Friday, June 17, 2011

FW: “Such a Church We Leave to the Enthusiasts!”



Feed: Witness, Mercy, Life Together.
Posted on: Friday, June 17, 2011 11:31 AM
Author: Jon Vieker
Subject: "Such a Church We Leave to the Enthusiasts!"


Martin Luther wrote in 1533:

It is quite true that wherever the preacher administers only bread and wine for the Sacrament, he is not very concerned about to whom he gives it, what they know or believe, or what they receive. There one sow feeds with the others, and such preachers simply see themselves above such caring. They would rather have uninstructed, ecstatic saints than have the care of nurturing Christians. Rather, they want to do things in such a way that after three years every thing would be laid waste, and neither God nor Christ nor Sacrament nor Christians would remain anymore. However, because we are concerned about nurturing Christians who will still be here after we are gone, and because it is Christ's body and blood that are given out in the Sacrament, we will not and cannot give such a Sacrament to anyone unless he is first examined regarding what he has learned from the Catechism and whether he intends to forsake the sins which he has again committed. For we do not want to make Christ's church into a pig pen [Matthew 7:6], letting each one come unexamined to the Sacrament as a pig to its trough. Such a church we leave to the Enthusiasts!

And all of this we have received from the beginning of Christendom. For there we see and grasp the way in which the Creed, the Our Father, and the Ten Commandments were put together as a short summary and doctrine for the young and for those in need of instruction. From early on this was what was called a "catechism." For "catechism" (say the Greeks) is a way of teaching with questions and answers, just as a schoolmaster has his pupils recite their lesson to see if they know it or not. In this way, those in need of instruction are to be examined and by their answers show that they know the parts of the Catechism, that they recognize the sin they again have done, and are willing to learn more and desire to do better. If they will not do this, they may not come to the Sacrament. The pastor is there as Christ's faithful servant, and as far as it is possible for him, he may never cast the Sacrament to swine or dogs [Matthew 7:6]. He is to hear the people out and how it is with them. If they deceive him and do not speak honestly, then he is exonerated. They have done the deceit upon themselves.

WA 30/111:558-571. Translated by Jon D. Vieker, "An Open Letter to Those in Frankfurt on the Main, 1533," Concordia Journal 16 (October 1990): 333–351.

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