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- NEW Kleiner und großer Katechismus (German Edition) by Martin Luther | eBay
- "Katechismus" English translation
An explanation of the Apostles' Creed and the Lord's Prayer is since long a regular part of the catechetical instruction and is therefore also adopted by Luther. In the treatment of the Ten Commandments however Luther shows quite a different view.
Originally the Decalogue has been used as a "Beichtspiegel": In a similar sense medieval catechetical instruction dealt with the Decalogue. Luther on the other hand attributes to the Ten Commandments an important role in the exposition of the contents of Christian Faith. The order of the three main parts of the Catechism deserves much more scrutiny: In the Middle Ages two tendencies of organizing these chapters could be observed, namely Faith - Prayer - Command and later: Prayer - Faith - Command. Luther crossed that order by the sequence: Command - Faith - Prayer.
What is exactly behind this? How consciously did Luther make a choice here? This has raised much discussion among scholars Peters The debate mainly concentrates on the significance of the Ten Commandments, apparently mainly used by Luther as "Law" according to which human failure, i. That idea is the more plausible when we realize that Luther in a pre-form of his Catechism, the Kurze Form from , explained that sequence with a metaphor derived from the medical world, namely that the Command indicates the sickness for which Faith is the medication, while Prayer shows from where this drug could be obtained WA 7: Does that mean that in his Catechism Luther deliberately chooses an irreversible order: Some scholars are indeed of such an opinion and deduce from the order in his Catechism that Luther in the discussion between Agricola and Melanchthon on the meaning of the Law has chosen the side of the latter: Other scholars, however, deny that Luther on purpose chose this order and even speak of a certain randomness in the way Luther presents the three main parts of his Catechism.
What are we to say? Luther's intent can hardly be called arbitrary. There is much evidence of a deliberate sequence: The remarkable passage by which Luther closes the part on the Commandments in the Small Catechism which enforces - so to say -a sequel into the next section BC: This however does not necessarily make the order Law-Gospel to an unchangeable iron rule. Such an order wherein you first have to undergo the condemnation of the Law before the forgiveness of the Gospel could reach you, is more a pietistic presupposition about the order of salvation which however does not correspond with the complex way Luther is dealing with the relationship between Law and Gospel.
Started as a method to interpret Scripture the distinction between Law and Gospel soon became for Luther a basic rule of expressing that the Word of God is always on the move by taking us from the positions we already are but shouldn't be at, and by bringing us into a condition where God wants us to be. The dynamic way Luther treats Law and Gospel is turning many commonly acquired ideas about this distinction upside down. You cannot identify the Old Testament as Law nor the Gospel as the New Testament, nor can you equate Law with everything imperatively worded and anything concerning the Gospel as indicatively phrased.
The effect of the Word of God as Law or Gospel fully depends on the situation where it will be spoken of. From this perspective the most rigid biblical regulation can in a given situation be liberating 'Gospel' whereas the most wonderful promise in the Bible can turn into relentless 'Law' Ebeling Incorrect is anyway the suggestion that the Command would give you a bad conscience, so that Faith can make you feel better and Prayer and Sacrament will give you peace.
Luther did not want people to feel bad or guilty. Nor did he want to talk pious passivity into people's heads. Rather, his concern is about the homo incurvatus in se a human being curving into oneself; WA To be freed from constantly being busy with him- or herself the sinner is to be erected before God who makes him bend over to his fellow creatures. For that reason, the Commandment in the Catechism is not just a severe demand, but also contains an element of promise that echoes in the refrain that is repeated at the beginning of each Commandment: That does not mean that the sequence-question is irrelevant and that it doesn't matter where you are starting with, as if Faith is just as good to begin with as the Command or the Prayer.
All those who just love just to hear the Gospel in the Commandment will stumble over the remarkable combination of promise and threat by which Luther is winding up the part on the Decalogue while explaining the admonition of Ex. For those who stick to the idea that it is all about "Evangel" in the Commandments this conclusion must sound like a dissonant noise into their ears, since it is precisely this threat that prevents the promise from reaching here the level of certitude of faith inherent to the Gospel.
Therefore the part on the Commandments is structurally leading us to an ambiguity about being Law or Gospel which in the next part of the Catechism the Creed will be taken up again.
German-English translation for "Katechismus"
This is in no way saying that there is no question of a break. The caesura which is demonstrable in the Catechism and could be indicated in terms of "Law and Gospel", is however not so much in the transition from the section on the Commandments to the section on the Creed, but in the turn which is made within the section on Faith with the explanation of the second article of the Creed speaking about salvation in Jesus Christ. This shift can better be described as the transition from the hidden God Deus absconditus to the God who reveals Himself Deus revelatus. The turning point of the Catechism is thus found in what is said about Christ: This central role of the second article of Faith is not just our interpretation, but is in accordance with Luther's own vision on the centre of the Catechism WA 30I: In Christ God shows Himself as He really is and breaks through the ambiguous promising or threatening image that is pending about Him in the Commandments.
The article about Creation has insufficiently removed this ambiguity. Although in this article God exhibits His goodness in all material and spiritual contexts of life and for that reason deserves our gratitude for so many freely given goods, Luther's explanation is leaving the question unanswered of how God's good fatherly hand can be reconciled with so much evil in the world; a problem which stays ominously hanging over the market. In short, God's Commandment and God's Creation can still go in different directions: He apparently without obvious reason can take tomorrow away what He has given today.
So, who is God: Who will tell it? Is this not - as Luther says in The Bondage of the Will - the God who does not care about us, a God hidden in his majesty "who neither deplores nor takes away death, but works life, death, and all in all. For there he has not bound himself by his word, but has kept himself free over all things" WA 18, ? In other words, a God who is in such a sense hidden, that the identifiable traces of His goodness from His Commandment and Creation seem to be easily erased, when God "so tut als fragt Er nichts nach dir" is acting as would He not be interested in us , as the poet Paul Gerhardt phrases it.
This ambivalence however is broken through in the second article of Faith. Here we are brought from the darkness of a hidden God into the light of God who reveals Himself as the One who is without reservations devoted to mankind by looking after them in their despair and desolation and who Himself jumped in the abyss of human death and guilt. The means of this salvation is the total submission of the Son to us, not with 'something' of himself, but with the best of Himself, and to the utmost and therefore into death.
This surrender is not limited to a private act between the divine Son and the divine Father with the assistance of the Holy Spirit, but a complete self-submission of the triune God WA Here we encounter the depth to be probed in the second article of Faith and here is the turning point of the Catechism. Anything further to be said after this second article follows this movement from the hidden to the revealed God and acquires its own unique momentum from here.
The explanation of this third article ends up in a community - not of the in-crowd of those who already know so well - but a community of beggars, amidst a world that is not right at all, with lots of meaningless suffering, incomprehensible evil, tears in vain, unacceptable injustice, unbearable suppression, crying poverty and incredible cruelty. Such a community which nevertheless finds the courage to look forward to an eternal life that endures time and which doesn't give up the dream of a 'whole' world.
Such a community therefore commits itself for a peaceful and just existence for all creation with whom God has created me, as the Small Catechism explicitly says BC: This community of beggars manifests itself as a community of prayers, described in the explanation of "Our Father". Luther's interpretation of the Lord's Prayer makes it clear that to pray is not asking God for anything and everything, but calling on God to realize for us what is already reality for Himself.
This also implies our request to be involved in this process of realization; a matter immediately related to a number of concrete cases from every day's life: Praying in this community brings people together as 'reciprocal questioning subjects' whose roles are not fixed. For when requested, you should be aware that one day you may be a questioner yourself and as questioner you might any moment yourself be asked for something.
Such a view is more effective in bringing about solidarity among people than whatsoever high ambition or fiery dreamed utopia. The final chapters of the Catechism on the sacraments, Baptism and Eucharist, establish the community of prayers as a community of recipients. That is where it is all about in the sacrament: Baptism by water awakens together with the Word of God in us a new man.
Hence Baptism is principally infant baptism BC: Therefore, the Lord's Supper is not something for the happy few, but in several senses of the word an "all inclusive" event BC: Since there are situations wherein God's mercy is so hard to believe, it would be wise when the church would also have a liturgy of Confession and Absolution at hand to proclaim God's forgiveness highly individually pro me: Is the story of the Catechism completed with the picture of this community of recipients, gathered around Word and Sacrament?
You cannot take Luther's remark that you never learned sufficiently in the Catechism and that you will be its lifetime student seriously enough BC: This does not just mean to repeat everything again and again, but that you literally need to make both ends meet and let the circle close itself. So, the fifth chapter on the community of recipients is followed again by the first chapter on the community of doers, gathered around the Commandments and embedded in Creation.
The latter of course appear from a different perspective on the stage than from the frustratingly ambivalent view of the hidden God. The true student of the Catechism will however not be surprised that even an in this way adjusted Command and redirected Creation will always be followed by a redemptive reversal and that the turn from the hidden God to the revealed God is taking place time and again.
To summarize, the main insight of this exploration of the structure of Luther's Catechism is that of the circular shape of the five chapters, whose direction is determined by the turn of the hidden God to the revealed God. This main line which is holding together the multiplicity of relationships between the various parts gives the Catechism a coherence wherein also deeper lying connections become apparent.
NEW Kleiner und großer Katechismus (German Edition) by Martin Luther | eBay
All together they constitute a dynamics to be described as 'continuous feedback and a deeper penetration into the matter in question' Peters Revealing this energetic power concealed in this structure is the more important since Luther's Catechism has largely lost its original dynamics by its improper use. Would you like to report poor quality or formatting in this book?
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"Katechismus" English translation
Divine Providence Marian theology. Sacramental Union Homosexuality Criticism of Protestantism. Confessional Evangelical Lutheran Conference. Walther Dietrich Bonhoeffer Paul Tillich.
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