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Friday, February 17, 2012

Walther's advice to struggling students: read Lutheran Doctrine of Justification

In the book Prairie School of the Prophets - The Anatomy of a Seminary 1846 - 1976 (CPH, 1989), Erich Heintzen wrote of the Missouri Synod practical seminary that eventually became what is today the Fort Wayne Seminary.  On page 63, he wrote of the early days of this institution when it resided in St. Louis from 1861 - 1874 during Walther's tenure there.  The practical seminarians attempted to initiate discussions on independent topics of interest among themselves.  Here I quote Heintzen:
In a desperation move, the Kollegium presented talks on the subject of the Kollegium itself and finally fell to discussing the catechism of the Methodist Epis­copal church. At this point, Dr. Walther was consulted. He sug­gested that they lay aside the catechism for a while in order to study something more basic, an essay on justification that had been pre­sented to the Western District convention of 1859.
And so Walther knew what advice to give struggling students who seemed to get bored with their chosen topics... study the basics of Christianity --- the Gospel itself.  And so the advise would be the same today for the LCMS if it were ever to return to it's foundation... study Walther's writings on the Lutheran Doctrine of Justification.  And Franz Pieper paraphrased Walther when he wrote:
All praise of Christ, of grace, and of the means of grace, without the right doctrine of justification, is nothing.  All teaching in the Church must serve this article.  Not as though one should or could urge only this article.  All revealed doctrines must be taught with the greatest care.  But even when one is treating of hell the goal must be to show the hearers the deliverance from hell.
Would to God all people knew and believed the Lutheran Doctrine of Justification (LDJ)!

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