apocrypha (was Re: Wheel of God)

From: george murphy (gmurphy@raex.com)
Date: Sat Aug 04 2001 - 08:21:07 EDT

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    "Vandergraaf, Chuck" wrote:

    > George,
    > Thanks for this lucid explanation. As a Calvinist who has been worshipping
    > in a Lutheran congregation, this is all news to me. Having said this, your
    > comment, "[t]he position of Lutheran Orthodoxy was that texts from the
    > Apocrypha could be used in support of doctrinal positions based on
    > unquestioned books but that something couldn't be held as doctrine which
    > could be supported only from the Apocrypha" suggests a certain redundancy of
    > the Apocrypha.

            This is true, but only to the extent that the Bible is thought of as a
    collection of propositional truths which are to be used to deduce doctrinal
    statements, somewhat after the manner of Euclid.
    But of course scripture is richer than that. E.g., one might say that II
    Macc.7:28 only supports a doctrine of creatio ex nihilo derived from other
    passages - though it is in fact probably the clearest statement of the idea in
    the extended canon. & the fact that it's presented as something said to
    encourage faith in a situation of persecution by someone who would herself
    suffer martyrdom gives it much more force than that of a bare proposition.
            & "The Song of the Three Children" (Benedicite, omnia opera) in the
    addition to Daniel 3, which is supposed to be sung out of the middle of the
    fiery furnace, is probably the greatest single hymn of creation.

    > Another comment. You wrote that "[this] represents the historic Lutheran
    > view, though a lot of American Lutherans have become protestantized." Are
    > Lutherans not considered to be "Protestants?" This begs the question, "what
    > IS a Protestant?"

            Historically Lutherans have been considered "protestants" & one might
    even argue the protestants: The term originated at the 1529 Diet of Speyer.
    Often the term is used very broadly to mean all western Christians who aren't
            My language shows to some extent my own position in the Lutheran
    spectrum, what is sometimes called "evangelical catholic." It's the view that
    the purpose of the Lutheran Reformation wasn't and isn't to establish a new
    church but to reform the church catholic, and that the offer the Lutherans made
    to Rome in the Augsburg Confession remains on the table. Or to put it another
    way, the Reformation isn't irreversible. Other Lutherans (e.g., those opposed
    to recent agreements with the Anglicans & with Rome) would disagree with this.
            Certainly Lutherans have a great deal in common with other communions
    which broke with Rome in the 16th century on critical doctrines like
    justification. The fact that a number of Lutheran-Reformed intercommunion
    agreements have been reached in the past 50 years is an indication of this.
            But in a number of ways Lutherans are closer to RCs than to most
    protestants. Continuing use of historic liturgies, church calendar, vestments,
    & respect for church traditions in general, provide one example. Of more
    significance is basic agreement between Rome & Lutherans on Baptism and
    Eucharist. (Luther said at one point, "Before I would have mere wine with the
    Swiss, I would have mere blood with the pope.") The Apocrypha is another
    example. We've also come to see that some of the things that divided the
    churches in the 16th century don't have to today: The recent Lutheran-Roman
    joint declaration on justification was an important step in this direction.
            But of course the whole ecumenical situation gets rather complicated.
    One indication of that is that I'm now serving as a Lutheran pastor at an
    Episcopal parish!



    George L. Murphy
    "The Science-Theology Dialogue"

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