30 April 2007

Old Lutheran Quote of the Day

We are thus confronted with the paradox, the mysterious seeming contradiction that runs through all of Christianity, the fact that one the one hand God does everything and the equally indisputable fact that just as soon as the Holy Spirit has begun His work of rebirth and renewal in us, He requires us, in the might that the Holy Spirit supplies, to participate totally, with all our faculties, qualities and parts in and at every stage of the process by which His Holy Spirit transforms us sinners into holy people. (FC SD II:65; XI, 21) - Arthur Carl Piepkorn, *The Church* pp. 229, 230.


Fr. Hank said...

Well presented,,,,,,, it ties in very nicely with the Koenker things you've put up lately.

Anastasia Theodoridis said...

Yes, very well presented.

Although I can't see why anybody views this as any kind of contradiction or paradox. It's just the nature of unity that Thou and I become We.

The transformation Piepkorn mentions is what the Orthodox mean when they say "salvation." And that's why we (like Piepkorn and in the same sense) insist works are necessary.


William Weedon said...

Well, remember, Anastasia, that Lutherans also insist that good works are necessary. There's never been a question on that really. Here's what our Formula of Concord says:

"We also believe, teach, and confess that all people, but especially those who are born again and renewed by the Holy Spirit, are obligated to do good works. In this sense the words necessary, shall, and must are used correctly and in a Christian way to describe the regenerate, and are in no way contrary to the form of sound speech." FC Ep IV.8,9

Anastasia Theodoridis said...

Yes. I wasn't intending to write so much against anything in or lacking in Lutheranism. Rather, I was taking an opportunity to clarify on account of some who claim Orthodoxy teaches "works salvation."

We know works do not merit anything, and we don't think salvation is a merit system anyway. But works do enlarge, well, the capacity to do works! Exercising love enlarges our hearts, so that on the Last Day, when Christ shall fill our hearts to overflowing, our hearts will be larger than they otherwise would have been. Meaning we shall have a "greater" salvation.



Christine said...

And that's why we (like Piepkorn and in the same sense) insist works are necessary.

Maybe it is the terminology. Because Lutheran thinking is so infused by grace I think that perhaps we Lutherans would say that good works rather than being necessary are the evidence and fruit of genuine faith.

That is why Luther said that faith is a "lively and active thing" and will of its own nature overflow with good works. A Christian set free by the all sufficient work of Christ cannot help but respond in love of God and neighbor.

Anastasia Theodoridis said...

Hi, Christine,

"A Christian set free by the all sufficient work of Christ cannot help but respond in love of God and neighbor."

That sounds right, is perfectly logical, and indeed is so, in theory.

You'd think, since I love my husband so dearly, I would just naturally, eagerly, want to get up early in the mornings to make his coffee for him; such a work should just overflow from the grace of God.

You'd think when I see (as I have recently) someone mistreating my 86-year-old father, I'd just naturally abound in forgiveness, as a response to the forgiveness bestowed upon me.

But in reality, I have to drag myself up to make that coffee, if I do it at all, and it's hard to give up resentment when someone hurts me (or my father) to the quick.

IOW, these things still require effort.

And that's what the Orthodox are talking about. Again, to be sure, the work is all God's. But the effort remains all ours.


Christine said...

Hello Anastasia,

Actually, in my prior post I wasn't so much addressing the "living out" of the works that we do but the fact that just as faith is God's gift to us so is the desire to live out that faith in works of love.