Saturday, February 21, 2009

"Obedience of Faith" in the Apology of the Augsburg Confession

Hmm, these passages are interesting in light of the hay that some Lutheran commentators make about Reformed invocation of the idea of the "obedience of faith."

From the Apology, art. iv.227-28:

"As we have often said, faith is not merely knowledge but rather a desire to accept and grasp what is offered in the promise of Christ. This obedience toward God, this desire to receive the offered promise, is no less an act of worhsip than is love. God wants us to believe him and to accept blessings from him; this he declares to be true worship" (emphasis added).

[This passage does nonetheless underscore a difference in approach to worship. For Lutherans, worship is as much or more about receiving God's grace in Word and sacrament -- e.g., in the Supper we recieve God's forgiveness, and in believing his word. In contrast, much of the Reformed emphasis is that worship is primarily concerned with what we offer to God. As in, for example, that the Supper is the "oblation of all possible praise" to God, or is a means by which Christians engage in "covenant renewal." I don't want to draw the lines too sharply, because Lutherans believe that they offer in the divine service, and Calvinists believe that they receive in worship. But there are different emphases in the two groups of churches.)

But back to the main point -- there is this, from theh Apology, art. iv.345: "Properly speaking, the Gospel is the command to believe that we have a gracious God because of Christ" (emphasis added).

(Although, as I recall, other parts of the Confessions emphasis that the Gospel, narrowly speaking, is that Jesus died for us on the Cross. This is distinguished from believing the Gospel.)


Blogger DRB said...

That was a helpful post; thanks.

Lutherans see the gospel as a command to believe an unconditional promise of our gracious God. Calvinists tend to see the gospel as a promise conditioned on their faith.
See this Reformed/Lutheran comparison chart (PDF).

February 21, 2009 10:58 AM  

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