For my Spiritual and Ministry Formation class, we’re assigned blog summaries in which we interact with material assigned the previous week. This week’s assignment was to read the Lutheran view of Sanctification as discussed in Christian Spirituality: Five Views of Sanctification, edited by Donald Alexander, published by IVP. The Lutheran view was articulated by Gerhard Forde. I figured I’d share my assignment on my blog.
Dr. Forde begins his discussion of sanctification as “the art of getting used to the unconditional justification wrought by the grace of God for Jesus’ sake. It is what happens when we are grasped by the fact that God alone justifies.” In other words, Dr. Forde asserts that sanctification is the natural byproduct of justification and thus, all of it is indeed brought about by none other than the Christ who bought us. Many people view sanctification as the “getting down to business” of the Christian life. It’s what we bring to the table after Christ saves us and is (so it is thought, anyway) the way we stay in God’s good graces. This is, Dr. Forde asserts, “entirely false. According to Scripture, God is always the acting subject, even in sanctification. “
Repeatedly, Dr. Forde calls attention to the dangers of speaking of sanctification. All the discussion appeals to the old man, he says, becoming a verbal exercise which sounds very impressive, but lacking the necessary foundation of love which the old man is completely incapable of laying himself.
Sanctification, as well as justification, is rooted in the unconditional promise of God. This is something the old man does not know how to handle because “as old beings, we simply cannot understand or cope with the unconditional promise of justification pronounced in the name of Jesus. What we don’t see is that what the unconditional promose is calling forth is a new being. The justification of God promised in Jesus is not an ‘offer’ made to us as old beings; [instead,] it is our end, our death.”