Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Jared Wicks on the Vatican Document

Yesterday I received two articles addressing the "CDF intervention" in June. The articles were written by my colleague on the U.S. Lutheran-Roman Catholic Dialogue, Jared Wicks, SJ and were published last month. Wicks taught for many years at the Gregorian University in Rome and is currently at John Carroll University in Cleveland, Ohio. He began his academic career as a Luther scholar but is perhaps now best known as an ecumenist. He is one of two members of the U.S. Dialogue who also serve on the International Lutheran-Roman Catholic Dialogue. The articles are helpful and clarifying in terms of the Roman Catholic position and the specifically the disputes within Roman Catholicism that the Vatican document intended to address. Both articles are available on-line so I am posting the links here:

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Help me raise money for hunger!

This Sunday, September 23, I am walking in the CROP Hunger Walk with my alma mater, Wittenberg University. This August marks the 60th anniversay of CROP (Communities Responding to Overcome Poverty)--the community hunger appeal of Church World Service--and the beginning of the CROP Hunger Walk season, in which tens of thousands of people in communities across the U.S. walk to to raise money and show solidarity with those who are impoverished. The motto of the CROP Walker is: We walk because they walk!

Each year more than 2.5 million CROP Walkers, volunteers, and sponsors raise over $16 million per year to help stop hunger around the world -- and in their own communities

If you are not already walking for hunger or supporting another walker, would you please consider making a donation in support of my efforts? Your donation supports programs that work to solve the world-wide challenge of hunger. You can help me by making a donation online. Follow this link to my personal donation page where you can make a secure online credit card donation.

Luther and Lutheran Identity

Trinity Lutheran Seminary is now on the semester system! This has meant that some courses have been combined with others. One example of this is "Lutheran Identity in America" which I am teaching this semester. This new 14 week course is a combination of "Lutheran Identity" (known as "Lutheran Confessions" in many seminaries) and parts of "Being Lutheran in America" -- the parts that treated theological issues and debates over the Confessions in the U.S., especially in the 19th century, as well as contemporary challenges to American Lutheran identity. To put all this together in one semester has been challenging!

One of the perennial complaints about such a course is that we do not read enough Luther. We do read some Luther! We read his writings that appear in the Book of Concord: the Small and Large Catechism, and the oft-overlooked Smalcald Articles, which, according to William Russell, provides a "neglected key to the theology of Martin Luther." Those who took Systematic Theology with me last year read "On the Freedom of a Christian," and I think it is the goal of the new Church History II class for students to read all three of Luther's 1520 treatises. But to read more Luther at Trinity, one also needs to take an elective class such as "Readings in Luther" (which many students do).

Of course, in "Lutheran Identity in America," I remind the students that when they are ordained or commissioned, they will promise to teach and preach in accordance with the Lutheran Confessions, and not Luther's corpus. Helmut Lehman (one of the translators of Luther's Works: American Edition), in a piece he wrote several years ago entitled "Luther on the Study of Luther," reminds us of Luther's own estimation of his works and thus suggests a perspective to keep in mind when we study them:
In a variety of formulations and settings Luther speaks of wanting his books to perish lest they, like previous works, detract from studying the Holy Scriptures. Because all sorts of writings by church fathers, councils, and teachers have been collected and stored in libraries, “the divine Word is lost,” and the “Bible lies forgotten in the dust under the bench.” Already in 1528 Luther said he had sought to accomplish nothing else with his writing than to bring Holy Scripture and divine truth to light. He thought he had succeeded in this endeavor to such a degree that divine truth “praise God, shines forth so brightly and powerfully everywhere” that one could now get along without his writings and those of others who shared his views. John the Baptizer is Luther’s model. Through his writings Luther wants to “point toward the Scriptures, as John the Baptist did toward Christ, saying, ‘He must increase, but I must decrease’” [John 3:30]. Thus the purpose of the study of Luther’s writings is to point to the study of the Holy Scriptures and to Christ.