Search This Blog

Saturday, March 22, 2014

LDJ–1859/1880-Part 7 (pages 18-20)—Law and Gospel; wide open door

This continues from the previous Part 6 presenting a new translation of C.F.W. Walther's seminal essay in 1859 (see Part 1 for Table of Contents).  In this Part 7 Walther brings out quotes from Luther that are the springboard for his later well-known essays comprising The Proper Distinction Between Law and Gospel (text and CPH book).  At the end of the last post, Walther quotes Luther saying: hard it is to properly distinguish between Law and Gospel.
And Walther showed that he indeed was filled with the Holy Spirit as he rightly divided the Word of Truth.  I can barely hold off presenting Walther's Endnotes for he expounds Luther so magnificently... but the Endnotes do not start until page 55 of the 1880 book...

In this post, Luther speaks about finding "a wide open door leading into Paradise itself" – how this reminds me of Franz Pieper's essay The Open Heaven.

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 7: Pages 18-20 (1880)  = = = = = = = = = = = =
(cont'd from Part 6)
The Lutheran Doctrine of Justification.
[by C.F.W. Walther]
[1880-18] This is why no pope, no false Christian, no enthusiast is able to separate these two [teachings].” (“Sermon on Gal. 3:23-24,” 1538; Walch W1 IX, 415. 416., paragr. 8; StL Ed. 9, col. 802, paragr. 8)
Finally, Luther writes on Gal. 4:15-16:  “It is very heavy and precarious to teach that without works through faith alone we become righteous, and nevertheless at the same time teach that we should do good works. If you don’t have faithful and wise servants of Christ, stewards of the mysteries of God, who know how to dispense the Word of truth correctly, then will soon be faith and works mixed with each other.  Both doctrines, faith and works, should and must be diligently and faithfully taught and compelled in Christendom, but then that you do not go too far with either one. Otherwise if you teach works alone, as happened in the papal system, so one loses faith; but if one teaches only [Essays1-36] about faith, the course, carnal people will straightway dream that works are not necessary.” (Walch W1 VIII, 2705-2706, paragr. 191; StL Ed. 9, col 675, paragr. 191) [Endnote B]
§ 3
Because by God’s grace Luther came to a pure and clear understanding of the article of justification, he was born from above, anointed, and equipped to become the Reformer.
So Luther writes himself about this in the year 1545 in the foreword to the first part of his Latin: “I truly had a hearty desire and yearning for understanding St. Paul’s Epistle to the Romans, and so far nothing else prevented such an understanding except these single little words: Justitia Dei (the righteousness of God) in Romans 1:17, as Paul says: ‘The righteousness of God is [1880-19] revealed in the Gospel.’  To these words ‘God’s righteousness’ I was very hostile! And as was the use and custom of all teachers, I had been taught nothing else than that I had to understand this in a philosophical way, that it was the righteousness in which God for Himself is righteous, does and works what is right, and punishes all sinners and unrighteous people. This righteousness is called the essential (formalem) or actual (activam) righteousness.  So now it stood this way for me:  Although I was living as a holy monk without reproach, I still found that I was a great sinner before God, and thereto a fearful and restless conscience. I also knew that all my satisfaction and merits would never reconcile me with God. Therefore I did not at all love this righteous and angry God who punishes sinners. Instead, I hated Him and (so this was not blasphemy or paid attention to) secretly angry and with genuine earnestness against God. Frequently I said, ‘Isn’t it enough for God that He has burdened us poor, miserable sinners, already condemned by original sin to eternal death, with every kind of grief and sorrow in this life, in addition to the terrors and threats of the Law—that He now comes along with the Gospel and multiplies these sorrows and heartaches even more [W1859-21] through its preaching and voice, threatening us even more with His righteousness and earnest wrath?  Here my troubled conscience often made me furious; nevertheless, after sober reflection, I clung to dear Paul, wondering what he meant with that reference, and I had a deep thirst and desire to understand [that passage]. I spent days and nights with such thoughts until, by God’s grace, I noticed how the words hung on each other, namely in this way: the righteousness of God is revealed in the Gospel, as it is written: 'The just lives by his faith.’ Hereafter I learned to understand this righteousness of God in which the just person, by God’s grace and gift, lives alone through faith. [1880-20] And I noticed that the apostle’s meaning was this: it would be revealed through the gospel the righteousness which avails before God, in which God, by grace and pure mercy, justifies through faith.  “In Latin this is called justitiam passivam, as it is written: ‘The just shall live by his faith.’ Now I felt for once that I had been completely and newly born and had found a wide-open door leading into Paradise itself. And now the dear holy Scripture looked quite different to me than before. I soon ran through the whole Bible, as much as I could remember of it, and gathered together according to this rule all its interpretations also of other terms, such as: God's work, that means what God Himself works in us; God's power, with which He makes us strong and powerful; God's wisdom, with which He makes us wise; likewise the others: God's strength, God's salvation, God's glory, and the like. Now, just as I had before earnestly hated this little word, "God's righteousness," so now I began, on the contrary, to esteem the same highly, as my very dearest and most comforting word, and that place in St. Paul was for me the very gate of Paradise” (Walch W1 XIV, col. 460-462, paragrs. 31-36; StL. Ed. 9, cols 446-XXX; [cf. Am. Ed. 34, 336-337])
Luther makes the same witness on Genesis 27:38 as he writes: “When we were monks, we accomplished nothing with our self-inflicted tortures, for we did not want to recognize our sinful and godless nature; indeed, we knew nothing about original sin and did not understand that unbelief is sin. Yes (which is even more) we went so far as to believe and teach that one must be uncertain about God’s grace and mercy. Therefore the more I tried and desired to come to Christ, the farther He withdrew from me. After confession and when I had held Mass, I could be never satisfied in my heart, because the conscience can find no true, [1880-21] certain consolation in works....

= = = = = cont'd in next Part 8 = = = = = = = 
How much these Luther quotes assembled by Walther have encouraged my Christian faith.  I have read some of these before, maybe several times, but I never tire of reading them again and again...

And how silly it is when some of today's Luther "scholars" (like Benjamin T.G. Mayes) make the following claim:
Although Martin Luther is often seen as the lone hero of the Reformation, the truth is that he was not. 
Let them dream on, for they know nothing of the Reformation.  They prattle about in endless ways attempting to impress with their knowledge of Luther and those about him, all the while missing the real center of the theology of Luther -- The Lutheran Doctrine of Justification.
In the next Part 8...

No comments:

Post a Comment

Comments only accepted when directly related to the post.