Monday, January 28, 2013

Faith and Act

"Crucifixes and altars, surplice and houseling cloth, [...], private confession and absolution, the spiritual office's power of the keys, [...], were regarded by the Reformed as papistic and idolatrous. [...] Against such massive allegations universally levied from the Calvinistic side, the Lutherans reacted with a stronger recourse to ceremonies, among other things. Indeed, ceremonies became the very means for them to ward off (or unmask) Calvinism. [...] Since in fact liturgical traditions, vestments, church vessels, etc., were immediately removed where ever Calvinism infiltrated or Reformed ideas even gained influence in the church's polity, the reaction which it caused in Lutheran areas was a conscious propensity for ceremonies. Henceforth, therefore, the celebration of an emphatically liturgical service was among the visible signs by which the Lutheran character of confession was demonstrated outwardly."
-- Ernst Walter Zeedon, Faith and Act: The Survival of Medieval Ceremonies in the Lutheran Reformation, p. 117

Wow! Talk about not giving a false impression. Talk about AC XXIV and its Apology beautifully tied together with FC Ep: X, 6. This is as much relevant today as was then. It's good to see and hear of liturgical renewal happening today within Lutheranism against the Reformed traditions and ceremonies -- the same traditions which are being dismissed as "adiaphora" by District Presidents, pastors, and parishioners. What puzzles me is when a person or group of persons (think Synods) claim to be confessional, as to holding the Lutheran Confessions as their own confession, but want to pit the Formula of Concord against the Augsburg Confession (which takes precedent). It's the same as contradicting yourself: "I think cats and dogs are profitable for my well-being and wish to maintain them in my home (pointing to AC XXIV). Well, actually I don't want to do that anymore because I don't have to have cats or dogs in my home (pointing to FC X)." Or: "I think healthy eating and exercise are valuable to my health and I vow to maintain them. Actually, no, I can do whatever I want, so I won't maintain my health."

So how can we, while claiming the Book of Concord as our own confession, reconcile these articles and not contradict ourselves? I submit that we must maintain the ceremonies we have received which don't contradict Scripture (AC XXIV) while understanding that we are always in a state of confession today (not just the Leipzig Interim) and always need to distinguish ourselves from the heretical sects. This is what being a part of the Lutheran Church entails. As we know, doctrine and practice are forever linked: faith and act. Let's act like Lutherans.

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