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Monday, November 21, 2011

A letter to a St. Louis LC-MS professor...

I wrote some letters to a conservative St. Louis professor in 1998 about a then current hot topic concerning "Objective Justification".   The topic was hot because a man named Larry Darby had written an article vehemently denying the teaching of Objective Justification and that Walther and Pieper did not hold to this teaching.  But for me this was a matter of spiritual "Life or Death" and so I wrote to several well known "conservative" Lutherans and Lutheran teachers to see if they believed and taught this doctrine.  One of the persons I wrote to was a professor at Concordia Seminary-St. Louis who seemed to be "conservative".  I will call him Prof. X.  I am presenting this letter now to the public because it contains my confession of faith that I believe Universal, Objective Justification and hang onto it for dear life!

Dr. X
Concordia Seminary
801 DeMun Ave.
St Louis, MO  63105

Dr. X:

Your short answer to me did nothing for my confidence in you.  I do not follow your defense of the doctrine of Objective Justification – rather I believe it.

Cursed is your precious Graebner Synod.  Cursed are your seminaries.  And Dr. X, if in your short answer you hide behind this doctrine to save your precious Synod, cursed are you!

Here are your PUBLIC doctrines, Dr. X:

“… A. Hoenecke, whose magnificent dogmatics is in important respects superior to F. Pieper’s” (Anatomy of An Explosion, page 45); “Foreign missionaries had, if anything, even more occasion to complain of impossible rigidities.” (ibid, page 56); “Graebner said long ago that a short-sighted legalism would ‘breed radicalism, liberalism, strife, and division.’  He was right.” (ibid, page 57)

Pieper, Francis. Christian Dogmatics. 3 vols. “… this comprehensive synthesis of Scripture doctrine does not discuss some of the more recent theological developments.”  (What Luther Says, page 1634)

C.S. Meyer:
Lutheran Church – Missouri Synod, The. VI. Conservation, 1887-1932. 2. F. Pieper … “favored German culture.” under same heading, same page: 10.  “In relations with other churches the synod seemed to stand aloof.” (Lutheran Cyclopedia, 1975, page 491);

Theodore Graebner:
“I told you at Decorah and I am repeating it now that Dr. Preus and Rev. Torrison had every reason to be confounded by such an ‘opinion’.  It is not for me to judge what caused Dr. Pieper to write this meaningless letter.  All that I have a right to say is this: due to my enormous respect for Dr. Pieper as a theologian, I did not have the courage to protest against the letter but became a partner in these evasive tactics. …  Preus and Torrison are with the saints of God and whatever injustice they experienced in this life cannot disturb their rest.” (Aaberg, A City Set on a Hill, Board of Pub., ELS, 1968, page 279.  Letter written by Theodore Graebner to Dr. Nils Ylvisaker on November 12, 1938)

One of the statements in the A.L.C. declaration has been criticized as hiding a denial of objective justification – when this doctrine is accepted by the American Lutheran Church (because it has accepted our Brief Statement) and when both Ohio and Iowa Synods for generations past have taught correctly this same doctrine.  As long ago as 1872 and as recently as 1938 the public doctrine in the areas here placed under suspicion has been the plain doctrine of Scripture as we teach it ourselves.” (American Lutheran, December, 1939 {vol. 22, pgs 3796-3797)

“But the real “Breakthrough” in Dr. Graebner’s change in attitude toward other Lutherans was observed at the Philadelphia meeting of this conference several years later (I would guess mid-1940s - ed.).  In a session when Dr.  Elmer Flack of Hamma presided, Dr. Graebner asked for the floor to make a statement.  I wish somebody had taken down the statement, but all of us were intent to listen carefully; the statement in essence was: “All of you know how active I have been in keeping my church suspicious and hostile with respect to developments in other Lutheran churches.  I want you to know that I regret many things I have written and said.  I have learned to respect and trust many Lutheran brethren in other synods.  From now on I shall devote the rest of my life, the few years that may remain to me, to rectify matters and plead with my brethren in the Missouri Synod to follow my example”.  At times his voice halted and tears come into his eyes while making this statement.  All of us in the meeting were stunned, not exactly surprised, but lacking words to express our appreciation.  I remember seeing Elmer Flack’s tears roll down on his face and temporarily he was immobilized.  But after a bit he arose and without saying a word he stepped over to shake Dr. Graebner’s hand and embrace him.  Then I remembered Dr.  Greever’s prediction and thanked God with the others at the meeting for Dr. Graebner’s statement.” (Edward C. Fendt, The Struggle forLutheran Unity and Consolidation in the U.S.A. from the Late 1930’s to theEarly 1970’s., Augsburg Publishing House, 1980)
Theodore Graebner, in the American Lutheran article, could not have been more plain in his attack on Objective Justification. He should have been immediately questioned by theological leaders in Synod and stripped of his offices of professor and editor if he adhered to this position.  He wasn’t.  Your doctrinal discipline now “should” start with Dr. Theodore Graebner.  And then perhaps, after several other later teachers in the LC-MS were disciplined, you could address the Larry Darby situation.  But you would have to instruct your President Barry who “has elected to stay above the fray and leave us to his wolves.” – per Xxxxx Xxxxxxxxxx.

In your face, today’s LC-MS:

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“In the long term, if the world lasts, Missouri is as doomed as Jerusalem, Constantinople, Rome, Moscow, or Wittenberg” (prophetic words from Anatomy, page 55)

I recorded a statement of Luther in my readings of him:
“Farewell, unhappy, hopeless, blasphemous Rome! The wrath of God hath come upon thee, as thou hast deserved.  We have cared for Babylon, and she is not healed.  Let us, then, leave her, that she may be the habitiation of dragons, specters, and witches and, true to her name Babel, an everlasting confusion, a new pantheon of wickedness.”
Substitute for “Rome” the term “today’s LC-MS”, for your synod has returned to Rome.  How could I say this?  Because the Lutheran Doctrine of Justification opened my eyes.

I am not through with the Breakthrough Graebner LC-MS yet.

Signed, XXXX
A Pieperian ‘short-sighted legalist’
Jeremiah 5:2, 6:14, 8:11
This professor did profess to believe this core doctrine of Christianity.  Good!  However he had to be warned of the grave danger he was in to be in fellowship with so many who would question or falsify this basic doctrine.  In the next post, I am publishing a letter to a Fort Wayne seminary professor in the LC-MS.
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  • As of Nov. 6, 2012, I have decided to reveal the identity of this Professor – it is Professor (emeritus) Thomas Manteufel.  His defense of Objective Justification was published in a letter section of Christian News on January 12, 1998.  The 2-page PDF copy is available to download here.

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