• Original image by Eric Jonas Swensson • Index
2 Timothy 1:8–14
From the Confessions: The Augsburg Confession
Concerning the Distinction of Meats
Nevertheless, Lutherans have retained many traditions that are conducive to good order in the Church, such as the Order of Lessons in the Mass and the chief holy days. People are informed, however, that such observances do not make them righteous before God, and that it is not a sin if they are omitted without causing offense. Such liberty in human ceremonies was not unknown to the Fathers. In the East they kept Easter at another time than at Rome. Because of this diversity, the Romans accused the Eastern Church of schism, though they were admonished by others that such customs do not need to be everywhere alike. Irenaeus says: “Diversity concerning fasting does not destroy the harmony of faith.” This kind of diversity does not violate the unity of the Church, as Pope Gregory suggests in Dist. XII. In the Tripartite History, Book 9, many examples of different ceremonies are collected, and the following statement is made: It was not the mind of the Apostles to enact rules concerning holy days, but to teach faith and love.
Pulling It Together: Lutheran worship is well-known for being traditional, often in form but always in terms of those things that contribute to good order. The Lectionary and the celebration of major feast days are only two examples given in the Article. Our people are taught that these things are helpful, though not required, and certainly not necessary for justification with God. Therefore, some freedom of customs must be allowed. This is nothing unique to Lutherans; it has been the way of Christianity since the early Church. So while Lutherans confess the righteousness of faith alone, they nevertheless keep those practices that are a benefit to the Church. This is a sound formula that promotes the standard of faith and love in Christ's Church.
Prayer: My Savior, help me be faithful in the Church you have built. Amen.
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