Friday, January 05, 2018

Correcting the Record on Luther

In response to opinions expressed by Renzo Puccetti in this piece published in American Conservative: "The Dangers of Theosentimentalism" by Rod Dreyer, my friend Dr. William Tighe, a Roman Catholic history professor and scholar at Muhlenberg College, corrects some mistaken information regarding Martin Luther and modern Lutherans:
It is unfortunate, to say the least, that such a cri de coeur as that of Renzo Puccetti, should contain such a statement (thus rendering it liable, sadly, to casual dismissal) as this:
“Please someone tell me, how a simple Catholic could keep his sensus fidelium, infallibilis in credendo, when the founder of the Lutherans, who approve of abortion, contraception, IVF, euthanasia and gay marriage, who don’t believe into the virginity of Our Lady, or in the presence of Christ in the Eucharist in body, blood and divinity, not to mention a number of other truths of faith, is celebrated as a renovator rather than a destroyer.” 
I’m hardly an admirer of Luther (and Richard Rex’s book has reenforced my distaste for him), but fair is fair, after all.
Modern “liberal Lutherans,” like many other “liberal ‘Christians,'” may “approve of approve of abortion, contraception, IVF, euthanasia and gay marriage” and may not “believe into ( sic ) the virginity of Our Lady, or in the presence of Christ in the Eucharist in body, blood and divinity,” but “the founder of the Lutherans” (by which he can only mean Martin Luther) would almost certainly have opposed “abortion, contraception, IVF, euthanasia and gay marriage” had they entered his imagination as imaginable things, or things which any Christians might accept or practice; and, in fact, Luther did believe into “the virginity of Our Lady” (both as regards the conception of Our Lord, and also her “perpetual virginity,” in which Zwingli and Calvin also believed) and also “the presence of Christ in the Eucharist in body, blood and divinity” (and furiously attacked other Reformers who denied it, considering their views on the “Lord’s Supper” far worse in this respect than those of the “papists”).
A believing Catholic might perhaps stigmatize Luther as “the original Protestant,” but he was neither (in his own day or subsequently) “the typical Protestant” (as regards denial of central Catholic beliefs and practices) or “a Liberal Protestant.” Rather, Lutherans who embrace “abortion, contraception, IVF, euthanasia and gay marriage” and who deny “the virginity of Our Lady, or … the presence of Christ in the Eucharist in body, blood and divinity” demonstrate by those very facts how far they have forsaken the “faith of their founder.”
Thank you, Dr. Tighe, for your commitment to truth and accuracy!


Renzo Puccetti said...

I thank dr. Tigher for his comment and correction. Nevertheless I have to mantain my point. The denial of moral and dogmatic truths by mainline protestants is exactly what protestant bishops and shepherds teach them. And was that unpredictable and fortuitous, or was it just inner, and logical consequential to Luther's doctrinal original position? Once the solubility of marriage is established, why could other teachings of Jesus and Church not have been questioned? If salvation depends on faith only and acts are meaningless (pecca fortiter, sed crede fortius) and entirely corrupted by sin, it is not surprising that moral decision are based on practical, funcional criteria. And now we have Luther described as a reformer and the secretary of the Italian Bishop conference, Bishop Galantino, declaring: "The Reformation carried out by Martin Luther 500 years ago was an event of the Holy Spirit". And a stamp by Holy See to celebrate 500 years of schism depicts Luther and Melanchthon at the foot of the Cross instead of Holy Mary and John.

My best regards to all of you.
Renzo Puccetti
Lecturer of Bioethics at UPRA

Rev. Larry Beane said...

Thank you, Dr. Pucecetti, for your response.

One of the problem is using the term 'mainline Protestantism' as a broad brush. As an LCMS Lutheran, we are not part of mainline Protestantism.

We don't engage in the 'denial of moral and dogmatic truths,' but rather locate the authority for our dogma and moral truths in Scripture rather in the papacy.

I'm afraid you are misstating Lutheran doctrine of faith and works, that we are saved by grace - which is a gift apart from works - see Ephesians 2:8-9 - not because the works are meaningless (see verse 10!) but rather because salvation precedes the good works which the Christian offers his neighbor as an any of love and God as an act of gratitude. Acts are not 'meaningless' in our theology.

Our morality is not forged by a Pelagian desire to earn salvation, but rather by the desire of the New Adam, the baptized Christian's, desire to please God by keeping the Ten Conmansments.

Again, our dogma is grounded in Scripture rather than in decisions of popes and councils, which as Dr. Luther confessed, have often contradicted one another.

Thank you once again for taking the time to comment!

Pax Christi!

Rev. Larry Beane said...

Moreover, for the record, regarding the topics of "abortion, contraception, IVF, euthanasia and gay marriage... the virginity of Our Lady... the presence of Christ in the Eucharist in body, blood and divinity" - I think you'll be surprised that the conservative Lutherans worldwide (many of which are members of the International Lutheran Conference, of which my jurisdiction (LCMS) is a member) upholds all of these Christian and Scriptural dogmas: the sacredness of life, the sanctity of natural marriage, the virginity of the blessed Mother of God, and the real, divine, physical presence of Christ in His true body and blood in the Holy Eucharist.

It is often the practice (and has been since the days of Eck and the 404 Articles) to paint with a broad brush and knock down a straw man in the process. Even the learned Roman Catholic scholars were stunned at what Lutherans actually believe (over and against innuendo and commonly-held misbeliefs) regarding ministry and eucharist (see Vol. IV of the "Catholics and Lutherans in Dialogue," 1970).

What baffles me is the fact that the Bishop of Rome, the Supreme Pontiff of the Roman Catholic Church, chose to meet with rank heretics in the Church (sic) of Sweden, replete with lesbian "bishops" and a theology that opposes life, natural marriage, that believes who-knows-what concerning the Theotokos (one Swedish "priestess" is now arguing that our Lord Himself must be considered gender-neutral). The Church (sic) of Sweden is a deviation from the creeds and confessions historically confessed by the churches of the Augsburg Confession (the label "Lutheran" is actually a pejorative that appears nowhere in our own confessions!).

Why did your pope meet with such radical feminist, pro-death, anti-marriage representatives to commemorate the quincentennial of the Reformation, and not one of our many bishops worldwide with whom we hold much in common with Rome's doctrinal commitment to life, marriage, the two natures of Christ, and His miraculous presence in the Holy Sacrament?

I think your issue is not with me and faithful confessing Lutherans so much as it is with your own church's bureaucracy and with Pope Francis.