This week, we dug into the meat of the 4th and 5th commandments ("Thou shalt honor thy father and thy mother," and "Thou shalt not murder," respectively). We were supposed to cover the rest of the commandments... but you know how that goes.
Here are my notes from tonight's class.
- 1st Commandment--God gives us Himself, and takes everything else away (deals with our heart)
- 2nd Commandment--God gives us his name and gives us a life of prayer (deals with our lips)
- 3rd Commandment--God gives us the gift of worship and His Word (deals with our ears)
- The Commandments are not only restrictive ("do not do this bad thing"), but also positive ("do this good thing")
- What does it mean to live a Christian life? Listening. Our "action" is passive, not active.
Before we got into the rest of the class, my husband asked a good question about why we say "fear and love" in the response to each Commandment in our Small Catechism.
- Fear and Love are contradictory ideas
- Some say that fear is "holy awe and respect"--but the Bible doesn't say that (those words could have been used, but weren't)
- Fear leaves you completely at the the mercy of God
- God commands us to fear Him only--once we believe, the threat of damnation (fear) is removed, and only love remains
- Fear gives way to love; Law gives way to Gospel
- We have a continual battle between Fear and Love (Law and Gospel), which is why we say both
We then talked about Luther's "tower experience" (when he first understood the Gospel)
- Romans 1:16--Luther was hung up on the phrase "righteousness of God"
- He believed that the Law = 10 Commandments, and the Gospel = more commands
- That makes this "active righteousness", or our works used to fulfil the Law and the "Gospel commands"
- Luther felt this was oppressive and wondered why God would do this--it's like asking us to complete an impossible task
- Luther realized, unlike any other theologian, that we don't need to try and make God's Word more palatable; we don't need to add or subtract anything--we just need to believe (and not always understand)
- The Scriptures tell us all we need to know, not all we want to know
- He realized that righteousness was passive (through faith and trust) rather than active (through works)
- The Fourth Commandment (establishing authority) is the font of societal order and the foundation of all other commandments following.
- Estates: the ordering of society
- 1st: Family - parents --> children
- Foremost estate of human society--the primary building block
- 2nd: Church - preacher --> preachee (hearer)
- Also deals with the 3rd commandment
- Canonical governance, means of disseminating Law and Gospel
- 3rd: State - ruler --> ruled
- Civil governance (derived from family)
- Unlike the other two estates, the structure of the state is complex, although overly simplified, it becomes ruler and ruled
- Unique caveat with constitutional representative government (like America)
- Family does not serve the state, the state serves the family (since the estate of the family is the building block of the state)
- It is VERY important not to confuse these estates (i.e. in a theocracy unless it is established by God--the ONLY one ever established was in Old Testament Israel)
- Vocation: calling and station in life
- Who is my neighbor?
- Who our neighbor is determines how we specifically act towards those involved with our vocations.
- Authority vs. Power = function of vocation vs. essential
- Authority is to give gifts
- Satan attacks the institutions of the family and attempts to pervert the balance of family supremacy over the state
- See my previous post on the Left Hand and Right Hand Kingdoms here (we reviewed it in class tonight)
- When dealing with the 5th Commandment (which protects life), understand that there is a distinction between killing and murder (i.e. self defense, war, capital punishment)
- How do you distinguish between the two? Ask: "Am I angry?"
- The Just War Theory was developed to help determine when it was justified for Christians to be involved in war
- Violence is sometimes necessary to use against death to bring death to an end.
Next week, we will finish up the 10 Commandments and hopefully start the Apostles' Creed. The political animal in me is looking forward to more thorough discussion of the 7th Commandment, which Pastor calls the "anti-socialism" Commandment. I already enjoy the discussions we've had about the 4th Commandment and authority. A little teaser for next week: