In April and May 1531, Melanchthon completed his revision of the Apology of the Augsburg Confession for the press. In doing so, he made drastic changes in the original version that had been presented at the diet on 22 September 1530. Above all, he expanded the article on justification, making it as precise as possible. Melanchthon was concerned about stating that only Christ had made satisfaction for sin. On the basis of this satisfaction, God declared man righteous, and this was accepted in faith. Thereby he deliberately avoided speaking about man's renewal in faith, i.e., about effective justification. Faith finds its comfort in Christ's act alone. This was a very clear interpretation of justification, but also a one-sided one, and its weakness lay in not considering the new reality of justification. At the same time as Melanchthon, Luther seems to have been working on a German apology that would presumably incorporate the thoughts about justification he had had at the Coburg. All that can be determined from his extant marginal notes on Melanchthon's Apology is that he was interested in the connection between forgiveness and man's active love that followed it. He did not carry out his intention. In October he complained that he wanted to write the apology, but that he was prevented by many other tasks.
In May 1531 Luther and Melanchthon engaged in a noteworthy exchange of correspondence with Brenz concerning the doctrine of justification. In it Melanchthon accused Brenz, following Augustine, of making justification depend on the fulfilling of the law worked by the Holy Spirit instead of solely on Gods' imputation for the sake of Christ's work. In so doing, Brenz was remaining perilously close to the views of their Catholic opponents. The conscience could not draw peace and confident hope from its own qualities, but from God's declaration of righteousness alone. It is noteworthy that in a postscript to this letter, Luther, without directly criticizing Melanchthon, put the emphasis somewhat differently. He also wanted to ignore the qualities of the believer, of course, but he said that Christ was the ground and also the reality of justification. The believer was incorporated into the creative power of Christ's life. This was no so precise as Melanchthon's views, but it avoided making a separation between God's declaration of justification and actual justification. Brenz then sought to come to terms with Melanchthon's objections, but he clearly sympathized with Luther's solution.
I have to say, I don't really understand what is being said here in terms of the finer distinctions, but would like to understand it.
Also, with this theme, pp. 453, 454:
There was no getting around the alternative that either Christ or the law justifies; the lectures tirelessly expound this. Like Muentzer, the pope had placed conditions on the salvation that Christ had already won. The believer was dead to the law, i.e., he was no longer subject to its demands, and he thus lived freely unto God alone. This was the greatest comfort for a conscience when confronted with the fears of death, for all the powers of death had Been destroyed through the death of Christ. "Christ is the executioner of my executioner," namely, of the law that kills. to be sure, this applied only inasmuch as the life of the believer was indissolubly incorporated into the life of Christ. But that could not be achieved by exceptional spiritual accomplishments, only through Christ' sacrifice "for me."
On this basis Luther, along with Paul, spoke about the vicious spell that had perverted the gospel and had caused a relapse into the law. He saw this in Zwingli and Oecolampadius, just as it had already existed in Muentzer, and through their actions a serious danger to the Reformation had arisen. The example of Abraham (Gal. 3:16 ff.) gave him an opening for great expositions of faith. He again expressed the thought that faith glorifies God, and in a bold phrase he said, "Faith is the creator of the divinity," obviously meaning not God in himself, but God for the believer. Faith believes God's statements, which to reason are impossible, false, foolish, weak, despicable, heretical, and devilish, and holds that they are true, life giving, and holy. It offers its rational faculties to God and helps him attain his divinity. On his part, God reckons faith, despite all its weakness, as righteousness for the sake of its trust in Christ. Here Luther's formulation came very close to Melanchthon's trust in Christ. Here Luther's formulation came very close to Melanchthon's, but he still maintained that this faith was Christ's doing. Righteousness did not come from works, but only from the mercy and promises of God. Only in this way, and in no other, was the process of justification put in motion. In theology, faith had to come before any action.
Vis-a-vis justification through Christ alone, the law had to be restricted to is real function, which consisted of revealing sin and thus terrifying the conscience in order to [prepare for the promise in Christ. Having become a child of God through Christ, one participates in Christ's being, and therefrom come corresponding actions, although, contrary to the Anabaptists, imitating Christ was not to be understood as a new law. Unlike the scholastic tradition, Luther's teaching here was also decisively emphasizing the certainty of the believer that he was standing in faith, and this meant also having the gift of the Holy Spirit, even though the Spirit's activity in the weakness of a man might not immediately be identifiable.
...Luther treated the last two chapters of Galatians with comparative brevity. Paul was concerned about a conscience inwardly free from Gods wrath, and that meant having a gracious God instead of an eternally vengeful judge. compared with the majesty of this "theological" freedom, all other freedoms, including political freedom, were nothing but a drop. Being free from the bite of sin and the tyranny of the law was more than that, and it had to be defended against pope and monks. Luther knew what he was talking about. The formula of "faith working through love" (Gal 5:6) was always advanced by the Catholic side as teaching that man cooperated in justification. Luther understood it solely as a description of how faith was practiced. For his intolerance of the enthusiasts, which is often held against him, Luther appealed to the image of the leaven that leavens the whole lump (Gal. 5:9). He urgently warned his hearers: in doctrine one must make no concessions, although otherwise one can be tolerant. For this reason a theological compromise with the pope was impossible, and all that could be achieved was a political peace.
I do not understand how Melanchton and Luther slightly differ on this. That's my open question, at this point. ???