Friday, January 7, 2011

What is AC XIV saying?

What is AC XIV talking about when it speaks to being "rite vocatus" - when it speaks how men are placed in the pastoral office?

I would bring up two things for consideration - first, how condemnations work in the Augsburg Confession. Quite often the Confessions condemn heresy and error - however, if the error is one exercised by Rome, they do not label it as Roman. On the other hand, much pain is taken to distinguish those making this confession from ancient heresies or the modern errorists, like the Anabaptists, who are condemned by name in articles 5, 9, 12, 16, and 17. So, while much of the AC is designed as a defense of the Christian Faith against the errors of Rome, great pains are taken to demonstrate that Lutherans are not to be painted with the same brush as the radical Reformation. If the main target of an article is a non-Roman target, then the Confession quickly and clearly says so. However, if the target is that which is either Roman Catholic alone, or even a combination where both Rome and the Anabaptists might fall into opposite errors, no direct label of condemnation is applied by name.

What does this mean? On articles where neither heresy nor the Anabaptists are condemned, there is an implied room for correcting Roman excess - but also an concession that if Rome will let our teaching stand, we can live with their excess. It's a very charitable document towards Rome (unlike the later Confessions, where Rome has fully defined herself as against the Augsburg Confession).

In light of this, before simply examining AC XIV and debating what "rite vocatus" means and doesn't mean, we should look at AC V and AC VII.

Article V: Of the Ministry.

1] That we may obtain this faith, the Ministry of Teaching the Gospel and administering the Sacraments was instituted. For through the Word and Sacraments, as through instruments, 2] the Holy Ghost is given, who works faith; where and when it pleases God, in them that hear 3] the Gospel, to wit, that God, not for our own merits, but for Christ's sake, justifies those who believe that they are received into grace for Christ's sake.

4] They condemn the Anabaptists and others who think that the Holy Ghost comes to men without the external Word, through their own preparations and works.

First a note here - there is a clear condemnation in the AC of anyone assuming to himself the Ministry (that is teaching the Gospel and administering the Sacraments) without an external call. The external Word is to be used. This is highly related to the call - that one, if he is going to be preaching and administering the Sacrament must be called by the external Word (i.e. by God through someone other than himself).

Article VII - Of the Church - Also they teach that one holy Church is to continue forever. The Church is the congregation of saints, in which the Gospel is rightly taught and the Sacraments are rightly administered.

2] And to the true unity of the Church it is enough to agree concerning the doctrine of the Gospel and 3] the administration of the Sacraments. Nor is it necessary that human traditions, that is, rites or ceremonies, instituted by men, should be everywhere alike. 4] As Paul says: One faith, one Baptism, one God and Father of all, etc. Eph. 4:5-6.

In article VII we have here the appearance of "rite". And here it is used, not as what *must* be followed, but rather an example of human tradition, created by men. Moreover, the rite need not be alike everywhere.

And so then we get AC XIV, which reads:

Of Ecclesiastical Order they teach that no one should publicly teach in the Church or administer the Sacraments unless he be regularly called.

"regularly called" is "rite vocatus" - called according to the rite. This article flushes out what 5 and 7 had said -- that the call is to be external, according to the rites of the Church... however the rites and customs of the Church, especially in giving the call, do not need to be the same.

While the Lutherans will accept the current Roman system, that system specifically is not vital, but rather is a matter of human construction which should be maintained for peace, but if peace is not possible then new rites and structures shall be developed as seen fit.

What does this mean? As long as someone is called, appointed, or elected to the Ministry via the normal customs of the Church in a specific place, then AC XIV is not violated.

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