Friday, November 1, 2013

The Means of Grace as Forms of God's Word

Chapter 8 “The ‘Means of Grace’ as Forms of God’s Word.” pp. 175-203

God works in this world through words. He speaks and things happen. The Reformers saw that God also used material elements, especially clearly in the Old Testament, to accomplish His will. So God’s Word was often combined with a physical element as God gave grace. Luther therefore identified “means of grace” as ways God would use words and physical elements to accomplish his will. These means of grace are specifically recognized as baptism and communion, as well as the absolution which accompanies confession. These are all occasions when God’s words of forgiveness and life are proclaimed and a certain physicality is present. As opposed to a mystical or magical view, Luther saw the pastor as bearing responsibility, not merely power. There is also an interpersonal element in the means of grace, as in every case God’s Word is transferred from one person to another. As God’s Word is proclaimed, considered and shared the Lord speaks his power and grace into the believer. Against opponents in the Roman church and in the radical Reformation, Luther refused to address how God’s grace is imparted. He insisted rather that God be permitted to make his own rules of engagement, including imparting gifts via Word and Sacrament.

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