Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Welcome Home!

Fr. John Fenton recently of Zion Lutheran Church (LCMS) in Detroit MI, has announced his resignation and plans to enter the Orthodox Church with his family. It is reported that he hopes to be ordained and establish a Western Rite parish in Detroit under the Antiochian Archdiocese. Prayers are solicited for his and his family’s well being, both spiritual and material in this challenging time of transition. May God grant them many years!

Hat tip to Ben over at Western Orthodoxy Blog


tizzidale said...

So, let me get this straight. Just for clarification purposes . . . he leaves the Lutheran Church and states that he prefers a Church where the liturgy doesn't change. However, he's going into a liturgically questionable rite (hey, that's from most Orthodox's perspective, not mine)?

John (Ad Orientem) said...

Fr. John is not entering a rite. He is entering The Church. The manner in which the Holy Mysteries are celebrated is most commonly the Eastern (Byzantine) rite because most practitioners of the Western (Latin) Rite are separated from Orthodoxy by virtue of the tragic schism. I know of no Orthodox jurisdiction which has questioned the Western Rite as a legitimate and canonical means of worshiping God according to the Holy Orthodox Faith. Indeed logically such would be impossible without denying the validity of Western Christianity before the schism.

Now it would be fair to say that there is some debate about the utility of a Western Rite in modern Orthodoxy and also about how the Western Rite should be implemented. But I have not read even the sharpest detractors of the WR question its canonical status or validity.

As a side note, I think the question is not "if" but "how" where the WR is concerned. The Antiochians have enough WR parishes that they are not going to get rid of them. They have made that pledge. So the real issue for modern Orthodoxy is how do we want to go about establishing some minimal uniformity for the Western Rite among those jurisdictions that choose to allow it? That’s a topic for a long post sometime.


Visibilium said...

If memory serves me correctly, the Russian Orthodox Church has accepted the Western Rite for 130 years. I'm delighted at its growth. Growth will enable the Western Rite to be more integrated into Orthodox life--and overcome the rather vehement opposition from some OCA clergy.

Fr. Matthew was talking about centralizing Fr. Schmemann's articles about the Western Rite to present a more complete picture of his views on the matter. Just about every OCA priest with whom I've conversed about the Western Rite has referred to Schmemann to justify his negative view. Let's put this puppy to rest!

Rev. Paul T. McCain said...

The resignation of John Fenton in the Detroit area from his call and his announcement that he is joining an Eastern Orthodox church has elicited interesting responses across the Lutheran blogosphere. Some have expressed their "admiration" for his "honesty" and lauded his great leadership on liturgical issues in The LCMS. I have a far different perspective.

First, let it be noted that Fenton's "spiritual journey" is of absolutely zero consequence to anyone who truly wishes to be and remain a confessing Lutheran Christian, other than a tragic example of what happens when you lose your theological marbles and abandon the very heart and center of the Gospel. Second, Fenton knew he was headed East for quite a long time. It is a shame his ecclesiastical supervisor did not remove him from office. All the hand-wringing going on in some circles about the "root causes" and such about this are avoiding the true root cause: a man has turned his back on Christ and His Gospel and exchanged it for a pottage of ritualistic legalisms and hopelessly anti-Scriptural mysticism in the form of Eastern Orthodoxy! Third, his parish helped fund his studies at an Eastern Orthodox seminary, and it would appear highly likely that Fenton waited to make this move until he had developed a following that would leave with him. In a typical sheep-stealing move, he is taking 25 people out of a congregation that is so small that a loss of 25 people is enormous in a parish that only has, on average, only 67 people in worship on any given Sunday to begin with, out of a total baptized membership of 267 people. Smells and bells, chalices and chausables, chanting and prancing, rubrics and genuflections all have their proper place, but they are not of the essence of the Church, and this situation shows how one can go terribly wrong theologically either by throwing out the good order and customs of historic worship, or in spite of retaining it all.

Fenton's reununciation of his ordination vows, and confirmation vows, is nothing less than an act of treason against our Lord Jesus Christ and His Gospel. Let that much be clear. It is a shameful and sinful way to treat a congregation that has suffered for years through his theological waffling and what finally amounts to a profoundly fundamental dishonesty. So while on a human level we can surely feel sympathy for his personal struggles, on an objective level the truth simply must be recognized. There is nothing "heroic" or "admirable" about what he did. It is tragic and shameful. At this point the word to be spoken to Fenton and others who share his opinions is simply: "Repent and believe the Gospel."

John (Ad Orientem) said...

I must confess that your post came very close to being deleted. But on reflection I am prepared to allow your comments about the Orthodox Church to stand on their own merit. The reader can draw their own conclusions. However your comments about John Fenton are over the top and unbecoming a Christian much less a gentleman. I do not permit Ad Hominum attacks on this blog. Your attacks on the personal character of another person, which are clearly motivated by disagreement in matters of theology, are gravely discourteous and offensive. I believe that you owe John Fenton (and me) an apology, but such can not be coerced. However I must caution you formally, as the owner of this blog, that I will not permit any further hit jobs to be posted attacking the character of another Christian in this manner.

In the future if you feel the compulsion to make such commentaries please confine your screeds to your own blog or those that are similarly devoid of Christian love and charity.

Ad Orientem

Anonymous said...

Pastor Paul T. McCain,

I am sorry that you choose to react in antipathy, spitefulness and general malevolence. I also grieve that you have chosen to spam this hate-filled message all over the internet.

I think this reaction to be beneath you, but I respect your right to vent. I am sure that Father John Fenton, will forgive you, as will our Lord, Jesus Christ.

God bless you,
Daniel M. Head


Ad Orientem,

Thank you for keeping that comment posted. Let us pray for Pastor Paul McCain.

Anonymous said...

McCain's satanic spew has been posted on every single website that has mentioned John Fenton's resignation. He has his own website "CyberBrethren" where this ugly posting first appeared, but he seems hell-bent on disseminating his hatred and insecurity all over the blog-o-sphere.

Anonymous said...

It sounds like Mcain is feeling the heat. Can you blame some Lutherans?
Alot of them are in communion with Episcopalians who worship almost anything. A few years back, they lost a mighty big fish, the late great Jaroslav Pelikan, to the Orthodox Church. I doubt Mcain would've crossed swords with Dr. pelikan...It's getting lonlier each time someone leaves. To stop being a protestant is a simply enormous thing. The mother of the new Epscopalian Presiding Bishop-ess did it in the late 70's and died a layman in the Orthodox Church. It's not a great day to be mainline protestant. I feel his pain. I also became Orthodox. Not mystical particularly, but finally found the Church that *wrote* the Gospels, thankyou.

John (Ad Orientem) said...

Charity please... even to those who have offended us.