Missouri Was Silent: There We Stood – Part II
I don’t worry about Sacramentarianism so much these days (and, since I know that some of you are Sacramentarians, I am well aware that this could either offend or please all or none of you in any number of ways.) It is simply too easy to read into the words on a screen. (Cf. for an interrelated recent find byat @MadMondays Issue 205)
So let me start by defining the word “Sacramentarian.”
In Lutheran dogmatician terms, a Sacramentarian is a non-heretic-but-heterodox (i.e. non-mortal-but-venial) false-doctrine-believing Christian who has Baptism but not the catholic Lord’s Supper, and this according to nothing but the integrity of his own words.
In Lutheran layman terms, a “Sacramentarian” is someone who does not believe that Jesus is in the Lord's Supper the same way that all Lutherans (and Catholics and the East and not a few Anglicans) do.
Do you catch the upside-down in this? Or are you just offended already?
“Sacramentarian” is the Lutheran word for someone who does NOT believe in the Sacrament. Here I could rest a case before all objective parties as to how desperately the modern heirs of the Reformation need to take a few crash courses in Americanese. Calling something the opposite of what it is has never gone well for anyone who has tried....
We here stand at the crux of it. Forget the word "sacramentarian." Forget all your previous arguments about the Lord's Supper. The Protestant Reformation's denial of the meaning of the Words of Jesus Christ, falsehood that it is, simply cannot stand.
I wrote a book to reform the Protestant Church in her mission of Reforming the Catholic Church because I believe that many good Christians needlessly cling to senseless, modernist arguments that are lost along with the polite Christian civilization that enabled them.
I do not claim some great church unionism rubbish, nor imagine some particular insight to end the debate once and for all.
My argument is outside that box. My position is more primal.
I contend that the time is coming and is imminent, when the average, mass-psychosis-formed human being is simply incapable of paying enough attention to read this article, let alone make ethereal distinctions about higher things.
My position is that Zwinglian Protestantism is too smart by half to survive the next century. The cumulative stupidity of the masses is rising to such high tides that the American Preacher can hardly expect a person's attention span to stand still long enough for debates about transmogrification, or really-really-realnesses that only ascends to heaven.
The debate itself has become moot.
Is there bread? Is there wine? That matters.
Are there the Words? Are there equivocations? The Day will tell.
Where are the places that believe these things? Are we banded together at all?
Tell me, my friends: how fares the Reformation?
—> “Pope Francis asks theologians to ‘demasculinize’ the Church, saying, ‘Women have a way of reflecting on theology that is different from us men.’”
—> “Pope Francis Allows Priests to Bless Same-Sex Couples, with a church official affirming the blessings to be ‘a real development’ that does not contradict ‘the traditional doctrine of the church about marriage.’”
What is Protestantism going to do about this?
I am not saying that Lutherans should change our stance about the Supper.
I am saying that it is more important for Lutherans to concentrate our efforts at reforming the Catholic Church than to convert the radicals, since at this point our efforts have descended into bitter battles (mostly) aimed at silencing their success by scooping up their cast-offs and broken, as if these were trophies to the Wittenberg cause.
We have lost.
But we haven't.
In a wilderness where we are surrounded by Philistines and Pharisees, the body and blood of Jesus Christ is given and shed for us to eat and drink as bread and wine—the event that shall gather us unto eternal life. Take, and eat. Or perish with American Deism as a people.
Yes, it is precisely the radical Protestants who most know this, and who are so fervently teaching their children to pray in Jesus’ Name.
The Sacramentarian sin is abominable; it has ever been the great divider. Taken to its extremes, caveats on Jesus Christ's words regarding his holy meal have proven themselves to be the root of resurging heresies and neo-novelties with nothing in their historic wake but all manner of fracture and faithless dreaming.
And our ability to know better does not protect us from our own legalistic and radical errors.
Not all Christians are pleased with this, and many in America have withdrawn from formal participation in any public churches at all.
The days of Amos, indeed.
But this is my point—hate me or love me: the “Sacramentarian Scourge,”—that wing of the West that bled forth all Methodists, Pentecostals, Baptists, independents, Schwendfelkers, et al.—are ultimately a rationalist’s error, a modernist’s phenomenon. I don’t “believe” their theology has got the primal chops to make it through the long winter of human stupidity that is looming. It is too complex to continue to make converts.
With the loss of words and reason to the mass-formed, the gnostic-sophistic semantic assault on the word “is” is doomed to failure as society teeters. The doctrine of man's total depravity is wreaking reprobate havoc on the once-great-and-awakened City on a Hill social cult of the industrialized new world.
Some errors are just a luxury of their times.
So, how about this for a thesis? Should the Lord tarry, the Sacramentarian error shall soon perish from the western English traditions by virtue of the populace being too unlearned to understand the debate and, therefore, reliant upon the simple Words of the Lord that they will hear.
Let's fight; after it's all said and done, and the dust settles, unless our Lord returns, the Pope will still be here.
On the title: One afternoon in class beneath the chapel, Rev. Dr. Ronald Fueherhahn who is now resting in Jesus, uttered these words three times. They hung in the air, like a ghost on the wind in that dark undercroft where only the air conditioners can be heard. Whatever particular historical moment of Nazi Germany's pre-WWII rise to power this quote from Dr. Herman Sasse referred to, the implication was clear. Even before the New Deal, with the whole world watching, the Lutheran Church - Missouri Synod was afraid to speak when it really mattered. Now, at a time when our nostalgia and self-esteem increasingly concord with the cultural mainstream, the plea in the graying doctor's eyes, looking over his spectacles from his stooped, early Parkinson's position was: would we be any better men? The LCMS has come a long way since then, including the public repentances and recantations of the Seminex era. But we are not out of the woods yet, and such silences have never served our friends nor families well.
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