Some of the deepest waters of Lutheran theology and where it makes some of its greatest contributions are in the realm of Christology. For Lent I have been reading The Two Natures in Christ by Martin Chemnitz, that master of Biblical, Medieval, and Patristic (not only Latin but also Greek) sources and the principal author of the Formula of Concord.
Studying all of this has given me some new understanding and appreciation for the magnitude of what happened on that first Good Friday. Article VIII of the Formula of Concord turns an assertion that was highly controversial at the time into a matter of confessional subscription: That we are to understand the Incarnation and the Atonement in such a way that we can affirm that “God suffered” and “God died.” [Read more...]
Yesterday was the celebration of the Annunciation, the ancient church holiday nine months before Christmas that marks the angel’s appearance to Mary and the conception of our Lord. That’s when the Incarnation began, with important implications for the pro-life cause. [Read more...]
God becoming man involved more than just His assumption of a human body, but his entry into all of the elements of human life.
So observed Dr. Joel Lehenbauer, the Executive Director of the Commission on Theology & Church Relations of the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod, in a sermon I heard last week in the chapel at the church headquarters in St. Louis. He was preaching about Jesus at the wedding at Cana. That God became man meant that He went to weddings, that He had obligations to His mother, that He feasted and drank wine. That got me thinking. . . [Read more...]
Sean Morris posts on how the classic Christmas carols draw on the Nicene Creed as they confess that the baby Jesus is God incarnate. See his examples after the jump. What are some others? [Read more...]
What is the eternal destiny of children who die in the womb or who are aborted? Some have said that their original sin merits eternal condemnation. Most such a horrible conclusion hasn’t rung true for most Christians. Roman Catholics have posited the existence of “Limbo,” a place of natural–though not supernatural–happiness for the unbaptized. The Orthodox see the Fall as giving only the predisposition to sin and not sin itself, so children who die before they are baptized go to Heaven. Calvinists have recourse to their doctrine of election. Arminians see no problem for those who never had the opportunity for a decision. Baptists say no one can be lost before the “age of accountability.” Lutherans leave it to the Grace of God.
But Martin Chemnitz, the second greatest Lutheran theologian and the man most responsible for the Book of Concord has actually addressed this question in his classic treatment of Christology, The Two Natures in Christ:
“This teaching [the doctrine of the hypostatic union] is not idle sophistry, for it is an article of faith that Mary did not beget a man in whom God dwelt. Rather she bore the only Son of God by receiving His flesh, as Augustine says, “He was conceived and born of the Virgin Mary who for this reason and in this sense is correctly called the God-bearer (Theotochos).” If reverently considered, this act produces the most comforting thoughts. For the Son of God embraced the human race with such great love that He did not shrink from descending to such a humble state that He not only did not assume a man who was already formed and born, but rather He united to Himself personally an individual human body in the very moment of its conception and made it His own. Thus the Son of God in assuming His own flesh, but without sin, also endured those things which commonly befall man in conception, pregnancy, and birth (as the fathers of the Council of Ephesus said), so that from His very beginning, rise, and, as it were, root, He might first restore in Himself our depraved nature and so cleanse and sanctify our contaminated conception and birth that we might know that Christ’s salvation applies even to man’s fetus in conception, gestation, and birth.”