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§ 46. The Form of Concord, Concluded.
Analysis and Criticism.
The Formula of Concord consists of two parts—the Epitome and the Solida Repetitio et Declaratio. Both treat, in twelve articles, of the same matter—the first briefly, the other extensively. They begin with the anthropological doctrines of original sin and freedom of the will; next pass on to the soteriological questions concerning justification, good works, the law and the gospel, the third use of the law; then to the eucharist and the person of Christ; and end with foreknowledge and election. This order is characteristic of the Lutheran system, as distinct from the Calvinistic, which begins with the Scriptures, or with God and the eternal decrees. The most important articles are those on the Lord's Supper and the Person of Christ, which teach the peculiar features of the Lutheran creed, viz., consubstantiation, the communication of the properties of the divine nature to the human nature of Christ, and the ubiquity of Christ's body.
The Epitome contains all that is essential. It first states the controversy (status controversiæ), then the true doctrine (affirmativa), and, last, it condemns the error (negativa). In the Solid Repetition and Declaration this division is omitted; but the articles are more fully explained and supported by ample quotations from the Scriptures, the fathers, the older Lutheran Confessions, and the private writings of Dr. Luther, which swell it to about five times the size of theEpitome.
Each part is preceded by an important introduction, which lays down the fundamental Protestant principle that the Canonical Scriptures are the only rule of faith and doctrine,617617 'Die einige Regel und Richtschnur (unica regula et norma), nach welcher alle Lehren and Lehrer gerichtet und geurtheilt werden sollen.' Comp. Psa. cxix. 15; Gal. i. 8. The extent of the Canon, however, is not defined, as in several Reformed Confessions, and the question of the Apocrypha of the Old Testament is left open. and fixes the number of (nine) symbolical books to be hereafter acknowledged in the Lutheran Church, not as judges, but as witnesses and expositions of the Christian faith; namely, the three œcumenical Symbols (the Apostles', the Nicene, and the Athanasian), the Unaltered Augsburg Confession,618618 'Die erste ungeänderte Augsb. Confession' (Augustanam illam primam et non mutatam Confessionem). The Preface (pp. 13, 14) rejects the Altered Augsburg Confession (of 1540), if it be understood as teaching another doctrine of the Lord's Supper. the Apology of the Confession, the Articles of Smalcald, the Smaller and Larger Catechisms of Luther,619619 These are called the 'Laienbibel' (laicorum biblia, the layman's Bible), 'darin alles begriffen, was in heiliger Schrift weitläuftig gehandelt, und einem Christenmenschen zu wissen vonnöthen ist.' and the Formula of Concord. The Scriptures contain the credenda, the things to be believed; the Symbols the credita, the things that are believed. Yet the second part of the Formula quotes Dr. Luther, 'piæ sanctœque memoriæ,' as freely, and with at least as much deference to his authority, as Roman Catholics quote the fathers. Melanchthon, the author of the fundamental Confession of the Lutheran Church, is never named, but indirectly condemned; and as to poor Zwingli, he is indeed mentioned, but only to be held up to pious horror for his 'blasphemous allæosis.'620620 Sol. Decl. Art. VIII. p. 678 (ed. Müller): 'Die gotteslästerliche allæosis Zwinglii,' which Dr. Luther condemned 'als des Teufels Larve, bis in den Abgrund der Höllen.' Thus the supremacy of the Bible is maintained in principle, but Luther is regarded as its regulative and almost infallible expounder.
We now proceed to give a summary of the Formula.
Art. I. Of Original Sin.—It is not the moral essence, or substance, or nature of man (as Flacius taught with the old Manichæans), but a radical corruption of that nature, which can never be entirely eradicated in this world (against the Pelagian and semi-Pelagian heresies).
Art. II. Of Free Will.—Man, in consequence of Adam's fall, has lost the divine image, is spiritually blind, disabled, dead, and even hostile to God, and can contribute nothing towards his conversion, which is the work of the Holy Spirit alone, through the means of grace. The Formula, following Luther, uses stronger terms on the slavery of the will and total depravity than the Calvinistic Confessions. It compares the unconverted man to a column of salt, Lot's wife, a statue without mouth or eyes, a dead stone, block and clod,621621 Solida Declaratio, Art. II. § 24 (p. 662 ed. Rech., p. 534 ed. Müller): 'Autequam homo per Spiritum Sanctum illuminatur, convertitur, regeneratur et trahitur . . . ad conversionem aut regenerationem suam nihil inchoare, operari, aut coöperari potest, nec plus quam lapis, truncus, aut limus (so wenig als ein Stein oder Block oder Thon)'. Thomasius und Stahl disapprove of these expressions, and Luthardt (Lehre v. freien Willen, p. 272) admits, at least, that they are unfortunately chosen (unglücklich gewählt). Fr. H. R. Frank defends them. and denies to him the least spark of spiritual power.622622 Ibid. Art. II. § 7 (p. 656 ed. Rech., p. 589 ed. Müller): . . . 'homo ad bonum prorsus corruptus et mortuus sit, ita ut in hominis natura post lapsum ante regenerationem ne scintillula quidem spiritualium virium (nicht ein Fünklein der geistlichen Kräfte) reliqua manserit aut restet, quibus ille ex se ad gratiam Dei præparare se aut oblatam gratiam apprehendere, aut eius gratiæ (ex sese et per se) capax esse possit, aut se ad gratiam applicare aut accommodare, aut viribus suis propriis aliquid ad conversionem suam vel ex toto vel ex dimidia vel ex minima parte conferre, agere, operari aut coöperari (ex se ipso tanquam ex semet ipso) possit (oder aus seinen eigenen Kräften etwas zu seiner Bekehrung, weder zum ganzen noch zum halben oder zu einigem dem wenigsten oder geringsten Theil, helfen, thun, wirken oder mitwirken vermöge, von ihm selbst, als von ihm selbst). . . . Inde adeo naturale tiberum arbitrium, ratione corruptarum virium et naturæ suæ depravatæ, duntaxat ad ea, quæ Deo displicent et adversantur, activum et efficax est.' This and similar statements are followed by quotations from Dr. Luther, where he compares the natural man to 'a column of salt, Lot's wife, a clod and stone, a dead statue without eyes or mouth.' All he said against Erasmus, and later, in his Commentary on Genesis, about free will, is indorsed. Flacius inferred from the same teacher his Manichæan error, which the Formula condemns in Art. I. He can not even accept the gospel (which is the work of pure grace), but he may reject it, and thereby incur damnation.
This article condemns the fatalism of the Stoics and Manichæans, the anthropological heresies of the Pelagians and Semi-Pelagians, but also and especially the Synergism of Melanchthon and the Philippists. The chief framers of the Formula—Andreæ, Chemnitz, Selnecker, and Chytræus—were at first in favor of Synergism, which would have been more consistent with Article XI.; the Swabian-Saxon Concordia, drawn up by Chemnitz and Chytræus, and the Torgau Book actually contained synergistic passages.623623 See these passages in Gieseler, Vol. IV. p. 486, note 24; Heppe, Der Text der Bergischen Concordienformel verglichen, etc.; Luthardt, Lehre vom freien Willen, pp. 262 sqq. Comp. also the remarks of Planck, Vol. VI. pp. 718 sqq. But they were omitted or exchanged for others, and consistency was sacrificed to veneration for Luther.
There is an obvious and irreconcilable antagonism between Art. II. and Art. XI. They contain not simply opposite truths to be reconciled by theological science, but contradictory assertions, which ought never to be put into a creed. The Formula adopts one part of Luther's book De servo arbitrio (1525), and rejects the other, which follows with logical necessity. It is Augustinian—yea, hyper-Augustinian and hyper-Calvinistic in the doctrine of human depravity, and anti-Augustinian in the doctrine of divine predestination. It indorses the anthropological premise, and denies the theological conclusion. If man is by nature like a stone and block, and unable even to accept the grace of God (as Art. II. teaches), he can only be converted by an act of almighty power and irresistible grace (which Art. XI. denies). If some men are saved, without any co-operation on their part, while others, with the same inability and the same opportunities, are lost, the difference points to a particular predestination and the inscrutable decree of God. On the other hand, if God sincerely wills the salvation of all men (as Art. XI. teaches), and yet only a part are actually saved, there must be some difference in the attitude of the saved and the lost towards converting grace (which is denied in Art. II.).
The Lutheran system, then, to be consistent,
must rectify itself, and develop either from Art. II. in the direction of Augustinianism
and Calvinism, or from Art. XI. in the direction of Synergism and Arminianism.
The former would be simply returning to Luther's original doctrine, which he
never recalled, though he may have modified it a little; the latter is the path
pointed out by Melanchthon, and adopted more or less by some of the ablest modern
Lutherans.624624 As Thomasius, Stahl,
Harless, Hoffmann, Luthardt, Kahnis. See Luthardt, Die Lehre vom freien
Willen, pp. 378 sqq. In either case the second article needs modification. It uses the
language of feeling rather than sober reflection, and gives the rhetorical expressions of
subjective experience the dignity of symbolical statement. We can, indeed, not
feel too strongly the sinfulness of sin and the awful corruption of our hearts.
Nevertheless, God's image in man is not lost or exchanged for Satan's image,
but only disfigured, disabled, and lying in ruins. Man is, indeed, in his prevailing
inclination, a slave of sin, yet susceptible of the influences of divine grace,
and remains moral and responsible in accepting or rejecting the gospel, before
as well as after conversion. His reason, his conscience, his sense of sin, his
longing for redemption and for peace with God, his prayers, his sacrifices,
and all the 'testimonia animæ naturaliter christianæ,' bear witness with
one voice to his divine origin, his divine destination, and his adaptation to
the Christian salvation.625625 Well says Goethe—
'Wär' nicht das Auge sonnenhaft,
Wie könnte en das Licht erblicken!
Lebt' nicht in uns des Gottes eigne Kraft,
Wie könnt' uns Göttliches entzücken?' But on the other hand there are innumerable mysteries of Providence in the order of nature as well as of grace, and inequalities in the distribution of gifts and opportunities, which baffle solution in this present world, and can only be traced to the inscrutable wisdom of God. The human mind has not been able as yet satisfactorily to set forth the harmony of God's sovereignty and man's responsibility.
Art. III. Of Justification by Faith.—Christ is our righteousness, not according to the divine nature alone (Andrew Osiander), nor according to the human nature alone (Stancar), but the whole Christ. God justifies us out of pure grace, without regard to antecedent, present, or subsequent works or merit, by imputing to us the righteousness of the obedience of Christ. Faith alone is the medium and instrument by which we apprehend Christ. Justification is a declaratory or forensic act—a sentence of absolution from sin, not an infusion of righteousness (Osiander).
Art. IV. Of Good Works.—Good works must always follow true faith, but they are neither necessary to salvation (Major), nor dangerous or injurious to salvation (Amsdorf). Salvation is of free grace alone, apprehended by faith.
Art. V. Of the Law and the Gospel.—The object of the law is to reprove sin and to preach repentance; the gospel (in its specific sense) is a joyful message, the preaching of Christ's atonement and satisfaction for all sins.
Art. VI. Of the Third Use of the Law—i.e., its obligation to believers, as distinct from its civil or political, and its pædagogic or moral use in maintaining order, and leading to a conviction of sin. Believers, though redeemed from the curse and restraint of the law, are bound to obey the law with a free and willing spirit. Antinomianism is rejected.
Art. VII. Of the Lord's Supper.—The most important controversy and chief occasion of the Formula—hence the length of this Article in the second part. It sets forth clearly and fully the doctrine of consubstantiation (as it is usually called, in distinction from the Romish transubstantiation), i.e., of the co-existence of two distinct yet inseparable substances in the sacrament. It is the doctrine of the real and substantial presence of the true body and blood of Christ in, with, and under the elements of bread and wine (in, cum, et sub pane et vino), and the oral manducation of both substances by unbelieving as well as believing communicants, though with opposite effects. The sacramental union of Christ's real body and blood with the elements is not an impanation or local inclusion, nor a mixture of two substances, nor a permanent (extra-sacramental) conjunction, but it is illocal, supernatural, unmixed, and confined to the sacramental transaction or actual use.626626 'Nihil habet rationem sacramenti extra usum, seu actionem divinitus institutam' (Sol. Decl. p. 663). Gerhard and the later Lutheran theologians describe the presence as sacramentalis, vera et realis, substantialis, mystica, supernaturalis et incomprehensibilis, and distinguish it from the præsentia gloriosa (in heaven), hypostatica (of the λόγος in the human nature), spiritualis (operativa, or virtualis), figurativa (imaginativa, symbolica). It is a παρουσία, not an ἀπουσία (absence), nor ἐνουσία (inexistence), nor συνουσία (co-existence in the sense of coalescence), nor μετουσία (transubstantiation). They reject the term consubstantiation in the sense of impanation or incorporation into bread, or physical coalescence and fusion. The Formula itself does not use the term. Nor is it effected by priestly consecration, but by the omnipotent power of God, and the word and institution of Christ. The body of Christ is eaten with the mouth by all communicants, but the notion of a Capernaitic or physical eating with the teeth is indignantly rejected as a malignant and blasphemous slander of the sacramentarians.627627 And yet Dr. Luther himself unequivocally taught the literal mastication of Christ's body. He gave it as the sum of his belief, to which he 'would adhere though the world should collapse,' that Christ's body was 'ausgetheilt, gegessen und mit den Zähnen zerbissen' (Briefe, ed. by De Witte, Vol. IV. p. 572, comp. p. 569). He instructed Melanchthon to insist on this in the conference he had with Bucer in Cassel, Dec. 1534; but Melanchthon, though not emancipated from Luther's view at that time, declined to shoulder it as his own, and began to change his ground on the eucharistic question. Corp. Ref. Vol. II. p. 822. Comp. Schmidt, Mel. p. 319; Ebrard, Abendmahl, Vol. II. pp. 375 sqq.
The Formula condemns the Romish dogma of transubstantiation, the sacrifice of the mass, and the withdrawal of the cup from the laity, but with equal or greater emphasis the Reformed and Melanchthonian (Crypto-Calvinistic) theory of a spiritual real presence and fruition of Christ by faith, or by believers only, without making a distinction between Zwinglians and Calvinists, except that the latter are called 'the most pernicious of all sacramentarians.'628628 Planck (Vol. VI. pp. 732 sqq.) charges the Formula with willful misrepresentation of Calvin's view, which he had so clearly, distinctly, and repeatedly set forth, especially in his tracts against Westphal, and which had since been embodied in the Confessions of the Reformed churches. Thomasius, Stahl, and other orthodox Lutherans, freely admit the material difference between Calvin and Zwingli in the theory of the eucharist.
Art. VIII. Of the Person of Christ.—This article gives scholastic support to the preceding article on the eucharistic presence, and contains an addition to the Lutheran creed. It teaches the communicatio idiomatum and the ubiquity of Christ's body. It raised the private opinions and speculations of Luther, Brentius, and Chemnitz on these topics to the authority of a dogma. Some regard this as the crowning excellence of the Formula;629629 My friend, Dr. Krauth, goes so far as to say (1.c. p. 316): 'The doctrine of the person of Christ presented in the Formula rests upon the sublimest series of inductions in the history of Christian doctrine. In all confessional history there is nothing to be compared with it in the combination of exact exegesis, of dogmatic skill, and of fidelity to historical development. Fifteen centuries of Christian thought culminate in it.' But in his lengthy exposition he does not even mention the important difference between the Swabian and Saxon schools, nor the various forms of the communicatio idiomatum, and evades the real difficulty by resolving, apparently (p. 318), the communication of divine properties into an efficacious manifestation of the Godhead in and through the assumed humanity of Christ—which has never been disputed by Reformed divines. others, even in the Lutheran communion, as its weakest and most assailable point.630630 Even Luthardt admits at least the artificial construction of the Christology of the Formula, and its inconsistency with the historical realness of the picture of Christ in the Gospels (Compend. der Dogmatik, p. 144; comp. also Kahnis, Luth. Dogmatik, Vol. III. p. 338 sq.). The modern Lutheran Kenoticists, Thomasius, Hofmann (Luthardt inclines to them, p. 155)—not to speak of the extreme form to which Gess carried the κένωσις—virtually depart from the Formula of Concord, which pronounces it a 'blasphemous perversion' to explain Matt. xxviii. 18 ('all power is given to me,' etc.) in the sense that Christ had ever laid aside or abandoned his almighty power in the state of humiliation (Epit., at the close of Art. VIII.). It was certainly very unwise, as history has shown, to introduce the scholastic subtleties of metaphysical theology into a public confession of faith.
The Formula derives from the personal union of the two natures in Christ (unio hypostatica, or personalis) the communion of natures (communio naturarum), from the communion of natures the communication of properties or attributes (communicatio idiomatum, a term used first by the scholastics), and from the communication of properties the omnipresence or ubiquity of Christ's body. The controversy between the Lutheran and Reformed, who both professedly stand on the common theanthropic Christology of Chalcedon, refers to the nature and extent of the communication of properties, and especially to the ubiquity of Christ's body derived therefrom.
The Formula (in the Second Part) distinguishes three kinds of the communicatio idiomatum, which were afterwards more fully analyzed, defined, and designated by the Lutheran scholastics of the seventeenth century.631631 We anticipate, for the sake of clearness, from the later orthodox writers the names of the three genera. The substance is already in the Formula, and in the treatise of Chemnitz, De duabus naturis in Christo, 1580. For a fuller exposition, with ample quotations from Chemnitz, John Gerhard, Hafenreffer, Hutter, Calov, Quenstedt, König, Baier, Hollaz, see Heinrich Schmid's Dogmatik der evang. lutherischen Kirche (2d ed. 1847), pp. 252 sqq.; comp. also Luthardt, pp. 144 sqq., and Kahnis, Vol. II. pp. 335 sqq.
1. The genus idiomaticum, by which the attributes of one or the other nature are communicated to the whole person. Thus it is said that 'the Son of God was made of the seed of David, according to the flesh' (Rom. i. 3), that 'Christ was put to death in the flesh,' and that 'he suffered in the flesh' (1 Pet. iii. 18; iv. 1).632632 This genus was subsequently subdivided into three species, corresponding to the concretum of the divine nature, the concretum of the human nature, and the concretum of both natures, of which the idiomata are predicated, viz., (a) ἰδιοποίησις, or οἰκείσις, i.e., 'appropriatio, quando idiomata humana de concreto divinæ naturæ enuntiantur,' Acts iii. 15; xx. 28; 1 Cor. ii. 8; Gal. ii. 20; Psa. xlv. 8. (b) Κοινωνία τῶν θείων, 'divinorum idiomatum, quando de persona verbi incarnati, ab humana natura denominata, idiomata divina ob unionem personalem enuntiantur,' John vi. 62; viii. 58; 1 Cor. xv. 47. (c) Ἀντίδοσις, or συναμφοτερισμός, 'alternatio s. reciprocatio, qua tam divina quam humana idiomata de concreto personæ sive de Christo, ab utraque natura denominato, prædicantur,' Heb. xiii. 8; Rom. ix. 5; 2 Cor. xiii. 4; 1 Pet. iii. 18. See Schmid, p. 258. Here Luther's warning is quoted against Zwingli's allœosis, as 'a mask of the devil.'
2. The genus apotelesmaticum, or the κοινωνία ἀποτελεσμάτων,633633 'The expression is borrowed from John of Damascus. ἀποτέλεσμα means properly completion of the work (consummatio operis), effect, result; but it is here used for each action in the threefold office of Christ. which has reference to the execution of the office of Christ: the communication of redeeming acts of the whole person to one of the two natures. Christ always operates in and through both. Thus Christ, neither as God nor man alone, but as God-man, is our Mediator, Redeemer, King, High-Priest, Shepherd, etc. He shed his blood according to his human nature, but the divine nature gave it infinite value (1 Cor. xv. 3: 'Christ died for our sins;' Gal. i. 4; iii. 17; 1 John iii. 8; Luke ix. 56).
3. The genus majestaticum, or auchematicum,634634 From αὔχημα, gloria. This genus is also called βελτίωσις, ὑπερύψωσις, μετάδοσις, θέωσις, ἀποθεοσία, θεοποίησις, unctio. i.e., the communication of the attributes of the divine nature to the assumed humanity of Christ. 'The human nature of Christ,' says the Formula, 'over and above its natural, essential, and permanent human properties, has also received special, high, great, supernatural, inscrutable, ineffable, heavenly prerogatives and pre-eminence in majesty, glory, power, and might, above all that can be named (Eph. i. 21).'635635 Sol. Decl. Art. VIII. p. 685 (ed. Müller).. . . 'This majesty of the human nature was hidden and restrained in the time of the humiliation. But now, since the form of a servant is laid aside, the majesty of Christ appears fully, efficiently, and manifestly before all the saints in heaven and on earth, and we also in the life to come shall see his glory face to face (John xvii. 24). For this reason, there is and remains in Christ only one divine omnipotence, power, majesty, and glory, which is the property of the divine nature alone; but this shines forth, exhibits, and manifests itself fully, yet spontaneously, in, with, and through the assumed, exalted human nature in Christ; precisely as to shine and to burn are not two properties of iron, but the power to shine and to burn is the property of the fire—but since the fire is united with the iron, it exhibits and manifests its power to shine and to burn in, with, and through this red-hot iron; so that also the red-hot iron, through this union, has the power to shine and to burn, without a change of the essence and of the natural properties of the fire or of the iron.'636636 P. 689.
The Lutheran scholastics make here a distinction between the operative attributes (omnipotence, omniscience, omnipresence) and the quiescent attributes (eternity, infinitude): all were communicated to Christ for inhabitation and possession, but only the operative for use—χρῆσις, usurpatio (Matt. xxviii. 18; John xvii. 2, 5, 27; Col. ii. 3).
4. Strict logic would require a fourth genus (genus ταπεινωτικόν, namely, the communication of the attributes of the human nature to the divine nature. But this is rejected by the Formula and the Lutheran scholastics, on the ground that the divine nature is unchangeable, and received no accession nor detraction from the incarnation.637637 Sol. Decl. p. 684: 'Was die göttliche Natur in Christo anlanget, weil bei Gott keine Veränderung ist (Jac. 1,17), ist seiner göttlichen Natur durch die Menschwerdung an ihrem Wesen und Eigenschaften nichts ab-oder zugegangen, ist in oder für sich dadurch weder gemindert noch gemehret.' This raises the question how far the unchangeableness of God is affected by the incarnation, about which Dr. Dorner has written some profound articles in the Jahrbücher für Deutsche Theologie, 1856 and 1858. This is a palpable inconsistency,638638 As Thomasius and Kahnis (Vol. III. p. 339) admit. and is fatal to the third genus. For if there is any real communication of the properties of the two natures, it must be mutual; the one is the necessary counterpart of the other. If the human nature is capable of the divine, the divine nature must be capable of the human; and if, on the other hand, the divine nature is incapable of the human, the human nature must be incapable of the divine. Luther felt this, and boldly uses such expressions as 'God suffered,' 'God died,' which were familiar to the Monophysites.639639 'Weil Gottheit und Menschheit,' he says (Vol. XXX. p. 204, Erl. ed.), 'Eine Person ist, so giebt die Schrift um solcher persönlichen Einigkeit willen auch alles, was der Menschheit widerfährt, der Gottheit, und wiederum. Und ist auch also in der Wahrheit. Denn da musst du ja sagen: Die Person leidet, stirbt; nun ist die Person wahrhaftiger Gott: durum ist's recht geredet: Gottes Sohn leidet.'
The battle-ground between the Lutheran and the Reformed is the genus majestaticum, for which John of Damascus had prepared the way. But just here the Formula is neither quite clear nor consistent. It was unable to harmonize the two different Lutheran Christologies represented among the authors by Andreæ and Chemnitz.640640 See above, pp. 290–294. It teaches, on the one hand (to guard against the charge of Eutychianism and Monophysitism), that the attributes of the divine nature (as omnipotence, eternity, infinitude, omnipresence, omniscience) 'can never become (intrinsically and per se) the attributes of the human nature,' and that the attributes of the human nature (as corporeality, limitation, circumscription, passibility, mortality, hunger, thirst) 'can never become the attributes of the divine nature.'641641 Epit. VIII. (p. 545, ed. Müller): 'Wir gläuben, lehren und bekennen, dass die göttliche und menschliche Natur nicht in ein Wesen vermenget, keine in die andere verwandelt, sondern ein jede ihre wesentliche Eigenschaften behalte, Welche der andern Natur Eigenschaften Nimmermehr Werden. Die Eigenschaften göttlicher Natur sind: allmächtig, ewig, etc., sein, welche der menschlichen Natur Eigenschaften nimmermehr werden. Die Eigenschaften menschlicher Natur sind: ein leiblich Geschöpf oder Creatur sein, etc., welche der göttlichen Natur Eigenschaften nimmermehr werden.' Comp. the Sol. Decl. Art. VIII. (This quite agrees with the doctrine of Chemnitz and of the Reformed theologians.) But, on the other hand (in opposition to Nestorianism and the 'sacramentarians,' as the Reformed are called), the Formula asserts that, by virtue of the hypostatic or personal union of the two natures and the communion of natures, one nature may, nevertheless (by derivation and dependency), partake of the properties of the other, or at least that the human nature, while retaining its inherent properties, may and does receive (as peculiar prerogatives, or as dona superaddita) the attributes of divine glory, majesty, power, omniscience, and omnipresence.642642 Epit. VIII. (p. 545): 'Sondern hie ist die höchste Gemeinschaft, welche Gott mit dem Menschen wahrhaftig hat, aus welcher persönlichen Vereinigung und der daraus erfolgenden höchsten und unaussprechlichen Gemeinschaft alles herfleusst, was menschlich von Gott, und göttlich vom Menschen Christo gesaget und gegläubet wird; wie solche Vereinigung und Gemeinschaft der Naturen die alten Kirchenlehrer durch die Gleichniss eines feurigen Eisens, wie auch der Vereinigung Leibes und der Seelen im Menschen erkläret haben.' The Sol. Decl. repeats the same at greater length. Thus God is really man, and man is really God; Mary is truly the mother of God, since she conceived and brought forth the Son of God; the Son of God truly suffered, though according to the property of his human nature; Christ as man, not only as God, knows all things, is able to do all things, is present to all creatures, and was so from the moment of the incarnation. For (as the Solid Declaration expressly states) Christ, according to his humanity, received his divine Majesty 'when he was conceived in the womb and became man, and when the divine and human natures were united with each other.' That is to say, the incarnation of God was at the same time a deification of man in Christ. (This was the Swabian theory of Brentius and Andreæ.)
As regards the ubiquity in particular, the Formula is again inconsistent. The Epitome favors the doctrine of the absolute ubiquity of Christ's body in all creatures (as taught by Luther, Brentius, Andreæ), and says that Christ, 'not only as God, but also as man, is present to all creatures . . . is omnipresent, and all things are possible and known to him;' the Solid Declaration, on the contrary, asserts only the relative ubiquity or multivolipresence (as taught by Chemnitz); but neutralizes this again by quoting, with full approbation, Luther's strongest passages in favor of absolute ubiquity.643643 The words ' dass Christus auch nach und mit seiner assumirten Menschheit gegenwärtig sein könne und auch sei, wo er will,' clearly express the multivolipræsentia of Chemnitz and the Saxons. Nevertheless, Chemnitz, to his own regret, could not prevent the wholesale indorsement and quotation of Luther's views—that wherever Christ's divinity is, there is also his humanity; that he may be and is in all places wherever God is; that the ascension is figurative; that the right hand of God is every where, etc. Hence it is scarcely correct when Kahnis says (Vol. II. p. 581) that the compromise of the Formula leans to the side of Chemnitz. Compare the thorough discussion of Dorner, Entwicklungsgeschichte, Vol. II. pp. 710 sqq., who clearly shows that Chemnitz made several fatal concessions to the Swabian Christology. Hence the opposition of Heshusius and the Helmstädt Lutherans (see p. 293). Hence there arose a fruitless controversy on the subject among the orthodox Lutherans themselves, as has been already stated.
The Formula, therefore, is not a real union of the Swabian and Saxon types, but only a series of concessions and counter-concessions, and a mechanical juxtaposition of discordant sentences from both parties.644644 Dorner, Vol. II. p. 771, 'Die Vermittlungsversuche des I. Andreæ und Chemnitz erreichten in Betreff des eigentlichen Gegensatzes zwischen den Schwaben und Niederdeutschen keine innere Einigung, sondern nur eine Vereinigung van disharmonischen Sätzen von beiden Seiten her in einem Buch. Die Folge war daher nicht Eintracht, sondern vielseitige Zwietracht.' The later orthodoxy did not settle the question, and both theories continued to find their advocates. Moreover, the Formula does not answer and refute, but simply denies the objections of the Reformed divines, and falls back upon the incomprehensibility of the mystery of the hypostatic union, which is declared to be the highest mystery next to the Trinity, and the one 'on which our whole consolation, life, and salvation depend.'
As regards the states of humiliation (exinanitio) and exaltation (exaltatio), the Formula, in the passages already quoted, teaches the full possession (κτῆσις), and a partial or occult use (κρῆσις), of the divine attributes by Christ from the moment of his existence as a man. His human nature, and not the divine pre-existent Logos, is understood to be the subject of the humiliation in the classical passage Phil. ii. 7, on which the distinction of two states is based. Consequently the two states refer properly only to the human nature, and consist in a difference of outward condition and visible manifestation. The humiliation is a partial concealment of the actual use (a κρύψις χρήσεως) of the divine attributes communicated to the human nature at the incarnation; the exaltation is a full manifestation of the same. As to the extent of the concealment or actual use, there arose afterwards, as we have seen already, a controversy between the Giessen and Tübingen divines, but was never properly settled, nor can it be settled on the christological basis of the Formula.645645 The Formula teaches the κτῆσις with a partial κένωσις χρήσεως, and so far seems to favor the later Giessen view, although the issue was not yet fairly before the authors. Sol. Decl. Art. VIII. (p. 767 ed. Rech., p. 680 ed. Müller): 'Eam vero majestatem statim in sua conceptione etiam in utero matris habuit, sed ut apostolus loquitur (Phil. ii. 7), se ipsum exinanivit, eamque, ut D. Lutherus docet, in statu suæ humiliationis secreto habuit, neque eam semper, sed quoties ipsi visum fuit, usurpavit.' An occasional use of the divine attributes during the state of humiliation was expressly conceded by the Giessen divines; they only denied the constant and full (though secret) use contended for by the Tübingen school. See above, p. 295. The Lutheran scholastics were more on the side of the Giessen divines. The modern school of Lutheran Kenoticists depart from it by assuming a real self-renunciation (κένωσις) of the divine Logos in the incarnation, but thereby they endanger the immutability of the Deity, and interrupt the continuity of the divine government of the world through the Logos during the state of humiliation.
We add some general remarks on the Christology of the Formula, as far as it differs from the Reformed Christology. After renewed investigation of this difficult problem, I have been confirmed in the conviction that the exegetical argument, which must ultimately decide the case, is in favor of the Reformed and against the Lutheran theory; but I cheerfully admit that the latter represents a certain mystical and speculative element, which is not properly appreciated in the Calvinistic theology, and may act as a check upon Nestorian tendencies.
1. The scholastic refinements of the doctrine of the communicatio idiomatum, and especially the ubiquity of the body, have no intrinsic religious importance, and owe their origin to the Lutheran hypothesis of the corporeal presence.646646 This is admitted, in part at least, by Dr. Stahl, one of the ablest and most clear-headed modern champions of orthodox Lutheranism, when he says: 'Die Lehre von der Allgegenwart des Leibes Christi ist, abgesehen von der Anwendung auf das Abendmahl, von gar keinem religiösen Interesse' (Die lutherische Kirche und die Union, Berlin, 1859, p. 185). They should, therefore, never have been made an article of faith. A surplus of orthodoxy provokes skepticism.
2. The great and central mystery of the union of the divine and human in Christ, which the Formula desires to uphold, is overstated and endangered by its doctrine of the genus majestaticum, or the communication of the divine attributes to the human nature of Christ. This doctrine runs contrary to the ἀσυγχύτως and ἀτρέπτως of the Chalcedonian Creed. It leads necessarily—notwithstanding the solemn protest of the Formula—to a Eutychian confusion and æquation of natures; for, according to all sound philosophy, the attributes are not an outside appendix to the nature and independent of it, but inherent qualities, and together constitute the nature itself. Or else it involves the impossible conception of a double set of divine attributes—one that is original, and one that is derived or transferred.
3. The genus majestaticum can not be carried out, and breaks down half-way. The divine attributes form a unit, and can not be separated. If one is communicated, all are communicated. But how can eternity ab ante (anfangslose Existenz), which is a necessary attribute of the divine nature of Christ, be really communicated to a being born in time, as Jesus of Nazareth undoubtedly was? How can immensity be transferred to a finite man? The thing is impossible and contradictory. An appeal to God's omnipotence is idle, for God can not sin, nor err, nor die, nor do any thing that is inconsistent with his rational and holy nature.
4. The doctrine has no support in the Scriptures; for the passages quoted in its favor speak of the divine human person, not of the human nature of Christ; as, 'I am with you alway;' 'all power is given to me;'647647 It is objected that omnipotence could not be given to the divine person of Christ, who had it from eternity essentially and of necessity, but only to his human nature. But this reasoning implies a virtual denial of the κένωσις, or laying aside of the pre-existent glory which Christ had as God, and was going to take possession of again as God-man at his exaltation, John xvii. 5 (δόξασον μὲ . . . τῇ δόξῃ ᾖ εἶχον πρὸ τοῦ τὸν κόσμον εἶναι παρὰ σοί). 'in Christ are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge;' 'in Christ dwelleth all the fullness of the Godhead bodily.' And as to the state of humiliation, such passages as Luke ii. 52; Mark xiii. 32; Heb. v. 8, 9, are inconsistent with the teaching of the Formula that he was omniscient as man from the mother's womb.
5. The Christology of the Formula makes it impossible to construct a truly human life of our Lord on earth, and turns it into a delusive Christophany, or substitutes a crypto-pantheistic Christ for a personal, historical Christ.
6. The familiar illustrations of the iron and fire, and body and soul, used by the Formula, favor the Reformed rather than the Lutheran theory; for the iron does not transfer its properties to the fire, nor the fire to the iron; neither are the spiritual qualities of the soul, as cognition and volition, communicated to the body, nor the material properties and functions of the body, as weight and extension, eating and drinking, to the soul: both are indeed most intimately and inseparably connected—the soul dwells in the body, and the body is the organ of the soul—but both remain essentially distinct. The same is the case with the other illustration which is borrowed from the intercommunication or inhabitation (περιχώρησις, immanentia, permeatio, circumincessio) of the persons of the Holy Trinity; for the peculiar properties (ἴδια, ἰδιότητες) of the persons are not communicated or transferred—paternity and being unbegotten (ἀγεννησία) belongs to the Father alone, sonship (γεννησία, filiatio) to the Son alone, and procession (ἐκπόρευσις, processio) to the Holy Ghost alone.
7. The ubiquity of the body is logically necessary for the hypothesis of consubstantiation, and both stand and fall together. For the eucharistic multipresence must be derived either from a perpetual miracle (performed through the priestly consecration, or by the power of the Holy Ghost, both of which the Lutherans reject),648648 According to the Romish liturgy, the elements are literally changed or transubstantiated into the very body and blood of Christ by the consecration of the priest when he repeats the words of institution, Hoc est corpus meum; and hence the priest is blasphemously said to create the body of Christ. But, according to the Oriental and Greek liturgies, the presence of the body and blood of Christ is effected by the Benediction or Invocation of the Holy Ghost, which follows the recital of the words of institution. Calvin and the Reformed liturgies likewise bring in the agency of the Holy Ghost, but simply for conveying the energy or the power and effect of the body and blood of Christ in heaven to the believing communicant. or from an inherent quality of the body itself, which enables it to be present wherever and whenever it is actually partaken of by the mouth of the communicants.
8. But ubiquity proves too much for consubstantiation by extending the eating of Christ to every meal (though this is inconsistently denied), and depriving the eucharistic presence of all specific value. Yea, it is fatal to it, and leads, we will not say to the Calvinistic, but rather to a crypto-pantheistic theory of the eucharist;649649 The Roman Catholic Bellarmin (see below) and Reformed polemics (also Steitz on Ubiquity, in Herzog's Encykl.) argue that the ubiquity dogma destroys the Lutheran corporeal presence, and logically ends in the Calvinistic theory of the spiritual real presence. But we would rather say that it ends in a crypto-panchristism, which is quite foreign to Calvin. The doctrine of ubiquity was, before Luther, always connected with a leaning to Gnosticism and Pantheism, as in Origen and Scotus Erigena. for a body which is intrinsically and perpetually omnipresent must be so spiritual that it can only be spiritually present and spiritually be partaken of by faith.650650 The Lutherans exclude all ideas of local extension or expansion from the body of Christ, and describe it just as the scholastics and the ancient philosophers (Plato, Aristotle, Philo) describe the presence of incorporeal substances, and especially of the Deity itself, which is 'unextended,' 'indistant,' 'devoid of magnitude,' not part of it here and part of it there, but whole and undivided every where and nowhere. See Cudworth's Intellectual System of the Universe, Harrison's ed. (Lond. 1845), Vol. III. p. 248.
9. Ubiquity is not only unscriptural, but antiscriptural, and conflicts with the facts of Christ's local limitations while on earth, his descent into Hades, his forty days after the resurrection, his ascension to heaven, his visible return to judgment. We freely admit that Christ's glorified body is not subject to the laws of earthly substances or confined to a particular locality; it is a 'spiritual' body (comp. 1 Cor. xv.), with its own laws of rest and locomotion, which transcend our present knowledge; nevertheless it is and ever remains a body, as real as the resurrection body of saints which will be fashioned like unto it (σύμμορφον τῷ σώματι τῆς δόξης αὐτοῦ), and as heaven itself is real, from which Christ will return 'in like manner' as the apostles 'saw him go into heaven.' The ubiquitarian exegesis here runs into an ultra-Zwinglian spiritualism to save the literalism with which it started. But, feeling its own weakness, it falls back again at last upon the literal understanding of the ἐστί in the words of institution.
10. This first and last resort of consubstantiation is given up by the ablest modern exegetes,651651 Including such unbiased philological commentators as De Wette and Meyer. See especially Meyer on Matthew xxvi. 26 (pp. 548 sqq. of the 5th ed.), and my annotations to Lange on Matthew, Am. ed., pp. 470–474. Kahnis, who formerly wrote an elaborate historical work in defense of the Lutheran doctrine (Die Lehre vom Abendmahl, Lipz. 1851), has more recently (1861) arrived at the conclusion that 'the Lutheran interpretation of the words of institution must be given up,' though he thinks that this affects only the Lutheran theology, not the Lutheran faith. who agree in the following decisive results: (a) That the disputed word ἐστί was not even spoken by our Lord in Aramaic, and can have no conclusive weight, (b) That the substantive verb may designate a symbolical as well as a real relation between the subject and the predicate, as is evident from the nature of the case and from innumerable passages of Scripture, (c) That in this case the literal interpretation would lead to transubstantiation rather than the semi-figurative (synecdochical) consubstantiation; since Christ does not say what the Lutheran hypothesis would require: 'This is my body and bread,' 'This is my blood and wine (or in, with, and under the bread and wine).' (d) That the figurative or metaphorical interpretation (whether in the Zwinglian or Calvinistic sense) is made necessary in connection with the τοῦτο for οὗτος, ποτήριον for οἶνος, or αἶμα, as well as by the surroundings of the institution of the Lord's Supper, viz.: the nature of the typical passover, the living, personal presence of our Lord, with his body still unbroken and his blood still unshed, which could not be literally eaten and drunk by his disciples.
This, of course, only settles the exegetical basis, and still leaves room for different doctrinal views of this sacred ordinance, into which we can not here enter.652652 I have briefly expressed my own view in Com. on Matthew, p. 471: . . . 'But we firmly believe that the Lutheran and Reformed views can be essentially reconciled, if subordinate differences and scholastic subtleties are yielded. The chief elements of reconciliation are at hand in the Melanchthonian-Calvinistic theory. The Lord's Supper is: (1.) A commemorative ordinance, a memorial of Christ's atoning death, and a renewed application of the virtue of his broken body and shed blood. (This is the truth of the Zwinglian view, which no one can deny in the face of the words of the Saviour: 'Do this in remembrance of me.') (2.) A feast of living union of believers with the ever-living, exalted Saviour, whereby we truly, though spiritually, receive Christ with all his benefits, and are nourished by his life unto life eternal. (This was the substance for which Luther contended against Zwingli, and which Calvin retained, though in a different scientific form, and in a sense rightly confined to believers.) (3.) A communion of believers with one another as members of the same mystical body of Christ. . . . It is a sad reflection that the ordinance of the Lord's Supper—this feast of the unio mystica and communio sanctorum, which should bind all pious hearts to Christ and each other, and fill them with the holiest and tenderest affections—has been the innocent occasion of the bitterest and most violent passions and the most uncharitable abuse. The eucharistic controversies are among the most unrefreshing and apparently fruitless in church history. Theologians will have much to answer for at the judgment-day for having perverted the sacred feast of divine love into an apple of discord. No wonder that Melanchthon's last wish and prayer was to be delivered from the rabies theologorum. Fortunately, the blessing of the holy communion does not depend upon the scientific interpretation and understanding of the words of institution, but upon the promise of the Lord, and upon childlike faith which receives it, though it may not fully understand the mystery of the ordinance. Christians celebrated it with most devotion and profit before they contended about the true meaning of those words, and obscured their vision by all sorts of scholastic theories and speculations. Fortunately, even now Christians of different denominations and holding different opinions can unite around the table of their common Lord and Saviour, and feel one with him and in him who died for them all, and feeds them with his life once sacrificed on the cross, but now living forever. Let them hold fast to what they agree in, and charitably judge of their differences; looking hopefully forward to the marriage supper of the Lamb in the kingdom of glory, when we shall understand and adore, in perfect harmony, the infinite mystery of the love of God in his Son our Saviour.'
11. The Lutheran doctrine of the eucharist overlooks the omnipresence of the Holy Spirit, and substitutes for it the corporeal presence of Christ. It is the Holy Spirit who brings the believer in and out of the sacrament into a living union and communion with the whole Christ, and makes the perpetual virtue and efficacy of his crucified body on the cross, i.e., his atoning sacrifice, and of his glorified body in heaven, available for our spiritual benefit.
12. Finally, as regards the two states of Christ, the Reformed Christology is right in making the pre-existent Logos (Λόγος ἄσαρκος) the subject of the κένωσις, or self-humiliation, instead of the human nature (or the Λόγος ἔνσαρκος), which was never before ἐν μορφῇ θεοῦ, and consequently could not renounce it in any way. The incarnation itself is the beginning of the humiliation. In this interpretation of Phil. ii. 7 the Reformed Church is sustained not only by Chrysostom and other fathers, but also by the best modern exegetes of all denominations, including Lutherans.653653 See, especially, Meyer (who ably defends the patristic and Reformed exegesis against the objections of De Wette and Philippi), and Braune on Phil. ii. 6 sqq. (Am. ed. of Lange). The latter says: 'ὅς of has for its antecedent Χριστῷ Ιησοῦ, and points to his ante-mundane state, as verses 7 and 8 refer to his earthly existence, and verses 9–11 refer to his subsequent glorified condition. The subject is the Ego of the Lord, which is active in all the three modes of existence. It is the entire summary of the history of Jesus, including his ante-human state.' Among the dogmatic theologians of the Lutheran Church, Liebner, Thomasius, Kahnis, Gess, and others, give up the old Lutheran exegesis of the passage. Kahnis (in the third volume of his Luth. Dogmatik, 1868, p. 341) makes, as the result of his earnest investigation, the following clear and honest statement: '(a) Dass Paulus in der Offenbarungsgeschichte Jesu Christi drei Stadien unterscheidet: das Stadium der Gottesgestalt, da der Logos beim Vater war; das Stadium der Knechtsgestalt, das mit der Selbstverleugnung Christi in der Menschwerdung begann und zur Erniedrigung am Kreuze fortging; das Stadium der Erhöhung, da im Namen Christi sich alle Knie beugen und ihn als Herrn bekennen. (b) Dass das Subjekt der Erniedrigung der λόγος ἄσαρκος ist, wie schon die alte Kirche in ihren namhaftesten Lehrern sah, die reformirten Theologen richtig erkannten und auch die bedeutendsten neueren Ausleqer aller Confessionen zugestehen, das Subjekt der Erhöhung aber der λόγος ἔνσαρκος. (c) Dass die Entäusserung (ἐαυτόν ἐκέύωσε) darin besteht, dass der Logos sich der Gottesgestalt (μορφὴ θεοῦ) d. h. des Herrlichkeitsstandes beim Vater begab, um Knechtsgestalt (μορφὴ δούλου) anzunehmen, d.h. ein Mensch wie wir zu werden, ja als Mensch sich zum Kreuzestode zu erniedrigen (ἐταπείνωσεν ἐαυτόν): Entäusserung also gleich Menschwerdung ist. Darnach fordert dieses Lehrstück eine andere Fassung, als die alte [Luther.] Dogmatik ihm gab.'
Art. IX. Of Christ's Descent into Hell..—The fact of a real descent of the whole person of Christ, the God-man, after his death, into the real hell (not a metaphorical hell, nor the grave, nor the limbus patrum) is affirmed, and its object defined to be the defeat of Satan and the deliverance of believers from the power of death and the devil; but all curious questions about the mode are deprecated and left for the world to come.
Art. X. Of Church Usages and Ceremonies, called Adiaphora.—The observance of ceremonies and usages neither commanded nor forbidden in the Word of God, should be left to Christian freedom, but should be firmly resisted when they are forced upon us as a part of divine service (Gal. ii. 4, 5; v. 1; Acts xvi. 3; Rom. xiv. 6; 1 Cor. vii. 18; Col. ii. 16).
This article was a virtual condemnation of Melanchthon's course in the Interim controversy.
Art. XI. Of God's Foreknowledge and Election.—No serious controversy took place on this doctrine in the Lutheran Church, except at Strasburg between Zanchi and Marbach (1561). The rigid predestinarianism of Luther and the Flacianists quietly gave way to the doctrine of the universality of divine grace, while yet the anthropological premises of the Augustinian system were retained (in Art. I. and II.).
The Formula teaches that there is a distinction between foreknowledge (præscientia, prævisio, Vorsehung, Matt. x. 29; Psa. cxxxix. 16; Isa. xxxvii. 28) and foreordination (prædestinatio, electio, ewige Wahl, Eph. i. 5); that foreknowledge pertains alike to the good and the evil, and is not the cause of sin and destruction; that foreordination refers only to the children of God; that this predestination of the elect is 'eternal, infallible, and unchangeable,' and is the ultimate and unconditional cause of their salvation; that God, though he elects only a portion, sincerely desires all men to be saved, and invites them by his Word to the salvation in Christ; that the impenitent perish by their own guilt in rejecting the gospel; that Christians should seek the eternal election, not in the secret but in the revealed will of God, and avoid presumptuous and curious questions.
Thus the particularism of election and the universalism of vocation, the absolute inability of fallen man (Art. II.), and the guilt of the unbeliever for rejecting what he can not accept, are illogically combined. The obvious contradiction between this article and the second has already been pointed out.654654 See above, p. 314. Comp. also Dorner, Gesch. der Prot. Theol. pp.366 sqq. Planck (Vol. VI. p. 814) charges this article with a confusion not found in the other parts of the Formula, and Gieseler (Vol. IV. p. 488) with putting together contradictory positions; while, on the other hand, Thomasius (Das Bekenntniss der ev. luth. Kirche, etc. p. 222) sees here only supplementary truths to be reconciled by theological science, and Guericke (in his Kirchengeschichte, Vol. III. p. 419) calls the logical inconsistency of the Formula 'divinely necessitated' (eine göttlich nothwendige Verstandes-Inconsequenz).
The authors felt the speculative difficulties of this dogma, and emphasized the practical side, which amounts to this: that believers are saved by the free grace of God, while unbelievers are lost by their own guilt in rejecting the grace sincerely offered to them. Later Lutheran divines, like John Gerhard, labored hard to show that God not only sincerely desires the salvation of all men alike, but that he also actually gives an opportunity to all men even in this present life.655655 Loc. Theol. Tom. IV. pp. 189 sqq. (de Electione et Reprob. § 7; de Universalitate Vocationis, § 135}. But the argument fails with regard to the heathen, who form the greatest part of the race even to this day (not to speak of the world before Christ): and hence the Lutheran view of the actual universality of the offer of grace necessitates an essential change of the orthodox doctrine of the middle state, as far as those are concerned who never heard of the gospel in this world.
Art. XII. Of Several Heresies and Sects.—This article rejects the peculiar tenets of the Anabaptists, Schwenkfeldians, New Arians, and Antitrinitarians, who never embraced the Augsburg Confession.
To the second part of the Formula there is added a Catalogue of Testimonies from the Scriptures and the fathers (Athanasius, Gregory Nazianzen, Cyril of Alexandria, John of Damascus) concerning the divine majesty of the human nature of Christ, in support of the doctrine of the communicatio idiomatum, as taught in Art. VIII. This Appendix was prepared by Andreæ and Chemnitz; but it has no symbolical authority, and is often omitted from the Book of Concord.656656 Tittmann and Hase omit it; Müller gives it (pp. 731–767).
RECEPTION, AUTHORITY, AND INTRODUCTION.657657 Comp. among recent works especially the third volume of Heppe's Geschichte des D. Protest, pp. 215–322, and the whole fourth volume. The chief data are also given by Gieseler, Vol. IV. pp. 489–493, and by Köllner, 1.c. pp. 573–583.
The Form of Concord, as it is the last, is also the most disputed of the Lutheran symbols. It never attained general authority, like the Augsburg Confession or Luther's Catechism, although far greater exertions were made for its introduction.
It was adopted by the majority of the Lutheran principalities and state churches in Germany;658658 The Preface of the Book of Concord is signed by eighty-six names representing the Lutheran state churches in the German empire; among them are three Electors (Louis of the Palatinate, Augustus of Saxony, and John George of Brandenburg), twenty Dukes and Princes, twenty-four Counts, thirty-five burgomasters and counselors of imperial cities. The Formula was also signed by about 8000 pastors and teachers under their jurisdiction, including a large number of ex-Philippists and Crypto-Calvinists, who preferred their livings to their theology; hence Hutter was no doubt right when he admitted that many subscribed mala conscientia. Yet no direct compulsion seems to have been used. See Köllner, p. 551, and Johannsen, Ueber die Unterschriften des Concordienbuches, in Niedner's Zeitschrift für histor. Theologie, 1847, No. 1. also by the state church of Sweden, the Lutherans in Hungary, and several Lutheran synods in the United States.659659 It was adopted in Sweden at a Council of Upsala, 1593; in Hungary, 1597. In America it is held by the Lutheran Synodical Conference, and by the General Council, but rejected by the General Synod (see p. 224).
On the other hand, it was rejected by a number of Lutheran Princes and cities of the empire,660660 The Landgrave of Hesse, the Palatinate John Casimir, the Prince of Anhalt, the Duke of Pomerania (where, however, the symbol afterwards came into authority), the Duke of Holstein, the Duke of Saxe-Luneburg, the Counts of Nassau and Hanau, the cities of Strasburg, Frankfort-on-the-Main, Spires, Worms, Nuremberg, Magdeburg, Bremen, Danzig, Nordhausen. and by King Frederick II. of Denmark.661661 Frederick II. strictly prohibited, on pain of confiscation and deposition, the importation and publication of the Form of Concord in Denmark (July 24, 1580), and threw the two superbly bound copies sent to him by his sister, the wife of Augustus of Saxony, unceremoniously into the chimney-fire. See Köllner, p. 575 sq.; Gieseler, Vol. IV. p. 493, note 54; and Heppe, Vol. IV. pp. 275 sqq. Nevertheless the document afterwards gained considerable currency in Denmark.
Some countries of Germany, where it had been first introduced, rejected it afterwards, but remained Lutheran;662662 So the Duchy of Brunswick recalled the subscription in 1583. Duke Julius, one of the most zealous promoters of the Form of Concord, became alienated for personal reasons, because he was severely blamed by Chemnitz and several Princes for allowing one of his sons to receive Romish consecration (Dec. 5, 1578), and two others the tonsure, to the great scandal of Protestantism. He was afterwards strengthened by the doctrinal opposition of Heshusius and the Helmstädt Professors, who rejected the Formula for teaching absolute ubiquity. The Corpus doctrinæ Julium was retained in Brunswick and Wolfenbüttel. See Planck, Vol. VI. pp. 667 sqq., and especially Heppe, Vol. IV. pp. 203 sqq. These Brunswick troubles brought about an alienation between Andreæ (who labored to reconcile the Duke) and Chemnitz (who was deposed by the Duke). In a widely circulated letter of April 8, 1580, Chemnitz compared Andreæ to a fawning and scratching cat ('cum coram longe aliud mihi dicas, wie die Katzen, die vorne lecken und hinten kratzen'). Heppe, p. 214. while others, in consequence of the doctrinal innovations and exclusiveness of the Formula, passed over to the Reformed Confession.663663 So the Palatinate, which, after a short Lutheran interregnum of Louis, readopted the Heidelberg Catechism under John Casimir (1583), Anhalt (1588), Zweibrücken (1588), Hanau (1596), Hesse (1604), and especially Brandenburg under John Sigismund (1614). In this respect the Formula of Concord inflicted great territorial loss upon the Lutheran denomination. The greatest loss was the Palatinate and the Electoral, afterwards the royal house of Brandenburg and Prussia. It is a significant fact, that the successors of the three Electors, who were the chief patrons and signers of the Formula, left the Lutheran Church: two became Reformed, and one (the King of Saxony) a Roman Catholic.
OPPOSITION AND DEFENSE..664664 See lists of controversial works for and against the Formula of Concord in Walch, Feuerlin, and Köllner. Comp. also Hutter, Conc. conc. Ch. XXXVII. (p. 958), Ch. XLI. (p. 976), Ch. XLV. (p. 1033), and Ch. XLV. (p. 1038); Heppe, Vol. IV. pp. 270 sqq.; and G. Frank, Vol. I. pp. 251–266. Hutter sees in the general attack of 'the devil and his organs, the heretics,' against the Formula, a clear proof that it was composed instinctu Spiritus Sancti, and is in full harmony with the infallible Word of God (p. 976).
The Formula gave rise to much controversy. It was assailed from different quarters by discontented Lutherans and Philippists,665665 The rigidly orthodox Heshusius and the Helmstädt divines (in the Quedlinburg Colloquium, 1583), Christopher Irenæus (an exiled Flacianist, formerly court chaplain at Weimar, 1581), Ambrosius Wolff (or Cyriacus Herdesianus, of Nuremberg, 1580), the Bremen preachers (1581), the Anhalt theologians (1580, 1581), and the Margrave of Baden (in the Stafford Book, 1599). Calvinists,666666 Ursinus (in connection with Zanchius, Tossanus, and other deposed Heidelberg Professors, who, under John Casimir and during the rule of Lutheranism in Heidelberg, founded and conducted a flourishing theological school at Neustadt an der Hardt, 1576 to 1583): Admonitio Christiana de libro Concordiæ (or Christliche Erinnerung vom Concordienbuch), Neostadadii in Palatinatu, Latin and German, 1581 (also in Urs. Opera, Heidelberg, 1612, Vol. II. pp.486 sqq.). It consists of twelve chapters, and is very able. Extract in Sudhoff, Olevianus und Ursinus, pp. 432–452; comp. Schweizer in Herzog, Vol. X. pp. 263–265. Ursinus and some of his pupils defended this work against the Lutheran 'Apology,' in Defensio Admonitionis Neost. contra Apologiæ Erfordensis sophismata, Neost. 1584. Beza wrote Refutatio dogmatis de ficticia carnis Christi omnipræsentia; Dansæus an Examen of Chemnitz's book De duabus in Christo naturis, Genev. 1581; Sadeel, a very able tract, De veritate humanæ naturæ Christi, 1585 (in his Opera, Genev. 1592). Of later Reformed writings must be mentioned the Emdensche Buch (1591), and especially Hospinian's Concordia discors (1607), which called forth Hutter's Concordia concors (1614). and Romanists.667667 The ablest Roman assailant was Robert Bellarmin: Judicium de libro quem Lutherani vocant Concordiæ, Ingolst. 1587, 1589, etc. (in his Opera, Col. Ag. 1620, Vol. VII. p. 576). Against him Hoe ab Hœnegg wrote Apol. contra R. B. impium et stolidum judicium, Fref. 1605. Bellarmin also repeatedly notices the Christology of the Formula in his great controversial work against Protestantism. See below.
The chief objection was to the new dogma of ubiquity.
The Lutherans attacked, according to their stand-point, either the concessions to the Swabian scheme of absolute ubiquity, or the absence of a direct condemnation of Melanchthon and other heretics, or the rejection of the Flacian theory of original sin, or the condemnation of Synergism. The last point could be made very plausible, since the chief authors of the Formula, Andreæ, Chemnitz, and Selnecker, had at first been decided synergists. Chytræus remained true at least to his love and admiration for Melanchthon, which subjected him to the suspicion of Crypto-Philippism and Calvinism.668668 See Schütz, Vita Chytræi, and Heppe, Vol. IV. pp. 395 sqq.
The Reformed, led by Ursinus (chief author of the Heidelberg Catechism), justly complained of the misrepresentations and unfair condemnation of their doctrine under the indiscriminate charge of sacramentarianism,669669 This complaint the Erfurt Apology of the Formula of Concord admitted to be just, at least in part. The Formula makes no distinction between Zwingli and Calvin; condemns Zwingli's 'allæosis' (by which he meant only to guard against a confusio and æquatio naturarum) as a mask of the devil; charges the Reformed generally with a Nestorian separation of the two natures in Christ, and a denial of all communion between them; with childish literalism concerning the right hand of God and the throne of glory; with shutting Christ up in heaven, as if he had no more to do with us, etc. and explained the qualified sense in which the Reformed signed the Augsburg Confession in the sense of its author, with wholesome strictures on the unprotestant overestimate of the authority of Luther. They exposed with rigid logic the doctrinal contradiction between Arts. II. and XI., quoted Luther's views on predestination against the Formula, and refuted with clear and strong arguments the new dogma of ubiquity, which is contrary to the Scriptures, the œcumenical creeds, and sound reason, and destructive of the very nature of the sacrament as a communion of the body of Christ; for if the body is omnipresent, and there can be but one omnipresence, it must be present like God himself, i.e. like a spirit, every where whole and complete, without parts and members, and thus the lineaments and concrete image of Christ are lost. Sadeel pointed out the palpable inconsistency between the hyperphysical and ultrasupernatural outfit of Christ's body for the eucharistic presence, on the one hand, and the emphasizing of a corporeal presence and oral manducation on the other, as if this were the main thing in the sacrament, while the communion of the believing soul with the person of Christ was almost lost sight of.670670 Dorner, in his History of Christology (Vol. II. pp. 718–750), gives an admirable and impartial summary of the Reformed argument. Dr. Kahnis, of Leipzig, from his Lutheran standpoint, thus fairly and liberally characterizes the Reformed opposition to the Form of Concord (Luth. Dogm. Vol. II. p. 590): 'Die Reformirten vertraten den Standpunkt des Verstandes, welcher zwischen Endlichem und Unendlichem abstract(?) scheidend (finitum non est capax infiniti) der menschlichen Natur Christi keinen Antheil an den göttlichen Eigenschaften einräumt; den Standpunkt der Realität, welcher in der Betrachtung der Person Christi, von dem Wandel auf Erden ausgehead, der rein menschlichen Entwicklung Christi freien Raum schaffen will; den Standpunkt des Praktischen, der bei den sicheren Thatsachen der persönlichen Vereinigung Beruhigung fasste, ohne sich in gnostisch-scholastische Theorien verspinnen zu wollen.'
Strange to say, the Roman Catholics were just as decidedly opposed to ubiquity, though otherwise much nearer the Lutheran doctrine of the sacraments. Bellarmin, the greatest controversialist of Rome, exposes the absurdity of a dogma which would destroy the human nature of Christ, and involve the presence of his body in uteris omnium feminarum, imo etiam virorum, and the presence extra uterum from the moment of conception, and in utero after the nativity. In his polemic work against Protestantism he urges five arguments against ubiquity,671671 Lib. III. de Sacramento Eucharistiæ, cap. 17. Comp. also cap. 7, and Lib. III. de Christo (where he refers to the views of Luther, Brentius, Wigand, Heshusius, and Chemnitz on ubiquity). viz.: (1.) It abolishes the sacramental character of the eucharist. (2.) It leads to the Calvinistic spiritual presence and spiritual eating by faith—the very error of the sacramentarians which this Lutheran dogma was to overthrow.672672 His reasoning is curious: 'Quod est ubique, non potest moveri, nec transire de loco ad locum; ergo licet corpus Christi sit in pane, tamen non manducatur, cum panis manducatur, quia non movetur, nec transit cum pane e manu ad os, et ab ore ad stomachmn; nam etiam antea erat in ore et in stomacho, priusquam panis eo veniret. . . . Sequitur aut esse inanem cænam Domini, aut saltem spiritualiter sumi per energiam et per fidem, et solum a piis, qui habent fidem, et hoc est, quod volunt Calvinistæ.' (3.) It destroys the specific effect of the eucharist, and makes it useless. (4) It is refuted by the other Lutheran doctrine which confines the presence to the time of the use of the sacrament.673673 'Si enim corpus Christi ubique est, erit etiam ante usum in vane. (5.) It is a makeshift to evade the power of priestly consecration which creates the eucharistic presence.674674 Bellarmin (De Sacr. Euch. Lib. III. c. 7), after quoting Augustine against the sententia ubiquistarum Lutheranorum, thus defines the Roman view: 'Nos fatemur Christi corpus non esse ubique diffusum; et ubicunque est, habere suam formam et partium situm, ac dispositionem; quamvis hæc figura, forma, dispositio partium in cælo conspiciatur, ubi locum replet; in Sacramento autem sit quidem, sed non repleat locum, nec videri a nobis possit.'
Outside of Germany and Switzerland the Formula of Concord excited little or only passing polemical interest. Queen Elizabeth endeavored to prevent its adoption because it condemned the Reformed doctrine, and threatened to split and weaken the Protestants in their opposition to the united power of Rome. She sent delegates to a convention of Reformed Princes and delegates held at Frankfort-on-the-Main, Sept 1577.675675 Comp. on Elizabeth's action and the Convent of Frankfort, Hutter's Concordia concors, Cap. XVI. and XVII. (pp. 513–523); Planck, Vol. VI. pp. 591–611; Heppe, Vol. IV. pp. 5 sqq., 16 sqq., and 72 sqq. The Anglican divines of the sixteenth century rejected ubiquity as decidedly as the Continental Calvinists.676676 Cranmer was at first inclined to the Lutheran, theory, but gave it up afterwards. His fellow-Reformers held the Zwinglian or Calvinistic view. Bishop Hooper thus speaks of ubiquity: 'Such as say that heaven and the right hand of God is in the articles of our faith taken for God's power and might, which is every where, they do wrong to the Scripture and unto the articles of our faith. They make a confusion of the Scripture, and leave nothing certain. They darken the simple and plain verity thereof with intolerable sophisms. They make heaven hell, and hell heaven, turn upside down and pervert the order of God. If the heaven and God's right hand, whither our Saviour's body is ascended, be every where, and noteth no certain place, as these uncertain men teach, I will believe no ascension. What needeth it?—seeing Christ's body is every where with his Godhead. I will interpret this article of my creed thus: Christus ascendit ad dextram Patris. Patris dextra est ubique: ergo Christus ascendit ad ubique. See what erroneous doctrine followeth their imaginations!' Early Writings of John Hooper, D.D., Lord Bishop of Gloucester and Worcester, Martyr, 1555; ed. by the Parker Society, Cambridge, 1843, p.66. The 'Declaration of Christ and his Office,' from which this passage is taken, was first published at Zürich. 1547, in the early stage of the ubiquitarian controversy. See also the Remains of Archbishop Grindal, Camb. 1843, p. 46. Evangelical Episcopalians hold the Reformed view of the sacraments; and as to modern Anglo-Catholic and Ritualistic Episcopalians, they greatly prefer the Romish or Greek dogma of transubstantiation to the Lutheran consubstantiation.677677 Comp. the eucharistic works of Pusey (1855), Philip Freeman (1862), Thomas L. Vogan (1871), and John Harrison (against Pusey, 1871).
The attacks upon the Formula, especially those proceeding from Lutherans and the Palatinate divines, could not be ignored in silence. Chemnitz, Selnecker, and Kirchner, by order of the three electoral patrons of the work, convened at Erfurt,678678 In the Gasthof zum grünen Weinfasse. This gave rise to some joke and mockery. Oct. 23,1581 (afterwards at Braunschweig and Quedlinburg), and prepared, with much labor and trouble, an elaborate 'Apology,' called the 'Erfurt Book,' in four parts.679679 The first part was directed against the Neustadt Admonition of Ursinus and his colleagues, the second against the Bremen pastors, the third against Irenæus, the fourth against Wolf. Timothy Kirchner, of the Palatinate, prepared the first three parts, Selnecker and Chemnitz the last. They were published singly, and then jointly at Dresden, 1584, and distributed by the Elector Augustus among all the churches of Saxony. See Hutter, pp. 978 sqq. and 1038 sqq. (De Apol. Libri Concord. et de Colloquio Quedlinburgensi); Heppe, Vol. IV. pp. 284–311. It called forth new attacks, which it is unnecessary here to follow.
During the palmy period of Lutheran scholasticism the Formula of Concord stood in high authority among Lutherans, and was even regarded as inspired.680680 Hutter (Conc. conc. p. 976), Deutschmann, and others, who called it θεόπνευστος. Its first centennial (1680) was celebrated with considerable enthusiasm.681681 Anton, 1.c. Ch. X. Erste Concordien-Jubelfreude, pp. 134 sqq. J. G. Walch, in his Introd. 1732, represents the last stage of orthodox veneration before the revolution of sentiment took place. But at the close of another century it was dead and buried. The Pietists, and afterwards the Rationalists, rebelled against symbololatry and lifeless orthodoxy. One stone after another was taken down from the old temple, until it was left a venerable ruin. Those very countries where subscription to creeds had been most rigorously enforced, suffered most from the neological revolution.
Then followed a period of patient research and independent criticism, which led to a more impartial estimate. Planck, the ablest Lutheran historian of the Formula, with complete mastery of the sources, followed the leading actors into all the ramifications and recesses of their psychological motives, political intrigues, and theological passions, and represents the work as the fabrication of a theological triumvirate, which upon the whole did more harm than good, and which produced endless confusion and controversy.682682 See his judgment, Vol. VI. pp. 690 sqq.; 816 sqq. and passim. Planck's history is, even more than Hospinian's Concordia discors, a chronique scandaleuse of Lutheran pugnacity and bigotry in the second half of the sixteenth century. Köllner, another learned and impartial Lutheran, concedes to it higher merit for the past, but no dogmatic significance for the present, except in the article on predestination.683683 Symb. Vol. I. p. 596: 'Die Concordienformel hat dogmatisch nur insofern noch Werth, als sie mit den früheren Symbolen übereinstimmt. . . . Allein die Lehre von der Prädestination ausgenommen, kann ihr für das Dogma wie für die äusseren Verhältnisse der Kirche nur der wenigste eigenthümliche Werth unter allen Symbolen der Kirche zugestanden werden. Eigenthümlich ist nur die Ausbildung und mehr systematische Gestaltung des Lehrbegriffs der Kirche als eines Systems.' This is too low an estimate of the whole document, and too high an estimate of Art. XI. Heppe, the indefatigable historian of the German post-Reformation period, from a vast amount of authentic information, carries out the one-sided idea that the Lutheranism of the Formula is an apostasy from the normal development of German Protestantism, by which he means progressive, semi-Reformed, unionistic Melanchthonianism.684684 In his numerous works, so often quoted. Even Kahnis thinks that the Lutheran theology of the future must be built on the Melanchthonian elements which were condemned by the Formula.685685 Dogm. Vol. II. p. 517: 'Man darf, . . mit Zuversicht aussprechen, dass die Zukunft der theologischen Forschung an dem Fortschreiten auf dem von Melanchthon eingeschlagenen Wege hängt.'
With the modern revival of orthodoxy, the Formula enjoyed a partial resurrection among Lutherans of the high sacramentarian type, who regard it as the model of pure doctrine and the best summary of the Bible. By this class of divines it is all the more highly esteemed, since they make doctrine the corner-stone of the Church and the indispensable condition of Christian fellowship. In America, too, the Formula has recently found at least one able and scholarly advocate in the person of Dr. Krauth, of Philadelphia.686686 Dr. Krauth calls the Formula 'the amplest and clearest confession in which the Christian Church has ever embodied her faith,' and he goes so far as to say: 'But for the Formula of Concord, it may be questioned whether Protestantism could have been saved to the world' (Conservative Reform. p. 302). And this in full view of the independent Protestantism in Switzerland, France, Holland. England, and Scotland, which materially differs from the distinctive theology of this book, and was in vain condemned by it!
Yet the great body of the Lutheran Church will never return to the former veneration for this symbol. History never repeats itself. Each age must produce its own theology. Even modern Lutheran orthodoxy in its ablest champions is by no means in full harmony with the Formula, but departs from its anthropology and Christology, and makes concessions to Melanchthon and the Reformed theology, or attempts a new solution of the mighty problems which were once regarded as finally settled.687687 We can simply allude to the internal differences of the Erlangen, Leipzig, and Rostock schools of Lutherans; to Luthardt on the freedom of the will; to Thomasius on the Kenosis; to Kahnis on the Lord's Supper, inspiration, and the canon of the Scripture; to the Hofmann and Philippi controversy on the atonement; to Hengstenberg's articles on justification and the Epistle of James; to the disputes on the millenarian question; and to the controversy on Church government and the relation of the ministry to the general priesthood of believers, in which Huschke, Stahl, Kliefoth, Vilmar, and Löhe take High-Church ground against the Low-Church views of Höfling, Harless, Diedrich, etc. Some of these controversies, especially the question of the ministerial office (Amtsfrage), are also disturbing the peace of the orthodox Lutherans in America, and divide them into hostile synods (the Missouri Synod versus the Grabau Synod, Iowa Synod, and portions of the General Council, not to mention several subdivisions). The eschatological controversy separates the Iowa Synod from Grabau and the Missourians, who denounce millenarianism as a heresy. The smallest doctrinal difference among orthodox Lutherans in America is considered sufficient to justify the formation of a new synod with close-communion principles. And yet all these Lutherans adopt the Formula Concordiæ as the highest standard of pure Scripture orthodoxy. Is this Concordia concors, or Concordia discors?
AN IMPARTIAL ESTIMATE.
The Formula of Concord is, next to the Augsburg Confession, the most important theological standard of the Lutheran Church, but differs from it as the sectarian symbol of Lutheranism, while the other is its catholic symbol. Hence its authority is confined to that communion, and is recognized only by a section of it. It is both conclusive and exclusive, a Formula of Concord and a Formula of Discord, the end of controversy and the beginning of controversy. It completed the separation of the Lutheran and Reformed Churches, it contracted the territory and the theology of Lutheranism, and sowed in it the seed of discord by endeavoring to settle too much, and yet leaving unsettled some of the most characteristic dogmas. It is invaluable as a theological document, but a partial failure as a symbol, just because it contains too much theology and too little charity. It closes the productive period of the Lutheran reformation and opens the era of scholastic formalism.
The Formula is the fullest embodiment of genuine Lutheran orthodoxy, as distinct from other denominations. It represents one of the leading doctrinal types of Christendom. It is for the Lutheran system what the Decrees of Trent are for the Roman Catholic, the Canons of Dort for the Calvinistic. It sums up the results of the theological controversies of a whole generation with great learning, ability, discrimination, acumen, and, we may add, with comparative moderation. It is quite probable that Luther himself would have heartily indorsed it, with the exception, perhaps, of a part of the eleventh article. The Formula itself claims to be merely a repetition and explication of the genuine sense of the Augsburg Confession, and disclaims originality in the substance of doctrine.688688 See the Preface. An able argument for this agreement is presented by Prof. Thomasius, of Erlangen, in his Das Bekenntniss der evangelisch-lutherischen Kirche in der Consequent seines Princips, Nürnberg, 1848. He develops the doctrines of the Formula from Luther's doctrine of justification by faith as the organic life-principle of the Lutheran Church. But the Lutheran doctrine of the eucharist with the communicatio idiomatum and ubiquity of the body have—as the creeds of the Reformed churches prove—no necessary connection with justification by faith; and on these points, which constitute the peculiar features of the Formula, the author of the Augsburg Confession himself represented, even before Luther's death, a different line of development. But there were two diverging tendencies proceeding from the same source. The author of the Confession himself understood and explained it differently, and the Formula added new dogmas which he never entertained. It excludes, indeed, certain extravagances of the Flacian wing of Lutheranism, but, upon the whole, it is a condemnation of Philippism and a triumph of exclusive Lutheranism.689689 Andreæ, in a letter to Heshusius and Wigand, of July 24, 1576, giving an account of the results of the Torgau Convention (quoted by Heppe, Vol. III. p. 111), thus characteristically sets forth the object of the whole movement in which he and the Elector Augustus were the chief leaders: 'Hoc enim sancte vobis affirmare et polliceri ausim, Illust. Electorem Saxoniæ in hoc unice intentum, ut Lutheri Doctrina partim obscurata, partim vitiata, partim aperte vel occulte damnata, pura et sincera in scholis et Ecclesiis restituatur, adeoque Lutherus, hoc est Christus, cuius fidelis minister Lutherus fuit, vivat. Quid vultis amplius? Nihil hic fucatum, nihil palliatum, nihil tectum est, sed juxta spiritum Lutheri, qui Christi est.' And Chemnitz wrote, June 29, 1576: 'Mentio librorum Philippi expuncta est, et responsione hoc in parte retulimus nos ad Lichtenbergense decretmn.' Some zealots, like Heshusius, desired that Melanchthon should be condemned, by name, in the Formula, but Andreæ thought it better 'to cover the shame of Noah,' and to be silent about the apostasy of the Lutheran Solomon. Dr. Krauth, too, says (Conservative Reform. p. 327): 'The Book of Concord treats Melanchthon as the Bible treats Solomon. It opens wide the view of his wisdom and glory, and draws the veil over the record of his sadder days.' In the Formula itself he is nowhere named, but in the Preface to the 'Book of Concord' his writings are spoken of as 'utilia neque repudianda ac damnanda, quatenus cum ea norma, quæ Concordiæ libro expressa est, per omnia consentiunt.'
The spirit of Melanchthon could be silenced, but not destroyed, for it meant theological progress and Christian union. It revived from time to time in various forms, in Calixtus, Spener, Zinzendorf, Neander, and other great and good men, who blessed the Lutheran Church by protesting against bigotry and the overestimate of intellectual orthodoxy, by insisting on personal, practical piety, by widening the horizon of truth, and extending the hand of fellowship to other sections of Christ's kingdom. The minority which at first refused the Formula became a vast majority, and even the recent reaction of Lutheran confessionalism against rationalism, latitudinarianism, and unionism will be unable to undo the work of history, and to restore the Lutheran scholasticism and exclusivism of the seventeenth century. The Lutheran Church is greater and wider than Luther and Melanchthon, and, by its own principle of the absolute supremacy of the Bible as a rule of faith, it is bound to follow the onward march of Biblical learning.
The great length of this section may be justified by the intrinsic importance of the Formula Concordiæ, and the scarcity of reliable information in English works.690690 There is no full and satisfactory account of the history and character of the Form of Concord in the English language, except in Dr. Krauth's Conservative Reformation and its Theology, pp. 288–328; and this, in accordance with the aim of this learned and able author, is apologetic and polemic rather than historical. Dr. Shedd, in his valuable History of Christian Doctrine (Vol. II. p. 458), devotes only a few lines to it. Dr. Fisher, in his excellent work on the Reformation (N. Y. 1873), disposes of it in a foot-note (p. 481). In Dr. Blunt's Dictionary of Sects, etc. (London, 1874), it has no place among the Protestant Confessions, and the brief allusion to it sub 'Lutherans,' p. 269, only exposes the ignorance of the writer. The doctrines of the Form of Concord are frequently, though mostly polemically, noticed in Dr. Hodge's Systematic Theology (N.Y. 1873, 3 vols.).
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