Historical Church Writings #15: Hermann Sasse on the one distinguishing characteristic of the Christian faith
Today is Historical Church Writing Thursday. Each Thursday will feature the writings of the church fathers, reformation fathers or other church writings. Today's Historical Church Writing is from Hermann Sasse:
If one asks what the one characteristic feature of the Christian faith is, distinguishing it from all religions in the world, then we would have to say: It is the forgiveness of sins. The pious Jew and even a pious Mohammedan may hope for God's pardon. Forgiveness as a real gift, the full assurance of forgiveness, that is the gift of the Gospel.
To proclaim the Gospel of forgiveness, to declare to repentant sinners the forgiveness of their sins, to distribute the Sacraments with all the gifts of divine grace contained in them, this and nothing else, is the proper task of the minister of Christ as it was the officium proprium [proper office] of Christ Himself. This the Church had to learn in the great crisis of the second century.... the church administration in Europe follows the patterns of the administration of the state, while in America the great business organizations seem to be unknowingly imitated by the churches. The consequence is that also the parish minister becomes more and more of an administrator and organizer who rushes from meeting to meeting and has not enough time for his proper calling as a shepherd.