Saturday, March 22, 2008

An interesting footnote

This footnote I'm about to quote (#10) appears on p. 863 of v. 2 of "What Luther Says," (Concordia, 1959) and references the content of a letter Martin Luther had written to Count Philipp von Hesse in October 1529. The discussion concerned what the church fathers said about the real presence of Christ's body and blood in the Lord's Supper, and Luther says to the Count it was a comfort to know that their faith which rested solely on God's word was witnessed to in the church. The editor's footnote to this one sentence, reports that among Lutherans of the era the church fathers
    "were cited as witnesses, not judges. . . When a generation later, Martin Chemnitz examined the canons and decrees of the Council of Trent, two words of his revealed the great change that the Reformation had introduced. He quoted the noted axiom which Vincent of Lerins (died ca. A.D. 450) had coined: that the Catholic faith is quod semper, quod ubique, quod ab omnibus est creditum (what has been believed always, everywhere, by all) but significantly added ex Scriptura (from or on the basis of Scripture)."
For this the editor cites W. Elert, Morphologie, I, 252f, and adds for modern day readers, "This is the Lutheran position."

This is an amazing layering of citation skill, showing how detailed and careful the editors of this work were. 1) the letter of 1529, 2) in which Luther cites a colloquy with Zwingli and his followers, moving ahead a generation to 3) Martin Chemnitz examining the Council of Trent, 4) Vincent of Lerins, 1100 years before, 5) all of which is recorded in Elert's work, citing the German, not the English translation, 6) and apparently in a footnote [I think that's what the lower case f refers to] of that piece, and finally, 7) the editor's statement: This is the Lutheran position.

Now, if Lutherans could just agree on what scripture says we'd be good to go.

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