Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Wolves!

There’s not much worse than a wolf in sheep’s clothing. A roaring lion?  At least you know what you're getting with a roaring lion.  If you hear a roaring lion, you know you better run the opposite direction as fast as possible. If you get too close, you’re in trouble, but let’s be honest - who wants to get close to a roaring lion? With a wolf in sheep’s clothing, on the other hand, there is a false sense of security. You think you’re safe. You think you’re with a brother sheep and have nothing to worry about. When he lunges for the back of your neck, you might not even see it coming. But it does get worse. It gets worse when the wolf dons shepherd’s clothing.

Here you have a wolf, the express enemy of the sheep, inside the fold and pretending to care about the sheep. He pretends to have the sheep’s best interests at heart. And outwardly it certainly seems so. He says all the right things. He makes nice with the undershepherds and props himself up as authoritative. He gets closer and closer to the sheep until just the right moment when he removes those annoying and constricting clothes and pounces to devour. But at that point it’s far too late for the sheep to react. The wolf is too close. He can pick off as many sheep as he wants. The more discerning sheep - those who weren’t so easily fooled by his tricks to begin with - were keeping their distance once they realized something funny was going on. They might manage to escape. But don’t expect any help from the undershepherds. Most of them will be over the fence before you can say “help,” proving themselves to be little more than hirelings. And the ones who actually jump in to try to stop the wolf before he devours the sheep? Well they end up getting torn to pieces themselves.

The Evangelical-Lutheran Church is replete with wolves in shepherds clothing. They are everywhere. These wolves have shown their teeth a number of times, so the more discerning sheep among us are well aware of their schemes. They have already begun to attack faithful underspeherds, making hired hands out of some and underhandedly devouring others. There seems to be little hope. But there is something that can throw these murderous liars off guard: exposure. It is easy for a wolf to run around pretending to be an undershpeherd when no one’s calling him out...it’s not so easy to do when he’s surrounded by armed sheep and undershepherds tugging at his less-than-convincing disguise. He’ll start getting nervous; after all, wolves are skittish by nature.

In short, the best way to deal with a wolf is to simply "cry wolf."   Let the sheep know what’s up. Most will be content with complacency. Sheep are stupid like that. But it only takes a few sheep asking questions before the wolves slip up. They can’t handle the heat. They’ll do something really stupid and will make a bigger problem for themselves then would otherwise have been the case. They’ll create more publicity for their scandalous lie than would have otherwise occurred if they had just left well enough alone. So don’t let them leave well enough alone.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

A Mighty Fortress

As I sat and listened to an exceptional guest organist introduce a rousing setting of “Ein Feste Burg” last weekend, I couldn’t help but muse at the irony of using such a flamboyant Hymn of the Day for Invocavit, the first Sunday in Lent. After all, Lent is usually marked by a somber tenor, urging us to repentance and feelings of solemnity. In spite of this, the traditional use of "A Mighty Fortress" for Lent 1 is immensely fitting for a number of reasons. First, Lent comes on the heels of Gesimatide, which is a sort of extended commemoration of the Reformation, since the Gospel readings for each of the three Sundays highlight one of the three “Solas” (Gratia, Scriptura, and Fide, respectively). This made concluding with the great hymn of the Lutheran Reformation especially fitting.
 
In addition, and more importantly, the hymn fit exceptionally well with the theme of the day. The opening line, “a mighty Fortress is our God, a trusty Shield and Buckler,” which is taken from Psalm 91:2, 4, is repeated throughout the Proper of the Mass (it’s in over half of the chants: Tract, Offertory, and Communio!). Plus, the epic struggle between Christ the Valiant One and the old evil foe, which is played out throughout the verses of the hymn, also comes to a head in the Holy Gospel for the day, which records the temptation of our Lord and His victory over that ancient serpent where the first Adam had failed. The evil one’s twisting of God’s Word (of Psalm 91, no less, almost the entirety of which is found in the Proper of the Mass for the day), that old trick he used on Eve - “Did God really say?” - didn’t work so well this time around. In fact, if the devil had cared to pay attention to what he was misquoting and what God really DID say, he would have noted in the very next verse a recapitulation of the first Messianic Prophecy recorded in Scripture: “You shall tread upon the lion and the cobra, the young lion and the serpent you shall trample underfoot” (which is part of the Tract!).  But we can hardly blame the roaring lion and ancient serpent for being hesitant to speak about his own demise.

All that to say, the selection of this hymn for the first Sunday in Lent is a good one. But using “A Mighty Fortress” for Invocavit of A.D. 2013 had an even greater significance when I realized that the following day was the commemoration of the Blessed Reformer’s birth to eternal life. Obviously this doesn’t happen every year, since the dates of Lent are fluid, based on the vernal Equinox as they are, and the Reformer’s feast day is unmoveable. Still, since I personally had never used the traditional Hymn of the Day for Invocavit on Invocavit, the fact that it fell so close to his heavenly birthday this year was extremely poignant.  

I have a few thoughts to offer on the entire concept of feast days and the commemorations of the saints, but we will save that for another post.  In the mean time, I hope you find the interconnectedness of this one small part of the Liturgy as meaningful as I do.  

Monday, February 18, 2013

"Giving up God for Lent"



Just in case, this Lenten season, you want to get riled up and angry at the current status of the world, I'm going to take a critical look at this resurrected fad: "Giving up God for Lent," as typified in the website www.atheismforlent.net.

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Today's week is entitled "Desire: Hole Shaped God." The introduction to Atheism for Lent posits these questions:
In what ways is our desire blinding us to ideological structures? How do our hoped for promises come to be mistaken as guarantees?
 After the introduction, the critique includes this phrase, attempting to diagnose humanity:
We desire certainty and absolutes; in short, we desire to be tapped into something powerful enough to guarantee the satisfaction of our desire. And when this desire becomes synonymous with “God,” we have done nothing more than fall into the rut of idolatry, worshiping the object of our desire and declaring it to be divine.
Now, this is not much more than a misunderstanding of sin and depravity of mankind. Calvinists, Arminians, and Lutherans all confess a sort of irreconcilable depravity of man. Luther takes it one step further and says that we cannot by our own reason or strength believe in Jesus Christ our Lord or come to him. Our desires are sinful, and can be nothing better than sinful. We hate our loving God. Isaiah saw the sin of Israel--the same sinfulness that brought about the destruction of Jerusalem by the Chaldeans--and says (Is 64:6)"And we are all as an unclean thing, and all our just deeds are as a used menstual garment," if you'll excuse the Hebrew word picture.

Notice how Atheism for Lent here says "we desire to be tapped into something powerful enough to guarantee the satisfaction of our desire." How right he is! Like animals, as soon as we find something delightful to the flesh (lust, gluttony, etc.) we love to gorge on it! We love it so much that we may as well call it divine, as there are indeed old pagan gods and religions glorifying such sins.

Luther is careful to mention how there is no compulsion in the Bondage of the Will. The sinful human heart does "just as it wants or pleases, as if totally free." But to hear that we are under bondage of sin, that our real problem is not any of a hundred earthly problems, but is actually sin? Insulting to our nature! We hate the mirror function of the law, as in Smalcald Part III II.4-5:
But the chief office or force of the Law is that it reveal original sin with all its fruits, and show man how very low his nature has fallen, and has become fundamentally and utterly corrupted; as the Law must tell man that he has no God nor cares for God, and worships other gods, a matter which before and without the Law he would not have believed. In this way he becomes terrified, is humbled, desponds, despairs, and anxiously desires aid, but sees no escape; he begins to be enraged at God, and to murmur, etc. This is what Paul says, Rom. 4:15: The Law worketh wrath. And Rom. 5:20: Sin is increased by the Law. (emphasis added)
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Atheism for Lent continues:
What is it within us that isn’t satisfied short of that certitude? Why does God often plug the hole of desire? Can this be done authentically?
What isn't satisfied is our Old Adam.  This is why Martin Luther's first thesis of his 95 said "Our Lord and Master Jesus Christ, when he said 'Poenitentiam agite!' ('Do penance!'), he willed that the entire life of believers should be one of repentance." So, say that Atheism for Lent's writer objects to the life of a Christian being a constant struggle against sin, even though he is a believer, rather than God satisfying our every whim. In his Disputation on Justification, Luther writes:
We are justified daily by the unmerited forgiveness of sins and by the justification of God's mercy. Sins remains, then, perpetually in this life, until the hour of the last judgment comes and then at last we shall be made perfectly righteous. For this is not a game or delusion, that we say, "Sins are forgiven by faith and only cling to us, because that newness of life has miraculously begun." (LW 34, 367; emphasis added)

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Atheism for Lent then asks why believers believe, and not question:
What is important is for each individual to take stock of their beliefs about God and religion and ask why they are important to them, aside from the facile desire for “truth.” What is at stake in the existence of God, or the knowledge of God’s existence? Do we find that we feel empty if all we have are our fellow human beings and relationships? If so, what then is blocking our ability to realize the meaning of relationships apart from an eternal reference point? The underlying current in all of these questions might be, “why aren’t we enough for one another?”
To an extent I am going to agree that Christians ought to examine their own beliefs and their church's beliefs. There are baptists and evangelicals that shun and scold people who question "the almighty preacher-man." Pastor, your sermon contained two Christological heresies! How do you know such things? Have you been studying the Council of Nicaea again?

And as for why God and religion is important for us, it is because Christ solves our problem of depravity. I cannot keep the Law perfectly, and neither can you! Due to the bondage of sin, we would not feel it, but we would indeed be empty if all we had were our fellow fallen human beings. That is why Christ had to come, to do what I can't. Dr. Rod Rosenbladt hits the nail on the head in his lecture "Christianity in Five Verses" (I highly recommend you listen to it):
I need my pastor to be telling me that Jesus' blood and death have rescued me from the problem I didn't even know was my problem: and that it worked. How do I know that it worked? God helped me not by its making me somehow more moral or somehow better each day. Or happier either. Or "experiencing Jesus", whatever that means (I don't have a clue). I am to know that the cross actually did what Jesus' said it did by the fact that the Father raised him out of the grave three days after you and I, by the way, killed him on that dark Friday afternoon.
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Now, seeking God is fallaciously compared to dating advice:

The healthiest person to find love and relationship with a significant other is precisely not the person who is looking for it. It is the person who has accepted who they are, their life, the risk of not meeting someone, who, often, is in the best position to meet someone that changes their life. The former person is looking for someone, anyone, an X to fulfill need Y. This person needs their desired satisfied at any cost. Crassly put, they have a hole and they want it filled.
Again, that is why God comes to us. We don't know our real need is sin, and that's why God in his mercy steps in. Is it any wonder that it takes a genuine miracle of the Holy Spirit to break our sinful hardened hearts?

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The truly meaningful relationship occurs when desire can be opened up like a wound, when it takes you rather than you take it, and retroactively, you can never imagine being without it. That is love, that is the difference berween [sic] desire and love If [sic] we are to get around to Augustine’s question of “What do I love when I love my God,” we must first ask what we desire when we desire God, what is the X that we need filled, what is the hole that we fit God into.
Again, we do not and cannot desire God. That is the teaching of total depravity. But by saying “when it takes you rather than you take it,” this inadvertently supports the proper Lutheran understanding of depravity and God's grace in conversion!

Augustine fought mightily with his question in his Confessions X. But he did answer his own question (immediately after, by the way, speaking about sin's temptations and Christ's faithfulness and conversion by the Means of Grace--"You pierced my heart with your Word and I loved you."):
Where that light shines into my soul which no place can contain, and where that voice sounds which time does not take away, and where that fragrance smells which no wind scatters, and where there is that flavor which eating does not diminish, and where there is that clinging that no satiety will separate. This is what I love when I love my God.

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Lastly:
When we identify the need to always satisfy our desire–something that is impossible–and learn that desire is valuable precisely because it is desire, we might cease in our never-ending attempt to extinguish that which makes us truly human, a desire for the impossible. Otherwise all we have is a God of our own making, the object of desire, an idol declared divine.
Our human nature's desire is to sin. To satisfy that desire is, indeed, impossible. Desire to sin cannot obviously be considered valuable, but God looked down on our wretched state and deigned to save us from our sin. He is no merely created being, nor an idol, but our empathetic creator and heavenly Father. This God does not remain silent, but reveals himself--in the Bible. Therefore, we boast in our gracious God, who saved us from certain damnation and preserves his saints.


That is why God mustn't be given up for Lent.



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My name is Benjamin Rusch, and I am currently a senior at Martin Luther College who plans on attending Wisconsin Lutheran Seminary this coming school year.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Remember, O Man!

Memento, homo, quia pulvis es, et in pulverem reverteris.

In English, the italicized text reads: "Remember, O man, that thou art dust, and unto dust thou shalt return."

You are dust.  It isn't a pleasant thought.  In fact, it's downright scary.  These are the last words the Lord spoke to Adam before evicting him from the Garden of Eden, as recorded in Genesis 3 (v. 19).  Man is dust, shall return to dust, and no longer has part in eternity.  He is restricted from paradise.

These words of the Sacred Scriptures also comprise the epitome of the Imposition of Ashes, the opening Rite from whence Ash Wednesday gets its name.  As most readers will probably know, Ash Wednesday is the beginning of the season of Lent, a 40-day span (exclusive of the Sundays!) that historically marks a period of fasting and repentance in imitation of the 40 days our Lord spent in the wilderness. The season is also marked by an emphasis on the Lord's Passion (that is, His suffering and death as payment for the sins of the world in order that He might free us from the bonds of Satan and his kingdom). This especially occurs during the latter weeks of Lent, which are specifically known as "Passiontide."

To this end, Lent is a season of doleful repentance over the sin - our sin - which caused our Savior to suffer. Ashes in particular have long been associated with this theme of repentance. Using one of the most potent examples, one of the collects for the Imposition Rite recalls how the Lord granted "healing pardon to the Ninevites during their penance in sackcloth and ashes." The blessed prophet Jonah reminds us that the great city of Nineveh, sinful as it was, received pardon from the Lord because they repented of their sins and put faith in the hope of His mercy.

When a penitent comes forward to receive ashes on his forehead and hears the words of the Lord: "thou are dust and unto dust thou shalt return," it is hard to believe that God is a God "Who desires not the death, but the repentance of sinners," in the words of another one of the collects, borrowed themselves from the holy prophet Ezekiel. As we meditate on the Passion of our Lord, it is easy to get lost in feelings of guilt and remorse, not believing that God could care about something so insignificant as "dust."

It is this context that makes those words from Genesis so beautiful. Man is dust and is returning to the same. Dust has no power. It blows in the wind. But Christ not only cares about the dust that is man; He took the dust upon Himself. He became dust, making Himself like unto nothing. As terrifying as Genesis' reminder that we are dust can be, it also alludes to the entirety and necessity of Christ's mission. Christ became dust for us and returned to it. He took the death that was intended for us and made it His own. And in so doing, as the fullness of the Deity, He swallowed it. Death is defeated. Where is its sting? Where is its victory? We may return to dust, but Christ will return to us. He will raise us on the Last Day; with our own eyes we will see God.  And on that Day of His glorious Parousia, the Second Adam will take us back into the paradise lost by the first.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Revisiting "Faith is a Cause" and the "Four Components of Justification"

Whether by happenstance or design, Ecclesia Augustana’s contributors typically refrain from publicly exposing individuals, preferring instead to focus on their errant paradigms. Exceptions have been made where the severity and public nature of the abuse warrants it. In this instance, I’m going to address an individual who is misrepresenting this blog in a separate venue.

Recently, Dr. Jack Kilcrease visited this blog and left a comment.  Because the blogger system records referring sites, we realized that a number of users were accessing Ecclesia Augustana through his blog, Theologia Crucis. After visiting the blog, we discovered that he wrote an article about Ecclesia Augustana. I briefly hoped that it might result in an opportunity for meaningful dialogue.  But before finishing the first sentence of Dr. Kilcrease’s post, I realized that the article was going to be little more than an attempt to demonstrate his own intellectual prowess at the expense of attacking Ecclesia and the competence of its authors.

He begins with the insinuation that this blog is little more than fanatics “fixated on the anti-objective justification heresy.” While I certainly do not deny the “heresy” of justification by faith alone, the fact is that justification has only been the topic of a mere seven posts on this blog. That’s barely 20% of our total posts, which discuss such varied themes as the necessity and ubiquity of Holy Baptism, the non-adiaphoric nature of the Divine Liturgy, the dangers of sectarian practices, the Church's perspective on contraception, the importance and meaning of the Hypostatic Union, and the paramount importance of the Blessed Means of Grace and their impact on Christian living and theology - among many other topics. In reality, justification has not been a topic of our posts more than twice per month in the four short months that this blog has been extant.  I guess for that we ought to apologize to our readers. If justification is truly the chief doctrine of the Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church, upon which its very existence stands or falls, it should occupy our thought more than a mere 20% of the time. Especially in a time when the very integrity of the doctrine is being assaulted on every hand.

Regardless, the assertion that we speak on the topic ad nauseam doesn’t speak very well of Dr. Kilcrease’s investigative abilities, at the very least; it might even indicate that he himself is suffering from some sort of fixation on the universal justification heresy.  In fact, every post he made this month over at Theologia Crucis has been dedicated to the heresy of universal justification. What's more, he makes a habit of going around the internet promoting the Huberian paradigm (I can attest to having discussed the topic with him a number of times on Facebook - albeit that he seems to have blocked me on account of it!). I will let the reader decide who is “fixated.”

All of that, of course, is tangential, though I find the context somewhat useful in demonstrating the character of the parties involved. The actual thrust of Dr. Kilcreae’s post is dedicated to examining one of the blurbs I wrote last month, “Faith is a Cause.” My post was written primarily to direct the reader to some of Pastor Paul Rydecki’s excellent translations of the Fathers of Lutheran Orthodoxy. Dr. Kilcrease summarizes my post as follows:

“The gist of what is said here is as follows: Polycarp Leyser states that faith is the ‘instrumental cause’ of justification. The theologians of the old Synodical Conference said that it was God's Word and the merit of Christ that was the cause of justification, and not faith in and of itself. Hence, they are out of step with orthodox Lutheran theology and wrong.”

Dr. Kilcrease seems to be saying that my article implies God’s Word and the merit of Christ are not causes of justification. I certainly am not making that implication. In fact, in an even earlier article I wrote entitled the “Four Components of Justification,” where I actually treat this topic in greater depth than the passing reference I give to it in the article Dr. Kilcrease is addressing, I demonstrate that the grace of God and the promise of the Gospel are integral parts of justification.

After this misleading summary, the doctor goes into a long diatribe about Aristotlean metaphysics and its influence on medieval scholastic theology.  By virtue of our manifesto, as an Ecclesia Augustana contributor I admit to being less than the esteemed theologian and learned academic that Dr. Kilcrease imagines himself to be (as he puts it, most of the contributors here at Ecclesia are just “college kids”). So I will defer to his explanations of the categories of cause for our purposes here. Using his classifications, the scheme of four causes can be understood in terms of the following example:

“For example, a hammer is the instrumental cause of a table. It is used by the efficient cause (the acting agent, the carpenter). It isn't the idea what what a table is (formal cause) or the wood the table is made out of (material cause). Neither is it an acting agent (the efficient cause). Rather it is merely the passive means through which the material receives its shape based on the idea of the mind of the builder.”

In the form of a list, we have:

Causes of a Table
1. The formal cause (“the idea what what [sic] a table is”)
2. The material cause (“the wood the table is made out of”)
3. The efficient cause (“an acting agent”)
4. The instrumental cause (“a hammer”)

When it comes to Justification, one could put it like this:

Causes of Justification
1. The formal cause (the grace of God)
2. The material cause (the merits of Christ)
3. The efficient cause (the Holy Spirit in the promises of the Gospel)
4. The instrumental cause (faith)

Well what do you know, this list looks strangely similar to the one that I drew up in the “Four Components" article. So let’s take faith out of the justification equation. The grace of God is still there. The merits of Christ are still there. The promises of the Holy Gospel are still there. But just as wood, the Carpeter, and His plan exist objectively, without that “hammer” by which the Holy Spirit puts it all together, there is no “table.”

Now I freely admit that the “scheme of causes” analogy isn’t perfect and I’d rather stick to the way I put it in the "Four Components" article, which is none other than the words of the Solid Declaration itself. Still, per Dr. Kilcrease’s own formula, I don’t see how he can claim that justification is an “existing reality.” Does the table exist before the hammer puts it together? It can surely be the desire of the Carpenter, but until that hammer is available, it’s just a desire. It isn’t a reality. 

So too, it is most certainly true: God has decreed that all should be justified (FC:SD:XI:14-15); He alone provides the means of that justification. But unless one actually has that faith - as Dr. Kilcrease would put it, without that “hammer” - there is no justification. Thus, all who have not received the gift of faith from God the Holy Spirit stand condemned from eternity for not believing on the Name of God’s one and only Son. They are not justified from eternity. They are condemned (St. John 3:18).

Dr. Kilcrease wants us to be familiar with the terminology he ostensibly learned after studying medieval scholastics. That is all well and good, and I freely admit that understanding the context of a given text is immensely helpful in reading it. But perhaps instead of directing us to the schematic formulas of Aristotle, Dr. Kilcrease could take some time to examine the plain words of Holy Writ, which clearly say that the reprobate are “condemned already,” not justified, and with the Confessions in saying that the unbeliving and unconverted person “is not reconciled to God” (FC:SD:IV:8).

Thursday, February 7, 2013

How to Truly Non-Discriminate


Mr. Daniel Baker wrote an excellent post about the significance of baptism some months ago at the same time I was writing a paper on the universal nature of the sacrament of baptism. I’ve re-written it for this blog, and cleared away a lot of the scholar-talk and most of the Greek-talk.
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I was asked some time ago by an atheist why Christians baptize children and the developmentally disabled and recent converts to Christianity. Surely, these people cannot understand what the preacher is saying or truly believe all the theology of the Christian Church. Are they believers after baptism anyways?

A legalistic outlook on the sacraments views them as magical incantations that have instant effect because certain words were said and certain things were done—as though there is an instruction manual that says, “Do this, it will work,” believing that simply by the work worked a reward is guaranteed. The sacraments in Lutheran understanding are miracles whose working we cannot explain: “I believe – trusting them as gospel,” a gospel most surely meant for all people (Luke 14:24 & Luke 24:47).

There is much that can be said about baptism, particularly of infants. In the Lutheran Confessions, AP: IX, as well as a large section of the Large Catechism on Holy Baptism, is almost entirely dedicated to infant baptism. Much that is said about infant baptism is true of the example peoples above—for instance, LC VI.53:
Baptism is valid, even though faith be wanting. For my faith does not make Baptism, but receives it. Now, Baptism does not become invalid even though it be wrongly received or employed; since it is not bound (as stated) to our faith, but to the Word.
St. Luke, who gave his account of Christ's ascension, certainly knew this sacrament of the admittance of believers into the church and certainly knew of Christ's command to go and do so in the world. St. Luke’s two volumes—the Gospel according to Luke and The Acts of the Apostles—place special emphasis on this nondiscriminatory nature of Christian baptism.

Baptism has roots in the Waters of Purification of Old Testament rites that required immersion or application of water due to ritual impurity. In addition, “Proselytes (gentile converts to Judaism) had to undergo immersion … which is probably the antecedent to Christian baptism.”1 St. Paul himself washed as a minor sanctification rite in Jerusalem during the “Days of the Purification”—a ceremonial washing when a vow was accomplished,(Acts 21:24-26) as well as Jesus' family when he was a youth—a cleansing from ceremonial impurity.(Luke 2:22) “Jesus' parents are law-abiding Jews. They show up at the temple to perform sacrifices associated with the wife's purification after birth.”2 New Testament baptism surely would have had special significance to Jewish Christians, with a rich history of purifying by application of water. But these things are only ritual washing with water, not Christian baptism.

The cleansing which this New Testament “washing” effects is qualitatively different from the formal ceremonial “cleansing” at which other baptismal rites had aimed. This is implicit in verses of Hebrews 10, where the author points out the difference between the institutional priesthood of the old covenant and the universal priesthood of all believers in Christ. What is explicit, on the other hand, is Ananias' words to Paul (before conversion) in Damascus: “And now, why delay? Get up and be baptized, and wash away your sins by calling on His name.” (Acts 22:16) Lutheran commentator R.C.H. Lenski strongly asserts that this was not a symbolic ceremony. “What lay heavy on [Paul's] conscience was the guilt of his enormous sin of persecuting the Messiah himself (v. 7). Baptism with its water sanctified by the Word was to wash away all this guilt, all these sins.”3

These previous examples of washing and of early Christian baptism are both, so far, on Jews. St. Luke sees fit to mention a non-Jew's conversion and subsequent baptism in Acts 8—the Ethiopian eunuch. “Since he is reading Isaiah from the Old Testament, he is most likely an adherent of Judaism, probably a Diaspora God-fearer. He would be limited to the Court of the Gentiles at the temple or perhaps just to a synagogue.”4 He was on his return journey from worshiping in Jerusalem when Philip, sent by an angel, walked beside him, heard him reading aloud and asked him “Do you understand what you are reading?”(Acts 8:30) The eunuch is eager to learn and bids Philip join him to explain the Isaiah verses he reads. Upon coming across water, the eunuch remarks “Look, there’s water! What would keep me from being baptized?”(Acts 8:36) The answer to his rhetorical question may have been that, since he was a eunuch, “he was defective and defiled according to traditional Jewish law, forever banned from the covenant community.”6 But still, Philip is willing to baptize him—so all-encompassing is the Christian baptism. 

Interestingly, verse 37 is omitted from many early manuscripts, including Codex Vaticanus—one of the most reliable Greek texts of the New Testament. “And Philip said, ‘If you believe with all your heart you may.’ And he replied, ‘I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.’” That was all that Philip needed to baptize the eunuch and thus admit him into Christ's church. Influential New Testament Scholar Bruce Metzger says there is no good reason why this material should have been omitted if it was originally in the text of Acts, especially since it managed to find its way into the Textus Receptus (The accepted set of biblical manuscripts used by KJV and others).7 Lenski says concerning verse 37's omission that “the objection is textual only, and remarks such as that ‘the words sound like some pedantic preacher asking his convert for a final, formal confession’ reflect only on him who makes them.”8 Though the omitted verse presents a historical reflection of adult Christian baptisms, there are distasteful pietistic undertones present. It is a fallacy to think that one can be a believer with only part of the heart. Such questions as “do you believe with all your heart?” are not necessary, since the Holy Spirit never inefficaciously, partially converts unbelievers, nor partially keeps them in the one true faith. An excellent example of this is the father of a demon-possessed son in Mark 9, who cried out to Jesus in faith: “I do believe! Help my unbelief.”

Luke records in detail some recipients of baptism in his biblical accounts. When Philip was in Samaria, there was a sorcerer named Simon, attracting the attention and admiration of the people with his sorceries. Luke writes “but when they believed Philip, as he preached the good news about the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ, both men and women were baptized.” (Acts 8:12) Not only is the sex of these converts noteworthy, but also so is the fact that these were Samaritans—a people often shunned by the Jews.

The account of Pentecost that Luke records in Acts 2 is the only mass baptism described in the canonical Bible. Peter exhorts the crowd in Jerusalem: “Repent,” Peter said to them, “and be baptized, each of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.” (Acts 2:38) Lenski remarks how the phrase “each of you” especially “makes repentance and Baptism personal in the highest degree. Salvation deals with each individual … no matter what his condition or position may be.”9 So those who accepted his message were baptized, and that day about 3,000 people were added to them. (Acts 2:41) Literally it says about three thousand souls (ψυχαὶ). Luke is careful about his word choice here. In Acts 4:4, when he wishes to refer to men alone, he uses the word ἀνδρές. In Acts 7:14, when he wishes to refer to both sexes and all ages of Old-Testament Jacob's relatives (which most certainly included children),10 he uses ψυχαὶ. One can be sure that those 3000 that the apostles baptized on Pentecost was more diverse than a crowd of Jewish males.

St. Luke has a recurring pattern when family baptisms occur. He uses a construction similar to “then he and his entire household were baptized.” Dr. Paul Borgman, specialist in biblical narrative, counts eleven occurrences of this construction in Luke and twenty-five in Acts.11 Perhaps the most famous is the account of the jailer in Philippi recorded in Acts 16.

While Paul and Silas were in the Philippian prison, a miraculous earthquake occurs, undoing all the chains and opening all the doors. Once the jailer awakes and notices all the doors opened, he draws his sword to kill himself. But Paul called out in a loud voice, “Don’t harm yourself, because all of us are here!” (Acts 16:28) The earthquake has presented the jailer with irrefutable evidence that God is at work with Paul's group,12 and the jailer escorted them out and asked, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved,” still trembling from what he perceives may be a wrathful god's actions against him. So they said, “Believe on the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved—you and your household.” One New Testament commentator C.K. Barrett believes “it would be difficult to maintain that the word [οἶκος (household)] here includes infants, since not only were οἱ αὐτοῦ ἅπαντες [all the ones of him] baptized (v.33), all heard the word of the Lord spoken by Paul and Silas (v.32) and as a result the whole household rejoiced.”13 But Lutheran Theologian Joachim Jeremias writes concerning this passage:
In no single case does the New Testament—alas!—tell us more precisely of whom the 'houses' embracing the Christian faith were composed; nor in any single case can children be excluded from belonging to the house. In no instance is it possible to limit with [Kurt] Aland the idea of the oikos [household] in any New Testament passage to its adult members, because, as we shall see, there is no evidence of this restrictive use of oikos either in secular Greek or in biblical Greek or the writings of Hellenistic Judaism.14
Further evidence of ministry and baptism of infants comes from the early church father Irenaeus (alive until ~202 AD) , who writes in Against Heresies:15
Namely, all men [Jesus] came to save through himself: all men I say, who through him are born again to God: Infants, and the very young, and boys, and youths, and aged men. Therefore he came through every age, he became an infant for infants, sanctifying infants; he came in a child for children, sanctifying those who have this age, being at the same time made to them an example of piety, and righteousness, and subjugation; he came in a youth for youths, becoming an example to youths, sanctifying them for the Lord.
“Baptism is what it is irrespective of its recipient. A gold piece treated as worthless is no less a gold piece.”16 Not only does Luke emphasize the wide-spread application of ritual washing, but he also expresses universality of Christian baptism in accounts of the Ethiopian eunuch, Philip's baptizings in Samaria, mass baptism at Pentecost, baptisms of a whole family such as that of the jailer at Philippi, even as far as probable infant baptism. On account of St. Luke’s writings, one can be certain about the validity of Christian baptism of every sex, race, and age.


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My name is Benjamin Rusch, and I am currently a senior at Martin Luther College who plans on attending Wisconsin Lutheran Seminary this coming school year.




1 David Noel Freedman, ed. Eerdmans Dictionary of the Bible. Grand Rapids, Michigan: William B. Eerdmans Publishing, 2000. p.1369.
2 Darrell L. Bock. IVP New Testament Commentary Series: Luke. Downers Grove, Illinois: InterVarsity Press. 1994. p.342
3 Lenski. Acts 22:16, p.906-907. (Emphasis in original)
4 Darrell L. Bock. Baker Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament: Acts. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Baker Academic: 2007. p.342
5 Greek has a peculiar emphasis: “Do you really (Ἆρά γε) understand what you are reading?”
6 Freedman, ed. Eerdmans Dictionary of the Bible. p.433
7 Bruce Metzger. A Textual Commentary on the New Testament. New York: United Bible Societies. 1971. p.359-60.
8 Lenski. Acts 8:37, p.340.
9 Lenski. Acts 2:38. p.105
10 See Genesis 45:9-10
Return quickly to my father and say to him, ‘This is what your son Joseph says: “God has made me lord of all Egypt. Come down to me without delay.
You can settle in the land of Goshen and be near me—you, your children, and grandchildren, your sheep, cattle, and all you have.
11 Paul Borgman. The Way according to Luke: Hearing the Whole Story of Luke-Acts. Grand Rapids, Michigan: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company: 2006. p.381
12 Darrell L. Bock. Baker Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament: Acts. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Baker Academic. 2007. p.541
13 C. K. Barrett. International Critical Commentary: Acts: Volume 2: 15-28. New York: T&T Clark LTD. 2004. p.797-8
14 Joachim Jeremias. The Origins of Infant Baptism: A further study in reply to Kurt Aland. Trans. Dorothea M. Barton. Eugene, Oregon: Wipf & Stock Publishers. 2004. p.16. Emphasis added.
15 St. Irenaeus, Adv. Haeres II.22.4 
(Translation own) http://www.textexcavation.com/documents/images/ah2p044.jpg 
16 Lenski. Acts 8:12. p.317


Tuesday, February 5, 2013

The Third Sacrament

No, this is not a “gotcha” post. It’s not a trick question. While many pastors teach that there are only two sacraments, the Lutheran Confessions do not limit the number of sacraments in any such way. In point of fact, the Symbols allow for variance when it comes to determining how many or few sacraments there are. As the Apology of the Augsburg Confession tells us:
We hold that it should be maintained that the matters and ceremonies instituted in the Scriptures, whatever the number, be not neglected. Neither do we believe it to be of any consequence, though, for the purpose of teaching, different people reckon differently, provided they still preserve aright the matters handed down in Scripture. Neither have the ancients reckoned in the same manner (XIII:2).
While this statement does not condemn numbering only two sacraments, it does suggest that the number itself is not as important as preserving the doctrines, rites, and ceremonies of Scripture that the word “sacrament” can represent. Moreover, the implication can be drawn that one should not judge or condemn his brother for teaching that there are more than two sacraments. The poignancy of this implication is made even more apparent when one considers that the Apology goes on to illustrate no less than three rites that should properly be called “Sacraments:”
If we call Sacraments rites which have the command of God, and to which the promise of grace has been added, it is easy to decide what are properly Sacraments. [. . .] Therefore Baptism, the Lord's Supper, and Absolution, which is the Sacrament of Repentance, are truly Sacraments.
The Apology also discusses other rites which may or may not be properly called “sacraments,” but for now I want to stick to the list at hand. For most people, reading this excerpt for the first time comes as a bit of a shock. Most of us grew up being taught varying interpretations of what a sacrament is; for example, in Confirmation class I was taught that the necessary qualifications for a rite to be considered a sacrament include “institution by Christ” and a “visible element.” The Apology doesn’t get as technical. All that is required per this definition is 1) the command of God and 2) the promise of grace. Within these parameters, Melanchthon identifies three rites which should be unequivocally granted the title of “sacrament:” Holy Baptism, the Holy Supper, and the Sacrament of Repentance.

That last one is perhaps the most shocking part about the excerpt. The Sacrament of Repentance? Like, Confession? Like, Private Confession? Isn’t that something that only the Papists do? Quite to the contrary. In fact, the Small Catechism outlines an entire form of Confession. And if that weren’t enough, the Blessed Reformer calls Repentance the “third Sacrament” in his Large Catechism:
And here you see that Baptism, both in its power and signification, comprehends also the third Sacrament, which has been called repentance, as it is really nothing else than Baptism. For what else is repentance but an earnest attack upon the old man [that his lusts be restrained] and entering upon a new life? Therefore, if you live in repentance, you walk in Baptism, which not only signifies such a new life, but also produces, begins, and exercises it. For therein are given grace, the Spirit, and power to suppress the old man, so that the new man may come forth and become strong” (VI:74-76).
In this context, some pastors follow Luther in claiming that Repentance is nothing more than an extension of Baptism, thus validating their two-Sacrament model. As long as the Sacrament of Repentance is maintained, not applying the actual title of “sacrament” to it isn’t inherently wrong (though a subscription to the Lutheran Symbols should be accompanied by an adoption of the terminology employed therein). That being said, is the Sacrament of Repentance actually being maintained? We certainly have public confession and absolution in a form adapted from the Preparatory Rite before the Mass. Is that what the Apology means by the Sacrament of Repentance? That is a good question, and one that I don’t have the time or certainty to answer (I’d really like to hear opinions in the comments though!). What I do know, however, is that the Augustana unequivocally states in Article XI:
Of Confession they teach that Private Absolution ought to be retained in the churches, although in confession an enumeration of all sins is not necessary. For it is impossible according to the Psalm: Who can understand his errors? Ps. 19:12.
While the Lutheran Church rightly objected to the Papistic burdening of consciences with an enumeration of every single fault in the confessional, the practice of Private Confession and Absolution was never abolished; to the contrary, Lutherans confess that it “ought to be retained in the churches.” Therefore, if the rite is not observed or retained, it would seem to me that we are not only neglecting the Third Sacrament, but we are also operating under a hypocritical subscription to the Augsburg Confession.

Now I’m not here to point fingers. I’ll admit it: I’ve never made use of Private Confession (because it’s never been offered). This is a horrible burden on my conscience; I feel guilty for not having made use of something that I confess to maintain. What an irony: that which the Lutheran Reformation intended to restore to its place as a gift of forgiveness has for me become a reminder of guilt once again. The Papists would be proud.

I think it is abhorrent that modern Lutherans have abandoned the Sacrament of Repentance in such an unified way. Whether or not the penitential rite before the Divine Service includes sacramental Absolution is really superfluous to the point. Private Confession and Absolution is simply different. I mean, it would be like saying, since Repentance is nothing but Baptism, therefore being Baptized is “good enough.” By this logic, we don’t even need public confession and absolution either, much less private! You can see the foolishness of such lines of reasoning. Each of the Means of Grace provide us with forgiveness, life, and salvation in different ways and in different contexts. Belittling or overlooking one because we have another is abominable.

With the season of Lent approaching, it’s a good time for us to take some time to study and consider the Third Sacrament with greater devotion. Perhaps we can talk to our pastors about the absence of Private Confession and Absolution in our circles. Even if our individual parishes are not ready to officially reinstate this wholly orthodox and Lutheran practice, perhaps our pastors can provide it to our households on a case-by-case basis. There is no easy answer, but one thing’s for certain: something has to change, because the way things are now is simply not Lutheran.

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Living the Good Life

“…I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.”   St. John 10:10

This brief passage from the 10th chapter of John seems to be getting quite a bit of buzz as of late. Indeed, I would venture to say that it has become a staple of methobapticostal Christians in their ‘scripture from a hat game’. Yes, you know the game of which I speak. People pick and choose bits and pieces of scripture that support their agenda and throw the rest out. I am not saying this to be snide or condescending, I merely speak the truth. John 3:16 for example. Or how about Luke 23:42-43? John 10:10 is no exception. Countless souls are being seduced by pop Christianity today. The likes of [insert your favorite pop-evangelist here] are casting a dark shadow over catholic Christians, and more treacherously, the Gospel. We are “losing the game”, as many have been wont to say. Why is that? If you answered, “…a misunderstanding of grace” then I believe that you answered correctly.  

Have you ever read a book by Max Lucado? I used to love to read his books. They seemed so spiritually fulfilling; an ostensibly stark contrast to the aridness of Lutheran orthodoxy which in the past seemed all but dead to me. I was always surprised at how his books could capture me and speak right to my heart. Then one day I was reading Come Thirsty and something strange happened. I still felt thirsty. Now this was peculiar. I never read a book of his I didn’t like. Why was this different? Why did I feel empty? Something was absent…the means of grace.  Sure, he talked about grace all throughout the book, but what suddenly became glaringly absent from all of his books was the means in which we receive this grace. This was a most startling revelation for me and what still perplexes me today is how I could have overlooked such a simple yet extraordinary part of my faith.

This brings me back to John chapter 10. What is this life that Christ is speaking of? Most Christians, yes even Lutherans, would say that this means living a life full of joy and happiness, knowing that we have been saved by grace through faith in Christ. If you are sad, depressed, angry, poor, downtrodden, etc. then you are not living the abundant life! Christians are being taught today that you can have a spectacular life on this side of eternity if you just pray hard enough. Ask and you shall receive.1 If you are all of the things I just mentioned then you must not have faith! Why else would you not be happy? This, my friends, is the most pernicious work of the devil.

As Lutherans, we believe, teach, and confess that this abundant life is a life lived in Christ through Word and Sacrament.  Christ is our one mediator with the Father, and it is through Him and Him alone that we are brought to eternal life. St. Paul tells us

“ For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named,  that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith—that you, being rooted and grounded in love,  may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth,  and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.”2

Christians are baptized in Christ3, therefore Christ dwells in us through the Holy Spirit.4 Through baptism, we have been incorporated into Christ’s atoning death and resurrection, becoming co-heirs of His eternal kingdom, which is not of this world. Apart from baptism, we are dead in sin and transgression. The only life that we would have would be a life of sin and death. However, because of our baptism we have been brought back to life, forgiven, justified. Truly we have been “born again”, daily drowning the old Adam and rising anew.

Yet God knew that we feeble creatures would still have to struggle with sin, and we would continually be in need of reconciliation in order to live. This brings us to the altar where Christ sits upon His throne under the species of bread and wine. We kneel at His mercy seat, partaking of His true body and blood for the forgiveness of sins.

“Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you. Whoever feeds on my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day. For my flesh is true food, and my blood is true drink. Whoever feeds on my flesh and drinks my blood abides in me, and I in him. As the living Father sent me, and I live because of the Father, so whoever feeds on me, he also will live because of me. This is the bread that came down from heaven, not like the bread the fathers ate, and died. Whoever feeds on this bread will live forever.”5

Here again, Christ speaks of a life of grace, which we receive through the Sacrament of the Altar. He has given us this spiritual food for our sustenance.  We receive His body and blood for forgiveness, life, and salvation. What a comfort that is for all sinners! I always say that the Eucharist is what keeps me Christian. Not in any other of the great religions of the world does God come to us in such a profound way.

Back to Lucado. Here is the synopsis of his latest book Grace: More Than WeDeserve, Greater Than We Imagine:

We talk as though we understand the term. The bank gives us a grace period. The seedy politician falls from grace. Musicians speak of a gracenote. We describe an actress as gracious, a dancer as graceful. We use the word for hospitals, baby girls, kings, and premeal prayers. We talk as though we know what grace means.

But do we really understand it? Have we settled for wimpy grace? It politely occupies a phrase in a hymn, fits nicely on a church sign. Never causes trouble or demands a response. When asked, “Do you believe in grace?” who could say no?

Max Lucado asks a deeper question: Have you been changed by grace? Shaped by grace?  Strengthened by grace? Emboldened by grace? Softened by grace? Snatched by the nape of your neck and shaken to your senses by grace?

God’s grace has a drenching about it. A wildness about it. A white-water, riptide, turn-you-upside-downness about it. Grace comes after you. It rewires you. From insecure to God secure. From regret riddled to better-because-of-it. From afraid to die to ready to fly.
Grace is the voice that calls us to change and then gives us the power to pull it off.

Let’s make certain grace gets you.

This nebulous and seemingly innocuous synopsis is so inaccurate in more ways than we can address today, but it highlights my point: Where can we find this “grace”?  It's as if it is some kind of fairy dust that you can gain access to by opening up the deep recesses of your heart and calling out to God. My question is, how do people who believe such ever know that they have received grace? Most would claim that they can just feel it. No thanks. My feelings and emotions betray me each and every day. Why on earth would I ever trust a “religious feeling” I get and call that grace!?

This is such a radical departure from the orthodox catholic faith and I cry foul! I believe that Article XIII (VII)  of the Apology of the Augsburg Confession sums it up quite sufficiently:

3] If we call Sacraments rites which have the command of God, and to which the promise of grace has been added, it is easy to decide what are properly Sacraments. For rites instituted by men will not in this way be Sacraments properly so called. For it does not belong to human authority to promise grace…4] Therefore Baptism, the Lord's Supper, and Absolution, which is the Sacrament of Repentance, are truly Sacraments. For these rites have God's command and the promise of grace, which is peculiar to the New Testament. For when we are baptized, when we eat the Lord's body, when we are absolved, our hearts must be firmly assured that God truly forgives us 5] for Christ's sake. And God, at the same time, by the Word and by the rite, moves hearts to believe and conceive faith, just as Paul says, Romans 10:17: Faith cometh by hearing. But just as the Word enters the ear in order to strike our heart, so the rite itself strikes the eye, in order to move the heart. The effect of the Word and of the rite is the same, as it has been well said by Augustine that a Sacrament is a visible word, because the rite is received by the eyes, and is, as it were, a picture of the Word, signifying the same thing as the Word…6

Christ died so that we might have life and live it abundantly. For orthodox Lutherans this means that we should with all due diligence believe, teach, and confess that the abundant life in which Christ spoke of can be found within the church where the Gospel is preached in spirit and in truth, and the most holy Sacraments are rightly administered, for there we will receive grace from God. Our consciences need not be burdened for God gave us the gift of grace through simple means: His Word, water, bread, and wine. The next time you stand at the doors of His Holy House you should see three signs of life: a pulpit, a font, and an altar. There you will find grace. There Christ will offer freely forgiveness, life, and salvation. Now that’s what I would call a life worth living.
1.        John 16:23, 2. Ephesians 3:14, 3. Galatians 3:27, 4. Romans 8:10, 5. John 6:53-58, 6. Ap. AC: 3-5, Concordia pg. 184


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My name is Dagan Siepert, 25 years of age, and I am currently serving as Kantor at St. Paul Lutheran Church, LCMS, in Denton Texas. I recently graduated from the University of North Texas in December 2012 and I plan to begin seminary training at Concordia Theological Seminary in Fort Wayne Indiana.

St. Augustine on 2 Corinthians 5:19

Ever since I came across this interpretation a couple of months ago, I've been skeptical of it. According to St. Augustine, the "world" in 2 Corinthians 5:19 is referring only to the Church. I've been hesitant to use this example in UOJ debates for fear of being accused of advocating a limited atonement. But according to the grammar as shown by the passage itself, coupled with Pr. Rydecki's orthodox explanation of it, and along with the interpretation of other Fathers in the faith (particularly LutherMelanchthon, and the Confessions), it seems that Augustine might not be too far off. If God was in Christ "reconciling" (-ing; an ongoing process) sinners by faith through the Ministry of the Word, then it follows that He was and is only reconciling those who have and will have faith -- those who are of the universal, invisible Church. Those whom He elected from eternity after He foresaw would, in time on earth, have faith in Christ (N. Hunnius explains election in view of the gift of faith). I also find Augustine's interpretation interesting when compared to what Luther says in the Confessions: "But outside of this Christian Church, where the Gospel is not, there is no forgiveness [CJS - or reconciliation of the sinner], as also there can be no holiness [sanctification]."  But before I definitively make up my mind about Augustine's interpretation, I'd like to hear from you, dear reader, as to what you think of Augustine's approach. As follows is the quote in the context of his exposition of John 15: 17-19:

"2. But alongside of this love we ought also patiently to endure the hatred of the world. For it must of necessity hate those whom it perceives recoiling from that which is loved by itself. But the Lord supplies us with special consolation from His own case, when, after saying, These things I command you, that you love one another, He added, If the world hate you, know that it hated me before [it hated] you. Why then should the member exalt itself above the head? Thou refusest to be in the body if you are unwilling to endure the hatred of the world along with the Head. If you were of the world, He says, the world would love its own. He says this, of course, of the whole Church, which, by itself, He frequently also calls by the name of the world: as when it is said, God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto Himself. 2 Corinthians 5:19 And this also: The Son of man came not to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved. John 3:17 And John says in his epistle:We have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous: and He is the propitiation for our sins; and not for ours only, but also [for those] of the whole world. 1 John 2:1-2 The whole world then is the Church, and yet the whole world hates the Church. The world therefore hates the world, the hostile that which is reconciled, the condemned that which is saved, the polluted that which is cleansed.

3. But that world which God is in Christ reconciling unto Himself, which is saved by Christ, and has all its sins freely pardoned by Christ, has been chosen out of the world that is hostile, condemned, and defiled. For out of that mass, which has all perished in Adam, are formed the vessels of mercy, whereof that world of reconciliation is composed, that is hated by the world which belongs to the vessels of wrath that are formed out of the same mass and fitted to destruction. Finally, after saying, If you were of the world, the world would love its own, He immediately added, But because you are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hates you. And so these men were themselves also of that world, and, that they might no longer be of it, were chosen out of it, through no merit of their own, for no good works of theirs had preceded; and not by nature, which through free-will had become totally corrupted at its source: but gratuitously, that is, of actual grace. For He who chose the world out of the world, effected for Himself, instead of finding, what He should choose: for there is a remnant saved according to the election of grace. And if by grace, he adds, then is it no more of works: otherwise grace is no more grace. Romans 11:5-6"

Translated by John Gibb. From Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, First Series, Vol. 7. Edited by Philip Schaff. (Buffalo, NY: Christian Literature Publishing Co., 1888.) Revised and edited for New Advent by Kevin Knight. <http://www.newadvent.org/fathers/1701087.htm>.