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“In my heart there is no quality that is called faith or charity”

Melancthon wrote to a guy called Brenz to clarify the difference between the Protestant position on justification and Augustine's.  The difference is vital!

Luther being Luther, he couldn't help adding a P.S. to Melancthon's letter:

And I, dear Brenz, in order to get a better grip on this issue frequently imagine it this way: as if in my heart there is no quality that is called faith or charity, but instead of them I put Christ himself and say: this is my righteousness; He is the quality and my formal righteousness, as they call it. In this way I free myself from the perception of the law and works, and even from the perception of this object, Christ, who is understood as a teacher or a giver; but I want Him to be my gift and teaching in Himself, so that I may have all things in Him.  So he says: I am the way, the truth and the life. He does not say: I give you the way, the truth and the life, as if He worked in me while being placed outside of me. He must be such things in me, remain in me, live in me, speak not through me but into me, 2 Cor. 5; so that we may be righteousness in Him, not in love or in gifts that follow.

9 thoughts on ““In my heart there is no quality that is called faith or charity”

  1. David

    @woldeyesus: I can't speak for him, but I doubt that the point Luther was making was to abolish the idea of Christ as a teacher or giver. Rather it was to establish the reality of Christ not so much as one who teaches or gives, but as He who is Himself the gift and the thing taught.

  2. kirstindykes

    Yes, I think it's a matter of whether we're we looking to Jesus ultimately as a means to an end, or the End itself. If Jesus is just Giver and not ultimately Gift then He is not the ultimate object of our heart's gaze and adoration. It's not that Luther wants to demean His role as Giver (and Teacher), it's just that that role is utterly eclipsed by the fact that He is ultimately our greatest, only Gift.

  3. Steve Martin

    Great comments.

    Jesus is not here to help be what we ought to be (in the end). He is here to save us. We need a Savior, not teacher or helper at our deathbed.

  4. woldeyesus

    The quality of "sacred faith", outside religious borders, is a function of the transmission of "the exact likeness of God's own being" from Christ's enduring self-revelation at his unique death on the cross, which it is alleged Luther lacked and which is also missing in Christianity today!

  5. woldeyesus

    David,

    If so, how come there is no trace, whatsoever, in Christianity today of the whereabouts of Christ who has promised to be around until "the end of the age"? (Matt. 28:20)

  6. David

    @Woldeyesus: I am honestly not sure what you mean. Can you be clearer? What do you mean by 'sacred faith' being a function of the transmission of the exact likeness of God's own being from Christ's enduring self-revelation at his unique death on the cross? Who alleges that Luther lacked this (what does it even mean to lack this?), and that Christianity lacks it today? Also, in what sense do you understand Christ's words to be with us till the end of the age to remain unfulfilled?
    I could be wrong but I am getting the sense here that we are using the same words (God, Christ, faith, being, etc) with vastly different meanings.

  7. woldeyesus

    David,

    "Sacred faith" (Jude 20), the missing link in all religions (including Christianity), is genuine and sustainable faith based on personal vision of Jesus Christ's defining moment in his unique death on the cross as "I Am Who I Am" or Almighty God and "source of life" bringing "light" to mankind according to, in general, the Scriptures and, in particular, the gospel.

  8. childcare yorba linda

    Hi Glen,

    Really nice post.I just love the line you wrote "in my heart there is no quality that is called faith or charity".This is the best way to free oneself from all the perception of the law and works by putting Christ himself in us.I just really love the way you express all the ways and feelings.

    Love....

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