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Wednesday, August 20, 2008

,,Theology the Lutheran Way"

A couple of weeks ago, I began reading a book by Oswald Bayer entitled Theology the Lutheran Way. This book is an English translation of his Theologie. It seems that this book was written as a theology textbook for students. Bayer is professor of systematic theology at the University of Tuebingen, Germany. I believe he is now a professor emeritus.

The book approaches Luther's way of doing theology. One of the main points that Bayer has hammered in the 30 or so pages I've currently read is Luther's three rules for studying theology: prayer, studying the Bible, and spiritual attacks (oratio, meditatio, tentatio). I have especially found this interesting, since I had learned in the seminary Luther's three rules for studying theology, but never what it's larger context was. I was just taught the three Latin words. Bayer argues that Luther applied these three rules for reforming theological education in Wittenberg and other universities that sided with the Reformation.

Another point Bayer has made over and over is that the academic and liturgical sides of theology cannot be separated. I remember as a theology major at university that my courses were heavy on the academic, but little attention was given to the liturgical. Fortunately, at Concordia Seminary in St. Louis I received a very balanced approach to theology that focused on both academics and liturgy.

Here are some other great nuggets from Bayer:

The righteousness of faith is passive in the sense that we let God work in us by Himself and we with all our powers do nothing or our own. Faith kills the old Adam and makes us altogether different. Faith then is entirely God’s work and not a human achievement. We can only ,,suffer” it. Christian righteousness which is passive, is entirely opposite to works-righteousness. We can only receive it. Faith isn’t an intellectual or moral virtue, but it is given to us by God; it is His gift to us (page 24).

Luther: What a living, busy, active, mighty thing, this faith is. It is impossible for it not to be always doing good works. It does not ask whether good works are to be done, but before the question is asked, it has already done them, and is constantly doing them (LW 35:370) [page 26].

The cross alone is our theology (CRUX sola est nostra theologia) (WA 5:176, 32f.) [page 23].

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