Update on my humble contributions to honest ecumenical dialogue

20 Jun

A comment recently left here:

From a traditional Lutheran perspective, “Sola Scriptura” is understood very differently [from the position Dr. Michael Horton lays out in the blog post responded to here at Called to Communion].  I’ve been sharing this insightful quote for years now (from my pastor), and I’ll do so again:

“The concept of a contemporaneous existence of the Word of God in a corrupted verbal form, and a pure written form, spawned Chemnitz’s explanation of traditiones in the second locus, De traditionibus. Here he lists the first of eight different types of traditiones as Scripture itself, i.e. the things that Christ and the Apostles preached orally and were later written down. Then follows: 2) the faithful transmission of the Scriptures; 3) the oral tradition of the Apostles (which by its very nature must agree with the contents of the New Testament canon); 4) the proper interpretation of the Scriptures received from the Apostles and “Apostolic men”; 5) dogmas that are not set forth in so many words in Scripture but are clearly apparent from a sampling of texts; 6) the consensus of true and pure antiquity; 7) rites and customs that are edifying and believed to be Apostolic, but cannot be proved from Scripture. Chemnitz rejects only the eighth kind of tradition: [8] traditions pertaining to faith and morals that cannot be proved with any testimony of Scripture; but which the Council of Trent commanded to be accepted and venerated with the same reverence and devotion as the Scripture. The important element of this last of the traitiones appears not to be the fact that such traditions of faith and morals not provable from Scripture actually existed, but that their status of equality with Scripture was foisted upon the church by the Council of Trent.” P. Strawn, Cyril of Alexandria as a Source for Martin Chemnitz, in Die Patristik in der Bibelexegese des 16. Jahrhunderts, Wolfenbu”ttleler Forschungen, Bd. 85, Hrsg. v. David C. Steinmetz, Wiesbaden 1999, p. 213-14.

I focused on this in a debate that I had with the RC apologist Dave Armstrong.  The form of my argument, based again on the following quote above, was very different than Dr. Horton’s.

Here they are:

Round 1:

Round 2:

Round 3:

(warning: these are pretty long, but they are because I quote a lot from Chemnitz and Gerhard and try to answer most all the questions that Dave was able to throw at me)

Currently, the debate continues in a way with a delightful Catholic gentleman named Nathaniel (great name) here.  We have a wonderful thing going, and I feel like we have definitely dug deep into the issue.  He gives me hope for good, honest, ecumenical dialogue:

Finally, my viewpoint, although I definitely think it is in line with classical Lutheranism (Chemnitz, Gerhard) is not always so understood, although I do think it is more amenable to Roman Catholic sensibilities about the mystery of the Church, particularly as regards its ontological nature and visibility (see this post and the comments I put in there:

Best regards,


(Adjunct prof. of theology – Concordia University Saint Paul)

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Posted by on June 20, 2012 in Uncategorized


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