Thursday, September 30, 2010

back to Walther...

To continue the 18th Evening Lecture based on the ninth thesis:

In the fifth place, the Word of God is not rightly divided when sinners who have been struck down and terrified by the Law are directed, not to the Word and the Sacraments, but to their own prayers and wrestlings with God in order that they may win their way into a state of grace; in other words, when they are told to keep on praying and struggling untile they feel God has received them into grace.

I shall repeat the last bit I quoted before moving on:

In view of this, are we not blessed, highly favored men?  Our bliss beggars description.  Heaven and earth are full of the goodness and grace of the Lord, our God.  Anyway and everywhere all things cry to us:  "You are redeemed; your sins are forgiven; heaven is thrown open to you.  Oh, believe it, do believe it, and you have this bliss." (180)

Walther moves from here to note that his previous three evening lectures have shown how false doctrine has vitiated this bliss.  In this evening lecture, he focuses on the rejection of absolution.  He uses the text from the 19th Sunday after Trinity (the story of the paralytic whose sins Christ forgave and Luther's House Postil for this day, this reading, Matthew 9:1-8:

Getting into a boat, Jesus crossed over the sea and came to His own city.  And they brought to Him a paralytic lying on a bed Seeing their faith, Jesus said to the paralytic, "Take courage, son; your sins are forgiven."
And some of the scribes said to themselves, "This fellow blasphemes."
And Jesus knowing their thoughts said, "Why are you thinking evil in your hearts?  Which is easier, to say, 'Your sins are forgiven,' or to say, 'Get up, and walk'?  But so that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins"--then He said to the paralytic, "Get up, pick up your bed and go home."
And he got up and went home. But when the crowds saw this, they were awestruck, and glorified God, who had given such authority to men.

It is the whole "given to men" part that become a stickler.  When I first read about the Office of the Keys in the Book of Concord, I admit it gave me pause.  All I knew about confession was snippets heard about Catholic confession that requires penances and such.  It was a relief, almost, to read how the Fathers delineated the differences between what confession should be and how it was perverted by placing such a terrible burden on penitents by making their forgiveness conditional on their own words and works.  The paralytic was forgiven requiring neither.

Alas...I am too tired to continue...can you figure out where I was going????????

Lord, I believe.  Help my unbelief!

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