Last Summer Sean and Stephen Bryant were challenged by their dad to write a paper that conveys an “Authentic Witness to Lutheran Theology.” What “authentic” means is “grounded in the Book of Concord.” What “lutheran” means is “true to what Martin Luther wrote, taught, and preached.” And what “witness” means is “gives a view of Christ and Christianity” through a Lutheran lens. And here’s the clincher—-Were the young gents to accomplish this faithfully then their father would give them $1000 cash.
Help me judge. How faithfully did Sean provide such an “Authentic Lutheran Witness.” Email me (firstname.lastname@example.org) what you think he has earned whether $1 or $1000. Read on…..read on….for here’s Sean’s paper.
Authentic Witness to Lutheran Theology as Presented and Defined by Martin Luther
What is a Lutheran? Are they similar to Baptists? Are they Catholic? Lutheran theologian Carl Braaten states that even those who are Lutheran have a problem defining their own identity as what is means to live out the Christian faith in the Lutheran tradition (Braaten. 37). The best place to start answering the question about what a Lutheran is, is by exploring the works of Martin Luther, the man who fleshed out the defining attributes of Lutherans and to whom the denomination of Christianity is named. Martin Luther was involved with many discussions of the Church during the time of the Reformation, where he gave clear, direct input on topics that define the Church and how the Church lived out its mission in the world. These topics led to the formation or the eventual formation of other sects of Christianity, for other theologians began to inquire about the identity of the Church as it was and what it should be according to their own perspectives.
In first looking at the beliefs of Lutheranism according to Martin Luther, the defining of who God is and its importance but be evaluated and understood. Luther states in the Smalcald Articles, in article one specifically that,
“ 1. That the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, three distinct persons in one divine essence and nature, is one God, who created heaven and earth, etc.
- That the Father was begotten by no one, the Son was begotten by the Father, and the Holy Spirit proceeds from the Father and the Son.
- That neither the Father nor the Holy Spirit, but the Son, became a human being. (Kolb. 300.)” The first three sub-points of the article clearly define the identity of the three distinct persons, who are one God. The Father is attributed with the construction and the giving of life to Creation, the Son is attributed with the redeeming of the Creation, which was created by the Father, and the Holy Spirit is attributed with the sanctification of Creation (Luther. 104). Christ is completely human and completely divine. Through being completely divine and completely human, Christ is capable of relating to all of Creation, for he was born into the world of sin, but was not tainted by the sin around it. Through Christ’s death and resurrection he is capable of bearing the sins of the world and being the redeemer of the world, by through this all are capable of coming to the Father through the Son. These truths stated about the trinity are as close as humans can get to defining who God is, for God is beyond human thought and thus is incapable of being fully understood and all earthly attempts are useless, unless God reveals Himself by divine revelation. Since Christ was crucified, died on the cross, and then was resurrected, he is then the redeemer of Creation. His death and resurrection make him the mediator between the Father and Creation, for only through Christ is Creation in relationship with the Father. Humanity cannot come to Christ without the inspiration and work of the Holy Spirit through the Scripture. Through the calling and inspiration of the Holy Spirit, humanity and the Church is sanctified, preserved in faith, and made in union with Christ in one true faith.” (Kerr. 65).
In the reformation there were three solas that were created, one being Sola Scriptura, which is “by scripture alone”. Luther stated, “The Word of God is and should remain the sole rule and norm of all doctrine, and (that) no human being’s writings dare be put on par with it, but (that) everything must be subjected to it (Braaten.12).” Since the Scriptures are the inspired Word of God and the encounters of God with humanity, written by humanity through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, then they are indeed infallible by nature. The Scriptures are divided into two main parts, being known as the Old Testament and the New Testament, also known as the commands and promises. The Old Testament contains what is considered to be primarily the Law of ancient Israel and the dictations of God. The New Testament contains the Christ event and the fulfillment of the promises of God. Luther believed that the theme of the Old Testament and the New Testament were centered in Christ and pointed to the self-revelation of Christ, where no confessions, personal experiences, nor creeds were close to the importance of the self-revelation of Christ (Braaten. 27).
It may seem odd that Christ would be the center of the Old Testament when Christ is never specifically mentioned as the Christ humanity would come to know and experience, but this is because the Law in and of itself pointed to the need of a Christ. Some theologians previous to the Reformation, like Origen and Jerome, believed that the Old Testament didn’t have great meaning and significance for the Church since the gospels contained the Christ event and the salvation of Creation. However, the gospels, which are the living word of preaching, only receive their meaning and purpose through the existence of the Law in the Old Testament. “The commands indeed teach things that are good, but the things taught are not done as soon as taught; for the commands show us what we ought to do, but do not give us the power to do it; they are intended to teach a person to know one’s self, that through them he may be recognize his inability to do good and may despair of his powers. That is why they are called and are the Old Testament. For example: ‘Thou shalt not covet’ is a command which convicts us all of being sinners, since no one is able to avoid coveting, however much he may struggle against it. Therefore, in order not to covet, and to fulfill the command, a man is compelled to despair of himself, and to seek elsewhere and from someone else the help which he does not find himself, as is said in Hosea, ‘Destruction is thy own, O Israel: thy help is only in Me.’ And as we fare with this one command, so we fare with all; for it is equally impossible for us to keep any one of them. But when a man through the commands has learned to know his weakness, and has become troubled as to how he may satisfy the law, since the law must be fulfilled so that there is not a jot or tittle shall perish, otherwise man will be condemned without hope; then, being truly humbled and reduced to nothing in his own eyes, he finds in himself no means of justification and salvation. Here the second part of the Scriptures stands ready-the promises of God, which declare the glory of God…thus the promises of God give what the commands of God ask, and fulfill what the law prescribes, that all things may be of God alone, both the commands and the fulfilling of the commands (Kerr. 5-6).” Without the Law in the Old Testament there would be no appreciation for the good news that the gospels bring. We see the Law tells what ought to be done by humanity and the gospel tells of what God does and is doing. In this Creation is able to see how truly weak it is and that it truly is in need of a savior.
In the interpretation of Scripture, there are some actions that take place that were and still are under debate. Since the time of the theologian Origen, the allegorical method of exegesis was constantly in use, which is where there are many potential interpretations of the Scripture because they can be analogies for other meanings. Luther was adamantly against this view, for be believed that the Scriptures could say anything if an allegorical method of exegesis was always applied to the Scriptures, for this method could prove whatever the presenter desired. Luther believed that this method robbed the Scriptures of their validity and so logically there must at least be one literal, authentic meaning in each passage of Scripture. The hermeneutical position of Luther was, “Scripture interprets itself (Braaten. 18).” The standards of interpretation had to come from the Scriptures themselves, for if they were interpreted by an outside source, then the source was outside of the Scriptures, and thus had to be above the Scriptures in authority, which is incorrect. Since the Scriptures are above all writings of man and everything is subjected to it, then it is impossible that an authority is above it and can interpret the Scriptures. The Holy Spirit, as discussed, works as a mediator between Creation and the Scriptures, where it calls and inspires those toward Christ. The Holy Spirit does not operate apart from the scriptural word, but mediates, so there can be only one way the message of grace and salvation can be communicated and translated, which is through the interpretation of the Scripture by the Scripture (Braaten. 18).
Luther created ninety-five theses regarding subjects that he desired for the Roman Catholic church to discuss because there was injustice occurring all around him. The dogma of purgatory was being adamantly preached and money was being given to fund the agendas of the Roman Catholic Church, for the fear of loved ones being separated from God promoted all people, rich and poor, giving what they had in order to help the ones they loved from this temporary fate. These ninety-five theses address a multitude of topics that he desired to discuss, but one of the more central themes of the Lutheran theology in his perspective is expressed in the sixty-second and sixty-third theses, saying, “The true treasure of the Church is in the Most Holy Gospel of the glory and the grace of God. But this treasure is naturally odious, for it makes the first to be last. (Book of Concord).” These theses promote that we are to live into what the “Most Holy Gospel” dictates, for through living in this manner, Christ is promoted, as he should be, for Christ is the central theme of the Gospel. Ephesians 4: 29-32 states, “You must let no unwholesome word come out of your mouth, but only what is beneficial for the building up of the one in need, that it may give grace to those who hear. And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. You must put away all bitterness, anger, wrath, quarreling, and slanderous talk—indeed all malice. Instead, be kind to one another, compassionate, forgiving one another, just as God in Christ also forgave you (BibleGateway.com).” In placing fear into the hearts of the people, this didn’t reflect the commands given in the Gospel, but only sought to use the people and their faith, in order to gain assets to push their earthly desires.
A theology of glory is one where the works done by humanity not only edify the egos of humanity, but also deceive those into believing that through their greatness and power, they were able to lead people to the cross and to Christ himself. What relevance does this have to an authentic witness? In reference to the money raising and releasing souls from the fate or purgatory or hell, the power to release the people from this fate seemed to only rest in the hands of those who preached the skewed message. It was by their doing, they were capable of changing the spiritual dwelling status of these people, which was not in their power to begin with, but in God’s. Luther stated, “A theology of glory calls evil good and good evil. A theology of the cross calls the thing what it actually is (1518 Heidelberg Disputation).” A theology of the cross is where humanity has no power to bring people to the cross, nor does humanity add anything to the cross, like righteousness or holiness, through their works, even if the intention seems good. Humanity deceives itself when people believe that through them and their knowledge or works, that they have done absolute good and have aided Christ. However, as good as works are, they have no influence on what Christ has already done, dying on the cross for the forgiveness of sins, and thus fall short in comparison to whom all things are to be concerned with, Jesus Christ. Simply, for things that are good done by works are not as good as they seem for Christ has done the best possible in his death and resurrection. The theology of glory may present the idea that through the works done, by humanity, that righteousness and grace may be given to those who merit them, however the theology of the cross always points to the notion that righteousness, grace, faith, etc. all come from an external source, who is God.
As previously mentioned, there are three solas, where the other two are Sola Fide and Sola Gratia, meaning “By Faith alone” and “By Grace alone”. These are very important when it comes to confession, salvation, and the sacraments of the Church, as defined by Luther himself. It is by faith alone that the Scriptures can be interpreted and it is by grace alone that we are forgiven of our sins, through Christ (Braaten. 18). Luther adamantly presented the idea of justification by faith, where it is not by works but by faith through grace that we are saved, and works are natural products of our faith in Christ and his promise through his resurrection. There cannot be the idea that through works, one becomes righteous or sanctified by God, for through this there would be no need for a savior or one to redeem Creation from sin. Luther started, “ As I am often warn, therefore, the doctrine of justification must be learned diligently. For in it are all the other doctrines of our faith; and if it is all sound, all others are sound as well (Braaten. 44). Ephesians 2:8-9 says, “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast (BibleGateway.com).” This passage exemplifies that it is by faith alone and grace alone through Christ that we haven’t saved ourselves, but recognize that we have been saved by Christ. Luther explains that all depends on faith in our lives as Christians. He uses the analogy to explain the severity of faith, “He who doesn’t have faith is like one who needs to cross a sea, but doesn’t trust the ship. He will remain forever and never be saved (Kerr. 99-100).”
By grace we are saved and it has nothing to do with Creation, except that through the grace and mercy of God through Jesus Christ in us by means of which we are considered godly and righteous before Him. It isn’t but by God through grace in us (Kerr. 86,87). Since it was determined that if the gospels were the fulfillment of the promises of God, through Jesus Christ, and that the New Testament was about God has and is doing, then it cannot be by the works and actions of Creation that lead to their own salvation, only the actions of the triune God. We see this in the inspiration of the Holy Spirit and the command of Christ in Matthew 28: 19-20, “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age (BibleGateway.com).”
The verse from Matthew is a command made by Christ, but is it only to those who are “priest-like” or those who are priests in the Church? Sacerdotalism was a pervasive view of the Catholic church where only priests could communicate with Christ directly. It was through their communication with Christ that they were able to assure that all offerings and sacrifices were in perfect union with Christ, who is the mediator of humanity with the Father. 1st Timothy 2:5 states, “For there is one God and one intermediary between God and humanity, Christ Jesus, himself human, who gave himself as a ransom for all, revealing God’s purpose at his appointed time (BibleGateway.com).” In this verse it is seen that there is only one mediator, who is Jesus Christ, and there are no other mediators with him. Luther strongly opposed the idea of sacerdotalism because it didn’t seem to align with Scripture; and through Christ, humanity was in relationship with the Father, through the inspiration and faith via the Holy Spirit. Luther preached about the priesthood of all believers, which was the view that all baptized Christians were able to communicate with God through Christ, without the intercession of priests. In the Augsburg Confession, article five concerns the office of preaching and it reads, “To obtain such faith God instituted the office of preaching, giving the gospel and the sacraments. Through these, as through means, he gives the Holy Spirit who produces faith, where and when he wills, in those who hear the gospel. It teaches that we have a gracious God, not through our merit but through Christ’s merit, when we so believe. Condemned are the Anabaptists and others who teach that we obtain the Holy Spirit without the external word of the gospel through our own preparation, thoughts, and works (Kolb. 40).” Through this it is realized that through the will of God, via the Holy Spirit, the faithful are capable of preaching the gospel and living out the command made by Christ to his disciples in Matthew 18:19-20.
Grace is seen in the sacrament of Baptism, where water comprehended in God’s command and connected in God’s Word, which is in reference to Matthew 28. Baptism forgives sins, delivers from death and the devil, and gives eternal salvation to all who believe this as God’s promise (Kerr. 164). This message is proclaimed in the Book of Concord, for in Mark 16:16, it is written, “The one who believes and is baptized will be saved, but the one who does not believe will be condemned.” The word for the sacrament of baptism is derived from the Greek word, baptismos, which means, “to plunge into water”. The usage of this word is almost a necessity for the sacrament of baptism, for the old man and the sinful birth of flesh and blood are wholly drowned by the grace of God (Kerr. 167). In 2nd Peter 3:21, it reads, “And this prefigured baptism, which now saves you—not the washing off of physical dirt but the pledge of a good conscience to God—through the resurrection of Jesus Christ, who went into heaven and is at the right hand of God with angels and authorities and powers subject to him (BibleGateway.com).” We model the sacrament of baptism after God and we are to live out our baptism in all faith. In baptism, humanity is embraced in the family of God, including the intercession of the saints and all that is a part of the kingdom of God through God the Son. The element of water is not what makes baptism to be the sacrament that it is in the Church, but the involvement of God through the Word. If the Word is not present in the sacrament, then all that is left is simply water. It may be perceived that this must then be a work because humanity would have to be baptized and through their faith, then, they are saved, however this is true by no means. “Baptism is not a work that we do, but it is a treasure that God gives, and faith grasps, just as the Lord Christ upon the cross is not a work, but a treasure placed in the setting of the Word, and offered to us in the Word, and received by faith (Kolb. 458)”
“It is of great importance that we regard baptism as excellent, glorious, and exalted. It is the chief cause of our contentions and battles because the world is now full of sects who scream that baptism is an eternal and that external things are of no use. But no matter how external it may be, here stand God’s Word and command that have instituted, established, and confirmed baptism. What God institutes and commands cannot be useless. Rather, it is a most precious thing, even though to all appearances it may not be worth a straw…we ought to regard baptism as much greater and more precious (than the pope’s authority) because God has commanded it (Kolb. 457).” Baptism is more than just the placing of water on an individual. Since God commands it, it cannot be useless, for God wouldn’t command anything that was not important for Christians to follow. This baptismal water encloses the promise of the gospels into the faithful and the faithful are to cling to their baptism, for it is not the water that gives them salvation and life, but it is the Word of God infused with the water. How is it known that the waters of Baptism grant salvation and life? Simply, because Christ says that this is true in Mark 16. The reception of the sacraments has no bearing on the strength of humanity whatsoever, but only has bearing in the strength of the almighty, living and everlasting God, who by His action through the Son, Spirit, and Word makes the elements a sacrament. The sacrament of Baptism echoes the truth that salvation is by no means dependent upon what humanity has done, but what Christ has done and what he is still doing.
In the sacrament known as the Eucharist, God’s people are fed the body and blood of Christ. During the Reformation, there were many debates about what the “body” actually was, whether it was the group of people that was espoused by St. Paul, or whether it was the flesh of Christ himself. It was stated by Luther that the food and drink in and of themselves are not spiritual, but the use of them in eating and drinking were spiritual. These elements were the body and blood of Christ once Christ was invoked, but not by some mystic words were these elements somehow transformed or turned into the real body and blood of Christ. The body and blood of Christ were real since they could be felt, grasped, seen, and heard like the birth and death of Christ. Luther believed in the communicatio idiomatum, which was originally a doctrine taught in the medieval times, however Luther stretched this teaching to where it meant that the divine attribute of ubiquity was communicated to the human nature of Christ on the basis of the incarnational hypostatic union of the two natures of Christ, where he was completely human and completely divine. Therefore, the whole Christ in his true body and true blood really can be present on every altar of every church at the same time. This is the Christological foundation for the Lord’s Supper according to Martin Luther (Braaten. 121). This is to say that Luther wasn’t entirely certain how the bread and wine became the real, true body and blood of Christ, but that the Eucharist was a mystery and that the elements for the sacrament were indeed the body and blood of Christ since he stated so in the Lord’s Prayer.
If the purpose of baptism is to save Creation, then what is the purpose of the sacrament known as the Eucharist? “For it is most necessary that we know what we should seek and obtain there. This is clear and easily understood from the words just quoted, ‘This is my body and blood, given and poured out for you for the forgiveness of sins.’ That is to say, in brief, that we go to the sacrament because there we receive a great treasure, through and in which we obtain the forgiveness of sins. Why? Because the words are there, and they impart it to us! For this reason he bids me eat and drink, that it may be mine and do me good as a sure pledge and sign-indeed, as the very gift he has provided for me against my sins, death, and all evils (Kolb. 469).” The Eucharist refreshes the body and soul of all the baptized faithful who partake of the meal, in which God is present. It grants the forgiveness of sins to those who partake, through the Word of God, which when infused with the bread and wine, make this meal to be a sacrament. Some theologians during the time of Luther stated that bread and wine do not have the ability to forgive the sins of Creation and strengthen the faith. However, Luther proclaimed in response, “Yet they have heard and know that we do not claim this of bread and wine-for in itself bread is bread-but of that bread and wine that are Christ’s body and blood and that are accompanied by the Word (Kolb. 469).” It is not by the doing of Creation that sins are forgiven, but through the sacrament of the Eucharist, where Christ himself proclaims this to be so.
With what the Lord commanded throughout the gospels and in the Old Testament, Creation was given a way of living. Christ is to be model of humanity and in times of struggle humanity is called to cling to Christ through being baptized into the family of God through Christ. Christian holiness, or the holiness of the universal Christendom is that which comes when the Holy Spirit gives people faith in Christ…He (God) sanctifies Christians and it is of His gift that they willingly obey parents and overlords, conduct themselves peacefully and humbly, are not wrathful or revengeful or malicious, not lewd, adulterous, unchaste, but pure and chaste, whether they have wives, children or not; and so forth…This is done by the Holy Spirit, who sanctifies and awakens even the body to this new life, until it is completed in the life beyond. That is Christian Holiness (Kerr. 112,113). Christians are not called to live perfect lives, for then that would echo the idea that a savior wouldn’t be necessary for then humanity would be its own savior. Living into the life called by Christ himself is one that reflects that humanity is weak and is dependent on a messiah, for in and through this idea the good news is brought forth, that Christ died and was resurrected for the salvation of all humanity. “You are to understand, if you are a Christian, that you must experience all kinds of opposition and wicked dispositions in the flesh. For wherever there is faith, there come a hundred evil thoughts, a hundred strugglings more then before; only see to it that you act the man, and not suffer yourself to be taken captive; and continue to resist, and say, I will not, I will not…That may yet be called a truly Christian life that is never at perfect rest, and has not so far attained as to feel no sin, provided that the sin felt, indeed, but not favored (Kerr. 114).” In living the Christian life there must be works, where the works are a byproduct of one’s faith in Christ. If there are no natural works present when the Christian life is lived out, then the faith that is present may be a counterfeit faith or one that is a pseudo-faith.
If there are no struggles in living out the life that was instructed by Christ himself in the gospels, then one should question if they are living into their vocation or the faith. It may be that they aren’t living into the Christian life, for as it was stated, there should be a struggle of some sort. Logically, why would Satan harass those who were already living into a life that didn’t honor what Christ commanded, with the Great Commission and with the two commandments of the New Testament? A faith that doesn’t exemplify struggles or works that naturally appear may be simply inauthentic. It would be like a mirror, when the faith is presented in front of it, on one side there is a real and authentic faith, however the image reflected of the same faith isn’t the real faith, but a reflection that looks similar, but is not the genuine faith that is reflected in the mirror.
In living into the life that Christians are called to by Christ, truths are proclaimed in the entire Church. These truths are known as the Creed. The Creed is stated by the faithful, where the basic core truths of the Church are expressed and believed. It reads, “I believe in God, the Father almighty, Creator of heaven and earth. And (I believe) in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord, who was conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucifed, died, and was buried; he descended into hell. On the third day he rose (again); he ascended into heaven, seated at the right hand of God, the almighty Father, from where he will come to judge the living and the dead. I believe in the Holy Spirit, one holy Christian church, the community of the saints, forgiveness of sins, resurrection of the flesh, and eternal life. Amen (Kolb. 354-355).” This Creed states that God the Father has created all life, Christ was begotten and died for the redemption of all Creation, Christ’s reign is eternal, the Holy Spirit calls Creation to believe in Christ in one faith, and that all the faithful will be raised in Christ in eternal life. This Creed puts the Church’s outlook on the right track, for it states the roles of the distinct persons who are the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, it states the death and resurrection of Christ, the promises that are tied to the Christ event, and the good news for all Creation. In having faith in Christ and what the Creed proclaims, the faithful believers should seek out the places where sin, death, and the devil dwell, for these places are where the gospel should be proclaimed, so that others may be aware of the good news and rejoice in the promises that are noted in the Creed.
Confession is a tradition of the Church that is directed to be involved with the daily walk of the Christian life. The Greek word, metanoia, traditional means, “coming to one’s senses” after punishment has been accepted and error acknowledged. There must be a change of heart and a change in one’s love. This change can only occur through the grace of God, for we must seek forgiveness and we are called to change, in order to live into what Luther states was the mission of the universal church, which was to always promote Christ (Bratten. 32). This is the beginning to repentance, but the contrition of the heart doesn’t begin with thinking, but through receiving the Holy Spirit. Luther stated, “There is no doubt that confession is necessary and commanded by God. Thus we read in Mathew 3: ‘They were baptized of John in Jordan, confessing their sins.’ And in 1 John 1: ‘If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive our sins. If we say that we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.’ If the saints may not deny their sin, how much more ought those who are guilty of open and great sins to make confession! But most effectively of all does Matthew 18 prove the institution of confession, in which the passage Christ teaches that a sinning brother should be rebuked, hauled before the Church, accused and, if he will not hear, excommunicated. But he hears when, heeding the rebuke, he acknowledges and confesses his sin. Of private confession, which is now observed, I am heartily in favor, even though it cannot be proved from the Scriptures; it is useful and necessary, nor would I have it abolished-nay, I rejoice that it exists in the Church of Christ, for it is a cure without an equal for distressed consciences. For when we have laid bare our conscience to our brother and privately made known to him the evil that lurked within, we receive from our brother’s lips the word of comfort spoken by God Himself; and, if we accept it in faith, we find peace in the mercy of God speaking to us through our brother (Kerr. 97).”
Living into the Christian life involves a constant turning from sin in our daily lives. Christ is to always be pointed to in the actions of humanity for humanity is the hands and feet of God. This is most definitely not to say that humanity are gods on earth, but to say that humanity is moved by the Holy Spirit to re-present Christ to others around them. In the small catechism, Luther takes the Ten Commandments and illustrates how we are to use them in order to promote Christ. For example, Luther discusses the eighth commandment, being that humanity is not to bear false witness against our neighbor, however Luther inquires what God requires of us in the commandment, which is to defend our neighbor and protect him from false witness (Luther. 85,86). In this, Luther uses the Old Testament to show how we are called to live, as we are to model Christ in the daily life of those who follow Christ.
The Book of Concord is a book that contains a multitude of the writings of Luther & others, which discuss the very topics addressed in this paper. In this book, there are many smaller documents that are designed for one purpose, to educate all who live out the faith in the Church. Luther even wrote a document, known as the Small Catechism, where it was designed that the parents teach their kids about the faith and the core truths involved in the faith in Church, and the actions of the Church. This was so that the young could grow in the Church and have faith that reflected the knowledge of their theology. The Small Catechism wasn’t a document filled with an in depth explanation of the teachings of Luther, but a document that children and those who had little education could understand the teachings of the Church and live into the good news of the gospel. The Large Catechism was the more in depth version of the Small Catechism, where every topic discussed in the Small Catechism was fleshed out in great detail, so that a greater understanding could be taught to those who desired to learn more. What importance do these documents have? Why does this even matter? In reading and teaching these documents and the other documents that are present in the Book of Concord, all believers may have a deeper understanding of Christian teachings and live into their calling, which was presented in the gospels, by Christ, through the Holy Spirit. In learning the teachings of the Church, one may more clearly see and understand their need for a savior, mediator, grace, faith, and all gifts and promises of God. In gaining a deeper grasp on the teachings of the Church, one may see their vocation and live into proclaiming the good news of the gospels to those who are bound by sin, death, and evil. In living into the good news, those who hear the Word of God may be brought to Christ through the mighty work of the Holy Spirit, and be joined into the family through the holy waters of Baptism. In proclaiming the Truth of God, many may realize that Christ has conquered death, sin, and the devil, and may live freely in the grace of God.
“1518 Heidelberg Disputation.” 1518 Heidelberg Disputation. Web. 11 Aug. 2015.
“BibleGateway.” .com: A Searchable Online Bible in over 100 Versions and 50 Languages. Web. 11 Aug. 2015.
“Book of Concord.” Book of Concord. Web. 11 Aug. 2015.
Braaten, Carl E. Principles of Lutheran Theology. Philadelphia: Fortress, 1983. Print.
Kolb, Robert. The Book of Concord: The Confessions of the Evangelical Lutheran Church. Minneapolis: Fortress, 2000. Print.
Luther, Martin, and Hugh Thomson KERR. A Compend of Luther’s Theology. Edited by Hugh Thomson Kerr. Westminster Press: Philadelphia, 1943. Print.
Luther, Martin. Luther’s Small Catechism, with Explanation. St. Louis: Concordia Pub. House, 1991. Print.
I don’t know JDB. Looks like you’ll be spending some money.
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I’m thinking so, too. Suggest an amount would you?
Overall it is very well done hitting most of the major points of Lutheran theology, however two things that I consider important are not included as far as I can see. That is the doctrines of “simul justus et peccator” and the bondage of the will. While the soundness of the second can be debated, the first, is in my understanding fairly central. Also, the doctrine of the two kingdoms might be mentioned, even if it is hotly contested. Minus those few shortcomings it is an excellent essay laying out the bones of our theology. It’s easily worth $850-900.
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love your response…..love it
JDB, i’m thinking $1,000. I had never heard about the doctrines of “simul justus et peccator” and bondage of the will until seminary and I’m a cradle Lutheran, MS.! So while it may be central in the minds of theologians it was not communicated in my Lutheran upbring. Of course there may be a slight prejudice in play also for one of two young men that I absolutely adore
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