The Rev. Timothy J. Wengert, professor, The Lutheran Theological Seminary at Philadelphia, led a bible study Aug. 10 analyzing the concept of "freedom in Christ" for participants at the 2007 Churchwide Assembly of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA).
The churchwide assembly, the chief legislative authority of the ELCA, is meeting here Aug. 6-11 at Navy Pier's Festival Hall. About 2,000 people are participating, including 1,069 ELCA voting members. The theme for the biennial assembly is "Living in God's Amazing Grace: Thanks be to God!"
Comparing the fifth chapter of the book of Galatians with Martin Luther treatise, "Freedom of a Christian," Wengert began his study by quoting the Apostle Paul -- "In Christ you are free!" he said. "Free from sin, free from law, free from death, free from the devil and evil, free from guilt and shame, free from doubt and despair, free from working your way into God's good graces!"
However, Wengert said, too many Lutherans are unaware of this freedom. "According to a recent poll, almost half the Lutherans in the United States think that we are saved by our works, by our moral rectitude! We are not! We are saved by God's grace alone, through faith alone, because of Christ alone!"
Then Wengert challenged participants, asking, "So, now that you are free from doing anything, what are you going to do?" Quoting again from Paul's Gospel, Wengert emphasized that God's grace isn't an excuse to sin. "For you were called to freedom, brothers and sisters, only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for self-indulgence."
Instead, said Wengert, this freedom is an opportunity to do good in thanksgiving for God's grace. He urged participants to consider this quote from "Freedom of a Christian": "I will therefore give myself as a Christ to my neighbor, just as Christ offered himself to me; I will do nothing in this life except what I see is necessary, profitable and salutary to my neighbor, since through faith I have an abundance of all good things in Christ."
Information about the 2007 ELCA Churchwide Assembly can be found at http://www.ELCA.org/assembly/ on the Web.
ELCA NEWS SERVICE, August 10, 2007
For information contact:
John Brooks, Director (773) 380-2958 or firstname.lastname@example.org http://www.elca.org/news