Every Sunday, I will share a quote from something I’ve been reading. The hope is for you, dear reader, to share your thoughts on the quote and related issues and perhaps pick up some reading material along the way!
The Faith of Infants – Hermann Sasse
One aspect of Lutheran theology that is often misunderstood is the notion of infant faith. It goes hand in hand with the Lutheran teaching of baptismal regeneration. Yet, time and again I have seen the accusation leveled at Lutherans that we somehow believe that faith is not required for salvation, because we believe infants are saved. Lutheran theology, however, teaches instead that infants do have faith. A brief quote from Hermann Sasse makes this more explicit:
[I]t is not merely avowed liturgical conservatism or even thoughtlessness when the Church for nearly two thousand years has thus baptized infantas as though they were adults, as though they could already confess with the outh and believe with the heart. This is not the ‘as though’ of mere fiction… God views us in Baptism as people who have already died and been raised… Thus he already views us as such who already believe, the poorest, weakest little child which we bring to Holy Baptism. (1197, cited below)
Sasse’s point here is that God views us eschatologically–as though we have faith, because that faith is the gift of God. Lutherans do not believe in salvation without faith; instead, a consistent application of the notion that faith is from God means God can impart that faith to whomever God chooses–whether one is elderly or newborn.
Herman Sasse, quoted in Treasury of Daily Prayer (St. Louis, MO: Concordia Publishing House, 2008). Quoting from Herman Sasse, “Circular Letter 4 to Westphalian Pastors,” in The Lonely Way: Selected Essays and Letters, translated by Matthew C. Harrison et al., vol. 2 (CPH, 2002).
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