In the prayer for deliverance in Psalm 122, Wolfgang Musculus (1497-1563), a reformer in Strasbourg, Augsburg, and Bern, finds much material for reflection. Pausing on verse 22, he looks towards the future age, where all of God’s people are gathered together to worship the Lord, all kingdoms and churches in perfect union.
The Unity of the Church
It must be explained what he predicts of the future among the Gentiles and their kingdoms in the time of the New Testament: “while the people as well as kingdoms will be gathered,” he says. Next here is the reason, “that they may serve the Lord.” We, who are from the Gentiles [and] believe in Christ, must diligently observe this passage here. The prophet has prophesied two things concerning us: first, the gathering of peoples and kingdoms. Before Christ, there was a dispersion of Gentiles and of kingdoms, [now] through Christ a union of all nations has been made. Let us therefore cherish that mutual consensus and cohesion in the church of Christ. The second is the reason for this gathering, or if you prefer, what is its end and goal: “so that they may serve the Lord,” he says.In Christ there is a unity, in order that a unity of God and of the Lord, who must be served, thus there is also both a unity of faith and of worship and also of the very ones worshiping and serving God. Therefore, for this reason the Gentiles and their kingdoms are joined together in Christ so that they may serve the Lord with one heart and one mind. In the worship of gods there was a dispersion of nations, and a diversity of gods and then of worship [practices]. In Christ there is a unity, in order that a unity of God and of the Lord, who must be served, thus there is also both a unity of faith and of worship and also of the very ones worshiping and serving [God]. At this point, those must be considered who, under the pretext of ecclesiastical unity try to defend whatever sorts of errors and false worship [practices] and, under this title of theirs, condemn Christian people, who, because they do not consent to these [errors and false worship practices], which are contrary to holy Scripture and the condition of the true worship of God, have been driven out of the church.
They shout that the unity of the church must not be rent asunder. We hear that and we approve of it, but meanwhile they should concern themselves that we be united together in Christ, and in true faith and worship united to God. They acknowledge not so much that it should be their concern that there may be unity in the church than that there is unity in the church, which joins us together in the truth and in true piety. Otherwise if unity is simply sought, and it does not matter in what thing we are unified, then the Turks also have a unity in their own superstition, of which nevertheless no Christian can approve.
Psalms of David, commenting on Psalm 102:22.
RCS Series: The Church in Context
Wolfgang Musculus | The Church and the World
Katharina Schütz Zell | The Church and the Kingdom
Philipp Melanchthon | The Church and the State
Wolfgang Musculus | The Church and the Churches