Full Text for Lutheran Worship 2- Volume 36 - Significance of Clergy/Laity Separation (Video)

ROUGHLY EDITED COPY LUTHERAN WORSHIP 2 36.LW2 Captioning provided By: Caption First, Inc. P.O. Box 1924 Lombard, IL 60148 ******** This text is being provided in a rough draft format. Communication Access Realtime Translation (CART) is provided in order to facilitate communication accessibility and may not be a totally verbatim record of the proceedings. ******** >> DAVID: What you are sharing seems both interesting and important. May I ask what is the significance in a separation between the clergy and the laity during this time in history? >> DR. ARTHUR JUST: Thank you, David. I appreciate you coming back to that because even though I've said a lot about that, I do want to now focus in on what is the theological issue here. And in order to fully understand the Reformation, you have to see what it is that is going on in this separation. The long and short of it is simply this: that with these two classes, you have two different ways of coming to God. And yet, here's the irony, both of them had the same underlying theological principle because what the medieval period brings to the church, and this is reflected now in the liturgy, and later on I'm going to talk about how the way you worship does constitute, it does, in a sense, bring about the way in which you believe. The medieval liturgy is a clear example of that because the way in which they worship now is going to give birth to a particular way of believing. And what you have in the medieval church is a meritorious Christianity. It's as simple as that. What has been lost now is salvation by grace. And what is at the center of the church�s life is salvation by works of the law. Now, with this bifurcation between clergy and laity, you have the laity being saved by works. And their works are what we might call the cult of the saints. Now, I've already referred to that a little bit, but they would have the relics in their chapels and the novenas and the rosaries. But they were completely, totally kind of captured by the saints. And one of the things I didn't make reference to before because I wanted to talk about it here is that when they would come out and speak this prone during the liturgy of the word, oftentimes the liturgy of the word for the laity was to tell some of the legends and fables of the saints. Now, this is an extraordinary move that no longer are they simply reading the word of God from the scriptures, but they're actually reading other things that are outside of the scriptures that have to do with not only the local saints, but many of the other saints because this is what captured the imagination of the people And so they found themselves kind of immersed in this life of the saints, and by devoting themselves to them, praying to them, worshiping them, worshiping their relics, they're going to receive salvation. On the other hand, the professional Christians, the clergy were also saved by works of the law. But their works were not the cult of the saints but the doing of the liturgy itself. This is where this notion that the liturgy is the work of the people comes into being. And this is how, for example, the monastic classes and then nuns and the clergy who led them in worship, understood their way of being made right with God. Now clearly, that�s so focused on the sacrifice of the mass. But by simply going through the ritual, by submitting one's self to this elaborate medieval liturgy and singing the ordinaries and being there and receiving the sacrament, this was their way of showing God that they were worthy by their holiness, their works to be accepted by him into his heaven. This is a great tragedy, and this is the kind of world, as I said before, that Luther inherited. One of the things that is most remarkable about this is that it is so much a part of who we are as we are, humanly speaking, born in this world. We are by nature works righteous people. And what you see in the medieval period is a church that is simply kind of giving itself over to our normal human inclinations. Now again, there are lots of reasons for that. But I think one of the reasons is the fact that the church does adapt itself to a particular culture. And that culture pushes it to begin to, you know, embrace what is at the kind of the core of our baser human nature. And that is that we are essentially people who feel that there is something about us, there is something we can do to merit God's favor. This becomes such a foundational part of the church�s life that when Luther, you know, comes to understand the gospel, he sees so clearly this difference that for him, the Gospel is such a breath of fresh air. And that's understating it. It is absolute liberation. It is absolute freedom from the bondage that the law brings when we feel we need to do things in order to make ourselves right with God. But the theological implications in conclusion in this separation between clergy and laity has to do with this overwhelming sense of meritorious Christianity that is at the foundation of the medieval church. Now, one of the things that happens during this period of time is that the clergy have a sense now that the people are disenfranchised, that they no longer have access to this liturgy. And so one of the things they do, and you can kind of see they're kind of pastoral concern, is they find that they need to explain the liturgy. They have to do something that helps people understand it. And it's hard for them to understand, too, because it's become so complex. It really has become something that is almost beyond some of their understanding. So what you see developing is what we're going to call the allegorization of the liturgy where they begin to explain it in a way that does not reflect what is actually happening. What's interesting about the allegorization of the liturgy is that captures the imagination of the people because it is really interesting. And one of the things that I think we need to talk about is the effect of this allegorization of the liturgy on the piety of the people and how it does, in a sense, give them access to the Biblical faith in a way that nothing else does.