Wednesday, January 21, 2004

Newman and the Sacrifice of the Mass

In the spirit of Newman, I'll start with some personal biography. As far back as my 2nd year of seminary, I argued with my worship professor and refused to tape record my recitation of a Eucharistic Prayer for one of our worship seminars because I was, according to my deep and profound (ironic voice) understanding of Lutheran history and those who had died refusing to do Eucharistic prayers.

On internship, I never used an Eucharistic Prayer, and my internship supervisor fully supported this move. I remained gnesio.

In my current position, sometimes the printed worship resources require me to use it, and/or ignore it, in which case everybody else would notice my skipping it. So on a practical level I've had to do deal with the issue in a way that is new to me. Further, I'm becoming increasingly convinced that the narrow view of the Supper conveyed by gnesios doesn't do justice to the actual sacrament nor to Luther's thinking on the matter. We're too Lutheran for Luther, one might say.

And thus to Newman. He finds the same thing to be true of Anglicanism, too Anglican for Anglicanism. He spends time reading the history of Anglican thought, and eventually realizes that the Anglican divines of the early centuries espouse a catholicity that also embraces apostolicity, whereas his contemporaries were either naively anti-pope and apostolic, or liberals and enemies of both apostolicity and catholicity.

I love this quote, "The Anglican said to the Roman: 'There is but One Faith, the Ancient, and you have not kept to it;" the Roman retorted: 'There is but One Church, the Catholic, and you are out of it.' The Anglican urged 'Your special beliefs, practices, modes of action, are nowhere in antiquity;' the Roman objected: 'You do not commuicate with any one Church besides your own and its offshoots, and you have discarded principles, doctrines, sacraments, and usages, which are and ever have been received in the east and west."

This then leads me to the issues of our current debate. Is it possible, that Lutheran confessionalism on the Supper is too sectarian because it doesn't take into account the catholic tradition (not to mention that it conducts the Supper "outside" of the Roman church)? That we argue for "one nature" in the Lord's Supper. Is it possible that Lutherans are heretical on this issue, in spite of our trinitarian emphasis? I think so. Read pages 96-97 of the Norton Critical edition of Apologia to see what I mean. This is why Matt cannot subscribe to what gnesio-lutheran theology on the issue recommends, and why those of us who refuse to be bound by blind allegiance to parties also must listen to the Catholics on this issue.

What I've written above scares me somewhat. I could very easily be wrong.

That's all for now. It's enough, without even getting into the confessional issues.

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