Wednesday, January 6, 2010

An excellent post from Fr. Peters

Fr. Peters, a Lutheran pastor whose blog I often read and is referenced on this site, always has wonderful thoughts. Though it seems that I often use my Orthodox faith to beat down the Lutheran tradition whence I came, it is thoughts like this that reaffirm that my coming to Orthodoxy was a fulfillment of Lutheranism not a straight up repudiation of it. Though I believe that Fr. Peters, along with Fr. William Weedon whose blog I also read (and who is also a facebook friend of mine!), are rarities in modern American Lutheranism, I think they speak and articulate the confessional Lutheranism that has almost been entirely run out of town. Having said that, I think Fr. Peters post definitely is spot-on. The post is entitled "The Means of Grace ARE the Gospel." In essence, he argues, correctly, that the mysteries, particularly the Eucharist, are not simply a postcard from God about how much He loves us but it is the very Gospel itself given to us, incarnate! We Orthodox love to talk about how our theology is incarnational in nature. So is Lutheran, at least it used to be. The near Nestorian understanding of the Incarnation which many Lutherans have adopted particularly with regards to the Theotokos, preferring to call her instead "Mother of Jesus" rather than "Mother of God" underscores how far modern Lutheranism has come. So, read it. Here is a little excerpt from his post, which is a most ingenious way of talking about Mary and the incarnation.

Perhaps a more modern day image is that of an email attachment and its relationship to the email itself. The Blessed Virgin is not like the email to which God has attached something -- separate and distinct from the Virgin, drawing nothing from her and her flesh and blood but only sent with her and through her. In the same way, the bread is not the email to which God has attached His Body but the two are separate and distinct (see disclaimer below)-- only only the agent of the sending and the other what is being sent.

Keep writing great posts, Fr. Peters!

Disclaimer: With regards to the Orthodox understanding of the bread and wine and their relation to the body and blood, we do not regard the two as separate but having undergone a change. The priest (NOT the congregation) beseech the Holy Spirit to make these things the body and blood of our Lord in the epiclesis. We do not understand the nature of such a change, hence we do not subscribe to transubstantiation as the Roman Church does by chanting the verba but we know that change has occurred. How this is accomplished and when, we do not know but are content to leave it a mystery. Nevertheless, we confess that we receive the body and blood of Christ. My apologies if I seemed to endorse a non-Orthodox teaching.

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