Thursday, March 06, 2003

Belated Post on the Ministry

Jesus Christ can die and rise a thousand times over and it is worthless unless he does so for you. That's Luther for you. The Augsburg Confession does not in this article argue that Jesus' worth, accomplishment, and so on are all for you in the sense that it is self-serving, that Jesus' work is for us in the sense that it is in our benefit and can be drawn into our schemes and riddles.

The office of the ministry is just the stopgap in God's overcoming of sin and the putting away of death. There is always a curiosity and question of whether the third person of the Trinity has much to do or say in all of this and here is where the Spirit's distinctive work comes into play. Surely we need to be more accurate here about this becuase without the Spirit's distinctive work, there is a temptation to either rely on Christ's death "back there" in an all-too protestant way and disrespect the Spirit's founding of the office of ministry or without the Spirit's work we would be left with an all-too institutional reality, the Roman Catholic horn of the dilemna. Seeing the Spirit's work and gifts in human words such as the office of preaching overcomes this opposition.

Here the Spirit creates an office so that Christ's cross does not just remain "out there" or "back there" in the past but that this cross and reconciliation comes home to us. All that which God has done for you does little good, we may extend Luther to say, unless it is said to you and comes to you in your life. Otherwise the cross that we raised in Golgatha is the dream world of some higher reality and all too easily fitted into our own projects and loveless lives. Golgatha is in this world and not some eternity of God and the cross comes to rest in our lives as that death, that cross, are proclaimed. God comes into this world in the very words in Mary's womb and stays here, doing his liberating and forgiving work in the Spirit.

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