Scripture, the norming norm.

BJ Bear

Well-known member
In a discussion of the ECF in this forum the topic came up of what Luther's Scripture alone means in practice. Although what we believe in this regard is an open book it doesn't stop some from imaginig their own idea of our practice or our possible practice.

The following is based on the Formula Of Concord which is a reiteration of the faith and doctine with an addition from the, "Holy Scripture, that only norm and rule of doctrine, a thorough explanation of certain articles."

The Christian manner in which the controverted articles were reconciled and explained as follows:

The sole rule and standard by which teachings and teachers are to be judged is the Holy Scriptures.

Other writings are not to be considered equal to the Scriptures and therefore subject to the Scriptues.

In this way the distinction between the Holy Scriptures and all other writings is preserved.

The other symbols and writings are only a witness to how the faith was understood and explained at that time regarding articles in controversy. -- Concordia Triglotta, p. 777ff, CPH

What follows after that are numerous examples of the practice in action with regard to controverted articles. a person can read the Formula Of Concord and particularly this section in its entirety at www.bookofconcord.org
 

rakovsky

Active member
When the pandemic was hitting last spring I was not traveling much and I was staying some place where there were not Orthodox churches (I'm EO). But there was a Lutheran church very close and a bit farther over, there were a Episcopalian church and a Catholic church. Since the Lutheran one was closest, I visited it and talked to the pastor. It made me think more about the basic Lutheran ideas as well as ask myself which of those three churches were closest to Orthodoxy.

The RC Church has the benefit of tracing apostolic succession and it values Tradition,
but it also has the idea that the Pope is over the WHOLE church and that he can make infallible statements at times and that the Magisterium (the unanimous teachings of all bishops) is "infallible."

The Anglican Church's theory on Scripture and Tradition is to value Tradition, but it is contradictory on the Eucharist, both teaching and denying the objective Presence in the Eucharist. The original Anglican idea of the English Monarchy is more a doctrinal problem at this point than a practical one, but the Anglicans are still a church "of England", where membership means being in communion with Canterbury. It's not the same as making the Abp. of Canterbury the Pope, but it feels alittle bit like that. Didn't the Anglican Church change its rule eventually so that if a nation (the Greeks for example) wanted to join the "Anglican Communion", that their ecclesiology would entail that the English monarch became the head of that nation?

The Lutheran Church teaches an Objective Presence in the Eucharist, shares some teachings with EO Tradition, and it has some bishops who can trace a line of apostolic succession. But its theory on how Tradition and Authority work is that the Bible "Alone" is the only authority, which tends to nullify the place of Tradition that Tradition has in Orthodoxy. While in practice Lutheranism does care somewhat about Church Fathers and bishops, the latter are not really important enough for the Lutheran Church to try to arrange a line of apostolic succession.

Since the time of the Anglo-Catholic movement in the 19th century in the Anglican church, there have been a lot of relationships between EOs and Anglicans. But sacramentally my sense is that there is more respect or sense of validation by EOs for Catholic sacraments, like more recognition given to their priests.

For the EO Church, Tradition, Apostolic succession and the sacraments are all very important. So while the EOs don't agree with the RC claims of infallibility for their Magisterium and EOs object to Papal universal domination, the RCs' Apostolic succession and Tradition seems to me to make them closer to EOs.

Which one of these three do you think is closest to the EOs?
 

BJ Bear

Well-known member
When the pandemic was hitting last spring I was not traveling much and I was staying some place where there were not Orthodox churches (I'm EO). But there was a Lutheran church very close and a bit farther over, there were a Episcopalian church and a Catholic church. Since the Lutheran one was closest, I visited it and talked to the pastor. It made me think more about the basic Lutheran ideas as well as ask myself which of those three churches were closest to Orthodoxy.

The RC Church has the benefit of tracing apostolic succession and it values Tradition,
but it also has the idea that the Pope is over the WHOLE church and that he can make infallible statements at times and that the Magisterium (the unanimous teachings of all bishops) is "infallible."

The Anglican Church's theory on Scripture and Tradition is to value Tradition, but it is contradictory on the Eucharist, both teaching and denying the objective Presence in the Eucharist. The original Anglican idea of the English Monarchy is more a doctrinal problem at this point than a practical one, but the Anglicans are still a church "of England", where membership means being in communion with Canterbury. It's not the same as making the Abp. of Canterbury the Pope, but it feels alittle bit like that. Didn't the Anglican Church change its rule eventually so that if a nation (the Greeks for example) wanted to join the "Anglican Communion", that their ecclesiology would entail that the English monarch became the head of that nation?

The Lutheran Church teaches an Objective Presence in the Eucharist, shares some teachings with EO Tradition, and it has some bishops who can trace a line of apostolic succession. But its theory on how Tradition and Authority work is that the Bible "Alone" is the only authority, which tends to nullify the place of Tradition that Tradition has in Orthodoxy. While in practice Lutheranism does care somewhat about Church Fathers and bishops, the latter are not really important enough for the Lutheran Church to try to arrange a line of apostolic succession.

Since the time of the Anglo-Catholic movement in the 19th century in the Anglican church, there have been a lot of relationships between EOs and Anglicans. But sacramentally my sense is that there is more respect or sense of validation by EOs for Catholic sacraments, like more recognition given to their priests.

For the EO Church, Tradition, Apostolic succession and the sacraments are all very important. So while the EOs don't agree with the RC claims of infallibility for their Magisterium and EOs object to Papal universal domination, the RCs' Apostolic succession and Tradition seems to me to make them closer to EOs.

Which one of these three do you think is closest to the EOs?
i think the late John Romanides(sp?) focused on the question of the East West relationship quite well.

For my .02$, it depends on what is considered primary and secondary by the evaluator.
 

rakovsky

Active member
Ok, thanks, BJ.
I guess that since EOs consider tracing Apostolic Succession, Tradition, and Sacraments to be key, then it makes RCs more acceptable to the EOs because RCs at least have those things even though they consider some things infallible by mistake.
 

rakovsky

Active member
I guess there is also a practical ussue: if you are EO and the objective Presence was important then you wouldn't want to take communion at an Anglican parish that taught that the elements didn't have the Real Presence.
Meanwhile, if you are going for a place to pay and feels like it gas the Traditional art of an EO church, then your choice could vary depending on the building. There are Litheran churches that look far more old-artsy than many new RC ones.
But the Anglican and Lutheran churches went through iconoclasm and artistic asceticism in a way that the RCs didn't.

In terms of depth and mysticism and the sense of the ongoing miraculous, the RCs gave up the least and the Calvinists gave up the most, literally locking churches after services to stop people praying there as if the churches were holy places. With early Anglicanism there was a big emphasis on destroying monasteries, destroying art, denouncing having any pilgrimages. With Lutheranism in contrast, there was still this mystical sense of the ongoing holiness of sacred space in the church building due for instance to the objective Presence in the Eucharist. I don't know Anglicanism well enough to say if they denied the concept of sacred space like Calvinists did, but the Anglican ban on host reservation reminds me of that.

What do you think?
 
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BJ Bear

Well-known member
Ok, thanks, BJ.
I guess that since EOs consider tracing Apostolic Succession, Tradition, and Sacraments to be key, then it makes RCs more acceptable to the EOs because RCs at least have those things even though they consider some things infallible by mistake.
Would you mind clarifying the EO concept of Apostolic succession because it seems to me from your responses that it is not the same as that of Roman Catholics, beyond not having a direct line to the Roman Pope.

As you know Apostolic succession according to the Roman Catholic sixteenth century definition was a point of contriversy.
 

rakovsky

Active member
Would you mind clarifying the EO concept of Apostolic succession because it seems to me from your responses that it is not the same as that of Roman Catholics, beyond not having a direct line to the Roman Pope.
Well, in this discussion I was just referring to even a pretty rudimentary concept of apostolic succession. Sure, EOs would not say that anyone outside the EO Church has valid Apostolic Succession, but what I meant was that I was trying to compare those three Western churches and noted that at least Anglicans and RCs emphasize the Apostolic Succession concept. It seems not really an important idea in Lutheranism, even though they care about it enough for Scandinavian bishops to pass it down in their own way.
 

BJ Bear

Well-known member
Do Lutheran Bishops in America have Apostolic succession?
i don't have a precise answer, but there are some who have it in a more traditional sense through Sweden. I also seem to remember some rumblings about ELCA possibly coming under the Anglicans.

Apostolic succession is a custom. If the Papacy hadn't dragged its feet in this regard then I think the custom along more traditional lines would be more prevalent as the church is one of order.
 

BJ Bear

Well-known member
Well, in this discussion I was just referring to even a pretty rudimentary concept of apostolic succession. Sure, EOs would not say that anyone outside the EO Church has valid Apostolic Succession, but what I meant was that I was trying to compare those three Western churches and noted that at least Anglicans and RCs emphasize the Apostolic Succession concept. It seems not really an important idea in Lutheranism, even though they care about it enough for Scandinavian bishops to pass it down in their own way.
Thanks for clearing that up. I'd have to go back and verify it but as I recall Apostolic succession in an ordinary RC custom (and the EO as it was before their split) wasn't necessary in the philosophical sense.
 

rakovsky

Active member
I'd have to go back and verify it but as I recall Apostolic succession in an ordinary RC custom (and the EO as it was before their split) wasn't necessary in the philosophical sense.
Probably it's not clear in Orthodoxy if Apostolic Succession is ABSOLUTELY necessary to the point where if it was absolutely impossible that the Church would still consider itself valid or would make new bishops. To give you an illustration of what I mean- when the Old Believers had a separate church structure in Russia, they were divided on whether they would be able to install new bishops. So the Old Believers split between each other. One of the Old Believer groups was called BezPopovtsy, meaning "Priestless", because they would not ordain any priests, and this was as a result of their loss of having bishops with apostolic succession, if I understand it correctly. So in their churches they would have Reader services but not (IIRC) the Eucharist.
At this point, there are enough Orthodox bishops in the world that the question of what to do if there were no bishops is hypothetical. I think that their answer would be to install new bishops if none were available on earth.
 

HillsboroMom

Active member
The Anglican Church's theory on Scripture and Tradition is to value Tradition, but it is contradictory on the Eucharist, both teaching and denying the objective Presence in the Eucharist.
The Anglican Church's theory on the Eucharist is that Jesus' body and blood are "truly present" in the Sacrament. How is this denying the objective presence?

It's not the same as making the Abp. of Canterbury the Pope, but it feels alittle bit like that.
It really doesn't. If you've never been a member of an Anglican church, how can you know what "it feels like"?

I have yet to meet an Anglican who thinks the Archbishop of Canterbury is infallible in any way, shape, or form, at any time, ex- or in-Cathedra.

Didn't the Anglican Church change its rule eventually so that if a nation (the Greeks for example) wanted to join the "Anglican Communion", that their ecclesiology would entail that the English monarch became the head of that nation?
Um, no.

The Lutheran Church teaches an Objective Presence in the Eucharist, shares some teachings with EO Tradition, and it has some bishops who can trace a line of apostolic succession.
Yes, it does. In fact, the Swedish Lutherans have a purer line to Peter than the Romans do. They avoided the Avignon split.

But its theory on how Tradition and Authority work is that the Bible "Alone" is the only authority, which tends to nullify the place of Tradition that Tradition has in Orthodoxy. While in practice Lutheranism does care somewhat about Church Fathers and bishops, the latter are not really important enough for the Lutheran Church to try to arrange a line of apostolic succession.
I think you're right here -- it's a matter of degree. The Anglicans think it's important enough to make it a "sticking point," as it were. The Lutherans think it's important, but wouldn't make it a sticking point.

Which one of these three do you think is closest to the EOs?
I think, as you have pointed out, there are some things that make the RCs closer to the EOs, and some things that make Anglicans closer to EOs. It's not a straight line or plane. I think all 3 have some great things and some not so great things. And Lutherans have some great things and some not so great things.
 

rakovsky

Active member
The Anglican Church's theory on the Eucharist is that Jesus' body and blood are "truly present" in the Sacrament. How is this denying the objective presence?
The problem is that Anglicans have a history talking big and obfuscating on the Real Presence but are actually sharply divided on whether the Lutheran or Calvinist view is right ever since the founding period of Anglicanism. Those who have studied Anglicanism's founders carefully enough on the Eucharist know this.

Let me give you two illustrations to help you see this. First, one of Luther's debating points on the Real Presence with the Calvinists was whether the unfaithful ate Christ's body. The Calvinist answer was NO, that Jesus' body stays up in heaven and is not objectively in the food on the table, so that ONLY the faithful eat it because it is ONLY something that happens BY FAITH. Luther made a big deal out of this point, emphasizing that even the unfaithful eat Christ's body if they swallow the ritual food.

Now if you turn to the Anglican Articles, you can find one that specifies that ONLY the righteous eat Christ's body. Historically the reason for that particular Article was to teach the Calvinist view, as opposed to the Lutheran one. In the founding period of Anglicanism, Anglicans tended to hold to the Calvinist view like Cranmer and Ridley did.

Second when you ask about the phrase "Jesus' body and blood are truly present in the Sacrament", you need to understand how Lutherans vs. Calvinists understand and use those same kinds of phrases. The Calvinist idea is that Jesus' body just stays actually located in heaven, but that it is present in the sense that it has the same effect "as if" it was in the bread. Or to put it in other Calvinist terms, it is present in the sacrament but not in the food, ie. it is involved in the activity of the ritual, but the Body is not directly or objectively in the food.

So when the Calvinists use terms like "truly present" or "Real Presence", it sounds like they are "talking big" or obfuscating when contrasted with the teaching if the Objective presence. The fact that you took that Anglican terminology to mean an objective presence shows how obfuscating that terminology is.

As a side note, I should add that the Anglicans gave always been divided on whether the Lutheran or Calvinist side of the debate is right, but even those of them who take the Calvinist view use the kinds of terms that you quoted that SOUND as if they mean an objective direct presence located right on the table.
 
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