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I am not going to post all of the article here. Suffice it to say that Cary examines the logic of faith in a sacramental promise. In other words, he spends his time comparing and contrasting the role of faith and the promises of God that form the means of grace. He sees in Luther something not quite in keeping with the way Protestants generally see things. This is the catholic Luther (the only real Luther) who does not make faith itself the primary foundation upon which conversion, baptismal regeneration, absolution, and the Lord's Supper are based. According to Cary this is, at least in part, the reason why there is "no revivalist tradition native to Lutheranism" and why the revivalist tradition of Protestantism is foreign to Lutheran understanding of the working of God and the faith that apprehends His work.
For Protestants (read this Calvinists, especially), the certainty of salvation rests upon faith. Cary has put it this way: Whoever believes in Christ is saved (major premise); I believe in Christ (minor premise); therefore, I am saved (conclusion). But for Luther it did not work this way. For Luther, justification does not require either a conversion experience or a decision. These are acts of the will that detract from Christ and His work. The minor premise in all of Luther's approach is "Christ never lies but only tells the truth" - not "I believe..."
So for Luther the certainty rests not on MY faith but on CHRIST and His Word/Promise: It looks like this, according to Cary: Christ said "I baptize you in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit" (major premise); Christ never lies but always tells the truth (minor premise); therefore, I am baptized (I have new life in Christ, I am saved, etc.) -- conclusion.
The sacramental Word is wholly external. There is a great difference between having faith in Christ and depending upon that faith for your new life, justification, and salvation. The efficacy is in the sacramental Word and not in the faith itself. This is key to Luther and the key difference between Lutherans and the Protestants.
This is especially pointed when it comes to sacramental absolution. Calvin thought it wise and good pastoral practice to offer private absolution but not as a sacramental act. Instead, Calvin saw this as a conditional statement -- conditional upon faith in Christ -- but for Luther this is the unconditional Word of Christ that does what it promises.
Calvin: Christ promises absolution to those who believe in Him.
I believe in Christ.
I am absolved of all my sins.
Luther: Christ says "I absolve you of all your sins in the Name of the
Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit."
Christ never lies but always tells the truth.
I am absolved of all my sins.
For Luther, to NOT believe in this absolution is to call Christ a liar while for Calvin the priest can never say these words unconditionally and the absolved must posit his assurance in his or her faith to know that he or she is forgiven.
We could go on and on.... in the end, Cary sees Luther's understanding of justification tied to sacramental piety -- a very catholic understanding, indeed. While there is much to consider in this article, it does highlight the issues within the LCMS about borrowing from those whose revivalist traditions are in direct conflict with our understanding of the means of grace and the efficacy of Christ's Word and promise. It goes to the heart of what takes place on Sunday morning and to the nature of what should be sung as the hymns or songs of the faithful. It challenges those who use the language or vocabulary of Protestantism to speak to those outside the Church and the duplicity of a witness which says one thing and means something other (or maybe not, if, indeed, those who do this have lost touch with the efficacy of Christ's Word and promise as the minor premise of this sacramental piety and liturgical life).
I highly commend the article for your reading. . .