Today, August 11, marks the 130th anniversary of the Synodical Conference meeting in Detroit Michigan, August 11-16, 1886. A doctrinal report was delivered at that meeting and published in the German language in its Proceedings, pages 5-71 (SCR 1886). That essay has never been translated into English, as far as I know, and so a reader took up my challenge in an earlier blog post:
“Will some faithful Lutheran translate this full essay today? It would be a treasure of inestimable value to the Church.”The translator who took up this challenge is... Andrew Boomhower.
Some notes regarding this translation: (1) the translator used the modern city name of Tartu for the older city name of Dorpat. Other translations that referred to theologians of this city typically have used the older name of Dorpat; (2) One of the errors of Germany's theologians relates to what Franz Pieper countered in paragraph 2 of his Brief Statement: "The rule of faith is not the man-made so-called “totality of Scripture” (“Ganzes der Schrift”)."; (3) The translator noted that various passages were more difficult to render than others. One example of this is:
"Woerterinspiration" ==>> "inspiration of the words"; "Worteinspiration." ==>> "inspiration of the wording"
Elsewhere in the text, when this distinction is not being made, I rendered "Wortinspiration" as "verbal inspiration."
- Mine: Thus Christians also make it this way, if they let themselves be led into a false school and not in Luther's school. He says: That one can not so highly credit the Bible as that it can let the sun go down; it speaks in simplicity, as it has then presented the matter.
- Boomhower's: This is also what the Christians are doing when they can be led into a false school and not into Luther’s. They [erring teachers] say, “one cannot give the Bible much credit for letting the Sun move: they spoke naively in the way the matter was visualized back then.”
The text is fully hyperlinked -- footnotes and almost all the works of the referenced German theologians. Most of these outside works are even linked to the original page numbers in Google Books and elsewhere.
I want to repeat my preface given in the German language document (also here):
Although the speaker is identified as Prof. A.L. Gräbner of the Wisconsin Synod, yet just the presence of C.F.W. Walther gives this essay a very close tie to Walther. Some sections give quotes directly from Walther's Baieri Compendium book. No essay was ever delivered in Walther’s presence that contains any doctrinal issue against the Bible or the Lutheran Confessions. And indeed I believe that a large amount of text of this report was actually delivered by Walther in a “discussion” setting of questions and answers – i.e. page 37, last paragraph – “Auf die Frage… wurde geantwortet:” – – >> To the question.... was answered:.
==>> I attribute this essay largely to Walther’s authority, but it remains official doctrine of the old Synodical Conference.
Theses on the Divinity of Holy Scripture
A downloadable paginated PDF version (54 pages) of this essay is available here:
Franz Pieper referred to this doctrinal essay at least 2 times in his Christian Dogmatics textbooks: Volume 1: page 93, footnote 131; page 272, footnote 84. On page 271-272, Pieper states:
So the future pastors of the old (German) Missouri Synod being trained in America under Prof. Franz Pieper were directed to this essay to get updated on the history of the doctrine of Inspiration. For the first time this essay is now available in the English language. – Unfortunately modern theologians continue their destructive work today, just as in 1886 and in 1931, Pieper's final year. But today, it seems the struggle for the Divinity of Holy Scripture is within the LCMS itself. No longer can the world look to today's St. Louis (or Fort Wayne) for the "orthodox" teaching on Inspiration. One is better served by the true teachers of the Lutheran Church. And this essay is a watering hole for those feeling parched when attempting to find faithful writings.
These theologians are like the enthusiasts, who cry, “the Spirit! The Spirit must teach us the truth!” Likewise, the New Theologians cry, “No, Christ is the foundation of the Faith, not Scripture!” However, with that, they completely contradict Eph. 2, [Eph. 2:20] “built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets,” that is, upon the witness, upon the writings of the Apostles and Prophets. To this, they come right back and say, “he who teaches this misleads the youth; that is a foundation of sand. Oh, the evil Foe is very serious about robbing us of the foundation of our faith.” It really does sound nice when they say, “No! Christ is the foundation of the Christian Faith!” But this is nothing more than a superb illusion. ...Illusion indeed! That is "docetism" – a word meaning to seem, or an apparition, or a phantom. This term is normally used by true Christian teaching (i.e. the Nicene Creed) to combat errorists. The false teachers attempted to use this same terminology against orthodox teaching. — Herman Sasse also used this false charge against the true teaching, as Robert Preus pointed out. President Matthew Harrison even admits (Letters to Lutheran Pastors, Vol. 1. p. lxxxiv) that Sasse was wrong, his attack was "disturbing", and he "never was comfortable with the Missouri Synod's doctrine on this matter nor with the doctrine of the orthodox fathers. In fact, he remained negatively concerned regarding the Missouri Synod on the doctrina de scriptura up to his last days." (Harrison then goes on to say he believes the readers of Sasse's letters are "in for a treat", and wants them all "growing in certainty of the Gospel"... all this while even he found Sasse's attacks "disturbing".) Prof. Jeffrey Kloha quoted (I believe with approval, page 363 here) Sasse's understanding of inerrancy with his words "This inerrancy, however, does not obviously exclude certain human limitations". (Is it any wonder that Sasse espoused Copernicanism in the 1967 CPH book Accents in Luther's Theology: Essays in Commemoration of the 450th Anniversary of the Reformation, page 84, – just as today's LCMS/CTCR is doing for the 500th Anniversary?) — But the Synodical Conference-1886 responds to this charge: "This warning against Docetism is a warning against a bogey." And I will turn this misuse of terminology around and use it against these errorists, just like the Synodical Conference did -- for it is "a superb illusion" where their "Christ is the foundation"... a Christ without the Scriptures. But how did Christ teach about Himself on the road to Emmaus to the two travelers?
Luke 24:27 – Beginning at Moses and all the prophets, he expounded unto them in all the scriptures the things concerning himself.There can be NO separation of Christ from the Holy Scriptures for they are Divinely Inspired! John 1:1,14.
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In the next blog post, I am hopeful to return to Pastor Pasche with Part 19b...
[2016-08-27: see also this essay of Pieper on Walther on Inspiration.]