+ MARTIN CHEMNITZ +
The greatest theologian of the Sixteenth Century
Theodore Emanuel Schmauk
Prince of the theologians of the Augsburg Confession
Johann Andreas Quenstedt
The father of normative Lutheran theology
Jacob Aall Ottesen Preus
THE HOLY SCRIPTURES AND THE WRITINGS OF THE FATHERS
The apostles propagated the doctrine of the Gospel, received from Christ and explained by the Holy Ghost, during the first few years without writing, solely by oral tradition; soon, however, by the will of God, as Irenaeus says, they began to commit to letters and to comprehend in writings, not a contrary, not a different, not another doctrine, but that very same doctrine which they preached orally. ... We shall place as it were in the very forefront the beautiful statement of Irenaeus which is found in the preface and chapter 1 of Book III, where he says: “That alone is the true and living faith which the church has received from the apostles and communicated to her children. For the Lord of all gave His apostles the power of the Gospel, and through them we also have come to know the truth, that is, the doctrine of the Son of God; to whom also the Lord said: ‘He who hears you hears Me, and he who rejects you rejects Me and Him who sent Me.’ For through no others do we know the plan of salvation except through those by whom the Gospel has come to us. That, indeed, which they then preached, they afterward delivered to us in the Scriptures by the will of God, that it should be the foundation and pillar of our faith.” This statement of Irenaeus speaks of the whole Scripture of the New Testament in general, whose authority, perfection, and (as we now say) sufficiency, he shows by the firmest of demonstrations. For that is beyond all controversy the only true and living faith which the primitive church received from the apostles and delivered to her children. But this faith was first conceived through the preaching of the apostles, which they themselves had received from the teaching of the Son of God. This doctrine of Christ and of the apostles, from which the true faith of the primitive church was received, the apostles at first delivered orally, without writing, but later, not by any human counsel but by the will of God, they handed it on in the Scriptures. What do we conclude? That this is the same doctrine which they had received from the Son of God, which they had preached orally, from which the primitive church had received the only true and lifegiving faith from the apostles and delivered it to her children. (Examination of the Council of Trent, Part I [Saint Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1971], pp. 79-81)
Irenaeus, Bk. 3, ch. 4, says that certain barbarian nations diligently preserved the ancient tradition without reading and writing, “believing in one God, the Maker of heaven and earth, and of all that is therein, through Jesus Christ, the Son of God, who on account of His surpassing love toward His creation consented to be born of the Virgin, Himself through Himself uniting man with God; He suffered under Pontius Pilate, and rose again, and was received into glory; He will come in glory, the Savior of those who are saved and the Judge of those who are judged; and He will cast into eternal fire the corrupters of the truth and the despisers of His Father and of His advent, etc. If anyone would preach to these barbarians what has been invented in addition by the heretics, they would at once close their ears and flee far away. Thus, through the ancient tradition of the apostles, they do not give entrance to the extravagant fictions of the heretics, etc.” This is the true and ancient tradition of the apostles which does not hand down anything outside of and beyond the Scripture but embraces the summary of the whole Scripture. And in Bk. 1, ch. 10, Irenaeus similarly explains the apostolic preaching. He says: “The church, planted in the whole world to the ends of the earth, has received from the apostles and from their disciples this faith which is in One God, the Father Almighty, who made heaven and earth, the sea and all that is in them; and in one Jesus Christ, the Son of God, who became incarnate for our salvation; and in the Holy Ghost, who by the prophets preached the counsels of God, the Advent, and that birth which is of the Virgin, and the passion, and the resurrection from the dead, and the bodily ascension into heaven of the beloved Jesus Christ, our Lord, and His appearance from heaven in the glory of the Father, that before Christ Jesus, our Lord, God, Savior, and King, according to the good pleasure of the invisible Father, every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess Him; and that He will hold a righteous judgment on all; that He will cast into eternal fire the wicked spirits, both the angels who sinned and became apostates and the ungodly and unjust and wicked and blasphemous men; but that He will give to the righteous and just, who keep his commandments and persevere in His love, some, indeed, from the beginning but some from the time of their repentance, life and incorruption as a gift and that He will clothe them with eternal glory. When the church has accepted this preaching and this faith, though she is scattered throughout the whole world, she diligently preserves it, as though she lived in one house, and she believes these things as if she had one soul and one heart, and she preaches these things harmoniously and teaches and transmits them as if she possessed only one mouth. For although there are different languages in the world, nevertheless, the import of the tradition is one and the same. And the churches which were founded in Germany do not believe or teach differently than those which are among the Iberians or those which are among the Celts or those which are in the Orient or those which are in Egypt or those which are in Lybia or those which are situated in the middle of the world. But as the sun is one and the same in the whole universe, so the light and preaching of the truth shines everywhere and enlightens all men who want to come to the knowledge of the truth, etc.” This, therefore, is the apostolic tradition, this the true antiquity of the church, this the universal consensus. And all the things which we accept and confess are in agreement with the Holy Scriptures. (Examination of the Council of Trent, Part I, pp. 240-42)
For we can affirm with a good conscience that we have, after reading the Holy Scripture, applied ourselves and yet daily apply ourselves to the extent that the grace of the Lord permits to inquiry into and investigation of the consensus of the true and purer antiquity. For we assign to the writings of the fathers their proper and, indeed, honorable place which is due them, because they have clearly expounded many passages of Scripture, have defended the ancient dogmas of the church against new corruptions of heretics, and have done so on the basis of Scripture, have correctly explained many points of doctrine, have recorded many things concerning the history of the primitive church, and have usefully called attention to many other things. And we long for this, that in the life to come we may see what we believe and hope concerning the grace of God on account of His Son, the Redeemer, as members of the true catholic church; that we may see (I say) the Son of God Himself, the patriarchs, prophets, apostles, martyrs, and fathers, who held to the true foundation, and may enjoy intimate friendship with them to all eternity. Therefore we examine with considerable diligence the consensus of the true, learned, and purer antiquity, and we love and praise the testimonies of the fathers which agree with the Scripture. (Examination of the Council of Trent, Part I, p. 256)
...we disagree with those who invent opinions which have no testimony from any period in the church, as Servetus, Campanus, the Anabaptists, and others have done in our time. We also hold that no dogma that is new in the churches and in conflict with all of antiquity should be accepted. What could be more honorably said and thought concerning the consensus and the testimonies of antiquity? Irenaeus writes to Florinus: “These dogmas, Florinus, have no sound meaning; these dogmas depart from the church; these dogmas not even the heretics would ever have dared to proclaim; these dogmas the presbyters who were before us and who were also disciples of the apostles have not handed down.” These things are from Eusebius, Bk. 5, ch. 20. But we confess also this, which we have not invented ourselves but have learned from the fathers: that we search out and quote the testimonies of the fathers, not as though the things which are shown and proved from clear testimonies of Scripture were either not certain or not firm enough in themselves or did not of themselves possess enough strength and authority unless also the consensus of the fathers were added; but the reason why they are quoted Augustine clearly explains in De peccatorum meritis, Bk. 3, ch. 7: “This I have mentioned not because we should rely on the opinions of any and all disputers as on canonical authority but that it may be clear that from the beginning until the present time in which this new thing has arisen this teaching about original sin has been guarded in the faith of the church with such great constancy that by those who treated the words of the Lord it was used as the surest way to refute other false things, rather than that anyone should have tried to refute it as false. Besides, the clearest and fullest authority for this statement lives in the sacred canonical books.” The same author says in De nuptiis et concupiscentia, Bk. 2, ch. 29: “But what shall I say of the expounders of the divine Scriptures who have flourished in the catholic church, how they did not try to turn this to other meanings, because they were steadfast in the most ancient and most vigorous faith and were not moved by the new error? If I wanted to collect these and make use of their testimony, it would both be too long, and I would perhaps appear to have encroached more than I should have on the canonical authors, from whom we must not be turned aside.” In Contra duas epistulas Pelagianorum, Bk. 4, ch. 8, Augustine says: “Not as though the authority of any disputation should be equated with the canonical books but in order that those who believe that the holy fathers say a certain thing may be reminded how the catholic teachers followed the divine oracles concerning these matters before the new idle talk of the heretics; and that they may know that the true and anciently founded catholic faith is being defended by us against the recent audacity and destruction of the Pelagians.” The other thing which we hold concerning the authority of the fathers we have also learned from the fathers themselves. Augustine, in Letter No. 19, to Jerome, says: “Other writers (besides the canonical) I read in such a way that, no matter how great they are in holiness or learning, I do not consider a thing true because they have thought it so but because they have been able to persuade me either through other canonical authors or by some credible reason that they do not depart from the truth.” In Letter No. 111 he says: “We ought not to consider the reasonings of any individuals, be they ever so catholic and praiseworthy, as we do the canonical writings, so that we would not be permitted, without injury to the honor that is due these men, to disapprove and reject something in their writings, if perhaps we have found that they thought otherwise than truth is, as it has been understood with divine help either by others or by us. I deal with the writings of others as I want others to deal with mine.” In Contra Cresconium, Bk. 2, ch. 31, he says: “The canon of the canonical books was drawn up that we might, according to them, freely judge concerning other writings of either believers or unbelievers.” In ch. 32 he says: “I do not hold the letters of Cyprian as canonical, but I evaluate them by the canonical ones; and what in them agrees with the authority of the divine Scriptures I receive with his compliments, but what does not agree I reject with his permission.” (Examination of the Council of Trent, Part I, pp. 258-59).
...statements that were more oratorical and extravagant than pious and correct rang out in the churches concerning free will, minimizing original sin and extolling the efficacy of the Law and the perfection of the righteousness of works, even of works of supererogation, and the righteousness of faith lay there in obscurity. Then God, in order to open the sleepy eyes of the doctors of the church to look more diligently at the teaching of Paul, permitted the church to be so disrupted by Pelagianism that it appeared that the very foundations of the entire Christian religion were about to collapse. At this point Ambrose, Jerome, and Augustine recognized what they had not noticed before, namely that while they themselves and the other ancient fathers had been so preoccupied with stirring up zeal for good works, they had made many statements which did not agree with the analogy of faith. Augustine retracted many such statements. Jerome in his Dialogus adv. Pelagianos condemned many statements which we can read not only in the writings of the ancients but also in the very books of Jerome himself. Thus in an indirect way God again restored some light to the doctrine of the free remission of sins and other articles which otherwise would have been completely lost in the progress of time. Augustine states in regard to Psalm 101 that the pagans condemned the teaching of the church by saying, You have destroyed discipline and perverted the morals of the human race by giving to men an opportunity for repentance and by promising immunity for all sins; and thus men do evil, secure in the fact that all things will be forgiven them when they have been converted. Such objections some people tried to refute by changing the doctrine so that they restricted grace and in hyperbolic language extolled other teachings to the skies. But Augustine, after he learned his lesson from the Pelagian controversy, came to realize that the church was not being helped by this kind of thinking and that the truth was only being perverted and ultimately lost. For just as they should not do evil that good may come of it, so they should not teach falsely in order that the truth might be defended and retained. Augustine is correct and truthful when he says in De Civitate Dei, 16.2, Many points pertaining to the catholic faith have been stirred up by the cunning trouble making of heretics, so that we have had to defend these points against them, consider more carefully, define more clearly, and preach more powerfully. The question has been raised by the adversary, and the opportunity is present for better learning. This point is certainly most true in church controversies. (Loci Theologici [Saint Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1989], Vol. II, pp. 472-73)
Among all the ancient writers there is indeed frequent mention of the sign of the cross. ...at the time of Tertullian and afterward the Christians with their fingers formed a transverse figure like a cross in the air, and in this way identified themselves. It was...a profession and reminder that they believed in Christ crucified, and that they were placing all their hope and confidence in Him. (Examination of the Council of Trent, Part IV [Saint Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1986], p. 94)
THE LORD’S SUPPER AND THE SACRAMENTAL ACTION
...those act incorrectly who want to deduce from the description in Luke that Christ gave the bread to the disciples in such a way that they either might not use it at all or use it in any manner they chose, but that nevertheless the truth would be added and remain, “This is My body.” For Matthew, Mark, and Paul relate that Christ first of all commanded in express words that they should use that bread which He was giving, and that He prescribed the manner in which they should use it, namely, “Take and eat,” and that then He added the words, “This is My body.” Mark says in the description of the second part: “And they all drank of that cup,” and He said to them, “This is My blood.” Nevertheless the meaning is not that the blessed bread which is divided, which is offered, and which the apostles received from the hand of Christ was not the body of Christ but becomes the body of Christ when the eating of it is begun. For the whole action of the institution hangs together, and the words, “This is My body,” belong to the entire action. Therefore it is concerning that bread which is blessed, which is broken or divided, which is offered, received, and eaten – I say, it is concerning that bread that Christ says, “This is My body.” And Paul says of this broken bread that it is “a participation in the body of Christ” (1 Cor. 10:16). Moreover, he says in the words of institution, “This is My body, which is broken for you,” that is, what is divided in the Supper is the body of Christ. Therefore Christ, God and man, is present in the total action of the Supper instituted by Him, and offers to those who eat it his body and blood. For it is He Himself who through the ministry blesses, who divides, who offers, who says, “Take, eat; this is My body.” (Examination of the Council of Trent, Part II [Saint Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1978], p. 248)
We grant, with Irenaeus, that after the blessing in the Eucharist the bread is no longer common bread but the Eucharist of the body of Christ, which now consists of two things – the earthly, that is, bread and wine, and the heavenly, that is, the body and blood of Christ. This is certainly a great, miraculous, and truly divine change, since before it was simply and only ordinary bread and common wine. What now, after the blessing, is truly and substantially present, offered, and received is truly the body and blood of Christ. Therefore we grant that a certain change has taken place, so that it can be truly said of the bread that it is the body of Christ. But we deny that it follows from this that we must therefore assert the kind of transubstantiation which the Papalists teach. (Examination of the Council of Trent, Part II, pp. 257-58)
Christ did not institute this Sacrament in such a way that, even if no one uses it, or if it is changed into something else than He Himself commanded, it nevertheless is His body and blood, but in the very words of institution He prescribed the form of that which was commanded, how it is to be observed and used, and that not only for a time but to the end of the world, 1 Co 11:26. And use surely does not make a Sacrament, but the Word, ordinance, and institution of Christ. And there is a difference between the essence of a Sacrament and its use. But Christ so ordered and arranged the words of institution in the form of a testament, as He wanted this Sacrament to be an act in which bread and wine are taken, blessed, or consecrated, as they say, then offered, received, eaten, and drunk. And Christ says of that which is blessed, which is offered, received, eaten and drunk: This is My body; this is My blood. Therefore when the bread is indeed blessed but neither distributed nor received, but enclosed, shown, and carried about, it is surely clear that the whole word of institution is not added to the element, for this part is lacking: He gave [it] to them and said, Take and eat. And when the word of institution is incomplete there can be no complete Sacrament. In the same way it is also not true Baptism if the Word is indeed spoken over the water, but if there is no one who is baptized. (Ministry, Word, and Sacraments [Saint Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1981], p. 121)
The words of the Supper are known, plain, and clear in their natural and true sense. When I ask, “What is present in the Lord’s Supper and offered by the hand of the minister and received by the mouth of those who use it? Is it only bread and wine?” He, who is Truth itself, answers: “This is My body; this is My blood.” Thus Paul says, 1 Co 10:16, that a breaking and communion, that is, distribution and partaking or receiving takes place in the Lord’s Supper, and that it takes place by outward eating and drinking with the mouth, for he says, “Eat and drink.” Now, if I ask: “What is distributed and received when the bread is distributed and received in the Lord’s Supper?” Paul answers that it is koinonia, that is, distribution and reception of Christ’s body, etc. ... If, then, you want to know from Christ Himself, who instituted this Supper, who is Truth itself, and whom the Father commended to us from heaven to hear, what it is that is present in the Supper in, with, and under the bread and wine, and that is offered by the hand of the minister and received by the mouth of the body, He answers expressly, clearly, and plainly: This is My body, which is given for you; this is My blood, which is shed for you. (Ministry, Word, and Sacraments, pp. 123-24)
...the fourth [Tridentine] canon adds that also after its use the body and blood of the Lord is in the Eucharist, i.e., in the bread and wine. We need to weigh what this means. Christ instituted that in the Lord’s Supper bread and wine should be means or instruments through which he wishes to offer and communicate His body and blood to those who eat, in order that He might be and remain in the believers not only through faith and Spirit but, as the ancients speak, also by natural or substantial participation and might thereafter be united with them more and more. Therefore after the use of the blessed bread and wine in the Lord’s Supper one ought not to dispute about the union of the bread and the body of Christ but there ought to be taught from the Word of God the sweetest consolation about the union of Christ, God and man, not with the bread which has just been eaten but with the soul and body of the believers, that He may bear, preserve, give life to, and rule us who have been inserted and as it were grafted into Him. But this most useful teaching having been suppressed and buried, the gloss, De consecratione, dist. 2, Olim, teaches: “As quickly as the form is ground by the teeth, so quickly is the body of Christ snatched up into heaven,” namely, lest any consolation should remain from it for believers. The Tridentine fathers indeed do not now repeat the pleasant old song of the gloss, yet say nothing about the union of Christ, God and man, with believers after the use of the Supper, but argue that the body of Christ is in the bread also after the use. Perhaps they have looked back upon those shameful papalist precautions which institute an examination even into excrements. For if they can there distinguish the form in some way, they rave that the body of Christ is attached and clings there. Now I should think that by the words “after use” they would understand that which follows in Canon IV, namely, that the body of Christ remains in the consecrated particles which are left over after the Communion and reserved. But how can “after use” be said about those particles to which use has not yet come, that is, which have not been distributed, received, and eaten? (Examination of the Council of Trent, Part II, pp. 251-52)
In the first place, our faith ought to lay hold on Christ as God and man in that nature by which He has been made our neighbor, kinsman, and brother. For the life which belongs to the deity resides in and has in a sense been placed in the assumed humanity. ...the proper, simple, and natural meaning of the words of institution teaches that Christ Himself is present with us in the celebration of the Supper with both His deity and His flesh, and that He comes to us in order to lay hold on us (Phil. 3:12) and join us to Himself as intimately as possible. This brings sweetest comfort. For Christ, both God and man, must lay hold on us in order that there may be a union between Him and us. But we, weighed down by the burden of sin and pressed under the weight of our infirmity, are not yet able to enter the secret places of heaven (Col. 2:18) and penetrate to Him in glory. He Himself therefore comes to us in order to lay hold upon us with that nature by which He is our Brother. And because our weakness in this life cannot bear the glory of His majesty (Matt. 17:2 ff.; Acts 9:3 ff.), therefore His body and blood are present, distributed, and received under the bread and wine. ...in the Supper He Himself is present in the external celebration and shows by visible signs where He wills to be present with His body and blood, and there we may safely seek Him and surely find Him, for there He Himself through the ministry distributes His body and blood to the communicants. In the second place, ...because we have been so alienated through sin from the life of the Deity that our weakness cannot bear Him to be dealing with us except through a medium, therefore He assumed our nature in order that through that which is related to us and consubstantial with us the Deity might deal with us. And thus the humanity of Christ is the point of connection between us and God Himself, as Cyril says... Therefore, in order that we may be able to lay hold on Christ more intimately and retain Him more firmly, not only did He Himself assume our nature but He also restored it again for us by distributing His body and blood to us in the Supper, so that by this connection with His humanity, which has been assumed from us and is again communicated back to us, He might draw us into communion and union with the deity itself. In the third place, there is a salutary change of which the fathers often remind us with a special joy of the Spirit. Our nature, at the beginning created in God’s image, had been adorned with all heavenly and divine gifts, blessings which had been bestowed upon Adam as the founder of our race. But through his fall not only were these blessings lost, but our nature became corrupted by sin and doomed to death. The Son of God, therefore, in order that He might become the second Adam, assumed our nature, but without sin, and in that nature condemned sin, destroyed death, and restored that nature to life. Thus first of all in His own person He sanctified, restored, and blessed human nature. And now, in order that we might be made certain that these blessings apply also to us and our wretched nature, and have truly been communicated to us, Christ in His Supper again offers us that very nature which He assumed from us and in Himself first restored, so that when we receive it with our poor flesh we are no longer in doubt concerning the salvation also of our nature through Christ. For in this way He, as it were, grafts our miserable and corrupt nature into the holy and life-giving mass of His human nature, as Cyril says, so that our depravity and misery are cured and renewed through the remedy of this most intimate union. ... I am calling attention just to the main points of these tremendously important matters, which can be understood better by pious meditation than explained by human language. (The Lord’s Supper [Saint Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1979], pp. 187-89)
...Christ...did not want to permit believers to use Communion arbitrarily, so that it would make no difference whether they used it occasionally or not at all or when they pleased, as one does in matters indifferent. For He does not say: “When it pleases you,” as in indifferent matters, but says: “As often as you do this.” It is not the same as with Baptism; we are baptized only once, but it is not sufficient to use the Lord’s Supper only once. For He says: “As often as,” in order that we may eat of that bread and drink of that cup as often as we recognize and feel that that medicine and remedy which our Good Samaritan pours into our wounds is useful and necessary to us, so long only as we examine ourselves lest we receive it to judgment. For the rule about when and how often one should go to Communion must be taken: I. From the teaching about the fruit and power of the Eucharist, namely, when and as often as we recognize that we have need of this power; II. From the teaching about self-examination, lest we receive it unworthily. On this basis people are to be taught, admonished, and exhorted to more diligent and frequent use of the Eucharist. For because Christ says: “As often as you do this,” it is wholly His will that those who are His disciples should do this frequently. Therefore those are not true and faithful ministers of Christ who in any manner whatever lead or frighten people away from more frequent use and reception of the Eucharist. There are beautiful examples of frequent use of the Eucharist from the true antiquity. Some had the custom of receiving the Eucharist daily, some twice a week, some on the Lord’s day, Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday, some only on the Lord’s Day. Testimonies to this are found with Jerome, in the epistle to Lucinius; with Ambrose, on 1 Tim. 2; with Augustine, Letter No. 118; De fide ad Petrum, ch. 19; De ecclesiasticis dogmatibus, ch. 53; with Socrates, Bk. 5, ch. 22. (Examination of the Council of Trent, Part II, pp. 330-31)
...fellowship at the Lord’s table is a testimony of consensus, harmony, and unity in doctrine and faith, as Paul says: “We who are many are one body, for we all partake of the one bread” (1 Cor. 10:17)... (Examination of the Council of Trent, Part II, p. 302)
...Paul shows (1 Cor. 11:23-34) from the rule of the institution that some among the Corinthians were eating unworthily. And when he wants to show how they could eat the Lord’s Supper worthily and with profit, he sets before them the institution itself as he had received it from the Lord. ...the mind, from the words of institution, understands, believes with firm assent, and in the use of the Lord’s Supper reverently ponders what this sacrament is, what its use is, and what the nature of this whole action is – that here the Son of God, God and man, is Himself present, offering and imparting through the ministry to those who eat, together with the bread and wine, His body and blood, in order that by means of this most precious testimony and pledge He may unite Himself with us and apply, seal, and confirm to us the New Testament covenant of grace. And this faith, resting on the words of institution, excites and shapes reverence and devotion of mind as this sacrament is used. ...the institution itself shows that this is necessary and required for worthy eating... (Examination of the Council of Trent, Part II, p. 317)
It is clear that one cannot deal with infants through the bare preaching of repentance and remission of sins, for that requires hearing (Rom. 10:17), deliberation and meditation (Ps. 119), understanding (Matt. 13:51), which are not found in infants. With regard to the Lord’s Supper Paul says: “Let a man examine himself” [1 Cor. 11:28]. Likewise: “Let him discern the Lord’s body” [1 Cor. 11:29], a thing which cannot be ascribed to infants. Moreover, Christ instituted His Supper for such as had already become His disciples. In the Old Testament infants were circumcised on the eighth day, but they were admitted to the eating of the Passover lamb when they were able to ask: “What do you mean by this service?” (Ex. 12:26). There remains therefore [for infants] of the means of grace in the New Testament only the sacrament of Baptism. (Examination of the Council of Trent, Part II, pp. 165-66)
The ceremonies of the Mass are not all of one kind. For some have a divine command and examples of Scripture that they should be done at the celebration of the Lord’s Supper, being as it were essential, e.g., to take bread and the cup in the public assembly, to bless, distribute, eat, drink, proclaim the death of the Lord. Some indeed do not have an express command of God, that they must of necessity be done thus in the celebration of the Lord’s Supper, nevertheless they are in their nature good and godly if they are used rightly for edification, such as psalms, readings from Scripture, godly prayers and giving of thanks, confession of the Creed, etc. Some are per se superstitious and ungodly, for instance the sacrifice of the Mass for the living and the dead, invocation of the saints, satisfaction for the souls in purgatory, the private Mass, consecration of salt, blessing of water, etc. Some ceremonies indeed are adiaphora, such as vestments, vessels, ornaments, words, rites, and things which are not against the Word of God. Things which are of the first kind must of necessity be observed, for they belong to the substance of the Lord’s Supper. Of the things that belong to the second and fourth kind, many which make for the edification of people are observed in our churches without infringing on Christian liberty. The third kind, however, being superstitious and godless, has deservedly, rightly, and of necessity been abrogated and done away with. ...the fathers...In the celebration of the Lord’s Supper...observed such ceremonies as might aid and explain the proclamation of the Lord’s death, which was made by means of the public preaching of the Word; such ceremonies, together with the Word, would usefully teach men something about the doctrine and use of the sacrament and would incite them to give heed more attentively to the doctrine of the Word and the things which belong to the substance of the Lord’s Supper. Such ceremonies were observed in Christian liberty, for they were not the same and alike everywhere, nor did any force others to the observation of their ceremonies. We gladly approve and observe good and useful rites in such liberty. But the papalists have heaped up the ceremonies of the ancients, mixing in many useless, foolish, and superstitious rites, with the result that the doctrine and true use of the Lord’s Supper began, little by little, to be obscured and overwhelmed by the multitude of such rites, until finally the action of the Lord’s Supper was transformed into what is clearly a thing of another kind – a sacrifice. (Examination of the Council of Trent, Part II, pp. 524-26)
THE POWER OF THE KEYS AND THE PUBLIC MINISTRY OF THE GOSPEL
...Christ says (Matt. 5:23-24) that whoever is not first reconciled to his brother cannot offer his gift at the altar, and Christ earnestly proclaims to the offended party, Matt. 6:15: “If you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.” God promises that He will regard this fraternal reconciliation as valid in heaven (Matt. 18:18). On this passage Theophylact says: “If when you have been sinned against you hold him who sinned against you, after a threefold admonition, as a publican, he will be such also in heaven; if, however, you loose him, that is, forgive him when he confesses and asks for it, he will be acquitted also in heaven. For it is not only the sins the priest looses which are loosed, but also those will be bound or loosed whom we, when we have been wronged, either bind or loose. Under this confession there is included also this, when a brother is moved and led by fraternal reproof to acknowledge and confess some sin, even if it was not committed against us. For so, says Christ, you have gained your brother. And James says that this confession is useful on account of the prayer for one another: Pray for one another, that you may be saved!” (Examination of the Council of Trent, Part II, p. 595)
For although the keys were given to the church itself, as the ancients correctly teach, we nevertheless by no means hold that any and every Christian without distinction should or can take to himself or exercise the ministry of the Word and sacraments without a legitimate call. As however the ancients say that in case of necessity any Christian lay person can administer the sacrament of Baptism, so Luther says the same thing about absolution in case of necessity, where no priest is present. He says nothing different from what Lombard, Bk. 4, dist. 17, and Gratian, De poenitentia, dist. 5, say on the basis of the opinion of the ancients. Earlier we have also noted the opinion of Theophylact, that whatever is either loosed or bound in fraternal reproof and reconciliation is loosed and bound in heaven itself. Moreover, there is no doubt that when the Word of the Gospel is proclaimed, God works efficaciously, no matter by whom it is proclaimed. (Examination of the Council of Trent, Part II, p. 621)
What is the nature of the ministry of the church? It is not civil government, by which political affairs, or the matters of this world, are administered. Lk 22:25-26; 2 Ti 2:4. Nor is it spiritual power lording it arbitrarily and, as it were, by naked power over the church of God in matters of faith. 2 Co 1:24; 1 Ptr 5:3. Nor is it a business or a tricky way for indulging greed. 1 Ti 3:2-3,8; 6:5; 1 Ptr 5:2. But it is a spiritual, or ecclesiastic, office, instituted and ordained by God Himself for discharging and performing necessary functions of the church, so that pastors, or preachers, are and ought to be ministers of God and of the church in the kingdom of Christ, and stewards of the mysteries of God. 1 Co 4:1; Cl 1:25; 2 Co 4:5. What, then, is the office of ministers of the church? This office, or ministry, has been committed and entrusted to them by God Himself through a legitimate call: I. To feed the church of God with the true, pure, and salutary doctrine of the divine Word. Acts 20:28; Eph 4:11; 1 Ptr 5:2. II. To administer and dispense the sacraments of Christ according to His institution. Mt 28:19; 1 Co 11:23. III. To administer rightly the use of the keys of the church, or of the kingdom of heaven, by either remitting or retaining sins (Mt 16:19; Jn 20:23), and to fulfill all these things and the whole ministry (as Paul says, 2 Ti 4:5) on the basis of the prescribed command, which the chief Shepherd Himself has given His ministers in His Word for instruction. Mt 28:20. Is it right to ordain and admit to the ministry of the church those who have been called, without prior appropriate and solemn examination, as is generally done among papal suffragans? By no means. For in His Word God has prescribed a certain form regarding the call, doctrine, and conduct, or life, of those to whom the functions of the church are to be entrusted. One should therefore first carefully test and examine them as to whether they are legitimately called, whether they rightly hold the fundamentals of salutary doctrine and reject fanatic opinions, whether they are endowed with the gifts necessary to teach others sound doctrine, and whether they can prove their lives to be honorable, so that they can be examples to the flock; for this concern we have the very solemn precept of Paul. 1 Ti 5:22; 2 Ti 2:2. The older councils therefore decreed many things regarding examination of those who are to be ordained; these things are found in Gratian, Distinct. 23, 24, and 81. And canon 4 of the 4th Council of Carthage, at which Augustine was present, decreed thus: Let one who is to be ordained be ordained when he has, in an examination, been found to be rightly instructed. And the canon of Nicaea, Distinct. 81, 2 says: If any are promoted [to be] presbyters without examination, church order does not recognize them, because they are ordained contrary to the rule. ... May one seek or undertake the ministry of the church who has neither learned the fundamental Christian doctrine, nor understands [it], nor has the gift to teach others? By no means. For Paul commands Timothy and Titus to entrust the ministry to faithful and able men. 2 Ti 2:2; 3:2; Tts 1:9. Should, then, one who is somewhat endowed with those gifts, on his own initiative and personal judgment, without a special and legitimate call, undertake and claim for himself the office of teaching in the church? By no means. Ro 10:15; Jer 23:21; Heb 5:4. Are they to be heard, or can they be profitably heard by the church, who have no proof of a legitimate call? No. Ro 10:14-15; Jer 27:14-15. And for this reason the prophets and apostles so earnestly emphasize the prerogatives of their call at the beginning of their writings. And experience shows that they who thrust themselves into ecclesiastical functions without a legitimate and regular call experience little blessing of God and contribute little to the upbuilding of the church. But Paul says, 1 Ti 3:1: He that desires the office of bishop desires a good work. Is it therefore necessary for one to wait until he is called? To desire the office of bishop is not to thrust oneself into ecclesiastical functions without a legitimate call; but if one has learned and understands the fundamentals of Christian doctrine and is somewhat endowed with the gift of teaching when he offers his service to God and the church, he thereby seeks nothing else than that God would declare through a legitimate, or regular, call whether He wants to use his service in His church. And he ought to be so minded, that, if a call does not follow his request, he does not cunningly work his way in. 2 Sm 15:26. But all believers are called priests, Rv 1:6; 5:10; 1 Ptr 2:9. Have all, therefore, a general call to the ministry? All we who believe are indeed spiritual priests, but we are not all teachers. 1 Co 12:29-30; Eph 4:11-12. And Peter explains himself: All Christians are priests not that all should function without difference in the ministry of the Word and of the Sacraments, without a special call, but that they should offer spiritual sacrifices. Ro 12:1; Heb 13:15-16. Yet all Christians have a general call to proclaim the virtues of God, 1 Ptr 2:9, and especially family heads, to instruct their households, Dt 6:7; 1 Co 14:35. It is true that all Christians have a general call to proclaim the Gospel of God, Ro 10:9, to speak the Word of God among themselves, Eph 5:19; to admonish each other from the Word of God, Cl 3:16; to reprove, Eph 5:11 [and] Mt 19:15; [and] to comfort, 1 Th 4:18. And family heads are enjoined [to do] this with the special command that they give their households the instruction of the Lord. Eph 6:4. But the public ministry of the Word and of the Sacraments in the church is not entrusted to all Christians in general, as we have already shown, 1 Co 12:28; Eph 4:12. For a special or particular call is required for this, Ro 10:15. (Ministry, Word, and Sacraments, pp. 26-29)
Does the Roman pontiff do right in that he excludes pious rulers and the rest of the lay church from the election and call of bishops or ministers of the church? It is clearly and surely evident from both the commands and the examples of Scripture, that when the ministry is to be entrusted to someone through a mediate call, those who are already in the ministry and profess sound doctrine are to be used. Tts 1:5; 1 Ti 4:14; 2 Ti 2:2; Acts 14:23. But since ministers are not the whole church, but only part of it (Eph 4:11-12), and they are not lords of the church, but ministers and overseers (2 Co 1:24; 4:5; Eze 33:7), therefore they neither can nor should seize to themselves alone the mediate call, with the other members of the church excluded; for not even the apostles did this, but drew the rest of the church in with themselves. Acts 1:15-16; 6:2-3; 14:23. And with the name elders are meant not only ministers of the Word, but included in the presbytery are also those who were appointed by the whole church to administer the work of the church, as Tertullian and Ambrose testify. ... Ought then the whole multitude (especially where it is very large) indiscriminately and without order handle the matter of election and call? God is not a God of confusion; He rather wants all things to be done and administered decently and in order in the church. 1 Co 14:40. Therefore to avoid confusion, at the time of the apostles and also after their time in the ancient and pure church, the matter of the election and call of ministers of the Word was always handled according to a certain order by the chief members of the church in the name and with the consent of the whole church. Thus the apostles first set forth a directive as to what kind of persons are to be chosen for the ministries of the church. Acts 1:15 ff.; 6:2 ff. Then the church, according to that rule of the directive, chose and set forth some. But since the call belongs not only to the multitude or common people in the church, therefore they submitted those who were chosen and nominated to the judgment of the apostles, whether they be fit for that ministry according to the rule of the divine Word. And so the election of the multitude was confirmed by the approval of the apostles. And thus finally the ministries are committed to those nominated, elected, and called, with the solemn prayer of the whole church and public testimony, namely laying on of hands. Acts 6:5-6. But since the multitude of the church is not always such that it can search out and propose for election those that are fit, the apostles themselves often nominated suitable persons and proposed them to the churches. Tts 1:5; 1 Ti 1:3, 2 Ti 2:2. Thus Paul sent Titus, Timothy, [and] Silvanus to churches. But the apostles did not thrust those persons on the churches without either invitation or consent, but nominated or presented them to the churches, which then approved and confirmed that nomination or election with their own free election, as Luke describes this custom with the word cheirotonia, Acts 14:23. Finally, after the church had grown into a large multitude, a presbytery was arranged and set up already at the very time of the apostles to handle this matter. 1 Ti 4:14. In this [presbytery], according to the accounts of Tertullian and Ambrose, some were chosen and appointed, from all the orders or members of the church, to take care of and administer these and similar church matters in the name and with the consent of the whole church. And thus the call remained that of the whole complete church, yet with proper and decent order observed. ... Does the church have free power to call to the ministry whomever it wishes? The Lord of the harvest has prescribed a certain form and rule through His apostles, which is, as it were, a kind of heavenly instruction as to what kind of people they should be, both in doctrine as well as in conduct, or life, who are to be chosen and called for the church ministries. 1 Ti 3:2 ff; Tts 1:6 ff. And the church should recognize in the fear of God that this norm or instruction is to be followed if it wants a call both to be called [divine] and to be divine. If a legitimate call consists in the things that have been said so far, what, then, does the public rite of ordination confer? This rite is to be observed for very weighty reasons. The first reason is that, because of those who run and have not been sent, a call ought to have the public testimony of the church. But that ceremony or rite of ordination is nothing else than the kind of public testimony by which the call of that person who is ordained is declared before God and in His name to be regular, pious, legitimate, and divine. Second: By that rite, as by a public designation or declaration, the ministry is committed in the name of God and of the church to him who has been called. Third: By this very thing also, as by a solemn vow, he who has been called becomes obligated to the church in the sight of God to render the faithfulness in the ministry that the Lord requires in His stewards, regarding which He will also judge them. 1 Co 4:2. Fourth: The church is reminded that it is to recognize that this pastor has divine authority to teach, and to hear him in the name and place of God. Fifth, and this is most important: That rite is to be observed for this reason, that the whole church might, by common and earnest prayers, commit to God the ministry of him who is called, that He, by His Holy Spirit, divine grace, and blessing, might be with his ministry. Whence is the rite of laying on of hands taken, and what does it mean? The rite of laying on of hands was common in the Old Testament when something was to be put solemnly in the sight of God, as it were, and committed to Him in a special way. Gn 48:14,20; Lv 1:2,4; Mk 10:16. And since public functions were at times entrusted to certain persons by laying on of hands (Nm 27:18-20; Dt 3:28; 34:9), therefore the apostles, in the ordination of ministers, out of Christian liberty retained and used that common rite as a thing indifferent [and] helpful in teaching many things. Acts 6:5-6; 13:3; 1 Ti 4:14; 5:22; 2 Ti 1:6. And thus also the ancient church observed the act of ordination without anointing and without other superstitions, simply with laying on of hands (Dist. 23 of the Council of Carthage). Therefore we also in our churches observe the same rite. For through laying on of hands the person called is set before God, as it were, so that there might be a public and outward testimony that the call is not only a human matter, but that God Himself calls, sends, and appoints that person for the ministry, though by regular and legitimate means. Moreover, by this solemn act he that is to be ordained is obligated and, as it were, consecrated to Christ for the ministry. Besides, by that rite, as in the sight of God, the church is entrusted to the minister and, on the other hand, the minister to the church, through whose ministry, namely, God wants to teach, exhort, administer the Sacraments, and work effectively in us. But the laying on of hands in ordination is observed chiefly because of the common prayers of the church, that they may be made with greater diligence and warmer desire. For it is, as it were, a public reminder of the difficulty of the ministry, which cannot be made able except by God. 2 Co 3:5-6. Therefore that minister is presented to the Lord of the harvest through laying on of hands, and the church, reminded of the institution of the ministry and of the divine promises attached to it, reminds God of His promises and asks that by their power He would graciously be with the present minister with His Spirit, grace, blessing, efficacy, working, governance, and direction. And Paul and Moses testify that these prayers of the church are not in vain. 1 Ti 4:14; 2 Ti 1:6; Dt 34:9. And thus the act of ordination publicly shows forth the whole doctrine of the call of ministers and sets it, as it were, before [one’s] eyes. But what if some minister is to be dismissed or removed from office? Just as God properly claims for Himself the right to call, also mediately, and it is accordingly necessary for it to be done according to divine instruction, so also has God properly reserved to Himself alone this power of removing someone from the ministry. 1 Sm 2:30,32; Hos 4:6. But since that dismissal takes place mediately, it is therefore necessary that it not take place except by instruction and divine direction. Therefore as long as God lets in the ministry His minister who teaches rightly and lives blamelessly, the church does not have the power, without divine command to remove an unwanted man, namely [if he is] a servant of God. But when he does not build up the church by either doctrine or life, but rather destroys [it], God Himself removes him, 1 Sm 2:30; Hos 4:6. And then the church not only properly can but by all means should remove such a one from the ministry. For just as God calls ministers of the church, so He also removes them through legitimate means. But as the procedure of a call is to follow the instruction of the Lord of the harvest, so also if one is to be removed from the ministry, the church must show that that also is done by the command and will of the Lord. (Ministry, Word, and Sacraments, pp. 33-37)
...we read in Matt. 28:18: All power is given to Me in heaven and on earth. ... Christ was about to give to His apostles the command and authority to gather the church throughout the world by the ministry of Word and Sacrament, and He prefaced His remarks by speaking of the full and complete power which had been given to Him in heaven and on earth. Paul writes in 2 Cor. 10:4 and 13:10 that power was given to him by the Lord in His service for edification, not for destruction. He explains this power by saying: The weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but they are the power of God for the pulling down of strongholds, by which we cast down evil imaginings and every high thing which exalts itself against the knowledge of God. And we bring into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ, being ready to avenge all disobedience [2 Cor. 10:4-6], that is, Paul affirms that divine power attends his ministry: (1) against all spiritual wickedness and tyranny of the devil; (2) against all the external worldly machinations, power, and force which oppose his ministry; (3) against all thoughts of the depraved flesh and lusts which strive against the Word; (4) for bringing about the obedience of faith through his ministry; and (5) for the divine punishment of the disobedient and for other miracles. This power which was given to the apostles in their ministry for the necessary work of pastors is neither a natural characteristic nor a created quality nor a normal gift nor an attribute peculiar to the apostles themselves; but it is a divine strength, power, and efficacy which assists them in their ministry and which works effectively through this ministry, as we read in Mark 16:20: They preached, the Lord everywhere working with them and confirming the Word. Again, The Gospel is the power of God unto salvation to everyone that believes (Rom. 1:16). So that the apostles might be assured that the things they were doing in their ministry on earth, in accord with Christ’s command, were not doubtful, invalid, vain, or useless but rather certain and efficacious, Christ, in instituting the ministry and in sending forth the apostles, asserted that all power in heaven and on earth had been given to Him, from whom the New Testament ministry has its institution, origin, commission, cause, and dependence. At the same time He promised that with all His authority, strength, might, and efficacy He would be with the apostolic ministry in the church, not only in the person of the apostles but also through all days till the end of the world. (The Two Natures in Christ [Saint Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1971], pp. 316-18)
Now there is no doubt that the ministry of the Word and the sacraments...was instituted by the Son of God also in the New Testament. For the church has a command about calling and appointing ministers. And the promise is added: 1. God approves the ministry of those who have been called and set apart for the ministry by the voice of the church. Thus Paul says (Acts 20:28), of those who had been called mediately, that the Holy Spirit had made them guardians to feed the church of God. And in Eph. 4:11 it is written that the Son of God gave as gifts not only apostles but also pastors and teachers, who are called mediately. 2. The promise is added that God will give grace and gifts by which those who have been legitimately called will be able rightly, faithfully, and profitably to do and perform the tasks which belong to the ministry. John 20:22: Receive the Holy Spirit. Likewise [Luke 24:45]: Then He opened their minds to understand the Scriptures. Matt. 28:20: Lo, I am with you always, etc. 1 Tim. 4:14: Do not neglect the gift you have, which was given you by prophetic utterance when the...elders laid their hands upon you. 2 Tim 1:6: Rekindle the gift of God that is within you through the laying on of my hands. Luke 21:15: I will give you a mouth and wisdom. Matt. 10:19-20: What you are to say will be given to you in that hour; for it is not you who speak, but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you. 3. This promise is also added, that God is present with the ministry, that by His blessing He gives the increase to its planting and watering, and that He is truly efficacious through the ministry to call, enlighten, convert, give repentance, faith, regeneration, renewal, and, in short, to dispense through the ministry everything that pertains to our salvation. Matt. 28:20: Lo, I am with you always. John 20:22-23: Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, etc. Matt. 16:19: I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven...and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven. According to 2 Cor. 3:6 ff. it is a ministry not of the letter but of the Spirit, who gives life and takes away the veil from men’s hearts that they may be converted and set free, so that with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, they may be changed into His likeness. 2 Cor. 5:19-20: He has entrusted to us the word of reconciliation. So we are ambassadors for Christ, God making His appeal through us. 2 Cor. 13:3: Are you seeking proof of Him who is speaking in me, namely Christ? Eph. 4:8,11-14: He gave gifts to men ... apostles, pastors, teachers, for the equipment of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for building up the body of Christ, until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of Christ, so that we may not be...driven hither and thither, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, etc. 1 Cor. 3:6: God gave the growth. 1 Cor. 15:58: In the Lord your labor is not in vain. Rom. 1:5,11,16: He gave me grace and apostleship to bring about the obedience of faith. ... That I may impart to you some spiritual gift. ... The Gospel is the power of God for salvation to every one who has faith. 1 Tim. 4:16: Attend to teaching, for by so doing you will save yourself and those who will hear you. 1 Cor. 4:15: I became your father in Christ through the Gospel. These very great and comforting promises concerning the ministry ought to be displayed, as it were, in a prominent place in the church, in order that the dignity of the ministry might be extolled against the fanatics, and that those to whom the ministry has been committed may go about their labors and bear their difficulties with greater eagerness, and that men may learn to use the ministry reverently. For without the preaching and hearing of the Word there is no faith, no calling on God, no salvation (Rom. 10:14). However, no one is able to preach in order that faith may follow hearing unless he be sent (Rom. 10:15). Moreover, this also is certain, that the call to the ministry of the Gospel ought to have the public testimony and the public attestation of the church, on account of those who run although they were not sent (Jer. 23:21). Therefore the apostles with some public testimony and public attestation of the church announced and as it were pointed out the call of those who had been legitimately chosen for the ministry of the Word and the sacraments. For the Holy Spirit willed that also Paul, who had been called immediately, should be declared and designated as the one who should be the apostle of the Gentiles. In that public approbation, attestation, or announcement, since it was a public action, the apostles employed the outward rite of the laying on of hands, which was customary at that time with those people, in part on account of the public designation of the one called, in part on account of the prayers and supplications which were made by the whole church in behalf of the person called. The rite of laying on hands was extraordinarily suited to this process: 1. That the person in question might be publicly pointed out to the church and declared to be legitimately chosen and called. For by this rite Moses points out and declares to the people the calling of Joshua, his successor (Deut. 34:9). 2. That by means of this rite the one who had been called might be given full assurance about his legitimate and divine call and might at the same time be admonished to devote, give, and as it were vow himself to the service and worship of God. Thus hands were laid on sacrificial animals and in this way Joshua was confirmed in his call. 3. That it might as it were be a public and solemn declaration of the church before God that the model and rule prescribed by the Holy Spirit had been observed at the election and calling. Therefore Paul says (1 Tim. 5:22): Do not be hasty in the laying on of hands, nor participate in another man’s sins. 4. That it might be signified by this visible rite that God approves the calling which is done by the voice of the church, for just as God chooses ministers by the voice of the church, so He also approves the calling by the attestation of the church. Thus the calling of the deacons was approved (Acts 6:6). And thus it comes about that God bestows grace through the laying on of hands. 5. During the prayers, when the name of God was especially invoked over a certain person, it was customary to employ the imposition of hands, by which that person was as it were offered to God and set in His sight, with the request added that God would deign to shower His grace and blessing on him. Thus Jacob placed his hand on the lads whom he blessed (Gen. 48:14 ff.); thus the elders pray over the sick (James 5:14-15); thus Christ blessed little children, laying on His hands (Mark 10:13-16). Now the prayer of a righteous man avails much if it is energoumenee, that is, full of activity or earnestness. In order, therefore, that men may consider how necessary the special divine grace and blessing is in view of the usefulness and difficulty of this gift, in view also of the hindrances laid in its way by Satan, the world, and the flesh, and that thus the prayer of the church may come to its aid and be, according to James, rendered full of activity or earnestness, therefore the outward rite of the laying on of hands was employed. Fasting was also added to the prayer (Acts 13:2). And this earnest prayer at the ordination of ministers is not without effect, because it rests upon a divine command and promise. This is the meaning of Paul’s words: The gift...that is within you through the laying on of...hands. If ordination is understood in this way, of the ministry of the Word and the sacraments, as already the Apology of the Augsburg Confession [XIII:11-12] explained the position of our churches, then we have no objection to calling ordination a sacrament. And there the words are added, We shall not object either to calling the laying on of hands a sacrament. ... This reminder must, however, be added, that the rite of ordination must be distinguished from the ceremony of Baptism and the Lord’s Supper, for ordination is not a sacrament in the same way as Baptism and the Lord’s Supper. The difference is plain. Baptism and the Lord’s Supper are means or instruments through which God applies and seals the promise of reconciliation or forgiveness to individual believers who use Baptism and the Lord’s Supper. Ordination is not such a means or instrument, neither are all to be ordained who desire and ask that forgiveness of sins be applied and sealed to them. ... It is also worthy of consideration that when the apostles wanted to apply some outward rite in ordination, they did not take the visible sign of breathing on the ordinand, which Christ had used [John 20:22] lest people think that Christ had given a command about using the rite of breathing on them. Therefore they took another rite, one indifferent and free, namely, the rite of laying on of hands, for they did not want to impose something on the church as necessary concerning which they did not have a command of Christ. Now the ministry of the Word and the sacraments has divine promises, and the prayer at ordination rests on these, but these promises are not to be tied to the rite of the imposition of hands, about which there is neither a command of Christ nor such a promise as there is about Baptism and the Lord’s Supper. (Examination of the Council of Trent, Part II, pp. 691-95)
...Luther showed from the Word of God against the various sects of Anabaptists that no one, even if he were the most learned, ought to usurp the ministry of the Word and of the sacraments in the church without a special and legitimate call. And he earnestly admonished the church that she should not permit those to exercise the ministry of the Word and of the sacraments who do not have proof of a legitimate call, because it is written: How can men preach unless they are sent? (Rom. 10:15) and I did not send the prophets, yet they ran. (Jer. 23:21) ...Luther taught from the Word of God that Christ has given and committed the keys, that is, the ministry of the Word and of the sacraments, to the whole church, not however in such a way that everyone might usurp and appropriate this ministry to himself by his own will and personal rashness, without a legitimate call, but that, after the immediate calling ceased, God sends ministers of the Word and of the sacraments through the call and choosing of the church, if it is done according to the command of His Word, so that the highest power of the Word and of the sacraments is with God; then, that the ministry belongs to the church, so that God calls, chooses, and sends ministers through it. Thirdly, then, it is with those who are legitimately chosen and called by God through the church, therefore with the ministers to whom the use or administration of the ministry of the Word and the sacraments has been committed. With this distinction, which is true and plain, Luther meant to restrain the arrogance of the [papal] priests who were puffed up by the opinion that they alone possessed all power with respect to the Word and sacraments, so that the sacraments were valid on account of the imprinting on them of some kind of character from ordination. And lest the rest of the church should dare to say by so much as a silent sigh, What are you doing? they pretended that the rest of the church had no power whatever in matters of the Word and the sacraments. That Luther touched this sore spot and applied the knife from the Word of God, that is truly what gives the papalists a burning pain even today, after so many years, and it sits badly. (Examination of the Council of Trent, Part II, pp. 96-97)
They shout loudly that those who do not approve the priesthood of the papalists take away all order out of the church, that with infinite confusion they prostitute the ministry to any one of the common people and (something which Tertullian ascribes to the heretics) make laymen out of priests and enjoin priestly functions to laymen, with the result that there is neither any authority nor dignity of the ministry, etc. Therefore this slander must first of all be removed. Now the Anabaptists and Enthusiasts are rightly disapproved, who either take the use of the external ministry of Word and sacrament entirely out of the church, or imagine that it is useless and unnecessary. For they teach that new and special revelations should rather be sought and expected from God without the use of the external ministry of Word and sacrament, and that this kind of calling, illumination, and conversion is much more excellent and worthy of honor than if we use the voice of the ministry. And indeed, it is God by whose power, working, efficacy, impulse, and inspiration whatever pertains to calling, illumination, conversion, repentance, faith, renewal, and in short, to the business of our salvation is begun, effected, increased, and preserved in men. But God arranged by a certain counsel of His that He wills to dispense these things, not by infusing new and special revelations, illuminations, and movements into the minds of men without any means, but through the outward ministry of the Word. This ministry He did not commit to angels, so that their appearances are to be sought and expected, but He put the Word of reconciliation into men, and He wills that the proclamation of the Gospel, divinely revealed, should sound forth through them. All Christians are indeed priests (1 Pet. 2:9; Rev. 1:6), because they offer spiritual sacrifices to God. Everyone also can and should teach the Word of God in his own house (Deut. 6:7; 1 Cor. 14:35). Nevertheless, not everyone ought to take and arrogate to himself the public ministry of Word and sacrament. For not all are apostles; not all are teachers (1 Cor. 12:29), but those who have been set apart for this ministry by God through a particular and legitimate call (Acts 13:2; Jer. 23:21; Rom. 10:15). This is done either immediately or mediately. Paul prescribes a legitimate manner of calling which is made through the voice of the church (1 Tim. 3:2-7; and Titus 1:5-9). Christ Himself indeed called certain men to this ministry immediately, in order to show that He approves the ministry of those who are chosen and called by the voice of the church according to the rule prescribed by the apostles... There is added also the promise that God will truly work effectively through the ministry of those who teach the Gospel, which the Son of God wills to preserve in the church through perpetual calling, as Paul says in Eph. 4:8 ff.: He ascended; He gave gifts to men; and He gave some to be apostles, some prophets, others evangelists, others however pastors and teachers for perfecting of the saints in the work of ministry, in edification of the body of Christ. To this use of the ministry, which God both instituted and preserves in the church, men must therefore be guided, and taught that through this ministry there are offered to us eternal blessings, and indeed that God in this way receives us, rescues us from sin and the power of the devil and from eternal death, and restores to us righteousness and eternal life. This ministry does indeed have power, divinely bestowed (2 Cor. 10:4-6; 13:2-4), but circumscribed with certain duties and limitations, namely, to preach the Word of God, teach the erring, reprove those who sin, admonish the dilatory, comfort the troubled, strengthen the weak, resist those who speak against the truth, reproach and condemn false teaching, censure evil customs, dispense the divinely instituted sacraments, remit and retain sins, be an example to the flock, pray for the church privately and lead the church in public prayers, be in charge of care for the poor, publicly excommunicate the stubborn and again receive those who repent and reconcile them with the church, appoint pastors to the church according to the instruction of Paul, with consent of the church institute rites that serve the ministry and do not militate against the Word of God nor burden consciences but serve good order, dignity, decorum, tranquillity, edification, etc. (Examination of the Council of Trent, Part II, pp. 677-79)
Jerome...shows and proves that at the time of the apostles, bishops and presbyters were one and the same, or that one and the same person was both presbyter and bishop, one of these being a term for his office and dignity, the other for his age. For Paul says (Phil. 1:1) that in that one church there were bishops and deacons. In Acts 20:17 Luke says that the presbyters of the church at Ephesus were called out. When Paul has assembled them, he calls them bishops [“overseers”; Acts 20:28]. In Titus 1:5 ff. Paul speaks of appointing presbyters in every town. And as he explains what kind of presbyter ought to be ordained, he says: “For a bishop must be blameless.” In 1 Peter 5:1-2 Peter, addressing the presbyters calls himself a fellow presbyter and ascribes to the office of presbyters to episkopein [“oversight”]. That the same ordination was common to [bishops and] presbyters Jerome shows from 1 Tim. 4:14, which speaks of the laying on of hands of the presbyters. This opinion did not fall from the lips of Jerome accidentally while he was concerned about something else, but he argues it ex professo and repeats it in a number of places, e.g., on the Epistle to Titus, in his Letter to Evagrius, likewise to Oceanus. Ambrose follows this opinion, likewise Bede in the chapter on Philippians, likewise Isidore, dist. 21, ch. Cleros. The same Jerome also explains what was the cause and origin of the difference which was later made between a bishop and the presbyters, why and for what use this difference was accepted by the church. Thus he says, on Titus 1: “Before, by an impulse of the devil, a zeal in religion developed and it was said among the people, ‘I belong to Paul; I to Apollos; I to Cephas,’ the churches were governed by the common counsel of the presbyters. But after everyone thought that those whom he had baptized were his, not Christ’s, it was decreed that in the whole city one who was elected from among the presbyters should be placed over the rest, to whom the care of the whole church should belong, and the seeds of schisms would be removed.” Likewise: “With the ancients, presbyters and bishops were one and the same. But little by little, in order that the seedbeds of dissensions might be rooted out, the whole responsibility was conferred on one.” The same says in the Letter to Evagrius (and this is quoted in dist. 93, ch. Legimus): “However, that later on one was elected who was placed over the rest, this was done as a remedy against schisms, lest everyone draw the church of Christ to himself and split it. For also at Alexandria, from the time of Mark the Evangelist until Dionysius, the presbyters always chose one from among themselves and placed him in a higher rank. Him they called episcopus, just as if the army would make a commander-in-chief for itself,” etc. Moreover, a little before the time of Jerome, Aerius began to urge this equality of presbyters and bishops, which existed at the time of the apostles, in such a way that he simply condemned the custom of the church which made the bishop superior to and placed him over the presbyters and gave him the supervision of the whole church as a remedy against dissensions and for the sake of order and harmony. However, when this opinion of Aerius was seen to give occasion for confusion and dissensions, it was rejected and disapproved. Then the bishops grew arrogant, despised the presbyters, and thought this prerogative was due them by divine right. Because these controversies were still raging in his time, Jerome, as he himself declares, interposes his opinion from Scripture and shows that at the time of the apostles and with the ancients there was no distinction, but that presbyters and bishops were one and the same and that the churches were governed by their common counsel. Then he explains for what reason, for what purpose and use one bishop was placed over the others as head, namely, to remove the seedbeds of dissensions and schisms. To this extent Jerome approves this arrangement. But the pride of the bishops he curbs with these words: “Therefore as the presbyters know that, from the custom of the church, they are subject to the one who has been placed over them, so the bishops should know that they are greater than the presbyters more by custom than by the truth of an arrangement of the Lord, and that they ought to govern the church in common.” Of the office of bishops Jerome says to Evagrius that the bishop does the same thing a presbyter does. Therefore the ministry of the Word and the sacraments and the care of ecclesiastical discipline were at that time the joint duty of the bishop and the presbyters. ... At that time ordination was specifically the duty of the bishops, as Jerome says: “What does a bishop do that a presbyter does not do, ordination excepted?” And Chrysostom says, on 1 Timothy, that a bishop is greater than a presbyter only in that he performs ordinations. (Examination of the Council of Trent, Part II, pp. 701-03)
Now the Holy Spirit, through Paul, His chosen instrument, in many words and accurately describes the qualities which God requires in a bishop in order that the dignity, importance, and sanctity of the ministry may be retained, equipped, and aided. First, so far as his teaching is concerned, that a bishop be didaktikos [“an apt teacher,” 1 Tim. 3:2], that is, as He Himself explains, that he “hold the mystery of the faith” (1 Tim. 3:9) and embrace sound doctrine (Titus 1:9), be studied in and “nourished on the words of the faith and of...good doctrine” (1 Tim. 4:6), that he be capable also of teaching others, avoid wordy battles of words and empty strife, rightly divide the Word of truth (2 Tim. 2:15 [KJV]), “be able to give instruction in sound doctrine and also to confute those who contradict it” (Titus 1:9), “be urgent in season and out of season, convince, rebuke, and exhort, be unfailing in patience and in teaching” (2 Tim. 4:2), continue in what he has learned (2 Tim. 3:14), “follow the pattern of...sound words” (2 Tim. 1:13), “guard what has been entrusted” to him, and “keep the commandments unstained and free from reproach” (1 Tim. 6:20,14), attend to reading, not neglect his gift, but stir it up by meditation and exercise, in order that his progress may be apparent to all (1 Tim. 4:13-15), pray for himself and for the church (1 Tim. 2:1-2). This is how Paul explains what didaktikos means. In the second place He seeks in a bishop the gift of governing the church, and describes how he “ought to behave in the household of God, which is the church,” that is, how he ought to care for or govern the church (1 Tim. 3:1 ff., 15), how he is to set up the ministries and have supervision over them (1 Tim. 3:8 ff.; Titus 1:5 ff.), how he ought to deal with adversaries of the doctrine (1 Tim. 1:13 ff.; 2 Tim. 2:14 ff.; Titus 3:9-11), how ecclesiastical judgments are to be set up and exercised in the case of those who sin, the fallen, or the accused (1 Tim. 5:19 ff.; 2 Tim. 2:23-26), how supplications or public prayers are to be instituted (1 Tim. 2:1 ff.), how godly duties are to be prescribed to all orders of classes in the church and how things which are amiss in them are to be corrected (1 Tim. 2:8-15; 5:1-18; 6:1-2,17-19; Titus 2:2-10; 3:1-2), how the care for the poor is to be exercised. These things, according to Paul, belong to the bishop’s governing. Third. Because the presence, guidance, and strengthening of the Holy Spirit is absolutely necessary for the right performance of the ministry, Paul demands in a bishop such holiness, lest he drive out the Holy Spirit through sins against conscience. Therefore, he says, he should “hold the mystery of the faith with a clear conscience” (1 Tim. 3:9), “in accordance with the prophetic utterances...wage the good warfare, holding faith and a good conscience,” which some have rejected and “made shipwreck of their faith” (1 Tim. 1:18-19). He should train himself “in godliness...in love, in faith, in purity” (1 Tim. 4:7,12), shun greed, which has drowned many in perdition, “aim at righteousness, godliness, faith, love, steadfastness, gentleness, fight the good fight...take hold of eternal life” (1 Tim. 6:11-12). He is to work “as a good soldier of Christ,” for “no soldier on service gets entangled in civilian pursuits, since his aim is to satisfy the one who enlisted him”; he is to do his best to present himself “to God as one approved, a workman who has no need to be ashamed.” Anyone who purifies himself from what is ignoble “will be a vessel for noble use, consecrated and useful to the master of the house, ready for any good work.” He should “shun youthful passions and aim at...peace, along with those who call upon the Lord” (2 Tim. 2:3-4,15,21-22). He is to avoid the vices which make one unfit for faith (2 Tim. 3:1-5), imitate “my conduct, my aim in life, my faith, my patience, my love, my steadfastness, my persecutions, my sufferings” (2 Tim. 3:10-11), “be steady, endure suffering...fulfill your ministry” (2 Tim. 4:5), “keep yourself pure” (1 Tim. 5:22). In the fourth place, Paul requires in a bishop such holiness of life, such uprightness of morals and dignity of behavior, in order that he may also be an example for the flock, or the believers (1 Peter 5:3), “in speech and conduct, in love,” in spirit, “in faith, in purity” (1 Tim. 4:12), showing himself “in all respects a model of good deeds,” in “teaching,” in “integrity,” in “gravity,” that the adversaries “may be put to shame, having nothing evil to say” of him (Titus 2:7-8), with no one able to accuse him (1 Tim. 3:2). Thus he enumerates and describes these virtues (1 Tim. 3:2 ff.; Titus 1:6 ff.). These are the good qualities which the Holy Spirit demands in a minister of the Word, and He shows that by them the dignity, gravity, reverence for, and holiness of the ministry of the Word and sacraments in the New Testament is established, equipped, and aided. (Examination of the Council of Trent, Part III [Saint Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1986], pp. 124-25)
Because many duties belong to the ministry of the church which cannot all conveniently be performed by one person or by a few, when the believers are very numerous – in order, therefore, that all things may be done in an orderly way, decently, and for edification, these duties of the ministry began, as the assembly of the church grew great, to be distributed among certain ranks of ministers which they afterward called taxeis (ranks) or tagmata (orders), so that each might have, as it were, a certain designated station in which he might serve the church in certain duties of the ministry. Thus in the beginning the apostles took care of the ministry of the Word and the sacraments and at the same time also of the distribution and dispensation of alms. Afterward, however, as the number of disciples increased, they entrusted that part of the ministry which has to do with alms to others, whom they called deacons. They also state the reason why they do this – that they might be able to devote themselves more diligently to the ministry of the Word and to prayer, without diversions. (Acts 6:1-4) This first origin of ranks or orders of ministry in the apostolic church shows what ought to be the cause, what the reason, purpose, and use of such ranks or orders – that for the welfare of the assembly of the church the individual duties which belong to the ministry might be attended to more conveniently, rightly, diligently, and orderly, with a measure of dignity and for edification. And because the apostles afterward accepted into the ministry of teaching those from among the deacons who were approved, as Stephen and Philip, we gather that this also is a use of these ranks or orders, that men are first prepared or tested in minor duties so that afterward heavier duties may more safely and profitably be entrusted to them. That is what Paul says in 1 Tim. 3:10: “Let them also be tested first, and so let them minister.” Likewise: “Those who serve well as deacons will gain a good rank for themselves.” [1 Tim. 3:13] Thus there were in the worship service of the church at Antioch (Acts 13:1) prophets and teachers, of whom the former either prophesied of future events or interpreted the more difficult passages of Scripture (1 Cor. 14:29-32), while the latter set forth the elements of Christian doctrine to the people (Heb. 5:12-14). Paul and Barnabas receive Mark into the ministry (Acts 13:5) not merely in order that he might render bodily services to them but so that they might be able to entrust some parts of the ministry of the Word to him, as Paul expressly says (Acts 15:38). There were in the church at Corinth apostles, prophets, and teachers; some spoke in tongues, some interpreted, some had psalms, some prayers, benedictions, and giving of thanks, not in private exercises but in public assemblies of the church. (1 Cor. 12:28-30; 14:26-27) In Eph. 4:11 the following ranks of ministers are listed: (1) apostles, who were not called to some certain church, and who had not been called through men, but immediately by Christ, and had the command to teach everywhere, and were furnished with the testimony of the Spirit and of miracles, that they might not err in doctrine but that their doctrine might be divine and heavenly, to which all the other teachers should be bound; (2) prophets, who either had revelations of future events or interpreted tongues and the Scriptures for the more advanced, for these things are ascribed to the prophets of the New Testament in 1 Cor. 14; (3) evangelists, who were not apostles and yet were not bound to some one certain church but were sent to different churches to teach the Gospel there, but chiefly to lay the first foundations; such an evangelist was Philip (Acts 21:8), and Timothy (2 Tim. 4:5), Tychicus, Sylvanus, etc.; that there were such evangelists also after the times of the apostles Eusebius testifies, Bk. 3, ch. 37, etc.; (4) pastors, who were placed over a certain flock, as Peter shows (1 Peter 5:2-3), and who not only taught but administered the sacraments and had the oversight over their hearers, as Ezekiel (34:2 ff.) describes the pastoral office; (5) teachers, to whom the chief governance or oversight of the church was not entrusted but who only set the doctrine before the people in a simple manner, such as the catechists were later; thus Paul (Rom. 2:20) speaks of “a teacher of children,” and the word teach is expressly used in this sense in Heb. 5:12. All these ranks the apostles include under the terms “presbytery” and “episcopacy.” Sometimes they also call those to whom the ministry of Word and sacrament has been committed by the term “minister” (“servant”). (Col. 1:7,23; 1 Thess. 3:2; 2 Cor. 3:6; 11:23; Eph. 3:7) Also Paul himself sometimes performed the ministry of the Word in such a way that he entrusted the administration of the sacraments to others. 1 Cor. 1:17: “Christ did not send me to baptize but to preach the Gospel.” And in 1 Tim. 1:17 he mentions two kinds of presbyters, of whom some labored in preaching and teaching, while others had been placed in charge of ecclesiastical discipline. Tertullian also mentions this kind of presbytery, Apologeticus, ch. 39. This about completes the list of ranks into which we read that the ecclesiastical ministry was divided at the time of the apostles. This division has examples also in the Old Testament. For David, according to 1 Chron. 23 ff., divided the ministry of the temple into certain ranks or orders. Also in the synagogue there were readers, who only read the Scripture text. There were, besides, also teachers who interpreted the Scripture and applied the text for the purpose of exhortations (Luke 2:46; Acts 15:30-35). And this was the difference between the scribes and Pharisees. However, because of the present dispute, the following reminder must be added: (1) that there is no command in the Word of God, which or how many such ranks or orders there should be; (2) that there were not at the time of the apostles in all churches and at all times the same and the same number of ranks or orders, as can be clearly ascertained from the epistles of Paul, written to various churches; (3) that there was not [originally], at the time of the apostles, such a division of these ranks, but repeatedly one and the same person [an apostle] held and performed all the duties which belong to the ministry, as is clear from the apostolic history. Therefore such orders were free at the time of the apostles and were observed for the sake of good order, decorum, and edification, except that at that time certain special gifts, such as tongues, prophecies, apostolate, and miracles, were bestowed on certain persons by God. These ranks, about which we have spoken until now, were not something beside and beyond the ministry of the Word and sacraments, but the real and true duties of the ministry were distributed among certain ranks for the reasons already set forth. This example of the apostles the primitive church imitated for the same reason and in similar liberty. For the grades of the duties of the ministry were distributed, not however in identically the same way as in the church at Corinth or in that at Ephesus, but according to the circumstances obtaining in each church. ... Therefore the ranks or orders were distinguished, not by empty titles but according to certain duties that belonged to the ministry of the church. The bishop taught the Word of God and had charge of the church’s discipline. The presbyters taught and administered the sacraments. The deacons were in charge of the treasuries of the church, in order from them to provide sustenance for the poor and in particular for the ministers of the church. Afterward the deacons also began to be employed for assisting with a certain part of the ministry of the bishop and the presbyters, as also Jerome testifies, Ad Rusticum, such as for reading something publicly from the Scriptures, for teaching, exhorting, etc., admonishing the people to be attentive, to turn their hearts to the Lord, to proclaim peace, to prepare the things which belong to the administration of the sacraments, distribute the sacraments to the people, take those who are to be ordained to the bishop, to remind bishops about matters which pertain to discipline, etc. ...subdeacons were placed under them; they collected the offerings of the faithful which were contributed for the sustenance of the poor and the ministers. Besides these there were lectors, who read publicly to the people from the Scriptures, especially from the Old Testament, for the reading of the New Testament was thereafter given to the deacons. There were psalmists or cantors, who sang first what the whole assembly was accustomed to sing. There were doorkeepers, who at the time of the Sacrament, after the announcement by the deacon, put out of the church the Gentiles, catechumens, penitents, the possessed, heretics, and persons who had been excommunicated, for thus Dionysius describes this office. Bishops, presbyters, and deacons had their famuli, servants, companions, or followers, whose services they used when necessity demanded it, as Paul had used the services of Onesimus. They called these men acolytes. ... Besides these there were exorcists, who had the gift of casting out or restraining demons. This distribution of ranks in the more populous churches was useful for the sake of order, for decorum, and for edification by reason of the duties which belong to the ministry. In the smaller or less populous churches such a distribution of ranks was not judged necessary, and also in the more populous churches a like or identical distribution of these ranks was not everywhere observed. For this reason, for this use, and with this freedom many of these ranks of the ancient church are preserved also among us. (Examination of the Council of Trent, Part II, pp. 682-88)
...when Paul and the other apostles had been called out of this world, and John had been banished to Patmos, ...a certain presbyter in Asia, a follower or partisan, for so he boasted, of Paul, ...spread a certain story bearing the title De periode Pauli et Teclae, or as Gelasius, dist. 13, quotes the title, De actis Pauli et Teclae [The Acts of Paul and Tecla]. The sum of the story was this, that Tecla, a noble Iconian virgin, had been betrothed through the will and consent of her parents to a certain Thamirus, but that, when Paul had come to Iconium, he had preached about virginity in such a way that Tecla had renounced her bridegroom and against the will of her bridegroom and her parents had vowed celibacy, and that Paul had for many years led this Tecla about with himself and had finally consecrated her with a sacred veil and given her power to teach, baptize, and to veil and consecrate virgins with the vow of perpetual celibacy. This was just about the sum of the fraud, as one can see from Tertullian, De Baptismo, from Ambrose, De virginitate, and from the legends of Tecla. Now, because the authority of Paul was great in the church, many set this example in opposition and preferred it to the writings of Paul and of the other apostles. However, when John had been restored to the church from exile he saw that this story was not in agreement with the constant teaching and opinion of Paul, who even as he did not permit a woman to teach publicly in the church so also forbade an espoused woman to undertake celibacy against the will of her bridegroom and parents (1 Cor. 7:10), for a betrothed woman is judged to be in the same case as a wife (Deut. 22:22-29). Therefore John convicted that presbyter publicly before the church of having disseminated a false and counterfeit book under the name and title of Paul. ... John removed him from the ministry in order that, for the sake of posterity, that invention about Tecla might be rejected with a public mark as not genuine but a counterfeit. Thus Tertullian describes the story, De Baptismo, and Jerome, De scripturibus ecclesiasticis. Nevertheless afterward, in the time of Tertullian, certain women tried to lay claim for themselves to the ministry of Word and Sacraments in the church on the authority of this Tecla, whom Tertullian repulsed with this story of the apostle John. (Examination of the Council of Trent, Part III, pp. 151-52)
Since, however, that is catholic, as Vincent of Lérins not improperly defines it, which always and everywhere has constantly been accepted by all believers on the basis of Scripture, also this observation must be added, that there was in those times not only doubt about the invocation of the saints, when it had begun to be introduced into the church from private devotions of the common people and of women, but that it was also clearly and with great zeal rebuked and placed into the catalog of heresies by Epiphanius, who lived at almost the same time. ...Epiphanius seizes upon the gross excess of certain Thracian women, also in Arabia and in the upper parts of Scythia, who set out a loaf or cake on a square chair covered with a cloth, and offered it in the name of Mary. ... He not only insists that women are not permitted to sacrifice and perform other acts which belong to the public ministry of Word and sacrament, also that sacrifice is to be made only to God, but he goes further, for he says that when those women offer that cake it is a profession that worships and adores Mary. ... Such sacrifices, that is, such adoration, which asks for benefits and aids in needs, Epiphanius argues, is worship belonging only to God. (Examination of the Council of Trent, Part III, pp. 466-67)
...Paul...had spoken of the duty of women in general in [1 Timothy] ch. 2, and was going to speak about widows and deaconesses in ch. 5... (Examination of the Council of Trent, Part III, pp. 130-31)
To begin with, it is not necessary to search out by conjecture or to learn from the writings of the fathers what was the nature of the association of widows at the time of the apostles. For there are clear descriptions (Acts 6:1; 1 Tim. 5:3 ff.), namely, that the church customarily received into its care poor widows who had neither parents nor children nor friends nor household, nor were able to perform work by which they could sustain themselves, in order that they might be sustained by the alms of the church, and that they should be considered by the deacons in the daily distribution of alms. ... And that the church in turn for this support used their work for the care of the poor, of strangers, of the afflicted and the sick (as the ministry of the deaconesses is described in the history of the church) can be gathered from this, that Paul wants such a one to be enrolled who has before shown hospitality to strangers and performed humane works for the afflicted. It seems also to have been the duty of widows to wash corpses and to wrap them (Acts 9:37). And Paul gives the instruction of young girls and young women to older women (Titus 2:3 ff.), which passage can, however, be understood generally about all matrons of more advanced age. ... Since Paul says [1 Tim. 5:11-15] that those fallen widows had condemnation, and had turned back after Satan, the question is what that dreadful sin of theirs was which made them enemies of Christ, slaves of Satan, and worthy of damnation. The papalists say that wanting to marry after taking the vow is so great a sin. But let us see whether Paul says this. ... In 1 Cor. 7:39 Paul teaches that pious widows may marry whom they will, only that it be in the Lord, that is, in fear and with invocation of the Lord, or not to marry with denial of faith and godliness. But these widows wanted to marry, not in the Lord, but sportively and insolently in wantonness against Christ. This is certainly a dreadful description of a dreadful sin. Therefore it is not simply and per se wanting to marry, but wanting to marry in the way Paul describes here, that is damnable. For he mentions four sins one by one: I. They had grown wanton against Christ; II. When they ought to have ministered to the poor, to strangers, to the afflicted and sick, they neglected and cast off the duties of their ministry, and gadded about from house to house in idleness, as gossips and busybodies, saying what they should not. And because Christ says, Matt. 25:45: As you did it not to one of the least of these, you did it not to Me, therefore Paul says that these widows have been wanton not only against the poor, but against Christ Himself; III. He says that by that wantonness they had given occasion to the enemy to speak evil of and blaspheme the sound doctrine of the Gospel; IV. He says that some of them were finally turned back after Satan. ... Therefore it means that complete apostasy or defection of these widows from faith and the religion of Christ finally followed. For when they had first grown wanton against Christ, there finally followed outright defection from Christ, and following after Satan... For to do the duties of their ministry fraudulently, and to grow wanton against Christ, as Paul says of these widows, are sins which drive out faith. (Examination of the Council of Trent, Part III, pp. 100-04)
To begin with, it is certain that no one is a legitimate minister of the Word and the sacraments – nor is able rightly and profitably to exercise the ministry for the glory of God and the edification of the church – unless he has been sent, that is, unless he has a legitimate call (Jer. 23:21; Rom. 10:15). ...God, the author, preserver, governor, and (if I may use this term) husbandman of the ecclesiastical ministry, has reserved for Himself the right and authority of calling and sending those whom He wants to receive as co-workers in this ministry, and wants it to belong to Himself as Lord of the harvest. Therefore Christ says in Matt. 9:38: “Pray the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest.” Jer. 23:21: “I did not send the prophets, yet they ran.” Eph. 4:11: Christ gives apostles, evangelists, pastors, teachers. Acts 20:28: “The Holy Ghost has made you overseers to feed the church of God.” Acts 13:4: “They were sent out by the Holy Spirit.” Therefore it is necessary for a legitimate call to the ministry of the church that the person who is to be a legitimate minister of the Word and the sacraments be called and sent by God, so that both the minister and the church can truthfully declare, as it is written in Is. 59:21: “I have put My words in your mouth.” 2 Cor. 5:19-20: “He has entrusted to us the message of reconciliation. So we are ambassadors for Christ, God making His appeal through us.” Luke 10:16: “He who hears you hears Me.” John 20:21: “As the Father has sent Me, even so I send you.” These things must be considered in a call of the church, in order that both the minister and also the church can state with certainty that God is present with this ministry and works through it, as He says in Matt. 28:20: “I am with you.” John 20:22: “Receive the Holy Spirit.” 2 Cor. 3:6: “He has qualified us to be ministers...not of the letter but of the Spirit.” 1 Cor. 3:5-9: “You are God’s field, God’s building.” “We are God’s assistants.” “Paul plants; Apollos waters; God gives the growth.” John 20:23: “If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained.” Matt. 16:19: “I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven, and whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven.” ... Now when God Himself speaks immediately to men and with His own voice makes known His will, as He often did in the Old Testament, and as later, in the time of the New Testament, He spoke through a Son (Heb. 1:2), then there is no doubt about the efficacy of the Word. However, God did not always want to set His Word before the church without means, with His own voice, but determined by sure counsel to use the voice of the ministry as His ordinary means or instrument. Nevertheless there remains also in this medium what is appropriate to the prophets: “Thus says the Lord: ...because I have put My words in your mouth...” [Is. 59:21]. “...God making His appeal through us” [2 Cor. 5:20]. “Do you seek proof that Christ is speaking in me?” (2 Cor. 13:3). That these things are right and proper in those who are called immediately by the divine voice, not through men but by God Himself, as were the prophets in the Old Testament and the Baptist and the apostles – this no sane person is able to doubt. But God called few men in this immediate manner. For those who at the time of the apostles were prophets, evangelists, pastors, teachers, bishops, presbyters, and deacons were called to the ministry not immediately but by the voice of the church. Now are the things which Scripture teaches about the presence and efficacy of God through the ministry doubtful, uncertain, or false in the case of a mediate call? Surely, this is a very great and comforting promise, that Scripture declares that also that call which is issued by the voice of the church is divine, or from God. Eph. 4:11: The Son of God gives pastors and teachers, who certainly were not, like the apostles, called immediately. And in Acts 20:28 Paul addresses the presbyters, who had been appointed ether by Paul or by Timothy, thus: “The Holy Spirit has made you overseers.” Therefore Paul, in the signature of 1 Corinthians, links Sosthenes to himself; in 2 Corinthians, Timothy; in 1 Thessalonians, Sylvanus. Therefore Paul applies the sayings: “We are God’s fellow workers” [1 Cor. 3:9]; “He has entrusted to us the message of reconciliation...God making His appeal through us” [2 Cor. 5:19-20], also to those who had been called mediately. Likewise, he declares that God works efficaciously also through the ministry of those who were called through the voice of the church: “Apollos waters; God gives the growth” [1 Cor. 3:6]. And in 1 Tim. 4:16 he says to Timothy: “You will save both yourself and your hearers.” Eph. 4:11 ff.: He gives teachers for building up the body of Christ, that we may attain to unity of faith, and doing the truth may grow in Christ. The promises are most delightful, and very necessary, namely, that the call also of those who have been called by the voice of the church is divine, that God is present with and works effectively through their ministry. (Examination of the Council of Trent, Part II, pp. 705-07)
THE PERSONS OF THE TRINITY AND THE PROCESSION OF THE HOLY SPIRIT
Long and acrimonious was the controversy between the later Greek theologians and the Latin church regarding the procession of the Holy Spirit. The older Greeks often said that the Holy Spirit was from the Father through the Son, as we have it in that most notable confession of Gregory of Neocaesarea. And Hilary, De Trinitate, at the same time clearly and with express words writes, “The Holy Spirit is, proceeds, and emanates from the Father and the Son, and just as He proceeds from the Father, so He proceeds from the Son.” There are also extant testimonies in Lombard, Bk. 1, dist. 11. Epiphanius says the same thing in his Ancoratus, 9, and Augustine in his Contra Maximinum, 2.5. Therefore, when contentions arose between the Greeks and the Latins over the matter of preeminence, they were unwilling to use the same mode of speaking. Both parties confessed that the Spirit is of the Son as well as of the Father; but the Greeks said He is “from the Father through the Son,” and the Latins said “from the Father and the Son.” They each had reasons for speaking the way they did. Gregory of Nazianzus, on the basis of Romans 11, says that the prepositions ek, dia, and eis express the properties of [the three persons in] one unconfused essence. Therefore, the Greeks said that the Holy Spirit proceeds from (ek, ex) the Father through (dia) the Son, so that the property of each nature [or person] is preserved. Nor did the Latins take offense at this formula for describing the matter. For Jerome and Augustine both say that the Holy Spirit properly and principally proceeds from the Father, and they explain this by saying that the Son in being begotten of the Father receives that which proceeds from the Father, namely, the Holy Spirit; but the Father receives from none, but has everything from Himself, as Lombard says, Bk. 1, dist. 12. But in the passage of time, when major distractions arose, the Greeks spoke anathemas against those who confessed that the Holy Spirit proceeds from the Son. For Theophylactus, on John 3, condemns the Latins for not using this terminology, and the Latins in turn condemned those who say the Spirit proceeds from the Father through the Son. In this debate, even in the very terminology itself, as is often the case, something unfortunate was added. Thus John of Damascus said, “The Spirit proceeds from the Father, rests on the Son, and is passed on through Him.” After that time it came about that the Holy Spirit was said to proceed only from the Father and was first given to the Son, and finally then through the Son is communicated to created beings. Epiphanius points out that such degrees of inequality had been proposed long before by Origen, so that the Father was first, the Son second, and the Holy Spirit in third position, the angels in fourth, and others in always descending order. These historical points need to be noted, lest, as some have done, we get the idea that this is only some inane argument over words (logomachia) as to whether the Holy Spirit proceeds also from the Son. This division was healed at the Council of Florence... The proceedings are extant showing what each side said. When the Greeks saw the explanation of the Latins and how they believed that the Holy Spirit proceeds from the Father and the Son and on the basis of what evidence they established their case, they agreed with the statement. There was present in the discussion a very learned man of the Greeks by the name of Bessarion. It is worthy of note that the Greeks said and proved on the basis of authentic manuscripts of the Nicene Canon, not only in the Greek manuscripts but also in the Latin ones which had been preserved at Rome, that the wording was, “The Holy Spirit who proceeds from the Father.” They were vehement in their contentions that the Latin manuscripts had been falsified because they had added the words “who proceeds from the Father and the Son.” But when the explanation of the Latins was heard, they approved with general consensus that this had been done because when the controversy had arisen [in the west], this expression, “proceeds from the Father,” had been taken in a sinister sense as if the Son were not in all respects equal and consubstantial with the Father. Therefore the Latins had not added the words “who proceeds from the Father and the Son,” but had taken them over from the Athanasian Creed because the statement there is more explicit. ... Moreover, it is useful to have at hand some strong testimonies from Scripture concerning the meaning of the statement which is explained in the Athanasian Creed: “The Holy Spirit is of the Father and of the Son, neither made, nor created nor begotten, but proceeding.” Thus He is called the Spirit of the Father, Matt. 10:20; Rom. 8:11: (1) Because He is sent from the Father, John 14:26, “whom the Father will send to you in My name.” (2) However, He is not called the Spirit of the Father only in the sense that He is sent by Him, but as Christ explains in John 15:26, because “He proceeds from the Father.” For the same reason He is called the Spirit of the Son and the Spirit of Christ, and again not only for the reason that He says in the same verse, “whom I shall send you from the Father.” For even then when He is sent by the Father, He is called the Spirit of the Son, Gal. 4:6, “God sent the Spirit of His Son.” But because He has His essence from the Son, that which is described by the word “proceed” means, as Augustine says, “He gave the Holy Spirit by breathing on them, so that He might thereby demonstrate also that the Holy Spirit proceeds from Him.” In Ps. 33:6 it is said of the Father, “By the breath of His mouth He made all their power.” But in 2 Thess. 2:8, it is said of the Son, “whom the Lord Jesus Christ will destroy with the breath of His mouth.” Therefore, He proceeds from the Father and from the Son. But a particularly clear passage is John 16. For when He [Jesus] has said in [John] 15:26 that the Holy Spirit “proceeds from the Father,” this is not to be understood as if something is being taken away from the equality of the Son, for Christ Himself adds in the following chapter, v. 15, His explanation, “All things that the Father has are Mine; therefore He [the Spirit] shall take of Mine,” when He proceeds from the Father. For from the essence which is common with the Father and the Son, the Holy Spirit receives His own, so that He is consubstantial [with the Father and the Son]. Therefore, when in John 15:26 Christ says, “The Spirit proceeds from the Father,” He is not denying that the Spirit proceeds from Christ Himself also, but as He says of Himself in John 5:19, “I can do nothing of Myself.” And in John 7:16, “The doctrine is not My own,” not that He may deny that He is consubstantial with the Father, since He manifestly affirms that the Son is to be honored as the Father is honored, John 5:23. But as Luther says, “It is customary to place the name of the Son behind the name of the Father and to refer all His activities to the Father, from whom He possesses co-equality with the Father.” For He speaks of proceeding from the Father because the Son possesses from the Father that He is God and that the Holy Spirit proceeds from Him, thus making the Father the source of the proceeding. Yet He quickly adds, “All things which the Father has are Mine. Therefore He shall take of Mine,” when He [the Spirit] proceeds from the Father, John 16:15. ... The giving or the sending of the Holy Spirit which takes place either with visible signs or invisibly in the hearts of the believers is one thing. The proceeding is something else. For the Holy Spirit is said to proceed from the Father and the Son, not when He is sent or poured out upon the house of David, Zech. 12:10, but with respect to His essence which He has received from eternity as it was communicated to Him by the Father and the Son. For with reference to the Son, because He has His essence from the Father, Scripture predicates that He is begotten. But in regard to the Holy Spirit, because He does not have His essence from Himself but from the Father and the Son, Scripture uses the word “proceeds.” These methods of speaking the church must repeat meticulously so that it does not say that the Holy Spirit is begotten, but proceeds (ekporeuesthai). And just as it is said of the Son in John 1:14 that He is “begotten of the Father,” so in John 15:26 the Holy Spirit is said to “proceed from the Father.” So that this passage is not understood to refer only to the sending or the delegation but to His emanation from the divine essence, Scripture in other places (e.g., 1 Cor. 2:12) speaks of “the Spirit who is from God.” The word ekporeuesthai means more than merely a simple motion or something which can be nicely accommodated to the image of the power of the will. In Matt. 15:18 it is used in reference to something proceeding (ekporeuomena) from the mouth, and in Mark 7:21 the “evil thoughts which proceed (ekporeuontai) from the heart.” ... Augustine says, “Whatever is begotten also proceeds, but the contrary is not true that whatever proceeds is also begotten.” For in John 8:42 in the Latin it says concerning the Son, “I have come from (processi) God.” And John 13:3 and 16:28 in the German reads Ich bin vom Vater ausgegangen (I have come forth from the Father). But in the Greek the word ekporeuesthai is not used, but only the simple exelthon. For the Son is speaking of the assignment with which He was sent forth by His Father. Thus the word “proceed” is one which is properly applied to the Holy Spirit. Just as the Son is said to be begotten of the Father, so the Spirit is said to proceed from the Father and the Son. ... [Some say:] If the Holy Spirit is not begotten, but only the Son, then He cannot be consubstantial. Gregory replies, “Where can I find for you a parallel as to how there is one essence and three distinct persons? Scripture says that the Son is begotten and consubstantial (homoousios) with the Father; it also says that the Holy Spirit is consubstantial and yet not begotten but proceeding. Who can penetrate this mystery? There is a somewhat parallel analogy in the relationships between Adam and Eve and Seth. Seth is begotten; Eve is not begotten but is taken out of Adam. But Adam himself is not begotten nor taken out of any other flesh; but yet these three have a common human nature.” See the statement by Gregory of Nazianzus in 5.11. (Loci Theologici, Vol. I, pp. 142-45)
JUSTIFICATION AND THE ATONEMENT
Those penalties which have come upon our nature because of sin are not something merely simulated, but we certainly experience them partly in this life, and the damned will experience them in eternal torment, as the rich glutton cries in Luke 16:23. But Christ, our Mediator, calls them down upon Himself in order that He might be made a victim by them for our sins and free us from both our guilt and our punishment, not by a simulated but a true and real satisfaction. Therefore the sufferings of Christ were not simulated or putative, but true and far greater than any human mind can comprehend. For how miserably the saints often complain about the pangs of death and the sorrows of hell, although each drinks only his own cup into which God has not yet poured all His wrath! But upon Christ the Father laid the sins and penalties which were brought about by the sins of the whole world, and He poured out all His wrath upon Him. He was made a curse for us (Gal. 3:13). ... Isaiah 53, in one sweeping statement, covers the passages which pertain to this point: “Truly He has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows. He was wounded for our transgressions and bruised for our sins. Our chastisement is upon Him, that we might have peace. The Lord has laid on Him the iniquity of us all, and He wanted to bruise Him in His weakness. ...” ...
It is certain that Christ, because the whole fullness of the Godhead dwells in Him bodily, could easily have repelled all the attacks of the enemy and averted every feeling of grief. But it was then the time of His humiliation. The Deity did not exercise His power at that time but kept it withdrawn, as it were, and in quiet, as Irenaeus so nicely put it, yielding to the wrath of the Father against the sin of the human race, so that His human nature could suffer, be crucified, and die. Thus in John 14:30-31 Christ says: “The prince of this world comes and has nothing in Me, but that the world may know that I love the Father, and as He has commanded Me, this I do.” We should earnestly consider why we must teach and firmly retain in the church not only the doctrine concerning the reality of the substance of the human nature in Christ, yet without the defect of sin, but also the teaching concerning the assumption of our weaknesses, which are the penalty of sin. The Scholastics made the happy distinction that Christ did not assume our personal infirmities, such as leprosy, blindness, consumption, fevers, and the like, but only the natural infirmities which befall the entire sinful human nature. For He came to redeem human nature without respect of persons. (The Two Natures in Christ, pp. 62-63)
They...err and sin who attribute the work of redemption only to Christ’s human nature and exclude the divine nature from this work and imagine that the human nature suffers but the divine nature was entirely inactive in the work of our redemption. For to the work of redemption belongs not only the suffering and dying, but through the suffering and death the human race is redeemed from the curse of God, from death, and from the power of the devil. Thus it becomes manifest how necessary the distinction is between the attributes which are proper to one nature and which are attributed to the person according to that nature whose properties they are, and the work of the Messiah for the accomplishment of which the hypostatic union of the two natures took place and for which the attributes of each nature meet in the person. For in these works the person is active in, with, and through each nature... (The Two Natures in Christ, p. 225)
...the Gospel reveals to us that God in His secret council and surpassing mercy has found such a way and method that both the righteousness of God revealed in the Law might be satisfied and that man might be justified to life eternal gratis by the grace of God, through faith, without the works of the Law, namely, that the Son of God should be sent into the world and come into the flesh to deliver, justify, and save the human race. But how was this our Mediator made our Righteousness, our Deliverer and Savior? Was it by dissolving and destroying the sentence of the divine will revealed in the Law? The Son of God Himself certainly says that this opinion and persuasion is false, because this is impossible, according to Matt. 5:17-18; Luke 16:16-17. But He was for this reason made under the Law, not for Himself nor in His own name, but that He might redeem those who were under the Law (Gal. 4:4-5). Therefore He took on Himself in the place and in the name of us all the satisfaction for sins, the suffering of the penalties, and the fulfillment of the Law by means of the most perfect obedience. And for this reason He assumed our nature, that in that nature, which was under the Law, satisfaction and fulfillment might be made. However, because it had to be a satisfaction and fulfillment that would be adequate and sufficient for the sins and for the righteousness of the whole world, therefore it was necessary that the person of the Mediator should be both God and man, in order that the power and efficacy of the satisfaction and fulfillment might be infinite and sufficient for the whole world. ...the Gospel reveals and declares this mystery, which was hidden for long ages, that since the human race could not make satisfaction to the Law and the Law could in no way be dissolved and destroyed, God made a transfer of the Law to another person (a matter which belongs to the article of justification) who should fulfill the Law both by satisfaction and obedience for the whole human race. And because that person is both God and man, therefore His satisfaction is the expiation for the sins of the whole world (1 John 2:2), and hence Christ is the end of the Law for the salvation of everyone who believes (Rom. 10:4). And Him God sets before us through the ministry, that through His redemption, by faith in His blood, we may be justified gratis by the grace of God (Rom. 3:25). (Examination of the Council of Trent, Part I, pp. 498-500)
We do not deny that the slaughtering of the paschal lamb was a type of the sacrifice of Christ. For Paul says: “Christ, our paschal lamb, has been sacrificed.” However, the question is where and when this figure of the slaughtering of the paschal lamb was fulfilled by Christ. The papalists say that this was not done on the cross but in the Supper. However, the Scriptures of the New Testament assert the contrary. For in John 1:29 the Baptizer calls Christ “the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world.” Peter clearly asserts that Christ “bore our sins in His body on the tree” (1 Peter 2:24). Rev. 5:9,12: “Worthy is the Lamb who was slain and has redeemed us to God by His blood,” etc. 1 Peter 1:18-19: “You were ransomed...not with perishable things...but with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without blemish.” And the clearest testimony of all is written in so many words in John 19:36, that the figure of the sacrificed paschal lamb was fulfilled in Christ on the cross: “Not a bone of Him shall be broken.” And so the church sings: “When Christ our Passover was sacrificed, for He is the true Lamb, who has taken away the sins of the world, who in dying destroyed our death,” etc. Therefore it is certain that in Christ both the sacrificing and the eating of the Passover lamb have been fulfilled. How, when, and where this was done must be learned not from our allegories but from the explanation of the New Testament Scriptures, which assert that Christ, our Passover, was once sacrificed on the cross, that He is given to be eaten in the Supper as often as we do what Christ did in the first Supper, in accord with the institution. In 1 Cor. 5:6-8 Paul, by way of an allegory, uses the eating of unleavened bread as a picture of the newness of life; but the sacrifice, says he, was fulfilled nowhere else but in the slaying of Christ. (Examination of the Council of Trent, Part II, pp. 469-70).
...the ministry of the Word and sacraments is the ordinary means or instrument through which God in this life deals with us in matters that pertain to our salvation. For by the ministry of the Law sins are condemned, and consciences terrified by the fear of divine wrath and judgment. Thereafter God offers and sets grace and remission of sins before the terrified and contrite through the ministry of the Gospel. And it is His will that through and because of Christ we may seek, lay hold of, and receive reconciliation with God by faith in Word and sacrament. ... Now Scripture sets forth two kinds of teaching – Law and Gospel. The Law, in condemning sins and setting forth the gravest threats of God, is that hammer (Jer. 23:29) through which God breaks rocks, that is, crushes the spirit, renders the heart contrite and humbles it, so that truly and earnestly acknowledging the multitude and magnitude of sins and of the wrath of God over sin, the mind begins to hate and detest sin, to fear the wrath and judgment of God so that it is unwilling to perish eternally under them but sighs and struggles with groaning that it may be freed from them. There the Law indeed has and sets forth promises of life, but on condition of perfect fulfillment. But Scripture adds the explanation – because the Law is spiritual, this is the judgment of God about its fulfillment: “Whoever does not abide in all things, let him be cursed”; “Therefore no flesh is justified by the works of the Law” (Rom. 3:20); “All who rely on works of the Law are under a curse” (Gal. 3:10); “Through the Law comes knowledge of sin” (Rom. 3:20); “The law brings wrath” (Rom. 4:15); “Scripture consigned all things to sin” (Gal. 3:22). The Gospel, however, teaches that what was impossible for the Law on account of the flesh, God provided by sending His Son (Rom. 8:3). Therefore it shows Christ, the Lamb of God, born under the Law for us, in order that He might make satisfaction to the judgment of God, revealed in the Law, by His obedience and suffering on our behalf. This Mediator the Father sets before us in the Gospel as a propitiation by faith in His blood through the remission of sins (Rom. 3:25). “For this is the will of the Father, that everyone who believes in the Son should not perish but have eternal life” (John 6:40). Thus the Gospel proclaims, offers, and sets before contrite and terrified consciences the grace of God, reconciliation and remission of sins freely on account of the merit of Christ; and it is His will that everyone should lay hold of and apply this benefit of the Mediator to himself. The ministry of private absolution applies this general promise of the Gospel to the penitent individually, in order that faith may be able to state all the more firmly that the benefits of the passion of Christ are certainly given and applied to it. Moreover, in the use of the Lord’s Supper Christ offers, applies, and seals, to all who receive it in faith, the New Testament with the precious pledges of His body and blood, namely, that God wants to be gracious with respect to our sins and to remember our iniquities no more. Then it is rightly said: “Take heart, my son; your sins are forgiven.” For all the prophets give witness that through Christ all who believe in His name receive remission of sins. This is the manner of reconciliation with God. (Examination of the Council of Trent, Part II, pp. 553-54,556-57).
Martin Chemnitz (1522-1586) was born at Treuenbritzen in Brandenburg. At the age of 14 he was sent to the Trivialschule in Wittenberg, where he had brief opportunity to hear [Martin] Luther preach. After studying at Magdeburg and Frankfort, he returned to Wittenberg. He was then occupied for a time as librarian in Königsberg, where he was able to read widely in theology; but he returned again to Wittenberg, where he then became a student of theology under [Philip] Melanchthon and substituted for him in some of his classes. In 1554 he was ordained in Wittenberg by [Johannes] Bugenhagen. While attending some of the unpleasant conferences between the Philippists and the Gnesio-Lutherans, Chemnitz came to recognize the importance of Lutheran unity especially against the threat of the Counter Reformation; and he determined to do his utmost to unite the Lutherans doctrinally. In this he was eminently successful. He strengthened the theology of Jacob Andreae and was perhaps responsible for rescuing [Nicolaus] Selnecker from the compromising spirit of Melanchthonianism. He was the leading spirit in the writing of the Formula of Concord, which settled the many disputes that had plagued Lutheranism after the death of the Reformer.
Much of Chemnitz’ profound theological impact was achieved through the written word. His first work of major importance is his Examen Concilii Tridentini, which appeared in four volumes between 1565 and 1573. This book was a critical study of the canons and decrees of the Council of Trent in the light of Biblical theology and of history. The interpretations of such commentators of Trent as Hosius and Andradius were also subjected to Chemnitz’ penetrating judgment. In this definitive analysis Chemnitz was never bombastic or polemical in a vicious or unkind way. Herein Chemnitz reveals his skill in Biblical exegesis, his thorough familiarity with ancient and medieval philosophy, and his knowledge of church history. The book made a tremendous impact, and for generations Roman Catholic controversialists made it their business to refute Chemnitz’ charges and conclusions that the theology of Trent was a rupture from the theology of the apostolic church and the church catholic.
Second in importance is Chemnitz’ Loci Theologici, first published after his death by Polycarp Leyser in 1591. Although patterned after Melanchthon’s Loci Communes, this work represents something quite new in Lutheran theology, an attempt at a definitive presentation of the Biblical material relative to the chief articles of the Christian faith. The book incorporates many Biblical themes under certain loci and presents fewer loci (18 in all) than any other similar work. It was never finished. The work resembles a Biblical theology as much as a dogmatics; it contains many lengthy and pertinent word studies of significant Biblical themes such as faith, grace, and justification, and it offers several very thorough exegeses of pericopes relevant to Baptism, the Lord’s Supper, the Trinity, and the like. There are also allusions to history and to the development of dogmas in the church, and there are some rather long discussions of ecclesiastical terms, although Chemnitz expresses his desire to keep such discussion to a minimum. But essentially we have in this enormous book a systematic presentation of Biblical theology. It differs from modern Biblical theology in one essential feature: Old Testament and New Testament are not divided, nor are the books of the New Testament considered separately. To Chemnitz the Bible is one book, presenting one theology, God’s theology, which He has made known to the church; not the theology of Paul or John or the prophets. Large as it is, the Loci Theologici makes enjoyable reading. It is not encumbered with scholastic or involved terminology or chopped up into an intricate outline like many later works in dogmatics.
Chemnitz’ De Duabus Naturis is the greatest dogmatic work ever written on the person of Christ. Moderate and cautious in tone, this large and lucid study (about 200 folio pages) is noteworthy for three reasons. First, fully a fourth of the entire work is devoted to profuse citations from all the church fathers and possibly makes too much of a good thing. Chemnitz overwhelmingly establishes the fact that Lutheran Christology is in accord with the doctrine of the ancient creeds and the church fathers. Second, the book offers a number of comprehensive and classic studies of pertinent sedes doctrinae such as Colossians 1 and Philippians 2. Third, we find in this work a systematic and convincing presentation of the entire doctrine of Christology, a presentation that has never been surpassed and has become normative for all subsequent treatment of Christology. After reading Chemnitz one is persuaded not only that the old doctrine of a communion of natures and a communication of attributes with its threefold classification (genus idiomaticum, genus majestaticum, and genus apotelesmaticum) is in accord with Scripture but that this is still the most effective and successful way to present Christology.
A fourth opus Chemnitz never finished; it was completed after his death by Leyser and John Gerhard and was entitled Harmonia Quatuor Evangelistarum. This was a strictly exegetical work that spent less time trying to harmonize than to interpret meaningfully the message of the four gospels. It is particularly strong in concordance study, and it contributed much toward setting a pattern for later exegesis. It was very popular in the 17th century and, along with [Abraham] Calov’s Biblia Illustrata, is the outstanding exegetical contribution of the orthodox period.
His fruitful literary output and his beneficial activity in the church make Chemnitz, after Luther, the most important theologian in the history of the Lutheran Church. (Robert D. Preus, The Theology of Post-Reformation Lutheranism, Vol. I [Saint Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1970], pp. 47-49)
The learning of Chemnitz was something colossal, but it had no tinge of pedantry. His judgment was of the highest order. His modesty and simplicity, his clearness of thought, and his luminous style, his firmness in principle, and his gentleness in tone, the richness of his learning and the vigor of his thinking, have revealed themselves in such measure in his Loci, his Books on the Two Natures of our Lord, and on the True Presence, in his Examen of the Council of Trent, his Defence of the Formula of Concord, and his Harmony of the Gospels, as to render each a classic in its kind, and to mark their author as the greatest theologian of his time one of the greatest theologians of all time. (Charles Porterfield Krauth, The Conservative Reformation and Its Theology [Philadelphia: General Council Publication Board, 1871], p. 310).
Of the uprightness of Chemnitz as a man, and of his piety as a Christian, too much cannot be said. His vision was broad, his judgment was clear, his sympathy was generous. As a theologian he was learned in the Scriptures and in the writings of the Fathers from Justin Martyr to John of Damascus. His acquaintance with the Scholastic Theology was comprehensive and accurate. ... He had the gift of setting theological propositions in a clear light and of illustrating them by appropriate examples. (James W. Richard, The Confessional History of the Lutheran Church [Philadelphia: The Lutheran Publication Society, 1909], pp. 437-38)
Although he was a student of the late Melanchthon who was intimidated by the Interims and courted by Calvin and his secret Lutheran followers, yet Chemnitz stood staunchly with the strict Lutherans who ultimately saved Lutheranism through the work of the Formula of Concord. In fact, although Chemnitz was a very modest man, it is certainly safe today to assert that with his prodigious scholarship and wide-ranging prestige he may well be described as the father of normative Lutheran theology and as the forerunner of the period of Lutheran orthodoxy. Probably because of his direct pastoral relationships he was able, however, to avoid the pitfalls into which Lutheran orthodoxy later fell. After the appearance of his Examination of Trent the Romanists said that if the second Martin had not come, the first would not have prevailed. (J. A. O. Preus, Loci Theologici, Vol. I, p. 14)
Si Martinus non fuisset, Martinus vix stetisset
St. Martini Church, Braunschweig, Germany.
Chemnitz served here as pastor.
He is entombed in the chancel.
An Autobiography of Martin Kemnitz
Martin Chemnitz on Rites and Ceremonies
How Festivals Are Observed in Our Churches in the Fear of God
Martin Chemnitz on the Frequency of Holy Communion
The Lords Supper in the Theology of Martin Chemnitz
Chemnitz on Rites and Ceremonies: Confessional Principle, Confessional Practice
The Two Natures in Christ
Martin Chemnitz’s Summary of the Holy Trinity
Chemnitz on Mortal & Venial Sin
Chemnitz on Absolution
Chemnitz on Penance
Through Whom and How the Corruptions of the Article of Justification Were Refuted
Chemnitz and Authority
Martin Chemnitz on the Doctrine of Justification
Chemnitz: Who Receives Christ?
Martin Chemnitz: Information from Wikipedia
Martin Chemnitz: Information from Answers.com
Martin Chemnitz: Information from Studium Excitare
English translations of many of Chemnitz’s writings are available for purchase from Concordia Publishing House.
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