Author Topic: When to refrain from distributing the sacrament or When to ask others to refrain  (Read 9403 times)

MRoot

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2) Gerhard on salvation on infants of non-Christians:
In the same chapter of his “Comprehensive Explanation,” Gerhard notes early in the chapter that he is discussing only the children of Christians and that we are not to judge those who are outside (I Cor 5:12).  At the end of the chapter, however, he notes that those outside Christ are not saved.  He adds that those who do not know the Lord’s will do not deserve the punishment of those who do know but disobey (Lk 12:47f), implying that deceased infants of non-Christians will not have the same degree of punishment.
What has struck me in reading 16th through 19th century Lutherans on the eternal state of non-Christians (infants or otherwise) is a set of assumptions that shapes their thinking:
1) Gen 3:15 was the gospel to Adam and Eve; they knew the promise of the Messiah;
2) History is short; it only began in 4000 BC or so;
3) Humanity is rather compact; all are descendants of Noah, not that many generations ago, and Noah also knew the promise, handed down from Adam and Eve; otherwise he would not be approved by God;
4) the sons of Noah live to be very old; Shem lives to be 600 (Gen 11.11).  If you do the calculations, Shem outlives Abraham.  In fact, Melanchthon in his Romans commentary states that Shem was Melchizedek.
If you are thinking against the background of this set of assumptions, then it is not the case that the nations had never heard the promise.  They had; it had been passed down from the primal patriarches.  But they had neglected it.  They are thus culpable.
Whether or not one finds this narrative convincing, the point is that the earlier Lutheran tradition assumed that the loss of salvation in some sense always implied that rejection of the gospel (and thus that the gospel had in some sense been heard and salvation was open to all).  This view fits with the Luthearn rejection of limited atonement and with the insistence that the call to salvation was universal.   Contemporary theology needs to find a way of saying the same thing, in a way that is Christologically and evangelically faithful.  (The best attempt I know is J. A. DiNoia’s book, “The Diversity of Religions.”) 
My own response to Harvey’s question is that we can and should pray for the inclusion of every deceased or aborted infant in Christ’s mercy.  We can only pray, because we do not know (as Pastor Weedon notes), but we can pray with hope. 
Michael Root

MRoot

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Nice to have Gerhard cited on a Lutheran discussion forum, and not in a disparaging, dismissive manner.

Gerhard is a great theologian and Concordia Publishing House is to be enthusiastically thanked for the project of translating his Loci.  Concordia's translation projects have been of great service to Lutheranism.

Michael Root

ptmccain

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Thanks, Dr. Root. I'll pass your kind words on to the editors working on these projects. I'm particularly eager for everyone to learn about our Luther's Works translation project. The first volume is due out this August and there will be more information forthcoming. Dr. Christopher Brown, General Editor, and Rev. Benjamin Mayes, Managing Editor, are doing a tremendous job providing Luther in stunningly lucid, clear English with substantial contextual historical notes and explanations. They have a great team of translators from various Lutheran churches working with them (might you be one of them?). I've had the chance to review most of the first volume, and to say I'm excited by what I see coming is an understatement. Again, thank you!
« Last Edit: November 20, 2008, 10:54:33 AM by ptmccain »