Wednesday, May 12, 2010

The Doctrine of Man in Classical Lutheran Theology V

“From such presuppositions, the necessary and most useful distinction follows between internal works of the Law, and external observances. Accordingly, attributed to free will are outward conduct, civil righteousness, activities of the flesh (thus speak the Augsburg confession and the Apology), and the like, whatever terminology is used. Augustine calls them “outward things,” works of the present life. But spiritual righteousness, worship from the heart, spiritual impulses and acts, divine matters, works which relate to God, these are attributed to the operation of the Holy Spirit through the Word. In the Schools they use the terms “naturally good” and “morally good,” “essentially good” and “circumstantially good.” But these terms do not satisfactorily shed light on the real issue.” (pg.79)
I just find that paragraph profound. It sets the terms for the rest of the discussion. In a footnote to the same paragraph it says “The core of the problem is not whether man has some freedom of will in acts such as eating a meal, buying a house, etc. The real problem is whether my will is by itself free to desire what is truly good or what God wills. It is Augustine’s opinion that Pelagius shifts the discussion of freewill to external actions, thereby obscuring the real issue.” And that is the question, can I really desire what is truly good, and conforms to God’s will. I can choose to chase a skirt all the way to church, but I can’t choose to believe. Believing, coming to life, etc. that is the work of the Holy Spirit who works through the means of Grace in that church. Hopefully anyway, suppose that depends on the Church, the skirt led you to.


Frank Sonnek said...

great comment. although I would probably have chased a pair of pants, in fact I almost did to a mormon church..and that would not have been a good thing at all.

but that is another story best by email...

where is the quote from? I don´t see that?

That shift that pelagian makes is the same wrong shift we all make today isn´t it?

Bror Erickson said...

Frank, from " the doctrine of man in classical Lutheran Theology".

Frank Sonnek said...

I note that there is a strong current in "fok]lk" Lutheran theology that says sanctification is faith + works. this formula says that for a work to be god pleasing it must 1) be from a proper , ie "christian" motivation, and 2) conform to god´s revealed laws.

Luther and the confessions in contrast say that sanctication is alone the work of the HS (3rd article explanation, small catechism, art VI FC, art XVIII AC).

What these Lutherans mislabel as "sanctification" is in fact a work of the Holy Spirit that Lutherans and st paul call "mortification of the flesh" and is PURE law.

Have you encountered this error Bror? and if so what form does it appear as?

Frank Sonnek said...

for Luther earthly kingdom, visible, true (aka god pleasing) righeousness is 1) mortification (aka self discipline/restraint) for the specific purpose of making us servicable for 2) love (defined as any action that makes the earthly creaturely life of another better).

No faith at all in God or Christ is a requirement for this earthly righteousness that does truly please God.

But note that this follows romans ch8: this earthy righteousness will perish with the earth along with all who seek to live by that righteousness. The Just shall live , alone, by faith in the crucified and resurrected One.

Bror Erickson said...

Frank, perhaps I can give this more thought on Monday.
I think I have encountered the error though.