Bernard of Clairvaux died on August 20, 1153. By all accounts, Bernard was a Church Father who understood the doctrine of imputation, that a righteous standing before God required the perfect merits of Christ, received by faith, as opposed to salvation based (even in part) upon personal merit. Missouri Synod (Lutheran) founder C. F. W. Walther wrote of Bernard:
St. Bernard, the famous abbot of Clairvaux, who died in 1153, is a noteworthy example how the most pious and the best of those in the papacy, when they came into great trials, rejected all of their trust in their own human holiness, in their own works and service, and in the intercession of the saints in heaven, and took sole comfort in the all sufficient service of JESUS Christ for their salvation. Even though in his life Bernard had most strictly pursued holiness and had ascribed such a high value to his position as a monk that he considered it as if it were another baptism (Apolog. Ad Builielm. Abb.), he nevertheless confessed when he suddenly cried out for his salvation because of a severe trial: “I confess that I am not worthy of myself nor can I receive heaven through my own service. But my LORD JESUS Christ has a double right to heaven; first because he is by nature its heir, and then because he has earned it through his meritorious suffering. That first right he has for himself, the second he gives me. Through this gift heaven is mine by rights, so I cannot be lost.
FYI: Calvin’s Institutes include over 40 references to the works of Bernard.
FYI: Dr. Danny Aiken’s PhD dissertation covered the soteriology of Bernard (unpublished).
FYI: Bernard wrote hymns, two you may know: O Jesus, King Most Wonderful and O Sacred Head, Now Wounded.
2 thoughts on “Bernard of Clairvaux Day”
Most, most excellent. Thank you.
“Jesu, Thy mercies are untold
Through each returning day;
Thy love exceeds a thousandfold
Whatever we can say.
That love which in Thy passion drained
For us Thy precious blood;
That love whereby the saints have gained
The vision of their God.
’Tis Thou hast loved us from the womb,
Pure Source of all our bliss,
Our only hope of life to come,
Our happiness in this.
Lord, grant us, while on earth we stay,
Thy love to feel and know;
And, when from hence we pass away,
To us Thy glory show”
Bernard of Clairvaux
“O Sacred Head” being one of my very favorite hymns…