By 1529, the year of publication of Luther's Large Catechism, parishioners took the Gospel for granted. Many had forgotten at what great peril the freedom of their faith had been won. In the Large Catechism Luther set out to inculcate the centrality of the Gospel that was largely neglected and whose freedom was frequently abused. Whether Luther is therefore dealing with the Ten Commandments or the Lord's Supper, the dynamic of the Word of God as Gospel provides the cutting edge for what he says. To obscure the Gospel is to lose everything; to illuminate it is to gain all its promises. But it is not a Gospel with a purely individualistic thrust. To risk all for the Gospel is to relate one's self to society and the Christian community. And it is this corporate dimension of the Gospel, involving him who believes all to serve all, which gives Luther's exposition of the basic ingredients of the Christian faith such significance and relevance. Therefore the Large Catechism is a primary source for an understanding of the Christian ethos in action in Reformation Christianity. The Gospel is particularized. The social situation comes alive in concrete terms in a language whose meaning is unmistakable and clear.
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