Sunday, July 13, 2008

The Power of Church Leaders

“We believe, teach, and confess that at a time of confession, as when enemies of the Word of God desire to suppress the pure doctrine of the holy Gospel, the entire community of God, yes, every individual Christian, and especially the ministers of the Word as the leaders of the community of God, are obligated to confess openly, not only by words but also through their deeds and actions, the true doctrine and all that pertains to it, according to the Word of God. In such a case we should not yield to adversaries even in matters of indifference, nor should we tolerate the imposition of such ceremonies on us by adversaries in order to undermine the genuine worship of God and to introduce and confirm their idolatry by force or chicanery.” (Formula of Concord, Solid Declaration, Article X,10)

“St. Peter prohibits the bishops to rule as if they had the power to force the churches to do whatever they desired [1 Peter 5:2]. Now the question is not how to take power away from the bishops. Instead, we desire and ask that they would not force themselves into sin. But if they will not do so and despise this request, let them consider how they will have to answer to God, since by their obstinancy they cause division and schism, which they should rightly help to prevent.” (Augsburg Confession, Article XXVIII, 76-78)

“If the bishops wanted to be true bishops and to attend to the church and the gospel, then a person might -- for the sake of love and unity but not out of necessity -- give them leave to ordain and confirm us and our preachers, provided all the pretense and fraud of unchristian ceremony and pomp were set aside. However, they are not now and do not want to be true bishops. Rather they are political lords and princes who do not want to preach, teach, baptize, commune, or perform any proper work or office of the church. In addition, they persecute and condemn those who do take up a call to such an office. Despite this, the church must not remain without servants on their account.” (Smalcald Articles, Part III, Article 10,1-2)

“...All this evidence makes clear that the church retains the right to choose and ordain ministers. Consequently, when bishops either become heretical or are unwilling to ordain, the churches are compelled by divine right to ordain pastors and ministers for themselves. Moreover, the cause of this schism and dissension is to be found in the ungodliness and tyranny of bishops, for Paul warns that bishops who teach and defend false doctrine and impious forms of worship are to be considered accursed.” (Treatise on the Power and Primacy of the Pope, The Power and Jurisdiction of Bishops, 72)

“It is certain that the common legal authority to excommunicate those guilty of manifest crimes belongs to all pastors. In tyrannical fashion, the bishops have transferred this solely to themselves and used it for profit. It is evident that the so-called bureaucrats have acted with intolerable license and, out of greed or other lusts, have harassed and excommunicated people without any proper judicial process. What kind of tyranny is this that these bureaucrats have the power to excommunicate people arbitrarily without a proper trial?” (Treatise on the Power and Primacy of the Pope, The Power and Jurisdiction of Bishops, 74)

“If the opponents would only listen to the complaints of churches and pious hearts! The opponents valiantly defend their own position and wealth. Meanwhile, they neglect the state of the churches, and they do not care if there is correct preaching and proper administration of the sacraments in the churches. They admit all kinds of people to the priesthood quite indiscriminately. Then they impose intolerable burdens on them, as if they take pleasure in the destruction of their fellow human beings.” (Apology of the Augsburg Confession, Article XXVIII, 3)

1 comment:

Scott Diekmann said...

It sure feels good when people quote from our Confession!