Friday, August 29, 2014

Guthrie, 2009. Chapter 3, “Hear Jesus Saying, ‘I Am Willing to Heal You Deadliest Disease’”

Chapter 3, “Hear Jesus Saying, ‘I Am Willing to Heal You Deadliest Disease’” (pp. 23-40)

Mark 1:41

It is often frightening to turn to the Lord and ask for healing. What if we do not receive the answer we want? Guthrie and many others have been hurt by well-meaning people who suggest that if they had prayed better, longer, more fervently, their child would have recovered.

When the leper approached Jesus in Mark 1, he knew his healing was impossible. Yet Jesus touched the untouchable man and healed him.

Guthrie did a survey of Jesus’ healing work. Was it based on faith? Was he primarily healing physical sickness? Why heal some and not all? Finally, John’s testimony pulled the idea together. What John wrote of Jesus’ works is to give us belief and life (John 20:30-31).

Guthrie’s explanation which follows treats sin as a disease which must be eradicated. Untreated, it permeates us and destroys us. The problem with this view is that it minimizes the effects of sin. We are left to turn to Jesus for healing. Guthrie speaks as though people are not dead in sin, but are able to turn to Jesus by their own will. The good news Guthrie gives is a message of self-help. On p. 37 she says we do the turning, the depending, and appropriate Jesus’ promises for ourselves. How is this done? Again it is through a deeply emotive brokenness which Jesus requires so that we will truly be his.

This is a disappointing view of Scripture. At the same time that Guthrie says she has been accused of not believing well enough she says that the solution to our troubles is to believe well enough.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Pieper, 1968. Vol. 2 Chapter 1 "The Necessity of Grace"

This rather large volume is divided into some large sections and then subdivided into numbered chapters. Because of the length I’ll be posting a summary of the small numbered chapters but more frequently than I normally would on any one work. The copy I have is a Kindle book. It does not have actual page numbers.

A word is in order about the date. Pieper wrote in German and the text as we have it is in translation. The German, published by Concordia Publishing House, was originally copyrighted 1917-1924. It is now in public domain. The English translation was published by Concordia in 1950-1953. Concordia Publishing House currently lists the item as a 1968 publication. Amazon lists electronic editions as 2003 and 2011. Maybe someone can explain the 1968 date, but I am unable to do so.

A  The Saving Grace of God

Chapter 1 “The Necessity of Grace”

In the Fall all men became sinful. We are, by nature, bound to sin. Yet, Pieper observes, the Gospel is present to declare us righteous and save us. Though God’s Law would condemn us, the Gospel sets us free. This salvation is what Christianity teaches, as opposed to all other religions which base salvation upon man’s works.

What of the means of grace? How do baptism and the Lord’s Supper work in the equation? Pieper asserts these are not man’s work but God’s work. Our faith likewise is no achievement of our own. It is a gift of God and the means by which we receive God’s grace.

A note on the organization - this volume does not have very clear serialization or chapter numbering. In my comments and notes I will try to make the outline clear but it may be confused at times.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Bonhoffer, 1937. Chapter 26, "The Fruit"

Chapter 26, “The Fruit”

What is the fruit which disciples receive in all their suffering? From Matthew 10:40-42 Bonhoeffer draws the disciples as God’s gift to those they visit. By bringing Christ’s word to others they become participants in God’s grace. When people receive the disciples with love, joy, or kindness, the disciples become participants in the ministry of God to them through others. God makes us participate in what he gives others through us. The goal of our work, then, is that the Church may be presented to God.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Guthrie, 2009. Chapter 2, “Hear Jesus Saying, ‘I, Too, Have Heard God Tell Me No’”

Chapter 2, “Hear Jesus Saying, ‘I, Too, Have Heard God Tell Me No’” pp. 11-22

Matthew 26:39

After Guthrie’s daughter died at approximately six months of age, she had difficulty seeing what God could be doing. She read a number of books and was confronted with the idea of God being sad with her. How would the sovereign Lord be sad with her? After all, God could have kept the trouble from happening. The difficulty lies in our desires conflicting with God’s desire. “Jesus ran into this same wall when what he wanted came in conflict with what God wanted” (p. 12).

Guthrie begins an exposition of the NLT version of Hebrews 5:7-9, where we see Jesus crying out to the Father. She bases her understanding of the Gospels on her reading of Hebrews, which runs counter to the orthodox exegesis through the ages. As she does this, she asserts that the one Triune God has wills in conflict with on another. This is an impossible position.

Led by this precedent, Guthrie is left with a God of two wills. The Father wants the Son to suffer. The Son wants the Father to relent. “If anybody ever deserved to have his prayers answered in the affirmative it was Jesus . . . Yet God, through his silence, said no” (p. 17). Jesus dealt with it by trusting God’s purposes.

We likewise need “to overcome our own wants, to push through them to surrender” (p. 18). This is what we do, trusting that God is kind.

Guthrie, in this chapter, has both divided the will of God and has left faith as our work which we must do well enough to please God. This is not a historic Christian view. It lacks the comfort of the Gospel and binds us to a law, a very unkind law indeed. We are left with a God who has no consistent will, a Father who doesn’t get along with the Son, and our only hope as living up to Jesus’ model, which apparently was not successful.

Monday, August 25, 2014

Pieper, 1968. "Actual Sin"

c. Actual Sin

Chapter 1, “Definition of Actual Sini”

Actual sin is that which is done by people. It is not that which we inherited but that which is committed, either by doing sins or by failing to do what God commands.

Chapter 2, “The Causes of Actual Sin”

There are causes for sin both within man and outside of man. In general, the cause of our sin is our fallen nature. This most often works in us by ignorance and unbelief or through our strong and unbalanced emotions. We also engage in sin through our habits. Among the external causes of sin we find the devil, who normally operates through temptation but occasionally physical causes as well. Other people and their words and deeds can provoke us to sin as well. God is not the cause of sin.

Chapter 3, “The Scripture Doctrine of Offense”

In the Bible we find that when we are provoked to offense we are offensive to God. This offense before God can come about when we are caused to doubt God’s Word. Because our actions can bring offense we restrict our liberty in Christ when it does not hinder the Gospel to do so.

Chapter 4, “The Scripture Doctrine of Temptation”

We can be tempted either to evil or to good. Temptation to good comes from God. Temptation to evil may come through the devil or other people. Pieper also classes as temptation the hardships which come from God to make us depend on him. We are warned in Scripture to cast our hope and trust on God so as to avoid falling into sin.

Chapter 5, “Classification of Actual Sins”

The Bible does, in fact, identify different types of sins. For example, we find both voluntary and involuntary sins. Again this distinction could be confusing. Voluntary sins are those we commit willingly. Sometimes our will is in the background and our sin is committed rashly or in ignorance. That would be identified as an involuntary sin.

Sometimes sins are divided into different categories based on our understanding. For instance, we may have an erring conscience and sin by denying or by disobeying that conscience. The erring conscience needs correction and the sin needs forgiveness.

We find also that we may sin against God, against our neighbor, or against ourselves. All sins are against God. Some influence others as well.

Though all sin is deserving of death and hell, the Scripture depicts some sins as worse than others.. Entering into sin willfully is a very serious matter, as it involves active rejection of God’s known will.

Some divide sins into those of thought, word, and deed. This may imply a difference in seriousness but not always.

Many have classified sins into “mortal” and “venial” categories. Mortal sins result in the death of the sinner. Venial sins are those which, though they merit death, are able to be forgiven. They do not kill faith. The definition of a mortal sin is a matter of considerable debate. Pieper does not go into it at this point.

Pieper does warn against entering into other people’s sins by approving and affirming them. We never want to encourage sin. Some sins are pictured in the Bible as crying out to heaven. All sin is serious, but again, there is some sin which calls to God for justice.

Finally, Pieper discusses the sin against the Holy Spirit, known as the unforgivable sin. In this, the person claims that the work of the Holy Spirit is actually the work of the devil, thus saying that God’s work of forgiveness is from God’s enemy. It is very hard to identify this sin. Under all of Pieper’s discussion is the care that when man is repentant God is forgiving. We will not find someone repenting of a sin that God does not forgive.

This brings us to the end of Volume 1. Pieper’s work is thorough and he is generally fair toward those he speaks against. He does possibly spend more time and energy refuting particular individual theologians who are influential in his time than I would like. I would prefer that he spent the time dealing with the position and did not deal with the individual theologian in such detail.

A word is in order about the date. Pieper wrote in German and the text as we have it is in translation. The German, published by Concordia Publishing House, was originally copyrighted 1917-1924. It is now in public domain. The English translation was published by Concordia in 1950-1953. Concordia Publishing House currently lists the item as a 1968 publication. Amazon lists electronic editions as 2003 and 2011. Maybe someone can explain the 1968 date, but I am unable to do so.

Friday, August 22, 2014

Bonhoffer, 1937. Chapter 25, "The Decision"

Chapter 25, “The Decision”

Bonhoeffer now addresses Matthew 10:26-39, where Jesus tells his disciples to beware of giving offense to God rather than fearing men.  He calls his disciples to lay down their lives for him. This call of Jesus to his disciples is a great encouragement. No matter what happens they are not to fear. The sufferings Christians endure in secret will be made known. The attacks against them are not forgotten by God. None of the harm suffered in this world will hurt in eternity. As long as the disciples are true to Jesus he will be true to them forever (Loc. 3009). This is the way God is able to love us in Christ.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Guthrie, 2009. Chapter 1, “Hear Jesus Saying, ‘I, Too, Have Known Overwhelming Sorrow’”

Guthrie, Nancy. Hearing Jesus Speak into Your Sorrow. Carol Stream, IL: Tyndale House, 2009.

Chapter 1, “Hear Jesus Saying, ‘I, Too, Have Known Overwhelming Sorrow’” pp. 1-10

Matthew 26:38

Jesus is the one who calls us to himself when we are dead. He gives us the faith to trust him. Despite our wandering and confusion, as we commit our lives to Jesus he will change us. Guthrie views this as something which “broke through my religious activity and accumulated Bible knowledge” (p. 2). She needed something, in other words, that was not present in Jesus revealed in Scripture. She needed a special emotive experience. This experience, she says (p. 4), told her Jesus’ heart is broken by sorrow, just as hers was.

Guthrie goes on to describe the sorrow Jesus felt in his last night in the garden (Matthew 26). Because Jesus dealt with these sorrows, he understands our sorrows. This, in our time of sorrow, draws us to Jesus. “It’s in our suffering that we can truly begin to identify with his” (p. 6).

Jesus, who was lonely, sorrowful, and betrayed, can understand what we go through. Knowing that, Jesus is “calling you to a deeper, more real relationship with him than you’ve ever had before” (p. 8).

Guthrie wraps up the chapter with an adaptation of Jesus’ words addressed to the reader, explaining that he will be with us.

Guthrie, Nancy. Hearing Jesus Speak into Your Sorrow. Carol Stream, IL: Tyndale House, 2009.

Guthrie, Nancy. Hearing Jesus Speak into Your Sorrow. Carol Stream, IL: Tyndale House, 2009.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Pieper, 1968. "Original Sin"

b. Original Sin

Chapter 1, “Definition of Original Sin”

Pieper points out that original sin, that which humans have had since the Fall, includes both guilt for Adam’s sin and a corruption of nature. This doctrine of original sin is found objectionable by many, yet Pieper documents it clearly in Scripture. The ultimate outcome of denying original sin, says Pieper (Loc. 11423), is that we must also reject Christ’s imputation of righteousness.

Chapter 2, “The Effect of Hereditary Corruption on the Mind and Will of Man”

Although after the Fall people still have intelligence, they are not, by nature, able to understand spiritual matters. The Gospel is foolishness. We also find our will is not able to change and is only able to oppose God apart from the work of the Gospel. Pieper again gives detailed biblical arguments to illustrate his conclusions.

Chapter 3, “The Negative and the Positive Side of Original Corruption”

This chapter title could easily be misunderstood. By “negative” Pieper means that we are lacking in good. By “positive” Pieper means we actually do things which are bad. Pieper is clear that human nature in itself can be good. It is not human nature to sin, but sin is consistent with the fallen nature. Yet he is clear that we sin on purpose, not by accident only, and that our fallen nature requires it.

Chapter 4, “The Subject of Hereditary Corruption”

The only human who is not corrupt by nature is the Christ. This is because of his conception. Being conceived by the Holy Spirit took away his inherited fallen nature. Pieper is clear that this is due to the Holy Spirit, not due to Mary. Pieper asks where that corruption is. His conclusion is that the curse of sin extends both to body and soul.

Chapter 5, “The Effects of Original Corruption”

Pieper reviews prior segments which indicate the spiritual and temporal death as a result of sin. He asks why eating the fruit would bring death. The conclusion is that the forbidden fruit was deadly because it was forbidden. It was not forbidden because it was deadly. Original righteousness was retained in the setting where the humans would trust God’s word. After the fall, man is no longer naturally able to trust. As a result, we also engage in sinful acts, based on our own desires.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Bonhoffer, 1937. Chapter 24, “The Suffering of the Messengers”

Chapter 24, “The Suffering of the Messengers”

Matthew 10:16-25 shows Jesus teaching his disciples about the end times, when they will be attacked for their faith, will answer for Jesus in the power of the Holy Spirit, and likely be put to death. Their mission is to continue speaking God’s Word. Bonhoeffer reminds us that the Christian knows the master’s orders and that God’s Word is reliable. No matter the consequences, the disciples could take courage from Jesus’ call. We have a mission. Though we may be tempted to move from the mission Jesus has given us, we must be faithful to it, trusting Jesus’ promises. We are cautious of people but we know in the end, even if they kill us, it will not harm us eternally. Yet we may flee from one place to another, still proclaiming Jesus’ Word until he comes. His coming is our assurance in suffering.

Monday, August 18, 2014

Sasse, 1977. Chapter 7, “The Sacrament of the Altar and the Lutheran Church Today”

Chapter 7, “The Sacrament of the Altar and the Lutheran Church Today” pp. 280-327

In this final chapter Sasse observes that through about 400 years since the Formula of Concord the Lutheran church has seen changes in views of communion. In recent years there has been a renewal of interest in communion. Though the dogmas have not changed, Sasse thinks they bear evaluation in light of further articulation of dogma in the various other church bodies. He also says, since there have been developments in biblical research, the question bears ongoing evaluation. Sasse gives several areas where questions could be asked, though he declines to answer.

Final Observations:

This is among the best books I’ve read in the past year, not primarily due to content or writing style, but because of the depth of Sasse’s research. From beginning to end he shows a willingness to cite sources both supportive of and hostile to his point of view. He summarizes arguments and quotes sources frequently. Especially his work with the Marburg Colloquy shows his careful gathering of source material. This is research writing at its best.

Friday, August 15, 2014

Pieper, 1968. "On Sin in General"

(B) Man After the Fall

Some view the entry into sin as important to the complete maturity of man. This is not the biblical view. Sin is always a bad thing. Pieper discusses sin under three headings - a) sin in general, b) original sin, and c) actual sin.

a. On Sin in General

Chapter 1, “Definition of Sin”

Pieper begins by defining sin as failure to conform to God’s law. He further explains that God expects perfect obedience all the time, a standard we cannot meet. Pieper also talks about the idea of neutrality, saying it is impossible for people with will and intellect to be neutral. We serve God or we reject him.

Chapter 2, “The Divine Law and Sin”

If sin is a rejection of the Law of God we must identify God’s Law. All of God’s revealed will is his Law. We are bound in conscience by the Scripture but not by the rules of the Church. Yet the Law of God in the Bible is sufficient to condemn all men.

Chapter 3, “How the Divine Law is (sic) Made Known to Men”

We have both a natural knowledge of God’s Law, through our conscience, and a knowledge through Scripture. Our fallen nature has a conscience which goes astray. The Scripture never fails.

Chapter 4, “The Cause of Sin”

Pieper points out that we all have a desire to blame someone else for our wrongs. In one way this is appropriate. The first cause of sin is the devil, who has a strong influence on our world. Yet we are also entirely responsible for our sin, even if we are enticed by another. Pieper also reminds us that sin comes from within us, not consisting only of actions but also the attitudes which lead to those actions.

Chapter 5, “The Consequences of Sin”

Sin, as presented in Scripture, leads to death, which Pieper identifies as threefold, consisting of death of the soul, spiritual death, and eternal death. Without divine intervention there is nothing to free us from death.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Bonhoffer, 1937. Chapter 23, "The Work"

Chapter 23, “The Work”

In Matthew 10:5-6 Jesus sends his apostles to go only to the lost of Israel. Bonhoeffer considers that the apostles surely would have wanted to go to all the world, but they were restrained by Jesus’ command until after the resurrection. Israel’s rejection of the Messiah was to be completed first.

As he moves on in verses 7-8, Jesus gives a commission to preach, heal, raise the dead, and cast out demons. This is the same work Jesus is doing. Jesus, in fact, is working through his twelve apostles.

In verses 9-10 the apostles are told they will be cared for. They did not need special equipment. They simply went with Jesus’ word. They were not going as beggars, but simply trusting Jesus to supply their needs.

In verses 11-15 the apostles are to seek out people who would be worthy, those praying to God. They will care for Jesus’ ministers. The apostles would get to work quickly, bringing peace and announcing the kingdom of God. The call to repentance is urgent. The consequences of rejection are enormous. Yet the apostles go to announce forgiveness and grace.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Sasse, 1977. Chapter 6, "The Aftermath"

Chapter 6, “The Aftermath”

In the generations after Marburg the debate about the nature of Jesus’ presence in communion continued. It often takes several generations for a doctrinal dispute to be clarified and settled. However, in this case, Sasse finds the differences have not found resolution. The aftermath of the Marburg Colloquy largely expressed itself in three streams of thought, each associated with an important theologian.

First, Martin Bucer, who represented neither Lutheran nor Zwinglian doctrine, pursued mediation of doctrine through negotiation. He, with Zwingli, did not think the body of Christ could literally and physically be given in communion, but that it was of relatively small importance, as the spiritual nourishment was primary. Bucer was unable to convince Lutherans of this view, as it negated the sacramental union and also failed to deal with the manducatio impiorum which would condemn those who did not rightly accept the true bodily presence of Christ.

Second, Melanchthon departed from Luther’s doctrine of the Real Presence insofar as he looked to Church Fathers for a solid precedent but found disagreement in early Christianity. He adopted a view that the Sacraments were primarily signs of God’s grace rather than that which imparts grace. Melanchthon is sharply criticized for an edition of the Augsburg Confession which altered some language in such a way as to make it acceptable to Calvinists. Though Melanchthon did not consider his alteration to have changed the meaning, many Lutherans have considered it a betrayal.

Third, Calvin made attempts to explain the Lord’s Supper. As a Lutheran he wished to defend Luther’s view. He was, however, influenced heavily bu Bucer, moving away from Jesus’ bodily presence other than in heaven and toward a spiritualized view of the eating and drinking. He finally denies that the unbeliever receives anything but bread and wine. Further he makes the Sacrament a sign, rather than a means of grace.

By 1580 the Formula of Concord emerged, restating and clarifying many of the doctrines of the Augsburg Confession. This document has not been accepted by all Lutherans, in large part due to its strong stand anathematizing those who believe otherwise. Yet it stands calling churches to accept unity which can be found by pursuit of biblical truth.

Sasse leaves us in this chapter with these four patterns, Bucer, Melanchthon, Calvin, and Luther. The four continue to have a strong influence to the present time.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Pieper, 1968. Section G, “The Doctrine of Man”

Section G, “The Doctrine of Man”

This final section of the book is divided into two main headers, (A) Man Before the Fall, and, (B) Man After the Fall.

(A) Man Before the FAll

Chapter 1, “Man Created in the Image of God”

In the original creation Man was created in the “image” and “likeness” of God (Gen. 1:26). The two terms are synonyms. Some attributes, such as self-existence and eternity, were not communicated, others were in a limited manner.

Chapter 2, “What Constituted the Image of God”

Pieper considers man’s original condition of being disposed to do God’s will as central to being created in the image of God. The first humans were communicative and endowed with an intelligence and dignity which was not marred by the Fall.

Chapter 3, “Image of God in the Wider and in the Proper Sense”

Lutherans agree that God works to recreate knowledge of God and holiness in is people. They do not all agree whether fallen man still bears the image of God. They do agree that man has intellect and will but that fallen man has lost his original wisdom and justice. Regardless of our view of man bearing God’s image, we know God desires to renew fallen mankind so we must treat others with dignity.

Chapter 4, “The Relation of the Divne Image to the Nature of Man”

Pieper presents a Roman idea that the divine image was added to man after he was created, as a gift. On the contrary, man was made with the divine image. It remains but is corrupted. Unfallen man is uncorrupted. In Christ we are to be changed back to the original nature. This is an inherent part of being human.

Chapter 5, “Immediate Consequences of the Possession of the Divine Image”

Because man was created in God’s image, originally he was immortal, as God is. Man also had true dominion over the animals. When the Fall came, animals were no longer man’s servants but often enemies or victims.

Chapter 6, “The Purpose of the Divine Image”

God created man (Loc. 11140) “in order that one of His creatures 1) would know Him, live in conformity with His will, and in communion with Him enjoy bliss, and 2) would rule over the other creatures as His representative.” This is the state to which God restores man in Christ.

Chapter 7, “Woman and the Divine Image”

There is no difference in the divine image between male and female. There is, however, a difference in role, even before the Fall. The subordination described in the Bible is not one of inferiority but of different roles and gifts. Pieper builds a case very similar to that of complementarians in the late 20th century.

Monday, August 11, 2014

Bonhoffer, 1937. Chapter 22, "The Apostles"

Chapter 22, “The Apostles”

Commenting on Matthew 10:1-4, Bonhoeffer says the Father revealed to the Son the twelve he should choose. Jesus gave them power, in Bonhoeffer’s view (Loc. 2816) more important than a word or doctrine. This power enables the apostles to be like Christ in their ability to overcome the devil. There is no strong bond among the twelve except they were called by Jesus.

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Friday, August 8, 2014

Sasse, 1977. Chapter 5, “The Marburg Colloquy”

Chapter 5, “The Marburg Colloquy” pp. 151-238

Sasse moves on to his detail of the Marburg Colloquy. This chapter in the text is quite long, in large part because of Sasse’s thorough and scholarly work. He discusses the background and arrangement of the colloquy, then gives a collation of accounts and transcripts of it, then concludes with observations about the outcomes.

Shortly before the colloquy, in 1528, Luther had written his Large Confession based on the articles of the Apostles’ Creed. In the Second Article he discusses Pelagianism and in the Third Article he discusses the Sacraments, tying these topics to historic confessions. He also made connections between the Papacy, Enthusiasm, and Islam, as they all depend on something other than adherence to the external Word of God.

This strong conviction on Luther’s part led him to avoid gatherings like that of Marburg. The difference between the parties’ understanding of the function of God’s Word was great enough that he thought agreement impossible, so the conference would be to no effect.

On the part of Zwingli and his party, the colloquy was desirable in part because of their need to make public statements and reinforce alliance. Sasse reminds us that Zwingli largely had a political view of the Church so would tend to gather alliances as a statesman. Between 1524 and 1528 Zwingli was active in coalition building.

Beginning on p. 162, Sasse also reminds us of the reality of a religious war in the area. The papal forces, the supporters of some sort of Reformation, and the Muslim empire were coming into active conflict with one another in Germanic territory. Zwingli and his followers considered alliances natural. Luther and his supporters distinguished between political and theological alliance. The relation of church and politics, then, was very significant.

Finally all parties agreed to meet, with Zwingli and others arriving in Marburg on Monday, September 27, 1528, Luther and others on Thursday the 30th, and a few others on Saturday, October 1. Friday was devoted to personal discussion, while there was more formal debate on Saturday and Sunday. Some final statements were made on Monday before a hasty departure on Tuesday when concern about a plague outbreak caused flight.

On page 178 Sasse moves into his work with the colloquy itself. He identifies the primary sources in detail, along with the language and theological alignment of the documents. Then, on pp. 180-220 he presents his collation of those documents, including extensive footnotes of explanation.

The discussions of the Marburg Colloquy as preserved for us were largely congenial and primarily focused on whether or not Jesus was bodily present in the elements of communion. Neither side was able to convince the other to change views. Frequently Zwingli and his supporters seem to concede points to Luther, but never without reservation. The discussion was lengthy and, at times, we have record of one speaker or another deferring due to fatigue. This would indicate that a good deal of the discussion was not recorded and that the level of tension was high.

By Monday, October 4, since the discussion did not seem to be going toward a substantive level of agreement, the landgrave, who had called and hosted the colloquy, asked if some articles of agreement could be written up. This was done largely by Luther and signed off on by the participants.

Beginning on p. 220 Sasse discusses the results of the colloquy. Supported by extensive quotations from various sources he observes that the people on both sides of the issue were able to claim success. This is, at least in part, because the articles were somewhat vaguely defined. Sasse also adduces quotes fom Zwingli after the fact which contradict much of the content of the articles. The Marburg Articles, then, do not stand as a clear indicator of unity among different parties in the Reformation. The disunity remained as to the nature of a Sacrament, the presence of Jesus, and thus the way we should interpret the Scriptures and the Son of God.

Sasse closes the chapter by observing that in his day the importance of source documents and investigation of the root causes of disagreements has continued to decline so most students of theology are unaware of the significance of their belief.

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Pieper, 1968. Section F "Angelology"

Section F “Angelology”

This portion of the book consists of seven brief chapters. Again, I think it is short enough to treat all the chapters together. Pieper observes that liberalism debates the existence of angels simply because they are spiritual in nature and not always apparent to our observation. The doctrines of angels are not primary, as they are not required for salvation, yet are clearly laid out in the Bible.

Chapter 1, “The Existence of Angels and the Time of Their Creation”

Based on Scripture, since angels are created beings, they came about after the creation of the universe. They were in existence by the end of the sixth day, as they were present in time for the temptation.

Chapter 2, “The Name ‘Angel’”

The term “angel” is used in Scripture also for messengers or ambassadors. It is an office, or title, not a description of the essence.

Chapter 3, “The Nature and the Properties of the Angels”

Angels are identified as spirits, without any sort of body, tough able to influence physical items. Unlike humans, they are complete without bodily form. Unlike God they are not omniscient, but must be informed of events. They do not take up space, but can sometimes be identified as present in a certain place.

Chapter 4 “Number and Ranks of the Angels”

The Bible portrays the number of angels as very large. They are mentioned as cherubim, seraphim, and archangels. Likewise, the devil seems to have his ranks of lesser angels.

Chapter 5, “Good and Evil Angels”

In the creation, all angels were good. The proclamation “very good” of Genesis 1:31 would apply to them. We do not know precisely when they fell, but do know it was before the events of Genesis 3.

Chapter 6, “The Good Angels and Their Activity”

The Bible does not picture the good angels as able to sin or the bad angels as able to be redeemed. The good angels exist to praise God and accomplish his will. God does not need assistance but has chosen to use servants.

Chapter 7, “The Evil Angels, Their Activities, and Their Eternal Punishment”

We do not know why the evil angels cannot be redeemed, yet God has proclaimed that to be the case. The evil ones work only for the harm of this world. We sometimes consider some people to be held by demonic forces. The Scripture views all unbelievers as being in the same condition but it is clear that some people are more obviously tormented than others.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Bonhoffer, 1937. Chapter 21, "The Harvest"

Part 3 - The Messengers Matthew 9:35-10:42
Chapter 21, “The Harvest”

Bonhoeffer now shifts his attention to God’s messengers. In Matthew 9:35-38 Jesus has been teaching and healing. The people are like wandering sheep. He asks his disciples to pray that the Lord would send workers. The leaders of Israel and the leaders from Rome have not cared for God’s people. They are unprotected. Jesus, seeing this, is moved to rescue his people. He sees a ripe harvest, not a barren field. What do we see? Bonhoeffer suggests that we will not see the same thing unless we have Jesus’ eyes and heart. He also (Loc. 2803) says Jesus cannot do the work himself. Neither can the disciples. Their course of action is to pray that God will send laborers. They do not send themselves.

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Sasse, 1977. Chapter 4, “The Great Controversy”

Chapter 4, “The Great Controversy” pp. 107-150

Doctrinal controversies were nothing new to the Church of the 16th century. Ye they have always been disappointing and hurtful. The dispute between Luther and Zwingli was a very serious one with far-reaching consequences. In this chapter, Sasse considers the dispute over communion and its conclusion. Sasse emphasizes on p. 108 that sinful hatred and arrogance, as well as more overt sins, have no place in disputes among Christians.

In 1524 Zwingli accepted Honius’ doctrine of communion. Carlstadt wrote five treatises on it. The debate was clearly public. Luther weighed in as well. On p. 110 Sasse divides the dispute into three groups of combatants. First there were faithful Roman Catholics who denied transubstantiation. Second, there were those who, like Zwingli, accepted some sacramental grace but considered the words to be figurative. Finally, the Anabaptists considered the words figurative and denied sacramental grace.

Because the controversy took such varied forms it was a confusing battlefield. For some time Luther tried to avoid a conflict with Zwingli. He would discuss the Sacrament but never mention Zwingli by name. Finally in 1527 Zwingli wrote a treatise specifically aimed against Luther, to which Luther responded clearly and directly. Sasse (p. 115) considers that the exegetical debate which followed indicates there was no room for compromise, but that one would either have to side with Luther or Zwingli. Luther insisted on the Word of God as the authority, while Zwingli considered the enlightenment of the Holy Spirit as paramount. Because of this, Luther would insist on a real bodily presence of Christ in the Sacrament while Zwingli would insist that a spiritual perception was greater.

Sasse further observes that Luther held to an interpretation of the natures of Christ as explained in the Athanasian Creed, while Zwingli would try to assign some acts of Christ to the human nature and some to the divine nature. This distinction would lead Luther to a view of ubiquity, that Christ is present everywhere, while Zwingli would hold to a view of Christ being localized in heaven. With no resolution to this dispute, Luther and Zwingli could not view the Sacrament in the same way.

On p. 131 Sasse begins to discuss consecration, another issue stemming from the dispute above. What effect does the consecration have? What changes, when, and how? Zwingli and all the Reformed churches after him considered the Words of Institution as an historical narrative, explaining what Jesus did. Luther saw the Words of Institution as a sacramental blessing, releasing the grace of forgiveness. Sasse discusses the implications of this sacramental view in some detail, including an explanation of the Lutheran view of the proper use of the elements - for consumption on the spot. While Zwingli would argue from a standpoint of logic about Jesus’ presence, Luther would argue that the Word of God asserts a real, bodily presence so it must be accepted. The Sacrament thus becomes food and drink which brings life.