Category Archives: Doctrine

Christ Alone is Perfect Doctrine

If all doctrine is one, if all the articles of doctrine are one and one is all, if doctrine is like a perfect golden ring, then Christ as the center is the whole essence of Christian doctrine just as he is the center and heart of the Scriptures. The solus Christus is not an abstraction but a reality embracing everything that Christ has done to save fallen mankind. The solus Christus embraces the entire work of God from creation to Christ’s return. It is the total opus ad extra of the Trinity. The solus Christus embraces not merely the work of Christ and the Father who sends Him, but also the work of the Spirit who sanctifies us. In fact, it is Christ who is our sanctification as well as our righteousness. The unity of doctrine is both christological and doctrinal, for the doctrine is Christ’s and Christ is the center of all the doctrine, perfecta doctrina. To Luther, then, the solus Christus dominates every article of faith, whether it is creation, redemption, the sacrament of the altar, baptism, worship, or whatever. It also dominates the third article. Christ is not only our righteousness, He is our holiness. Luther says, “The church is indeed holy, but it is a sinner at the same time.” Here simul justus et peccator becomes simul sanctus et peccator. Luther goes on in this way, “Therefore it believes in the forgiveness of sins and prays, ‘forgive us our debts’ (Matthew 6:12)… Therefore we are not said to be holy formally as a wall is said to be white because of its inherent whiteness. Our inherent holiness is not enough. But Christ is the perfect and total holiness of the church [perfecta et tota sanctitas ipsius]. When our inherent holiness is not enough, Christ is enough [satis est Christus].”

Robert D. Preus, “Luther: Word, Doctrine, Confession”, from Doctrine is Life: Essays on Scripture, pages 284-285.

The Three Stages of Error and Its Acceptance

When error is admitted into the Church, it will be found that the stages of its progress are always three. It begins with toleration. Its friends say to the majority: You need not be afraid of us; we are few, and weak; only let us alone; we shall not disturb the faith of others. The Church has her standards of doctrine; of course we shall never interfere with them; we only ask for ourselves to be spared interference with our private opinions. Indulged in this for a time, error goes on to assert equal rights. Truth and error are two balancing forces. The Church shall do nothing which looks like deciding between them; that would be partiality. It is bigotry to assert any superior right for the truth. We agree to differ, and favoring of the truth, because it is truth is partisanship. What the friends of truth and error hold in common is fundamental. Anything on which they differ is ipso facto non-essential. Anybody who makes account of such a thing is a disturber of the peace of the church. Truth and error are two co-ordinate powers, and the great secret of church-statesmanship is to preserve the balance between them. From this point of view error soon goes on to to its natural end, which is to assert supremacy. Truth started with tolerating; it comes to be merely tolerated, and that only for a time. Error claims a preference for its judgments on all disputed points. It puts men into positions, not as at first in spite of their departures from the Church’s faith but in consequence of it. Their recommendation is that they repudiate the faith, and position is given them to teach others to repudiate it, and making them skillful in combating it.

Charles Porterfield Krauth, “The Conservative Reformation and Its Theology”, pages 195-196

C.P. Krauth

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Jesus IN Us or Jesus FOR Us?

Read these Bible passages:

In his days Judah will be saved, and Israel will dwell securely. And this is the name by which he will be called: “The Lord is our righteousness.” (Jeremiah 23:6 ESV)

Because of [God] you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, righteousness and sanctification and redemption. (1 Corinthians 1:30 ESV)

For our sake [God] made [Jesus] to be sin who knew no sin, so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God. (2 Corinthians 5:21)

Now read the following two statements. One was rejected by the Lutheran church, and one was accepted. Using the Bible passages, choose which is right and which is wrong.

A. Our righteousness before God consists in this, that God forgives us our sins by sheer grace, without any works, merit, or worthiness of our own, in the past, at present, or in the future, that he gives us and reckons to us the righteousness of Christ’s obedience and that, because of this righteousness, we are accepted by God into grace and regarded as righteous.

B. Faith should look not only to the obedience of Christ but also to his divine nature, as it dwells in us and produces results, and that through this indwelling our sins are covered.

So the question is: Are you saved because Jesus died for you or because Jesus dwells in your heart?

The answer is in Formula of Concord Article Three.

– + Klemet Preus +, The Fire and The Staff, pages 59-61

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