Mother Hubbard's Cupboard

A look into the mind of one of the most random, crazy people in all the land.

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Location: East Peoria, Illinois, United States

A Lutheran seminarian eagerly awaiting the return of Our Lord. Soli Deo Gloria!

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Way of the Master? A Letter of Response.

The following post is an email I sent to Way of the Master Radio in response to a program where they aired a sermon by John MacArthur which was VEHEMENTLY anti-Catholic. He claims the reformers thought the same, and he makes interesting claims about Pope John Paul II and about "sacrament worship." I am aware Luther thought the OFFICE of the Papacy was the antichrist, and I give my own opinions from a Confessional and traditional Lutheran perspective. If you wish to listen to the whole sermon, you'll be in for a LONG sermon (~2 hours) and a very sad sermon, filled with disunity and fracturing the body of Christ. My email was meant to be in love and simply was my response to the sermon (which is what Todd Friel, who is the broadcaster for Way of the Master Radio asked from listeners), you can find both parts here (part 1 and part 2-remember, it is November 8th...both hours). I urge confessional Lutherans to also send their thoughts to Way of the Master in this regard, because if what Brother MacArthur says is what he truly thinks, Lutherans are not "saved" either because of our sacrament worship and our practice of the worthlessness of infant baptism (that is the language he uses).


Brother Friel,
Grace and peace be to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. You have asked that we listen to your radio presentation wherein you play a sermon by John MacArthur and then offer our own input. I am not a scholar and my ignorance knows no bounds, but out of respect and love for all the body of Christ, Protestant and Catholic, I must respond. I will not hide the fact that while some good points were made by Brother MacArthur, he missed the point. In fact in thinking as he does he continues to miss the point. To start with it would be deceptive of me to not inform you of my position. I am not a Roman Catholic. I do not think I will ever become Roman Catholic. However, I consider myself an Evangelical Catholic, known in America as Lutheran (Missouri Synod). I differ in my own understanding of elements of the church than Blessed Saint Luther did in some areas, but unlike Brother MacArthur, I choose to look at all of Luther's work before I caricature his words concerning Roman Catholics. I also believe that we should share the Gospel with everyone, and to say that a group is condemned because of how we understand (or in his case misunderstand) the beliefs of a denomination places us above Christ and gives us the power to condemn men and women. Such idolatry of the self was committed in your radio broadcast where the question of whether a person can be a "carnal Christian" and still be a Christian was applied to Ted Haggard. What he did was inexcusable by human standards, but if God were to keep a record of all our wrongdoings, "Lord who could stand (Psalm 130:3)?"

I believe that the Holy Scriptures are the true Word of God, without error and given to mankind by the power of the Holy Spirit guiding His church in ancient times. I believe that we are saved by grace alone, through faith alone, for the sake of Christ alone, and that we do not choose to accept Christ, he chooses us. Christ died for all mankind and as a result God's plan for salvation includes everyone, but not everyone will be saved because they reject the atoning sacrifice of Christ, freely given for all. I believe that to call Holy Baptism and the Holy Eucharist ordinances rather than sacraments is tantamount to works righteousness and resurrects the heresy of Nestorianism and to a lesser extent, Gnosticism. These blessed sacraments together with Holy Absolution and the Word of God are the Means of Grace that God strengthens our faith with. I believe that God created the universe 6-10 thousand years ago, but that allegorical understandings of Genesis are not to be denied as valid, only that all be accepted as one historical event (allegorical and literal). I believe effective minstry cannot occur without the preaching of the Law and the Gospel, the law convicts us, curbs our behavior, shows us who we are as sinners, and guides us to right behavior while the Gospel saves us.

My list of I believes can go on for quite a while. But tantamount to my beliefs are several points raised in Brother MacArthur's sermon: The denial of the sacraments which he seems to indicate are only in the Roman Catholic Church, the idea that the Roman Curia has been corrupt since its inception, and the idea that the Blessed Virgin Mary is "just a person as you or I" and that she does not hear our prayers.

On the sacraments: What constitutes a sacrament is different between all the churches that have them. The Roman Catholic Church has seven, the Lutheran church has two/three. The other denominations who accept sacraments are the Anglican, some Methodists, and the Eastern Orthodox to the best of my knowledge. Brother MacArthur made the claim that Catholics practice sacramental worship.........all those with sacramental theology worship sacramentally, but we don't worship the objects! He claims Rome practice calls for the "uselessness of infant baptism." The early church disagrees, as does Scripture itself! While a caveat exists with regard to the Eucharist, no such warning is present for Baptism....none. Christ tells his apostles during the Great Commission, "make disciples of ALL nations baptizing them in the name of the Father, the Son (+), and the Holy Spirit (Matt. 28:19)." Scripture tells us that salvation is for all! We believe that all the promises of God are given to a person at their baptism, regardless of their beliefs, as long as it is done in the name of the tri-une God. We also recognize that the Holy Spirit descended on Christ like a dove at his own baptism (Matthew 3, Mark 1, Luke 3, John 1). Notice also what St. Peter tells the crowd at Pentecost: "Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise is for you and for your children and for all who are far off, everyone whom the Lord our God calls to himself (Acts 2:38-39)." Being baptized gives one the gift of the Holy Spirit! It is also for your children and for ALL who are far off! But you might argue, infants can't do you know? An infant can repent or feel faith if the Lord moves it in else are infants saved? If the infant is a child of a believer, he should be baptized because he is the child whom St. Peter is speaking. "Jesus said, "Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these (Matthew 19:14)."

But what of the Holy Eucharist? Brother MacArthur has made the claim of a twisted sacrament of the Mass wherein Christ is sacrificed again and again and again.......perhaps once, but no longer in the Roman Church! It does not "re-sacrifice" Christ, but renews THE sacrifice! Christ's sacrifice transcends time and space and forgives not just those who came after him, but also before! It was Moses's faith in the coming messiah which allowed his sins to be forgiven by that sacrifice! Now is a major point when I should point out the heresy that Protestantism carries with it, and which Brother MacArthur should have read more of Luther's work, not just pick and choose which ones he wishes to use. Nestorianism is the belief that the natures of Christ are separate from each other. This was denied by the third Ecumenical council, and thus we believe that Christ was true God and true man.....yet during Protestant communion, it is thought that Christ either is present in the crowd spiritually, or the whole meal is a symbol of rememberance with nothing spiritual happening. Neither is true! Christ is present both spiritually and bodily! Spiritually amidst the believers, and physically in the bread and wine (though Lutherans differ from Roman Catholics on what happens to the bread and wine when it becomes Christ's very body and blood). To have just the spiritual nature of Christ present and not the physical not only is a practice of Nestorianism, but also a practice of subtle Gnosticism wherin Christ's body, while in Heaven, is limited in its ability to come down to earth, and instead we experience only his Holy God nature. The fact remains that to deny the Real Presence is to deny the clear teaching of Christ himself! "This is my body, this is my blood!" It forgives our sins and renews our faith....just as Christ promised (Matthew 26, Mark 14, Luke 22, 1 Cor. 11)!

On the Roman Curia: Is the papacy an antichrist. The question is not as simple as it once was. I would say possibly. I do not know enough about it, but I do know that the argument against unbroken Apostolic succession being false before the sixth century is nonsense, and if you don't accept it in the Roman church, ask of it from the Eastern churches who believe a similar idea. He claims that from ~400AD the Roman Church became evil.....I'd like to know what teachings he is talking about. Surely St. Peter was not the first that he is right because the title hadn't been used yet. He also ignores that the title Pope is also applicable to the Bishop of Alexandria. Rome's claim of primacy was a human invention, but it was a primacy of honor, given to it because it had the most pure doctrine in the historical chruch. However, it was made a primacy of authority rather than honor by the Popes around the 9th century, and to some extent before. The adding of the filioque was the true start of lifting the Bishop of Rome over the other bishops of Christendom.

Brother MacArthur also argues that the Papacy is build upon a false priesthood. The Papacy is SUPPOSED to serve the whole church catholic, and any honor given to its priests, cardinals, and popes is out of respect, not necessity (at least it should be). Sadly, it has turned into a top down hierarchy rather than the down up one it was intended to be. I find it strange that if he is offended by being called "father' or a priest, then technically he denies the priesthood of all believers....which he clearly does not do, hence he should not be offended of the title itself.

Mary and the Saints: Does the blessed Virgin hear our prayers (prayers to saints and prayers to God are different, as praying to a saint is not the prayer of one who can truly help you apart from God, it is of one who can help you with the power and will of God. Prayer to God is something entirely different and if asking for the prayers of the saints if practiced correctly, all prayers eventually go to God the father, for the sake of the Son, and by the power of the Holy Spirit)? Only a person using modern methods of rationalism would say "no, she's dead" or "no, she is in the glory of God and nothing is better, hence she doesn't care." The idea of the saints hearing our asking for their intercession should not be required as Rome and the East does because it is not in Scripture EXPLICITLY (though it can be implied in many areas), but as such, if it is not a hinderance to the belief of someone who is spiritually mature, it should not be forbidden. As a matter of conscience I practice the Eastern Orthodox understanding of the communion of saints, and reject Rome's idea of merit (unless of course it is in reference to Christ's merit which is what saves us). I have come to the personal conclusion that the church of God is connected as a continuous branch from the one vine from the beginning to the end of time. Just as Scripture in numerous places says we are to pray for one another at all times and in all places, it is strangely silent that we should stop praying for those who are dead or that we stop praying when we are dead. Where is that in Scripture? Instead we have both the cloud of witnesses (Hebrews 12:1) and an explicit reference to the 24 elders who bow down and worship at the feet of the lamb and who hold a bowl filled with incense, which is the prayers of the saints (Revelation 5:8....the angels also do this in Revelation 8:3-5). It is interesting to note that the common Lutheran understanding is that the departed saints pray for us in Heaven, and they pray just as we do in the Lord's prayer, that he will come again to judge the living and the dead!

But you might say, isn't "talking to the dead" a sin? Yes it is, but the departed saints are not dead, but alive in Christ, their savior (Matthew 22:32, Mark 12:27, Luke 20:38)! But you might say they cannot hear our prayers because we are the church militant, they are the church triumphant, and they are not on earth.. Yes, they are the church triumphant and we are the church militant. They are also not on earth. But God's Holy Spirit is with all of us and that is what connects us to one another in a "communion of saints." Christ's body is not broken by death, and those who are glorified in Heaven are privy to whatever the Holy Spirit wants them to be privy to, in this case, they are our friends and our brothers and sisters. Indeed, they pray for us better than those who are still within a sinful body here on earth pray for us! But you might say "it isn't necessary." No, but God's name is holy whether you say the Lord's prayer or not (to borrow from Luther), when you pray it, you pray it becomes holy for and among you. Similarly, to remember the saints departed is to bring them closer to us in that communion of saints and the tree of the church with Christ as the main vine (or the church as the whole bride and Christ as the husband). They pray for you regardless of whether you ask them or not.

What is so special about Mary though? I've been asked by frequent listeners to WOTMR why "Mother of Christ" is inappropriate when I correct them. She is the mother of God, because Jesus was God made flesh, and to call her mother of God indicates that she gave birth to a man who was also God. Also, to call her Christ bearer implies that she only gave birth to his humanness, but this separates the two natures of Christ (Protestantism commits again the heresy of Nestorius). She is ever virgin by means of tradition, but also because of some of the language she uses during the Annunciation which she does not get punished for, when Zechariah uses the same words and is punished by silence until the birth of John the Baptist (Luke 1:34 and Luke 1:18). The understanding was that he was punished and she was not because he doubted, and she did not, indicating that even though she was going to be married, she meant to remain a virgin. What about the "Immaculate conception?" Doesn't this make her not human? Well, it depends on what you mean. Even in the Catholic understanding (if proper), she is made sinless from her conception to her assumption because she said yes to Christ using her as a vessel to be born. Indeed, she calls him her savior, and this is what allows her to remain immaculate. Ask yourself this question as well, understanding sin as you do, wouldn't she need to remain sinless until the full term of her pregnancy, otherwise Jesus would have been nurtured by a sinful womb? Mary's assumption is based upon the understanding that because she held such a pivotal role in the church, she was taken up into heaven just as Enoch and Elijah. Tradition has it that three days after her dormition (death) her tomb was empty. What about co-redemptrix? This is not a good teaching and could pose damning, however, thankfully Pope Benedict XVI, unlike his predecessor is much more conservative theologically and said that this will not become dogmatic while under his Pontificate. What about Mary as Co-mediatrix? This is based upon an understanding that she is the mother of Jesus, and hence because of her unique bond with her son, she helps as a co-mediator to the Father. I do not know what to make of this teaching, though I do not see it as inevitably damning. Mary is the mother of the church? Yes....she is both the earthly mother of God the Son, whose "body" is the church, and if Christ is the new Adam...there must be a new Eve. Hence, Mary is the mother of all the living as the mother of the church. In all things, even the decision of naming her Theotokos rather than Christotokos, the decision was made for CHRIST'S sake. Similarly, the Popes give the church into the hands of Mary because she is the mother of the church and she helps nurture the church while her son is the savior of the church with the Father as father of the church and the Holy Spirit as guide (I do not agree per se with that understanding, I'm just saying what they believe). If Brother MacArthur continues to call these things ludicrous, then I will ask him to explain how the concept of a triune God is not is ridiculous to our logic and rationale, but that does not make it untrue!

It was also posited by Brother MacArthur that the more liturgical and mystical, the more heretical (he used the term Apostate). If Brother MacArthur ever bothered to actually look or listen to a Divine Service/Mass, he would note that almost all of it is taken from Scripture! Peruse the new Lutheran Service Book from Concordia Publishing House and you will see that in the Divine Service, and in almost all of the liturgical settings, very little is not from Scripture DIRECTLY, and contrary to many Protestant churches, Scripture is read DIRECTLY and in context in an Old Testament, Epistle, and New Testament reading, not as snippets during a sermon, sometimes which could be taken out of context, but could go so fast you wouldn't notice it. We use PRACTICALLY THE SAME service the Roman Catholics use (including the lectionary)! The sermon is not a fifty minute Bible Study on a parable of Jesus or something (that's for Sunday School), but a preaching of the application of Law and Gospel from the scriptures read for the day or for the feast/fast time of the church year. Or as my DCE said from church, "The church calender is Christ centered and prevents having a five week sermon series on the parables in Matthew." Finally, to the charge that more mysticism equals more apostates, I say that if you can use reason to understand theology, you are using fallible human tools to understand God, for mysticism simply means mysterious, and in many cases WE SIMPLY DO NOT KNOW nor are we meant to know everything about God.

It is amazing how Brother MacArthur never turns the lens back on Protestants. In Protestantism we find a heresy of Nestorianism, subtle though it may be. We find a limiting of the benefit of Holy Baptism from infants even though Christ said let the little children come unto him. We find a denial of all things misunderstood which leads to condemnations and splintering of the body of Christ's church. We find a denial of the Holy Spirit to unite the church throughout time and to continue to guide us in our faith and practices by a refutation of ALL traditions of the church as man-made and not from God. We find fruit in the form of martyring Catholics (just as they martyred you) the burning of witches, and the sexual immoralty high up in some churches. We find a similar movement towards works righteousness by declaring the gifts of the sacraments as ordinances rather than gifts (where Roman Catholics require those gifts). We find doctrinal ignorance in some churches (just as in many churches of Roman Catholicism, but not all). We find a concept of "false converts" and "carnal Christians" in which no true Christian would commit a sin of addiction and all this with a concept of "assurance of salvation?" This is no different from the "mortal sins" of Catholicism and the fearing of never being sure of your salvation! We find greed and avarice in some churches, even higher up (as in the Roman church). We find a legalistic nature in following the commands of Christ that rivals the most legalistic of Popes. We see a use of human rationality to interpret Scripture even though God's Word contains things we are not meant to know rationally (the Roman church does this as well, particularly as their Magesterium does). We see a God of anger and judgement and rarely do we see God's mercy and grace in all its glory (as in the Roman church). We see a non-denominational or denominational church body(ies) that declare you a sinner and not fit to enter God's kingdom because they view your theology or Scriptural interpretation as heretical and cannot actually judge your heart as God can (ditto for the Roman church). The list can continue, but I believe I have gotten my point across. In this Brother MacArthur forgot the plank in his own eye when he reached to remove the speck from his neighbors.

I pray that the Gospel message reach not just non-Christians, but Christians as well, Roman Catholic and Protestant. All who profess Jesus as lord and believe he rose from the dead have forgiveness of sins. If we needed to get the doctrine right to be forgiven, then we are all in deep trouble. Thankfully it is Christ who saves, not our doctrine (correct or incorrect) that condemn us, but sin. I pray for the church catholic (universal) to repent of wrongdoings, and to come together as one body of Christ who the devil and the world seek to separate and dominate. I pray that prayer which gives comfort and points to the message of the Gospel, "Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner."

Pax Christi,
Christopher Heren, SSP

Monday, November 13, 2006

Post-Election.....Post :-/

On Tuesday, November 14th Anno Domini 2006, the church celebrates the holy and right-believing St. Justinian, the emperor of Rome and Byzantium in the sixth century.

Funny Links of the day:
It helps to read the question completely.
The phrase in this was voted by fans to be in the new Transformers movie...and people were PISSED!
Optimus Prime's got Madd Hax!
Live to win....till you die.
I love women.
I don't want this to happen if I disagree with a woman!

Um.....okay. I know that people were upset about the Republican Party being bad for whatever reason.....but seriously....why vote democratic (unless your democrat is conservative and not with the more liberal base)? More conservative measures were passed in states, but liberal people were elected and won both the House and the Senate.....and they will probably try to undo what you voted for..........W.....T.....F!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

If you were always against the war in Iraq........would you want us to lose and make all the death meaningless in the long run? Or would you want us to win and keep the moral high ground you claim?

If you are against raising taxes by rich people on the working class......why vote Democratic so that Charlie Rengel can raise the taxes of working families? The fact of the matter is that the tax cuts for the rich are increasing our economy because it allows those people who spend most of their money in business to make investments.....and make more money for the economy....that's how this works.

If you are against abortion and embryonic stem need to double check who you voted for. If you are against the constitution.....and voted voted right. Honestly, a decision about the right to privacy in reference to abortion is an interpretation of a court of three amendments....our 2nd amendment right to keep and bear arms is a damn clear one and my state doesn't have a conceal/carry law......and I'm sick of it!!!

Anyway, if you voted Democratic (well, the liberal ones anyway) I have some good news for you....Al Quaida would have voted for them to! Thanks failed me........:-(....sad face.

In my news: E.O. Wilson came and spoke at Bradley on Thursday. He was talking about the premise behind his book "the Creation." I was tempted to write a Christian response to him, not as a fundamentalist or anything like that, but with a way to reach out to Christians beyond what he has. I don't believe he brought up a law and gospel attitude which exists between us and nature. The law is that nature is fallen because of us and our sin. However, because of Christ's grace acting in us and pouring out of us, and God's command to subdue the earth (not rape and pillage it) is the working to atone nature by the grace of Christ. We cannot just let the earth rot.....especially not if it is our fault! I just read Jesus's parable in St. Mark (chapter 12) concerning the vineyards and the servants who end up killing the owners son. We are to be caretakers of this vineyard that God put us in charge of. As Christians, we are to accept the son into the vineyard and help him do his father's bidding.

But you might argue that this world will pass away so why worry.......but that is the quintessential reason to work for anything as a Christian. We do not become nihilists and defeatists who accept failure on earth because of victory in eternity. We undergo the process of sanctification, some saints even to the point of manifesting stigmata or doing miracles, thus it is Christ's grace acting on their physical form....but their physical form will pass away eventually.

I will help shear this idea up and send him a letter. I agree that we should join with the materialists to save creation, but I disagree that we are two magisteria that cannot interfere as he and Stephen Gould argue. More on this will be written!

Pax Christi!

Monday, November 06, 2006

A House Divided Amongst Itself Cannot Stand

"We are unjustly accused of having abolished the Mass."-AC XXIV German
"Other seeds fell on rocky ground, where they did not have much soil, and immediately they sprang up, since they had no depth of soil, but when the sun rose, they were scorched. And since they had no root, they withered away."- St. Matthew 13:5-6 ESV

Number of times the word sacrament is mentioned in the LCMS's "Start up to Ablaze)tm)!: Igniting the World with Christ's Love"----ZERO!

We are commanded by Christ to make disciples of all nations. He instructed that we must baptize them in the name of the Father, and of the Son (+), and of the Holy Spirit. The sacrament of Holy Baptism forgives sins, bestows the Holy Spirit, and brings people into the body of Christ by their washing of rebirth and renewal. All a gift from God by the power of His Grace! Even Holy Baptism is mentioned in this document only three times....and never discusses its meaning to the life of the individual believer or in the community of saints!

I bring this up because of a sad fact: The LCMS is in a silent schism. The movement by the leadership to emulate the non-denominational worship style and church growth methods have demeaned the message of truth and purity of doctrine that have been the mainstay for much of the LCMS's history. Such a movement downplays the sacraments and the liturgical life that connects us in practice to methods of the ancient church by the power of the Holy Spirit! I know many who have left our synod for the older and more ancient churches (Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox)....and I know of very few who have left the LCMS to join a non-denominational church.

I'm not saying Christ cannot be present in the non-denominational churches, just that the roots don't seem to be as deep as the ancient churches. Similarly, by the LCMS becoming more like them, the more we ourselves become them. Hence, soon the LCMS will blend into a non-denominational-esque "denomination" with only a passing reference to the Lutheran Confessions. If this happens, I will leave the synod...but it isn't too late. We can pray that the truth returns to leadership.

Even now much that is ancient is considered taboo. I use a rosary at times much like the early Lutheran church......many see this as closet Catholocism. I cross myself as the Eastern Orthodox do, and I tend to cross myself whenever I get the chance.......many see this as closet Catholocism, even though Luther instructed us to train our children to make the sign of the cross! I revere icons and celebrate saints' days......many see this as closet Catholocism. I lilke to treat the Holy Scriptures with reverence rather than a casual book which can be tossed around.....many see this as closet Catholocism. I listen to what the Bishop of Rome says about topics, because our ultimate goal is to reunite the schismatic Body of Christ.......many see this as closet Catholocism. I NEVER refer to myself as protestant.....many view this as closet Catholocism.

Lutherans.......AREN'T PROTESTANTS.....WE ARE CATHOLIC! We are not Roman Catholic, but Evangelical Catholics. Analyze the title: 1. The word Evangelical rather than Lutheran emphasizes the Gospel and our command to evangelize. Luther wished to not have a church named after him. 2. The word Catholic emphasizes our connection to the universal Body of Christ as it was practiced Apostolically (to some extent) until the Great Schism. We accept the historic and catholic creeds of Christendom!

The way we are moving as a synod, we'll eventually have a "statement of faith" which a few people put together rather than the creeds which have stood the test of time!

We can pray for the Spirit of God to continue to stem the tide of un-confessionalism that threatens to spread the Gospel to the unchurched who will not get good enough roots to grow, and we can pray in all of this that God's will be done!

Pax Christi!