Thank you for inviting me, for taking the time to read this, and for your tentative willingness to pursue the Truth of God’s Word together in charity, studiousness, and patience.

A brief introduction for anyone who doesn’t know who I am: My name is Keaton, I attending Concordia Theological Seminary, Fort Wayne Indiana, in humble preparation for a call as a pastor in the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod. I personally know pseudepigrapha (Trent), thomasmore44 (Tom), maybe one of the Pauls, Edward Naumann, and Eric Phillips. Perhaps more, if I can decipher the aliases.

I have no hard-hitting theology for this post, but rather a brief insight about human nature, the nature of theological discussions done online with intelligent persons, and the nature of this particular theological discussion among the beloved participants whom I happen to know personally. If you have posted already, please understand that what follows is not a criticism of your logic, rhetoric, intentions, or character.

—> This discussion will suffocate under an epic pile of verbiage unless we pick a topic, and stay on topic. Concisely. <—

You can’t play the game until you know what the teams are, and what the rules are. Consider: What will happen when this many intelligent personalities “assemble” in proximity to a topic of this breadth, history, and complexity, without a plan of action? Hamlet says: “Words, words, words.”  If this is to accomplish more than the happily intoxicated theological discussions I have thoroughly enjoyed having with some of you, we will need to be a bit more focused. My insight is that this discussion needs more than just charity to succeed. It needs order.

The thought is that we could discuss one theological “topic” at a time. Limit the discussion as necessary, for prudent selection of discussion. We can’t pontificate all at once about ecclesiology, justification, cannonicity, the antichrist, and how the reformation should have gone… If that’s how you want to do this, I’d rather meet over a theologian’s beverage, in person, when I’m not bent on solving anything but simply prepared to enjoy the company.

A suggested procedure:

  1. Make wild statements until it’s obvious that we disagree about something. Or assemble a list of obvious topics.
  2. State Rome’s position, and the position of the churches of the Unaltered Augsburg Confession (to sift out the straw men).
  3. Determine what (if anything) is the disagreement. Determine the root of that disagreement. (Be prepared to shelve a topic until its parent issue is solved.)
  4. Rinse, repeat.
  5. Select a suitable topic for further discussion.
  6. Determine the best way to discuss the disagreed-upon topic (“Thirty Years War” is  no longer an option).
  7. Actually discuss that topic, (investigating as much source material as possible, so as to avoid slinging whole books at each other) etc..

Does this seem to be a good general outline? Does anyone have proposals for “topics” to discuss? I have some ideas, but I figure it’s worth asking. Can this order of operations be tweaked to better facilitate our rhetoric (read: personality foibles) or limitations (read: vocational responsibilities)?

Since it seems that there’s a horde of Lutherans here, and fewer vocal representatives of Rome, I’d especially like to hear from you. Invite your friends, so it’s a better discussion. I know lots of Lutherans whom I’d love to invite, but honestly I don’t want the Roman Catholics I know to feel like they’re being ganged up on, ignored, or overwhelmed. Hence my call to order, charity, studiousness, and patience.

That said, I’d love to have a good discussion with friends. I’m not sure yet, though, whether we will have an ordered dialogue, or if I should bust out the six-pack and keep changing the channel.



  1. We could use ThomasMore’s four questions (from a comment on the Chair-and-Hat thread) as a beginning, maybe with a thread for each. Jikkiyu has started a thread on the first one already.

    Hi Keaton!

  2. This is good. Thanks, Keaton. I put George Fields up to the task of writing about Lutheran ecclesiology last night. By the way, George and Keaton — you are both at CTSFW. Find each other. George, I went to college with Keaton. Keaton, George is a friend of mine from the area; he hails from St. Athanasius Church in Vienna, but frequently visits Immanuel.

    I second the idea proposed by aureliusaugustine, who may or may not want to divulge his real identity… 😉

  3. George from St. Athanasius? At Fort Wayne? That’s great news! Wow. I hadn’t heard. So Immanuel actually sent 2 and a HALF more seminarians to the Fort this year. Or so I count it, since George came regularly to midweek Vespers at Immanuel for a while.

  4. I’m glad to see more faces here. Hello again, aureliusaugustine. Thank you again, Trent, for your administration and energy.

    For what it’s worth, I am not proposing something new. An order of discussion such as this has been tried before. Lutheran theologians presented a document in 1530, with topics stating what they believed, taught, and confessed. “Confessional” Lutherans still believe, teach, and confess these same things today. The Roman See responded with a “Confutation” of our confessions, agreeing with us on many points, yet disagreeing on others. This might be a helpful place to start when discussing the doctrinal differences our church bodies might have concerning ecclesiology, justification, sanctification, bishops, etc…. I’d like to hear if the Roman Catholics stand with the Confutation. It’s a place to start.

    I will be writing, sometime in the near future, a response to Tom’s fourth question, regarding the “Lutheran insistence on Justification.” Tom, if you’re out there, let me know, because I’m writing to and for you.

    Peace and love be with you all.

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