Lectionary 6 C

A very tidy one verse from every reading week. Plus a TheoThorough on the repeated articles Concerning Confession in The Augsburg Confession.

Jeremiah 17:5-10

The heart is devious above all else;
it is perverse—
who can understand it?
—Jeremiah 17:9

Verse 9 is paraphrased from the Vulgate in The Augsburg Confession, Article 25: Concerning Confession (AC 25.8) along with Psalm 19:2 as a reminder that no one can fully list all of their sins and so should not be compelled to do so. This is a bit of an expansion on Article 11: Concerning Confession, as that article only cited Psalm 19:2.

Verse 9 is quoted in Formula of Concord, Solid Declaration, Article 2: Free Will (SD 2.17) along with several other passages to show that without the rebirth of the Holy Spirit into faith the human is turned against God and all good and turned toward all wickedness and sin. This verse adds the lovely reminder that the unrepentant human is so far gone that what such a one does doesn’t even make sense.

Psalm 1

…but their delight is in the law of the Lord,
and on his law they meditate day and night.
— Psalm 1:2

Verse 2 comes up twice. First, it is quoted by Luther in the preface to The Large Catechism (LC Preface.10) as encouragement "to occupy one's self with God's Word" as the most helpful way to wrestle "against the devil, the world, the flesh, and all evil thoughts."

Verse 2 is also quoted in Formula of Concord, Solid Declaration, Article 6: Concerning the Third Use of the Law (SD 6.4) as a workaround in the issue of whether or not there is a third use of the Law. It's actually quite elegant:

To explain and settle this dispute definitively we unanimously believe, teach, and confess that, although Christians who believe faithfully have been truly converted to God, and have been justified are indeed freed and liberated from the curse of the law, they should daily practice the law of the Lord... For the law is a mirror that accurately depicts the will of God and what pleases him. It should always be held before the faithful and taught among them continuously and diligently.
— Formula of Concord, Solid Declaration,
Article 6: The Third Use of the Law, Line 4

1 Corinthians 15:12-20

Now if Christ is proclaimed as raised from the dead, how can some of you say there is no resurrection of the dead?
— 1 Corinthians 15:12

Verse 12 is cited in Formula of Concord, Solid Declaration, Introduction (SD Intro.7) as one example among several showing that what the Reformers were facing in countering heresy among themselves was also a struggle in the early Church. This included a group who denied the resurrection of the dead, just as Paul had to deal with in the church of Corinth in his day.

Luke 6:17-26

Rejoice in that day and leap for joy, for surely your reward is great in heaven; for that is what their ancestors did to the prophets.
— Luke 6:23

Verse 23 is quoted in Apology of the Augsburg Confession, Article 4: Justification (AP 4.356) as an example of the Roman argument that eternal life is a reward for good works. This was being done, Melanchthon argues, while ignoring scriptural language of eternal life as a gift. Such an approach strips God of power and reduces eternal life to a commodity.

TheoThru

God calls us to spend time in the Word. I hope this is obvious, but it must be clearly stated. Even the challenging and upsetting sections of the Bible are to be wrestled with. But part of what we are called to pay attention to through this set of citations is the presence of the Holy Spirit.

Just spending time in the Bible is not sufficient to bring us to faith or amendment of life. Without the presence of the Holy Spirit, we will read the Bible so that we justify our own perversity and use scripture against God.

Faithful disciples of Jesus give thanks for God’s reproof because comes from God’s love and with God’s forgiveness.

TheoThorough

A moment here on why there are two articles in The Augsburg Confession regarding confession. The Augsburg Confession is split into two sections: the Articles of Faith (AC 1-21) that the Lutheran Reformers believed presented places of agreement with Rome, and the Disputed Articles, Listing the Abuses That Have Been Corrected (AC 22-28) that, as the rather unfortunate section heading indicates, are the places where the Reformers believed they were correcting how Rome had strayed.

This means that we have here two articles that have some overlap. The Reformers believed that they were in general agreement with Rom that confession needed to be kept as a necessary faith practice and that it was not necessary to list of all of one’s sins (AC 11). They did believe, however, that they were correcting an error in Catholic theology by emphasizing the comfort provided from absolution rather than the fear of not confessing and doing penance for every sin you have committed before you die (AC 25).