Monday, July 26, 2010

Lutheran pastor on the intercession of the saints: it's okay!

According to Mike Potemra at NRO:
At Grace & St. Paul’s Lutheran Church in Manhattan today, the pastor exhorted the congregation not to be afraid to ask for the intercession of the saints in Heaven. 
Luther himself was quite devoted to the Virgin Mary, but the abuse of the cult of the saints in his time led him to encourage a new focus on recourse to Christ himself. Once an abuse is corrected, though, it’s okay to stress again the underlying truth that the abuseexaggerated in such a way as to render false — in this case, the truth that it is the proper work of Christians, in heaven and on earth, in time and out of time, to pray for one another. 
The pastor, the Rev. Martin Hauser, was very eloquent on the subject. I would just query him on one, broader point. He said that, as far as he was concerned, “the reformation is over.” If he meant Reformation-with-a-capital-R — the historic movement of the 16th century to recover the Gospel from certain very particular abuses – then that Reformation is certainly over. (A couple of years ago, I heard a Presbyterian minister in the pulpit declare that he thought the Catholics had done a better job of the Reformation at Vatican II “than we did in the 16th century.”) But if he means reformation-with-a-lower-case-R — the eternal struggle of the Christian community to live up to the challenge that their rabbi opened up for them – then that reformation will never end, this side of the Kingdom; there will never be a moment in time, be it 33 A.D., 1517, 1955, 1975, or 2575, when we can say, Now the church is perfect. Ecclesia semper, semper reformanda.

6 comments:

Neil Parille said...

Not to make too big a point of this, but this pastor is a member of the modernist Evangelical Lutheran Church of America. It reminds me of the Joint Decree on Justification which was signed with the equally leftist WFL (of which the ELCA is a member).

What does this pastor think about women ministers, for example?

The difference betwen conservative protestants and Catholics is probably as great as ever.

Francis J. Beckwith said...

Good point, Neil. Thanks for making it.

Frank

James Swan said...

That Lutheran pastor should be ashamed of himself.

"Luther himself was quite devoted to the Virgin Mary, but the abuse of the cult of the saints in his time led him to encourage a new focus on recourse to Christ himself."

Luther didn’t really place a profound emphasis on Mariology. Hence, I deny "Luther himself was quite devoted to the Virgin Mary." This is far too strong when one actually delves into Luther’s Works. Catholic scholar William Cole concurs: “…it would be a mistake to think of Luther as being preoccupied with Mary.” It is striking how little Luther launches into deep theological discussions about the Virgin Mary, and even when he does, they are in most instances, sparse, inconsequential, passing references, or tangential comments. One would think that Luther’s "devotion" would be overly obvious, spelled out in detailed numerous treatises similar to St. Alphonsus Ligouri. Such is not the case. Treatises and passages with the depth of Luther’s early exposition on the Magnificat are few in the totality of Luther’s overall work. The main point of Luther's work on the Magnificat was not even Mariological per se, but rather a treatise to understand God’s work in law and gospel.

True, the reason for this lack of emphasis is that Luther abandoned the most significant aspect of Roman Catholic Mariology: the intercession of Mary. Truly, this is the doctrine that defines Roman Catholic Mariology. It defines the “devotion” Roman Catholics partake in, and makes Mary crucial to the Catholic layman’s normal Christian life. Catholics invoke Mary for help, protection, and praise her attributes. The invocation of Mary gives deep significance to such things like Theotokos, perpetual virginity, and the Immaculate Conception. These attributes are seen as worthy of praise, and serve to show the great divide that separates a saint from an average mortal.

Neil Parille said...

Here is the latest on Rev. Hauser's outfit --

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/07/26/us/26lutheran.html?_r=1&src=me&ref=general

The ELCA is the largest openly gay protestant denomination in the US.

Has a protestant denomination ever gone so liberal that the Catholic Church breaks off ecumenical ties with it?

Dozie said...

"Has a protestant denomination ever gone so liberal that the Catholic Church breaks off ecumenical ties with it?"

From the Catholic perspective, ecumenism is an invitation to unity; the Church therefore has no need to break off ties with any organization with which it has not "ties" - unity.

Neil Parille said...

Dozie,

I'm sure you know what I meant.