2017: The real Roman Catholic roadblock to unity – (hint: not gay sex)

Sharing Communion by 2017 between Lutherans and Roman Catholics!?

Munib Younan, LWF President: “Our intention is to arrive at 2017 with a common Roman Catholic-Lutheran declaration on Eucharistic hospitality.”[1]


That’s in “…the far and ultimately unreachable distance,” stated Walter Cardinal Kasper in his official capacity as head of the Vatican department, The Pontifical Council For Promoting Christian Unity.

For Rome sharing communion is “unreachable” if a church has women bishops – as Kasper warned the bishops of the Church of England in 2006.

“Ecumenical dialogue in the true sense of the word has as its goal the restoration of full Church Communion. That has been the presupposition of our dialogue until now. That presupposition would realistically no longer exist following the introduction of the ordination of women to episcopal office,” Kasper said.

He added that communing together is also impossible: “The shared partaking of the one Lord’s table, which we long for so earnestly, would disappear into the far and ultimately unreachable distance.”[2]

Was Younan implying the LWF will stop ordaining women bishops? Or is he simply clueless?

You can’t make this stuff up.

[1]Luigi Sandri, “Lutheran Leader seeks Communion agreement with Pope,” The Christian Century, 12/17/2010.

[2]Unity impossible if Anglican Church ordains women bishops, says Cardinal Kasper,” Catholic News Agency, 6/8/2006; emphasis added.


The real Roman Catholic roadblock to unity – (hint: not gay sex)

Sharing Communion by 2017 between Lutherans and Roman Catholics!?

Munib Younan, LWF President: “Our intention is to arrive at 2017 with a common Roman Catholic-Lutheran declaration on Eucharistic hospitality.”[1]


That’s in “…the far and ultimately unreachable distance,” states Walter Cardinal Kasper.

For Rome sharing communion is “unreachable” if a church has women bishops – as Kasper, then head of the Vatican’s Council for Christian Unity, warned the Church of England’s Bishops in 2006.

“Ecumenical dialogue in the true sense of the word has as its goal the restoration of full Church Communion. That has been the presupposition of our dialogue until now. That presupposition would realistically no longer exist following the introduction of the ordination of women to episcopal office,” Kasper said.

He added that communing together is also impossible: “The shared partaking of the one Lord’s table, which we long for so earnestly, would disappear into the far and ultimately unreachable distance.”[2]

Is Younan implying the LWF will stop ordaining women bishops? Or simply clueless?

You can’t make this stuff up.

[1]Lutheran Leaders invite Pope to play a part in their 500th anniversary,” 12/31/2010.

[2]Unity impossible if Anglican Church ordains women bishops, says Cardinal Kasper,” Catholic News Agency (6/8/2006); emphasis added.

Finally: Roman Catholic Sexuality Scandal Resolved

The fault is in the culture, not ourselves:

…the past decade’s revelations of sexually abusive clergy had many causes, not the least of which was a toxic ambient culture to which the Church and its ordained ministers proved all too vulnerable.


…what we find, if we look hard enough, is a changed understanding of the very nature of the priesthood. When seminarians, 30 or 40 years ago, spoke of learning “priestcraft,” something was, it now seems clear, deeply awry. For the Catholic Church has never understood the ordained priesthood as essentially a matter of functions, nor has it understood ordination as a kind of licensing ceremony that authorizes a man to conduct certain kinds of ecclesiastical business.

Put another way:

But that was the misunderstanding of priesthood that swept through too much of the Church around the world, and the relationship between that desperately deficient theology and the abuse crisis should now be beyond serious dispute.

There is no real problem:

A man who has truly understood himself as an icon of the priesthood of Jesus Christ does not abuse anyone, in any way.  A man who has taken into himself the meaning of the Lord’s words, “I now call you friends,” does not imagine that his ordination confers membership in a caste.

What is at stake is nothing less that deepening a sense of the ordained priest as an icon of Christ – a human being who, through being configured to the Risen Lord in a unique way by his ordination, makes Christ present to the world in a unique way.

So far George Weigel, voluminous biographer of Pope John Paul II.  Read here; emphasis added in excerpts above.

In stark contrast, Lutherans teach that the Lord himself is present wherever his Word and sacraments are rightly preached and administered.[1] His presence is not promised to a holy priesthood but to his purely preached Word and sacraments.[2]

[1] “Rightly” and “purely” Augsburg Confession VII. See also: “The ministry of the New Testament is not bound to places and persons, as the Levitical priesthood is, but is spread abroad through the whole world and exists wherever God gives his gifts, apostles, prophets, pastors, teachers. Nor is this ministry valid because of any individual’s authority but because of the Word given by Christ,” from “Treatise on the Power and Primacy of the Pope,” ¶ 26, Book of Concord, Tappert 324.

[2] To proclaim the gospel “purely” means to overthrow all authorities that require something else besides faith alone in Christ alone. For example, faith plus the papacy, faith plus episcopacy, faith plus congregationalism, faith plus my decision, feelings, or conversion experience.

Who is teaching religion at St. Olaf College?

ptPT Johnston is a Visiting Assistant Professor in the St. Olaf College Religion Department. PT (Patricia) is Roman Catholic and gender non-conforming.

As she says in a blog post: “Everyone’s biological sex is a spectrum, not a binary.”

Yet every cell in the human body marks individuals as either male or female, with males bearing an XY and females an XX chromosome.

Think of the generations that sacrificed to build a school where young men and women could find a Lutheran future!

Catholics throw Hacker’s hatchet at Luther

For a hatchet job on Luther, see “Luther: 500 Years After,” by Russell Shaw, former information director of the US Conference of Catholic Bishops. Shaw praises the republication of Paul Hacker’s 1966 book, The Ego in Faith. Martin Luther and the Origin of Anthropocentric Religion.

The new 2017 edition of Hacker comes with “an informative foreword” by (ex-Lutheran, now Roman Catholic) Reinhard Hutter, who teaches at Catholic University of America.

Hacker claimed that for Luther faith is the self-work of believing. Good grief, not that again.

See Otto Herman Pesch, Roman Catholic expert on Aquinas and Luther, writing on Hacker: “At this point we note that we cannot agree with the pointed criticism of Luther by Paul Hacker in his Das Ich im Glauben bei Martin Luther [The Ego in Faith according to Martin Luther]. Hacker’s objections against Luther’s statuere salutem meam [certainty of salvation] are only tenable when one is thinking in terms of theoretical certitude and of ascertaining something objectively. But Luther’s ‘certainty of salvation’ is nothing more than the movement of faith given by God’s grace. We have reviewed Hacker’s book in Theologische Revue 64 (1968) 51-56.”

See also Oswald Bayer, world-class Lutheran expert on Luther: “Paul Hacker… has taken up the role of prosecuting attorney in his 1966 book…The Ego in Faith…. Starting on purpose with the Small Catechism, he sees Luther as the founder of the subjectivism that is advocated today, which seeks to dissolve all objective truth that stands in the way of the certainty one can achieve purely by self-assurance…. Hacker did not read carefully enough. Otherwise he would have certainly noticed that Luther in fact specifically takes into account the reference to the relationship that is established by God when he addresses me with the words of promise….”

Recall: “I believe that by my own understanding or strength I cannot believe.…“


1. Otto H. Pesch, O.P., “Existential and Sapiential Theology – the Theological Confrontation between Luther and Thomas Aquinas,” Catholic Scholars Dialogue with Luther, Ed. Jared Wicks (Chicago: Loyola University Press, 1970) 189, footnote 21

2. Oswald Bayer, Martin Luther’s Theology. A Contemporary Interpretation, Trans. Thomas H. Trapp (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2008) 166-68.


John 17: What to preach this Reformation season

John 17: What to preach this Reformation season

What about John 17 and Christian unity?

Raymond E. Brown, renown Roman Catholic New Testament scholar and specialist in the “Johannine community,” helps with John 17:21-22: [1]

“…that they may all be one; even as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that thou hast sent me. The glory which thou hast given me I have given to them, that they may be one even as we are one.”

Brown notes that these verses should not be interpreted in an overly ecumenical way. They are not about elevating unity to an absolute principle. A little “god” claiming preeminence. Unity can be wrongly used as a pretext to censor those, like Luther, who challenge the church about gospel truth. It’s an old problem. Brown notes how 2 John 10 warns Christians not to welcome other Christians who have adopted false teachings. Truth trumps unity.

Brown identifies a vertical and horizontal dimension to John 17 (11, 21-23). First, the vertical: Christ gives believers the glory that the Father has given to him. Glory comes down from the Father and Son to believers. It is God’s action, God’s doing.

To be sure, it is all God’s doing: “You did not choose me, but I chose you” (John 15:16). In baptism the Lord comes down and snatches us from the Evil One. The day we are baptized is our first day of eternal life. The happy exchange happens to us. Glory, alleluia!

Second, the horizontal: In the gospel of John faith comes by hearing about who Jesus is, that is, about the specific and intimate relation between the Father and the Son. “No one has ever seen God; the only Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, he has made him known” (John 1:18). He was crucified, and the Father vindicated him, establishing his authority as the Son. Who is God? The Father of our Lord, Jesus Christ. John 17 focuses on this: Preach Christ crucified and vindicated, “so that the world may believe that Thou hast sent me” (John 17:21).

The horizontal, like the vertical, is about gospel truth: The Father gives life to the Son (“thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee”). Christians are one with each other and with the Father and the Son because they have received this life in baptism and for eternity.

John 17 isn’t about church mergers and union agreements. It isn’t about ecumenical programs to achieve uniformity. After all, churches can be so compromised by other agendas that they no longer can effectively preach the gospel. When this happens, like Luther, we must protest – reform them, or leave them, or risk compromising the truth of the gospel ourselves.

John 17 is about Christian unity. Its message: Only the truth itself, Jesus Christ, establishes unity. The unity of churches cannot be achieved by the churches moving toward each other, but by each church moving towards the truth in order to let itself there, in the truth, be united with the others.

[1] Raymond E. Brown, The Gospel According to John XIII-XXI, Anchor Bible Series (Garden City: Doubleday, 1970) 768-79.

John 17: What to preach this Reformation season

What about John 17 and Christian unity?

Raymond E. Brown, renown Roman Catholic New Testament scholar and specialist in the “Johannine community,” helps with John 17:21-22. Read more here.

Luther on the famine of the hearing of the Word:

“I refrain from saying anything about the utterly stupid and incompetent persons whom bishops and abbots nowadays promote everywhere to the pulpit. We really cannot say that they are called and sent, even if we wanted to, because in this case incompetent and unworthy men are given the call. This is the work of God’s wrath, for it is he who withdraws his Word from us on account of our sins, and he increases the number of vacuous talkers and verbose babblers.”[1]

Luther in a sermon April 7, 1521: “He pronounced the world ‘utterly perverted’ and blamed it on the absence of faithful preachers. Among perhaps 3,000 preachers, he contended, only four good ones could be found.”[2]


[1] LW 25:447; Commentary on Romans 12:7 (1516). Above translation from Wilhelm Pauck, ed. and trans., Luther: Lectures on Romans. Library of Christian Classics 15 (Philadelphia: Westminster Press, 1961) 335-36.

[2] LW 51:65; quoted in Scott H. Hendrix, Martin Luther. Visionary Reformer (New Haven: Yale, 2015) 102.

Why bother with voting? An ordained diaconate is a done deal.

Right click here and save to download this document in a PDF format

In August 2016 the ELCA will adopt the order of deacon as required to achieve full communion with the Episcopal Church.[1] The fix is in. The fix has been in for a long time.

In 1997 the Concordat of Agreement was narrowly defeated because of widespread opposition to the imposition on the ELCA of the historic episcopate and its threefold “Holy Orders.” Episcopalians require this structure because they regard it as a sacramental conduit of grace for valid sacraments.

After the Concordat’s defeat in 1997, Presiding Bishop H. George Anderson pledged to bring it back to the 1999 Churchwide Assembly with “the present outcomes” intact. (See H. George Anderson below.)

Get it? No real change. Words shuffled. The fix was in. The outcome was as rigged as big-time wrestling. Why bother voting?

And that’s what happened. The Concordat was given a new title, Called to Common Mission (CCM) and its long term consequences were disguised in lingo unfamiliar to Lutherans and in an extended timeline.

For years ELCA leaders have promoted a false narrative about CCM, knowing that once the agreement was adopted, the ELCA would be locked into taking on the threefold order of ministry at some future time.

That future is 2016. As the ELCA prepares to adopt the order of deacons at its August 2016 Churchwide Assembly, recall how ELCA leaders have misled people about CCM. Note how frequently they voice contempt for dissenters. To be sure, some leaders below were naïve. Most were not.

After all, look also at what Episcopal leaders openly said about CCM and the ELCA. Note also that none of these or similar quotes by Episcopal leaders appeared in The Lutheran.

*  *  *  *  *

Almen, Lowell (Secretary of the ELCA 1988-2007; still in 2016 a member of the Lutheran-Episcopal Coordinating Committee and co-chair of the Lutheran/Catholic dialogue)

  • The Churchwide Assembly did not adopt the Tucson Resolution itself.” He claimed that the Assembly had merely adopted the sentence added to CCM ¶3 that CCM had been “correctly interpreted” by the Tucson Resolution. (Almen to ELCA Church Council, November 2000) (See Sandstrom, Dale and see The Tucson Resolution).
  • “The Tucson Resolution was not voted on by the Churchwide Assembly and thus the national secretary [Lowell Almen] has clarified that it is not part of the amendment to paragraph 3 of CCM and that the Episcopal Church is not being asked to vote on it.” (From “CCM Questions Answered” by The Episcopal Church, December 1999)

Almquist, Roy (Bishop, SE Penn)

  • He said that those who oppose the 1997 ecumenical proposals are like “some congregations who simply do not want to change. They are comfortable with who they are and do not really care about the church of the future.” (ELCA News Release 3/20/97).
  • “Bishop Roy Almquist, Southeastern Pennsylvania Synod, said churches in his area are suffering tremendously because of the Concordat’s” (The Lutheran, 6/98, p. 44).

Anderson, H. George (ELCA Presiding Bishop 1995-2001)

  • “We need to interpret to ourselves and our constituents that the gift of the historic episcopate is not some additional requirement.” (ELCA News Release 10/9/96)
  • After the joint meeting of Lutheran and Episcopal bishops in the Poconos Mountains in October 1996: “[The ELCA bishops] are in large measure committed to moving forward and see themselves as interpreters and advocates, working for the approval of the Concordat.
  • “I do not understand the paragraph you cite [Concordat ¶3] as committing the ELCA to adopting the historical [sic] episcopate. We will certainly recognize its validity for our fellow believers in The Episcopal Church…. The paragraph recognizes that the ’three-fold pattern’ will be there in the shared ministry that will evolve, but Lutherans are not required to fill out the pattern.” (Letter to concerned ELCA pastor, 1/2/1997)
  • “We must know what the documents say and assume that they mean what they say.” (ELCA News Release, 3/19/97).
  • “There is nothing automatic or inevitable about the link between episcopacy and hierarchy.” (Public letter, 7/29/97)
  • “If the goal is full communion, then it must include the historic episcopate.” (ELCA News 11/24/97).
  • At their October 1997 meeting the ELCA bishops endorsed Presiding Bishop Anderson’s recommendation that a revised Concordat should include the “present outcomes of the Concordat.” (The Lutheran, 11/97, p. 49).
  • “If we take the long view … we can count on the healing and cleansing effects of time…. Like most ecumenical projects if it is beneficial it will prosper; if it is more bother than it’s worth, it will wither and fade.” (Referring to CCM in his speech at the 250th Anniversary of Muhlenburg College in August 1998.)
  • “I am baffled by the debate over Article 7 of the Augsburg Confession because in all doctrinal agreements since 1821, once fundamental doctrinal agreement was reached, structure has always been changed.” (The Lutheran, 4/99, p.44)
  • “The Lutheran Reformation was about gospel, not structure.” (The Lutheran 5/99, p.53)
  • “If moving into full communion with the Episcopal Church means a new way of installing our bishops…” (The Lutheran, 5/99, p.53)
  • ”The agreement will not go into effect unless The Episcopal Church approves it at its convention next summer, so we have nearly a year to talk it over.” (Dial Bishop Anderson, 9/1/99)
  • ”There’s no rule that requires ‘anyone to accept the historic episcopate.’” HGA said this in a forum for Lutherans in the Twin Cities after the 1999 Churchwide Assembly which adopted CCM. (ENS 9/30/99)

Stephen Bouman (Bishop, Metro New York) “In the ensuing two year [1997-1999] we adopted a much more clear and evangelical agreement.” (The Lutheran New Yorker, Fall 1999) (But after CCM was released in April 1998, the ELCA Bishops’ Conference adopted the Tucson Resolution [March 1999] proposing twenty interpretative points regarding CCM)

Bouman, Walter (Professor, Trinity Seminary and member of the Lutheran/Episcopal dialogue team that adopted the Concordat by a vote of 5-3. Upon his retirement from Trinity Seminary he joined the faculty of Episcopal General Theological Seminary in New York).

  • Once future generations get used to the churches being interchangeable, they will start questioning why two bishops are needed for the same territory.” (ELCA News 5/96)
  • After the defeat of the Concordat by the 1997 Churchwide Assembly: Unless people of the Upper Midwest rejoice in perverse anti-institutionalism, I cannot imagine they understood the magnitude of their action.” (Mpls StarTribune, 8/23/97, B6)

Braaten, Carl (Professor LSTC, Co-Founder of the Center for Catholic and Evangelical Theology) “If the proposed ELCA/Episcopal Concordat fails in 1997, the only sensible choice would be for the ELCA to leave the ecumenical movement.” (Metro Lutheran, 12/96, p.12)

Gritsch, Eric (Professor of Church History, Gettysburg Seminary): “Assuming we vote ‘No’ [on the Concordat] then we [the ELCA] are and remain not only the sleeping giant, but I think spiritually and mentally retarded.” (Speech to Metropolitan Washington, D.C. Synod Assembly, 1996).

Hanson, Mark (Bishop, St. Paul; Presiding Bishop of the ELCA 2001-2013)

  • Opposition to the Concordat is “a visceral response … coming out of a piety that is suspicious of hierarchy…. Intellectual arguments are not helpful.” (ELCA News Release, 3/20/97. In a workshop on the Concordat organized by Hanson, only proponents of the Concordat were invited as presenters.)
  • “Please remember that a pastor prayers for the gifts of the Holy Spirit and lays hands on the heads of those affirming their baptism in the rite of confirmation…. [CCM doesn’t] imply that this rite [ordaining a bishop into the historic episcopate] has been raised to some kind of sacramental status.” (Letter to concerned Lutheran, 6/19/02)(To the contrary, ordination of a bishop into the Episcopal episcopate is constitutional requirement in the ELCA under CCM because it is sacramental; it confers the grace necessary to make Christ present in the Eucharist.)

Hinlicky, Paul (Theology Professor, Bratislava, Slovakia) “Consolidation of the LWF as church means church on the way to reunion with Rome, as God shows us the way. Such a decision will entail … the integration of justification by faith with … the re-institution of the episcopal office.” (Lutheran Forum, Christmass, 1998, p. 11)

Hultgren, Arland (New Testament Professor, Luther Seminary) Wrote a paper for the ELCA bishops (1997) urging adoption of the Concordat.

Jenson, Robert (Professor of systematic theology at Gettysburg Seminary for over twenty years, then recently retired professor at St. Olaf): “Non-episcopal churches comprise a tiny minority of orthodox Christians, and if the ELCA cannot integrate with established episcopacies, it might as well save money by closing down all ecumenical efforts.” (dialog, Summer 1996, p.222).

Jeske, Richard (Lutheran co-chair of the Lutheran/Episcopal Coordinating Committee)

  • “The concern has also been expressed that the actions of the ELCA’s most recent churchwide assemblies obviate a return to the threefold ordering of ministry, especially the diaconate. Can the assembly actions be interpreted to leave room for revisiting this issue, especially in concert with our ecumenical partners?” (Concordat: Concerns Addressed, p. 20 [April 1997] Occasional Paper produced by the Lutheran/Episcopal Joint Coordinating Committee)
  • Speaking to the 1997 Episcopal General Convention about his confidence that the ELCA would adopt the Concordat: “Our churches have never disagreed on significant matters of theology. The discussion [in the ELCA] has been very open, people’s concerns have been heard and their questions addressed.”

Jessen, Richard (Bishop, Nebraska):

  • “Every point of opposition [to the Concordat] is based on ” (ELCA News Release, 3/20/97)
  • “Virtually every point of opposition I have seen is based on Nebraska is Midwest too. Why is the upper Midwest upset about what is factual? (The Lutheran, 4/97, p. 43)

Larson, Duane (Professor of systematic theology at Lutheran Theological Seminary at Gettysburg)

  • “Look into the eyes” of Episcopalians when you decide about the Concordat, advised Duane Larson, chair of the ELCA Ecumenical Committee. (Gettysburg Seminary Bulletin Summer 1998, p. 47)
  • He accused opponents of the Concordat of “outright distortion, lies, and sleaze,” but offered no specifics. (Gettysburg Seminary Bulletin, Fall 1997, pp. 5-8.) A few months later he accompanied Presiding Bishop Anderson on an ecumenical junket to Canterbury and Rome. In 1999 he was named President of Wartburg Theological Seminary.

Martensen, Daniel (Executive Director of the ELCA Department of Ecumenism after William Rusch): “I was born and raised in Minnesota and I have to say there is a block of Lutherans there that haven’t had any ecumenical elbow-rubbing with others. They have a built-in Lutheran self-understanding, and it’s something of an anti-Catholic feeling. It’s deeply felt and visceral. They are deeply threatened by hierarchy.” (Mpls. StarTribune, 8/24/97, B6)

Marty, Martin (Professor of religious history at the University of Chicago Divinity School for 35 years and author of over 50 books. Appointed in 1997 by H. George Anderson to be one of the three Lutheran members (along with Michael Root and Todd Nichol) to revise the Concordat for presentation to the 1999 Churchwide Assembly)

  • “I have never spent a moment writing a denominational document. You’re not going to find many people who are more bored than I by ecumenical negotiations and official documents.” (Chicago Tribune, 1/28/98)
  • “This draft [CCM] could not make it more clear that Episcopalians do not expect Lutherans to be asked to come to believe in this.” (A public letter titled, An Essay from The Reverend Dr. Martin E. Marty, April 8, 1998, p. 3.)
  • Marty told the ELCA Church Council at its April 1998 meeting that adopting the Episcopal historic episcopate is not a big deal; the rite only takes “two or three hours.” He told the Council that those who find CCM a faulty proposal “are in effect asking us to end all efforts at ‘agreement’ and to go our separate ways, probably permanently.” He also held out the false hope that Episcopalians might be flexible: “It could very well be that in this interaction [between the ELCA and the Episcopal Church] we take a new look at these [1993 ELCA decisions on ministry] and come out at a very different pattern for both [churches].” (ELCA Church Council Minutes, p. 60)
  • “Where ELCA members do not feel at ease [with adopting the historic episcopate], one could say about it in minimalist terms that the only difference they would or need ever see is the presence of an Episcopal bishops … at the installation … of the presiding bishop of the ELCA and synodical bishops in the years ahead.” (Letter to the ELCA Church Council, 4/18/98)
  • “Not once in this year of intense work or in our consulting records of antecedent conversations through the years did we find a single Episcopal thinker who envisioned their departing from the Anglican Communion by exchanging ministries apart from the episcopate.” (Letter to Church Council, 11/14/98)
  • “We took great pains these months to have the document precisely say that Episcopalians don’t expect Lutherans to start accepting the episcopate as something essential to our understanding of the ministry of word and sacrament.” (The Lutheran, 6/98 p. 45)

Mau, Joan Pastor and member of the ELCA ecumenical advisory team: “No one seemed to agree on what the text of the Concordat meant.” (ENS, 1/8/98)

McCoid, Donald (Bishop, SW Penn)

  • “The Episcopal Church recognizes that ‘shared corporately’ does not require both churches to adopt the threefold office of the ordained ministry, but only that, in the shared ministry ahead, the threefold office will be present through its continued use by the Episcopalians.” (Letter to concerned Lutheran, 8/25/2000)
  • “There is strong support among the bishops for CCM” (ELCA News 3/22/01)

Meyer, Harding “Whoever justifies his or her rejection of the Concordat with the argument that it is in conflict with the Lutheran Confessions is himself or herself in conflict with them.” (Lutheran Forum)

Miller, Curtis (Bishop, Western Iowa, author of the Tucson Resolution)

  • “There are no changes required of congregations because of this agreement: no constitutional changes, no changes in procedures, not changes in policy.” (Christmas letter to synod congregations, 12/2000)
  • Called to Common Mission clearly affirms that the three-fold order of ministry in not essential to full communion….Second, the Ordinal of 1662 will not have force in the ELCA….The purpose of this [Tucson] Resolution is to both clearly state the understanding of the ELCA and to put at rest the many wild speculations and misinformation circulated by some in the church.” (Letter to a concerned Lutheran, April 5, 1999)

Miller, Robert (Bishop, Pacifica) “I know Lutherans have their Confessions and all that, but unity is important.” (Promoting the Concordat to the 1996 Pacifica Synod Assembly)

Mocko, George (Bishop, Delaware/Maryland) “Lutherans and Episcopalians really do agree on everything else of real importance, this [the historic episcopate] is the issue that requires attention.” (Bishop’s mailing to DE-MD congregations 3/99).

Olson, Stan (Bishop, SW MN, head of the Conference of Bishops’ ecumenism committee) “Our two churches will not have identical structures. Only looking at the two churches together will one see a threefold ministry. They will have it. We won’t.” (Letter to concern Lutheran, 10/20/2000)

Riley, E. Roy (Bishop, New Jersey Synod) and 36 fellow bishops wrote a June 29, 1997 letter to voting members of the 1997 Churchwide Assembly that the Concordat does not require the ELCA to adopt a particular “form of ministry” and that adoption of the Concordat would not require the ELCA to bind itself to the historic episcopate of the Episcopal Church.

  • “[W]e are not bound to a form of ministry prescribed another (either) church…. We are no more bound to allegiance to an historic episcopate (ECUSA) than we are committed to a congregational polity of church governance (UCC).”

Rogness, Peter (Bishop, St. Paul) “We’ve simply agreed that liturgically we’ll use forms in ordinations that will make the Episcopalians comfortable in joining with us. The heart of the church’s life isn’t its constitution.” (Mpls StarTribune 8/17/02, p. B7)

Root, Michael (Appointed by Presiding Bishop H. George Anderson to serve on the drafting team (along with Martin Marty and Todd Nichol) which revised the Concordat into CCM. Root converted to Roman Catholicism in 2010.

  • “The recognition of ELCA ordained ministries is made specifically in light of the two churches’ common commitment to the threefold ministry in succession as the pattern of ministry in both churches.” (Ecumenical Trends, 7/8/94, p. 104).
  • If the ELCA does not adopt CCM, this “is something I believe we will have to answer for on the last day….” (Philadelphia Seminary Bulletin, 82:1, p. 1)
  • “There’s no hidden stage 2 in CCM.” (January 1999)

Rusch, William (Executive Director for the Office of Ecumenical Affairs.) Announced to the 1997 Episcopal General Convention that the Episcopal bishops’ 1997 vote to approve the Concordat was “an ecumenical event without parallel.”

Sandstrom, Dale (ELCA Church Council Member)

  • “The bishops’ interpretation [the Tucson Resolution, see page 8 below] then becomes a binding part of the agreement, not merely an Let’s be clear and state it.” (The Lutheran, 5/99, p.43; italics in text.)
  • “I am Dale Sandstrom, a member of the Church Council. I made the motion at the Church Council meeting that brought this [Tucson Resolution] before the Churchwide Assembly. The intention of the action of the Church Council is to make the interpretation of the Conference of Bishops binding and incorporated by reference and therefore binding by the action of both this church and The Episcopal Church if this language is added as recommended by the Church Council.” (Audio transcript, 1999 ELCA Churchwide Assembly)

Schneider, Ted (Bishop, Metropolitan Washington, D.C. Synod) “This will be bigger than the Reformation itself when this is adopted.” (Addressing his synod assembly in 1996)

Spring, Paull (Bishop, Northwestern Penn) He, along with seven other bishops, issued a statement (March 1999) in support of CCM which includes the following: “The bishops said they were “pleased” CCM reflect significant changes over the previous Concordat. They said changes include…a recognition that the ELCA accepts the historic episcopate in practice, but not the threefold order of ministry.” (ELCA Press Release, 4/1/99)

(The other bishops who signed the March 1999 statement: Ralph Dunkin (West Virginia-Western Maryland; Guy Edmiston, Lower Susquehanna; Donald Main, Upper Susquehanna; Donald McCoid, Southwestern Penn; George Mocko, Delaware-Maryland; Gregory Pile, Allegheny; Theodore Schneider, Metropolitan Washington D.C.)

Strommen, Peter (Bishop, Northeast MN)

  • Quoted as saying about the Concordat and its official commentary, Concordat: Concerns Addressed: It has been “a managed process.” (The Lutheran 4/97, p.43)
  • “I came to our meeting with the Episcopal bishops last October with an enormous bias against this proposal. But I came to see that the church has a lot at stake in it and will probably vote for it even though I’m not excited about it. I just hope we never get into such a managed process again.” (The Lutheran, 4/97, p.43)
  • “The process we’re discussing won’t be perceived as running over people.” (The Lutheran, 11/97, p. 49) (But after CCM was released in April 1998, ELCA bishops issued the Tucson Resolution proposing twenty (!) clarifications of the agreement.)

Tiede, David (President, Luther Seminary)

  • “We commit our leadership to the reception and implementation of that [CCM] decision in our church and seminaries.” (Tiede and two other seminary presidents pledge their support for CCM. ELCA News 9/2/99)
  • “I believe the possibility of exceptions is really important. Without it we’re conditioning the gospel.” (MetroLutheran 11/01, p. 7).
  • “Knowing that we don’t have to do it (ordination) your way, we probably will not need to do it our way.” (episcopal-ut.org/DialogueMain/DialogueArticle/july2003/nws.htm.)

Trexler, Ed (Editor of The Lutheran. Texler’s coverage of CCM frequently portrayed opponents of CCM as fearful and narrow-minded, and proponents as sensible and broad-minded.)

  • Trexler omits a key phrase from Episcopal Ecumenical Officer David Perry’s statement to the ELCA Church Council (November 1997).

Episcopal Press Release: “Bishops function for mission and ministry as servants,” Perry told the ELCA council. “The historic episcopate is not magical, it is the power of the Holy Spirit, working in a community for its life and faithfulness to the gospel of Jesus Christ.” (ENS, note 2032)

ELCA Press Release: “David Perry, Episcopal Church ecumenical officer, said, the ‘non-negotiable’ is not pleasant to hear or to say. The historic episcopate isn’t magical. It has to do with community. Our bishops exist for mission and ministry, to participate as servants within our community.” (The Lutheran, 1/98, p.48.)

  • “It is virtually a denial of the faith not to try to enhance the visible unity of the church.” (The Lutheran, 8/98, p. 58.”
  • Unattributed claim in The Lutheran: “The Episcopal Church” agrees that CCM has been “correctly interpreted” by the ELCA bishops’ resolution. (The Lutheran 5/99, p.43)
  • “Further, as the ELCA faces future volative questions, we can counsel with our new partners, possibly even moving in tandem.” (The Lutheran, 10/99, p.58)
  • CCM does “not require the ELCA to adopt a threefold order of ministry.” (The Lutheran, 8/2000, p.40)

Wagner, Robert (Executive Director of the Division for Ministry) He informed the ELCA Conference of Bishops at their March 1994 meeting that there ought to be a separate entry rite of “consecration” for diaconal ministers because diaconal ministers are “to fit between associates in ministry and pastor ordained ministers.”

Wengert, Tim. (Professor of Lutheran Confessions, Philadelphia) “We in the ELCA agree to respect the ‘historic episcopate’ of the Episcopal Church out of Christian love and for the sake of the unity of these two groups.” (Lutheran Forum, Winter 2000, p. 42)

Yeago, David (Professor Southern Seminary)

  • Endorsing CCM: “It is also quite thinkable that a relationship with Lutherans could be one factor shaping the action the Episcopal Church seems to be getting closer and closer to taking. We simply do not know – we never do – what difference our actions might make, but if there is any chance that we could help things turn out even a bit less badly, that would seem to add another layer of obligation to our basic obligation to seek the unity of the church.” (Lutheran Forum, Easter 1998, p.46)

*  *  *  *  *

See also The Tucson Resolution, especially A1 and A4:

  1. no requirement that the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America must eventually adopt the three-fold order of ministry. Rather, “Called to Common Mission” recognizes that the present understanding of one ordained ministry in Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, including both pastors and bishops, may continue in effect;
  1. no requirement that the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America establish the office of deacon, nor that they be ordained;

[1] See constitutional change ¶7.54.01. Deacons will be “consecrated,” a synonym for “ordained.” In 2019 the ELCA will vote on the “entrance rite” for deacons. Whichever term (“consecrated” or “ordained”), is chosen, the elements of the rite will conform to Episcopal requirements for an ordained diaconate.

Wengert errs “publicly” in The Book of Concord

Wengert errs “publicly” in The Book of Concord

Tim Wengert inserted a word in Article 14 that should not be there. The added word puts a spin on Article 14 that should not be there.[1]

See the wrongly inserted word “[public]” and its inaccurate footnote below:

“Concerning church government it is taught that no one should publicly teach, preach, or administer the sacraments without a proper [public] call.”78

78”On ordenlichen Beruf. Beruf means both “call” and “vocation.” The 1531 editio princeps and the 1580 Book of Concord add the word in brackets.”[2]

In a 2004 lecture for the ELCA Conference of Bishops, Wengert claimed that the bracketed “[public]” is “the important word” in Article 14:

Third, the important word in CA XIV is “public.” This is the eschatological purpose of church government and order: to see to it that what has been whispered in secret is shouted from the rooftops (Matthew 10:27). In fact, the point is so important that both the official German printing of the CA in 1531 and the version printed in 1580 in The Book of Concord repeated the word “public” in the final phrase (shown in brackets above). This emphasis contrasted directly to self-appointed, so-called radical preachers who based their authority solely on themselves and their personal or private, “congregational” calls. Although the Roman authorities often accused Luther and the evangelicals of such usurpation of authority, in fact all the leaders of the evangelical movement were duly called pastors and preachers of the existing church. “The call,” Luther once said at table, “hurts the devil very much.”[3]

But: “[T]he important word” is not there and should not be there.

It would seem that Wengert’s own agenda, proving that for Melanchthon “proper call” means Amt (“the authority of the office rests in the office itself and in the word of God”[4]) has overwhelmed his critical faculties.

But: Neither the official German printing of the CA in 1531 nor the version printed in 1580 have the bracketed word “public.” How could a professional historian make such an error?

The error corrected, but problems remain. ELCA pastor Kris Baudler caught the error, realized its significance, and wrote to Professor Wengert, who initially defended his insertion of “[public]” into the German text of Article 14. [5]

After some back and forth, Wengert admitted his error. Consequently, in the second printing, the word “[public]” and the incorrect sentence in the footnote to Article 14 about the 1531 and 1580 editions of the Book of Concord are omitted.

But problems remain:

1. The first printing of BC 2000 was large enough that most libraries own only the first printing. For example, Luther Seminary has four copies of BC 2000 – all from the first printing! Who would even know there is a second printing? Most non-Lutheran libraries would have only one copy, the first printing, of BC 2000 and would have no idea of errors in it. Moreover, the second printing of BC 2000 contains no notice – nothing in the Preface, Forward, or text of Article 14 – that a serious error was made in the first printing. This error is not a typo.

2. Wengert has failed to properly correct the error. In a footnote in his 2008 book he writes: “I am grateful to Pastor Kris Baudler for pointing out an error in CA 14, in BC 2000, 46, which has been rectified in subsequent printings.”[6] The specific error, however, is not described. The bland wording suggests the error was like a typo. In this way Wengert obscures rather than deals with the error.

3. Wengert continues in his book to make incorrect statements about Article 14 and Reformation history. He continues to claim incorrectly that the word “public” is in the text: “Third, one very important word in Article 14 is public.” [7] To the contrary, the word “public” is still not in the text!

To be sure, the adverb “publicly” is in Article 14 earlier: “Concerning church government it is taught that no one should publicly teach, preach, or administer the sacrament without a proper call” (emphasis added). There is a big difference between the adverb “publicly” and the adjective “public.” The adverb “publicly” modifies the actions of preaching and administering the sacraments. The adjective “public” (to be sure, not in the text) would modify the noun “call” and might imply establishing an office or Amt.

Wengert also misrepresents Reformation history. He claims that for the Reformers “all the leaders of the evangelical movement were duly called pastors and preachers of the existing church,”[8] implying an ecclesial office from which authority for ministry derives. To the contrary, as Dorothea Wendebourg, among many others, notes: “[I]n the secular territories and cities the government of the Church lay to a considerable extent in the hands of the secular authorities, i.e., the princes and the city councils. Visitations, ecclesiastical patronage, monastic reforms and many other activities were carried out here to a considerable extent by the secular authorities and not – or only nominally or in the context of initiatives by the secular prince – by the bishop.”[9]

Wengert surely knows all this but chooses instead to present a view of Reformation history that more closely conforms to his biases.[10]

Wengert’s error is part of the larger problem of “the Lutheran clerical drift towards episcopalianism in North America,”[11] as foreseen by Tappert even in 1956: “Is there the beginning of a tendency today to adopt the theology and the practice of a neo-Romantic remythologization which is currently flowering in our environment?”[12]

In a previous generation a serious error like Wengert’s, which is not merely in a lecture and a book, but in a major public (!) text, would have had professional consequences.

[1] The Book of Concord, eds. Robert Kolb and Timothy J. Wengert (Minneapolis: Fortress, 2000), hereafter BC 2000.

[2] 1st printing, emphasis added. Wengert is the editor for the section on the Augsburg Confession.

[3] Timothy J. Wengert, “The End of the Public Office of Ministry in the Lutheran Confessions,” Resource paper, p.3. Text revised and reprinted in Timothy J. Wengert, Priesthood, Pastors, Bishops. Public Ministry for the Reformation and Today. (Philadelphia: Fortress, 2008) 33-53, here 42; emphasis added.

[4] Wengert, Priesthood, Pastors, Bishops, 12; emphasis added.

[5] See Mark Menacher’s review of Wengert, Priesthood, Pastors, Bishops, in Logia: A Journal of Lutheran Theology, 19:4 (Reformation 2010) 48-51; here 51: “The German text of AC XIV in the BSLK plainly reads ohn ordentlichen Beruf with no reference to or insertion of “[public]” in any form. Only if one rummages around in the notes to AC XIV in BSLK (69) can one find a variant reference to “public call” (offentlichen Beruf), which is probably a misreading of ordentlichen. For those able to access the BSLK, Wengert’s editorial formulation is a novum of the Kolb-Wengert edition.” (The variant reference comes from a Würzburg manuscript.)

[6] Wengert, Priesthood, Pastors, Bishops, 125, footnote 27.

[7] Wengert, 42 (emphasis added):

“Third, one very important word in Article 14 is public. This is the eschatological purpose of church government and order: to see to it that what has been whispered in secret is shouted from the rooftops (Matthew 10:27). This emphasis contrasted directly to self-appointed, so-called radical preachers, who based their authority solely on themselves and their personal calls. Although the Roman authorities often accused Luther and the evangelicals of such usurpation of authority, in fact all the leaders of the evangelical movement were duly called pastors and preachers of the existing church. “The call,” Luther once said at table, “hurts the devil very much.” (Compare the 2004 and the 2008 texts.)

[8] Wengert, 42.

[9] Dorothea Wendebourg, “The Reformation in Germany,” Visible Unity and the Ministry of Oversight (London: Church Publishing House, 1997) 49-78, here 50.

[10]At the 450th anniversary celebration of the Augsburg Confession in Augsburg, Germany, George Lindbeck lectured on this issue. See George Lindbeck, “Rite vocatus: Der theologische Hintergrund zu CA 14,” in Confessio Augustana und Confutatio: Der Augsburger Reichstag 1530 und die Einheit der Kirche, ed. Erwin Iserloh (Münster: Aschendorff, 1980) 454-72. In the discussion following, a number of scholars pointed out the variety of ways in which pastors were called, including the call of a pastor by a city council, among other examples, the call of a pastor by the city council in Augsburg, contrary to Wengert’s claim that “all the leaders of the evangelical movement were duly called pastors and preachers of the existing church” (Wengert, 42).

[11] Menacher, Logia, 51.

[12] Menacher, Logia, 51, citing Theodore Tappert, “Directions in Lutheran Losses to Other Communions, Lutheran Quarterly 14:2 (Summer 2000) 206-8, especially 208.