Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Is My Pastor Valid and Due the Honor of the OHM

I saw this article earlier today. The Pope's Words are hogwash. Basically the Pope (the "Antichrist" according to our Lutheran Confessions) is saying that if your pastor didn't have hands laid upon him by someone in direct succession (all having hands laid upon them) from the apostles, your pastor is not valid and you do not have the means of grace. Of course this is nothing new to Roman Catholic dogma.

It's as if the pastoral ministry is something that is only valid if you have the direct validation of a member of the club who had it from a member of the club who had it from a member of the club. Have all members of the club been good judges of whether or not someone should be allowed to join the club? I think not! Ordination is necessary, but apostolic succession is not. And "ordination" is not the laying on of hands. The laying on of hands is simply a tradition. You could lay your feet on someone and achieve the same thing.

The question of whether or not a pastor is a valid pastor is answered rightly only by whether or not he preaches the true Gospel. The Augsburg Confession states that the "Church" is found where the Word is preached in its purity and the Sacraments are rightly administered. How do we define pure Word and Sacrament? - that taught and practiced according to the one pure fount and source of God's revelation: SCRIPTURE, interpreted according to the central doctrine of Christianity that separates us from ALL other religions.

What is that central doctrine? That THE ONE TRUE GOD is the God who saved me ALL BY HIMSELF, with no help from me or anybody else. All my sins are imputed to Christ, and all His righteousness is imputed to me. That's the only God I can have faith in! The One with pure monergistic grace - something ALL the other "Christian" denominations deny.

Lutheranism alone teaches the pure monergistic grace of God in Christ Jesus. This is what sets us apart from all others. How do I know the voice of the Shepherd? When I hear Him tell me my sins are forgiven - unconditionally. Anyone who claims to speak the Word of the Shepherd yet preaches a synergistic salvation is a false shepherd. All Roman Catholic priests preach a synergistic salvation. Therefore they are false shepherds - not members of the apostolic succession. The Apostle Paul preached salvation by faith alone, "and this not of yourselves, it is the gift of God."

This question of whether or not Lutherans have the office of holy ministry must be addressed more adequately by us. It's at the heart of the questions many who are tempted to Rome or Constantinople are struggling with. All arguments regarding this ends up being circular in some respect, whether from the Roman, Eastern, or Lutheran perspective. But we need to do a better job of articulating our position.

I really hope that Pr. Bender might consider switching the topic of next year's CCA symposium to the OHM. If the participants do as good a job with the OHM topic as they did on this year's topic of the church, the result will be a tremendous blessing to us all.

Follow-up post here.


William Weedon said...

There are two places where Lutherans have given a really decent answer to this. The first is Sasse's very fine essay on the whole notion of apostolic succession in the We Confess series published by CPH. That lays some quite solid theological groundwork.

The other place is Arthur Carl Piepkorn's essay on The Sacred Ministry and Holy Ordination in the Symbolical Books of the Lutheran Church - in particular the two excurses that close out that essay on the identity of bishops and presbyters in the primitive and medieval church and the minister of ordination in the primitive and medieval church. The essay can be found in *The Church* published by The American Lutheran Publicity Bureau.

Both essays provide solid historical and theological data on this question and I highly commend them both to folks who struggle with this issue.

Erich Heidenreich, DDS said...

Thanks for the info, Pr. Weedon! I'll have to track down those works. I wish someone would scan the most important excerpts onto the Internet (hint, hint!). ;-)

Erich Heidenreich, DDS said...

I just finished reading Sasse's essay on apostolic succession. Good info there. I hope to post about it soon.

I don't have access to the Piepkorn essay yet.

Erich Heidenreich, DDS said...

Follow-up post here.