If we want to be Dresden Lutherans, then we will teach justification by faith alone as the chief article of the Christian faith. The justification of the poor sinner before God is presented explicitly and quite exhaustively in the Lutheran Confessions (and by other 16th Century Lutheran theologians) as including four key components, without any of which the poor sinner is not, in any effective sense, justified before God: 1) the grace of God, 2) the merit of Christ, 3) the means of grace, and 4) faith in Christ. The Confessions do not speak of an effective sense in which all sinners have already been justified before God whether they believe in Christ or not, nor do I believe the Scriptures to teach such a thing, yet such is commonly heralded among Lutherans today as the “central teaching of the Bible.” I contend that our Dresden forefathers did not miss anything or take anything for granted in this chief article of the Christian faith. They correctly taught the universal atonement or satisfaction made by Christ for the sins of the whole world, whether a person ever comes to believe it or not. Thus, forgiveness of sins, life and salvation were, indeed, won for all people by Christ on the cross, through His merit alone. But no one is forgiven, justified, made alive or saved apart from the means of grace and apart from faith in Christ, which is graciously worked by the Holy Spirit. Dresden Lutherans would never think of qualifying Luther’s battle cry, “Faith alone justifies!”, with “Yes, but, only in a subjective sense, since we know that all people are already justified without faith!”As far I've understood Martin Luther, I've always thought this was his view as well.
Saturday, January 26, 2013
Continuing Lutheran Justification Controversy
One of the regular Lutheran blogs I visit is the Lutheran Theology Study Group. Recently they posted, Lutheran Justification Controversy Redux. According to the entry, "Basically, Rev Paul Rydecki believes that justification happens only when faith is present. WELS holds that Christ has justified all upon his death and resurrection. Faith appropriates this justification." Rydecki was tossed out of WELS for his position. A good quick summary of Rydecki's position is found here: