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Historical Introductions to the Lutheran Confessions
by F. Bente
XVI. The Osiandrian and Stancarian Controversies.
175. Osiander in Nuernberg and in Koenigsberg.
In the writings of Luther we often find passages foreboding a future corruption of the doctrine of justification, concerning which he declared in the Smalcald Articles: "Of this article nothing can be yielded or surrendered, even though heaven and earth, and whatever will not abide, should sink to ruin ...And upon this article all things depend which we teach and practise in opposition to the Pope, the devil, and the world. Therefore we must be sure concerning this doctrine, and not doubt, for otherwise all is lost, and the Pope and devil and all things gain the victory and suit over us." (461, 5.) Martin Chemnitz remarks: "I frequently shud- der, because Luther-I do not know by what kind of presentiment-in his commentaries on the Letter to the Galatians and on the First Book of Moses so often repeats the statement: ¡¥This doctrine [of justification] will be obscured again after my death.' " (Walther, Kern und Stern, 26.)
Andrew Osiander was the first to fulfil Luther's prophecy. In 1549 he began publicly to propound a doctrine in which he abandoned the forensic conception of justification by imputation of the merits of Christ, and returned to the Roman view of justification by infusion i.e.,by infusion of the eternal essential righteousness of the divine nature of Christ.According to his own statement, he had harbored these views ever since about 1522.He is said also to have presented them in a sermon delivered at the convention in Smalcald, 1537. (Planck 4, 257.) Yet he made no special effort to develop and publicly to disseminate his ideas during the life of Luther. After the death of the Reformer, however, Osiander is reported to have said: "Now that the lion is dead, I shall easily dispose of the foxes and hares"-i.e., Melanchthon and the other Lutheran theologians. (257.) Osiander was the originator of the controversy "Concerning the Righteousness of Faith before God," which was finally settled in Article III of the Formula of Concord. Osiander, lauded by modern historians as the only real "systematizer"among the Lutherans of the first generation, was a man as proud, overbearing, and passionate as he was gifted, keen, sagacious, learned, eloquent, and energetic.He was born December 19, 1498, at Gunzenhausen, Franconia, and died October 17, 1552, at Koenigsberg, where he was also buried with high honors in the Old City Church. In 1522 he was appointed priest at St. Lawrence's Church in the Free City of Nuernberg.Here he immediately acted the part of a determined champion of the Reformation. Subsequently he also participated in some of the most important transactions of his day.He was present at the Marburg Colloquy, 1529, where he made the personal acquaintance of Luther and the Wittenbergers. He also took part in the discussions at the Diet in Augsburg, 1530; at Smalcald, 1537; at Hagenau and Worms, 1540. Nor were his interests confined to theological questions. When, at Nuernberg, 1543, the work of Copernicus, De Revolutionibus Orbium Coelestium, "Concerning the Revolutions of the Heavenly Bodies," was published for the first time, Osiander read the proof-sheets and wrote the Preface, in which he designated the new theory as "hypotheses,"thus facilitating its circulation also among the Catholics, until in the 17th century the book was placed on the Index Librorum Prohibitorum, where it remained till the 18th century.
When the Augsburg Interim was introduced in Nuernberg, Osiander resigned, and with words of deep emotion (in a letter of November 22, 1548, addressed to the city council) he left the place where he had labored more than a quarter of a century. January 27 1549, he arrived in Koenigsberg. Here he was joyously received by Count Albrecht of Prussia, whom he had gained for the Reformation in 1523. Moved by gratitude toward Osiander, whom he honored as his "spiritual father," Count Albrecht appointed him pastor of the Old City Church and, soon after, first professor of theology at the University of Koenigsberg,with a double salary, though Osiander had never received an academic degree. The dissatisfaction which this unusual preferment caused among his colleagues, Briessman, Hegemon, Isinder, and Moerlin, soon developed into decided antipathy against Osiander, especially because of his overbearing, domineering ways as well as his intriguing methods.No doubt, this personal element added largely to the animosity and violence of the controversy that was soon to follow, and during which the professors in Koenigsberg are said to have carried firearms into their academic sessions. (Schaff, Creeds 1, 273.) Yet it cannot be regarded as the real cause or even as the immediate occasion, of the conflict, which was really brought about by the unsound, speculative, and mystical views of Osiander on the image of God and, particularly, on justification and the righteousness of faith,-doctrinal points on which he deviated from the Lutheran teaching to such an extent that a controversy was unavoidable. Evidently, his was either a case of relapse into Romanism, or,what seems to be the more probable alternative, Osiander never attained to a clear apprehension of the Lutheran truth nor ever fully freed himself from the Roman doctrine, especially in its finer and more veiled form of mysticism.
176. Opposed by Moerlin and Lutherans Generally.
Osiander, as stated, had conceived the fundamental thoughts of his system long before he reached Koenigsberg. In 1524, when only twenty-six years of age, he laid down the outlines of his theory in a publication entitled: "A Good Instruction (Ein gut Unterricht) and Faithful Advice from the Holy Divine Scriptures What Attitude to Take in These Dissensions Concerning Our Holy Faith and Christian Doctrine, dealing especially with the questions what is God's Word and what human doctrine, what Christ and what Antichrist." Here he says: "Whoever hears, retains, and believes the Word, receives God Himself, for God is the Word. If, therefore, the Word of God, Christ, our Lord, dwells in us by faith and we are one with Him, we may say with Paul: ¡¥I live, though not I, but Christ lives in me,' and then we are justified by faith." (Gieseler 3, 2, 270.) In the following year, 1525, he wrote in his Action of the Honorable Wise Council in Nuernberg with their Preachers (Handlung eines ehrsamen weisen Rats zu Nuernberg mit ihren Praedikanten): "The one and only righteousness availing before God is God Himself. But Christ is the Word which we apprehend by faith, and thus Christ in us, God Himself, is our Righteousness which avails before God." "The Gospel has two parts; the first, that Christ has satisfied the justice of God; the other, that He has cleansed us from sin, and justifies us by dwelling in us (und uns rechtfertigt, so er in uns wohnet)." (271.) The embryonic ideas of these early publications concerning the image of God and justification were fully developed by Osiander in his book of 1550, Whether the Son of God would hove had to be Incarnated (An Filius Dei fuerit Incarnandus), if Sin had Not Entered the World; and especially in his confession of September, 1551, Concerning the Only Mediator Jesus Christ (Von dem einigen Mittler Jesu Christo) and Justification of Faith which appeared also in Latin under the title De Unico Mediatore, in October of the same year.
The public conflict began immediately after Osiander had entered upon his duties at the university. In his inaugural disputation of April 5, 1549, "Concerning the Law and Gospel (De Lege et Evangelio)," Osiander's vanity prompted him at least to hint at his peculiar views, which he well knew were not in agreement with the doctrine taught at Wittenberg and in the Lutheran Church at large. His colleague, Matthias Lauterwald, a Wittenberg master, who died 1555, immediately took issue with him. On the day following the disputation, he published theses in which he declared: "Osiander denied that faith is a part of repentance." October 24 of the following year Osiander held a second disputation ("On Justification, De Iustificatione") in which he came out clearly against the doctrine hitherto taught in the Lutheran Church. But now also a much more able and determined combatant appeared in the arena, Joachim Moerlin, who henceforth devoted his entire life to defeat Osiandrism and to vindicate Luther's forensic view of justification.
Moerlin (Moehrlein) was born at Wittenberg April 6, 1514, he studied under Luther and was made Master in 1537 and Doctor in 1540; till 1543 he was superintendent in Arnstadt, Thuringia, and superintendent in Goettingen till 1549, when he was compelled to leave because of his opposition to the Augsburg Interim. Recommended by Elizabeth Duchess of Braunschweig- Lueneburg, the mother-in-law of Duke Albrecht, he was appointed preacher at the Dome of Koenigsberg in 1550. Clearly understanding that solid comfort in life and death is possible only as long as our faith rests solely on the aliena iustitia,on the objective righteousness of Christ, which is without us, and is offered in the Gospel and received by faith; and fully realizing also that Christian assurance is incompatible with such a doctrine as Osiander taught, according to which our faith is to rely on a righteous condition within ourselves, Moerlin publicly attacked Osiander from his pulpit,and in every way emphasized the fact that his teaching could never be tolerated in the Lutheran Church. Osiander replied in his lectures. The situation thus created was most intolerable. At the command of the Duke discussions were held between Moerlin and Osiander, but without result.
In order to settle the dispute, Duke Albrecht, accordingly, on October 5, 1551, placed the entire matter before the evangelical princes and cities with the request that the points involved be discussed at the various synods and their verdicts forwarded to Koenigsberg. This aroused the general interest and the deepest concern of the entire Lutheran Church in Germany. Numerous opinions of the various synods and theologians arrived during the winter of 1551 to 1552.With the exception of the Wuerttemberg Response (Responsum),written by John Brenz, and the Opinion of Matthew Vogel, both of whom regarded Osiander's teaching as differing from the doctrine received by the Lutheran Church in terms and phrases rather than in substance, they were unfavorable to Osiander. At the same time all, including the opinions of Brenz and Vogel, revealed the fact that the Lutherans, the theologians of Wittenberg as well as those of Jena, Brandenburg, Pomerania Hamburg, etc., were firmly united in maintaining Luther's doctrine, viz., that the righteousness of faith is not the essential righteousness of the Son of God, as Osiander held but the obedience of Christ the God-man imputed by grace to all true believers as their sole righteousness before God.
Feeling safe under the protection of Duke Albrecht, and apparently not in the least impressed by the general opposition which his innovations met with at the hands of the Lutherans, Osiander continued the controversy by publishing his Proof (Beweisung) that for Thirty Years I have Always Taught the Same Doctrine. And irritated by an opinion of Melanchthon (whom Osiander denounced as a pestilential heretic), published with offensive explanations added by the Wittenbergers, he in the same year (April, 1552) wrote his Refutation (Widerlegung) of the Unfounded, Unprofitable Answer of Philip Melanchthon. In this immoderate publication Osiander boasted that only the Philippian rabble, dancing according to the piping of Melanchthon, was opposed to him.
Before long, however, also such opponents of the Philippists as Flacius, Gallus, Amsdorf, and Wigand were prominently arraigned against Osiander. Meanwhile (May 23, 1552) Moerlin published a large volume entitled: Concerning the Justification of Faith. Osiander replied in his Schmeckbier of June 24 1552, a book as keen as it was coarse. In 1552 and 1553 Flacius issued no less than twelve publications against Osiander, one of them bearing the title: Zwo fuernehmliche Gruende Osiandri verlegt, zu einem Schmeckbier, another: Antidotum auf Osiandri giftiges Schmeckbier. (Preger 2, 551)
When the controversy had just about reached its climax, Osiander died, October 17, 1552. Soon after, the Duke enjoined silence on both parties, and Moerlin was banished. He accepted a position as superintendent in Brunswick, where he zealously continued his opposition to Osiandrism as well as to other corruptions of genuine Lutheranism. At Koenigsberg the Osiandrists continued to enjoy the protection and favor of Duke Albrecht and gradually developed into a quasi-political party.The leader of the small band was John Funck, the son-in-law of Osiander and the chaplain of the Duke. In 1566, however, the king of Poland intervened, and Funck was executed as a disturber of the public peace. Moerlin was recalled and served as bishop of Samland at Koenigsberg from 1567 till his death in 1571. The Corpus Doctrinae Pruthenicum, or Borussicum, framed by Moerlin and Chemnitz and adopted 1567 at Koenigsberg, rejected the doctrines of Osiander. Moerlin also wrote a history of Osiandrism entitled: Historia, welcher gestalt sich die Osiandrische Schwaermerei im Lande zu Preussen erhaben.
177.Corruptions Involved in Osiander's Teaching.
Osiander's theory of justification according to which the righteousness of faith is the eternal, essential holiness of the divine nature of Christ inhering and dwelling in man, consistently compelled him to maintain that justification is not an act by which God declares a man just, but an act by which He actually makes him inherently just and righteous; that it is not an imputation of a righteousness existing outside of man, but an actual infusion of a righteousness dwelling in man; that it is not a mere acquittal from sin and guilt, but regeneration, renewal, sanctification and internal, physical cleansing from sin that it is not a forensic or judicial act outside of man or a declaration concerning man's standing before God and his relation to Him but a sort of medicinal process within man, that the righteousness of faith is not the alien (strange, foreign) righteousness, aliena iustitia (a term employed also by Luther), consisting in the obedience of Christ, but a quality, condition, or change effected in believers by the essential righteousness of the divine nature dwelling in them through faith in Christ; that faith does not justify on account of the thing outside of man in which it trusts and upon which it relies, but by reason of the thing which it introduces and produces in man; that, accordingly, justification is never instantaneous and complete, but gradual and progressive.
Osiander plainly teaches that the righteousness of faith (our righteousness before God) is not the obedience rendered by Christ to the divine Law, but the indwelling righteousness of God (iustitia Dei inhabitans),- essentially the same original righteousness or image that inhered in Adam and Eve before the Fall. It consists, not indeed in good works or in "doing and suffering," but in a quality (Art) which renders him who receives it just, and moves him to do and to suffer what is right. It is the holiness (Frommigkeit) which consists in the renewal of man, in the gifts of grace, in the new spiritual life, in the regenerated nature of man. By His suffering and death, said Osiander, Christ made satisfaction and acquired forgiveness for us, but He did not thereby effect our justification. His obedience as such does not constitute our righteousness before God, but merely serves to restore it. It was necessary that God might be able to dwell in us, and so become our life and righteousness. Faith justifies, not inasmuch as it apprehends the merits of Christ, but inasmuch as it unites us with the divine nature, the infinite essential righteousness of God,in which our sins are diluted, as it were,and lost, as an impure drop disappears when poured into an ocean of liquid purity.
According to the teaching of Osiander therefore, also the assurance that we are justified and accepted by God does not rest exclusively on the merits of Christ and the pardon offered in the Gospel,but must be based on the righteous quality inhering in us. Our assurance is conditioned not alone upon what Christ has done outside of us and for us but rather upon what He is in us and produces in us. The satisfaction rendered by Christ many centuries ago is neither the only ground on which God regards us as just, nor a sufficient basis of our certainty that we are accepted by God. Not the Christ for us, but rather the Christ in us, is the basis both of our justification and assurance.Accordingly in order to satisfy an alarmed sinner, it is not sufficient to proclaim the Gospel-promise of divine absolution. In addition, an investigation is required whether the righteousness and holiness of God is also really found dwelling in him. While Luther had urged alarmed consciences to trust in the merits of Christ alone for their justification and salvation,Osiander led them to rely on the new life of divine wisdom, holiness, and righteousness dwelling in their own hearts. From the very beginning of the controversy,Moerlin,Melanchthon, and the Lutherans generally were solicitous to point out that Osiander's doctrine robs Christians of this glorious and only solid comfort that it is not a subjective quality in their own hearts, but solely and only the objective and absolutely perfect obedience rendered by Christ many hundred years ago, which God regards when He justifies the wicked, and upon which man must rely for the assurance of his acceptance and salvation.
Consistently developed, therefore, the innovation of Osiander was bound to vitiate in every particular the doctrine of justification restored once more by Luther. In fact, his theory was but a revamping of just such teaching as had driven the Lutherans out of the Church of Rome. True, Osiander denied that by our own works we merit justification; that our righteousness consists in our good works; that our good works are imputed to us as righteousness. But the fact that he held a subjective condition to be our righteousness before God gives to his doctrine an essentially Roman stamp, no matter how widely it may differ from it in other respects. Moehler, the renowned Catholic apologist, declared that properly interpreted and illucidated, Osiander's doctrine was "identical with the Roman Catholic doctrine."( Frank 2, 5. 91.) As stated before, his teaching was Romanism in its finer and more veiled form of mysticism.
178. Excerpts from Osiander's Writings.
In his publication of January 10, 1552 Wider den lichtfluechtigen Nachtraben, Osiander endeavors to prove that he is in complete doctrinal agreement with Luther. In it he gives the following summary, but guarded presentation of his views."I understand it this way," says he."1. It flowed from His pure grace and mercy that God sacrificed His only Son for us. 2. The Son became man and was made under the Law, and He has redeemed us from the Law and from the curse of the Law. 3. He took upon Himself the sins of the whole world, for which He suffered, died, shed His blood, descended into hell, rose again, and thus overcame sin, death, and hell, and merited for us forgiveness of sin, reconciliation with God, the grace and gift of justification, and eternal life. 4. This is to be preached in all the world. 5.Whoever believes this and is baptized, is justified and blessed (selig) by virtue of such faith. 6. Faith apprehends Christ so that He dwells in our hearts through faith, Eph. 3, 17. 7. Christ, living in us through faith, is our Wisdom, Righteousness, Holiness, and Redemption, 1 Cor. 1, 30, Jer. 23, 6; 33, 16. 8. Christ, true God and man, dwelling in us through faith, is our Righteousness according to His divine nature, as Dr. Luther says: ¡¥I rely on the righteousness which is God Himself; this He cannot reject. Such is, says Luther, the simple, correct understanding; do not suffer yourself to be led away from it.'" (Frank 2, 7f.) Seeberg cites the following passage: "But if the question be asked what is righteousness, one must answer: Christ dwelling in us by faith is our Righteousness according to His divinity; and the forgiveness of sins, which is not Christ Himself, but merited by Christ, is a preparation and cause that God offers us His righteousness, which He is Himself." (Dogg. 4, 498.) Incidentally Osiander's appeal to Luther is unwarranted. For according to him Christ is our Righteousness because His obedience is God's obedience, the work not only ofHis human nature, but, at the same time, also of His divine nature, while according to Osiander everything that Christ did for us merely serves to bring about the indwelling of the divine nature of Christ, whose essential holiness is our righteousness before God. That Osiander was not in agreement with Luther, as he claimed, appears also from his assertion that such statements of Luther as: Christ's death is our life, forgiveness of sins is our righteousness, etc.,must be explained figuratively, as words flowing from a joyous heart. (2, 23.)
The manner in which Osiander maintained that Christ is our Righteousness only according to His divine nature appears from the following excerpts: "If the question be asked according to what nature Christ,His whole undivided person, is our Righteousness, then just as when one asks according to what nature He is the Creator of heaven and earth, the clear, correct, and plain answer is that He is our Righteousness according to His divine, and not according to His human nature, although we are unable to find, obtain or apprehend such divine righteousness apart from His humanity." (Frank 2, 12.) Again: "When we say: Christ is our Righteousness, we must understand His deity, which enters us through His humanity.When Christ says: I am the Bread of Life, we must understand His deity which comes into us through His humanity and is our life. When He says:My flesh is meat indeed, and My blood is drink indeed,we must take it to mean His deity which is in the flesh and blood and is meat and drink for us. Thus, too, when John says, 1 John 1, 7: The blood of Christ cleanseth us from all sin,we must understand the deity of Christ which is in the blood; for John does not speak of the blood of Christ as it was shed on the cross, but as it, united with the flesh of Christ, is our heavenly meat and drink by faith." (23.) Osiander, therefore, is but consistent when he reiterates that the Son of God, the Holy Spirit, and the Father are our Righteousness, because their divine essence which by faith dwells in Christians, is one and the same.
Osiander emphasizes that the essential righteousness of the divine nature of Christ alone is able to save us.He says: "For of what help would it be to you if you had all the righteousness which men and angels can imagine, but lacked this eternal righteousness which is itself the Son of God, according to His divine nature, with the Father and the Holy Ghost? For no other righteousness can lift you up to heaven and bring you to the Father. But when you apprehend this righteousness through faith, and Christ is in you, what can you then be lacking which you do not possess richly, superabundantly, and infinitely in His deity?"Again: "Since Christ is ours and is in us, God Himself and all His angels behold nothing in us but righteousness on account of the highest, eternal, and infinite righteousness of Christ, which is His deity itself dwelling in us.And although sin still remains in, and clings to, our flesh, it is like an impure little drop compared with a great pure ocean, and on account of the righteousness of Christ which is in us God does not want to see it." (Frank 2, 100. 102.)
To this peculiarity of Osiander, according to which he seems to have had in mind a justification by a sort of mystico-physical dilution rather than by imputation, the Formula of Concord refers as follows: "For one side has contended that the righteousness of faith, which the apostle calls the righteousness of God, is God's essential righteousness, which is Christ Himself as the true, natural, and essential Son of God, who dwells in the elect by faith and impels them to do right, and thus is their righteousness, compared with which righteousness the sins of all men are as a drop of water compared with the great ocean." (917, 2; 791, 2.)
In his confession Concerning the Only Mediator, of 1551, Osiander expatiates on justification, and defines it as an act by which righteousness is "infused"into believers. We read:"It is apparent that whatever part Christ, as the faithful Mediator, acted with regard to God, His heavenly Father, for our sakes, by fulfilling the Law and by His suffering and death, was accomplished more than 1,500 years ago,when we were not in existence.For this reason it cannot, properly speaking, have been, nor be called, our justification, but only our redemption and the atonement for us and our sins. For whoever would be justified must believe; but if he is to believe, he must already be born and live. Therefore Christ has not justified us who now live and die; but we are redeemed by it [His work 1,500 years ago] from God's wrath, death, and hell ... This, however, is true and undoubted that by the fulfilment of the Law and by His suffering and death He merited and earned from God,His heavenly Father, this great and superabounding grace, namely, that He not only has forgiven our sin and taken from us the unbearable burden of the Law, but that He also wishes to justify us by faith in Christ, to infuse justification or the righteousness (sondern auch uns durch den Glauben an Christum will rechtfertigen, die Gerechtmachung eingiessen), and, if only we obey, through the operation of His Holy Spirit and through the death of Christ, in which we are embodied by the baptism of Christ, to mortify, purge out, and entirely destroy sin which is already forgiven us, but nevertheless still dwells in our flesh and adheres to us. Therefore the other part of the office of our dear faithful Lord and Mediator Jesus Christ is now to turn toward us in order to deal also with us poor sinners as with the guilty party, that we acknowledge such great grace and gratefully receive it by faith, in order that He by faith may make us alive and just from the death of sin, and that sin, which is already forgiven, but nevertheless still dwells and inheres in our flesh, may be altogether mortified and destroyed in us.And this, first of all, is the act of our justification." (Tschackert, 492f.; Planck 4, 268.)
That Osiander practically identified justification with regeneration, renewal, and gradual sanctification appears from the following quotations. To justify, says he, means "to make a just man out of an unjust one, that is to recall a dead man to life-ex impio iustum facere, hoc est, mortuum ad vitam revocare." (Seeberg 4, 499.) Again: "Thus the Gospel further shows its power and also justifies us, i.e., it makes us just, even as, and in the same degree as,He also makes us alive (eben und in aller Masse, wie er uns auch lebendig macht)." (Frank 2, 18.) "And here you see again how terribly those err who endeavor to prove by this passage of David and Paul that our righteousness is nothing else than forgiveness of sin; for they have overlooked the covering of sin with the [essential] righteousness of Christ whom we put on in Baptism; they have also removed from justification the renewal of the inner man effected by regeneration." (102.)
Osiander was fanatical in denouncing those who identified justification with the forgiveness of sins. In his Disputation of October 24, 1550, he declared: "The entire fulness of the deity dwells in Christ bodily, hence in those also in whom Christ dwells ... Therefore we are just by His essential righteousness ...Whoever does not hold this manner of our justification is certainly a Zwinglian at heart, no matter what he may confess with his mouth ...They also teach things colder than ice [who hold] that we are regarded as righteous only on account of the forgiveness of sins, and not on account of the [essential] righteousness of Christ who dwells in us through faith. Glacie frigidiora docent nos tantum propter remissionem peccatorum reputari iustos, et non etiam propter iustitiam Christi per fidem in nobis inhabitantis. Non enim tam iniquus Deus est, ut eum pro iusto habeat, in quo verae iustitiae prorsus nil est."(Frank 2, 97; Tschackert, 494; Seeberg 4 497.) They are errorists, Osiander declared, "who say, teach, and write that the righteousness is outside of us." (Frank 2, 100.) "The [essential] righteousness of Christ is indeed, imputed to us, but only when it is in us.""For God is not so unrighteous, nor such a lover of unrighteousness that He regards him as just in whom there is absolutely nothing of the true righteousness; as it is written, Ps. 5, 4: ¡¥For Thou art not a God that hath pleasure in wickedness; neither shall evil dwell with Thee,' " (Planck 4, 273.) Evidently, Osiander rejected or had never fully grasped Paul's clear statement and teaching concerning the God who justifies the ungodly, Rom. 4, 5: "But to him that worketh not, but believeth on Him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness."
179.Attitude of Brenz and Melanchthon.
With the exception of Brenz and Vogel, who, as stated before, regarded Osiander's doctrine as differing from the generally received view in phraseology and mode of presentation rather than in substance, the Lutherans everywhere were unanimous in rejecting Osiander's theory as a recrudescence of the Romish justification not by imputation, but by infusion.And as to Brenz, who put a milder construction on the statements of Osiander, Melanchthon wrote October 1, 1557: "Concerning the affair with Osiander, my writings are publicly known,which I hope will be of benefit to many. Brenz also is agreed with us doctrinally.He said he had advised peace, for he did not take Osiander's expressions to be as dangerous as the opponents did, and for this reason could not as yet condemn his person; but in doctrine he was agreed with us and would unite in condemning Osiander if the charges made against him were proved." Melanchthon himself fully realized the viciousness of Osiander's error, although at the colloquy in Worms, 1557, he, too, was opposed to condemning Osiandrism together with Zwinglianism, Majorism, and Adiaphorism, as the theologians of Ducal Saxony demanded. (C. R. 9, 311. 402.)
In May, 1551, Melanchthon wrote to Osiander that by the essential righteousness of Christ renewal is effected in us, but that we have forgiveness of sins and are reputed to be righteous on account of the merit of Christ whose blood and death appeased the wrath of God. In his confutation of the Osiandric doctrine,written in September, 1555, we read: "Osiander's definition of righteousness is: Righteousness is that which makes us do what is righteous ... Hence man is righteous by doing what is righteous ... Thereupon Osiander, in order to say something also concerning forgiveness of sins, tears remission of sins from righteousness. He expressly declares that the sins are forgiven to all men; Nero however, is damned because he does not possess the essential righteousness; and this, he says, is God Himself, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit ... Osiander contends that man is just on account of the indwelling of God, or on account of the indwelling God, not on account of the obedience of the Mediator, not by the imputed righteousness of the Mediator through grace. And he corrupts the proposition, ¡¥By faith we are justified,' into, By faith we are prepared that we may become just by something else, viz., the inhabiting God.Thus he in reality says what the Papists say: ¡¥We are righteous by our renewal,' except that he mentions the cause where the Papists mention the effect. Ita re ipsa dicit, quod Papistae dicunt, sumus iusti novitate, nisi quod nominat causam, ubi nominant Papistae effectum. We are just when God renews us. He therefore detracts from the honor due to the Mediator, obscures the greatness of sin, destroys the chief consolation of the pious, and leads them into perpetual doubt. For faith cannot exist unless it looks upon the promise of mercy concerning the Mediator. Nor is there an inhabitation unless the consolation is received by this faith. And it is a preposterous way of teaching that one is to believe first the inhabitation, afterwards forgiveness of sins (prius credere inhabitationem, postea remissionem peccatorum). Since therefore this dogma of Osiander is both false and pernicious to consciences, it must be shunned and damned." (C. R. 7, 781; 8, 579ff.)
In another essay, of September, 1556, signed also by Melanchthon, the following propositions are rejected: 1. Man becomes righteous on account of the essential righteousness. 2.Man becomes righteous on account of the essential righteousness of God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. 3. Man becomes righteous before God on account of the indwelling of God. 4. Righteousness consists in the indwelling of Christ, on account of which God imputes righteousness to us ... 5.Nor must one say there are two or more parts of justification: faith, inhabitation, good works, etc. For justification before God is to receive forgiveness of sins and to become acceptable to God on account of Christ ... 6. This proposition, too, is false: The regenerate after the Fall are righteous in the same manner as Adam was before the Fall, namely, not by imputation, but by inhabitation or original righteousness ... 8. It is also false when some say we are righteous by faith, namely, in a preparative way in order afterwards to be righteous by the essential righteousness. At bottom this is Popish and destructive of faith ... 9. The following propositions must be rejected altogether: The obedience of Christ is called righteousness in a tropical sense; Christ justifies accidentally (per accidens). (C. R. 8, 561f.; 9, 3l9. 451. 455. 457.)
180. Osiander's Views on Image of God.
Osiander's corruption of the doctrine of justification was closely connected with his peculiar view concerning the image of God (the central idea of his entire system), of which, however, he declared that he did not consider it essential, and would not contend with anybody about it. Nor were the questions involved disputed to any extent or dealt with in the Formula of Concord. As to Osiander, however, the train of his thoughts runs as follows:-
The Logos, the divine Word, is the image of God, into whom His entire essence flows in a manner and process eternal. In a temporal and historical way the same image is destined to be realized in the nature of man. Divine essential righteousness indwelling and efficacious in humanity-such was the eternal plan of God. For the realization of this purpose the Logos, God's image, was to become man, even if the human race should not have fallen. This was necessary because in finite man there is absolutely no similarity with the infinite essence of the non-incarnate Logos. Without the incarnation, therefore, this infinite dissimilarity would have remained forever (esset et maneret simpliciter infinita dissimilitudo inter hominem et Verbum Dei). And in order that man might be capable of God and share His divine nature (capax Dei et divinae naturae consors), God created him according to His image; i.e., according to the idea of the incarnate Logos. "God formed the body of man," said Osiander, "that it should be altogether like unto the future body of Christ. Thereupon He breathed into it the breath of life, i.e., a rational soul together with the human spirit, adorned with the proper powers, in such a manner that it, too, should be like unto the future soul of Christ in everything." (Frank 2, 104.)
In the incarnate Logos, however, according to whom man was created, humanity and divinity are personally united. When the Word was made flesh, the divine essence was imparted to His human nature.And Christ, in turn, imparts the same essence to all who by faith are one with Him. From eternity the incarnate Word was destined to be the head of the congregation in order that the essential righteousness of God might flow from Him into His body, the believers.Before the Fall the Son of God dwelled in Adam, making him just by God's essential righteousness. By the Fall this righteousness was lost. Hence the redemption and atonement of Christ were required in order again to pave the way for the renewal of the lost image or the indwelling of God's essential righteousness in man. The real source of this righteousness and divine life in man, however, is not the human, but the divine nature of Christ. In the process of justification or of making man righteous, the human nature of Christ merely serves as a medium, or as it were, a canal, through which the eternal essential wisdom, holiness, and righteousness of Christ's divine nature flows into our hearts.
Christ, the "inner Word" (John 1), says Osiander, approaches man in the "external Word"(the words spoken by Jesus and His apostles), and through it enters the believing soul. For through Word, Sacrament, and faith we are united with His humanity. In the Lord's Supper, for instance, we become the flesh and blood of Christ, just as we draw the nourishment out of natural food and transform it into our flesh and blood.And since the humanity of Christ, with which we become one in the manner described, is personally united with the deity, it imparts to us also the divine essence, and, as a result,we, too, are the abode of the essential righteousness of God. "We cannot receive the divine nature from Christ," says Osiander, "if we are not embodied in Him by faith and Baptism, thus becoming flesh and blood and bone of His flesh, blood, and bone." As the branches could not partake of the nature of the vine if they were not of the wood of the vine, even so we could not share the divine nature of Christ if we had not, incorporated in Him by faith and Baptism, become flesh, blood, and bone ofHis flesh, blood, and bone.Accordingly, as Christ's humanity became righteous through the union with God, the essential righteousness which moved Him to obedience toward God, thus we also become righteous through our union with Christ and in Him with God. (Frank 2, 104. 20ff.; Seeberg 4, 497f.)
In view of such speculative teaching, in which justification is transformed into a sort of mystico-physical process, it is not surprising that the charge of pantheism was also raised against Osiander. The theologians of Brandenburg asserted that he inferred from his doctrine that the believers in Christ are also divine persons, because the Father, Son and Holy Ghost dwell in them essentially. But Osiander protested: "Creatures we are and creatures we remain, no matter how wonderfully we are renewed; but the seed of God and the entire divine essence which is in us by grace in the same manner as it is in Christ by nature and remains eternally in us (das also aus Gnaden in uns ist wie in Christo von Natur und bleibt ewiglich in uns) is God Himself, and no creature, and will not become a creature in us or on account of us but will eternally remain in us true God." Frank says concerning the doctrine of Osiander: It is not pantheism or a mixture of the divine and human nature, "but it is a subjectivism by which the objective foundation of salvation as taught by the Lutheran Church is rent to the very bottom. It is a mysticism which transforms the Christ for us into the Christ in us, and, though unintentionally, makes the consciousness of the inhabitatio essentialis iustitiae (indwelling of the essential righteousness) the basis of peace with God."(2, 19. 10. 13. 95. 103.) In his teaching concerning the image of God and justification, Osiander replaced the comforting doctrine of the Bible concerning the substitutionary and atoning work of Christ in His active and passive obedience unto death with vain philosophical speculations concerning divinity and humanity or the two natures of Christ. It was not so very far beside the mark, therefore, when Justus Menius characte3_______________________________________ __________________________
181. Error of Stancarus.
The Stancarian dispute was incidental to the Osiandric conflict. Its author was Francesco Stancaro (born in Mantua, 1501), an Italian ex-priest, who had emigrated from Italy on account of his Protestant views. Vain, opinionated, haughty, stubborn, and insolent as he was, he roamed about, creating trouble wherever he appeared, first in Cracow as professor of Hebrew, 1551 in Koenigsberg then in Frankfort-on-the-Oder, next at various places in Poland, Hungary, and Transylvania. He died at Stobnitz, Poland, November 12, 1574. Stancarus treated all of his opponents as ignoramuses and spoke contemptuously of Luther and Melanchthon, branding the latter as an antichrist. In Koenigsberg he immediately felt called upon to interfere in the controversy which had just flared up.He opposed Osiander in a fanatical manner, declaring him to be the personal antichrist. The opponents of Osiander at Koenigsberg however, were not elated over his comradeship, particularly because he fell into an opposite error. They were glad when he resigned and left for Frankfort the same year he had arrived at Koenigsberg. In Frankfort, Stancarus continued the controversy, publishing, 1552, his Apology against Osiander-Apologia contra Osiandrum. But he was ignored rather than opposed by the Lutheran theologians. In 1553 Melanchthon wrote his Answer (Responsio) Concerning Stancar's Controversy. Later on, 1561, when Stancarus was spreading his errors in Poland, Hungary, and Transylvania, Calvin and the ministers of Zurich also wrote against him. The chief publication in which Stancarus set forth and defended his views appeared 1562, at Cracow, under the title: Concerning the Trinity (De Trinitate) and the Mediator, Our Lord Jesus Christ. As late as 1585 Wigand published his book Concerning Stancarism-De Stancarismo.
Stancarus had been trained in scholastic theology and was a great admirer of Peter Lombard. In his book De Trinitate et Mediatore he says: "One Peter Lombard is worth more than a hundred Luthers, two hundred Melanchthons, three hundred Bullingers, four hundred Peter Martyrs, five hundred Calvins out of whom, if they were all brayed in a mortar, not one drop of true theology would be squeezed. Plus valet unus Petrus Lombardus quam centum Lutheri, ducenti Melanchthones, trecenti Bullingeri, quadringenti Petri Martyres et quingenti Calvini, qui omnes, si in mortario contunderentur, non exprimeretur una mica verae theologiae." (J.G.Walch, Religionsstreitigkeiten 4, 177.)
Concerning Christ's obedience Peter Lombard taught: "Christus Mediator dicitur secundum humanitatem, non secundum divinitatem...Mediator est ergo, in quantum homo, et non in quantum Deus.Christ is called Mediator according to His humanity, not according to His divinity ...He is therefore Mediator inasmuch as He is man, and not inasmuch as He is God." (Planck 4, 451; Seeberg 4, 507.) In accordance with this teaching, Stancarus maintained, in pointed opposition to Osiander, that Christ is our Righteousness only according to His human nature, and not according to His divine nature. The divine nature of Christ, Stancarus declared must be excluded from the office of Christ's mediation and priesthood; for if God the Son were Mediator and would do something which the Father and the Holy Spirit could not do, then He would have a will and an operation and hence also a nature and essence different from that of the Father and the Holy Spirit. He wrote: "Christ, God and man, is Mediator [and Redeemer] only according to the other nature, namely, the human, not according to the divine; Christ made satisfaction for us according to His human nature, but not according to His divine nature; according to His divine nature Christ was not under the Law, was not obedient unto death, etc." (Frank 2, 111.) Stancarus argued: "Christ is one God with the Father and the Holy Spirit. Apart from the three personal properties of ¡¥paternitas, filiatio, and spiratio passiva' the three divine persons are absolutely identical in their being and operation. Their work is the sending of the Mediator, whose divine nature itself, in an active way, participates in this sending; hence only the human nature of the God-man is sent, and only the human nature of the Mediator acts in a reconciling way. Men are reconciled by Christ's death on the cross; but the blood shed on the cross and death are peculiar to the human nature, not to the divine nature; hence we are reconciled by the human nature of Christ only, and not by His divine nature (ergo per naturam humanam Christi tantum sumus reconciliati et non per divinam)." (Schluesselburg 9, 216ff.)
Consistently, the Stancarian doctrine destroys both the unity of the person of Christ and the sufficiency of His atonement. It not only corrupts the doctrine of the infinite and truly redeeming value of the obedience of the God-man, but also denies the personal union of the divine and human natures in Christ. For if the divine nature is excluded from the work of Christ, then it must be excluded also from His person, since works are always acts of a person. And if it was a mere human nature that died for us, then the price of our redemption is altogether inadequate, and we are not redeemed, as Luther so earnestly emphasized against Zwingli. (CONC. TRIGL. 1029, 44.) True, Stancarus protested: "Christ is Mediator according to the human nature only; this exclusive ¡¥only' does not exclude the divine nature from the person of Christ, but from His office as Mediator." (Frank 2, 111.) However, just this was Luther's contention, that Christ is our Mediator also according to His divine nature, and that the denial of this truth both invalidates His satisfaction and divides His person.
The Third Article of the Formula of Concord, therefore, rejects the error of Stancarus as well as that of Osiander. Against the latter it maintains that the active and passive obedience of Christ is our righteousness before God: and over against the former, that this obedience was the act of the entire person of Christ, and not of His human nature alone.We read: "In opposition to both these parties [Osiander and Stancarus] it has been unanimously taught by the other teachers of the Augsburg Confession that Christ is our Righteousness not according to His divine nature alone, nor according to His human nature alone, but according to both natures; for He has redeemed, justified, and saved us from our sins as God and man, through His complete obedience; that therefore the righteousness of faith is the forgiveness of sins, reconciliation with God, and our adoption as God's children only on account of the obedience of Christ, which through faith alone, out of pure grace is imputed for righteousness to all true believers, and on account of it they are absolved from all their unrighteousness." (917, 4.)
182. Deviations of Parsimonious and Hamburg Ministers.
In 1563 a collateral controversy concerning the obedience of Christ was raised by Parsimonius (George Karg). He was born 1512; studied under Luther in Wittenberg; 1547 he became pastor in Schwabach, and 1556 superintendent in Ansbach; 1563 he was deposed because of erroneous theses published in that year; he was opposed by Hesshusius and Ketzmann in Ansbach; 1570, having discussed his difference with the theologians in Wittenberg, Karg retracted and was restored to his office; he died 1576. In his theses on justification Parsimonius deviated from the Lutheran doctrine by teaching that Christ redeemed us by His passive obedience only, and by denying that His active obedience had any vicarious merit, since as man He Himself owed such obedience to the Law of God,-a view afterwards defended also by such Reformed divines as John Piscator John Camero, and perhaps Ursinus. (Schaff I, 274.)
Over against this error the Formula of Concord explains and declares: "Therefore the righteousness which is imputed to faith or to the believer out of pure grace is the obedience suffering, and resurrection of Christ, since He has made satisfaction for us to the Law, and paid for our sins. For since Christ is not man alone, but God and man in one undivided person, He was as little subject to the Law (because He is the Lord of the Law) as He had to suffer and die as far as His person is concerned. For this reason, then, His obedience, not only in suffering and dying, but also in this, that He in our stead was voluntarily made under the Law and fulfilled it by this obedience, is imputed to us for righteousness, so that, on account of this complete obedience which He rendered His heavenly Father for us, by doing and suffering, in living and dying, God forgives our sins, regards us as godly and righteous, and eternally saves us." (919, 16.)-
In their zealous opposition to the doctrine of Osiander according to which the indwelling essential holiness of the divine nature of Christ is our righteousness before God, also the Hamburg ministers went a step too far in the opposite direction.They denied, or at any rate seemed to deny, the indwelling of the Holy Trinity as such in believers. In their Response (Responsio) of 1552 they declared: "God is said to dwell where He is present by His grace and benevolence, where He gives the Word of His grace, and reveals His promises concerning His mercy and the remission of sins, where He works by His Spirit, etc." (Frank 2, 107.) Again: "That His indwelling pertains to His efficacy and operation appears from many passages which describe without a figure the efficacy and operation of Christ and of the Holy Spirit dwelling in believers." "The dwelling of the Holy Spirit in believers signifies that they are led by the Spirit of God.""But it cannot be proved by the Scripture that the fulness of God dwells bodily in us as it dwells in Christ Jesus. The inhabitation of God in us is a matter of grace, not of nature; of gift, not of property." (107.)
In 1551 Melanchthon had written: "It must be admitted that God dwells in our hearts, not only in such a manner that He there is efficacious, though not present with His own essence, but that He is both present and efficacious. A personal union, however, does not take place in us, but God is present in us in a separable manner as in a separable domicile." (C. R. 7, 781.) This was the view of the Lutheran theologians generally. Article III of the Formula of Concord, too, is emphatic in disavowing a personal union of the deity and humanity in believers, as well as in asserting that God Himself, not merely His gifts, dwell in Christians. (935, 54; 937, 65.) In addition to the aberrations enumerated, Article III rejects also some of the Roman and the Romanizing errors concerning justification in the Leipzig Interim, and some views entertained by Majorists which are extensively and ex professo dealt with in Article IV. (CONC. TRIGL. 917, 5.)
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