Thursday, August 04, 2005

Calling All Lapsed Catholics- Part II

I got this off our web-site.

Q. What are the main theological differences between the theology of the Lutheran Church and the Roman Catholic Church?

A. At the risk of oversimplification, and keeping in mind that individual Lutheran (and Catholic) theologians would undoubtedly disagree about the success of recent Lutheran-Roman Catholic dialogues in lessening or even "resolving" historic doctrinal differences between these two churches, listed below are what the LCMS would regard as some of the major theological differences between the Lutheran Church and the Roman Catholic Church:

1. The authority of Scripture.
Lutherans believe that Scripture alone has authority to determine doctrine; the Roman Catholic Church gives this authority also to the pope, the church, and certain traditions of the church.

2. The doctrine of justification.
Lutherans believe that a person is saved by God's grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone. The Roman Catholic Church, while at times using similar language, still officially holds that faith, in order to save, must be accompanied by (or "infused with") some "work" or "love" active within a Christian.

3. The authority of the pope.
Unlike the Roman Catholic Church, Lutherans do not believe that the office of the papacy as such has any divine authority, or that Christians need to submit to the Pope's authority to be "true" members of the visible church.

4. Differences remain about both the number and the nature of the sacraments.
Lutherans believe that Christ's body and blood are truly present in the Lord's Supper, but they do not believe, with Catholics, that the bread and wine, are permanently "changed into" Christ's body and blood [transubstantiation].

5. Differences remain about the role of Mary and the saints.
Unlike Catholics, Lutherans do not believe it is proper or Scriptural to offer prayers to saints or to view Mary as in any sense a "mediator" between God and human beings.
While Lutherans believe that any doctrinal error has the potential to distort or deny Scripture's teaching regarding salvation, we also believe that anyone (regardless of denominational affiliation) who truly believes in Jesus Christ as Savior will be saved.

Calling All Lapsed Catholics! Part I

I have been here in the Cleveland area for almost two years. It is amazing to me how many people that I talk to who are Catholic- lapsed Catholic that is. They are associated with the Church but they never attend. When I mention that I am a pastor of the Lutheran Church, they respond something like, "Oh, I know you guys. You split from us back 500 years ago. You wanted to reform the church." Maybe, they even say something like, "You don't have as many Sacraments as we do." But that is as far as it goes. Unfortunately, most Catholic don't know what the Lutherans believe. It is my contention that if more Roman Catholics actually knew what Lutherans stood for, they might come into our church. There are also many lapsed Catholics who are very angry at their church for one reason of another. Maybe, they are angry because of what a priest said or did or maybe because of an ugly divorce. The Roman Catholics and the Lutherans are different in many ways; but, we do have much in common. In other blogs I will discuss the similarities and differences, but for now, if you are not happy with your Roman Catholic Church, visit a confessional Lutheran Church. We would love to meet you. I believe that you will find all of what you like about the Roman Catholic Church and not find what you don't like. Try us out. You won't be disappointed.

Why Doesn't Anyone Wear Their Clerical Collar Anymore?

Living in the Cleveland area, and especially in Parma, due to the high number of Roman Catholics, I get a lot of strange looks whenever I wear my clerical collar. I have gotten used to the standard greeting, "Hello, Father." Most of the time, I don't correct them because I am a father- that is of 4 wonderful boys (see picture on my blog). It is especially humorous in public places when I have it on and my family is with me. What is disturbing to me, however, is the number of pastors today who don't wear the collar. I wonder why this is. I certainly hope that it is not because they are ashamed of their calling. Wearing the collar reminds me of my calling. For the first couple of years of my ministry, I didn't wear it, except on Sunday morning. Not that I would forget what I was doing, but when I wear my collar during the week, I am reminded of the seriousness of the office of the ministry. The criticism is that those of us who wear their collars, all the time, take themselves too seriously. Some have even asked me if I have clerical pajamas. I would argue that those who don't wear theirs take themselves and the office that they hold too lightly. The pastor who was here as the vacancy pastor reminded me of the symbolism behind the clerical collar. I think it fits; so I will share it. The pastor wears his black clerical collar for two reasons. First, the black shows to the world that the pastor too is a sinner, dead in his trespasses and sin. By himself, a pastor is nothing. But, secondly, as a called and ordained servant of the Word, the words that come out of his mouth should be as white as freshly fallen snow. When people see that collar, it reminds them that God is present and pastors are His representatives. Yes, some people will feel uncomfortable with it. Pastors who wear their collars may make some people nervous. Others will be turned off because of the individual problems with the Roman Catholic Church. Most people would agree that our society, and our church has lost a sense of what it means to be reverent. So much in our society is dumbed-down. Pastors who wear their collars remind the world that there is nothing wrong with tradition as long as it leads people to Jesus. That is what the office of the Ministry is all about- leading people to Jesus. Most people don't have a problem with a soldier or policeman who wears his uniform. When people see the officer in their uniform, it reminds them of what they are all about. Should not pastors stand out in the crowd? Should not a pastor remind those around that God is present? I believe that wearing a clerical collar does just that. Something to think about.