Full Text for Confessions 1- Volume 32 - Teaching AC 2 (Video)

ROUGHLY EDITED COPY CONFESSIONS 1 CON1-Q032 JANUARY 2005 CAPTIONING PROVIDED BY: CAPTION FIRST, INC. P.O. BOX 1924 LOMBARD, IL 60148 * * * * * This text is being provided in a rough-draft format. Communications Access Realtime Translation (CART) is provided in order to facilitate communication accessibility and may not be a totally verbatim record of the proceedings. * * * * >> DAVID: Our human condition in Article 2 is defined so negatively. Today, people would hardly want to associate themselves with such descriptions. The concept of sin, especially the idea that we inherited depravity, is difficult to comprehend. How may I effectively teach this to my congregation? >> DR. KLAUS DETLEV SHULTZ: Yes, David. You are referring here to an insight that The Reformation has brought once more to the fore that perhaps had been said only before by the great theologian of the church, Augustine. And in picking this up, this sort of total depravity, of being propagated to sin, means that we Christians have to understand that we come from a state of total depravity that needed someone like Jesus Christ to save us from it. In fact speaking so negatively about humankind and its state before it actually was reborn through baptism means that we are glorifying Jesus Christ and His merits on the cross. I think being so negative in Article 2 makes Article 3 on Jesus Christ and Article 4 on justification even larger and glorifies it. What does this Article 2 exactly say? It speaks in the text that since the fall of Adam, we are propagated according to nature; namely, we are propagated, that is, born to sin. And this propagation has befallen all of humankind. There is no exception. How exactly that comes about is something we do not know. The reformers, and we as theologians, always discuss this origination of sin. Could it come about like the soul came about? But that, too, is always under discussion. But what we do know is that as soon as we are conceived, as Psalm 51 verse 5 says, or Romans 3 verse 23, that namely, since birth, we are sinful. That is really something that the church as such before The Reformation had lost. That total depravity, being propagated from birth on as sinful, really flies in the face of today's society thinking that we need to define sin only as a form of transgression, something that we do. Here, however, the reformers wanted to go further than that. They wanted to say even before you have actually done something, you must consider yourself already as sinful. That plays itself out, for example, in the practice of confession. It is not necessary always to enumerate your sins. All you have to say, and that is quite sufficient that you say, you are totally deprived, a sinner before God. So it means, for example, a little child born without having done something is already considered sinful. Or a human being that sleeps, also, without even having done something is considered sinful as well. This sin is defined further on in our article as something that is without fear of God, without any trust in him. That means we are without faith in God and without love. These are the two things that describe our positive relationship with God. We should love and fear God. You might recall in the Small and Large Catechism that Luther to every commandment repeats himself by saying, we should love and fear God above all things. Because if we do that, we shall accomplish all other things and even all other commandments because love and fear are those things that are necessary to have a restored relationship between God and us. What do we lose, also, through original sin? I think we lose that state of integrity. That is, that state of being justified, of having that righteousness which is given to us. And so what we have to say here is that that can only be restored, once again, through receiving Jesus Christ and his righteousness through faith. That is often done in baptism and that is why the article clearly affirms that only through baptism and the Holy Spirit shall we be restored into that relationship with God. The article also speaks about us being concupiscent. Now, that is a word probably no one else knows unless he studies theology. Concupiscent means that we have this evil desire to sin. It is constantly in us. Now, do we lose that at baptism? No, we do not lose concupiscence at baptism. What is removed at baptism is the guilt, the curse; namely, that God will no longer punish us for being sinful. But that concupiscence, that evil desire, that inclination toward sin will remain with us human beings as long as we are in this world. And for this reason Luther stood up already in 1517 saying in Thesis 1 of the 95 Thesis that our continual life must have every day repentance and faith. For we are sinners, that is true, he said, and we must understand ourselves every day as sinners that have to go through repentance. The Article 2 is very important, and it is also picked up again in Article 18 where it speaks of the free will because the question then arises how much free will does natural man have. And the article here and Article 2, as well, speaks clearly that we do not have a free will in furthering our own state of righteousness before God. We are totally reliant on Jesus Christ and His righteousness; His merits are those that we have to look at. So do we have a free will? No, we do not have a free will when it comes to such spiritual things. There's a theologian in the third and fourth century called Pelagius, a British monk. He was strongly opposed by Augustine. Augustine also, as the Lutheran Confessions, claim that there is a total depravity in man that cannot further his own salvation. In fact, you cannot cooperate with God towards your own salvation. There's one Latin word that Augustine used, or one phrase, that the man is *non possa non pecare. That means it is not possible not to sin. Pelagius believed differently. He said *possa no pecare which means for man it is possible not to sin. Thereby, Pelagius had to be rejected because in stating a cooperation between God and man, and granting man that ability to work towards his own salvation, again, is going against the cross and the merits of Jesus Christ. So Pelagius is mentioned explicitly in both Article 2 and Article 18 of the Augsburg Confession. It wants to make clear that thereby it speaks again as it was spoken in the early church, and that the 16th century stands no way behind the early church. We then move on to Article 19. There, too, something is said about our sinful being. It is asking there: What causes, actually, the sin? Could we hold God responsible for it? Clearly, no. God is there to preserve creation and to create. So he is not the one who wants sin to occur in this world. Well, who is, then, responsible? Clearly, we ourselves. And that brings us back to Article 2 again because it then says, that we have this evil inclination. And you might recall that that is said concupiscence. So what again, in summary, is the purpose of these articles on our sinful being? Let me reiterate here that it clearly must be seen that it wants to praise Jesus Christ and glorify Him alone. Let us take the vantage point from the cross and move on, then, to our state. I think then it will be much clearer why this article has been so radical in its statements about our human condition before rebirth through baptism.