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Monday, November 3, 2008

Melanchthon on "Spiritual Matters"

It will be remembered that Adolf Köberle believed Lutherans were especially drawn to either extreme of moralism or mysticism. I believe that we, especially in the LC-MS, have been drawing closer and closer to the side of moralism. Of this Köberle writes:

"There is another [error] that makes so little testimony of the Holy Ghost, Who quickeneth us, that we might think Christ had never risen and Pentecost had never happened. Here the new life appears as a purely transcendental thing, as a mere object of hope and as something quite beyond the possibility of attainment in our present historical situation." The Quest for Holiness, trans. John C. Mattes (Minneapolis, Minn: Augsburg Publishing House, 1938), viii

I think this is no more evident than in the recent resurgence of Luther's teaching of the two kinds of righteousness-- civil and imputed. While historically there are many things about this teaching that were important for correcting error, the claim of there being only civil and imputed righteousness is theologically incorrect. This teaching did make clear 1) The importance and validity of our daily callings (against man made acts of righteousness e.g., monasticism), and 2) the importance of leaving our horizontal righteousness out of the equation of our justification before God. It gave the ordinary man comfort in knowing that their calling as father, worker, etc., was important in God's eyes, and not inferior to other so-called "higher callings." It also let people know that their status as children of God depended on the promises of God, not on what they did.

While imputed righteousness continues to stand unpolluted in the Lutheran Church, the thought that civil righteousness, if properly understood, constitutes the only other righteousness in the life of the believer is an error.

For those who might not be as conversant in Lutheran terminology, this is how the Lutheran Confessions define civil righteousness:

"We maintain that God requires the righteousness of reason [civil righteousness] and that because of God's command honorable works prescribed in the Decalogue are necessary according to [Gal. 3:24]: "The law was our disciplinarian"; and [1 Tim. 1:9]: "The law is laid down not for the innocent but for the lawless and disobedient." God wants those who live according to the flesh to be restrained by such civil discipline, and to preserve it he has given laws, learning, teaching, governments, and penalties." (Kolb/Wengert Apology Art. IV, Par. 22)

Of the two kinds of righteousness, the proponents argue, "Righteousness has to do with meeting God’s “design specifications” for being a human creature and fulfilling the purpose for which God created us. It has to do with being fully human, that is, as God intended us to be when He created us." (Charles Arand and Joel Biermann, "Why the Two Kinds of Righteousness?" Concordia Journal 33, no. 2 (2007), 118.) It is said that imputed righteousness defines our humanity as to our vertical relationship before God, and that civil righteousness defines our humanity as to our horizontal relationship before the world. These two kinds of righteousness, then, are what make us "fully human." If civil righteousness, as defined in the Apology above, is what defines my being human in the world, then this is a very sad theology.

It is exactly these broad theological claims that I believe are reckless and dangerous in this new approach to Lutheran theology. The attempt to adopt this as a theological framework for a person's whole existence is distressing.

Not only does it promote an incorrect understanding of the law, human existence, the activity of God and the activity of man, and any real understanding of sanctification, it is also a mass re-working of the Lutheran theological tradition. Those who are promoting this approach to Lutheran theology have turned to the Confessions and the early Lutheran theological tradition to bolster the two kinds of righteousness as "a Wittenberg way of thinking."

I have recently been working at examining the historical claims of the two kinds of righteousness and have been able to find little support for the claim that the Confessions and early Lutheran church adopted the teaching of the two kinds of righteousness as a vital part of their teaching (if at all). The proponents themselves admit that it does not take on an explicit presence in the Confessions and early Lutheran Church, and so, say that it functioned more as a presupposition. Robert Kolb writes:

"This distinction of two kinds of righteousness functioned as a presupposition for all that Luther said about the human being and the human relationship with God. As a presupposition rather than a dogmatic topic in itself, it did not become a standard part of the list of teachings in Lutheran dogmatics because the form for presenting Biblical teaching that Philip Melanchthon bequeathed his students did not have a place for the presentation of presuppositions. Using the best linguistic theories of their time, those of the Biblical humanists, Melanchthon adapted rhetorical forms from that movement, chief among them the organization of material to be taught in categories or topics, called loci communes (commonplaces) in the academic Latin of his day. In many details the Wittenberg theologians left behind the model of Peter Lombard’s Sententiae, which had provided the configuration for Western public rendering of the Biblical message since the eleventh century (though Lombard’s outline of topics did shape
Melanchthon’s organization of his own topics to some extent). However, Melanchthon’s second and third editions of the Loci did follow Lombard’s model in simply beginning with the topic, “On God.” The communication theory of the time did not recognize any need for laying down the conceptual framework of its way of thinking–although in at least one preface to the work, Melanchthon did sketch the framework of distinguishing Law and Gospel.

"Nonetheless, within the Wittenberg practice of theology there is a place for modern interpreters to make certain that its presuppositional framework is made clear. The Wittenberg team sometimes called the whole of Biblical teaching a corpus doctrinae, a “body of doctrine,” and the individual topics were members, or articuli, of that body. Even though the Wittenberg theologians did not have a way to describe it, it is true that presuppositions run like a nervous system or a circulatory system through the entire body, shaping a number of the specific topics. Therefore, we can recognize the critical role of the distinction of two kinds of righteousness— the two dimensions of humanity—as a critical anthropological presupposition for the exposition and proclamation of a number of topics of Biblical teaching even if this is not made explicitly clear in the tradition." ("God and His Human Creatures in Luther's Sermons on Genesis: The Reformer's Early Use of His Distinction of Two Kinds of Righteousness" Concordia Journal 33, no. 2 (2007), 172-173.)

Historically speaking, the current presence of the two kinds of righteousness in Lutheran theology is more a product of the Luther Renaissance's emphasis on Luther's dialectical theology-- law/gospel, two kingdoms, two kinds of righteousness-- than it is of any sustained Lutheran acceptance of Luther's two kinds of righteousness. The fact is, the Lutheran Confessions nor early Lutheran Orthodoxy promoted this teaching, and it has never been a part of our dogmatic tradition. Francis Pieper does not address the claim of there being two kinds of righteousness, and emphasises that there needs to be a distinction between unregenerate civil righteousness and Christian righteousness (something that civil righteousness does not admit).

The proponents of this teaching claim that the Confessions clearly support and make the distinction between the two kinds of righteousness. There are numerous terms that the Confessors use in connection with "righteousness," the proponents of this teaching have taken all of them and placed them into the two camps; Charles Arand writes:

"Melanchthon variously describes this as the righteousness of reason (iustitia rationis), the righteousness of the law (iustitia legis), civil righteousness (iustitia civilis), one’s own righteousness (iustitia propria), carnal righteousness (iustitia carnis), righteousness of works (iustitia operum) and philosophical righteousness. The second is a Christian righteousness that we receive by faith’s apprehension of the promise of Christ. Melanchthon variously expresses this as spiritual righteousness (iustitia spiritualis), inner righteousness, eternal righteousness (iustitia aeterna), the righteousness of faith (iustitia fidei), the righteousness of the gospel (iustitia evangelii); Christian righteousness (iustitia christiana); righteousness of God (iustitia Dei), and the righteousness of the heart (iustitia cordis)." ("Two Kinds of Righteousness as a Framework for Law and Gospel in the Apology" Lutheran Quarterly 15, no. 4 (2001), 420.)

While the terms in the first grouping are essentially synonymous, there are various terms in the second group that are not. In this post I want to address the meaning that spiritual righteousness has within the Augsburg Confession and the Apology of the Augsburg Confession. While I have briefly touched on this in an earlier post, this will be a more comprehensive look at, specifically, the way the term "spiritual" is used and understood by Melanchthon.

A not unimportant point to start is to look again at a quote from Martin Chemnitz' Loci Theologici:

"We speak of spiritual powers or activities because in Rom. 7:14 the Law is described as "spiritual." That is, it is not content with certain outward, civil activities which the unregenerate flesh can perform. Rather, the Law demands such impulses and activities as cannot be accomplished without the working of the Holy Spirit. These the flesh cannot perform, for the flesh hinders the Holy Spirit in his work, not only by evil desires (Rom. 7:8), but also by the wisdom of the flesh (Rom. 8:7). Frequently when we speak of spiritual impulses, we think of the knowledge, fear, faith, and love of God. For it is characteristic of these affections that they cannot be produced by the flesh. However, in the case of other virtues, such as temperance, chastity, bravery, freedom, etc., the distinction is not so clear; even human reason has such virtues. But we must distinguish on the basis of causes and goals. For example, the chastity of Joseph had a different cause from that of Scipio." (In The Doctrine of Man in Classical Lutheran Theology, ed. Herman A. Preus and Edmund Smits (Minneapolis, Minn: Augsburg Publishing House, 1962), 95.)

The reason this is significant is because 1) Chemnitz' Loci Theologici is based on and taken from Melanchthon's Loci Communes and thus important for understanding Melanchthon's mindset(notice the inclusive language; Chemnitz is talking of the Lutheran theological tradition), and 2) what Chemnitz says is clearly borne out over and over again in the AC and Ap.

We see this language of Chemnitz--"Frequently when we speak of spiritual impulses, we think of the knowledge, fear, faith, and love of God."--repeated over and over again in the AC and Ap:

"Therefore, although we concede to free will the liberty and power to perform the outward works of the Law, yet we do not ascribe to free will these spiritual matters, namely, truly to fear God, truly to believe God, truly to be confident and hold that God regards us, hears us, forgives us, etc." (Tappert, Apology Art. XVIII, Par. 73)

"The kingdom of Christ is spiritual [inasmuch as Christ governs by the Word and by preaching], to wit, beginning in the heart the knowledge of God, the fear of God and faith, eternal righteousness, and eternal life; meanwhile it permits us outwardly to use legitimate political ordinances of every nation in which we live." (Tappert, Apology Art. XVI, Par. 54)

"If we follow this, monasticism will be no more a state of perfection than the life of a farmer or mechanic. For these are also, states in which to acquire perfection. For all men, in every vocation, ought to seek perfection, that is, to grow in the fear of God, in faith, in love towards one's neighbor, and similar spiritual virtues." (Tappert, Apology Art. XXVII, Par. 37)

"We are speaking of true, i.e., of spiritual unity [we say that those are one harmonious Church who believe in one Christ; who have one Gospel, one Spirit, one faith, the same Sacraments; and we are speaking, therefore, of spiritual unity], without which faith in the heart, or righteousness of heart before God, cannot exist. For this we say that similarity of human rites, whether universal or particular, is not necessary, because the righteousness of faith is not a righteousness bound to certain traditions [outward ceremonies of human ordinances] as the righteousness of the Law was bound to the Mosaic ceremonies, because this righteousness of the heart is a matter that quickens the heart. To this quickening, human traditions, whether they be universal or particular, contribute nothing; neither are they effects of the Holy Ghost, as are chastity, patience, the fear of God, love to one's neighbor, and the works, of love." (Tappert, Apology Art. VII and VIII, Par. 31)

"And such are the sacrifices of the New Testament, as Peter teaches, 1 Pet. 2, 5: An holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices. Spiritual sacrifices, however, are contrasted not only with those of cattle, but even with human works offered ex opere operato, because spiritual refers to the movements of the Holy Ghost in us. Paul teaches the same thing Rom. 12, 1: Present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable, which is your reasonable service. Reasonable service signifies, however, a service in which God is known, and apprehended by the mind, as happens in the movements of fear and trust towards God." (Tappert, Apology Art. XXIV, Par. 26)

From these quotes alone we see that Melanchthon, in using the term "spiritual," is clearly trying to distinguish between the mere outward act, whether in accordance with the law or even in the forms of worship, and the heart in which these things are done. Also of note is that Melanchthon does not just mean a vertical fear/love/trust/faith in God but also a horizontal love of neighbor, chastity, patience, etc. Also in these quotes we see brought into question such terms as eternal righteousness and righteousness of the heart, namely, Melanchthon makes it clear that these righteousness' are a righteousness that is worked in the heart of the believer, therefore not a righteousness that is declared and imputed to us from outside. If this were otherwise it would completely obscure the objective nature of the divine verdict of not guilty, making it a subjective quality in the heart of man.

Another interesting look into the way Melanchthon made a distinction between the external doing of the law and the internal motivation, without which we truly don't understand the law, is his understanding of 2 Cor. 3. We will first show how it is understood in the Formula of Concord, which Chemnitz co-authored and which is, no doubt, informed by Melanchthon's interpretation:

"For since the mere preaching of the Law, without Christ, either makes presumptuous men, who imagine that they can fulfil the Law by outward works, or forces them utterly to despair, Christ takes the Law into His hands, and explains it spiritually, Matt. 5, 21ff ; Rom. 7, 14 and 1, 18, and thus reveals His wrath from heaven upon all sinners, and shows how great it is; whereby they are directed to the Law, and from it first learn to know their sins aright—a knowledge which Moses never could extort from them. For as the apostle testifies, 2 Cor. 3, 14f, even though Moses is read, yet the veil which he put over his face is never lifted, so that they cannot understand the Law spiritually, and how great things it requires of us, and how severely it curses and condemns us because we cannot observe or fulfil it. Nevertheless, when it shalt turn to the Lord, the veil shalt be taken away, 2 Cor. 3, 16." (Tappert, Solid Declaration Art. V, Par. 10)

In the Apology, Melanchthon similarly writes:

"But Christ was given for this purpose, namely, that for His sake there might be bestowed on us the remission of sins, and the Holy Ghost to bring forth in us new and eternal life, and eternal righteousness [to manifest Christ in our hearts, as it is written John 16, 15: He shall take of the things of Mine, and show them unto you. Likewise, He works also other gifts, love, thanksgiving charity, patience, etc.]. Wherefore the Law cannot be truly kept unless the Holy Ghost be received through faith. Accordingly, Paul says that the Law is established by faith, and not made void; because the Law can only then be thus kept when the Holy Ghost is given. And Paul teaches 2 Cor. 3, 15 sq., the veil that covered the face of Moses cannot be removed except by faith in Christ, by which the Holy Ghost is received. For he speaks thus: But even unto this day, when Moses is read, the veil is upon their heart. Nevertheless, when it shall turn to the Lord, the veil shall be taken away. Now the Lord is that Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty. Paul understands by the veil the human opinion concerning the entire Law, the Decalog and the ceremonies, namely, that hypocrites think that external and civil works satisfy the Law of God, and that sacrifices and observances justify before God ex opere operato. But then this veil is removed from us, i.e., we are freed from this error when God shows to our hearts our uncleanness and the heinousness of sin. Then, for the first time, we see that we are far from fulfilling the Law. Then we learn to know how flesh, in security and indifference, does not fear God, and is not fully certain that we are regarded by God, but imagines that men are born and die by chance. Then we experience that we do not believe that God forgives and hears us. But when, on hearing the Gospel and the remission of sins, we are consoled by faith, we receive the Holy Ghost so that now we are able to think aright concerning God, and to fear and believe God, etc. From these facts it is apparent that the Law cannot be kept without Christ and the Holy Ghost." (Tappert, Art. IV, Par. 11-14)

There are notable similarities between these two quotes and between them and the previous quotes. 1) Though Melanchthon does not use the term spiritual, both of these quotes are intent on distinguishing between the mere external/civil act and the heart in which the act is done, and 2) they both show the full depth of the law that accuses us not only because we do not fulfill the external act, but also because we do not do the external act in faith and love. Likewise, though Melanchthon does not use the term "spiritual," he does repeat much of the language that we saw in the previous quotes-- "love, thanksgiving charity, patience, etc.," "[the flesh] does not fear God, and is not fully certain that we are regarded by God," "we experience that we do not believe that God forgives and hears us," and "so that now we are able to think aright concerning God, and to fear and believe God, etc."; this is all terminology straight out of the previous quotes we read above concerning "spiritual matters" (see especially, quoted above, Apology Art. XVIII, Par. 73). Also we hear repeated the term "eternal righteousness" which again is shown as a quality worked in the heart (thus not imputed righteousness) and is also connected with "love, thanksgiving charity, patience, etc."

The most important aspect of Melanchthon's and the Formula of Concord's interpretation of 2 Cor. 3 concerns "the full depth of the law." That is, only when we see the law as spiritual do we realize that the law commands not only the civil/external doing of the law but also the heart and motivation in which these acts are done. This is one of the biggest problems with seeing the regenerate's horizontal righteousness as being ideally "civil righteousness" (which even the unregenerate can fulfill). If we promote that in our horizontal life we are expected to fulfill only the external doing of the law we are lying to our congregations. We are expected not only to fulfill the external act but we are also expected to do this with love/fear/trust in God and love for neighbor. By promoting the two kinds of righteousness, those being civil and imputed, we emasculate the law, making it merely a domesticated godliness of: "avoid gross expressions of sins, mind your vocations, do your best." It is a watered down moralism, but moralism nonetheless.

Melanchthon tellingly, in Love and the Fulfilling of the Law, writes that what God expects of us is not only the external doing but also that which is internal, that is, what is spiritual:

"We, therefore, profess that it is necessary that the Law be begun in us, and that it be observed continually more and more. And at the same time we comprehend both spiritual movements and external good works [the good heart within and works without]. Therefore the adversaries falsely charge against us that our theologians do not teach good works while they not only require these, but also show how they can be done [that the heart must enter into these works, lest they be mere, lifeless, cold works of hypocrites]. The result convicts hypocrites, who by their own powers endeavor to fulfil the Law, that they cannot accomplish what they attempt. [For are they free from hatred, envy, strife, anger, wrath, avarice, adultery, etc.? Why, these vices were nowhere greater than in the cloisters and sacred institutes.] For human nature is far too weak to be able by its own powers to resist the devil, who holds as captives all who have not been freed through faith. There is need of the power of Christ against the devil, namely, that, inasmuch as we know that for Christ's sake we are heard, and have the promise, we may pray for the governance and defense of the Holy Ghost, that we may neither be deceived and err, nor be impelled to undertake anything contrary to God's will. [Otherwise we should, every hour, fall into error and abominable vices.] Just as Ps. 68, 18 teaches: Thou hast led captivity captive; Thou hast received gifts for man. For Christ has overcome the devil, and has given to us the promise and the Holy Ghost, in order that, by divine aid, we ourselves also may overcome. And 1 John 3, 8: For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that He might destroy the works of the devil. Again, we teach not only how the Law can be observed, but also how God is pleased if anything be done, namely, not because we render satisfaction to the Law, but because we are in Christ, as we shall say after a little. It is, therefore, manifest that we require good works. Yea, we add also this, that it is impossible for love to God, even though it be small, to be sundered from faith, because through Christ we come to the Father, and the remission of sins having been received, we now are truly certain that we have a God, i.e., that God cares for us; we call upon Him, we give Him thanks, we fear Him, we love Him as 1 John 4, 19 teaches: We love Him, because He first loved us, namely, because He gave His Son for us, and forgave us our sins. Thus he indicates that faith precedes and love follows. Likewise the faith of which we speak exists in repentance, i.e., it is conceived in the terrors of conscience, which feels the wrath of God against our sins, and seeks the remission of sins, and to be freed from sin. And in such terrors and other afflictions this faith ought to grow and be strengthened. Wherefore it cannot exist in those who live according to the flesh who are delighted by their own lusts and obey them. Accordingly, Paul says, Rom. 8, 1: There is, therefore, now no condemnation to them that are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. So, too 8, 12. 13: We are debtors, not to the flesh, to live after the flesh. For if ye live after the flesh, ye shall die; but if ye, through the Spirit, do mortify the deeds of the body, ye shall live. Wherefore, the faith which receives remission of sins in a heart terrified and fleeing from sin does not remain in those who obey their desires, neither does it coexist with mortal sin." (Tappert, Apology Art IV, Par. 15-23)

This quote is undeniably one of the most important statements on the Lutheran understanding of sanctification. Melanchthon, against the claims of Rome, tells us that, not only do the Churches of the Augsburg Confession teach and promote good works, but also they teach what good works actually are--both internal motivation and external action-- and unlike Rome inform their congregations how these works are fulfilled, namely that we cannot do them, but that through the power of Christ and the Holy Spirit, we can. Melanchthon is expressly arguing against Rome who only talked about civil righteousness, the external doing of the action without the aid of God. Against this Melanchthon writes:

"Therefore the adversaries falsely charge against us that our theologians do not teach good works while they not only require these, but also show how they can be done [that the heart must enter into these works, lest they be mere, lifeless, cold works of hypocrites]. The result convicts hypocrites, who by their own powers endeavor to fulfil the Law, that they cannot accomplish what they attempt...For human nature is far too weak to be able by its own powers to resist the devil, who holds as captives all who have not been freed through faith. There is need of the power of Christ against the devil, namely, that, inasmuch as we know that for Christ's sake we are heard, and have the promise, we may pray for the governance and defense of the Holy Ghost, that we may neither be deceived and err, nor be impelled to undertake anything contrary to God's will."

Melanchthon is arguing against exactly what many Lutherans are now trying to promote. Listen to how the two kinds of righteousness are defined: Imputed: "Thus, before God (coram Deo) we are entirely passive, and so our righteousness is passive, not active." ("Why Two Kinds of Righteousness?" 119) Civil: "And so in the eyes of the world (coram mundo) our righteousness is ever active, never passive." (120) Melanchthon calls those "who by their own powers endeavor to fulfil the Law," "hypocrites." Thus the activity and agency of God are completely expelled from our horizontal lives which become "ever active, never passive." We have thus turned back to Rome. While we might not say, as Rome would have, that these civil works avail before God, we show by this blatant rejection of the agency of God in our daily lives that we no longer have any real understanding of sanctification. Sanctification becomes, as in the words of Adolf Köberle, "a purely transcendental thing... a mere object of hope and... something quite beyond the possibility of attainment in our present historical situation."

Therefore, from these examples of how Melanchthon understood "spiritual matters" (Apology Art. XVIII, Par. 73; Apology Art. XVI, Par. 54; Apology Art. XXVII, Par. 37; Apology Art. VII and VIII, Par. 31; Apology Art. XXIV, Par. 26; Apology Art IV, Par. 15-23), we can now begin to understand the terminology of "spiritual righteousness" We read the two occations of this terminology:

"Of Free Will they teach that man's will has some liberty to choose civil righteousness, and to work things subject to reason. But it has no power, without the Holy Ghost, to work the righteousness of God, that is, spiritual righteousness; since the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God, 1 Cor. 2:14; but this righteousness is wrought in the heart when the Holy Ghost is received through the Word. These things are said in as many words by Augustine in his Hypognosticon, Book III: We grant that all men have a free will, free, inasmuch as it has the judgment of reason; not that it is thereby capable, without God, either to begin, or, at least, to complete aught in things pertaining to God, but only in works of this life, whether good or evil. "Good" I call those works which spring from the good in nature, such as, willing to labor in the field, to eat and drink, to have a friend, to clothe oneself, to build a house, to marry a wife, to raise cattle, to learn divers useful arts, or whatsoever good pertains to this life. For all of these things are not without dependence on the providence of God; yea, of Him and through Him they are and have their being. "Evil" I call such works as willing to worship an idol, to commit murder, etc. They condemn the Pelagians and others, who teach that without the Holy Ghost, by the power of nature alone, we are able to love God above all things; also to do the commandments of God as touching "the substance of the act." For, although nature is able in a manner to do the outward work, (for it is able to keep the hands from theft and murder,) yet it cannot produce the inward motions, such as the fear of God, trust in God, chastity, patience, etc." (Tappert, Augsburg Confession Art. XVIII, Par. 1-8)

Of note is the contrast between spiritual righteousness and civil righteousness; the terminology "righteousness of God" (expressed here as something that is "worked") which here is not synonymous with its usual meaning as imputed righteousness; that it is a righteousness that is "is wrought in the heart," thus not being imputed righteousness; it cannot be worked by human nature alone, but rather, the Holy Spirit is needed; the external "doing" is contrasted with the "inward motions" which include (both vertical and horizontal) "the fear of God, trust in God, chastity, patience, etc." (note the similar language in what was quoted above, namely, Apology Art. XVIII, Par. 73; Apology Art. VII and VIII, Par. 31).

The second example is much like the first:

"Therefore, although we concede to free will the liberty and power to perform the outward works of the Law, yet we do not ascribe to free will these spiritual matters, namely, truly to fear God, truly to believe God, truly to be confident and hold that God regards us, hears us, forgives us, etc. These are the true works of the First Table, which the heart cannot render without the Holy Ghost, as Paul says, 1 Cor. 2, 14: The natural man, i.e., man using only natural strength, receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God. (That is, a person who is not enlightened by the Spirit of God does not, by his natural reason, receive any thing of God's will and divine matters.] And this can be decided if men consider what their hearts believe concerning God's will, whether they are truly confident that they are regarded and heard by God. Even for saints to retain this faith [and, as Peter says (1 Pet. 1, 8), to risk and commit himself entirely to God, whom he does not see, to love Christ, and esteem Him highly, whom he does not see] is difficult, so far is it from existing in the godless. But it is conceived, as we have said above, when terrified hearts hear the Gospel and receive consolation [when we are born anew of the Holy Ghost].

"Therefore such a distribution is of advantage in which civil righteousness is ascribed to the free will and spiritual righteousness to the governing of the Holy Ghost in the regenerate. For thus the outward discipline is retained, because all men ought to know equally, both that God requires this civil righteousness [God will not tolerate indecent wild, reckless conduct], and that, in a measure, we can afford it. And yet a distinction is shown between human and spiritual righteousness, between philosophical doctrine and the doctrine of the Holy Ghost, and it can be understood for what there is need of the Holy Ghost. Nor has this distribution been invented by us, but Scripture most clearly teaches it. Augustine also treats of it, and recently it has been well treated of by William of Paris, but it has been wickedly suppressed by those who have dreamt that men can obey God's Law without the Holy Ghost, but that the Holy Ghost is given in order that, in addition, it may be considered meritorious." (Tappert, Apology Art. XVIII, Par. 73-76)

Again, of note is the contrast between the external act and the spiritual motivation; the repetition of much of the same language we have heard throughout: "truly to fear God, truly to believe God, truly to be confident and hold that God regards us, hears us, forgives us, etc.," "whether they are truly confident that they are regarded and heard by God," "it has been wickedly suppressed by those who have dreamt that men can obey God's Law without the Holy Ghost"; Melanchthon makes it clear that spiritual righteousness has to do with "the governing of the Holy Ghost in the regenerate," thus not an imputation from without. Likewise Melanchthon severely relegates the role of civil righteousness to preventing the gross expression of "indecent wild, reckless conduct" thus correlating it to the 1st, or civil use of the law which should never become a way of life.

Far from the sterile and undynamic presentation of the two kinds of righteousness, this look into what Melanchthon saw as spiritual tells us how interconnected the vertical and horizontal are; the continuous refrain of love/fear/trust/knowledge/prayer/hope in God and confidence that God hears and forgives us, the continuous refrain of the need for the power of Christ and of the Holy Spirit all tell us how interconnected the vertical is with the horizontal. None of this Confessional teaching will be retained if we see our horizontal lives as being "ever active, never passive."

3 comments:

L P Cruz said...

JW.

Where do you find time to type in these quotes, very helpful indeed.

Keep it up.

Lito

Joel Woodward said...

Lol, my trusty friend, "Book of Concord (dot) org."

L P Cruz said...

hahaha LOL - ah the marvel of cutting and pasting LOL. I should have known.

LPC