-Wir sein pettler. Hoc est verum.--"We are beggars. This is true."--Martin Luther-

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Monday, January 19, 2009

Lutheran Quote of the Day: Bayer on Faith and the Promises of God

I thought this bit from Oswald Bayer's, Theology the Lutheran Way, went well with my previous post, Faith and the Promises of God. In it Bayer affirms the basic structure of a proper relationship before God, that is, in God's self-giving through the Word of promise and our receiving through the open hands of faith. This is what Bayer calls the vita passiva, the receptive life.

"Everything depends on God's performative word for the enactment of the promise of the forgiveness of sins and the healing of our ingratitude towards our creator. Since this word precedes our faith, our response of faith and prayer can never lead us to understand the divine service as a "self-realization of the church." Even as the response of the church faith remains God's work.

"The standard arguments from ecclesiology and sacramental theology resort to the category of "representation," and speak of the "self-realization of the church" and of the church as the "original sacrament." It is clear from this that the criterion of the particular divine service, which Luther vigorously promoted from the beginning of his Reformation theology, is not at all self-evident. For him, worship has to do with the enactment of the word and faith, of promissio and fides. This is classically formulated in the treatise, The Babylonian Captivity of the Church (1520): "For God does not deal, nor has he ever dealt, with us except through the word of promise. We, in turn, cannot deal with God except through faith in the word of his promise." This asymmetrical correlation between word and faith, where the word always comes first and faith follows the word, is for Luther the criterion of the true divine service. At the end of his life he preached a sermon at the consecration of the castle church in Torgau in 1544. There he gave his famous definition of the divine service that beautifully exemplifies this criterion. He calls on the people to join him in the consecration "in order that the purpose of this new house may be this: that nothing else may happen in it except that our dear Lord himself may speak to us through his holy word and that we respond to him through prayer and praise.""

-Oswald Bayer, Theology the Lutheran Way, trans. Jeffrey Silcock and Mark Mattes (Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing, 2007), 88-89.


Augustinian Successor said...

Hi Joel, have you heard from Jack yet?

Joel Woodward said...

Hey Jason,
No not yet. I'll leave a note on his WT account. I'm glad to hear you are doing well. God's blessings on all your continuing endeavors.

Augustinian Successor said...

I'm a part-time student but a full-time staff ... work and study at the same place. I enjoy my work and studies in public policy, although it's a Moslem environment. The people there are decent, but Moslems in general ideologues who revel in conspiracy theories and propaganda. Anti-Semitism is rife and I hate that. I don't have any Jewish friends and I'm not a Christian Zionist, but I despise the pro-Palestinian cause because it is *totally* one-sided. Hamas is evil. And people jump on the bandwagon to support terrorism. I'm a supporter of the State of Israel and the two-state solution.