Thursday, December 01, 2011

Iwand, Righteousness and Advent

The study of Luther and his theology experienced renewal in the 1930s in Germany. This period has sometimes been called the “Luther Renaissance.” Theologians in this period gained from a close reading of Luther’s Romans lectures of 1515-1516 a renewed understanding of eschatology and God’s promises, all grounded in Christology and the justifying work of Christ.
An important if late figure in this movement was Hans J. Iwand, who wrote,  "In order to understand correctly God's righteousness, the righteousness that imbues faith, it is necessary to force everything else out of one's thinking - law, works, conscience, reason, justice, morality, and all other similiar things. One must begin to live all over again; to think and comprehend only Christ and to learn only from him what God's righteousness is. Everything that we otherwise know about righteousness won't help us, but will hinder us from understanding what is here freely and openly revealed" ("The Righteousness of Faith According to Luther" in Lutheran Quarterly (Winter 2007), 447.
2 Peter offers this Lutheran thematic in spaces, especially in our focus verse, “But in accordance with his promise, we wait for new heavens and a new earth, where righteousness is at home” (3:13). Lutheran ears should perk up whenever they hear this word—righteousness. Lutherans best understand righteousness as God’s righteousness. If we are to be at home with God’s righteousness, it is important to realize that righteousness is never what we do, but God what God is, and to live with that. This righteousness imbues faith. It is promise and gift.
A Lutheran, when presented with a list of “best practices” for a waiting church, might respond, “Yes, do all these things, be holy and godly, live lives of holiness. Be at peace. But always remember it is God’s righteousness imputing or creating these things. Regard the Lord’s patience as salvation, not the other way around.”

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