From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession
Concerning Human Traditions in the Church
How the most excellent Gerson is tortured while he searches for the degrees and extent of the precepts yet, is unable to fix any mitigation in a definite degree. Meanwhile, he deeply deplores the dangers to godly consciences which this rigid interpretation of the traditions produces.
Against this deceitful illusion of wisdom and righteousness through human rites, let us fortify ourselves with the Word of God. Let us know that these traditions do not merit with God the remission of sins or justification, nor are they necessary for justification.
Pulling It Together: John Gerson became the chancellor of the University of Paris in 1395. Over a century before Luther nailed his 95 Theses to the castle door, Gerson wrote against human traditions in the Church that had students and others so focused on regulations that they took no time for the Scripture. He, and later the Lutherans, could not find how these traditions promised assurance and peace in the heart. As a result, the Lutherans insisted on proclaiming the gospel of grace.
When one takes time for study of the Scripture, it is easily discovered that no one merits God’s favor, forgiveness, et cetera through these human traditions in the Church. Scripture teaches everywhere that sinners cannot achieve any worth with God that deserves such rewards. So, of course, Scripture does not elevate human traditions to the level of justifier. Only Christ is “just and justifier” of those who have faith in him (Rom 3:26).
Prayer: Make me dependent, Lord, on your justifying righteousness. Amen.
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