Monday, April 11, 2011


We are at the very tail end of Martin Brecht's "Martin Luther:  The Shaping and Refining of the Reformation".

p. 451

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. ???


Brigitte said...

Frank explained this on Cranach regarding this quote:

Briggitte @ 42

I think Brecht is exactly wrong here. As in radically wrong.
In fact article IV says that Justification has two usages. One is forensic, and the other is Infused Justification.

The idea is that God forensically declares us to be Holy. But since it is God´s declaration and not just the declaration of man, that word actually does what it also declares. Sinful men ARE made holy.

Lutherans believe that this actually happens in the New Man created, ex nihilo, in man in Holy Baptism. So what is the difference between Lutheran “infused grace” and the Roman Catholic version?

It is this: Lutherans believe that Infused Justification or holiness is not just an infusion of “Holy spirit power” that makes it possible to gradually become holier. Instead it is an IMMEDIATE and COMPLETE making holy that is found in the New Man of the believer. The Old Adam still clings to us Lutherans teach. In that sense that “making holy ” is not complete. But as to the New Man, our holiness is as complete as it ever will be, even in the resurrection.

Read here to see if you agree with my assessment Bridgitte. first I will provide text for context, then the passage that shows what I am saying.

First the Lutherans define what saving faith is, versus all other faith as being sin that they treated in Ap art II:

48] The adversaries feign that faith is only a knowledge of the history, and therefore teach that it can coexist with mortal sin.

The confessor now REdefine ‘mortal sin’ as unbelief. Watch:

Hence they say nothing concerning faith, by which Paul so frequently says that men are justified, because those who are accounted righteous before God do not live in mortal sin.

But that faith which justifies is not merely a knowledge of history, not merely this, that I know the stories of Christ’s birth, suffering, etc. (that even the devils know,) but it is to assent to the promise of God, in which, for Christ’s sake, the remission of sins and justification are freely offered.

Note they select “assent” precisely because the faith they describe is a totally passive receiving.

It is the certainty or the certain trust in the heart, when, with my whole heart, I regard the promises of God as certain and true, through which there are offered me, without my merit, the forgiveness of sins, grace, and all salvation, through Christ the Mediator.

And that no one may suppose that it is mere knowledge [including belief in an inerrant bible, having doctrine all correct, or believing that homosexuality is a sin according to Scripture] , we will add further:

it is to wish and to receive the offered promise of the remission of sins and of justification.

Faith is affective. It is about desire, emotion, and things of the heart. Note that the confessions also define sin exactly in the same way! Sin is not really about what we do with our “baser instincts” that are our “natural appetites”. Sin too is about this exact same kind of faith! But it is a faith that is in anything at all BUT Christ.

Brigitte said...

Faith is that my whole heart takes to itself this treasure.

And here we see that this faith that the Apology everywhere describes as “Movements of the Heart” cannot be our emotions. Why not? Emotions to are something the Confessions class as an “outward work”. It is important to see that the Confessions do not use the philosophical definition of outward/inner as being “material/flesh/body” vs “reason/love/spiritual. Reason, love and faith as things we can do are ALL Romans 8 “outward” that is, “flesh/body” stuff that we can do. Watch:

It is not my doing, not my presenting or giving, not my work or preparation, but that a heart comforts itself, and is perfectly confident with respect to this, namely, that God makes a present and gift to us, and not we to Him, that He sheds upon us every treasure of grace in Christ.

So there is faith that is something we are commanded to do and can actually do. Then there is this Faith that the Confessions are trying here to distinguish from that other faith that is really all about Original Sin.

49] And the difference between this faith and the righteousness of the Law can be easily discerned. Faith is the latreiva [divine service], which receives the benefits offered by God; the righteousness of the Law is the latreiva [divine service] which offers to God our merits.

By faith God wishes to be worshiped in this way, that we receive from Him those things which He promises and offers.

Now this is how Faith that saves, saves us. There are 3 things that happen:

53] As often, therefore, as we speak of justifying faith, we must keep in mind that these three objects concur:

[1} the Promise, and that, too, gratuitous, and the merits of Christ, as the price and propitiation.

[2] This Promise is received by Faith; the “gratuitous” excludes our merits, and signifies that the benefit is offered only through Mercy; the merits of Christ are the price, because there must be a certain propitiation for our sins. 54] Scripture frequently implores Mercy; and the holy Fathers often say that we 55] are saved by Mercy.

[3] As often, therefore, as mention is made of Mercy, we must keep in mind that faith is there required, which receives the Promise of Mercy. And, again, as often as we speak of faith, we wish an object to be understood, namely, the Promised Mercy . 56] For faith justifies and saves, not on the ground that it is a work in itself worthy, but only because it receives the Promised Mercy.

Brigitte said...

So what does saving Faith do? The first think it does is that it terrifies us!

61] …
[1]we must declare how faith is obtained how the heart begins to believe.
[2] Afterward we will show both that it justifies, and how this ought to be understood,
[3] and we will explain the objections of the adversaries.

[1] 2] Christ, in the last chapter of Luke 24:47, commands that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in His name. For the Gospel convicts all men that they are under sin, that they all are subject to eternal wrath and death, and offers, for Christ’s sake, remission of sin and justification, which is received by faith.

The preaching of repentance, which accuses us, terrifies consciences with true and grave terrors. For the preaching of repentance, or this declaration of the Gospel: Amend your lives! Repent! when it truly penetrates the heart, terrifies the conscience, and is no jest, but a great terror, in which the conscience feels its misery and sin, and the wrath of God.

[2] In these, hearts ought again to receive consolation. This happens if they believe the promise of Christ, that for His sake we have remission of sins. This faith, encouraging and consoling in these fears, receives remission of sins, justifies and quickens. For this consolation is a new and spiritual 63] life a new birth and a new life. The adversaries nowhere can say how the Holy Ghost is given. They imagine that the Sacraments confer the Holy Ghost ex opere operato [ie simply by obeying God´s Law] , without a good emotion in the recipient, as though indeed, the gift of the Holy Ghost were an idle matter.

But since we speak of such faith as is not an idle thought, but of that which liberates from death and produces a new life in hearts, which is such a new light, life, and force in the heart as to renew our heart, mind, and spirit, makes new men of us and new creatures, and is the work of the Holy Ghost; this does not coexist with mortal sin .

For how can light and darkness coexist?, but as long as it is present, produces good 65] fruits, as we will say after a while.But God cannot be treated with, God cannot be apprehended, except through the Word. Accordingly, justification occurs through the Word, just as Paul says, Rom. 1:16: The Gospel is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth. Likewise Rom. 10:17: Faith cometh by hearing. And proof can be derived even from this that faith justifies, because, if justification occurs only through the Word, and the Word is apprehended only by faith, it follows that faith justifies. 68] But there are other and more important reasons.

We have said these things thus far in order that we might show the mode of regeneration, and that the nature of faith what is, or is not, faith, concerning which we speak, might be understood.

Now they will show how faith justifies:

69] Now we will show that faith [and nothing else] justifies. Here, in the first place, readers must be admonished of this, that just as it is necessary to maintain this sentence: Christ is Mediator, so is it necessary to defend that faith justifies, [without works]. For how will Christ be Mediator if in justification we do not USE Him as Mediator

Brigitte said...

And here is where the speak of Justification as being Infused:

71] But when it is said that faith justifies, some perhaps understand it of the beginning, namely, that faith is the beginning of justification or preparation for justification, so that not faith itself is that through which we are accepted by God, but the works which follow; and they dream, accordingly, that faith is highly praised, because it is the beginning.

For great is the importance of the beginning, as they commonly say, Arch; h{misu pantov”, The beginning is half of everything;

just as if one would say that grammar makes the teachers of all arts, because it prepares for other arts,

This is wrong: In fact it is his own art that renders every one an artist.

We do not believe thus concerning faith.

We maintain this:

that properly and truly, by faith itself, we are for Christ’s sake accounted righteous, or are acceptable to God.

Here it is…

72] And because “to be justified” means [1] that out of unjust men just men are made, or born again, [2] it means also that they are pronounced or accounted just.

For Scripture speaks in both ways. The term “to be justified” is used in two ways:

[1] to denote, being converted or regenerated; again, [2] being accounted righteous. Accordingly we wish first to show this, that [2] faith alone [1] makes of an unjust, a just man, i.e., receives remission of sins.

You can read the entire art on Justification in the Book of Concord´s Apology/Defense here:

Brigitte said...

You can read the entire art on Justification in the Book of Concord´s Apology/Defense here:

All of the above were Frank's comments, not mine. If the comment were not further down the thread, I should have just posted the link: