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Author Topic: Grace Alone/Faith Alone  (Read 7704 times) Average Rating: 0
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katherineofdixie
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« Reply #135 on: June 29, 2012, 03:34:13 PM »


I discovered what the historic Church has always preached, taught and believed.

Problem here is this is an opinion. The Roman Catholics also believe they have the historic church teachings. You both can't be right but you can both be wrong. You can read all the early fathers writings on CCEL.Org. Earlier in this thread I posted a bunch of quotes that would seem to agree with the Lutheran interpretation of Paul and Justification and I could post many more. You could possibly find different quotes that seem to confirm the current Eastern Churches interpretations and I'd be happy to read them, however this would only prove one of two things:

1.) The Church Fathers were inconsistent.
2.) There was freedom in early Christianity involved in interpretation and theology that no longer exists.

I think option 2 is more likely.

No more than yours regarding what St. Paul "clearly" means. You can prooftext Scripture and the Church Fathers, take things out of context and find "inconsistencies." So what?
Even if you find one who says one thing and one who says another that does not mean that it was the broad consensus of Church teaching.
That is also not the same thing as proving your option 2.
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« Reply #136 on: June 29, 2012, 04:29:45 PM »


I discovered what the historic Church has always preached, taught and believed.

Problem here is this is an opinion. The Roman Catholics also believe they have the historic church teachings. You both can't be right but you can both be wrong. You can read all the early fathers writings on CCEL.Org. Earlier in this thread I posted a bunch of quotes that would seem to agree with the Lutheran interpretation of Paul and Justification and I could post many more. You could possibly find different quotes that seem to confirm the current Eastern Churches interpretations and I'd be happy to read them, however this would only prove one of two things:

1.) The Church Fathers were inconsistent.
2.) There was freedom in early Christianity involved in interpretation and theology that no longer exists.

I think option 2 is more likely.

Not that I think a lot hangs on this, but I do not believe that one really finds the sola fide and forensic righteousness, as these were understood by the Reformers, in the patristic period.  At least I haven't seen clear and unambiguous instances of them.  Both Luther and Calvin struggled with the lack of patristic support for their respective understandings of justification by faith.  One can certainly find verbal similarities, but the similarities vanish upon deeper analysis.  Hence McGrath's contention that the Reformation construal of justification was a theological novum. 

St Augustine is the critical Church Father here.  Though he clearly taught sola gratia, he did not teach the imputation of righteousness.  Let me quote again from McGrath, this time from his book Reformation Theology:

Quote
Whereas Augustine taught that the sinner is made righteous in justification, Melanchthon taught that he is counted as righteous or pronounced to be righteous. For Augustine, 'justifying righteousness' is imparted; for Melanchthon, it is imputed in the sense of being declared or pronounced to be righteous. Melanchthon drew a sharp distinction between the event of being declared righteous and the process of being made righteous, designating the former 'justification' and the latter 'sanctification' or 'regeneration.' For Augustine, these were simply different aspects of the same thing . . .

The importance of this development lies in the fact that it marks a complete break with the teaching of the church up to that point. From the time of Augustine onwards, justification had always been understood to refer to both the event of being declared righteous and the process of being made righteous. Melanchthon's concept of forensic justification diverged radically from this. As it was taken up by virtually all the major reformers subsequently, it came to represent a standard difference between Protestant and Roman Catholic from then on. (p. 127)

So if the Reformers cannot appeal to Augustine for support, to what other Church Father do we turn? 

Let me also add this:  It is not at all clear to me that though Lutherans, Reformed, and Arminians all assert the imputation of justifying righteousness and the sola fide that they actually mean the same thing by these words.   
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« Reply #137 on: June 29, 2012, 06:46:49 PM »

This thread is getting long, you guys need some more Lutherans  Grin

I'd be happy to look at it but I have not seen anyone in the first few Centuries teach "imputed" or "imparted". The point is if we are Justified by Faith or Faith and Works? There is a ton of evidence of faith not works by Scripture and church fathers, not just Augustine as I listed many and could add many more. That being said Paul says:

Romans 4:22-24
New King James Version (NKJV)
22 And therefore “it was accounted to him for righteousness.”
23 Now it was not written for his sake alone that it was imputed to him,
24 but also for us. It shall be imputed to us who believe in Him who raised up Jesus our Lord from the dead,
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« Reply #138 on: June 29, 2012, 06:49:27 PM »

Faith without good works is dead.

Not everyone who calleth unto Me, Lord, Lord, will get in. Who will get in? Those who do the Lord's work.


We are not saved by our own works, but when our faith bears fruit, enabling us to do the Lord's work.
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« Reply #139 on: June 29, 2012, 06:55:43 PM »

Faith without good works is dead.


We already went over this, Lutherans agree:

"We are saved by faith alone, but the faith that saves is never alone."
Martin Luther
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« Reply #140 on: June 29, 2012, 07:01:51 PM »

Interesting. Okay, then.
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« Reply #141 on: June 29, 2012, 07:31:04 PM »


"We are saved by faith alone, but the faith that saves is never alone."
Martin Luther

I've seen this quoted before, but does anyone know the source for the quote?
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« Reply #142 on: June 29, 2012, 07:37:23 PM »

I personally have not heard Total Depravity used by Lutheran pastors, I also used the search function on the Book of Concord and there are not any hits on it.

When I was a Lutheran, I was taught that Lutherans hold to "total corruption," but not "total depravity."  I'm not sure I ever grasped the difference, but that's what I was told.

I had to dig through some books I had and the only one that said anything about Total Depravity basically said the way many explain it (I assume he's talking about Calvinist types) we would consider a Blasphemy against creation.

Here is a quote from the book:

"We do not, strictly speaking, need Grace because we are "weak". God has given us plenty of strength by virtue of creation. What was lost in the Fall was not strength but Faith. Loss of Faith leads to a misuse and distortion of human powers through pride and spiritual pretension."

Gerhard O. Forde 'Where God Meets Man'



Hi Happy Lutheran, I would appreciate it if you could expound on the  quote from that book. I am kind of confused as to  what it meant by the loss of faith ..... is it saying that is the reason of the fall or that is what we lost as a result of the fall or both?

thanks  Smiley
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« Reply #143 on: June 29, 2012, 09:07:45 PM »

There was a time when I was well acquainted with Lutheran understandings of justification by faith, having studied under Robert Jenson for two years at the Lutheran Seminary at Gettysburg.  But I admit I've been away from the literature for a good while now. 

But I'd like to suggest this:  the posited conflict between faith and works is a dead end.  It only makes sense within the merit-structure of justification that developed in Latin Christianity in the Middle Ages.  Clearly neither Luther nor Calvin wanted to divorce good works from the life of faith nor did they want to intimate that "faith" (defined as trust in God's promises) is the one "work" we must do to be saved.  So what is the point of the sola fide? 

What Jenson, Forde, and Lindbeck taught me is that the sola fide is a slogan whose purpose is to assert the unconditionality of grace:  we are saved by God's Word spoken to us as the good news of Jesus Christ.  It is this gospel that awakens faith, regenerates the soul, and empowers good works.   If one would understand the specific Lutheran understanding of justification, one must understand that it is predicated on an understanding of the gospel as the unconditional declaration of forgiveness.  Faith is believing and trusting the promise.   
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« Reply #144 on: June 30, 2012, 02:00:01 AM »


"We are saved by faith alone, but the faith that saves is never alone."
Martin Luther

I've seen this quoted before, but does anyone know the source for the quote?
This exact quote may not come from Luther though often attributed to him on the internet (I would be interested in seeing it sourced as well), however it does faithfully describe Luther's teaching, as documented below.

MARTIN LUTHER ON FAITH AND WORKS

"We say that justification is effective without works, not that faith is without works. For that faith which lacks fruit is not an efficacious but a feigned faith.. It is one thing that faith justifies without works; it is another thing that faith exists without works." Luther's Works 34: 175-176.

“For it is impossible for him who believes in Christ, as a just Savior, not to love and to do good. If, however, he does not do good nor love, it is sure that faith is not present. Therefore man knows by the fruits what kind of a tree it is, and it is proved by love and deed whether Christ is in him and he believes in Christ. As St. Peter says in 2 Pet. 1, 10: "Wherefore, brethren, give the more diligence to make your calling and election sure; for if ye do these things, ye shall never stumble," that is, if you bravely practice good works you will be sure and cannot doubt that God has called and chosen you.” Sermons of Martin Luther 1:40

“Even those who gladly hear and understand the doctrine of pure faith do not proceed to serve their neighbor, as though they expected to be saved by faith without works: they see not that their faith is not faith, but a shadow of faith…” Sermons of Martin Luther 1:112

“Now let us turn to the second part, the outer man. Here we shall answer all those who, offended by the word “faith” and by all that has been said, now ask, “If faith does all things and is alone sufficient unto righteousness, why then are good works commanded? We will take our ease and do no works and be content with faith.” I answer: not so, you wicked men, not so.” LW 31:357

“…Paul storms against such people as are numbered among but are not Christians in reality. But if you do not have love, he says, your faith is false and empty, even if it is possible for you to move mountains from place to place. Yet, he does not say that men are justified by works or love. For Paul speaks, as it is necessary for us to speak, in human fashion on account of those who boast of faith without works. True faith is not idle. We can, therefore, ascertain and recognize those who have true faith from the effect or from what follows.” Luther, LW 34:183.

“For this reason the Holy Spirit urges works, that they may be witnesses of faith. In those therefore in whom we cannot realize good works, we can immediately say and conclude: they heard of faith, but it did not sink into good soil. For if you continue in pride and lewdness, in greed and anger, and yet talk much of faith, St. Paul will come and say, 1 Cor. 4:20, look here my dear Sir, "the kingdom of God is not in word but in power." It requires life and action, and is not brought about by mere talk.” Sermons of Martin Luther 2.2:341-342

“No, no; faith is a living and an essential thing, which makes a new creature of man, changes his spirit and wholly and completely converts him. It goes to the foundation and there accomplishes a renewal of the entire man; so, if I have previously seen a sinner, I now see in his changed conduct, manner and life, that he believes. So high and great a thing is faith.” Sermons of Martin Luther 2.2:341

“But here we must take to heart the good example of Christ in that he appeals to his works, even as the tree is known by its fruits, thus rebuking all false teachers, the pope, bishops, priests and monks to appear in the future and shield themselves by his name, saying, "We are Christians;" just as the pope is boasting that he is the vicar of Christ. Here we have it stated that where the works are absent, there is also no Christ. Christ is a living, active and fruit-bearing character who does not rest, but works unceasingly wherever he is. Therefore, those bishops and teachers that are not doing the works of Christ, we should avoid and consider as wolves.” Sermons of Martin Luther 1:93

“For thus God has also introduced works, as though he would say: if you believe, then you have the kingdom of heaven; and yet, in order that you may not deceive yourselves, do the works.” Sermons of Martin Luther 2.2:342

“The fruits will not save you nor make you any friends, but they must show and prove that you are saved and are my friends. Therefore mark this well, that faith alone makes us good; but as faith lies concealed within me, and is a great life, a great treasure, therefore the works must come forth and bear witness of the faith, to praise God's grace and condemn the works of men. You must cast your eyes to the earth and humiliate yourself before everyone, that you may also win your neighbor by your services; for this reason God lets you live, otherwise nothing would be better for you than to die and go to heaven.” Sermons of Martin Luther 2.2:342-343

“We must therefore most certainly maintain that where there is no faith there also can be no good works; and conversely, that there is no faith where there are no good works. Therefore faith and good works should be so closely joined together that the essence of the entire Christian life consists in both.” Martin Luther, quoted in Althaus, Paul, The Theology of Martin Luther, p.246, note 99.


“Works are a certain sign, like a seal on a letter, which make me certain that my faith is genuine. As a result if I examine my heart and find that my works are done in love, then I am certain that my faith is genuine. If I forgive, then my forgiving makes me certain that my faith is genuine and assures me and demonstrates my faith to me.” Luther, in Althaus, ibid, p. 247, note 106

“Good works do not make a good man, but a good man does good works; evil works do not make a wicked man, but a wicked man does evil works.” Luther, LW 31:360

“But this birth properly shows its power in times of temptation and death. There it becomes evident who is born again, and who is not. Then the old light, reason, struggles and wrestles and is loath to leave its fancies and desires, is unwilling to consider and resort to the Gospel, and let go its own light. But those who are born again, or are then being born again, spend their lives in peace and obedience to the Gospel, confide in and cling to the witness of John, and let go, their light, life, property, honor, and all they have. Therefore they come to the eternal inheritance, as real children.” Sermons of Martin Luther 1:213

“Faith is a living, restless thing. It cannot be inoperative. We are not saved by works; but if there be no works, there must be something amiss with faith.” Luther, quoted in Brinton, Here I Stand: The Life of Martin Luther, p. 259.

“Moreover, if one's life is bad, it would be strange indeed if he should preach right; he would always have to preach against himself, which he will hardly do without additions and foreign doctrines. In short, he who does not preach the Gospel, identifies himself as one who is sitting neither on Moses' nor on Christ's seat. For this reason you should do neither according to his words nor according to his works, but flee from him as Christ's sheep do, John 10, 4-5: "And the sheep follow him, for they know his voice. And a stranger will they not follow, but flee from him." But if you wish to know what their seat is called, then listen to David: "Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the wicked, nor standeth in the way of the sinner, nor sitteth in the seat of scoffers, Ps. 1,1. Again: "Shall the throne of wickedness have fellowship with thee, which frameth mischief by statute?" Ps. 94, 20.” Sermons of Martin Luther 1:95

“Thus faith casts itself on God, and breaks forth and becomes certain through its works. When this takes place a person becomes known to me and to other people. For when I thus break forth I spare neither man nor devil, I cast myself down, and will have nothing to do with lofty affairs, and will regard myself as the poorest sinner on earth. This assures me of my, faith. For this is what it says: "This man went down to his house justified." Thus we attribute salvation as the principal thing to faith, and works as the witnesses of faith. They make one so certain that he concludes from the outward life that the faith is genuine.” Sermons of Martin Luther 2.2:341

“This is what I have often said, if faith be true, it will break forth and bear fruit. If the tree is green and good, it will not cease to blossom forth in leaves and fruit. It does this by nature. I need not first command it and say: Look here, tree, bear apples. For if the tree is there and is good, the fruit will follow unbidden. If faith is present works must follow.” Sermons of Martin Luther 2.2:340-341

“Thus we err on both sides in saying, a person must only believe, then he will neglect to do good works and bring forth good fruits. Again, if you preach works, the people immediately comfort themselves and trust in works. Therefore we must walk upon the common path. Faith alone must make us good and save us. But to know whether faith is right and true, you must show it by your works. God cannot endure your dissembling, for this reason he has appointed you a sermon which praises works, which are only witnesses that you believe, and must be performed not thereby to merit anything, but they should be done freely and gratuitously toward our neighbor.” Sermons of Martin Luther 2.2:342
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« Reply #145 on: June 30, 2012, 02:21:30 AM »

Happy Lutheran, I have to disagree with you that the meaning of justification in the writings of the Apostle Paul is manifest, obvious, and plain.  It may be obvious to confessional Lutherans (or confessional Reformed), but the simple fact is that many, many New Testament scholars are questioning the Reformation reading of Paul.  N. T. Wright has already been mentioned, but he's just the tip of the iceberg.  See, e.g., Douglas Campbell's massive The Deliverance of God: An Apocalyptic Rereading of Justification in Paul.  Many critical exegetes, of whatever denominational stripe, simply do not find the older Protestant paradigm persuasive.

I do not know many Orthodox (in fact, I don't know any) who have read the more recent scholarship on Paul and justification.  This is unfortunate, I think.  
Here is a good overview of recent contemporary scholarship on justification:
http://katachriston.wordpress.com/2011/09/03/dikaiosyne-theou-the-righteousness-of-god-in-contemporary-biblical-scholarship/

While many conservative confessional Lutherans will likely continue to stick rather close to Luther the vast majority of major Pauline scholars believe he was incorrect on key issues:
http://katachriston.wordpress.com/2011/09/21/did-luther-get-it-wrong-most-major-contemporary-pauline-scholars-say-yes/

There is an increasing dissonance between major classical conservative Protestant trajectories stemming from the Reformation and mainstream biblical scholarship; what is fascinating to see is how often recent scholarly trends fit quite well with paleo-orthodox/patristic thinking.



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« Reply #146 on: June 30, 2012, 08:31:15 AM »

Did Luther get St Paul wrong?   Recent exegesis suggest that he probably did.  But another way to think about this is understand that Luther (and Calvin and Augustine and Aquinas) were asking and answering different questions than the Apostle did.  Robert Jenson reflects on this in his book Unbaptized God:

Quote
In the historic discourse of the church, the phrase "the doctrine of justification" is severely multivocal. The phrase's formulaic use, however, has regularly led into the unstated supposition that it must be univocal, that justification is the caption for some one problem together with its proposed solutions. This is not the case. At least three different questions with their own sets of proposed answers have, at various times, gone under the one title "justification." Confusion would not have ensued if the three questions had been merely unrelated.

At a first locus of doctrine labeled justification, we have the apostle Paul's question "How does God establish his righteousness among us?" together with his and others' labor to answer it. For a second locus labeled "justification" we have Western Augustinianism's several efforts to describe the process of individual salvation, to lay out the factors and steps of the soul's movement from the state of sin to the state of justice. A third locus under the same label—the specifically reforming doctrine of justification—includes the body of teaching that the American Lutheran-Roman Catholic dialogue called "hermeneutic" or "metatheological" or "proclamatory." This doctrine describes nothing at all, neither God's justice nor the process of our becoming just. It is instead an instruction to those who would audibly or visibly speak the gospel, a rule for preachers, teachers, liturgists, and confessors. This instruction may be formulated: So speak of Christ and of hearers' actual and promised righteousness, whether in audible or visible words, whether by discourse or practice, that what you say solicits no lesser response than faith—or offence.

This hermeneutical doctrine can—and in the sixteenth century did—become a reforming doctrine because of its critical function. For such instruction to pastors will necessarily become polemic whenever the church solicits responses less obligating and energetic than faith, in other words, works.

When Paul's question and that of the reformers are straightforwardly set beside each other, they are not quite the same; nor then have Catholicism and the Reformation been directly in dispute over Paul's problematic. Certainly, were it not for the Pauline presence in the canon, the Western church would not have been concerned with those matters that occasioned the Reformation. What Luther and his colleagues were about, until the indulgence controversy interrupted, was a Pauline renewal of Wittenberg's theological curriculum. Nevertheless, the question to which the reforming doctrine of justification responds is not identical with that to which Paul devoted himself.

I do not say that the exegesis of Paul's doctrine of justification is not disputed; the dispute, however, is not between the confessions. Long sections in dialogue documents of Pauline exegesis about justification rarely contribute to the consensus achieved in them, and some apparent but illusory remaining dissensus may even result from their presence.

The historical relation between the second and third loci of justification is more complex. If patterns of proclamation or practice judged unacceptable by reforming critique are traceable to specific theological opinions, the critique will also attack those opinions. And in the sixteenth century, the reformers made the standard descriptions of the salvation-process the target of such theological polemic.

Some theologians of the Reformation have directed this sort of polemic only against particular late medieval and Tridentine accounts of the movement from sin to righteousness and have proposed their own replacements. Other theologians of the Reformation do not conceive the work of the gospel in the human soul as a process at all, and have thought that Lutheran and Reformed alternatives to late medieval or Tridentine descriptions of the process were intrinsically no more appropriate than those they replaced. But both sorts of Reformation theology were present from the beginning; and Reformation theologians of the more radical sort have yet to persuade more Augustinian colleagues to abandon their enterprise. Moreover, when Protestants do produce descriptions of the salvation-process, these do not notably differ from those currently approved by Roman Catholic theologians and available, if not dominant, at the time of the Reformation. Therefore, the second doctrine of justification is not itself a doctrine that divides Catholicism and the Reformation.

It remains that of the questions about justification only one has stood between Catholicism and the Reformation: Is the reformers' hermeneutical instruction necessary in the church, and is the critique this instruction will surely generate legitimate and needed? And if this question is kept clearly in view, if its focus is not blurred by subliminal identification with other connected but distinct questions, full consensus is now achieved. For whenever this question has been asked in its own right, Catholic participants in the modern dialogues from first to last have answered yes. (pp. 22-24)

If Jens is right, Luther was not proposing a different order of salvation than previously offered; rather, he was proposing a hermeneutical rule for the proclamation and liturgical enactment of the gospel--namely, so proclaim the gospel of Jesus that it generates faith and trust in God.  If understood in this way, a very creative discussion between Lutheranism and Orthodoxy might be possible.  And we Orthodox might learn a thing or two.

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« Reply #147 on: July 01, 2012, 06:41:34 PM »

It is faith in the Messiah that now justifies the people of God.

I would heartily recommend his book "What St Paul Really Said". This is a meticulous take-down of the traditional Protestant position of justification by faith.

I'm confussed by your post. Luther taught we were Justified by Faith alone in Christ alone.

I always get a kick out of people when they try to claim what Paul "really meant". Anyone that reads Paul that doesn't have any preconceptions would clearly understand we are Justified by Faith and not works. Only overly scholarly nonsense would make anyone think differently.

http://www.bookofconcord.org/augsburgconfession.php

12] And lest any one should craftily say that a new interpretation of Paul has been devised by us, this entire matter is supported by the testimonies of the Fathers. For 13] Augustine, in many volumes, defends grace and the righteousness of faith, over against the merits of works. 14] And Ambrose, in his De Vocatione Gentium, and elsewhere, teaches to like effect. For in his De Vocatione Gentium he says as follows: Redemption by the blood of Christ would become of little value, neither would the preeminence of man's works be superseded by the mercy of God, if justification, which is wrought through grace, were due to the merits going before, so as to be, not the free gift of a donor, but the reward due to the laborer.

15] But, although this doctrine is despised by the inexperienced, nevertheless God-fearing and anxious consciences find by experience that it brings the greatest consolation, because consciences cannot be set at rest through any works, but only by faith, when they take the sure ground that for Christ's sake they have a reconciled God. As Paul teaches Rom. 5:1: 16]Being justified by faith, we have peace with God.


My post was trying to show that the way Luther has framed terms like "righteousness" and "justification" within his own context and battles with the church, was simply not what Paul was trying to say in his letters. I don't think anyone would argue for "earning salvation" through good works. That's just not what St Paul is talking about.

Galatians isn't about the moral works of the law by which people were trying to earn their salvation. This is simply a projection Luther put on the text. It is about whether Gentile Christians should observe those aspects of the Torah that mark out Israel as the people of God - like circumcision, which was explicitly mentioned in the text. There isn't any hint against any moral good works at all. And, as I stated in my original post, the text is not about soteriology. It is about ecclesiology - just like most of St Paul's works. Romans has been eggregiously misread by the Reformation. So much so that when Protestants come to a text like Ephesians, which is explicitly about ecclesiology, they want to dismiss it from the Pauline corpus!

So I'll state it again: St Paul does not teach individual salvation by faith alone. Luther's controversies with Rome and his personal circumstances and spiritual struggles are remote to the text of the New Testament. He tried to frame his reading of St Paul in the context of his own circumstances, as if what St Paul was dealing with 1500 years before, was exactly what Luther was dealing with in his own time. And he has simply wanted to read his own story into the text. This is a highly anachronistic way of reading the text. (And this has been the Protestant trend. How many times have we thought that the text is talking about "me" and "my" circumstances? Of course this isn't to say that Scripture is irrelevant - but if you are prone to only read the text in a way that is centred on yourself and your salvation, then you are bound to distort the meaning. That is why Scripture should be read and understood in the context of the whole church.)

Rather, the church and church unity is a key theme in St Paul. Jew plus Gentile. No divisions in the Body of Christ. He is not concerned about individual salvation that is remote from the church. Further, he is concerned about the salvation and renewal of the whole creation. "For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of Him who subjected it in hope;  because the creation itself also will be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God. For we know that the whole creation groans and labors with birth pangs together until now." This passage is in Romans - the text that sparked the Reformation. How can St Paul talk about the renewal of creation in a text that is meant to be about individual salvation according to Protestants? You cannot read the text consistently if you approach it from Luther or Calvin. In Romans, as in the Gospels, you have the cosmic aspect to the Gospel. The whole universe awaits transfiguration. The Reformation hardly touches on this because it is preoccupied first and foremost with individual salvation. It's all about how "I" can get right with God. Orthodox statements like "my brother is my salvation" are simply foreign to Protestants. So I think Protestant treatments of Scripture are truncated and are actually very simplistic and devoid of full richness of the text.
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« Reply #148 on: July 01, 2012, 08:22:54 PM »

We're just going to have to agree to disagree. Luther was one of the great intellectuals of his day and just because some modern day "scholar" says he didn't understand Paul doesn't make it so. I can and will list many verses from Paul and I don't need to explain what they mean because they are clear. When God wrote the Epistles through Paul's hand he put forth timeless universal messages about Salvation of our souls that don't need decoding.

Romans 1:16-17
16 For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek.
17 For therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith: as it is written, The just shall live by faith.

Romans 3:22-28
22 even the righteousness of God, through faith in Jesus Christ, to all and on all who believe. For there is no difference; 23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24 being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, 25 whom God set forth as a propitiation by His blood, through faith, to demonstrate His righteousness, because in His forbearance God had passed over the sins that were previously committed, 26 to demonstrate at the present time His righteousness, that He might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.
27 Where is boasting then? It is excluded. By what law? Of works? No, but by the law of faith. 28 Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith apart from the deeds of the law.

Ephesians 2:8-9
8 For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:
9 Not of works, lest any man should boast.


Philippians 3 2-9
2 Beware of dogs, beware of evil workers, beware of those who mutilate the flesh.
3 For we are the circumcision, which worship God in the spirit, and rejoice in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh.
4 Though I might also have confidence in the flesh. If any other man thinketh that he hath whereof he might trust in the flesh, I more:
5 Circumcised the eighth day, of the stock of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, an Hebrew of the Hebrews; as touching the law, a Pharisee;
6 Concerning zeal, persecuting the church; touching the righteousness which is in the law, blameless.
7 But what things were gain to me, those I counted loss for Christ.
8 Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but rubbish, that I may win Christ,
9 And be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith

2 Timothy 1:9
9 Who hath saved us, and called us with an holy calling, not according to our works, but according to his own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began,

Titus 3:5
5 Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost

Anyway I'm getting ready for a week long 4th of July vacation and this thread has run it's course and I'm just repeating points from earlier in most cases. You or whoever else is welcome to have the final word. Thanks to all who participated in a friendly manner.
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« Reply #149 on: July 01, 2012, 09:25:02 PM »

We're just going to have to agree to disagree. Luther was one of the great intellectuals of his day and just because some modern day "scholar" says he didn't understand Paul doesn't make it so. I can and will list many verses from Paul and I don't need to explain what they mean because they are clear. When God wrote the Epistles through Paul's hand he put forth timeless universal messages about Salvation of our souls that don't need decoding.

Romans 1:16-17
16 For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek.
17 For therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith: as it is written, The just shall live by faith.

Romans 3:22-28
22 even the righteousness of God, through faith in Jesus Christ, to all and on all who believe. For there is no difference; 23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24 being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, 25 whom God set forth as a propitiation by His blood, through faith, to demonstrate His righteousness, because in His forbearance God had passed over the sins that were previously committed, 26 to demonstrate at the present time His righteousness, that He might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.
27 Where is boasting then? It is excluded. By what law? Of works? No, but by the law of faith. 28 Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith apart from the deeds of the law.

Ephesians 2:8-9
8 For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:
9 Not of works, lest any man should boast.


Philippians 3 2-9
2 Beware of dogs, beware of evil workers, beware of those who mutilate the flesh.
3 For we are the circumcision, which worship God in the spirit, and rejoice in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh.
4 Though I might also have confidence in the flesh. If any other man thinketh that he hath whereof he might trust in the flesh, I more:
5 Circumcised the eighth day, of the stock of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, an Hebrew of the Hebrews; as touching the law, a Pharisee;
6 Concerning zeal, persecuting the church; touching the righteousness which is in the law, blameless.
7 But what things were gain to me, those I counted loss for Christ.
8 Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but rubbish, that I may win Christ,
9 And be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith

2 Timothy 1:9
9 Who hath saved us, and called us with an holy calling, not according to our works, but according to his own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began,

Titus 3:5
5 Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost

Anyway I'm getting ready for a week long 4th of July vacation and this thread has run it's course and I'm just repeating points from earlier in most cases. You or whoever else is welcome to have the final word. Thanks to all who participated in a friendly manner.

It just isn't one scholar. We're talking about the tradition of the church over centuries that did not recognise Luther's position as truth. Further, what Wright has said on "justification" and "righteousness" in St Paul is largely consistent with the RCC and EOC understanding. So it isn't simply the "opinion" of one scholar. There is a place for scholarship. And I think the best scholarship always illumines the tradition of the Church. That's what Wright has done on this issue and on many others - particular his seminal work on the resurrection.

On those Biblical quotes:

The Romans text - you didn't bold the word "unto". For St Paul, the Gospel is literally the life, death and resurrection of Christ. The Gospel is a pronouncement of what Christ has done. It is NOT a statement of individual salvation. The Gospel's power is "unto salvation". I.e. Salvation is result of the Gospel. Individual salvation isn't "the" Gospel. In Paul's own words:

"Paul, a bondservant of Jesus Christ, called to be an apostle, separated to the gospel of God which He promised before through His prophets in the Holy Scriptures, concerning His Son Jesus Christ our Lord, who was born of the seed of David according to the flesh,  and declared to be the Son of God with power according to the Spirit of holiness, by the resurrection from the dead."

The Gospel is the royal announcement of Christ's victory and Lordship. It's power is "unto salvation" for all who believe. It isn't a statement about how one gets "saved".

The Ephesians text is taken out of context massively. Simply read a few verses more and you'll see that, for St Paul, works are necessary. This false dichotomy Protestants have created between "works" and "faith" is a simple misreading of the text. For St Paul, the phrase "works of the law" predominantly refers to those requirements of the Mosaic law that seperated Jew from Gentile. It was not a statement against the moral good works Jews were performing in order to "save themselves". The Pharisees were not proto-Pelagians. Second temple Judaism was a religion of grace. First century Jews saw Torah keeping as their proper response to God's grace in electing Israel. The problem was that the Torah not only divided Jew from Gentile, it also condemned the Jew. Under the renewed humanity, through faith in Christ, there is no longer Jew and Gentile. There is no longer condemnation under the Torah. This is the point St Paul is making about "justification". Who are the renewed people of God and therefore "justified"? It is the Church. Those who are "justified" are members of God's renewed people. This justification is on the basis of faith in Christ, not "works of the Torah" that marked out old Israel - i.e. circumcision, the food laws etc (the dichotomy Paul points out is NOT faith vs works but, rather, faith vs "works of the Torah"). St Paul could not be more emphatic about the Christian requirement to lead good, moral lives with good works. He speaks out strongly against those who would try to turn the Gentile Christians into Jews through circumcision and other "works of Torah".

Further, there is no systematic distinction between salvation, sanctification, glorification etc as Protestants have tried to frame Paul and other NT writings. These categories overlap and are much more intertwined than what Protestants have traditionally taught. St Athanasius is emphatic. Salvation is union with Christ. The NT writers talk about being "in Christ", "partaking of the Divine nature", "working out our salvation through fear and trembling", "being saved..", "being conformed to the image of Christ" and so on.

It is for these reasons that the Church did not find truth in Luther and Calvin's formulations.
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« Reply #150 on: July 01, 2012, 10:00:24 PM »

1.) The verses from Timothy, Titus, Ephesians are not talking about Old Testament law but works in general.
2.) Like I said, I will just post the verses they explain themselves, you then tried to clarify what they really mean. You just made my point for me.
3.) You can't compare Luther to Calvin since Luther hated Calvins theology.


http://www.bookofconcord.org/augsburgconfession.php
10] Whoever, therefore, trusts that by works he merits grace, despises the merit and grace of Christ, and seeks a way to God without Christ, by human strength, although Christ has said of Himself: I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life. John 14:6.....27] Furthermore, it is taught on our part that it is necessary to do good works, not that we should trust to merit grace by them, but because it is the will of God. 28] It is only by faith that forgiveness of sins is apprehended, and that, for nothing. 29] And because through faith the Holy Ghost is received, hearts are renewed and endowed with new affections, so as to be able to bring forth good works.

I think you should actually read the Book of Concord, specifically the Augsburg Confession so you understand what Lutherans actually believe.
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« Reply #151 on: July 01, 2012, 10:10:55 PM »

We're just going to have to agree to disagree. Luther was one of the great intellectuals of his day and just because some modern day "scholar" says he didn't understand Paul doesn't make it so.

And St Augustine was the greatest intellectual of his day and without question one of the greatest in the history of the Western Church.  So why should I choose Luther over Augustine, Luther over Aquinas, Luther over Eastern Orthodoxy, or Luther over the growing number of biblical scholars who increasingly question Luther's interpretation of the Apostle Paul?  

I love reading Luther.  I find him invigorating.  The gospel comes alive in his words.  I personally believe that every Orthodox preacher should read his Commentary on Galatians.  Just because Luther may have gotten St Paul wrong on critical points doesn't mean that he does not have a lot to teach us.
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« Reply #152 on: July 01, 2012, 10:25:33 PM »

We're just going to have to agree to disagree. Luther was one of the great intellectuals of his day and just because some modern day "scholar" says he didn't understand Paul doesn't make it so.

And St Augustine was the greatest intellectual of his day and without question one of the greatest in the history of the Western Church.  So why should I choose Luther over Augustine, Luther over Aquinas, Luther over Eastern Orthodoxy, or Luther over the growing number of biblical scholars who increasingly question Luther's interpretation of the Apostle Paul?  

I love reading Luther.  I find him invigorating.  The gospel comes alive in his words.  I personally believe that every Orthodox preacher should read his Commentary on Galatians.  Just because Luther may have gotten St Paul wrong on critical points doesn't mean that he does not have a lot to teach us.

First off I want to say you've been nothing but gracious and friendly and I appreciate your input in this thread. Smiley

Also, Luther was heavily influenced by Augustine and Ambrose. I don't think you should choose Luther over anyone. Last thing I'm looking to do is convert anyone from Orthodox to Lutheran. However I think Luther was right on many issues and scripture and church fathers seem to bear this out. Also, as I said earlier there seemed to be more freedom in differences in theology in the early church that no longer exists.
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« Reply #153 on: July 01, 2012, 10:35:18 PM »

1.) The verses from Timothy, Titus, Ephesians are not talking about Old Testament law but works in general.
2.) Like I said, I will just post the verses they explain themselves, you then tried to clarify what they really mean. You just made my point for me.
3.) You can't compare Luther to Calvin since Luther hated Calvins theology.


http://www.bookofconcord.org/augsburgconfession.php
10] Whoever, therefore, trusts that by works he merits grace, despises the merit and grace of Christ, and seeks a way to God without Christ, by human strength, although Christ has said of Himself: I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life. John 14:6.....27] Furthermore, it is taught on our part that it is necessary to do good works, not that we should trust to merit grace by them, but because it is the will of God. 28] It is only by faith that forgiveness of sins is apprehended, and that, for nothing. 29] And because through faith the Holy Ghost is received, hearts are renewed and endowed with new affections, so as to be able to bring forth good works.

I think you should actually read the Book of Concord, specifically the Augsburg Confession so you understand what Lutherans actually believe.

1) Good works are never spoken of as bad things by St Paul or any other NT writer. Further, they are a non-negotiable requirement. In Romans and Galatians (the main texts for Luther), it is clear that "works" refers to the Torah (nomos/law). The fact is that the way Protestants have framed the argument has no bearing on what St Paul was saying as it has been understood for centuries in the Church. No one believes that the good works we do actually earns our salvation. This just wasn't the way people before Luther thought about salvation. If the wayward Church really thought that they were trying to "earn salvation" through good works, why do Orthodox monks and lay people continually ask Jesus for mercy (i.e. the Jesus Prayer)?

2) It seems that explanation is needed for Protestants as they overestimate the "perspicuity" of the text. Of course everyone comes to Scripture with a framework through which they interpret it. Pretending that you don't have an interpretative framework does not get around this problem.

3) Luther and Calvin agreed on sola scriptura, which was the source of the their other disagreements! Both insisted on their own interpretations. Where there is no Tradition, Scripture becomes a free for all, which is precisely the the Protestant problem.
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