Wednesday, September 01, 2010

Called to Confusion

This is for Catholic Nick, who said:

When someone puts their stakes on one horse, they need to stick with that horse. One cannot selectively cite a scholar, especially if the scholar is liberal and you are conservative ...

In his work, "Called to Communion," Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger enthusiastically quoted Joachim Jeremias, the German Lutheran theologian and professor of New Testament studies, from his work "New Testament Theology":
"We must reduce the whole question quite sharply to a single point: the sole meaning of the entire activity of Jesus is the gathering of the eschatological people of God." (22)
Ratzinger, of course, is bound by Catholic doctrine to hold to the hierarchical structure of the Roman Church: "Christ, the one Mediator, established and continually sustains here on earth His holy Church, the community of faith, hope and charity, as an entity with visible delineation through which He communicated truth and grace to all. But, the society structured with hierarchical organs and the Mystical Body of Christ, are not to be considered as two realities, nor are the visible assembly and the spiritual community, nor the earthly Church and the Church enriched with heavenly things; rather they form one complex reality which coalesces from a divine and a human element. (Lumen Gentium 8)

But what Ratzinger fails to report is that for Jeremias, "the people of God" has a meaning that's quite different from what Ratzinger intends:
"Now there is no question that if by ekklesia we understand an organization of the kind that developed in a later period, it would be an anachronism to ascribe to Jesus the intention of founding an ekklesia. But that would be to misunderstand the meaning of ekklesia …" When Jesus said, "I will build my church," Jeremias says that "it is more appropriate to translate ekklesia 'people of God' than 'church'."
Jeremias expands on Jesus's "favorite of all the images for the new people of God is the comparison of the community of salvation with the eschatological family of God." "God is the father (Matt 23:9), Jesus the master of the house, his followers the other occupants (Matt 10:25). The older women who hear his word are his mothers, the men and youths his brothers (Mark 3:34)."

This, of course, is the "house church" movement in a nutshell, so clearly articulated by the "critical scholar" Peter Lampe.

Does Ratzinger call people to communion with the hierarchical Roman Church? Or with Jeremias's version of the "people of God"?


Truth Unites... and Divides said...

"But what Ratzinger fails to report is that for Jeremias, "the people of God" has a meaning that's quite different from what Ratzinger intends"

If so, that would be a misleading equivocation.

John Bugay said...

Hi Truth. I wonder where the nay-sayers are -- you know, those who would say that Ratzinger is not really "inconsistent," and demonstrate, from scholarly protocols, why he was justified in citing Jeremias. Or just someone who'll say that he's definitely a one-horse kind of guy. Maybe somebody will come out and try to say that I've just quoted him incorrectly. Maybe it's just early.

Truth Unites... and Divides said...


Of your regular nay-sayers, what do you think is their response to a post titled "Called to Confusion"?

Do your regular nay-sayers possess a sense of humor?

John Bugay said...

My gut instinct would be to check out both works and verify what they're both saying. I didn't provide a citation from Jeremias; I'm not sure if his work is available online or not. ("Called to Communion" is available at Google Books.)

But I have a related comment and question.

One of the BIG complaints about Boettner's work is that the "scholarly apparatus" is not very helpful.

I own about 10 or 12 Ratzinger works. These are sparsely footnoted, and I don't think one of them has an index.

Bellisario seems to be our resident "Ratzinger" fan. I'd like to ask him, why can't you find an index in any Ratzinger works?

(But if you're not Bellisario, and you have an answer to this, I'd like to hear it.)

John Bugay said...

I haven't noticed a sense of humor from any of the Roman Catholics who comment here, by the way. David Waltz seems to enjoy a chuckle every once in a while.

Paul Hoffer said...

Hi Mr. Bugay, I do not how you can say that Pope Benedict/Cardinal Ratzinger is being inconsistent from citing Jeremias when the very next section in Lumen Gentium that you cite to starts off with the heading "On The People of God" and goes on to say this:

Since the kingdom of Christ is not of this world the Church or people of God in establishing that kingdom takes nothing away from the temporal welfare of any people. On the contrary it fosters and takes to itself, insofar as they are good, the ability, riches and customs in which the genius of each people expresses itself. Taking them to itself it purifies, strengthens, elevates and ennobles them. The Church in this is mindful that she must bring together the nations for that king to whom they were given as an inheritance, and to whose city they bring gifts and offerings. This characteristic of universality which adorns the people of God is a gift from the Lord Himself. By reason of it, the Catholic Church strives constantly and with due effect to bring all humanity and all its possessions back to its source In Christ, with Him as its head and united in His Spirit.

Now how exactly do you think that Jeremias' definition of ekklesia is different from the definition in Lumen Gentium or that which Pope Benedict uses?

Here are some helps for you in your researches:

Ratzinger, Joseph Cardinal "The Ecclesiology of the Constitution Lumen Gentium", in Pilgrim Fellowship of Faith: The Church as Communion. Trans. Henry Taylor (San Francisco: Ignatius, 2005) pp. 123-152.

_______, "The Ecclesiology of Second Vatican Council" in Church, Ecumenism and Politics Trans. Robert Nowell, (New York, St Paul, 1988) p.3-28

In the latter book, you will find something along this lines:

"Christians can only be the people of God through inclusion in Christ, the son of God and the son of Abraham" (p. 19)


"One only remains faithful to the Council if one always takes and reflects on these two core terms of its ecclesiology together" (p. 19).

Many blessings to you and yours!

John Bugay said...

Paul Hoffer, you're missing the point. Jeremias clearly excludes the kind of ekklesia which Lumen Gentium outlines in the part that I've given.

If you exclude "A", then "A+B" does not satisfy the conditions of "~A".

This is just elementary stuff.

And further, you may not be aware of all the context of David Waltz's charges that I am "inconsistent" for valuing the work both of Peter Lampe and Andreas Kostenberger/Michael Kruger.

Look at the top of this post. Nick and his "one horse" -- I'll help you out, save you a click, and put it here:

One cannot selectively cite a scholar, especially if the scholar is liberal and you are conservative ...

Pope Ratzinger has broke Nick's rule, which he sought to press upon me, and Nick didn't even know about it.

If you want me to take you seriously, if you truly intend "many blessings to you and yours" (and that's not simply a cynical closing), then I would hope that you would not seek conflict for conflict's sake, but also find the inconsistencies in your own co-religionists.

Paul Hoffer said...

Hello Mr. Bugay, I am not cynical person. When I pray that Our Lord and Savior whom we both love and serve to the best of the talents He gave us give you blessings, it is truly heartfelt and sincere. As for the balance of your comment, I need to track down Joacim Jeremias' book that you are referencing to better respond to it (I own the Pope Benedict book you are referencing). I actually own two of Jeremias' books. Unfortunately, this one is not one of them.

God bless!