Sunday, December 09, 2007


Lutheran (LCMS) pastor Paul McCain today kindly (and I mean that) emailed me to let me know that I'm banned from commenting at his blog, noting that its not an open forum.

I replied that I appreciated him letting me know, but I also noted that I'm not sure what I said that he took issue with. In the last couple days, I've made three comments at his blog: one, here, wondering what his thoughts on Benedict's new encyclical Spe Salvi were; another, here, expressing concern (with him) about a Knight of Columbus who supposedly said, in regard to some relics of the Magi, "This is the closest I'm going to get to God in my physical lifetime"; and a final comment back at the first post I'd commented on, trying to clarify to another commenter that almsgiving in the context of indulgences wasn't very different from his own understanding of almsigiving and its potential effect on our sanctification.

It's the final comment which I think got me banned, but I'm not really sure why. Pastor McCain stated that he's not inclined to feature folks who are "intent on promoting faulty understanding and error." Now, given that I was simply trying to clarify that Catholic teaching on indulgences & almsgiving, I'm not sure how I was doing so, but there you go. Based on prior interactions with Pastor McCain and the history of his blog, I am inclined to think that he simply isn't interested in having his preconceptions regarding Catholicism challenged: he's confident that he understands Catholic teaching, and he isn't interested in haven't his understanding questioned. Nor is he interested in entering into dialogue with Catholics in order to confirm that his understanding is in fact accurate.

C'est la vie. There are plenty of other Christians -- including Catholics -- with similar mindsets, and while I'm disappointed that Pastor McCain has no interest in ecumenical dialogue, I can't say that I'm that surprised... for many of us who take confessional orthodoxy seriously, it can be difficult to understand the point of ecumenical dialogue. So while I am saddened by his actions in banning me, I applaud Pastor McCain for desiring to promote Lutheran orthodoxy on his blog. I only hope that at some point he realizes that one can uphold one's orthodoxy while simultaneously dialoguing with those of differing confessions.


Freder1ck said...

I think about the ecumenical question a lot. For me, I think it starting in responding to questions and criticisms of Catholicism by my fellow students in public high school. Now, it's more of a matter of exploring the Protestant heritage of my family and as an American.

I need to do a bit more historical research: Luther, Calvin, Edwards, Wesley.

Ana Braga-Henebry said...

My little French tells me it's "c'est la vie". I appreciate this post, Chris. Keep up the good work! God Bless!

Chris Burgwald said...

Thanks, Ana! I knew I should have double-checked that before I hit "Publish", but there you go... it was definitely not the only grammatical error in the post; hopefully I've caught them all now.

Fred, I've found that the theology of other Christians can sometimes help me remember or recover aspects of Catholic thought that I've neglected or even misunderstood; the Lutheran focus, for instance, on grace led me to reexamine the Catholic teaching on the matter, which in turn helped me to recognize some degree of moral Pelagianism in my understanding. Other similar examples could be multiplied. FWIW.

Schütz said...

I only hope that at some point he realizes that one can uphold one's orthodoxy while simultaneously dialoguing with those of differing confessions.

This is in fact my method, and, I believe, the method of the Catholic Church. Ecumenical dialogue does not presuppose compromise on the Truth, it presupposes willingness to be faithful to the Truth together.