Tuesday, February 20, 2007

ReformedCatholicism.com Once Again Displays its Profound "Ecumenism" by Bashing Lutheranism


[Kevin Johnson's words will be in blue, "Pirate's" in green, and Michael Pahls' in orange]

Reformed Catholicism.com - that curious example of an odd Reformed (i.e., Calvinist) analogical equivalent of Newman's Oxford Movement, is at it again. Over the past few years, I have observed this forum bashing Catholics, Catholic converts, Cardinal Newman, Catholic apologetics and apologists, "Anabaptists" (either the actual historical ones or those deemed to be their legatees), and Reformed Baptists: all the while purporting to be profoundly ecumenical and tolerant, in a way that many of us are supposedly not (because we - whether Catholic or Protestant or Orthodox - dare to outrageously adhere to some Christian communion and defend doctrinal distinctives). Now the latest target is traditional Lutheranism.

Just for the sake of the record, here are some examples of bashing in this forum (I've noted these in a past post), from the leading writer, Rev. Kevin Johnson:

There is no such thing as "religious conversions". We convert to Christ and a "leap of faith" in Christ is completely appropriate.
* * *

. . . you didn't bother to respond to the substance of my remarks regarding the lack of any biblical warrant to switch communions and in doing so term it "conversion" and the additional fact that conversion is a matter of coming to Christ, not coming to another church.


* * *

Let's just be honest about what it means to "convert to Rome". This post does that - you've made an assumption and that's all that there is to it. My hope is that there's enough honesty on the part of "converts" and "apologists" to admit that such is the case instead of blog entries full of "these are my reasons for joining the Catholic Church".
* * *

Isn't this marvelously tolerant and ecumenical? Someone (a Protestant) decides to convert to Catholicism, and Kevin, in his wisdom, informs us that there can't possibly be any honest reason for them to do so. It must be an exercise in self-delusion . . . But of course if someone decides to be a "Reformed Catholic": an ethereal, make-it-up-as-you-go notion that is hardly even concretized in an actual communion at all, then that is elitist spiritual profundity.

Despite this sort of claptrap on the site (and much more documented below), Kevin claimed on 2-20-07:
The idea that we're out to bash anyone or any group is simply wrong-headed and doesn't comport with the overall aims of this site. Now, I'm not saying we're perfect but expressing disagreement with people either straightforwardly or even with the use of satire is simply not equivalent to "bashing".


We observe the same bashing mentality, nevertheless, in the derision of Cardinal Newman (who is a whipping-boy precisely because he asserts one particular standpoint: the Catholic one, over against the Protestant, and so is anathema to the oh-so-tolerant folks at Reformed Catholicism.com):
. . . Newman's thesis . . . answers none of our more important concerns stated here and elsewhere and is generally irrelevant to any discussion as to the truth claims of Rome.

* * *

As such the use of Newman and his works by Rome's apologists (Internet-enabled or not) or recent "converts" is just an exercise in futility and borders on being dishonest about the true nature of the question.


At least one of the other contributors was apparently embarrassed enough by this silliness to backtrack from this extreme position and distance himself from it, in (so it seems to me) a barely-disguised attempt at spin and damage control. Rev. Michael Pahls (having written about Newman earlier on the blog), did this, in comments underneath [X]'s post ("I probably wouldn't use the word 'irrelevant' when characterizing my own position"), and his paper, A Modest Proposal (3-4-06):I think that we could benefit one another a great deal through a more humble and precise phrasing of our ideas.

But Pahls, too, succumbed, in turn, to some extraordinarily misinformed Newman-bashing of his own:

While Newman is incredibly important in that he opened the door for us to speak of real theological development, his views do not represent the current state of the question in either Roman Catholicism or in Protestantism. If anything, Vatican II represents a step away from Newman's conception of "development as such." Folks who are offended by this can take it up with reputable Roman theologians from De Lubac to Tillard to Schillebeeckx.


I dismantled this fiction (particularly that the notorious liberal Schillebeeckx is more relevant to the Catholic understanding of the development of doctrine than Newman) in my paper, Rectification of Some Elements of Michael J. Pahls' article on "Development By Rectification" (+ Discussion).

Ironically, however, Kevin Johnson seems to have a quite different impression of Catholics (maybe it's because all the wild-eyed, convert-apologist,"fundamentalist" ones like myself were banned from the blog):
I gotta say, whatever criticisms we do give to Rome, Catholics on the whole are in my opinion far more even-handed, fair-minded, and willing to receive appropriate disagreement and even criticism of either their views or the state of the Roman Communion than what has happened in this conversation.

(2-20-07)

But enough of historical background.
The new whipping-boy now is not Catholics or Catholic converts or Cardinal Newman or apologists or Baptists, but Lutherans. I think it is important to document this, because it speaks volumes. Kevin Johnson stated (already perhaps doing a bit of damage control himself):

You know what…this post was a joke . . . no insults were ever intended . . . I think the discussion's gotten quite out of hand. Shuttin' it down, I think.

(2-19-07)

I wasn't being exact in my criticisms of Lutheran this or that because it was (as the topic points out) "all in good fun" . . . But the solution is not to continue to accuse or wrangle and so for my part I'm dropping this discussion and getting back to more important matters.

(2-20-07)

Here is the entire original post (dated 2-19-07):

Pirate Becomes Our Token Lutheran

Filed under: All In Good Fun

After the mysterious disappearance of Josh, our previous Token Lutheran - we've been searching for someone who demonstrates the quintessential categories of our "Token Lutheran": 1) seriously misrepresenting the arguments and positions of others, 2) being almost always wrong, and 3) practicing the most absurd sectarian point of view in agreement with Donatists and other oddball groups that have afflicted orthodox Christians since the Church has graced this planet.

And our search is over!

Here's how our new Token Lutheran qualifies:

Pirate, at the BHT [i.e., Boar's Head Tavern], is running around frantically claiming that I'm endorsing the Assumption of Mary as a universal tradition of the Church and therefore advocating its status as "honored and received" by Christians. Of course, I never said that and I challenge Captain Hook to come up with any quote from my online writings that would put forward what he claims.

Secondly, someone somewhere has said that Pirate is a Lutheran seminary student and as a result that makes him almost always wrong. We believe this assertion and leave it to Pirate to demonstrate otherwise!
Last, what is more sectarian than the sort of closed communion Pirate advocates? Fill out a card appropriately-making sure you can define and endorse consubstantiation, deny transubstantiation, call all Calvinists and their understanding of the Supper heretics and heresy, do the hokie pokie, turn yourself around, that’s what it's all about?

I mean…what's left, only Lutheran baptisms are going to be valid? Please.

All of this enables us to give Pirate the coveted status of "Token Lutheran".

The tradition here is long-standing and Pirate has big shoes to fill. We wish him well and much success - I’m sure we'll see more misrepresentation, views chocked full of Lutheran-like errors, and a sectarianism that would make the Donatists proud. Pure Lutheranism. Pure Christianity. It's practically anabaptist!
Wow. Is not the insult obvious? That's why Lutherans who have commented have not taken kindly to these remarks at all. Yet Kevin is clueless as to what the fuss is all about. I guess sometimes one must be on the receiving end of criticisms (even supposedly purely jesting ones) to feel the offense at what is implied. Note Kevin's insinuations:
1. Lutherans are those who are known for "seriously misrepresenting the arguments and positions of others".

2. Lutherans are "almost always wrong."

3. Lutherans are renowned as "practicing the most absurd sectarian point of view in agreement with Donatists and other oddball groups that have afflicted orthodox Christians"

[a manifest untruth in light of efforts such as the Joint Lutheran-Catholic Accord on Justification, etc.; this also draws a ridiculous distinction between Lutherans and "orthodox Christians" as if the former are flat-out heretics by Protestant criteria]

4. Lutheran (specifically LCMS) closed communion represents the height of sectarianism ("what is more sectarian . . .").

[closed communion makes perfect biblical and logical sense. I defended it in a paper. I suspect Lutherans would largely agree with the rationale given]

5. Lutheranism is supposedly "practically anabaptist."

[sheer nonsense; Anabaptists were known for their purely symbolic views of the Eucharist and baptism. Calvinists and Zwinglians far more resemble the Anabaptists than Lutherans do]
Kevin had "joked" earlier, on 2-13-07:But hey, as he mentioned, part of being catholic and Lutheran (because, really, you can't be just catholic!) is being able to disavow almost any tradition of the entire Church when called upon to report in as necessary.

And in comments:
[T]he sectarian sort of closed communion in conservative Lutheran churches today is at least as far from apostolic practice and theology as ANY Roman aberration concerning Mary. Times two. Infinity and then some!!!


(2-13-07)

Pirate: on closed communion, the point is not that they kept the table properly fenced or not . . . the point is that Lutherans have no apostolic witness backing up their claim that 1) one must have a Lutheran understanding of the sacrament to be able to partake in Lutheran churches or 2) be a member of a Lutheran church to partake.

(2-13-07)

I have to disagree again with this argument, based on biblical data that I discussed in my aforementioned paper on closed communion:
Christian unity in Jesus Christ is supremely important, but so also is doctrinal agreement across the board, according to Paul's statement: ". . . one Lord, one faith, one baptism" (Eph 4:5). Now, if someone wishes to argue that this "faith" (Gk. pistis) is simply referring to trust in God and personal commitment to Jesus, as opposed to a doctrinal meaning, as I would contend (for this passage), Greek scholar Kittel's Theological Dictionary of the New Testament (abridged, one-volume edition) disagrees:
The Faith. Paul can call the message itself pistis. As such, pistis is a principle, e.g., in contrast to law (Rom. 3:31; cf. 3:27: the law of faith). Along these lines pistis is Christianity either as being a Christian or as the Christian message or teaching (cf. Gal. 6:10; 1:23). Acts 6:7 and Eph. 4:5 offer similar uses, and cf. 1 Tim 3:9; 4:1,6. Orthodox doctrine is pistis in Jude 3, 20 and 2 Pet. 1:1. The phrases in 1 Tim. 1:2,4; 2:7; Titus 1:1,4; 3:5 are to the same effect.
Looking at some of the cross-references listed, we see this clearly (RSV):
Acts 6:7: . . . a great many of the priests were obedient to the faith.

Galatians 1:23: . . . He . . . is now preaching the faith he once tried to destroy.

1 Timothy 1:2: To Timothy, my true child in the faith . . .

1 Timothy 3:9: they must hold the mystery of the faith with a clear conscience.

1 Tim 4:1: . . . some will depart from the faith by giving heed to deceitful spirits and doctrines of demons.

1 Tim 4:6: . . . nourished on the words of the faith and of the good doctrine which you have followed.

Titus 1:4: To Titus, my true child in a common faith . . .

Jude 3: . . . contend for the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints.
Thus, this one verse offers a clear connection of at least one of the sacraments (baptism) with acceptance of a common set of doctrines: itself (i.e., one faith or tradition) something taught repeatedly by the Apostle Paul elsewhere:

[1 Corinthians 15:1-2, 2 Thessalonians 2:15, 2 Thessalonians 3:6, 2 Timothy 1:13-14, 2 Timothy 2:2]

No relative truths, or central vs. secondary Christian truths, or denominations here; there is but one doctrine, and one accepts it in its entirety or not. Now, if a person argues that this doesn't apply to the Eucharist, I have to disagree again, because Paul is very clear in 1 Cor 10:16 and 11:27-30 that he regards the Eucharist as the literal Body and Blood of Christ. In the second passage he says that anyone partaking unworthily "will be guilty of profaning the body and blood of the Lord."

That's not to say that disbelief in the Real Presence is such unworthy partaking itself, but rather, that Paul himself considered the Eucharist the literal Body and Blood, which is the only way to account for a profanation of it, as it is difficult to be "guilty of profaning" Jesus' Body if the Eucharist is a mere symbol. Therefore, the Real Presence is part of the apostolic deposit of faith which Paul passed down and urged people to accept in faith, in its entirety.

Moreover, in the context of the eucharistic Pauline passages, we also see his concern for doctrinal and familial unity in the Body of Christ. Six verses before one of these passages Paul writes:
But in the following instructions I do not commend you, because when you come together it is not for the better but for the worse. For, in the first place, when you assemble as a church, I hear that there are divisions among you; and I partly believe it, for there must be factions among you in order that those who are genuine among you may be recognized.

(1 Cor 11:17-19)
Fifteen verses before this passage, Paul mentioned apostolic traditions:
1 Corinthians 11:2: I commend you because you remember me in everything and maintain the traditions even as I have delivered them to you.
And in the very next verse after his strong statement of the Real Presence, Paul talks about unity also:
The cup of blessing which we bless, is it not a participation in the blood of Christ? The bread which we break, is it not a participation in the body of Christ? Because there is one bread, we who are many are one body, for we all partake of the one bread. (1 Cor 10:16-17)
1 Corinthians 11:2 above occurs 17 verses after this passage. It is all of a piece: doctrinal unity, unity in love, and partaking of the Eucharist. The Catholic view, then, as we see, is eminently biblical: there is one faith, and the Eucharist, as a symbol of this doctrinal unity, is the actual Body and Blood. That is the received faith. If someone doesn't believe this, they shouldn't partake of the Eucharist, because that is the central rite of the Christian faith, which from the beginning held that the consecrated bread and wine were transformed miraculously into the Body and Blood. Jesus taught the same in John 6 (see especially John 6:53, which ties such a belief to spiritual "life" itself).
But Kevin (as people often do when they lack facts and opt for mere sophistical effect) decided to caricature Lutheranism and the notion of closed communion again:No one sat around in the second century and said, "Dang, Maximus, you have a faulty understanding of consubstantiation and besides that you have no German roots, so you can’t take communion with us today".

The point is not that one grasps fine philosophical distinctions and technical theology (St. Paul himself didn't write about all that), but whether the Eucharist involves a real, substantial presence or only a symbolic or "mystical" one (Zwinglian / Baptist, and Calvinist notions, respectively). It makes no sense to allow people to partake, therefore, in a church that accepts Real Presence, if the recipient does not agree. It makes a mockery of the sacrament. "Pirate" reiterates basically the same idea (I hadn't read it when I wrote what I did above):
[T]he claim is that one must profess the orthodox faith to commune at the table. Closed communion is understood in terms of catechesis and orthodox confession, not association with a peculiar historico-cultural identity. That's basically how the early church understood it. We really do not believe Calvinists are orthodox, as shocking as this may sound to you. It's not a "faulty understanding of consubstantiation and no German roots."

(2-13-07)

Lutheran John H also gets it exactly right, in my opinion:
It's not about having "the right mental stuff in your head", it's about this: the pastor says, "Receive the true body of our Lord Jesus Christ, receive the true blood of our Lord Jesus Christ". Do you believe that or don't you?
If you don't believe that, then by participating you are not merely having the wrong theory about what is going on, you are publicly proclaiming a lie by saying amen to something you do not believe.
That is why questions about the young, the mentally incapable, the indifferently catechised etc are red herrings: the issue here is with people whose are actively and consciously rejecting what is confessed at a Lutheran altar: that the bread is the body of Christ and the wine is his blood, physically present with us.
(2-14-07)
"Pirate" replied at "BHT":See, for Calvinists, it's an article of confession that Lutherans are blithering idiots and therefore should only be insulted, never spoken to on a critical level. We're too mind-numbingly retarded to appreciate the beauty, brilliance, and subtlety of Calvin's Holy Eucharistic Mystery, so how could anything above 4th-grade rhetoric be comprehensible to our puny brains? Most Calvinists seem to genuinely believe that if you insult someone's intelligence and education enough, you'll eventually convince him of the correctness of your position. This has been a fairly consistent pattern since Calvin's puerile rhetoric in the Consensus Tigurinus.

The latter 1549 document, drawn up by Calvin and Bullinger, characterizes Lutheran and Catholic eucharistic beliefs (the former italicized below) as follows:

Article 24. Transubstantiation and Other Follies.

In this way are refuted not only the fiction of the Papists concerning transubstantiation, but all the gross figments and futile quibbles which either derogate from his celestial glory or are in some degree repugnant to the reality of his human nature. For we deem it no less absurd to place Christ under the bread or couple him with the bread, than to transubstantiate the bread into his body.
"Pirate" further replies at RefCath.com:

In Lutheran theology, the problem with Reformed churches is that the eucharistic doctrine, doctrine of the two natures, the Five Points, and widespread denial of baptismal regeneration taught among them militate against the pure preaching of the Gospel.

He is definitely correct in the first, third, and fourth points. I'm not familiar with the Lutheran-Reformed arguments with regard to the second, and so refrain from commenting on that, but if it has to do with the particulars that I suspect, I would agree with the Lutherans again.
I like how your new attitude is "Since I discovered you're Lutheran, I can just mock you rather than talking to you." Good job on fitting the Calvinist stereotype to a T.
You need to practice your insulting, demeaning rhetoric toward Christians in denominations you have no respect for.
* * *

Kevin shot back:

The assertion that his religion is the oldest Protestant movement is absurd and anachronistic.

Really? What is older in Protestantism than Lutheranism? As far as I know, most historians trace the beginning of the Protestant "Reformation" to Luther and the 95 theses. After all, "Reformation Day" is on the date that that happened (31 October 1517). So "Pirate" is again correct and Kevin full of vinegar.

But (on a related historical note), Kevin is more correct than "Pirate" about the Assumption and tradition. It was so widely believed that even some of the early Protestant leaders continued to espouse belief in it. An argument can be made that Luther himself never denied it. In 1522 he preached on the feast of the Assumption, and seemed to take the belief for granted, but noted that it was not a dogmatic article of faith [WA, 10, III, 268].

Later he took a dimmer view, but this doesn't necessarily mean that he denied the thing itself. I haven't found that to be the case, and I've done some very in-depth research on Luther's Mariology. Luther also accepted the Immaculate Conception of Mary his entire life, according to a great many Lutheran and Catholic historians and Luther scholars. In any event, even if the later Luther denied it, his earlier retention shows that it was certainly part of received Christian tradition.

For example, Lutheran scholar Eric W. Gritsch, who was a major translator in the 55-volume English set of the works of Luther (edited by Jaroslav Pelikan), affirms Luther's espousal of the Assumption of Mary:
In a similar vein Luther affirmed Mary's assumption into heaven but did not consider it to be of benefit to others or accomplished in any special way.

[footnote 44; p. 382: "Sermon on the Festival of the Assumption, August 15, 1522. WA 10/3:269.12-13. Sermon on the Festival of the Visitation (preached on the same date). August 15, 1522. WA 52:681.27-31."]

(in The One Mediator, the Saints, and Mary, Lutherans and Catholics in Dialogue VIII, edited by H. George Anderson, J. Francis Stafford, Joseph A. Burgess, Minneapolis: Augsburg Fortress Press, 1992, 241)
The "Common Statement" in the same book, from twelve Lutheran and ten Catholic scholars, stated:
(89) Luther preached on the Assumption . . . There were early Lutheran pastors who affirmed the Assumption as both evangelical and Lutheran.

(p. 55)
Moreover, Zurich during Zwingli's tenure continued to observe the Feast of the Assumption on August 15th (we know this from the Acts of the Council in March 1526 and March 1530). Zwingli's successor, the Calvinist Heinrich Bullinger, expressly affirmed the Assumption in 1568:
Elijah was transported body and soul in a chariot of fire; he was not buried in any Church bearing his name, but mounted up to heaven, so that . . . we might know what immortality and recompense God prepares for his faithful prophets and for his most outstanding and incomparable creatures . . . It is for this reason, we believe, that the pure and immaculate embodiment of the Mother of God, the Virgin Mary, the Temple of the Holy Spirit, that is to say her saintly body, was carried up to heaven by the angels.

(From Max Thurian, Mary: Mother of all Christians, translated by Neville B. Cryer, New York: Herder & Herder, 1963, 197-198 / written in 1568, De Origine Erroris, 16)
BWL, another Lutheran, with whom I have had cordial relations, wrote at RefCath.com:
[I]f anything violates the "universal tradition" of the Church, it's the Eucharistic theology of Zwingli and Calvin along with the rejection of baptismal regeneration that seems common in Reformed circles today (I have family that have drifted from the SBC into said circles). One of the things that drove me out of generic Evangelicalism in general and the SBC specifically was realizing that Zwingli's eucharistic theology differs little from the ancient gnostics.

Sorry, but the LCMS [Lutheran Church, Missouri Synod], the RC and the EO all have good reasons for not allowing the Reformed to take communion. It's not just a matter of semantics, it's a first-order doctrinal matter. I can't see why the Reformed would want to take communion in the LCMS, though. I find the thought of taking communion at say a SBC or PCA church horrifying. The fact that Reformed and generic Evangelical types get so easily offended by closed communion just reinforces my conviction that 1) they simply don't take the sacraments that seriously (my SBC church only had communion four times a year on a Sunday night) and 2) they simply haven't thought things through about what taking communion in an LCMS means i.e. do you REALLY believe it is the true body and blood of Christ?

Sorry for the rant. This is an interesting blog, but I've seen this complaints against Lutherans like Pirate before and I'm not buying them.
"Pirate" continued:
Luther's reformation began prior to Zwingli's. Further, the confessional basis of the Lutheran Church is older than any Reformed confession. I'm being neither absurd nor anachronistic.
Seriously, mocking me instead of talking to me isn't scoring you any points.
He's correct on both points, of course.

Let's not make this personal. There is NO point. And STOP mocking my church's eucharistic practice if you're not going to direct the same verbal poison at the Catholic and Orthodox communions, or at least explain what's not sectarian about drawing fellowship boundaries around the points above.

He's right again. Kevin Johnson's selective condemnations involve a double standard. But KJ replies:

Honestly, Pirate, you’re taking all this too seriously . . . 

In point of fact, Calvin and MANY other continental Reformers worked very hard to remain in union with the Lutherans. After all, as I pointed out to you in another post, Calvin did sign the Augsburg Confession.
But arguing the details of your bombastic replies is really unnecessary. Most of our readers here are familiar enough with the history of the Reformation to know that your comments are just absolutely ridiculous.

In fact, it was Calvin's (and Zwingli's) departure from Lutheranism (and far more radical dissent from received Catholic tradition) on eucharistic theology, that arguably brought about much more inter-Protestant division than was necessary. John Calvin didn't think much at all of Lutheranism's view of the Holy Eucharist:
. . . if Luther has so great a lust of victory, he will never be able to join along with us in a sincere agreement respecting the pure truth of God. For he has sinned against it not only from vainglory and abusive language, but also from ignorance and the grossest extravagance. For what absurdities he pawned upon us in the beginning, when he said the bread is the very body!

And if now he imagines that the body of Christ is enveloped by the bread, I judge that he is chargeable with a very foul error. What can I say of the partisans of that cause? Do they not romance more wildly than Marcion respecting the body of Christ? . . .

(Letter to Martin Bucer, January 12, 1538; in John Dillenberger, editor, John Calvin: Selections From His Writings, Garden City, NY: Doubleday & Co. / Anchor Books, 1971, 47; Calvin’s letter to Martin Bucer in 1538 was translated by Marcus Robert Gilchrist)
Calvin was always very concerned about the public perception of Protestantism. He was discreet and wise in public pronouncements but he didn't hide his true opinions in private:
In their madness they even drew idolatry after them. For what else is the adorable sacrament of Luther but an idol set up in the temple of God?

(Letter to Martin Bucer, June 1549; in Jules Bonnet, editor, editor, John Calvin: Selected Works of John Calvin: Tracts and Letters: Letters, Part 2, 1545-1553, volume 5 of 7; translated by David Constable; Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1983; reproduction of Letters of John Calvin, volume II {Philadelphia: Presbyterian Board of Publication, 1858}, p. 234)
He once described Luther as a dreaded "half-papist". Note the scornful way he characterizes Lutheranism in 1563 (after his friend Melanchthon's death):
I am carefully on the watch that Lutheranism gain no ground, nor be introduced into France. The best means, believe me, for checking the evil would be that confession written by me . . .

(Letter to Heinrich Bullinger, July 2, 1563; in Dillenberger, ibid., 76; emphasis added)
Yep; very tolerant and ecumenical. We can see that Calvin was quite open to institutional unity with his "evil" Lutheran brethren. "Pirate" (somewhat hypocritically, given his own extreme rhetoric about Catholics, yet rightly), observed:

[Y]our language is too personal. . . . When you start attaching insulting epithets to me or use inflammatory rhetoric about me personally (advocate of sectarian Lutheranism), you're going too far.
You also make it impossible to engage with you in any serious dialogue. You've already cut off any serious conversation about ecumenism, Catholicism, the Reformation, the sacraments, ELCA vs LCMS, liturgy and tradition, etc. by your complete mockery of me and my supposed stance on or knowledge of these issues.
. . . Your understanding of Lutheran-Reformed relations seems to be flawed. There wasn't a union to be preserved, . . . There was occasionally an attempted union, and later, in 1815, the Calvinists in control of the Prussian government forced a union at gunpoint, but the Lutheran and Reformed churches are not branches of the same movements. Even at Augsburg, Bucer did not sign the Augustana but presented his own confession.

. . . Later on, Calvinists got better at masking their beliefs with conciliatory language about a vague "real presence" that manages to never be about the bread and wine, but the damage had been done by 1580.

I know the history of the Reformation well enough to know that your view is decidedly partisan and pretending that your perspective and impressions are the only reasonable look at these issues does nothing but work against you in trying to establish any sort of serious dialogue.

I’m not impossible to dialogue with (if this web site shows anything) and I’m happy to talk with you even now. I’m just not going to let your bluster and ill-informed attempts to skew the history of the Reformation, my own views on these matters, or the theology of Calvin and others without noting how inappropriate it is.
And, yes, I've imbibed a bit in satire in approaching you but you continue to make brash statements that in my view do nothing but provide the very invitation for the treatment which you are decrying. Perhaps reasonable men will differ on the legitimacy of doing so, but if you are going to engage in any sort of serious dialogue here that takes into account the position that myself or others put forward against your own, you must realize that we’re not just going to roll over and play dead just because you carry strong opinions to the contrary.

My Lutheran friend CPA opined:
I could get really annoyed with the mockery of our LCMS closed communion practices . . . but I think I'll let them have their fun.
After all the LCMS may have a lot of problems, but at least she has one important attribute the church Kevin (and Peter and Jonathan) believe in doesn't: existence.
This is a crucial point: Lutherans at least have a sense of historical continuity (to 1517). This "Reformed Catholicism" movement of maybe 200 people (if that) can hardly be remotely taken seriously in any institutional sense. It has little if any historical pedigree (maybe a few maverick Reformed thinkers scattered here and there) . So why does RefCath.com seem to attach such grave importance to its own ruminations, and run down other far more substantial communions?

I find this whole conversation puzzling in the extreme. I don't understand why we can't offer opinions on these subjects without some LCMS guy calling foul and making sure we're making equal complaints against Rome. Doesn't make sense to me.

It makes perfect sense to me (as an outsider with no personal interest or stake in either position) why Lutherans would be insulted. They have every right to be, given the ridiculous fashion in which they were portrayed in the initial post. I'm very familiar with the ludicrous ways that Catholicism is presented on this blog, so it's about as surprising to me as my next breath that another non-Reformed Protestant communion would be pilloried in like fashion.

RefCath.com regular contributor Paul Owen does damage control again:
This is just a reminder to folks not to take what we do on this website more seriously than is warranted. A lot of what goes on here is simply of the nature of putting things out there that we are ruminating over, to see what folks have to say about it.

. . . I'm just thankful that I have a forum here where I can put out ideas for other thoughtful and well-informed Christians to reflect upon, before going out and publishing a half-baked article on the subject. That is what we do at reformedcatholicism.com. We throw out ideas, we argue, we discuss, and we go back and think some more. Hopefully, it gives others plenty of food for thought, even if they find themselves less than convinced by the devices of their adversary!
The recourse to "hey, we were just joking around and being tentative" is, in my opinion, insufficient to the situation at hand. Clearly, Kevin - amidst his joviality and frivolity - was making substantive points that he believed to be true. In satirical literature (I've written a lot myself) it is of paramount importance that the things being parodied are accurately portrayed. Truth is at the bottom of effective satire. Flat-out untruths and extreme statements that are inherently insulting do not serve this purpose. In a word, they aren't funny, because they distort and misrepresent. One can only satirize things that are really there, not straw men.

Some things, I would say, are also not appropriate to joke about at all. The Eucharist is one. But there are also grossly unfair misrepresentations of Lutheran belief and practice. This is what no one at RefCath.com seems to grasp. When many of a party we have written about are clearly offended and angry at what we have expressed, it is important to step back, try to be as objective as possible, attempt to see things through the lenses of the other guy, and do some self-analysis. Thus far, there is no sign that any of that has occurred.
I must say that this pathetic display of more "ecumenism" among the Reformed (and supposedly the more "enlightened" and tolerant of that group) has led me to admire Lutheranism and Lutherans (among various Protestant groups) more so than I have before; and I already had a high respect for present-day Lutherans (expressed recently at a Lutheran forum). 

I think it is safe to say that (as I hinted in my related remarks) Lutheranism presents and embodies the most self-consistent, respectable version of Protestantism: something that can be interacted with, with both sides giving their competing versions of theology and history. Calvinism or Reformed Protestantism, though in many ways also a respectable and well thought-out Protestant option (as far as Protestantism goes), is too shot-through with incoherence and inconsistency (not to mention severe anti-Catholicism in many of its quarters). Of course there are always many individual exceptions to a general trend, and I have encountered them and have had some great dialogues, but all in all, I think orthodox Lutheranism has more going for it than Calvinism.

That's one reason I felt compelled to defend it in this instance. The issues go far beyond "Pirate" and his style (whatever one thinks of it). Double standards rule the day, as so distressingly often in Internet discussions and venues. Will it ever end?

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