Martyred for the Gospel

Martyred for the Gospel
The burning of Tharchbishop of Cant. D. Tho. Cranmer in the town dich at Oxford, with his hand first thrust into the fyre, wherwith he subscribed before. [Click on the picture to see Cranmer's last words.]

Daily Bible Verse

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Why Luther Deletes the Second Commandment

Addendum:  Luther denied idolatry in his Smalcald Articles.  So some of what I said in this article is not accurate. It is still true that the Lutherans follow a different order of numbering the Decalogue.  See:  Smalcald Articles and the Book of Concord.

Why Lutherans Have a Different Numbering of the Ten Commandments

Once I was reading the Small Catechism written by Luther and noticed that his numbering of the decalogue or ten commandments was different from what I had been used to seeing. I could not for the life of me figure out why. However, in reading the biography of Archbishop Thomas Cranmer by Diarmaid MacCullough I found the answer to my question. I am by no means an expert on Anglicanism and Lutheranism. I spent most of my life on the broad evangelical side of things, particularly since my earliest experiences with the church were with the pentecostal holiness tradition or with the southern baptists. Although I did for a brief time attend a presbyterian church prior to the split between the Presbyterian Church in America from the Presbyterian Church in the USA.

In my reading of Thomas Cranmer, by Diarmaid MacCullough (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1996), I discovered that Martin Luther's view of the sacraments was not the only item at issue between the Reformed and the Lutherans. In fact, the Lutherans were much more willing to tolerate veneration of images and the saints than the magisterial reformers in Geneva and Zurich were willing to tolerate. For Luther, the veneration of images was a matter of indifference and so Luther and the Lutherans follow Roman Catholic tradition and Eastern Orthodox tradition by removing the prohibition against graven images from the ten commandments. Luther's Small Catechism therefore reads:

I. The Ten Commandments
As the head of the family should teach them in a simple way to his household.
The First Commandment.
Thou shalt have no other gods.
What does this mean?--Answer.
We should fear, love, and trust in God above all things.
The Second Commandment.
Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord, thy God, in vain.
What does this mean?--Answer.
We should fear and love God that we may not curse, swear, use witchcraft, lie, or deceive by His name, but call upon it in every trouble, pray, praise, and give thanks.
The Third Commandment.
Thou shalt sanctify the holy-day.
What does this mean?--Answer.
We should fear and love God that we may not despise preaching and His Word, but hold it sacred, and gladly hear and learn it.
The Fourth Commandment.
Thou shalt honor thy father and thy mother [that it may be well with thee and thou mayest live long upon the earth].
What does this mean?--Answer.
We should fear and love God that we may not despise nor anger our parents and masters, but give them honor, serve, obey, and hold them in love and esteem.
The Fifth Commandment.
Thou shalt not kill.
What does this mean?--Answer.
We should fear and love God that we may not hurt nor harm our neighbor in his body, but help and befriend him in every bodily need [in every need and danger of life and body].
The Sixth Commandment.
Thou shalt not commit adultery.
What does this mean?--Answer.
We should fear and love God that we may lead a chaste and decent life in words and deeds, and each love and honor his spouse.
The Seventh Commandment.
Thou shalt not steal.
What does this mean?--Answer.
We should fear and love God that we may not take our neighbor's money or property, nor get them by false ware or dealing, but help him to improve and protect his property and business [that his means are preserved and his condition is improved].
The Eighth Commandment.
Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbor.
What does this mean?--Answer.
We should fear and love God that we may not deceitfully belie, betray, slander, or defame our neighbor, but defend him, [think and] speak well of him, and put the best construction on everything.
The Ninth Commandment.
Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor's house.
What does this mean?--Answer.
We should fear and love God that we may not craftily seek to get our neighbor's inheritance or house, and obtain it by a show of [justice and] right, etc., but help and be of service to him in keeping it.
The Tenth Commandment.
Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor's wife, nor his man-servant, nor his maid-servant, nor his cattle, nor anything that is his.
What does this mean?--Answer.
We should fear and love God that we may not estrange, force, or entice away our neighbor's wife, servants, or cattle, but urge them to stay and [diligently] do their duty.
What Does God Say of All These Commandments?
He says thus (Exod. 20:5f): I the Lord, thy God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate Me, and showing mercy unto thousands of them that love Me and keep My commandments.
What does this mean?--Answer.
God threatens to punish all that transgress these commandments. Therefore we should dread His wrath and not act contrary to these commandments. But He promises grace and every blessing to all that keep these commandments. Therefore we should also love and trust in Him, and gladly do [zealously and diligently order our whole life] according to His commandments. (From: Luther's Small Catechism: The Ten Commandments. The Book of Concord).

Luther and those who follow him therefore consider it a matter of adiaphora whether or not anyone venerates images or the saints, including Mary. Also, Luther considered it a matter of indifference as to whether or not the bread and wine were to be "lifted up, adored, or carried about." So we can see immediately the problems which come with adopting the Lutheran view. About the only thing Luther was firm about was the doctrines of sola Scriptura and sola fide. Luther's break with Rome is not radical enough.

However, the English Reformers sided with the Stassburg-St. Gall ordering of the Decalogue acccording to Diarmaid MacCullough:

". . . evidently Bishop Foxe did not feel that his leading role disqualified him from stridently enunciating the evangelical cause. It is not surprising that the document eventually published was full of Lutheran overtones; it made considerable textual borrowings from the evangelically-flavoured primer (lay devotional book) issued by Cromwell's favourite propaganda publisher, William Marshall, in 1535. Via this devious route there entered disguised fragments of Martin Luther's prose into an official formulary of the Church of Henry VIII, who detested the man.

"In one significant and prophetic respect, however, Marshall's primer pushed the Bishop's Book further than Lutheranism towards the theology of the Strassburg-St Gall axis. In one of its sections it renumbered the Ten Commandments, which may at first hearing sound either a drastic or a pedantic procedure. However, the renumbering had a deep theological resonance. From the beginnings of Christian commentary on the Old Testament, there had been two traditions about the opening and therefore the subsequent numbering of the Decalogue. One school of thought had combined the command to have no other Gods but God with the command to make no graven images, and even argued that the graven image command was a late importation and therefore of secondary importance. This was the dominant tradition in the early and medieval western Church, not surprisingly, since it removed the embarrassing prominence of the graven image prohibition, a convenience for a religion increasingly reliant on the visual in its devotion. The other tradition, with good Jewish and patristic warrant, treated these two commandments as separate, and therefore the image prohibition became the second of the Ten Commandments in its own right. It was the sign of a religious tradition which regarded the visual as a threat to the right perception of God." (MacCullough, pp. 191-192).

According to MacCullough, the view in Marshall's primer became the official position of the Church of England (p. 192). That this is true can most obviously be seen in Cranmer's numbering and order of the Decalogue in the 1552 Book of Common Prayer's service for the Lord's Supper, which is retained in the 1662 Book of Common Prayer made the standard of the English Church during the reign of Charles II. The 1662 BCP has a rubric requiring the reading of the Decalogue at every communion service by the minister with a responsive prayer after each commandment by the people and a closing responsive prayer read by the people. Cranmer's ordering of the commandments clearly follows the Jewish tradition and the patristic tradition against images:

Then shall the Priest, turning to the people, rehearse distinctly all the TEN COMMANDMENTS; and the people still kneeling shall, after every Commandment, ask God mercy for their transgression thereof for the time past, and grace to keep the same for the time to come, as followeth.
GOD spake these words, and said; I am the Lord thy God: Thou shalt have none other gods but me.
People. Lord, have mercy upon us, and incline our hearts to keep this law.
Minister. Thou shalt not make to thyself any graven image, nor the likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or in the earth beneath, or in the water under the earth. Thou shalt not bow down to them, nor worship them: for I the Lord thy God am a jealous God, and visit the sins of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me, and shew mercy unto thousands in them that love me, and keep my commandments.
People. Lord, have mercy upon us, and incline our hearts to keep this law.
Minister. Thou shalt not take the Name of the Lord thy God in vain: for the Lord will not hold him guiltless, that taketh his Name in vain.
People. Lord, have mercy upon us, and incline our hearts to keep this law.
Minister. Remember that thou keep holy the Sabbath-day. Six days shalt thou labour, and do all that thou hast to do; but the seventh day is the Sabbath of the Lord thy God. In it thou shalt do no manner of work, thou, and thy son, and thy daughter, thy man-servant, and thy maid-servant, thy cattle, and the stranger that is within thy gates. For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and ail that in them is, and rested the seventh day: wherefore the Lord blessed the seventh day, and hallowed it.
People. Lord, have mercy upon us, and incline our hearts to keep this law.
Minister. Honour thy father and thy mother; that thy days may be long in the land which the Lord thy God giveth thee.
People. Lord, have mercy upon us, and incline our hearts to keep this law.
Minister. Thou shalt do no murder.
People. Lord, have mercy upon us, and incline our hearts to keep this law.
Minister. Thou shalt not commit adultery.
People. Lord, have mercy upon us, and incline our hearts to keep this law.
Minister. Thou shalt not steal.
People. Lord, have mercy upon us, and incline our hearts to keep this law.
Minister. Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbour.
People. Lord, have mercy upon us, and incline our hearts to keep this law.
Minister. Thou shalt not covet thy neighbour's house, thou shalt not covet thy neighbour's wife, nor his servant, nor his maid, nor his ox, nor his ass, nor any thing that is his.
People. Lord, have mercy upon us, and write all these thy laws in our hearts, we beseech thee.

Unfortunately, modern Evangelical Anglicans, like many of those in the Sydney Diocese, have sided with the modern church growth movement. They no longer use the prayer book or read the Decalogue during communion services. While they still recommend that ministers use the 1662 Book of Common Prayer or the Australian Prayer Book adopted in 1980, the use of liturgy to teach Scripture, creed, and evangelical theology is replaced with dumbed down "experiential" worship focusing on the subjective and ecstatic experience of the lay person rather than an intellectual grasp of the propositional truths of Holy Scripture. This blatantly anti-intellectual approach to worship downplays the didactic intent of Cranmer's liturgy and replaces it with what can only be described as an irrational and "liberal" view of worship. This sort of liturgical pragmatism may win short term gains in attendance and monetary rewards for the church but the long lasting effects of such an approach is pelagianism and liberalism, the very things Sydney claims to oppose. The same seems to be true in many Anglican congregations in the United Kingdom.

The real purpose of the 1662 Book of Common Prayer is to teach the Evangelical faith and to evangelize all who attend the worship services by reading the penitential sentences or Scriptures in the Morning and Evening Prayer services and by reading both the Decalogue (law) and the Gospel in the liturgy itself. For Cranmer and the English Reformers real presence, veneration of images and the saints, and other departures from Scripture are not matters of indifference but matters central to the very Bible itself.

May the peace of God be with you,


The Twenty-first Sunday after Trinity.

The Collect.

GRANT, we beseech thee, merciful Lord, to thy faithful people pardon and peace, that they may be cleansed from all their sins, and serve thee with a quiet mind; through Jesus Christ our Lord.


CB in Ca said...

Charlie: I spent years in the Missouri Synod and graduated from a Lutheran Seminary. Never was the veneration of images advocated by any professor I had. Furthermore, the explanation of the First Commandment in the LC-MS Catechism says this: Question 21: "When do people have other gods? They have other gods when they regard and worship any creature or thing as God." p.56 I will not defend Luther here; veneration of images is a sin against the First (or Second) Commandment. It cannot be adiaphora. The "followers" of Luther on this do not necessarily agree with him.

Reformation said...


Would like to see a quote from MacCullough re: Luther and veneration of saints.

To date, my reading of the Lutheran Confessions do not rlead in this direction.

Any citations would be helpful.


Concur re: excision of 10 commandments for any and all HC services...and the 10 in full.


Charlie J. Ray said...

CB, while it may be true that not "all" Lutherans in the Missouri Synod tolerate the veneration of the saints or the adoration of the "creatures" of bread and wine, it seems to me that Stephenson, the author of the article in the Concordia Theological Quarterly, 1984, seems to have no problem with the fact that Anglo-Catholics are essentially papists who believe in infused righteousness and justification by faith plus personal merits.

Also, I have encountered "high church" Lutherans on here who have told me in private e-mail that they see no problem with the lifting up and adoration of the bread and wine based on the doctrine of real presence. Thus, Luther's doctrine of real presence is essentially the same as that of the Roman Catholics minus the Aristotelian philosophy.

Charlie J. Ray said...

Quote from MacCullough on page 192:

"Leo Jud, Huldrych Zwingli's assistant at Zurich, first republicized this numbering in a publication of 1527; it became a distinctive feature of central European and later Reformed Christianity, rejected both by Rome and by Martin Luther, who had little quarrel with images, and who was hostile to this innovation of his fellow reformers.56"

MacCullough gives a footnote to his source for this at:

"56. On Jud, se Aston, England's Iconoclasts, p. 380."

M. Aston. England's Iconoclasts. I. Laws Against Images. (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1988).

Charlie J. Ray said...

It is also documented that the Augsburg Confession of 1530 held to a doctrine of real presence which was for all practical purposes indistinguishable from the Roman Catholic doctrine of real presence. Calvin accepted the 1549 version of the Confession by Melancthon which said that the body and blood of Christ are truly "exhibited" in the bread and wine. But this version by Melancthon was rejected and the Book of Concord went back to the high Lutheran view.

For support of this see Phillip Schaff on the Westphal Controversy. Also, Calvin and the Augsburg Confession.

This division between the Lutherans and the Reformed should not be underestimated, particularly when the 2nd commandment is essentially deleted or absorbed into the first commandment and then ignored. This is how high church or "high" Lutherans would justify the adoration of the "creatures" of bread and wine, which the 39 Articles unequivocally forbids.

Article 22

Article XXII
Of Purgatory
The Romish doctrine concerning Pugatory, Pardons, worshipping and adoration as well of Images as of Relics, and also Invocation of Saints, is a fond thing vainly invented, and grounded upon no warranty of Scripture; but rather repugnant to the word of God.

Article 28

Article XXVIII
Of the Lord's Supper
The Supper of the Lord is not only a sign of the love that Christians ought to have among themselves, one to another, but rather it is a sacrament of our redemption by Christ's death: insomuch that to such as rightly, worthily, and with faith receive the same, the bread which we break is a partaking of the body of Christ, and likewise the cup of blessing is a partaking of the blood of Christ.
Transubstantiation (or the change of the substance of bread and wine) in the Supper of the Lord, cannot be proved by Holy Writ, but is repugnant to the plain words of Scripture, overthroweth the nature of a Sacrament, and hath given occasion to many superstitions.

The body of Christ is given, taken, and eaten in the Supper, only after an heavenly and spiritual manner. And the mean whereby the body of Christ is received and eaten in the Supper is faith.

The Sacrament of the Lord's Supper was not by Christ's ordinance reserved, carried about, lifted up, or worshipped.

I hope this helps. The so-called "high Lutheran" view of the Lord's Supper is unequivocally rejected by both the 39 Articles and the 1662 Book of Common Prayer. For those who think this is a matter of adiaphora, I would highly recommend reading Archbishop Thomas Cranmer's book on the Lord's Supper.


Anonymous said...

Hello all,

Luther described his understanding on the Adoration of the Sacrament as seen in his 1523 work “The Adoration of the Sacrament” (translated by Abdel Ross Wentz):
Luther states that because Christ is present in believing hearts and in the Sacrament He may be worshiped or adored in both places (though not of necessity–because he says that Christ is not in His “State of Glory” in these places as He is in Heaven).
He also states in his work:
“In the first place, we have often said that the chief and foremost thing in the sacrament is the word of Christ, when he says: “Take and eat, this is my body which is given for you.” Likewise also, when he took the cup, he said: “Take and drink of it, att of you, this is the cup of a new testament in my blood which is shed for you for the forgiveness of sins. As often as you do this, do it in remembrance of me”…these words are far more important than the sacrament itself, and a Christian should make it a practice to give far more attention to these words than to the sacrament. But as a matter of fact the situation everywhere is just the reverse of this because of the false teachers. They have depreciated these words in the eyes of the people, hidden them securely besides, and called attention only to the sacrament. The result is that faith has been lost and the sacrament has been turned into a purely external work devoid of faith.”
“And so I repeat what I have said above, that a person should
note carefully these two things in the sacrament: first, the Word; and second, the bread and wine. The words teach you to give thought and attention to why Christ is present; they will cause you to forget your work and to wait only upon his. For a sacrament is a matter of faith, because in it only the works of God proceed and are effected through his Word. Therefore, those who consider the sacrament to be thus in the Word will forget both worship and adoration. That is what the apostles did at the Supper [Matt. 26:26] and yet without any doubt they were most acceptable and did him the proper honor. They acted just as one does when he hears the gospel, the Word of God to which the highest honor is nonetheless due because God is nearer in it than Christ is in the bread and wine. Yet no one thinks of bowing before the gospel; instead everyone sits still, and in listening gives no thought whatever to the kind of honor he will do to the Word.”
“It is, of course, true that there is a distinction between Christ
sitting on high in heaven, and being in the sacrament and in the hearts of believers. For certainly he ascended to heaven so that men should and must worship him there and confess him to be the Lord, mighty over all things (Phil. 2 [: 10-11]). But he is present in the sacrament and in the hearts of believers not really because he wants to be worshiped there, but because he wants there to work with us and help us…”

Blessings in Christ,
William Scott

PastorJack said...

If you read Ingve Brilioth's book "Eucharistic Faith and Practice" you will see that the adoration of the body and blood of Christ in the Holy Sacrament within the context of the Mass was the norm among Lutherans well into the 18th Century and beyond. It was the unfortunate influences of Calvinism, German rationalism, and pietism that de-emphasized the Sacraments and had a corrosive effect on Eucharistic piety in the Church of the Augsburg Confession. In the 16th, 17th, and 18th Centuries, when the priest chanted aloud the words of consecration and elevated the host and the chalice, a bell was rung and the people fell down on their knees in adoration of our Lord truly present in His Sacrament. Happily, the liturgical movement on the 20th Century has reversed some of the receptionism and Calvinism that have infected the Lutheran churches. In many places (albeit, not all), there is greater reverence for the Holy Eucharist. Jesus said, "This is my Body, this is the cup of my Blood." I wish the Reformed Christians would take Christ at His Word and believe what He says, rather always having to explain away and deny the plain words of our Savior. As far as images of our Lord, the Blessed Virgin Mary, and the saints are concerned, Lutherans have no problem with these, as long as they are not attached to any superstition. Good art in churches cab be a great aid to faith. Lutherans, unlike the Zwinglians and Calvinists, are not iconoclasts. In fact, it is the same lack of appreciation for our Lord's incarnation that leads to a denial of the true presence of Christ in the Eucharist that also leads to iconoclasm.

Charlie J. Ray said...

It might be true that Luther did not reject the presence of Christ in, with and under the sacraments. However, the lifting up and adoration of the elements is not a Lutheran doctrine. Luther considered the Word and Sacrament as inseparable. In other words, without the preaching of the Scriptures what you have is not a Sacrament but a superstition.

The fact is you're the one not taking God at His Word. Jesus clearly did not mean His literal body and blood since He was not yet crucified:) It does not take a genius to figure that one out.

It's the plain text. Jesus isn't a door, or a light. He's a man. The body and blood are clearly figurative as Cranmer himself said in his book on the sacrament of the Lord's Supper.

Idolaters will continue to worship bread and wine while true Christians worship Jesus Christ. The sacrament is a visible Word, a visible way of preaching the Gospel and the cross. That wouldn't be hard to figure out either if you actually read the Bible.

Another papist posting anonymously does not surprise me either.


Charlie J. Ray said...

Evangelical Lutheran? As in ELCA? This is exactly the sort of thing I was refuting in my blog article.

However, I've come to see that most in the Missouri Synod would not agree with this tendency toward the papist view.


Charlie J. Ray said...

My apologies. It seems that Pastor Jack is not posting anonymously after all:)

It is refreshing to see an Evangelical Lutheran Church of America pastor who does not agree with the feminist revisionism.


Mr. Mcgranor said...

Don't let such an intellectual charade , 'go to your head'.

Charlie J. Ray said...

The issue is a legitmate one. Rome uses this renumbering to justify idolatry. And as for my head, the image of God includes the mind, which Jesus commands us to use in the glorification of God and worship. Airheads are not Christians.

Charlie J. Ray said...

And he answering said, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy strength, and with all thy mind; and thy neighbour as thyself. (Luke 10:27 KJV)

Charlie J. Ray said...

Josephus gives us the Jewish count and it is the same as ours. (Antiq. 3.5.5)

Charlie J. Ray said...

Thanks to Andy Underhile of the Contra Mundum blog for that last reference.

Matthew Shields said...

Veneration of saints does not make them into a god. The first commandment in Catholic and Lutheran circles does not include the section about graven images because a graven image in the OT was a god (the golden calf was not a representation of a god, but actually was the thing they worshiped). Therefore, saying that you should have no graven images was simply a restatement of the main thesis: thou shall have no other gods. The problem is not that Lutherans or Catholics "accept" the worship of graven images, but that other protestants interpret that action as making "other" or "false" gods, something no Catholic or Lutheran would ever say. Your extreme interpretation of the supposed "2nd Commandment" would mean that any image at all is evil. Exodus 20:4 literally says, “You shall not make for yourself an image in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below." No images of anything that exists on earth or in heaven. That is pretty straight forward. But that is not what you are advocating. Therefore, you are INTERPRETING! The same thing the Catholics and the Lutherans are. It does not make you any more correct than them.

Charlie J. Ray said...

Any veneration of saints or images is idolatry. No Jew or Hebrew would have accepted the Roman Catholic idolatry. The command against idols is an absolute command just as the command that you should have no other gods is absolute. To pray to anyone other than God is idolatry for the same reason. Praying to statues, idols or saints is to make them into a god. (Psalm 82:6-7).

Charlie J. Ray said...

If it's a matter of "interpretation" and not a matter of propositional logic embedded in the Scriptures, then the Scriptures can be made to say whatever any political party wants them to say. Essentionally, your argument that it is a matter of interpretation is nothing more than relativism and liberalism. The Scriptures can have one and only one logical and rational interpretation because God is Logic. (John 1:1). Man is the image of God and rationality enlightens every man with the logic of God. God's image is logic. (John 1:9; 1 Corinthians 11:7). What part of "David was the king of Israel" is open to "interpretation"?

Matthew Shields said...

So you do not interpret the Bible? You have been given the final word by God? You have more knowledge about the scriptures than all the linguists who translate words from one language to another even when there is no direct parallel? That is gnosticism. Translation is interpretation, that is why there are so many English translations! The experts who know more about ancient languages and manuscripts cannot even agree on the right interpretation of a word into another language. Or maybe think about it from another angle: Is there actually a pantheon of gods surrounding YHWH? If Scripture is about propositional truth as you say, then Psalm 82 must literally be true! Your logic, not mine. Christians have been interpreting and debating the meaning of the Bible since the inception of the church. Your use of modern labels like "liberal" and "relativism" are anachronisms that completely disregard the entirety of church history in order to drown out any debate or disagreement with your own opinion. And speaking of logic, God is not logic. John 1:1 says that Jesus is the "logos." Logos means a spoken word. Logic is "logike," though they have the same root they are different words. That is greek class 101.

Matthew Shields said...

The other flaw in your logic is that if we are to take literally what the Old Testament law says and we cannot interpret it for fear of being relativistic or liberal, then you must keep every letter of the kosher dietary law. But I highly doubt that you do. Saying that Jews did or did not do something is a not important in the life of a Christian. Otherwise we should tear out Acts 10 from all our Bibles right now.

Charlie J. Ray said...

Well, it's nice of you to concede the debate beforehand. If words and sentences have no delimiting meaning, then they mean nothing at all.

Liberalism and relativism are not anachronisms, by the way. An anachronism is a word that does not apply to current time. It's something that is old fashioned. That's clearly just the opposite of progressivism, liberalism, and relativism--all of which are modernist innovations, not the traditional position of the Reformation or biblical Christianity.

As for the Greek word, Logos, you should go back to your Greek lexicon and check it again. It means to reason, reckon, think, rationalize, etc. The word is clearly in line with the word "logic." Since man is God's image (1 Corinthians 11:7) and God is a spirit (John 4:24), it follows that the image of God is not a physical body. It is logic. Logic and intellect is the light that lightens every man (John 1:9).

Scripture is embedded with logic. The beginning point or axiom for Biblical Christianity is therefore, Scripture, not God and not the church. On the other hand, the logical propositions of Scripture can be systematically organized. The Westminster Standards, the Three Forms of Unity (Dutch Reformed), and the Anglican Formularies (39 Articles of Religion, 1662 Book of Common Prayer, and the Homilies) all constitute systematic expositions of the system of theology in the Bible. Historical events in Scripture have no meaning apart from the logical propositions attached to them.

The doctrine of sola Scriptura does not reject creeds and confessions. Rather, the creeds and confessions draw their most certain warrant from Holy Scripture alone:

VIII. Of the Three Creeds.

THE three Creeds, Nicene Creed, Athanasius' Creed, and that which is commonly called the Apostles' Creed, ought thoroughly to be received and believed; for they may be proved by most certain warrants of Holy Scripture.

So it is not my personal opinion that matters. It is the logical propositions of Scripture from which we deduce all other doctrinal implications:

Westminster Confession of Faith, Chapter 1. Of the Holy Scriptures.

Paragraph 6. The whole counsel of God, concerning all things necessary for His own glory, man's salvation, faith and life, is either expressly set down in Scripture, or by good and necessary consequence may be deduced from Scripture: unto which nothing at any time is to be added, whether by new revelations of the Spirit, or traditions of men.1 Nevertheless, we acknowledge the inward illumination of the Spirit of God to be necessary for the saving understanding of such things as are revealed in the word;2 and that there are some circumstances concerning the worship of God, and government of the Church, common to human actions and societies, which are to be ordered by the light of nature, and Christian prudence, according to the general rules of the word, which are always to be observed.3


1 2 Tim. 3:15,16,17; Gal. 1:8,9; 2 Thess. 2:2.

2 John 6:45; 1 Cor. 2:9,10,11,12.

3 1 Cor. 11:13,14; 1 Cor. 14:26,40.

Charlie J. Ray said...

Well, Matthew, since you are constructing a straw man fallacy, it's not a "flaw" in my theology. You really should study the Westminster Confession and/or the 39 Articles of Religion before you presuppose a position no Reformed Anglican or Presbyterian advocates.

VII. Of the Old Testament.

THE Old Testament is not contrary to the New; for both in the Old and New Testament everlasting life is offered to mankind by Christ, who is the only Mediator between God and man, being both God and man. Wherefore there are not to be heard which feign that the old fathers did look only for transitory promises. Although the law given from God by Moses, as touching ceremonies and rites, do not bind Christian men, nor the civil precepts thereof ought of necessity to be received in any commonwealth; yet, notwithstanding, no Christian man whatsoever is free from the obedience of the commandments which are called moral.

Unknown said...

From Luther's Smalcald Articles, official doctrine of the Lutheran Church and part of the Lutheran Confessions:

"The invocation of saints is also one of the abuses of Antichrist conflicting with the chief article, and destroys the knowledge of Christ. Neither is it commanded nor counseled, nor has it any example [or testimony] in Scripture, and even though it were a precious thing, as it is not [while, on the contrary, it is a most harmful thing], in Christ we have everything a thousandfold better [and surer, so that we are not in need of calling upon the saints]."

Charlie J. Ray said...

Thanks for posting that quote from the Smalcald Articles. Obviously there are now high church Lutherans who do not follow the Lutheran confessions any longer. Charlie

Unknown said...

I know of one LCMS pastor and he wants to go EO, our refusal to pray to the Saints being one of his reasons, so your statement "Luther and those who follow him therefore consider it a matter of adiaphora whether or not anyone venerates images or the saints, including Mary" is inaccurate.

If Luther did continue to worship Mary, it's not in our Confessions, which is what we subscribe to. It's a straw man argument. I only remember him and other Lutheran Reformers holding to "Semper Virgo," but teaching that that was what was adiaphora, not the act of worshiping Mary. – Carey Best

Charlie J. Ray said...

It is still a fact that Lutherans think that the human nature of Christ is ubiquitous and is in, with and under the bread and wine. That is a form of monophysitism or Eutychianism.

Charlie J. Ray said...

Anyway, this is a very old post. Charlie

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