20 August, 2012

Lutheranism & the Classics II

"What do you have that you did not also receive?" So intones the apostle to the unruly Corinthian congregation. The deposit of the Faith comes with the implication of great humility. It must. That's the nature of the Gospel. We are beggars; God is the great Benefactor. And this Faith, and all the goods that come to men through it--the forgiveness of sins, life, and salvation--Paul reminds us, are nothing if not gift. Those who possess it dare not brag.

That was the mindset, too, of the Wittenberg Reformers. No re-invention of the divine Deposit was their proclamation; they could lay claim to the Gospel as nothing other than what had been given them. And that's why the Reformation is best thought of as the Reformation, and not the Revolution. The very name suggests that its impetus was to "form" the church "back," to return the Church to the doctrine and practice of its faithful teachers who had gone before. That's why the languages mattered--because the faithful teachers taught in Hebrew and Greek and Latin, because God communicates by His Word, proclaimed and read and taught and confessed. And that's why, too, perhaps unlike any other reform movement of the 16th century, the Wittenberg Reformation above all was conscious of its debt to the Fathers of the Church. "Nun komm," a favorite among Luther hymns even today, is nothing but a German translation of Ambrose's "Veni, redemptor gentium." The Augsburg Confession aligns itself clearly and knowledgeably with the Ecumenical Councils, and rejects the arcane heresies that formed the crucible in which the confession of the Fathers was forged. The Catalog of Testimonies, treated today as something like an appendix, but in actuality the fundamental evidentiary basis for the Formula of Concord, foregrounds the work of the Fathers' faithful confession of scriptural doctrine.

In that spirit, Concordia Theological Seminary, Ft. Wayne, offers installment two of Lutheranism & the Classics, "Reading the Church Fathers." Why? Because "what do you have that you did not also receive?"

Here's what the organizers have to say about it:

"Although the fathers of the church occasionally erred, Lutherans have always had the highest regard for such ancient teachers as, e.g., Augustine, Jerome and Chrysostom, as well as the old Lutheran theologians Chemnitz, Hunnius, Selnecker, Calov and others. Concordia Theological Seminary is pleased, therefore, to offer the second Lutheranism and the Classics Conference under the theme, “Reading the Church Fathers.” The conference features three plenary papers, a banquet address and 20 sectional presenters on the Reformation-era reception of the Latin/Greek fathers, classical authors, ancient Christian hymnody, cultivation of neo-Latin and pedagogy. Latin will be used in three worship settings. The presentation by Joanna Hensley is intended especially for classical educators and homeschoolers. The conference celebrates Lutheranism’s engagement with the church’s greatest teachers of the past and to their value for the propagation of the faith to present and future generations."

With "Reading the Church Fathers," Lutheranism & the Classics continues its important work of reminding the contemporary Church of the Augsburg Confession that its future lies in its past. 

So reclaim what's yours, mark your calendars for 28-29 September, and plan to attend Lutheranism & the Classics II.

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