29 November 2011

Old Lutheran Quote of the Day

We teach the Law of God purely as the norm of all holiness and piety.  We instruct our hearers to do good works according to the norm of the Law, after they have been led to a knowledge of their sins and have embraced the blessings of Christ by faith.  We teach that true, saving faith is not idle but is effectual in the pursuit of good works. Thus where good works do not appear outside, there true faith is not inside.  We teach that through sins against conscience the Holy Spirit and saving faith are cut off from the reborn.  We set before our hearers very serious and urgent reasons why they have to do good works, namely, for God's sake, for our neighbor's sake, and for our own sake.  We encourage our hearers to mortify the flesh along with its lusts, to crucify the old Adam, and thus to work out their salvation with fear and trembling. -- Blessed Johann Gerhard, On the Church, p. 607.

1 comment:

Unknown said...

“We teach that through sins against conscience the Holy Spirit and saving faith are cut off from the reborn.” I am beginning to understand why we need to be refilled with the Holy Spirit. The Smalcald Articles name David’s “adultery, murder, and blasphemy” after which faith and the Holy Ghost departed from him, in support of this doctrine. But apparently not for long, because as soon as Nathan gave David the message from God, David exclaimed, “I have sinned against the Lord.” Obviously, faith and the Holy Spirit had returned, because nobody can confess their sins without either.

I don’t know whether it is blindness, disbelieving or misunderstanding the Gospel, arrogance, a desire to show one’s goodness, or fear of God that is at the root of this doctrine. Of course, the thing with David and Bathsheba is a huge, notorious malfeasance. But there are few living breathing men who have not committed adultery or murder in the sense of our Lord’s understanding of sin, as He explained in Matthew 5. Are these “sins against conscience” or just “sins we cannot help” and therefore do not cause a loss of faith or the Holy Spirit? I submit that they are both, and if faith and the Holy Spirit would leave us on every such occasion, then indeed we would constantly need to reacquire faith and the Holy Spirit. And how do we do that? Since faith and the Holy Spirit are gifts we receive in Baptism, should we be re-baptized? Or do we have to make ourselves “good” again so that God will give us His gifts again? So ultimately then, our Lord came to save the righteous, not sinners.

The words of our Lord, Mark 3, “28 I tell you the truth, all the sins and blasphemies of men will be forgiven them. 29 But whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit will never be forgiven; he is guilty of an eternal sin." There is nothing here about “against conscience” or temporary loss of faith and the Holy Spirit. The Good Shepherd does not abandon His sheep when they need Him the most, even when they don’t know it.

Lest anyone think that they do not commit “sin against conscience”, you do so every time you break the speed limit in your car, when you know the posted speed. So when you do, keep your doors locked; maybe you can keep the Holy Spirit from escaping.

Finally, Rev. Weedon, it would be pointless for you and me to argue this point. I am seriously wondering whether there is someone else among your readers who feels the need to air their view on this point. Otherwise I am like the tree that falls in the forest.

Peace and Joy!
George A. Marquart