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What Genuine Lutherans Teach on Mary and the Saints
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A Few Quotations from the Book of Concord on Mary and the Saints

 [Augsburg Confession, XXI. Concerning the Cult of the Saints]

Concerning the cult of the saints our people teach that the saints are to be remembered so that we may strengthen our faith when we see how they experienced grace and how they were helped by faith. Moreover, it is taught that each person, according to his or her calling, should take the saints’ good works as an example. For instance, His Imperial Majesty, in a salutary and righteous fashion, may follow the example of David in waging war against the Turk.  For both hold a royal office that demands defense and protection of their subjects. However, it cannot be demonstrated from Scripture that a person should call upon the saints or seek help from them. “For there is only one single reconciler and mediator set up between God and humanity, Jesus Christ” (1 Tim. 2[:5]). He is the only savior, the only high priest, the mercy seat, and intercessor before God (Rom. 8[:34]). He alone has promised to hear our prayers. According to Scripture, in all our needs and concerns it is the highest worship to seek and call upon this same Jesus Christ with our whole heart. “But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ, the righteous . . .” [1 John 2:1].

Apology of the Augsburg Confession, Article XXI

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 [Matt. 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 [Rom. 5:20]. The third honor is imitation: first of their faith, then of their other virtues, which people should imitate according to their callings. The opponents do not require these true honors. They only argue about invocation, which, even if it were not dangerous, is certainly not necessary. Besides, we also grant that angels pray for us. For there is a passage in Zechariah 1[:12], where the angel prays, “O Lord of hosts, how long will you withhold mercy from Jerusalem . . . ?” To be sure, concerning the saints we grant that in heaven they pray for the church in general, just as they prayed for the entire church while living.   

Formula of Concord-Solid Declaration, Article VIII

Because of this personal union and communion of the divine and human natures in Christ, we also believe, teach, and confess (in accord with our simple, Christian creed) that everything said of the majesty of Christ according to his humanity at the right hand of the almighty power of God and all that follows from it would be nothing and could not exist if this personal union and communion of the natures in the person of Christ were not realiter, that is, real, in fact and in truth. Because of this personal union and communion of the natures, Mary, the most blessed Virgin, gave birth not to a mere, ordinary human being, but instead to a human being who is truly the Son of God the Most High, as the angel testifies. He demonstrated his divine majesty in his mother’s womb, in that he was born of a virgin without violating her virginity. Therefore, she remained truly the Mother of God and at the same time a virgin.

Formula of Concord – Solid Declaration Article VIII

This personal union is certainly not to be understood, as some incorrectly interpret it, as if both natures, divine and human, are united with each other as two boards might be glued together, so that realiter (that is, in fact and in truth) they have absolutely no communion with each other. This was the error and heresy of Nestorius and the Samosatenians, who, as Suidasand Theodore the elder of Rha´tu testify, taught and held that the two natures have absolutely no communion with each other. This position separates the natures from each other and thus creates two Christs, one being Christ and the other God the Word, who dwells in Christ.

[…] For body and soul, like fire and iron, are not per phrasin or per modum loquendi or verbaliter (that is, they are not to be regarded only as ways of speaking or mere words). Rather, they [the two things] have communion with each other vere and realiter (that is, in fact and in truth). Therefore, this introduced no confusio or exaequatio naturarum (that is, no mixing or equating of natures), as when mead is made from water and honey. In this case water and honey can no longer be distinguished; it is a drink in which the two are mixed together. But the union of the divine and human natures in the person of Christ is far different. The union between the divine and human natures in the person of Christ is a much different, higher, indescribable communion. Because of this union and communion God is a human being and a human being is God. Nevertheless, through this union and communion neither the natures nor their characteristics are mixed together with the other, but each nature retains its own essence and characteristics.  Because of this personal union, without which this kind of true communion of the natures is unthinkable and impossible, not only the bare human nature (which possesses the characteristics of suffering and dying) suffered for the sins of the entire world, but the Son of God himself suffered (according to the assumed human nature) and, according to our simple Christian creed, truly died—although the divine nature can neither suffer nor die. Dr. Luther explained this thoroughly in his Large Confession on the Holy Supper, against [Page 620] the blasphemous “alleosis” of Zwingli, who taught that one nature must be taken for and understood for the other nature. Luther condemned this to the abyss of hell, as the mask of the devil.

Gloria Christi Lutheran Church (LCMS)

1322 31st Avenue

Greeley, Colorado 80634

(970) 353-2554
 

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