“The Reformation set free the question and nature of the church from the question of who belongs to it. This was a decisive stage. Roman Catholicism and the pre-Reformation church had thought that the question of the nature of the church would be answered by a definition of its extent. The Reformation, and particularly the Lutheran concept, first says what the church is and leaves the question of its boundaries open.
It’s first concern is not the unveiling of the divine mystery of who belongs to the church, and who does not, the question of election and rejection, it is not aimed first and foremost at judging and distinguishing people; the most important thing is that the manifest saving act of God, the present Christ, his Word and sacrament, should be seen and adored. There are no theoretical statements about the saved and the lost, there is no verdict “This person belongs to the church, this person does not,” but simply the joyful cry of those who have been granted a share in a great, astonishing gift, “Here is the gospel!” “Here are the pure sacraments!” “Here is the church!” “Come here!” Continue reading