How Should Lutherans Consider the Roman Church?

In the face of continual revelations of sodomy and pedophilia perpetrated by Roman clergy, abuse cover-ups, and the enabling of repeated abuse by the highest levels, how should Lutherans respond, and how should we consider the Roman church?

We should start out by understanding that perverse doctrine leads to perverse lives. Thus, it should be no surprise that the perverse lifestyle of Roman clergy is nothing new, nor should we be surprised that it continues today. The perversion of the Roman church far precedes the time of the Reformation, and it stems from their perverse doctrine.

The Apology of the Augsburg Confession talks of the wild living of their lazy priests who could not control their bodies in holiness, the “infamy of their sordid celibacy,” their public disgrace, and unnatural lusts. “Modesty forbids even mentioning most of the things which these people do with the greatest license.” (Ap XXIII.1-2,44).

Leading up to the time of the Reformation, the Roman church was embroiled in evil and wickedness. Popes were often powermongers and whoremongers with mistresses, including married women, and engaged in simony, murder, torture, pedophilia, and other vile, licentious behavior. Pope Alexander VI (Rodrigo de Borja, pope 1492-1503) and Pope Leo X (Giovanni di Lorenzo de Medici, pope 1513 – 21) were among the worst.

Why would we expect the Roman church to be any different today? They rejected the return to following God’s Word, for which the Reformation called. Their doctrines haven’t changed. They still forbid the marriage of priests which God tells us curbs sexual immorality (I Cor. 7:2,9). Scripture calls this the teaching of demons (I Tim. 4:1-3). Opposing the natural relations of husband and wife is opposing natural law and cannot but lead to unnatural behavior. Who can say how much the Roman teaching that ordination is a sacrament draws homosexuals into the priesthood, especially when they are groomed into it and provided a network of protection by other perverts and abusers?

The cover-ups and enabling come from Roman doctrine, because the Roman church still sets the authority of the pope and councils above the Word of God and above secular laws. The pope believes he is above all secular and spiritual authority, so if he decides someone should not face civil penalties for their crimes, he covers them up. The Roman church still teaches as doctrine the commandments of men and leaves the commandment of God and holds to the tradition of men (Mark 7:7-8). They most significantly reject the Gospel.

Why would we expect holy lives from those who reject the Gospel? We confess that faith in the Gospel is what produces good works. The Holy Spirit is received through faith (Gal. 3:14), and only through the Holy Spirit is it possible to be renewed and endowed with new affections so as to be able to do good works. “Without the Holy Spirit human powers are full of ungodly affections and are too weak to do good works before God. Besides, they are under the power of the devil, who impels human beings to various sins, ungodly opinions, and manifest crimes.” (AC XX.31-32)

That the Roman church rejects the Gospel is clear from their own confession:

If anyone says that the sinner is justified by faith alone, meaning that nothing else is required to cooperate in order to obtain the grace of justification and that it is not in any way necessary that he be prepared and disposed by the action of his own will, let him be anathema. (Canons and Decrees of the Council of Trent, Canon 9)

Also:

If anyone says that a man who is justified and however perfect is not bound to observe the commandments of God and the Church, but only to believe, as if the Gospel were a bare and absolute promise of eternal life without the condition of observing the commandments, let him be anathema. (Canons and Decrees of the Council of Trent, Canon 20. 44)

This is still the current teaching of the Roman church, as they confess in their catechism, “we can then merit for ourselves and for others the graces needed for our sanctification, for the increase of grace and charity, and for the attainment of eternal life.” (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 416.2010)

From these quotations, it is clear that the pope and the Roman church reject the foundation of Christian faith, the sola fide of Scripture. In fact, not only do they reject it, but they curse anyone who believes it! They place a yoke on the neck of their followers that neither they nor their fathers were able to bear (Acts 15:10). They leave the commandments of God and hold to their own rules and regulations like the Pharisees did.

We should not be surprised that perverse doctrine leads to perverse lives. When God’s Word is replaced with the commandments that come from the sinful hearts of men, a sinful life follows.

As despicable as the Roman church was before the Reformation, the primary purpose of the Reformation was to return to God’s Word instead of the errors and heresies which plagued the Roman church. As despicable the Roman church is today, returning to the truth of God’s Word must also be the goal. It is only through the Gospel that lives will be changed. The Gospel is the key. The Gospel alone has the power to save. The Gospel alone turns men from wicked lives to God-pleasing lives.

If you deny that one is saved by grace alone, through faith alone, on account of Christ alone, you are no Christian. These days we seem to be too cowardly to confess this truth, but it was not always so.

Luther wrote of the pope and his propagandists, “They are therefore truly apostles, evangelists, and prophets in the same way that they are churches. In other words, they are the devil’s apostles, evangelists, and prophets. For the true apostles, evangelists, and prophets preach God’s Word and do not preach against God’s Word.” (A Christian Holy People, 35)

Luther’s pastor, Johannes Bugenhagen wrote, “‘God has made this Christ wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and salvation for us’ [I Cor. 1:30]. Whoever does not grant this to us is not a Christian.” (Selected Writings I:178).

Lutheran dogmatician Francis Pieper wrote, “Making the Law and the entire Scripture the object of justifying faith, the Papists, the Arminians with their followers, and the Unitarians no longer teach Christianity, but pagan works-righteousness.” (Christian Dogmatics II.424)

This does not mean that there are no Christians in the Roman church. Whoever clings to Christ by faith alone is a Christian, even within heterodox church bodies. Whoever rejects the Roman teaching of works-righteousness and believes that faith alone is the beginning, middle, and end of righteousness is a Christian. Our fight is not with the members of the Roman church, but against the false teaching there found, and our prayer is that by the grace of God, many would be saved from heresy and false teachers. The only hope for abandoning perverse lives is abandoning perverse doctrine, which comes from the power of the Gospel.

So that God may use us to shine the light of the Gospel to our Roman neighbors, let us Lutherans stand for the truth of the Gospel and understand that perverse doctrines lead to perverse lives. Neither can be tolerated in the Church of God. Let us also understand what the Church of God is. The Church is, properly speaking, the assembly of saints and those who truly believe (AC VIII). As Luther writes, “God be praised, a seven-year-old child knows what the church is: holy believers and the little sheep who hear the voice of their shepherd.” (SA IV.III.12.2)

About Pastor Johannes Nieminen

Pastor Johannes (John) Nieminen serves Zion Lutheran Church in Melville and Trinity Lutheran Church in Neudorf, Saskatchewan, Canada. After a decade-long foray in business following his undergraduate degree, he attended Concordia Lutheran Theological Seminary in St Catharines, Ontario, graduating with a Master of Divinity degree in 2014. He is married to Lydia and they have been blessed with three children: Ethan, Summerlee, and Jacob. His sermons are posted weekly at zionlutheranmelville.com.

Comments

How Should Lutherans Consider the Roman Church? — 35 Comments

  1. A fine article that speaks the truth. That said, even those who hold to God’s revealed truth and confess a quia subscription of our Lutheran Confessions can and do fall into perverse sin. The next scandalous headlines could be our own. It was C.F.W. Walther who said that as much as we would not boast of our pious living, so much more should we boast of our pure doctrine.

  2. Catholics are Christians, just as much as Lutherans, Baptists, etc. We need to say that.

    Yes, our doctrine is more correct, but we need to stop with the whole “It is certainly POSSIBLE for a Catholic to be a Christian, as long as they trust in Christ…” It projects the whole “Only Lutherans are going to heaven” idea.

    Reminds me of a recent comment I heard from an LCMS pastor. He said he knew of a fellow LCMS pastor whose sister was an ELCA pastor. I said, “Well, at least they’re both Christians.” He was reluctant to agree with me!!!

    Also, I think putting 16th-century woodcuts depicting the Pope as Satan is not helping anyone, either.

    I also think it’s a bit much to attribute the current scandals in the Catholic Church to what the Council of Trent said about justification. Plenty of Protestant pastors and church staff have been caught in sexual sins of various kinds. Is there really a correlation between the amount of doctrinal error in a church body and the amount of sexual vice among its leadership? I doubt it’s that simple.

    Plus, allowing priests to marry won’t affect priests who are attracted to men, or those attracted to kids. It might mean the percentage of “normal” men in the priesthood would rise–not a bad thing in itself. But the priests with abnormal drives wouldn’t suddenly settle down with a good woman.

  3. @James Gibbs #3
    What of the very, pious Roman Catholic or decision theology Baptist who sincerely tries to follow their church’s theology with all their heart?

    Both are ultimately, albeit in different ways, trusting in themselves for salvation and will be told “I never knew you.”

    However, there are those who, despite what their churches teach, do trust in Christ for their salvation and lean not on their own understanding. This has been termed a felicitous inconsistency.

    So I agree with you that we shouldn’t act like only Lutherans will go to heaven, but neither should we act like it doesn’t matter. False teaching of any sort is dangerous and soul destroying.

  4. @James Gibbs #3

    What definition of “Christian” are you using? I provide the definition of Christian in the article. Both Lutherans and Roman Catholics would agree, that according to that definition, Roman Catholics are not Christians.

    The woodcut depicts the papacy as the antichrist. To this day, the papacy fits the description of the antichrist as given to us in holy Scripture.

  5. @Pastor Johannes Nieminen #6

    A Christian is someone who believes Jesus is the Son of God and trusts in him as their Savior.

    Even Rome denies that anyone can have merit in the absolute sense before God.

    The very same part of their cathechism you quote says this, too:

    “With regard to God, there is no strict right to any merit on the part of man. Between God and us there is an immeasurable inequality, for we have received everything from him, our Creator…the merit of good works is to be attributed in the first place to the grace of God…Man’s merit, moreover, itself is due to God, for his good actions proceed in Christ, from the predispositions and assistance given by the Holy Spirit…The merits of our good works are gifts of the divine goodness…Our merits are God’s gifts…Since the initiative belongs to God in the order of grace, no one can merit the initial grace of forgiveness and justification, at the beginning of conversion.”

    The idea that Rome teaches straight-up “earning your way to heaven” is a canard, just as the idea that Lutherans teach “You don’t have to do good works” is a myth.

    Also, by your definition, anyone who has ANY of his soteriology wrong is not a Christian. That’s absurd.

    If I (the good Methodist or Baptist, say) believe God enables me to freely accept his forgiveness in Christ (free will or prevenient grace), does that mean I’m not a Christian? Of course not. If someone gives me a gift, and I freely accept it, does that mean I “earned” the gift? No!

    Yet, according to Pieper (and you, probably), I am “making my own free will the source of my salvation.” Those are the people who, when hearing a fellow Christian say, “I accepted Jesus into my heart,” instead of rejoicing with the sister or brother, want to rush in and “correct” her or him on their theological terminology! Gaah!

    Not every Christian on the planet thinks of exactly how salvation occurs in the neat little categories (however helpful they may be to you or me) we think are so essential.

    Can that terminological vagueness lead them astray, ultimately? Sure. But, in the meantime, can’t we just acknowledge them as fellow believers?

    Let’s try to correct error, by all means. But let’s stop calling fellow Christians heathen in all but name, and let’s let the horrible polemical abuses of the 16th century die with it. No one wants to listen to someone calling their spiritual leader “Antichrist”!

    My own sister (raised in the bosom of the LCMS), converted to Catholicism as an adult. She once told me that the whole story of Luther and his personal struggles to find assurance of salvation did NOT comfort her. It alienated her! She said her mind didn’t and doesn’t grasp God in the same exact way Luther did.

    She also has said more than once that she does NOT think she earns her salvation in any way, but that everything is ultimately attributable to the grace of Christ.

    Are there lots of things she believes that I think are un-Biblical? Yes. Is she a Christian? No doubt in my mind.

    Antichrist, Satan–whatever. I don’t know Latin. You get my point.

    The identification of the Pope as Antichrist is a historical judgment, not dogma. Plus, anyone who can’t see obvious differences between the Popes of the Reformation and the Popes of today is spending too much time in the library.

  6. @James Gibbs #9

    Rome does add works to salvation as did those who were leading the Galatians astray. Read through Galatians. Notice how strongly Paul, by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, writes to them of the dangers of trusting in faith and works for salvation. “O foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you? I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting him who called you in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel. If someone teaches a different gospel, let him be accursed. Having begun by the Spirit, are you now being perfected in the flesh? All who rely on works of the law are under a curse. You are severed from Christ, you who would be justified by the law; you have fallen away from grace.” etc.

    These all apply to everyone who adds works to salvation, as does the Roman church. Yes, those who believe what the Roman church teaches have been bewitched. They have deserted the Gospel. They are under a curse. They are severed from Christ. They have fallen away from grace. That’s what the Holy Spirit says.

  7. @Pastor Johannes Nieminen #10

    Okay, fine. You think Catholic doctrine is an all-or-nothing proposition. We should assume any Catholic is not a Christian, unless proven otherwise.

    Obviously, I don’t agree. I think the portrait you paint of Catholicism (the actual people, not whatever the Council of Trent said ripped out of context) is a caricature of a flawed-but-Christian institution. Just as Luther himself had a real problem with Jewish people, but it is unfair to call the Lutheran church as a whole anti-Semitic.

    Let me ask you this: were the Galatians Paul wrote to Christians? Did being in spiritual danger from the Judaizers make them non-Christians, or mixed-up Christians?

    Is it possible to hold to error while still being a believer? Of course! Is remaining in error desirable? Of course not.

    What is the threshold? How much doctrinal error makes you an unbeliever?

    Catholics believe in the Trinity, in the bodily resurrection of Christ, and that Christ’s death saved mankind. They believe we can only be saved by God’s gracious action. They are Christians–their other, erroneous beliefs notwithstanding.

    “He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved.”

  8. @T-rav #4

    Not trying to “echo” you, but I agree with your last two paragraphs.

    “Decision theology”–I really doubt very many people who hold to it are actually thinking, “My trust is in my decision for Christ.” I think that they are simply thinking, “Christ is my Lord and Savior. I’m glad I chose him”

    As I said to Pastor Nieminen below (my #9), Rome’s teaching on grace and merit is not as simplistically works-oriented as many think.

    Speaking of which, I have a real problem with the idea that HOW we think about our salvation is something we have to get 100% right in our heads before we die, or we are doomed, doomed, doomed. I think the God we serve knows us better than that.

    What exactly did Abraham believe about the Trinity? Who knows? Had Cornelius died before Peter visited him, would he have gone to heaven? I think so.

    For that matter, did ANYONE go to heaven during the Middle Ages, that eon of papistic darkness? Again, I think God knows his own in every age, even if they don’t always articulate it with perfection.

  9. @St. Stephen #8

    Are “confessional” Lutherans who go to traditional-liturgy services on Sunday because they erroneously think “contemporary worship” is an abomination in the eyes of God Christians?

  10. @T-rav #5

    Thanks.

    Interesting how the original starting point of Pastor Nieminen’s post (the alleged link between Catholic doctrine and sex scandals) has gotten zero additional comments.

  11. @St. Stephen #15

    Sure they do.

    I found this comment on BJS after a very brief (about 45 seconds) Internet search:

    From “DCO Tom,” May 31, 2015 at 9:44 P.M.–“…Yes, and there were undoubtedly lots of self-described ‘orthodox’ Jews who attended the first recorded CoWo service in the history of the Church. You know, the one that took place at the foot of Mt. Sinai with the golden calf serving as celebrant.

    “Lest you think I am joking here, think again. The debacle that took place at Mt. Sinai has a great deal in common with CoWo in the LCMS: the Israelites incorporated the most vile elements of the surrounding culture into their worship practices, invoking the name of the Lord to add an air of legitimacy to what they were doing. The result was an entirely human-centered ABOMINATION [emphasis mine], as evidenced by the attendant debauchery.”

    The first “contemporary worship” service was the Golden Calf incident. Wow. That guy needs to take a few deep breaths, turn off his computer, and get out more.

  12. @James Gibbs #12

    This gets dicey when it just becomes an academic exercise that doesn’t quite play out as black and white as we think. This isn’t about being in the wrong Church as it is being subjected to the potential for damaging despair.

    On the Roman Catholic side, Mother Theresa is an example of someone who from what I’ve read from her (not about her) was deeply troubled spiritually and didn’t have trust in Christ. And it is because of what Pastor N. wrote, when faith in Christ is obscured by what we have to do, we enter shaky ground. I’ve understood her life to be a picture of what would have happened to Luther had he not had the pure Gospel revealed to him.

    On the decision theology side, there are countless stories about people who commit to the Lord. They find themselves not improving spiritually and/or morally. They think they’ve fallen away or not *really* believed. So what do they do? they answer the altar call again and again, or get baptized again and again, constantly looking inside themselves. I’ve sadly seen it. This is incredibly damaging spiritually. On the reality of this and the next paragraph I’d reconmend a lecture called “The Gospel for those broken by the Church.”

    On the double predestination side, the sign that one is elect is a godly life. So people strive and work to make their calling and election sure. This also has the potential to destroy a person’s assurance and consign them to despair.

    On the Charismatic side, not speaking in tongues means that one isn’t a real Christian, but a lesser Christian. Imagine the damage this can do and does do to people considered and treated as such.

    The potential to despair is because other churches don’t have the pure Gospel that truly frees us.

    Does this mean everyone in those churches are going to hell? Thanks be to God no! That’s the felicitous inconsistency. Despite the false teaching theres enough Gospel that people can be saved.

    I’ve always liked the saying that it’s not only Lutherans who go to heaven, but everyone in heaven will confess Lutheran theology.

  13. @James Gibbs #14

    I believe a link is there. However, I don’t think it’s the sole reason by any means.

    As I think it was you who pointed out, churches where pastors can marry have had their troubles too.

    There’s another issue that gets rare mention. The pastoral office is often thought to be a refuge by those running from sinful desires of various kinds. “If I just become a priest/pastor, I t’ll all be better.” But it’s often not.

  14. @T-rav #17

    I tend to agree with you. I think some people naturally have a somewhat morbidly introspective temperament that is conducive to unhealthy dwelling on arguments that can lead people astray. Satan is great at exploiting our weaknesses (obviously).

  15. @Pastor Johannes Nieminen #10

    Rev. Nieminen:

    Do not adult confirmands of congregations in the LCMS publicly subscribe to the Lutheran Confessions as the correct exposition of the Bible at their confirmations?

    Isn’t the “Treatise on the Power and Primacy of the Pope” part of the Lutheran Confessions?

    Do we only subscribe to the Small Catechism and ignore all else?

    Also, do we as Christians trust God’s Word by faith as given by the Holy Spirit, or partly by faith and something else?

    Thanks

  16. It’s helpful to remember what “antichrist” really means. “Antichrist” is a transliteration of αντιχριστος, hence antichrist. But in English, “anti” means something different than the preposition “αντι” in Greek. In English, anti means against, opposed to. It’s the opposite of “pro”. Yet, that’s not what the Greek preposition “αντι (anti)” means. The Greek means “in place of”. And the Roman pontiff is most certainly guilty of this. He has placed himself, his traditions above the Word of God. Romans will say that the Pope and Tradition are equal to the Word, but where they conflict, it is the Word that is forced to bend to Rome’s will. This is why we call the office of the Pope the antichrist, not because it’s an openly demonic thing, but because the office has declared that no one can come to Jesus except through it. It has declared itself the sole access to the grace of God, and that no one can be saved outside of it. That’s why it still is the office of an antichrist.

  17. Well, regardless of the Greek (a language I have never studied), the connotation of the very term, “Antichrist,” is extremely negative. I think that we would win over more Catholics to Lutheranism if we simply focused on true teaching (e.g., honor Mother Mary for what she did), tried to gently but clearly dispel error (e.g., explained why God wants us to pray to Christ, not his mother), and avoided overheated rhetoric. If we go around loudly proclaiming “The Pope is the Antichrist,” we will be written off as nuts! The polemic style of the 16th century doesn’t really fly in the 21st!

    As far as Rome making tradition equal to Scripture, well–the Orthodox do that, too. Even Lutherans sometimes “teach as doctrines the commandments of men,” as when the “worship wars” cause some to demand a particular style of worship as divinely commanded.

    Rome does not say the Pope or the Church is “above the Word of God.” They view the Pope and the bishops (the Magisterium) as the divinely-appointed interpreter of Sacred Scripture (the written Word) and Sacred Tradition (the unwritten Word). They deny the Protestant principle of each Christian being free to read and interpret the Bible for herself or himself.

    Rome doesn’t really teach that “no one can be saved outside of [the Pope]”. See https://www.catholic.com/magazine/print-edition/what-no-salvation-outside-the-church-means They teach that sincere Protestants, or even sincere pagans who “do their best,” can be saved.

  18. @James Gibbs #9

    > Antichrist, Satan–whatever. I don’t know Latin. You get my point.
    > Greek (a language I have never studied)
    > I
    > I
    > I

    I don’t think your point is what you think it is.

    Editorial suggestion: start every paragraph with “I feel.”

  19. @mbw #24

    Not sure what you mean by that.

    There is more “diversity” (for lack of a better term) in Catholic teaching than the official Church spokesmen like to admit.

    A good example is Pope Francis recently saying “the Gospel” absolutely prohibits the death penalty for any reason, even though this goes directly contrary to many other statements over the years.

    They dance around these things by invoking infallible vs. ordinary teaching, the development of doctrine, etc. Gee–maybe they aren’t as certain of some things as they like to sound–kind of like…Protestants?! 😉

    I remember my mom (a devout Lutheran) admiring Fulton Sheen back in the Fifties. A lot of what he had to say was, indeed, admirable (from what I’ve read). Not all of it.

  20. @mbw #25

    Didn’t read this comment until after your #24.

    Now that I have read this, you can crawl back under your bridge until you mature a little.

    Show me some respect, and I’ll show you some.

  21. @James Gibbs #27

    > Show me some respect, and I’ll show you some.

    No thanks; not wanted! You are spewing volumes of ignorance as you stir up vain arguments with good pastors.

    Hitting the Steadfast “Block” button now! Have an enlightening day – eventually!

  22. @mbw #28

    Okay, fine. You don’t want to give me a decent answer–just more abuse. What did I do to you?

    “They will know we are Christians by our love,” right? Wow–after your treatment, I really want to learn more about your church. Not!

  23. @James Gibbs #11

    James, you are mischaracterizing my criticism of Roman teaching as an attack on members of the Roman church. As I explicitly state in my article, this is about the false doctrine they teach.

    Yes, we must take everyone at their confession since we cannot read hearts. If someone tells me they are Roman Catholic, it is fair to take them at their confession, just as if they tell me they are Lutheran I take them at their word.

    Among the church in Galatia, there quite certainly must have been Christians. However, as Paul says, those who believed the error of adding works to faith were not. How can you take “severed from Christ,” “under a curse,” deserters of Christ,” and “fallen from grace” to indicate that they are Christians? You cannot. It is explicitly clear that those who followed this error were not Christians.

    It is possible to hold error and be a Christian, absolutely. But you cannot rely partly or wholly on your works and be a Christian. Scripture is clear. The very definition of being a Christian is relying wholly on Christ’s atoning death for salvation. You quote Mark 16:16. Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved. Whoever believes – this includes those in the Roman church that believe the Gospel. However, the Roman church, in its doctrine, denies the Gospel because they add works to it.

  24. @James Gibbs #14

    Sticking even with one topic to discuss at a time seems to be difficult, so I thought I’d focus on the main issue. The gist of my argument is that without the Gospel and the Holy Spirit, there cannot be but an evil life.

    About marriage in relation to homosexual clergy in the Roman church, I mention I Cor. 7 where God says that marriage curbs sexual immorality, and point to the Roman church’s doctrine of ordination as a sacrament and wonder how much this is a draw to homosexuals, especially if they are struggling with their sin. That second point is probably more important in the discussions.

  25. @Pastor Johannes Nieminen #30

    You are right that Rome mingles works with faith. There is serious error there, no doubt about it.

    But I still think it unfair to be reluctant to “admit” that Catholics are our fellow Christians, full stop. And I still think calling the Pope the Antichrist is counterproductive.

  26. @Pastor Johannes Nieminen #31

    I don’t think I can accept the idea that non-Christians do nothing but sin.

    There are too many noble and heroic actions out there being performed by non-Christians. (There are plenty of non-Christian men not cheating on their wives, for example.)

    Actions speak louder than words.

    If this means I don’t accept fully Luther’s ideas about the depravity of man, then so be it. I’m already a heretic to everyone here, anyway, since I think the universe isn’t 6,000 years old.

    I do agree with you that the Gospel and the Holy Spirit make a tremendous difference in a person. Sometimes, earth-shakingly so, such as in the case of Saul/Paul!

    Maybe the good works non-Christians do is worked in some mysterious way by the Spirit!

    Do gay men sometimes pursue the priesthood as a way of dealing with their issues? Maybe so. And I’m not certain some of them don’t wind up as crackerjack priests, in their way– if they remain chaste.

    There are more Christian folks out there nobly and more-or-less-successfully dealing with homosexual temptation than many realize. God be with them!

  27. @James Gibbs #33

    Unbelievers can do works which appear good in the eyes of man, but Romans 14:23 says, “Whatever does not proceed from faith is sin.” Therefore, unbelievers cannot do anything but sin. That is not to say that there are no unbelievers who live externally disciplined lives; there certainly are – they also have been given a conscience by God even though they don’t have faith. Neither is it to say that believers never fall into sin – we are fallen and continually need forgiveness.

  28. I recently read with disgust the blog where Pastor Niemenin blames the Catholic church’s doctrine for for the abuse of children by priests. Let me start by saying that I am not Catholic, although my wife is. I have been a member of the LCMS my entire life; grandfather and 2 uncles were LCMS pastors, parents both attended Concordia Seward, both taught in Lutheran schools and my father at Concordia for almost 40 years. I grew up in Seward spent much time at the college and attended St John Lutheran School through 9th grade. We got daily religious instruction, and monthly chapel along with Sunday religious classes. I know LCMS theology and doctrine well. We had an amazing music and theological education and many highly respected, by parents and students, christian role models for teachers. Two of the most highly respected, and loved by the students, also happened to rape little boys. Students of the school, not sure how many, the abuse started shortly after or about the time I graduated 9th grade. It went on for at least 4 or more years and there is no way of knowing how many victims there were or how many of their colleges turned a blind eye to this. One I know of committed suicide a few years later as did one of the aforementioned teachers.
    When we grew up in Lutheran parochial school we were taught “Jesus wants me to obey”. We knew this meant God expected unquestioned subservience to all adults especially teachers, clergy, parents. Only by the grace of God, and the fact our dad was a badass, did my brother and I avoid this abuse; we would have been easy marks. Any faith tradition or doctrine which espouses this kind of unquestioned obedience risks abuse by adults in authority and it is seen in schools as well as most organized religions.
    My question to Pastor Nieminen is what doctrinal flaw in LCMS theology caused this situation? How does our Lutheran church tacitly condone or encourage this?
    Maybe in the future, when you are sitting in your study, before you hypocritically pass judgement you should get up, look in the mirror and take the log out of your eye.

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