Thursday, May 1, 2014

Introducing a New Thing

When discussing issues like infant communion with Lutherans, one should remember that Lutheranism is a dissenting movement.  Lutherans dissent from historical Christianity in favor of an a-historical Christianity that is agreeable to a separate and historically-removed reading of the Scriptures, yet one that at the same time makes perfect sense through the lens of 16th Century thinking.  Infant communion can never be a reality in Confessional Lutheranism, because it would require breaking the 16th Century bubble.  Infant communion could become a reality for Lutherans, though, if they were wise enough to see past the limitations of the 16th Century which prevents them from seeing the Scriptures in their natural light.

For the Lutheran there can be no introduction of infant communion (which would be the introduction of Communion of the Baptized), because to do so requires giving credence to the interpretation of the Scriptures by the Orthodox, Catholic Church in history - the very Church that made Lutheranism a possibility by giving the Reformers something from which to dissent, though they quote her, cite from her, and claim to have adopted nothing contrary to her even as they dissent from her.  The Lutheran Church does not know infant communion, because she disavows the Orthodox and Catholic Church's history as her own in order to procure a new history, with new fathers (Luther, Chemnitz, and many others), and new traditions that have never known infant communion.  Some would argue this was not the intent of Lutheranism, to be this new thing, but alas intent and purpose have not endured.  A new church exists, with a separate consciousness and separate breath and separate mind.  The only way to have infant communion in this newness is to introduce it for the first time.

It is not surprising that those adherents of this new church should fight tooth and nail to keep out what was never there in the first place.  Subjects fight for their king, and in this case the Lutheran-version of theologians fight to maintain their otherness, their dissent, their new way of thinking that is the only way they have ever known.

However, not everyone in Lutheranism was sold this bill of goods.  Many were told that Lutheranism is simply the continuation of the Catholic Church in the West.  Many were told that the Orthodox and Catholic Church's history is supposed to be their history as Lutherans.  Many were taught from the beginning to cherish not only the Scriptures but also the early Christians whose foundation Lutheran theology is supposedly built upon (Nicene Creed, Apostolic Creed, Athanasian Creed, and for you guys and gals at seminary all that great stuff you learned in Early Church class).  Many, including myself, were told from the beginning that Lutheranism must not ever be something new, but hold continuity with the past and account for it.  To such as these infant communion is a vital test of the Reformation's enduring legitimacy.