From the Confessions: The Augsburg Confession
Concerning Monastic Vows
People were made to believe that monasticism was even better than baptism, that it was more meritorious than other vocations such as magistrates and pastors who serve their calling in accordance with God's commands, without any man-made services. These things cannot be denied, for they are written in their own books. Furthermore, a person who had been ensnared by a monastery learned little of Christ. Once monasteries were schools of theology and other subjects profitable to the Church, where pastors and bishops were educated. This is no longer the case. It is needless to rehearse what is known to all. Formerly they came together to learn; now they pretend that it is a kind of life instituted to earn grace and righteousness. They even preach that it is a state of perfection, putting it far above all other vocations ordained of God. We have explained this without hateful misrepresentation, so that our position may be understood.
Pulling It Together
The Apostle Paul admits that he is not perfect, but struggling against his flesh (Rom 7:15). He presses on toward the goal of completeness, in spite of his imperfect state (Phil 3:14). This is a life that shares in Christ's love (Matt 5:48) and suffering and resurrection (Phil 3:10). It is the life that celebrates the death of the old person in Christ's own death through baptism. In this way, we become like him in his death (Phil 3:10). He had no confidence in the flesh (Phil 3:3) and by this, he lists human associations and religious zeal. Yet these are the very things the Church taught would produce human perfection. The apostle trusted in Christ alone for perfect righteousness—that he would be found in Christ, not having a righteousness of his own but “that which comes through faith in Christ.” The things we do are worse than rubbish (Phil 3:8), especially when we expect them to garner any worth with God. Lutherans confess that what Christ has done for us is of such surpassing value that we are declared righteous by our faith in him alone.
Prayer: Lord Jesus, help me to live in your righteousness today, and so, press on toward the goal even when I fail and fall flat. Amen.
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Views of Baptism is written for a range of readers including the parent or sponsor about to baptize a child, the adult who wants to understand baptism more fully, and the professional teacher or preacher who needs the truth about baptism stated simply but backed by careful research. This books explores three views of baptism: the individual-centered view, the means-of-grace view, and the Roman Catholic view. It includes a description of how Christian baptism came to us in stages from its Jewish roots. A question and answer section addresses specific matters often raised when people contemplate baptism.