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From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession
Concerning Monastic Vows
There are liable to be good men engaged in the ministry of the Word in some places who use these monastic observances without wicked opinions. But to hold that these observances are works that make them righteous before God, and through which they deserve eternal life, conflicts with the gospel concerning the righteousness of faith, which teaches that righteousness and eternal life are given to us for Christ’s sake. It also conflicts with the saying of Christ: “In vain do they worship me, teaching as doctrines the precepts of men” (Matt 15:9). And it conflicts with this statement: “Whatever does not proceed from faith is sin” (Rom 14:23). How can they affirm that God approves monastic works as righteousness before him when they have no testimony from God’s Word?
Pulling It Together: There are good religious traditions, and those that are no good at all. The good ones found and construct you in the faith. These traditions are learned in the pure Word of God. Bad ones turn you away from the Word and tear down your faith. These traditions are learned in philosophies and human reasoning. In our current case of monasticism, because human reasoning led people to believe they could earn righteousness and salvation, what better way, you can almost hear someone thinking, than through a life of complete commitment to God? As impressive as such dedication may be, if it is believed that justification and eternal life are due because of this lifestyle, then it is a sinful tradition. It depends upon the works of humans instead of faith in God.
Prayer: Help me be committed to you, God, through faith in your Son. Amen.
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The Great Commissions is a six-session Bible study drawing from all four Gospels, as well as the book of Acts and the writings of Paul, to focus on the calling that Jesus has given us and how it works in our everyday lives. Here is a sample PDF of the introduction and first chapter.