A Good Point…
By Larry Beane
A Good Point…
By Larry Beane
Thank you, Pastor Schuermann.
This Sunday is Mother's Day. For the barren woman, attending church on this particular Sunday is often an exercise in frustration, woe, even great shame brought on by the absence of longed-for children. Far too often, we pastors help amplify these feelings in her.
This is a pastoral plea. Brothers, I beg you, remember every Sunday your entire flock. But especially this Sunday, remember all the faithful women who Christ has entrusted to your care.
Remember that a part of your flock have received from the Lord the blessed vocation of motherhood, whether their children are biological or adopted. In the prayers of the church rejoice with them, give thanks to God for them, and ask God to help them faithfully raise up these gifts from Him.
But remember, too, that many in your flock – whom you may or may not be aware of – have not received the gift of children from God. And they may be longing for that gift. Please be sensitive to them. Recall that the natural inclination of sinful man towards a theology of glory has resulted in them receiving countless, "helpful" comments and encouragements that are nothing but empty promises and legalistic claptrap. Pray for these women, too, that they would receive what they long for: the gift of a child, biological or adopted. But also do not fail to pray on their behalf that God would give them the faith and trust to contentedly rejoice in what He ultimately does give to them. It may not be a child. In other words, help them to pray, "Nevertheless, Lord, Thy will be done."
And also remember the sheep of Christ's flock who are past the time of having any expectation of receiving the gift of a child. Please don't leave them out. Pray for them, too, that they would recognize in their lives all the good gifts the Lord has given to them.
Please don't parade them in front of the congregation in order to offer up prayers on their behalf. Please don't draw unneeded attention to them by giving flowers or some other admittedly well-intentioned gift only to those in the congregation who have children. Allow the barren to sit and grieve, to receive from their Lord, and to pray along with you. That's your God-given task in the Divine Service, anyway: to lead them in prayer and to care for them with Christ's true, comforting Word and Sacrament.
In fact, my encouragement would be, if at all possible, to limit your Mother's Day references in the service to the prayers. Keep your whole flock focused on Jesus and His forgiveness present there for them today. But in the prayers do indeed pray, praise, and give thanks for the mothers, mothers-to-be, and all those who desire motherhood but have not or will not receive that gift from God.
I think these words, included in this year's "Let Us Pray" for Easter 7 from the LC-MS, fit the bill nicely:
"Father of glory, Your Son, our Lord Jesus, in His incarnation, took on our created human flesh and was born of the Virgin Mary. He submitted to His mother, honoring and obeying her, so fulfilling the commandment where we have not. On this Mothers' Day, graciously accept our thanksgiving for our mothers, whom you have given to us. Teach us to honor them aright — loving, obeying and giving thanks for them, as is fitting in Your sight. Strengthen all women with child and protect them in their deliverance. Comfort all women who long to have children, but cannot, that they may find their consolation in You and Your unfailing love. Lord, in Your mercy, hear our prayer."
Rev. Michael P. Schuermann
From Evangelicalism To Lutheranism
This pick is nostalgic and informative as seminarians Dr. Leonard Payton, Brian Kachelmeier, Kenneth Mars, and Brian Wolfmueller join Pastor Wilken in a roundtable discussion of their journeys from Evangelicalism to Lutheranism.
That different world being the Missouri Synod at the turn of the 20th century. Father Micah Gaunt found and kindly typed up the following article: Steffens, D.H. "Principles of Liturgics." The Lutheran Witness. 18.17 (1900): 133. You can find this whole issue of the Lutheran Witness, and many others, on Google Books.
Four years ago I had occasion to enter upon a short correspondence with the Rev. F. Lochner, of Milwaukee, regarding a certain question of liturgical usage. In a personal letter written by the venerable pastor of our mother synod, Lochner quotes Dr. Walther as follows:
Even during his last attendance at the meeting of the Synodical Conference – it was in 1886 at Detroit – he (Dr. Walther) said to some in a private conversation: 'It is to be expected, alas! That some in our midst will wish to curtail the liturgy more and more and to make changes in it here and there. In order to avoid disruption it will become necessary to yield to the pressure in this place and that, since the liturgy belongs to the adiaphora, though it be done with a heavy heart. But when the liturgy will have been pretty well reformed, then the center, the doctrine, will be attacked.
I quote this to show that Walther, to whom we owe so much, was by no means led by his great regard for sound doctrinal standing to a disregard of what so many hold to be of little moment, correct liturgical usage. Walther not only knew and appreciated the fact that our Lutheran forms and liturgies are the husk or shell in which the Reformation handed us the pure doctrine of the Word, but he also saw the danger of that frivolous carelessness in these things which puts aside all questions pertaining to worship and liturgies with a one-sided appeal to the principle of Christian liberty. In proof of this statement, I would call your attention to an article from his pen published in the 41 vol. of "Der Lutheraner," the question, whether it is right for us simply and for all time to drop the edifying and churchly ceremonies of our church and to adopt the cold naked worship of the Reformed, he merely points out the fact, that our old orthodox teachers, whenever they recount the official duties of a pastor, never fail to enumerate the preservation of ecclesiastical rites as one of these duties.
Need I say that we are not as precise in the performance of this duty as we should be? Numerous instances will no doubt occur to you. We all know that there is lack of uniformity in our worship; that almost each congregation has somewhat different ceremonies from the others.
This is a pity. More than that, it is positively dangerous. Living as we do in a church atmosphere foreign to us; brought into constant contact with the old intolerant Carlstadt spirit, which never knew and never will know how to distinguish between essential and nonessentials; receiving into fellowship people out of the confused hosts of sectarianism; undergoing the strains attendant upon a change of language – this lack of unity of judgment on matters liturgical and on public worship is most certainly a thing to be deplored.
The opinion may safely be ventured, therefore, that an attempt on our part to call to mind the principle by which our judgment in these matters should be guided, would not be altogether unprofitable.
In an examination of these principles it will be well to define the subject to which they apply. Our confessions give us the Scriptural idea of a liturgy of service, when the Apology e.g. says: "Accordingly ceremonies are to be observed (in the church) for this purpose, that people may learn to know the Scriptures and word of God and that thus the fear of God may be inculcated.
The essential of all divine service is the Word (Sacrament). The origin of all divine service is to be traced to the obedience required by the Third Comment. God, who instituted the ministry of reconciliation, in this commandment enjoins upon us the attendance at the public preaching of the Word, hence at public worship. This then would be a Scriptural definition of divine worship; the reception of divine grace through the public administration of the means of grace, the Word and the Sacraments.
But the Scriptures show us other elements of worship, e.g. prayer, invocation, hymns, etc. Acts 1: 14; 2:42; 1 Cor. 14:26; Ps. 35: 18; 40: 10; 3:1. The Scriptures give us not only a correct idea of divine service, but also the elements of the same. It would, therefore, follow that all sound liturgical principles are to be sought in the Scriptures. To this we may add the Confession of our church, her Kirchenordnungen and, especially the writings of Luther on this subject.
Once upon a time, Hazel sewed her family's clothes. She lived in an era when there were no department stores or major clothing labels. And Hazel's family couldn't afford the services of the nearest tailor, so Hazel sewed because that's what was necessary to survive. And because it was necessary to survive, Hazel taught this skill to her daughter Sarah.
When Sarah grew up and had her own family, she found that this skill was no longer a necessity. For a reasonable cost, and with the aid of a department store or a catalog, she could contract someone else to do the hard work of measuring and cutting and stitching. But even though she didn't need to sew anymore, Sarah still pulled out the Singer from time to time. She'd sit down with her daughter Kimberly in her lap and make a garment or two around Christmas. Sarah did this because the feel of the thread on her fingertips and the vibrations of the sewing machine on her palms reminded her of her mother, and she wanted to give some of those memories to her child.
But Kimberly couldn't even tell you how to thread a needle anymore. Her grandmother sewed out of necessity. Her mother sewed out of nostalgia. But Kimberly doesn't sew at all because, without necessity, nostalgia rarely makes it to the second generation.
The Christian faith is necessary. You are dead without it and nothing in this world can replace the salvation that Jesus gives to those who hear and believe His Word. But when your pastor doesn't see you for months at a time, when you let every conflict bump the Divine Service off your Sunday schedule, when you never talk theology with your children, you teach them that the Word of God is nothing more than a trinket we pull out of the closet whenever we want to taste the sweetness of our familial heritage. And when you teach that to your children, your children will not grow up to be Christians. They will not believe anymore than Kimberly sews.
Last week I had the great joy of attending the 3rd Annual Free Conference of the ACELC. The theme this year was on worship, and in the group's earnest desire to restore unity and concord within Lutheranism they attempted to do something great – a grassroots effort to gather all sides to the table to discuss the disputed points of theology under the Scriptures and Lutheran Confessions. This of course being a grassroots effort means that it is not troubled by bylaws, resolutions, candidacies, longstanding personality feuds, or politics for that matter.
What I heard was a number of pastors give presentations from various positions on worship. I heard one of the finest presentations I have ever heard when Pr. Richard Stuckwisch spoke on high church liturgical worship. His entire presentation was so seasoned with Scripture, Confessions, and especially Small Catechism language that it sounded like Revelation does to someone well versed in the Old Testament prophets. It was remarkable. I also heard a great presentation on the "concordist" position by Pr. Bryan Wolfmueller. All of the presentations can be read here.
One honorable mention should be given to Pr. David Langewisch who presented on Contemporary Worship. I applaud his desire to come and present and interact with the other pastors of more "traditional" worship. One of the principle things taught to me in seminary by Dr. Masaki was the idea of starting points in theology. He preferred us to always start with Christ, whether you were talking about the Sacraments, the Office of the Ministry, the End Times, or whatever. Pr. Langewish started with "freedom". With such a starting point it did not take a special revelation to see where the presentation would go. Although he did have a more "moderated" contemporary position, his theological underpinnings started at the wrong point. Diversity was a good thing for him and he argued for a very "lowest common denominator" (as I would call it) form of uniformity. But again, the starting point was all wrong. For an awesome example of a proper starting point for any theological discussion see Pr. Stuckwisch's paper.
Freedom in Lutheran theology (our very name reflects the freedom given in the Gospel) is not what some folks would like to make it. In a manner which would make the Corinthians blush, many Americans use freedom to embrace selfish forms and snub the nose at the neighbor (I did it my way! Tolerate me!). This selfishness is usually masked with some evangelistic motivation for pious veneer. This is license, not freedom. And in the end, this embrace of a self-declared freedom is actually slavery to self and the selfish whims and fads of the Old Adam and his sensual desires and needs. This slavery is to be shackled to the ever changing culture which according to our Lord's words about the end of all things will be getting worse and worse. As one father in the faith taught me, a church which marries the culture of its day will soon find itself a widow (wasn't the Church supposed to be the bride of Christ?).
The conference had a couple free conversation sessions, one designed to find where we agree, and one to bring out the points of disagreement. Of particular note I found a point made by Pr. Wolfmueller to be very remarkable – that contemporary worship by its nature is impossible to pin down and is not be able to be handed down. The moment that it begins to be handed down is the moment it is no longer fitting with the theology and reasonings of Contemporary Worship. It is anti-catholic (that is anti-universal) by its very nature (going against what the creeds confess about the church).
In the end, concord could not be found among all of the speakers – a sad statement of just how far apart we have sought and been allowed to drift apart. Lovelessness and its love-child of innovation are killing us. But still, it can be said that this was an honest attempt to find concord at the grassroots, free of the trappings so commonly found in a political environment, especially in an election year. Congratulations to the ACELC for making such a valiant effort. This conference accomplished more in two days that any other effort in recent memory.
My question for those who advocate contemporary practices – what is so deficient in Lutheran Service Book? What in it makes it unable to be used? In the end I believe there is nothing in LSB that makes it unusable by the practitioners of Contemporary Worship, but the dividing point is found in the theology of those practitioners. Their theological foundations will not accept such a loving book designed to serve the Church. Their theological foundations will not strive for uniformity or humbly accept that which has been given to them from our fathers (including our fathers in the Scriptures). Instead they will seek to redefine uniformity to mean diversity and in the end leave nothing but generational chaos and poor souls who never know what to expect when visiting a "Lutheran" church. Papers like that of Pr. Wolfmueller, Pr. Sawyer, Pr. Poppe, and Pr. Stuckwisch give me hope for the future of concord under the Scriptures and Confessions for the Evangelical Lutheran Church wherever she is found.
The fourth article of the Augustana is the chief article. The hub of the wheel and the epicenter of all controversies in the Church. But, talking about justification is like talking about sex — fun, but not nearly as good as doing it.
A Lutheran pastor's job description then, as public preachers is simple, to not just talk about justification, but preach it so that this Word of God that is "for you" in Christ defeats the final enemy of humankind and all creation by raising the dead.
[Now if you've ever tried that at home, you know it is harder than it sounds. Most of us shy away and try to do other things that seem more manageable (like having an uplifting church council meeting, or making your church a welcoming place for church shoppers). But I want you to at least know where the dynamite is and perhaps you'll decide to use it now and then.
The Augsburg Confession, Article IV was powerful enough to disturb the Roman Confutators, who rejected the article on the basis that it did not provide any place for human merit before God. But the Reformers had not even led with their strongest suit in this article.]
The first thing out of your mouth when you are raising the dead by the forgiveness of sins is Jesus Christ and him crucified. You will see Luther do this in the Smalcald Articles: "Here is the first and chief article: That Jesus Christ, our God and Lord, 'was handed over to death for our trespasses and was raised for our justification" [Rom. 4:25], and he alone is, "the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world" (John 1:29); and, "the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all" [Isa. 53:6]…" (SA II. 1-2, 301). This is upsetting to whatever plan or system you come with because it means, "I am not as free as I supposed, and Christ is more free than I supposed." Both of these are terrors to commonsense. It means my death is real and Christ alone holds the key to my resurrection, but here is my pickle: he is the very one I just finished murdering. Now what?
To think in terms of justification by faith alone is a logic that begins at the cross and thinks outward from it, it does not begin by thinking about the nature of God, the power of created beings and the imaginary fall into sin. God is at work in Christ. Christ is the subject of the verbs of the Gospel and we are perfectly passive. That is, dead in ourselves coram deo, before God.
This is what CA IV means right in the middle of the article when it says: "justified as a gift on account of Christ through faith" (Latin) and "for Christ's sake through faith." (German). You've had your time, now God is going to do what a God does: work all-in-all.
The second thing out of your mouth when justifying is the announcement of the absolute end of human power: thinking, feeling, willing, you name it. It is absolute and total, final and ultimate and marks a great and permanent end. For your hearers this means, "human beings cannot be justified before God by their own powers, merits or works" (Latin) and "we cannot obtain forgiveness of sin and righteousness before God…" (German). CANNOT. End. Fin. Over. Terminated. This is what we mean by justification being an eschatological word. It is also what we mean by death. If you say to me, "But I'm still alive and kicking, what do you mean?" I say, "Dead Man Walking," "Bag of Worms playing the part of…" [Like the Soap Opera's who occasionally break in with an announcer, "The part of Donavon Riley is being played today by a bag of wormy maggots."] The gavel has already come down. Do you not hear it?
This is exactly how Paul reasons when he says, "…otherwise Christ died for no purpose." (Gal 2:21). If I'm still alive and kicking, Christ dying is just a bit excessive, don't you think, at least premature?
[That is why I tell people who disclaim justification by faith alone as one unsavory metaphor among many found in the Bible that there are always two roots from which our language for justification come, one is the experience of courtrooms where a defendant stands before a tribunal and is judged as right or wrong, punishable or free, and another experience of a cemetery where we put someone in the ground and wonder if they'll ever get out of there again. Watch what happens to an elderly couple parted by the tomb.]
The third thing out of your mouth is the absolution. That is, "On account of Christ I declare the entire forgiveness of all your sins." This word makes faith where there was none, and so raises the dead. [As Luther remarks in the SC, "...where there is forgiveness of sins, there is also life and salvation"].
With this logic of the cross we have an entirely different playing field for theology. In the article of justification Lutherans finally broke through to God's own eschatological distinction between the law and the Gospel. Better yet, a free and resurrected Christ broke through to raise the dead in the earthly announcement by a preacher out forgiving sins, and it worked! Sins were actually forgiven on earth as in heaven, the unjust are justified, the dead are raised by Christ through the preacher's words.
Here is where Melanchthon's Apology is so powerful. He discovered, to his horror, that the collapse of negotiations at Augsburg was a hermeneutical matter between Lutherans and Roman Catholics, hermeneutics meaning not how a scholar interprets the Bible, but how God interprets us, and these are simply not on the same page.
Hermeneutics, after all, is to consider what are the conditions for the possibility of something, in this case of justification before God. That is, "…our opponents single out the law… and through the law they seek forgiveness of sins and justification." (Ap IV: 7, 121).
If you single out the law and can think only according to it, justification is a minor matter of fulfilling the smallest possible requirement for God's mercy to go into effect according to the legal system. To put it most bluntly, if the law justifies, then at the very minimum the person must be alive to do it or get it. The conditions for the possibility of being made right by God is that you are alive, and to be alive is most often reduced to a shard of free will remaining. This hard, stone wall is what Melanchthon crashed into [at Augsburg], and it was greater than a misunderstanding.
Reading Scripture and preaching when you are able to think only according to the law is like a monotone singer who knows only one note, but thinks he is Pavorotti. Melanchthon says, they don't know what they are reading in Scripture. For, "Finally, it [the law] requires obedience to God in death."
Instead here is the Lutheran hermeneutic that was learned from thinking out from the cross: "All Scripture should be divided into these two main topics: the law and the promises." (Ap IV: 5, 121) Two words, not one. Justification by faith alone makes no sense to those who have singled out the law.
These two words are not a distinction on a page or two different books, but what Melanchthon calls "communicating." "In some places it communicates the law. In other places it communicates the promise concerning Christ…" (Ap. IV: 121, 5) That is the relational language of what happens to you when Christ catches you, and it is also eschatological language that distinguishes what you cannot do (the old man in Adam) and what God can do (the new man in Christ).
You cannot overcome death. God can, but most importantly has. When you talk about justification you must distinguish law and the Gospel. When justifying you are killing and making alive.
[Herein lies the great secret of why preaching is so bad. Some preachers don't like to kill. Others don't like to make alive]
Because of this difference between the monotone, law-preaching, Johnny one-notes and the Lutheran way of hearing Scripture, the law and the promises, there is a struggle going on in CA Article IV. It has within it all the fighting words you could want between two ways of using similar words, one dominated by the law, and the other by Christ's. Immediately, we notice an amazing thing about the resourcefulness of monotone sinners. Persons can read Augustana IV as if it were just one more description of what we are to do to be saved. In that case they stare at it, as Luther liked to say, like a cow staring at a new gate. They wonder if faith can do all these things. If a gift doesn't need to be received before it is a gift if forgiveness of sins, declared, really does anything or changes us?
But what AC IV is about is what God is doing after your death. It is new, it is therefore Gospel, not law. But that means that preaching Christ and him crucified reveals both the depth of our problem (Was I really that bad off?), and then the depth of God's desire to overcome it (Would he really do that for me?). When you hear what God is up to with his enemies and opponents, it is breathtaking. He literally kills and then raises anew. God's word, "Scripture," as Paul put it in Galatians 3:22, "has imprisoned all things under the power of sin, so that what was promised [by] faith in Jesus Christ might be given to those who believe." Everything we preach must be tuned to this middle "C." The means by which the old sinner is killed and the new saint raised.
The law is not God's final plan or way of making us right. In fact, the law wants nothing more than its own cessation, since what even the law wants, is for you to do the law without the law!
[Just like my Mother, who wants a phone call on her birthday, but doesn't want to have to remind me to call.]
Even law wants freedom from the law! But spiritual only, not incarnate, it can only curb, mirror, instruct, it cannot give you what it demands from you. So, even the good, pure and holy law is finally drawn into God's work of imprisoning all things under the power of sin, like a great black hole, sucking everything in.
[Speaking of the law will finally involve a particula inclusiva, e.g. "All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God..." Or, "the world did not know him." This "everything" is preached absolutely, flat out, even concerning your very best works and virtues. One can learn this idiom anywhere God is acting in Scripture. In Hannah's Song, God's kills and makes alive. In Isaiah, "Truly Thou art a God who hidest thyself." But nowhere with such explosive precision and massive destruction as Paul in Romans 3: "…all, both Jews and Greeks, are under the power of sin, as it is written: 'There is no one who is righteous, not even one... All have turned aside... there is no one who shows kindness, there is not even one... open graves... vipers... feet swift to shed blood...' [and finally] no fear of God." Nada. Zero, Zilch. [Psalm 14, 53:5,140:10; Isa. 59, and Psalm 36—the stuff people know by heart!]
A sinner always wants to slip the knot, and you will have to hold it tight by saying, "I didn't write it, don't blame me." That is why you preach from Scripture, and not your own imagination.
[My Uncle Ken showed me how to set trap for mink, muskrat, ermine, and other critters, and to this day my first instinct when they are gnawing at their foot in an animal's panic is to let them go limping away].
To what end does God go about piling up everything under sin? And then revealing his law so as to seal the deal. Well, not to kill for the pleasure of it, but to make faith where there is none and never will be any. To create anew, in the almost unbelievable form of a promise given, freely, through public declaration [AC V].
Here we find the second bit of dynamite in the Reformers witness to the world regarding justification by faith alone. The particula exclusiva: "…for there is no other name under heaven given among mortals by which we may be saved." (Acts 4) This is expressed in our doctrine of justification. God justifies a sinner by faith alone apart from works of the law, solus Christus, sola fide. The Father and the Holy Spirit each want to make so much of Jesus Christ that he really is all-in all, and at this throne every knew will bow.
Now if you are paying attention to these two absolute words of law and promise, and waiting for a "but," or "conditional," or a "now this is your part in the deal," it never comes. Justification is a short word. It stops breathtakingly short of demanding anything from you. It is a declaration from on high of sins forgiven. We call this the actus forensis, the forensic decree, like a judge announcing a final verdict to a defendant, like Jesus going about and raising little girls from the dead. Like the preacher declaring, "Sinner, on account of Christ, I pronounce you just."
I do nothing for my justification because I know nothing but Christ and him crucified for my sake. I am a do-nothing, know-nothing, receive-everything kind of baptized sinner.
The Apostle Paul presupposed the Old Testament witness concerning righteousness, especially that God is faithful to promises, then sharpened his preaching according to the extraordinary Gospel he received, according to the distinction of law and the Gospel. That makes God's righteousness an entirely new and surprising matter. The Reformers noted the Gospel's sharpening in the particulae exclusivae. They are:
2. "Apart from the law," the righteousness of God has been manifested.
3. "The one man Jesus Christ" (Romans 5:15) is righteousness.
4. "Through faith alone," apart from works of the law.
5. And the means by which faith comes: "How are they to hear without a preacher?" (Romans 10:14).
Put together they read this way: Under the law, none is righteous. Apart from the law, and so through faith alone, only because of Christ, God rightly makes us right while in ourselves ungodly, that is, by faith alone. And how does faith come? Only by the Word and the Spirit, that is, by hearing. You need a preacher, and when you've got one what do you say? "How beautiful are the feet…" (Rom. 10:14-15) This is because, "God and the law are mutually exclusive in the matter of righteousness" (Eberhard Jungel, "Justification: The Heart of the Christian Faith.") This makes no sense to those who single out the law and think only according to it.
All of God's work (and so all of Scripture) is made up of these two "things,"
[Melancthon has a whole section of Apology IV that deals with the distinction of faith and love pp. 140-9)]
God's gifts (Baptism, Lord's Supper, Absolution) are fine, but what about accepting? Christ's cross is nice, but what am I going to do with it? I'm eventually meant for the resurrection, but what about the Christian life right now?
When justification is talked about in a classroom or preached from the pulpit, the offended first agree, and then proceed to undo do it. This is the typical Christian response to justification, and so the article pushes its opponents underground to become semi-Pelagians.
We, on the other hand, have to speak to such Johnny one-notes that promises are not just another law. To do that we are going to have to have three "elements," as Melanchthon calls them. (Ap IV: 53, 128)
b) The fact that the promise is free, by faith alone.
c) And, by the merits of Christ only. That is, we refuse to bury Christ anymore under a pile of religious manure.
[There is a hidden problem here that comes out in AC IV and will be the undoing of the Lutheran church time and again. You can find it in two words regarding "assents" to the promise (Ap IV: 50, 128), that can take on a life of its own and create an opposite anthropology to our pure doctrine of God's work in justifying. But the reason this word is erratic lies deeper, in that Christ merit's alone come to be described by Melanchthon more and more exclusively as "payment." This tends to make Christ inactive, bound to a moment in history at the cross, and leave open the question about how his one-time sacrifice is applied to individuals in the present. Though death as sacrifice is not incorrect to say, it carries within it a time bomb ready to go off that is found in its greatest practitioner, Anselm. That is, a sinner cannot save a sinner. The antidote for this in Lutheranism is always good old Luther and preaching that just lets Jesus run wild in our midst raising dead people, because that is what he likes to do.]
The doctrine of justification by faith alone is to get you to do the justification this way: "I declare unto you the entire forgiveness of all your sins for Jesus' sake."
Now what just happened when I said this? Let me anticipate the questions:
7. And he said, "on account of Christ," but that would mean the forgiveness came not because of me, but because of another, even Christ my Lord whom I betrayed? How does that transfer occur? Especially when I didn't feel anything. My heart wasn't warmed by it. I look at my hands and feet and they all look the same. Nothing has changed. Ah, perhaps he has a secret plan, perhaps it was said so that I might be roused to action in the future? But what if I show him to be a fool by running out and sinning just for spite? Doesn't that disprove his little theory?
This is the inner voice of a dying person before the sola fide. It is full of confusion and fear, precipitated by a very brief few words that are gratis, a free gift. "If, because of the one man's trespass, death exercised dominion through that one, much more surely will those who receive the abundance of grace and the free gift of righteousness exercise dominion in life through the one man, Jesus Christ."(Romans 5:17)
Why do the nations rage… (Psalm 2) They hate the Gospel!
So what is the Church's big cannon that she can turn on them? Its Jesus Christ alone, unbound! Free! Beyond the law, Death behind him! The very one who has come to get you while you were betraying him, and to raise the dead, we simply give the free gift gratis so that, "as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too can walk in newness of life." (Romans 6:4)