Full Text for Confessions 2- Volume 42 - Summary Comments on the Catechism (Video)

ROUGHLY EDITED COPY LUTHERAN CONFESSIONS LC2 42 Captioning Provided By: Caption First, Inc. P.O. Box 1924 Lombard, IL 60148 800 825 5234 www.captionfirst.com *** 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. *** >> JOSH: Thank you so much for what you have taught. I know that it will be valuable to us and certainly in ways beyond expected use for the catechism for our confirmands. You've made me realize how useful the small catechism can be for the entire congregation. If you could sum up all that we have learned about the catechism in one sentence, what would it be? Maybe that's too much to ask, but I'd sure appreciation some concluding statements from you. Thank you again. >> DR. KOLB: Thank you, Josh. That gives me a chance to kind of bring my thoughts on the catechisms together. The catechism is a great gift of God. It's the creation well, it's not just the creation of one man. Though it is the creation of Martin Luther above all. But it's a creation of a team of people that God brought together at the University of Gutenberg. And not only Philipp Melanchthon but also a number of others that Luther sited. I happen to have, again, out of our rare book collection at Concordia Seminary, I have a kind of special book, a kind of book you don't see all that often. It's called Icones (ph) that is, icons, that is, pictures of illustrious men of letters, of illustrious writers, compiled I suppose we would say by an intellectual or academic grandson or great grandson of Luther, a man by the name of Nicholas Roysna (ph) And the particular copy we have of this book is one that he dedicated to his publisher. What he did was to gather together not only the pictures of reformers like Martin Luther but also a sample of Luther's handwriting. And he must have been spent many, many years collecting samples from a number of illustrious people, also Philipp Melanchthon and a sample of Melanchthon's handwriting. A kind of memory book. A little bit related to a high school yearbook, I suppose we could say, a book that reminds us how important people like Luther and Melanchthon were to the people of their own time and the time immediately thereafter. The remarkable thing is that Luther has remained important for Christians, for Lutheran Christians, particularly, but not only, for nearly 500 years now. And he has remained particularly important because in a couple of hundred languages around the world, Luther's small catechism is learned, has been learned, and is still being learned as a kind of fundamental basis for living the Christian life. Indeed, it's a kind of a basic handbook for Christian teaching because it gives us this law, Gospel life emphasis that filled Luther's theology. But, as we've just seen, it is more than that. It gives us a pattern for living as well as the basic address of the word of God that kills us by condemning our sin and that revives us and restores us, resurrects us by giving us the resurrection and the fruits of the resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ. So, Josh, you want me to do this in one sentence? No, I'd like you to do it in one sentence. And I suspect that, after reading the catechisms, large and small, listening to these conversations about the catechisms, practically every one of us would come up with a little bit different formulation of that sentence. But let me give you a couple candidates that occurred to me. One that I could argue for is that we might say the catechism is all about our personal confession. Jesus Christ is my Lord. The fact that Jesus Christ is my Lord comes from the fact that I am a creature of God; that Father, Son, and Holy Spirit shaped they and gave me my life; that the Holy Spirit has lived in me and made me his temple and continues to keep me in a life of repentance coming back to him. But all of that can be comprehended in the fact that Jesus Christ, the one who died and rose has claimed me as his own so that I belong to him so that I live under his rule, sometimes a little more rebelliously than others. But I am still under his rule. And, as the Holy Spirit gives me grace and power, I'm able to serve him because of the righteousness and innocence and blessedness that my faith has been given by my God. So one candidate would be Jesus Christ is my Lord. The true God who is true man has become my Savior. And, as my Savior, he is my Lord. We could also turn to a slightly longer sentence from that fourth question on baptism. The whole life of the Christian is a life of repentance, Luther said, as the first of his famous 95 theses in 1517. He was still probably very much under the influence of certain medieval concepts of repentance. But 12 years later, when he wrote the catechism, he understood that life of repentance to be a life of what he called the mortification of the flesh, of doing to death the old creature in me and having that new creature in me restored by the power of the Holy Spirit through the forgiveness of sins. And that new creature is not a new creature that simply twiddles his thumbs and sits on the sidelines and wonders what's going to happen next. That new creature recognizes that, as a child of God, I am blessed with the opportunities to be in daily conversation with my God in scripture reading and in prayer and in conversation with other Christians. And I am called by God to serve him by serving my neighbor in my home, in my occupational in my work, in my political community, and all the other civil or civic communities in which I'm involved, and in my congregation, the place where, as a worshiper and a witness of my God, I gather for the hearing of the word in the community of faith. With a couple of sentences like that and perhaps a third that I may be his own and live under him in everlasting righteousness, as kind of summary of all the eschatological statements that Luther put into his brief catechism, I live in the hope that the God who accompanies me every day will accompany me forever, that I will be in his presence forever. Because I belong to him, I am his and can never be separated from him. Some sentence like that we might fashion too as a summary of the catechism. But what the catechism wants to tell us is that God, who is our creator, wants us to be those perfect human beings that he made. And that perfection centers in our trust, our faith in him. The law that God has given us to help us understand what a good human life really is is the law that accuses and crushes us. But God has come as our redeemer and as our sanctifier, calling us through the word in written and oral and sacramental forms, in all the means of grace so that we may be liberated and freed from our sin and from all our fears and from everything that cripples us so that we may serve him in joy and cheerfully as we go about the callings of our daily life. That's why Luther wrote the catechism, and that's why you and I live the catechism as well.