Thursday, May 17, 2012

FW: Sasse on the Foundation and Source of Church Structure




Feed: Mercy Journeys with Pastor Harrison
Posted on: Wednesday, May 16, 2012 8:24 PM
Author: Rev. Matt Harrison
Subject: Sasse on the Foundation and Source of Church Structure


Before Sasse's famous Letters to Lutheran pastors began in 1948, he wrote five circular letters to Westphalian Pastors, opposed to the German Christians (the Nazified Christians of the Third Reich). Hitherto, the first two of these letters were lost. Rachel Mumme found them in a German archive and translated Letter number 1. We intend to include all five in the upcoming volumes from CPH. Pastor Matt Harrison

If we want to arise out of this distress, then we must first of all blame ourselves for the failure of the past years and not to the world. We are to blame for the failure to make our thoughts and wishes reality. It is absolutely necessary that we remind ourselves that up to this point every true renewal of the church has begun with a movement of repentance. This repentance includes our readiness to place all of our plans, and especially all of our pet ideas under the judgment of God's Word. Only that which remains in the fire of this judgment, that which is purified from all vanity, which has already inflicted so much damage in the church, can have merit in the church's new structure. One of our failures was that we, having given into our desires, acted on the assumption of utopia instead of on the reality of the church of God. Such utopias were not only the Peoples' Church and the National Church [Volks- und Nationalkirche] of the German Christians, but also the united "German Evangelical Church" [D.E.K], this vision of all national, liberal and idealistic Protestants of the 19th century. It was the "Lutheran Church of the German Nation" with her false identification of that which is Lutheran [Luthertum] and that which is German [Deutschtum] and the "young" or "young reformational" or "confessing" church of the Barthian Confessional Union [Bekenntnisunion] and the Barmen Declaration. In every one of these cases it was about an attempt to bring about a fantastically beautiful ideal, a Platonic city [civitas Platonica; Ap. 7/8.20]. We must, however, learn that all of the work on the external structures of the church must flow not from what we wish for ourselves in a church, but from that which through the grace of God is still present in the church, in the true evangelical church, and with the great soberness in which the church orders of the Reformation can be an example for us. What is in the true church, that means what is still present in the true spiritual Office [geistlichen Amt] and in the true evangelical congregation, that and nothing else can be the foundation and source for every new church structure. [kirchlichen Neubau] Letters to Westphalian Pastors, May 27, 1943, Translated by Rachel Mumme

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