23 June 2012

Some Augustana Thoughts

as the day we commemorate its Presentation to Emperor Charles V approaches (Monday):

The Augustana in its doctrinal articles begins with the Triune God and ends with the saints (and the saints are put in the doctrinal articles, not the abuse articles! HT Fr. Heath Curtis).

 The order is significant in the first 13 articles of the first portion:  from the Blessed Trinity we recognize the fallen state of man (diseased and corrupted) to the remedy for our malady:  the Savior.  The Savior's great gift to us:  justification.  How He arranged that gift to be imparted (the Ministry).  What that gift produces by His Spirit within us:  good works.  The arena in which all this happens:  the Church (which is the One assembly of all saints).  How we are brought into Christ (Baptism), kept in Christ (Eucharist / Absolution) and so preserved in lives of repentance.

For Article XIV see here.

Article XV is huge in our day for its neglect.  Folks run right away to FC X.  But that's the wrap up, not the starting place.  The start is AC XV and it needs much more pondering among us.

I find it striking that AC IV was among the articles about which they apparently didn't think there'd be a disagreement.  They list those from XXII to XXVIII.  I think that is because the position of AC IV had always been a bit of an Augustianian option.  Does that account also for the fact that the contrary view is "rejected" but that the strong "condemn" word is not used here?

Schroeder I think it was who argued that the big fight in AC all along was the one they saved for last:  XXVIII.  The question of the authority of bishops.  I think there's some truth to that.  The authority question continues to plague us, complicated by the old Adam's drive to always "play the boss" and so utterly contrary to the Savior's notion of authority.  I think the AC runs well with the new rather than the old Adam.

The entire genius of the confession is its (to borrow Lewis' phrase) presentation of "mere Christianity."

A read of the entire can give a resounding call to repentance to our contemporary living out of the faith in the Church.  Here's a hint:  drop the silly mission statements and let every single parish adopt this one.  Our mission is to be the Church of God in this place and at this time.  That's it.  A baptizing, Gospel-preaching and teaching, Eucharist centered, sinner-absolving and repentance living community, drenched in prayer (the Church's prayers and hymns by which we echo the Word).  Or, said another way, to manifest in each locale the ONE assembly of all saints - even though due to our sin, our fallenness and weak hold on grace, it will be always but a partial and fragmentary manifestation.  Still, it will point to the coming Kingdom and even more, offer to the weary, rebellious and fallen world the opportunity to taste and see the goodness of the Lord.

The AC is needed today, more than ever, and not as something that Lutherans wave at other Christians to condemn them, but as something that Lutherans use as a mirror.  To remember what we once were, to see where we have fallen, to see what by God's grace we might yet become again. 

No comments: