Full Text for Faithful to our calling, faithful to our Lord. Part 1 (Text)

FAITHFUL TO OUR CALLINGFAITHFUL TO OUR LORDAN AFFIRMATION IN TWO PARTSBYTHE FACULTY OF CONCORDIA SEMINARYPART IA WITNESS TO OUR FAITH:A JOINT STATEMENT AND DISCUSSION OF ISSUESFaculty of Concordia Seminary. FaithfulTo Our Calling, Faithful To Our Lord.Part 1. St. Louis: Concordia Seminary,[1973].Public Domain.CONTENTSPreamble ……………………………………………………………………. 3Affirmations: WE BELIEVE IN ONE GOD, THE FATHER ALMIGHTY …………………………….. 5 WE BELIEVE IN ONE LORD, JESUS CHRIST ………………………………………… .. 6 WE BELIEVE IN THE HOLY SPIRIT, THE LORD AND GIVER OF LIFE ……………………. 8Discussion of Issues ……………………………………………………… 12One: God’s Creation and the Beginnings …………… 12Two: God’s Creation and Human Beings …………… 15Three: God’s Creation and His Wonders ……………. 18Four: The Promise and the Scriptures ……………….. 20Five: The Promise and Jesus Christ …………………... 24Six: The Promise and the Old Testament ……………. 28Seven: The Holy Spirit and the Mission of Christ ….. 31Eight: The Holy Spirit and the Community of God … 35Nine: The Holy Spirit and the Teaching Activity of the Church ………………………………………... 392PREAMBLETHE BACKGROUND OF THE DOCUMENTFor some time, we the Faculty of Concordia Seminary, have beenencouraged by many in The Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod to make afresh statement of our faith and to address the issues under discussion inthe Synod. On September 21, 1972, the District Presidents of our Synodencouraged each of the Professors of Concordia Seminary, St. Louis toassure the church of his Biblical and Confessional stance by setting forth (inwriting) what he believed, taught andconfessed "giving special attention tothe theological issues among us today.” In addition to providing theDistrict Presidents with individual statements of our personal faith, we as aFaculty present the following document to the Church as a corporateexpression of our faith and a discussion on the issues under debate. Wedeem it a great responsibility to be the teachers of future ministers of theLutheran Church and, therefore, we consider it a welcome opportunity tomeet the deep concern of all in our Synod by affirming the reason for thehope that is in us and by discussing openly the questiona at issue in theSynod.For us the Gospel is the Good News that Jesus Christ our Lord was born,died and rose for our salvation and for the salvation of the world. Weaffirm, moreover, that the Scriptures are the norm for faith and life. At theheart of the discussions in our Synod is the question of whether the Gospelof our Lord Jesus Christ is the sole source of our personal faith and thecenter of our public teaching. Is the Gospel alone sufficient as the groundof faith and the governing principie for Lutheran theology? Or issomething else required as a necessary condition? It is our conviction thatany effort, however subtle, to supplement the Gospel so that it is no longertbe sole ground of our faith or the governing principie for our theology isto be rejected as un-Lutheran, contrary to our confession, and injurious tothe mission of the Church.The issue in the Synod is not academic freedom for the Faculty ofConcordia Seminary but the need to stand fast in the Gospel freedomwherewith Christ has freed ali members of His Church. That issue affectsthe work of every pastor and lay person as he carries out his callingaccording to his conscience as a Lutheran loyal to the Scriptures and theConfessions. Nor is the problema struggle between the Seminary and the present synodical administration.At stake is the centrality of the Gospel in our faith, our lives, our theology,our ministry, and God's mission to the world through us.THE NATURE OF THE DOCUMENTThe Affirmations of faith which follow are grounded in the three centralarticles of the Nicene Creed which we all confess. The Faculty of ConcordiaSeminary subscribes to these Affirmations without reservation. TheseAffirmations make it clear that we teach and proclaim the Gospel withinthe framework. of the doctrine of the Trinity as we have always done.Quite different and distinct from the Affirmations are the Discussions ofthe issues. They are an illustration of how we treat the major subjects underdiscussion in our Synod. The Discussions are so named for good reason.They have been worded after serious discussion and reflection. We are notsuggesting that each member of the Faculty binds himself to the precisewording of these Discussions as the only or the best way to formulate theanswers. We are agreed that other wordings or expressions are notexcluded. But we also agree that these Discussions present positionsresponsibly taken on the the basis of our Scriptural and Confessionalcommitment. Within the household of faith we enjoy the freedom of theGospel so that we are free to discuss and rework ancient and traditionalformulations of doctrine. We also call these paragraphs Discussionsbecause we look forward to further discussion of our efforts to express forour generation "the faith once for ail delivered to the saints." Thus theDiscussions provide us with a responsibie set of statements which aresuitable for use in discussion forums throughout the Synod.This document illustrates how the Gospel governs our handling oftheological topics. The Gospel is the center of our theology and ourconcern. We continue to affirm and aphold Article II of our Synod'sConstitution, and we long for the day when these difficulties will be setaside and we can all work together with new zeal in the proclamation ofthe Gospel to ail men and in the application of its power to the needs andcrises of the worid. To that end we commend these Affirmations andDiscussions to the Church for its prayerful consideration.4AFFIRMATIONSOF FAITHWE PRAISE AND MAGNIFY OUR GOD.THE FATHER, THE SON, AND THE HOLY SPIRIT.THE AFFIRMATIONS WHICH FOLLOWEXPRESS THE FAITH WITHIN US THATLEADS US TO GLORIFY OUR GODWE APPEAL TO ALL WHO HEAR THESEWORDS TO UNITE WITH US IN ACOMMON CHORUS OF ADORATION.WE BELIEVE IN ONE GOD, THE FATHER ALMIGHTYWe affirm that God the Father is our Creator. All things are in Hishands and from His hands. From the beginning of all beginnings to theend of all ends, He is the one Source. From the smallest atomic particle tothe greatest galaxy, He is the Maker. From the first ray of light to humanbeings made in His image, He is the Creator. His Spirit gives life to allthings and constantly makes them new. His Word gives everything itsidentity and makes each item of creation unique. Each person, each peopleand each rate is His special workmanship and is to5be honored as such. In His wisdom He gives purpose to all things Hecreates and declares them very good.We affirm our lives as gifts of God. Our existence is totally dependentupon His goodness; we are not self-made. God, by His special creation, hasselected us to be His personal representatives on earth and His chosenservants for all. We, in turn, are to be loyal to our Lord and Maker in everyway and to unite with all His creation in a jubilant chorus of praise. But allhuman beings have sinned and thus have rejected their role as responsibleservants. From the beginning their sin has been to defy God, to deny theircalling as God's representatives, and to run their lives without Him. Hencehuman beings abuse creation instead of honoring it; they oppress theirfellowmen instead of liberating them. Because of their sin all life isburdened with a curse, evil runs rampant, and even God's good creationmay become His agent ot terror.We affirm that God the Creator is our Father. Hiswonders on our behalfnever cease, for He never ceases creating. By His power He governs anddirects all things for our good. His concern for creation is unfailing, Hislove for human beings means intervention on their behalf, and His will forthe world is its total redemption. As children of our Father we affirm thegoodness and glory of His creation, and we magnify His holy name. Weare also called, according to our several opportunities and resources, toreflect His concerns by dealing with the issues of greed, pride, hunger,pollution, and other problems that face our world. But above all, God isour Father because He is the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.WE BELIEVE IN ONE LORD, JESUS CHRISTWe affirm that Jesus Christ is the Promised One. In Him all the plansand promises of God are "yes" and "amen." The Word of God throughwhom all things were created assumed human form in Him. The glory ofGod once revealed to Israel is seen in Him. The Promise of God's graceannounced to the Israelite people is finally fulfilled in Him. In Jesus Christthe Gospel of God's mercy and compassion is seen and heard as neverbefore. He is the new beginning promised in the Old Covenant. He is6the center of God's Promise and God's ultimate revelation of Himself to theworld. Jesus Christ is our Messiah, our Savior, and our Lord.We affirm that for us and for our salvation, God sent His Son tobecome a human being. For us He was conceived by the power of theHoly Spirit of the Virgin Mary and bom in Bethlehem, flesh of our fleshand blood of our blood, yet without sin. For us He traveled throughPalestine, healed the sick, and preached the Good News of God's new age.For us He suffered under Pontius Pilate and was crucified on Golgotha. Forus He died and was buried. For us He was raised from the dead on thethird day as the firstfruits of those who have slept. For us He ascended tothe right hand of God the Father to exercise His rule over all things. For usHe will return in all His glory. In this Gospel message we rejoice.We affirm that Jesus Christ is our Lord and our God. He is our Lordbecause He is our Redeemer. By His atoning life, death, and resurrectionHe frees us from the power of sin which enslaves us, and thereby He givesus a new identity. In Christ every Christian is a new creation. Jesus Christis our Lord because He has destroyed the power of all evil forces thatthreaten our world and He has reconciled all human beings to the Father.By His rising to life again He set in motion the plan of resurrection thatincludes our resurrection from the dead. Jesus Christ is our Lord becauseHe is our God. All He has done for us is a gift of God's grace, and becauseHis word to us is a promise, itcan be received only by faith. For all of thisour hearts are filled with thanks and adoration.We affirm that we live by God's Promise. That Promise is the Gospel ofGod's love for us in Christ.Jesus. God's Law, in whatever way it operates inour lives, reminds us of our guilt, our sinfulness, and our alienation fromGod, from God's creation, and from other human beings. That Law keepsaccusing us. But the Promise of our Lord Jesus Christ always interveneswith the surprising message of God's forgiveness and our redemption. Weare made free in Him in spite of any evidence to the contrary that we orothers may see in our lives. That7experience is the marvel that shapes our lives. Our response to that miracleis to extend His Promise to others and to tive a life pleasing to Him.Furthermore, together. with Christ, we struggle to overcome thosedemonic forces once and for all defeated by our Lord that continue tomanifest themselves in crime, oppression, racism, deceit, lovelessness, andother evils. To all who believe in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ Hepromised to send His Holy Spirit.WE BELIEVE IN THE HOLY SPIRIT,THE LORD AND GIVER OF LIFEWe affirm that the Holy Spirit is the Life-giving Spirit from God andthat He is God. From the first creative acts of God to the daily renewal ofour own spirits, the Holy Spirit is involved. The Spirit moved the prophetsof Israel to speak God's message in terms of their daily life. Through theHoly Spirit the Word became a human being, Jesus of Nazareth, who afterHis resurrection imparted to His disciples that very same Spirit. AtPentecost He poured out the Holy Spirit on the entire community of Godand continues to do so today. Through the Holy Spirit God has given usHis Holy Scriptures to make us wise unto salvation and to be the norm forour faith and life. Through that Spirit we receive eternal life as a gift of Godthat transcenda and transforms our present life. Because of our sinfulnesswe cannot by ourselves believe in Jesus Christ. But the Holy Spirit createsand confirms faith in us and makes us hoiy through the the truth, inspiresour worship, and intercedes for us when and the mutual encouragement ofbrothers and sisters in Christ. That same Spirit moves us to glorify ourMaker and Redeemer.We affirm that the church is the body of Christ, of which He is thehead. He is constantly in the midst of His people. He comes to us anewwhenever we hear His Promise and receive the forgiveness of sins. Hebaptizes us to new life and rescues us from eternal death. He shares withus His body and blood in the Sacrament of the Altar and assures us ofcomplete salvation. With Him we shall one day reign in glory with all thepeople of God. For amid all its diversities, theChurch is one. It consists of all Christian communities of all times and aliplaces in which the Gospel is proclaimed and the Sacraments areadministered according to the Word of our Lord. That oneness is the workof the Spirit, based upon the one hope to which we Christians are called,upon the one body, the one Lord, the one faith, the one Baptism, and theone God and Father of us all. The Church is God's community composed ofhuman beings who are at the same time holy in Christ and sinners called torepentance. The Holy Spirit provides the Church with a variety of gifts,designates and empowers its ministers, leads us to the truth, inspires ourworship, and intercedes for us when our words fail.We affirm that God summons every Christian to share in His missionto the world. The Spirit has equipped each one of us with unique gifts forservice to God and the world. We are the people of God called to magnifythe Father, to proclaim the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and to work for thereconciliation of all men with God and one another through the power ofthe Spirit. God created the Church to prociaim to the world the messagethat Christ is the one who liberates from all evil powers, For the Church isChrist's mission to the whole person, the whole Church, the whole societyand the whole world. Wherever and whenever we Christians live by theGospel we participate in God's work of -renewing each person and societyitself. As we labor to this end we await the coming of our Lord Jesus Christand the consummation of His kingiy rule that shall have no end.TO HIM WITH THE FATHER ANDTHE HOLY SPIRIT BE GLORY ANDHONOR FOREVER AND EVER.AMEN.9On November 21, 1972, Concordia sfaculty resolved to "adopt theAffirmations as a statement of what we believe, teach and confess, and thatwe present these Affirmations to the church as assurance that we doindeed teach in accord with the doctrinal position of the LC-MS as set forthin Article II of the Constitution, and that we continue to stand under thenorms of that article."The faculty also resolved "that all the members of the faculty indicate theirendorsement of the Affirmations by signature."Following the meeting, Dr. Robert Preus sent a letter with this request:"...list my name as opposing the joint confession."Robert R. BergtRobert W. BertramHerbert J. A. BoumanKenneth H. BreimeierRichard R. Caemmerer, Sr.Robert L. ConradJohn W. ConstableJohn S. DammFrederick W. DankerWilliam J. DankerDavid E. DeppeArlis J. EhlenAlfred O. FuerbringerPaul F. GoettingCarl GraesserRobert A. GrunowNorman C. HabelH. Lucille Hager10George W. HoyerHolland H. JonesEverett R. KalinWi Jo KangRalph W. KleinEdgar M. KrentzPaul G. LessmannErwin L. LuekerHerbert T. MayerDuane P. Mehl! Carl S. MeyerEldon E. PedersonArthur Carl PiepkornArthur C. ReppAlfred von Rohr SauerEdward H. SchroederKenneth J. SiessRobert H. SmithGilbert A. ThieleJohn H. TietjenArthur M. VincentCarl A. VolzWaiter WegnerRobert J. WerberigAndrew M.. WeyermannLeonhard C. Wuerffel11DISCUSSIONS OF ISSUESAs indicated in the Preamble above, the Discussions which follow arequite distinct and different from the Affirmations to which we as a Facultysubscribe without reservation. The Discussions are submitted as apreliminary but responsible investigation and treatment of specific issues.The list of topics treated is not intended to be exhaustive but representativeof those under discussion in our Synod. The Discussions of these topicsare a demonstration of how we employ the Gospel as the govemingprinciple in our theology. Individual members of the Faculty may expressthemselves differently as they formulate answers to these issues. But we, asa Faculty, agree that the principles employed in the following Discussionsare Gospel oriented and therefore Lutheran, and that these Discussionsprovide us with a responsible set of statements suitable for use indiscussion forums throughout Synod. After each Discussion resources areprovided to enable further study and discussion of these issues.Of the nine Discussions which follow, the first three are related to thefirst set of Affirmations about God, the Father; the second three are relatedto the second set of Affirmations about Jesus Christ our Lord, and the finalthree Discussions are related to the third set of Affirmations about theHoly Spirit. The Discussions, therefore, should be studied in connectionwith the respective Affirmations to which they are related.Discussions One, Two and Three are dependent upon the first set ofAffirmations about God, the Father, and are to be read in conjunction with thoseAffirmations.DISCUSSION ONEGod’s Creation and the BeginningsGod the Father is indeed the Source of all life and the Creator of allthings. But precisely how did our world take shape when He first createdit? Did He create then the way He does now? Was His creation of theuniverse instantaneous or was it a lengthy process? Those are mysteriesthat have engaged the minds of scientists, the imagination of poets, and thefaith of worshipers12for centuries. Each group strains with human words to describe Godcreating through His Word. Similarly biblical men of faith, operating withthe same limitations of human language in a given cufture, were moved bythe Spirit to portray the creative work of God in diverse ways.In Genesis 1, for example, the world is first depicted as a vast deep filledwith water and covered with darkness. Then light appears as an entitydistinct from the darkness,and the sky is introduced as an overarchingfirmament to separate the waters finto those above the sky and thosebelow. In Psalm 104, the deep is a wide expanse of water covering thehighest mountains of earth. When God appears in all His splendor, Hestretches out the heavens like a tent above and thunders at the watersbelow who flee from His presence. Elsewhere God's work of creationseems to involve the conquest of great sea monsters. (See Psalm 74:12-17;Isaiah 51:9; Job 26.)Each of these descriptions complement the other and emphasizes adifferent aspect of the mystery of creation. The first picture affirms thatGod, through His Word, gives separate identities to all things by creatingour ordered universe out of darkness and chaos (compare Psalm 33). Wemeet that same creative Word in Jesus Christ, the true light who shines inthe darkness of our world to give us each a new identity in Him (John 1).The second picture announces the glory and power of God the Creatorwhen He creates or sends forth His Spirit to renew the face of the groundand when we respond to His creating with joyful adoration (comparePsalm 19; Job 38). The third picture asserts that creation also involves theliberation of our earth from the powers of chaos and points forward toJesus Christ, the Firstborn of all creation who conquered the cosmic powersfor us and reconciled all things to the Father through the bfood of His cross(Colossians 1-2).Through each of these descriptions God's spokesmen confront us with amessage of God, not a textbook on science. They speak primarily to ourfaith rather than our intellect. These passages reflect the language of belief,not of scientific discourse. Any effort, therefore, to equate thesedescriptions of creation with a given scientific theory about the origin ofthe world is to be rejected. Likewise, any suggestion that a given13scientific theory about the origin of life or the structure of the universe isbinding on believers merely because it is widely accepted is also to berejected. At the same time, we recognize scientific research as anotheraspect of God's creative activity working through human beings. Thebiblical accounts of God creating the world, however, call for a response ofpraise and wonder, not biological or geological investigation.In the last analysis, however, any discussion of the relationship of thebiblical pictures of creation to scientific theories is secondary. For thesebiblical descriptions of God creating the world focus on the meaning ofcreation for us; they confront us with His glory, His goodness, and His goalfor all creation. In them we are to discern ourselves, our needs, and ourCreator at work around us and for us. But only through Jesus Christ, thecreative Word alive among us, do we become new creatures who know byfaith that all God's creating is working together for our good. As Hischildren we respond to these pictures of God our Father at work withpraise and wonder, not with arguments from reason. Through His Wordall things have their beginnings and through His Word made flesh in JesusChrist we have our new beginning.For Further Study:The Scriptures: Genesis 1-2; Psalms 8; 33; 74:12ff; 104; Job 26; 38; Proverbs 8; John 1; Hebrews 11: 1-3; Colossians 1-2.The Confessions: The Large Carechism, The Creed, 9-24, 64; Formula of Concord, Solid Declaration, VII, 45.Secondary Literature: Walter Wegner, "Creation and Salvation: A study of Genesis 1 and 2,"CTM, XXXVI I (1966), 520-542. Walter R. Roehrs, "The Creation Account of Genesis," CTM, XXXVI (1965), 301-321. C. F. W. Walther, "Why Should our Pastors, Teachers and Professors Subscribe Unconditionally to the Symbolical Writings of our Church," tr. Alex W. Guebert, CTM, XVIII (1947), 241-253.14Secondary"Creation in Biblical Perspective," CTCRLiterature:Report 59.DISCUSSION TWO:God's Creation and Human BeingsHuman beings are the glory and burden of God's creation. Not onlyhave human beings been made a little lower than the angels and crownedwith great honor; but they have also shown themselves to be creatureswhose rebelliousness brings evil upon the world around them. They arechosen as servants of God to express His will in the management of theearth. They are distinct from all other creatures in that they are to reflectGod's message to other human beings. From the beginning they have hadthe capacity to hear and respond to the Word that God addresses to them.Human beings, however, also defy God and reject His Word, a factwhich points to what we call "original sin." This sinfulness is present inevery individual from the beginning of his existence as a human being andpersists throughout his life. This sinfulness is the origin and source of allour sins of thought, word, and deed; it is that urging within each of us tousurp the role of God and deny our true character as His chosen creatures.Our sinfulness is such a deep-seated corruption that it cannot beunderstood or defined completely. With the Book of Concord we describethis "original sin" as our native inability to love God and trust in Him,coupled with an inclination to evil that even Christians can never fullyconquer in this life.This sinfulness is a reality we confront every day; we need a savior allthe time. God, moreover, holds each person individually responsible forhis own sinfulness and his own sins; the first human being is notaccountable for my evil deeds. Nor is our native sinfulness identical withthe humanity we inherit from our ancestors, but an attendant corruption ofthat humanity. We cannot argue that our sinfulness is not our fault, butAdam's. We know ourselves to be sinners because God's Word designatesus as such, not by virtue of any rational argument that links our guilt withthe guilt of our first parents15(Smalcald Articles III, I & II). We cannot blame them for our sinfulness orguilt.Any consideration of Genesis 2-3 in this connection must take intoaccount the kind of literature employed here and the intention of thebiblical writer. We distinguish today between news reports, editorials,short stories, poems, dramas, and other types of literature and the variousways in which they communicate a message. The Holy Scriptures alsoinclude many different kinds of literature including poems, historicalnarratives, parables, and sermons. Regardless of what form of literature agiven biblical writer may employ, his ultimate purpose is always to conveythe Word of God to His people. A legitimate difference of opinion oftenexists among students of the Scriptures about the precise type of literaturebeing employed or the extent to which a narrative is historical, poetic, orparabolic. Thus, forexample, it is debatable whether the story of the GoodSamaritan is a parable or a historical incident used by Jesus tocommunicate a message.The discussion in our Church about Genesis 2-3 is a debate about thekind of literature found in this text rather than about its doctrinal content.Many within our Synod hold that these chapters are a literal historicalaccount of the lives of two specific individuals known as Adam and Eve.Those who hold this position recognize that the message of the text dealswith our native sinfulness. Our corruption is a reality that is as true for usas it was for our first parents.Others in our Synod maintain that Genesis 2-3 is not an eyewitnessreport or a historical account similar to modern historical annals. Theycontend that the evidence within the text itself indicates that it is an ancienttheological document which uses the narrative form. This text is more likea sermon than a news report. Anthropomorphisms, symbols, and theolo-gical reflection are integral to the character of these chapters. Thus anyeffort to press the details of this narrative according to the yardstick ofmodern historians is not consistent with the intent, of the passage. Thewriter of Genesis 2-3 is proclaiming the truth about Everyman (ha’adam,"the man") and every woman (Eve, "Mother of all that live"). The intendedaddressee in this narrative is first of all Israel. In Adam and Eve all the menand16women of Israel could see themselves. But we too are addressed, for in thataccount our native sinfulness is revealed.This kind of discussion is a legitimate part of the work ofinterpretation, and differences of opinion about the kind of literatureinvolved do not negate the doctrinal content of the passage. For as we haveindicated in the discussion above, the message remains the same whetherwe consider the text of Genesis 2-3 a literal historical account or some otherkind of literature. Our corruption is as true for us as it was for the fallenparents of the human race.Regardless of which position we take about the kind of literature foundin Genesis 2-3, it is important for our preaching and teaching in the Churchto recognize that our sinfulness is our own fault. For in the Old Testament,Israel is held responsible for its own crimes and corruption. In Romans 5,moreover, while Paul states that sin and death enter the world through oneman, he makes it clear that the universal spread of sin and death takesplace "because all men sin" (v. 12). In line with Paul's argument, it is alsonecessary for us to recognize that we share in the sin and death of the firsthuman beings, regardless of hnw we interpret the details of Genesis 3. Forour sinfulness is a dreadful reality revealed to us by the Word of God; sotoo is the reality that one man, Jesus Christ, makes us righteous by Hisrighteousness.For Further Study:The Scriptures: Genesis 2-3; 9: 1-6; Ezekiel 28: 1-19; Romans 5; Colossians 3: 1-11.The Confessions: Augsburg Confession II, Apology II, Smalcald Articles III, I; Formula of Concord I; IISecondaryNorman C. Habel, The Form and MeaningLiterature:of the Fall Narrative. St. Louis: Concordia Seminary Print Shop, 1965.17Secondary Ralph D. Gehrke, ---Genesis Three in theLiterature: Light of Key Hermeneutical Considerations,' CTM, XXXVI (1965), 534-560. Alfred von Rohr Sauer, "Man as Steward of Creation," The St. Louis University Magazine, XLIII (1970), 43-48.DISCUSSION THREE:God's Creation and His WondersFor us the miracle of all miracles is the promise God makes goodthrough His Son Jesus Christ. For not only did God create all things, notonly did He assume a human form in Jesus Christ, and not only did Heraise Jesus Christ from the dead, but, wonder of wonders, He did it for us.He reconciled the world to Himself for us. In so doing He kspt His promiseto liberate us from the bondage of sin and death. For He has broken theinevitable cycles of life and death, sin and guilt, and crime and punishmentin our lives. Because of Jesus Christ, He has suspended those terrifyinglaws of life in our relationship with Him. A miracle indeed! And thatmarvel is the focal point of our lives. For us any discussion of God'smiracles or wonders in the Scriptures is dependent upon the centrality ofthis miracle for our faith and the relationship of this wonder to all otherwonders.We who have experienced this miracle see our universe as a worldwhere wonders abound in the ordinary and the extraordinary. In concertwith the Son and the Spirit, God the Father calls new wonders forth eachday. Our very existence is a wonder of creation. But more than that, Godcreated human beings to help keep this planet in order. Human beings arein a sense the balance wheel in the workmanship of God's earthly creation.But they have abandoned God as their center, and thereby they havedisturbed the balance of our world. Now the very earth from which theycarne groans under the curse of their wanton acts of greed, violence, andpollution. It is the measure of the sin of modern human beings and theirlimited scientific view of things that they have largely become strangers towonder and blind to the miraculous.18Hence, even when Christians today read the miracle accounts of theScriptures, they are tempted to play clown the supernatural elements asfantasy or to assume that God no longer performs spectacular miracles likethose of the biblical era. Many are misled into focusing on a given miraclefor its own sake. Either they measure it against the standards of modernscientific method and find the miracle wanting, or they demand anabsolute acceptance of each detail of the miracle, precisely as it is reported,as a test of their own faith and the faith of others. Both approaches aremisleading. The miracle accounts of the Scriptures are neither scientificreports nor tests of just how much we are willing to believe. Theseaccounts, like the miracles they relate, are designed to lead human beingsto the Creator and Redeemer behind the accounts. Only through the eyesof faith can His presence there be seen, and only from the perspective ofthe cross can the ultimate purpose of all miracles be discerned. To edify theChurch, we ought to focus on this central mearing of the miracle accountsfor us instead of dwelling on the authenticity of isolated miraculousdetails.At the Red Sea, for example, God used a great man and a great wind torescue His people from the Egyptians (Exodus14). The stated goa!s of thatevent are that Yahweh would be glorified, that Israel would know thatYahweh was its God, and that His. people would "see the salvation ofYahweh" (vv. 4, 13). The response of Israel was one of fear and faith inYahweh (v. 31). We are invited to read this narrative with the same faithand from the same perspective of wonder as those who interpreted thismiracle to later lsraelites.When Jesus fed the five thousand, He used ordinary bread for Hisextraordinary purposes. Yet His miracle was interpreted as a sign fromGod that He was sending a prophet into the world (John 6:1-14). Later,Jesus' doubting disciples asked for another miraculous sign ---that wc maysee and believe you" (v. 30); they reminded Jesus of the bread from heaventhat Moses had provided Israel in the desert. But Jesus pointed Hisdisciples away from the manna of Moses to God the Father who gives thebread from heaven, and away from the loaves of bread used in Hisownmiracle to Himself as the living bread from heaven (vv. 35-51).19To follow Jesus Christ meant far more than accepting miracles as such;it meant believing that this carpenter of Galilee, the one sent from God forman's salvation, was the miracle. He had broken into the circle of theirlives with God's promise of forgiveness and liberation. When Jesus fed thefive thousand on a hillside in Palestine, the people experienced a miracle;but that miracle was important oniy as a means of leading them to knowand trust in Jesus Christ as their Lord and Redeemer, and to recognize thecoming of God's Kingdom. In our preaching and teaching, we are to usethe miracle account for that same purpose.For Further Study:The Scriptures: Exodus 4; 14; 16; Numbers 21: 4-9; Deuteronomy 8; Matthew 12; 15:21-39; Luke 7: 1-17; John 6; 11; 20.The Confessions: Apology XIII, 20; Formula of Concord, Solid Declaration, VII, 25.Discussions Four, Five and Six are dependent on the second set of Affirmationsabout Jesus Christ, our Lord, and are to be read in conjuncteon with thoseAffirmations.DISCUSSION FOUR:The Promise and The ScripturesWhere do we Lutherans begin when we engage in the theologicalenterprise? What is the basic presupposition with which we operate whenwe interpret the Scriptures? What is the governing principle with whichLutherans work when they approach a theological issue? A number ofoptions have been proposed. We could appeal to an accepted tradition ofthe Church or depend on our collective human experience. We could beginwith the assumption that the doctrine of scriptural infallibility guaranteesthe validity of our theology or our interpretation of the Scriptures. But tofollow these approaches would not be Lutheran.)20We, as Lutherans, start with the Gospel of Jesus Christ as the center of theScriptures, the heart of our theology, and the core of our lives. Thatconviction governs our interpretation of the Scriptures, the way weperform our task as theologians, and how we live. Because the Gospel isthe center of the Scriptures, all of their parts must be understood inreiationship to that center. The relative significance af each teaching of theScriptures must be discerned by relating it to that center. Any tendency tomake the doctrine of the inspiration or the inerrancy of the Scriptures aprior truth which guarantees the truth of the Gospel or gives support toour faith is sectarian. The Gospel gives the Scriptures their normativecharacter, not vice versa. We are saved by grace through faith in Christalone, not through faith in Christ and something else, even if thatsomething else be the Bible itself.Our commitment to the Lutheran Confessions means that we adopttheir governing theological principles and engage in the theologicalenterprise in the same way the confessors did. Hence we follow the lead ofthe Confessions in affirming the Gospel as the Good News of God'sPromise (promissio). That Promise is more than a doctrine; it is theliberating reality in our lives. Through that Promise we have been broughtinto a living relationship with our Lord. Without that Promise we wouldnever have known the grace of God or come to trust Him. With thatPromise at the center of the Scriptures and the core of our lives, we arecommitted to carry out our theological task with the Promise as thenormative center. The Gospel alone is the power of God for our salvation,and the Promise alone is the starting point for all our theology. Anyteaching which does not maintain the absolute centrality of the Gospel inthe interpretation of the Scriptures or the sole sufficiency of the Promise forour redemption is unbiblical and less than Lutheran.This principle is illustrated by the way in which Article IV of theApology of the Augsburg Confession handles the relationship of "Law andPromise." Then, as now, the issue was raised by fellow Christians whocited strong scriptural evidence against the Lutheran position.Accordingly, Melanchthon, who was the main drafter of the Apology, tooktheir criticism seriously and subjected their evidence to close scrutiny. Hediscovered that they based their opposition on somethingelse21than the Sacred Scriptures. Their thinking seemed to be governed by thebewitching power of the Law (opinio legis). The Law (lex) was indeedbiblical; but they had raised to a saving truth what, though it is still truth, isnot saving. The Law theme in the Scriptures does sometimes seem tocontradict God's Promises. In places the Scriptures appear to deny that weare saved by faith without the "works of the Law." In Matthew 19:19, forexample, our Lord says, "If you would enter life, keep My commandments."How then does Melanchthon handle this dilemma?He begins by performing the delicate operation of distinguishing theLaw theme in the Scriptures from the Promise theme. What makesMelanchthon's operation so difficult is that there are passages whichcombine both Law and Gospel in an intricate way. His opponents, becausethey had erroneously given priority to the Law, had seen Law and Promisecombined as a self-evident unity in these passages. Melanchthon insistedthat we cannot start from anywhere in the Scriptures, no matter how trueand divine they may be. We must start from the Scripture's own Promise,or we end up with a mixture which is neither Gospel nor Law. The Lawenslaves and accuses, but the Gospel sets us free. The Law is found in thecommandments of God which reveal His righteous will, show man how heought to live to be acceptable to God, and threaten transgressors to the Lawwith His wrath. The Gospel reveals God's grace in Jesus Christ, announcesGod's willingness to accept the unacceptable sinner, and promisesdeliverance from the divine wrath that we sense.Only by distinguishing properly between the themes of Promise andLaw could Melanchthon relate them correctly so that Christ alone would beglorified and the gift of God's grace remain grace alone (sola gratia). Thesubordinate position of the Law is clearly seen when we understand thatJesus Christ kept its demands and assumed its curse for us. His victory overthe Law puts the Law in its place - as a vanquished servant. It no longer hasany claims on us. Any effort to fulfill its demands in order to gain favorwith God makes the Law our taskmaster and renders Christ's victoryinsufficient and ultimately unnecessary. The Law is useful as a servant whogives us guidance on how to live a life pleasing to God, but none of itsdemands, however22subtle, can be made a prerequisite for receiving the Promise of Christ. Weaccept the Promise entirely on faith (sola fide).Faith and Promise belong together. Throughout the biblical history, asin human experience generally, promises are made to be trusted. To makethe Promise sure by efforts of our own is to make the Promise needless.Without faith as the only true response to the Promise, all of God'spromises throughout biblical history are wasted. Then there is no need forChrist. Similarly, any approach to the Scriptures which focuses on the needfor historical factuality rather than on the primary need for Christ leads usaway from Christ rather than to Him. For Jesus Christ is the Promise whichGod kept for us. And that Promise is ours by faith alone, not by theverification of historical detai Is.The fact that a given biblical episode is historical is not important inand of itself. The importance of such historical events lies in what God wasdoing in and through them, We search them for the Promise; we look forwhat drives us to Christ. The clearest of all clear passages of the Scripturesare those which reveal the Promise in all its splendor. By that Promise welive, in its light we carry out our theological task, and from its orbit weinterpret the Scriptures.For Further Study:The Scriptures:Romans 1-4; 1 Corinthians 1-4; Galatians1-5; 1 Peter 1-2.The Confessions: Apology IV; XII; Formula of Concord V.Secondary John H. Tietjen “The Gospel and the Theological Task,"Literature: CTM, XL (1969), 434-443. Herbert J. A. Bouman, "Some Thoughts on the Theological Presuppositions for a Lutheran Approach to the Scriptures," in Aspects of Biblical Hermeneutics, CTM Occasional Papers, No. 1 (1969), 2-20.23Secondary Edward H. Schroeder, "Law-Gospel ReductionismLiterature: in the History of The Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod,” CTM, XLIII (1972), 232-247. Martin H. Franzmann, "Seven Theses onReformation Hermeneutics," CTCR Report 22. Seealso CTM, XL (1969), 235-246.Erwin L. Lueker, "Justification in the Theology ofWalther," CTM, XXXI I (1961), 598-605.Victor C. Pfitzner, "The Hermeneutical Problem andPreaching," CTM, XXXVIII (1967), 347-362.Arthur C. Repp, "The Binding Nature of SynodicalResolutions for a Pastor or Professor of TheLutheran Church-Missouri Synod," CTM, XLII(1971), 153-162.DISCUSSION FIVE.The Promise and Jesus ChristWhat then is the Gospel that governs Lutheran theology? What is theprecise nature of the Promise which determines our approach to theScriptures and life? Before we give a description of God's Promise, it maybe helpful to review what we normally mean by a promise and why theConfessions made a happy choice in selecting this term to express thecharacter of the Gospel over against the Law. A promise, first of ail,invoives a personal relationship in which one person reaches out toanother. Further, a promise is a welcome message given in good faith andaccepted on faith. Behind the message there is usually a speaker withwhom a past relationship of confidence has been established. Pastcommunication or acts of good will have been part of that relationship. Apromise, moreover, is a present word for the future on the basis of whichthe receiver of the promise can act. Such a promise imparts power. Apromise at this level is not merely a passing agreement to keep anappointment or do an24assignment, but a word of commitment from the depths of someone'sbeing.What kind of promise is the Gospel of Jesus Christ? It involves theoutreach of God to human beings in order to establish a new relationshipof trust and good will. “For God so loved the world that He gave His onlySon that whosoever believes in him should not perish but have eternallife” (John 3:16). The Gospel, however, is more than the fact of God'soutreach in Jesus Christ; it is also the message of His love, the good newsthat we are the ones to whom the Promise is extended. As such it has thepower to liberate us and transform our lives. Nor is that Promise an emptyagreement of good intent; it is grounded in the saving acts of God. Thesesaving deeds are bound up with the hardcore events of human history: theliberation of Israelite slaves from Egypt, the birth of a carpenter’s son in amanger at Bethlehem; the death of Jesus Christ on a Roman cross, and Hisresurrection to new life on the third day.The life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ are the central events ofhistory by which God made good His promises and grounded all futurepromises. The message of that event is the Promise. It is not the historicalfact that Jesus Christ died and rose again that by itself constitutes theGospel, but that event together with the message of why the eventhappened. For Christ died and rose again to free us from all evil powersand to bring us back to God orne insist on a public acceptance of thehistoricity of every detaii of the life of Jesus as recorded by the evangelists,as if that were a test of our faith. The claim is made that if doubt is cast onthe historical accuracy of one element of the Gospel narratives, then doubtis cast on the historicity of Jesus' resurrection. That assertion is based on amisunderstanding of the nature of the Gospel. For the Gospel is not merelya report of historical events that is addressed to our reason, but a promisegrounded in historical events and addressed to our faith. A promisedepends on a relationship of trust, not a series of rational proofs.Even though we may not be able to harmonize historical discrepancieswhich appear in the New Testament Gospel accounts, that fact does notshake our faith or invalidate these25accounts as Word of God. Our faith rests in the promise of a faithful God,not in the accuracy of ancient historians: We know the Promise is true andour faith affirms it, because through that Promise we have come to knowour Redeemer, Jesus Christ. Any attempt to make the Promise dependenton the historical authenticity of every detail of the Scriptures destroys thePromise. We begin by listening to the Promise and hearing the messagethat "Jesus died and rose for me." If we keep asking, "Did Jesus really rise?"we will never hear the Promise. For proof of the resurrection, will not leadus to believe the Gospel or trust God. Yes; we affirm that Jesus rose andthat His grave was empty. But what counts is God's Promise that JesusChrist died and rose for us and for our salvation. That is the Gospel andthat word alone evokes faith.Because the Promise is a deep mystery, a surprising outreach of God,and a dynamic message that changes lives, it is understandable that thebiblical authors employ numerous images and themes to describe thisGospel work of God. In Mark, for example, Jesus Christ is sent by God toconquer the demonic powers and give His life as a ransom for many. Johnportrays Jesus as the "true light that enlightens every man," as the "Lamb ofGod who takes away the sin of the world," and as the one who overcamethe world. Paul speaks of God in Christ "reconciling the world to Himself,""justifying the ungodly," rescuing us from the grip of sin, death, and theLaw, and subduing all cosmic powers under His feet. Paul often uses theimagery of a law court while the writer to the Hebrews employs thelanguage of worship, describing Jesus as the high priest who madeexpiation for our sins. The Lutheran Contessions usually refer tojustification through faith and to the torgiveness of sins when they describethe heart of the Gospel.This rich variety of biblical ways to portray the Gospel event enables usto address the Promise to many different situations of life and culturalcontexts. This diversity becomes a problem only when one set of terms ispitted against another, or when one vocabulary is selected to tell the wholestory. In the last analysis, the Gospel message is for each of us. Goddeclares that through the lífe, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ Hehas acted in the past on our behalf and now promises to free us from anyforce that enslaves us. On the basis of that word we can26live and look to the future with confidence. Just as the Promise is wordedin many ways, so it is communicated through several media. We hear itthrough the oral and the written Word, from parents and pulpit, andthrough Sacraments and worship. Rejoicing in this Promise, we fightagainst the imposition of any ecciesiastical, political, or social power thatnegates, threatens, or minimizes the freedom we have in the Gospel.For Further Study:The Scriptures:Matthew 9:1-8; Mark 1; 10:45; John 1; 10;16:33; Acts 2; Romans 4-8; 1 Corinthians 15: 1-11;2 Corinthians 5:16-21; Galatians 2; Ephesians 2;Hebrews 2.The Confessions:Augsburg Confession IV; XX; Apology IV, 53ff; Formula of Concord V; XI I, 23.Secondary Edgar Krentz, "Freedom in Christ – Gift AndLiterature:Demand," CTM, XL (1969), 356-368.Walter R. Bouman, "The Gospel and the SmalcaldArticles," CTM, XL (1969), 407-418.Robert H. Smith, "Gospel Freedom," CTM, XL(1969), 338-345.Robert Bertram, "The Lively Use of the Risen Lord,"CTM, XLIII (1972), 438-441.Walter R. Bouman, "History and Dogma inChristology," CTM, XLII (1971). 203-221.Andrew M. Weyermann, `The Gospel and Life inPreaching," CTM, XL (1969), 444-453.27DISCUSSION SIX:The Promise and the Old TestamentIf we maintain that the Gospel is the norm and center of the Scripturesand that Jesus Christ is the heart of the Gospel, where is the connection andcontinuity between the Gospel and the Old Testament? The answer lies inthe promises of God and the God who promises. In dealing with OldTestament materials, however, we must be careful not to leap prematureiyinto the New Testament to find the meaning of Old Testament passages.The Old Testament deserves to be throughly studied on its own terms andin its own historical context first of all. Only then will we be able toappreciate the way in which God actually worked through His promises tocomplete His plan of salvation in Jesus Christ.The Promise in the Old Testament assumes many forms. Adam isgiven a new lease on life despite his fall. Cain bears a mark of God'sprotection. Noah finds grace in the eyes of Yahweh, is rescued from theflood, and receives a promise of God's concern for all men. Abraham ispromised a land of his own, national greatness, numerous seed, and theprivilege of mediating God's blessing to other nations. Isreal's liberationfrom Egypt was the fulfillment of Yahweh's promises to the patriarchs andthe disclosure of Himself as the Redeemer of oppressed people. Byestablishing His covenant with Israel, Yahweh made Israel His own peopleand promised them the blessing of a full life with Him. Those who trustedYahweh and His promises lived in the right relationship with their Lordand experienced His grace (Genesis 15:6). On the basis of these and similardemonstrations of God's acts and mercy, the prophets and psalmists ofIsrael spoke of His help for the present and His word of hope for thefuture. For Yahweh had shown Himself to be faithful and His promises tobe inexhaustible.In His covenant with David, Yahweh fulfilled old promises toAbraham and added new promises of mercy. He promise David a childwho would be designated His son, who would build a house for Yahweh,and whose dynasty would be eternal. By being anointed King over Israel,David was designated anointed one, or "Messiah." Many "messiahs" likeDavid ruled over Israel. Those promises which refer specifically to a future28anointed King are known as messianic. In addition to messianicexpectations, we meet promises about a future prophet like Moses, asuffering servant, and a remnant of Israel. Sometimes these and similarprornises are asso called messianic, in spite of the absence of thisdesignation for them with the Scriptures themselves. ln this Discussion,however, the term is not used in this broader sense.Solomon was the firstfulfillmentof the messianic promise to David;similar fulfillments were announced by Isaiah. He spoke of a youngwoman of his day giving birth to a child named Immanuel and of a futureroyal figure with throne names like "Mighty God" and "Prince of Peace." Insome passages the imagery employed in these messianic hopes leapsbeyond the limitations of the lsraelite kings to a new reign of God in thefuture. Some of Yahweh's promises to Israel include specific predictiveelements relevant to the history of His ancient people, while others aredeep expressions of His assurance that the future was in His hands andthat all His acts of mercy were moving toward a new and dramatic climax.The fulfillment or non-fulfillment of isolated promises of Yahweh at certainmoments in Israel's history in no way nullified either the truth of theoriginal assurance or the ultimate fulfillment of the Promise in Jesus Christ.Nor does the fact that the ancient Israelites may not have known theprecise identity of Jesus of Nazareth or the full implications of His comingrender their faith in the Promise of God any less valid and salutary.Jesus Christ is the climax, center, and surprising finale in God's plan ofsalvation for His people. He is more than a fulfilment of those exclusivelymessianic promises from the Old Testament which many at the time ofJesus interpreted in a narrow nationalistic manner. Jesus was also theprophet like Moses, but much more. He was truly a son of David, but fargreater even than David. He was the true Israel, the suffering servant, thelast Adam, the Son of Man and the very Son and Word of God incarnate.He is the expected fulfillment of the Old Covenant age and the surprisingbeginning of the new age. In Him all the promises, plans, and assurances ofYahweh are fulfilled; He briñgs the history of the old Israel to a close andushers in the new age of God's Kingdom. His life, death, and resurrectionfor the reconciliation of all men with God affirm29the truth of all God's past acts of liberation and mercy. A Christian willfollow the lead of our Lord (in Luke 24:13-32) and trace the word andworks of God through to their ultimate manifestation in the Christ event.In the light of their fulfillment a new dimension is added to the meaning ofOld Testament promises of God. For the message of Jesus Christ is both thegood news of God's new work of liberation and the key for unlocking thesecret of God's dealings with Israel.The Gospel, therefore, is the power which unites the Old and NewTestaments. Salvation comes by faith in the Promise, whether it be found inYahweh's faithful acts of mercy and promises of redemption to ancientIsrael, or in the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus which accomplishesthe salvation of all who believe.For Further Study:The Scriptures:Genesis 12: 1-2, 15: 1-6, 17; 18: 1-19;Exodus 6:2-8; 14; 19: 3-6; Joshua 24; 2Samuel 7; 1 Chronicles 22:6-i 3; Psalms 72,110; Isaiah 7: 1-17; 9: 2-7; 11: 1-9; Micah 5:1-6; Jeremiah 31: 31-34; Ezekiel 36-37; Daniel7; Hosea 11; Matthew 1-2; 12; 16: 13-28; 21:1-11; Luke 7: 1-23; John 6: 3251; Acts 2; 7;Romans 4; 5; 9-11; Galatians 3; Hebrews 1; 1Peter 2.The Confessions:Apology IV, 53-60; XII, 53-58; Formula ofConcord V, 23.Secondary Martin H. Franzmann, 'The HermeneuticsLiterature:of Fulfillment: Is. 7:14 and Matt. 1:23," AProject in Biblical Hermeneutics, published bythe CTCR (1969), 19-38.Walter R. Roehrs, "The Typological Use ofthe Old Testament in the New Testament,"A Project in Biblical Herrmeneutics, publishedby the CTCR (1969), 39-56.30Secondary James Preus, Luther on Christ and the OldLiterature: Testament, CTM, XLIII (1972), 488-497.Ralph Klein, "Aspects of IntertestamentalMessianism," CTM, XLIII (1972), 507-517.Norman C. Habel, 'The Gospel Promise toAbraham," CTM, XL (1969), 346-355.The Witness of Jesus and Old TestamentAuthorship," CTCR Report 26. See also CTM,XXXVIII (1967), 117-126.Alfred von Rohr Sauer, "Problems ofMessianic Interpretation" CTM, XXXV(1964), 566-574.Alfred von Rohr Sauer, 'The AlmahTranslation in Isaiah 7: 14," CTM, XXIV(1953), 551-559.Arlis Ehlen, Old Testament Theology asHeilsgeschichte, CTM, XXXV (1964), 517-544.Discussions Seven, Eight and Nine are dependent upon the ihird set ofAffirmations about the Holy Spirit and are to be read in conjunction with thoseAffirmations.Discussion SevenThe Holy Spirit and the Mission of ChristOur Crucified and Risen Lord appeared to His disciples on the eveningof His resurrection and gave them the great mission command, "As myFather has sent me, so I send you." With that imperative He also gave Hisdisciples the power to carry on the mission that His Father had given toHim by breathing on them and saying, "Receive the Holy Spirit" (John 20:19-23). At Pentecost the same Spirit was poured out upon His disciptes,enabling them to proclaim the Gospel to people from diverse31Peter, "Know assuredly that God has made him both Lord and Christ, thisJesus whom you crucified" (Acts 2:36). The same comrnission, message,and power is given to God's Church today. As the Father sent His Son, sothe Son sends us on His Father's mission. Our message is the Gospel, thePromise of salvation to all who believe that Jesus is Liberator and Lord.Our power is the Holy Spirit working to motivate and liberate God'speople for His mission through the Church's ministries of proclamation,witness, service, worship, and nurture.The Gospel message which lies at the heart of our mission work todaywill always remain a scandal. 'The one whom God made both Lord andChrist was a crucified Jewish carpenter from Galilee. The saving Gospel ofJesus Christ, however, is for all the world. For God became a true man at aparticular time and place for the sake of all people in all times and allplaces. That means for St. Paul the missionary, that, "I have become allthings to all men, that I might by all means save some" (1 Corinthians 9:22). Thus the message of the Gospel may be expressed in the language andthought patterns of every culture that all might have the opportunity tohear and be saved. As our fathers formulated the Christian message interms of the culture and speech of their day, so African, Asian, and LatinAmerican Christians today are free, under the guidance of the Spirit, toexpress the Gospel in ways that are meaningful to people in theircommunities.We, in turn, need to dialogue with these Christians trom non-Westerncultures so as to hear from them the message of the Gospel and discernanew what is central and what is secondary for the preaching of the Gospelin the world today. In all of this we must trust the Spirit to lead Christiansof all cultures into all truth and not try to impose our particular way ofwording the Gospel upon them. We affirm the Lutheran Confessions as atrue exposition of God's Word; our Confessions, however, are not intendedto be barriers between denominations but bold affirmations of Christ, HisGospel and the unity of His Church.We who have been called by the Spirit know that in Christ there is nobarrier between Jew and Greek, American and Russian, black and white,man and woman. We are one in the Lord. The Gospel of God’s grace isoffered to all. Christ32carne to break down the dividing wall of hostility between races, betweenpeoples, and between communities. Where that has not yet happenedamong us, we are called to struggle with Christ in breaking down thesebarriers. At the same time our Creator reminds us to honor and maintainthe identity of all people and races He has created. We dishonor Him if wetry to remake them in our own image by denying or degrading theircharacter, color, or culture, and by imposing our own.God's mission involves more than the formal preaching of the messageof eternal salvation through the Gospel. Through whatever means theGospel is proclaimed, God not only rescues people for eternal life hereafter,but sends His Spirit forth that they might have freedom in Christ here andnow. That same Spirit prompts us to share the blessings God has given us.Those blessings include the power we have because of our possessions, oureducation, our heritage, our standing in society and our political rights.Will we use this power for the liberation or the oppression of others? Thewhite Christians of the Western world who possess such enormous powerand wealth are called to use them in the promotion of the Gospel and in theservice of human beings.When the Gospel becomes the motivation for a new life and a newcreation among God's people, they join Christ in struggling to overcomethe evil forces which He defeated by His death and resurrection. Thesedemonic powers continue to manifest themselves in crime, apathy, racism,oppression, deceit, and lovelessness. Those who follow in the steps of ourLord are called to confront the gainsayers of our time wth the truth, to healthe lepers and lame of our day while we speak God's message offorgiveness, to be ready to share our wealth with the hungry of the worldwhile we proclaim the Gospel, and to share our power with thoseoppressed while we announce the message of Christ the Liberator. ForGod's mission involves the liberation of human beings from all evils by thepower of the Gospel. On that mission God has sent us in the power of HisSpirit.33For Further Study:The Scriptures:Genesis 12: 1-3; Isaiah 42: 1-9; 49: 1-13;61. 1-7: Matthew 12: 1528; 28: 16-20;Luke 10: John 17; 20: 19-23; Acts 1-2; 10; 1 Corinthians 9: 19-23; Romans 10;Ephesians 2; 4: 1-16; James 2.The Confessions:Apology XV, 43; XII, 174; Large Catechism,The Ten Commandments, 179 310.SecondaryThe Mission Affirmations adopted by the 46thLiterature:Convention of The LutheranChurch-Missouri Synod, June 1965.John H. Elliott, "The Particularity of theGospel: Good News for Changing Times,"CTM, XL (1969), 369-378.Roland E. Miller, "The Gospel and theMission Task of the Church," CTM, XL(1969), 465-481.Lorenz Wunderlich, "The Holy Spirit andthe Christian Life," CTM, XXVII (1956), 753-764.Kenneth Siess,. "The Gospel Approach toCounseling," CTM, XL (1969), 454-464.William J, Danker, "The RetationshipBetweers Graduate Theological Educationand the Worldwide Mission of the Church,"CTM, XLIII (1972), 329-337.William J. Danker, "Retreat from Mission,"Seminar, December 1972.Won Yong Jí, "Evangelization andHumanization," CTM, XLII (1972), 163-172.R. Pierce Beaver, "The Christian Mission, aLook into the Future," CTM, XLII (1971),345-352.34DISCUSSION EIGHTThe Holy Spirit and the Community of GodIf the Gospel is the center of the Scriptures, is the doctrine of theinspiration of the Scriptures rendered irrelevant? Far from it! One of thepillars of Lutheran theology is that the Spirit and the Word betongtogether. But how? What is the connection between the written Word andthe Spirit? How do the Scrìptures portray the Spirit operating in thecommunity of God to communicate His will? What is the relationship ofthe work of the Holy Spirit to the message of the Gospel? Does the inspiredcharacter of the Scriptures guarantee the truth of the Gospet and thecomplete inerrancy of alt materiais in the Scriptures? These are but some ofthe related questiona raised in this debate.In the Scriptures inspiration is always in the service of God's ultimatepurpose. Whenever God inspires a member of His community, He therebymotivates and enables that individual to follow His directives. Moses andthe seventy elders were inspired so that they could lead Israel through thewilderness. Balaam was moved by the Spirit to pronounce a blessing onthe Israelites. When the Spirit filled Gideon and Jephthah, they were giventhe ability to perform heroic acts of deliverance. The Spirit is also thepower which moved men and women to speak the Word of God. WhenDavid spoke by the Spirit, he claimed to be speaking the Word of God.Through the Spirit, Micah had the power to declare to Israel itstransgression, and Ezekiel had the capacity to discern God's will for Hispeople. Frequently, however, the prophets of Israel describe the Word ofGod alone as both the impulse and the import of their preaching. Thus inthe Old Testament, the Word of God and the Spirit of God are pictured asthe same dynamic power of God operating through His spokesmen tofulfill His redemptive purposes for His community.All Old Testament words and spokesmen of God are the prelude to theWord God spoke to us by His Son Jesus Christ (Hebrews 1: 1-2). He is theliving Word, the Word made flesh. He speaks God's Word to us, and Heimparts God's Spirit to His disciples. The Word and the Spirit cannot bedivorced from the historical Jesus Christ. Paul makes the connection35between Christ and the Spirit explicit when he affirms that what Christwrought in him was by the power of the Spirit, a power that enabled himto preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ (Romans 15: 17-19). Paul'sproclamation of Jesus Christ and Him crucified was a demonstration ot thepower and Spirit of God in his preaching. Our confessions follow thisbiblical lead when they insist that the Spirit and the Word belong together,and that the Spirit works ordinarily through the prociamation of theGospel and the administration of the Sacraments in order to create andstrengthen faith in Jesus Christ.It is Jesus Christ, moreover, who promised and sent the same spirit toinspire His disciples. The task of the Spirit, according to Jesus, was to bearwitness to Him, to enlighten the minds of His disciples concerning theevents of His earthly ministry, and to guide them into the truth so thatJesus Christ would be glorified. Thus the Spirit sent by Jesus Christ alsoleads human beings back to Him by working through the apostles andtheir words. The Spirit imparted by Jesus Christ to His disciples is the sameSpirit by which the prophets spoke and were moved to inquire about thePromise of salvation through the Christ who was to come. For the Spirit isthe living, active power of God working through the Word to lead humanbeings to Jesus Christ, whether that Word be written or oral, in the OldTestament Promise or the New Testament Gospel. Accordingly, theinspiration of the written Word pertains to the effective power of theScriptures to bring men and women to salvation through the Gospel. Weaffirmt therefore, that the Scriptures are the inspired Word of God.An appreciation of the dynamic role of the Holy Spirit workingthrough the Word is helpful for interpreting 2 Timothy 3: 16, which hasbecome a classic text for the doctrine of inspiration. This text is the onlybiblical reference which actually applies the term "inspired" to the SacredScriptures as such. The "writings" referred to in thecontext are clearly thewritings of the Old Testament, probably in the Greek translation(Septuagint) used by the New Testament writers. The Greek term used todescribe the "inspired" character of these writings is theopneustos("God-breathed" or "God-breathing"), a term which occurs only here in theScriptures. Wherever the Spirit is at work, God's power is activelyaccomplishing His purposes.36The breath of God working in and through the Scriptures expresses thesame idea. For, as a result of this divine inbreathing, the Scriptures havethe capacity to teach, reprove, and edify the community of God. All of thisis true because, first of all, the Scriptures are able through the Spirit "toinstruct you for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus." (2 Timothy 3: 15).Throughout the Scriptures little is said about precisely how theprophets or apostles were inspired. The Spirit is seen as the living power ofGod accomplishing His purposes through them; and His ultimate purposeis the salvation of all men through Jesus Christ. To focus on the how ofinspiration, therefore, is to divert our attention from the Christ to whomthe Spirit directs us. In achieving God's purposes, the Spirit operates withmen and women who are limited and conditioned by the culture andlanguage of their times. The Word of Promise was spoken amid theambiguities of human lives and within the limitations of human language.Yet the Word always gets through to God's community, and His Promise istrue for all who believe it. They can rely on that Word through which theSpirit works because of the Gospel we affirm the reliability of the Scrip-tures, not vice versa. We believe the Scriptures because we believe in JesusChrist. He is the one who interprets the Father to us; He is the key tounderstanding the Scriptures.The historical character of the Scripture means that we cannot demandthat the biblical authors possess the same knowledge of science or geologyas we do, or that they operate with the same criteria of what is history oraccuracy. The reliability or "inerrancy" of the Scriptures cannot bedetermined by twentieth century standards of factuality. Nor do theScriptures link the work of the Holy Spirit with tlfis kind of "inerrancy.”The purpose of the Spirit imparted by our Lord is to lead us into the wholetruth about what God was doing in Jesus Christ, that vre might beredeemed and He may be glorified. In disclosing that Truth God does noterr, and in achieving that purpose the Spirit active in the Word does notlead us astray; to that the Spirit within us bears witness.37For Further Study:The Scriptures:Exodus 31: i-3; Numbers 11: 16-30; 24: 1-4; Judges 6:34; 1 Samuel 10: 1-13; 1Kings 18: 12; 2 Kings 2: 9-16; Micah 3:5-8; John 14: 15-26; 16: 1-15; 20: 22-23;Acts 4: 8 13; 6: 1-10; 8: 14-19, 29; 9: 1718: 11: 23-28; 13: 1-4, 9; 19: 21; 20: 2228; 1 Cotinthians12;14; Ephesians 4: 1-16;2 Timothy 1: 8-14.The Confesssions:Augsburg Confession III; V; Smalcald ArticlesIII, IV: VIII; Apology XII, 44; XIII, 12-13;Formula of Concord, Solid Declaration, XI,52-58; Large Catechism, The Creed, 34-59.Secondary“Statement on the Inspiration of theLiterature:Scriptures.” adopted by the CTCR, 1965.See A Project in Biblical Hermeneutics, pp. 11-15.A Parting Peace presented to the graduatingclass of Concordia Seminary by its Faculty,Pentecost, 1972."A Statement on the Form and Function ofthe Holy Scriptures," CTM, XXXI (1960),626-627.Arthur Carl Piepkorn, "What Does'Inerrancy' Mean?" CTM, XXXVI (1965), 577-593.Richard Jungkuntz, "An Approach to theExegesis of John 10: 34-36," CTM, XXXV(1964), 556-565.Everett R. Kalin, "The Inspired Cornmunity:A Glance at Canon History," CTM, XLII(1971), 541-549.38Secondary Herman Sasse, "Luther and the Word ofLiterature:God," Accents in Lutheran Theology (St. Louis:Concordia Publishing House, 1967), pp47-98.Traugott H. Rehwaldt, "The OtherUnderstanding of the Inspiration Texts;"CTM, XLIII (1972), 355-367.Robert D. Preus, "Notes on the Inerrancy ofScripture," CTM, XXXVIII (1967), 363-375.DISCUSSION NINE:The Holy Spirit and the Teaching Activity of the ChurchAs the Spirit of truth, the Holy Spirit bears witness to and glorifiesJesus, enables human beings to call Jesus both Christ and Lord, declares tothe people of God everything that Christ has received from the Father, andguides Christ's followers into all the truth by recalling to them theapostolic witness to the words and acts of Christ The Spirit does thisthrough the various agencies of teaching that the Church has at a giventime and place in its history. These agencies include the worship of theChurch through its creeds, liturgies, and hymns; the living Word that theministry of the Church proclaims; the Sacraments; the written Scriptures;the Church's educational institutions at all levels; and the mutualconversation and consolation of Christian brothers and sisters. The abilityto teach is something that the Church is to look for in those whom, underthe Spirit's guidance, it selects for positions of oversight and leadership (1Timothy 3:2; 4:13-14; Titus 1:9). The choice of teaching methods is dictatednot by the Scriptures, but by the circumstances.The Sacred Scriptures lay down no rules for interpretation andprescribe no method for communicating the message of the Scriptures tosuccessive generations of Christians. The Scriptures are in a unique sensethe written word of God and deserve due reverence. But the fundamentalprinciples of interpretation, such as "a text must be studied in the light ofits literary context," "Scripture interprets Scripture," "each passage has39one literal sense," "all features of the text must be interpreted in theirhistorical milieu," are not laid down in the Scriptures. Furthermore, theserules are not unique to the study of the Scriptures, but apply to theinterpretation of any ancient document. As Lutherans, however, weoperate with certain presuppositions when we approach the Scriptures.These include: 1) the centrality of the Gospel in the Scriptures; 2) thedistinction between the Law, which always accuses, and the Promise,which always assures; 3) the Spirit's gift of faith as the prerequisite toreceive the Promise and obey the commandments of God.Up its long history, the Church has used many methods of interpretingthe Sacred Scriptures, and the Holy Spirit has been able to work graciouslythrough them all. Examples include the Antiochene school of exegesis(historical, grammatical, influenced by Aristotle) and the rival Alexandrianschool (allegorical, mystical, influenced by Platonic philosophy); thefourfold sense the medieval exegetes expected to find in every passage ofthe Scriptures; and the various "historical" methodolgies (including the"historical-grammatical" and the "historical-critical”) since the Reformation.Sometimes two contrasting methods proved to be complementary. As theweakness of a method became manifest in the encounter of the Churchwith new situations, the Church gradually abandoned or modified themethod to accommodate new insights. In these situations, there werealways some who believed that the abandonment of a given method meantthe destruction of the biblical message. Experience has shown that nomethod is without its perils and that no method can guarantee that anexegete will infallibly disclose ali the facets of God's intended message.The Church is in its essence historical! That means that it will preserveelements of the past and be influenced by new insights. Without theformer, the Church loses stability and a continuity with the past that isintegral to its life. Without the latter, the Church stagnates and loses itseffectiveness in dealing with new situations But whether it conserves theold or adopts the new, the judgment of the Church is always human andhence under the judgment of God. The Church is also called to be critical. Itdiscriminates between false spirits of deceit or legalism and true spiritswhich confess that Jesus Christ came in the flesh40for our salvation. It discerns changes in cultural conditions and deliberateson the best way to speak God's message to the changed conditions.Criticism does not mean sitting in judgment over others, but involvesmaking a studied decision on the basis of all available evidence. TheChurch weighs the evidence from ancient languages and archaeology todetermine the best translation of the Sacred Scriptures. Similarly, thedecision of each Lutheran pastor and church to affirm the LutheranConfessions as a true exposition of the Sacred Scriptures is ideally ajudgment based on a careful first-hand evaluation of the Book of Concord.In and of itself so-called "historical-critical" methodology is neutral.The findings of those who use such methodology will be reflected in theirpresuppositions. These presuppositions may be reverent, or they may bedestructive. Part of our present problem lies in the fact that some of usremember that the opponents of Christianity were among the first to makeextensive use of historical criticisms to call the Church's faith and theChurch's Scriptures into question. We have at the same time tended toforget that in other situations other foes of Christianity have used othermethods of interpretation to try to refute and ridicule the Church's faith.Basically all the techniques associated with "historical-critical"methodology, such as source analysis, form history, and redaction history,are legitimated by the fact that God chose to use as His written Wordhuman documents written by human beings in human language. That is,He employed human forms of communication to disclose to human beingswhat they need to know and believe about God and about His will for thesalvation of all human beings. Because of the wealth of informationaboutthe biblical milieu that we are privileged to possess,"historical-critical" methodology provides us with valuable insights intothe intended meaning of the written Word of God as we have it. Neitherthe Sacred Scriptures nor the Book of Concord enjoins a particular method asthe only way of interpreting the Scriptures. When we use"historical-critical" methodology we do so on the basis of Christianpresuppositions. So employed, it has brought great blessings to the Churchand deepened the Church's appreciation of the written Word of God.41The process of teaching is a mutual one. We learn from other humanbeings. God did not invest all His graces in a single person or in a singlepart of divided Christendom. We have an obligation both to learn from oneanother and to teach one another. We must listen as well as bear witness,and as additional insights recommend themselves to us as true, we mustintegrate them into our formulated theology. To be able to do so calls fordiligent prayer, for a patient and expectant listening to the Holy Spirit’sguidance, for withholding premature judgments, for mutual generosity, fora deep concern for the convictions of fellow-Christians inside and outsideour own communion, for sober realization that the purpose of our teachingis to enable fellow human beings to find God's truth, and for gratitude toHim for every new insight that he allows us to gain.For Further Study:The Scriptures:Deuteronomy 18: 15-22; 26; Nehemiah 8:1-12; John 16: 12-15; 17; Acts 10;1 Corinthians 2; Galatians 4: 21-31;1 Timothy 3-4; 2 Timothy 3: 10-17;Titus 1: 5-9; 1 Peter 1: 10-12.The Confessions:Augsburg Confession, V; Formula of Concord,Solid Declararion, Summary Formulation, 1-13;Formula of Concord, Solid Declaration, V, 1; XI,90-92; Apology IV, 12, 183-286.SecondaryEdgar Krentz, "Hermeneutics and theLiterature:Teacher of Theology," CTM, XLII (1971),265-282.Edgar Krentz, "A Survey of Trends andProblems in Biblical Interpretation," CTM,XL (1969), 276-293.Roy Harrisville, His Hidden Grace(Nashville: Abingdon, 1965).42SecondaryJohn Reumann, “Methods in Studying theLiterature: Biblical Text Today,” CTM, XL (1969), 655-681.A Lutheran Stance Toward ComtemporaryBiblical Studies, CTCR Report 25. See also CTM, XXXVIII (1967), 109-116Herbert T. Mayer, Interpreting the HolyScriptures (St. Louis: Concordia, 1969).Professors Mark Bangert, Ralph Bohlmann, and MartinScharlemann were on leave and off campus at the time of thepublication of these documents. Professor Artis Ehlen, thoughnot teaching, was on campus and was invited by the faculty tojoin them in offering a confession of his faith to the church.43