“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)

 

[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

[Read more...]

“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...]

Note on the “justifying” series

I’ve been doing a series of posts about what I am getting from a book I am reading:  Living by Faith by Oswald Bayer. (For earlier posts on the subject, see this and this. and this.)  He makes the point that the term “justification” is not just a theological term.  Rather, it is a word and a concept that we use all the time, and that, in fact, is a major preoccupation, going deep into the human psychology:  We keep being accused and condemned,  so we continually have to “justify” ourselves, proving that we are right, insisting how good we are, getting defensive, accusing and condemning our critics in retaliation.  We want approval.  We want to be accepted.  We want to be considered good, including when we aren’t.

I think the comments have showed some misunderstanding.  I wanted to draw your attention to a comment I just made to that first post:  “It isn’t that this is a bad thing. We HAVE to do it, given who and what we are. The point is that this necessity of justifying points to our underlying need for what Christ does: Justify us freely.” [Read more...]

Justification by faith and the physical world

More from Living by Faith by Oswald Bayer. (For earlier posts on the subject, see this  and this.)

When we no longer have to justify ourselves, observes Bayer, but know the “passive righteousness” of faith that comes from being justified by Christ, we are reconciled to ourselves (no longer having to justify ourselves); we are reconciled to God (no longer having to justify Him); we are reconciled to others (no longer having to justify them); and we are reconciled to the world (no longer having to justify existence).  This latter point is because, he says with great Lutheranness, God uses the physical world of His creation to bring to us our justification:  water, bread, wine, language, pastors.

[Read more...]

From justifying God to justifying existence

More (see my last post on the subject) from Living by Faith by Oswald Bayer. . .

Not only are we always judging, condemning/justifying ourselves and each other, we also judge, condemn/justify God.  Bayer has some interesting reflections on “theodicy,” the question of how or why God allows evil,  drawing on sources that I wasn’t familiar with.  But what most struck me was Bayer’s observation that when the idea of God fades away in some people’s minds, the problem of theodicy remains.  He describes a “secular theodicy.”  No longer, “why does God allow evil and suffering,” but “why does existence allow evil and suffering.”  In many ways, that latter question is harder to answer.  I am seeing that this is why so many people today believe that life is meaningless, absurd, pointless, and (in a tragic number of cases) not worth living.

I’m thinking that, as I read on, Bayer will show that justification by Christ on the Cross justifies God (in this sense) and justifies existence itself.

[Read more...]


CLOSE | X

HIDE | X