Vocation & Opus Dei

Opus Dei is the Roman Catholic order that has become the bogey-man for paranoid secularists, leftist conspiracy theorists, and Da-Vinci-Code believers. And yet, for all of its alleged conservatism, it seems to be something unknown in medieval Catholicism; namely, an order for lay people. From an article by Carla Hall:

Julia Boles, 46, lives in Arcadia, Calif., with her lawyer husband and their nine children, ages 5 to 20. She also manages to attend Mass daily, set aside time for prayer twice a day and, with her children, pray the rosary.

“People say: “Nine kids? How do you handle that and go to Mass?' I say, 'How could I do this without the Mass?”

Boles is a member of one of the most talked about and least understood Catholic organizations in the world: Opus Dei, which means “work of God” in Latin.

Although the face of Opus Dei in “The Da Vinci Code” is a murderous masochistic monk — a fiction, the group's members say — Boles typifies the group’s American demographic: She’s a woman. Most of the 190 members in Los Angeles are women, as are slightly more than half of the 3,000 members in the United States.

There are no monks. And only 2 percent of nearly 90,000 members worldwide are priests, one of whom, Jose Gomez, is Cardinal Roger Mahony’s newly named successor as archbishop of Los Angeles. Gomez is the only priest to come up through Opus Dei and be made a U.S. bishop.

Setting aside the distortions of “The Da Vinci Code,” critics have pointed to the group’s historic connection to right-leaning governments and its secretiveness. Brian Finnerty, spokesman for Opus Dei in the United States, said the group takes no political positions.

Seton Hall law professor John Coverdale said the organization’s goal is to offer lay Christians a path toward a holier life without becoming a priest or a nun. “People would see their work as a professor or a journalist or mother or whatever they are as something to offer to God and something that they need to try to do well,” said Coverdale, 69, a lay member of Opus Dei.

“The main idea is to help members come closer to God in their everyday activities,” Finnerty said.

Boles agreed. “It's not a bunch of pious things,” said Boles, whose husband and two eldest children — UCLA students John and Ginny — are members, too. “I’m chasing after kids. I’m trying to get meals on the table. . . . All of those things are precious in God’s eyes if they are done with love. If you try to do it as well as you can, for God’s glory, with concern for your neighbor and mine, it’s wonderful.”

I have noticed that many evangelicals and Roman Catholics are embracing Luther’s doctrine of vocation. This sounds like it, doesn’t it?

Then there is this:

Members go to daily Mass, set aside time to pray and sometimes fast or sacrifice a treat or pleasure as a way of honoring Jesus.

There is corporal mortification, though not as portrayed in “The Da Vinci Code,” they say. “It’s not a bloody whipping of oneself,” Coverdale said. “It’s more an annoyance.” He wears a leg chain with dull spikes — called a cilice — around his upper thigh for a couple of hours a day while praying. It’s designed to be uncomfortable but not to draw blood. And once or twice a week, during a prayer, he whips himself on his buttocks with a type of rope referred to as “the disciplines.”

“It doesn’t particularly hurt; maybe it stings a bit,” Coverdale said.
The Rev. Paul Donlan of the Opus Dei center near UCLA follows a similar routine. The idea is to bring oneself closer to Jesus’s suffering as he wore the crown of thorns and carried his cross.

“It’s a gesture,” Donlan said. “The real discipline of getting to bed on time, getting to work on time, saying no to an extra glass of wine, boy, that is far more painful than any of this.”

Most married Opus Dei members do not practice corporal mortification, at least not as literally as single and celibate members. “For me, it’s mortification to get up early and get that prayer in at 6 a.m.,” said Boles, laughing.

The latter I can see, but mortification with scourges and the equivalent of barbed wire around your leg I question. Can there be any value in self-chosen, self-inflicted pain like this? I’m not sure that bringing monasticism, ascetic practices and all, into the “world” is a true affirmation of the lay vocations. Still, what do you think of this?

About Gene Veith

Professor of Literature at Patrick Henry College, the Director of the Cranach Institute at Concordia Theological Seminary, a columnist for World Magazine and TableTalk, and the author of 18 books on different facets of Christianity & Culture.

  • reg

    Col. 2 says it all:
    20If with Christ you died to the elemental spirits of the world, why, as if you were still alive in the world, do you submit to regulations— 21″Do not handle, Do not taste, Do not touch” 22 referring to things that all perish as they are used)—according to human precepts and teachings? 23These have indeed an appearance of wisdom in promoting self-made religion and asceticism and severity to the body, but they are of no value in stopping the indulgence of the flesh.

  • reg

    Col. 2 says it all:
    20If with Christ you died to the elemental spirits of the world, why, as if you were still alive in the world, do you submit to regulations— 21″Do not handle, Do not taste, Do not touch” 22 referring to things that all perish as they are used)—according to human precepts and teachings? 23These have indeed an appearance of wisdom in promoting self-made religion and asceticism and severity to the body, but they are of no value in stopping the indulgence of the flesh.

  • Winston Smith

    What reg said.

    Luther would be sick to his stomach reading that. Why did we even go to the trouble of a Reformation if people who should know better are going back to Catholic superstition and legalism?

  • Winston Smith

    What reg said.

    Luther would be sick to his stomach reading that. Why did we even go to the trouble of a Reformation if people who should know better are going back to Catholic superstition and legalism?

  • BC

    Opus Dei is not an “order.” Members do not take vows.

    Most members are “supernumeraries” who live in their homes, and are married with kids. A small number are “numeraries” who are celibate who live in “centers.” It is only these “numeraries” who practice corporal mortification using the cilice and discipline.

    Here’s something I wrote about it a couple of years ago (I was a “Cooperator” at one point):

    http://billcork.wordpress.com/2008/03/10/thoughts-on-opus-dei/

  • BC

    Opus Dei is not an “order.” Members do not take vows.

    Most members are “supernumeraries” who live in their homes, and are married with kids. A small number are “numeraries” who are celibate who live in “centers.” It is only these “numeraries” who practice corporal mortification using the cilice and discipline.

    Here’s something I wrote about it a couple of years ago (I was a “Cooperator” at one point):

    http://billcork.wordpress.com/2008/03/10/thoughts-on-opus-dei/

  • http://www.amazon.com/Though-Were-Actually-True-Apologetics/dp/1606088203/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1271250812&sr=8-1 Matt C.

    I’m not sure. Fasting seems like something aesthetic which the Scriptures seem to leave a place for (although certainly with no legalistic command to do so). These are rituals that seem to be voluntarily embraced, and ritual in general does have legitimate utility for people. I don’t see the value in flagellation myself, and I think life tends to provide enough pain on its own as long as we live as Christians. Nevertheless… I’m willing to consider that there might be some kind of value to it–maybe a conscious physical expression of willingness to embrace the pains of life. It doesn’t seem like something that should be condemned until it becomes a command, or a basis of creating two classes of Christians, etc.

  • http://www.amazon.com/Though-Were-Actually-True-Apologetics/dp/1606088203/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1271250812&sr=8-1 Matt C.

    I’m not sure. Fasting seems like something aesthetic which the Scriptures seem to leave a place for (although certainly with no legalistic command to do so). These are rituals that seem to be voluntarily embraced, and ritual in general does have legitimate utility for people. I don’t see the value in flagellation myself, and I think life tends to provide enough pain on its own as long as we live as Christians. Nevertheless… I’m willing to consider that there might be some kind of value to it–maybe a conscious physical expression of willingness to embrace the pains of life. It doesn’t seem like something that should be condemned until it becomes a command, or a basis of creating two classes of Christians, etc.

  • http://theoldadam.wordpress.com/ Steve Martin

    The cross of Christ just never seems to be enough for people.

    Well…it is enough.

  • http://theoldadam.wordpress.com/ Steve Martin

    The cross of Christ just never seems to be enough for people.

    Well…it is enough.

  • Booklover

    Scott Hahn, former Presbyterian pastor and now Catholic theologian, wrote a book about his involvement with Opus Dei, *Ordinary Work, Extraordinary Grace.*

    When he was considering Catholicism, he and his wife, the daughter of a Presbyterian minister, used to have lengthy doctrinal arguments. An Opus Dei friend told him to “turn down the apologetics” and “turn up the romance.” He did and it “worked.” (He and his wife Kimberly later co-wrote *Rome Sweet Home.*)

    He explains that Opus Dei describes work as a way of imitating Jesus.

  • Booklover

    Scott Hahn, former Presbyterian pastor and now Catholic theologian, wrote a book about his involvement with Opus Dei, *Ordinary Work, Extraordinary Grace.*

    When he was considering Catholicism, he and his wife, the daughter of a Presbyterian minister, used to have lengthy doctrinal arguments. An Opus Dei friend told him to “turn down the apologetics” and “turn up the romance.” He did and it “worked.” (He and his wife Kimberly later co-wrote *Rome Sweet Home.*)

    He explains that Opus Dei describes work as a way of imitating Jesus.

  • http://www.amazon.com/Though-Were-Actually-True-Apologetics/dp/1606088203/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1271250812&sr=8-1 Matt C.

    bah. that should read ascetic, not aesthetic.

  • http://www.amazon.com/Though-Were-Actually-True-Apologetics/dp/1606088203/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1271250812&sr=8-1 Matt C.

    bah. that should read ascetic, not aesthetic.

  • Dan Kempin

    I don’t know. There is a baby here somewhere in all this bathwater, so maybe I’ll just provide a foil for discussion.

    Ascetic practices under the papacy and at the time of the reformation are abhorrent precisely because they mingle themselves with article IV of the Augsburg Confession–justification by grace, through faith, on account of Christ. Ascetic practices that provide a “spiritual spanking” (in this case, literally) are in no way helpful, for they teach us to find solace in our own efforts. Enough said. We can refer to the body of Luther’s writings and the confessions for the full argument.

    Still, if you push it back further–I mean way back to the time of the early church and the Roman culture–many of the ascetic practices were not for the purpose of merit or purgation. Embracing ascetic practices was done as a way to 1) “pour contempt” on the “vain things that charm me most,” (for those who love the hymn), and 2) to bear witness to the culture that there is a higher pursuit than the things of this world.

    Martyrdom, for instance, could be understood as the quintessential asceticism–to show contempt for one’s earthly life in the face of the greater witness to the truth. When Roman nobles gave all of their wealth and possessions to the poor, it was more than just a statement of their own righteousness, and when a young man or woman would dedicate themselves to a celibate life, it was done as a renunciation of the promiscuous life that was available to them. (Indeed, one of the first questions to be argued was whether or not celibacy was a rejection of marriage. It was not.)

    The heart of man corrupts, of course, and continually tries to turn our Spirit led service (including vocation) into self-righteousness*, but consider the tremendous impact that ascetic witness had on the Roman culture. It was so powerful that it was developed into an institution that has continued, in some forms, to the present day.

    I grant that a cilice around the leg is hardly a witness to the culture and a questionable devotional practice, but what about celibacy? What about poverty? Would such integrity of lifestyle gain the respect–and consequently the serious audience–of our culture more effectively than “marketing” and “preaching” to them? Faulty theology aside for the moment, what impact and respect did Mother Teresa gain among unbelivers by her willingness to devote her life to the literal service of others?

    The question, perhaps, is not whether one should bring personal ascetic practices to their vocation, but whether the very practice of vocation in a godly manner can itself be a form of asceticism and a witness to the world.

    *Celibacy did, in fact, become pitted against marriage. Luther addressed this copiously.

  • Dan Kempin

    I don’t know. There is a baby here somewhere in all this bathwater, so maybe I’ll just provide a foil for discussion.

    Ascetic practices under the papacy and at the time of the reformation are abhorrent precisely because they mingle themselves with article IV of the Augsburg Confession–justification by grace, through faith, on account of Christ. Ascetic practices that provide a “spiritual spanking” (in this case, literally) are in no way helpful, for they teach us to find solace in our own efforts. Enough said. We can refer to the body of Luther’s writings and the confessions for the full argument.

    Still, if you push it back further–I mean way back to the time of the early church and the Roman culture–many of the ascetic practices were not for the purpose of merit or purgation. Embracing ascetic practices was done as a way to 1) “pour contempt” on the “vain things that charm me most,” (for those who love the hymn), and 2) to bear witness to the culture that there is a higher pursuit than the things of this world.

    Martyrdom, for instance, could be understood as the quintessential asceticism–to show contempt for one’s earthly life in the face of the greater witness to the truth. When Roman nobles gave all of their wealth and possessions to the poor, it was more than just a statement of their own righteousness, and when a young man or woman would dedicate themselves to a celibate life, it was done as a renunciation of the promiscuous life that was available to them. (Indeed, one of the first questions to be argued was whether or not celibacy was a rejection of marriage. It was not.)

    The heart of man corrupts, of course, and continually tries to turn our Spirit led service (including vocation) into self-righteousness*, but consider the tremendous impact that ascetic witness had on the Roman culture. It was so powerful that it was developed into an institution that has continued, in some forms, to the present day.

    I grant that a cilice around the leg is hardly a witness to the culture and a questionable devotional practice, but what about celibacy? What about poverty? Would such integrity of lifestyle gain the respect–and consequently the serious audience–of our culture more effectively than “marketing” and “preaching” to them? Faulty theology aside for the moment, what impact and respect did Mother Teresa gain among unbelivers by her willingness to devote her life to the literal service of others?

    The question, perhaps, is not whether one should bring personal ascetic practices to their vocation, but whether the very practice of vocation in a godly manner can itself be a form of asceticism and a witness to the world.

    *Celibacy did, in fact, become pitted against marriage. Luther addressed this copiously.

  • http://bprey1@televar.com Rawhider

    The above text says “most talked about least understood” and therein is a clue .I am now old enough to not talk much about that of which I know little ,vocation is a calling and I am leary of saying that GOD cannot call some to express their devotion in the above described manner

  • http://bprey1@televar.com Rawhider

    The above text says “most talked about least understood” and therein is a clue .I am now old enough to not talk much about that of which I know little ,vocation is a calling and I am leary of saying that GOD cannot call some to express their devotion in the above described manner

  • http://www.utah-lutheran.blogspot.com Bror Erickson

    I’ve done some pretty hard fasts in my life, but asceticism is something I just can’t get all that enthusiastic about. I’m sorry Christ tells us to pick up our cross and follow him, but I always figure that cross is more or less given to us. We don’t get to choose it. And I don’t see where extra biblical practices of self torture are helpful in prayer, any more than I get the practice of teenage girls mutilating themselves with razors. I am hard pressed to see how and where anyone reading the bible would see that these things are in any way condoned, or are pleasing to God. It is self chosen works thats it. And at the root of that is trying to replace God’s word with something else, normally because you find God’s word to hard to swallow, and forgiveness to bitter a pill for your pride.

  • http://www.utah-lutheran.blogspot.com Bror Erickson

    I’ve done some pretty hard fasts in my life, but asceticism is something I just can’t get all that enthusiastic about. I’m sorry Christ tells us to pick up our cross and follow him, but I always figure that cross is more or less given to us. We don’t get to choose it. And I don’t see where extra biblical practices of self torture are helpful in prayer, any more than I get the practice of teenage girls mutilating themselves with razors. I am hard pressed to see how and where anyone reading the bible would see that these things are in any way condoned, or are pleasing to God. It is self chosen works thats it. And at the root of that is trying to replace God’s word with something else, normally because you find God’s word to hard to swallow, and forgiveness to bitter a pill for your pride.

  • Jon

    It seems that within every Lutheran is a frustrated Baptist or a frustrated Catholic.

  • Jon

    It seems that within every Lutheran is a frustrated Baptist or a frustrated Catholic.

  • http://www.newreformationpress.com Patrick Kyle

    Spiked strips around you thigh and self flagellation
    w/a scourge = craziness.

  • http://www.newreformationpress.com Patrick Kyle

    Spiked strips around you thigh and self flagellation
    w/a scourge = craziness.

  • Joe Falska

    http://www.pbs.org/empires/martinluther/cheats.html

    I guess Luther has some quirks too. Click the link and look at numbers one and two.

  • Joe Falska

    http://www.pbs.org/empires/martinluther/cheats.html

    I guess Luther has some quirks too. Click the link and look at numbers one and two.

  • Rob Carter

    I know several members of Opus Dei, and find them to be enthusiastic, motivated and informed Catholics. I have learned many things about the spiritual life from them.

    Corporal discipline is quite alien to the Lutheran experience. I understand how difficult it is to comprehend.

    I liken the practice to fasting, in that it promotes self-discipline. My wife & I adopted an Eastern Christian fast for Lent this year, and it helped me to detach from some of my self-indulgence. I also lost eight pounds.

  • Rob Carter

    I know several members of Opus Dei, and find them to be enthusiastic, motivated and informed Catholics. I have learned many things about the spiritual life from them.

    Corporal discipline is quite alien to the Lutheran experience. I understand how difficult it is to comprehend.

    I liken the practice to fasting, in that it promotes self-discipline. My wife & I adopted an Eastern Christian fast for Lent this year, and it helped me to detach from some of my self-indulgence. I also lost eight pounds.

  • Jonathan

    The first part, I really like–living your vocation. I wish we had something like it in Lutheran circles (or, do we?) The ascetism part, though, not so much, I find that vocation and generally life itself provide enough thorns in the flesh and beats me down enough already. I just get the sense that self-flagellation is supposed to somehow make me “better” for Jesus and I don’t want to be on the “point system.”

  • Jonathan

    The first part, I really like–living your vocation. I wish we had something like it in Lutheran circles (or, do we?) The ascetism part, though, not so much, I find that vocation and generally life itself provide enough thorns in the flesh and beats me down enough already. I just get the sense that self-flagellation is supposed to somehow make me “better” for Jesus and I don’t want to be on the “point system.”

  • http://www.newreformationpress.com Patrick Kyle

    A friend recently died, another has advanced cancer, my oldest child is autistic, I went through a divorce fifteen years ago, my parents divorced when I was small, I made some poor and destructive choices as a young adult and paid a high cost, I have suffered through financial hardships and serious illnesses.

    How much more suffering do I need?
    Will spanking myself with whips and wearing torture devices really be of spiritual benefit?
    Somehow, I think that life will dole out as much suffering as God sees fit in order to conform me to the image of His Son

  • http://www.newreformationpress.com Patrick Kyle

    A friend recently died, another has advanced cancer, my oldest child is autistic, I went through a divorce fifteen years ago, my parents divorced when I was small, I made some poor and destructive choices as a young adult and paid a high cost, I have suffered through financial hardships and serious illnesses.

    How much more suffering do I need?
    Will spanking myself with whips and wearing torture devices really be of spiritual benefit?
    Somehow, I think that life will dole out as much suffering as God sees fit in order to conform me to the image of His Son

  • Jonathan

    @15 “I wish we had something like it in Lutheran circles.”

    Well, wait a tick, maybe we do have such here, in cyber format. We should all get Cranach t-shirts.

  • Jonathan

    @15 “I wish we had something like it in Lutheran circles.”

    Well, wait a tick, maybe we do have such here, in cyber format. We should all get Cranach t-shirts.

  • http://thoughts-brigitte.blogspot.com Brigitte

    Re: self-flagellation. That is nothing one should mention in public. Do you think it helps you be more humble than Jesus? Do it, but don’t tell me about it.

    The other day several nuns testified, that the late great pope, who is to be a “saint” used to flagellate in one of the castles. They could hear it in the room next, door. This is to help him on the way to sainthood. That seems perverse to me. Were they maybe looking through the key hole? Sorry. It sounds bad to me on all fronts.

    Secondly, we have Luther go on about this at length: no self-chosen works! It is the mark of false religion and phariseeism.

    If you think this helps you, let me not hear a peep about it.

  • http://thoughts-brigitte.blogspot.com Brigitte

    Re: self-flagellation. That is nothing one should mention in public. Do you think it helps you be more humble than Jesus? Do it, but don’t tell me about it.

    The other day several nuns testified, that the late great pope, who is to be a “saint” used to flagellate in one of the castles. They could hear it in the room next, door. This is to help him on the way to sainthood. That seems perverse to me. Were they maybe looking through the key hole? Sorry. It sounds bad to me on all fronts.

    Secondly, we have Luther go on about this at length: no self-chosen works! It is the mark of false religion and phariseeism.

    If you think this helps you, let me not hear a peep about it.

  • http://www.geneveith.com Gene Veith

    Thanks, BC, for the clarification. So there are no “orders” for laypeople? All orders involve all of the vows of celibacy, poverty, and obedience?

    Luther, of course, in the introduction to the Table of Duties in the Catechism, where vocation is taught, listed among the “Holy Orders” being a husband or wife, parent or child, master or servant, ruler or subject, etc.

    For him, the mortification of the flesh occurs precisely in vocation, in the ordinary trials, disciplines, and hardships of everyday life.

  • http://www.geneveith.com Gene Veith

    Thanks, BC, for the clarification. So there are no “orders” for laypeople? All orders involve all of the vows of celibacy, poverty, and obedience?

    Luther, of course, in the introduction to the Table of Duties in the Catechism, where vocation is taught, listed among the “Holy Orders” being a husband or wife, parent or child, master or servant, ruler or subject, etc.

    For him, the mortification of the flesh occurs precisely in vocation, in the ordinary trials, disciplines, and hardships of everyday life.

  • fws

    “Life is Mortification” Martin Luther.

    “Mortification” . The root of this word is “mortal”, that which will die. “Morti-fication” then the process of dying or maybe better the process of killing.

    Translation then of what Luther´s statement says : “life=Death.

    Fact: This truth claim makes no sense and is opposed to to our reason or strength.

    Life is death. Vocation is life. And so vocation is death. Definition of life: whatEVER the body is able to do or think or will to do on earth. Some Christians try to change this fact by saying “For CHRISTIANS, vocation is sanctification and sanctification is life.”

    This is what is happening here in Opus Dei. They are seeking to find life in death! Guess what? They won´t find it there. Rinse and repeat for evangelicals and the reformed and also for Lutherans who need to read more Luther and less evangelical stuff.

    It is still very important, Rome and Geneva say, to say that life – death for pagans. This is because they are still “they” and, more importantly we are now a new and improved and transformed “we”. The difference is that for “we” life is now, in sanctification, Life, and life is death for “they”. The difference, visible and palpable and tangible is “sanctify-cation” . The make-alive-process that is true for christians, and is what makes one a christian, and is not true for pagans.

    Lutherans disagree. This is exactly what separates Lutherans, when we are truly Lutheran from both Rome and Geneva. This is it. What makes a christian a christian? life is not Life.

    Why is life not Life for a christian ? Because only, Life is Life. This is precisely why the new birth is the New Birth. It is not the reupholtered/remodeled or best….re-condition-ed life.

    Rome, Geneva and Wittenburg (Catholics, Evangelicals and Lutherans) all agree that for a pagan life does in fact equal death. But then we part ways. Rome and Geneva agree that then we become christian and then we have sanctification and from then on, life (sanctification) now is “transformed” into life! and so for a christian, unlike pagans life can equal Life…..IF , that is, we try hard enough or do the right things that is.

    They get it backwards. The truth: Life is Life and leads us back to life.
    What does this difference look like when we talk in “doctrinal ” terms? Simple: Wherever Geneva and Rome say “sanctification” a Lutheran says “No, the proper name for that is “mortification” and not “sanctification”.

    So for Lutherans where can they seek life? Or, to ask this another way: “So don´t Lutherans believe in sanctification??!!” (the normal Evangelical or Romanist would say as really a rhetorical question where they already “know” that the answer is “no!”

    A smarter question would be: “So then what do Lutherans believe is our sanctification?” Saint Paul answers for us.

    “We were buried , with christ, by baptism, into…his….death. and raised up again…. with him…. in newness of life. ” This is the New Birth isn´t it?

    again “As many of you as were baptised, put. on. christ. ”

    This putting on of Christ equals, exactly, sanctification. The incarnation of jesus equals, exactly, sanctification. Jesus death on the cross equals, exactly, our sanctification. Jesu equals, exactly, that word sanctification. Sanctification = Christ. in. us.

    Is it about our trying harder, or running the race or subduing the flesh, or pressing to the mark or even being m0re christ-like. no. That is all, even christ-as-example, law, and so “mortification”,
    Only in A Death, and by our being joined intimately in our baptism, by invisible faith alone, to that One Death that, alone, is not life, it is still death, or better death on stearoids, but, because it was the very death of God, has the power to nullify death and leave only one thing. Life eternal.

    This is what Lutherans understand when we read…

    “The Just shall live by faith.” Life alone is Life. Life becomes our Life and leads us to life. which is death.

    We die for the sake of others. self inflicted pain is useless for others.

    God pleasing outward righteousness = mortification + loveing acts done for other that make their creaturely lives better. (cf st james on this!) mortification (what rome and geneva call sanctification) alone is coitus interruptus. it is half righteousness , which is no righteousness at all. It produces nothing useful to others. It is sterile because it is , for that reason, also useless to God.

  • fws

    “Life is Mortification” Martin Luther.

    “Mortification” . The root of this word is “mortal”, that which will die. “Morti-fication” then the process of dying or maybe better the process of killing.

    Translation then of what Luther´s statement says : “life=Death.

    Fact: This truth claim makes no sense and is opposed to to our reason or strength.

    Life is death. Vocation is life. And so vocation is death. Definition of life: whatEVER the body is able to do or think or will to do on earth. Some Christians try to change this fact by saying “For CHRISTIANS, vocation is sanctification and sanctification is life.”

    This is what is happening here in Opus Dei. They are seeking to find life in death! Guess what? They won´t find it there. Rinse and repeat for evangelicals and the reformed and also for Lutherans who need to read more Luther and less evangelical stuff.

    It is still very important, Rome and Geneva say, to say that life – death for pagans. This is because they are still “they” and, more importantly we are now a new and improved and transformed “we”. The difference is that for “we” life is now, in sanctification, Life, and life is death for “they”. The difference, visible and palpable and tangible is “sanctify-cation” . The make-alive-process that is true for christians, and is what makes one a christian, and is not true for pagans.

    Lutherans disagree. This is exactly what separates Lutherans, when we are truly Lutheran from both Rome and Geneva. This is it. What makes a christian a christian? life is not Life.

    Why is life not Life for a christian ? Because only, Life is Life. This is precisely why the new birth is the New Birth. It is not the reupholtered/remodeled or best….re-condition-ed life.

    Rome, Geneva and Wittenburg (Catholics, Evangelicals and Lutherans) all agree that for a pagan life does in fact equal death. But then we part ways. Rome and Geneva agree that then we become christian and then we have sanctification and from then on, life (sanctification) now is “transformed” into life! and so for a christian, unlike pagans life can equal Life…..IF , that is, we try hard enough or do the right things that is.

    They get it backwards. The truth: Life is Life and leads us back to life.
    What does this difference look like when we talk in “doctrinal ” terms? Simple: Wherever Geneva and Rome say “sanctification” a Lutheran says “No, the proper name for that is “mortification” and not “sanctification”.

    So for Lutherans where can they seek life? Or, to ask this another way: “So don´t Lutherans believe in sanctification??!!” (the normal Evangelical or Romanist would say as really a rhetorical question where they already “know” that the answer is “no!”

    A smarter question would be: “So then what do Lutherans believe is our sanctification?” Saint Paul answers for us.

    “We were buried , with christ, by baptism, into…his….death. and raised up again…. with him…. in newness of life. ” This is the New Birth isn´t it?

    again “As many of you as were baptised, put. on. christ. ”

    This putting on of Christ equals, exactly, sanctification. The incarnation of jesus equals, exactly, sanctification. Jesus death on the cross equals, exactly, our sanctification. Jesu equals, exactly, that word sanctification. Sanctification = Christ. in. us.

    Is it about our trying harder, or running the race or subduing the flesh, or pressing to the mark or even being m0re christ-like. no. That is all, even christ-as-example, law, and so “mortification”,
    Only in A Death, and by our being joined intimately in our baptism, by invisible faith alone, to that One Death that, alone, is not life, it is still death, or better death on stearoids, but, because it was the very death of God, has the power to nullify death and leave only one thing. Life eternal.

    This is what Lutherans understand when we read…

    “The Just shall live by faith.” Life alone is Life. Life becomes our Life and leads us to life. which is death.

    We die for the sake of others. self inflicted pain is useless for others.

    God pleasing outward righteousness = mortification + loveing acts done for other that make their creaturely lives better. (cf st james on this!) mortification (what rome and geneva call sanctification) alone is coitus interruptus. it is half righteousness , which is no righteousness at all. It produces nothing useful to others. It is sterile because it is , for that reason, also useless to God.

  • fws

    and what is Life as opposed to life? “I am… The Life” says Jesus.

    For Lutherans, and for christians, because, and ONLY because, the same old adam that is in pagan clings to them, life still equals death.

    And we, the just shall live by Life and no longer by life. We now understand, in our new adam, our christ-in-us, that life is death, is only looks-like-life. Life can only be found in The Life. Alone.

    The veil of Moses has been removed.

  • fws

    and what is Life as opposed to life? “I am… The Life” says Jesus.

    For Lutherans, and for christians, because, and ONLY because, the same old adam that is in pagan clings to them, life still equals death.

    And we, the just shall live by Life and no longer by life. We now understand, in our new adam, our christ-in-us, that life is death, is only looks-like-life. Life can only be found in The Life. Alone.

    The veil of Moses has been removed.

  • fws

    “The veil of Moses has been removed” .

    In the past men had to see the law through an intermediary and be allowed to think that life could be life. Or they would end up in despair like Judas.

    Now, in our new man, we can see God face to face, veil removed, in the God now hidden in The Man Jesus. And we no longer fear death as the final word. We Live in Life. In invisible faith. Christ alone. Faith alone.

  • fws

    “The veil of Moses has been removed” .

    In the past men had to see the law through an intermediary and be allowed to think that life could be life. Or they would end up in despair like Judas.

    Now, in our new man, we can see God face to face, veil removed, in the God now hidden in The Man Jesus. And we no longer fear death as the final word. We Live in Life. In invisible faith. Christ alone. Faith alone.


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