy enough to receive the Lord's Supper with us because we believed that their faith was faulty.

Although I disagree with close(d) communion, I don't think the above quip is a charitable summary of the reasoning of those who endorse it.  My understanding is that restricting admission to the Eucharist is not a reflection of the relative "worthiness" of recipients and non-recipients, but stems from an understanding of the Eucharist as an expression of an already-existing unity.  Of course, one can argue over exactly how much unity is enough, but this is different from passing judgment on the worthiness of an individual believer. 

According to the US Conference of Catholic Bishops, intercommunion "would imply a oneness which does not yet exist, and for which we must all pray."  The communicants at a RC Mass also profess, "Lord, I am unworthy to receive you."

My own belief is that where imperfect unity exists, it is sometimes better to celebrate the unity than to lament the imperfection.  Thus, if allowed by the priest, I commune at Roman Catholic worship.  But when I am asked not to commune, I don't take it as a personal judgment on me, but rather as a conscientious judgment (albeit erroneous, in my view) of what Eucharistic fellowship requires.

Jon Edwards
Quote from: Tom Shelley on December 08, 2006, 05:18:05 PM
In some ways the SSPX is the most forthright by simply stating that the holy See is vacant...

Actually, the SSPX does no such thing.  Their home page includes a prayer for "Pontifice nostro BENEDICTO".  The site contains lengthy articles explaining why fidelity to "Eternal Rome" requires disobedience to the acknowledged hierarchy.  Unofficial SSPX apologists have posted lengthy analyses of canon law to argue that the excommunication of their founder, Abp. Lefebvre, was invalid, etc., etc.  As I see it, they are doing exactly what Protestants are criticized for doing:  giving up on a real, flesh-and-blood body of Christ for an idealized abstraction.

It also goes to show that both "revisionists" and "traditionalists" can resort to creative exegesis...

Jon Edwards

I think we are in substantial agreement.  Specific questions of economic policy are answered by data, not by Scripture.  Although their policy prescriptions differ, both Walter Williams and PB Hanson make a similar mistake here.  I would also add that talking about transfer payments in general is of limited value; I suspect that government programs vary greatly in their wisdom and efficiency.  Some government programs that initially appear to benefit specific individuals (think subsidized student loans) ultimately serve a broader public purpose.  Sure, a policy can be foolish, inefficient, or counterproductive.  But since the authority of our government comes from God, not from us, taxation is not "stealing", and should not be described as such.

Jon Edwards
Quote from: Kurt Weinelt on February 09, 2006, 01:04:06 PM
My favorite economist (after the venerable Milton Friedman), Dr Walter Williams, has something to say about the bishops' concept of a "moral budget" in a 2/8/06 article titled Bogus Rights:

Government is necessary, but the only rights we can delegate to government are the ones we possess. For example, we all have a natural right to defend ourselves against predators. Since we possess that right, we can delegate authority to government to defend us. By contrast, we don't have a natural right to take the property of one person to give to another; therefore, we cannot legitimately delegate such authority to government.

Three-fifths to two-thirds of the federal budget consists of taking property from one American and giving it to another. Were a private person to do the same thing, we'd call it theft. When government does it, we euphemistically call it income redistribution, but that's exactly what thieves do -- redistribute income. Income redistribution not only betrays the founders' vision, it's a sin in the eyes of God. I'm guessing that when God gave Moses the Eighth Commandment, "Thou shalt not steal," I'm sure He didn't mean "thou shalt not steal unless there was a majority vote in Congress."

Cute, but Dr. Williams' theology of government is questionable.  Doesn't Romans 13 make clear that governmental authority is a delegation from God, not the citizenry?  And what would Dr. Williams have to say about Leviticus 19:9-10?  Here the poor are expressly authorized to gather the privately-owned grapes that fall on private property.  Isaiah, Micah, Amos, et. al. condemn societies in which the rich live in indifference to the suffering of the poor.  Jesus and Paul both speak to the obligation to pay taxes, even though a portion of those taxes likely financed shrines to the "divine" Caesars. 

I will not dispute that "income redistribution," at least as done by the federal government, can be arbitrary, unfair, wrong-headed, and any number of other unflattering adjectives.  But I object to the attempt to "baptize" as the only Christian view what is, in fact, a rather extreme libertarian view.  We are commanded not to steal; we are commanded to care for the poor; we are commanded to pay our taxes.  How we best order our political life to achieve these ends is a matter for responsible and respectful debate.

Jon Edwards
Quote from: Dave Poedel on October 09, 2006, 12:40:24 AM
It's interesting to me that while distributing the Body of Christ this morning in my congregation, the thought passed that in the strictest of terms, Rome does not regard ours as a valid Eucharist because of fellowship with the Bishop of Rome through apostolic succession AND current submission to him as our Patriarch.  That thought meant nothing to me as I offered "The Body of Christ" to each of my members.

Actually, it's even more complicated than that.  Roman Catholic theology recognizes the full validity of the Orthodox Eucharist based on their apostolic succession alone, even without communion with the Bishop of Rome.  And the most recent round of Lutheran-Catholic dialog noted this rather surpring statement by then-Cardinal Ratzinger:

     I count among the most important results of the ecumenical dialogues the
     insight that the issue of the eucharist cannot be narrowed to the problem of
     'validity.' Even a theology oriented to the concept of succession, such as that which
     holds in the Catholic and in the Orthodox church, need not in any way deny the
     salvation-granting presence of the Lord [Heilschaffende Gegenwart des Herrn] in
     a Lutheran [evangelische] Lord's Supper.166

Of course, Rome has stated elsewhere that churches without apostolic succession lack the fullness of the Eucharist.  The Lutheran-Catholic dialog suggests that validity is a graduated rather than a binary concept.

Jon Edwards

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