Thursday, December 22, 2005

Have a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

I'm going to be gone until after New Year's. After that, I'll probably blog on the Babylonian Captivity of the Church. I've been telling everyone to read it, and they don't, so I guess I need to just give it to them in bite-size pieces.

Is justification by faith alone compatible with the efficacy of the sacraments? This is what that work is all about, and I can't imagine a more central topic for evangelical theology. It is their belief that baptismal regeneration and the Real Presence is contrary to justification by faith alone that is the reason why serious and well-informed Reformed and revivalist Christians reject the Augsburg Evangelical teachings on these topics.

What is the center of Luther's theology? I would contend it is the "promise." What is the center of Scripture? I would contend it is the "promise." What is the center of true sacramental theology in Evangelicalism? I would contend it is the "promise" -- in all cases God promising forgiveness to sinners. That is what The Babylonian Captivity of the Church is all about. For this reason I disagree with those who believe that it "is an historically significant work by Luther; but I don’t really think it’s all that helpful theologically for us today." Similarly I disagree with those who wish to revive ex opere operato as a usable theological concept. And finally I disagree that the mature Luther changed his sacramental theology from that in the Babylonian Captivity at all. Yes, the application changed, but not the basic idea: that baptism, the Lord's Supper, Gospel preaching, and indeed all of God's dealings with sinners are, and always have been, through a promise, an unconditional promise of forgiveness of sins. Believe it and you have it.

Merry Christmas!

Posts in the series so far:
Series on Luther's Babylonian Captivity of the Church:
Standing on the Promises,
More Luther on Communion,
How to Approach Holy Communion,
The Promise, Ex Opere Operato, and "Performative Word" in Luther's Thought
Sacrifice and Prayers of the Mass
A Better Way to Define the Sacraments