Tuesday, June 2, 2009

FC 4

So yesterday, in preparation for my History Class (which is up to the Formula of Concord), I reread Epitome, 4 - on Good Works. It has got me thinking. When we look at faith, we can speak of faith on maybe two planes.

1. We are justified by faith. Faith works on the plane of salvation - and there is nothing at all involved with works here.
2. Faith which is living produces works. Simply happens. Feel free to encourage.

Here is a simple observation. There are two contrasting approaches that seem to be arising in our Synod - or maybe emphases...

1. Christ Jesus has died for us, and thus we have forgiveness and life and salvation.
2. The modern idea infesting the LCMS that churches need to have mission statements - which generally focus on. . . for lack of a better phrase. . . getting people to do good works - be it service, or witnessing, or making Gospel contacts, or some other such thing.

What is the Church to be about - what is it's primary focus to be on? Do we focus on Christ and Him Crucified? Or do we have a bit of Jesus, and then focus on to good works? Which idea is primary, and which is secondary?

Now, the way I ordered them should give you a clue to the way I line up on this (and given the fact that Righteousness and Justification always show up before Works in the Confessions, I would argue this is the Lutheran approach). And this ends being what is so frustrating. . . so much of what I hear might have a place - but it's a skewed focus. It would be like listening someone talk over and over about how catching fly balls is the most important, defining part of a baseball game. Well. . . it's a part. . . and some players need to work on it. . . but catching fly balls isn't the heart, isn't the essence of baseball.

Likewise - Christians do works. There are times and places to focus on works, what and how we ought to do thinks (indeed, what we *must* do) - but this isn't the focus of the Christian faith - and if it becomes the focus, things become skewed.


Rev. Gregory W. Brown said...

That's why I also say that preaching is Proclamation and not Communication. I see it as Faith & Works. Proclamation is what Christ has done. Communication comes off as what you must do 9works).

Brown the Elder

foxie said...

Could you elaborate more on what you mean by a focus on works skews things?

(oddly my openid from LJ isn't working)

Rev. Gregory W. Brown said...

Works always follow faith, not the other way around. Our focus is on Justification and not sanctification. Without faith it is impossible to do a good work. No faith - no good work even though they may be the same activity by believers or unbelievers. Only believers can can do good works in God's site and all good works are actually Christ working through us.

Rev. Paul Beisel said...

Of course, to say that we focus on Justification and not sanctification is not to say that we have not obligation to preach good works and holy living. If you don't believe me, just read Chemnitz' Enchiridion on Ministry, Word, and Sacraments.

Rev. Eric J Brown said...

I suppose I should say "a focus on works in the context of the worship service skews things." There are times indeed to focus on works - to learn how better to demonstrate love as a Christian. Indeed, this is part of the service - but the main focus of Christian worship isn't learning works, or doing works, but being in Christ and receiving His love and mercy.