Saturday, December 02, 2006

John Fenton

John Fenton was a pastor in the Missouri Synod for many years. He faithfully served a historic inner-city parish in Detroit (Zion) for many of those years. In addition to daily parish work year in and year out (preaching, baptizing, catechizing, visiting the sick, etc,), John became an expert in liturgical matters - not only the rubrics, the "how to" practicalities of ritual and ceremony (which is sorely needed in the LCMS, as many of us never learned the "etiquette" of conducting the liturgy as well as we ought to have - our excellent seminary professors notwithstanding), but also the deep theological mysteries surrounding liturgy and sacrament in which God is present for us, forgiving our sins.

Year after year, he and his congregation generously hosted the St. Michel's Liturgical Conference, bringing in LCMS speakers from around the country to allow LCMS pastors to continue their ongoing education as stewards of the mysteries. He served as an editor of Gottesdienst and of Bride of Christ - and wrote articles for both. He was also published in Logia. John also served on the synod's Board for Black Ministry Services, as well as serving on one of the LSB hymnal committees. Zion had numerous guest celebrants, officiants, and preachers during Fenton's pastorate - including at least one synodical president, several district presidents, synodical bureaucrats, and seminary professors.

I don't know John very well, but when I have spoken with him, I found him to be devout, genuine, and always open to listen and to answer questions. I know a lot of guys who are very close with him, and I can think of very few men who have served on the clergy roster of the LCMS who are held in such high regard and affection.

Perhaps this explains the reactions of hurt on the part of many when John made the etxremely heart-wrenching and difficult decision to resign his ministry at Zion and in the LCMS and to convert to the Eastern Orthodox Church. This was indeed a difficult blow to many of us who benefitted by his work with us and with our synod.

Almost immediately, shocking accusations sprang up attacking John's character (although, he did the right thing that any pastor should do if he no longer confesses the Lutheran confessions), digging and delving for information along the lines of "what did he confess and when did he confess it?" Several people have expressed their opinion that John is now going to hell for becoming Eastern Orthodox. Venomous articles have now suddenly been written about Eastern Christians, almost labeling them a Satanic cult. John's reputation has been utterly trashed in a sad disregard not only of chivalry and honor, but of the 8th commandment as well. I'm embarrassed by much of what I have read. I'm shocked at the things Christians will not only say, but commit to print.

John's many years of faithful service to his flock and to our synod are now forgotten, and even now, weeks after he has been released from LCMS membership and from the clergy roster, the barrage continues. The interest in trashing John Fenton's reputation has become nearly as hysterical as a spurned teenage girl. The ongoing chatter and buzz about John's obviously difficult decision borders on cyber-stalking.

I find a lot of the blogging and chatter to be disgraceful and nothing more than self-righteous posturing by men who sound terribly unsure of their own faith. They come across like the guy who wants to put a huge spoiler and shiny wheels on his car in a lame effort to bolster his self-image of virility (perhaps compensating for a lack thereof).

John has left our confession. It saddens me. I don't agree with him. I would rejoice if he came back. But the last thing we in the LCMS ought to be is self-rightoues. In fact, perhaps we should listen to what men like Fenton have to say, really listen to what it is that first made them question why they were in the LCMS in the first place. We have no grounds for self-righteousness. Even before President Kieschnick (with whom I disagree about much), the highest levels of the LCMS tolerated "the charismatic movement." How many high ranking LCMS officials will denounce "contemporary worship"? We denounce unionism and syncretism out of one side of our mouths, and then exonerate (and celebrate) those who pray with non-Christians (who also claim those who deny the divinity of Jesus actually worship the same God as Christians). Evolution is taught in our universities. We have lay preachers and vicars and other laymen "consecrating" elements - all with the blessing of our synodical and district officials. We have churches that openly violate our confessions by hard-heartedly refusing to allow the pastor to offer the Lord's Supper every Sunday - and spineless bureaucrats who refuse to stand up for our confessions by teaching and catechizing the laity when they complain about their pastor for simply doing what he has been called to do. Time after time we have seen faithful pastors being thrown to the dogs and/or being cleverly manipulated out of their God-given - *God-given* - divine calls by political and bureaucratic shenanigans. We have the Lord's Blood routinely thrown in the garbage and the Lord's Body routinely mixed with unconsecrated bread. We also have pastors who openly advocate for women's ordination, and not one of them has ever been disciplined for this heresy. We allow matters of doctrine to be voted on at conventions that operate under Robert's Rules. We seem to have more discussions among ourselves about bylaws than about Scripture. Our new hymnal (which I endorse because the good far outweighs the bad) includes ditties by Twila Paris and Amy Grant, but doesn't have room for all of the Psalms! Our synod defines asking a person if they have accepted Jesus as their personal Lord and Savior to be a "critical event," but doesn't extend this status to Holy Baptism! Much more could be said.

And then we wonder why pastors and laymen alike begin to have their doubts about being where they are, "walking together" with the aforementioned.

Again, I don't agree with John for leaving - nor with others of our brightest and best theologians who have felt compelled to break communion with us. I pray they do come back some day - and I believe we are the poorer without these men. But even if they don't, there is comfort in our confession that there is, and will always be, only *one* holy catholic and apostolic Church. Our Lutheran confessions nowhere confess that there are no Christians in the Eastern or Western Catholic Churches. In fact, our confessions many times praise our Eastern brethren on matters of doctrine. If you think your salvation is based on synodical membership or because you are right about some matter of doctrine or the other, you need to think again. The reality of the matter is that we Lutherans will actually be a numerical minority in heaven. In the Throneroom of our Lord, all Christians will once more be in full communion. We are saved by grace alone, not by our self-righteousness at being right about everything - even when we're not (which is the way theological discourse too often seems to go in our circles). Sometimes I think it's a dead heat which group has more pompous, arrogant, blow-hard, know-it-alls: Eastern Orthodoxy, or LCMS Lutheranism. There's another thing we actually do have in common with the East! ;-)

John Fenton is no longer one of our brethren in the ministry of the Church of the Augsburg Confession. Believe me, we have enough wayward brethren IN the LCMS to worry about without having to look to those outside our communion to go after. Let us resolve to work on fixing *our own* heretodoxy before we start telling every other church body how to fix theirs. It seems our blessed Lord addressed this in the Sermon on the Mount with some ophalmological advice that we would do well to heed. A little more humility wouldn't hurt any of us.

How about praying for John Fenton, for the LCMS, for Eastern Orthodoxy, for yourslef, for me, and for every other sinner and imperfect group of people for whom Christ died? I'm finding this to be a more felicitous use of time than reading a lot of blogs. I'm finding blogs to be like friends: a faithful few is better than a great many that are fickle. I'm finding myself no longer posting comments to others' blogs, and find myself actually reading (and writing) very few - and I think this is probably a good thing.

Meanwhile, if John Fenton is restored to holy orders within the communion of the East, there will be a great many Eastern Christians who will benefit from John's pastoral care and grasp of the Gospel. Just as when he served as a Lutheran pastor, if it is the Lord's will that John resume his pastoral work, he will once again preach, baptize, and absolve sins, and give out the medicine of immortality. In other words, he will be dispensing grace and eternal life - that is, unless you want to deny the Lord's power in water and the Word.

As sojourners in this broken world and as members of the Body of Christ that bears the battle scars of many an encounter with the devil - let us pray for the *one* holy Catholic Church, let us pray for the Bishop of Rome, the Patriarch of Constantinople, for the President of the Missouri Synod, and for every Christian pastor who gives everlasting life by applying water and the salvific words of Jesus.

On the other side of the grave, our schisms and scars will be healed. Not one of us will stand in the awesome presence of the Lord eager to seek out a fellow believer to say "See, I told you so, I was right! I was right! My doctrine was right, and yours was wrong! I was right, right, righty-right!" For our vindication doesn't come that way, but only by the blood of the Lamb who covers our faults, our own faults, our own most grievous faults. Being forgiven is far better than being right about everything. Just ask the breast-beating tax collector who stood in the shadow of the always-right-about-everything Pharisee who thanked God for not making him a tax collector.

Soli *Deo* gloria - sicut erat in principio, et nunc, et semper, et in saecula saeculorum. Amen.

23 comments:

Past Elder said...

Thank you for the most compeeling response I have read on the whole Fenton thing.

In my case, I went the opposite direction -- from Rome to St Louis, so to speak, with a stop off in Milwaukee on the way. I wouldn't be surprised if the dynamic was much the same though.

It starts when you look around your own denomination and wonder how so much of what you see can be excused, let alone championed, given what the denomination formally professes and historically practiced. How can this be? you wonder. The next step is, maybe it's because some of those professions and practices were wrong in the first place. In his statement of resignation, that is the conclusion he apparently came to. I submit it us entirely incidental that Eastern Orthodoxy was his next step. Many of those like myself who started out in Rome "went East" instead of to St Louis on precisely this dynamic, that it seems to preserve the good and correct the bad.

So my point is, it's not that Eastern Orthodoxy has seduced yet another victim. It's that yet another Lutheran looked around his church and its confessions and wondered what is Lutheran about it any more, and from there wondered if maybe then those confessions were wrong to begin with if we got to this place.

We would do well to drop all moaning about Fenton and Eastern Orthodoxy, and concern ourselves with being truly Lutheran. We would so well to stop coveting the numbers of the mega churches and attempting makeovers to look like them, and concern ourselves with being truly Lutheran. Because unless I seriously misread the Book of Concord prior to confessing the Lutheran faith ten years ago, being truly Lutheran is nothing more than being truly Christian and truly being the one, holy, catholic and apostolic church.

Preachrboy said...

Rev. Beane,

I see the Fenton "conversion" as something sad that could have been worse. It's true, he didn't completely deny faith in Christ. But it does seem he has denied Justification by Faith in Christ as the cheif doctrine of the church. (At least, that's been my reading of it - feel free to correct me). In any case he has clearly rejected the true, Lutheran understanding of such.

And while it would not have been right for him to remain a Lutheran pastor as such, I have to disagree that the "right thing to do" was for him to go East. The "right thing to do" would have been (and still would be) for him to repent and return to the truth. (That is, not necessarily to stay in the LCMS - but to at least remain Lutheran!) As it is, I think we have the lesser of two evils.

I think that the ongoing discussion of his resignation is worth having - especially as more information about it comes to light (as in his recent interview). But I agree that the criticism from Lutherans has gotten a little harsh at times.

Still, I understand the consternation it has caused in the more conservative/confessional wing of the Synod. I think one effect that hasn't been mentioned is that things like this serve to create and further mistrust from the "other side" of our synod - those who view people sympathetic to Fenton as "ultraconservatives".

As one who has been growing in my understanding of what it means to be "truly Lutheran", I have heard the conversation on both sides of the LCMS from the "inside". And I can see how these events will further fuel the fires of division and suspiscion, and make those who already fail to understand traditionalists even more hesitant to give us ear.

Past Elder said...

You are so right preachrboy! This will, as a practicality in the worship wars, only confirm the thinking that you mess around with all the smells and bells and you end up Roman or Eastern.

We so desperately need to understand what is Catholic from what is catholic. Understood properly, I think the whole drift of the Confessions is to reform Catholic to be catholic. But we don't understand that -- far too often, on both sides. So those for whom the Common Service is neither common nor their order of service plunge headlong into a 21st Century version of the same Pietism from which the Common Service helped deliver us decades ago. But equally lamentable are those for whom being Lutheran is not making the sign of the cross, chanting, using Latin.

Fenton left because he could no longer uphold what is upheld in the Confessions. That's a real shame and a great loss. At the same time, wouldn't it be great if everyone else who no longer upholds what is upheld in the Confessions had the honesty to say so and leave too rather than go on about it ain't your grandfather's synod any more!

ptmccain said...

Here is what I've written on the subject of Fenton's recent departure:

http://cyberbrethren.typepad.com/cyberbrethren/2006/11/fundamental_dis.html

And then again, here:

http://cyberbrethren.typepad.com/cyberbrethren/2006/11/one_holy_cathol.html#more

I believe both articles speak for

If you wish to take issue with what was actually said in those two posts, please do so.

I find your generic attack to be a good example of missing the point.

Does our Synod have significant concerns and challenges? To be sure it does. I've been around just long enough to have seen quite a lot of those problems from a variety of interesting perspectives, and I would suspect I'm as aware of them as much a anyone else might be, perhaps in some ways even more so. Identify problems in one's denomination is a far cry from abandoning the Gospel purely taught and confessed in the Book of Concord and exchanging it for the pottage of the errors of Eastern Orthodoxy. I would assume you would agree with that, but this is a point that I find oddly lacking in your comments and others who have been engaging in hand-wringing over Fenton's leaving.

Fenton leaving is a tragic development, but to try to chalk it all up to the problems in our Synod and lay the blame for it at the feet of those problems is simply not correct. The facts of the situation speak for themselves. John admits, finally and openly, that in fact his attraction to EO began even *before* he entered the seminary.

You bristle at the description of his leaving as an act of treason against Christ and His Gospel. Those are indeed strong words, harsh words, but yet, I'm convinced, they are true. Not to understand this is to take far too lightly what precisely it means to confess the Gospel revealed in Holy Scripture. EO does *not* believe, teach and confess the Most Holy Gospel of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ in accord with the words of the Lord Christ Himself and His inspired and inerrant Apostles. St. Paul was quite clear precisely on what it means to admix works with faith. I respectfully remind you precisely of what the Blessed Apostle says in Galatians 1 about those who did so. These are serious, serious matters indeed.

Friendships take a back seat to such public error.

I agree with PreacherBoy. This move has serious consequences for anyone in our Synod who does wish to be very serious about liturgy, worship, confession, etc. Situations like this make it all the easier for our concerns and interests to be dismised as "high church chancel prancing" and consequently then ignored and written off.

I listened to John Fenton's radio interview about his decision to leave Lutheranism and join the so-called "Orthodox" Faith. Several important things jumped out at me:

1) He had serious doubts and reservations about Lutheranism before he went to the seminary. He had visited an Orthodox parish and read Ware's book on Orthodoxy and as he admits in his interview he had "considered dropping out of the seminary" several times, but did not. Here we have to be concerned that there was not a much more careful screening process at the seminary. Men who have these kinds of grave doubts and reservations about Lutheranism simply should not be permitted to continue in their studies. One should never be permittted to attend seminary as a way to work through such grave doubts and reservations.

2) Fenton clearly rejects the Biblical confession of the Gospel in rejecting the doctrine of vicarious satisfaction and wishes simply to chalk up the propitiation of God's wrath as an Anselmic theory. He has replaced the pure Gospel with adiaphora. In other words, for Fenton the "law of faith" is trumped by the "law of praying." Pretty liturgy is no substitute for the beautiful truth of pure doctrine.

3) Clearly this was a calculated and well orchestrated move out of his parish. A home was purchased, plans were made, and "Bishop Mark" of the Antiochian Diocese has green lighted the development of a "Western Rite" Orthodox parish in the Detroit area and Fenton's eventual ordination. Pastors who are aware of fellow clergy dabbling with Orthodoxy would do well to be aware that this is not simply some innocent "questioning" but often part of a well planned effort to leave Lutheranism, and there is, as I indicated, a clear program under way to recruit others. To laity and pastors: if you suspect a person is being tempted by the siren songs from Istanbul ask the pastor in question to tell you, in full and thorough detail, why they believe Eastern Orthodoxy is wrong. If they demur, there's a problem.

4) Finally, and most tragically, Fenton indicates to the interviewer that in spite of years of "discerning" and "studying" he said he realized he simply had to embrace Orthodoxy in spite of things he "doesn't understand" about it, simply on the basis of "trust" that it must be right. Isn't that both pathetic and sad?

Let us pray that in spite of the error he has embraced by joining "Orthodoxy," John Fenton will be preserved in the saving faith and pure Gospel he learned at his father's knee in the Small Catechism. And let us all take heed and warning from this episode.

Fr. Gregory Hogg said...

Rev. McCain,

In other places you've already admitted that you knew of Fenton's plans, but did nothing. If you are so convinced that what he did was a grave error, then each time you say so, you testify against yourself.

The fool and unworthy priest,

Fr. Gregory

A few verses from yesterday's Vespers:
"Verily, the Word, born of the Father before the ages, hath himself been incarnate in the last times by his own will, of one who knowest not wedlock. He did suffer crucifixion and death; and by his Resurrection he hath saved man dead of old.

Let us glorify thy Resurrection from the dead, O Christ, by which thou didst free the race of Adam from the usurpation of hades. And since thou art God, thou hast granted the world eternal life and the Great Mercy.

Glory to thee, O Christ Savior, only Son of God, who wast nailed upon the Cross, and who didst rise from the tomb on the third day.

Thee do we glorify, O Lord, O thou who, for our sakes, didst suffer crucifixion willingly; and thee do we worship, O almighty Savior. Cast us not, therefore, from before thy face, but give ear to us and save us by thy Resurrection, O Lover of mankind."

Anonymous said...

Rev. Beane, thanks for the sane and thoughtful comments on this subject.

Pastor McCain, with all due respect, you should let a dead horse lie (or is it lay? Oh well). My agreement or disagreement with you aside, you're really coming across on this subject as a mad fundamentalist type.

I don't think Rev. Beane mentioned anyone's specific comments regarding Fenton's conversion - he simply me mentioned the numerous amounts of disgraceful chatter. You're too defensive here.

Michael said...

Father,
A very welcome breeze of reason and compassion that you have provided us with here. Thank you very much.
Best regards,
Michaelk Borussia

ptmccain said...

Dear BL, thanks for your concern about my "defensiveness." I assure you I felt no defensiveness at all, only a desire to contribute my "take" on the Fenton situation. I knew Father Hollywood was not speaking about my posts, since nowhere in them did I say all Eastern Orthodox are going to hell, or that The LCMS is the only path to heaven. Also, I do not have a lot of chrome and bling on my vehicle, hence I do not believe I'm guilty of questionable virility, if I follow Father Hollywood's [always entertaining] ramblings. Besides, the person most immediately concerned with my virility has not expressed any concerns, and that's good enough for me.

I'm still more than a tad concerned that folks are not seriously enough considering precisely the doctrinal implications of a pastor who abandons the confession of the Lutheran Church and swaps it out for the errors of Eastern Orthodoxy.

That's why I referred to my two posts. Folks are of course more than welcome to read them and come to their own conclusions.

As for the EO priest's comments on this thread, it is amusing to me that he presumes to know precisely what I did, or didn't do, and when I did it, or didn't do it. I was not aware that becoming an EO priest grants one such powers of omniscience, which, if that is the case, would definitely be something the EO folks should advertise a bit more! That would sure be hard to compete against.

Father Hollywood makes a few salient points and I even agreed with a number of things he said, but...well, it seemed to me to be a case of the gentleman protesting too much.

Past Elder said...

It's not that I'm not concerned with pastors who abandon the confession of the Lutheran Church for something else. But I'm less concerned about those who do so and leave than those who do so and stay. The former at least understand what we are not. The latter don't and try to make us into what we are not.

Lawrence said...

With respect to what I call "The Current LCMS Identity Crisis".

When I speak to most non-LCMS people religion I generally label myself as a Confessional Christian, or Confessional Protestant.

It is very hard to explain to people the differences between different Protestant groups, let alone the differences between different Lutheran Synods, when most of those same people already have preconceived ideas about who/what Lutherans are.

Try explaining to a non-Lutheran that I am a Lutheran, but not one of “those” Lutherans. It makes me sound like some kind of a nut.

It is much easier to have an open conversation about what is meant by the less understood term, “confessional”.

From my read of this blog post, Pr. Bean is discussing Pr. Fenton's switch from Book of Concord Confessional Christianity to the not-so-confessional Eastern Orthodox Church.

Whatever Pr. Fenton believed prior to leaving is less relevant to what he clearly states, (at least in what I read) that he does not now embrace LCMS denomination as faithful to our own written confessions. And quite frankly, in many respects, I have to agree with him.

But what puzzles and concerns us Confessionalists is why Pr. Fenton would leave his ordained confessional calling which he embraced for so long for a church that does not espouse confessional Christianity.

This is different from Fr. Hogg who clearly states, as I understand, that he didn't really ever agree with Lutheran Confessionalism to begin with.

The point is, if Pr. Fenton continues to search for Confessional Christianity, he is not going to find it in the Eastern Orthodox Church.

Although, this may be an important legs of his journey toward finding what he truly seeks. I would not be surprised at all to see Pr. Fenton leave EO at some point and return to some small confessional Lutheran Synod.

Caveat: I do not know Pr. Fenton or Fr. Hogg personally. I only know them from their onw writings and what has been written about them. I realize they are both controversial people, and I take that into account as I read.

Lawrence said...

Question:

Are we (LCMS) truly confessional, or are we not?

Regardless of what other churches and denominations are about, LCMS is about being true to the Creeds and Confessions.

Are we?

Lawrence said...

Because if the answer to my question above is, No, then we need to seriously consider the full implications of Pr. Fenton's actions.

This could signal the initial drops of a flood of people leaving LCMS over a variety doctrinal issues. And I among them.

To where will these people will go? I have no idea. But can we blame them? under the circumstances?

Fr. Gregory Hogg said...

Lawrence said:

"This is different from Fr. Hogg who clearly states, as I understand, that he didn't really ever agree with Lutheran Confessionalism to begin with."

Rx:
Just curious, Lawrence--How in the world did you ever get the idea that I didn't agree with Lutheran Confessionalism to begin with?

Fr. Gregory

The Orthodox Lutheran said...

Father Beane,
Thank you for that post. It was great. I too almost joined the EO. I many sympathies towards the EO and admire many of the "good" things they do as "Christians." But I am in the LCMS and love the Church I am at, but we as Lutherans must not become like the Donatists or the schismatics like the Baptists and Reformed who claim they have it 100% right and everybody else is wrong. We as Lutherans must learn from this.
Dave

Past Elder said...

So Donatus finally came up! I think Fenton's blog had a line about "who suspects he's a Donatist" in reference to himself.

So, are the choices ex opere operantis and ex opere operato? Or is either one a slippery slope into works righteousness? Or are we too busy trying to identify the present Diocletian to think about it much?

Father Hollywood said...

I appreciate everyone's posts on this topic, but I'm not going to add to what I've already written. This is one of those emotional and explosive topics that can quickly degenerate into mudwrestling. This was certainly not my intent, and I believe that anything I might have to add on this topic would only be repeating what I've already said.

Once again, I thank everyone for his remarks and honestly held opinion whether I agree or disagree. I learn from everyone - regardless of which side he comes down on.

Anonymous said...

I believe that we need to put this whole thing into perspective. The problem is that too often fingers get pointed and trouble issues against the individual leaving, but perhaps not in the way it should. Too many have left the LCMS and Lutheranism for either Rome or Constantinople, yet we hear of almost no one leaving the LCMS for England or Protestant-World....why? Why are so many leaving the LCMS for the historic churches? When we answer that question and deal with the obvious answer/problem, then we will begin to actually help unite and not fracture the synod.

Two of my best friends have left Lutheranism for Constantinople, and one of them at least was pushed away by the LCMS's blatant movements towards contemporary worship and willful disregard for the fathers of the church. Such movements in the name of Lutheransim and the synod do nothing but tarnish what the Lutherans were trying to do at Augsburg....simply reform what was already there.

Our vitriol shouldn't just be towards those who leave, regardless of whether it was for the right reasons or not, but towards those inside who contribute to such brokeness.

Pax Christi

Past Elder said...

I suppose by this time no-one is reading this thread. I wish I had thought of this earlier.

All of us know that the Reformation happened within the Western Church, and that there is an Eastern Church as well. Lutheranism exists there as well, and just as our Western litugy was retained except for accretions that the Gospel does not support, so also the Eastern liturgy is retained.

You may see for yourself what the Eastern Rite looks like when reformed. The link is from the Seminary of the Ukranian Lutheran Church, which is in fellowship with WELS and ELS in the CELC (oder KELK, auf Deutsch).

http://www.angelfire.com/ca4/saintsophiaseminary/liturgy.html

This is a magnificent liturgy. You might say it is to the Eastern Rite what the Common Service is to the Western.

Past Elder said...

http://www.angelfire.com/ca4/saintsophiaseminary/liturgy.html

On my screen the full link got cut off. In case it gets cut off again, the last part is /liturgy.html

Chris Jones said...

Past Elder,

I don't see that the Ukrainian liturgy that you linked to is any improvement on the original. Why, for example, is the anaphora cut down almost to the bare Verba, when the original anaphora of St John Chrysostom does not have the same teaching on the sacrifice of the Mass that the Roman canon does? As you may know, in the Lutheran Confessions, Melanchthon specifically refers to the anaphora of St John Chrysostom -- approvingly -- as evidence in favor of the Lutheran teaching concerning eucharistic sacrifice. Yet the language that the Lutheran Confessors approved has been cut out of the liturgy by the Ukrainian Lutherans.

Another example: in the Monogenes hymn ("O Only-begotten Son and Word of God ...") the Lutheran liturgy omits the reference to "Mary ever-Virgin"; but our Lutheran fathers believed in the perpetual virginity and our Confessions teach it. What need was there to remove it?

The Ukrainian Lutheran liturgy is, as you say, magnificent; but not as magnificent, nor as expressive of the Gospel, as the source from which it was drawn.

Past Elder said...

chris jones -- I agree with all your points. As to why the specific instances of "Lutheran" revision of the the St John Chrysostom liturgy, it might explain things to remember that this church body is in fellowship with WELS, not us, in the CELC, and is more akin to them. Even so, my point was not to offer it as a perfect divine service, but rather as an example of something I have found absent in all the discussion of Fenton's case in particular and the whole EO thing in general. Which is, the Reformation exists in the Eastern Church too. You don't have to go to "Constantinople" any more than you have to go to "Rome"!

Pictorian said...

What does "confessional" mean exactly? What about EO is not confessional?

I'm just super curious.

Jennifer

Cha said...

Took a number of years before I was able to comment on Fr. Fenton's situation on any blog.
Thank you, Pr. Beane, for writing the only truly Christian response to this situation that I saw among the LCMSers.
I was horrified at one LCMS blog post about this when I read it after it was first posted. And that post about this made me ashamed to have ever been a Lutheran.
Thank you for this post, which I wish I'd seen when it was first published.