Today is Reformation Day. In 5 years, there presumably will be a huge shindig for the 500th anniversary of Luther’s 95 Theses.
Some people take this very seriously, as do I (it’s hard to understand America without it), but some are invested in it so much as to take it very, very seriously.
In the “very seriously” camp is Russell Saltzman, “dean of the Great Plains Mission District of the North American Lutheran Church, an online homilist for the Christian Leadership Center at the University of Mary, and author of The Pastor’s Page and Other Small Essays.” How he took it seriously is the subject of a recent essay:
The post in question was called “Why Can’t Lutherans Take Catholic Communion?” which would seem to be self-explanatory. Nevertheless, Reverend Saltzman explains how he, a Lutheran, came to receive Holy Communion in a Catholic church. (Hint: It required an archbishop.) He goes on to lament that, while Catholics are free in most cases to receive the sacrament in Lutheran churches, Lutherans are still barred from receiving in Catholic churches.
I read the same Saltzman essay Strange Herring (who’s in the “very, very seriously” camp) read, and had some of the same reactions. But since I am not now, nor have I ever been, a card-carrying member of the Lutheran party, I did not take time to do the take-down Strange Herring presented, from which the preceding block quote is taken.
I particularly like his quote of “Mary,” who commented on Saltzman’s essay:
Lutherans are welcome to take Communion on the same terms as everyone else. Make your profession of faith at the Easter Vigil and be received.
If you think your differences from us are too big for that, they are too big for you to receive.
The eventuality of Saltzman’s way of thinking – that no serious differences remain between Lutheran belief and Roman Catholic belief – if one takes schism as seriously as the Church always did until the centrifugal force of sola scriptura required turning it into a virtue, is what the late Richard John Neuhaus did 22 years ago: return to Rome.
My take on the Reformation is “Why, oh why, didn’t Luther & Co. return to the Church from which Rome is in schism?”