Angry Melanchthon is entertaining! A few examples this week of Phillip responding to the Confutation with outright anger and frustration. Add in some Luther yelling at Zwingli and theology becomes rather entertaining. The chief concern in all these cases, though, seems to be the balance between interpretation and literal readings of scripture. Still an important topic, especially as we hear that Jesus interpreted scripture for the two disciples on the way to Emmaus.
Acts 2:14a, 36-41
Verse 38 is cited in Apology of the Augsburg Confession, Article 12: Repentance (AP 12.122) in a section where Melanchthon is citing arguments from the Confutation. This verse, along with several others, are cited to argue that acts of penance following absolution are necessary to shorten time in purgatory. Melanchthon goes apoplectic about this in the following section. Here is a brief example: "This is not logic or even sophistry; it is sheer deception" (AP 12.123).
Psalm 116:1-4, 12-19
Verse 17 is quoted in Apology of the Augsburg Confession, Article 24: The Mass (AP 24.29) in a section where Melanchthon is delving into the scriptural understanding of worship. This paragraph focuses on the psalms, and this verse is lifted up to show that prayer is a sacrifice of thanksgiving.
Verse 26 is cited in Formula of Concord, Solid Declaration, Article 8: Person of Christ (SD 8.39) in an extended quote from Luther's Large Confession on the Lord's Supper where he attacks Zwingli for "a slight-of-hand trick" that mixes the two natures of Jesus in such a way that Jesus "is and does no more in his passion and his life than any other ordinary saint" (SD 8.40). Zwingli called this line of reasoning "alleosis," Luther called it "the devil's mask."
Verse 35 is cited in Apology of the Augsburg Confession, Article 22: Concerning Both Kinds in the Lord's Supper (AP 22.7) as Melanchthon presents an argument from the Confutation which attempts to show that "the breaking of the bread" indicated that the wine was not distributed as part of the celebration of communion in the early church. Melanchthon is okay with understanding the phrase "the breaking of the bread" to mean communion, but argues that the colloquial use of the phrase was never limited to just bread.
Another reminder that words are powerful. This should not be a surprise to those of us who claim to be followers of the Word, yet we fall back again and again into a place where we either take words too literally or over interpret what they could mean. But short of Jesus coming and interpreting all things for us, we still have to make sense of the world around us.
- How do you read scripture so that you might be challenged in your interpretation?
- Where has Jesus found you that you didn't recognize at the time?
- Does our proclamation of the gospel move people to repentance?