Friday, November 20, 2020

Thursday, November 19, 2020

"God is not summoned into the presence of reason; reason is summoned before the presence of God."

      John Webster, Holiness (Grand Rapids, MI:  Eerdmans, 2003), 17.  I was put onto this by Michael Allen, "Theological theology," First things no. 307 (November 2020):  21 (19-23).

Tuesday, November 17, 2020

"It is a duty of faith for all Lutherans . . . to observe the restrictions on church communion with all [due] rigor themselves, and to judge all dispensations [from them] as sin and heresy. . . ."

     "Es ist eine Glaubenspflicht für alle Lutheraner . . . selbst die Grenzen der Kirchengemeinschaft in aller Strenge zu beobachten und alle Dispensationen als Sünde und Häresie zu verurteilen. . . ."

     Tom [G. A.] Hardt, "Keine Kirchengemeinschaft mit Häretikern!  (Nulla communicatio in sacris cum haereticis)," Lutherische Blätter 12, no. 65 (Juli 1960):  83 (62-83).  "It is their duty to prevent whole generations of theologians from being taught that that Confessionalism [(which is to say, a commitment to church discipline)] and Donatism are the same thing" (83).  For the Church is always threatened by two dangers:  the enthusiastic ("schwärmerischen") misuse of excommunication on the one hand, and the renunciation of the justice of it for open sinners, schismatics, and heretics on the other (70).

Sunday, November 15, 2020

The church catholic

Vatican Museums
"I am a disciple of the chaste shepherd, who feedeth his flocks of sheep on mountains and plains. . . .  He sent me to Rome. . . .  And I saw the plain of Syria and all the cities [too], even Nisibis, having crossed the Euphrates.  And everywhere I had associates having Paul as a companion, everywhere faith led the way and set before me for food the fish from the spring mighty and pure, whom a spotless Virgin caught, and gave this to friends to eat, always having sweet wine and giving the mixed cup with bread."

     Inscription of Abercius (late 2nd cent.), trans. Quasten (Patrology, vol. 1, p. 172).  For a link to the text as reconstructed in Lightfoot, Apostolic fathers, go here.

"there cannot properly be 'inter-communion'"

     "Catholic theology has become progressively more aware of what was implied by this unity of the Church-as-Communion [(Heilsgemeinschaft)] corresponding to its unity-as-institution [(Heilsanstalt, communion in [1] the deposit of the faith, [2] the deposit of the sacraments, and [3] the apostolic powers)].  It has realized more clearly that it was not only a question, for individuals or for local communities, of a conformity of [1] faith, [2] worship and [3] constitution, at least in all which was part of the apostolic tradition, but that the Church was called to form a single people, a single Communion.  To keep Communion is not only to participate faithfully in the means of salvation of the church-institution; it is to form a community and to act, not as an autonomous subject, but as a member of a single people or body.  The sin of schism betrays a separatist attitude which destroys this reference of a part to its whole.

     "In this perspective, as Canon Lacey has already shown (Unity and Schism, p. 56 et seq.), there cannot properly be 'inter-communion' [(il ne peut exister à proprement parler d' « intercommunion »)].  There is or there is not Communion, but Communion is of its nature universal and indivisible, like the Church herself of which it is an aspect.  Either one has or one has not Communion in the Church, with the Church; if one has it, one has it wherever the Church is to be found, allowance having been made for local particularities, sometimes considerable but always respectful of the apostolic deposit, of which one could say, adapting a saying of St. Cyprian, repeated by St. Augustine:  Licet, salvo jure communionis, diversum sentire [(It is licet, without violation (i.e. forfeiture) of the right of communion, to think diversely)].  That is why a member of the Church, if he is not 'excommunicated', may communicate sacramentally wherever he finds the Church, and relive the blessed experience of Abercius of Hierapolis:  'Everywhere I have had brothers. . . .  Faith led me everywhere.  Everywhere it supplied me with a fresh-water fish, large, pure, that had been caught by a pure virgin.'  Inversely, the general custom was,—although history presents some exceptions—and the Councils demanded, that any one of the faithful who had broken off Communion with his bishop or who has been excommunicated should be nowhere received at Communion.  This was a disciplinary rule which can be understood if one keeps in mind the homogenous and indissoluble unity of the Church, whose 'Sacrament', as St. Cyprian says, resides in the unity of the episcopate, whose members hold the charge in solidum.  It should only be added—and this St. Cyprian misunderstood—that the local churches were not alone in having received from the Lord and the Apostles their unified structure.  The Church is constructed, as far as the apostolic powers which are transmitted by succession are concerned, not solely on the plane of the local churches, but on the plane of her ecumenical, universal reality. . . .

     ". . . some will perhaps say:  since the Sacrament engenders the Church, let us communicate in the Sacrament, and we shall thus come better to communicate in the Church; let us celebrate and pray together, we shall soon form a single ecclesiastical body. . . .  This reasoning would perhaps be valuable if the Sacrament were a means outside the Church, which one could use in order to enter or to build her, as one takes a key to enter a house, and stones to build one.  But not one of the constitutive of the Church is exterior to her:  not faith, nor the Bible, nor tradition, nor the sacraments, nor the apostolic succession and powers.  They can only be truly found and held in her.  Faith is the faith of the Church, the sacraments are the sacraments of the Church.  It is she, in reality, who celebrates, we have only the rank of ministers in her.  Hence, in regard to reunion, intercommunion, as has been justly written, could be a fruit, an expression or an exercise of unity; it cannot be the principle of it if it does not exist.  Besides, as we have already said, when unity is given, it is not of intercommunion that we should speak, but quite simply of Communion.  At present we are, and very really, united in Christ—through grace and spiritual gifts, through certain sacraments, through the Holy Bible, etc. . . .  that which unites us is already considerable!—but we are not united in one Church.  The aim of the ecumenical movement is precisely to pass, if God wills it and grants to us to do it, from an invisible unity in Christ to a visible unity in the Church.  Then, we would celebrate and communicate together.  Until then, intercommunion is, alas, impossible."

     Yves Congar, “Amica contestatio,” in Intercommunion:  the report of the theological commission appointed by the Continuation Committee of the World Conference on Faith and Order together with a selection from the material presented to the Commission, ed. Donald Baillie and John Marsh (London:  SCM Press Ltd, 1952), 143-144 (141-151), and in Yves Congar, Chrétiens en dialogue; contributions catholiques à l'oecuménisme (Paris:  Éditions du Cerf, 1964), 243-254.  The Augustinian maxim derives from De bapt. 3.4-5:  "donec enim persuadeatur et nobis, si hoc persuaderi ueris rationibus potest, securos nos de iure catholicae communionis facit ipse Cyprianus. sequitur enim et dicit: «superest ut de hac ipsa re singuli quid sentiamus proferamus, neminem iudicantes aut a iure communionis aliquem si diuersum senserit amouentes». non solum ergo mihi saluo iure communionis adhuc uerum quaerere sed etiam diuersum sentire concedit," "For till such time as we are also convinced (if there are any arguments of truth whereby this can be done), Cyprian himself has established our security by the right of Catholic communion.  For he goes on to say:  'It remains that we severally declare our opinion on this same subject, judging no one, nor depriving any one of the right to communion if he differ from us.'  He allows me, therefore, without losing the right of communion, not only to continue inquiring into the truth, but even to hold opinions differing from his own" (trans. J. R. King and Chester D. Hartranft, APNF 4, p. 437).  As for the inscription by Abercius, see J. B. Lightfoot, The apostolic fathers 2.1 (1889), p. -496- (and the subsequent scholarship, as listed, for example, in the Encyclopedia of ancient Christianity, ed. Di Bernardino (2014), sv Abercius, which, however, does not, of course, list anything published since, for example Allen Brent, "Has the Vita Abercii misled epigraphists in the reconstruction of the inscription?," in The first urban churches, vol. 5, Colossae, Hierapolis, and Laodicea (2019), pp. 325–61).