Saturday, November 7, 2020

"As John preceded Christ, so the gospel precedes the mass."

"The church has decided that the mass must not be celebrated without the reading of the gospel. Therefore God has placed greater importance on the gospel than on the mass, for without the gospel man does not live in the Spirit, but he does without the mass. 'For man shall live by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God' [Cf. Matt. 4:4], as the Lord himself teaches at greater length in the sixth chapter of John. The mass then renews those who are already a part of the body of Christ, but the gospel, the sword of the Spirit, devours the flesh, divides the kingdom of the devil, takes away the possessions of the strong and increases the body of the church. The mass helps only those who have life; the gospel, on the other hand, helps everybody. Hence, in the early church, the demoniacs and catechumens were permitted to remain until after the reading of the gospel and only then were dismissed by those who were permitted to eat and drink of the body of Christ in the mass. Even now church law permits those who have been excommunicated to remain at the mass until after the reading of the gospel . As John preceded Christ, so the gospel precedes the mass. The gospel prostrates and humbles, whereas the mass conveys grace to those who are humbled. Therefore it would be better if they forbade the mass [rather than silence the gospel]."

     Martin Luther, Explanations of the Ninety-Five Theses or Explanations of the Disputation Concerning the Value of Indulgences (1518), Conclusio 55, LW 31.1, 210-211 =WA 1, 604-605.

The jurisdiction "to exclude from the communion of the Church wicked men, whose wickedness is known"

"according to the Gospel or, as they say, by divine right, there belongs to the bishops as bishops, that is, to those to whom has been committed the ministry of the Word and the Sacraments, no jurisdiction [(jurisdictio)] except to forgive sins, to judge doctrine, to reject doctrines contrary to the Gospel, and to exclude from the communion of the Church wicked men, whose wickedness is known [(et impios, quorum nota est impietas, excludere a communione Ecclesi├Ž | und die Gottlosen, deren gottlos Wesen offenbar ist, aus [der] christlichen Gemeinde ausschlie├čen)], and this without human force, simply by the Word."

     Augsburg Confession II.vii =xxviii, De potestate ecclesiastica.  The book of concord:  the confessions of the Evangelical Lutheran Church, ed. Robert Kolb & Timothy Wengert, trans. Charles Arand et al. (Minneapolis:  Fortress Press, 2000), 94 (German) | 95 (Latin).

Sunday, November 1, 2020

"there is little more to be said about the Holy Spirit than the body of Christ."

 "Human life is a fundamentally obscured arena for faith; and faith is that arena's strange hope. . . .

     "The Spirit is indeed rightly called 'gift'—but in the sense of a giving that provides the gift of the body, of our life, in Christ's body.  While this limitation has its own pneumatological implications, it is a limitation nonetheless:  there is little more to be said about the Holy Spirit than the body of Christ."

     Ephraim Radner, A profound ignorance:  modern-pneumatology and its anti-modern redemption (Waco, TX:  Baylor University Press, 2019), 248.

"the mistake [that] trails this Person like a veil"

      "To explain the existential and perhaps even metaphysical adequacy of this scripturally narrated Jesus would end up, at least grammatically, making 'sufficiency' ('it is enough') and 'worth' ('it is worth living') simply synonyms for 'the Holy Spirit,' while also failing to indicate the living Person of God who the Spirit is.  Such a grammatical equivalence would be a mistake, although it is a common enough move (cf. the traditional and often-used identifications of the Spirit as 'Gift' or 'Love').  But since the Spirit has neither personal name nor relational identity—since the Spirit is neither the Son whom 'you shall call Jesus' nor the Father who sends the Son and is invoked as such—the mistake trails this Person like a veil.  One might wish to call this nameless identity 'shyness' or 'modesty,' but that too is to miss what is going on.  It is as if the Spirit stands as the very obscurity of the divine Persons themselves, whose life 'for us' nonetheless cannot be escaped.  Just as mortality is simply what it means that God has created us—utter grace—so suffering is what it means that God is in Christ, reconciling the world to himself.  Who does not before these truths, even with face unveiled, yet through the Spirit's still opaque reflection, stand with hand upon the mouth?"

     Ephraim Radner, A profound ignorance:  modern pneumatology and its anti-modern redemption (Waco, TX:  Baylor University Press, 2019), 247.