Changing Churches, A Recap
- I highly recommend reading Fr. John Fenton's reflection on his
conversion to Orthodoxy from the Lutheran church, which I have copied below
and can be found here:
Changing Churches, A
> *From the Conversi ad Dominum<http://conversiaddominum.blogspot.com/2011/12/changing-churches-recap.html>blog by Fr. John Fenton[Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
> The announcement of the publication of *Changing Churches<http://www.amazon.com/Changing-Churches-Orthodox-Theological-Conversation/dp/0802866948/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1323134208&sr=1-1>
> * has caused me to reflect, once more, on my move from Lutheranism into
> the Orthodox Church.
> As I recapitulate this move, I realize that my answer to the differences
> between Lutheranism and Orthodoxy has crystallized over the years.
> Early on, when I was a Lutheran minister trying to diagnose how to remain
> faithful to the Lutheran Confessions and yet remain in an heterodox church
> body, I wrote (with some help from Rev. Dr. Charles Robb Hogg* and Rev.
> William Weedon) and delivered an essay entitled, "What Options do the
> Confessions Give Lutherans<http://www.holyincarnation.org/pub/options.pdf>."
> In that paper, I argued for what I called the "catholic principle" in the
> Lutheran Confessions which, in terms of ecclesiology, led the early
> Lutherans to see themselves not as a denomination but as the continuation
> of the Catholic Church in the West. I still maintain that, although I now
> think that the attempt by Luther and Chemnitz was doomed from the beginning
> due to the inheritance of systemic flaws in medieval theological
> constructs. (Louis Bouyer exposes one of these in his book *Eucharist<http://www.amazon.com/Eucharist-Theology-Spirituality-Eucharistic-Prayer/dp/0268004986/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1323133785&sr=8-1>
> In a statement written for laymen, I pointed to some of these systemic
> flaws in the Statement of Resignation<http://www.holyincarnation.org/pub/resignationstatement.pdf>that Rev David Stecholz (President & Bishop of the English District, LCMS)
> graciously permitted me to read to my beloved parishioners when I left Zion
> Ev. Lutheran Church in Detroit. What I wrote then I still maintain,
> although I would now sharpen, with more careful nuance, some of the phrases.
> Over the years, I've also made other attempts at explaining the
> differences; most notably, a presentation on "Creeds and Confessions<http://www.holyincarnation.org/pub/Creeds%20&%20Confessions%20in%20Orthodoxy.pdf>"
> at the "Faith of Our Fathers" colloquium for Lutherans<http://ancientfaith.com/specials/lutheran_colloquium>.
> (I highly recommend all the presentations at this colloquium.)
> In the final analysis, however, I would boil all the differences down to
> these main points:
> - The Church is not a Platonic Republic (i.e., intrinsically or
> primarily invisible); i.e., an assembly of believers. Rather, it is
> and must be a visible entity, traceable through an unbroken link to the
> time of the Apostles. (The Lutheran Confessions, in my view, speak with two
> minds about this doctrine.)
> - The end or purpose of salvation is not merely to be safe or make it
> to heaven, but to be in an undying union with God through Christ and the
> Spirit. That end or purpose is never fully achieved, just as a relationship
> is never exhausted. (This is a summary of theosis or, what "Lutheran
> Orthodoxy" called unio mystica.) This leads me to resonate with St
> Maximus the Confessor's speculation that sin and death did not necessitate
> the incarnation of the Son of God; rather, the original design, from
> eternity, was that the Son of God would become incarnate so that man could
> be in union with God.
> - Tradition is not a custom nor merely a lens through which the church
> reads the Scriptures; rather, Tradition is the ongoing life of the Church
> (the Spirit in and of the Church) which, of course, cannot contradict
> Scripture but which also amplifies Scripture. (The Lutheran Confessions
> state that some of Tradition - e.g., liturgy - is indifferent; and insist,
> for those who take a quia subscription, that it is a lens.)
> - Sin is certainly serious and is inherited; but it is not part of
> man's nature nor is it the primary problem. Rather, death is the primary
> problem, as seen by the fact that Christ purposefully took on passable
> flesh in order to suffer, die and rise. (The article on Free Will [FC SD
> II], when read understanding the philosophical underpinnings of the
> language, agrees that man is not by nature sinful.)
> There are, of course, other differences. But these are the ones that I
> would identify; at least, these are the ones that were uppermost for me.
> In the final analysis, however, with my understanding that liturgy is what
> drives the everyday experience of every Christian, what tipped the scale
> for me was this question: "What gave Luther (or whomever) the right to
> change the Mass, Office and Ritual which he had received ultimately from
> the Holy Spirit?"
> ** Now, Fr. Gregory Hogg, Dorr, MI.*