26.7.10

The Confessional Conscience & The Lutheran Church

Nowhere is the secularization of the Lutheran Church more visible than in the loss of her confessional conscience. In these letters we have often recounted that and why the Lutheran Church is a confessional church kat exochen. The confession means for her more than it does for the Reformed, indeed, in many respect even more than for the [Roman] Catholics. The Reformed Churches can survive if the confession is relativized, when it is stated: "We do not know precisely whether next Sunday we will continue to interpret Scripture in the way we do today." Catholicism actually celebrates a triumph when a dogma is proclaimed by the pope, the correctness of which is doubted by many of the best Catholics and which they then in worthy obedience accept, though they themselves know that the proof of tradition is defective and therefore doubtful. Both these groups [Reformed and Roman] lack that ultimate seriousness regarding the question of truth, which was the proprium of the Lutheran Reformation. We Lutherans are quite happy to boast about this virtue, but perhaps no longer with justification, just as the Swiss still boast of the bravery which their fathers showed on the battle fields of Europe centuries ago. Indeed, the church does not live on from the faith of the fathers. The confession can have a purely historical significance like the flags and uniforms of Hannover. If it is correct that the confessio, the confession of the faith, is indissoluably connected with confessio in the sense of the confession of sin and of the praise of God, is not then our lack of repentance and our lack of joyful praise of God in newer hymns a notable parallel to the regression of the dogmatic confession [of the faith]?

From The De-Confessionalisation of Lutheranism?
Letters to Lutheran Pastors No. 22, New Year 1952
Translation by Rev Matthew Harrison graciously made available to 'Confessional Lutherans Australia'. Available on-line here: http://www.clai.org.au/articles/sasse/deconfes.htm

Compiler's Note - Take note of what Dr. Sasse writes about the confession of the faith being indissolubly linked with the confession of sin and doxology. Could it be that the declining sense of sin and the consequent lukewarm praise of God among Lutherans today are intimately connected with the decline of confessionalism? Yes! Whereever the hardened conscience is broken open by the law and the praise of God flows with tears from the forgiven heart, there the Lutheran confessions and their witness to the pure, saving Gospel will never dare be relativised.

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