I know it’s been a really long time since I blogged about Walther…and I still have my bookmark in Law & Gospel to resume blogging at a later date, but I was reading some things tonight which really struck me on the nature of preaching about faith.
Melanchthon is credited by Walther as being “the father of synergism (that is, synergism within the Lutheran church)” (pg. 289-290, Concordia Pub., 2010 ed.). He quotes Melanchthon and then offers his rebuttal:
[Melanchthon says,] “There are three reasons for a person’s conversion: the Word of God; the Holy Spirit, whom the Father and the Son send to awaken our heart; and the human will, which gives assent to the Word of God and does not resist.”
A person’s faith comes under the same ruling as his contrition. I might sit in a corner and indulge sad thoughts in order to coax contrition out of myself, but I will fail. If I were sincere, I would have to admit my inability. While I imagine that my heart has been softened and I am repenting of my sin, suddenly–deep down inside–I crave the very sin of which I have just “repented.” If genuine contrition is to be produced in me, the thunder of the Law must roll over my head and the lightning bolts of Sinai must strike my heart. The same is true regarding faith–I cannot produce it myself.
…When parishoners come to you complaining that they cannot believe, tell them you are not surprised by their statement, for no one can. It would be a miracle if they could. Teach them to do nothing but listen to the Word of God and God will give them faith. (pg. 291-292, emphasis Walther’s)
Some of my fellow Calvinists will bellow, WHAT?? Tell them only to listen to the Word of God? Yes. I’m going with Walther on this since faith comes by hearing and hearing through the Word of Christ.