Recalling the Summit held on March 9th, 2001

Things are a bit out of order here - you will note that I have posted "March 19th, 2001" below, but in reviewing my conversion journal, I discovered (to my amazement) that I actually had no account of the Summit meeting that was held at St Paul's Lutheran Church in Box Hill on March 9th, 2001. All I have written in my journal is that the Summit took place, and after that, Cathy and I (and P.? I can't remember - I don't think so) went around to Pete and Susie's place where we had dinner with Fr Pritchard and Fr Anthony.

The Summit consisted of 18 specially invited pastors meeting with the three of us and the president. We each presented our concerns (which had to be outlined on a single sheet of A4 paper), and then the three appointed respondents responded. There wasn't a lot of time for discussion, and neither Peter nor I felt that our concerns were in anyway answered.

The president then closed the day by getting us all to sing "A mighty Fortress" together. I vividly recall feeling like I had been ambushed with that one... I commented in an email to someone "No-one expects the Lutheran Inquisition"!

I did find this summary of events in an old email written by Peter the next day:

There were 18 or so present in the end and emotions and reactions of the day moved through much frustration, misunderstanding, anger, hurt, sorrow, laughter, some tears, and yet a strong current of empathy and understanding from small number of brothers who, while still disagreeing, finally saw the extent to which the issue impacts on us and our ministry.

Some who came and genuinely tried to understand could not, but seemed committed to further attempts to understand. Others have come to realised what it was all about and now see the full extent of the pressures and strain on ministry. For all its pain the day achieved this important goal. I don't believe any of the three of us went to convince or convert our brothers, we simply sought to be understood. But, because they relate to the whole church, the questions challenged us all.
That seems to me to be a fairly accurate description.

Any way, here is the paper I presented on the day. You will notice themes that are still with me here in 2008, although somewhat resolved!

You can read Peter's paper here, and the response to it.

Here is my paper:

TEN KEY QUESITONS THAT HAVE LED ME TO WHERE I AM TODAY.

David Schütz for the Summit at St Paul’s, Box Hill on 9th March, 2001


1) In ecumenical theology, two ecclesiologies are possible: 1) The true Church of Christ on earth is a visible reality which is manifested and recognised by certain “marks” and is to be identified with a particular denomination to the extent that it preserves these “marks” in their fullness/purity; or 2) the true Church of Christ is an invisible reality that consists of the spiritual communion of true believers who are known only to God, and who may be found in any denomination, or indeed, even beyond the bounds of organised Christianity. I do not believe the second option to be valid: the church is the body of Christ, and Christ is incarnate (he is not “the invisible man”). It is my understanding that historically the Lutheran Church (and even more specifically, the LCA) has held the former definition, and has regarded itself to be the true church because it alone has perfectly preserved the true Word and Sacraments. For this reason, we have been wary of entering into communion other churches, because of a perceived lack of purity in the preservation of these marks. If so, is the Lutheran Church not claiming to be the one holy catholic church, and, if so, how is this claim to be justified?

2) The Lutheran Church holds that the true church is present wherever the Word and Sacraments (the liturgy of the church) are celebrated. If the church does not have an organic reality apart from the event of the celebration of the liturgy, what happens when it abandons on a large scale the very liturgy that is supposed to bring it into existence?

3) What is the locus of Christ’s authority in the Lutheran Church? Who can claim to be the “you” in Luke 10:16 today and on what grounds? How is this authority validated, ie. communicated incarnationally from Christ himself? Whether authority is claimed by the presidents, the pastors conferance, the synod, the local congregation, the confessions, the Theses of Agreement or the theologians of the church, on what grounds would we regard such authority to be validated?

4) When the LCA came into existence, the first Synod adopted a doctrinal position that said the ordination of men only was “binding upon all Christendom”. 35 years later, the same institution held a vote which potentially could have overthrown this “binding” practice. Apart from the question as to whether the truth can be determined by a vote, did this action not invalidate the authority of Synod itself? For while making doctrinal pronouncements which are binding for the LCA, it does not consider these statements to be binding upon itself for its future confession of faith. Hence no doctrine, currently considered “binding” by the church, can be safe from revision or rejection by the Synod in the future.

5) I do not believe the Lutheran Church will ever reach agreement on the doctrine of the ministry, since there is an inherant ambiguity in the Lutheran tradition on the matter of whether the authority of the ministry comes from ‘above’ or ‘below’ (popularly refered to as a ‘high’ and ‘low’ view of the ministry). Greg Lockwood’s paper at our last Pastors Conference demonstrated the difficulty in trying to resolve this ambiguity. Is there any way of resolving these tensions without ultimately chosing either between a fully catholic understanding of orders or congregationalism?

6) The LCA regards the external validation of the call by the church to be essential to the ordained ministry, for it is by this external validation that authority to exercise the ministry is confered from those who already have it (understanding that one cannot exercise the office without the authority to do so, and that only those who have the authority can confer it upon others). Although the Augsburg Confession recognises the authority of the episcopate (CA 28), the 16th Century saw a radical break in the continuity of the orders when the bishops of the church did not validate Lutheran ordinations. How then can we consider the ministry of the Lutheran Church to be validly authorised?

7) The historic episcopate and episcopal succession has, since the very beginning of the church, been regarded as essential to the church, since by this succession a tangible continuity of authority has been maintained with the apostles who were first commissioned by Christ. The LCA does not have bishops and cannot create an episcopate simply by giving them authority ‘from below’ since such authority must be given by Christ (ie. ‘from above’). Is it not therefore clear that we lack one of the essential marks of the church, and that this ‘lack’ cannot be repaired?

8) Some Lutheran theologians and pastors have claimed that the Lutheran Church is an “evangelical catholic” church. On what grounds can the Lutheran Church of Australia claim to be “catholic”? Is it even possible to reach a clear agreement on what it means to be “catholic” if communion with the bishop of Rome is not included in that definition?

9) Sasse: “Gentlmen, if there were no Lutheran Church, where would you go? You would go back to Rome. But why go back to Rome? Is it not full of evils? Yes, but they have preserved the sacraments.” Given the priority of the Roman Catholic Church (ie. it was there first--we broke away from it, not vice versa, despite the old “Luther never wanted to start a new church” line), Lutherans are guilty of committing the sin of schism by continuing to separate themselves from the Roman communion. The evil of schism may be justified if it is undertaken in order to avoid a greater evil, eg. heresy or apostacy. Yet it is evident from the bi-lateral dialogues and agreed statements, and from Rome’s own official documents, that the Roman church has remained faithful to the catholic faith, when many other churches, Lutheran churches included, have apostasised. Rome has not only remained faithful in the face of contemporary attacks upon the ordained ministry, the inerrancy of scripture and the sanctity of life and marriage from liberalism and feminism, it has recently proven its orthodoxy in such documents as the Joint Declaration on Justification and the declaration Dominus Jesus. Are the continuing differences between Lutheran and Roman Christians so serious as to continue to justify schism?

10) “Only the unity of the Church’s faith and her authority, which is binding on each member, assures us that we are not following human opinions and adhering to self-made party groupings but that we belong to the Lord and are obeying him.” Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger, Called to Communion. How does a Lutheran answer this statement?
And here is the response to my paper from Pastor PK:

A Response to: ‘Ten Key Questions That Have Led Me To Where I Am Today’. for the Summit on March 9, 2001

Introduction.

This paper has raised some important issues for discussion. Interestingly, I believe that most of them are well covered and answered by the Theses of Agreement (TA). Here, too, we find the scriptural and confessional references that enable us to grapple with the ten key questions.

1) TA-V demonstrates that we do not hold to the first ecclesiology mentiond in the paper: ‘The Church, essentially or properly so called, the One Holy Christian Church, the Una Sancta, the Church Universal, is the people of God (1 Peter 2:9), the communion or congregation of saints, which Christ has called, enlightened and gathered through the Holy Spirit by the preaching of the Gospel and the administration of the Sacraments, which he has thus created to be his Spiritual Body’ V.1. Many scriptural references follow. No denomination can claim exclusive title to the one, holy and catholic church. The LCA has never made this claim of exclusivity. The RCC, however, makes this claim in ‘Dominus Jesus’ when it says that ‘the Church of Christ, despite the divisions which exist among Christians, continues to exist fully only in the Catholic Church’. Non catholic churches ‘derive their efficacy from the very fullness of grace and truth entrusted to the Catholic Church’ (para. 16). It admits that ‘the Church of Christ is present and operative also in these Churches, even though they lack full communion with the Catholic Church’ (para. 17). But then it says that if they have not ‘preserved the valid Episcopate and the genuine and integral substance of the Eucharistic mystery’, they ‘are not Churches in the proper sense’ (para. 17). Although the TA use the term ‘invisible’ to describe the true church, it also uses the term ‘hidden’, a much better description. The body of Christ is known only to Christ, who himself is hidden from our eyes, albeit ‘revealed’ in word and sacraments. The LCA has been wary of entering into communion with other churches not because it believes it is the only true church, but because it believes that true unity is centered in the pure preaching of the gospel and the right institution of the sacraments (CA 7).

2) The Sacraments and liturgy are not synonymous. Nor is the reality of the church based on the historic liturgy. The liturgy does not bring the church into existence; that is the task of the word and Sacraments (Eph 2, R 10:14-15; Titus 3). Scripture does not restrict the church to one historic liturgy; it simply gives us a skeletal sketch of the liturgy (Cf Col 3). The early church did not have the ecumenical creeds, for example. David, however, rightly warns the church not to abandon the historic liturgy.

3) Cf TA V.11; CRCR Statement: ‘Gospel and Scripture’. The locus of Christ’s authority is the word (Jn 8:31-32). Christ gave his keys to the church. The church also receives from Christ pastors who exercise Christ’s authority of the keys in the church. No one in the church claims authority; authority is a gift of the risen Christ to his church through his word. For Lutherans the word is interpreted by the great consensus of pastors, theologians and laity and given to us in the confessions, which always remain for us the ‘norma normata’. Tradition is also an important feature of this interpretation (cf my concluding remarks). LCA Synods do not create doctrine, they give assent to scriptural doctrine that comes to them through the confessions.

4)I agree that the church has no right to change its doctrinal foundation. At the same time, it is not tradition which leads the church to deny the ordination of women, but Scripture. Sadly, no doctrine is safe from falsification as the NT shows (Mt 7:15f.; Gal 1-3; 2 Peter 2; the Corinthian church etc.). But how does Paul correct errors? Through the word!

5) TA VI.1: ‘The NT ministry is the office instituted by Christ for the public administration of the means of grace....’ Many passages from Scripture are then adduced. That is the agreement reached and confessed by the LCA. I do not know of anyone who disagrees with this statement. The authority of the minister is always from above, from Christ through his word.

6) CF TA VI. 7-8. ‘The Lord calls individuals into the office of the ministry through the Christian congregations, Acts 13:1-4, and the Christian congregation, either alone or together with other congregations, or through properly appointed representatives, calls qualified persons (1 Tim 3:1-7; Titus 1:6-9; 2 Tim 2:24-25; Acts 1:24) into the office of the ministry publicly to exercise the functions of this office. The minister of the Word is thus called by the Lord through his Church, and by the Church as through human agency and authority, but in obedience to the command of the Lord’ (TA VI.7).

It is Christ through his church who validates the ministry of the Lutheran Church. Our ministry is valid because we are calling candidates into the ministry by the command of Christ. There seems to be the implication in this question that unless the church has the hierarchical episcopate one cannot have a properly authorised ministry. CA 28 recognises the divine authority of the episcopate but only insofar as it gains its authority from the preaching of the gospel and the administration of the sacraments. When it exercises secular power, its authority is seen as ‘de iure humano’. The Lutheran Church of the 16th century did not see the break in the continuity of the orders as ‘radical’; the confessions do not even discuss the subject! The confessions do operate with the concept of a succession of ordained ministers (SA 111.20 and Tr 72), as well as a succession of apostolic teaching. Holding faithfully to the apostolic teaching is the true apostolic succession.

7) The Lutheran Church does not see the historic episcopate as being of the esse of the church. For this reason it cannot be an essential mark of the church . The historic episcopate cannot be traced to the ‘very beginning of the church’. The NT makes no distinction between bishops and elders. Their nomenclature is used interchangeably. It is with Ignatius that the bishop begins to take precedence over the elder and is seen to be especially important for truth and unity; but even here it is too early to speak of the historic episcopate. The historic episcopate does not guarantee orthodoxy. Many bishops have taught false doctrines. The essential marks of the church are the word and sacraments. Why should the LCA want to create an episcopate in the historical succession? Does the imposition of hands by a bishop give a pastor greater authority than God’s word?

8) Cf TA V.1. The LCA is catholic because it proclaims the gospel and rightly administers the sacraments, which are the essence of the catholic church, the una sancta. The LCA’s catholicism is therefore in no way contingent upon communion with the bishop of Rome.

9) The RCC was not ‘there first’. That honour belongs to the Orthodox Church. Even so, priority does not depend on being first. It depends on the word and sacraments. The Lutheran Church has always claimed to be a continuation of the true church of
Christ. Luther did not want to start a new church, but he was excommunicated. Was that a sin of schism? Schism is not always evil; not if it means separating oneself from apostasy or heresy (R 16:17). Rome has remained faithful to many doctrines. But it has departed from other articles of the catholic faith. Many doctrines have been developed over the last 2000 years which find no foundation in Scripture — the assumption of Mary, purgatory, indulgences etc. And what are we to make of celibacy? Despite JDDJ Rome still adheres to Trent and its anathemas of justification by faith alone. It is noteworthy that justification by faith alone is not confessed by the RCC in JDDJ. ‘Dominus Jesus’ does not verify Rome’s orthodoxy. Whilst it properly says that salvation is through Christ alone, it is inclusivistic, i.e. it allows for people without faith in Christ to be saved. Inclusivism is also taught by Vatican II. ‘They also can attain to everlasting salvation who through no fault of their own do not know the gospel of Christ or his church, yet sincerely seek God, and moved by grace, strive by their deeds to do his will as it is known to them through the dictates of conscience’ (Vatican II; cf ‘Dominus Jesus, para. 8, 20-22). In other words one can receive the grace of God apart from the gospel and Scripture. This concept that one can be an ‘anonymous Christian’ is ludicrous. It is explicitly rejected by Scripture; it is certainly not implicit in Scripture. Here the teaching office of the RCC is opposed to Scripture. That is the inevitable result of rejecting ‘sola Scriptura’. Inclusivism shows clearly why Rome could not confess justification by faith alone in JDDJ — it would have breached Roman Catholic doctrine. ‘Are the continuing differences between Lutheran and Roman Christians so serious as to continue to justify schism?’ As long as Rome disallows justification by faith alone the answer, sadly, is ‘Yes!’

10) The unity of the church’s faith Ratzinger speaks of is a myth in the RCC. There is a wide spectrum of theology taught in that church by its members. All of us here today know that the grossest heresies can be found in the church. Not that the Lutheran Church is pure in this respect as has been rightly said. Furthermore, a unity of faith is of no value unless that faith is grounded in Scripture. A church can be united in teaching false doctrine and following human opinions! eg those churches which ordain women; no obedience of Christ here. But unity of faith in Jesus is a product of the church proclaiming the gospel and administering the sacraments according to Christ’s institution. Unity is a gift of God (Eph 4). As for the church’s authority, where does that come from? Does it not come from Christ as mediated to the church through the Scriptures?
Peter gives his final assessment of the whole Summit event here.

4 comments:

Anonymous said...

Well, finish the story!

M.A. Henderson said...

I was at seminary at this time, David. I remember reading a report of the summit not long after it took place. Somehow some of us at sem got hold of it, I can't remember how. We weren't supposed to have it, I know that! It included all your statements and the responses.

I remember my impression at the time was that Peter Kriewaldt nailed you on each of your points, David, and reading it again ten years later I still think the same. His was the best response of all of them, I think.

Interesting reading your diary, David - good of you to put it in the public space, and courageous too. Of course you have every right to defend your integrity, which I don't doubt for a moment, by the way.

But I still don't see why you became a Catholic! Oh, I understand your reasons were compelling to you but I don't think they are justifiable (obviously!). I often recall Pascal's saying when reading Catholic conversion stories, 'the heart has its reasons that reason doesn't know', and that seems particularly to apply in your case. You fell in love with Catholic liturgy and perhaps the idea of the Catholic Church long before you reasoned yourself to the point of accepting the faith intellectually.

That's the impression I have, anyway, and I hope you don't mind me saying so here. If you do mind then just delete the comment.

Schütz said...

Well, Pastor Mark, this is very interesting.

Two comments:

1) REgarding Peter K.'s response to my paper, you are right to say that his response was the best of the three respondents - in that he actually addressed directly my concerns. However, he did so simply by repeating the Lutheran doctrines on this matter - not by actually connecting with the way in which I phrased the question. It is as if I had said: Look, I know that we have always taught that the sun goes around the earth, but I am beginning to suspect on the evidence that the earth goes around the sun; and he responded by saying: We teach that the sun goes around the earth, and for this and this and this reason. IOW, all he did was restate (very well, I might say) the position that I had begun to question. He didn't broaden out the question and say: I see you are wrestling with such and such evidence, I will wrestle with that evidence too, and then demonstrate to you how you are actually reading the evidence wrong.

2) As for "the heart has its reasons that reason does not know", there may be something in that. It is true - and I freely admit - that my heart was in the Catholic Church before my head was, but you are wrong to say that I "fell in love with Catholic liturgy and perhaps the idea of the Catholic Church". What I fell in love with was the Church which Christ himself established. I was faced with the uncomfortable situation of recognising that Church in the Catholic Church more than I could recognise it in the Lutheran Church of Australia. The more that I set my mind to this problem, the more I realised that my heart was not being irrational, but indeed that the evidence was on the side of my heart. This could be - except for perhaps my whirlwind romance with Cathy and our decision to marry after 12 days of "dating" - the only time I have ever allowed my heart to rule my head! But I did not act upon my heart's desire until I had completely thought the issue through. Remember that between the time of my "first conversion" in 1985 and my "second conversion" in 2000 was more than 15 years, and then again, it was not until mid 2003 that I was confirmed as a Catholic. I did not rush headlong into this!

Schütz said...

Perhaps what I ought to do is write a response (very belated!) to Pastor Kriewaldt's response. This would clarify a few things. I might do that on the regular blog.