Tuesday, April 15, 2008

A Very Short Distance from Rome to Geneva ~ There is Nothing New Under the Sun

“Clearly theologians have mingled more of philosophy with Christian doctrine than was necessary. Their influence should not appear so great that it will be unlawful to disagree with their arguments, because at the same time many clear errors are found among them. One of these maintains that, from purely natural powers, we are able to love God above all things. This preaching, although it is clearly false, has produced many other errors. For the Scriptures, the Holy Fathers, and the judgments of all the godly everywhere respond. Therefore, popes, or some theologians, and monks in the Church have taught us to seek the forgiveness of sins, grace, and righteousness through our own works and to invent new forms of worship, which have clouded over Christ’s office and have made out of Christ not the Atoning Sacrifice and Justifier, but only a Legislator. Yet, the knowledge of Christ has always remained with some godly persons. Scripture, furthermore, has predicted that the righteousness of faith would be clouded over by human traditions and the teaching of works in this way. Paul often complains about this. (See Galatians 4:9; 5:7; Colossians 2:8, 16-19; 1 Timothy 4:2-5; etc.) There were even during his time those who-instead of the righteousness of faith-taught that people were reconciled to God and justified by their own works and own acts of worship, and not through faith for Christ’s sake. People judge by nature that God should be appeased by works. Nor does reason see a righteousness other than the righteousness of the Law, understood in a civil sense. So there have always been some who have taught this earthly righteousness alone to the exclusion of the righteousness of faith. Such teachers will always exist. The same thing happened among the people of Israel. The majority of the people thought that they merited the forgiveness of sins by their works. Therefore, they piled up sacrifices and acts of worship. On the contrary, the prophets, in condemnation of this opinion, taught the righteousness of faith. What happened among the people of Israel are illustrations of those things that were to happen in the Church (1 Corinthians 10:11).” -Philip Melancthon, The Apology of the Augsburg Confession, Article V

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