Many years ago professor F.E.Meyer wrote this in the Concordia Theological Journal Vol XV no 6 1944 –
“In recent theological literature (Neo-Orthodoxy) the charge has been made that the Lutheran ethic is not sufficiently social. The specific charge. The Lutheran emphasis on the doctrine of justification by faith and on the otherworldly character of the Christian religion leaves little or no room for a genuine interest in
society’s welfare. The charge is unfounded and rests upon a twofold error: 1. Misunderstanding the essence of Christ’s work and of the Gospel. If the Church’s program is the saving of immortal souls by improving man’s character, then the Lutheran Church has failed to develop a genuine social ethic. 2.Misunderstanding the nature of faith. Faith is the hand which appropriates Christ’s merit, and therefore in sincere gratitude becomes active in the social realm. Trigl., 941, 10 f.; Luther’s The Liberty of a Christian Man, St. L., XIX: 986 ff. The Lutheran Christian does not withdraw from the world but is keenly aware of his obligation to his fellow man; he has a genuine social ethic. In fact, his social consciousness does not stop with alleviating man’s social ills, but concerns itself primarily with his fellow man’s eternal welfare. As his Master, so the Christian is a “friend of sinners.”
All these years later after a great revival and interest in mercy work and caring for the hungry, the hurting and the alienated there are those making noises that mercy work has no place in the mission field.
In the same journal Victor Bartling wrote,
The word here used for mercy (Luke 6:36-42) designates an abiding feeling of compassion excited by the misery of another, whether friend or foe, and impelling one to eager efforts in order to bring relief. “Your Father is merciful” (v. 36) . His mercy is seen in the realm of nature (v. 35 b; Matt. 5: 45) and, above all, in the realm of grace (Titus2: 11; 3: 4). Jesus is Mercy Incarnate (see Matt. 9: 36-38; Acts 10: 38). “Touched
with the feeling of our infirmities” (Heb. 4: 15) and afflicted by our afflictions (Is. 63: 9), He “Himself took our infirmities and bare our sicknesses” (Matt. 8: 17; 1 Pet. 2: 24), “laid down His life for us” (1 John 3: 16).
The debate never ends, but it should.