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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions
Concerning Human Traditions in the Church part 32

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1 Corinthians 8:8–13

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Human Traditions in the Church 

Nevertheless, we teach that freedom should be judiciously employed in these matters so that the weak are not offended, and may not become more hostile to the true doctrine of the gospel because liberty is abused. Nothing should be changed in customary rites without a reasonable cause. So that harmony is promoted, the old customs may be observed if they can be observed without sin or without great inconvenience.

Pulling It Together

What difference does it make if you eat so-called unclean foods (Acts 10:15)? Will you go to hell because you ate some rabbit stew (Lev 11:6)? Will God withhold his forgiveness because you had a pork chop (Lev 11:7)? Or, in the case of 1 Corinthians 8, will you be damned if you eat some BBQ chicken served at a non-Christian religious festival? No, it says that the food makes no difference but that if someone less experienced in the faith sees you there eating that food, it may destroy their weak faith.

More specifically, does eating or not eating certain foods for religious reasons—or for that matter, following any other kind of human tradition—merit God’s favor and forgiveness? Again, no. Eating certain foods and following other human traditions do not commend us to God. These traditions are fine if used for personal discipline or unity in the church (such as a congregation fasting together)—so long as they may be observed without causing people to sin or lose faith, but they will never make us righteous before God.

Prayer: Help me depend upon you alone for salvation, God. Amen.

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Sola Publishing offers some free downloadable resources for congregations and leaders in developing a Stewardship Emphasis for 2016-17. The theme for this year's Stewardship Emphasis is "Growing in Faith." The key Bible verse comes from Luke 12:27: “Consider the lilies, how they grow...”


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