Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Meilaender

Recently my good friend (and Godfather to Francesca) Thomas Pietsch paid a visit to us with his ever-charming wife Chelsea. Thom, who is now going into his third year at ALC (the Australian Lutheran Seminary) spent some time talking theology with me, and we together read a chapter ('Hearts set to obey') from Lutheran theologian Gilbert Meilaender's The Freedom of a Christian). I wish I could reproduce the text here, as it gives a very concise overview (and rightly critical) of the sort of Lutheran ethical thinking that is as popular as it is disconnected from the Lutheran Confessions.

Anyhow, since I can't give a link to Meilaender's essay I will give a link to a wonderful essay by Fr Bernhard Blankenhorn, a Dominican from the US. It's a nice summary of what I understand is called 'Virtue Ethics'. I came across it through a link on the Lutheran - Roman Catholic dialog in the US. Apparently David Yeago - who seems to me to be one of the best theologians in the ELCA - recently spoke at Blankenhorn's parish on the progress of the dialog in the US. I'm hoping for an mp3 of the talk to be put on the web soon. 

2 comments:

Sch├╝tz said...

I myself would like to post a comment on Meilaender's book, but I don't have the text in front of me and so am prevented.

I found it interesting from a number of points of view that Meilaender should begin his book with an essay on Veritatis Splendor, the first and foremost being that it shows the degree to which modern Lutheran theology has entered (has had to enter, perhaps?) a dialogue with the teaching of the recent Catholic magisterium.

But this very same essay annoyed me (and annoys me all the more I think about it) because of his objection that Pope John Paul II didn't address personal faith in Christ/God more explicitly. Note the significance of this: The Catholic Pope writes an encyclical on the objective basis of Truth, and a Lutheran theology objects that there is not enough about subjective faith in the document. Does this strike you as funny?

But above all, I objected to a paragraph in this essay which I hope to be able to reproduce sooner or later (when I get a hold of the book) where Meilaender actually suggests that it is possible for someone to be saved even if they are actually "journeying away from God" (in contrast to JPII's assertion that salvation comes to those who are journeying toward God) if only they "have faith".

It is hard to know what to make of such an assertion. I can only take it to mean that Meilaender has a strange understanding of the "journey towards God" and "saving faith" that makes it possible to have the latter without the former.

What do you and Tom make of this?

Fraser Pearce said...

Ah, well, we read a different essay, the one called 'Hearts set to obey'. If you want to send me a copy of the essay on VS, all the better!

PS When will you be heading up here again?