Saturday, July 14, 2007

Reactions to Roman Catholic Document

The Wichita Eagle included in Saturday’s “Faith and Values” section an article entitled “Pope: Other Christians not true churches”. The Eagle included a response section entitled “WHAT LOCAL CLERGY ARE SAYING.”

It is curious to read the responses to the Papal claim to primacy. Actually, the responses are typical responses, exactly what a person would expect from modern Christians. Basically the general response is: “To each his own.

Of most note to me is the response of the “Lutheran” representative, the Reverend Tom Harmon of Risen Savior Lutheran Church, LC-MS.

My classic line is, ‘I’m a Christian who practices my faith as a Lutheran.’ Christianity is not a denomination, it’s a faith. How you practice it is up to you.

This is a very accurate portrayal of how most today view Christianity. It certainly is the standard that the Lutheran Church — Missouri Synod has adopted over the last century. Even among the self-named conservatives and confessionals in the LC-MS, this is the united definition and standard. Some hold to a more rigid definition of doctrine and practice, and hold to that standard within their local congregations and blogs and web postings and email groups. Others hold to a modified definition. While others still, hold the door wide open and stand on a very fluid definition. Nevertheless, they all embrace one another as one communion, publicly declaring their oneness of fellowship.

The last of the quotes in the Eagle is from the Reverend Keith Koch of Grace Presbyterian Church.

If he’s saying it’s the true church in a context of wanting to live out their theology true to the gospels, true to the Scriptures . . . that’s fine. If he’s saying ‘exclusively,’ I have trouble with that.
As for what makes a church Christian: I think Paul sums it up, ‘One Lord, one faith, one baptism.’

Oh yes. How lovely! There is ONE true Church based upon ONE Lord and ONE faith and ONE baptism, embraced by such a varied list of definitions that no one can count them.

Well, actually, there is One who can count them, and He has declared that at the Last Day He will sort them out. He says that there will be many who cried, “Lord, Lord!” but only a few to whom He will say, “Enter into the joy of thy Lord.”

Yes, the Lord forewarns that there will be many who will call themselves His followers. He declares that there will be many definitions of the Church and of the confession of faith on which His Church is built. He also warns through His apostles that the day will come when people will heap up preachers to satisfy their own personal preferences regarding faith and values.

For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables. (2 Tim 4:3-4)

To this matter St. Paul writes that as saints we all should “work out your own salvation with fear and trembling.” (Phil. 2:12)

Do we really need to treat this matter as seriously as our Lord and His apostles declare?

Well, I suppose that really depends upon whom we are truly counting as Lord. Are we trusting in a Jesus who stands as the foundation of His Church or are we trusting in a Jesus who has not declared Himself openly and plainly, a Jesus who can be believed upon without really knowing Him as He has declared Himself?

Is every definition of Jesus as Lord true? Are all churches as defined by various groups truly Church?

Jesus and His apostles and the Scriptures say that a person had better be sure.

Do you suppose they were kidding?


Anonymous said...

I've heard some pastors say "Well we know better today". So from what I've seen and heard from certain people I guess that the bible is wrong(?!?) when it/GOD says "I'm the same yesterday, today and forever". Are all churches pointing to the Christ and Him crucified or to the Christian? Are we really cut out to be His counselor?

Very depressing.


Not Alone +++ PAS said...

Hi MG,

Your expression of sorrow and depression is quite moving. It is what the Lord Jesus foretold that we would encounter and it does hurt. Of course, there is always the danger that we feel depressed from self pity rather than from concern for those who are choosing to deceive themselves.

This certainly is what we should remain mindful of in our ponderings. The Our Father and the General Prayer of the Church are very helpful in this. In the Our Father our Lord teaches us to pray that His Kingdom come and in the general prayer of the Church we speak to this quite spefically. As we pray concerning these things, God does comfort us and answer us.

We can be certain that God is working through the Gospel. We may rejoice that God has worked this astounding miracle in us, and we may continue to give answer to those who ask for a defense of the hope that He gives us.