Monday, November 23, 2009

A Matter of Discipline and Conscience

I suppose that as Lutheran Christians in the USA, we will always be to some degree under the shadow of the RCC on issues such as abortion, so for better or worse, this post is about them and not so much about the LCMS--which as a body is staunchly pro life.

Having said that, I have criticized the RC hierarchy for what I take to be a dilatory approach to those who support abortion. But it seems that there is some movement on this front. In case you haven't heard, Congressman Kennedy was publicly rebuked for his stance on abortion by his bishop. I don't know if he has been formally excommunicated, but it sounds like he will have to either fish or cut bait. This means that, due to the political dynamics of the Democratic Party, he will have to choose between politics and his Church. I do not know what he will choose, or even if he will have to; what I do know is that there comes a time in many lives where one has to follow Christ, or follow one's own path. The first leads to life--not coincidentally--the second to death, again not coincidentally. Let us hope and pray he follows the Lord of life unto life, and not the one who preaches and brings death.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Luther says to form Christ within ourselves

I was reading Luther's treatise on good works, and I found this passage:

Lo! thus must thou form Christ within thyself and see how in Him God holds before thee and offers thee His mercy without any previous merits of thine own, and from such a view of His grace must thou draw faith and confidence of the forgiveness of all thy sins. Faith, therefore, does not begin with works, neither do they create it, but it must spring up and flow from the blood, wounds and death of Christ. If thou see in these that God is so kindly affectioned toward thee that He gives even His Son for thee, then thy heart also must in its turn grow sweet and kindly affectioned toward God, and so thy confidence must grow out of pure good-will and love -- God's love toward thee and thine toward God. We never read that the Holy Spirit was given to any one when he did works, but always when men have heard the Gospel of Christ and the mercy of God. From this same Word and from no other source must faith still come, even in our day and always. For Christ is the rock out of which men suck oil and honey, as Moses says, Deuteronomy xxxii.

(Emphasis added)

The link can be found here:

It seems incongruent with his other writings, as well as with Lutheranism in general. I think there is something idiomatic going on there, but I am not sure. If someone can enlighten me, I would appreciate it.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Faith, works and synergy

If faith is the gift of God, as Christ and the Apostle say, then where is the synergy when someone gives us unrighteous pukes a "free gift" as St. Paul said?

Sanctification is synergistic and that is where our works in faith "fit"--however sanctification is not trust in the promises of God, it is not passing from death into life, which is faith. So faith, in the sense of our adoption as sons, in the sense of God granting us the Holy Spirit, is not synergistic--it is pure grace. To put it succinctly, when an infant is baptized, where is the synergy? When Jesus called Lazarus from the tomb, where was the synergy? When Jesus raised the widow of Nain's son, where was the synergy?

There was no synergy, because those things are examples of God's gracious acts on his creation.

That is how we receive faith, by an act of God upon us and not by our striving. That is how we are justified by faith alone, and not by works of the law. There is no synergy because, as St. Paul says, we are dead in trespasses and sins and raised to life by the Gospel which is the power of God unto salvation--just like Lazarus was dead and was called to life through Christ's word. The only synergy is that we, as new, living beings in Christ, willingly cooperate in serving God and our neighbor.