Posts tagged “Faith

Different understandings of faith

Posted on April 9th, 2014

How can you articulate the core difference between Eastern Orthodoxy and the theology of the West? Original sin is, of course, critical to the discussion. But there is something deeper, which I have often termed mysticism. I wonder if the difference is really as simple as what we mean by “faith.” Rod Dreher at The American Conservative (“Do You Really Want To Be Orthodox?”) shared a letter by the Orthodox nun Mother Thekla, in which she encourages the convert to the East not to embrace any knowing beyond faith. Crucial is the definition of faith which follows: Faith means accepting the Truth without proof. Faith and knowledge are the ultimate contradiction –and the ultimate absorption into each other. The classic Western definition of faith…

Consolation for troubled hearts

Posted on April 3rd, 2014

Troubled hearts should have a firm, sure consolation. Also, due honor should be given to Christ’s merit and God’s grace. Therefore, the Scriptures teach that the righteousness of faith before God stands only in the gracious reconciliation or the forgiveness of sins, which is presented to us out of pure grace, only for the sake of the merit of the Mediator, Christ. This is received through faith alone in the Gospel promise. In the same way also, in justification before God, faith relies neither on contrition nor on love or other virtues. Faith relies on Christ alone and on His complete obedience by which He has fulfilled the Law for us. This obedience is credited to believers for righteousness. SD III.30; Concordia: The Lutheran…

Luther on belief without works

Posted on January 16th, 2014

“My little children let us not love in word, neither in tongue; but in deed and in truth.” (1 John 3:18) Dr. Luther says that St. John is denouncing those 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…. 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 really do take the gospel seriously. That is why they become slothful and refuse to do any works, protesting that their field of action…

God is not joking

Posted on December 17th, 2013

More from our Confessions on faith and works, this time from the Large Catechism, Fourth Commandment: How can you lead a more blessed or holier life as far as your works are concerned? In God’s sight faith is what really makes a person holy and serves Him alone, but the works are for the service of people. (I.146f) Then Dr. Luther speaks about rewards for the pious and punishments for the rebellious. He then urges us toward godliness: Whoever will not be moved by this and lean toward godliness we hand over to the hangman and to the skeleton man. Therefore, let everyone who allows himself to be advised remember that God is not joking. Know that it is God who speaks with you and…

The Liturgy of Murdered Shepherds

Posted on August 14th, 2013

Sermon for Trinity 11, on Genesis 4:1-15 (1 Corinthians 15:1-10; Luke 18:9-14)   I returned home from vacation to discover that the storage closet in our condominium had flooded, and some items that were precious to me were damaged. I was angry and frustrated. Then I remembered: this entire world is now subject to the principle of corruption. All is vanity, everything breaks, everyone dies. My damaged things will surely be destroyed. I cannot keep them. That’s the result of the fall, the world whose beginnings we see today in Genesis 4. The fall brought death, corruption, the return of man to the dust, a world in bondage to decay. This principle of corruption is odious to us. Everything around us descends into madness,…

Faith without repentance

Posted on July 23rd, 2013

Last Sunday during Scripture Study we were discussing the nature of justifying faith. Paul Techau, a member of Immanuel, said something at once perfectly simple and deeply profound: “Faith without repentance is dead.” This is an excellent complement to St. James’ well-known saying, “Faith without works is dead.”

Jeering, hitting, and abusing the deposed tyrant

Posted on April 2nd, 2013

Now that the Savior has raised His body, death is no longer terrible, but all those who believe in Christ tread it underfoot as nothing, and prefer to die rather than to deny their faith in Christ, knowing full well that when they die they do not perish, but live indeed, and become incorruptible through the resurrection…. Death has become like a tyrant who has become completely conquered by the legitimate monarch; bound hand and foot as he know is, the passers-by jeer at him, hitting him and abusing him, no longer afraid of his cruelty and rage, because of the king who has conquered him. So has death been conquered and branded for what it is by the Saviour on the cross. St…

Can a person believe and yet despair?

Posted on March 20th, 2013

After the slaughter of Shechem, Hamor, and the Hivites (when Shechem had defiled Dinah, Genesis 34), Jacob is filled with sorrow at the sins of his sons. Luther comments on this faith which struggles with despair in his Lectures on Genesis (AE 6): The holy man Jacob is again wrestling with a very great trial of the spirit and faith which is nearly extinguished. The flax is smoking, and the reed is bruised and nearly broken (cf. Is. 42:3). For they are not words of faith but simply Words of the murmuring flesh and struggling faith, and weak faith at that. He has almost lost those glorious promises: “I will surely bless you, etc.” Those suns and stars of the Word and promises were…

The nun Mechtild was vexed by the devil

Posted on February 25th, 2013

More Luther on how to endure trials and temptations, especially to despair: This picture of the conflicts and struggles in the saints is full of consolation. Elsewhere the example of the nun Mechtild is recounted. She was vexed by the devil, because she knew or experienced absolutely nothing about faith. This was a temptation to unbelief, which is a most bitter grief and torment of conscience. For hearts are consumed by trepidation and doubt, and experience alone shows what this grief is; it cannot be declared in words. Nevertheless, that temptation was not yet equal to this struggle of Jacob. For it was not God who was fighting against her, as was the case here with Jacob, but the devil, who can drive men…

Faith to confront grave matters

Posted on February 13th, 2013

God has not bequeathed us the gift of faith to deal with trivial things but rather to confront grave matters such as: Death, sin, the world and the Devil. For the world is not capable of resisting Death, but, instead, the world is terrified and runs away from Death, but is in the end defeated by him. But faith remains steadfast and resists Death who devours the whole world. Faith gains the victory over Death and then swallow up this insatiable devourer of life. Martin Luther, taken from Luther Brevier, p59