Showing posts with label Justification. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Justification. Show all posts

Saturday, 1 July 2017

The Dismal Science

"There's another fellow," muttered Scrooge; who overheard him: "my clerk, with fifteen shillings a week, and a wife and family, talking about a merry Christmas.  I'll retire to Bedlam."

This lunatic, in letting Scrooge's nephew out, had let two other people in.  They were portly gentlemen, pleasant to behold, and now stood, with their hats off, in Scrooge's office.  They had books and papers in their hands, and bowed to him.

"Scrooge and Marley's, I believe," said one of the gentlemen, referring to his list.  "Have I the pleasure of addressing Mr. Scrooge, or Mr. Marley?"

"Mr. Marley has been dead these seven years," Scrooge replied.  "He died seven years ago, this very night."

"We have no doubt his liberality is well represented by his surviving partner," said the gentleman, presenting his credentials.

It certainly was; for they had been two kindred spirits.  At the ominous word "liberality," Scrooge frowned, and shook his head, and handed the credentials back.

"At this festive season of the year, Mr. Scrooge," said the gentleman, taking up a pen, "it is more than usually desirable that we should make some slight provision for the Poor and Destitute, who suffer greatly at the present time.  Many thousands are in want of common necessaries; hundreds of thousands are in want of common comforts, sir."

"Are there no prisons?" asked Scrooge.

"Plenty of prisons," said the gentleman, laying down the pen again.

"And the Union workhouses?"  demanded Scrooge.  "Are they still in operation?"

"They are.  Still," returned the gentleman, "I wish I could say they were not."

"The Treadmill and the Poor Law are in full vigour, then?"  said Scrooge.

"Both very busy, sir."

"Oh!  I was afraid, from what you said at first, that something had occurred to stop them in their useful course," said Scrooge.  "I'm very glad to hear it."

"Under the impression that they scarcely furnish Christian cheer of mind or body to the multitude," returned the gentleman, "a few of us are endeavouring to raise a fund to buy the Poor some meat and drink and means of warmth.  We choose this time, because it is a time, of all others, when Want is keenly felt, and Abundance rejoices.  What shall I put you down for?"

"Nothing!" Scrooge replied.

"You wish to be anonymous?"

"I wish to be left alone," said Scrooge.  "Since you ask me what I wish, gentlemen, that is my answer.  I don't make merry myself at Christmas and I can't afford to make idle people merry.  I help to support the establishments I have mentioned -- they cost enough; and those who are badly off must go there."

"Many can't go there; and many would rather die."

"If they would rather die," said Scrooge, "they had better do it, and decrease the surplus population.  Besides -- excuse me -- I don't know that."

"But you might know it," observed the gentleman.

"It's not my business," Scrooge returned.  

"It's enough for a man to understand his own business, and not to interfere with other people's.  Mine occupies me constantly.  Good afternoon, gentlemen!"

Seeing clearly that it would be useless to pursue their point, the gentlemen withdrew.  Scrooge returned his labours with an improved opinion of himself, and in a more facetious temper than was usual with him.

Scrooge fell upon his knees, and clasped his hands before his face.
"Mercy!" he said.  "Dreadful apparition, why do you trouble me?"

"Man of the worldly mind!" replied the Ghost, "do you believe in me or not?"

"I do," said Scrooge.  "I must.  But why do spirits walk the earth, and why do they come to me?"

"It is required of every man," the Ghost returned, "that the spirit within him should walk abroad among his fellowmen, and travel far and wide; and if that spirit goes not forth in life, it is condemned to do so after death.  It is doomed to wander through the world -- oh, woe is me! -- and witness what it cannot share, but might have shared on earth, and turned to happiness!"

Again the spectre raised a cry, and shook its chain and wrung its shadowy hands.

"You are fettered," said Scrooge, trembling.  "Tell me why?"

"I wear the chain I forged in life," replied the Ghost. "I made it link by link, and yard by yard; I girded it on of my own free will, and of my own free will I wore it.  Is its pattern strange to you?"

Scrooge trembled more and more.

"Or would you know," pursued the Ghost, "the weight and length of the strong coil you bear yourself?  It was full as heavy and as long as this, seven Christmas Eves ago.  You have laboured on it, since. It is a ponderous chain!"

Scrooge glanced about him on the floor, in the expectation of finding himself surrounded by some fifty or sixty fathoms of iron cable: but he could see nothing.

"Jacob," he said, imploringly.  "Old Jacob Marley, tell me more.  Speak comfort to me, Jacob!"

"I have none to give," the Ghost replied.  "It comes from other regions, Ebenezer Scrooge, and is conveyed by other ministers, to other kinds of men.  Nor can I tell you what I would.  A very little more, is all permitted to me.  I cannot rest, I cannot stay, I cannot linger anywhere.  My spirit never walked beyond our counting-house -- mark me! -- in life my spirit never roved beyond the narrow limits of our money-changing hole; and weary journeys lie before me!"

It was a habit with Scrooge, whenever he became thoughtful, to put his hands in his breeches pockets.  Pondering on what the Ghost had said, he did so now, but without lifting up his eyes, or getting off his knees.

"You must have been very slow about it, Jacob," Scrooge observed, in a business-like manner, though with humility and deference.
"Slow!" the Ghost repeated.

"Seven years dead," mused Scrooge.  "And travelling all the time!"
"The whole time," said the Ghost.  "No rest, no peace.  Incessant torture of remorse."

"You travel fast?"  said Scrooge.

"On the wings of the wind," replied the Ghost.

"You might have got over a great quantity of ground in seven years," said Scrooge.

The Ghost, on hearing this, set up another cry, and clanked its chain so hideously in the dead silence of the night, that the Ward would have been justified in indicting it for a nuisance.

"Oh!  captive, bound, and double-ironed," cried the phantom, "not to know, that ages of incessant labour, by immortal creatures, for this earth must pass into eternity before the good of which it is susceptible is all developed.  Not to know that any Christian spirit working kindly in its little sphere, whatever it may be, will find its mortal life too short for its vast means of usefulness.  Not to know that no space of regret can make amends for one life's opportunity misused!  Yet such was I!  Oh!  such was I!"

"But you were always a good man of business, Jacob," faltered Scrooge, who now began to apply this to himself.

"Business!" cried the Ghost, wringing its hands again.  "Mankind was my business.  The common welfare was my business; charity, mercy, forbearance, and benevolence, were, all, my business.  The dealings of my trade were but a drop of water in the comprehensive ocean of my business!"

It held up its chain at arm's length, as if that were the cause of all its unavailing grief, and flung it heavily upon the ground again.

"At this time of the rolling year," the spectre said "I suffer most.  Why did I walk through crowds of fellow-beings with my eyes turned down, and never raise them to that blessed Star which led the Wise Men to a poor abode!  Were there no poor homes to which its light would have conducted me!"

Scrooge was very much dismayed to hear the spectre going on at this rate, and began to quake exceedingly.

"Hear me!" cried the Ghost.  "My time is nearly gone."

"I will," said Scrooge.  "But don't be hard upon me!  Don't be flowery, Jacob!  Pray!"

"How it is that I appear before you in a shape that you can see, I may not tell.  I have sat invisible beside you many and many a day."

It was not an agreeable idea.  Scrooge shivered, and wiped the perspiration from his brow.

"That is no light part of my penance," pursued the Ghost.  "I am here to-night to warn you, that you have yet a chance and hope of escaping my fate.  A chance and hope of my procuring, Ebenezer."

"You were always a good friend to me," said Scrooge.  "Thank `ee!"

"You will be haunted," resumed the Ghost, "by Three Spirits."

Scrooge's countenance fell almost as low as the Ghost's had done.

"Is that the chance and hope you mentioned, Jacob?"  he demanded, in a faltering voice.

"It is."

"I -- I think I'd rather not," said Scrooge.

"Without their visits," said the Ghost, "you cannot hope to shun the path I tread.  Expect the first tomorrow, when the bell tolls one."

"Couldn't I take `em all at once, and have it over, Jacob?"  hinted Scrooge.

"Expect the second on the next night at the same hour.  The third upon the next night when the last stroke of twelve has ceased to vibrate.  Look to see me no more; and look that, for your own sake, you remember what has passed between us!"

When it had said these words, the spectre took its wrapper from the table, and bound it round its head, as before.  Scrooge knew this, by the smart sound its teeth made, when the jaws were brought together by the bandage.  He ventured to raise his eyes again, and found his supernatural visitor confronting him in an erect attitude, with its chain wound over and about its arm.

The apparition walked backward from him; and at every step it took, the window raised itself a little, so that when the spectre reached it, it was wide open.  It beckoned Scrooge to approach, which he did.  When they were within two paces of each other, Marley's Ghost held up its hand, warning him to come no nearer.  Scrooge stopped.

Not so much in obedience, as in surprise and fear: for on the raising of the hand, he became sensible of confused noises in the air; incoherent sounds of lamentation and regret; wailings inexpressibly sorrowful and self-accusatory.  The spectre, after listening for a moment, joined in the mournful dirge; and floated out upon the bleak, dark night.

Scrooge followed to the window: desperate in his curiosity.  He looked out.

The air was filled with phantoms, wandering hither and thither in restless haste, and moaning as they went.  Every one of them wore chains like Marley's Ghost; some few (they might be guilty governments) were linked together; none were free.  

Many had been personally known to Scrooge in their lives.  He had been quite familiar with one old ghost, in a white waistcoat, with a monstrous iron safe attached to its ankle, who cried piteously at being unable to assist a wretched woman with an infant, whom it saw below, upon a door-step.  

The misery with them all was, clearly, that they sought to interfere, for good, in human matters, and had lost the power for ever.

Saturday, 20 May 2017

Martin Luther Hated the Righteousness of God

Catholics don't believe Man is saved through Faith alone. 

Catholics believe that Faith has to be joined with Good Works.
Martin Luther Hated the Righteousness of God (But Loved Poo)

"One ought to fast, watch, and labor to the extent that such activities are needed to harness the body’s desires and longings; however, those who presume that they are justified by works pay no attention to the need for self-discipline but see the works themselves as the way to righteousness. They believe that if they do a great number of impressive works all will be well and righteousness will be the result. Sometimes this is pursued with such zeal that they become mentally unstable and their bodies are sapped of all strength. Such disastrous consequences demonstrate that the belief that we are justified and saved by works without faith is extremely foolish."

"All the passages in the Holy Scriptures that mention assistance are they that do away with "free-will", and these are countless...For grace is needed, and the help of grace is given, because "free-will" can do nothing."

"I frankly confess that, for myself, even if it could be, I should not want "free-will" to be given me, nor anything to be left in my own hands to enable me to endeavour after salvation; not merely because in face of so many dangers, and adversities and assaults of devils, I could not stand my ground ; but because even were there no dangers. I should still be forced to labour with no guarantee of success.¦ But now that God has taken my salvation out of the control of my own will, and put it under the control of His, and promised to save me, not according to my working or running, but according to His own grace and mercy, I have the comfortable certainty that He is faithful and will not lie to me, and that He is also great and powerful, so that no devils or opposition can break Him or pluck me from Him. Furthermore, I have the comfortable certainty that I please God, not by reason of the merit of my works, but by reason of His merciful favour promised to me; so that, if I work too little, or badly, He does not impute it to me, but with fatherly compassion pardons me and makes me better. This is the glorying of all the saints in their God.

- Martin Luther

So what [else] did Luther actually say? As an example, in 1542, Luther is reported to have described his depression as such: “I am ripe shit, so is the world a great wide asshole; eventually we will part.”

To say he was preoccupied would be putting it mildly. In 1531, in discussing an illustrative conversation he had with the Devil (which took place on a toilet), Luther said, “I am cleansing my bowels and worshipping God Almighty; You deserve what descends and God what ascends.”

So great was his love for pooing that he claimed one of his most significant revelations came while he was on the pot. In attempting to understand Romans 1:17, the realization that salvation came through faith rather than through his effort struck him, and as he later claimed, “Here I felt that I was altogether born again, and had entered Paradise itself through open gates.”

In his defense, the idea of the Devil loitering in toilets and it being his “playground,” was a common one. So, it makes a weird sort of sense that Luther would, as he put it, “chase him [Satan] away with a fart,” or write to him, “Dear Devil . . . I have shat in my pants and breeches; hang them on your neck and wipe your mouth with them.”

More than just bizarre diary entries, it has been argued that the Devil in these writings often served as a stand-in for many of Luther’s enemies, and that Luther’s followers were aware of this and applauded him for his bravery and strength.

Not everyone was impressed with Luther’s vulgarity, however. The English Catholic, Thomas More (1478-1535) (Henry VIII had his head cut off on July 6), called Luther a “buffoon . . . [who will] carry nothing in his mouth other than cesspools, sewers, latrines, shit and dung . . . .”

But Luther was undeterred and toward the end of his life, penned what was essentially an open letter to Pope Paul III in 1545 called Against the Papacy in Rome Founded by the Devil, in which Luther pulled out all the stops. Saving some of his best for last, Luther described the practice of indulgences as “an utter shitting,” and went on to claim that the “dearest little ass-pope” not only worshiped Satan, but “also lick[ed his] behind.”[8] (Licking someone’s butt at this time being somewhat equivalent to the modern expression “kiss-ass.”) He also said the Pope farted so loudly and powerfully, that “it is a wonder that it did not tear his hole and belly apart.”

First to understand the background to the story that Luther recalls,  Luther used to hate Romans 1:17. He struggled with this verse in particular, and the phrase 'God's righteousness' in particular, because he always read it in the sense which it was preached by the Catholic theologians at the time. At that time this verse was understood as the "formal or active righteousness" with which "God is righteous and punishes the unrighteous sinner." In other words, Luther while believing in God and having some faith in Christ struggled with Romans 1:17 before his 'confidence burst' and his faith began to posses him more violently. This is why Romans 1:17 is brought up in his recollections but actually plays little part in his explaining his actual beliefs later on. This he did, regarding justification by faith, most fully in his lectures on Galatians, although Romans as a whole still held an important place as well.

His experience or turning point in breaking through on his understanding of Romans 1:17 is referred to as his 'Tower Experience' because  it occurred in the tower of the Black Cloister in Wittenberg (later Luther’s home) at an undetermined date between 1508 and 1518.

Luther, before overcoming his doubts about Romans 1:17, used to think 'God's  righteousness' in the gospel 'was revealed', not in giving perfect righteousness freely to sinners forever apart from the fact they were sinners, but in punishing sinners and rewarding the righteous.  Luther, originally as a monk, viewed the gospel as an extension of the law, not a way to find freedom from its curse. Only later did he discover that a person is saved by faith, without works of the law entering into the equation.  He always saw that faith produced many works, but not allowing those works to take part in the subject of justification, where we 'passively receive' righteousness as a gift, apart from our own merit, was something he learned later on. I think the Romans 1:17 'tower experience' that he had was probably during his lectures on Romans which began in the year 1516.

Before this experience He says he had faith but it was not clear yet:

For a long time I went astray [in the monastery] and didn’t know what I was about. To be sure, I knew something, but I didn’t know what it was until I came to the text in Romans 1 [:17], ‘He who through faith is righteous shall live.’ That text helped me. There I saw what righteousness Paul was talking about.82 Earlier in the text I read ‘righteousness.’ I related the abstract [‘righteousness’] with the concrete [‘the righteous One’] and became sure of my cause. I learned to distinguish between the righteousness of the law and the righteousness of the gospel. I lacked nothing before this except that I made no distinction between the law and the gospel. I regarded both as the same thing and held that there was no difference between Christ and Moses except the times in which they lived and their degrees of perfection. But when I discovered the proper distinction—namely, that the law is one thing and the gospel is another—I made myself free.” (Luther's Works, Volume 54, P442).

 In 1545, he describes his own experience at greater length. He seems to take a longer view if it, like a growing faith and struggle that begins by referring to his days as a monk, his weak faith in his earlier days as a Biblical Professor and finally his overwhelming sense of what Romans 1:17 really meant. He recalled these experiences  when describing the events that occurred in the year 1519 when he got into trouble with the Pope. To understand at what point in his thinking 1519 occurs it is helpful to know that Luther first lectured on Romans at around the year 1516, he also lectured a preliminary version of Galatians and Hebrews shortly after this time. However, he did not lecture on Galatians, formally, in the format in which they were published, until around 1531. It took around 16 years for his faith to really explode in the form of Galatians, long after he had kicked the hornets nest in Rome.

In fact, this gripping realization of justification by faith made him revisit his old lectures and begin to rewrite them as early as 1519. It is just before this time that he made his breakthrough in the 'tower experience'. Removing his misunderstanding of that verse, his faith seems to have broke into a full confidence and the verse that used to trouble him became an anchor that symbolized his overwhelming conviction that began slowly years before and grew more and more years later. Here we find he began to revise his work on the Psalms in 1519 and his breakthrough over his doubts about Romans Chapter 1:17 that had 'stood in his way' until this point.

Meanwhile, I had already during that year returned to interpret the Psalter anew. I had confidence in the fact that I was more skilful, after I had lectured in the university on St. Paul’s epistles to the Romans, to the Galatians, and the one to the Hebrews. I had indeed been captivated with an extraordinary ardor for understanding Paul in the Epistle to the Romans. But up till then it was not the cold blood about the heart,but a single word in Chapter 1[:17], “In it the righteousness of God is revealed,” that had stood in my way. For I hated that word “righteousness of God,” which, according to the use and custom of all the teachers, I had been taught to understand philosophically regarding the formal or active righteousness, as they called it, with which God is righteous and punishes the unrighteous sinner. 

Though I lived as a monk without reproach, I felt that I was a sinner before God with an extremely disturbed conscience. I could not believe that he was placated by my satisfaction. I did not love, yes, I hated the righteous God who punishes sinners, and secretly, if not blasphemously, certainly murmuring greatly, I was angry with God, and said, “As if, indeed, it is not enough, that miserable sinners, eternally lost through original sin, are crushed by every kind of calamity by the law of the decalogue, without having God add pain to pain by the gospel and also by the gospel threatening us with his righteousness and wrath!” Thus I raged with a fierce and troubled conscience. Nevertheless, I beat importunately upon Paul at that place, most ardently desiring to know what St. Paul wanted.  (Luther's Works, Volume 34, P336-337).

At last, by the mercy of God, meditating day and night, I gave heed to the context of the words, namely, “In it the righteousness of God is revealed, as it is written, ‘He who through faith is righteous shall live.’ ” There I began to understand that the righteousness of God is that by which the righteous lives by a gift of God, namely by faith. And this is the meaning: the righteousness of God is revealed by the gospel, namely, the passive righteousness with which merciful God justifies us by faith, as it is written, “He who through faith is righteous shall live.” Here I felt that I was altogether born again and had entered paradise itself through open gates. There a totally other face of the entire Scripture showed itself to me. Thereupon I ran through the Scriptures from memory. I also found in other terms an analogy, as, the work of God, that is, what God does in us, the power of God, with which he makes us strong, the wisdom of God, with which he makes us wise, the strength of God, the salvation of God, the glory of God.  (Luther's Works, Volume 34, P336-337).

He continues to explain the effects of his experience about Romans 1:17 and how he later found additional support through Augustine. He  already had his doctorate in theology in October 19, 1512 and may seem strange that he did not encounter Augustine's work on the subject until years later, but it is a very specific one which Luther mentions, called 'The Spirit and the Letter.' 

And I extolled my sweetest word with a love as great as the hatred with which I had before hated the word “righteousness of God.” Thus that place in Paul was for me truly the gate to paradise. Later I read Augustine’s The Spirit and the Letter, where contrary to hope I found that he, too, interpreted God’s righteousness in a similar way, as the righteousness with which God clothes us when he justifies us. Although this was heretofore said imperfectly and he did not explain all things concerning imputation clearly, it nevertheless was pleasing that God’s righteousness with which we are justified was taught. Armed more fully with these thoughts, I began a second time to interpret the Psalter. And the work would have grown into a large commentary, if I had not again been compelled to leave the work begun, because Emperor Charles V in the following year convened the diet at Worms.49. (Luther's Works, Volume 34, P336-337).

The truth is although Romans was the place where he made his initial breakthrough it was not the place where his faith finally rested on. For this we must turn to Galatians.  In fact Luther hardly has any comments at all under Chapter 1:7 in his works on Romans, but in every verse of Galatians, Luther uses as one more opportunity to pound and pound away at the doctrine that changed his life forever. No bible commentary on any book in the Bible since can pretend in any way to have had the same impact on the world.

As a result of the revolutionary changes in Luther and his dramatic growing faith is there is a problem with Luther's Works in that he had to re-write many things and where the need was not urgent he seems to have left them as they were.  Romans is a little thin on doctrine compared to Galatians, as he wrote it years before, it is also was not needing much revision, so Luther probably found most of it still acceptable to him even under his enlarged views years later. 

His commentary on Galatians was when he was crystal clear in 1531 and he does not seem to have had enough time to fully rewrite everything before to measure up to his final stage of assurance and knowledge.  Therefore regarding the timing of his understanding of the doctrine that in many ways resulted in the Protestant church, I would say that his faith was crystallized around 1517 with Romans and from there it grew until it exploded with Galatians in 1531.  He seems to have hung his faith not on Romans at all by this point. Galatians was his eventual favorite work and the essential Luther.

For anyone interested in reading Luther, He wrote his works on Genesis after Galatians so they are not in any need up of updating at all and are a good place to start after Galatians. Some of his earlier works however must be viewed and even possibly corrected by comparing them to Galatians. 

After all his years Luther clearly favored his writing on Galatians above all else. I am sure he would have instantly agreed to the burning of all his books if he might keep his work on Galatians. It is here where you find Luther's views in the doctrine of salvation by faith, apart from works. One can't understand Luther at all without reading it. Anyone who has read it will understand why. I challenge anyone interested in Luther to read his work on Galatians in order to begin to understand him.

Luther described his relation to the epistle in more vivid terms. “The Epistle to the Galatians,” he once said at table, “is my epistle, to which I am betrothed. It is my Katie von Bora.”  (Luther's Works, Volume 26, Introduction)