What is Mercy?

On Mercy – Volume 1 – a review

“Mercy is goodness, goodness is love, and, therefore, mercy is love. Mercy is goodness and love but in a specific relationship, namely, in relation to the unfortunate and wretched. Love is manifold. When it is directed to God on high, it becomes devotion and adoration. When it is directed over the whole earth to other redeemed brothers, it becomes goodness, affability, and friendliness. But when it enters areas filled with misery and brings with it consolation, relief, and help, then it becomes mercy. May the God who is love grant us manifold love and awaken in us a sense of and a will for mercy at the beginning of this inquiry.”

So begins Wilhelm Löhe in his treatment of the topic of Mercy. While the original audience was deaconess, his thoughts apply to all believers in Christ. Long not available only to those who read German, it has recently been translated into English and published by the LC-MS in two pamphlets.

In the first pamphlet, aside from a “chapter” on defining mercy, he also reviews history with the twin theme of mercy and justice. Once you read his first chapter you will understand why he has the twin theme. His approach to history is far different from contemporary history books for he sees history as a story with a theme, a theme of divine guidance. To put this differently, when I learned about World War II, it was all about what people did. Not once did we even consider what God might be accomplishing.

There are five “chapters” in this 39 page pamphlet, which includes discussion questions at the end. They are:

• What is Mercy?
• How Did the Lord, Your God, Practice Mercy in the Old Testament?
• How Did the Lord, Your Savior, Practice Mercy in the New Testament?
• How Did the Lord in the Law of the Old Testament Command His People to Practice Mercy?
• How Did the Lord, Your Redeemer, and His Holy Apostles in the new Testament Command His Saints to Practice Mercy?

Löhe was a remarkable 19th century Lutheran pastor with far reaching impact. He is commemorated on our calendar on January 2. While he wrote his work on mercy for a deaconess school, his influence reached far beyond deaconess. In fact, many of the pastors that joined the Missouri Synod in its early days were trained by Löhe. There were Löhe men in other countries also.

I truly enjoyed this first pamphlet and look forward to reading the second one. You can read it for yourself by following this link.


Blessing in Christ