For anyone who has felt the stinging pain caused by the ELCA’s fall into heterodoxy (Churchwide Assembly, 2009), that question is a no-brainer. If Luther was alive today, he would be screaming, stamping, unleashing the fury of his German temper at what is the most blatant disregard for the Word of God! “What in the @#!% are you doing? The Word of God is not something we vote on!”
The prevailing liberal protestantism of the ELCA has driven many Lutherans away from Lutheranism– and further away from the church Catholic. As Pastor of First English Lutheran Church, I have declared our congregation to be in statu confessionis, as we look for a faithful course of action. God help us.
If Luther were alive today, he would be running for home– running for Rome.
Hello Pr. Paul,
I appreciate your honesty and insight. It seems as though many orthodox Lutheran’s feel this way and being I came out of the ELCA body (starting in the LCA), I know the pain heterodoxy has brought to many in the Lutheran community. Your comment that Luther would go running for Rome I believe is spot on and the question I have is; do you see a time when more orthodox Lutherans, especially with the framework of JDDJ (when looked at charitably), begin to consider crossing the Tiber?
In browsing through your Church site I found this post… I too very much identify with the difficulty and pain of realizing that something needed to be done in the face of heterodoxy… Two years ago, I brought 2 churches out of the Charismatic Episcopal Church (CEC) into the Eastern Orthodox Church as “Western-Rite” parishes. We briefly looked at Rome (not really an option for us) and the Polish National Catholic Church (which is in limited communion with Rome). We found open and welcoming arms in Holy Orthodoxy. It was a difficult decision and journey, but we are home safe now. Praise God! My prayers are with you both.
Emmanuel Orthodox Catholic Church
Luther would definitely reform the Lutheran Church. Lutherans today have largely fallen into the traps of Protestantism with its Church Growth Enthusiasm (which is influenced by Zwinglianism, Calvinism, Arminianism and other sectarian Protestants). He gave up on the Roman Catholic Church toward the end of his life. In fact his statement (binding on all Confessional Lutherans) in the Smalcald Articles of the Pope being the Antichrist, shows that there can be no union between Lutherans and Catholics.
By 1537, Luther was commissioned to write his Smalcald Articles, which the Lutherans were to use as a statement of faith for the proposed council at Mantua (which would eventually become the Council of Trent). For the sake of those who are not familiar with this document, a summary follows:
Part I: A confession of the Trinity as formulated in the catholic creeds.
Part II Article I: The central article of justification by faith alone through the merits of Jesus Christ. “On this article stands all that we teach and practice against the pope, the devil, and all the world. Therefore we must be quite certain and have no doubt about it. Otherwise everything is lost, and the pope and the devil and whatever opposes us will gain victory and be proved right.”
Part II Article II: Luther condemns “the Mass under the papacy” as “the greatest and most terrible abomination as it … opposes the chief article,” because it turns the Sacrament of the Altar into a sacrifice thereby adding to what Christ has already accomplished in order to save souls from “purgatory” (a notion that is not heard of in the Sacred Scriptures–the Apocrypha don’t count, since they themselves admit that there was no prophet among them).
Part II Article III condemns the work-righteousness of the monasteries.
Part II Article IV: Luther finishes Part II by declaring that “[t]his business shows overwhelmingly that he is the true end-times Antichrist, who has raised himself over and set himself up against Christ, because the pope will not let Christians be saved without his authority (which amounts to nothing, since it is not ordered or commanded by God). … The pope, however, will not allow faith, but asserts instead that anyone who is obedient to him will be saved.” This is still held by the Roman Catholic Church today in the document Dominus Iesus, which asserts that the churches which do not accept Papal supremacy are not really churches at all. Yet, somehow, Popes (including the current and his immediate predecessor) have declared that Jews and Muslims can be saved without faith in Christ.
Later, Luther calls transubstantiation “subtle sophistry” and maintains that the bread and wine retain their substance in the Supper. (This does not mean that he did not hold to the doctrine of the Real Presence.)
All quotes from the Smalcald Articles are from the Kolb/Wengert translation of the Book of Concord. An online version of the BoC (Triglot) is available at http://www.bookofconcord.org. I highly encourage you to read it, since some of the same issues facing the Lutheran church today are some of the same issues that faced the church in years past.
Luther would put on sackcloth and ashes, and crawl on his knees to St. Peter’s in Rome to repent and submit to the magisterium of the Catholic Church if here were here today.
Both Luther and Calvin had a vision of a changed Church, but still their vision was of a SINGLE changed Church. They would be absolutlely horrified to see what has become of their reform. In no way would they stomach for a moment the thousands of sects that claim the authority of Scripture Alone. In the past few hundred years, Protestantism has largely ceased to even pretend that the Church needs to be one entity with one authoritative hierarchy. Luther would have had a fit at that idea! Seeing the reforms of the counter-reformation, the never ending division and discord of Protestantism, and the continuing unity and faithfulness of the Catholic Church, I truly believe Luther would not even hesitate to swim the Tiber. (Actually being a Catholic, he would just need to recant and go to confession to have his excommunication lifted). I also think he would be won over to Catholicism primarilly by the obvious and spectacular failure of his “pillar” Sola Scriptura. The division and heresy he may have seen in germ form (think anabaptists) which resulted from sola scriptura are now so blindingly clear after 500 years of ever increasing fragmentation that as for the first pillar, Luther would likely choose to read Sola Fide in a Catholic friendly way as Benedict XVI has suggested, but as for the other pillar, he would find no way of ignoring the evidence of history that Sola Scriptura has been anything but a spectacular implosion of failure.
I say all of this as someone who was a flaming Reformed Protestant 2 years ago. I have read Luther, and my heritage is LCMS. A year ago I discovered a internet site that took unity seriously and found my faith in Sola Scriptura had crumbled under the weight of the evidence and so I did the unthinkable…. I swam the Tiber. I felt Luther smiling down on me, and I feel he would have been crying right there with me as I submitted my heart and mind to Christ and His Church.
God bless any Christians who take the time to think about Christian unity in a serious way. I truly believe that the one option, Rome, will be the light at the end of that tunnel of questioning.