“Everything is groundless and gratuitous”

More from Oswald Bayer, who shows the connection between justification and creation, as underscored in Luther’s Small Catechism:

The world was called into being without any worldly condition, in pure freedom and pure goodness.  Creation out of nothing means that everything that is exists out of sheer gratuity, out of pure goodness.  “All this is done out of pure, fatherly and divine goodness and mercy, without any merit or worthiness of mine at all!”  That is how Luther puts it when explaining the first article of the creed in the Small Catechism.  The terms “merit” and “worthiness” both belong directly to the language of the theology of justification.  Yet they do not occur in the exposition of the second and third articles of the creed, only in the exposition of the first.  This is a striking feature, and it indicates the breadth and depth of the justifying Word.  This Word concerns not just my history but world history and the history of nature.  It concerns all things.

Those who live in the dispute of “justifications,” asking about the ground of their own lives within this world, are told that everything is groundless and gratuitous, and they need not ground or justify themselves; it is grounded and justified only by God’s free and ungrounded Word of love.  Under no obligation and without any condition, God promises communion, communion through and beyond death.  The justification of the ungodly, the resurrection of the dead, and creation out of nothing all happen through this promise and pledge alone.  The promise of God lets us live by faith.  (Living by Faith , Chapter 6)

 

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Herbert’s Maundy Thursday poem

I’ve posted this poem before, since it’s maybe my favorite poem by George Herbert.  But I realized that this is his Maundy Thursday poem.  It’s all here:  love, the agony in the garden, the Sacrament, the leadup to the Crucifixion.  And in this poem, Herbert shows how all of those are linked.  Read it after the jump. [Read more...]

Maundy Thursday and the search for the real Jesus

Anthony Sacramone discusses all of the magazine cover stories about “the search for the real Jesus” that get published during Lent, generally concluding that we can’t really know much about Him, the assumption being that the Gospels aren’t reliable.  Well, Mr. Sacramone gives a very Lutheran answer to those in search of a tangible Jesus, proposing a billboard campaign, as you can see after the jump. [Read more...]

The hidden God and the revealed God

More from Oswald Bayer:

Luther never downplays or treats as harmless the situation of temptation and testing when God withdraws and conceals himself.  He confronts it in all its depth and sharpness.  He does not ignore experiences of suffering.  Yet he still refuses to accept their finality.  He flees from the hidden God to the revealed and incarnate God.

Living by Faith , Chapter 6

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“He comes down to the very depths”

For my Lenten reading, I have taken up Living by Faith by Oswald Bayer, a book that I have found to be extremely illuminating.    At the beginning of Lent, I posted about what I was learning from Bayer about how we have a primal need for justification, how we are always trying to justify ourselves, and the difference it can make to realize that Christ justifies us (see this and this and this and this).  I thought for the end of Lent, I would quote some passages from Bayer that I found both provocative and helpful.

Today, as Holy Week begins, I offer his reflections upon the necessity of knowing God not just through His glory but through His Cross. [Read more...]

Drinking His cup, being baptized with His baptism

Our sermon for the beginning of Passiontide was Mark 10:32-45, the passage about James and John asking Jesus if they could sit on His right hand and His left when He comes into His kingdom.  I had studied this text extensively for what it teaches about authority and vocation (how authority is not to be used to “lord it over” others, but to serve those whom you have authority over).  But somehow I never noticed that the passage is also about baptism and Holy Communion.  Read the connection after the jump.  And see whom God prepared to be on His right hand and on His left.

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