Friday, 25 September 2009

Aquinas on Sola Scriptura III

"Yet holy teaching employs such authorities (e.g. human reason, philosophy) only in order to provide, as it were, extraneous arguments from probability. Its own proper authorities are those of canonical scripture, and these it has applied with convincing force. It has other proper authorities, the doctors of the church, and these it looks to as its own, but for arguments that carry no more than probability. For our faith rests on the revelation made to the prophets and apostles who wrote the canonical books, not on a revelation, if such there be, made to any other teacher." (Italics mine.)
From Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologiae, Question 1 Article 8.

I urge readers to follow these quotes up for themselves if possible, and read them in context. Many public libraries now carry one of the numerous abridged editions of Aquinas' Summa in English, while decent theological libraries will probably have the excellent English Dominican translation of the complete work.

This is a particularly clear espousal of a position that is basically in accord with the magisterial Reformation's doctrine of the sufficiency of scripture for the establishing all articles of faith necessary to be believed in order to be saved. This position (which, I would contend, is also the position of the early church) stands somewhat in contrast to that set forth by Rome at the Council of Trent in 1546and reiterated in the Vatican II document Dei verbum (1965), which states, "Sacred Scripture is the speech of God as it is put down in writing under the breath of the Holy Spirit. Sacred Tradition transmits in its entirety the Word of God which has been entrusted to the apostles by Christ the Lord and the Holy Spirit. It transmits it to the successors of the apostles so that, enlightened by the Spirit of truth, they may faithfully preserve, expound and spread it abroad by their preaching. Thus it comes about that the Church does not draw her certainty about all revealed truths from the holy Scripture alone. Hence both Scripture and Tradition must be accepted and honoured with equal feelings of devotion and reverence... Sacred tradition and sacred Scripture make up a single sacred deposit, which is entrusted to the Church... the task of giving an authentic interpretation of the Word of God, whether in its written form or in the form of Tradition, has been entrusted to the living teaching office of the Church alone..." (once again, italics are mine).

This position, I'm afraid, seems to subsume scripture entirely under the rubric of "sacred tradition", whose content in practice is determined by the teaching office of the papacy, a fear which is confirmed when one considers the doctrine of papal infallibility (Vatican I, 1870) and the Marian dogmas of the Immaculate Conception (defined as a dogma in 1854) and the Assumption (defined in 1950), through which the papacy attempts to bind consciences on the fear of losing salvation with dogmatic pronouncements which have no scriptural basis (should we perhaps refer to them as "other revelations, if such there be"). This would appear to be a long way from the view of Aquinas as stated above.
Indeed, only a theory of doctrinal development, such as was put forward by John Henry Newman while he was an Anglican on the way to Rome in his Essay on the Development of Christian Doctrine (1845) could provide a semblance (i.e. a superficial or outward appearance) of intellectual respectability for such a position. That such a semblance of intellectual respectability has played the crucial role it has in swaying numerous otherwise intelligent and pious people to convert to Rome from Lutheranism and other branches of the magisterial Reformation must be regarded as one of the great mysteries of modern times.

Wednesday, 23 September 2009

Aquinas on Sola Scriptura II

Here's more from Aquinas on sola scriptura, courtesy of Joel in Georgia (thanks Joel):

"Objection: It would seem that it is unsuitable for the articles of faith to be embodied in a creed. Because Holy Writ is the rule of faith, to which no addition or subtraction can lawfully be made, since it is written (Deut. 4:2): “You shall not add to the word that I speak to you, neither shall you take away from it.” Therefore it was unlawful to make a creed as a rule of faith, after Holy Writ had once been published.

Reply: The truth of faith is contained in Holy Writ, diffusely, under various modes of expression, and sometimes obscurely, so that, in order to gather the truth of faith from Holy Writ, one needs long study and practice, which are unattainable by all those who require to know the truth of faith, many of whom have no time for study, being busy with other affairs. And so it was necessary to gather together a clear summary from the sayings of Holy Writ, to be proposed to the belief of all. This indeed was no addition to Holy Writ, but something gathered from it.
(St. Thomas Aquinas c. 1224-1274, Summa Theologica, Second Part of the Second Part, Question 1, Article 9)"

Aquinas is here answering the standard objection to creeds (even in his day! i.e., that they are additions to scripture). Note that he works from the assumption of sola scriptura, i.e. that scripture alone is the rule of faith, which can neither be added to nor subtracted from.

Monday, 21 September 2009

Aquinas on Sola Scriptura

Here is Thomas Aquinas stating that scripture alone is the rule of faith in the church while commenting on John 24:21 and in passing on Galatians 1:9:

Let us note that although many might write concerning catholic truth, there is this difference among them: those who wrote the canonical Scriptures, the Evangelists and Apostles, and others of this kind, so constantly assert it that they leave no room for doubt. That is his meaning when he says 'we know his testimony is true.' Galatians 1:9, "If anyone preach to you a gospel other than that which you have received, let him be anathema!" The reason is that only canonical Scripture is a rule of faith. Others, however, so wrote of the truth that they should not be believed save insofar as they say true things."
From Thomas's commentary on John's Gospel, Super Evangelium S. Ioannis Lectura, ed. P. Raphaelis Cai, O.P., Editio V revisa (Romae: Marietti Editori Ltd., 1952), p.488.

(Latin Text: Notandum autem, quod cum multi scriberent de catholica veritate, haec est differentia, quia illi, qui scripserunt canonicam Scripturam, sicut Evangelistic et Apostoli, et alii huiusmodi, ita constanter eam asserunt quod nihil dubitandum relinquunt. Et ideo dicit Et scimus quia verum est testimonium eius; Gal. I, 9: Si quis vobis evangelizaverit praeter id quod accepistis, anathema sit. Cuius ratio est, quia sola canonica scriptura est regula fidei. Alii autem sic edisserunt de veritate, quod nolunt sibi credi nisi in his quae ver dicunt.)

This is an interesting comment from the 'angelic doctor'. It seems that the standard Roman rebuttal of the argument that Thomas is advocating sola scriptura here is that the comment only refers to canonical scripture in contrast to non-canonical scripture. That would seem to me to be a fairly weak argument, as mutatis mutandis, the rule would surely apply to all non-canonical writings and not just apocrypha. Support for this view can certainly be garnered from earlier Fathers of whom Thomas would have been aware, remembering that Thomas was a synthesiser of the tradition. When I last read Thomas on the role of scripture in the church he indeed advocated that scripture provided the only source from which church teaching could be derived. I will have to revisit that, but for now the post stands.

Wednesday, 16 September 2009

An interesting sermon...

Here's an interesting sermon. The text is not explicitly stated but would seem to be James 1:25, which means the Gospel in reference is Mark 7:1-8. 14-15, 21-23. Can any reader guess who the preacher was?

Dear brothers and sisters:

In the Gospel, we come across one of the essential topics of humanity's religious history: the issue of man's purity before God. Turning his gaze to God, man realizes he is "contaminated" and in a condition that impedes his access to the Holy One. The question thus arises as to how man can be pure, and free himself from the "filth" that separates him from God. Therefore, in various religions, purifying rites have arisen -- interior and exterior ways of purification. We find in today's Gospel rites of purification that are rooted in the tradition of the Old Testament, but which are administered in a very unilateral way. Consequently, they no longer serve as an opening of man to God, they are no longer ways of purification and salvation, but have become elements of an autonomous system of performances that, to be truly fulfilled in plenitude, also calls for specialists. Man's heart is no longer reached. Man, who moves within this system, either feels enslaved or falls into the arrogance of being able to justify himself.

Liberal exegesis states that in this Gospel is revealed the fact that Jesus substituted worship with morality -- that he put worship aside with all its useless practices. The relationship between man and God would now be based solely on morality. If that were true, it would mean that Christianity, in its essence, is morality, that is, that we ourselves make ourselves pure and good through our moral actions. If we reflect deeply on this opinion, it is obvious that this cannot be Jesus' complete answer to the question of purity. If we wish to hear and understand fully the Lord's message, then we must also listen fully, we cannot be content with a detail, but must pay attention to his whole message. In other words, we must read the Gospel entirely, all the New Testament and the Old together with it.

Today's first reading, taken from the Book of Deuteronomy, gives us an important aspect of an answer and makes us take a step forward. Here we hear something that is perhaps surprising to us, that is, that Israel itself is invited by God to be grateful to him and to feel a humble pride in the fact of knowing the will of God and of thus being wise. In fact, in that period of humanity, both the Greek as well as the Semitic world sought wisdom: They sought to understand what matters. Science tells us many things and is useful to us in many aspects, but wisdom is knowledge of the essential -- knowledge of the reason of our existence and of how we must live so that life is lived in the right way. The reading taken from Deuteronomy points out the fact that wisdom, in the end, is identical to the Torah -- to the Word of God that reveals to us what is essential, for whose end and in whose way we must live. Hence the Law does not appear as slavery, but is -- similar to what Psalm 119 says -- cause of great joy: We do not grope in darkness, we do not wander in vain in search of what might be right, we are not like sheep without a shepherd that do not know the right way. God has manifested himself. He, himself, shows us the way. We know his will and with it the truth that matters in our life. God says two things to us: On one hand, that he has manifested himself and shows us the right way; on the other, that God is a God who listens, who is close to us, who answers us and guides us. With this we also touch the subject of purity: His will purifies us, his closeness guides us.

I think it is worthwhile to reflect a moment on Israel's joy over the fact of knowing the will of God and of having thus received the gift of wisdom that heals us and that we cannot find on our own. Is there among us, in the Church today, a similar feeling of joy over God's closeness and the gift of his Word? Anyone who might wish to show such a feeling would be immediately accused of triumphalism. However, it is not, in fact, our ability which indicates to us the real will of God. It is an unmerited gift that makes us at the same time humble and happy. If we reflect on the perplexity of the world in face of the great issues of the present and future, then there should also arise in us again the joy over the fact that God has freely shown us his face, his will, himself. If this joy arises in us, it will also touch the heart of non-believers. Without this joy, we are not convincing. However, where this joy is present it has, though not wishing it, a missionary force. In fact, it arouses in men this question: Is the way not, in fact, here -- does this joy not in fact lead effectively to the traces of God himself?

All this is treated further in the passage taken from the Letter of James, which the Church proposes to us today. I love the Letter of James above all because, thanks to it, we can have an idea of the devotion of Jesus' family. It was a religious family. Religious in the sense that it lived the Deuteronomical joy because of God's closeness, which is given to us in his Word and his commandment. It is a kind of observance that is completely different from the one we find in the Pharisees of the Gospel, who had made of it an exteriorized and enslaving system. It is also a kind of observance different from that of Paul, as rabbi, who had learned: That was -- as we see in his letters -- the observance by a specialist who knew everything; who was proud of his knowledge and justice and who, however, suffered under the weight of the prescriptions, so that the Law no longer seemed to be the joyful guide to God, but rather an exigency that, in the last analysis, could not be fulfilled.

In the Letter of James we find this observance that does not look at itself, but that turns joyfully to the close God, who gives us his closeness and shows us the right way. Hence the Letter of James speaks of the perfect Law of freedom and means by that a new and deeper understanding of the Law that the Lord has given us. For James the Law is not an exigency that asks too much of us, that is before us from outside and that can never be satisfied. He refers to the point of view we find in a phrase in Jesus' farewell addresses: "No longer do I call you servants, for the servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends for all that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you" (John 15:15).

He to whom everything has been revealed belongs to the family; he is no longer a servant, but free because, in fact, he himself forms part of the house. A similar initial introduction in the thought of God himself happened to Israel on Mount Sinai. It happened in a great and definitive way in the Cenacle and, in general, through the work, life, passion and resurrection of Jesus; in him, God has given us everything, he has manifested himself completely. We are no longer servants, but friends. The Law is no longer a prescription for persons who are not free, but is contact with the love of God -- being introduced to form part of the family, act that makes us free and "perfect." It is in this sense that James tells us, in today's reading, that the Lord has engendered us through his Word, that he has planted his Word in our interior as force of life. Here there is also talk of "pure religion" which consists in love of neighbor -- particularly of orphans and widows, of those who are in greatest need of us -- and in freedom from the fashions of this world, which contaminate us.

The Law, as word of love, is not a contradiction to freedom, but a renewal from within through friendship with God. Something similar is manifested when Jesus, in his address about the vine, says to his disciples: "You are already made clean by the word which I have spoken to you" (John 15:3). And the same appears again later in the priestly prayer: You are sanctified in the truth (cf. John 17:17-19). Thus we now find the right structure of the process of purification and of purity: We are not the ones who create what is good -- this would be a simple moralism -- instead, it is Truth that comes to meet us. He himself is the Truth, the Truth in person. Purity is a dialogic event. It begins with the fact that he comes to meet us -- he, who is Truth and Love -- takes us by the hand, and is fused with our being. In the measure in which we allow ourselves to be touched by him, in which the encounter becomes friendship and love, we are, stemming from his purity, pure persons and then persons who love with his love, persons who introduce others in his purity and his love.

Augustine summarized all this process in this beautiful expression: "Da quod iubes et iube quod vis" -- grant what you command and then command what you will.

We now wish to take this petition to the Lord and to pray: Yes, purify us in the truth. You be the Truth that purifies us. Through our friendship with you, may we come to be free and thus truly children of God, make us capable of sitting at your table and of spreading in this world the light of your purity and goodness. Amen.

Tuesday, 15 September 2009

Luther on Prayer

It is true that what has heretofore been offered as prayer - wailing and chanting in the churches, etc. - was really not prayer. Such external, ceremonial things, when properly observed, serve as an exercise for young children, pupils, and simple minds; while they may be called singing or reading exercises, they are not real prayer. To pray as the second commandment teaches is to call upon God in every need. This God requires of us and has not left it to our choice. We are under obligation to pray if we would be Christians. . . .

From The Large Catechism, the old translation by J.N. Lenker.

Prayer has been defined by someone as "answering speech", that is, it is our response to God's address to us in his Word, which comes first. Thus it seems to me that the decline of prayer in the contemporary church and the decline of Bible reading and literacy are directly related. For many today, it would seem, the Divine Service is their only experience of both the Word and prayer. Such folk are perhaps the contemporary version of Luther's 'simple minds'. The question is, 'How do we best lead them to sense their "obligation to pray"'? The Word must be explained simply in the sermon, both in what it demands and promises, and the prayers should likewise be simple and if possible drawn thematically from the lections of the day, particularly the Gospel. If appropriate, a simplified version of the Divine Service along the lines of what the LCA has provided in its Worship Resources could be offered regularly on Sunday mornings, followed by adult 'Sunday School' class devoted to opening up the Bible for people so that they may use it with confidence in their homes. That would seem a good place to start.

Lito & Family Need Your Prayers

Most readers of my blog will also be readers of Lito at Extra Nos (link below if not). Please check his latest blog entry if you haven't already, and remember his family in your prayers at the present time. Thanks!

Monday, 14 September 2009

Norman Borlaug Passes

Norman Borlaug, the agricultural scientist whose work on increasing crop yields began in the 1940s and led to the 3rd World agricultural revolution of the 1960s that saved probably over a billion people from starvation (Remember the dire predictions of the Club of Rome? Ever wonder why they didn't eventuate? Answer = Norman Borlaug) died on 12 September at age 95. Borlaug, the son of Norwegian Lutheran immigrants to the US, grew up on an Iowa farm and was educated until Grade 8 in a one room school house. He had to work his way through university, sometimes as a farm labourer working for 50 cents a day. Quite an amazing story. Thank God for Norman Borlaug and his work. Click on the post title to learn more about his work.

Sunday, 13 September 2009

Richard Dawkins Stumped

I am a humanities person rather than a sciences person, and I therefore claim no particular expertise in science; my interest in the subject is more in the area of the relationship between science, theology and philosophy than in science per se. Having said that, my understanding is that one of the greatest challenges posed to the theory of evolution as proposed by Darwin and his modern interpreters comes from the fields of genetics and information theory. Essentially - again, as I understand it - discoveries and advances in these fields since the 1950s suggest that the mutations which Darwin claimed were the driving force of the "natural selection" process have since been discovered to represent a decrease rather than an increase in the information encoded in the subject genome. In lay terms, a genome is a blueprint, if you like, for an organism; a mutation does not add new information to the blueprint, enabling a more complex organism to "evolve", rather it scrambles information from the original blueprint. According to this approach, any physical adaptation of a species to a new environment therefore represents a re-arrangement or tweaking of information already existant in the blueprint. Needless to say, this presents a major stumbling block to evolutionary theory - unless it is overcome, there is less reason to invoke the "blind watchmaker" of evolutionary theory, to borrow Richard Dawkins' phrase, and more compelling evidence for an intelligent designer of life.

In the following video, Richard Dawkins, a man rarely at a loss for words, appears stumped when asked to give an example of a mutation that has resulted in increased information being added to a genome. The video was part of a film produced c. 1997, but was apparently not included in the film as is because the question was actually asked during a break in the interview by the camera person, who was not miked - though the question is still audible - and it has only come to light recently. Claims of a hoax through editing appear to have been substantially answered by the camera operator in question, who has provided a timeline of the whole interview showing where cuts were made. The only cut in the video shown below occurs at Dawkins' own request for "time to think", after which he offers an answer which has absolutely nothing to do with the question, what is known to humanities types like me as the informal fallacy of ignoratio elenchi , or irrelevant conclusion. Interesting.

Saturday, 12 September 2009

I'm excited...

I'm excited about this news, so much so that I've simply cut and pasted this report from Cyberbrethren:

Here are some observations from Rev. Dr. Benjamin Mayes, the managing editor of the new extension of Luther’s Works, about the first volume issued in the new series, Volume 69:

“Volumes 22–24 of Luther’s Works: American Edition did not give us all of Luther’s preaching on the Gospel of John. Now, in the new volume 69, we have Luther’s exposition of Jesus’ high priestly prayer in John 17, as well as his preached meditations on the entire passion and resurrection of our Lord according to John. In LW 69, Luther is an expert guide through the mysteries of Lent and Easter. Dr. Christopher Boyd Brown’s introductions and footnotes in many ways surpass the scholarly apparatus of the old series. Brown sets Luther’s commentary in the context of patristic, medieval, and contemporary Reformation commentaries on John in order to show what was most important to Luther as he preached on Christ’s passion. The last part of our new volume is truly unique. For the first time, we have collected and translated all of Luther’s sermons on John 20:19–31, where Jesus breathes on His disciples, gives them the Holy Spirit, and bestows on them His authority to forgive and retain sins. This passage, which is quoted and explained in many editions of the Small Catechism, as well as in the twenty-eighth article of the Augsburg Confession, has been the center of not a little controversy over the years. The sermons here in LW 69 show in what ways Luther’s explanation of this passage changed through his career, and in what ways it stayed the same. In every sermon Luther’s concern to uphold the forgiveness of sins through the word of absolution is clear and heartening.”

Thanks Paul & Concordia Publishing House!

Wednesday, 9 September 2009

The Schlier Case

In discussing the direction of the Evangelical Catholic movement and one of its grey eminences, Carl Braaten, over at Cyberbrethren, I pointed to the case of Heinrich Schlier as an anticipation of the trajectory the Evangelical Catholics seem to be on. Here is something on the Schlier case by Hermann Sasse which I orginally posted at 'What Sasse Said'. (Incidentally, from 1953 onwards Schlier was a close friend of and collaborator with Ratzinger; see Ratzinger's memoirs, Milestones, for details.)

Bishop Hans Lillje recently noted the significance of the conversion to Rome of Professor Heinrich Schlier of Bonn. This outstanding disciple of Bultmann, one of the most learned New Testament scholars in Germany, confessed that it was Bultmann’s approach to the New Testament that led him in this direction. “What tribunal is to make decisions about these various strata of tradition which have been worked out, and who is to decide about their relative value? He preferred to attach himself to a tradition historically established as that of the Church of Rome rather than trust himself to the unsure path of conflicting human opinions” (Lutheran World,Sept.1961,p135)…Such facts point up the sad condition of modern Protestant theology which has lost the Bible as the Word of God. The Church of the Reformation lives and dies with the Sola Scriptura.
From ‘The Inspiration of Holy Scripture’ , an article published in Christianity Today, March 16, 1962.

In Christ Alone (Townend/Getty)

On Stuart Townend, one of the song's composers, from Wiki: "As of 2008, CCLI lists the popular In Christ Alone in its Top 25 CCLI Songs list. In 2005, Cross Rhythms magazine described Townend as "one of the most significant songwriters in the whole international Christian music field". The Christian website commented that, "the uniqueness of Townend’s writing lies partly in its lyrical content. There is both a theological depth and poetic expression that some say is rare in today’s worship writing. Townend, son of a Church of England vicar in Halifax, West Yorkshire, was the youngest of four children. He studied literature at the University of Sussex. Townend started learning to play the piano at age 7. At the age of 13, he made a Christian commitment, and began songwriting at age 22."

Theoretically, I shouldn't like this song, but whenever I hear it "my heart is strangely warmed", to borrow a phrase. It is undeniably a powerful combination of words and music that few contemporary Christian composers could match. In one of the congregations I currently serve I've inherited a contemporary music group and we've introduced this into their repertoire.

Some of my conservative Lutheran friends may think I'm wavering in the cause, but the best of Anglican evangelicalism - theology, music, churchmanship - has had an influence on me ever since I returned to the grace of my baptism as an adult, remembering that I was raised in an Anglican milieu, my paternal grandfather was even the chairman of a Sydney Anglican congregation. Also, unlike in the American mid-west, in Australia Lutheranism is a minority position which cannot help but relate to stronger allies in other confessions.

The evangelical Anglicans are strong on scripture, justification and the atonement, but weak on the sacraments, where they often don't even measure up to the 39 Articles, and often uncertain on law & gospel, despite adequate resources to recover this key to scripture within their own tradition. I've made up for these shortcomings by reading Walther on law & gospel, while Sasse was my tutor on the sacraments and Pieper opened me up to classical Lutheran dogmatics. So, I suppose nowadays I take anything Anglican in through Lutheran eyes and ears. Hey, even Sasse admired the work of a young Dr J.I. Packer on the inspiration and inerrancy of scripture!

C.S. Lewis in a Time of War

Spring is here (British & American friends will be reminded that I am 'down under' where the seasons are the obverse of what pertains in the northern hemisphere) and having survived a cold and damp winter in a foreign clime without even a sniffle I have now managed to acquire what my nursing sister wife has helpfully labelled an "URTI", which sounds like one of those creatures that violently emerged from that unfortunate man's abdomen in Alien, but is actually an abbreviation for an Upper Respiratory Tract Infection.
I began to feel it coming on Thursday last and since then have taken a funeral and Sunday services, a recipe guaranteed to weaken one's immune system. Now every time I cough (which thanks to my asthma is quite often) my lungs feel as though they're on fire. The only upside is the enforced rest that comes with it, which means I am breaking my own rule and scanning the web mid-week.

Here's one interesting thing I have come across: Bill Muehlenberg of Culture Watch has alerted his readers to a timely new book on C. S. Lewis' rise as a broadcaster during WWII (click on title to go to his post) called, naturally enough, 'C.S. Lewis in a Time of War'. Times of national crisis often prove to be opportunities for spiritual renewal, and Lewis readers will already know that his talks on Christianity broadcast by the BBC beginning in August of 1941 elicited a very positive response from the British public and eventually became the book Mere Christianity, which was the standard introduction to the Christian faith for many English-speaking people until John Stott's Basic Christianity came along some years later. Mere Christianity still features on a recent list of Christian best-sellers at #90. (Incidentally, Russia also experienced spiritual renewal during WWII, but that renewal has proven to be longer lasting than Britain's.)
Anyway, here is the book:
And just to set the scene, here is the close of one of Churchill's many rousing speeches of the day that were likewise broadcast on the BBC, this one from the 18th June, 1940: “The Battle of France is over. The Battle of Britain is about to begin. Upon this battle depends the survival of Christian civilization… Cold fury and might of the enemy must very soon be turned on us. Hitler knows that he will have to break us in this island or lose the war… Let us therefore brace ourselves to our duty, and so bear ourselves that, if the British Empire and its Commonwealth lasts for a thousand years, men will still say, ‘This was their finest hour’.”

And indeed it was.

Monday, 7 September 2009

Luther on the Right Use of One's Baptism

In my sermon yesterday,in the course of applying the Gospel text on the faith of the Syro-Pheonician woman (Mark 7:24ff) and how it moved her to come to Jesus for help in her time of need, I touched on what it means to be in a 'state of grace', evangelically conceived*, and why our sins and the sense of unworthiness they provoke in us should not prevent us from coming to our Lord in faith with our needs in the expectant hope that he will indeed answer our prayers. Unfortunately, I only came across this quote from Luther last night, else I would have used it in my sermon:

"God pledges himself not to impute to you the sins which remain in your nature after baptism, neither to take them into account nor condemn you because of them. He is satisfied and well pleased if you are constantly striving and desiring to conquer these sins and at your death to be rid of them."

From The Holy and Blessed Sacrament of Baptism, 1519 (American Edition of Luther's Works, 35:34).

* As opposed to how this term is conceived in Romanism, where a 'state of grace' means the absence of mortal sin and is a mandated requirement for a worthy reception of communion. This definition not only leads to the question of 'What is a mortal sin?'(Lutherans would point to the breaking of the First Commandment as the root mortal sin), but it also surely means misinforming the conscience of the Roman Catholic believer as to the offensive and condemning nature of every act of sin (cf. James 2, the second lection yesterday, "everyone who stumbles..."), whether internal or external, committed in thought, word or deed, not to mention the damning nature of original sin. Such a doctrine reveals a superficial understanding of sin on a par with popular "evangelicalism".

Friday, 4 September 2009

Reappraising Neville Chamberlain

Seventy years ago this week World War II began, following Germany's invasion of Poland on September 1st, 1939. History has not been kind to Neville Chamberlain, the British Prime Minister of the day, regarding him as the man who foolishly appeased Hitler until it was too late to stop him. However, conservative blogger 'Archbishop Cranmer' redivivus has posted an interesting attempt to reappraise Chamberlain's role in both the lead up to the war and the eventual Allied victory.
Click on the title to go to the post.
Comments from history buffs welcome.