Saturday, January 20, 2007

Interesting Paper on Formula of Concord

One of our contributors, Pastor Ryan Fouts, has posted a paper he prepared for one of his Ph.D. classes. Readers of this blog site will find it very interesting. It has to do with the textual history of the Formula of Concord. Thanks Ryan.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Roundtable 4: Original Sin

Sin is much more than wrong things that we do. Those are symptoms of the terminal disease with which we are born and with which we shall die, and because of which we die. Born and conceived in sin, we inherit the sin of our first parents, Adam and Eve. The disease can only be healed by the blood of Christ which cleanses us from all sin. The Augsburg Confession in Article II rejects the errors of Pelagius, and others, who deny that"original depravity" is in fact sin, and that because it is not, there is the ability of man to contribute to his salvation by drawing on that little, tiny remaining spark of goodness with him. Rome taught, and still teaches, that the inclination toward sin we are both with is not in fact actually sin. Consider the manifold and dangerous errors that come about when original sin is not confessed purely according to God's Word. Consider the blessing of the forgiveness of sin, specifically the forgiveness of original sin. By the way, I'm dispensing with segregating blog author comments from reader responses.

Monday, January 8, 2007

Roundtable 3: Reader response

Readers of this blog site are invited and encouraged to submit their comments here, in response to Roundtable 3.

Roundtable 3: Augsburg Confession, Article I -- "With Common Consent" -- What does this mean? How is this done?

Today we begin our discussion of the Augsburg Confession, beginning at the beginning, with the first sentence, of the first article, "God." We read: "Our churches teach with common consent." That's how the Latin version of the Augsburg Confession puts it. The German says: "We unanimously hold and teach..." The Latin continues: "that the decree of the Council of Nicea about the unity of the divine essence and the three persons is true. It is to be believed without any doubt." A tall order! "To be believed, without any doubt." Is there anyone who never has a doubt about the mystery of the Holy Trinity? Doubtful [pun intended]. Then what does it mean when the Confessions refer to belief without any doubt? Here we are introduced to a concept that runs throughout the Lutheran Confessions. We are not here dealing with individuals but with church, and churchly, confession. Note the "our churches," plural. Not, "our Church." Another important concept is here introduced which is worth paying close attention to while reading the confessions. Some would attempt to translate "churches" as "congregations" so as to give the indication that the Lutheran Confessions have, primarily, the local, individual, congregation in view when they speak of "churches." But instead here we have a reference to groupings of churches within the various territories and cities represented by those who signed the Augsburg Confession. I am hard pressed, frankly, to find in our Lutheran Confessions the notion of the autonomous, independent, "free agency" view of the Church that would regard each and every local congregation as free and independent of one another. That is a misunderstanding that I think we would do well to pay heed to as we read the Lutheran Confessions. So then, what does it mean to say that "our Churches teach" and that this teaching is to be "believed without any doubting." Doubting by whom? Individuals? Pastors? Laypeople? Or is there something more there going on?