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Thursday, April 9, 2020

Plague 3- Starck's Prayer Book, Pieper edition (Pt 3)

Starck's Prayer Book, Concordia Edition (1921); Johann Friedrich Starck, editor Franz PieperMy mother's copy of Starck-Pieper-Concordia Prayer Book

      This continues from Part 2 in a series of Old Missouri devotions during a time of Plague or Pestilence as we are experiencing with the Coronavirus or COVID-19. — As in the previous post, I bring another devotional book in my mother's possession that I discovered after her passing many years ago.  It is the 1921 CPH Starck's Prayer Book, From the German Edition of Dr. F. Pieper, and it is available for viewing on >> here <<. Her copy had many clippings from other devotional materials that were inserted at various places.   Some words were underlined.  That makes it special for me. The embossed cover of her copy is shown at right, along with images of the author Johann Friedrich Starck and editor Franz Pieper.  This edition was an English translation of Pieper's German edition by Prof. W.H.T. Dau. Dau had to make substantial substitutions for all the rhyming portions, such as the hymns, because of the difficulty of translating these from the German. — What makes this edition so special is that it was edited by Pieper, the greatest teacher of Christian doctrine in the 20th century.  We will make note of Pieper's editing from his added phrase in the devotion below, the highlighted portion in green.
Starck's Prayer Book (CPH, 2009, William Weedon, editor
There is much more to say about this edition, including a comparison with the 2009 revised CPH edition of William Weedon, but that will be covered in a future post.
      For now I would highlight Starck's devotion that directly addresses the current situation in the world today, a "pestilence".  I am using only Dau's translation for the devotional portion, but for the prayer-poem and the hymn, I am adding my translation of Pieper's German edition.  Dau's edition can be viewed directly on pages 502-505 here, Pieper's German edition is here.
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The Believing Christian Prays in Time of Pestilence.
But it shall come to pass, if thou wilt not hearken unto the voice of the Lord, thy God, … that all these curses shall come upon thee and overtake thee. … The Lord shall make the pestilence cleave unto thee, until He have consumed thee from off the land. … The Lord shall smite thee with a consumption, and with a fever, and with an inflammation, and with an extreme burning, and with the sword, and with blasting, and with mildew; and they shall pursue thee until thou perish. Deut. 28:15, 21-22.
When wrath, tribulation, and anguish is come upon those that do evil, Rom. 2:8-9, contagious diseases and pestilence must certainly be included in that anguish. To a large extent this plague comes, (1) when men put no faith in the word of warning and admonition, Num. 14:12; (2) when men serve God only outwardly and not with the heart, Jer. 14:12; (3) when they even put God out of their minds entirely by their disobedience, Jer. 24:10; 27:9; (4) when they despise the servants of God, Jer. 29:17; (5) when the people become bold and unruly, Ezek. 14:19; (6) when fornication and murder are rampant, Ezek. 33:26-27; (7) when no admonition to repentance is any longer heeded, Amos 4:10; (8) on account of adultery, Num. 25:9; (9) on account of blasphemy, 2 Kings 19:35; (10) on account of pride, 2 Sam. 24:15; and also on account of other sins. Now, when this chastisement is inflicted by God, it is necessary that men repent, because the Lord suffers Himself to be entreated according to His mercy; hence David from among three plagues chose this one rather than the others.
O Thou strong and mighty God, great is Thy wrath against wilful sinners, who will not let Thy benefactions lead them to repentance. For a time Thou dealest with men like a loving father, who seeks with much patience to draw his disobedient children to himself, but afterwards, when men wantonly abuse Thy grace, Thou manifestest Thyself as a stern Judge. We, too, are experiencing this now, O just God; we hear that in many places a contagious disease has appeared, which devours many thousands of people, so that there are corpses in nearly every house, and there are not enough hands to bury them. We are consumed by Thine anger, and by Thy wrath are we troubled. Have we not strong reasons to fear that Thou wilt send this spreading contagion also into our borders and our city”? O jealous God, we need not think that those on whom Thy heavy rod is now descending are sinners above the rest; rather we must confess that we all deserve to perish like them. There is found among us security, contempt of Thy Holy Word, stiff-neckedness, dissipation, fornication, unrighteousness, voluptuousness, and pride. Yea, there is scarcely any fear of God in our land; the godly man ceases, and the faithful fail from among the children of men. If Thou, Lord, shouldest mark iniquity, O Lord, who shall stand?
O Lord, Lord, when Thou saidst, Seek ye My face, my heart said unto Thee, Thy face, Lord, will I seek. [Ps. 27:8] Thou hast no pleasure in the death of the sinner, but that the sinner turn from his way and live. Therefore, we abhor ourselves and repent in dust and ashes. Do not look upon our manifold sins; graciously pronounce us not guilty; succor us in our distress, and remove all punishments from us. We have sinned with our fathers, we have committed iniquity, we have done wickedly. Command the destroying angel who is wielding the sword of vengeance to cease, and say to him, It is enough. Let us live, and we will glorify Thy name. Though we do not deserve any mercy, yet we are in need of it. Though we are all children of death, yet Thou hast promised the penitent that Thou wouldst exercise mercy instead of justice towards them.
Oh, grant us Thy grace and life, for Jesus’ sake, our only Mediator and Advocate. Have mercy, have mercy upon us, O God of mercy! Be gracious unto us; spare us, good Lord; be gracious unto us; help us, good Lord, our God. Have mercy on the poor and afflicted who have been seized with this violent pestilence, who must suffer hunger and grief, who are destitute of all nursing care, and forsaken by all men. Lead them to the knowledge of Thy grace in Christ, Thy dear Son; aid them with Thy comfort, and let Thy Spirit witness unto their spirit that they are God’s children, though they may have to die of this plague. O Lord, hear our prayer; protect our fatherland, and we shall say: The Lord hath done great things for us. Yea, Thou canst deliver all who come to Thee.

O Lord God, by your faithfulness
Appear to us with comfort and salvation
Prove to us your great mercy
And do not punish us in the act;
Attend us with your kindness, 
Your wrath and fury be far from us. Amen.
(Dau substitution – rhymes)

What God wills, that I am willing. 
Can I ever say Him nay? 
Fire and flood His deed fulfilling 
Making for His feet a way. 
Ah! God’s yea and nay shall be 
Ever yea and nay to me. 
What God wills as to correcting, 
That shall always be my rule. 
Why should pupil make objection, 
Sitting in the Master’s school? 
Flesh and blood the stroke would shun, 
Still I say, God’s will he done. 
What God wills when I am praying, 
As to measure, time, and term, 
I can trust e’en His delaying, 
That may be His glory’s germ. 
Give He many, give He few, 
What have I with that to do? Amen.

1. What great fear and heartache 
Let us experience from God now, 
In these miserable times. 
Hovering in agony, 
And nigh, O horrible judgment, 
In the face of the strangling angel 
Tremble and shake!
[Pieper omitted 2 of Starck's verses]
2. Righteous God, Thou hast caused 
Us to hear and all but see, 
And speaks thereby: Come, see! 
So shall it be with you, 
When you are aware of your iniquity, 
Who made me angry, 
None will soon stand. 
3. Oh, yes, the great security 
No one can nearly describe it, 
One knows of no piety, 
Everyone is adrift. 
Of lies, deceit, debauchery, 
Contempt for God, hypocrisy, 
And so one wants to remain. 
4. Wilt thou, according to the measure of our sins 
Bind the sharp rod, 
And our wickedness, envy, and hate 
Together with other grave sins 
Punish with plague and pestilence, 
Of which thou wilt make us hear much, 
Alas, who shall find grace? 
5. O God, we fall at Thy feet, 
Oh, Father, spare, gentle! 
With tears we repent heartily 
Before your mercy seat; 
Remember not what we have done, 
And yet look at us in mercy. 
In Christ, Thy Son. 
6. In Jesus’ wounds would we
Wrap ourselves in faith, 
We bring blood here before Thee, 
For the sake of this blood 
Thou wilt to the poor show mercy, 
Can alone this hot blood 
Quench the wrath’s flood. 
7. Grant us fresh air
And give us life, 
Banish the poisonous scent of plague; 
If thou wilt grant us this, 
So let heart, mind, and mouth 
Lift up praise and glory to Thee 
With a thousand thanks. 

We know not how, o God, that Thou wilt move 
Thy great, eternal majesty to prove.
Not only in the sunshine of this life,
But in its darker hours, and times of strife,
E’en then we see Thy will, and humbly bend 
To that which seemeth best for Thee to send.
And yet in our own weakness oft we strive 
To rise above the ills which round us thrive;
We battle single-handed with the wrong 
That seeks to weigh us down the whole day long. 
But now at eventide we pray to Thee 
For strength to help us gain the victory.
O Father, teach us that the darker hours 
Are needed to bring forth more perfect flowers, 
Cleanse Thou our minds, and make us know aright 
That vales of darkness lead to clearer light —
For this we humbly ask, most gracious God,
E’en though we pass beneath Thy chastening rod.
To us, so weak, the load seems ofttimes hard,
And, sorely pressed, we see not the reward;
We do not try to pierce the cloud of grief,
Or seek the hand which brings to us relief.
But open, Lord, we pray, our sin-blind eyes 
And make us see from whence our help will rise.
Give us clean hands, a broken, contrite heart,
That we may choose naught but the better part, 
Help us to offer unto Thee our lives 
One pure, entire, unbroken sacrifice —
Then we may hope for glory at the last,
When earthly trials and struggles all are past.
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      We note Pieper's inserted phrase above – "Lead them to the knowledge of Thy grace in Christ, Thy dear Son".  Why was Pieper compelled to add this phrase?  Because Starck was a Lutheran Pietist.  The background on the weaknesses of Pietism will be covered in a later blog about Starck and his popular Prayer Book – 174 editions, and "perhaps the most widely used prayer-book in the Lutheran Church.").  But we can already see why Pieper needed to edit it before it could be considered truly Lutheran. — In the next Part 4

Monday, April 6, 2020

Plague- Pasche's Daily Bread devotion (Part 2)

My mother's copy - Pasche's Daily Bread
Pasche's book cover of Daily Bread; young and old F.E. Pasche
F.E. Pasche, young and old
      This continues from Part 1 of a series of Old Missouri devotions in a time of Plague or Pestilence as we are experiencing with the Coronavirus or COVID-19. — I would next highlight a popular (for Old Missouri) devotional book of Pastor F.E. Pasche (1872-1954, Find-A-Grave).  The bonus for subsequent generations is that it is in English, not German, a rare treat.  At right is pictured the embossed cover of my mother's copy of his 1926 Daily Bread; or, Home Devotions.  The book is available for viewing on  Regular readers may recognize the name from Pasche's other passion, a defense of the Bible against Copernicanism, works that were likely not so popular because of their controversial content.  But Pasche cared nothing for popularity, rather he wonderfully proclaimed the Gospel, he properly distinguished Law and Gospel, he gave Christian counsel and comfort for his readers.  Although I cannot recall that our family used the devotions from this book during my childhood, we did read from the LCMS' series of daily devotions Portals of Prayer after the family evening meal, followed by the Lord's Prayer.  I am sorry that Mom did not pull out this book for us to use – I don't know why… perhaps she used it privately for herself.
      Although I could not find a devotion specifically for a plague, I chose one on "illness" that speaks to our current situation.  The following is from Daily Bread, p. 289-290:
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222. God’s Gracious Will when He Afflicts Us with Illness.
Are not two sparrows sold for a farthing? And one of them shall not fall on the ground without your Father. But the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Matt. 10:29-30.
No disease can come to our door, no illness can touch us, without the will and permission of our heavenly Father. When we are afflicted with illness, we may find some natural cause and even blame ourselves for not taking proper care of our health; but we must know that everything is done under the ruling and guidance of Him who taught us to pray: “Thy will be done.”
It is principally our spiritual treatment which God has in view when He afflicts us with illness. His intention is that we should learn to trust in Him alone and expect help solely from Him. “Thy will be done,” — saying this, we pledge ourselves to suffer the will of God, whatever He may send us, whether it is pleasant or unpleasant. “If any man suffers as a Christian, let him not be ashamed, but let him glorify God on this behalf.”
“Thy will be done,” this we must always say in our prayers, no matter how dark and dreary the prospects may seem. In the day of trouble we must think of something more than the mere earthly and temporal aspect of the trouble; we should think of God, who permitted it to touch us and who guides its course. Then amid our sufferings and afflictions we hear the voice of the Savior: “Be of good cheer, it is I.”
And how graciously does He comfort us when He afflicts us with illness! Paul suffered from a physical ailment and prayed to be relieved from it. [2 Cor. 12:7-9] Thrice he besought the Lord that it might depart from him. But what was the response? “My grace is sufficient for thee; for My strength is made perfect in weakness.” And so you may have an ailment from which you desire to be relieved, but God deems it best for you to keep it. Then do not think that He does not mean well with you. You are His dear child in spite of that ailment. “All things work together for good to them that love God.” It is His loving-kindness that leads us.
O God, who seest that of ourselves we have no strength, keep us both outwardly and inwardly that we may be defended from all adversities which may happen to the body, and from all evil thoughts which may assault and hurt the soul. If it is Thy will, however, that we should bear the cross, help us to bear it that we may not despair in the day of trouble. When our heart is bowed down and our soul is heavy, may Thy Word and Spirit comfort us; let the example of Thy dear Son, who suffered so willingly, induce us to bear our own cross without murmuring; and finally lead us to pleasures at Thy right hand forevermore. Amen.
There shall we bathe our weary soul 
In seas of heavenly rest 
And not a wave of trouble roll 
Across our peaceful breast.
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      I would encourage readers to explore the 318 devotions in the Table of Contents pages of Pasche's book.  Also the Morning, Evening, and table prayers are very familiar to me from my childhood.  I need to re-memorize them again! — I may refer to this book in later blog posts.  Pasche was a true Missourian pastor that wonderfully taught Lutheran Christian doctrine while presenting his devotions.  And, again, it is in English – no translation for us later generations. — In the next Part 3

Thursday, April 2, 2020

Plague, Pestilence: Preaching and Prayer (Part 1)

  The World Health Organization (WHO) recently reported on the "crisis on people's mental health" caused by the current pandemic.  It was stated that "Children are likely to be experiencing worry, anxiety and fear, and this can include the types of fears that are very similar to those experienced by adults, such as a fear of dying, a fear of their relatives dying, or a fear of what it means to receive medical treatment." (emphasis mine)  Of course the WHO is not a Christian organization and so any advice they offer to alleviate this crisis of "mental health" is essentially worthless for man's condition of "worry, anxiety, and fear", a "fear of dying".  But for Christians, it is another story.

“That you not reckon yourself innocent” — Preaching
Walther - Find-A-Grave 17860085_1494475811
Occasional Sermons and Addresses By C.F.W. Walther (translation by Pastor Joel R. Baseley)      It has come to my attention through another website (, March 29, 2020) that C.F.W. Walther preached a sermon during a period of plague in the 1800s, possibly the cholera.  That website was properly addressing the current pandemic of the Coronavirus (or COVID-19) and actually sent its readers to a post of mine from April 12, 2014 listing a selection of Walther's sermons.  I would also like to draw attention, again, to this sermon of Walther, his "Sermon for a Day of Repentance on Jeremiah 30:11" (1849), as published in Pastor Joel Baseley's Occasional Sermons and Addresses, (Mark V Publications, Lulu $28.50)  The editor of the other website made this comment:
"I think you will find plenty of Law in this sermon.  But Rev. Walther does not disappoint us.  It closes with some wonderful words that talk about how our dependence on a God who sent His Son to die and rise for us gives us hope even in the times of pandemic."
Surely one of the instances of "plenty of Law" was Walther's emphasis (p. 83 / 167) on God's meaning in a time of misfortune:
“It is specifically declared in our text [Jeremiah 30:11], where it says of the people of God who were taken into the Babylonian captivity: ‘I will chastize you to some degree, that you not reckon yourself innocent.’”
The reader may notice that Walther (and translator Baseley) is using Luther's German Bible translation text which is a little different from our English Bible translations.  (I will take Luther's translation.)  Christians may think that because they have led a good life or even because they are believers that they are worthy to be spared from God's punishments.  But Walther impresses on them that this is not true, that Christians are just as guilty before God as unbelievers.  Walther's preaching has been judged elsewhere as over-emphasizing the Law, "extremely harsh, blunt Law preaching".  But that comes from those who seem not to see that this is only because Walther preached a pure, unconditional Gospel, a Lutheran Gospel.  Walther properly distinguished Law from Gospel. 

      Although the last paragraph of Walther's sermon is not formally a prayer, yet it can be easily read as one, and so I would republish it here.  In it we hear what the other website editor spoke about, Walther's "wonderful words" that "gives us hope even in the times of pandemic":
“Well then, my precious people, let us not allow God’s gracious knocking at the door of our church to be wasted. Let us not only acknowledge our guilt and take to heart our sorrow over it, but let us also now, even that much more diligently seek and hold fast to God’s grace. God has decided to save us and that is why he has so purely and richly granted us his saving Gospel. Oh, now let us not stubbornly hinder his saving verdict through our lack of repentance and faith. Let us throw ourselves into the arms of our Savior and never squirm out of them again. Let us not free ourselves from him either through worldly wealth, joy and honor, nor be scared away from him by the vast number and enormity of our sins. Then, out of the graves of our loved ones who have fallen asleep this year, a sweet savor of life to life shall arise. To those households among us whom God has sent the angel of death will follow a proclamation of peace and the new church year will be a year of grace, of blessing and of healing. So help us God, through our Lord Jesus Christ! Amen.”
With you, dear Pastor Walther, I say: Amen, Amen!  (In the next Part 2, F.E. Pasche's devotion)

Saturday, March 28, 2020

Gospel vs. Bible? MacKenzie says no; "fundamentalist" straw man; ironies (Part 3 of 3)

Dr. Cameron MacKenzie, Concordia Theological Seminary - Ft Wayne
[2020-03-30: added pictures, and note on Prof. Lane]
     This concludes from Part 2 (and Part 1), a short series unraveling the confusing teaching emanating from LC-MS teachers since the Walkout of 1974. — In this segment we get some welcome relief from a current professor at CTS-FW, Dr. Cameron MacKenzie ().  This blog has harshly criticized Dr. MacKenzie for his 2011 CTQ essay supposedly in honor of C.F.W. Walther.  
Defending Luther's Reformation: Its Ongoing Significance in the Face of Contemporary Challenges (CPH, 2017)And so it was quite surprising to read MacKenzie's essay "The Source of Biblical Authority: Gospel or God?" in the 2017 CPH book Defending Luther's Reformation: Its Ongoing Significance in the Face of Contemporary Challenges.  I made note of several passages from this essay (all emphases are mine, red text is my comments).
1) Page 104 :
"The Bible is powerful to save because of the Gospel. However, in Luther’s thinking the authority of the Scriptures does not come from the Gospel but instead that authority guarantees the Gospel. We know what the Gospel is because the Scriptures tell us."
2) p. 105 – the source, the foundation, of the Gospel:
"Although the writing of the New Testament followed the first preaching of the Gospel, the apostles and evangelists intended their written works as norms for subsequent preaching. In short, we know today what the Gospel is because we find it in the written Scriptures."
3) p. 106 – MacKenzie brings out the true Luther on the source of Scripture's authority:
"…Luther relied on the Scriptures to define the Gospel and did so by means of particular passages or proof-texts, we might say. Clearly, the implication of this procedure was that a person should know that this is the Gospel because the Scriptures teach it concretely in specific places and with particular words."
4) p. 107 – on a layman armed with Scripture:
“… Luther wrote against Eck and defended the proposition: 'A simple layman armed with Scripture is to be believed above a pope or a council without it.'”
5) p. 113 – Luther on a so-called "divine-human" authorship of Holy Scripture:
"Luther did not ignore the human authors. In fact, he referred to them often, but he regarded them as instruments of the Holy Spirit who was speaking through their words. 'The Scriptures, although they too are written by men, are neither of men nor from men but [are] from God.'" [Did MacKenzie get this Luther quote from Walther?]
Timothy Wengert, professor emeritus of Reformation history, Lutheran Theological Seminary, Philadelphia6) p. 118-119 – on "biblical fundamentalism" and "Fundamentalists":
"It is… quite another to launch an attack on those who hold to the infallibility and inerrancy of the Scriptures.… it raises questions about what he [Timothy Wengert, co-author with Robert Kolb] thinks of Luther's belief in the infallibility of the Bible. Was Luther also guilty of importing a definition of truth into Scripture when he said things such as “The saints could err in their writings ... but the Scriptures cannot err”… Do statements like these display a “fundamentalist” attitude? Furthermore, because of its divine origin, Luther also contended that Scripture could not contradict itself: “It is certain that the Scriptures cannot be at variance with themselves.”… As do many modern fundamentalists, Luther affirmed a six-day creation".  [I wonder that Profs. David P. Scaer and John T. Pless call MacKenzie a "fundamentalist" behind his back!]
There are so many ironies in this wonderful essay that I can only begin to cover them on this blog. I would ask Prof. MacKenzie the following pointed questions:

1) Should you not be contending against professors at your own Concordia Theological Seminary-Ft. Wayne instead of an ELCA professor? Profs. David P. Scaer (doctor evangelicus) and John T. Pless ("a Lutheran approach to the Scriptures in distinction from Fundamentalism") are quite out-spoken in their anti-Fundamentalist position on "biblical fundamentalism".
- - - - - - -   read the balance of ironies and conclusion in the "Read more »" section below   - - - - - - -
2) Although you rightly used Luther to support your position, and you call on several theologians for the same, yet why did you not also reference Walther and/or Pieper as they taught this just like Luther? Are they unmentionable in today's LCMS? Since Walther was so strong on Holy Scripture, why then did you state in "honor" of him in 2011 that "Anyone who has read just a little bit of Walther knows that his theological method routinely involved citations from Luther on doctrinal issues". Why do you honor Walther this way? Was Walther not true to Luther when he cited him? Shouldn't you now be questioned in the same way that you questioned Walther?
Prof. Jason D. Lane, Concordia-Wisconsin3) Did you know that in the same book as your essay there was another essay, one by Prof. Jason D. Lane, Concordia-Wisconsin who stated (p. 155): "For a corrective to some of Pieper’s arguments and critique of his tendency toward Fundamentalism, see Hermann Sasse" (Lane references a retracted writing of Sasse, "Letter 14"). Should you not be also "corrected" by Hermann Sasse?

4) Shouldn't you be contending against your Pres. Matthew Harrison? In his "Prelude" to his book of Sasse's Letters to Lutheran Pastors vol. 1, p. lxxxvi-lxxxv, he encouraged his readers to "find themselves growing in… the certainty of the Gospel', while admitting that 'Sasse never was comfortable with the Missouri Synod's doctrine' on Scripture". Isn't that practically impossible?  How do you reconcile this with your essay that asserts that Scripture's "authority guarantees the Gospel"?
5) Did you know that a co-essayist with one of your references, Armin Buchholz, said this about Luther in East Asia, that his "law and gospel dialectic [can be a corrective] to the fundamentalist view of Scripture in general"? Isn't this "law and gospel dialectic", à la Werner Elert, the teaching of your LC-MS against the "fundamentalist view of Scripture", just like Wengert?

      Why go on?  No, Prof. MacKenzie, your theology in this essay is not the teaching of the LC-MS, as much as you attempt to show otherwise in your 2017 essay to be "defending Luther's Reformation".  It is not the teaching of today's LC-MS as I have clearly demonstrated in Parts 1 and 2, and elsewhere.  And I must tell you that when you are no longer a professor at your seminary, you will be relegated to the same "dust bin" as your former colleague Prof. Eugene Klug. You will be called a "fundamentalist". You will be forgotten… but not by Christians desperate for the truth of the Gospel "in accordance with the Scriptures" (1 Cor 15:3-4).

Monday, March 23, 2020

Gospel vs. Bible? LC-MS official teaching (Part 2 of 3)

      This continues from Part 1, a short series unraveling the confusing teaching emanating from the LC-MS teachers since the Walkout of 1974. — In this segment, we demonstrate that the false dichotomy of "Gospel versus Bible" is again the firm, official teaching of the Lutheran Church–Missouri Synod. 
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      In Dr. Samuel Nafzger's Confessing the Gospel textbook (CPH, 2018), he states explicitly what is to be taught officially to the future pastors of the LC-MS. The following is an excerpt (indented) from p. 739, interspersed with my comments in red text:
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      “Accordingly, the adequacy of faith is intimately linked to the inerrancy of Scripture, which necessarily becomes for many the “watershed doctrine” on which the church stands or falls. 
Luther blasted Erasmus for his “obscurity of Scripture” and answered Erasmus’s charge that Luther should “preach Christ crucified” instead of teaching against “free will”. See Prof. Eugene Klug’s Saving Faith and the Inerrancy of Scripture” (🔗, Springfielder October 1975), p. 206. On p. 209, Klug states: “When Scripture is described as a medley or composite of divine and human elements, of truth and error, then the Good News itself, the Gospel, is no longer safe.”   
A straw man
"Gospel versus Bible"
Nafzger makes light of the Inerrancy of Scripture.  He creates a “straw man” argument that devalues the foundation of the Gospel. This explicitly denies that the Gospel comes from God in His Word. Nafzger pits a faith in divine inerrancy against the “proclamation of the gospel”. This is exactly the charge of the so-called “moderates” in the LC-MS against “old Missouri”. Where is the praise of those who defend Inerrancy?  There are none.  Then one must question Nafzger/LCMS’s “proclamation of the gospel” for it cannot be guaranteed to be a divine message, you are just to believe it without the foundation of Holy Scripture – pure Enthusiasm. One must question a "gospel" that has lost its foundation.
“Confessional Lutheranism, in opposition to this view [of Carl Henry], …
Again, this is a "straw man" argument. Nafzger sets up the Reformed theologian Carl F. H. Henry's view (fundamentalist?) as his target, yet he discounts Luther’s strong defense of Holy Scripture. Luther never set up the Bible as something “not the object of faith” as Nafzger (and Jacob Preus III). It is revealing that Nafzger singles out the Reformed yet leaves Roman Catholics untouched in his defense of “confessional Lutheranism”.
“… regards Scripture as the source, rule, and norm for the proclamation of the gospel 
In other words, NOT the Gospel, only the "proclamation of the gospel". This is clearly meant to cut off faith in “inerrancy”, and thereby Inspiration as unnecessary. But, as Pieper teaches Christian Dogmatics volume 1, p. 312, there can be no witness of the Holy Ghost… without the Word of the Apostles and Prophets.
“…in all its articles and for the administration of the sacraments, the means 
“Scripture” is “source, rule, and norm” but maybe it is not divine since faith in “inerrancy” is unnecessary to believe the gospel.
“…through which the Holy Spirit works to create faith. 
Neither Luther nor Confessions nor old Missouri taught this way.  This teaching only comes from the “growing number of systematic theologians” (p. 739), like Dr. Nafzger, Dr. Jacob A. O. Preus III and the LCMS in general.
Accordingly, Jesus Christ, and not the Bible as God’s special revelation, is the object of faith”.
It is both-and, not the either-or of Nafzger’s false dichotomy, his brand of “confessional Lutheranism”. Franz Pieper admits in his Christian Dogmatics vol. 1, p. 313-316, that missionaries are to preach the Gospel, then adds: "And when faith in Christum 'crucifixum' has once been created, there is no need to worry about securing faith in the divinity of Holy Scripture." Pieper says that once there is a true faith, a faith in the Universal, Objective Justification of the world, then faith in the Scriptures automatically follows.  Pieper's statement charges today's LC-MS as preaching a faulty "gospel", a "gospel" based on a "divine-human word". This faulty "word" creates what Luther calls a "monster of uncertainty". So to divorce “the Bible” from “Jesus Christ” is to proclaim a false Christ, because it, at minimum, weakens the “foundation of the prophets and apostles”. And the “Jesus Christ” that Nafzger’s LCMS proclaims is weak for it does not preach a pure Gospel, but a "gospel" without a firm foundation of Holy Scripture, which, again, is essentially pure Enthusiasm (Luther's Schwärmerei). 
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      One could wonder that the light of God's Word is going completely dark in Pres. Matthew Harrison's LC-MS, but then one reads one of the essays in the book Defending Luther's Reformation (CPH 2017), that is a complete surprise… in Part 3.

Saturday, March 21, 2020

Gospel vs Law, or vs Bible: LCMS false dichotomy – Part 1 of 3

      What is a "dichotomy"?  Merriam-Webster defines it thus: "a division into two especially mutually exclusive or contradictory groups or entities". This is a useful tool to unravel the teaching in today's LC-MS institutions.
      Franz Pieper taught that
“There are ... but two religions ... the religion of the Law, or of man’s own works, and the religion of the Gospel, or of faith in Christ” (Christian Dogmatics, vol. 1, p. 10, 19)
So Pieper's teaching has the Christian "dichotomy" of Law versus Gospel.  And although God's Law in the Holy Scriptures is to be taught in the Church, yet it is only faith in the Gospel that can save.  This is popularly known as the teaching of "Law and Gospel". Another version could be stated
"Gospel versus Law".
This dichotomy is clearly taught in the Bible – Ephesians 2:8-9 and Galatians 2:16 come to mind.  Luther clearly taught it, for example in his sermons (see here).  All Christian doctrine, so far as it is Christian, teaches this.
Dr. Jacob A. O. Preus III (image 2008 Concordia Univ.-Irvine)
      Although it would seem that the LC-MS teaches this, yet they also teach something else.  In 1986, Jacob A. O. Preus III (son of J.A.O. Preus II, former LC-MS president), wrote the following in his doctoral thesis, >> p. 133 <<:
“The Lutheran confessional understanding of the inerrancy of Scripture is significantly different from that found among many Reformed or fundamentalist theologians. … The inerrant Bible, therefore, is not the object of faith, but Jesus Christ and His vicarious satisfaction are the object and the source of certainty of faith. It is therefore from the perspective of faith that the Confessions view Scripture as being without error.”
One may understand the following "dichotomy" from this assertion:
"Gospel versus Bible"
So faith in the Gospel saves, not faith in the Bible.  Preus claims that this is the "Lutheran confessional understanding", but offers no explicit evidence from the Book of Concord directly stating this dichotomy.  So he separates "Christ" from the "inerrant Bible" and creates a dichotomy of these two to create his "Lutheran confessional understanding", an assertion that I will call a False Dichotomy. The Lutheran Book of Concord never creates this dichotomy. There is no dichotomy between these two.  Momentrix explains further what a "false dichotomy" does:
"This fallacy is common when the author has an agenda and wants to give the impression that their view is the only sensible one. Readers should always be suspicious of the false dichotomy.
Franz Pieper warned against this "false dichotomy" in Lehre und Wehre 1890 (emphasis mine):
"To fight for the doctrine of justification [i.e. the Gospel] and for Holy Scripture and the Christian religion amounts to one and the same thing.… Furthermore, as regards the understanding of Scripture let me say: Theologians who err in regard to the doctrine of justification are sitting not in Scripture, but before a closed door, no matter how diligently they may study and quote the Bible. To those who do not understand the doctrine of justification the Bible is merely a book of moral instructions with all manner of strange side issues."
Dr. Preus would certainly not admit to erring on the doctrine of Justification.  So then why would he make this substitution:
"Gospel versus Law" – Biblical dichotomy (Gal. 2:16) is transformed into
"Gospel versus Bible" – Preus/LC-MS dichotomy (false dichotomy).
Preus's low view of Holy Scripture in essence takes the Bible's focus of the Law's ineffective nature to save and substitutes the Bible's ineffective nature to save, a foreign teaching to Christianity, the Lutheran Confessions, Luther, Walther, and Franz Pieper. Could it be that this false dichotomy indicates a weakness in the proper distinction of Law and Gospel? — In the next Part 2, we find that this teaching is not isolated in the LC-MS. 

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