Thursday, February 08, 2007

Preaching Sanctification

The quantity of discussion regarding the preaching of sanctification (basically, the good works that a Christian does) and the role of the 3rd use in the Christian life has been increasing by leaps and bounds in the Lutheran blogosphere as of late. There are plenty of good, respectable, and respectful Christians on both sides of this discussion. I am having difficulty finding a basis for the idea that sanctification should be kept out of a sermon. For instance, this quote from the Apology:

"On the contrary, in our churches, all the SERMONS (emphasis mine) are filled with such topics as these: repentance; the fear of God; faith in Christ, the righteousness of faith, the comfort of consciences by faith; the exercises of faith; prayer, what its nature should be, and that we should be fully confident that it is powerful, that it is heard; the cross, the authority of officials and all civil ordinances; the distinction between the kingdom of Christ, or the spiritual kingdom, and political affairs; marriage; the education and instruction of children; chastity; all the offices of love. From this condition of the churches it may be determined that we earnestly keep Church discipline, godly ceremonies, and good Church customs."

-Apology of the Augsburg Confession, Article XV(VIII), Human
Traditions. (p. 193 of the new Concordia, The Lutheran Confessions)

This clearly says that these topics are addressed in the sermons in the Lutheran pulpits, and Melancthon, at this point in his writing is using this description to show how true the Lutheran churches are being to Scripture and to the preaching of the Gospel, not as an example of what shouldn't be preached.


Paul T. McCain said...

Reading the Confessions is always a good thing to do. You found a great quote. What I often notice is that people who attempt to argue that preaching to Christians about the works they are to be doing, ala Rom. 12, is NOT something that pastors should to in their sermons, or attempt to suggest that such preaching is done only when pointing out people's sins, are simply not reflecting what the Lutheran Confessions say. This is not good.

To put forward the notions I'm reading on some blog sites about preaching about sanctification one must assume that Luther and our Lutheran fathers were incorrect, and have been wrong up until about thirty or forty years ago when it would seem suddently Lutherans figured out how truly to preach Law and Gospel.

I would prefer to think that we are the ones who need to learn from our fathers, not they from us.

Rebellious Pastor's Wife said...

Personally, I'm wondering if there isn't a correlation between sanctification falling out of the sermons and the emphasis on shorter sermons. If it has to be 10 minutes (15 if you are a rebel...25 if you are my husband - but he really gets into the meat of the text he's preaching on), then you have to make sure the bare minimum is in there. In ten minutes, if you include sanctification, then you'd almost have to leave out anything else.