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Reaping the Right Fruits: Luther's Meditation on the ‘Earnest Mirror, Christ’

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To meditate aright, for Luther, is not to arouse in us an emotive piety for the crucified, but to be acquainted with the knowledge of our sinnerhood, and be devastated by it. Thus there is no natural knowledge of sin. The knowledge of sin flows directly from Christ, whom he called ‘the earnest mirror’. This mirror causes sin to surface in our conscience so that it might cause it to disappear from it. This is made possible in Christ's atoning efficacy, where Christ, after exposing our sins, appears to us as our sin-bearer, the one who suffers our sins but suffers them into defeat in his cross and resurrection, if only we believe. The mirror then leads us beyond Christ's heart to the friendly heart of God, the one and same heart, which from eternity beats with such earnest love for us. Thus to grasp God aright, as the mirror reveals, is to grasp him not in his power and majesty, which might be terrifying, but in his opposites, that is, in his weakness and humility. God's way of being ‘most himself’ is by being for us (pro nobis), bearing and suffering the judgement of sin, and eventually dying on the cross. Then our faith and salvation stand immovably certain.
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Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Tyndale Seminary, 25 Ballyconnor Court, Toronto, Ont. M2M 4B3, Canada.

Publication date: October 1, 2006

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