Wednesdays are for bits and pieces.
Fagerberg, Holsten, and Eugene Lund. A New Look at the Lutheran Confessions (1529-1537). St. Louis: Concordia, 1988. Kindle Electronic Edition.
Chapter 7, “The Sacraments” Loc. 3758-4809.
Fagerberg opens this chapter by reminding the reader that the “sacraments are God’s work - exclusively” (Fagerberg 1988, Loc. 3758). The confessions assert baptism and communion as God’s acts of blessing (Fagerberg 1988, Loc. 3768). Fagerberg explains that a material and a word of God’s command and promise were considered essential by Luther in defining a sacrament, thus eliminating some of Rome’s sacraments (Fagerberg 1988, Loc. 3782). Melanchthon interpreted the material slightly differently, allowing the ceremony to serve as material (Fagerberg 1988, Loc. 3814). Rather than trust the sacrament itself, Fagerberg traces the doctrine to the Apology that it is the faith in God’s promise which makes the sacrament effective (Fagerberg 1988, Loc. 3844). He then discusses at length the distinctions between this view and Roman views.
Fagerberg next discusses baptism as God’s act (Fagerberg 1988, Loc. 3970ff). The practice of infant baptism is seen as a strong show that it is God’s work (Fagerberg 1988, Loc. 3984). He discusses at length the idea of baptism as a means of grace appropriated by faith and lived out by the believer.
The Lord’s supper is up for discussion next, also identified as God’s work (Fagerberg 1988, Loc. 4166). When performed as Christ appointed, it is powerful to accomplish what is promised (Fagerberg 1988, Loc. 4175) The nature of Christ’s bodily presence in the sacrament and the role of the words of institution were matters of debate in Luther’s time and receive discussion in Fagerberg as well. The recurring issue is God’s Word of promise as definitive. Fagerberg does ask an important question. “Did the Lutheran Symbols base their critique on a correct understanding of Catholic doctrine?” (Fagerberg 1988, Loc. 4462). To many eyes the doctrines look alike, yet the Reformers clearly held deep objections. Catholic theologians never seem to have answered the objections (Fagerberg 1988, Loc. 4471). If the Mass was a repetition of Christ’s sacrifice, the Reformers’ view represented it correctly. Yet this has not been clarified.