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Letters to the Editor

September 02, 1999

Luther concerned with good works

To the editor:

I wish to respond to Monica E. Smith, whose letter to the editor appeared in the August 30 Morning Herald. Her letter was in response to a previous letter regarding Martin Luther and his Reformation theme of salvation by grace through faith. She is concerned that Martin Luther minimized the importance of good works. One could easily come to this conclusion if they have not read Luther's works.

The historical battle he fought with the Roman Catholic church was against its reliance on works such as indulgences to gain favor with God. He attempted to return the church to its Biblical moorings which clearly state that "it is by grace you have been saved, through faith - and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God - not by works, so that no one can boast."

It is a terrible mistake to conclude from Luther's argument that he dismissed good works as unimportant. He certainly did not. The simple point he sought to make from the Scriptures was that we cannot earn salvation by our good works, for several reasons. We are sinful by nature. We can't meet heaven's standard of perfection. And as the Bible says, "all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God."

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Therefore, we need something outside of ourselves in order to be acceptable to God. That something is Christ whose sacrificial death paid the penalty for our sin. God now offers to every human being the gift of forgiveness and eternal life. We accept the gift through repentance and faith.

Now, back to good works. Luther understood that good works have either of two motives. Either they are done to impress God, which doesn't work. Or they are done as a grateful response to what God has already done. This is what God expects. He expects those who have turned their lives and wills over to Jesus to live lives filled with good works. In fact, if a believer's life is void of good works, his faith is in question.

So, Ms. Smith, Luther's thesis is not, as you say, divisive and false. In fact, you and he are in complete agreement. Good works are essential in the lives of believers, but for the right reasons.

Rev. Dr. William R. Burgett,

Pastor, Concordia Lutheran Church

Help keep kids safe

To the editor:

Congratulations to The Herald-Mail Company and all the wonderful business sponsors who made possible the publication of the safety tips on Page C-16 of the Sunday, Aug. 29, issue of the paper.

Reminding parents, school children and all motorists that school beginning means greater risks for all our precious children, this page of the newspaper is one that we at Children's Village will turn into a permanent Safety Poster by having it laminated.

We reach children in the second grade with our special curriculum, but it takes a lifetime of reminders for reinforcement. This time of year, we also remind motorists that there are significantly more vehicles on the road during your morning commute, especially. You may want to leave a few minutes earlier to allow for the extra traffic and to avoid the frustration that tempts you to do the unthinkable and unlawful - passing a stopped school bus.

As for the great poster, we will display it during the school year and encourage all parents and teachers to do the same. Thank you Herald-Mail and sponsors, for your help in keeping our children safe.

Linda Irvin-Craig

Board Member, CVWC

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