Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Assurance: good news

This morning I was reading Diana Butler Bass's A People's History of Christianity. I read about Martin Luther's search for assurance. Martin Luther had come to see God as a severe and terrible judge and had begun to hate God. Part of his difficulty was the verse in Romans 1:17. Medieval interpreters, based on the Latin in the old Bible translation, translated it as 'Those who love God have faith'. Luther did not love God; therefore he had no faith. No faith meant eternal damnation. (DBB p 164)

Then Luther studied the original Greek and this opened up the words in a new way for him. He began to understand the words to mean the person who lives by faith is given righteousness as a gift of a loving God. Faith doesn't consist of the right acts we do to earn God's favour; God gives faith as God wills. Faith is a gift. DBB writes: When Luther understood these words, his God transformed from a dreadful judge to one of unconditional love. Quoting Luther: "The merciful God justifies us by faith. Now I felt as though I had been reborn altogether and had entered Paradise."

I sat in tears over my bacon and eggs.

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