Posts from the “Theology” Category

Faith wages war

Posted on March 26th, 2015

Luther is no ally of the reductionist “Lutheranism” that is again claiming his name as a cloak for vice. Here Luther comments on 1 Peter 2:11, “Dearly beloved, I beseech you as strangers and pilgrims, abstain from fleshly lusts, which war against the soul”: Even is some one has been justified by faith, he will certainly not be free of evil desires. That is why the spirit has its work cut out in quenching and quelling the desires of the flesh. The spirit has to struggle with this area unceasingly and to take care that the spirit does not offend the faith. That is also why people are deceiving themselves when they say there is no danger if they obey the desires of the…

Contempt for the Gospel

Posted on February 24th, 2015

Doctor Luther on the misuse of the Gospel: It should be said and taught that the old leaven must be completely swept aside and that those who give into the whims of the flesh and deliberately and against their own conscience obstinately remain in their sins are not Christians nor do they have the faith. What is to be condemned all the more is when people do this in the name of and under the cover of the Gospel and of Christian freedom. For this shows contempt for and blasphemes against the name of Christ and the Gospel. Luther Brevier, p70

Paying lip-service to the gospel

Posted on January 14th, 2015

In the following passage, Luther expounds on the words of 1 John 3:18, “My little children let us not love in word, neither in tongue, but in deed and in truth.” The apostle is denouncing those false brothers and hypocritical Christians who only pay lip-service to the Gospel. They retain just the froth together with their presumption that faith and the Gospel are a mere matter of words … yet they believe that no-one else is as zealous as they are. You can see that their doctrines are mere husks and empty shells from the way these people conduct their lives. They have no intention of living in accordance with the Gospel nor do they intend to demonstrate Christian love to show that they…

Making one what was broken

Posted on January 7th, 2015

I love how Augustine finds the four corners of the world in ADAM, along with the hope that the first-formed is gathered in on the day of judgment: “For with righteousness shall He judge the world:” not a part of it, for He bought not a part: He will judge the whole, for it was the whole of which He paid the price. Ye have heard the Gospel, where it saith, that when He cometh, “He shall gather together His elect from the four winds.” He gathereth all His elect from the four winds: therefore from the whole world. For Adam himself (this I had said before) signifieth in Greek the whole world; for there are four letters, A, D, A, and M. But as…

God of the grasshoppers

Posted on December 24th, 2014

Isaiah pictures God sitting above the world, while we beneath Him appear like grasshoppers, small and numerous (Is. 40.22). Perhaps you’ve smashed a grasshopper before, an annoying creature who invaded your home. But He does not smash us. He comes down among us, comes to our home, makes His bed among the grasshoppers. Every single one, to Him, is significant. He comes to save us.

Christ in us by nature and substance

Posted on November 21st, 2014

In his great work That These Words of Christ, “This Is My Body,” etc., Still Stand Firm Against the Fanatics, the mature Luther speaks beautifully about the sacramental union effecting a real union (and not merely a metaphorical union or forensic identification) between Christ and the believer. In the section beginning on page 120 (AE 37), he focuses on St. Hilary of Poitiers, whom Luther calls one “of the ancient doctors and an excellent interpreter of Scripture.” Hilary writes, If the Word has truly become flesh, and we truly receive the Word which became flesh in the Lord’s food, how are we to believe that he does not dwell in us by his nature, he who, when he became man, has assumed the nature of…

Only the Decalogue is eternal

Posted on November 20th, 2014

In the First Disputation Against the Antinomians, Luther addresses the antinomian argument that the Ten Commandments are abrogated with the coming of Christ in the same way that circumcision (as a ceremonial requirement) has been abrogated. The Decalogue, however, is greater and better because it is written in the hearts and minds of all and will remain with us even in the coming life. Yet not so circumcision, as baptism also will not remain, but only the Decalogue is eternal—as such, that is, not as law—because in the coming life things will be like what the Decalogue has been demanding here. Only the Decalogue Is Eternal, p75

Prepare for the storm

Posted on November 19th, 2014

Luther comments on Peter’s sinking into the water because he lost the Word of Christ’s promise. The life of faith is nothing other than clinging to Christ’s Word. This is how it is when Christ comes into your ship. It will not stay calm for long. A storm will come. If you want to be a Christian then you should prepare for this storm and this discord…. Whoever wants to live blessed by God in Christ must suffer persecution, as Saint Paul says. Luther Brevier, p340

He abides in us physically

Posted on November 14th, 2014

In his glorious work “This Is My Body,” Luther speaks about the forgiveness of sins being a great benefit of the Supper. In addition to this, there is what he calls the “bodily benefit,” a union with Christ that is both spiritual and physical. Christ “wills to be in us by nature,” says Luther, citing Hilary, “in both our soul and body, according to the word in John 6 [!], ‘He who eats me abides in me and I in him.’” If we eat him spiritually through the Word, he abides in us spiritually in our soul; if one eats him physically, he abides in us physically and we in him. As we eat him, he abides in us and we in him. For…

Paradoxical Preaching

Posted on November 14th, 2014

Adolf Köberle’s classic The Quest for Holiness contains much helpful material that addresses some of the modern aversion to sanctification. In the chapter “Sanctification as the Answer of the Justified Sinner,” Köberle insists that the faithful Lutheran preacher will preach, in line with the Augsburg Confession, both justification (AC IV) and the new obedience (AC VI). Far-reaching consequences for Christian preaching spring from this paradoxical experience that conscience has made of God’s sole activity in effecting salvation and man’s sole responsibility for his own destruction. If preaching is to do justice to this paradoxical combination it must always speak both in dogmatic and ethical terms; in the indicative and imperative, not in the sense of synergistic combination but in the sense of that incomparable antinomy: “Work…