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

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Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Lutheran Quote of the Day: Bayer on the Performative Nature of God's Word

"Luther also discovers this kind of performative word in the sacraments of Baptism and the Lord's Supper, as well as in the Christmas story ("To you is born this day a Savior!"), the Easter story, and many other biblical passages. As we have said before, he regards these sentences as promises (promissiones). They are the concrete way in which Christ is present, and his presence with us is clear and certain: it clearly liberates us and makes us certain. I cannot remind myself of this freedom and certainty in isolation; I cannot have a monologue with myself. These gifts are given and received only by means of the promise spoken by another person (and not only by the official priest or preacher), who addresses it to me in the name of Jesus. I cannot speak the promise to myself. It must be spoken to me. For only in this way is it true. Only in this way does it give freedom and certainty.

"What this certainty is all about is clear from a short passage in the Lectures on Genesis that Luther virtually offers as a theological legacy: "I have been baptized. I have been absolved. In this faith I will die. No matter what trials and problems confront me, I will not waver in the least. For he who said: 'The one who believes and is baptized will be saved' (Mark 16:16), and 'whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven' (Matt. 16:19), and 'this is my body; this is my blood which is shed for you for the forgiveness of sins' (cf. Matt. 26:26,28), cannot lie or deceive. This is certainly true." In the Lectures on Galatians (1535) Luther writes, "And this is the reason why our theology is certain: it snatches us away from ourselves and places us outside ourselves (nos extra nos), so that we depend not on our own strength, conscience, mind, person, or works but on what is outside ourselves (extra nos), that is, on the promise and truth of God, which cannot deceive.""

-Oswald Bayer, Theology the Lutheran Way, trans. Jeffrey Silcock and Mark Mattes (Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing, 2007), 130.


Jim Robertson said...

Praise God that we do not have to depend on ourselves.

Robert said...


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