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Changing Churches, A Recap

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  • Christopher Orr
    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
    Message 1 of 1 , Dec 6, 2011
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      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
      > *
      > 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.*

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