Full Text for Confessions 1- Volume 49 - What guidance does Melanchthon give us for affirming the values of pursuing the righteousness of works in such a way that we do not obscure the righteousness of faith? (Video)

ROUGHLY EDITED COPY CUE NET CONFESSIONS CONCORDIA UNIVERSITY EDUCATION NETWORK CONFESSION 1 QUESTION 49 Captioning Provided By: Caption First, Inc. 3238 Rose Street Franklin Park, IL 60131 800-825-5234 *** 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. *** >> I think I'm understanding you but let me try the question somewhat in reverse. What guidance does Melanchthon give us for affirming the values of pursuing the righteousness of works in such a way that we do not obscure the righteousness of faith? >>DR. CHARLES P. ARAND: If we acknowledged a paradox in the previous question and answer or previous discussion, then we must learn to ignore the law of God when we come into the presence of God. Now, as we turn towards the question about how do we exhort good works or how do we speak about good works so as not to obscure Christ or the righteousness of faith, we find another paradox here Luther and his disputation of man acknowledged that God rewards the very works that he condemns. Now, think about it in the presence of God, God condemns human works as done in his sight and kills those that bring their works to him as a result we bring all of our works behind on earth when we come into the presence of God. On the other hand Luther then goes onto say the riddle is astonishing because God rewards the very righteousness which he himself regards as in equity and wickedness unquote. So the righteous that God condemns, we bring it to him as a basis for righteousness before him. While on earth, he rewards it for the sake of other human beings. Melanchthon also emphasizes that the righteousness that God condemns in his presence is a righteousness that God honors even with material wards -- rewards here on earth and within the human community. Well, there in lies -- there lies within this paradox a fundamental and radical reorientation by the Reformers. As an Augustinian monk Luther's theology had been shaped by a strict discipleship that was directed by the need to escape from this world. Remember the vertical continuum of escaping from the secretary collar or pro vein world and ascending up into the sacred world. As a result this world, our possessions our works within this world had no inherent dignity, let alone spiritual significance. The road was seen as the hierarchy of the natural and the supernatural which the natural was subordinate to the higher spiritual state of perfection which brought us nearer to God. Now this was certainly the thinking that had been around since Augustine and Thomas equinus. But in the 1520s it seems to me lute they are develops a greater appreciation for what we might call the first article of creation or the things of this world. You can see it in a number of areas for example the fourth petition in the middle ages the fourth petition give us this daily bread had often been interpreted with reference to Christ or to the body of Christ in the Lord's Supper or perhaps even to the world Luther does that the early in the 1520s but after 1525 give us this daily bread basically means give us food, the stuff that we need for life here on this earth. He does that -- you see that kind of a progression in a number of other areas, as well. A greater appreciation for creation. I think part of it has to do with him uncovering or thinking through or unpacking the ramifications of the Gospel. So that as he -- we see through the 1520s there is a growing significance and appreciation for such things as marriage and parenthood and law and worldly government. In other words, you realize that the Gospel does not remove us from creation. The Gospel does not take us out of our body or take us out of this world. To the contrary, the Gospel opens up the world as God's creation and the field of our labors that the various spheres of daily life with the Reformers what they might have called the vocations or different estates through which we live, in fact, become the arena where faith is exercised. You know the sanification is not found in rising to a higher level of spiritual existence. Rather sanification is found in our daily activities. By this method was no longer did one regard some works as bringing us closer to God than other works that one carries out the work of a husband or wife or parent or child or employer or employee or neighbor is doing as spiritual of a work as that of a monk, in fact, a more spiritual work because these works are actually commanded by God. That I Demand thee of thigh church their authorized works. This is something that I think perhaps we ourselves fail to grasp even in our own day and age. I think there's a tendency in our day and age for people to think that by doing certain activities at church, being on certain committees is somehow they are really serving the Lord In doing those works. Perhaps a greater fashion or as having greater value than the works that they carry out in their daily life. Those are works that we have to do but by doing something in church, they are serving the Lord. Well, for Luther serving the Lord You're also doing that in these daily activities no matter how ordinary or mundane they might be. In other words, as *Darrett Furley once put it, once a person has been cured of all heaven-storming ambitions, one suddenly finds God's creation to care about and to care for. Well, what this means then is good works are directed toward other ends. Good works have other purposes. God doesn't need our works. Our neighbor does need them. And so Melanchthon will in the Apology demonstrate that such thing, you know, how medicine serves health, meteorology serves navigation, ethics serve state, the construction of law serves society. Rhetoric assists writing and oratory. Even the observance of churchly traditions conserve the body. The habit of going to church develop say a habit that puts us in the place where the word of God may break into our lives. The habit of developing -- bowing our head folding our hands in prayer. The habits of reading the scripture are all good for us, God for our body. They don't safe. But they are good for us by providing a context in a setting for which the spirit can carry out his work through the word. So when you get to the latter half of the Apology you'll find Melanchthon saying the marriage is good because it serves this. Monasteries might be even be good because they serve education. Celibacy might be good in that it gives one more time for study. But none of these is better than another in the sense of bringing us closer to God. They might be better works than others in terms of the benefit they provide our neighbor. But they are not of greater value than another when it comes to righteousness in the eyes of God. Well, what this means then is that there is no longer a need for christians to instrumentalize their neighbor. What I mean by that: As long as one is working with a -- viewing life with God through a scheme of works, everything one does is serving a means to end. In other words, I love my neighbor, Sue my neighbor in order to acquire righteousness for myself in God's eyes, in order to further my way on the path toward justification. well, you now, that we are free from all heaven storming ambitions and our righteousness entirely on the count of Christ, we don't need to use our neighbor or our works as a means to an end or as a means for serving ourselves in our own progress towards salvation. In other words, good works are good in and of themselves in serving our neighbor is a good act in and of itself. It also frees us to some extent from the -- having to always struggle with the question of the motivation behind our actions. Our neighbor's need is a sufficient call from God to act. Well, by contributing to the welfare of others, our good works enter into the creative work of God and foster God's own agency within the world. And this is where that paradox comes in. God rewarding the very works that he condemns. In other words, as a launch catechism expresses it, creatures are the hands, channels and means through which God bestows our blessings. For example he gives to the mother breasts and milk for her infant or gives green all sorts of fruits from the earth for sustenance things no creature could produce by himself. Well, our good works enter into that creative work of God in such a way that we might even be regarded as co-workers of God within first article creation. One could say that we become the masks of God, the -- the masks of God by which God bestows all blessings upon other people. When my wife takes care of me, she is God's instrument of blessing for me in the sense she's the mask of God or the glove on God's hand, if you will. And this in and of itself is good so that all that we do is now freed up for the sake of our neighbor as we enter into the work of God. We don't need it for ourselves in terms of righteousness in the eyes of God. So unlike medieval biases marriage vows now take priority over rheumatic vows, families take priority over monasteries. In addition to serving and supporting human life within our communities these structures that marriage and family and occupation and government provides and the arenas in which faith is exercises and sanification gross. Now, Melanchthon illustrates this with a story in the latter half of the Apology. A story about a man named Anthony. He has a dream in which he asks God to show him an individual who has made great strides in his sanification or has made great progress in his walk with God. He asks God to show him an individual so that Anthony might have a basis for comparison to see how far he himself has progressed in his own life of sanification. Well, God shows him a -- shows him a Schumacher in the city of Alexandria as a basis of comparison. When Anthony goes to have a look and to check out this Schumacher, he did not see or hear anything special other than the fact that the man prayed in the morning for the whole city and then paid attention to his business. Went about his craft of making shoes as best as he could for his customers. That was it. The lesson being one walk of life is no better than another for attaining righteousness before God. Instead, whatever walk of life we find ourselves, give it your best effort for the sake of your neighbor. And in that process, our faith is exercised as we are thrown back upon God to trust in him to provide us for that which we cannot achieve. *** 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. ***