For baptism, gospel and faith alone make men religious. (Luther: An Appeal to the Working Class, 1520)
In Christianity, baptism (from the Greek baptizo: "immersing", "performing ablutions") is the ritual through which an individual is admitted to full membership of the Christian Church and, in the view of some, as a member of the particular Church in which the baptism took place.
Christians consider Jesus to have instituted this sacrament and Baptism has been a rite of Christianity from its earliest days as seen in the many references in Acts and the Epistles.
Some Christians, particularly Quakers and the Salvation Army, do not see baptism as necessary. Among those who do, there are differences in the process of baptizing and in the theological significance of the rite. Most baptize "in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit", but some, such as Charismatic groups baptize in Jesus' name only, citing Peter's preaching of baptism in the name of Jesus only, as their authority (Acts 2:38). Most baptize infants, others do not. Some insist on submersion or at least partial immersion of the individual, others consider that any form of washing by water is sufficient.
The liturgy of baptism in the Catholic, Eastern Orthodox, Lutheran, Anglican, and Methodist traditions makes clear reference to baptism as not only a symbolic burial and resurrection, but an actual supernatural transformation, which draws parallels to the experience of Noah and the passage of the Israelites through the Red Sea.
Thus, baptism is literally and symbolically not only cleansing, but also dying and rising again with Christ. Catholics believe that baptism is necessary for the cleansing of the taint of original sin, and for that reason infant baptism is a common practice. The Eastern Churches also baptize infants on the basis of texts, such as Matthew 19:14, “Let the little children come to me, and do not stop them; for it is to such as these that the Kingdom of heaven belongs”. (NRSV) which are interpreted as supporting full Church membership for children. In these traditions, baptism is immediately followed by Chrismation and Communion regardless of age. Orthodox Christians also believe that baptism removes what they call the ancestral sin of Adam.
Anglicans also believe that Baptism is the entry into the Church and therefore allows them access to all rights and responsibilities as full members, including the privilege to receive Holy Communion. Most Anglicans agree that it also cleanses the taint of what in the West is called original sin, in the East ancestral sin.
Eastern Orthodox Christians usually insist on complete threefold immersion as both a symbol of death and rebirth into Christ, and as a washing away of sin. Latin Rite Catholics generally baptize by affusion (pouring); Eastern Catholics usually by submersion, or at least partial immersion. However, submersion is gaining in popularity within the Latin Catholic Church. In newer church sanctuaries, the baptismal font may be designed to expressly allow for baptism by immersion. Anglicans baptize by submersion, immersion, affusion or sprinkling.
Baptists argue that the Greek word βαπτίζω originally meant "to immerse". They interpret some Biblical passages concerning baptism as requiring submersion of the body in water. They also state that only submersion reflects the symbolic significance of being "buried" and "raised" with Christ (Romans 6:3-4). Baptist Churches baptize in the name of the Trinity. However, they do not believe that baptism is necessary for salvation: instead it is an act of obedience.
In the context of the above, then, it is possible to argue that all churches are distinctive in their approach to Holy Baptism and that it depends where one stands how one interprets “distinctive”. This will be true of all the categories under consideration in this essay.
What we can say is that the majority of Christians accept Baptism as a Sacrament, by which we mean an outward and visible expression of an inner and invisible conviction to paraphrase Augustine of Hippo. It is a rite in which God is believed to be uniquely active.
Turning to a more specific look at Lutheranism, we see in the development of Luther’s thinking the rationale which gives our church its particular flavour. In a climate where there are many different teachings about being reborn – particularly in charismatic denominations where there is much emphasis on being “born again” – we need to remember that Luther made it clear that baptism grants the new birth by the mere act performed in the community of believers, but without faith it is meaningless.
Lutherans with Luther can talk about “born-again” experiences, as long as we keep the emphasis on God as the source of that experience and servanthood as its ongoing result .… Unlike those denominations that tend to tie the experience of renewal to evidence of a person’s spiritual development or special encounter of faith, Lutherans with Luther can appreciate the ongoing effect of the sacrament as an external God-given means of grace at the root of faith-based spiritual living. 1
In the time of Luther the function of the sacraments was to impart grace, but this happened simply by virtue of their use and the believer’s participation (ex opere operato): there was no personal religious response or disposition. Indeed Luther complained that the power of baptism had been reduced
“to such small and slender dimensions that . . . it had now become entirely useless.’’ 2
For Luther the transforming power of baptism had disappeared because it effectively eliminated the role of faith. By “faith” here we are not talking about an intellectual assent but about a trusting relationship with the living God.
Luther’s understanding of the sacrament is based on his sense of God’s word as “promise” thus God’s word is directed at, and conferred on the recipient of the sacrament and not the elements of the sacrament, in this case water. God’s word is something powerful, active and creative, working faith itself in the believer. This is the distinctive element in Luther’s teaching. In a sermon from 1537 Luther makes this connection:
If God is able by the word to create heaven and earth and fill the world, that is, everything we see with our eyes, why is it not possible to take water and baptize, saying ‘‘In the name . . .’’ and so be washed from all sins in body and soul? 3
Luther saw baptism as having significance beyond the brief rite at the font. For Luther, baptism influences the whole of the believer’s life.
In Baptism every Christian has enough to study and to practice all his life. He always has enough to do to believe firmly what Baptism promises and brings - victory over death and the devil, forgiveness of sin, God’s grace, the entire Christ, and the Holy Spirit with his gifts. In short the blessings of Baptism are so boundless that if timid nature considers them, it may well doubt whether they could all be true. 4
Thus we can see that the main factor that influences Luther’s theology of baptism is the importance of identifying the sacrament with the central tenet of the reformation movement: the doctrine of justification. After his rediscovery of this understanding of New Testament texts, Luther viewed all theology through this lens. Baptism must now signify “full and complete justification”. 5 Luther rejected any sense that salvation requires any co-operation between the human and divine wills. Baptism quite simply brings about a death and resurrection which makes any incremental or progressive understanding of justification impossible.
However, we are not to misinterpret the significance of this. Although baptism is administered only once as a sacrament, it has, nevertheless to be spiritually repeated on a daily basis: “It means that our sinful self, with all its evil deeds and desires, should be drowned through daily repentance; and that day after day a new self should arise to live with God in righteousness and purity forever.” 6
Perhaps the most significant of Luther’s justification for infant baptism is its foundation in the will of God. God has made a covenant with all people and baptism is a sign of that bond. Since the covenant is for everyone, the church must baptise everyone, and that obviously includes children. God will take care of faith: Christians have done enough when they preach and baptise. 7 Central to his detractors was the argument that because children have no reason they can not believe. To Luther God is able to create faith in human hearts despite reason. Thus infant baptism can be called the surest and most certain baptism. 8
However, there are those who argue that Luther’s baptismal theology of God’s Word
which met each person with the choice of life or death, has been lost when the Lutheran Book of Worship describes scriptural people from the flood story as “chosen” or “wicked” rather than as “believing” or “unbelieving”. 9
We have already seen (p2 above) how baptismal theology uses the experience of Noah and the passage of the Israelites through the Red Sea to stress the ideas of cleansing and dying and rising again with Christ and it is a shame that the LBW omits Luther’s references to the Pharaoh and Israel where he analyses the religious problem of choosing life over death.
The Holy Communion
The Holy Communion, also called The Eucharist, The Mass or The Lord's Supper is a Christian sacrament, Most Christians consider Holy Communion to be a commemoration of the Last Supper, the final meal that Jesus Christ shared with his disciples before his arrest and crucifixion. The consecration of bread and a cup within the rite recalls the moment at the Last Supper as recorded in the three Synoptic Gospels when Jesus gave his disciples bread, saying, "This is my body", and wine, saying, "This is my blood."
Amongst Christians there are different interpretations of the significance of the Holy Communion but The Encyclopaedia Britannica tells us that “there is more of a consensus among Christians about the meaning of the Eucharist than would appear from the confessional debates over the sacramental presence, the effects of the Eucharist, and the proper auspices under which it may be celebrated."
The majority of Christians recognize a special presence of Christ in this sacrament, while often differing about the mechanics of how, where, and when this special presence takes place. Roman Catholicism and Eastern Orthodoxy teach that the consecrated elements truly become the body and blood of Jesus Christ. The term used by Roman Catholics to explain how this transformation occurs is Transubstantiation. Many Roman Catholic churches practice Communion on “one kind”: that is while both elements are consecrated only the bread or wafer is distributed to the congregation whereas the priest consumes both. The rationale here is that the bread is changed in the Eucharist into Jesus' body but, because Jesus, risen from the dead, is living not only his body is present but Jesus as a whole, body and blood, soul and divinity. Thus the communicant recieves both body and blood in the form of the wafer.
Orthodox Christians believe the change takes place at the epiklesis – the point at which the Holy Spirit is invoked and the consecration of the bread and wine as the Body and Blood of Christ is specifically requested. Lutherans believe that the body and blood of Jesus are present "in, with and under" the forms of bread and wine, a concept known as the sacramental union. The Reformed churches which follow the teachings of John Calvin, believe in a spiritual (or "pneumatic") real presence of Christ by the power of the Holy Spirit and received by faith. Anglicans adhere to a range of views although the Anglican church officially teaches the real presence. Some Protestant churches, such as the Baptist and Methodist Churches, have a moral objection to the use of alcohol and so use grape juice instead although there is no official restriction on the use of wine. Wesley, the founder of Methodism and originally a High Anglican, would presumably have followed the Anglican position in other respects to the communion. Generally Baptists hold a memorialist view of Eucharist in the tradition of Zwingli. They would not adhere to the view of any change in the substance of the bread and wine. They would see it as a means of grace.
Some Christians, regardless of denominational allegiance, privately reject the concept of the real presence, believing that the eucharist is to be best understood as a memorial of the death of Christ or as a symbolic act of remembrance.
Turning more specifically to the Lutheran understanding: as we noted in the section on Baptism, Luther rejected the Catholic notion of ex opere operato: grace is not imparted to the believer merely through participation in the sacrament. We noted too how Luther saw the sacraments as part of God’s word: God’s word as “promise” and how, when the sacrament is empty of a religious response or disposition to faith, then the gap is easily filled by the theology of works.
The Communion is a promise we receive, not a work we do. As with Baptism we see again the linking of an existing sacrament with the key plank of Reformation theology: justification by grace through faith alone. We see nothing here of Communion as mere remembrance. Nor do we see Communion as mere symbolism – ideas which, as we have noted, some other denominations emphasise.
What we have instead is the difference between communion which is purely a testament, a gift or promise in which we merely receive by faith but contribute nothing, and the service of the sacrament as a whole, (not just during the rite itself but through what follows as a result). This includes thanksgiving to God through which we are clearly doing something but we must avoid confusing the two. Holy Communion is not something we do but we must be aware of the sacrificial aspect of the sacrament because the apostles and the ante-Nicene Fathers saw the offertory as a spiritual sacrifice.
If the mass is a promise, as has been said, it is to be approached, not with any work or strength or merit, but with faith alone. P149 10
The only worthy preparation and proper use of the mass is faith in the mass, that is to say, in the divine promise. P151 11
Luther also analyses what he calls the “three captivities” of Holy Communion.
• He argues that denial of the cup to the laity is a gross abuse. It was in direct contradiction of the words of Christ that participants were to partake of both kinds. (That Catholic position continues to be strongly defended.)
• Luther denies the doctrine of transubstantiation which taught that the elements of the Eucharist were changed into the body and blood of the Lord by the priest's act of consecration. Luther boldly stated that the doctrine of transubstantiation had not been taught in the church for the first twelve hundred years of its existence. To Luther the bread and wine remained fully bread and fully wine while also being fully the body and blood of Jesus Christ: the real bread and wine in union with Christ’s real body and blood. “This is my body …. This is my blood” rather than “This represents my body .... This represents my blood”. Within the Eucharistic celebration the body and blood of Jesus Christ are objectively present "in, with, and under the forms" of bread and wine: this is what is known as sacramental union. Lutherans place great stress on Jesus' instructions to "take and eat", and "take and drink", believing that this is the proper, divinely ordained use of the sacrament.
This opinion, though approved by pope and council remains opinion. For what is asserted without scripture or approved revelation may be held as an opinion but may not be believed. P137 12
The main point is the issue of who has the authority to make articles of faith: popes and councils or scripture alone?
• Luther’s main target, as we have already seen, is his rejection of the contention that the Communion is a good work and a sacrifice.
For in that word, and in that word alone, reside the power, the nature, and the whole substance of the mass. All else is the work of man, added to the work of Christ; and the mass can be held and remain a mass just as well without it. P144 13
In conclusion, while we can certainly understand ideas of remembrance and symbolism the Communion for Lutherans is principally testament and promise. We receive Christ fully in the elements through faith and the Communion is not something we participate in or do. Our only response can be a thanksgiving born of that same faith and our service to God and our neighbour which follow the sacrament, are acts of obedient discipleship.
Theology is what we do when we reflect on the world and our own human existence in the light of Faith in God. To do this requires knowledge of tradition, especially of the scriptures and how they have been understood down the centuries. The trusted public role of the clergy in preaching, presiding at worship and exercising pastoral care requires them to be trained and equipped as theologians who can speak for the church. 14
This quote from Michael Sadgrove sums up for me the essence of ministry: change the first word from theology to ministry and there is a working definition. Luther similarly talked about the responsibilities of the pastor: to teach, to preach and proclaim the word of God, to baptize, to consecrate or administer the Eucharist, to bind and loose sins, to pray for others, to sacrifice and to judge all doctrine and spirits ... But the first and foremost of all, on which everything else depends, is the teaching of the Word of God. 15
Sadgrove goes on to talk about the pressures both inside and outside the church to “construe it in terms simply of taking positions.” (P 55) Such positions might be on such issues as women’s ordination, abortion or issues of human sexuality. Sadgrove’s argument here is that in poor expressions of ministry these can become a pretext for easy - even lazy – speeches that rehearse established positions without leading to an intelligent or serious conversation either between the church and the world or between Christians who differ.
In terms of the distinctive nature of the Lutheran position we need to recognise that Luther’s was a Reformation of pastoral care as much as it was of theological thinking and church practice.
Luther’s early understanding of the priesthood had been shaped by a belief that ordination gave the priest a special status, power and authority in the church, both over God’s dealing with believers and over the life of those believers. Through ordination priests were given a special quality that enabled them to do things no others could do and their standing before God gave them special standing over their parishioners; their power to dispense God’s grace gave priests special power over them. However, as his own understanding of the way God works in the world changed and developed, Luther realised that the power of God is expressed through the Word, not through priests with special power, authority and status. He came to see that God’s Word gives believers a power to serve one another: a power that has nothing to do with dictating or dominating. 16
We need to understand that Luther’s teaching on the public ministry of the Word rests on two principles. The first is that the Christian lives in two relationships, distinct but inseparable: one is with God; the other is with our neighbours. 17 The “vertical” relationship, with God, is a relationship that God establishes through the Word of God’s promise, which believers respond to with faith. (We have already discussed this idea in more detail in our discussions on Baptism and the Eucharist.) The “horizontal” relationship, with our neighbours, is a relationship defined by the principal that human life is to be experienced as God wills it to be experienced. God’s Word of gospel establishes the first relationship; God’s Word of law regulates the second. All believers are equal in God’s sight: there is no “respect of persons” (Acts 10:34, KJV), no Jew nor Greek, no slave nor free, no male nor female (Gal. 3:28).
The term “priest” for the one who ministers the Word was considered inappropriate and had arisen out of custom and common usage and its association with Catholicism was unhelpful in distinguishing the new role Luther was envisioning. Much better he believed, to use New Testament terms such as minister, steward, pastor, presbyter or servant all of which emphasize that it is not the order and status but the office and function he wanted to uphold.18
Pastors are not responsible for converting anyone. They are not responsible for maintaining anyone’s faith. The Holy Spirit does that through the Word. The pastor’s task is to apply God’s Word faithfully and aptly to God’s people.
To carry out this ministry of the Word, pastors must use the Word themselves: “It would be fine if every morning, noon, and evening they would read, instead, at least a page or two from the Catechism, the Prayer Book, the New Testament, or something else from the Bible, and would pray the Lord’s Prayer for themselves and their parishioners. In this way they might show honour and gratitude to the Gospel” 19 because, as he stated later, “Not only do we need God’s Word daily as we need our daily bread; we also must use it daily against the daily, incessant attacks and ambushes of the devil with his thousand arts.”
Luther also championed the doctrine of the priesthood of all believers
Martin Luther spoke of all Christian believers as sharing a common, spiritual priesthood in Christ, the High Priest. Based upon 1 Peter and Revelation 1, all Christians are priests (hieroi) through faith alone by the spiritual rebirth given in baptism and lived out in witness, intercession and service. God’s grace and salvation make all Christians equal before God and prevent their separation into distinct estates or classes. The office of public ministry, because of its origins and authority in God’s word, serves all of God’s people. 20
It is clear from the above how Luther’s ideas on ministry are distinct from that of Roman Catholicism. When it comes to discussions with my Anglican and Methodist friend in training, the distinctions are far less clear. Having read extracts of this analysis to some of them, they seem to assent to it all. I am left wondering to what extent we have misunderstood the others’ teachings.
The Lund Statement also speaks clearly of the ministry of Bishops: Episcopal ministers shall “provide forms of leadership that are truly shared, facilitating collaborative styles of ministry.” They are called to “demonstrate humility and simplicity of life. The profile of their ministry is not one of domination, but of service, showing clear awareness of those on the margins of society.” In the exercise of their ministry they “must set aside the necessary time and space for their own prayer, study and recreation, thereby also setting a much needed example for all the ordained and lay persons as well.” 21
If then, much of what Luther developed in his reaction against the Catholicism of his day now seems generic in terms of Protestant ministry, it seems fair to ask whether there is anything distinctive in the Lutheran position at all. My conclusion would be that there is but that it lies more in the practice of ministry than in its descriptors or levels of ordained ministry.
The way the Lutheran church is organised, with its autonomous national churches and synods, without the sort of central authority seen within Catholicism and Anglicanism, allows a greater degree of flexibility in responding to specific issues. Lutherans in different parts of the world are able to stay in a more comfortable communion with each other despite being at different stages in both understanding and practice on various issues than the more centralised churches. On issues of human sexuality, for example, there is not common agreement but there is diversity of response. In the United States the Missouri Synod remains more conservative than the ELCA. The Missouri Synod perceives homosexuality to be sinful whereas there is currently more debate in the ELCA. In Europe the LCiGB is approaching an understanding already reached in Germany, Norway, Sweden and Denmark but opposed in Latvia and Finland.
To many this might seem a weakness but I perceive it to be a strength because there remains a greater opportunity for theological debate and change in practice where some national churches can move ahead of others rather than being held back by centralisation. This means that the smaller churches can take a lead in championing new perspectives which may ultimately result in movement elsewhere. In terms of ministry I feel such debate, though difficult, holds out the hand of Christian fellowship and God’s love to many who have historically felt marginalised by a theological position which has been harder to challenge in more centralised denominations. That does not mean that everything is up for grabs: far from it. All Lutherans need to remind ourselves of Luther’s underlying principle of sola scriptura: Christian doctrine can not be formulated from non-biblical ideas. But in coming to fresh understandings of biblical texts (such as in the ordination of women both to the priesthood and to the Episcopate), 22 and in doing so moving away from accepted wisdom, the Lutheran Church seems to me to be leading the way, and in the implications and impact of this on ministry I would want to argue stands the distinctive nature of Lutheranism rather than in organisational issues such as the lack of an ordained diaconate.
The ordination of deacons is an open matter in the Lutheran communion globally. Likewise, there is diversity in the understanding of how the ministries of deacons, pastors and ministers of episkopé may relate to each other with reference to the one ordained ministry of the church. Some Lutheran churches have moved far in recognizing one three-fold ministry, whereas others do not see this model as appropriate for them. Generally the Lutheran tradition does not view the diaconal ministry as merely a stage on the way toward pastoral ordination but as a distinct and often lifelong service. It can be a lay ministry or, as is the case in some Lutheran churches, an integral part of the ordained ministry. 23
In Christian theology, justification is God's act of declaring or making a sinner righteous before God. Broadly speaking, Catholics and Orthodox Christians distinguish between initial justification - which in their view occurs at baptism - and final justification, accomplished after a lifetime of striving to do God's will. Protestants believe that justification is a singular act in which God declares an unrighteous individual to be righteous because of the work of Jesus. Justification is granted to all who have faith.
Justification is seen by Protestants as being the theological fault line that divided Roman Catholic from Protestant during the Reformation.
For Luther this doctrine was “The proposition of primary importance”. 24 Where it is missing there can be no true foundation for faith and men will turn to other doctrines for their ideas and develop a mishmash of theological thinking. “This article is the head and cornerstone which alone begets, nourishes, builds, protects and preserves the church: without it the church can not subsist one hour.” 25 This doctrine is the knowledge of saving grace and in Luther’s view, if the doctrine of Justification by faith through grace should fall so would the church:
On this article rests all that we teach and practice against the Pope, the devil and the world. Therefore we must be quite certain and have no doubts about it, otherwise all is lost. 26
For Luther the doctrine of justification through faith alone could never be just one of a series of doctrines. For him it is the one fundamental article of faith on which everything else depends:
As I often warn, therefore, the doctrine of justification must be learned diligently. For in it are included all the other doctrines of our faith. If it is sound all the others are sound as well. 27
When Luther insists that justification is through faith alone, sola fide, he is clear that this faith is not something that man can will himself into: that faith is itself the gift and activity of God. “When God creates faith in man, that is as great a work as if He were to create Heaven and Earth again.” 28
One area of misunderstanding is the position of “good works” in the Christian life which Luther was regularly criticised for wanting to suppress. Nothing could have been further from the truth. Luther makes it clear repeatedly that good works are the marks of obedient discipleship and he accepted the teaching of the Epistle of James: “For, just as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is also dead.” James 2v26. (NRSV)
[It is] a perverse idea that righteousness is to be sought through them, for that makes them appear good outwardly, when in truth they are not good. They deceive men and lead them to deceive one another. 29 When I exalt faith and reject such works done without faith, they accuse me of forbidding good works. The fact of the matter is that I want very much to teach the real good works which spring from faith. 30
Clearly, by the time of the Second Vatican Council the stage was set for a formal re-examination of the Doctrine of Justification which has been such a central feature of reformed protestant thought. Subsequent to this council the dialogues which have been undertaken by the Roman Catholic Church with Lutherans, Anglicans and Orthodox churches have borne fruit in a number of agreed statements. Significant in this regard is the Joint Declaration on the Doctrine of Justification (1999) by the Lutheran World Federation and the Catholic Church. This document provides a common understanding of the Doctrine of Justification:
"...the post-Vatican II ecumenical dialogue has led to a notable convergence concerning justification, with the result that this Joint Declaration is able to formulate a consensus on basic truths concerning the doctrine of justification. In the light of this consensus, the corresponding doctrinal condemnations of the sixteenth century do not apply to today's partner." (Joint Declaration on the Doctrine of Justification, 2. 13) 31
In essence this statement demonstrates that the Lutheran formulation of justification by faith through grace, (which also relate to articles x and xi of the Anglican 39 articles), can now be viewed as entirely consonant with current Catholic doctrine. In addition those articles that relate to the good works of the justified (xii, xiv) are also brought into agreement. It is interesting to note that in the process of producing the agreed statement it is Joseph Ratzinger (Pope Benedict XVI) who is widely held with 'saving the Lutheran pact' by 'untying the knots.' 32
What is also becoming clear about the Lutheran Doctrine of Justification by Faith (alone) is a growing unease in non-German speaking Lutheran nations, particularly Finland, where there is currently a wave of new theological thinking.
Following dialogue between the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Finland and the Russian Orthodox Church, Finnish scholars conclude that the Orthodox idea of theosis - participation in God - is at the core of Luther’s theology.
The Lutheran understanding of the indwelling of Christ implies a real participation in God and is analogous to the Orthodox doctrine of participation in God. 33
In that context, Dr. Simo Puera is one scholar who questions the adequacy of the predominantly German reading of Luther’s theology which in turn has influenced American Lutheran theological thought: modern research has been reading Luther’s texts through the eyes of neo-Kantian epistemology which has not taken due consideration of the ontological concepts in Luther’s thought. In a theology which mirrors theosis, Puera integrates the doctrine of Justification into Christology. The justifying act of God by grace alone through faith alone means nothing apart from Christ alone.
The Christ by whom those who have faith are justified is not only extra nos but also in nobis, not only an external cause of change in God’s attitude to sinners, but an internal condition of the possibility of the sinner being changed from a state of unbelief, sine fide, to one of faith. In the words Puera takes from Luther, the righteousness of God in Christ is both “grace” and “gift”: a Real Presence in whom sinners participate through faith empowered by the Holy Spirit. 34
According to Puera, Luther’s stance is that while “grace” and “gift” must be properly distinguished they must not be separated. Both communicate the righteousness of Christ but occur simultaneously. The gift – the effective aspect of justification as the renewal of the sinner, is not a mere consequence of the grace – the forgiveness of sins: it is only on this basis that it is possible to stress both aspects of justification, while observing the proper distinction between the gracious mercy of God as the forgiveness of sins for Christ’s sake, on the one hand, and the lifelong process of renewal and sanctification in the Holy Spirit, on the other hand.
Thus we can see that grace and gift together constitute the donated righteousness of a Christian. 35
Or put a different way:
Here we have a connection with Luther’s definition of the Christian as being a man who is simul justus et peccator – both saint and sinner. Man justified by faith still remains a sinner in daily need of the forgiveness of sins. 36
The Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church (on Baptism)
The Encyclopaedia Britannica (on Holy Communion)
1 Stjerna, K: No Greater Jewell: Thinking about Baptism with Luther. P57.
2 The Babylonian Captivity of the Church
3 Luther’s Works
4 The Book of Concord, 441/2
5 The Babylonian Captivity of the Church
6 Long, R: Luther’s Understanding of the Word of God. P34 (Quoting the explanation of the third article of the Creed in the Shorter Catechism).
7 Concerning Rebaptism, 258
8 Grönvik: Baptism in the theology of Martin Luther, P167.
9 Riggs, John W: Baptism in the Reformed Tradition, P14.
10 The Babylonian Captivity of the Church
14 Sadgrove M: Wisdom and Ministry, P45
15 LW 40.21
16 Althaus: The Theology of Martin Luther
17 Lectures on Galatians, LW 26.7
18 Concerning the Ministry, LW 40.35
19 LC Preface, 3, Book of Concord 358
20 The Lund Statement (2007) point 19
21 Ibid point 65
22 Ibid points 40 & 42
23 Ibid point 39
24 L.W. IV, P400
25 St L, XIV, P168
26 BC, P292
27 L.W. XXX, P14
28 L.W. XXX1, P363
29 L.W. XLIV, P34.
30 Joint Declaration on The Doctrine Of Justification by the Lutheran World Federation and the Catholic Church.
31 Allen, J.L: (1999) 'Ratzinger credited with saving Lutheran pact', National Catholic Reporter, 10 Sept., 1999.
32 Rowland, T: Ratzinger's Faith: The Theology of Pope Benedict XVI. P98
33 Mannermaa, T: Union with Christ (The new Finnish interpretation of Luther) P25
34 Braaten, C: Ibid. P73
35 Puera, S: Ibid. P43
36 Long, R: Ibid. P34.