Oh, and One More Thing…

128756_imagnoI thought it might be good to let Luther have the last word regarding the two kinds of righteousness. 

For those men should be kept far away from Holy writ who, with distinctions drawn from their own brains, bring into theology various kinds of righteousness and say that one is ethical, that another is the righteousness of faith, and speak of I know not what other kinds. (By all means let the state have its own righteousness, the philosophers their own and everyone his own.) But here one must take righteousness in the Scriptural sense; and the apostle says plainly that this righteousness does not exist except through faith in Jesus Christ and that all other works, even those of God’s most holy Law, far from affording righteousness are actually sins and make a man worse in the sight of God. Indeed, they are such great sins and so far away from righteousness that it was necessary for the Son of God to die in order that righteousness might be given to us. In theology, therefore, do not use the term “righteousness” for that which is outside faith in Christ. Moreover, if it is certain that it is not righteousness, it is equally certain that it is sin, and sin that is damnable. (Luther’s 1519 lectures on Galatians. AE 27:240.)

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3 Responses to Oh, and One More Thing…

  1. Very interesting. Could you provide the citation so that this can be used in other venues?

  2. Mike says:

    Dear Rev. Winter
    Luther here speaks very eloquently about passive righteousness, the vertical dimension of 2KR. Hear also what he says about active righteousness “parents may taching this righteousness without danger, because they do not attribute to it any power to make satisfaction for sin, to placate God, or to earn grace…” (LW 26:4, Great Galatians Commentary). When we talk about righteousness coram mundo “before the world” it has nothing to do with our faith relationship secured in our baptism when we were killed and made alive. In the horizontal dimension, we are talking about serving our neighbor, living as Christians, living in God’s will, a.k.a. the Law. Nothing we do in the horizontal realm merits us anything before God. In that realm, God does it all – Law/Gospel – kills, makes alive. 2KR takes nothing away from Law/Gospel, but expands upon it, giving us a vocabulary to have a Christian ethic that is faithful to both faithful to monergism, while at the same time providing something other than a gospel reductionist framework for talking matters of sanctification. If you understood 2KR, you would not malign it as you do. The attacks you are making are incorrect assumptions about what you have in your mind determined to be what is being taught. It is not a faithful representation of the teaching. No peer I’ve talked to who has sat in the classroom and learned 2KR from Kolb, Biermann, or Arand has disagreed – your critique is unfounded. Please seek to better understand what is being taught (not your skeptical impressions) before attacking this and created unneeded controversy in the Synod. Thanks!

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