29 February 2008

Old Lutheran Quote of the Day

[For Jay!]

The Lutheran Church has never despised or even disregarded the traditions that have come down from the ancient fathers of the Church. What has been preserved by the teachings and doings of Christian men from the apostles'
time down to the present day is precious. The light which it gives in regard to the faith and the labors of love which the Holy Spirit wrought in other days, the lives which were rendered luminous by rays from heaven, as others were rendered dark by obscuring blackness from hell, in its rage against the Anointed of the Lord, the Church is not willing to forget. She desires to learn the lessons of history and rejoices in her fellowship with men of God who lived and suffered in the same glorious cause in which she is still engaged with the same assurance of faith which made believers strong in other days. But she knows that some professed to be Christians who were not such, and that Christians could err in the past as in the present, and therefore she applies to the Christians of other times the same unerring rule that she applies now, and holds fast as God's truth only what is declared in God's Word. (Matthias Loy, The Augsburg Confession [Columbus, Ohio: Lutheran Book Concern, 1908], p. 179)

5 comments:

Christopher Palo said...

I'm having a hard time reconciling these two diametrically opposed positions:

The Lutheran Church has never despised or even disregarded the traditions that have come down from the ancient fathers of the Church. What has been preserved by the teachings and doings of Christian men from the apostles'
time down to the present day is precious.

Then he writes:

therefore she applies to the Christians of other times the same unerring rule that she applies now, and holds fast as God's truth only what is declared in God's Word.

The use of only there contradicts the original premise in its entirety. So which is it?

William Weedon said...

Huh? The early Christians didn't hold fast only what is declared in God's Word as God's truth? The fathers are pretty adamant on that point, Christopher.

orrologion said...

I would say that based on what we know of the father's lives and actions as well as the churches they served,they have a very different understanding of what is meant by holding fast to "only what is declared in God's Word as God's truth" than has been the case for many more modern Christians. At a certain point respect for the Father becomes totemic window-dressing rather than respect; it becomes not so much a covering of their nakedness but a denial of who they are in favor of who we would like them to be; a creation of the fathers in our own image, rather than our striving to be found in their (and therefore in Christ's) image.

William Weedon said...

Certainly a danger, Christopher. And one to which modern Orthodox are not immune.

William Weedon said...

(Not denying that it can be a problem also for Lutherans, naturally. If I may be so bold, it is not enough to venerate their icons (as in Orthodoxy) or to study their writings (as among Lutherans), but their lives also must be considered and their living in repentance under God's grace emulated.