But it’s okay. We Confessional Lutherans are used to being treated as step-children by those who don’t understand the entire theological landscape. We are Evangelical Catholics – and while we somehow are forced in the public square to wear only the name of Luther and what he said, and not be judged, rather, by the Book of Concord of 1580, we’re used to it.
Dreher, as did I, came out of the RCC. I was raised from my Holy Baptism in April of 1953 in the doctrines of the One True Church. However – a series of events, not the least of them being the very earliest hints of homosexual scandal and pedophilia, as well as a rigidity regarding the communing of the party not to blame for a divorce and re-marriage (my mother – abandoned by my father), led me to some intense decision-making. Add to that – I married a young woman (I was young, then, too – some days I can even remember being young!), whose family for a number of generations had belonged to Confessional Lutheranism, i.e., what is now called the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod. I had heard a sermon by an LCMS pastor that actually featured the unadulterated Gospel of the Christ of the Cross, and the effect was both almost instantaneous and electric. I talked with her home pastor (very soon to become mine), and he handed me a new copy of the Book of Concord of 1580, as my “Pastor’s Class” – since I already had a couple of years toward my Bachelors under my belt. He figured (rightly) I could handle it.
I took to it like a fish to water. In short order – all of what Catholicism was truly about was right before me to know and understand. Long and the short of it, Pastor told me to think bigger than becoming a history teacher, and with his recommendation (I secured a number of others on the journey as well), I was ordained on June 15th, 1986 – thirty-one years ago plus. I came out of Seminary with no less of a focus on the Divine Liturgy and the Blessed Mysteries than Rod has in his Orthodox Faith but, I might add, having been to Orthodox Churches myself, I had a far better understanding of the task of preaching in the entire mix of matters. And he is a bit careless about “music.” We Confessional Lutherans almost “own” churchly, liturgical music and hymnology. So – to kind of be ignored, as Dreher has consistently done in his writings, or lumped in with the calvinistic protestants, which we most certainly are not, bugs me a good bit.
Rod – do you have a clue as to the proper relationship between the Law, and the Gospel, and how both should be taught and preached? Do you have a body of dogmatic, didactic material that states clearly that which the Orthodox believe and confess? No, you do not, good sir, for I investigated those matters for myself, and what you write seems geared only toward converting those you refer to as “evangelicals” – which are little but modern versions of calvinism. They might be good prospects, in a way, but you are asking the impossible of them. They are not sacramental; which is the orthodox and small “c” catholic extension of Biblical teaching and preaching. They confuse Law and Gospel as often as do you Orthodox, and the RCC and unfortunately any more – those in our midst who have been seduced and converted by the calvinistic mindset.
BenOp was tried before in Nursia, Italy – monasticism. While it claims a holy goal – it is but withdrawal. Augustine had a far better understanding of matters with his Two Kingdoms, one of the Left and one of the Right. Withdrawal from living in the world is only “accomplished” in death, Brother Dreher, not in either monasticism nor your solution in BenOp. Our task as Baptized Christians living in, with, and under the bloody Cross of Christ is to make the faithful proclamation, the “witness” – as did the Prophets and the Apostles, in our daily lives, in our various vocations – not by withdrawal – and let the chips fall where they may. The task of conversion and holiness is NOT ours, dear Sir, but the exclusive domain of the Holy Spirit. I know “Easterns” disparage the dogmaticism of the West, but some things need to be written in stone, and not left floating out there. While Jean Cauvin was indeed, an exacting dogmatician (albeit fighting against the catholic reforms of the Lutheran Reformation and in our day undoing much of them), none of his spiritual descendants have been or done so.
The “catholic” faith shall prevail to the end – of that we have the promise of the Χρίστος.
Having said that, hoping for a catholic reform of calvinists does not seem to be what you seek at all, but the legalistic preaching of the Law to effect change – both societally and personally. We know the first shall be maintained until released by the Lord (First Use of the Law) in the very last of days. Neither personal holiness nor personal “sanctified” believing or preaching have jack to do with the One True Faith, but only – the right teaching and Liturgical understanding of exactly what was accomplished on the Cross by Christ. Do not fall into the error of rank legalism by laying the “ability” to effect justification – to whatever degree – upon sinful mankind.
It is a false, misleading dream. Have you not enough proof on your plate already?