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Thursday, March 20, 2014

LDJ–1859/1880-Part 6 (pages 15-17)—A light matter?; a foreign righteousness

This continues from the previous Part 5 presenting a new translation of C.F.W. Walther's seminal essay in 1859 (see Part 1 for Table of Contents).  Please note that I am dropping the notation to my "Sections" and leaving just "Parts".  Again, the "Pages" are from the 1880 book reprint of the original 1859 essay. In Part 6 is continued Walther's section § 2. where he brings us several quotes on the difficulty of maintaining the pure teaching of Justification... it's not a light matter.  In the quote taken from Luther on Isaiah 53 below, Luther speaks of the "foreign righteousness"... again showing the objective nature of our Justification in Christ.

Underlining follows Walther's emphasis in original.
Hypertext links have been copiously added for reference to original sources and on several subjects.
Highlighting is mine.
= = = = = = = = = = = =  Part 6: Pages 15-17 (1880)  = = = = = = = = = = = =
(cont'd from Part 5)
The Lutheran Doctrine of Justification.
[by C.F.W. Walther]
... and then pretend that this is a simple skill, well, then have no doubt that he has no idea of what he is talking about and probably will never find out. For this is not an art that can be completely learned or of which anyone could boast that he is a master. It is an art that will always have us as pupils while it remains the master. And all those who do understand and practice it do not boast that they can do everything. On the contrary, they sense it like a wonderful taste or odor that they [Essays1-35] greatly desire and pursue; and they are amazed that they cannot grasp it or comprehend it as they would like. They hunger, thirst, and yearn for it more and more; and they never tire of hearing about it or dealing with it, just as St. Paul himself confesses that he has not yet obtained it (Phil. 3:12). And in Matt. 5:6 Christ calls those blessed who hunger and thirst after righteousness.  Whoever is interested may learn a lesson from my example, which I shall now confess. A few times—when I did not bear this principal teaching in mind—the devil caught up with me and plagued me with Scripture passages until heaven and earth became too small for me. Then all the works and laws of man were right, and not an error was to be found in the whole papacy. In short, the only one who had ever erred was Luther. All my best works, teaching, sermons, and books had to be condemned. The abominable Mohammed almost became my prophet, and both Turks and Jews were on the way to pure sainthood. Therefore, dear brother, be not proud or smug, and certain that you know Christ well. You hear what I confess to you, admitting what the devil was able to do against Luther, who is supposed to be a doctor in [1880-16] this art, who has preached, composed, written, said, sung, and read so much in these matters but must still remain a student and sometimes may not be either master or student. So take my advice, and do not celebrate too soon. Are you still standing? Then see that you do not fall (1 Cor. 10:12)! You can do anything? Watch out that your skill does not desert you! Be concerned, [W1859-19] be humble, and pray that you may grow in this art and be protected against the crafty devil, who is called “Smart Aleck” and “Quick Fist,” who can do anything and learn anything very quickly.” (Walch W1 V, 1698-1700, col. 97-100 ; StL Ed. 5, col. 1171-1172, paragr. 97-100. [taken largely from. Am. Ed. 14, 37-38])
Furthermore, Luther writes on Ps. 51:9 [11] as follows: “Throughout our life we need this petition so that from day to day this knowledge and this trust in mercy might grow, as Paul (Col. 1:10) and Peter (1 Peter 2:2) urge this growth of faith. You see the great danger that after we have read through one or another book, we persuade ourselves that we are doctors of theology. The examples of the sects are before our eyes. Though they have drawn hardly one drop of sound doctrine, still as the teachers of the world they have filled everything with false ideas of Baptism, the Lord’s Supper, obedience to the Law of God, obedience to magistrates, and the like. Because they have never gone through these struggles of spirit nor grasped this teaching about trust in the mercy of God, it was easy for Satan to subvert them with false ideas. Therefore let us be warned by these horrible examples, pray with David for the growth of this faith, and say, “Lord, turn away Thy face from our sins, and blot out all our iniquities so that our peace and our joy may be full. This same petition [1880-17] proves that the doctrine of justification is the kind of thing that can never be learned completely.  [Yes, may all of us remain lifelong students of this doctrine.] Therefore it is true that those who have persuaded themselves that they know it fully have not even begun to learn it.(Walch W1 V, cols. 841-842, paragrs 264-266; StL Ed. 5, col. 571; [taken from Am. Ed. 12, 375])
Further writes Luther on Isaiah 53:7[4]:  “So true it is that he has suffered for us, so must we all our righteousness, good works and merit, wherein we put our trust, regard as nothing (yes, as St. Paul says in Phil. 3:8, for dung) and so we must step outside of ourselves, give way, and with all our hearts trust and rely on a foreign righteousness and boldly that we same as between heaven and earth suspended with firm faith and cleave to the righteousness, that one neither can see nor feel, which are alone by the Word offered to and bestowed on us.  And this is the reason that no one can comprehend or understand this doctrine of Christian justification without the right master and teacher, the Holy Spirit. (Walch W1 VI, col. 996, paragrs. 20-21; ref. StL Ed. 6, col. 621; not in Am. Ed.)
Further, Luther writes on Gal. 2:17 [1535]:  “From this one sees clearly that all those who do not properly understand the article of justification can do no other than to confuse Law and Gospel.” (Walch W1 VIII, col. 1855, paragr. 238; StL Ed 8, col. 197 , paragr. 238; [cf. Am. Ed. 26, 144])  But in another place he testifies at the same time:  “Therefore he who has the skill to distinguish Law from Gospel, put him at the top and call him a doctor of Holy Scriptures.  Because without the Holy Spirit [W1859-20] it is impossible to make this distinction. I experience it in myself, and see it daily in others, how hard it is to properly distinguish between Law and Gospel. The Holy Spirit must here  [1880-18] be our master and teacher or no man on earth can be able to understand it still teach it.

= = = = = cont'd in next Part 7 = = = = = = = 
A note to Prof. David P. Scaer of CTS-FW: do you still want to keep saying that All Theology is Christology?  Luther wants to give you some advice ...

In the next Part 7...

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