Full Text for The Challenge of The Confessions Today (Text)

THE SPRINGFIELDER September 1971 Volume 35, Number 2 The Challenge of The Confessions Today 1. The jlrtrc,tio~l of' tJre c~~uft). \io~rs i~r flrc cmli ;ii.c.l! W 1-113 \\ 1; \\-.\AT 'TO c~~~~~)~cl~e~icl tl~c co~~Sc~~~i(,,!!s 'I> oi>l)or- tunit!.,, \vc ha\c to cler~r 1111 ilt kirst ho\\. t11i. C.OII~'L.~~OI;\ \\.;i:lt to bc underst(m1 according to tllcir o\\~i clil-ccti\ec. 'l-l~c! arc 11ot to be regartled as conlprehcnding ;I rc\.clation ill tllcll- s~n:~in~i~t> 111~.111- sel\.cs, or as f~1rthc.r dc\~cl~p~~~c~l t Or acco~i~~~lisl~!l~c~lt i,f lhc. j~'t.~i>lLIrc on thc sanle lc\.e.l, but riitllcr in tlic dilnc~lsion i~t: ;I ~.c.t-lc~ctic~~l, 01.' ,111 ans\ver to thc reveliltion. They h;t\c their "o\\ 11 Ilc3c.rLss;!l-\ 13l;tc.c. ;11it1 intlispcnsihlc. sicmificnrlccb prcc.iscl\ ill this i't~~~cti(,~~;;l t:o~-~~c-\t.'' 2- (Ernst I;intIer, I'hc C:onfcssion ;IS Gjft ~ntt Iq;\sl;": '1 iic 1.-1;it\ of th~ Ch~trch: '4 S~III~OS~!IIII, Ii~cIi J~IalitI, III. 195'7 1). 19-. ".[llc> confession is the rcspollsc of thc chilrc11 to God's \\-or(I. It is it\ cc'110 of faith to Cod's re\.clation of sal\,atiorl." !lllirl., 1,. 104:. In tho con fc.ssio~ls thc church sjl~ilks. Shc sl>e;lks of \\.]]at h;ts bccn revealed to hcr by the Scriptl~rcs. -1-hc co~~l'c.ssions ill-c t lic.t.cforc thc. ncccssnrv outcome of ivorking it11 the Script~1rc4. -1-hcb\, '[rise from thc ild\ SLT-~JI~L~I.~ and return to thcni. 'I'llcrc is IIO s~1c1; tl~ing as ;1 ~ihlicisl'li \\.ithout an!. prcstlpposi tions, for i1.c 11c,\ c'r flir\c a I. purely 11cutral access to the Scripture. I:\.er!. III;~~ 112s ~II this respect, whethcr it is manifest or hicldcn, );no\\-11 or unlinc1\\-11. certain guiding princij~lcs, ancl, when t1ic.v are not tliosc of the ~IILII.~~~, thi'n ' ," the\: arc those of a philosoph~., or a '\\-cltiinscl~a~~uri~ i~tlc~)l~)~! j, of a 111nitcd subjccti\it\, of thc' spirit of tlic age, or ~~olitiis." (Ihiit., 1'. 109). Thosc l~ri~iciples of understanding and jntc~rpret;ttio~, are uslrall\ uncsilminccl and 11ot csposccl to all\. nor111 r.xfrr~ 110s. ll~e confcssions on tlic 0thc.r Ila~ld, ~lccordiiig to t'l~c'ir o\\n dirccti\.cs Iia\ c bccn and \vill hc controlled i111d \.criticel h\ the Scripturc's. Origi~~:~tccl from and ret~irning to the Scl-ij~tilrc, the confessions irrc: to l>c con- siclcrcc? 3s i~n instrument for the cliurcl~ to comprehcllcl thc kno\\-lctlgc of God's ~.c~\.clation arid to PI-ocl:~im it. The coiifessions do not lia\.c an ail tonomous \.aljcli t\ c~rlcl scnsc. A confession should not bc undct-stood as a11 isolated source of knm1.l- ctlgc. \\'hat \\.e find in thc svmbolicnl books arc eel-tnin co~~c.rt.tc precise confessional statcmcnts. On thc one hand, t1ic.s~ statcmcnts reflect back on the Scripture and on thc other hitnd the!. scr\.c: the church's preaching and proclamation of today. Thc. purpose of the confc>ssions is that they function as a connecting link l)ct\\ccn the Scriptures and the l>rc:tcl~itig the Gosl>cl. As s 1n;)ttcr of fact, the Holy Scripture provokes and clemands the answc~ri~lg echo of ;1 con- fession. Thc process of making a confession consists of for~~i~llation, draftings, and statcnicnts. To do this it may and can 111akt. ~lsc of --- This rssrrv 1r.n~ dclilrrt*d to lllr Ca,~fercncc of Intcr~rntir,>rlrl I_rrtJlcrirrr Tlreol~~gin~ts nzeeting ir~ St. [.orris in Jlrl,, 1970. Dr. 'icJlrr.,lr U?IP the I?I(II!I~ ~.\stl\irt. st;i[c'~ll~~ll\ f i;t rli~~ l;iic(l loll;$ l)c,j'orc. j IICI.~ is no c~onlpulsion to pro- (1 LI~.C' I)<:\\ 1 ~)i'lll~l ];!I 1i:ll~ ;11lc1 ~~;l~~'~llC'llt~ (.)\-C'r ilIlc1 OYcr ;1~;1ill, i1S 1011g ;14 \\c' J,;I\C Il(~i 0[I1i:r i111i'llti(111 IILI~ 10 C\;J)YCSS the tLiltll ill~ad~ st;lt~d ill tllc c'oti l'c-,\ic:tlh. I llc CIILI~CII i11;1\ \\.ell fill(] Ii~rs~If in thy position of I,< II),~ lcb(.l to ;I tr~ltll of tllc I-c\ elation not. c.ori~pIctcl\- con111l-e- 11~1l(lt,tl. i)~~t \I:(: 1111141 ;III~ C;III~IO~ ~~c~II!. ;L truth OIICC co~lf'es~c~l to tlie \\.ol-l(l. \t this j~oirlt \\.c' arc c.ol~t'~-ontc~cl \\it11 the 1x-oblcm of the his- to~.ic.;!J It~l~lt~o~li it) i\l1i~.l1 0111- co~~fc~sio~is ;1ro5~'. Tll~ fornlulr1tion of OLI~ ct:~~~~~.~~l tI1~,11lc sti~~-t(.xl \\,it11 :IT] LIII~JLIC~\~OIIC~~ i~nd i~i~plicit ;~s\l:~~ll>tioii tjl;~t to -,~~h\ct.il~c~ 10 co~ll'cssio~~~?; is to c~lt~.ustc(l \\.it11 I ll~\i' \~;I[C.IIIC~II~ 4 ;IS I~IC'II ;lse co11 frollt~~d \\.it11 n t.hallenyt a~id to face ;III ol~lx)1.11~1it\. 'L'lli4 is tllc sitl~i~tion at prcscnt time. 31 tllc crltl of OLII' Cc'IlILII'\. l;~!t 10 r::~.(.)~~li/c this ;~~sumptiori Illearls nc\.crthclcss to call it illto [j~~~htio~;, J'llc co~~i'cssio~~~ :I]-c also l~isto~-jci~l cloci~r~~c~~ts, ji.sccl ill)( IIIL 400 \ c';II.~ ,Iion ancl utt~rilncc for our o\\.n tilnc. To so11.c this l~-ol)lcm clc~111;111t1~ I)I-C~'~SC 1;110\\-1~dge 011 the co~iditions fro111 \\.lijch tl~c' i~o~~t'~'ssioi~s ~t.igi~l;~tcd ;11o1ig \\.it11 thc ;~ppropriatc excg~sis and iiltc-r.l~.c.tation. \\ c hi~\.c to ~wrform this task if thc conf:.ssioi~s arc ti) I.CI,I i II tllcil- pot\ cr ant1 t~iTccti\~cncss. :\nd \\-c. ha\ c1 to clo it \\.i tliout I)C'IIIL: ;~fs;ii(l of Iosir~r_( tlic ~1~~111ratioli \\.hich thc confession itself I~I;I~c'.; I)!. tllc rc.cog11it ion of its historic.;~lly conclitionctl form. Tf tlie co~i fcsbions ?I\ (: oicc to tllc truth, \\.c should he col~tidcnt that this I rirt 1) \\ ill l)c cfl'c~c.ti\.c~ h\ its o\vn po\\.cr. Thcrc is no reason to tlis- cl~~~ilif'\ tl~c confcssio~ls ;IS illcrclv 11ist01-ical clocun~cnts. T'nl afraid that to lo lo so 11;1\c not sufli~icntl~ cx:~~l~incd their contents. 'Illis is not the place to dc.d estensii-el!. \\.ith thc \\:liolc problem (.)I' tl~c Jlistorical circ~~~il~stances of our c.onfcssions. I \\.antccl only to point this o~~t in orclcr to make clcal- that \\.c cannot talk of thcm as if! tllcrc \\.ere no problems. The argilmcnts that tllcy are Ilistorical pr-o(luct5 ancl tllilt history nc\-cr stailds still :1rc used against the litlit! lit!. of the confc~ssions, against the applical~ilitv of their state- 111c>11ts, and against assertion of their contt.n~~)orarv cffecti\,eness. l\7c G~JI nc\-cr nlcct these arguments b\ simpl\ dcn'!.ing thcm, as t11c.1-c is solnc \.;iliditv to thc i~rgumer?ts~ but as ~utl~cran theologians 11-c. \\-ill tlran. dift'crc~;t conscqucnccs. 3. '1-Ji~' i.~I(ztio)~ of the Co~rfcssiotzs to Holj Scriptilre L\s 1-utheran thtologians \ve consider and understand the co~i- fessions in their relation to Holy Scriptr~rr ;is h:l\,ing n norii~atise function i ~ro~-t~(l IIOT~)~~~S) over against the confessions. "C;cni~ille clli~rch confcssjon is col~l'c~iio~~ of ~lrv c.>>c.r111,1l ant1 decisive subject n1attt.r of the f-lol! Scril)t~~l.c. it. ,iriv)s OLI~ of tllc experience m;lclc in anti 1)). the cl1~1:ch 111 it.: ;IC.~~I;I~ lit(: \:.it11 1-cg,~rtl to and thro~lgh the cssclltial contents of I lol\. S(:~.ipt ir;.c-." ' Ill!!/.,, 1,. 1 Oh). Thc collfcssions thcrcfore 11a1.e ;I t\\ o'fi)ltI tllr~rst.: f il-st. tlic\. are to act as a guitlcpost to the cc.11tcl- of Hal!. 5c.riplui-c; scconcll\', tllc!. have their function as a "gi~idance for the c~llurc.11'~ st:~-\.iit~ ;~lo~lr: tlli: line of proper proclamation of the gospcl to otllc~.\." 1, /:'iltl.,; \\'hc.n thc churcll I-espontls to Gotl's \\.o~tl ill 11~1- t 011 t'ossi(~ns this means that she "ilcclnrcs the Gospel ;IS tl~i~t I'YOII~ \\ liicl; sllc dcri\:cs her esistencc, ant1 that for \\.I~ich she csists, tllc rcnlit\~ \\ liicll is the basjs of Iier being alltl tlic col~tc.~ll of 11~1- cl~lt\. nncl ~)~.\icc." i., 1. Our ~onf~ssions \\-ant ro l~c trnc!cl:stoc;tl, in thc first place, as col~fessions of :1nc1 rcsponscs to the C.;o~pcl. 4inc.c. tllc! arc a true c:slwcssion of thc Gospel, tllc!. lla\.c. :II~ ;l~~tlioritr. tlc.~.i\c~I t'ronl the Gospcl. 1'11~1s they bilid us to its truth, tllo\. f'l-<\c: 11s fro111 cgartl . . . I11 times of uilccr- taint!, 1.1 . \\ 11~11 it \\ a5 a nintter of tllc inc;~ni~~g of the f~~lncss of the gosj~c'l tol- the cl~urcl~ 'to be or not to l~c,' the church ha5 prcscnted a colll'c.\\~ol~,rl st,~tcincnt as n poi~ltcl- to thc dccisi\,e centcr of Scrip- turc.. :I ]-~oil~tc\r to ~ts coi~tinuiny message." (lhi~i., 1). 108). 'l'llc cliasgc ancl mission of tlic church is to proclainl the Gospel. This ~llission 113s to be can-iccl out \\-ithill this \\:orld, i.e., in our timc., \\.it11 pcoplc a1ij.c tod;l!r. To forliiulatc this indispensable com- iiiissiol~ \\ itli \\.liicll Christendom is ciitrustcd, the Uypsala Asscn1bly of tllc \\CC in 1968 has coinccl tlic slogan: "to preach thc gospcl to the \\.orltl's iigcllda." EIo\\-c\.er, \\.c Iia\.e to raise this question: \\.ho or \\-hilt is goi~ig to 1)c tlic norm in this rcspect-the Gos11c.l or the \I-orltl's ;~gcr~cl;i? There exists the iiiillliiic~lt clanger that tlic second o~ic, tlic \\orltl's agc~icla, \\.ill be conic^ iioi-nii~ti\~c, unless the confes- sions SCI-\C ;IS ;L s;ifcgil;~rd i1ntI Iiccp the clli~rch u~lcler the a~ltliorjty of thc. Ji~~ll~i~l~ to ;I 111-opcr pcrforiiiance of her task. 1:or tllis 11111.j)osc thc confessions need to be aeti\:atcd in the cli~1rc11--- tllc!. arc. not to csist as solncthing static. Such an acti\.ation has to i1j1111\. thc confcssions in thcir "i'~inctio11al and instrulncnti~l organic connection to hot11 sides," i.c~., "in thc tlircction of Gospel antl Holy Scriptures, as ~\.~ll as ill tllc clircctio11 of the life and proclamation of the church." ,I- 1~'Iius \\.c cannot ant1 indeed must nelrer he content with the ii~~l-c historical and ecclesiastical possessions of the confcssions as such . . . 14 confession in its real nature is a matter not of 1wsscssion bl~t of obligation . . . The right use of a confession c.o~isists in al\vays keeping it in its living context and in the psi- tion bct\\,ccn gospel and Scripture on the one hand and the life al~d the preaching of the church on the other hai~cl.~ (Ibid., pp. 110f.) "O11r ~vcaching must be actuallv atldrcssed to niotlern man, but jt 11i~1st Ilc identical in its cssencc with tlic preaching of the ill~ostlcs antl prophets! It is this which the confessional state- iilc11t sets forth. \\7ithout this, other principles as regulative for Scripture interpretation and preaching \voultl of necessity creep in." (Ibicl., p. 109). J-lo~\* clocs this actuallv look like? I'll try to give an illustration of this mattcr in the second part of rnv paper, in which I'in going to shone the op1x)rtunitv of the confcssions with respect to certain specific ficld of theologi. 5. Il'hnt tJic ~'ul~fessio~zs have to say 71,ith respect to the ~ilzderstaltd- iug (colzc*e11tion) a~zd the e8ec.t of Holy Scripture The corifession binds the church and her theologians to Holy Script~lrc as the authoritative \\7ord of God effective by its own power. It proclaims the power of God, which is going to come to action through "the preaching of the cross" (1. Cor. 1 : 18). \Ye don't have this effectiveness and action at our cliscretion. But the proof of efl'ccti\,eness ot Cotl's I\ ortl ii~ J-IoI\ S(. 1.11;1~1!(* iJ; i14 !)\I 11 . . power can confidc.ntl\. be Ic>ft to (;utl tllc Tlol\. I;----. )~i>: c,: :: /~. Tliis tlocsn't 1nc.;!11 [I;;!: :I c i ,i;l i;rior.c our obligation to gi\c I-ciISolly t'or tllr st;itc\jnc.r~t :li)o~~~ 1.11~. c t!cx \i: c.rlc.;s of God's 11-orcl b\: its o\\ n pu\\.cr. By mcirns of tlic cc)nf'cssion t.1~ clil~rcl~ i)i)\\\ to ti)(, .i~~lllor.il\ of Scripture. Shc confcssos to II~~:;II- C;(K~'S \.c)icc '111(1 to IIC (.!i~!Sl.oitt(l with C;od ill thc Scri1~tiiri*. :inel tliat tllcb S(,ril>!rii.~s yi\ c.5 !\-it tic.,, to the c~scl~ntulogical e\.ent of s;~l\.:ltion in tllc ~x~st, \\-llicll c O,!I l~r-i\c$, 1l1c prcsent tililc and the future as i~c.11. 71-llc c(.)lifcs~io~~~ c~~i!l)li,ll ;in understanding of Scripture ;~ccortlilig ro \\.hic,Il C;o(l iInl1oLlticc.s tllc gospel of our salvation on thc ba~li~rouncl of 11 i 1;1\\.! \\.it I) ,111 :IC:~ of grace Hc pardons the' accuscxl J~~;II.I ant1 2r;ltlt ililil the ~.c'Llc.inj>tio~~ for Cl~rist's salcc. This is t he absol~ltctv f~,~ltl;:rllc,~~t;il 1:44(.11C C' 01' 111c Scriptures as set forth in tllc confc~ssjons. There can bc rlo cloul,t thnt tlirs confcssio~is (ll~r!1;111~1 ;\I> c~cy~>,is, of a kintl \\.hich bicl.; its sj~eal;. \\.l~crl thc: Sc.r.illt~r~.c,, ,IKL;II,. I)LI~ ortlc.1-s us to kvcp 5ile11~c \\.hcbn thc i I so. I hi., cIoc~.;r~'t mc~an that thc church can be siteiit at ple;~sill-c.. 1101- \l)c,,rli \\ 11~511 5l1c wants to. But, \\.hc.ne\,c'r shc speaks or h;~s to sl~cal,. bllc: 11111\t I)~-ot.l,~i~n wllat her 1m-d \\.ants to he proclain~cd. She has to yi\-c1 \oice to 1I1c gospel \vitllout asking \vIlcthcr people lilic it or not. B\. mcans of the conft'ssion:~l oblig;ltio~~. the cl1iil.c-I1 i?; I)o~~ricl to her hission. She Iinon-s al~out the fi~ncl;~irict~t,il I~asis of tllis 11,is- sion, she knoi1.s about its origin, source., ancl pl~r.lx)w. I'rcc,iscl\ this n~akes the cllitrcl~ inclepcndent of :111 those influcllcc~s. j~o\\crs. ;111(l authorities \vhich constantl!. tr!. to make use of lhc: c~hl~rcli for their 011.11 purposes. The ilntlcrstanding of thc church's missio11 \c.c~ll> to 1,~. tic\ ciop- in0 into a crisis. There arc 111a11)r att~'111pts to d~'te'~.lilille ;IIIC\\ this b m~ssion by an orientation toirarcl the intentions and rc.cliri~-c~~l~c~lts of nmdern socicty, thus runnins the risk of ;i ncl\\. "lj;lh\.lo~li;~rl C;il~t i\.i t\' of thr Cl~urcll." 'Tllc cl~urch's ilntl thcolog-y 's right to exist is c;j!lccl into cli~cstion, and S]IOI\.S itself bv ;I prccll)itoi~s sc:;~t-c~Ii for ;1 IIC'\\. proof for this right. :lcti\,isnl anti criticism of ;111 ;~sl~ccts of tllc churcll are commo~~ylacc.. The attempts at chansc ;ire gi\-en intrinsic volur, without being 1cgitiln;ltcd by the n.orcl ot Gw1 Xo one ;~shs for this Icgitin~i~ation. Some people belie\-e that the cllilrcll I~as to appear on all fronts : ecology, \\-orltl pcacc, 2nd o\.erl~o~~ulario~~, problems of E::~st-\\:~st tension and questions of tllc 'I'llircl \\'orltl, thc structure of economics and l~roblems of education, citv l)li~nriillg, traffic conOitions and social order-ill1 thew and cb\.en 111orc bother the church. S11e gives her opinion \vithout bring asked. Xo one actually kno11.s whv she speaks to these problelns as the church and with \\:hat kincl of authorit\ . bv . hcr 1,ord. Her opinior~ rc1m;lins \vith- out an echo. Instead of preaching what the c11urc.h and only the church is able to prcncll, namely the ivitness of the grace of ~btl to an unholy world, the direct participation in cha~lging the ~\.orltl is prorlailned as having first priority in the church's enqi~clnent. The aims of the re\rolutionnrY movcment in the sense of social justice and humanity assume a theological qi~ality in thc.mscl\~cs. Br~t we SIIOLIICI \\ cII OC' ;I\\ ts to sub- stnrlli;~tc~ lllis J)I.O~I.;IIII I)il)lic;~ll\. arc. s~~spect, because the!- onl!. cn- (lor3~' \\ Il'tt 11i1.s i~i~-c:r(l\ t)c>c>~l clctcr~i~itlc(l. i\ t110(1cr11 Gerll1~111 i~tl~cist, lo;rc.li ill1 I\;1111. \\ 110 Ilolds ;I doc'tot.'~ clcyl-cc in tllcolog!- f'roni R,Jarl~urg L;ili\.c~t.5it\., 11;ts ~~~~l)lisllc(l ;I ))~)~k~~t-l)~oli, :\lisei-j, oj' Christei/Aoii~ (l_lri/~l 0c.s ( '/tr.;\t riilfrr rirsi in ~\.llic.h I\-c find tllis sell tcncc: "to ;i 1)r.o- grc>.s.si\cb ct-itic,;~l ;rtllc.istic tjlcsor!. 110 tllcolog!:, spealiillg c\.cn in the 11lobt 1li(:(Ic1-11 ;111(1 l.ci\ o111tioi1i1rj~ tc~rnls, can e\-cr contribute a~~\.tlling nc\\-." 'Pllis sec~lis tl-LIC to me--clsc~cpt for thc uniqueness of the C;os~)cl itsclt'. I ct's f'ocils o11r irttcntion :1g:]i11 on the Ul~p~"l clef nition : to 1~rc~;tc.ll tll~ (;osl)c'l to tllc \\.orltl's agt.tltlii. '1-his definition assunlcs ti-tat I\-c ],no\\- \\.lli~t the (;osl)cl is. 111 this respcc,t thc confessions sen-e as itltli5l~cils;1l)lc giiitlc1~1st. The\. tlircct us to thc Scripture. \\'herc\,er this glii(lcl,os~ is lost. \\c 1'1c.c -tllc t1angc.r of the "\vorltl's ;~gcnda" dctc'l-1llitli11g tllc cll~trc'li's j)rc;~~llillg. In soillc thc'ological trends ill Eurol~cl this is not nlerrly a datigcr, but alrci~cl\- ;I f;-1c.t. ,-\ II~\\- kind of thcoloqv is arising, chnractcri7cd lot. on]\. . 11; . t:,liillg o\cr thc 1,rstlrods of chli~iric scicllces, but also bv assuming tllr'il- cl~~cstions. The confrontation \\-itti God \\-ill take scconcl j)l;lccs to t llc c'ollfrontation ivith the needs of this \\mrld. 'Tllis strongl! i1lf1uc~l1c.c~ the concc.l)tion of Scripture. and its uscigc. I11 this kintl of thColog\., Scripture has lost its character as authoritati\.e \\.ortl of' Got1 clffcct i1.e I)\- its o\\.n po\ver. It has become a kind of sanlplc. book of' ll~od~ls, in \vhich human espcrienccs in mastering ciirthl~ 1>1-ohlcn1s arc collected. Thosc expericnccs ha\:e to be made cff'ccti\,c anvil alicl can pro1.c their authority only from casc to case. In this concept tl~cl ljiblc is mcrcly rcgarcled as collectiol~ of docu- ilwnts about pi-c~i~ious c;iscs of humane, righteous, and exelnplary bc\ha\.iour, ~\.hich a l~riori can be replaced and supcrsc.ded-or c\.en :is a sort of: tcstl~ook of techniques of revolution. In this wav man is atltlrc~sscd b\ Hol! Scripture ill his relations to this \\.orld only-if Ilc fccls aclcli-cssctl at all. 7'his liilicl of application of Scripture doesn't aim at faith any nlorc. \\'hcrevcr lnan is considered only in his relationship to this i\-o~-lcl (;inti all usage of Scripture is integrated into this concept), \\-liere iio o~~c~ carcs for the confrontation with God, but only with this ivorltl and its needs, no faith can arise and man can respond only \\.it11 llis oi1.11 activity, \\.ith his ow11 works. I tlon't want to be understood as if I would once 111ore yield to thc quictism with which Lutheranism has traditionallv and constantly t~een rcproachetl, a quietism inexperiencecl in the ways of the world and cllarnctericed hv failure to meet the test of faith in this world and age. The i.utlie;an cliurch has to speak to the needs and troubles of this world and tile men living in it. And it is truly a misuntler- standing of hcr position when she is charged with sanctioning all hinds of est;iblishnients. The Lutheran church is obliged to speak. But she has to do so in the name of God, and legitimated by God's m7ord. The confessions give her the opportunity to do so. 6. CVllnt the coirfe.i.sioirs 1rat:r to sav 11 itlr r.r's11r~c.1 to t/~c.~olo,qir~ol a~tlzr-opolog). ~L~lcrrsc~h~irl~ilrl) The 1,uther:ln confessions arc pcrha1,s in 110 rcsl)cc.t ~iiorc ilcute and up-to-date than \\.hen tlic\. (lisciiss tllc>ir collccllt of 111i111. 1'111 sure they provitle an csccllcnt ol,lx)rti~nit\ to ~ir~clc.l.$t;l~lcl m,~ll's silua- tion. On tlle one Ila~ltl 11-e filid in the con t'cssio~~s ;I c,lc,ll- ~t;~tc~licnt on tlie fall of Inan iincl its co~lscc~uc~icc~s, i.c%.. his sint'i~llic.cs clncl his guilt. 011 thc other liantl the conl'cssiol~s csl,rcss t1)iit 111i111 is still Gocl's creature alitl he is tl~c,rcforc still rcsl)o~lsible iuitl \I ill I)c called to account b!. God. Ilis frce \\.ill is strictl\- linlitc'cl, l)i~t is lot c\tin- g~~ished, Alan has his cha~~ccs to bring 11~s lifc to ortlcr ill c'\tc\r-nal matters, but hc is ]lot able. to sul-pass tlic Jinli~s OI.;I\\ 11 111 tllc I:all. I don't intcnd to cji~otc tlic rc\.clant p:~ssi~gcs in ~lic' co~it'cssiotls 10 ulidcrline this. But \\.c shoultl nc.\.c,- concc;~l tllosc stiltc~ilc~~lts from modern men, rather \\.c shoultl LIS~ them :IS ;I 1lcbI1, ill tllcs stilt-cl~ for understal~ding Inen in the \\.orlcl of' toctit!.. Our presc~~t tlil!. situation is chariic&tc.l-i/ccl ill I\\ o \\ ;I\ 5. I.;JI-SL, man's optimism LI~OLI t lli~tlself, ant1 his self-confitle~lw arc st r~,sscd with great emphasis: r\ lie\\; ]lope for manliillcl i5 cleri\ ctl t'rolll this. Typical of this is tlic ctlict of the AIarxian philosop1lc.t- 1;rlist. lllocll "eritis .sici~st Derrs" (jorl sllall bec~oii~e ns Go~lj. ?'his is tltc ilc.t~1;11 i~ntl true mcssagc of sal\.it~ion for nlotlcrr~ nlan. Scbco~~dl\- this I;i~icl of optinlisnl ant1 self-confitlel~ce ;IW constantly cl~~c~sti;)~rcd 11, m;ln because of his nature. After \\'odd \\.ar II 1t.c had -at least ill l:uroj>c -- tllc inlprcs- sion that tl~e times of such an superficial ol)tilr~is~n '111tl conticlcnce in nlnn's abilities 2iad dcfiniti\,cl!- pnssctl a\\,a!-. U!. tllc expel-icncc of uncl~ained brutalit!. \.isible in the horrors of \\.ar, in tllc tcrrors of thc concentration canips, in the clcn~onir n~anil>ulatiotl of n~~~ltitucles, in the nuzzling of consciences, people seenlcd to Ii;~\.c bccol~ie a\\ ;Ireh of \vli;lt \\.as still in man. This could ne\.er be extinguishc(1 r~icrcl\. by appropriate ~tlucation or trniriing or the Iik~. \\.c Ilatl cs1x~riei~cctl \\.hat the lzonzo iirc~zrrl.~atlr.s ill scil,slit~r \\.as able1 to (lo. Totla). the situation has changed. ThC rupitll\ i~lcrcitsing progress in technical scicnccs has pshed aside tliis ~lcgativc) \.ic\v of man. 3 Iodern psycholog\ ns \\.ell as 3larsi,ln pl~ ilosol,l~\ haw made 111a17 the on]\ measure of all things. They ]la\ c, c~ach one in its specific \\.a!., changed tlie necds of man for sal\.ntion into nccds for simplc in~provement and correction. The nbilit!- to (lo this out of his o\vn po\\:cr is clainit.tl for man. But it is exactly this of man \vhich is 110 1ongc.r challc~nged. Psychology as well is philosophy, wen klarsiiin philosophy. arc dis- covering the inevitable defectibilitv of man. Alan is sul~l~oscd to subdue the \~orld and he. is doing so, but look at tlie fnlsc paths of culture and civilization we have strayed into! hlcn begin to doubt in their ability to subdue the world. Let mc cjuotc for cxilrnplc the physicist and Nobel Prize winner Alas Born, who clicd in January 1970: "It seems to me that the attempt of nature to briug forth upon this il being, who is able to think, has colnpletclg failed. For in tlli4 being, i.c., ill man, \\c find bestial instincts mixed \I it11 intellcctilal po\\ers in sucl~ ,I clisustrous Ivay, that this mix- till-cs c ,In not bc brought uncler control." Sati~r;~ll\. tl~is is ~ot !.ct the biblical doctrine of original sin according to C:\ 11.. ~LI t \\.c 111:1\. no\\- feel ho\\- useful this doctrine can become in the tliscussiot~ i~bol;t thc reasons for inan's defectibilitv Pascual Jordan, :I Germ ;In natu rill philosopher, has quoted ~obert Oppen- hcimcr as ha\.ing said that the ])hi-sicists are going to rediscover sin. The tli~c.,tio~l of guilt ant1 responsil)ilit\ is bothering these nlen again. X~lcl it cannot Ilc ;ins\\.crcd b\ mcrcl\' pointing to the correctness of their mi~tl~c~~~~atical formulations or b\- the \,erification of scientific hypothesis b\ cspr.l-itllcnts. ~el~>lrssll~ss and insolrable questions do arisc not onli- for ph\.sic.ists, but 111 the fields of biochemistry, ~nedicine ant1 so fol-tll* as I\ c.11: Eritis .~i(.2lt 11~11s-this becollles not ;I message of saI\.atio~l ~III\ morc., rather it appears as fate ancl guilt. To do sin i~riscs fro117 being ;i sinner. So\\ sit1 is ccrt;rinl\. not n category of anthropolog\,. >Jan's pcr\.c.rsit\ cannot t)c unclt~istood bv nlcb;~suring him ~vith nn itlcal noml csisting for itsclf. It is rnthcr a ~hcologic.al categot-1.. Hccr)gnition of sin tlocs not rrsiilt from ail isolated anal\.sis of'c.sistc.~~c.c. of the natural III;~~, hut it1 the final ;~nulvsis from the cont'rontiltion \vith tllc truth of Gotl. This basic i~riclerstandin~ of sin cannot be applied for the sake of nn a1lthro17oIogical pessimism, but on the contrary for thc si~kc. of sotcriologv. In this rc.sj)cct \\.ca should be a\\.art. of the confessions' oppor- tl~t~it!.. Tile\- ccli~ip us \\,ith a trill\ realistic vie\\. of man \\.ithout any jllusions. ~iiclv she\\. that thc proclamation of total self-redemption of man i~ftcr t11c. "tlci~th of God" is nothing brit a literal unholy 11topi3. ?'his killd of sclf-rcde~~ll)tion is offcred tod;~\. b!' those tllcologians, I\-hoscl theolog! has shrul~ k to social ethics ancl \vho transform tllc 1lc~t1 for sal~.ation into 3 need for soc.ic.t\,'s improve- nlcnt. 111 this conception human irctivitv rt.ylaces thc grace of God. For ~~i~mpl~ lrt me quote from the ~rcdo of Dorothee Sijlle: "I I,c.lic.\c. in God, \vho . . . \\ants the alteration of all conditions 111 our \\ark, b!. our po1itic.s . . . I believe in Jesus Christ, \vho '11-iscs into our lifc th.~t c ma! bucome free from prt.judice and i1rrogirllce. from fear and hntr-cxl, and promotc his rei.oliition to\varcl his killgclo~n; I I~cIie\ c . . . in our responsibility for \\.hat 11 ill becor~~c of this earth: a \,ale of tears, hunger, and violence, or the city of God." lo \\onclc~r, that a prayer com~~osed under hlrs. Solle's authority, ends \\ ith these nards: "Come, Lord Jesus, and let 14s bring up your fiitiirc." If ive examine those statc~nents for their understanding of man and cbomp,lre it with the state~nents of the confessions, we will soon disco\.er thc unbriclgable difference. And we will '1140 discover the ol>portiinit! of the confessions: to witness to thc ii-orld, which bc.co111c.s so helpless; the truth about man, a truth, which is helpful, becnrise it rlcarlv speaks about the linlits of man as well as his pssi- hilitics, but expects the salvation of the world not fro111 11~111an wel- lare, but fro111 Gorl himself. \C'hen the confcssion.c: bi1.1~1 us to tllc Sc.ril)t~~l.c.s. l/!c>. ql\.ch a center of griivit! to our thc.oiogy. l'l~is c0nsist.s in C I~ri\ii~lo~\. L'lle confessions ilre not doubtf~rl about this. Christo!oK). is :])I: \.c;.\ I~iisis for the message of tlic churc.11. But it is 11ot to I)(: ~.~~~\itlc:~i:il as ;in isolatt~d or isolatable \-aluc. ill thc c.o~ifcssions. ratl~c't. it fii)\\> illto tIlc sotcriology ant1 is conibinctl \\-it11 it. So \\.(: co~~lc to ;IJI i.\.i\tcllti;ll relation of Christolog!. to man. 'The. cloctriilc of iustiIictitioli prc- supposes Christolog\ and is :\ fruit of the thcolug,. oC inc,~s~l,~tion ;i11<1 cannot be separated fro111 it. ''It is impossiblt~ to co~~fcss the i ~~stifii.;l- tion of thc sinner if JC'SLIS of X~LL~II.CLII is 11ot ts~11\ C,ocl,'" (l1c>tcr Brunncr, "Thc I'resent Significance of the 1.~1 tllc~in <.'o~l f~:>.sioll," The Unit): of the Cltlr).c+It, pl 93). Sincc the Lutheran Church is bouncl to corlf'c>~ions tl~i~t Ixbrscss\.c this connectio~l, it hiis no c1loic.c but to nislic (.'I1 I-ist ;1lo11cl t he c.c.1Iti.r of her procli~~nation aild nothing clsc. It cannot pl-ocl,~irll ;I cliIl'c.~-c>nt way of sal\-ation than that of justification of thc sil111c.r gr-rrlis, l~l-o/jtc~r- Christutn per fidem (CA I\'). 'This snl\,a tion \\.as ~\.rou~l~ t hi. (;otl's own action estra nos. Hoi\-e\w, Christolog!-, thc \.cr!. hcart of Lutl~cr~~n thc.olox\, is questioned toclay. \17e are told tI1i1t thc prcscrlt (1:1!. p1.011lclns c:11111ot be rnct by Christological formulations of the p:\st, but r;\thcl- sonlc- thing clse is clemanclecl. \\'c arc told that thc confcs.;ion;il cloctril~c of justification is not able to 1ncct thc rcquircnlcnts ot OLII. time. It is said that nod ern nlcn arc becoming or arc all-catl\ tot;llI\. i~l~;rthctic to the quest for a nlerciful God. 'rhc confcssiolls ill-c. ~-c~ilrtlc:tl ;ls haying lost their attraction ill this respect. It is i1 fact that C hristology pla!.s no part any more in the most promini311 t disci~ssions. 13ut \\.l~crc Christolog!. js no longer the center of all th~ologici~l clisclission, it folio\\-s that the doctrine of justification ;is its ncccssary cor-rolar!. 113s already been lost. \\'hat are the consequences' Christologj- has shrunk to ;I state- ment ill n~hic.11 Christ is mcrelv n point of orientation, scr\-irlg only as a motlc.1. The way to s;il\-ation is no longer foul~l in bc.lic.ring irr Jesus Christ, but in acting like Tcsus Christ. In this \\.;I\. lilnll is thrown back on himself. ancl the comfort of ;I rcclc~mption Ikrforl~lcd extra ~~os has been taken a\~~av. In this situation, our faith is challengccl. Bccause \ve in~rst put our confidence in the salvation \yon for us by Christ, \vc cannot separate Christolog!. fron~ the doctrinc of justificatjon. But the question of the opportunity of our confessio~~s in this matter cannot be stated out of a concern whether our teaching \\.ill bt. accepted and agreed to, or not. If we are sure that the confessions spc:lk the truth in this respect, we have to trust that this truth will fintl its listeners and follo~vers. The theologv and preaching of the church is ricver justified by visible success, but by the validity ant1 legitimation of their statements according to Holy Scripture. As for the rest, those men who cspcct sal\.ation from their o\\ 11 activity and engagement will discover before long that they bccotilc subject to the Law, \i.hich is a ler serrrper rrcc:~r&?rs ;rnd ~~IO\YS no nic7t.c!.. I'c:,~cc~, il.c>cclci~~l, j~~sticc, sal\-ation arc tcrnls of comfort. They (ri\.cc I\ I~I:IL tili., II~~I~II oil\ 11 11c11 tllcy ;1rc consitlered as God's gifts j)cI i ,i~lij)l\ not ;I Illiltt~~~ of perso11;11 cliscretion, therefore the c,ont'c33ic11l oi' t1;1: (;ospcl. \\l~ich disting~~isl~cs and charactcri~cs the I_il tllcri~tl c.l~~~rcl~! is also not a nlattcr of personal dis~r~tion. Onlv \\.llc.n tllc ~11~1rt.11 xi\.('.'; ice to tlic C;OS~CI b\. Illearls of :I confession o\.cr ,~g;lillst ill1 t';~l>ification ;111t1 el-1-01. alld .s~~l>n~its hersclf to the Goslwl t 11rl)ugh hci- confession, tlocs sl~c become a c.hurch according to ller 1 ostl's intc~i:io~i and becomes :~blc to fulfill her task in and at tl1C \\ osltl. 7r11(~ cl1urc.11 is ill fact constituted b!. the Gospel. In othcr \vords, her c\istcnc,c tlcpcntls upon and can be perccivcd by ~vord and s;lcrnlllcnt ;Is the cHecti~lp instrunlcnts. This iniplies that tlic church hi~s ill\\ a\ s to kccp in mlnd that she is established b~' Gocl. She is a rrcritrlrrr clri~rgclii esistillg before the indi\-idual. Therefore slic deties sociolo~ic~;~l definition of any type. Of course, her estcrnal form and orclcl-, I~cl- c,ol~stitution and the sl~ape of her ~rr\~icc to the \\-orld tlc~~~ncl or1 the historicill contlitions \vhich she lives. They arc ~7e jzlre I~zct~~cr~ro a11cl thcrcforc in principle chsngcable at any timc. But this is not truc for the constituting factors \\.hich make up the church. So thc L~ltl~cran church cannot agree 11-ith thosc expectations uttcrccl l'or illstance at the 1963 l,\\'F asse~~iblv in Helsinki, namely tllat the I utllcran c~hurch sho~rltl :\l\\.ays be ready to give up her own csistilncc ;IS a tlistinctive confcssional church in order not to hinder the 1111it\. of Christendom. Such 311 idca is based on a conception of the cll~1ic.11 1\.11ich dcnics thc fact that she is founded by Gwl and cntr~~sr~tl \vi th Iiis \vord. \\'ortl and sacranien t as the instruments 1\.llicl1 establish the church lla\:e to be understood as demanding a confession to thcir truth and \ralidity. \loelern trcllds in thcology like to interpret and undcrstnnd the cllurch 111. mcnns of anthroplugical categories. The consequences \\ill be that the church n-ill bc regarded as a special interest group in our pluralistic societ!.. This means that she is exposed to the con- flicts of i~ltc~-cst ill this society on the one Ihand, and on the other hand that she bciwnlcs a political factor in the poiver struggle of society tlcli\.cred up to n~anipulation and being used as an instrument to e;irr\. out specific aims of social politics. In thc ~noment that the church scrics o11lv certain groups oE society, she surrenders her position abol-c the factions, and the universal claim of her proclanla- t ion is curt:tilctl. \\'hat is the \:slue of thc confcssions in st~cll ;I sitl~i~tio~~? [ think as long as tllc\. help irs to u~~dcrstantl rllL, c11urcIl 11s I~cinq founded by God, as l,:~\,i~i~ her csistrnce ill tllc orld, I,LI t not of ih'c world, they prescrye 11s from deli\.c~ring thc ch-urcl~ lip 19 tlit. l)o\\.crs of this \\lorld, and they free 11s from an!. prcssilrc of accoiilmodation and any ol>portunisnl \\.liich endca\rors to insurc thc cliurcli's rsistcnce and influence. The!: gr;n~t to the* church tlic true c.iltllolicit!. i~ncl universality ant1 prcscr\:c it fro111 being \\.orrictl about failul-ch. a t~)n- cern which has ne\,cr l~clpcd the church, but 011 ti-lc con tl-:IS! has Ilrld her back. The church 011 earth is not to csist for ctcrnit).. 14-1c.r nlission and her existence are in this time and for this time. T1i;lt's \\.lint the confessions say. Slic is tlie ark to rcscue 11s fro111 the float1 of Gotl's wrath until n new hcn\,en 317~1 il ne\v car~tll ha\-c ;lpl>cai-crl. Judgment ancl ne\\ creatio~i ilccording to Hal!- Sc.~-il>ti~rc ;Ire indispensable parts of \\.hat the confessiorls ~>roclninl. i\s soon as \re relax our tie to Scripture, as so011 as man is not conlprcliciitlc~d in his sinfulness, as so011 as tlic redemption I)!. (.'Ill-ist has Iwcn replaced by self-redemption, as soon as the ch~irch dcgcjneratcs into a pressure group in a pluralistic society, then jiitlgriicnt ant1 i~c\v creation will have no ]>art in thcology. Thnt's csactl\. \\-hat \\c are experiencing today, the loss of eschatology, n charact&-istic of much of Christcnclonl todn!:. But \vllcn \ye keep silcilt nhout thcsc stale- inents of Scripture, nothing has been done to so1i.c the 13rol)lcn1s of men today, nor 11a\.e those prob1ei.n~ beco~ne cirsic~r to sol\.e. \Ian comes to a dead stop facing the unsolvable contraclictions of his life, being confronted ~k-ith his o\\lll dcfectihility. I-lc j>ursuc,s the ulopia of a kingdom of God on earth ~vhich he \\!ants to c.stablis11 by I\in~sclf; but peace, freedom, justice, and salvation are far from him. The statement concerning the "Last Things" cnablcs us to gi\.e an answer, \\.host truth and validitv God liimsclf guarantees in his word. The confessions call us to grapple \\.it11 the "trul\. :q>ostolic task," "in the midst of 3 gigantic progress and cnthusinsti~~ ol>tiinism for this ivorld to preach the kingdom which are not from this \\.orld." (Ibid., y. 269 Translated b!' writer.). This mission ~vc 1ial.c to face. It has been entrustrtl to us. \\'c haven't asked for it oursel\~es. The confessions will be of great hclp to fulfill this mission. That's their purpose. It will he ultimatrlv irrelevant \vhether the message \ve have to proclaim will bc. accepted or not. For as n church of Jesus Christ we \\;auld be tlisobedient if we would try to secure our chances in this world b!. digressing froill the theme. This theme can never be determined by ourselves, but only by the Lord of the church. The nltirl~ate purpose of tlie confessions consists in their pint- ing to the basis for which we are responsible, too. 112 ecclesia 12011 ~'alet: hoc ego dico, hoc tll diclis, Jroc ille dicit; sed: Haec dicit Do~liillus (St. Augustine). (In tlie church it is not valid that: "I say this," "you say that," "he says this;" biit this is valid: "Thus says the Lord").