Apology XXVII, 13-23, Of Monastic Vows (continued)


Wednesday, Week 29

Daily Readings from the Book of Concord // Follow ConcordCast on Twitter // Like ConcordCast on Facebook // Subscribe to ConcordCast on iTunes // VOLUNTEER

"[I]t is credible that in some places there are also at present good men, engaged in the ministry of the Word, who use these observances...without hypocrisy and with the understanding that they do not regard their monasticism as holiness. But to hold that these observances are services on account of which they are accounted just before God, and through which they merit eternal life, conflicts with the Gospel concerning the righteousness of faith, which teaches that for Christ's sake righteousness and eternal life are granted us."

“[I]t is credible that in some places there are also at present good men, engaged in the ministry of the Word, who use these observances…without hypocrisy and with the understanding that they do not regard their monasticism as holiness. But to hold that these observances are services on account of which they are accounted just before God, and through which they merit eternal life, conflicts with the Gospel concerning the righteousness of faith, which teaches that for Christ’s sake righteousness and eternal life are granted us.”

Apology XXVII, 13-23, Of Monastic Vows (continued)

13] O Christ, how long wilt Thou bear these reproaches with which our enemies treat Thy Gospel? We have said in the Confession that the remission of sins is received freely for Christ’s sake, through faith. If this is not the very voice of the Gospel, if it is not the judgment of the eternal Father, which Thou who art in the bosom of the Father hast revealed to the world, we are justly blamed. But Thy death is a witness, Thy resurrection is a witness, the Holy Ghost is a witness, Thy entire Church is a witness, that it is truly the judgment of the Gospel that we obtain remission of sins, not on account of our merits, but on account of Thee, through faith.

14] When Paul denies that by the Law of Moses men merit the remission of sins, he withdraws this praise much more from human traditions; and this he clearly testifies Col. 2:16. If the Law of Moses, which was divinely revealed, did not merit the remission of sins, how much less do these silly observances [monasticism, rosaries, etc.], averse to the civil custom of life, merit the remission of sins!

15] The adversaries feign that Paul abolishes the Law of Moses, and that Christ succeeds in such a way that He does not freely grant the remission of sins, but on account of the works of other laws, if any 16] are now devised. By this godless and fanatical imagination they bury the benefit of Christ. Then they feign that among those who observe this Law of Christ, the monks observe it more closely than others, on account of their hypocritical poverty, obedience, and chastity, since indeed all these things are full of sham. In the greatest abundance of all things they boast of poverty. Although no class of men has greater license than the monks [who have masterfully decreed that they are exempt from obedience to bishops and princes], they boast of obedience. Of celibacy we do not like to speak; how pure this is in most of those who desire to be continent, Gerson indicates. And how many of them desire to be continent [not to mention the thoughts of their hearts]?

17] Of course, in this sham life the monks live more closely in accordance with the Gospel! Christ does not succeed Moses in such a way as to remit sins on account of our works, but so as to set His own merits and His own propitiation on our behalf against God’s wrath, that we may be freely forgiven. Now, he who, apart from Christ’s propitiation, opposes his own merits to God’s wrath, and on account of his own merits endeavors to obtain the remission of sins, whether he present the works of the Mosaic Law, or of the Decalog, or of the rule of Benedict, or of the rule of Augustine, or of other rules, annuls the promise of Christ, has cast away Christ, and has fallen from grace. This is the verdict of Paul.

18] But, behold, most clement Emperor Charles, behold, ye princes, behold, all ye ranks, how great is the impudence of the adversaries! Although we have cited the declaration of Paul to this effect, they have written: Wicked are those things that are here cited against monasticism. But what 19] is more certain than that men obtain the remission of sins by faith for Christ’s sake? And these wretches dare to call this a wicked opinion! We do not at all doubt that if you had been advised of this passage, you would have taken [will take] care that such blasphemy be removed from the Confutation.

But since it has been fully shown above that the opinion 20] is wicked, that we obtain the remission of sins on account of our works, we shall be briefer at this place. For the prudent reader will easily be able to reason thence that we do not merit the remission of sins by monastic works. Therefore this blasphemy also is in no way to be endured which is read in Thomas, that the monastic profession is equal to Baptism. It is madness to make human tradition, which has neither God’s command nor promise, equal to the ordinance of Christ, which has both the command and promise of God, which contains the covenant of grace and of eternal life.

21] Secondly. Obedience, poverty, and celibacy, provided the latter is not impure, are, as exercises, adiaphora [in which we are not to look for either sin or righteousness]. And for this reason the saints can use these without impiety, just as Bernard, Franciscus, and other holy men used them. And they used them on account of bodily advantage, that they might have more leisure to teach and to perform other godly offices, and not that the works themselves are, by themselves, works that justify or merit eternal life. Finally, they belong to the class of which Paul says, 1 Tim. 4:8: Bodily exercise 22] profiteth little. And it is credible that in some places there are also at present good men, engaged in the ministry of the Word, who use these observances without wicked opinions [without hypocrisy and with the understanding that they do not regard their monasticism as holiness]. 23] But to hold that these observances are services on account of which they are accounted just before God, and through which they merit eternal life, conflicts with the Gospel concerning the righteousness of faith, which teaches that for Christ’s sake righteousness and eternal life are granted us. It conflicts also with the saying of Christ, Matt. 15:9: In vain do they worship Me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men. It conflicts also with this statement, Rom. 14:23: Whatsoever is not of faith is sin. But how can they affirm that they are services which God approves as righteousness before Him when they have no testimony of God’s Word?

(…to be continued)


Today’s reader: Trent de Marest

Trent is a husband, a father, and a schoolteacher. He serves as vicar at Our Saviour Lutheran Church in Baltimore, MD, under the Rev’d Fr Charles McClean. He and his wife Maritza are expecting the birth of their first child in early March.