Saints: The three things early Lutherans thought they could do for us

Martin Luther by Lucas Cranach the Elder, pain...

I once wrote that Luther tossed the saints off of the church calendar and thus removed an important spiritual tool from Protestantism. Now I am reminded by the “Here I Walk” blogger(s) that I should have qualified that statement. The document cited in the following is Lutheranism’s primary confessional document, the Augsburg Confession.

Melanchthon gives an account of why Chris­tians should not invoke the saints in prayer (Apol­ogy to the Augs­burg Con­fes­sion, Arti­cle xxi). But he and Luther both allowed for the pos­si­bil­ity that the saints pray for us, and nei­ther of them denied the des­ig­na­tion of some believ­ers as saints in the sense of “extra­or­di­nary wit­nesses to Christ.” In fact, Melanchthon lays out three extremely impor­tant things that saints do for believ­ers that makes “giv­ing honor” to them per­fectly appropriate:

“Our con­fes­sion approves giv­ing honor to the saints. This honor is three­fold. The first is thanks­giv­ing: we ought to give thanks to God because he has given exam­ples of his mercy, because he has shown that he wants to save humankind, and because he has given teach­ers and other gifts to the church. Since these are the great­est gifts, they ought to be extolled very highly, and we ought to praise the saints them­selves for faith­fully using these gifts just as Christ praises faith­ful man­agers [Matthew 25:21, 23]. The sec­ond kind of ven­er­a­tion is the strength­en­ing of our faith. When we see Peter for­given after his denial, we, too, are encour­aged to believe that grace truly super­abounds much more over sin [Romans 5:20]. The third honor is imi­ta­tion: first of their faith, then of their other virtues, which peo­ple should imi­tate accord­ing to their call­ings.” (Apol­ogy, Arti­cle xxi)

Click here to read the full post on the “Here I Walk” blog. Here‘s more on what Lutherans and Roman Catholics share on saints and Mary.

One response to “Saints: The three things early Lutherans thought they could do for us

  1. Pingback: Flotsam and jetsam (9/29) « scientia et sapientia

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