More Comments Worth Attention

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As I said yesterday, the best material in this blog is usually in the comments. A good deal is still being written in comments to past posts. I'd like to call your attention to two of these again:

From the Modest Yet Modern discussion:

I just happened to stop by the Bayly Blog today and was interested to see the mention of Ladies Against Feminism (the site I run with Mrs. Lydia Sherman).

We have lots and lots of articles on modesty and dress, but I think the most important thing to point out is that we embrace and encourage variety within God's biblical boundaries for modesty. There is plenty of room in the Scriptures for personal taste as long as our tastes are ruled by God's guidelines for what we must cover and how we must behave as Christians. This is why you will find links to such a wide variety of clothing sites on LAF. We have links to everything from "prairie" dress to more fashionable skirts and blouses. The common denominator is that all of these styles are within the biblical boundaries for modesty (guarding the eyes of Christian brothers, avoiding being ostentatious or flaunting sensuality).

As Paul wrote to Timothy, God's Word is "profitable for doctrine, reproof, correction, training in righteousness...". We find everything we need for life and godliness within God's Word, and--surprise!--we find freedom to be lovely and feminine. You've got the Proverbs 31 woman dressing in fine linen and purple while clothing her family in scarlet. You have Abigail and Sarah and Esther, who were all praised for their feminine beauty. Then you have the commands to be modest and sober in dress to avoid giving the wrong message.

It seems to me that the problem we face in the Church today is not frumpy modesty (though that certainly exists) but overwhelming syncretism and worldliness. If anyone dares address the issue of modesty from the Scriptures, she is immediately branded a restrictive legalist or written off as unintelligent, judgmental, and backwards (believe me, I have the e-mails to prove it!). We are commanded to "rightly divide the Word of truth," applying the Scriptures to all of life. Surely we can do this in a careful, thoughtful, biblical manner without seeking the world's approval....

One final thought: Christians can only go so far when it comes to "fitting in" to a pagan culture (and our nation is most assuredly post-Christian and pagan). There comes a point where anyone who even has a semblance of compliance with God's Word is going to stick out like a sore thumb. It is helpful to look at the history of the early Church in the pagan Roman Empire. Those early believers lived within the culture, but they were not a part of it. They did not attend the games and entertainments, they did not try to make themselves "relevant" to the pagans. They held out the hope of the One True God, even when it meant death. They walked a different path, which gave others a reason to "ask about the hope within them." May God give us the same passion to follow our Lord in all things so that we may hold out hope to a suicidal and desctructive culture.

In Christ,
Mrs. Jennie Chancey
Ladies Against Feminism

I've appreciated the site (Ladies Against Feminism) Mrs. Chancey runs. For instance, I haven't seen any other Christian site comment on the tragedy of the woman recently killed in a boxing match. In fact, were it not for LAF, I wouldn't have known that she was a young mother--and this despite having read a news story on the death. Tragic in so many ways.

From the Will the Papal Ban on Women's Ordination Fall? discussion:

There's been an edifying series of comments under this post, many of which exceed the original post in thoughtfulness and generosity. Since I tend generally to agree with Elizabeth on this one, I'm quoting her comment here, but I would urge you to read all the comments, including those from Tess and the most recent from Kathy.

Suzanne, I was a Catholic for 25 years, and studied theology at Franciscan University of Steubenville. With all due respect, I require no further instruction on the details of Roman doctrine and practice. Rather, it is you who (apparently not without fault by Lutherans) carry some misconceptions about what my church teaches.

The Roman church teaches that you have to be free of serious personal sin in order to receive Communion rightly. Well, if I was free of serious personal sin, Jesus wouldn't have had to die. The Lutheran church follows the words of Jesus, who said that He was giving the Sacrament for the forgiveness of sins, not as something you graduate to after forgiveness. Forgiveness is the same reason for all the gifts we are given in the church: baptism, holy absolution, and the preaching of the Gospel. The Roman Catholic Church cannot seriously claim to be dispensing forgiveness so *freely*. For example, at the beginning of Mass or Divine Service the Lutheran pastor issues a binding absolution of the sins of all the faithful present, but the Catholic priest only utters a prayer that God "may" forgive our sins, because Catholic doctrine since Trent has dogmatically declared that it is sinful presumption to lean confidently on the merits of the Cross. No, you have to DO something first, go to confession or such.

Of course, you wouldn't be a devout Catholic if you felt you weren't getting what you needed. It's kind of a you don't know what you're missing thing. If telling me I can't go to Communion because I have committed certain sins - unless I got to confession, and perhaps perform spiritual satisfactions, first - isn't making Communion a reward for personal sanctification, I don't know what would be. Of course Catholics don't choose to describe it that way in their teaching and rhetoric! That doesn't mean it's not true.

Of course, in liberal Catholicism nobody worries about confession, satisfaction etc anymore. But I am comparing the conservative versions of the various theologies, true to their own traditions.

The Lutheran church does not teach consubstantiation. Good Lutheran doctrine rejects all attempts to explain what is going on in the Sacrament - HOW the Real Presence works. That's why we reject the theory of transubstantiation - because it's a theory! But yes we do believe that there is still bread and wine present, because the Bible refers to it as bread and wine. However, in the sacramental disputes of the day Martin Luther declared "I would rather drink Blood with the Pope than wine with the enthusiasts" (i.e. those who hold an empty-symbol view of the Eucharist).

I don't think we "must" either buy into apostolic succession or not. There are Lutheran churches with an historic episcopacy, and others with more of a congregational polity. We believe this is a free matter. Apostolic succession is a beautiful historical adornment on the church, but if you start using it to build a hedge around the efficacy of the sacramental Word, that's a problem. Of course, *you* may not believe our Sacrament is "valid," but that's a different issue from the sincerity of our *own* confession of the Lord's true Presence. Please acknowledge this.

I'm so sorry you met a Lutheran who was involved in spreading such cheap lies about the way your liturgy works. Historically, the Lutheran church has an intense concern for instructing the simple and teaching people from all walks of life to resist error. Some Lutheran pastors unfortunately carry this to the extreme of dumbing things down and explaining things in a superficial way. I don't think any of us would be pleased by the way our own church is described in other churches' catechesis. Please forgive us for this sin of misrepresentation. To learn more about what our church as a whole teaches, try consulting official documents rather than anecdotes. The clearest exposition of our faith is in Luther's Smaller Catechism, which you can find at http://www.bookofconcord.org .

As for why we care what's going on in Roman Catholicism, how can we NOT care whether a billion of our baptized brethren are learning the truth about God's Word? Roman Catholicism is the institutionally paradigmatic form of Western Christianity, and it is sad that it was fallen into error and schism. The integrity of the Evangelical confession is much stronger than to have to rely on ignoring and despising you, or anyone, in order to maintain our own beliefs.

Elizabeth