LEHRE UNO WEHRE
MAGAZIN FUER Ev.-LUTH. HOMlLETlK
THEOLOGICAL QUARTERL Y-THEOLOGICAL MONTHLY
Vol.xvm May, 1947
The lUelanchthonian Blight. Richard R. Caemmerer
Conference Paper on Romans 4:5. H . J. Bollman
. Sennon Study on Micah 7:14-20. Th. Laetsch
Outlines on the Nitzsch Gospel Selections
__ _ 374
Ein Predlger muss n!cbt alleln w d -
den. aJao daM er die Scbafe unter-
weise. wle ale recbte ChrIsten sollen
seln.sondern auch daneben den Woe1-
fen wehnn. da8s lie die Schafe n!cbt
angrelfen und mit falscber Lehre ver-
fuehren und Irrtum elnfuehren.
Es Jst Jteln Dtag. du die Leute
mehr bel der Klrcbe behae1t dean
die gute Predlgt. - Apologte. An. 24
If the trumpet live an uncertain
sound. who ahall prepare hlmIelf to
the battle ? - 1 COf'. 14:3
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338 CONFERENCE PAPER ON ROMANS 4:5
clean heart, and God will and does account us entirely right-
eous and holy for the sake of Christ, our Mediator. And al-
though sin in the flesh has not yet been altogether removed
or become dead, yet He will not punish or remember it. And
such faith, renewal, and forgiveness of sins is followed by
good works. And what there is still sinful or imperfect also
in them, shall not be accounted as sin or defect, even for
Christ's sake; but the entire man, both as to his person and
his works, is to be called and to be righteous and holy from
pure grace and mercy, shed upon us and spread over us in
Another antidote is to realize the evangelical character of
the ministry. That means emphasizing the sense of purpose
and the will to serve people. It means drawing upon the
impulses of the new man in Christ for the functions of the
ministry. It means employing a technique of ministry which
recognizes the handicaps and the essential paganism in mar-
shaling people to a conformity to code, and instead endeavors
to bring the propulsion of the new life through Jesus Christ
to bear on men through Gospel and Sacrament.
St. Louis, Mo.
Conference Paper on Romans 4:5
By H. J. BOUMAN
A very personal reason prompts the selection of my
topic. In my senior year at the Seminary, I had not yet
really learned what Christianity really is. To be sure, I was
not a scoffer. Far from it. I yearned for the honor of being
a Christian, but I did not dare. The sainted Dr. Bente had
succeeded in crushing all my pride in human wisdom. In
his lectures on the philosophical systems, ancient, medieval,
and modern, he had shown us that human reason the moment
it tried to explain transcendental problems disregards its
own rules of logic in its deductive and inductive reasonings.
And the reason for this phenomenon is not so much its in-
ability to explain matters beyond its sphere, but its bias, its
being prejudiced by sin, by its innate enmity against God.
Thus all the thinking of natural man regarding sin, death,
future life, God, etc., is characterized by utter failure. I had
lost all pride of, and confidence in, the power of human
54 Luther, Smalcald Articles, Triglot, p. 499.
CONFERENCE PAPER ON ROMANS 4:5 339
The sainted Dr. Graebner, in his lectures' on church his-
tory, showed us the miracle of the Church in this world. In
the midst of hostile surroundings, despite all attempts to
suppress it, that wonderful Church not only held its own
but also grew and conquered; it marched victoriously across
the lands and through the centuries. And its weapon was
what to human reason appeared to be utter foolishness-
the Gospel of salvation l?y Christ, who died for us on the Cross.
From a human viewpoint it should have failed from the start,
but it did not. Thus the story of the Church proved to me
that a supernatural power is active in its existence and growth,
and that caused to grow in my soul a profound admiration
for it, and a great longing to be a member of this marvelous
institution. But again I say, I did not dare. Despite all the
exegesis and dogmatics and the sermons I heard and the
reading I did I was held captive by the idea that I had to
make myself worthy of that honor. I thought my Savior
would not accept me unless my remorse over sin had reached
a certain depth and the control and restraint of my natural
desires had achieved a certain degree. Outwardly there
was no difference between me and my fellow students, but
inwardly I was thoroughly unhappy, unsure, and often on
the verge of despair.
Then, one day in November of 1898, the sainted Dr. Stoeck-
hardt explained Rom. 4: 5 to us. While I was listening to his
words, something happened to me. It was as though a great
light illumined my soul; unutterable joy and happiness filled
my heart; going to my room, I walked on air. Now I saw
what justification really is, now I understood the wonderful
meaning of words like these: Jesus came to save sinners, to
save that which is lost, etc. The real meaning of grace was
revealed to me. True, the emotions I had on that day did not
last and remain, but, thank God, the knowledge of what justi-
fication, grace, and forgiveness of sin mean, did remain. I am
therefore glad to speak to you on this theme and to emphasize
the immense importance of the doctrine of justification in our
preaching and practical work.
TiP bE Ill] EQyasollEV(fJ
In the matter of obtaining righteousness before God there
are only two ways thinkable, and these two ways exclude each
340 CONFERENCE PAPER ON ROMANS 4:5
other. In verse 4 Paul points out one way and in verse five
the other. Only one way can be the true, successful way,
not both, neither the two combined. It is either - or. That
is of what the adversative particle as reminds us. What is
stated here is in opposition to what is stated in verse 4 ("Now
to him that worketh is the reward not reckoned of grace, but
of debt"). If God calls a man righteous because he worked
for it, then it is not grace, but a reward. But the opposite ob-
tains, as is shown in our verse.
"To him that worketh not." That is one who has aban-
doned the idea of gaining the favor of God by his own works.
An EQyal;o!!EVO£ is one who tries to earn something by his own
efforts, to become righteous before God. Paul flatly con-
demns that idea, but human reason opines it to be the only
true way, a way to preserve human dignity. Natural man's
thinking is thoroughly legalistic. We find this among all
men, civilized and uncivilized. Even among people on the
lowest plane of civilization the legalistic idea prevails that
man must gain the favor of God or the gods or avert their
wrath by his own efforts. All pagan philosophers knew of
no other way. This idea dominated the thinking of the Phari-
sees of old.
The same idea prevails among the worldly wise. In the
Critique of Pure Reason, by the famous philosopher Emanuel
Kant, I found this statement: "Legality means that an act
is done according to a law, but not because of that law.
Morality means that an act is done not only according to,
but also because of the law." That seems to be a fine state-
ment. But that Kant does not define therewith Christian
morality, which means that an act is done not only according
to and because of the Law, but also because of gratitude for
God's grace in Christ Jesus, is evident from his statements.
His statement about the categorical imperative, which re-
veals that his morality is nothing more than the morality
of a slave, teaches that the Law forces him to work to become
righteous before God. This idea pervades also all our liter-
ature of fiction. The good wins in the end, and the bad fails.
But there is more to say.
This legalism is. so thoroughly dominant in human think-
ing that it has again and again poisoned and subverted the
thinking and teaching in the . Christian churches. There is
CONFERENCE PAPER ON ROMANS 4: 5 341
the Roman Church. To be sure, there is still essential Chris-
tian teaching. Christ is proclaimed as the Savior of man-
kind. In one Roman catechism I found an explanation of the
Second Article which was beautiful, almost like our own.
They speak about the grace of God, faith, etc., but the entire
body of their teaching is vitiated by the idea that one must
make himself worthy of the grace of God, that Christ will
not accept the sinner, will not grant him forgiveness of his
sins, unless he properly repents and conforms to certain rules
established by the Church. Luther, the monk, believed this,
and therefore he fasted and prayed and lashed his body to
appease Christ and become worthy of receiving forgiveness.
Something similar happened to our own Dr. Walther in his
university days. That is the reason why serious-minded men
and women sought refuge in the life in monasteries. This
legalistic idea has crept into Protestant churches too; hence
the widespread abandonment of the true Gospel of grace.
To many Christ is the Savior not because He as our Substi-
tute suffered the penalty for sin, not because by His active
obedience and passive obedience He prepared the righteous-
ness of God for us, but because He showed us the way back to
God, because He became for us a Pattern to copy. We must
become Christlike, they say, then we shall be God's children
again. Some go so far as to maintain that modern man is
able to find his way back to God in his own way. And the
result is the denial of verbal inspiration of the Bible and the
scornful rejection of the substitutionary work of Christ.
In a widely disseminated address, delivered Jan. 31, 1946,
John D. Rockefeller wants to unite all churches. He pro-
nounces "ordinance, ritual, creed, all nonessential for admis-
sion into the kingdom of God, or His Church. A life, not a
creed, would be the test. Not even Baptism or the Lord's
Supper are necessary for membership." Why should they be?
To him they are mere symbols anyhow. "If you want to
observe them, good; if not, good too. You need no creed,
individual belief; only be good and fight the evil. The
essence of true religion is to live a Christlike life. To em-
phasize the responsibility of the individual to his Maker was
Christ's mission on earth." "Means of grace are not neces-
sary; they have nothing to convey." If you boil down all
he said, it comes to this: you must work to establish good
342 CONFERENCE PAPER ON ROMANS 4:5
spiritual relation between the soul and its God. What this
man wants is that Catholics and Jews and Protestants unite
in believing in the Fatherhood of God and the brotherhood of
man. It is pagan religion. "Has Christianity failed?" he
asks. My answer is: "Yes, your kind of Christianity has
failed and always will." The theme of his lecture was: "The
Christian Church-What of Its Future?" My answer is:
"The future of your kind of Christian Church is disaster."
The cultured professor of philosophy, the polished gentle-
man in the modernist pulpit, the betinsled so-called Holy
Father in Rome, the whirling dervish, the self-torturing fakir,
the flaggelants of the medieval ages, the boomerang-throwing
savage in Australia, the sun-worshiping Aztecs, the pipe-
smoking Indian, the Mongolian with his prayer mills grinding
out his prayers as long as the wind blows, the fur-clad Eskimo,
the cannibal of Polynesia, the fanatic worshipers of Allah,
Jews, and Gentiles, all, without exception, agree in the prin-
ciple of work-righteousness. Human reason can rise to no
higher plane than to think: I must be an 1\)yat6[.lEvo~) I must
work for God's favor.
But we must also look into our own heart. Make no
mistake, also true Christians are made to feel the impact
of this legalism. Why are they at times not fully tasting the
joy of salvation? Why are they perturbed in the spirit by
fear and uncertainty? Why are they so slow in trusting the
Lord's beneficent guiding? Why are they cast down in times
of adversity? And this often happens to Christians whom
we look upon as pillars of the church. It is the feeling of
unworthiness. They would like to feel a remorse like David's
or Peter's, but the penitential tears do not come. They would
like to curb and control the desires of their flesh, but they
often fail in this. They would like to show their gratitude
for God's grace in a spectacular manner, but their flesh is
too strong. This shortcoming, this failure, causes them to
doubt that they are accepted children of God. It is a sore
aflliction. But what is often behind all of this? The idea
that their state of grace depends upon their worthiness.
Legalism has corrupted childlike faith in the grace of God.
Instead of not working they begin what their carnal reason
suggests: they work. But the Holy Spirit inspired Paul to
write: "To him that worketh not! Worketh not!! NOT!!!
CONFERENCE PAPER ON ROMANS 4:5 343
By that he condemns all attempts to gain God's favor by our
own efforts as contrary to God's plan and wisdom.
That is a hard lesson to learn, and it cannot be learned
in one sitting. It takes our whole lifetime, and then we
shall not have mastered it. Let us watch and pray that
legalism does not weaken or destroy the joy in our salvation.
We must always remember the true purpose of the Law.
That purpose is not to make us EQyu~6f!fVOL, but to make us
see and realize our great sinfulness and total helplessness,
so that we become ~t~ EQyu~6f!fvOL in the matter of justification.
II LaTf'lJOv-n M EJt!, TOV i'H%