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The Augsburg Discussion

Discussion in 'Theologia Crucis - Lutherans' started by Sola1517, May 15, 2019 at 8:03 PM.

  1. Sola1517

    Sola1517 Saint-in-Progress (Looking for a Church)

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    Hi. :wave: After reading the Augsburg Confession I would say that I agree with most of it. I would just like to pose a few questions that I would hope to be answered. :help: I am church shopping, and I'm coming from a Southern Baptist background. But I'm open to change if it's biblical.

    1. Article V states that through both the Word and Sacraments the Holy Ghost is given. Can this happen without the Sacraments. If no, how does one receive the Spirit through the sacraments?

    2. Article VIII talks about how the Sacraments and the Word are effectual even though the minister may not be perfect. Have I understood this right?

    3. Article IX says that baptism is necessary to salvation. Does baptism produce justifying or non-justifying grace?

    4. Article XIII says that there are promises set forth and offered in the Sacraments, what are they?

    5. Article XV talks about how consciences are not to be burdened. What is legalism to a Lutheran, or is there such a thing?

    6. Article XVIII talks about freewill. What is total depravity, and is it a normal Lutheran belief?

    7. Article XX talks about good works. Are we justified as Christians by grace through faith in Christ alone or are works apart of the equation?

    These are the 7 questions from the confession I have. Have fun y'all. :)
     
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  2. tampasteve

    tampasteve Messianic and Lutheran Staff Member Purple Team - Moderator Supporter

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    I will think on these and try and form a better answer soon, probably tomorrow (Friday) when I have some time to look at the Confessions closer. They really are rich and I love to read them, thanks for posing these questions, I look forward to other people's answers as well. FWIW, I come from a Charismatic/Baptist background as well; I went to a Baptist school K-Middle School.
     
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  3. Tigger45

    Tigger45 “That they may be one.” Supporter

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    I wish I could articulate the faith as well as @ViaCrucis but what’s important is the OP gets good answers.
     
  4. Resha Caner

    Resha Caner Expert Fool

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    I can give some brief replies. You'll probably get more detail as the discussion proceeds and others add their comments.

    One can receive the Spirit apart from the Sacraments, but for those involved in a Sacramental church, there's really no need. This is just my opinion, but it seems this would most likely happen under very special circumstances where God deems it necessary.

    If this question is asking about charismatic beliefs, I would point out that in the Bible events such as Pentecost (Acts 2) occurred in concert with the preaching of the Word. My concern with charismatics is the tendency to 1) treat such things like some mystical, druidic ceremony where people can invoke their god at will, 2) treat the Spirit separately from Christ.

    Yes.

    Can you quote me the text in question? You may be misinterpreting.

    God's grace, forgiveness, and faith.

    Legalism is dependence on fulfilling the law for salvation. It is anything that implies we somehow participate in our salvation, or attempts to judge one person as saved (or Christian) and another as not.

    I believe Luther used the term ... or at least terms very similar to it. The Epitome to the Formula of Concord states: we believe, teach, and confess that original sin is not a slight, but so deep a corruption of human nature that nothing healthy or uncorrupt has remained in man's body or soul, in his inner or outward power.

    Works play absolutely no role in salvation (justification). They do, however, play a part in our sanctification.
     
  5. ViaCrucis

    ViaCrucis Evangelical Catholic of the Augsburg Confession

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    Sacraments are defined as the Word connected to and comprehended with an element. So Baptism is God's word connected to water, without the Word it's just water, not Baptism. Hence we read from St. Paul in Ephesians 5:26, "[Christ cleansed the Church] through the washing of water by the word."

    We speak of "Word and Sacrament" as a single thing because we don't think we should separate them. Yes, the preaching of the Gospel is indeed efficacious, it is Means of Grace. But it's not so much Word without the Sacraments, because the preaching of the Gospel is always also with the Sacraments.

    From the Large Catechism,

    "For neither you nor I could ever know anything of Christ, or believe on Him, and obtain Him for our Lord, unless it were offered to us and granted to our hearts by the Holy Ghost through the preaching of the Gospel. The work is done and accomplished; for Christ has acquired and gained the treasure for us by His suffering, death, resurrection, etc. But if the work remained concealed so that no one knew of it, then it would be in vain and lost. That this treasure, therefore, might not lie buried, but be appropriated and enjoyed, God has caused the Word to go forth and be proclaimed, in which He gives the Holy Ghost to bring this treasure home and appropriate it to us." - Large Catechism, Part II, Article III.38

    Also,

    "For to be baptized in the name of God is to be baptized not by men, but by God Himself. Therefore, although it is performed by human hands, it is nevertheless truly God's own work. From this fact every one may himself readily infer that it is a far higher work than any work performed by a man or a saint. For what work greater than the work of God can we do? ... From this now learn a proper understanding of the subject, and how to answer the question what Baptism is, namely thus, that it is not mere ordinary water, but water comprehended in God's Word and command, and sanctified thereby, so that it is nothing else than a divine water; not that the water in itself is nobler than other water, but that God's Word and command are added. ... Comprehend the difference, then, that Baptism is quite another thing than all other water; not on account of the natural quality but because something more noble is here added; for God Himself stakes His honor, His power and might on it. Therefore it is not only natural water, but a divine, heavenly, holy, and blessed water, and in whatever other terms we can praise it,-all on account of the Word, which is a heavenly, holy Word, that no one can sufficiently extol, for it has, and is able to do, all that God is and can do [since it has all the virtue and power of God comprised in it]. Hence also it derives its essence as a Sacrament, as St. Augustine also taught: Accedat verbum ad elementum et fit sacramentum. That is, when the Word is joined to the element or natural substance, it becomes a Sacrament, that is, a holy and divine matter and sign." - Large Catechism, Section IV.10, 14, 17-18

    It's not Word or Sacrament, but Word and Sacrament. Thus whether one hears the Word and is then baptized, or is baptized (as an infant) and hears the Word, it is Word and Sacrament all the same. Further, we acknowledge that there may be circumstances where one does not receive the Sacraments and we do not say such a person is lost on this account. So that, for example, a child who perishes without receiving Baptism is not said to be condemned, or one who dies before they can receive Baptism (such as in ancient times during persecution and catechumens suffered martyrdom before they could receive Baptism). The Word is all sufficient. As it is also not the Sacraments working ex opere operato (of the working of themselves, the mere act), it is faith which is given as a gift here through Word and Sacrament which justifies. So that one who has heard the Gospel, given faith, and though by circumstance may never receive Baptism, still they have received Christ in full through faith.

    Ultimately the Lutheran point isn't to try and argue some rigorous formula for salvation, but instead to confess God's grace. God alone saves us, and when we speak of Word and Sacrament we aren't trying to place a box around God's grace, but instead are speaking and confessing the Scriptures in how they speak about how God's grace acts. So Baptism is not an obstacle to be overcome to be saved, as though it were a work of man; it is instead confessed as God's gracious means.

    It's not about formulas and systems, but rather about confessing God's grace and the glorious work of Jesus Christ.

    Correct. We reject the heresy of Donatism. Donatus was a heretic from the 4th century, though he may have been motivated in part by piety, what he ended up teaching is dangerous heresy. Toward the end of the 3rd century and beginning of the 4th the Emperor Diocletian was waging the worst persecution against the Church which it had ever seen. It was an absolutely brutal campaign that resulted in deaths, imprisonment, and torture. So brutal was it that at the Council of Nicea many of the bishops who attended bore the scars of their faith, they had missing eyes, limbs, and other physical ailments which they had suffered at the hands of a brutal tyrant.

    But also, because it was so brutal, many clergy had succumbed to the torture, handing over sacred books to be burned, or even denying the Lord out of fear for their own lives. These who succumbed were known as traditors, and after the persecution the Church largely was willing to welcome them back in with repentance. And so priests and bishops who had become traditors were restored in the Church. But there were some, like Donatus, who held the traditors in contempt, and argued that anyone who had succumbed during the persecutions was unfit to preach or administer the Sacraments. And so Donatus, in essence, taught that the efficacy of preaching and the Sacraments resided in the minister. The Church's response was to recognize this as heretical, because it is not the minister, but God who makes His Word and Sacraments what they are.

    So even if preached by wicked men, the Gospel is still the Gospel. Baptism is still Baptism. The Eucharist is still the Eucharist.

    Not produce, but rather is Means of. God graciously works through Baptism to grant us faith through which we are freely justified by God's grace on Christ's account. So that the baptized in saying, "I am baptized" can have full confidence that they belong to God in Jesus Christ, having received the Holy Spirit, that their sins are forgiven, they have peace with God, and all other things so promised in Holy Scripture.

    We are told, "Repent and be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit." (Acts 2:38), "All of us who were baptized into Christ have put on Christ" (Galatians 3:27), "For He saved us not by works of righteousness, but by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit." (Titus 3:5) And so on and so forth. Likewise the Lord Jesus Himself says, "This is My body broken for you" and "This is the cup of the New Covenant in My blood" concerning the Eucharist, and also St. Paul says, "Is not the cup of blessing which we bless partaking of the blood of Christ? And is not the bread which we break a partaking of the body of Christ?" (1 Corinthians 10:16)

    Legalism: That one can be justified by works of the Law. The Law is unable to render us just before God, and in fact just the opposite, the Law condemns us in our sins. The Law being all which God has commanded, not just the Ten Commandments or the Torah given exclusively to the Jews on Mt. Horeb.

    Luther writes in his Heidelberg Disputations, "The Law says 'Do this' and it is never done. Grace says 'Trust this' and it is done already.", this is the Distinction between Law and Gospel. The Law is what God commands, and we do not do it on account of sin, and thus we are sinners; the Gospel is what God has already done and promised us and gives us freely as pure gift. Thus sinners are saved by the grace of God alone on Christ's account alone, not by any works of the Law. Legalism is any attempt to say that we can, in anyway, be righteous, good, or holy by our own working, effort, strength, under God's commandments.

    Total Depravity is the idea that every part of our humanity is broken and bent, malformed by sin. The "total" here means "in its entirety", and "depravity" comes from the Latin pravus, meaning "bent, twisted, crooked" as in a bent or twisted branch or twig. With the Latin prefix de- meaning effectively, of brokenness, or of crookedness, etc. That man, even in his will, emotion, reason, thinking (etc) is affected by the effects of sin, so that it is impossible for fallen, sinful man to turn to God and do right by God.

    It is only by the grace of God that man can be saved, by no effort, will, strength, or act of our own.

    Works can accomplish nothing for us for our salvation. We are justified by grace alone, through faith, on Christ's account alone. Christ has accomplished everything, and God does everything, so that the Holy Spirit grants faith to us, through Word and Sacrament, to appropriate for us everything which Christ has done, which is the perfect, finished, and completed work of God to save the whole world.

    -CryptoLutheran
     
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  6. Sola1517

    Sola1517 Saint-in-Progress (Looking for a Church)

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    "Of Baptism they teach that it is necessary 2] to salvation, and that through Baptism is offered the grace of God, and that children are to be baptized who, being offered to God through Baptism are received into God's grace." -Article IX
     
  7. Sola1517

    Sola1517 Saint-in-Progress (Looking for a Church)

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    How do you interpret Matthew 7:15-16?
     
  8. Sola1517

    Sola1517 Saint-in-Progress (Looking for a Church)

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    Because both proceed from faith?
    Gotcha.
    I agree.
    And by "means" do you mean sign, symbol, act, or something else?
    I have felt that way for some time. I just don't have the Scripture reference to back it up.
     
  9. ViaCrucis

    ViaCrucis Evangelical Catholic of the Augsburg Confession

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    Think of it like this, fire is a means of heat, food is a means of sustenance, etc. Things established according to their given order to accomplish a specific thing. Means of Grace means these are things established through which God's grace is effectually communicated; that is in Baptism God is Himself present to give us new birth, join us to Jesus Christ, etc.

    In a sense, this is precisely what the entire Epistle to the Romans is about.

    Paul establishes his thesis for Romans in Romans 1:16-17, that the Gospel is the power of God to save all who believe, Jew and Gentile, and through it (the Gospel) God's righteousness is revealed from faith to faith, that is the righteousness of faith, Christ's righteousness imputed to us by grace. The rest of chapter 1 is a kind of clever ploy to get some of his readers to talk about how "icky" the Gentiles are, but switches it in Romans 2. And so establishes the sinfulness of Gentiles and Jews, and that everyone is guilty under the Law, "For all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God" (Romans 3:23), as "there is no one righteous, not even one" (Romans 3:10). And so having established that no one is righteous under the Law, whether Jew or Gentile, Paul goes back to before the giving of the Torah, to Abraham, who had faith "and righteousness was accounted to him". And so, in Romans 5 we find that we have been freely justified by grace, through faith, and not by works, and that Christ has established peace between us and God. That God demonstrates His love in that while still sinners Christ died for us (Romans 5:8) and that while by Adam's sin death and condemnation has come to all, so through Christ's obedience has come justification to all (Romans 5:18). And so on.

    -CryptoLutheran
     
  10. Resha Caner

    Resha Caner Expert Fool

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    Ah. I'll start by saying I think Lutherans are really bad at explaining some things. Baptism is one of those things.

    Sometimes the Book of Concord must be interpreted within its historical contest, and understood as an attempt to strike the right balance between Roman Catholicism and the Anabaptists. Article IX was written in an attempt to clearly distinguish Lutheran views of Baptism from the Anabaptists, as the article makes clear. One of the main points is to refute "age of accountability" ideas, and ideas that Baptism is ineffective for children because they don't understand (or at least can't express a "decision for Christ") at that age.

    An odd, but perceptive question that comes up regards the forced baptisms performed by the Crusaders and the like. Were they effective? The odd answer is, that as best we know, yes they were. But this must be coupled with Lutheran rejection of OSAS. A person can always reject their baptism.

    The LCMS (my church) points to Mark 16:16 as an example of how even the Bible makes some mysterious statements about Baptism. To paraphrase: yes Baptism saved the person, but if they don't believe they will be condemned. You can see the LCMS statement here.

    I have noticed a tendency of many Christians to tie all Biblical statements to salvation. If the Bible says eating pork is bad, they assume eating pork will send you to hell. They never consider that maybe the Bible makes comments about a healthy lifestyle that have nothing to do with sending people to hell.

    False prophets are a fact. OK, then I'd like to avoid them. How can I do that? By judging their fruits. Such judgement says nothing of their eternal fate. Who is to say what God's grace might do in that false prophet's life before the end?
     
  11. ViaCrucis

    ViaCrucis Evangelical Catholic of the Augsburg Confession

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    Fundamentally we have to admit that there is only One who is able to judge the living and the dead, and we aren't Him. It's not our place to say who the wheat and tares are, that's Christ's judgment not ours. In this world the field of the Church contains both wheat and tares, the flock has both sheep and goats. But, in the end, which is which will be sorted out by Christ.

    So going around being "fruit pickers" really just isn't our job, Christ tells us earlier in Matthew chapter 7, "Do not judge lest you also be judged, for the same judgment with which you judge you shall be judged" and "Why do you see the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye?".

    That doesn't mean we don't reject false teachers and false prophets, but it does mean that when it comes to our brothers and sisters their salvation is something we leave to God. And as Resha pointed out, just because someone may seem like a goat, even if someone is even preaching falsely, that doesn't mean they aren't saved. That's the thing about grace, it saves sinners. "This is a trustworthy saying worthy of full acceptance: Christ Jesus came to save sinners, and I am the chief of sinners." (1 Timothy 1:15).

    Christ who saves sinners is there even for the worst of the worst, so we can be confident in the mercies of God, both for ourselves and for others. Reserving judgment as the right of the One who alone is worthy to judge, for "Worthy is the Lamb who was slain".

    -CryptoLutheran
     
  12. Sola1517

    Sola1517 Saint-in-Progress (Looking for a Church)

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    So it's basically the method by which God gives grace?
     
  13. Sola1517

    Sola1517 Saint-in-Progress (Looking for a Church)

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    What about in Romans 12:1-2 when Paul says offer yourselves as living sacrifices and to not conform? Does that negate the idea that the Law does not assist the Christian in being like Jesus?
    So the point of Matthew 7:13-23 is really be concerned about your obedience and walk with Jesus rather than others obedience and walk with Jesus. And be concerned that you specifically (or personally, me) are not a false prophet. Correct?

    I'm still tripping over the implicit statement "[You] Be on your guard" in verse 15. If I am to be on my guard against false prophets, do I not have the obligation to test everything? Are works a testimony to the world as well as a way to become closer to Christ?

    ... And, does doctrine affect practice?
     
  14. Sola1517

    Sola1517 Saint-in-Progress (Looking for a Church)

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    Is that a rejection of the Perseverance of the Saints?
    Hmm, interesting. I'll take a look at the link.
    What about verses 21-23 in the same chapter? Are they connected to the verses (Verses 15-20) that come before?
     
  15. Resha Caner

    Resha Caner Expert Fool

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    If you understand that to mean there is a point where people are guaranteed heaven even if they lose faith, then yes, it is a rejection of that idea.

    Attempting to become too precise about when you're in and when you're out is futile. A person who would make a chart indicating they were saved from 7:36 AM to 3:17 PM, damned from 3:18 PM to 9:57 PM, saved from 9:58 PM to ... they're missing the point.

    Think through the possible combinations:
    * Someone who has faith but makes no attempt to discern God's will. Huh?
    * Someone who has no faith, is a fervent atheist, but strives heart and soul to do God's will. Again, huh?

    Those statements are oxymorons. There really isn't any way to separate faith from a desire to do God's will. They're 2 sides of the same coin.

    Though I'll decline to publicly air my faults, I could make a specific list of some of my sins. Those sins don't mean I lost my faith or my desire to do God's will. There were also times I struggled and couldn't discern God's will. It doesn't mean my desire for God's will was lacking. I'm pretty sure there were times I thought I was doing God's will, but was in fact sinning. Those are simply reminders that I must continually seek forgiveness and renewal - something promised in the Sacraments.

    It all rolls up into the Lutheran phrase, "Sin boldly." Live your life boldy doing God's will as best you can determine it, and asking for forgiveness when you fail.
     
  16. ViaCrucis

    ViaCrucis Evangelical Catholic of the Augsburg Confession

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    I guess an analogy might be they are "conduits", (like a wire that channels electricity through it maybe?) through which God's grace operates in our lives in specific ways.

    Note that Paul doesn't say that we are justified by these things, but rather that we are to do them as God's people.

    The Law tells us what to do, how to live, etc, but it doesn't make us righteous.

    This gets us what's known as the "Three Uses of the Law",

    "Since the Law was given to men for three reasons: first, that thereby outward discipline might be maintained against wild, disobedient men [and that wild and intractable men might be restrained, as though by certain bars]; secondly, that men thereby may be led to the knowledge of their sins; thirdly, that after they are regenerate and [much of] the flesh notwithstanding cleaves to them, they might on this account have a fixed rule according to which they are to regulate and direct their whole life," - Epitome of the Formula of Concord, Article VI.1

    So the Three Uses are,

    1) To curb evil by outward discipline, i.e. the Law instructs in what should be done and what should not be done.

    2) On account of sin the Law reveals that we are sinners, and so while it was not given to condemn, it nevertheless condemns because of sin.

    3) That we ought to devote ourselves to a life of obedience as God's people.

    Paul is, in effect, using the Third Use of the Law when he says things like he does in Romans 12.

    However, and this is the danger, the Third Use of the Law can never be comprehended in such a way as though our place and position and relationship to God is based on our performance and ability. The Third Use of the Law is to be understood Coram Mundus/Hominibus, not Coram Deo. That is, "Us before the world/other human beings" rather than "Us before God".

    The Christian life is both vertical and horizontal. The vertical is the Gospel, our relationship to God in Christ, by grace alone, through faith (Coram Deo). The horizontal is the Law, our relationship to our fellow man as God's people living out our faith in the world (Coram Mundus or Coram Hominibus).

    So why should we feed the hungry? To receive a reward from God? No. We should feed the hungry because they are hungry and need food.

    When we understand that the reward for good works is not some prize in the afterlife, or some special blessing from God, or any kind of special favor, merit, or brownie points; but simply the act of doing what we ought because it's the right thing to do, then we rightly understand what the Lord means when He says things like "and then your reward shall be great" (Luke 6:35). To not show off and brag as the hypocrites do, to not let our left hand know what our right hand is doing, etc. Be peaceable with all because then there will be peace with your neighbor. Feed him, give him drink, clothe him. Not because you will be any more righteous or holy doing these than you were before, but because your neighbor is hungry, your neighbor is thirsty, your neighbor is naked, sick, in prison, a stranger.

    This is the new obedience we have in Christ by the strength of the Spirit. Not because the Law justifies, but because by the grace of God, in faith, we have been given the opportunity and the privilege to love other people in imitation of the same love we have received from God in Jesus.

    Jesus is concerned with false preachers/teachers/prophets here. I raised up the point about not judging because that's an important counterbalance here. Of course we shouldn't tolerate heresy, or tolerate toxic teachings, or things of that sort. However, it's not our place to go around trying to figure out what splinters are in everyone's eyes--especially since we have logs in our own. So, yes, in a sense examine ourselves and be concerned with ourselves instead of becoming busybodies toward others. When we start acting like moral busybodies we engage in moralistic toxicity, like the white-washed sepulchers Jesus condemns. The moment we start busybodying and pretending like our poop doesn't stink and moralizing we show ourselves to the wicked and wretched hypocrites we are. Lord have mercy on us.

    The fruits Jesus is talking about here are associated with false prophets. In this case I'd think it'd be more like--are they faithfully preaching the Gospel, or are they preaching something else? Are they making a proper distinction between Law and Gospel? Are they being consistent with the teaching of the Church? Are they preaching some sort of innovative doctrine? Etc.

    St. John does say "test the spirits". But there's a difference between measuring whether something is true or false doctrine, and trying to decide whether or not a person is a "Real Christian" or not. That's the massive distinction I want to make here.

    And yes, our theology does affect our practice, and vice versa. Which is one of the reasons I think the historic Christian liturgy is so important, and why what hymns we sing and what prayers we pray matter. And also, yes, in a very real way what we believe does shape our behavior. If we believe that God is horrible and angry, we probably are going to talk and behave in ways which reflect that thinking; but if we believe that God is the loving Abba Father who sent His only-begotten Son for the sake of the world, then that is also going to reflect in how we talk and act in the world.

    So theology, practice, and our entire Christian life is interconnected.

    -CryptoLutheran
     
  17. Sola1517

    Sola1517 Saint-in-Progress (Looking for a Church)

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    Quite the Presbyterian. :D

    So what does Romans 6:1-2 mean?

    @ViaCrucis is that a real Lutheran phrase and how do verses 1 & 2 in Romans 6 affect the rest of what is said in the chapter?
     
  18. Resha Caner

    Resha Caner Expert Fool

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    Why ask ViaCrucis? I get the feeling you're dissatisfied with my answers ... or don't trust them. I chose my words carefully. The phrase is often credited to Luther, but there is no evidence he used those exact words. He did say things that have the same sentiment. With that said, it is a phrase used widely and often by Lutherans.

    But you seem to have misunderstood both me and the meaning of the phrase. Romans 6 doesn't apply at all. It is not license to knowingly continue in sin, but a challenge to continue to serve God knowing we will sin along the way. Have you not seen how the moralism of other denominations paralyzes people into inaction? I certainly have.
     
  19. Sola1517

    Sola1517 Saint-in-Progress (Looking for a Church)

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    Yes. I see.

    So sola gratia covers everything? Seems to good to be true. I know Jesus paid it all but like, the book of James 2:24. Is this a case of a brother who believes false doctrine?
     
  20. Resha Caner

    Resha Caner Expert Fool

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    The book of James is part of the canon.
     
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