Fackenheim, instead of rejecting their various traditions, went deepinto them and
intelligently from what they had received to be
the great theologians of the century. The best theologians incontemporary American Lutheranism have done the same.
relation to repentance, there is especially good reason for proceeding to the heritage to see what it provides. The first of theNinety-five Theses reads,
Christ said, 'Re
he willed the entire life of the believer to be one of repen
indicating how fundamental repentance is to Luther'sthought.
source in his discussionof repentance
only recently being translated, so that it is now possible to get
deeper insight into Luther's understanding of the role of the
pel in repentance. And there is the deep
in Luther as well asin the confessional discussion, that repentance is not the end but the beginning of freedom, so that as the law breaks false alternatives,the gospel takes hold to break open the liberty of faith.
years ago, Gerhard Ebeling raised a question all the morecritical for the infrequency of
the law is known by its
who is the user?
If this question is addressed to Luther andthe Lutheran confessions, the answer is surprising. For the law isdefined in
particularly concrete way that leaves the identity of thelaw's user an open question. Accordingly, repentance begins in thegeneric stuff of everyday life.The
"law" is one of the most complex in the Lutheran vocabulary, capableof any
of inflections. But for the purposeof analysis, it can be said that Luther uses the term in basically two ways: he speaks of law at the level of what it signifies or requiresand he speaks of it in terms of what it does to its hearer.The
Small and Large, are some of the best examplesof Luther's treatment of the requirements of the law. He explainsthe commandments in simple and direct language, identifying both what is enjoined and what is demanded. All the requirements of thelaw come down to two, the faith called for in the first table and thelove of the neighbor set forth in the second. Yet the very clarity of Luther's discussion masks the concrete way in which he moves at this level. On the First Commandment,for example, he does not begin with the Scripture, the Creed or the