Saturday, July 04, 2009

Same same but different

My youngest daughter one time went for a holiday in Thailand. When you see her, she is what we call in our language morena, she is a bit tanned and brown. The Thais discovering that she was a foreigner would ask about her nationality and she would reply - Filipina. She said they often responded by saying "same same, but different no"? Meaning, "we are similar racially but different in small respects".

This reminded me of what Steve M of The Old Adam Lives posted on how outsiders view Lutherites.

Evangelicals indeed will find Lutherdudes a "bit religious" for their taste. Considering those rituals, liturgy and stuff, they might even conclude in their ignorance that the Lutherdudes are RCs.

No, not so. So if any non-Lutheran is reading this and having that impression, let me explain by quoting here my comments to Steve M's post.

The problem with people observing Lutherans is that they hear the same words we speak and think we mean the same things as the RCs.


We sound and look the same as the RC but we do not mean the same things when we use the same words. We just look the same, but we are not the same.

We are not the same because we do not mean the same things when we use the words found in our liturgy. The words strike the Lutheran differently when they hit the Lutheran’s ears.

The difference is that those words in the liturgy are wrapped up or are interpreted by the central tenet of Biblical Christianity: justification by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone.

Our liturgy uses the same words but the words mean different things, so" same same but different".


Sch├╝tz said...


Kind of makes a mockery of the old saying "Lex Credendi, Lex Orandi", does it not?

If Lutherans and Catholics really mean different things by the words, why do they continue to use the same liturgy and the same rites?

I'm not disputing the fact that you may indeed be correct, and that Lutherans do indeed mean different things when they use the same words, but...

Well. Let's just say when a Lutheran wakes up and smells the incense, he realises that the very words he has been using all the way along have meant what exactly what Catholics mean when they use the same words.

Steve Martin said...

I think LPC has got it exactly correct.

We we (Lutherans) speak of grace, we mean 'unmerited favor'.

When a R.C. speaks of grace, he means a special help from God for you TO DO.

When we (Lutherans) speak of Sacrament of the Altar, or Holy Communion, we mean God's promise to us, God's gift to us, God's sacrifice for us...the R.C.'s mean our sacrifice to God. It is reversed.

When we speak of Saints, we mean all those in Christ...when the R.C.'s speak of Saints they mean those that have achieved a special status based on their works and faithfulness.

The R.C. definitions put a far greater emphasis on the 'self' and the Lutheran definitions place a far greater (ALL)the emphasis on Christ and His work FOR US.

Same words...very different meanings.

Steve Martin said...

Ooops on the we we...

LPC said...


Steve M and I share a common experience we were both ex-RCs and I for one attests that the words mean different things though the words are shared.

Many things can be given and Steve gave one already - grace, I can add the word repent/repentance too.

But here is the bottom line, I think it should be fair to expect, if your thesis is correct, that the RC priest signs the BoC. I will even be generous, just let them sign the Augsburg and its Apology, then I can believe your thesis.

Unless that happens, I will maintain the two groups use the words differently.

BTW, can you help me? I am researching on the connection of universal objective justification (UOJ) amongst Lutherans becoming RCs.

UOJ is basically the statement that God has declared the world righteous at the Cross, this is found in the LC-MS Statement #17 1932.

Did you by chance believe in it while you were a Lutheran pastor?


David Cochrane said...

I find it interesting that at an RC funeral the departeds baptism will be mentioned as an evidence of being in good standing with God. However, it is seldom held out to the parishoner in life perhaps for fear they will depend on that gift rather than faith formulated by merit gaining love deeds. Where in the Lutheran church we are taught that we are baptized into Jesus and are forgiven without any merit.

In the Supper we have the gift of the forgiveness of sins in the Lutheran church by the merits of Christ alone. The RC will talk about merits of Christ and the saints as if sinners have any saving merits of their own.

At least that has been my observation as an outsider with many RC in laws and friends.

LPC said...


Good point as this reminded me of my RC days. At mass, as an RC I also get to hear the greeting - in the name of ...

However, that struck me not as a reminded of my baptism but it gave me the impression of glorifying the triune God.

Only when I became Lutheran that it was a reminder to me that I was baptized and so the triune God has a promise to me, he has undertaken to be merciful to me, I am his by grace in Christ. Here again is grace coming down and reminding you. The other one gave me the impression of work - that of glorifying God.

The emphasis on both are different though they used the same word formulas.

Same word but the interpretations are different.

Thanks for bringing that up at least for my consumption.


Anonymous said...

If Lutherans and Catholics really mean different things by the words, why do they continue to use the same liturgy and the same rites?

Oh dear, David, I'm surprised you would even ask that question.

Having worshipped again as a confessional Lutheran for almost six months now I have recovered my liturgical "memory" -- Lutherans use the catholic liturgy that is their heritage from the beginning. Word and Sacrament are ours just as much as they are yours. The sacrificial aspects of the Mass have a longer and more complex history than I want to go into here. Suffice it to say that with it's heritage of Roman legalism the RC just about theologizes everything to death.

I have no regrets about swimming the Tiber the other way -- back out.


LPC said...


Right on, sis.

I too got surprised by the question, I thought for people who have both experiences, the difference should be obvious.


Anonymous said...

Hi Lito!

Keeping the faith, my friend!


LPC said...


The joy of the Lord be with you.


Anonymous said...

If I might put it in a nutshell the best trick the devil has done is to take the means of grace and gloss them over with a coat of ‘white wash works righteousness’, so that grace now looks like, to many, works righteousness. E.g. Infant baptism is the ultimate view of the distribution of real and true grace to someone who can do nothing but RECEIVE it. The devil being a sly general sees, “Oh they only want grace eh.” So he camouflages infant baptism with the errors of Rome so that it looks like works righteousness and tada the Baptist heresy is born. So that now no one in that theology, baptistic, may take advantage of their baptism as a true means of grace. It’s as if they are poor and starving with no money and all they think they have is this heavy white garden block that is just short of junk that can be thrown out (the works righteousness white wash over infant Baptism). The do not realize that what they have under that false doctrine white wash is the golden treasure from heaven. So that when they suffer from hungering and thirsting for a righteousness that is not their own (am I really saved, reborn, elect), they never go to that ‘white washed heavy block’ to realize God has given them the righteousness. If they could but or if others like Lutherans could be scrap a little of the devil’s white wash off of that heavy block and say, “SEE look GOLD not concrete – you have the wealth of heaven on you in your baptism!”

The same thing applies to the real presence issue regarding the Lord’s Supper. The devil’s white wash under the Mass has caused many, including the brilliance of Zwingli and Calvin and their successive followers to no longer see the true gold from heaven that is the very and true body and blood of Christ.

Having now diverted many Christians from the true means of grace by a ‘white wash’ of works righteousness, he now diverts them to false “means of grace” which are not any such things but truly works righteousness and false hopes. The examples vary from denomination to denomination and from church to church but range from alter calls, rededications, praying the prayer of salvation again and again, rebaptism, not the true body and blood of Christ rituals, and general empty “free style” liturgies. These works righteousnesses are glossed over by the devil with a paint of grace.

So that the real means of grace, the Pure Gospel and the Sacraments according to Christ’s institution are white washed with works righteousness white wash; and false means of grace which are really works righteousness are glossed over with ‘grace colored paint’. So that men avoid true grace and go to false grace which is works righteousness!

The devil ALWAYS inverts the Word of God, nothing new under the sun.



LPC said...


You brought it to the fore. What you say is good summary of what has been happening. The issue amongst modern Prots today is that they are equating what they see in RC Sacramental works impressions to the Protestant Sacramental theology. They are deducing that in particular, Lutheran Sacramentology is works oriented too, which is not because it is Gospel.

I think I may have to guest post again what you wrote here for others to consume.