Saturday, July 14, 2007

A Gem from the Large Catechism

It is therefore, above all things, necessary to train up and accustom young people to hold high in their estimation this commandment and others, and if they transgress, they should immediately be checked, the commandment should be presented to them, and continually be impressed, in order that they may be reared up, not only by chastisement, but also in fear and reverence to God.

The second commandment directs the conduct of "our lips and tongues toward God". The greatest abuse which this commandment censures is that of

spiritual matters which concern the conscience, when false preachers arise and deliver their lying errors for the Word of God.

Recently I was impressed by an essay which spoke about the problems that have sprung forth out of marriages between spouses of differing faiths. Have pastors and parents neglected their duty to "train up young people to hold this commandment in high estimation", when such spiritual matters are treated with indifference as a man and a woman of differing confessions unite in one flesh?

Friday, July 13, 2007

A Gem from the Large Catechism

For this reason, no person should undertake to receive or to present any thing, unless it be commanded of God, that it be acknowledged as his gift, and thanks returned to him for it, as this commandment requires. These media, therefore, for the reception of benefits through the creatures, are not to be rejected; nor should other ways and means than those which God has commanded, be sought through presumption; for this is not receiving from God, but seeking from one's self.

The media through which God delivers His gifts are God's own creatures; they are the means by which God delivers every good thing to us. (This brings to mind a joke about a fellow who sat on a roof top during a flood, rejecting the aid of a boat, a helicopter, and something else as he waited for "divine intervention" to rescue him. On second thought, maybe this was someone's sermon illustration?)

And on the flip side, good things should not be sought except through such means as God has provided and where God has directed and commanded us to look for them. God is the giver of every good thing. If we look for good things elsewhere, we fall into the same trap that Adam and Eve fell into in the Garden of Eden.

Saturday, March 31, 2007

Since joining SparkPeople 35 days ago, I've lost around 25 pounds. I've mostly been watching my caloric intake (not to mention working very hard to make sure that I get 64 oz. of water every day), and I am planning to more seriously focus on the exercise portion of my fitness plan (starting with something simple like going for a walk every day).

I'm the Team Leader for two different teams, "Quick Oats" (guess what I'm trying to find a tasty way to eat...) and "Lutherans" (so far, there are five of us). I'm also walking a "Virtual 5K" on Palm Sunday.

If you'd like to join, it's easy and free. (If you say that spark_father referred you, I get SparkPoints!) :) Maybe you would like to try a:

Free Calorie Counter at

Monday, February 26, 2007

Thoughts on Mission

Pastor Weedon offers a good post entitled "Confusing the how with the what". It reminds me of the song "I love to tell the story" that never actually tells the story... Check out Weedon's post. It's well worth your time.

Friday, February 23, 2007


My wife (among others) will be very pleased to learn that I have joined her in the online health/diet/fitness program at Check it out at the link below. If you tell them that "spark_father" referred you, I get sparkpoints.

Join me at:

Get a Free Online Diet

I almost forgot: I get points if I tell you that (1) I'm not going to eat in front of the tv; (2) I'm going to get 10 minutes of cardio exercise; (3) I'm going to tell 1 person about my goals. There. Done.

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Good Works are Necessary

(Article VI.)

#7 in the series:
What implications or applications may be drawn
from a quia subscription to the Book of Concord?

Good works are indeed necessary. The faith (about which the previous articles spoke) is the kind of faith that "must bring forth good fruits and good works", on account of this faith "we must do all manner of good works". Why? What sort of good works are we talking about? They are the necessary good works that are required and commanded by God.

Article VI. is quick to note what kind of necessity this is. These good works are in no way required or commanded by God as necessary for meriting salvation. These good works should by no means give someone the impression that he is "meriting favor" before God. (The good work that merited God's favor for us was done by Someone else.) The good works spoken about in Article VI. are necessary for a different purpose (than earning salvation) altogether.

So what are these good works with which God is well pleased? What are these things that God has commanded, that He wants His Christians (of necessity) to do?
**Update** Once again, I'd like to direct you to the excellent post and discussion taking place on this topic at Concordia: The Lutheran Confessions: Roundtable 7: The New Obedience.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Roundtable 6 is up at the Concordia: The Lutheran Confessions blog, and the topic is Article V. It is an excellent post, and the comments are equally worth reading. My favorite part of their post:

But how does one receive such faith? Faith does not concern itself with “finding Jesus” by somehow traveling backward through time to the historical event of Jesus’ crucifixion. Salvation was achieved on the cross at Calvary, but it was not delivered there. The “instruments” extolled in AC V (Word and Sacraments) deliver salvation, but do not accomplish it.

Saturday, February 10, 2007

When a theologian is asked to yield and make concessions in order that peace may at last be established in the Church, but refuses to do so even in a single point of doctrine, such an action looks to human reason like intolerable stubbornness, yea, like downright malice. That is the reason why such theologians are loved and praised by few men during their lifetime. Most men rather revile them as disturbers of the peace, yea, as destroyers of the kingdom of God. They are regarded as men worthy of contempt. But in the end it becomes manifest that this very determined, inexorable tenacity in clinging to the pure teaching of the divine Word by no means tears down the Church; on the contrary, it is just this which, in the midst of greatest dissension, builds up the Church and ultimately brings about genuine peace.

from the Fourth Evening Lecture of C.F.W. Walther, translated by W. H. T Dau in The Proper Distinction Between Law and Gospel; St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1929, 1986; page 28.

Thursday, February 08, 2007

The Kurt Marquart Fund for Theological Education in Haiti was recently announced. Initiated by the CTSFW class of 2007, information on the fund may be found by going here.
God Works Through Means

(Article V.)

(#6) in the series:
What implications or applications may be drawn
from a quia subscription to the Book of Concord?

The faith that saves is obtained through the ways and means that God employs. The ways and means that God employs for mankind's salvation is "the Gospel and the Sacraments". The Holy Spirit is imparted through the Gospel and the Sacraments, to work faith where and when He pleases in those who hear the Gospel, the teaching that "through the merits of Christ, and not through our own merits, we have a merciful God, if we believe these things".

All of this is to say that God works to save us through His Word. The merits of the suffering and death of Jesus are applied in the preaching of the Gospel and the administration of the Sacraments. Speaking of "the Gospel and the Sacraments" is to speak twice of the same thing, because the Sacraments are nothing less than the Gospel in an elemental form. For example, Holy Baptism is the Gospel made watery and applied to men. It wets the baptized, not simply as an outward washing, but as a watery, heavenly flood of salvation and regeneration - because God's powerful Word is attached to that water in Baptism. God's Word makes the water of Baptism powerful, so that those who are baptized in it receive the benefits of what Christ merited upon the cross - the forgiveness of sins and deliverance from death and the power of the devil. This is how God works through His Holy Spirit for our salvation.

The contrary position condemned (censured) in this article is the teaching that the Holy Spirit is received by means (as a result) of "our own preparation, our thoughts and works, without the external word of the Gospel".

Implications and Applications?

Considered with the preceding articles, this article talks about how we receive faith and the mercy of God. In consequence of original sin, we are unable to make ourselves right before God (being filled with "evil desires and propensities", having "no true fear of God, no true faith in God"). The good and righteous works which men are able to do by nature (works of charity for the welfare of others, for example) are only such in the eyes of men; these works do not avail for righteousness before God (see Article XVIII.).

Those who subscribe to the Lutheran Confessions have such a view of fallen humanity, that among them, it should be considered futile to try to persuade fallen people to "make a decision to follow Jesus" or to "accept Jesus into their hearts" (who by nature are unable to do these things anyway). Instead, such Lutherans look for the Holy Spirit to work through the preaching of repentance and remission of sins to convert people to fear of God and faith in God; this preaching of the Gospel speaks about and delivers the mercy that God shows us for the sake of the suffering and death of His Son. The Sacraments do the same thing, putting the old flesh to death and raising souls and bodies to new life in Christ. This is where the working of the Holy Spirit for conversion and salvation is to be sought: in the "means" of grace, the Gospel and the Sacraments.

Monday, January 29, 2007

God the Son became Man

(Article III.)

(#5) in the series:
What implications or applications may be drawn
from a quia subscription to the Book of Concord?

The two natures of Christ is foundational for Christian faith and life. Before one is able to believe or teach rightly about salvation or good works (compare the "whosoever will be saved" from the Athanasian Creed), one must first have the right Christ. The Augsburg Confession maintains that its adherents teach

that God the Son became man, and was born of the blessed Virgin Mary; and that the two natures, human and divine, inseparably united in one person, are one Christ, who is true God and man, etc."

What are the implications of this union? One Christ - true God and true Man, "was really born," "truly suffered," "was crucified, died, and was buried" (emphasis added). No separation of the two natures is possible, so that one who subscribes to this confession might say that "only the humanity died," etc.

It was necessary for this one Christ (true God and true Man) to do all of these things so that He should be "a sacrifice, not only for original sin, but also for all other sins," and "appease the wrath of God". The sacrifical death of anyone less would disqualify the sacrifice.

The article continues, "this same Christ descended into hell, and truly rose from the dead on the third day, ascended to heaven, and sits at the right hand of God". This He has done,

that he may perpetually reign over all creatures, and govern them, through the Holy Spirit sanctify, purify, strengthen, and console all those who believe in him, and give unto them life and various gifts and blessings, and protect and defend them against the devil and the power of sin.

We hear more of this last work in the articles that follow.

* 02/08/07 Update: An interesting discussion related to this post may be found here.*

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Redeemer Press has made the Piepkorn/McClean volume "The Conduct of the Service" available for purchase on-line. An easier process for ordering this book is in the works, but for those who cannot wait, follow the instructions on the Cyberstones' blog here. The cost is $30, which includes shipping and handling.

Friday, January 19, 2007

No Creed But...

Paul McCain's Concordia: The Lutheran Confessions blog began one of its early discussions by looking at the popular perception of the historic creeds. As an illustration, a graphic was posted featuring "lost souls" holding a Bible, unable to see the Bible because a clergyman has placed his hand over the “lost souls’” eyes. The clergyman does not look at the Bible; instead he reads from a book titled "Human Creeds" and says: "What else would you like me to teach you about God's Word?"

The illustration reminds me of a popular phrase: "No creed but the Bible!" The statement is piously intended, wanting to place a high view on the authority of the Sacred Scriptures for Christian faith and life. But there is a problem: There is no such thing as a creedless view of the Bible. If you maintain “no creed but the Bible”, then I have to ask you: “What do you believe that the Bible says? Is it necessary for others to believe as you do, or not?” “What interpretation(s) are biblically acceptable and which are unacceptable?” “What teachings of the Bible are authoritative for what we say and do today; please explain how such biblical teachings are to be applied?”

As soon as any attempt is made to answer any of these questions – a creed (an “I believe”) has been formulated. That creed may fall in line with the ancient and historic creeds, what has been believed, taught, and confessed by others for a long time; or it may be something new and original that no one else in the history of the whole world to the present time has believed, taught, or confessed. Whatever the case, some formulation of a creed or confession accompanies the Bible to explain and apply what the Bible says.

Perhaps those who use the phrase “no creed but the Bible” really intend to say that the historic creeds and confessions are not biblical. I have frequently heard that my communion fellowship, The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod, is not biblical, because that particular phrase does not appear anywhere in the Bible. Response: If this is how we are to understand what it means to be biblical, then the only biblically mentioned church (still in existence) to which a person may belong is the one mentioned in Romans 1:7.

The historic creeds and confessions are not found word-for-word in the Bible, yet this fact alone does not make them “unbiblical". A different question must be asked to determine whether such creeds and confessions are biblical, whether they are a faithful exposition of the Sacred Scriptures, whether they teach and confess the same Faith handed down by the holy prophets and apostles in the sacred writings.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

What is helpful in lumping together...

(Articles III.-V.)

(#4) in the series:
What implications or applications may be drawn
from a quia subscription to the Book of Concord?

Articles III.-V. of the Augsburg Confession flow (and fit) quite naturally together.

* Article III. explains what we confess of Christ - who He is, what He did, and what He continues to do. It ends by explaining that, through the Holy Spirit, Christ sanctifies, purifies, strengthens, and consoles all those who believe in him, etc.

* Article IV. continues the progression. "It is taught further..." links the two articles together. Since "we cannot obtain righteousness and the forgiveness of sins before God", we are directed to the one who can and does obtain the remission of sins for us - Christ (prercisely the one that is confessed in Art. III.) We "are justified before God, by grace, for Christ's sake, through faith, if we believe that Christ suffered for us, and that for his sake our sins are remitted unto us, etc."

* Article V. explains "for the purpose of obtaining this faith". When those who subscribe to the Augsburg Confession are asked, "How is it that you receive whatever it was that Christ did for you?", they give this answer: "The ministry, that is, the Gospel and the sacraments." Article V. explains where it is that Christ sends the Holy Spirit to give faith, to forgive sins, and to make men righteous before God. Where and when He pleases, the Holy Spirit "works faith in those who hear the Gospel, which teaches that through the merits of Christ [cf. Art. III.], and not our own merits [cf. Art. IV.], we have a merciful God, if we believe these things."

What the condemnation at the end of this sequence makes clear is that we do not look for the Holy Spirit "in consequence of our own preparation, our thoughts and works, without the external word of the Gospel." The external word of the Gospel - preached, and administered in the Sacraments - is precisely where the Holy Spirit is pleased to come to us.

You can draw your own applications and implications from these articles and post them in the comments, or if you would rather post your thoughts on your own blog, kindly provide a link back to this post.

Monday, January 15, 2007

Thoughts from Apology IV. on Preaching

So greatly has this shameful, abominable error prevailed! I myself heard a reputable minister, who did not mention Christ and the Gospel, but preached the ethics of Aristotle, (Aristotelis ethicos). Is not such preaching puerile and foolish among Christians? If, however, the doctrine of our adversaries be true, then are these ethics (ethici,) an invaluable collection of sermons, and a fine new bible. For it is not easy for any one to write better than Aristotle, with regard to an external, honorable life.

We see, that some learned men have written books, in which they endeavor to show, that the words of Christ and the sayings of Socrates and Zeno harmonize beautifully, as if Christ had come to give us good laws and commandments, through which to merit the remission of our sins; instead of proclaiming to us the grace and peace of God and imparting the Holy Spirit, through his own merits and blood.

It seems that part of the problem, lamented recently on Cyberbrethren, is that preachers hear the negative statements in the Confessions about Christ and the Law and Commandments, such as the one quoted above, and interpret these words to mean that, in Christ, there is no law or commandments to be preached. This is a misunderstanding of our confessional statements and their understanding of the Scriptures. (For more on this topic, one might read Scott Murray's Law, Life, and the Living God.)

The reader who pays close attention to what is being said will notice that Christ has not come to give us good laws and commandments "through which to merit the remission of our sins". Christ has indeed come to give us good laws and commandments; they're all over the place in the Gospels and in the writings of His Apostles. One such good law and commandment is: "This do in remembrance of Me" (see Luther's comments here, particularly the paragraph beginning: "And in the first place..."). Yet even though the observance of these laws and commandments does not merit the remission of sins, a person should nevertheless wish to keep them "if he wishes to be a Christian".

Friday, January 12, 2007

If any article should be considered... (Article IV.)

(#3) in the series:
What implications or applications may be drawn
from a quia subscription to the Book of Concord?

If any article should be considered for its applications and implications, it is Article IV. Within the Augsburg Confession itself, there are several foundational references to the article that we "obtain remission of sins and are justified before God by grace, for Christ's sake, through faith, if we believe that Christ suffered for us, etc."

* This doctrine undergirds Article VI. , which upholds the necessity of "good works" ("because of God's requirement and command"), though "we must not put any confidence in these works, as meriting favor in the sight of God: for we receive forgiveness of sins and justification through faith in Christ, as Christ himself says, Luke 17, 10, etc." (emphasis added). St. Ambrose is quoted: “Thus it has been ordained of God, that whosoever believes in Christ shall be saved; not through works, but without merit through faith alone, he has forgiveness of sins.”

* We also see the doctrine of Article IV. applied in Article XII. on repentance. Forgiveness of sins may at all times be obtained by those who repent and "have faith in the Gospel or absolution,– namely that sins are forgiven and grace is obtained through Christ, – a faith which consoles and imparts peace to the heart" (emphasis added). We also see Article IV. brought to bear in the condemnations in Article XII.:

On the other hand, the Novatians also are here condemned, who refused absolution to those who had sinned after baptism.

Those in like manner are condemned who teach, that forgiveness of sin is obtained, not through faith, but through our own merits (emphasis added).

* Article XX. returns to the theme of good works, highlighted in Article VI., when it says:

First, that our works cannot reconcile us to God and merit grace, but these things are effected through faith alone, if we believe that our sins are forgiven us for Christ’s sake, who alone is the Mediator reconciling the Father. He, therefore, that expects to effect this reconciliation by works, and to merit grace, contemns Christ and seeks a way of his own to God, contrary to the Gospel (emphasis added).

Citations are added of Ephesians 2:8-9, Romans 5:1, and St. Augustine, in an effort to show that "a new signification is not introduced here". Augustine's “De Spiritu et Litera” is referenced as clear testimony that "we obtain grace and are justified before God, through faith in Christ, and not by works".

Article XX. adds, on account of the monastic teachings about good works and meriting grace and making satisfaction for sins: "It was, for this reason, necessary to preach and enforce with diligence this doctrine of faith in Christ, that it might be known that through faith alone, without merit, the grace of God is secured" (emphasis added).

Article XX. speaks further on the themes of good works and grace:

It is taught further, that good works should and must be performed, not with a view of placing confidence in them as meriting grace, but in accordance with his will, and for the glory of God. Faith alone constantly secures grace and forgiveness of sins. And because the Holy Spirit is given through faith, the heart becomes qualified to perform good works (emphasis added).

* When we turn to Article XXI., we see that the proper remembrance of the saints is to have our faith strengthened when we see "how grace was conferred on them, and how assistance was afforded them through faith; and also to derive examples from their good works for every vocation". The saints ought not to be worshipped;

from Scripture it cannot be shown, that we should invoke the saints, or seek help from them. For there is but one Reconciler and Mediator appointed between God and man, Jesus Christ, 1 Tim. 2, 5, who is the only Savior, High Priest, Propitiator, and Intercessor before God, Rom. 3, 25, and 8, 34. He alone has promised to hear our prayers; and the highest worship according to the Scripture is to seek and call on Jesus Christ from the heart, in every necessity and affliction; 1 John 2, 1: “If any man sin, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous” (emphasis added).

* The abuse of the Mass which is spoken against in Article XXIV. is the understanding that the Mass is a marketable propiation for sins and "an oblation for the living and the dead, in order to take away sins, and to reconcile God." The teaching of St. Paul in Romans 3:25 is cited,

that we obtain grace before God, through faith, and not by works. Such abuse of the mass is evidently opposed to this doctrine if by that means we expect to obtain grace; as it is well known that the mass has been used for the purpose of removing sins, and of obtaining grace and favor before God, not only in behalf of the priest for himself, but also for the whole world, for the living and the dead (emphasis added).

* A similar theme is heard in Article XXVI., which talks about ceremonies, fasts, and orders "instituted by men... in order to merit grace, and to make satisfaction for sin."

In the first place, the grace of Christ and the doctrine concerning faith were by this means obscured, which doctrine with great solemnity the Gospel inculcates, and it insists with earnestness that the merits of Christ should be highly and dearly esteemed, and that it should be known that faith in Christ is to be placed far above all works. St. Paul, for this reason, inveighs bitterly against the Mosaic law and human traditions, in order to teach us, that we are not justified before God by our works, but alone through faith in Christ, and that we obtain grace for Christ’s sake. This doctrine was almost entirely suppressed, by teaching that grace must be merited by the observance of laws, by fasts, and by diversities of meats and dress (emphasis added).

* Article XXVII. returns to a theme introduced in Article XX., addressing a little more specifically the issue of monastic confusion on grace and good works.

For formerly they assembled in monasteries with a view to learn the Scripture, but now they falsely pretend that monastic life is of such a nature, that men merit the grace of God and holiness before God by it; yea, that it is a state of perfection, and they exalt it far above other states which God has instituted (emphasis added).

For every species of worship, chosen and instituted by men without the precept and command of God, in order to obtain righteousness and divine grace, is repugnant to him, and in opposition to his command and to the Gospel (emphasis added).

So St. Paul also teaches every where, that men should not seek righteousness from religious services devised by men, but that righteousness and holiness in the sight of God, come from the faith and confidence that God accepts us graciously for the sake of Christ his own Son. Now, it is clear, that the monks have taught and preached that their assumed piety atones for sin, and obtains righteousness and the grace of God (emphasis added).

Therefore those also who wish to be justified by vows, are separated from Christ, and fail to obtain the grace of God. For these rob Christ of his honor, who alone justifies, and thus they bestow such honor on their vows and monastic life.

* All of this comes to a conclusion in Article XXVIII., where the "power of the bishops or clergy" does not give them an authority to make up ordinances that are necessary in order to "reconcile God and to merit grace".

For the doctrine of Christian liberty must be retained in the church, namely, that the servitude of the law is not necessary to justification, as St. Paul writes to the Galatians: “Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage,” Gal. 5, 1. For the chief article of the Gospel, that without our merit we obtain the grace of God through faith in Christ, must be maintained, and that we do not merit it in consequence of rites instituted by men (emphasis added).

The article clarifies this elsewhere:

(B)ishops or pastors may make regulations, so that things may be carried on orderly in the church, – not to obtain the grace of God, nor yet to atone for sins, or to bind the consciences of men to hold these regulations as necessary services of God, and to regard them, as if those commit sin, who break them without offence to others.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Paul McCain has announced that Concordia: The Lutheran Confessions is back and selling at the re-introductory price of $20 (good for the next six months). For those interested in acquiring a fine edition of the Book of Concord (at the lowest price of any new edition that is currently available,) visit the links above.
Re: (#1) The Implications and Applications of Article I. of the Augsburg Confession; one may be interested in following a similar discussion that is taking place at Concordia: The Lutheran Confessions, in their third roundtable discussion.

The roundtable begins by taking a look at the issue of individuals, churches, and the church. The roundtable cites a phrase from Article I. in the Latin, stating that the doctrine of the Trinity must be "believed without any doubt." Regarding doubt, the point is made that the doctrine of the Trinity is a divine mystery, certainly transcending the ability of complete human comprehension; yet there is no doubt but that our churches teach and confess this doctrine. Weedon makes the observation in the comments, that the intention of the Lutherans was "to communicate to the papal party at Augsburg that the Trinitarian orthodoxy of the Lutheran parishes was beyond dispute". (That is, the Lutheran princes should not be outlawed by the emperor for harboring those who teach or hold to heretical doctrines of the Trinity.)

CR notes: If the Trinitarian orthodoxy of the churches of the Augsburg Confession was to be unquestionable, then the individuals of those churches - Pastors, Professors, congregations, and people - could neither teach nor hold to any understanding of the Trinity which was not agreeable to the decree of the Council of Nicaea or the understanding of the Fathers (as specified with reference to the term "persons"); this was the standard to which they held themselves. Their orthodoxy would be called into question if it could be demonstrated that there were some among them who taught, preached, or believed strange (read: heretical) doctrines about God - such as that there are two principles, one good and one evil; that the Father alone is God and the divinity of the Son and the Spirit might be explained away; etc. (The chain is only as strong as its weakest link.)

I may be remembering this incorrectly, but early on in my studies of the Book of Concord, I was told that the division of the Articles of the Augsburg Confession (with the headings) was somewhat similar to the division of chapters (together with editorial headings) in the Bible: These divisions were not in the original. However, one may see that the article divisions and headings were included in the 1580 Book of Concord by looking here. Perhaps this piece of information was referencing the Augsburg Confession as it was presented in 1530?

What I do remember with some certainty was the understanding that the divisions fall more naturally after each condemnation. It works like this: Article I. ends with a condemnation. Article II. ends with a condemnation. When you arrive at Article III., you do not see a condemnation until the end of Article V., so that Articles III. to V. should all be considered together with regard to the censured teachings of the Anabaptists and others, "who teach that we receive the Holy Spirit in consequence of our own preparation, our thoughts and works, without the external word of the Gospel."

Any thoughts on this? (Or correction of my memory in remembering these things?)

Friday, January 05, 2007

(#2) What implications or applications may be drawn...

If one makes a quia subscription to the Book of Concord, etc.

We teach, that since the fall of Adam all men who are naturally engendered, are conceived and born in sin; that is, that they all are from their mother’s womb, full of evil desires and propensities, and can have by nature no true fear of God, no true faith in God; and that this innate disease, or original sin, is truly sin, which brings all those under the eternal wrath of God, who are not born again by Baptism and the Holy Spirit.

Hence, we condemn the Pelagians and others, who deny that original corruption is sin, whereby they assert, to the disparagement of the merits and sufferings of Christ, that piety is the result of our natural powers.


Reading this, I am reminded of a section of the "Flood Prayer" from Luther's Baptismal Booklet: "we ask for the sake of this very same boundless mercy of yours that you would look graciously upon N. and bless him with true faith in the Holy Spirit so that through this same saving flood all that has been born in him from Adam and whatever he has added thereto may be drowned in him and sink, etc." (The Book of Concord: The Confessions of the Evangelical Lutheran Church, Robert Kolb and Timothy Wengert, eds., Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 2000, p.374; emphasis added.) It is perhaps worth noting that Article II explicitly makes a connection to Baptism.

Applications and Implications:

(1) Those who assert that "piety is the result of our natural powers" - that we might somehow naturally have or achieve true fear of God or true faith in God - bring into question what exactly it was that Christ came to do.

(2) When I hear questions pressed against this Article, dissent is often expressed with regard to infants. Infants look innocent. Infants can't *do* anything, can't *hurt* anyone, cannot think - let alone harbor malicious thoughts or ill-will toward anyone. Response?

(3) Believing that infants are conceived and born in sin, the implication is that from infancy we need the grace and promises of God which are given and applied in Holy Baptism, that we might also escape "the eternal wrath of God". (In the Large Catechism, Luther says more about Infant Baptism here.)

(4) There are also in this article - if all men can "have by nature no true fear of God, no true faith in God" - implications for evangelism, etc. Would anyone care to elaborate? (Perhaps with reference to Articles III-V?)

Thursday, January 04, 2007

(#1) What implications or applications may be drawn...

Examples (or questions to get the ball rolling...) :

(1) What significance does the word "unanimous" have for church fellowship for us today, when AC I states that our churches unanimously hold and teach that God is "only one Divine Essence" in which "there are three persons"? Are those who wish to subscribe quia to this article (as part of a quia subscription to the entire Book of Concord) permitted to remain in a fellowship that is not unanimous in confessing the Most Blessed and Holy Trinity in the Undivided Unity?

(2) A related question: Is one who wishes to make a quia subscription to the Confessions bound only to attach himself to a fellowship that is unanimous in rejecting the heresies that are condemned in this article? (For example, should the churches in our fellowship likewise be unanimous in denying the statement of some that the god of the "Mahometans" is also the "true God"?)

(3) What application might be drawn from the teaching that is confessed in this article? Aside from the crassly pagan invocation of "the Mother (Earth), Daughter, and Wisdom" (which without doubt ought to be forbidden among Christians,) what other formulas of divine invocation ought to be censured among quia subscribers?

(4) How does our confession of what is taught about God in this article affect our prayers, either their manner or their words?

(5) Is there any significance to the fact that not one single Bible passage is cited in this article (although passages such as Nehemiah 9:6, Matthew 28:19, Titus 3:10-11 could certainly have been cited), yet an explicit nod is given to both the Council of Nicaea and the Fathers?

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

(#1) What implications or applications may be drawn...

If one makes a quia subscription to the Book of Concord, what are the implications of this subscription (or what applications might be made) with particular regard to:

Our churches unanimously hold and teach, agreeably to the Decree of the Council of Nice, that there is only one Divine Essence, which is called, and truly is, God; but that there are three persons in this one Divine Essence, equally powerful, equally eternal, – God the Father, God the Son, God the Holy Ghost, – who are one Divine Essence, eternal, incorporeal, indivisible, infinite in power, wisdom, and goodness, the Creator and Preserver of all things visible and invisible. And the word person is not intended to express a part or quality of another, but that which subsists of itself, precisely as the Fathers have employed this term on this subject.

Every heresy opposed to this Article is therefore condemned: as that of the Manichaeans, who assume two principles, the one good, the other evil. Likewise the heresies of the Valentinians, Arians, Eunomians, Mahometans, and the like; also that of the ancient and modern Samosatenians, who admit but one person, and sophistically explain away these two, – the WORD and the Holy Spirit, – asserting, that they must not be viewed as distinct persons, but that the WORD signifies the oral word or voice, and that the Holy Ghost is the principle of motion in things. (Henkel, The Christian Book of Concord, 1854)