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Thursday, December 5, 2013

Synodical Conference–1872, Part 3

This continues the series of blog posts (Table of Contents is in Part 1) publishing my translation of the published essay from the inaugural meeting of the Synodical Conference in 1872.

Part 3
===============  Synodical Conference–1872  ===============
"Over the Doctrine of Justification."
by C.F.W. Walther
(cont'd from Part 2)

In the third thesis attention is directed chiefly to three points: 1) to the doctrine of the universal (allgemeine) redemption of the world, 2) to the doctrine of the means of grace, and 3) to the doctrine of faith.
[SCR 29]  For when one wishes to present the whole doctrine of justification, one speaks as a rule of three causes, that is, if one wants to describe the whole doctrine by means of the originating principle. Then we inquire first, what is the efficient cause, what the moving (bewegende) cause, and finally, what the instrumental cause, through which that which the efficient cause has intended for me, comes into my possession? Now that first cause of the justification is the Triune God; but everyone admits this who still speaks of Justification, and therefore we pass over this point.  The second cause is a twofold one, an internal and an external.  The internal is God's grace and mercy, which again nobody denies, not even the pope.   But now comes a new question, namely: which is the external moving cause? Now there we say: That is the redemption of Jesus Christ, this moves the dear God to declare us poor accursed sinners righteous. Of the instrumental causes there are again two kinds, one on the part of God and the other on the part of man.  On the part of God, they are Word and Sacrament. And here all parties already diverge. On the part of man it is faith, and here there is a truly Babylonian confusion among the sects, when it comes to the point of explaining what is faith. To one it is the mind going forward, to the other, what he experiences in his emotions, etc. If therefore we want to become aware of our unity, then it will obviously be first of all a matter of the external moving cause of justification, that is, of the redemption, and also of the instrumental causes, that is, of Word and Sacrament and of faith. If we are of one accord in these points, we are truly one in the whole body of doctrine; for in these points all the differences in Christendom are to be found. It is true that one cannot contemplate this doctrine without contemplating also man's total depravity, for the sake of which he is by nature a child of wrath and condemnation. Yet our attention must focus above all on how lost and condemned man is justified and saved.
[LS XXX/23, 177-1: Lutheran Standard, vol. 30, No. 23; Dec. 1, 1872, pg. 1, col. 1]
Thesis 4: "As in Adam all men have fallen and come under the wrath of God and eternal damnation as punishment for sins, so also in Christ as the second Adam, all men are truly redeemed from sin, death, devil and hell, and God is truly reconciled with them all."

In this thesis it is stated that just as in Adam the Fall and its consequences have come upon all men, and that they all thus take part in this Fall, [KM 9] so also the redemption, which has happened through Jesus Christ, has happened not only for some few people, but simply for all men, so also for those who are lost. This is proved by Holy Scripture when it speaks of the redemption through Christ without restriction and ascribes to it the same sort of universality as to the Fall of Adam. "Christ," says the Apostle, "is the propitiation (Versoehnung) for [SCR 30] our sins, but not only for ours, but also for the sin of the whole world."  1 John 2:2. And in John 1:29 He is called "the Lamb of God Who bears the sin of the world."  Of Him it is said in 2 Cor. 5:19: "God was in Christ and reconciled the world with Himself and did not impute their sin to them, etc." and Col. 1:20: "that everything might be reconciled through Him to Himself," and that "He by God's grace tasted death for all," Heb. 2:9. All these texts teach that the redemption which has happened through Christ has happened for all. By way of explanation of the words: Christ is the second Adam, what the Apology says is useful:

"But the world was subject to him through the law; for by the commandment of the law all are accused and by the works of the law none is justified, that is, by the law sin is recognised [LS XXX/23, 177-2] but its guilt is not relieved. The law would seem to be harmful since it has made all men sinners, but when the Lord Jesus came He forgave all men the sin that none could escape and by shedding his blood canceled the bond that stood against us (Col. 2:14). This is what Paul says, 'Law came in, to increase the trespass; but where sin increased, grace abounded all the more' (Rom. 5:20) through Jesus. For after the whole world was subjected, he took away the sin of the whole world, as John testified when he said (John 1:29), 'Behold the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!'" (Apology IV, 103, Triglotta pg 151, Tappert, pp. 121-122)

Of course the parallelism between Adam and Christ must not be pushed too far, for in one respect it is different with grace as compared with the curse. As soon as a man is a man he is indeed in possession of the curse, but he is not similarly also at once in possession of the merit of Christ. The treasure is indeed there for all men, the debt of all is paid, so that in the blood of Christ all men's righteousness, life, and salvation are brought back; but in order to come into personal possession of these goods, man must acknowledge the work of Christ, accept His grace, believe, and in so far there is a difference between Adam and Christ. Adam was not a mediator but a forefather, who propagated death in his natural children; but Christ does not propagate life through natural descent, but spiritually, when sinful man acknowledges his work and accepts his salvation, which happens through faith. Thus we must accept the payment of Christ, which is laid down (dargelegt--presented) for all, as our possession, and comfort ourselves with the same, so that it be imputed to us as individuals. After all, it does not say: as by one man all men are begotten in sin, so also through one they are all begotten righteous again, but thus it says: "As through the sin of one condemnation has come upon all men, so also through the righteousness of one justification of life has come upon (ueber) all men. For just as through one man's [SCR 31] disobedience many became sinners, so also through one man's obedience many become righteous" Rom. 5:18-19. The comparison therefore consists in this: As sin and condemnation have come upon all through Adam, so righteousness and salvation are come upon all through Christ; as death is come upon all through Adam, so life through Christ. The universality of the redemption, however, is to be regarded about as one says about a number of slaves who have been bought free [KM 10] (losgekauft), as soon as the money is paid for them: they are all free, although if they do not accept the liberation (Loesung), they are not free as individual persons. They are free according to the intention of him who bought them free, but they remain captive on account of their ill will. Thus Christ has liberated all men, the slaves of death, devil, and hell, for He has paid everything which could be demanded from them, so that none need any longer be a slave; yet most remain in captivity because they do not consider His ransom complete. Therefore what condemns now, after Christ's death and resurrection, is not so much this or that sin, as unbelief, which is the sin of all sins. Therefore also the Lord says: "The Holy Spirit will convict [LS XXX/23, 177-3] the world of sin," and adds at once: "of sin, because they believe not in Me,"–to show that after He, the Son of God, has made us free, the debt of the entire world is truly satisfied. This also the Resurrection of Christ especially attests. What was the Resurrection of Christ? It was an act of God, through which Christ was declared righteous. But Christ had gone into death loaded down not with sins of His own, but with the sins of the whole world and with all its unrighteousness. For the sake of these sins He was sentenced by the Father, and this sentence was executed upon Him; therefore He sank into death. When the Father now raised Him up again, He thereby declared: the debt is paid, He is righteous. As little however as it was Christ who was condemned for His own Person–but rather mankind, whose sins He bore–so little also Christ became righteous for His own Person through the Resurrection; rather, mankind, for whom He died and rose, became righteous.

If it be asked how this is to be rhymed that on the one hand Scripture teaches that through Christ's resurrection the whole world is absolved, and that on the other hand it testifies that the debt remains on the unbelievers, as long as they continue in unbelief, it must be answered: One must distinguish two ways in which God regards men. When God regards the world in Christ, His Son, He looks at it with the most fervent love; but when He regards the world outside of Christ, then He cannot look at it otherwise than with burning wrath. Whoever therefore does not believe in Christ, yes rejects Christ, upon him the wrath of God remains, despite the fact that when God regards him in His Son, and remembers how He has made satisfaction also for him, then He looks upon him with eyes full of love; as Scripture says in John 3:16: "God so loved the [SCR 32] world that He gave His only-begotten Son."  According to this God did two things, He was wroth towards sinners, and at the same time He loved them so ardently that He gave His only-begotten Son for them. If now He loved the world already from eternity, how certainly He will still love it now, after He has been rendered satisfaction! When God now looks at the world in this respect, in which satisfaction has been made for it and its debt paid by His Son, then He sees it as a reconciled world. But now the individual comes along and rejects this reconciliation: him God cannot regard otherwise than with eternal burning wrath, since he is without Christ. Speaking according to the acquisition of salvation, He is wroth with no man any longer, but speaking according to the appropriation (Zueignung), He is wroth with everyone who is not in Christ. One may say therefore: In so far as a man is a part of the whole redeemed mankind, God is not wroth with him, but in so far as he is for his own person an unbeliever, God is wroth with him. But here lies an inexpressible and incomprehensible mystery. For in God there are no movements (Bewegungen), as in us men, who are minded now this way now that, have now these emotions, now those. Of Him it is written: [KM 11] "You remain as You are." But everything that God thinks and wills is one with His Being (Wesen, essence). Just this unity and immutability of God, with what holy Scripture ascribes to Him against the sinner, when he does not believe, and again when he, believes, is an impenetrable mystery, which is why we are not in a position to form a clear notion of how God can love the whole world and yet at the same time be wroth against the individual unbeliever. But Scripture clearly teaches both. Now it is the Lutheran way: if we find two sorts of things in God's Word, which we cannot rhyme, then we let both stand and believe both, just as it reads. Yet in this there is no contradiction, that Holy Scripture teaches both: God loves the world and hates the unbelievers; one must simply add mentally (hinzugedacht): in another respect. It is similar to when we say: man is mortal and he is also not mortal. Mortal he is in respect of his bodily constitution, and he is not mortal in respect of his immaterial constitution.
Christ has placed himself in the place of the whole world, and [LS XXX/23, 178-1] has made satisfaction for it. So now the great God thinks of the world, and in so far as He does this, His Fatherly heart is inclined towards all; but of course not outside of Christ. When he considers the unbelieving world outside of Christ, then the fire of His wrath flames over them to eternity. Yes, if it were possible, His wrath must now be even greater than when it was kindled by the transgression of the Law. If it be asked whether one can say that the totality of mankind indeed is absolved, but not individuals, it must be answered: God is reconciled through Christ with all and with every individual. Yet a judgment must be pronounced over every individual person, either of absolution or of condemnation. Luther says about this:...

= = = = = = continued in Part 4 = = = = = = = = =
In the next Part 4, Walther again brings Luther's comment on the comfort of the Gospel...  are you listening?

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