Friday, October 26, 2012

Thoughts on Reformation: Matthew 11:12-19

Over the past few years, a question has been looming over whether the Reformation is still relevant. Does the Reformation still matter? Another way to rephrase this is: Is the Gospel of Christ still relevant--the justification of sinners for Christ's sake by grace received through? For that is what the Reformation was all about.

But that raises a second and related question: Is Justification still relevant today? Does justification still make sense? Does it have a reality in our daily lives and how we understand the world around us? Or is it just another doctrinal code word Lutherans like to use?

Not only does Justification still make sense. Justification is foundational for how we relate to ourselves, to the world around us, and to God.
"There is no more fundamental desire of the human race than justification, that is, to justify one's being and existence. It is a human universal. I justify my wealth. I justify the time spent working away from family. I justify the approach I have taken toward my children. I justify the treatment of my wife. I justify my value to my employer. I justify my right to pennies from a wealthier man. I justify my right to your money. I justify my callousness toward my neighbor. I justify my lack of charity. I justify my plea for various commodities or humanitarian aid. I justify my lethargy. I justify my thievery by lying to others and believing the lies myself. I justify my tribe's hatred of 'those people.' Universally practiced and understood, the language of 'justification' is a fundamental phenomenon of life in society" (Harrison, Christ Have Mercy, 55-56).
Everything we do, everything we say, everything we think and feel, everything we are, we seek to justify by some means or another. And you don't get more relevant than that.

But all our justification falls short. No matter how much we try to justify ourselves, who we are and what he have done or not done, no matter the circumstances, there is no justification for it outside of Christ. For wisdom is justified by her deeds.

In the end we will be justified by deeds. Ultimately, we are justified by works. But whose works will they be? Will they be our own? Or will they be Wisdom's. Will they be the works of our flesh? Or will they be the deeds of Wisdom, the deeds of the Holy Spirit and the Word made flesh? In other words, in whose deeds will you put your trust?

Only Wisdom is justified by her deeds. And what are those deeds? The deeds of our Lord's active and passive obedience. Those deeds are the only deeds the justify the deeds of the sinner. They are the only deeds that justify the sinner himself. And that is what the Reformation was all about. How much more relevant can you get?

1 comment:

  1. Is paying the monoply church money to get your grandparents out of purgatory still relevant?

    Is having 19 altars in the monoply church so you can pay priests to give themselves the sacrament all day to give you time off in purgatory still relevant?

    Do you need to use a special calculator to determine how much money you have to pay to get your penance reduced? (You were very bad.)

    When you get to heaven, will most catholics still be in purgatory for hundreds of thousands of years to go?

    Who did your bishop borrow his Pallium "contribution" from and how much money was it?

    Do you buy indulgences to reduce your time in purgatory, or the time there for loved ones?

    Didn't you forget a few sins at your last confession?

    What was your penance for bombing a pub in Belfast? Would they take money instead. Parish Priest no, Bishop yes?

    Would the church annul your current, or any previous marriages? So, what are marriages that never happened then? "We're the children of my mother's 1st annulment."

    Any of this stuff relevant? Tell me again, what is it I have to do to get my sins forgiven. Oh, they are forgiven but I still have church penalties to work off and years in purgatory to pay for. So God forgives my sins but the church holds them against me until I pay the penance.

    I think some of this stuff is still relevant.


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